By Inamul Haq
India has a rich history. The foreigners who visited India were fascinated with literary works, art and architecture and with the archives of old memories of the country. It was ruled by Persians, Turks as well as Afghans for a long period. They constructed the country with their valuable and skille artisans. Such rich history became popular for Indian filmmakers and they produced and directed the films like Anarkali, Taj Mahal, Mughal-e- Azam, Jodha-Akbar, Bajirao Mastani, Shivaji Chattrapti and so on .All such movies were enjoyed by the public and nobody objected on the screening such movies. However, Sanjay Bansali with his new film Padmavati became a head ache not only for Rajput Karni Sena, Hindu Jagran Samiti but also for the ruling party (BJP). Karni Sena president Lokendra Singh Kalvi stated that the money for this movie came from the Middle East and it belonged to Dawood (Indian Today). These remarks come after a day when Haryana BJP Chief Media Coordinator Suraj Pal Amu promised a cash reward of ten crores for anyone who beheaded Bhansali and Deepika Padukone.
The question that arises is: Did Rani Padmavati existed in Medieval India or it is just a mystery? It is clear that Alauddin Khilji, one of the finest generals in India’s military history, needed no treachery to subdue Chittor. He repelled successive Mongol invasions and conquered Rajasthan and Gujarat during his reign. Noted historian S Irfan Habib claims that Rani Padmavati was not a historical figure as there is no record of her before 1540. According to him, the queen was a fictional figure created in the poem, ‘Padmavat’ written by Malik Mohammad Jayasi in 1540 at Bhaktikal, which has no connection with history. He further states that Jayasi had penned the book during Akbar’s reign, which lasted around 1550 AD, wherein he had mentioned the name of Alauddin Khilji. However, the reign of Khilji spanned 1296-1316. According to Pankaj Jha, (History Professor, LSR College New Delhi), Padmavati is a mytho-historical character on mystical love composed by an Avadi Sufi poet. It is just a metaphoric tale and historical characters are not to be taken literally. In this tale, Prince Ratan Sen represents mystical love whereas Khilji stands in for the sinful and baser instincts of unrequited desire. Padmavati as the princess of Sinhaldveep (Ceylon) is the elusive object of both their desires.
It is remarkable that the Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and UP came in support of Karni Sena. The Deputy CM in the Yogi Adityanath government, Keshav Prasad Maurya, has said, “We will not let ‘Padmavati’ be released in UP unless controversial portions are removed.” Maurya’s statement came hours after the proposed release date of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati was deferred. Further, he stated that Padmavati sacrificed her life instead of surrendering before the Mughals and made a place for herself in history. “Islamic invaders created a lot of mayhem in the country. The ‘Rani’ burnt herself alive in ‘Jauhar’ for her ‘satitva’ (pride) and dignity”.
In the ruling government, there is a plan to change the notion of Indian history. The first phase started in Rajasthan, where Government took a pledge to change history. Akbar who is considered as a tolerant ruler of Indian history also became headache to Rajputs, because Akbar defeated the Rana of Mewar , Maharana Pratap, in the battle of Haldighati that was fought on June 18, 1576. After that, the Yogi government removed Taj Mahal from the booklet of UP tourism. In the latest speech, Sangeet Som, lawmaker of BJP stated that “ Taj Mahal was built by traitors and is a blot of Indian History”.
According to historians, Rani Padmavati did not exist in the entire history as there is no valid source that favours the relation between Alauddin Khilji and Padmavati. It is notable that Amir Khusrou also served in the court of Alauddin and composed Khazain ul Fatuah and there is no name of Padmavati in the entire composition. The discourse of Padmavati has created a new dimension towards Indian History. In today’s India, hooliganism is on peak and is operating freely, because Hindutva forces are needed by the ruling party to win the upcoming elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh by polarizing and communalizing society in the name of Padmavati
The author is a Research Candidate at the Central University of Gujarat. He can be reached at: [email protected]