Who was Rani Padmini?

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The recent attack on the well known filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Jaipur has stirred curiosity and controversy about Rani Padmavati, the subject of the movie he is making. This upcoming film starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh was being shot at the historic Jaigarh Fort in Jaipur on Friday.

Accusing Mr Bhansali of twisting historical facts by romantically linking Queen Padmini with Sultan Alauddin Khilji, members of a fringe group Rajput Karni Sena attacked the filmmaker and the crew. This attack instilled outrage among the art lovers, drew condemnation from bollywood and started a debate. Lets know about this queen who is instilling such havoc:

  • The earliest reference to Queen Padmini is an epic poem written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi in 1540 called ‘Padmavat‘.
  • According to popular belief, Rani Padmini was the queen of Rana Ratan Singh. In 1303, Allaudin Khilji attacked the kingdom of Chittorgarh which was under the rule of the Mewars. Rajput historians say Allaudin wanted to capture Rani Padmini.
  • Allaudin captured Ratan Singh and sent a message to Padmini that the king would be released if she agrees to go along with him.
  • Rani Padmini sent 700 troops to rescue Rana Ratan Singh and the troops were successful in rescuing the king but Khilji followed the troops and the king.
  • A fierce battle took place at the Chittorgarh fort and Rana was killed during the battle. Rani Padmini performed ‘Jauhar‘ or self-immolation and sacrificed her life.
  • Some historians say Queen Padmini was only a mythical character imagined by the Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi.
  • Sceptics say, there is not a shred of historical evidence that Padmini existed for real and the legend only praises the legacy of Alauddin Khilji, based on the Imperial Gazetteer of India – which says that “In the final verses of his work, the poet (Jayasi) explains that it is all an allegory.”
  • What also adds to the confusion is several different versions of the story of the Queen Padmini besides Jayasi’s epic and its multiple translations and adaptations.
  • From the 16th Century ‘Gora Badal Padmini Chaupai‘, a Rajput adaption of the legend which presented it as a true tale, to the 19th Century colonial interpretations, and then several Bengali narratives – much of Queen Padmini’s story remains open to interpretation.
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