Padmavati controversy is at its peak right now with new threats being issued with each passing day. As I write this, I am sure some sena member must be writing some open letter somewhere in blood or I don’t know what, or issuing a fresh threat to the team members of the film and demanding a ban on the Sanjay Leela Bhansal’s Padmavati. The protesters cannot wait for the film to release and watch what its content has in store before taking on to the streets. Some Rajput community members have asked the filmmaker to arrange for a special screening so that all doubts about the assumed ‘distorted facts’ are cleared.Also Read - Deepika Pdukone Is 'Burning Calories' With PV Sindhu, Ranveer Singh Is Having 'Major FOMO Attack'
They have promised to let the film starring Shahid Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, release smoothly if they find nothing objectionable after watching it. Bhansali on the other hand, hasn’t taken a decision to screen the film for the Rajput group as yet. The anti-Padmavati group believes the story to have historical connection and have concluded that the film has distorted facts. And all those in support of the film are trying to reason that the film has been made with all factual data in place. Also Read - Deepika Padukone Crashes In Hubby Ranveer Singh's Chat With Fans, Asks 'When are you coming home?'
At the base of this furor are the characters Alauddin Khilji and Padmavati. The film supposedly shows how the Delhi Sultanate ruler was charmed by the beauty of Padmavati and how that became his motive to attack and capture Chittor. However, what is interesting is that the earliest of versions about the Chittor siege do not mention Padmavati at all. And therefore, there is no mention about her being a reason for the attack on Chittor. Is Padmavati even real? Does this whole Alauddin – Padmavati connection have any historical significance? We read up at least 10 different versions of the Chittor siege and Rani Padmini trying to make sense of the fact and fiction. This is sure to make your mind explode and just have a big laugh on all the protests that are taking place all around the country right now! Also Read - The Incarnation-SITA Writer Says ‘Kangana Was Our Priority Not Kareena Kapoor Khan, Deepika Padukone’
Alauddin Khalji or Alauddin Khilji’s siege of Chittor took place in 1303 CE and is a historical event.
The first mention
The earliest source that mentions Padmavati is an epic fictionalized poem written by Indian Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi in 1540 CE, titled Padmavat. Any accounts of the Chittorgarh siege earlier to these, such as chronicles by Amir Khusrau (South Asian Sufi musician, poet and scholar of 13th century), Ziauddin Barani (Muslim political thinker of the Delhi Sultanate), and Abdul Malik Isami (14th century Indian historian), make no mention of this queen. Most modern historians have also rejected the authenticity of the Padmini legend.
When fiction became fact
In 1589 CE Hemratan, a Jain monk51 of the Kharatara gacchha (monastic lineage), wrote Gora Badal Padmini Chaupai. This was the first Rajput adaption of the legend and this is when Padmini became a historical figure.
Apart from the Rajput writers, the 16th century historians Firishta (Persian historian) and Haji-ud-Dabir also mentioned Padmini as a historical figure. Interestingly, but their accounts are different from each other and also from Jayasi’s. Funnily, Firishta mentions that Padmini was not the wife but daughter of Ratan Sen. Beat that!
Using fiction as fact to set an example
More Rajput versions of the Padmavati legend came out in the 16th and 18th centuries. The focus here was on Rajput honour in defending their kingdom against Alauddin. Despite there being no historical evidence, Padmini became a symbol of valour and sacrifice. She has also been dubbed as ‘chaste Hindu woman’, and her suicide (jauhar) is seen as a heroic act of resistance against the ‘Muslim invader’.
Padmavati and Ratan Sen
As per Jayasi’s poem, Padmavati was an exceptionally beautiful princess from Singhal kingdom (Sri Lanka). Ratan Sen (The Maharawal Singh in Bhansali’s film) was a Rajput and ruler of Chittor. He married the beautiful princess and brought her to Chittor.
