“Padmavati” – A deliberate distortion?

Vivek.Waghmode@timesgroup.com reports the following from Kolhapur, under the caption–“Padmavati” set in Maharastra torched, crew beaten up (The Times of India dated March 16, 2016): A group of 10-15 masked attackers torched the base camp of the sets of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s much awaited movie, Padmavati at Masai plateau in Panhala taluka,35 km from here, around 1 am on Wednesday and beat up members of the film crew. None of the attackers has been identified.The group was protesting against what it claimed were “wrong facts” in the movie, specifically what they said were love scenes between the legendary Rani Padmini of Chittor and Allauddin Khilji, a sultan of the second dynasty to rule the Delhi Sultanate.

1. An informative article from the Hindu Voice (February, 2017) published under the caption “Padmavati: Understanding the medieval warfare” and written by Divya Kumar Soti is reproduced below for our readers–

Since the attack by Karni Sena on Sanjay Leela Bhansali over his alleged plans to depict a love relationship between Chittor Queen Padmini and Delhi Sultan Allauddin Khilji, the historical debate around this dark and painful episode of Indian history has regained life. Since then Bhansali has denied that his movie is going to depict Padmini in love relationship with Khilji.

That is quite reasonable as showing Padmini in any such relationship with Khilji would not only have involved violence with history but also with common sense. Existence of a love relationship between Queen of a Rajput Kingdom situated in topographical seclusion at the fag end of Rajasthan and Delhi’s Sultan in an era when modern means of communication were inconceivable, was simply impossible.

Another issue which has cropped up concerns the historical authenticity of story told by Malik Mohammad Jayasi in his classic Padmavati centuries after Alauddin sacked Chittor. Most of the Marxist historians deny the very existence of Padmini and ascribe her only to the fantasy of Jayasi. Even the right leaning historians like Pandit Gauri Shankar Ojha and Kishori Sharan Lal have questioned the Jayasi’s account as well as the tradition which is very much close to Jayasi’s account.

However, another school of historians constituting eminent names like James Tod, Ishwari Prasad and RC Shrivastav point out that had Padmini only been a product of Jayasi’s fantasy, unbroken tradition of Mewar would not and could not have borrowed the tale nor would have bards of Rajasthan sung her praises for centuries relying upon poem of a Muslim poet hailing from the countryside of central Uttar Pradesh. However the story is much bigger than the debate whether Padmini was a real historical figure or not.

All historians agree that thousands of women jumped into fire during Allauddin’s attack on Chittor. Same had happened during the seige of Jaisalmer in 1295 AD. Jauhar continued to be performed by Rajput women till the times of Aurangzeb. Question that immediately strikes is what exhorted so many ladies to simultaneously take such an extreme step.

Was it just for saving their “honour” or there was something more to it? Women performing Jauhar during Chittor and Jaisalmer’s seiges were very well aware of what had transpired after victory of Arab and Turk invaders during past three centuries that preceded the reign of Allauddin. For instance Chachnama narrates how Muhammad bin Qasim captured 60,000 slaves including women and children from Rawaar in Sindh including women of royal birth and sent one-fifth of them over to Caliph who “sold some of these and some he presented to others”. Utbi narrates how the Mahmud of Ghazni sold the defeated King of Kabul, Jaipal who was paraded in slave market along with his relatives and sold away in slavery.

Mentally shattered Jaipal committed suicide. While Arabs were pushed back across Indus by a Rajput confederacy led by Chittor’s ruler  Bappa Rawal in what is known as the battle of Rajasthan. Turks were successful in permanently setting up their feet in India by the close of 12th century. They had committed acts of extreme savagery with Indian women as they swept through Afghanistan, Sindh and Punjab. Stories of rape and enslavement perpetrated by them had spread through Northern India and Indian Kings had in anticipation of further depredations by them had leveled a defense cess, known as “Turushka Dand”, on their subjects. So savagery of these invaders was already well known in Indian palaces as well as ordinary households. So, when Chittor King Rana Samar Singh’s wife heard at Delhi about Rajput defeat at the hands of Mohammad of Ghur in Battlefield of Tarain just few miles away from Delhi and her husband’s demise in the battle, she immediately performed Jauhar as victorious enemy was fast approaching towards Delhi.

