Patience & Perseverance: The Defining Characteristic of Great Leaders
Part IV: 477th Maharana Pratap Jayanti – Patience & Perseverance
“Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage (patience and perseverance) to follow the talent to the dark places where it leads.” – Erica Jong, an American novelist and poet.
I have often reflected upon Erica Jong’s words during my post Navy journey over the last 25 years. Through all the highs and lows – I have attributed my staying power and ability to overcome adversity to none other than my passion, patience and perseverance.
If we knew the task of knowing the lives of leaders who have been through our history and have left significant mark in the world, we could conclude that they all had special characteristics that distinguished them and they certainly were which led them to the place they occupied. These were patience and perseverance.
Though Maharana Pratap and his kingdom have become synonymous with bravery, sacrifice and pride in one’s country but truly speaking his life is a lesson in patience and perseverance to stand ground against all odds.
When he was wandering in forests to keep away from the Mughal army after the Battle of Haldighati, his family suffered many hardships. His wives and children had to starve and spend sleepless nights under unfavourable circumstances in forests. Such a catastrophe forced him to think of surrendering to Akbar and signing a treaty of peace with the latter. He discarded such thoughts and gathered courage to tide over the waves of misfortune and face Akbar once again.
You may say that a great leader needs to have values, such as, communication skills, emotional, social intelligence; with ability to plan; setting goals etc. But, in my assessment, if a leader lacks these two important virtues, his leadership would be constrained.
Can you be a leader without perseverance and patience?
My answer would be no without thinking. The virtue of perseverance and patience together make an important team, as both virtues are related and are essential to the development of our life in general; imagine how necessary they are as a leader.
Due to the long standing battle against the Mughals, a feeling of disappointment had come over the people of Mewar. Pratap did not get disappointed by this. The first task of the Pratap was to remove this negative feeling from the minds of his people. Therefore, after making Kumbalgarh his new capital, he tried to infuse a new feeling of encouragement and patriotism in the people. All of them got ready to protect their self-respect and honour. The tribal living in the forests of Mewar was also encouraged to protect their country’s independence. The foundations of a new era in Mewar were being laid.
After the victory over Chittor in 1567, Akbar had stopped campaign against Mewar, probably to give time to new Maharana of Mewar to think that it was in his benefit to have friendly ties with the Emperor of Delhi and accept his rule without any battle. Working on this plan he sent proposals for a treaty four times to Maharana Pratap. Besides being a great lover of independence, Pratap was an able politician also. With great intelligence, he refused the peace initiatives of the Mughal Emperor. Probably, in the beginning he kept refusing the proposals by pointing out to some shortcomings in them. That is why Akbar kept sending the messengers again and again. This way, the Maharana got sufficient time to increase his military strength and make future plans. For Mewar’s independence, he was prepared to make the biggest sacrifice. That is why he treated the messengers of Akbar with patience and respect, so that any unwise action on his part did not prove to be deadly for Mewar.
When all the treaty proposals of Akbar failed, a battle had become certain. It seems that it was clear in the minds of both Akbar and Pratap that when they faced each other finally, the battle would be a fatal one. But this is a proof of their cleverness and patience that before taking out swords, they tried all other means of reaching a compromise. The first stage of Akbar’s diplomatic tactics came to an end. After being unsuccessful in this, the only alternative in front of Akbar was a battle, but he still did not attack Mewar immediately. From 1574 to 1576 he waited that maybe Pratap would agree to a treaty.
On 3 April 1576, Raja Man Singh, the commander of Mughal army, started from Agra with his army to conquer Mewar. A few days later he reached Mandalgarh, a township on the south-eastern border of Mewar and stayed for two months in the plains. He thought this would irritate Maharana and they would attack Mughal army first. If this happened, there was a possibility of him getting victory quickly, since he would have the terrain advantage. Man Singh also consolidated logistics – food, fodder and shelter for his men and animals.
Whereas, the Maharana Pratap was getting the timely information of Man Singh’s activities, and waited for him at Gogunda, near Haldighati. This was a hilly terrain with streams and a narrow passage for entry. It was a case of both strategy and patience. Beyond Haldighati, on eastern side were agriculture fields and plains of Mewar, which were destroyed under Maharana’s directive, so as to deny food, grass and shelter to the enemy. At the battle ground he made arrangements for Mewar soldiers to carry out clandestine night attacks.
I’m a firm believer that everyone arrives on this earth for a reason. Each person possesses special gift and talent to contribute to society. Without perseverance nothing is accomplished, think of all the falls and failures that leaders in our history have had throughout its mission to achieve its goals, surely it was not easy to get there but as they popularly say “he who perseveres reaches”. However there are many times when perseverance is broken for not having patience in waiting. While it is true that perseverance does not guarantee success, however, it is impossible to succeed without both patience and perseverance.
Maharana Pratap is a subject of respect and pride for the Indian diaspora, around the world as he has become a symbol of patriotism, sacrifice and struggle. On remembering his name, the picture of an incomparable warrior with the face aglow with bravery comes into our mind.
Sacrificing material happiness and gains, his unrelenting struggle for the freedom of his motherland is etched as a golden chapter in the annals of history. Personalities like him are models of inspiration for the whole country and all generations to come. As in today’s reckoning when national consciousness seems to be diminishing, Maharana Pratap’s leadership is all the more relevant.
With only a small impoverished inheritance but with great qualities of patience and perseverance, Maharana Pratap proved himself, in face of insurmountable difficulties, a great leader of men, a generous enemy, and above all a prince among men. His name will ever have a permanent and prominent niche in the halls of valour, patriotism, and heroism.