Why Alauddin Attacked Chittor
There are two versions to the motive behind the attack. As per Jayasi’s version, an ousted member from Chittor court, Raghav Chetan, went to the court of the Sultan of Delhi and told him about the exceptionally beautiful Padmavati. He did this to seek revenge. It was Alauddin’s lust that made him head towards Chittor.
Another version by Ziauddin Barani mentions that in 1297 CE, an advisor had told Alauddin that he should conquer Ranthambore, Chittor, Chanderi, Dhar and Ujjain before embarking on a world conquest. This, and not Rani Padmini, was the reason why he started towards Chittor.
Historian Subimal Chandra Datta (1931) believes that Alauddin’s attack on Chittor was not motivated by Padmini but was strictly political, to increase his stronghold on the north-western front. The region under the Chittor king, had given refuge to those rebelling or fighting against Alauddin. If at all Padmini existed, Alauddin must have demanded Padmini to humiliate the Rajput ruler, as per Datta’s theory. But she was not the motive why Alauddin launched the attack the first place.
Not Alauddin, but another Rajput king killed Maharawal Ratan Singh
As per Jayasi’s poem, which has elements of fiction, Alauddin deceitfully captured the maharaja of Chittor, despite a peace treaty. But he was rescued by some brave men of Chittor, including Gora and Badal (also mentioned in Hemratan’s work – 1589 CE). While he was being kept captive, another Rajput king Devpal, from Chittor’s neighbour Kumbhalner, was also besotted by Padmavati’s beauty. He had also proposed marriage to her. On his return to Chittor, Ratan Sen (Maharawal) and Devpal ended up killing each other following a faceoff. This is when Alauddin invaded Chittor once again, to obtain Padmavati.
Islamic historians of the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire have documented incidents of Jauhar. The mass suicide of the 1303 CE in Chittorgarh fort is one of the most popular. As per Jayasi’s Padmavat, the jauhar at Chittor took place to avoid capture, enslavement and rape by invaders of the Alauddin army. With Maharawal already dead and most of the soldiers already on the battlefield, with the threat of a certain defeat looming large, Nagmati (Maharawal’s first wife) and Padmavati committed self-immolation (sati). In what is called Saka, the men of Chittor also accepted defeat and death on the battlefield against Alauddin and his men.
Ratnasimha (Maharawal) vs Alauddin
There are various accounts about what really happened to the ruler of Chittor. Amir Khusrau, Ziauddin Barani and Isami in their chronicles mention that he surrendered to Alauddin, and was pardoned. Kakka Suri (a Jain writer from 1336) says Alauddin took away all the wealth from Chittor and left the Ratnasimha homeless. As per the Kumbhalgarh prashasti (eulogistic inscription) dating back to 1460 CE, states that Ratnasimha “departed” from the battlefield. Modern historians have interpreted the word “departed” from this earliest Hindu record of the siege, as ‘died fighting on the battlefield’ or ‘deserted the defenders and surrendered.’
Jaysi’s Padmavat however maintains that it was not Alauddin Rajput ruler of Kumbhalner, Devpal, who killed the maharaja of Chittor. Only the 17th century chronicler Muhnot Nainsi, who is also credited to have written the Rajput patronage, states that Ratnasimha died on the battlefield while fighting Khilji and his army.
Chittor after Maharawal’s death and Padmavati’s Jauhar
Chittor fort was renamed “Khizrabad” after Alauddin’s son Khizr Khan, who was 7 or 8 years old at the time, was handed over the reign. But Khizr was only a child and therefore, the main person to call the shots was a slave named Malik Shahin, who was extremely loyal and close to Alauddin. But Isami mentions that Malik Shahin fled the fort at some point and the reign was then given to Hindu ruler, Maladeva (Maldeo). He was a Chahamana chief, also colloquially known as the Chauhans, an Indian dynasty that ruled parts of the present-day Rajasthan.
So now after this little lesson from history about Chittor, Alauddin Khilji’s attack and motive and Padmavati – do you feel all the uproar around the film’s release even make any sense?