Distortion of history in films & serials making has become a common practice. Recently, Sanjay Leela Bhansali was thrashed for misrepresenting the relationship between Queen Padmini & Alauddin Khilji. It needs to be seen in the light of authentic historical documents
Recently, the members of the Karni Sena thrashed Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the director of a movie based on Alauddin Khilji and Padmini during the shooting at Jaipur. Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone are playing the lead roles of Alauddin Khilji and Rani Padmini as hero-heroine, narrating love story in the name of historical background. After Bajirao-Mastani, it can be easily assumed that the movie will not be based on the bravery and sacrifice of Rajputs. After all, the Bollywood movie makers dish out the love stories to make the history palatable as per their choice. This farce is common to all from Anarkali and Jodha-Akbar to Bajirao-Mastani where the history and historical facts become trivial. After all, the historicity of Anarkali and Jodhabai are doubtful.
Roots of Controversy
If we speak of the pure history beyond the movie chemistry, Ratan Singh, the son of Samar Singh, ascended the throne of Chittod after latter’s death in 1302 AD. The Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khilji attacked Chittod in Muharram of Hijri year 703. Poet Amir Khusro accompanied Khilji who was given the epithet of Khusroo-e-Shairon. Amir Khusro wrote the Khajainul Fatah (Treasure of Victory) in a poetic prose style that is also known as Tarikh-e-Alai. This important book is a little history book of Khilji”s times in historical terms that describes the anecdotes from Hijri 695 to Hijri 711. This is the only contemporary history of the time that describes the facts accurately and in depth.
Khusro writes in Tarikh-e-Alai that when Sultan laid seize on Chittod fort and tried to break in the fort, the Rajput soldiers in the fort thought that the fort could not be saved. Then then make the Rajput women and children in fire (johar) and remaining Rajput soldiers wore the saffron clothes, open the gate of the fort and clashed with the Khilji’s army. After a terrible battle, the Khilji”s army captured the fort on August 25 , 1303. King Ratan Singh became martyr with all his warriors. When Alauddin entered the fort, Padmini was turned into ashes with other women in the fort. After winning the Chittod fort, Alauddin renamed it as Khijrabad.
Gauri Shankar Ojha has written in the Part 1 of the Udaypur”s history that more than 550 years had passed since the Guhil dynasty ruled the Chittod fort and when Alauddin Khilji attacked, Chittod”s King was Ratan Singh. The British historian James Todd has written in the Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan (edited by William Cook) that Hindu women performed Johar under the leadership of Ratan Singh”s queen Padmini. Alauddin brought Chittod under his control, but he could see only the fire of the Padmini”s pyre, for whom his had indulged in such a homicide.
It is said that when Alauddin failed in obtaining Padmini, he agreed to end the siege with a condition that Ratan Singh should show only a reflection of Padmini”s beautiful face to him in a mirror. However, when the king went to see him off outside the fort, he got the king arrested treacherously. However, Padmini cleverly managed to get her husband released.
The modern historians have rejected this story as being unhistorical. There are many reasons to discard it. One, Amir Khusro who accompanied Alauddin to Chittod and was present there at the time of siege did not write in this regard. Secondly, other contemporary writers too have not mentioned this. This logic is based on the shallow
observation by Amir Khusro and and are illogical. Amir Khusro certainly indicates to this story when he compared Alauddin to Suleman, says Saiba was inside Chittod fort and compares himself to Hud Hud bird that informed the Suleman, the king of Ethiopia about the beautiful Vikalis, the queen of Saiba.
It is clear from Khusro”s report that Alauddin had entered the fort Chittod with Khusro before capturing it. The king had come to Alauddin”s camp and surrendered when Sultan returned from inside the fort. After the king put down his arms, 30,000 Rajputs were killed on Alauddin”s order. The main incidents of the story get clear after the thorough analysis of the account.
Muhammad Jayasi, who wrote Padmavat in 1540 AD, wrote this story and all later writers followed the suite.
Khusro was a court poet, hence he could not write more than what he did. As is known, he did not mention many unfavourable truths prominent of which were the Alauddin’s murder of his uncle Jalaluddin, Sultan’s defeats at the hands of Mongols and seize of Delhi by him. The statement by Ojha, K S Lal and
others that this story was fiction by Jayasi is wrong. The truth is that Jayasi wrote a love poem and borrowed its plot from Khusro’s Khajainul Fatah.
Padmini’s incident was not an
ordinary story. There may be hardly any story or legend that may be compared to this. Dr Ojha termed the entire
narration of Jayasi, who wrote Padmavat, as manufactures and dubbed it as fiction. Acharya Ramchandra Shukla has termed the story related to Sinhaldweep as fictional and stories related to Alauddin as historically agreed or known.
Historian Ashirwadi Lal Srivastav has written in Delhi Sultanate that many incidents during the course of Padmavat are imaginary, but the main plot of the poem seems to be true. Not only this, even Jawaharlal Nehru in his book ‘Glimpses of World History’ writes on this incident that Chittod was a garden of bravery and love which was destroyed in 1303. The women
performed Johar as per the prevalent
ritual then and men were killed in the war. Alas, only if the women would come to war with sword in the hand along with the men! They had to die in any way. During those times, ‘slavery and insult’ was a common phenomenon after losing the battle. Therefore, chosing the death was preferable.
