Danta Maharana did not sign Merger


Maharana Bhawani Sinh of Danta State
1.                                                      The writer  with  87 year  old Maharajkumar  Madhu Bana (in the centre)
                                   and Gulabsinh Bhati, a senior journalist on 14 July 2019 at Vashi Forest

Danta Maharana did not sign Merger
·         The ruler, a closed confident of Sardar Patel, preferred to wear Khadi
·         Of the two abdications, one was forced upon, another one voluntary

Dr. Hari Desai

“My father who was the Maharana did not sign Merger agreement,” 87 year old Maharajkumar  Madhusudansinh of Danta Princely State literally shocked us on 14 July 2019 when visited him at his residence in the Vashi Forest along with a senior journalist Gulabsinh Bhati. The Maharana of Danta, Bhawanisinh was a closed friend of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. He wore Khadi even during the British rule. He had chicks to invite Patel as his guest for some days at his Ambaji Palace. “He preferred to abdicate in favour of my elder brother Prithvirajsinh who signed the merger agreement,” added Madhu Bana as the Maharajkumar is popularly known as. A 1958 batch graduate in History and Law from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, he opted for retirement from public life when he was to be elected the President of Danta Taluka Panchayat for the fourth term apart from being the founder Chairman of the Banas Bank and a Director of Banas Dairy. Even at this age, he has  flood of visitors at his private forest residence. 
Bhawanisinh, a Mayo College product, was the Maharana of Danta State from 1925 to 1948. He succeeded his father Hamirsinh in November 1925. Comparatively a smaller State of 347 hilly square miles on the border between the modern states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, having 31,110 inhabitants in 1941, most of them a tribal folk called Bhils. The kingdom was founded in 1068 by a scion of one of the greatest ancient Hindu dynasties, the Parmars. It is claimed that they are descendents of the celebrated Emperor Vikramaditya of Ujjain. Since one of the 51 Shakti peeths, Ambaji, was under Danta State, the ruler, naturally, occupied a special position. Even today, the present titular Maharana Mahipendrasinh, a grandson of Bhawanisinh, continues to hold same position. 
Even when most of the rulers of Princely States signed the merger agreement by 10 June 1948, Danta State was yet to sign. Maharana Bhawanisinh was reluctant despite being a closed confident of Sardar Patel since ‘the State was won by sword’. He opted to abdicate in favour of his elder son, Prithvirajsinh, who in turn signed the merger agreement as Maharana of Danta! V.P. Menon, the Secretary of the States Ministry records in his book ‘Integration of the Indian States’, the first authoritative account of the magnificent achievement: “After the merger of the Gujarat States, repeated efforts were made to get into contact with the Maharana of Danta. He was a deeply religious man and was in the custom of spending several hours a day in performing religious rites and ceremonies. He used, in fact, to be so immersed from eight in the evening till nine the next morning throughout the period from June to September every year. Eighty per cent of the population of his State consisted of Bhils. This aboriginal population presented a most difficult problem of law and order to Bombay. 
“On 7 October 1948 the Maharana wrote to me that owing to his religious bent of mind and his dwindling interest in mundane affairs, it was not possible for him to attend to State work. He begged to be allowed to abdicate and requested that his son and heir-apparent be recognized as the ruler. The Government of India accepted the proposal. The new ruler signed the merger agreement on 16 October 1948 and the State was taken over by the Bombay Government on 6 November.” There was another abdication in Gujarat: Maharaja Pratapsinghrao Gaekwad of Baroda’s abdication in favour of his eldest son Yuvraj Fatesinghrao. The difference between the two was one  was forced upon where as that of Danta was voluntary!

Next Column: Khushwant Singh on a Smiling Death

Danta Maharana did not sign Merger Danta Maharana did not sign Merger Reviewed by Dr.Hari Desai on July 25, 2019 Rating: 5

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