Maharani Padmini’s Jauhar-an act misunderstood by Pseudo Feminists

Where to start. Where to end. It is not a tale, it is not a story to be told for entertainment. It is a page written not in history books but on the cheek of time.

Maharani Padmini, wife of Ratnasimha, also known as Rawal Ratan Singh-King of Mewar, Rajasthan- doesn’t need any introduction, at least for every proud Indian. Maharani Padmini was not only considered to be the most unprecedented beauty of her time but she also gave an ultimate test of honor when the moment arrived, but today I will not talk about her legendary life but about her ultimate decision for the dignity of not only Rajputs but whole womanhood- her Jauhar (a practice of self-immolation by the royal women to escape being captured, enslaved, raped by foreign invaders).

Since last few days, I have been witnessing some women talking about how wrong Rani Padmini’s decision was to commit Jauhar, or how the latest Bollywood movie Padmaavat, a Sanjay Leela Bhansali magnum opus glorifies Jauhar. And the only reasons I see behind such stances is that either they don’t understand the psyche of brave, proud royal women of 13-14th century or the meaning of honor has deteriorated over time.

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While some say she had all rights to live(do they mean in Delhi’s Sultan Allauddin’s harem?), others go a step ahead in being not only bizarre but imprudent to say that why didn’t Maharani Padmini fight the tyrant Sultan of Delhi(as if fighting the army of millions of trained militants was such a piece of cake)?

Even if we forget for a moment such bizarre statements as to why didn’t Rani sa(The title by which Maharani  Padmini is called by many) take these aforementioned actions, one thing that people making such statements and calling it against feminism forget is that feminism-a cloak many(not all) use these days to get either fame or undue advantages/privileges- is not only about equality, it’s not about having a desire to be like men(a definition many feminists give subtly), it’s about what’s the worth of a woman’s life in her own eyes and moreover about the right women have over their lives, their body, their dignity and the very self. It’s about what’s more important for you- to live like a slave, lacking pride with scarred self-esteem, or to choose the path you see is the only one left while encountering an stalemate situation, a situation in which there can’t be seen a way in which a lady can safeguard her dignity, honor, self-respect, and above all her body which has been considered since ages by many as a mere beautiful object to acquire. Now what I believe is that Feminism is about women having equality, all rights over their lives, and no one including blabbering feminazis can deny women that.

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The question here is that- is living that important even for empowered women or even men for that matter, that dignity, honor, and self respect become second priority?

When the army of Allauddin Khilji surrounded the fort of Chittorgarh and their fate was inevitable, the women of Chittor had only two ways left- live in the harem of Khilji to satiate his unending lust or surrender the bodies he was obsessed to get, to fire. I’ll not say it was very easy to go for the latter one, it must not have been although it’s very easy to comment on it sitting in one’s comfort zone with popcorn buckets. She could give her body to a lustful barbaric maniac and “LIVE” but she burned the very same body to ashes-a body which had a soul unscathed by the ogling eyes.

You may call those women’s decision right or wrong, but for them, saving the honor by escaping the humiliation inflicted by lustful men was more important without a doubt. They jumped into fire- fire which makes us go through boundless pain even if we burn our tiniest finger. They didn’t tell others to follow it, they didn’t glorify it, for them, it was a way to save the very basic tenet they considered most important. As for those who say that why did Rani take permission from her husband before Jauhar in the movie Padmaavat- well it was not that she had no right on her life, it was an unsaid way a message is conveyed to us that without her husband, her life would be meaningless and that too not because a woman needs a man to live, but because of the fact that Maharani Padmini was a woman who loved her husband unconditionally and life was nothing for her without him.

Maybe it is difficult for feminists of modern age to understand all these principles of life that Maharani Padmini and other Rajput women had. But at the same time, maybe they will understand all these tenets once they put themselves in the place of those brave women.

Coming to the modern age, with rampant cruelties against women even with the wave of feminism, it would be extremely remiss of me not to give my opinion that with this piece of writing, I do not intend to tell anyone that any kind of suicide is justified- IT IS NOT. Even for someone who is escaping an act like rape or for rape survivors, end of life is NOT AT ALL JUSTIFIED.

