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History

No Credible Evidence to Back VP's Claim on Rampyari Gurjar Leading 40,000 Soldiers to Defeat Timur

The book by Manoshi Sinha Rawal that seemingly gives currency to the narrative built around Rampyari Gurjar is based on dubious, unreliable and even ‘non-existent’ books.

Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar on March 11 unveiled a statue of Kotwal Dhan Singh Gurjar at a police training school in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. During his speech at the programme, he said, among other things, that there were several instances of history not having any record of individuals who had valiantly fought against invaders.

The official handle of the Vice-President later tweeted a part of the speech. Here, the VP talks about three apparently forgotten brave-hearts of the past — 16-year-old Shivdevi Tomar who killed 17 Britishers near Meerut, Mahaviri Devi who was martyred along with 22 companions while fighting the British, and Rampyari Gurjar who, the VP says, fought with Timur by forming an army of 40,000. Their names are not found in our history, Dhankhar notes.

This is not the first time someone holding public office spoke about Rampyari Gurjar. We found that on January 28, 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned her while talking about the valor and patriotism of the Gurjar community at an event in Bhilwara, Rajasthan. According to the PMINDIA website, underlining the bravery and contribution of Gurjar women and paying tributes to Rampyari Gurjar, Modi said, “…It is the country’s misfortune that such countless fighters could not get the place they deserve in our history. But New India is rectifying these mistakes of the past decades.”

The PM’s speech can be heard here. The mention of Rampyari Gurjar occurs at the 21.58-minute mark onward.

Former Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu, too, had talked about Rampyari Gurjar on April 11, 2020, while addressing a meeting of the Akhil Bhartiya Veer Gurjar Mahasabha. 8.10 minutes onward in the clip, he says Rampyari Gurjar defeated Timur Lang with an army of 40,000 soldiers. Without the mention of such warriors, Indian history is incomplete, the former VP says.

There are several blogs, opinion pieces and YouTube videos that mention Rampyari Gurjari. Many of them cite a book by Manoshi Sinha Rawal called Saffron Swords (Garuda Prakashan, 2019) as their source. On the author’s Twitter profile, one can find her thanking Tarek Fatah for endorsing her book. On Pages 26 and 27, she writes about the valor of Rampyari Gurjar against Timur’s warriors.

Dainik Jagran published an article on November 26, 2020 on Sinha’s book, titled ‘जिनकी नहीं सुनी कहानी थी, वह रानी रामप्यारी मर्दानी थीं’. It says, “20 साल की रामप्यारी गुर्जर ने मेरठ से लेकर हरिद्वार तक तैमूर को खदेड़ा। हरिद्वार में भागती तैमूर की सेना पर पंचायती योद्धाओं ने धावा बोल दिया था। तैमूर की सेना को मैदान छोड़कर भागना पड़ा।” (20-year-old Rampyari Gurjar chased Timur from Meerut to Haridwar…. Timur’s army had to leave the battlefield and run away)

We also found mention of the said conquest by Rampyari Gurjar over Timur on the website www.myindiamyglory.com. This website, too, is run by Manoshi Sinha.

Who was Timur?

Amir Timur (also known as Timur Lang, Tamerlane, Tamburlaine, Aksak-Timur, etc) ascended the throne of Samarkand in 1369. He invaded India in September 1398 at the age of 62 after having led successful conquests in Persia, Afghanistan and Mesopotamia. The Delhi Sultanate was barely surviving after the death of Feroz Shah Tughlaq, and Timur occupied Delhi on December 18. The massacre of citizens and plunder of the city’s wealth lasted for several days. He left Delhi on January 1, 1399, on his return journey to Samarkand. He passed through Ferozabad and Meerut, which he stormed on January 19. He then proceeded via Kangra and Jammu, killing civilians en masse at every stop, and left this country in mid-March, 1399. Delhi and the north-western provinces of India, which were completely razed by the marauder, took years to regain any kind of stability — be it social, economic or political. Timur died in 1405 at Otrar, Kazakhstan, on his way to Peking, China, after a brief illness caused by a bitter cold. The circumstances of his death are described in detail by his biographer Justin Marozzi in Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the world (Cambridge, 2006).