| THIMMA RAHUTA: A LOCAL HERO
Hundreds of local heroes, warriors and soldiers who fought for some purpose or the other normally do not find a place in the pages of history. Their exploits were so significant that they impressed the contemporary people who wept or showered praise on them. But as they were ordinary people, their exploits rarely get recorded.
In fact this is the defect of history: that people of higher class of the society like the kings, queens, ministers and the rich always steal the limelight and the ordinary people are forgotten. Court poets do not look at them; Inscriptional poets ignore them and writers consider them useless. The position has not changed even now. But they are preserved and glorified by the folk artists. That is why folk literature is now given the status of oral history.
Fortunately Thimma Rahuta and his exploits attracted the attention of Vijayanagara King five hundred years ago, and he ordered his exploits to be suitably recorded in the form of inscriptions. Though the originals are lost, their copies have been preserved and they supply the details of a great hero by name Thimma Rahuta. He was an ordinary citizen in the days of Vijayanagara King Krishnadevaraya. He belonged to the Kuruba Rahuta Community. He was a great warrior and a talented person of his days and was admired by the people of his times.
The Dasara festival of the Vijayanagara empire was a grand affair which was praised by foreign travellers from Russia, Italy, Persia, Portugal and other countries. Every night there used to be various competitions in wrestling, archery, animal fight etc., in addition to dance and Music. The young heroes would be waiting for a chance to get royal recognition and obtain rich rewards and positions in the army or in administration.
Krishnadevaraya used to sit on the gold throne amidst pomp and pageantry daily during the Dasara festival. The Minister made an announcement loudly; There is a small pit of 8X8 ft and in it are found a cobra and a tiger; Any hero who jumps into the pit and kills both the animals will be suitably rewarded by the emperor. Let the heroes of Vijayanagara come forward. There was silence all around. Nobody was prepared to take part in the dangerous game. Finally Thimma Rahuta came to the stage, bowed to the emperor and sought permission to enter into the pit. Most people thought that this young man would be killed either by the cobra or by the tiger.
Unminding all these comments Thimma Rahuta jumped into the pit and fought valiantly against both the animals and killed both the cobra and the tiger and triumphantly walked upto the emperor Krishnadevaraya. Thousands of people who had gathered there to witness this spectacle cheered Thimma Rahuta with great applause.
Krishnadevaraya was mightily pleased and with a broad smile on his face congratulated the young hero and asked him ‘what reward do you want?’ everybody thought that Thimma would request huge wealth or land or villages or the post of an officer in the army. But surprisingly Thimma requested for the abolition of the marriage tax levied by the government on his community. Krishnadeveraya immediately ordered the abolition of the marriage tax and Thimma became a great hero among his community.
The next year Dasara saw a different type of competition. The Sultan of Delhi had heard of the exploit of Thimma and sent an uncontrollable horse to be tamed by riding on it. This was a challenge to the heroes of Vijayangara itself. The Minister made the announcement and requested the Vijayanagara heroes to come forward and accept the challenge of the Sultan and save the honour of the Vijayanagara Kingdom.
The announcement was made twice but nobody came forward. Finally, Thimma Rahuta came to the dias and sought the permission to try his luck. Thimma went near the horse and jumped on its back with ease and began riding on the horse without much difficult and made many rounds in the arena. Every one was amazed at the riding skill of Thimma and applauded his effort. The king thanked him for saving the honour of Vijayanagara and told him, ‘Ask whatever you want; I will grant to you’.
This time also Thimma Rahuta asked for some minor concessions for his community and further requested for a small post to serve his community as a liaison with the government. The king immediately granted it and asked his officers to prepare a record in the form of a government order.
Though the Vijayanagara king and the people were extremely happy at this exploit of Thimma, the Sultan was unhappy as his horse was tamed by an ordinary person of the Vijayanagara empire. To take revenge, he announced one more challenge. This time he sent some wrestlers to Vijayanagara. The Minister made the usual announcement regarding the challenge of the Sultan. Nobody came forward to pick up the challenge. However, Thimma felt that it was his duty to save the honour of Vijayanagara and accepted the challenge.
Wrestlers of Sultan
A wrestling competition was arranged between Thimma and the wrestlers of the Sultan. Thimma Rahuta defeated the Sultanate wrestlers one by one with great tact and finally won the challenge to the pleasant surprise of everyone gathered there. The Vijayanagara king rewarded suitably Thimma Rahuta and recorded it.
These three rare records fortunately tell us about the great hero Thimma Rahuta. At the end of these records, the king had put certain conditions so that these records would not be destroyed. This was a great deterent to everybody against destroying these records. Thanks to Dr. Rajashekharappa of Chitradurga who was to get these records and explain the significance of an interesting episode which took place five hundred years ago.