But but but…..at the same time those giving hell lot of advises as to what the brave Rajput women should have done, they need to understand that Rani Padmini had bravery which is unimaginable in the modern age, because it’s easy to live with shame than to die with pride, and she died for her true love and who also fought to death. No wonder Maharani Padmini is no less than a goddess in many corners of India, particularly in Rajasthan. For Maharani Padmini, it was not only about living or dying, it was for her pride, her husband’s pride, her love for him, his love for her, her denial to let any other man touch her, it was a statement to let the world know that a woman’s soul is hers and its up to her to let it be liberated or incarcerated.

Today, we call Khilji a villain but the question at the moment is that what are we?

Questioning Maharani Padmini? Calling her act not a brave one? And above all, calling her a fictitious character? Maligning today’s women? Inflicting humiliation on them? These are all harsh realities of our ‘Modern World’.

The poem called Padmaavat came in 1540, but if you visit Rajasthan, you will get to know that folk songs dedicated to her are something every child grows up with there. She is not only a queen who once lived, she was a mother, she was a Rajput pride, she was the one who was no less brave than the Rajput warriors, for her one decision could change the whole course of history and the way we look at our gallant warriors and the very brave Rajput community.

To all the pseudo feminists out there, I leave it to you all to think what is more important- time has changed, world has changed, but for most of the females all around the world, agony is still the same. Forget the age, forget the crisis, forget the different conditions, give it a moment and choose between what you’ve been calling a practical approach and what your conscience allows you, and you will get to know the pride of Rajasthan Maharani Padmini and her Jauhar.

 

8 FORGOTTEN INTRIGUING INDIAN LOVE STORIES VERY FEW(LITERALLY) KNOW ABOUT

India is a land of tales, myths and not to forget, LOVE STORIES! But taking a break from regular love stories that we have come across so many times at so many places and in so many books, let’s have a glance at some intriguing unknown fascinating love stories of India which I bet many of us won’t know about.

Rabindranath Tagore-Victoria Ocampo

Who doesn’t know the national anthem of India but very few people know that there was a chapter in the life of its creator, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, which is unknown to many of us. He too had a story-a romantic one- that never witnessed a happy ending. Yes , you read that right.

Victoria Ocampo was a talented beautiful woman who later became the publisher of a literary magazine Sur. Victoria met Rabindranath much later in his life. Besides the admiration for Tagore, she was in love with him and it is quite clear that he too had a romantic interest in her. Their correspondence, though continued for years, Tagore, it seems never reciprocated her the way she wanted-’romantically’- and always confined the relationship into an intellectual one. Whatever were the reasons behind shunning such feelings, it is evident that they never had a love life together and Tagore couldn’t even see his Vijaya(that’s what he called her) in his last moments of life.

A year before his death in the year 1940, one of the poems in his Sesh Lekha(Last writings) is believed to be about her-

How I wish I could once again find my way to that foreign land where waits for me the message of love!….Her language I knew not, but what her eyes said will forever remain eloquent in its anguish.’

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Rabindranath Tagore with Victoria Ocampo

Baz Bahadur-Rani Roopmati

If you ever visit Madhya Pradesh, do not forget to visit Rewa Kund reservoir of Mandu which still recites the passionate love story of Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati.

It was the time of medieval India when Roopmati’s captivating voice completely mesmerized the Sultan of Mandu, Baz Bahadur one day and after beholding her face he got completely charmed by her beauty and proposed her to marry him. She agreed. But like many timeless classic tales of love, this too had an ugly twist. When knowledge of Roopmati’s beauty reached ears of Adham Khan, general of emperor Akbar, he tried to capture Mandu and when Baz Bahadur realized he couldn’t defeat Adham Khan, fled.  

Now the sorrow of Roopmati knew no bounds and instead of surrendering herself to the lust of Adham Khan she swallowed poison and left the world.

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In due course, Baz Bahadur also ended up joining Akbar as his loyal servant as a mansabdar.

This is an unfortunate story of a woman who sacrificed her life because she couldn’t let any other man touch her but at the same time it is a story of a helpless man who fled, leaving his love, to save himself. We can question Baz Bahadur’s actions but we don’t know what was in his mind when he left his wife and fled.

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Baz Bahadur & Rani Roopmati in a painting

It was Baz Bahadur’s last wish to be buried abreast his beloved Rani Roopmati, and the death which separated them once, at last commingled their love.

