The Flame of Valour “Padmavati” – Vinita Arya – Part 1
The country’s modern uneducated historians are creating a new folk tale regarding Queen Padmavati. Blinded by money and fame these “experts” are bent on selling the honour of their ancestors.
Today the young people who should be coming forward to defend the honour of these brave men and women, have instead sacrificed their characters on the altar of materialism.
So called patriotism today has become infested by casteism and selfishness.
A poet has quite rightly said “it is but a stone, the heart which has no love for its country, which is not full of emotions flowing with feeling”.
Sanjay LeelaBhansali, the director of the soon to- be released film “Queen Padmavati” has dared to twist Queen Padmavati’s history and show such distortions in his film.
The patriots who should be opposing this however, have instead just called this matter a caste issue and are sitting quietly. The reason for their silence must be their ignorance of the real life story of Queen Padmavati.
The historians of today just rely on Mohammed Jayasi’s “Padmavat” and unfortunately ever since the making of Bhansali’s romance and action film their ill deserved reputation has only increased due to the film being riddled with references from this inaccurate book. Many articles on Queen Padmavati exist on social media, but the sad fact is that there is an alarming lack of research seen in such articles.
In these two articles I have made an effort to reproduce and use some parts of the research work undertaken on this subject by writers such as GaurishankarHeerachandOjha and DamodarlallGarg, whose works are evidence based. Queen Padmavati was not only a valorous fiery woman in her time, but she is very much a burning symbol of bravery even today.
The lands of Rajasthan are not made up of sand, but it is the never ending birthplace of brave men and women of iron-wills.
History is witness to one of the most nationally and internationally famous among these valiant souls – Queen Padmavati or Padmini. In other words Queen Padmavati is a synonym for Chittorgarh Fort which is well known for its association with this brave queen. Both Queen Padmavati and Chittorgarh Fort have played a huge part in defending the nation and protecting the honour of women.
Influenced by this a bard once quite rightly said
“Garh to Bas Chittorgarh, baki Sab Garhiya” (Chittorgarh is theFort and all the rest (forts) are just fortresses. Padmavati is the Queen and all the rest are …”).
It is said by writers and historians about Queen Padmavati or Padmini that she was such a beauty that anyone on seeing her would be captivated by her. As for her bravery and intellect very few have lauded these aspects of her character.
The Mughals who were always tormented by Indian bravery, interfered with history by adding their biased insertions to show Mughal valour instead.
This conspiracy to distort history continued two hundred and fifty years after Queen Padmavati’s “jauhar”, self-immolation at Chittorgarh, when in 1540, Malik Mohammed Jayasi’s “Padmavat” was written.
Before his work, it is said that a wandering bard called Vain composed a piece on the Queen, however this was never published. Since Jayasi’s composition no serious research has been done on the life of Queen Padmavati and Jayasi’s work has been followed blindly ever since. In order to destroy the historical authenticity of Queen Padmavati’s story, her husband Ratan Singh is described as being from Sri Lanka, and furthermore he is portrayed as a sensual character.
Unintelligent people have increased the period that he was active in this story from one year to twelve years during which he is described as wandering around as sadhu.
He is described as going to Sri Lanka and as having married Queen Padmavati there. Other writers have just followed this line without questioning its truthfulness and in doing so have also supported other myths from Jayasi’s work namely that; Ratan Singh fulfilled the condition of showing his Queen to the attacker AlauddinKhilji, Padmavati was more of a beauty than a fierce warrior and that she placated a royal servant called RaghavChetan with a gift.
In reality the evidence of accounts of Queen Padmavati’s bravery and that of the traditions of her royal household tell a very different story. In reality, one can only imagine the robustness of Queen Padmavati’s bravery. In the articles that follow, the true history of Queen Padmavati will be told and the distortions of so called historians and writers on this subject will be exposed.
The Flame of Valour“ Padmavati” – Vinita Arya – Part 2
Malik Mohammed Jayasi wrote a poem called “Padmavat” about King Ratan Singh and Queen Padmavati and today it is that poem which is at the centre of controversy and much opposition.
Due to there being very few instances of their lives being documented in history, Jayasi’s “Padmavat” has been accepted by many as a serious historical book.
His tale in fact bears greater resemblance to the highly imaginative and fictional romances we see today than any genuine historical work.
Evidence of the indifferent attitude of Indian historical researchers to this subject is found in the way that they have so easily accepted “Padmavat” as being an authoritative and authentic depiction of the bravery of the Rajputs.
This is despite the fact that this work was written by a poet of the Mughal court who lived two hundred and fifty years after the “jauhar” or the self-immolation of Queen Padmavati. The reason why it is so disheartening to see ‘Padmavat” regarded as authentic today and to see a film actually based on this work is because this poem has completely destroyed the honour the dignity, the pride and the traditions of the Rajputs.
Jayasi has written quite a lot in the “Padmavat” but in brief the story can be summarised as follows.
The daughter of King Gandharvasen of the kingdom of Singhal was called Padmini. This princess loved to keep birds.
