Padmavati aka Padmini was the legendary queen of Chitrakot (Chittor) married to the Rajput King Rawal Ratan Singh aka Ratan Sen. The queen was said to be exceptionally beautiful. Although her existence and legends are not factual according to a few historians, she is still worshipped by the people of Rajasthan.
Padmavati was the famous queen of Chitor (13th–14th century) who was known for her beauty all over India. There are many scriptures and manuscripts which define her beauty and intellect. Her beauty dragged her future husband, the King of Chittor Rawal Ratan Singh, to cross the seven oceans and multiple obstacles to marry her. Allegedly, her beauty made the Sultan of Delhi, Alauddin Khilji, invade the Fort of Chittor (1303). Although many of the historians dismiss such legends.
The dignified queen of Chittor is idolized in Rajasthan for the sacrifice she made in the honour of Chittor. She is a historical figure who is also a symbol of patriotism for people of India.
Family, Caste & Husband
Rani Padmini was born to the king of Singhal kingdom (now Sri Lanka), Gandharvsen and queen Champavati during late 13th Century (according to Padmavat by Malik Muhammad Jayasi). Being born in a Hindu Kshatriya Family, she was also skilled in martial arts and had the knowledge of Vedas. She was married to the Rajput King of Chittor (Rajasthan), Rawal Ratan Singh aka Ratan Sen. There is no mention of her having any children in the various scripts describing her legends. Before getting married to her, her husband was already married to queen Nagmati.
The Legend Of Rani Padmavati
Although historical notes of that time do not describe much about Rani Padmavati; many scriptures and texts written in 16th-century and further have a mention of her beauty and bravery. A poem written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi in 1540 CE based on the mention of the beauty of Rani Padmini is the earliest among all. A few more scriptures and manuscripts including Persian and Urdu adaptations of Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s ‘Padmavat,’ Rajput ballad’s ‘Gora Badal Padmini Chaupai,’ James Tod’s ‘Annals and Antiquities of Rajas’han,’ and various oral legends and the literary accounts have got a detailed reference about the existence Rani Padmavati.
Collectively, all the mentioned and other manuscripts have narrated her astonishing beauty. According to Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s epic poem, Rani Padmavati was born in the island kingdom Singhal to King Gandharvsen and queen Champavati in the late 13th century. She was popular in the neighbouring countries for her exceptional beauty.
Rani Padmavati got a parrot named Hiraman as her pet. The parrot could talk and used to study the Vedas with Padmavati. Her father, King Gandharvsen, could not bear the closeness of his daughter with the parrot, so he ordered his soldiers to kill the parrot. The parrot escaped from the Singhal kingdom and anyhow reached Chittor. In Chittor, he described the beauty of Padmavati to the King of Chittor Rawal Ratan Singh, who decided to marry her and left for Singhal with his 16,000 followers. After facing a few challenges, he succeeded in winning Princess Padmavati’s hand and got married to her.
According to the sources, a Brahmin musician in Rawal Ratan’s court, named ‘Raghav Chetan’ was banished for a fraud. Resentful Raghav Chetan reached Delhi and succeeded to enter the court of Alauddin Khilji (Sultan of Delhi at that time; second ruler of Khalji Dynasty). He became Khilji’s trustworthy and told him about the exquisite beauty of Rani Padmavati. Alauddin Khilji being a cruel and lusty man was taken away with the description of Padmavati. He surrounded Chittor with armed forces to capture her. The King Rawal Ratan Singh agreed to fulfil any of his wish except giving away Rani Padmavati to Khilji. Khilji also could not conquer the fort of Chittor and offered a peace treaty to the King Ratan Sen, but it was all his conspiracy to capture the King.
Alauddin Khilji took Rawal Ratan Singh to Delhi and imprisoned him. He asked the Rajputs to hand over Rani Padmavati in an exchange of their King. No Rajput was ready for this deal, so they made a plan and marched towards Delhi with 800 soldiers disguised as Padmavati and her female companions headed by the Rajput Commanders Gora and Badal, who succeeded in freeing their King. However, Gora along with many other Rajput soldiers died.
Alauddin, depressed by this incident, attacked Chittor. At the same time, another Rajput King of Kumbhalner, named Devpal, also attacked the fort as he also wanted to get Rani Padmavati. The two king fought one to one, and both died in the combat. Meanwhile, Alauddin succeeded conquering the fort, but as soon the two queens of Rawal Ratan Singh heard of their husband’s death, both died in mass-self-immolation (Jauhar) along with other Rajput women of Chittor. And all the Rajput men died fighting with the army of Alauddin. In this way, Alauddin did not even get a glimpse of her beauty. Since then, the people of Rajasthan have been worshipping Rani Padmavati as a goddess.