It is believed that if one shouts “Roopmati” at their tomb, the voice reverberates as “Baz Bahadur”.

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Tomb of Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati -Sarangpur, Rajgarh, Madhya Pradesh

“When Baz Bahadur proposed Roopmati for marriage she agreed with a condition that he would construct a palace for her from which she could see river Narmada. It was this place from where she would sing everyday after their marriage, facing Narmada and her love Baz Bahadur would hear her enthralling voice and see her bewitching beauty. That place is Rewa Kund of Mandu!”

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Rewa Kund-Mandu, Madhya Pradesh

Jahan Ara- Nicholas Ballantyne

Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal’s love story is known to the world in the form of Taj Mahal but do you know the unknown love chapter in the life of their eldest daughter Jahan Ara?

Nicholas Ballantyne was a squire to sir Thomas Roe, former ambassador in the court of emperor Jahangir, father of Shah Jahan.

In contemporary records, it has been stated that there was a strange bonding between Nicholas Ballantyne and Jahan Ara, the first lady of the empire. Though it was forbidden for a royal woman to meet a stranger and that too a non-royal foreigner, it is believed that Jahan Ara and Nicholas Ballantyne would meet and talk at length and there were also some occurrences of exchange of letters between them. It is also recorded that there were rumors about their brewing bond but at last, knowing his fate, it is said that Nicholas left for London forever, never to see Jahan Ara again.

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Jahan Ara

Whatever truth is there in the story of these two entities bound by their duties, it will always be a mystery as to what was their bond and whatever it was, they apparently faced the separation and a miserable end of their beautiful relationship.

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay- Dheeru- Kalidasi

If you think that it was Shahrukh Khan or Dilip Kumar who immortalised the portrayal of a doomed lover in Bollywood adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel Devdas, take a halt and read the real story.

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It was in the streets of bhagalpur, where the story of Devdas was scripted long back. Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, who penned the immortal love story of Devdas, it is said, had written his own tragic love tale in the book Devdas. Sarat’s childhood girlfriend Dheeru was his love interest but eventually married someone else. It is said that Sarat spent three nights in a stable outside her sasural just to have a glimpse of her. Like his great book, Chandramukhi also came in his life. Kalidasi of Jogsar area was the real life Chandramukhi who found her love in him.

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Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay

Unlike Devdas of the book, Sarat did not succumbed to tragic death but his own story of love was indeed incomplete yet beautiful and is one of the most fascinating love stories which mesmerised the world when came in the form of fictitious Devdas.

Rani Roopba-Rana Veer Singh

Adalaj stepwell near Ahmedabad is an extremely beautiful stepwell which can enthrall the visitors but what is more beautiful is the extraordinary tale of sacrifice and true love behind this magnificent edifice.

Rana Veer Singh of Vaghela dynasty, in the medieval period, ruled this territory then known as Dandai Desh. His wife Rani Roopba was an extremely beautiful woman and loved her husband more than anyone in the world.

On a hapless day, his kingdom was attacked by Mohammad Begada, a ruler of neighbouring territory. Rana was killed in the battle, leaving his beloved wife forlorn. When Begada saw Rani Roopba’s irresistible beauty, he proposed to marry her. She agreed but only time and Rani Roopba knew what was in her mind. She expressed to Begada that she would marry him only on a condition that he would first complete the construction of adalaj which her husband had commenced. He agreed.

The day came when adalaj was there in front of the people of Dandai for their benefit and Begada was getting ready for the wedding ceremony. But Rani Roopba was missing from her palace. Begada sent all his troops to find Rani but it was too late.

The queen circumambulated the stepwell and jumped into the well. She ended her life because her love Rana Veer Singh was not with her. She exemplified the true love by not allowing anyone else to come near her after her husband. Now it was open that she had agreed just to make sure that the dream of her husband comes true and the people of the territory get water facilities.

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Adalaj Stepwell

Mohammad Begada on the other hand, it seems truly loved Roopba and hence did not order to vandalize the stepwell.

The story of Rani Roopba and her immense sacrifice is not just a tragic love story but also restores our faith in true love.

James Achilles Kirkpatrick- Khair-Un-Nissa

Who would have thought that one day, one of the britishers-whom we always think looked down upon us-will fall in love with a girl of Hyderabad in the 18th century. But it did happen.