Among her birds was a parrot called Heeramun, who understood and spoke the language of humans. One day a hunter caught this parrot and in his greed he sold the parrot to a Brahmin. The Brahmin in turn gave it to the King of Chittorgarh, Ratan Singh. One day the wife of Ratan Singh was praising her own beauty when the parrot began to praise the beauty of Padmini. Ratan Singh having heard the parrot’s praises became determined to have the princess for himself and went to the kingdom of Singhal, which is in modern day Sri Lanka.
As he was a lone warrior, King Ratan Singh abandoned the idea of war and decided to spend twelve years as a sadhu, or wandering sage during which time he made many attempts to try and get Princess Padmini. One day the parrot Heeramun, escapes from Ratan Singh and goes to Princess Padmini and he tells her about Ratan Singh. By just listening to Heeramun’s account she falls in love with Ratan Singh. One day, both Ratan Singh and Padmini meet and Ratan Singh on seeing Padmini’s beauty faints. King Gandharvasen witnessing the princess’ love for him, respects his daughter’s wishes and both Ratan Singh and Padmini get married. Ratan Singh then takes Padmini back to Chittorgarh.
Now, in order to make this tale more interesting and to link the royal couple to Khilji, Jayasi adds another character, RaghavChetan to the story, One day this person enters the court of King Ratan Singh and requests employment from him. The king gives him employment but later finds out that RaghavChetan, knows black magic.
He removes him from the court, however Queen Padmini takes pity on him and personally gives him money. When Raghav sees the Queen in person, he falls madly in love with her beauty.
Filled with feelings of vengeance against King Ratan Singh he goes to Delhi and poisons the mind of Sultan AlauddinKhilji and incites him to wage war against him. Raghav also tells him about Padmini’s beauty and cunningly persuades him that he needs to make Padmini a part of his court. Khilji then attacks Chittorgarh and a battle ensues between him and King Ratan Singh for sixth months.
The Mughal army become despondent but then Khilji hits apon a great idea; he tells Ratan Singh that if you allow me and my army to see your wife through a mirror, then we will leave you. King Ratan Singh accepts Khilji’s proposal, and he makes preparations for a mirror to be brought to the palace through which Khilji can see Ratan Singh’s wife from afar. When Khilji sees Padmini he becomes enchanted by her beauty.
He makes arrangements to leave Chittorgarh and King Ratan Singh comes to see him off personally. However the king is deceived by Khilji and gets captured by him instead and he is taken to Delhi. Having taken Ratan Singh there, Khilji sends a message to Chittorgarh, that if you give me Queen Padmini, then I will let Ratan Singh go.
Queen Padmini then makes a plan to rescue her husband. She goes with seven hundred soldiers dressed in royal maid servants’ clothes in palanquins to Khilji. With great cunning and skill the Queen rescues her King from Khilji’s clutches and brings him back to Chittorgarh. Khilji on discovering this deception attacks Chittorgarh again, during which Ratan Singh becomes martyred and Queen Padmini and her many royal maidservants commit “jauhar” or self immolation.
Khilji on hearing the news of Queen Padmini’s death becomes very depressed and full of despair. He leaves soon after for Delhi. (This brief summary of “Jayasi’sPadmavat” has been taken from DamodarlallGarg’s book –ChittorgarhkiJvala Rani Padmini- Chittorgarh’s Fiery Queen Padmini)
The Jayasi’s “Padmavat” story has been given in brief here but this is enough to show that the poem has been laced with so much romance that the honour, duty, traditions and bravery of the Rajputs are nowhere to be seen.
According to the writer of the book “The History of the Kingdom of Udaipur p. 174” (in the original Hindi – “Udaipur RajyaKaItihaas)
“at the end of the “Padmavat” tale, Jayasi calls the whole tale a metaphor”. Writers that come after Jayasi have also regarded the tale as authentic and have used it to support their works, by diluting the story even further and writing their own even more watered-down version.
Readers who already have knowledge of the honour and the sense of duty of the Rajputs on actually reading the “Padmavat” can easily see that in this tale Queen Padmavat’s “jauhar” and Rajputivalour have been meddled with.
Evidence instead of their actual bravery can be seen in these lines from other poems –
“Chittor champak hi rahayadyapiyavanali ho gaye, dharamarthHaldighat me kitnesubhatbali ho gaye”
(Chittor’s rose fragrance remained despite the foreigners turning into wasps, how many great warriors were sacrificed for Dharma, righteousness at Haldighat!),
“Kulmaan jab takpraan tab tak, yah nahin to vahnahin”
(maintain the honour of the clan until the last breath, as if that disappears so will it (the clan)”.
These instructions have resounded throughout the Mewar region of Rajasthan. The burning fiery blood of those born on Rajasthani soil can also be seen in these lines
“vikhyaat ve jauhar yahan ke aaj bhi hai lok men, ham magna hai, un padmini-si deviyon ke shok men! Aarya striya nij dharm par marti hui darti nahin, sadyant sarv satitva-shiksha visva men milti nahin”
(jauhar is still commemorated today and throughout the world, we are plunged into mourning for noble, virtuous ladies such as Padmini! Arya ladies defend their own virtue, are never afraid to die and such a lesson in wifely fidelity you will never see anywhere else in the whole world”.)
