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Allauddin Khilji and his Romance of Rani Padmavati; A Fresh Look
The tale of the Rani of Chittor is told and retold a million times and there is no child in India who will not know this tale. The Rani named Padmavati or Padmini in short form was the wife of the ruler of Chittor. The beauty of the lady had spread far and wide and bards and writers extolled her. The Sultan of Delhi Allauddin heard of this beauty and being a man with a lecherous bent of mind decided to visit Chittoor. Allauddin did covet women but he also loved a slave and this is recorded in history. The slave later became Sultan.
His passion was unbounded as he rode 700 miles to Delhi with a hardy garrison. The Sultan had built up a fearful reputation as a slayer of Hindus and thus the Rajput princes let him pass till he reached the fortress of Chittor. It is not explained why none of the Rajput princes attempted to stop Allauddin when he rode out towards Delhi. It was as if they were waiting for a death wish.
The Rana heard of the arrival of Allauddin and read his message. As per legend the Delhi Sultan expressed his peaceful intent and mentioned that all he wanted was to see the fabled Rani Padmavati. Those were the days of the "purdah" and the Rana was in a quandary. Logic demanded that he march out and fight the man who had made this atrocious request. Yet he agreed and allowed the Sultan to have a glimpse of his queen. For this purpose, he erected a large mirror and the sultan was shown the reflected image.
It was an enchanting sight and Allauddin went away only to return with a bigger force. His aim was to add rani Padmavati to his harem. In a fierce and bloody battle the Rana was vanquished and killed and when Allauddin entered Chittor fort the Rani Padmavati and many of her handmaidens committed suicide by burning, glorified in Rajput history as "Jauhar". One can say this form of death is nothing to glorify and yet the legend thrives. It is also not known what were Padmini's thoughts. In any case, the act of Jauhar raised more questions than answers. These questions are still not answered.
Allauddin and Padmavati in modern context
Padmavati committed suicide and this act is venerated. The idea is simple, my body is meant for my man only and in case I have to give it to an invader who happens to be Muslim, then it's better to die and that too by burning. It was an awesome act but showed a negative mindset and so many questions are raised.
a) Why did the Rana show his wife in the mirror to Allauddin?
b) Why did not the Rana who had heard of the advance of the army of Alauddin keep waiting inside his fortress? Why did he not go forward and battle Allauddin at a place and terrain of his choice?
c) Why did not the Rana and his queen not escape southwards to carry on the battle against the Delhi Sultan?. Granted Allauddin was a great warrior but he had been checked by the Mughals in the north. He was thus not invincible
When we look at the events in the modern context the act of the Rana defies explanation.He was also a poor soldier general who did not know the rudiments of the principles of war. It must be understood that bravery is not a substitute for tactics and strategy. This the Rana woefully lacked. Padmini's Jauhar has a serious connotation for the modern age and would mean any girl raped or having given her 'Izzat" must perforce commit suicide.
Sanjay Bhansali the well-known producer is making a film on the Rani Padmavati- Allauddin episode in history. He will present on celluloid, the lust of Allauddin for the queen of Chittor. Recently in a shooting session in Jaipur, the producer, and his crew were attacked by protagonists of the Karni Sena who objected to some scenes being shown in the film. They ransacked the sets and attacked Bhansali. This was a regrettable act and shows the mindset of the people who still want to venerate a mindless act of burning ( Jauhar). This can have no lesson for a modern India. The BJP home minister justified the outrage. What outrage? this is something that has no meaning. It's about time the modern age stopped venerating queens like Rani Padmavati who left behind a negative mindset. India deserves better than this.