Paean of The Three Legged Dark Blue Horse (Folklore-Chetak)

a poem by Rita Joyce Singh, India

About brave battles and true grit
When all that history is writ
There will sit saddled, one great name
Within the heroes’ hall of fame
The horse Chetak’s, a Marwari
A breed that would the least tarry.

Three things are known of Marwari
A battle horse of victory.
That, its speed forges a path free,
In danger helps the rider flee.
That, man wounded, is not alone,
And dead, astride he would reach home.

One such, with such a human heart
Would not from his rider be part
Was, Chetak bred of faculty
To serve with love and loyalty
The horse friend of Rana Pratap
When battle turned hazard of hap.

So unlike, the rest of his breed
He was the rarest of a steed
Not black, not grey, not bald of pie
Still strange dark blue of darkened sky
The brave king, renowned was of course
Called ‘Rider of the Dark Blue Horse’.

Chetak’s amble and limbs were fine
His hooves of dynamics divine
When times the Rana rode a course
Folks vied to catch a glimpse perforce
Yet, they caught sight of, just blue tinge
When Chetak raced, his sight would singe.

One Imperial Majesty
Stoked battle at Haldigati
Mughal Man Singh, war exponent
Strode atop an elephant
Fitted with wheels of sword-long-blades
No charge could break his armoured glade.

Thus, Haldigathi battlefield
Where Rana’s men fought not to yield
Saw them go down like pins unkempt
So Rana made his last attempt
A path through Mughal soldiers traced
With Chetak towards Man Singh raced.

Reared up the horse and brave man
Above those blades, a daring plan
Leapt and struck the elephant’s head
Missed Singh, but mahout died instead
The plan totally misfired
Horse and king men-locked and mired.

One foreleg of Chetak got cut
Three legged he managed to butt
Three legged he ran just as fast
Two miles from that battlefield past
His croup read Rana’s horsemanship
Snaking, wobbling, frothing at lip.

Chetak galloped, flew off a cliff
Three legged flight, a challenge stiff
Safe banks of the stream he touched
Then shuddered hard and sideways lurched
The stunned Rana giving God thanks
Saw Chetak drop on the stream-banks.

Towards Rana’s lap, inched his head
Whinnied soft, snapped his breath, lay dead
“My three legged friend! You are gone!
Why !? You never left me alone!!”
Wept the Rana and held him close
Kissed his wet face and stroked his nose.

The Rana escaped to return
Goading grand battles from heartburn
When dusts and scores did down settle
In honour of Chetak’s mettle
The Rana raised a monument
Still marks that spot where Chetak went.

Folklore etched their names in gold
Paeans are sung, stories told
Of rider and the brave blue horse
Now, more renowned the horse of course
In harness he died, one great name
Years pass, but not that horse’s fame.

Note: 16th Century Indian History,Battle of Haldigati : June 21st 1576
Chetak: Horse:Owned by Maharana Pratap (Rana meaning King) ruler of Mewar then.
Man Singh (pronounced Maan Singh ) Commander of the Mughal army.
Marwari Breed : A one man horse…earlier crossed with Arab thorough bred and traces of Mongol horse,subsequent inbreeding raised the unique Marwari breed: Equus Ferus Caballus
(battle horse,mostly stallions were used in battles)
Rana Pratap fought several battles with Chetak and the horse was considered the mascot of the army before and after his death. Rana also fought several battles after the death of Chetak and eventually died of old age and illness.He was amongst the most brave and renowned kings of India.The battle of Haldigati had the tide turning against Rana..who makes one final attempt to kill Man Singh.. Chetak takes a powerful leap and strikes the elephant’s head with both front hooves, the elephant goes wild /circles/amok and his blades chop off Chetak’s foreleg..(while Rana throws the lance Man Singh ducks away but the lance kills the mahout)..thereafter, surrounded by enemy soldiers..Chetak surpasses himself ..snakes his way out, leaping..(leading with one foreleg- three legged in that fray and brings the Rana to a safe cliff/ditch/rivulet ..he jumps that low cliff-drop or high embankment two-three miles outside the battlefield where in sheer exhaustion he drops dead. Battles later…a small monument is raised by the Rana at Jagraul district where Chetak died. A much larger monument was commissioned after Rana’s death in bronze of the Rana astride Chetak on the hillock called Pearl Hill(Rajasthan)

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