Of late, the Internet was filled with the controversy about Rani Padmavathi and all the cooked / uncooked stories that actually created a storm in the media. With time, it is taking the color of politics and the bickering is still on. Yes, we are referring to the same movie directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, and Ranveer Singh in the lead roles. Without defending the movie or defaming the protesters, let us try to look at the history staying absolutely unprejudiced and unbiased.
While everyone is highlighting the same story about Rani Padmavati, we simply headed to Wikipedia to match the facts that are being preached in the media. Actually, Wikipedia highlights four stories about Rani Padmavathi (four versions of Rani Padmavathi) and at the end of the read, it leaves you in confusion as none of them proves their authenticity.
Four Versions of Rani Padmavathi highlighted in Wikipedia
One of the earliest sources to mention Rani Padmavathi or Padmini is Padmavat (1540 CE) [CE: Common Era] by Malik Muhammad. Few of the earlier accounts describe the Allauddin Khilji’s conquest of Chittorgarh but makes no mention of the queen. Over the years, many literary works were produced mentioning Rani Padmavathi and they are divided into four categories; Persian and Urdu adaptions, Rajput Ballads adaptions, James Tod’s version, and Bengali adaptions.
Persian and Urdu adaptions were the translations of Malik Muhammad’s Jayasi produced between 16th and 19th centuries. In 1589 CE, Hemratan composed Gora Badal Padmini Chaupai, the first Rajput adaption of the legend. Between 16th and 18th centuries, more of the Rajput’s versions of the Padmavathi was compiled and they are quite unlike to Malik Muhammad’s version.
During 1829-32, James Tod in his Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan compiled a different version based on the oral and textual traditions of writers by the Rajput chiefs. Later on from 19th century onward, several Bengali versions were produced which portrayed Rani Padmavathi as a Hindu Queen who immolated herself against a lustful Muslim invader.
Stories about Rani Padmavathi in Brief
Malik Muhammad’s Jayasi’s Version
Padmavathi was the daughter of Gandharva Sen who was the king of Singhal Kingdom. There was a talking parrot named Hiraman who was ordered to kill by Gandharva Sen as it was close to Padmavathi. However, the parrot flew away to save its life, trapped by a bird catcher. This bird catcher sold it to a Brahmin and he brought it to Chittor where the local king Ratan Sen purchased it, impressed by its ability to talk.
Now, the parrot praises the beauty of Padmavathi in front of Ratan Sen which eventually makes him marry her. Guided by the parrot, Ratan sen heads to Singhal along with his 16,000 followers with a determination to marry Padmavathi. A few scenes later, Ratan sen attacks the Singhal Kingdom but gets defeated and imprisoned. When Ratan Sen was about to get executed, his royal bard revealed to captors that he was the king of Chittor. Listening to this, Gandharva Sen married Padmavathi to Ratan-Sen, and also arranged 16,000 women for the 16,000 men accompanying Ratan Sen.
Later on, Ratan Sen gets to know from a messenger that his first wife – Nagamati – is longing for him back in Chittoor. Ratan Sen made his way to Chittoor along with Padmavathi and their 16,000 companions. [On the way, a fantasy happens which we do not want to mention here. You can read that on Wikipedia].
Later in Chittoor, an incident happens where Ratan Sen banished a brahmin courtier named Raghav Chetan for fraud. He then went to Allauddin Khilji’s court and told him about the exceptional beauty of Padmavathi. So, now Khilji decided to obtain Padmavathi and attacked Chittor but failed to conquer the Chittor fort. As a tactic, Allauddin Khilji pretended to be good and offered a peace treaty, misled Ratan sen and captured him to Delhi.
Back in Chittoor, Padmavathi sought the help of Ratan Sen’s loyal feudatories – Gora and Badal and asked them to get Ratan Sen. They managed to rescue Ratan Sen but Gora died in the battle. Meanwhile, Devpal, the Rajput king of Kumbhalner had proposed Padmavathi to marry him when Ratan Sen was imprisoned in Delhi. Knowing this fact, Ratan Sen decided to punish Devpal for his actions and in a combat, Devpal and Ratan Sen killed each other.
Meanwhile, Allauddin Khilji invaded once again, to obtain Padmavathi. Facing a certain defeat against Khilji, both Nagmati and Padmavati committed self-immolation (Sati) on Ratan Sen’s funeral pyre along with the other women of Chittor (Jauhar). The men of Chittor died fighting against Khilji who acquired nothing but an empty fortress at the end.
Hemratan’s Gora Badal Padmini Chaupai
Ratan Sen was the Rajput king of Chittor who had a wife named Prabhavathi, who was a great cook of her time. It so happens that one day, Ratan Sen expressed his dissatisfaction with the food prepared by his wife. Prabhavathi then challenged Ratan Sen to find a woman better than her. In anger, Ratan Sen went in search and one of the Yogis said him that there is a lady named Padmavathi in Singhal kingdom. So, Ratan Sen attacks to defeat the king of Singhal in a game of Chess and brought his sister Padmavathi to Chittor.
Later on what happens is similar to Malik Muhammad’s Jayasi’s version but Ratan Sen was rescued by Gora and Badal. Gora died in the battle and Gora’s wife committed self-immolation. There is no mention of Padmavathi committing self-immolation in Hemartan’s Gora Badal Padmini Chaupai.
James Tod’s Version
The 19th Century British writer James Tod has a different version altogether. He mentions Khumman Raso in connection with Padmavathi and says that the contemporary ruler of Chittor was Lakhasmi, and Ratan Sen was his younger brother. Unlike the Jayasi’s and Hemratan’s versions, Tod easily omits the name of Ratan Sen in the story.
When it comes to Bengali adaptions, there are Yagneshwar Bandopadhyay’s Mewar, Kshirode Prasad Vidya Vinode’s Play, and Abindranath Tagore’s Rajkahani. All of these three adaptions speaks about the self-immolation (Jauhar) of Chittor women but they follow James Tod’s version and mentions no Ratan Sen in the story. The reference to Padmavathi’s palace comes in Abindranath Tagore’s Rajkahani where it is said that victorious Allauddin Khilji bulldozes all the buildings in Chittoor, expect Padmini’s palace.
Other mentions of Rani Padmavathi
- During Swadeshi Movement, Padmini became a symbol of Patriotism and many of the Indian writers portrayed her story as an example of heroic sacrifice.
- A number of plays featuring Padmavathi were staged in 1905 and even Sister Niveditha has historicized the sacrifice of Rani Padmavathi.
- There is also a reference to Padmavathi in Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘The Discovery of India’ and most of the school textbooks refers Abindranath Tagore’s Rajkahani.
Bhansali’s Movie is not the first one to feature Rani Padmavathi
- Debaki Bose’s Silent Film Kamonar Agun or Flames of Flesh (1930).
- Maharani Padmini, Hindi (1964).
- Chittoor Rani Padmavathi, Tamil (1963) – written by C.V Sridhar, directed by Chitrapu Narayana Rao starring Sivaji Ganesan and Vaijayanthimala in lead roles.
- Chittod Ki Rani Padmini Ka Johur, Hindi Television Series (2009), aired on Sony TV.
Irrespective of the controversy and the political chroma the subject is taking today, these were the four stories about Rani Padmavathi as mentioned in Wikipedia. If you have anything to say/share about this topic then please let us know in the comments below.
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