The following points are also worthy of serious consideration:
- By reading the Padmavat poem and comparing it with the actual reign of Ratan Singh then Jayasi’s whole poem becomes clearly a baseless total lie. According to the evidence that is available, the inscriptions that have been found, Ratan Singh’s reign was only for around a year (see “The History of the Kingdom of Udaipur” p. 187) Now what’s worth thinking about is how in reality all of the events described in the poem could have occurred within his very short reign, for example Ratan Singh’s coronation, his taking care of his kingdom, then shortly after meeting the parrot, making plans to go to the Kingdom of Singhal, actually going to Singhal and spending twelve years as a sadhu, a wandering ascetic, coming back to Chittor, the arrival of RaghavChetan in his court, his subsequent removal, Raghav’s trip to Delhi where after several months he meets Khilji, Khilji’ssubsequent six month attack on Chittor, the imprisonment of King Ratan Singh and his removal to Delhi, his subsequent release and return to Chittor, followed by a battle and the jauhar of Queen Padmini. If these events really did happen they would have taken years to take place! But the clear evidence that the duration of Ratan Singh’s reign was only for one year is proof enough that Jayasi’s poem is pure fantasy.
- If for argument’s sake Ratan Singh’s reign was longer, then for a king to wander around for twelve years dressed as a sadhu seems not in keeping with the world famous reputation of the Rajputs. It is more plausible and credible that Ratan Singh in his capacity as king would have gone to King Gandharvasen and asked for Padmini’s hand in marriage up front and that it would have been readily accepted.
- There was in fact no King Gandharvasen of the Kingdom of Singhal during the reign of King Ratan Singh. Nor was there a person called HammeerShankh who was king as written somewhere else. The ruler of Singhal was actually KeertinisshankdevParakrambahu the Fourth (“The History of the Kingdom of Udaipur” p. 187)
- It is very doubtful that Queen Padmini would have helped the courtier RaghavChetan as described in Jayasi’s tale because according to Rajput etiquette no wife, daughter, sister can speak to a man who doesn’t belong to her family, let alone give him alms. This is not only the etiquette of the Rajput’s but of all good families in India.
- It also impossible that King Ratan Singh would have gone against all Rajput etiquette and ignored the Rajput’s great history of chivalry and accept Khilji’s alleged proposal – i.e. that of showing his wife off to another man in exchange for Khilji’s cessation of war. Ratan Singh being a very powerful King with everything at his disposal would never have acted against the honour and dignity of the Rajputs. No husband in his right mind would ever accept such a proposal.
- There is no evidence whatsoever also for – the imprisonment of King Ratan Singh by Khilji and the seven hundred palanquins that are taken to Delhi to attack Khilji. These are all figments of Jayasi’s very vivid imagination.
- As during King Ratan Singh’s time the blood of a Rajput was a synonym for valour, it is very wrong of Jayasi to depict Ratan Singh as fainting on seeing Padmini for the first time. It is frankly laughable when even today men do not swoon on seeing a woman.
- Queen Padmini did not in fact live in Singhal. She belonged to the Kingdom of Pangal, Pingal or Pungalgadh, which is within modern day Bikaner, Rajasthan. The heroine of the romantic folk tale of Dhola-Maru lives in fact in this citadel. Lines from Rajasthani folk songs also are proof that Queen Padmini lived in Pangal (Pungalgadh) such as – “Pagipagipangipanth sir upariambarchah, pavaspragatuPadmini, kahutpangaljah”. To re-emphasise the truth about Queen Padmini’s parents and husband, it must be underlined that her father’s name was actually King Punyapal, her mother was Queen Jamkavar and her husband was King Ratan Singh. (See –ChittorkiJvala “Rani Padmini” –from Rani Padmini Ki AitihasiktaaurKhyatipraptJauhar -Chittor’s Flame – “Queen Padmini” in the Hindi book – “Queen Padmini’s Historical and Famous Jauhar” – p. 51)
In conclusion, the historical authenticity of Jayasi’s “Padmavat” is non-existent due to a lack of evidence. Spatially, geographically and in terms of the alleged events that occurred theygo against all authentic historical accounts.
Having read and understood all these facts my opposition to Bhansali and his film is that he has based his film on “historical” accounts which can not be regarded as the truth.
In doing so Bhansali has distorted history, which is unacceptable. Another unacceptable thing about this film is the choice of actress to play the role of Queen Padmavati (DeepikaPadukone).
She is in my view a person with a questionable character. Contrast the input of such a person in this film to the non-existent consultation of the Rajput community who are rightly very concerned about how this film depicts their iconic Queen, Queen Padmini.
By stubbornly ignoring their sentiments and continuing to distort history this has inevitably led to this level of opposition. A cynic would say that this is what Bhansali has always wanted as courting such opposition is only giving him free publicity.
Whatever Bhansali’s secret agenda is, one can only make a final judgment on his film once it is released. It is left to the reader’s own conscience whether s/he should go and see this film or not.
(Hindi Article translated and edited by Vinita Arya)