Posted: 11 March 2011 at 5:32pm | IP Logged
Rani Padmini of Chittorgarh
In the history of India, Padmini of Chittor holds a very prominent position. She was a perfect model of ideal Indian womanhood. When the values cherished by her were threatened by Ala-ud-din Khilji, the mighty Afghan king of Delhi, she faced her problems with exceptional courage. A lesser woman would not have been able to face Ala-ud-din, but Padmini was no ordinary woman. She was a living example of virtuous womanhood.
It was this that inspired many a legend about her. This story of Padmini is based on Padmavat by the famous Sufi poet Malik Muhammed Jayasi and Gora-Badal by the poet Jaymal.
More information on Rani Padmini
was the queen
and the wife of King Rawal Ratan Singh
The Indian Helen, as she is also known, Padmini is considered to be the epitome of Indian
woman-hood and a personification of sacrifice
. Her story has been immortalized in Padmavat
, an epic poem written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi
in the Awadhi language
in the year 1540 
In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Delhi Sultanate
dominated the political milieu of Northern India. The Delhi Sultans
made repeated attacks against their Rajput opponents, especially the Sisodias of Mewar
, on one pretext or the other. The first sack of Chittor by Ala-ud-din Khilji
in 1303 AD is traditionally considered to have been the result of his infatuation with, and lust for, Ratan Singh's wife, Padmini. 
. Ala-ud-Din Khilji received support for his annexation attempts from two of Ratan Singh's own courtiers, namely the brothers, Raghav and Chetan. The duo had initially enjoyed Ratan Singh's highest confidence and had been privy to many State secrets which they then threatened to betray if they were not paid well for their silence. Ratan Singh had recently married the beautiful Padmini, the daughter of King Gandharvasen (also known as Hamir Sank) of Sinhala Dvipa (present-day Sri Lanka) and his wife, Queen Champavati, 
and had received a handsome and generous dowry from her parents. The brothers demanded a large portion of this dowry as payment for their silence. Furious at their exhortation, Ratan Singh had them banished from Chittor, with the understanding that they would be killed if they were ever found on his territory again. In revenge, the brothers went to Delhi and instigated Ala-ud-din Khilji to attack Chittor by inflaming both the Sultan's lust for beautiful women and his uncompromising greed for land and more territory.
Since Ala-ud-din found that he and his opponent were evenly matched in military capabilities, he decided to resort to treachery and diplomacy to conquer Chittor. He sent word to Ratan Singh that he was willing to offer friendship if he could only behold Padmini's face just once, further claiming that he considered Padmini to be his sister. The unsuspecting Ratan Singh asked Padmini to meet her newfound 'brother', but the Queen, suspecting a trap, refused. Instead, she insisted that her husband only permit the Sultan to look at her reflection in a mirror. Ratan Singh agreed and sent for Ala-ud-din, who arrived to meet the Queen, accompanied by his most trusted generals and soldiers. While Ala-ud-din waited impatiently to meet Padmini, his generals carefully examined the fort's defenses to help them plan their attack of Chittor. Padmini stood by a lotus pool as Ala-ud-din gazed at her reflection in a mirror, stunned by her beauty. When he was further informed that he would not be able to personally meet Padmini, despite his claims of new-found kinship with the couple, the Sultan felt both humiliated and cheated. As Ratan Singh accompanied him out of the fort, as a good host should, his men fell upon the King and took him prisoner to the Sultan's camp.
Ala-ud-din then sent a note to Padmini that if she wished her husband to be released unharmed, that she should forthwith become his mistress. The Rani responded that she would meet the Sultan the next morning. At the crack of dawn the following day, one hundred and fifty palanquins (covered carriages in which royal ladies were carried about in medieval times) left the fort and made their way towards Ala-ud-din's camps. 150 able-bodied soldiers, led by Padmini's brother, Badal, emerged from these carriages and fell upon the Sultan's unsuspecting men in a sudden and unexpected attack. The Rajputs then returned to the fort, having rescued their King, and temporarily scoring a major victory over the Sultan of Delhi.
Ala-ud-din responded by laying siege
to the fort of Chittor. After a long drawn out campaign, supplies within the fort gradually dwindled. Ratan Singh gave orders for the fort's gates to be flung open and an all-out attack be launched on the would-be invaders as they could not hold out any more. Padmini was aware that her her husband's troops were hopelessly outnumbered and that they would be defeated and dishonored. Rather than be raped and witness the Sultan's army pillaging Chittor, Padmini and her retinue of women decided to commit suicide. The children of the nobility were smuggled out of the fort with trusted aides and attendants in order to save them from the invaders.
Jauhar (Self Immolation)
The Jauhar place of Rani Padmini
At dawn on August 26, 1303, a huge pyre
was lit in a room with a single door. The Queen and the noblewomen of her court, the wives, sisters and daughters of ministers and courtiers, bid their young children and menfolk farewell, dressed up in their wedding finery, went into the room with the pyre, locked the door behind them and jumped into the flames en masse. The men donned saffron robes, and threw open the gates of the fort. Almost all of the Rajputs perished in battle that day. The Sultan and his troops entered the fort, eager to rape and pillage, and were sorely disappointed when confronted with the evidence of the mass suicide.
Rani Padmini's life and death has the subject of many legends, ballads and even movies in recent years. Unfortunately, no images of her have been preserved although her courage and sacrifice continue to impress one today as they did during her lifetime more than seven centuries ago.
Edited by ZoobiDoobi - 11 March 2011 at 5:33pm