Durga Dass Rathore, the son of
Askaran, was a hereditary jagirdar under Maharaja Jaswant Singh I of Marwar.
He was present with the Maharaja at Jamrud when the died there in harness.
Durga Dass played key role in safely escorting the family of his master from
Jamrud to Marwar via Delhi, the Mughal capital. He displayed loyalty to his
master by risking his own life in open conflict against the Mughal soldiers
when Jaswant Singh’s posthumous son Ajeet Singh was being secretly carried
away from Delhi to Jaitaran in Marwar. He, along with other fellow Sardars of
Marwar, took care to remove Ajeet Singh from Jaitaran to Kalindri in Sirohi.
It was at his initiative that Maharana Raj Singh of Marwar agreed to provide
shelter to Ajeet Singh in the battle of Debari when combined force of Merwar
and Marwar were defeated by the Mughals. He was note disappointed by the
annexation of Marwar to Mughal Empire followed by anihililation of Rajputs in
the battle of Debari. On the one hand he continued to guide and inspire his
clansmen to raise revolts in different parts of Marwar to weaken the Mughal
hold over the newly acquired territories and on the other hand he played the
part of a diplomat by trying unsuccessfully to come closer to Muazzam and then
by instigating the third son of Aurangzeb to revolt against his father. He
succeeded in getting recognition for Ajeet Singh as the real son of Jaswant
Singh from the rebel prince at a crucial time when Aurangzeb was not prepared
to recognize Ajeet Singh. Prince Akbar conferred on Ajeet Singh the title of
Maharaja and Mansab. His foresightedness in escorting Akbar from Rajasthan to
the Deccan was a calculated move because Aurangzeb also left for the Deccan to
check the possibilities of Maratha – Rajput alliance against him. The
intensity of Mughal atrocities was lessened with the movement of Aurangzeb
from Rajasthan. Moreover, opportunities were provided to various Rathor
Sardars to crate disturbances in Mughal territories to weaken their hole.
Despite being away from Marwar, Durga Dass was in touch with his fellow nobles
in these hard times when means of communications were almost inadequate.
Despite the fact that Durga Dass was born and brought up in the traditional
way, he was different from the Ran Bankura Rathors of his age who believed in
displaying their personal velour and chivalry. He possessed the qualities of a
statesman. But for this Ajeet Singh could not have got over financial
stringency. Further, despite differences with his Swami Ajeet Singh he rose to
the occasion to advise him not to fall in the Mughal trap when Ajeet was
invited at Ajmer in 1692 to meet Shujaat Khan. Similarly, he was present in
the battle of Sambhar. The Mughal Emperor Jahandarshah conferred on his the
title of ‘Rao’ and awarded mansab of 4000 Zat and 3000 sawar.
The name of Durga Dass continues to figure in the official records of the
Mughal Empire till about the year 1716 A.D. On many occasions Khilats were
conferred on his and his mansab was raised time and again. But in the
chronicles of Marwar his name is not mentioned after the victory of Rajputs in
the battle of Sambhar. There may be two reasons for it. Firstly, his strained
relations with Ajeet Singh which were completely ruptured by 1702. Secondly,
the jealousy of his fellow clansmen because of his unique position in Marwar
and Mughal Empire. Still, the tales of his heroic feats, devotion and
sacrifice is remembered not only by the people of Marwar but by every Indian.
His narrative presents an uninterrupted record of patriotism and loyalty.