Real & undistorted story of Rani Padmavati - Alauddin Khilji
The history of Rajputana
Starting from Mewar and spreading to Amer, Ajmer and Chittor, the remnants of Rajputana- the Land of Rajputs, can still give you goose bumps. The magnificent forts, and historical battles and mystifying love sagas, are something to be deeply treasured till the end of time.
Growing up, we all read and learned about several valiant tales of Rajputana- their battles, sacrifices, treaties, and fierce perspectives. Along with these, there are certain secrets kept well-intact within the walls of Rajputana forts, dungeons and tunnels.
Foreign invasion in India
Ever since foreign invaders eyed invaluable assets of the Indian land, our warriors were up on their toes, fighting with all their might, blood and aggression; with Sikh, Rajput and Marathi warriors leading them. The fearless tales of some of the battles are etched in pages of Indian history.
Mughals in India
Back in the time, before and around 12th and 13th century, the Mughals and several rulers of the Khilji dynasty, repeatedly attacked Rajputana, with the intention to take over Hindustan. One such attempted invasion was that of the Chittorgarh fort.
Chittorgarh fort, today, stands as an epitome of the true Rajputana spirit, loyalty, fidelity and bravery and a symbol of women power. The palace shrieks of the agonizing tale of its heroic Queen Padmavati (or fondly called Padmini.)
Even though there are hardly any textual references that support the existence of Queen Padmini, either in Hinduism or in Rajput tribe, yet a well-known folklore composed by Awadhi artist named Malik Muhammad Jayasi indicates something else.
Malik Muhammad Jayas's poem
Not all royals had their memoirs written and so it is assumed that the era of Chittor too, may have gone without any written remembrance. However, 230-years later after Alauddin Khilji, took over the Chittorgarh, the poem surfaced, singing the praises and great mention of Queen Padmini’s bravery.
Alauddin Khilji is known as one of the most brutal rulers of the Khilji dynasty, who ascended the throne by killing his father-in-law, his brother-in-laws and their uncles. He was known for attacking states, only for their land and women. And, the motive behind the attack on Mewar was none other than royal Rani Padmavati.
Rani Padmini's swayamvar
Born in the Sinhala Kingdom to King Gandharvsena and his chief consort Champavati, princess Padmavati was brought up with education in war strategies and skills for battleship. At the time of her marriage, a swayamvar was organised, which saw many Kings and Princes claiming their hand over her rightful ownership, but it wasn’t an ordinary Swayamvar.
There was one condition set out by Princess Padmini, herself; whosoever defeated the designated fighter in the sword battle, could marry her. No one knew the fact that it was Princess Padmini herself in the disguise of the designated fighter.
Rani Padmavati and Ratansen
She fought and lost to King Rawal Ratan Singh of Chittor, who she duly married as per her condition. While his gallant and loyalty to his kingdom was undoubted, his love and passion for arts was unmatched.
His royal court was equally employed with talented and skilful people. One of whom was an artist named Raghav Chetan. Not only did he paint beautiful images, but also served the King with secrets from within the four walls of the palace.
But, what Raghav Chetan kept in hiding was the fact about him being a sorcerer, who practiced witchcraft and black magic, for his selfish purposes. In order to keep this side of him well-hidden, he killed many who came in his way. But, once he was caught red-handed by King Rawal Ratan Singh, who banished him from the kingdom, after much humiliation.
Raghav Chetan settled down in Delhi in one of the forests which Alauddin Khilji used to frequent for hunting deer. One day, on hearing the Sultan's hunt party entering the forest, Raghav-Chetan started playing a melodious tone on his flute. When the soothing notes of the flute reached the Sultan's party, they were surprised as to who could be playing a flute in such a beautiful way in a forest.
Raghav Chetan's revenge
Sulking with rage, Raghav chanced upon this opportunity and headed to meet Alauddin Khilji. He tried with all his might to trigger him into attacking Chittor, but nothing worked, until he fed him with details of Queen Padmavati’s beauty.
Alauddin Khilji agreed to it on one condition- if only he could see meet her in person. On reaching Chittor, Alauddin Khilji found the fort to be heavily defended. Desperate to have a look at the legendary beauty of Padmini, he sent word to King Rawal Ratan Singh that he wished to see the real beauty of Chittor and see if the rumors were in fact true.
Sensing no danger, Rawal Ratan Singh agreed and requested his wife Padmavati to come and meet him. And, under the disguise of this meeting, Khilji brought his best army men, who took notes of Chittorgarh fort’s defence loopholes.
Reflection in Mirror
Queen Padmini aware of the brutalities caused by the foreign invaders was wary of meeting Khilji in person and requested instead to let him see her reflection only, there were arrangements made and mirrors were set in such a way that Khilji could only see her reflection. However, Khilji got obsessed with Rani Padmini and fell head over heels for her.
Capturing of Ratansen
With the motive of revenge, Khilji welcomed Rawal Ratan Singh to his camp outside the royal residence. Accepting this open door, the wicked Sultan misleadingly seized Rawal Ratan Singh and took him as a prisoner into his camp and requested Padmini to come and surrender herself before him, if she wished to see her husband and the King alive.
Women wailing for their men
Hearing this, while Rawal Ratan Singh’s nephew devised a plan to save his uncle, on the other side, the women of the royal palace were preparing for Jauhar. (self-immolation). This news enraged Khilji further, who gathered more army men and ordered a siege on the fort walls, from all sides. Ratan Singh’s army fought bravely, but as they had already lost hundreds of warriors, their defeat was inevitable. Ratan Singh too died fighting along his men.
Secret passage to kund
Meanwhile, inside the Chittor fort, Queen Padmini and all the other consorts of Rawal Ratan Singh, along with wives of army men and every woman present in the state, walked down the secret passage linked from Chittor fort into the Jauhar Kund.
They wailed for their men and sang praises of their bravery and together they jumped into the fire; Queen Padmini was the first one to jump into the Jauhar Kund. The entire palace was echoed by their cries. By the time, Khiliji and his army entered the fort to claim their authority on royal treasure and women; they were welcomed by eerie sounds coming from the Jauhar Kund.
The heat and sounds, coming out from the Jauhar Kund were so fierce that Khilji ordered to permanently close the tunnel passage. Some hundred years ago, the passage was reopened by the then King of Chittor who honoured these brave women.
Contradiction amid Historians
The popular historical reference of Rani Padmavati or Rani Padmini comes from Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s poem Padmavati written in the 15th century. However, historians reject the entire fiasco as a mere figment of fiction. Per their knowledge, it was merely a story woven to praise and sing songs about the bravery of the Rajputana clan.
In Padmavat, Jayasi mentions about Raja Gandharva Sen, who was Rani Padmini’s. What is to be noted here, there is no mention of any such name in the entire Sinhalese history. Also, the then Buddhist rulers of Sri Lanka had direct links with the Pandya kingdom and had no links with the Rajputs whatsoever.
Later writers like Abu-l Fazl, Haji-ud-Dabir who attribute Padmini not to a person but the attributes of her beauty, accept it stating that Khilji did invade Chittorgarh for the sole purpose of his desire to own Rani Padmini as his own. Whilst other contemporaries would deny this entirely as a mere figment of fiction woven by Jayasi.