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December 20, 2009

Page: 18/37

Home > 2009 Issues > December 20, 2009


A touching historic saga of Rani Padmini of Chittor

By Dr Vaidehi Nathan

Rani Padmini: The Heroine of Chittor, BK Karkra, Rupa & Co, Pp 252, Rs 95.00 (PB)

Rani Padmini is as much a live memory in the minds of Indians as Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. Both faced similar predicament. The former was the object of physical lust of the powerful ruler of Delhi Alauddin Khalji. The latter was the victim of the insatiable greed of the British rulers. But they both reacted very differently to the challenge. They were separated by nearly 500 years.

Rani Padmini sacrificed her life, by jumping into the fire, to save her honour. The Rani of Jhansi died on the horseback, fighting the British army. To us, the reaction of both the women is awe inspiring. Especially because they were surrounded by men and kingdoms that were more than willing to kneel when asked to bend.

Rani Padmini: The Heroine of Chittor by B K Karkra is an earnest attempt to prove that Rani Padmini is not a folklore, as some historians dismissed, but was a blood and flesh woman who fought and died for her honour.

Alauddin Khalji, the then Sultan of Delhi, having heard about the beauty of Padmini from a former minion at the Chittor fort lays siege to the fort. After a long futile wait, the Sultan offers a peace treaty which is readily accepted by the king. He seeks to have only a glimpse of Padmini. The Sultan sees her through reflections in the mirror and wants to posses her. When the Chittor king comes out of the fort to see the Sultan off, he is captured and taken away. Padmini is the ransom to be paid for the release of the king. The Queen as intelligent as she was beautiful, sends word that she would surrender to the Sultan. A procession of palanquins reaches the site. The queen seeks audience with the king one last time. Sultan grants permission. But at the end of the half an hour audience, it is discovered that Padmini was nowhere in the vicinity and that the litters bore some of the most well trained soldiers who had secured the freedom of the king. Khalji orders war on Chittor and after relentless attack captures the fort. When the news reaches the women’s quarters, Rani Padmini, along with several royal women enters jauhar, the sacrificial fire. It may be noted that the concepts of sati and jauhar were social responses the women of India thought of to protect themselves from falling prey to the predatory invaders.

Several authors, including Amir Khusro, who was the official royal poet of the Khalji, have written that the Sultan ordered the massacre of 30,000 people inside the Chittor fort when he learnt that Padmini chose to become ashes than be possessed by him.

There is almost a conspiratorial silence in the several literary works of two centuries following the period of Rani Padmini (around 1303 AD). It is not clear if any historical evidence in the form of royal records and diaries were deliberately destroyed. But even during that period, the public memory of the queen continued to flourish, as the subsequent works indicate.

Shri Karkra, a soldier who has worked in the Indian Army, Indian police and National Security Guards and is an advocate by training has put together strong circumstantial evidence that proves conclusively that Rani Padmini is a real legend and not a figment of imagination. She is rightfully our icon of honour and valour.

(Rupa & Co, 7/16, Ansari Road, Darya Ganj, New Delhi-110 002)

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