James Achilles Kirkpatrick, a british resident was a young man who was a resident in the palace of the Nizam of Hyderabad. Khair-Un-Nissa, on the other hand, was a cousin of Mir Ali, disciple of Aristu Jah who was the prime minister of the Nizam and also a close associate of the Nizam.

After facing much resistance initially by both British power and Nizam, they eventually married but it was not a happy end. Kirkpatrick’s early demise completely devastated Khair. Her kids were already sent to their grandfather in London. She had no one as a stalwart. But as if it was not an end to her agony. Henry Russel, another britisher tried and came close to her and after some time betrayed her and married someone else. However she breathed her last in Hyderabad residency, as a stranger in her home where she once lived with her husband and kids with full glory and extreme happiness. This story not just tells about the tragic end it has but also about how helpless one can be in love.

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James Achilles Kirkpatrick and Khair-Un-Nissa

Kach- Devayani

Kacha was the son of sage Brihaspati, sage of demigods. Devayani was the daughter of Shukracharya, sage of demons. Then how did it all happen?

It all started with a mission that Kach was sent on to. The mission was to become the disciple of Shukracharya to get the secret knowledge of resurrecting the dead. But in the process, an innocent love story brewed. It is said that Devayani loved Kacha and Kacha also would spend all his time with her in the hermitage. Other demons did not like it and after many attempts to kill him, finally burnt his body and mixed his ashes in liquor and made Shukracharya drink the liquor. Now, on Devayani’s request, Shukracharya started the rituals to bring Kach back from death and in the process, Kacha tore the body of Shukracharya and came out of his body. Kach’s mission was accomplished as he had imbibed the knowledge of resurrecting the dead(by listening to the process from stomach of Shukracharya) and first thing that he did was to bring Shukracharya back from death who died in the process as he came out of his body.

After few days when Devayani proposed him to marry, Kacha refused as he believed that they were more like siblings as the source of their birth had become one-Shukracharya(as Kach had come to life from Shukracharya’s body only).

Weeping Devayani finally cursed him but her sorrow did not lessen. Kach did not say anything but left for heaven again. He left, may be because he was not allowed to make relationships on the mission but he was to imbibe the knowledge which was his task.

Nobody knows what was in his mind but this was indeed an end of a beautiful love story. This story from the epic Mahabharat is definitely a tragic love story which left the lovers lonely and dejected.

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Sage Chyavan-Sukanya

Every girl wants a prince charming right? But this story is about a girl who rejected even the proposal of demigods just to be with her husband who was very much older, blind and unsightly.

Sukanya was a princess who once mistakenly poked in sage Chyavan’s eyes mistaking them to be a part of anthill and to pacify him, Sukanya’s father king Sharyati gave him his daughter in marriage.

Now one day when Ashwini Kumaras(twin demigods) saw Sukanya bathing, mesmerised by her beauty, they asked her to marry one of them and to leave her ugly, old and blind husband. When she refused, they also promised to restore the youth and sight of Chyavan so that she could identify and choose either him or one of them. Sukanya, being a faithful wife rejected their proposal. When she told everything to her husband, Chyavan asked her to request Ashwini Kumaras to do what they had told her.

As promised, on request of Sukanya, Ashwini Kumaras restored the sight and youth of Chyavan. Now-when all three men came in front of Sukanya after taking a bath in the river and asked her to identify Chyavan, Sukanya identified Chyavan-as only his footprints were there on the ground and not those of Ashwin Kumaras as they were demigods-and chose him only.

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Ashwin Kumaras with Chyavan in front of Sukanya

Her rejection of heaven for hermitage and that of demigods for an old, blind and ugly husband does not only make her an epitome of womanhood but also shows her unconditional love for her husband. It proves that love has got nothing to do with physical appearance as many of us believe.

The Chyavan-Sukanya love story is one forgotten love story but definitely one of the sweetest and fascinating love stories we have in our mythology.

AND YES, if you think you have heard name of Chyavan before-He is the same genius of ancient India who is responsible for the Chyavanprash that we eat today to boost immune system and for longevity.

So this was a sneak peek at some forgotten yet fascinating love stories from the land of our country which I hope you all enjoyed and would remember as many of them definitely restores our faith in true love and true relationship.