But still many people may ask today was honour more important than human life? To get an answer to this we need to examine what was the social status to which Indian women, particularly the Rajput women were accustomed to before Muslim invasions started and how those who were captured were treated. Colonel Tod tells us that “He (a Rajput) consulted his wife in every transaction; from her ordinary actions he drew the omens of success, and he appended to her name the epithet Devi or God like.” “In spite of her incarceration, the influence of a Rajputani in public as well as domestic affairs was often far more powerful than that of her husband.” Tod cites an incident which gives us an idea of how fiercely independent a Rajput women used to be. The King of Jaipur married a princess from a small principality and she used to dress and carry herself in a bit traditional rustic manner while his other wives had espoused dressing styles of aristocratic Mughal court. One day King chided her by taking out a pair of scissors saying he will cut short her clothes to bring those in line with latest fashion. She responded by taking out a sword threatening her husband to not to insult her traditional dressing sense else she will prove that “She can use the sword more effectively than the prince of Amber, the scissors”.

Now let’s contrast this with what fell upon those who found themselves in the captivity of invading armies. A contemporary Indian treatise Kanhade Prabandh describes the plight of prisoners including 20,000 women and children taken captive by Allauddin Khilji’s army from Gujarat: they made people captive – priests and children, and women, in fact, people of all (description) huddled them and tied them by straps of raw hide.

The prisoners suffered greatly and wept aloud. During the day they bore the heat of the scorching sun, without shade or shelter as they were [in the sandy desert region of Rajasthan],and the shivering cold during the night under the open sky. Children, torn away from their mother’s breasts and homes, were crying. Each one of the captives seemed as miserable as the other. Already writhing in agony due to thirst, the pangs of hunger added to their distress. Some of the captives were sick, some unable to sit up.Some had no shoes to put on and no clothes to wear. Some had iron shackles on their feet. Separated from each other, they were huddled together and tied with straps of hide. Children were separated from their parents, the wives from their husbands, thrown apart by this cruel raid. Young and old were seen writhing in agony, as loud wailing arose from that part of the camp where they were all huddled up. Weeping and wailing, they were hoping that some miracle might save them even now.

Clearly the Jauhar was ultimate expression of hatred by freedom loving Rajput women towards the invaders trying to enslave them and deal with them as chattels.However, there was also a military viewpoint to Jauhar when viewed in this context. Mery Storm notes in her book “Head and Heart: Valour and Self-Sacrifice in the Art of India” that Jauhar, as opposed to Sattee, “was the ultimate embodiment of the military notion of a scorched earth policy: if the enemy prevailed, he would have no spoils of war; no plunder and no rape.” She describes the scene of Jauhar at Jaisalmer in 1295 to show how destruction of property was a “crucial element” of Jauhar and how “every valuable was consumed with them (women), not the worth of a straw was preserved for the foe.”

2. In a typical western environment where the concept of Satitwa, cannot even be conceived by any stretch of imagination, it would be stupid to expect that Mery Storm, bred,born and grown up in such an environment, will be able to conceive the lofty ideal of Chastity and self immolation practiced by Rani Padmini and her thousands of Rajputani associates. We may quote here some of the remarkable observations on record by the British administrators which reveal in greater detail to focus on Satitwa, the most cherished possession of Hindu womanhood that has since baffled the western mind, engrossed by the lure of free sex and licentious liberty. Truth reported the following in its columns (Sri Hari’s Bharat, the Sati Dham) in 1964:

Indeed in this Land of Chastity, Sri Hari’s Bharat – the Courtyard of Baikunthadham – inspite of the repression of the Sati Act, hateful condemnations by the modern sensual miscalled civilized men and continuous preaching of licence by the Western satans, incidents of divine Satis like Roop Kanwar in Rajasthan, Gahawa Devi in Bihar in recent times, are far from rare. Indeed a society without Sati is a structure without foundation, a ship without rudder, a compass without polarity and a man without brain– all, all of which is basically fallacious, useless, without any stability and easily vulnerable to vicissitudes of time, because Sati is the bedrock of morality, which is the vital power of the society, the spine of the vertebrate and the seed of purity that germinates into full manhood.

3. Therefore without Sati a decent society is inconceivable, if it exists at all, it must be a hot bed of libidinous licence and promiscuous profligacy which ought to have made a decent man hang his head down with shame. But shame is a shameful feeling from which modern so- called civilized men and women are immune, because shame and sin can never live together and one must elbow out the other. Therefore in 1805 Marquis of Cornwallis passed a regulation by which no one could become a Sati without the permission of the Magistrate. The law was made stricter in 1829 by Lord William Bentinck who enacted Sati as a suicide and all who encouraged Sati in any way were made guilty of culpable homicide.

