A legend called Padmini

Synopsis : Some people have to die in the most painful manner before they become a legend that people talk about for centuries. Queen Padmini of Chittorgarh in Rajasthan was such a person who gave her life to preserve her honor and dignity than to submit to the sultan Alauddin Khilji of Delhi for his depravity. This is her painful story.

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Source : Google painting of queen Padmini

I have always wanted to write about Queen Padmini but hesitated to bring forth her story to the world although every Indian child knows about her. People shed tears when they see the movie made of her called Padmavati that was finally released in India after a lot of controversy and protest because her sacrifice was too graphic and brings back very painful memories of Muslim atrocities of the past in vivid detail.

Her story dates back to 13th century Kingdom of Mewar in Rajasthan where king Ratan Singh ruled from the fort of Chittor. He had married Padmini  after hearing about her exceptional beauty but her fame as a most beautiful queen spread far and wide in India. When Ratan Singh banished a Brahmin courtier named Raghav Chetan for fraud and black magic , he went to the court of the notorious sultan of  Delhi Alauddin Khilji in revenge and told him about the exceptionally beautiful Padmavati.  Khilji who laid siege of the fort of Chittor in 1303 became obsessed with the queen and wanted to bring her back to Delhi as his concubine but first he had to conquer the impregnable fortress called Chittor. Raghav Chetan had put a curse on the fort of Chittor saying that much blood will be spilled there. Sadly his curse came true.

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Source : Google painting of Alauddin Khilji and as portrayed in the movie

Alauddin at first wanted to see her but a Rajput queen could not be seen by a man let alone a Muslim invader so a compromise was reached that her reflection in a mirror could be allowed. Alauddin after seeing her reflection became more obsessed and used deceit to lure the king Ratan Singh out of the fort that Khilji had failed to conquer after nearly six months of siege. His rations for his huge army were running low and his troops were restless so he took the king captive to force the queen Padmini to surrender to him.

Padmini then told Khilji that she will come with a retinue of her maids in hundreds of palanquins that she filled with her fiercest warriors dressed in disguise and rescued her husband before the Muslim guards knew what was happening. Once inside the fort, the doors were bolted. Khilji then attacked the fort with all his might and finally overcame the resistance but once inside, he saw nothing but death and the stench of burning flesh.

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Source : Google painting of Queen Padmini burning in fire

This video clip is of the famous scene from the movie Padmavat where Queen Padmini jumps into fire along with thousands of women to save their honor .

 

Source : U tube video of the movie Padmavat trailer where the Queen Padmini jumps into fire with her companions to save her honor

Padmini had vowed that no one will ever defile her and take her by force so true to her Rajput creed, she decided to jump into the fierce flame and turned herself into ash. This act of bravery is called jauhar that became the exalted tradition of Rajput women when they knew that their warriors had lost a battle and they were in danger of being enslaved and raped so committed suicide. It is said that thousands of women inside the fort of Chittor committed jauhar and immolated themselves on that fateful day in 1303. The huge pit of fire where the women jumped to their agonizing death was where the queen was the first to jump.

People even today fear to visit the place and say that shrieks of women crying in pain while they burned alive are heard in the pit during the total darkness of the moonless sky. Some hear horses galloping and others talk of hearing the chime of ankle ornaments women wore and still wear in Rajasthan today. This is the painful legacy of a very beautiful queen who only wanted to serve her people in a true Rajput way but gave her life to protect her honor and dignity.

Her warriors gave a good account of themselves as only Rajput warriors could and killed over 20000 Muslim soldiers but they were no match for the huge well equipped army of Khilji and died in the process to the last man including Ratan Singh Chauhan himself.

Khilji had taken the fort but at a terrible cost to his army only to find ashes of the burning queen inside and went back to Delhi utterly disappointed.

“By the 20th century, Rajput Hindu women of Rajasthan characterized Padmini as a historical figure who exemplifies Rajput womanhood. Hindu activists have characterized her as a chaste Hindu woman, and her suicide as a heroic act of resistance against the invader Khilji. She has been admired for her character, her willingness to commit jauhar instead of being humiliated and enslaved  by Muslims, as a symbol of bravery and an exemplar like Meera.” ( wikipedia )

Alauddin Khilji ruled his sultanate with cruelty, murder and mayhem the same way he came to power. He was totally ruthless and a fanatic Muslim  who saw himself entitled to anything he desired including Padmini but he failed. His undecorated rectangular and a very sorry looking grave near the Qutub Minar in Delhi is a testament to his failed and sad legacy of a cruel and despotic ruler who was obsessed with sex and power. He ordered a tower that would be higher than Qutub Minar but it was never finished and its ruin can be seen near the Qutub Minar.

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Source : Google photo of the undecorated and crude grave of Alauddin Khilji in the Qutub Minar complex in Delhi.