Literature of history,
Poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi, a resident of Jayas, wrote Padmavat in 947 Hijri. Pondering about the date of Padmavat’s creation, Dr Vasudev Sharan Agrawal thinks that it started around 927 Hijri. He wrote an essay with the title of ‘Time of Padmavat’s Composition – 927 or 947’ in which he accepted 927 Hijri as the starting point of composing this poem and time of Shershah’s reign as its finishing point. Dr Mataprasad Gupt, the editor of the Jayasi’s books published by Hindusthani Academy, Allahabad, also accepted the 947 Hijri in his treatise Padmavat (1963 AD). Jayasi composed his poem during the reign of Afghan ruler Shershah Suri.
The study of Sufi romance started with Padmavat. Pandit Sudhakar Dwivedi and George Grearson presented the earliest volumes of Padmavat first. However, no systematic study of Padmavat could come to fore as no complete and authentic edition was available. The credit of introducing the Hindi speaking world to Padmavat goes to Acharya Ramchandra Shukla. The systematic study of Sufi romance
actually started from here.
Shukla has given a critical review of Padmavat and works of Jayasi in the Jayasi Book Series. He has dwelt on the historical basis, love method, narration, opinion and principles of Padmavat In this review. Dr Mataprasad Gupt has presented the well edited and scientific version of Padmavat in the Jayasi Book Series for the first time. His articles like Love-Sect of Jayasi, Lorkaha and Mainasat are also notable.
Acharya Hazari Prasad Dwivedi has pondered over the Sufi poetry’s stream in Hindi literature. He is probably the first scholar who stated about that Padmavat was written in a Bharatiya metre. Dwivedi has dwelt on the
Sufi poets and poems in Hindi literature as well.
Dr Vasudev Sharan Agrawal has given an interpretation of Padmavat. He has written a scholarly review that helps us to understand Sufi poetry.
The Padmavat of Jayasi is a great poetry. Jayasi himself has given the outline of the story in brief.
Padmini was the queen of Sinhaldweep. Ratnasen brought her to Chittod. Raghavchetan talked about her to the Badshah of Delhi. The Badshah laid siege of the fort. There was fighting between the Hindus and the Muslims.
The story has two parts. In one part, Ratnasen abandons his estranged wife Nagmati, becomes a Yogi and goes to Sinhal to obtain Padmini. The second part starts when a Brahmin, Raghavchetan, reaches Delhi after being exiled by Chittod and sings praises of her beauty to Alauddin Khilji. The Badshah yearns to get Padmavati and attacks Chittod. Ratnasen is caught and brought to Delhi. Padmavati’s life is shrouded under the heavy clouds of gloom. She goes to the houses of Gora and Badal and says, “You are two
pillars. I have no other way besides you. I can’t live in this pain anymore.” Gora and Badal got touched to hear this. Tears swell in their eyes. They promise Padmavati, console her and start preparations of battle. They reach Delhi and release Ratnasen. Gora sends Ratnasen with Badal. He keeps just 1,000 soldiers with him and sends remaining soldiers with Badal and Ratnasen. A fierce battle takes place between both the armies and Gora attains the martyrdom. Badal moves ahead, taking King Ratnasen with him, and reaches Chittod. As he reaches home, there is a message from Padmavati how King Devpal of Kumbhalner had sent the emissary and showed meanness. To avenge his caprice, Ratnasen attacks Devpal and is injured. He dies while
Both Padmavati and Nagmati perform ritual of being ‘Sati’ (custom of immolation alive with the pyre of husband) with him. In the meantime, ’s army attacks the fort. Alauddin is left desolated. He utters that the world is false.
In his book “Alochana Karm”, Namwar Singh has written that the works of Kabir, Jayasi, Sur, Tulsidas etc. reflect the cultural renaissance from 14th to
16th century and highlight the hopes and aspirations of the masses.
Can Jayasi, who was born about two years after, write a false story about a Muslim king? Jayasi
condemns his failure and asks in the end – what did he get? A handful of ash!
Shivprasad Singh has written something notable in the prologue of his novel Delhi Door Hai. According to him, “Women committed johar.” The legends cross over the history but it is also true that history also has a seed of truth that grows the legends. In this regard, what Vijay Dev Narayan Sahi has written in his book Jayasi, is a
matter to read again and again. If Sinhal was a fictional world, then Jayasi prepared Delhi against it. Delhi is the
historic world of Delhi.
Alauddin was less a brave king than Gandharvasen, but quite a bit more. Gandharvasen’s gallant army shines like the jewels decorated on the wall. However, Alauddin’s army is real force that destroys the villages and crushes the enemies. It breaks the forts to pieces. This is not an army of poetic passages but a real army. Many passages from Khusro’s book Tawarikh Khajainul Fatah have been quoted in the book Jayasi from page 55 to 60 in which he appears to be a champion of fundamentalist Islam.
Shyam Manohar Pandey writes in the Sufi Kavya Vimarsh that it is worth considering about the source of
mentioning Padmini and Ratnasen came in this work that predates Padmavat. Chhitai Varta has a solid foundation of history behind it and it is poetry of separate tradition. Hence, it can be surmised that this story might have come from a Hindu source. The reference to Badal is found first of all in Chhitai Varta. Chhitai Varta is an excellent work of poetry that was composed by Narayan Das in Vikrami Samwat 1583 year 1526 AD. Hariharniwas Dwivedi, the historian who wrote an important book like Delhi Ke Tomar, has written in the book Gwallior Darshan that Chhitai Varta was an important work of Hindi literature. This noble work of the worldly narration-poetry of Hindi is enlivened by the social, political and historical background of its time.