4. Foolish foreigners and infidels puffed up with preposterous vanity and ignoble self-sufficiency,  have no hesitation in characterizing this immortal practice, as ‘barbarous’, ‘hideous’, ‘hateful’, and ‘execrable’. They never stop to think why this heavenly practice should be given such endearing epithets. If the woman is forced against her will, to become a Sati, it will be a case of murder and the people will be amenable to the ordinary law of the land. If the woman acted voluntarily how can anyone, without a criminal propensity, see any criminality in the act? It may be said, that she never acts of her own free will, but is simply overawed by public opinion into submission against her will. But does such a thing happen elsewhere? Can a son or a brother push his own mother or sister into the fire against her will? Is giving up life in such painful circumstances so easy? Can any instance be given of such a thing? No, it is the sinner’s heart-ache, the agonizing cry of sin, that a woman rises so superior to it. Sinners themselves have more than ample evidence of the free nature of Sati. But they are not free to see and recognize it in their slavish surrender to sin. A few instances are given below.

5. Halliday’s Testimony, 1829 – Buckland in his “Bengal under the Lieutenant Governors” writes : – In 1829 just before the penalizing of Sati, Sir Frederick Halliday, the first Lieutenant Governor of Bengal was the District Magistrate of Hooghly, on the bank of the Ganges, where Sati, was a frequent occurrence. The last case of Sati lawfully celebrated in Bengal is thus narrated by him.“On hearing of the case I rode to the place along with Dr. Wise of Medical Service and Chaplain to the Governor General, and saw a funeral pyre had been arranged and the intending Sati seated on the ground in front, with a large crowd of natives assembled there to witness the sight. We tried our best to dissuade her, but all to no purpose. All listened patiently to our arguments which failed however to move them. At last she was asked if she knew what pain she was going to suffer. Seated close to me she looked up at my face with scorn and said, “Bring a lamp.”The lamp was lighted and with scorn and defiance in her eyes, she put her finger into the flame. The finger scorched, blistered and blackened and finally twisted up. She remained unmoved, not a muscle twitched and not a sound escaped. “Are you satisfied?” she asked. “Quite, quite satisfied,” was the reply. She asked my permission and I assented. Coolly and calmly she mounted the funeral pyre and laid herself down beside a part of her husband’s clothing. The husband had died far away. She was covered with light brushwood and fire was set to the funeral pyre.”

The last lawful Sati of Bengal thus passed away to join her husband in happiness and bliss.Can any blasphemer of Sati ever possibly doubt the absolute sincerity of the Sati? If he can, he must have been besotted with sin.

6. Tavernier (1605-1689) writes in his “Travels in India” published in 1677 –

(a) I observed a strange passage at Patna, being then with the Governor, a young gentleman of about 24 years of age, in his own house. While I was with him, in came a young woman, very handsome and not above two and twenty years old, who desired leave of the Governor to be burnt with the body of her deceased husband. The Governor compassionating her youth and beauty, endeavored to divert her from her resolution, but finding he could not prevail, with surly countenance, he asked her whether she under-stood what the torment of fire was, and whether she had ever burnt her fingers. ‘No, no’,answered she more stoutly than before, ‘I do not fear fire, and to let you know as much,send for a lighted torch hither.’ The Governor abominating her answer, in great passion, bid her go to the devil. Some young Lords that were with the Governor, desired him to try the woman, and to call for a torch, which with much ado he did, and a lighted torch was brought. So soon as the woman saw the lighted torch coming, she ran to meet it; and held her hand in the flame, not altering her countenance in the least : till scarring her arm along up to the very elbow, till her flesh looked as if it had been broiled; whereupon the Governor commanded her out of sight.”

(b) There is no woman that can burn herself with her husband’s body, till she has the leave if the Governor of the place where she inhabits,who being a Mahumetan, and abhorring that execrable custom of self-murder, is very shy to permit them. The Governor finding no persuasions will alter the woman’s resolutions…. In a surly manner gives the woman leave, bidding the devil take her and all her kindred.

(c) When they have got this leave, their music begins to strike up, and away they ding to the house of the deceased, with drums beating, and flutes playing before them; and in that manner they accompany the person that is to be burnt,to the place appointed. All the kindred and friends of the widow that is to die, come to her, and congratulate her for the happiness she is to enjoy in the other world; and for the honour which the caste she is of, receives by her generous resolution, she dresses herself as if she were going to be married, and she is conducted in triumph to the place of execution… she holds the body of her deceased husband upon her knees, chewing betel all the while; and when she has continued in this posture about half-an hour, …. the woman bids them to set fire.

(d) In Bangala… there was one that came from the northern mountains near the frontiers of the kingdom of Bhutan, with the body of her husband carried in a wagon; she traveled twenty days afoot; and neither ate nor drank for 15 or 16 days together till she came to the Ganges, where after she had washed the body that stink abominably and had afterwards washed herself, she was burnt with him with an admirable constancy.

