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The Episode Of Padmini
On January 29, 1303 'Ala-ud-din set out on his memorable campaign for the conquest of Chitor. On arrival at Chitor,
Mar 2017

On January 29, 1303 'Ala-ud-din set out on his memorable campaign for the conquest of  Chitor. On arrival at Chitor, he surrounded the town and raised his canopy on a hillock known as Chitori. He then besieged the fort with a strong army, but received strong resistance from the Rajputs under Rana Ratan Singh. No impression was made on the fortress by the attacks of catapults and ballistae, nor could it be scaled by ladders (pashib). The Rajputs offered heroic resistance for about seven months and then after the women had perished in the flames of jauhar, the fort surrendered on August 26, 1303. Thirty thousand Rajputs were put to the sword. According to the Rajput sources Batan Singh was among the slain on the battlefield, while Muslim chroniclers, Amir Khusrav and 'Isami, state that the Rana of Chitor survived the battle and his life was spared by the king. Ratan Singh, however, is heard of no more after the fall of Chitor. 'Ala-ud-din remained at Chitor for some days, and during this period many temples were destroyed and the population became victims of the fury of his soldiery. He returned to Delhi, after having appointed Khizr Khan to the government of Chitor. The Khaljis could not, however, long hold Chitor in the face of constant and stubborn resistance of the Rajputs. Khizr Khan abandoned it in 1311-12, and then Maladeva, brother of the chief of Jiilor, ruled it as a tributary to the king of Delhi. But during his son's rule, Hamtr, Rfu:tii of Sisodia, took possession of Chitor and the whole of Mewar (about A.D. 1325)'20, as will be described rater in Chapter XIII A. 

The episode of Padmini has received a great deal of prominence in connection with 'Ala-ud-din's conquest of Chitor. The bardic chronicles of Rajputana represent the invasion of Chitor as solely due to the Sultan's desire to get possession of Padmini, the beautiful queen of Rana Ratan Singh of Chitor, and they have woven round it a long tale of romance, heroism and treachery, too well-known to need any repetition. Later writers like, Abu-'l Fazl, Haji-ud-Dabre, Firishta, and Nensi have accepted the story, but many modern writers are inclined to reject it altogether. They point out that the episode of Padmini is not referred to by any contemporary writer, and is first mentioned by Malik Muhammad Jaisi in A.D. 1540 in his Padmavat, which is a romance rather than a historical work; further, the later writers, mentioned above, who reproduce the story with varying details flourished long after the event and differ from one another on essential points. On the other hand, Professor Habib believes that there is a covert allusion to the Padmini episode by Amir Khusrav, a contemporary, in his Khazain-ul-Futuh, when he mentions the Queen of Sheba (Saba'). It has also been argued that the invasion of Chitor, one of the strongest fortresses of Rajputana, was the natural corollary to the expansionist policy of 'Ala-ud-din, and no Padmini was needed for his casus belli. As against this it should be remembered that 'Ala-ud-din's lust for a Hindu queen is proved by the known instances of Queen Kamala Devi of Gujarat and the daughter of' King Ramachandra of Devagiri. It is to be remembered alsoy that Abu-'l Fazl definitely says that he gives the story of Padmini from "ancient chronicles", which cannot obviously refer to the Padmavat, an almost contemporary work. On the whole, it must be admitted that there is no inherent impossibility in the kernel of the story of Padmini devoid of all embellishments, and it should not be totally rejected off-hand as a myth.


April 2017


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