Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A loyal steed...indeed.

Sometime before the 80's there was a little auto manufacturer in India that started making scooters. Bajaj eventually took their production to a plant formerly owned by Vespa. This "little scooter manufacturer that could" then took on the vintage look we all know and love. This continued as the Chetak model was exported all over the world. Sometime in 2005 however, whether compulsory or intentionally, production ceased. It's ok, your tears are not the first to be shed over this tragedy... In my humble opinion it is the honorable death that it's namesake also met in the year 1576.

Below are excerpts of the tale found on the ever-reliable Wikipedia.
Cetak, or Chetak, was the horse of Rana Pratap, whom Pratap rode during the gruesome Battle of Haldighati, June 21, 1576. Chetak died in this battle and since then has been immortalized in the ballads of Rajasthan. Folklore has it that Chetak's coat had a blue tinge. That is why Rana Pratap is sometime referred as the "Rider of the Blue Horse" in ballads.
Pratap's forces were decisively outnumbered. While mounted on Chetak, Pratap made a daring attempt on the life of Imperial Mughal Commander Man Singh. When Pratap saw that the battle's tide was turning against him, he decided to settle the issue one way or the other in a spectacular and quintessentially Rajput manner. Imperial commander Man Singh was directing the battle seated on an elephant. Pratap charged frontally at the Imperial army, hacked his way through the massed ranks of enemy combatants and reached in front of Man Singh's elephant. Once there, Chetak reared high in the air and planted his hooves on the forehead of Man Singh's elephant. Pratap threw his lance at Man Singh, who had the necessary quick reflexes to duck in time. The blow fell on the mahout (elephant driver) instead, who was killed instantly. In the general melee that followed, Chetak received a fatal wound on one of his legs. This was the turning point of the battle. Mewar's bold gamble to siege the battle in its favor had failed. As Man Singh was whisked away to safety, Pratap found himself surrounded by enemy soldiers.
This was the moment of decision for Pratap, whether to seek personal glory by embracing martyrdom on the battlefield, or to live and keep the flame of resistance burning. If he lived, Mewar stood another chance. In fact every rebel anywhere in India against the Mughal empire would have a rallying figure. But with him gone, the sun would set on Indian aspirations forever. Mewar own fate would be sealed.
Maharana was loath to leave a battle in between, but was prevailed upon by his faithful followers. By some accounts one of the Jhala sardar literally snatched the Royal Insignia from Maharana's person and wore them himself, thus making him a target for the Mughal Army.
As Mughal army fell upon the Jhala sardar mistaking him for Maharana, Maharana left the battlefield with some of his loyal followers. Chetak was exhausted and seriously wounded, but labored on carrying his master. About 2 miles from the site of the battle he came across a small stream. It was here while trying to leap across the stream Chetak collapsed.
Maharana erected a small and beautiful monument for his beloved companion at the place where Chetak fell. This cenotaph still exists near the village of Jharol in in Rajsamand District. Chetak lives on in poetic traditions as the epitome of loyalty.
Now 432 years later, in honor of our fallen hero, I raise my lance high and gallop the streets of Provo with pride on my 2004 Bajaj Chetak scooter. So, in case you see a skinny pale kid with glasses trying jump a stream, or anything for that matter, take a minute to stop and help him off his collapsed steed. It's either that or give-up the resistance and let the Mewar's of our day continue to suppress and to exploit. I suggest the former...

What to look for:

I call him Chet.

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