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Source : Google photo of unfinished Alai Minar of Khilji that promised to be taller than the Qutub Minar nearby.

Padmini on the other hand became a legend during her time that every Rajput and Hindu woman aspired to follow her example. She remains today a national heroine of extraordinary courage who exemplified all womanhood in India with her moral ascendancy over the enemy and showed the world that her self-respect and dignity was worth dying for even in the most brutal way.

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Source : Google photo of Chittor fort in Rajasthan .It is a haunted place now.

Chittor fort today is a haunted place millions of tourists visit. They wander through its grounds and empty shells of once luxurious palaces of kings and queens. They visit the palace of Padmini  and the stairs in the tunnel that leads them to the jauhar pit where Padmini  burned herself to death but no one dares to go down the steps.

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Source : Google photo of the secret tunnel and stairs that lead to the jauhar pit in the fort.

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Source : Google photo of the jauhar pit inside the Chittor fort where the queen burned herself alive along with many other women of her retinue.

Can anyone imagine and feel her pain while she and thousands of  women burned in the flames so long ago to protect their honor ? Does anyone really know what it feels like to be consumed  by flame alive? Padmini was not only beautiful ,she had a resolve of steel that was the hallmark of Rajput women while the Rajput warriors put fear into the Muslim armies that could never truly subjugate them.

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Source : Google painting of queen Padmini

Padmavati

Source : Google painting of queen Padmini

It is said that the Fort of Chittor like many other such places in Rajasthan is soaked in blood of countless defenders who only wanted to live in peace within their kingdom and preserve their religion and traditions. But the price they paid in blood is staggering. The story of India is replete with countless massacres of once peaceful citizens by the invaders who built their empire on the skulls of the dead and forced their religion on hapless subjects ,destroyed their places of worship and treated them with cruelty matched only by the likes of Gengis Khan.

 

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A story of great valor and courage

Synopsis :  We often read the stories of  great people who sacrificed their lives so that we could be free but can not imagine what they sacrificed and how much pain they suffered in the process. Indian history is replete with such great men and women who are the national heroes. The story of King Prithviraj Chauhan shines as the brightest star in the galaxy of  great rulers of the past.

Today I will write about an incredible person of valor and chivalry, bravery and  courage. I will take you back some 850 years to the year 1166 when a prince was born in the city of Ajmer in Rajputana now called Rajasthan to the Chauhan king Someshwar and was named Prithviraj by his adoring parents. It meant King of the world and he lived up to his name as we will see.

Like all Rajput princes, he was taught sword fighting, archery and horse riding but he excelled in archery the most and could hit a target blindfolded by listening to the sound of his target. He was a brilliant child who was very sharp in learning all the military skills at an early age.

He succeeded to the throne of Ajmer at the age of thirteen, in 1179, when his father died in a battle. His grandfather Angam, ruler of Delhi, declared him heir to the throne of Delhi after hearing about his courage and bravery. He once killed a lion on his own without any weapon. He was known as the warrior king.

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Source : Google painting of King Prithviraj Chauhan

When he ascended  the throne of Delhi, he built Qila Rai Pithora ( a fort) here. It is not known exactly when he ascended the throne in Delhi but assumed that he was a young man then. His whole life was a continuous chain of bravery, courage, chivalrous deeds and glorious exploits. He defeated the mighty Bheemdev, ruler of Gujarat, as a young man and is known to the historians for his love for his queen Samyukta .

In those days the princesses chose their own husbands from the assembly of many kings and princes who were invited to seek the hand of the princess often by inviting them to show their military prowess in archery or sword fights but the princess Samyukta had decided to marry Prithviraj Chauhan whom her father hated as a rival.

Her father put a statue of Prithviraj at the gate of his palace to mock him but the princess took  a flower garland and put it around the neck of the statue declaring that she had chosen him as her husband. The young king who was not invited to the ceremony suddenly appeared and snatched the princess away on his horse and sped away to the great anger of her father who could do nothing .

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Source : Google painting of princess Samyukta putting the garland on the statue.

Samyukta became the queen and together they ruled for quite some time until the scourge of Mahmud Ghori descended on them. After the defeat in the hand of the invader Ghori, Samyukta was repeatedly raped by the Muslim king until one day she took her own life. Her husband and the brave king was brought to Ghazni as a prisoner and treated very badly by Ghori . The rest is mentioned in his biography below.

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Source : Google photo of Afghan king Mahmud Ghori ( a painting )

He expanded his empire but during this time Mahmud Ghori attacked India in 1191 who was defeated by Prithviraj at the first battle of Tarain. After defeating the army of Mahmud Ghori he was asked to attack the retreating army but in true Rajput tradition he refused to do so as it did not conform to the fair war rules. As a result Mahmud Ghori again attacked India and in the second battle of Tarain in 1192 Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated and captured. As a prisoner, he was brought to Ghazni in Afghanistan and tortured but he was defiant and looked straight at his captor.