(e) Before the woman that is to be burnt, goes the music, consisting of drums, flutes and hautboys, whom the woman in her best accouterments follows, dancing up to the very funeral pile, upon which she gets up, and places herself as if she were sitting up in her bed; and then lay across her the body of her husband. When that is done, her kindred and friends, some bring her a letter, some a piece of calicut, another a piece of silver or copper, and desire to deliver them to their mother or brother, or some other kinsman or friend. When the woman sees they have all done, she asks the standers-
by three times, if they have nothing more of service to commander; if they make no answer, she ties up all she has got in a piece of taffata, which she puts between her own belly and the  body of her husband, bidding them to set fire to the pile; which is presently done by the Brahmins and her kindred.

7. Sleeman, the District Magistrate of  Jubblepure, anticipated the prohibitory Regulation of 1829 and prohibited Sati or encouragement of Sati in any shape in 1828.

Prevented while attempting to throw herself on the funeral pyre of her husband a Brahman Lady went to about the centre of the dry Narmada bed, took her seat there, broke her bangles, covered herself with a coarse red cloth to show that she was no longer in the land of the living. She had continued thus for four days when Sleeman appeared and was told that she would sit on there, so long as permission was not given her to become a Sati. Realising that it was useless to try and turn her from her resolve, and that Sleeman would be held responsible if she starved herself to death, Sleeman gave his reluctant consent. She then ascended a flaming funeral pyre and showed no signs of shrinking nor pain.What a testimony to truth wrung from an impious, sinful and unwilling heart!

8. The following true incident is given in Tavernier’s “Travels” (published in 1677) –

The Raja of Velore was killed in a battle with the king of Visapur. Eleven of his wives resolved to become Sati. The General of the Visapur army coming to know of it, imprisoned all of them together. They told the keeper at the time “imprisonment is futile, we shall all die in three hours”.

After three hours all of them lay stretched on the floor dead, and were gone with their husband, without any mark of violence on their bodies.

9. Really truth is stranger than fiction and passion – born perversity is stranger than truth.

That is why modern sensual condemn the highest ideal flesh is capable of – the ideal of Sati, the emblem of self-abnegation, of the sacrifice of a fleeting present for the permanence of future – as savage, barbaric and inhuman. If Sati is savage, barbaric and inhuman what about war? Is it not infinitely more so? Why not the whole army, with its generals and officers incarcerated for an attempt at committing suicide? Why are not expeditions for climbing the Himalayas and for Poles penalized? What about abortion, medical and non medical? What about wholesale and universal slaughter to fill the belly? Is it savage or human? What is hunger-strike? What is fast unto death? What is the onslaught through Satyagraha? Are they suicides or not? What is birth-control? What is family-planning, a fine euphemy for diabolical foeticide Is it because these are sinner’s paradise and Sati is not?

10. Modern sensuals now bring in all sorts of interpretations from the Vedas mixed up with most doubtful historical data culled by malicious Western historians from whom this divine ideal can never extort any admiration. It is not their fault. The fault lies in the blood of courtship and divorce, the eternal triangle and other abominations, too horrible to mention, which are in such absolute antagonism to Sati. It is under the pernicious influence of the so called secular, anti-Hindu culture that the confused educated lot, fail to grasp the salutary edifice of Sati to trample on its divinity that transcends the salubrious values of morality and humanity. Today, it is not the foreign invaders that are inclined to deride the eternal values of Sanatan Dharma, but our Alik (pseudo) Hindus, products of Godless education, masquerading in the garb of secular sentiments and a satanic perversion relentlessly trying to demean Satis, Sadhus and Sanatan Dharma; Padmini being  the recent victim.

11. Recent information is pouring in that in a upcoming ‘comedy-thriller’ film “Bank Chor” starring Riteish Deshmukh impersonating a Hindu swami and holding a gun, the poster basically denigrates the Hindu trinity, Shri Vishnu, Lord Shiv and Shri Datta.The subtitle goes– ‘A Haathi, A Ghoda & A Baba Walk Into A Bank’. This mischief bespeaks of a deliberate motive to target the soft sentiments of Hindus to the exclusion of other religions, who will not in any case spare the mischief mongers if they ever dare such misadventure. Playing pranks with Indian God’s and Goddesses to earn easy money, have so long gone unpunished, and forgiveness has always been considered a weakness on the part of the Hindus.

Source: “Truth” Dated 28-04-2017 Vol:85 Issue:2 published by Shastra Dharma Prachar Sabha, 91, Chowringhee Road,Kolkata -700020

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