Cuckold, A Beautiful Novel By Kiran Nagarkar

I was reading a novel, Cuckold, by Kiran Nagarkar. Cuckold was  second novel written by Kiran Nagarkar, that I read. First one was Gods Little Soldier. Most Kiran Nagarkar novels are really lengthy, with extremely fluid and lucid storyline. Once you start reading, it is difficult to keep the book aside.

Cuckold is a novel based on real people and actual historical events. Yet, Cuckold is not a narration of history. Rather, it is an effort to describe human relationship at the given time in history. Story is around the time when Lodhi sultanate in Delhi is losing its grip and Mughal is trying to enter India.

Central character of Cuckold is a Rajput crown prince or as addressed in the novel maharaj kumar. In the whole novel, actual name of maharaj kumar was never revealed. I guess it is Raja Bhoj. Maharaj kumar was the eldest son of Maharana Sangram Singh, or Rana Sanga. Maharaj Kumar belonged to Sishodiya rajput lineage that worshipped sun and had ruled mewar with Chittor as capital. Rani Padmini and Mahrana Pratap also belonged to same lineage, albeit at different points in time. 

As a ruler, Maharaj Kumar has been potrayed to be a good ruler. He is just with his decisions. He had shown ability to distinguish personal from professional. He thought about improving lives of his subjects by investing his time, fund and energy towards creation of drainage system in Chittor. 

As a military general, Maharaj Kumar had several victories under his belt. Namely battle of Idar, battle of Malwa.  Unlike contemporary Rajput leadership that believed in valor of losing life in a face to face battle, Maharaj Kumar believed in value of life of every soldier under him. He preferred to work with small mobile force, believed in surprise unexpected attack, gave importance to strategic retreats with minimal loss of life, tried to convince Maharana to invest in upcoming technologies of war like cannons and matchlocks. 

Cuckold means a person whose wife cheats on him. In his personal life, Maharaj Kumar was married to princess of Merta. Princess became famous as Mira bai, a devotee of lord Krishna. Maharaj Kumar did not have a successful marriage because Merta-princess was already betrothed to lord Krishna. His second marriage to princess of Malwa was not successful because, prince could not accept his bride. Malwa-princess eventually cheats on Maharaj Kumar with his step brother, Kumar Vikramaditya.

In the palace intrigue, Vikramaditya and his mother were always plotting against maharaj kumar. Problems compounded because maharaj kumar did not have a successful marriage that lead to a son, an anathema in Rajput royal families. Another intrigue being Maharana Sanga unwilling to take action on his incompetent son.  

Rana Sanga and crown prince were defeated by Babur in the battle of Khanwa, a historical fact. Babur had better equipment and strategy. Rana had bigger army but poor equipment. In the end Rana was poisoned by his son, Prince Vikramaditya. Nothing is known what happened to crown prince. In the novel he vanished, history states he might have died. A beautiful novel. A strong character, a good ruler, a visionary meeting a sad end due to palace intrigue.

History says, Prince Vikramaditya ascended the throne of Chittor after Maharana Sanga. He was a poor ruler. Eventually, after five years, he was asked to step down by council of ministers in charge for misdemeanor.

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