The Saga of Love, Hate, Death & Betrayal.
Rani Padmavati And Ala-ud-Din Khilji
Chittorgarh is a fort where air screams history. The fort is not only remembered for its brave Rajput folks but also for its valiant queen Rani Padmavati or Padmini. The heart touching story, a legendary tale of valor, sacrifice, tragedy, honor which occurred in the palace of Chittorgarh during 13th century.
Princess Padmini or Padmavati, was the daughter of King Gandharva and Queen Champavati, of Singhal clan. Her father arranged a Swayamvara, a ceremony where all Hindu kings and Rajputs are invited to win the hand of the princess by showing their strength and eligibility. King Rawal Ratan Singh of Chittor, who was married to Queen Nagmati, won Princess Padmini’s hand by defeating a small state king, Malkhan. King Rawal Ratan Singh returned to Chittor along with his very beautiful second wife, Queen Padmini.The beauty of Rani Padmini was legendary. Very fair and flawless skinned, she was so delicately beautiful that one could literally see water passing by her throat when she drank water.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Sultanate of Delhi - the kingdom set up by the invaders was nevertheless growing in power. Ala-ud-din Khilji was the second ruler of the Khilji dynasty reigning from 1296 to 1316. He is considered the most powerful ruler of the dynasty. He was a very ambitious person and liked to call himself ‘The Second Alexander’.
The Ruler of chittorgarh Ratansen, was a brave and noble warrior-king. Apart, from being a loving husband and just a ruler, Ratansen was also a patron of the arts. All the artists, dancers, craftsmen, musicians, poets, singers were welcomed and honored by the king. And among his most talented courtiers, there was the musician called as Raghav Chetak. But unknown to anybody, Raghav Chetak was also a sorcerer and an ardent black magician .He used his evil talents to run down his rivals but unfortunately for him, he was caught red-handed in his dirty act of arousing evil spirits. On hearing this,King Rawal Ratan Singh was furious and he banished Raghav Chetak from his kingdom after blackening his face and making him ride a donkey. This harsh punishment earned Ratan Singh an uncompromising enemy.Sulking after his humiliation, Raghav Chetak made his way towards Delhi with the aim of trying to incite the Sultan Khilji to attack Chittor.
On approaching Delhi, Raghav Chetak settled down in one of the forests nearby which the Sultan used to frequent for hunting deer. One day on hearing the Sultan's hunt party entering the forest, Raghav-Chetak started playing a melodious tone on his flute. When the alluring notes of Chetak's flute reached the Sultan's party they were surprised as to who could be playing a flute in such a masterly way in a forest.
The Sultan dispatched his soldiers to fetch the person and when Raghav-Chetak was brought before him, the Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji asked him to come to his court at Delhi. The cunning Raghav-Chetan asked the king as to why he wants to have a ordinary musician like himself when there were many other beautiful objects to be had. Wondering what Raghav-Chetak meant, Ala-ud-din asked him to clarify. Upon being told of Rani Padmavati's beauty, Ala-ud-din's lust was aroused and immediately on returning to his capital he gave orders to his army to march on Chittor.
On reaching Chittorgarh, Khilji found the fort to be heavily defended. Desperate to have a look at the legendary beauty of Padmini, he sent word to King Ratansen that he looked upon Padmini as his sister and wanted to meet her.To escape Khilji and his vast army and to save his kingdom, Raja Ratan Singh gave in and persuaded Rani Padmini to fulfill the sultan’s demand and to meet him.
The queen agreed reluctantly on one condition that she won’t be shown or presented to sultan directly, but sultan can only view her by her reflection. Going mad and desperate to catch her glimpse, sultan Alauddin Khilji agreed. Khijli selected few of his best warriors along with him to the fort who secretly made a careful observation of the fort's defences on their way to the Palace.
On seeing Padmini, in the mirror, the lustful 'brother' Khilji decided that he should secure Padmini for himself. While returning to his camp, Allah-ud-din was accompanied for some way by King Ratansen. Taking this opportunity, the wily Sultan deceitfully kidnapped Ratansen and took him as a prisoner into his camp and demanded that Padmini come and surrender herself before Allah-ud-din Khilji, if she wanted her husband King Ratansen alive again.
The Rajput generals decided to beat the Sultan at his own game and sent back a word that Padmini would be given to Ala-ud-din the next morning. On the following day at the crack of dawn, one hundred and fifity palaquins (covered cases in which royal ladies were carried in medieveal times) left the fort and made their way towards Ala-ud-din's camps The palanquins stopped before the tent where king Ratansen was being held prisoner. . Seeing that the palanquins had come from Chittor; and thinking that they had brought along with them his queen, king Ratansen was mortified. But to his surprise from the palanquins came out, not his queen and her women servants but fully armed soldiers, who quickly freed ; Ratansen and galloped away towards Chittor on horses grabbed from Ala-ud-din's stables.
On hearing this the lustful Sultan was furious and ordered his army to storm Chittor. But hard as they tried the Sultans army could not break into the fort. Then Ala-ud-din decided to lay seige to the fort. The seige was a long drawn one and gradually supplied within the fort were depleted. Finally King Ratnasen gave orders that the Rajputs would open the gates and fight to finish with the besieging troops. On hearing of this decision, Padmini decided that with their men-folk going into the unequal struggle with the Sultan's army in which they were sure to perish, the queen decided to do "Jauhar". Jauhar was followed by females and children of the Rajput clans in order to avoid capture and enslavement at the hands of invaders. The term also describes the practice of mass suicide carried out in medieval times by Rajput women to save their honor from invaders.
During the Jauhar, which was said to take place during the night, Brahmin priests would chant Vedic mantras, and the Rajput women, wearing their wedding dresses, would commit suicide with their children via self-immolation. On the morning after the Jauhar, the men would carry out the saka; after taking a bath, the men would wear orange saffron clothes, smear the ashes of their wives and children on their foreheads, and put a tulsi leaf in their mouths. Then, they would sally out either to annihilate their enemies or to be annihilated by them.
A huge pyre was lit and followed by their queen padmavati, all the women of Chittor jumped into the flames and deceived the lustful enemy waiting outside. With their womenfolk dead, the men of Chittor had nothing to live for. They charged out of the fort and fought on furiously with the vastly Powerful array of the Sultan, till all of them perished. After this phyrrhic victory the Sultan's troops entered the fort only to be confronted with ashes and burnt bones of the women whose honour they were going to violate to satisfy their lust.
These women who committed Jawhar had to perish but their memory has been kept alive till today by folk songs which glorify their act which was right in those days and circumstances. Thus a halo of honour is given to their supreme sacrifice.
In the end Guys, I also want to add one more thing that Rani Padmini or Padmavati is a legendary queen mentioned in Padmavat, an epic poem written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi in 1540. There is no historical evidence that Rani Padmini actually existed. Padmavat is the first written reference to Rani Padmini, occurring approximately 240 years after the events described in it.