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Mewar Encyclopedia

Introduction by Ian Austin

There were three areas of inspiration for me to produce an Encyclopedia about the Mewar Dynasty. The primary one was the subject itself. Already, it had inspired me to storyline a novel, a book of short stories, a book of one-act plays, and the libretto of an opera, all of which are works in progress at the time of writing. In March, 1999, Arvind Singh Mewar ('Shriji' as he is affectionately known by all), who had seen several drafts of some of the work, commissioned me to write Mewar - The World's Longest Serving Dynasty.

The second inspiration for me to produce this book was that there was not an up-to-date and comprehensive reference book (such as an encyclopedia) readily available in English to authors for research purposes. My research for the above-mentioned book and works-in-progress was exhaustive but, from the outset, what I wanted on my bookshelf was a reliable aid within immediate reach that focussed on the people, places and events of the Dynasty. For a writer seeking veracity, lack of correct data can be as much a danger as an abundance of incorrect details.

The third inspiration was obvious: that old adage, "If you want something done, do it yourself". And so, in the final days of the 20th Century, the idea of The Mewar Encyclopedia was born, to assist future researchers and writers on Mewar (and there will be many, as the subject has almost limitless possibilities for literary exploration), also to help scholars, and even tourist visitors to Udaipur. Thankfully, Shriji liked the idea and assigned the erudite head of the Maharana Mewar Research Institute, Thakur Nahar Singh of Jasol, and his staff to assist me with verification of subject matter.

Thus I embarked on the rather formidable task of finding the facts, and assembling them in this encyclopedia, primarily as a publication, and also for the Internet. Its many hundreds of entries are what I consider to be the Dynasty's most important people, places and events.

Contents. The Encyclopedia covers the major personalities, places and events in Mewar’s long history, with a nod to some of the interesting legends, and minor aspects as well.

Spelling. One problem area of assembling and editing an encyclopaedia, or any book based on history, is the variation in the spelling of a person's name, a place, or an event, and so on, which can and often does vary from place to place, and even within differently-sourced reference books. It can lead to confusion and frustration and even the perpetuation of an error (cross-checking a reference is fraught with danger as many spellings may be, themselves, no more than repetitions of an earlier error). Unfortunately, the problem is virtually insurmountable, therefore I decided an standardised Encyclopedia was necessary, if not for myself now, then for future writers. Wherever I have discovered one or more spelling variations I have given what is considered by experts in this field to be the correct or most popularly accepted version as the entry heading, followed by the variation/s in parenthesis. Additionally, I have noted that a sometimes-seen version, such as might appear in a tourist guide book. All spellings receive an entry heading with a cross-reference (See so-and-so) to the more acceptable spelling.

Links. A word or words, either a name, place or event that appears in smaller CAPITALS means that it has its own entry.

"Foreign" words. I have decided not to show these words or phrases in the traditional form of italics for a good reason: Many of the Hindi or Persian words included here are in common usage throughout India, particularly proper nouns, so how does one decide what to italicise? I think you will find my breaking with literary tradition does not lead to confusion.

Titles. As in all encyclopaedia, an entry about a particular person begins with his surname (or family name) for easy reference purposes—i.e., Tod, Captain James or, with a titled person, his given name, then a comma followed by the title—i.e., Dulha, Kunwar. However, it is interesting to note that, normally, with the title "Kunwar" (a younger son of a ruler, not the Crown Prince and heir), Kunwar Dulha would be his actual title and name, yet if written without the comma—i.e., Dulha Kunwar—it would indicate that the person was the daughter of a ruler (also shown as Kunwari).

The Concise History of Mewar. As I have found in carrying out research for other projects, an alphabetical inventory is limited in relation to an overall picture if there is no accompanying chronological perspective. Therefore, I have also included a thumbnail table, The Concise History of Mewar., which provides this essential perspective.

Dates. Unless otherwise indicated, the dates in parentheses, e.g., (1537-1572) or (r. 1537-1572) are the years of a ruler's reign. As the time of the Mewar Dynasty began within the last millennium, generally I have not preceded years with AD, but have used this only if there might be a chance of ambiguity.

Please note that there are no entries for the letters Q and X.

I am greatly indebted to Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur, whom I first met on a terrace at the Rambagh Palace Hotel in Jaipur one afternoon in 1982. The occasion was an interview I used for an episode of Hidden India, a 6-hour international television documentary series that I was writing and directing on location. At the time Shriji was not even the Baji Rao (Crown Prince) of the Mewar family; that title belonged to his elder brother, Mahendra Singh (but that's another story, well-covered in the first Mewar book and in this Encyclopedia). Arvind Singh was the younger brother, a Maharaj Kumar (or Kunwar), the general title of all sons of a Mewar king. Because of his total commitment to preserving and promoting the heritage of Mewar, the advent of his becoming the head of the dynasty was, I am sure, pre-ordained.

I am also indebted to my co-author and co-editor, Thakur Nahar Singh Jasol, Administrator of the City Palace Museum, Udaipur and Director of the Maharana Mewar Research Institute, and his tireless staff, for the wonderful backup they provided in helping me to translate, compile, edit and write this book.

I hope it will be of value to others seeking facts and figures about the erstwhile Mewar Dynasty, and that it may be an inspiration, providing ideas for creative output in the future.