The other legends also talk about her beauty and the above fight but have their variations. Some historians discard the facts of such incident, and some are in favour of it.
Cause Of Death
According to the manuscripts and the poem written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi, Rani Padmavati died in mass self-immolation (Jauhar) after the death of her husband in a battle. The mass-self-immolation also included the first wife of King Rawal Ratan Singh and all the women of Chittor. Rani Padmavati had no choice except to commit suicide to escape the evil intentions of Alauddin Khilji.
- Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s epic poem ‘Padmavat’ is the earliest mention of Rani Padmavati which he wrote in 1540 CE in Awadhi language. There have been several translated adaptions of the poetry in Urdu and Persian between 16th and 19th century.
- After hearing about the mesmerising beauty of Rani Padmavati, the King of Chittor, Rawal Ratan Singh renounced his kingdom and left for Singhal to marry the Princess of Singhal. He followed the parrot, who had told him about Padmavati, accompanied with 16,000 soldiers.
- After marrying Padmavati, King Rawal Ratan Singh came back to his kingdom and acquired his position as the King again.
- As the King was already married to Queen Nagmati, there was a rivalry between the two wives of the King.
- According to the poetry of Malik Muhammad Jayasi, one of the courtiers Raghav Chetan was banished for fraud; however, some of the other texts say that he was caught watching the Queen and the King making love.
- Resentful Raghav Chetan wanted to take revenge from the King, so he took refuge in the court of Alauddin Khilji and described the magnificent beauty of Padmavati.
- The Sultan of Delhi, Allaudin wanted to see the beauty of Padmavati. So, to capture her, he besieged Chittor.
- Although a court poet and panegyrist Amir Khusrau has written about the Chittor siege of 1303 CE in his Khaza’in ul-Futuh, there is no mention of ‘Padmavati’ in it. It describes that Alauddin was acquiring all the neighbouring Hindu kingdoms, and Chittor was one of them.
- Amir Khusrau has mentioned about accompanying Alauddin into the fort after winning the battle of Chittor, but there is no reason for why he went inside after winning the battle.
- Rani Padmavati is a historical figure for the local legends and has been worshipped ever since.
- During the Indian Independence Movement, Rani Padmavati was a symbol of Indian patriotism for the Swadeshi movement of the 19th century.
- There has also been the mention of Rani Padmavati and Khilji in the books of famous writers of modern India. Rajkahini by Abanindranath Tagore, The Discovery of India (1946) by Jawaharlal Nehru, Yagneshwar Bandyopadhyay’s Mewar (1884) have described the Jauhar of Padmavati and the attack of Khilji on Chittor. However, their description may be inspired by the poem.
- According to different versions of different text about the history of Rani Padmini differ from one another. In some of the scriptures, she was the daughter of King Ratan Singh, and in some, she was the wife of Rajput warrior Bhimsinha, the uncle of Lakshmansinha the ruler of Chittor. But every scripture has defined her the most beautiful lady of that time.
- Rani Padmini has been a historical figure, and people have written many texts and plays based on her life story.
- Kshirode Prasad Vidyavinode’s wrote and executed a play named Padmini (1906).
- The first movie made on the life of Rani Padmavati was a silent film which was released in 1930 titled “Kamonar Agun” or Flames of Flesh. Later, in 1963, famous actress, Vyjayanthimala appeared in the role of Rani Padmini in the Tamil movie Chittoor Rani Padmini directed by Chitrapu Narayana Rao and Sivaji Ganesan in the lead role.
- A TV series aired on Sony TV in 2009 based on the story of Rani Padmini titled Chittod Ki Rani Padmini Ka Johur.
- In 2017, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali came with movie ‘Padmavati’ which was later renamed to ‘Padmavat’ starring actors Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, and Ranveer Singh. The movie created controversy when Karni Sena of Rajasthan came forward to protest against the movie. According to them, they worshipped Rani Padmavati as a Goddess and the film was hurting their sentiments.
- According to the old Hindu, Sufi and Jain manuscripts, there is a meaning to the life story of Rani Padmavati. The fort of Chittor represents- the human body, the King of Chittor- the human spirit, the Singhal Kingdom- the human heart, Rani Padmavati- human mind and Sultan Alauddin- worldly illusion, whereas the parrot is the guide.