Who was the greatest warrior in the Indian history?

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Who was the greatest warrior in the Indian history?
  • What is history? It is often the story reported by the victors, of songs sung by the historians of the winning side. You literally separate ‘history’, you get two words, ‘his’ and ‘story’.

Often war heroes are glorified so that they become a source of inspiration for the generations after them. In some case in India, warriors even enjoy almost divine status for the legacy that they leave behind. But what really separates great warriors from the good ones is that they not only are revered among their own masses but find profound respect among their enemies too.

India as a country has had rich, yet bloody past. Every once in awhile, someone has risen to the occasion to fight for the people and the country. In this land of brave hearts, who can be awarded the title of the greatest warrior in the history of India?

Emperors, Warrior Kings and a Queen

Emperor Ashoka

  • Emperor Ashoka, the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya, is considered one of the greatest emperors in India. His empire stretched from the modern day countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, except the southern and seven northeastern states. After the bloody war of Kalinga, which left nearly 200,000 people dead, Ashoka renounced violence.

Emperor Chandragupta Maurya

  • Led by Chanakya, who was one of the greatest political minds in Indian history, Chandragupta Maurya founded the Mauryan empire. He expanded his empire right from modern day Bangladesh to annexing Alexander’s easternmost territories in modern day Iran.

Raja Rajendra Chola I

  • Rajendra Chola is considered to be one of the most prominent rulers of the Chola dynasty. The son of Rajaraja Chola, he is known as an exceptional administrator and an expert in warfare. He is credited for the expansion of the boundaries of Chola kingdom after taking over from his father. At its peak, the Chola kingdom stretched from present-day, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and the islands of Lakshadweep, Maldives, the Andaman and Nicobar.

Emperor Jalal-ud-din Akbar

  •  Emperor Akbar is regarded as one of the greatest Mughal rulers. History has recorded his masterful war tactics through innovative military strategies in the many battles and wars he has fought. His empire included much of today’s northern and central India. His exploits in the second battle of Panipat are well-known.

Shershah Suri

  • Farid Khan was a soldier of the Mughal empire, who became a commander, who then became a governor and finally the founder of the Sur Dynasty. As an army general, he is regarded as one of the best military strategists in Indian history. Known for supplanting the Mughal rule in Delhi, Shershah defeated Emperor Humayun twice.

Maharana Pratap Singh

  • Pratap Singh, the ruler of Mewar, refused to ally with the Mughals when all the neighbouring Rajput kingdoms had become its vassals. Fondly known as Maharana Pratap, he is known for his valour at the battle of Haldighati against Emperor Akbar’s forces before suffering defeat.

Prithviraj Chauhan

  • Prithviraj Chauhan controlled much of north India at the peak of his rule. He is remembered for his wars against Muhammad Ghuri and the various conquests against the neighbouring kingdoms. His defeat in the second battle with Muhammad Ghuri laid the foundation for Islamic rule in India.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh

  • Having lost one eye in his childhood, Maharaja Ranjit Singh fought his first battle at the age of 10. By the age of 21, he had consolidated the 13 warring confederacies in the Punjab and founded the Sikh Empire, which covers modern day Jammu-Kashmir and entire Punjab region (Indian and Pakistani). He has been given the title of ‘Sher-e-Punjab’.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Raje Bhosale

  • Born to a Maratha general serving Deccan sultanates, Shivaji carved out a kingdom of his own, after constantly being at war with the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, Nizamshah of Ahmadnagar, Adilshah of Bijapur and Qutbshah of Golconda. He is regarded as the father of the Indian navy and is considered a brilliant military strategist, known for his masterful guerrilla warfare tactics.

Rani Laxmibai

  • Considered the greatest female warrior in Indian history, and often portrayed as riding into battle on horseback, with her son Damodar tied to her back. She fought in the first war of independence against the British in 1857.

Generals, Commanders and Historic Last Stands

Peshwa Bajirao I

  • Shrimant Bajirao Balaji Bhat, fondly known as ‘Rau’, was the prime minister (Peshwa) of the Maratha empire under the Chatrapati Shahu (grandson of Chhatrapati Shivaji). He is known for his military campaigns against the Mughals, the Nizam, the Siddis and the Portuguese. His war tactics and rapid cavalry movements are tremendously respected.

Bajiprabhu Deshpande

  •     A Maratha army commander under Chhatrapati Shivaji ensured the latter’s escape by blocking 4000 men of the Adilshahi forces at Pavan Khind in a 5 hour battle with only 300 men.

Lachir Borphukan

  • An army general of the Ahom kingdom of Assam displayed splendid courage in thwarting an attack by the Mughal forces at the battle of Saraighat. In spite of being ill, he managed to drive the Mughal forces back from Guwahati.

21 Sikhs of Sikh Regiment

  • 21 Sikh soldiers of the 36th Sikh Regiment of the British Indian army died fighting over 10,000 Aghan tribesmen while defending an army post, which came to be known as the ‘Battle of Saragarhi’. It is considered one of the greatest last stands in military history as the Sikh soldiers killed over 600 tribesmen during the battle.

Honorary Mentions

Captain Vikram Batra [1999 Indo-Pak Kargil Conflict]

Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon [1971 Indo-Pak War]

Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal [1971 Indo-Pak War]

Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav [1999 Indo-Pak Kargil Conflict]

Havildar Abdul Hamid [1965 Indo-Pak War]

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