The story of Padmavati: An unreported perspective

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When Malik Muhammad Jayasi penned down the poem in the 16th century revolving around the mythical Sinhalese (Sri Lankan) princess in the 14th century, who had a talking parrot called Hiraman.

Padmavati

Hiraman had escaped from Sri Lanka and reached Chittor King Raja Rawal Ratan Singh. The parrot, Hiraman, seduced Raja Ratan with the tales of beauty about Padmini. Raja Ratan Singh fell in love with the parrot’s description of Padmini’s beauty and despite being married to Rani Nagmati, he travelled all the way to Sri Lanka to claim this supreme beauty as his second wife and, by some accounts, 15th wife.

It’s important to note that what Malik Muhammad Jayasi wrote in 1540 has had nothing to do with historical facts. Historians are almost unanimous that Jayasi’s folkloric poem was a great piece of fiction. However, there are a few important takeaways here;

    • Parrot from Sri Lanka should speaks in Sinhalese and not Hindi language
    • Rajput King believes in the parrot’s story to the extent that he ditches his loving wife or wives for the Sri Lankan beauty
    • Raja Ratan travels from Chittor to Sri Lanka and returns back while Sultan Khilji was ruling Delhi. He was also routinely attacking Hindu kingdoms and taking away their women, at least that’s what the new India’s history will have you believe.
    • During the long absence of Raja Ratan, Khilji doesn’t attack Chittor. And despite being portrayed as a sex predator, Khilji never makes any attempts to take control of Rani Nagmati in the absence of her husband.
    • Padmini was not a Rajput queen even if we are to believe Jayasi’s fictional literary masterpiece as a historical fact. The Sinhalese society was not caste oriented.
    • The story of Padmavat was written 230 years after Khilji had died or the supposed travel by Raja Ratan Singh to Sri Lanka had taken place. Also to remember is the important fact that it was written by a Muslim poet.
    • No Indian poet or writer from August 1306 AD till 1540 AD ever wrote any account of Rani Padmawati.

Raja Ratan Singh after his grand wedding with the daughter of King Gandharvsen of Sri Lanka came back to Chittor with 16000 beautiful women as gifts from the Sri Lankan King. Meanwhile, Raghav Chetan, a Brahmin musician and a known sorcerer in his court, was caught red handed while performing an evil act. He was banished out of Chittor by the king himself but Rani Padmawati gave Raghav Chetan her bangle as a parting gift.

This enraged Brahmin moved to Delhi and found refuge in Sultan Khilji’s court.
Revenge was the only objective of this Brahmin, who narrated the beauty of Padmavati to Sultan Khilji while showing him the bangle, to the extent that incited the latter to claim her as his queen. Khilji finally was provoked to attack and destroy Chittor. The battle is inconclusive as Khilji fails to either defeat the king or secure Padmavati for himself even after laying siege of the fort for several days. As a compromise formula, Khilji is invited inside the fort even though the king’s generals, Gora and Badal advise him against the move. Khilji, according to Jayasi’s poem, manages to kidnap the king before taking him to Delhi.

Jayasi writes that the neighbouring king of Kumbhalmer, Devpal, on hearing the arrest of Raja Ratan, sent out a marriage proposal to Rani Padmawati. After being rescued out of Khilji’s captivity, Raja Ratan is engaged in a full-blown war with Devpal. Both Raja Ratan and Devpal die in the battle, presenting a good opportunity to Khilji to annex both the kingdoms.

Jayasi says that Ratan’s death led to both Padmavati and Nagmati committing sati or jauhar. However, some literature from the period suggests that Khilji’s request to see the queen was turned down as Rajput culture forbade women from meeting strangers. After Raja Ratan’s death in the battle, Khilji reportedly gain invaded Chittor and marched his way inside the fort to look for Padmavati. However, Padmavati and several other women had by then ended her life in jauhar.

More takeaways from this story;

      • In order to avenge the insult meted out to him, Brahmin Raghav Chetan incites Muslim Khilji to attack Hindu Rajput king. Otherwise Khilji had no plans to attack Chittor.
      • Rajput King of Kumbhalmer, Raja Devpal had no interest in saving Rajput’s honour or rescuing Raja Ratan but was already eyeing Rani Padmavti for himself despite knowing that she was the wife of another Rajput king.
      • Only the Royal or Rajput women committed jauhar or self-immolation because they feared their chastity or honour was at stake when invading army would enter the fort.
        However, women and children of other castes did not commit jauhar in the kingdom. Does that mean that women of other castes valued their honour or chastity any less than those Rajput women or did they consider themselves less desirable to the invaders? If we were to take the demonic nature of invaders as we are made to believe, then jauhar should have been an act without any caste consideration.

Story of Padmavat is mythical, unreal?

The story of Padmavati is caste-centric and it places higher order of honour and chastity on Rajput women, thereby being derogatory to all non-Rajput women. If Rajput women did not surrender to invaders, as Indians we would like to believe that women of other castes also did not surrender.

From the story, it’s also clear that Rajput kings around Mewar did not consider Padmini as Rajput honour but simply an object when Raja Devpal made an offer to marry Padmini. Once again, if we are to believe the demonic character of Alauddin Khilji, who allegedly attacked and captured at least 1000 kingdoms, then questions must be asked as to why  there were no mass suicides by women in those kingdoms. Khilji’s army mostly consisted of local Rajputs. If indeed Khilji’s army raped and killed women, then this is a much bigger national shame to imagine that local Rajput warriors were raping and killing other local population.

To think that these Rajput warriors in Khilji’s army will agree to commit heinous crimes against their own people is an unthinkable proposition. The propaganda to demonise erstwhile Muslim kings also indicts Hindu warriors and kings who fought alongside the Muslim rulers. Could Khilji possibly command an army, which consisted of over 75% Rajput warriors and order them to act against their own women and even destroy temples and yet command their loyalty?

If yes, then it belittles a very large population of India which aligned with the then kingdoms. Historically, foreign rulers could rule for centuries only because they were just and progressive.

Last but not the least! Was jauhar a gift of Muslim rule in India or an age old practice followed by Rajput women from the Royal families as an aftereffect of the war, almost at par with Sati? Jauhar was a cruel extension of the Sati practice wherein warriors mostly Rajputs died en masse and expected other women to die too. It had nothing to do with Khilji, but a mass Sati practice, glorified as Rajput honour.

(The views expressed here are the author’s own. Janta Ka Reporter doesn’t endorse them)

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