:: Memoirs of Maharaj Sajjansinghji,
    a first cousin... ::


After the shot, the tribals came to meet us and during the conversation we were told that the cubs of the animal were run over by a truck driver a few days back, and ever since then the mother used to keep calling out to them in the night. On hearing this, Bhai was depressed. Had we known about this, we probably would not have gone after the animal. In that case the tribal who had lost his bullock would have suffered more losses. Such are the ways of life.

In another interesting incident, a pair of panthers were causing quite a bit of destruction in a small village called Chutanvad. This place belonged to one of the Jagirdars, named Kesrisinh. It happened that he had come to Chhota Udepur on some business and having enquired locally came to meet me to address the menace. I called Bhai, and we decided to go to the Jagirdar's village the same evening. So the next evening we left for Chutanvad at around 4.00 pm with the live bait. We reached the Thakur's place in an hour to find that all arrangements had been made for our visit. The Thakur's residence, was just about a hundred meters away from the concerned hill. When we were sitting in the garden, he told us that the two panthers would normally sit on the peak every day during sunset and watch the entire activity downhill. The time at this hour was around 5.30 pm, and we told our orderly to tie the goat close to the hill. As soon as the animal was tied, it started bleating continuously. Simultaneously we fixed our gaze on the mountain peak and sure enough, after about ten minutes, two heads appeared, much to our surprise, watching the goat intently. The sun was setting, so we proceeded to the machan as the panthers would kill the goat immediately once it was left alone.

Climbing up, we sat ready with our rifles watching the tied goat, when suddenly like a whirlwind, the female rushed for the kill. So great was her flight that all we saw was a blur, and the next moment she was standing on her legs with the goat hanging in her mouth. As she braced herself to a standstill, Bhai fired and hit her on the side. Thereafter, my bullet hit her in the neck and she dropped dead. It was 6.30 in the evening then. We knew that the big male was closely watching the proceedings. So, we whistled for the camp followers to come and take away the dead panther. While going back we told them to cough and speak loudly, so the panther would not attack them. Once they departed, complete silence enveloped again and there was no alternative but to wait. Hour after hour passed and still the male did not come. Eventually, after four hours of mosquito bites, the male approached the kill. No indication was given that he had come, but since our eyes were accustomed to the increasing darkness, concentrating on the fallen goat, we felt we saw some movement. Concentrating harder we could make out a figure. Sensing the presence of the panther, I whispered to Bhai to get ready. Aiming at the panther, Bhai asked for the light to be switched on. As the light fell, we saw a large panther with the goat in its mouth about to go. Two shots sounded through the night and the animal collapsed.

Getting down, we reached the camp and measured the animals. The male measured 7'.10" and the female measured 6'.6". The forests and the mountains get empty after the panthers are shot, but only for a short duration. Other animals make their abode there, and the cycle of life and death goes on and on.

In 1970, Bhai married Princess Nirmal Kumari of Cama, a "Thikana" in Jaipur. Given the changing times, this marriage ceremony was a lot subdued as compared to the earlier one. Only selected guests and close family attended the wedding in Jaipur, where I again was the Best Man to the Maharaja. This alliance blessed Chhota Udepur with three princes - the eldest Yuvraj Jaipratap Singh Chauhan, the second Maharaj Kumar Bhavanipratap Singh Chauhan and the youngest H.H. Maharaja Aishwaryapratap Singh Chauhan ( the current Maharaja)

Temperamentally, Bhai was a wonderful person, humorous and jovial and very large hearted. Seldom, people took advantage of his large heartedness and though he was aware of their intentions to do so, he would not say a word to them. He loved to entertain and throw lavish parties, so he had excellent relations with his brother rulers. One of the most commendable aspect of his nature, which I admired most, was that I have never seen him loose his temper.

Also he was fair and just in all respects, a gem of a person in every possible manner.

I was with Bhai, all the time, till 1953, post which I joined the Birla group, and so had to leave Chhota Udepur. Bhai, also got associated with Tata group, in which he eventually became a director. This kept him away from Chhota Udepur for short durations.

Bhai unexpectedly passed away on 27th June, 2006 in Jaipur, leaving us, his entire family grieving bitterly. His loving nature and other beautiful memories of him remain to be remembered with great sadness. Bhai has gone forever, but like the famous rhyme - "People may come and people may go, but I go on for ever", Bhai will live in everyone's memories forever. God bless his Noble soul.