It irked the Muslim ruler who asked him to lower his gaze but Prithviraj answered that as a Rajput he lowered his eyes at no one so Ghori ordered his eyes to be gouged out with hot iron. Thus he became blind but did not lose his courage. Helped by his court poet and friend Chand Bardai, he is believed to kill Mahmud Ghori with his “shabdabhedi baan”. ( the arrow that follows the sound )

His skill of hitting the target blindfolded just on the basis of sound made by it came handy and during the archery demonstration organized by Mahmud Ghori, he displayed his skill. When Mahmud Ghori praised him, he heard his voice and shot an arrow clean through his neck killing Mahmud Ghori instantly. In order to escape death at the hands of enemies he and his friend Chand Bardai then stabbed each other and died thus ending his glorious life in this sad way. The year was 1192. The place was Ghazni in Afghanistan.

Chand Bardai had earlier compiled the story of the life of Prithviraj Chauhan in his epic poem Prithviraj Raso. Prithviraj Chauhan died in 1192, with his death a period of bravery, courage, patriotism and principles came to an end. Prithviraj Raso of Chand Bardai and Prithviraj Vijay of Jayanak have immortalized deeds of Prithviraj Chauhan. (Wikipedia).

Mahmud Ghori was a Muslim king in Afghanistan who had gone to India and defeated a Hindu king whom he brought back as a prisoner and treated very badly but he is eulogized by the Muslims in his country and a big mausoleum is built for him but the defeated king Prithiviraj Chauhan was buried by the road side in a pauper’s grave covered with soil and the Muslims hit his grave with shoes to show their disdain and anger because he was a non-Muslim who had killed their king Ghori just before he took his own life. You can see the shoes kept near the grave for the Muslims to beat the grave with even after nearly 900 years. It was a deliberate insult to a great king.

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Source : Google photo of the pauper’s grave of King Prithviraj Chauhan in Ghazni with shoes to beat his grave with.

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Source : Google photo of Sher Singh Rana

This story was repeated in the newspapers and the media in India that came to the attention of a brave man called Sher Singh Rana who was serving a long sentence in the notorious jail in Delhi and decided to break out of his prison to go to Afghanistan and bring back the bones of the revered king for a proper burial. But Tihar jail is a maximum security jail that was not easy to break out of so he failed the first time and somehow succeeded in escaping on his second try although how he did so remains a mystery.

Many efforts were made by the Indian government to bring back the remains of their national hero but they did not succeed so how could an ordinary person like Rana without any resources do it?

This is where the story gets interesting and shows the great resolve Rana had to go to Afghanistan and find the grave of the king and dig out the bones so he first went to Dacca to get a Pakistani visa and then journeyed to Ghazni in Afghanistan by land disguised as a Muslim and grew a thick beard to look like one.

It was not difficult for him to find the grave of the king so he made an elaborate plan to dig out the bones in secret in total darkness as it was just by the roadside but video filmed the process. Ghazni is a dangerous area as most of Afghanistan is so he took great risk in doing so knowing that the Taliban would have killed him if they had found out that he was a Hindu removing bones from a grave even if they hated the king.

Sher Singh Rana then returned to India with the remains of the king Prithviraj Chauhan who had suffered ignominy for over nine hundred years in the hands of Muslims there and instantly became a national hero. He had succeeded in his effort when all others had failed so now all India rejoiced at his bravery and his deed because they all understood how much risk he took in escaping from his prison in Delhi and going to a war devastated country like Afghanistan to bring back the bones of the great king. He then surrendered to the authorities and went back to his jail cell voluntarily because he said that the justice system will eventually find him innocent and release him.

Soon he was granted bail and later acquitted. He had always maintained his innocence and said that he had been wrongfully detained for a crime he did not commit. By this time he had spent nearly 14 years of his life in jail but now he is a free man and a national hero.

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Source : Google photo of the monument of Prithviraj Chauhan in Ajmer

The great monument of Prithviraj Chauhan is erected in Ajmer in Rajasthan and in many other parts of India where he is remembered as one of the great rulers of India who tried to protect India from the invaders from Afghanistan and died doing so in 1192. He was the last Hindu ruler of India to sit on the throne in Delhi before the Muslim invasion began in earnest of which Mahmud Ghori was only the first.

Indian history is replete with the stories of great bravery of kings like Prithviraj Chauhan who became the legend that the school children read about in their text books. He and his beautiful wife were great rulers who took care of their subjects but fought their enemies tooth and nail and died in the process. He did not invade other countries and force people to change their religion but defended his kingdom to the last drop of his blood. It is a sad story of a king and his queen of great valor and sacrifice.

This led to the subsequent invasion of India by the Moghuls who ruled India for over 350 years until overthrown by another invader called the British but that is another story.

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

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