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Remembering Bose on his death anniversary. Was it Indian politics that killed Subhash Chandra Bose? Did he live on as gumnami baba? 

Subhash Chandra Bose                 (January 23, 1897- August 18, 1945)

At the end of Subhas Chandra bose’s first term as the president of the Haripura congress session in the year 1938, the presidential elections of Tripura congress session took place and Subhas was re-elected as the president defeating Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya. But by this time the equation in the Indian national congress had changed. Despite of the fact that both these legendary leaders had a deep admiration for each other, their ideologies were poles apart. Subhas was against the charkha of Gandhiji and gave a call to lead India towards modernization.

On the other hand Gandhiji was against the use of force of arms and ammunitions to get independence. Gandhiji openly declared that Sitaramayya’s defeat was his defeat. He said that Subhas’s references to his colleagues were unjustified and unworthy. He remarked that since Subhas had criticized his colleagues as ‘rightists’, it would be most appropriate on his part to choose a homogeneous cabinet and enforce his action. Here comes the twist in the history of Indian politics and in the life of Subhas Chandra Bose alike. Had Gandhiji not said what he did, Bose would have never resigned from the post of the president and formed the forward block. Bose, now devoid of any support from ‘Indian politics and its leaders’ started mass movement and left for Germany incognito when he was house arrested by British government in his house in Calcutta and sought cooperation from Germany and Japan. In the year 1942, he started broadcasting messages from radio Berlin which aroused enthusiasm in monumental way in among Indians.

In July 1943, he reached Singapore from Germany. In Singapore he took over the reins of the Indian Independence Movement in East Asia from Rash Behari Bose and organized the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army) comprising mainly of Indian prisoners of war. He was hailed as Netaji by the Army as well as by the Indian civilian population in East Asia. Azad Hind Fauj proceeded towards India to liberate it from British rule. Enroute it liberated Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The I.N.A. Head quarter was shifted to Rangoon in January 1944. Azad Hind Fauj crossed the Burma Border, and stood on Indian soil on March 18, 1944. Japan and Germany were defeated in the Second World War and a result the INA could not fulfill its objective. On August 18, 1945, Subhash Chandra Bose was declared killed in an air crash over Taipei, Taiwan (Formosa). But there are people who believe that he was still alive and many Commissions were set up to find the truth but nothing could be found about his whereabouts.

In his journey, from the resignation from Indian civil services to join struggle for Indian independence to his purported death shrouded in the mystery, he never was admired ‘politically’ for his ideologies either by Gandhiji or by Nehru. Assuming that he was not dead in the air crash and he returned to India with concealed identity post independence and had met Gandhiji and Nehru who were at the pinnacle in the Indian politics at the time, he apparently would have reckoned that he had no point in coming overtly in case it was an incident post 15th august 1947 as his aim of complete independence was already fulfilled by then. But in both the cases it is apparent that it was indeed the politics of India that killed the legendary hero called Subhas Chandra Bose.

But here comes a very interesting other side of the story which has been fascinating every Indian since around last decade or so. It is a story of gumnami baba or Bhagwanji. On the night of 19 September, 1985 a body wrapped in tricolor was moved out of Ram Bhavan, a house in front of the circuit house in Faizabad. It was accompanied by 13 people including Dr. RP Mishra, Dr. Priyabrat Bannerjee and Saraswati Devi Shukla. Another man Ram Kishore Panda, a leading tirth purohit of Ayodhya was there who had been looking after Bhagwanji, the Saint who had just died. He cried out as the pyre was lit on the banks of Saryu at the Guptar Ghat – a place where Lord Ram was supposed to have shed his body. “We are only 13 to see him off on his last journey; there should have been 13 lakh!”

Due to the striking resemblance with Subhas Chandra Bose, it is said that gumnami baba was none other than Bose who had come to India via Russia, or some say via Nepal. It is said that gumnami baba entered Uttar Pradesh via Nepal in the guise of an ascetic (sadhu) and started staying in Ram Bhavan, Faizabad, from 1983.

The main reason which started making the headlines was that there was no concrete theory telling where had gumnami baba come from or what was his history. But this was not the only reason. As the story got unraveled, came many more astounding facts which made it inevitable that gumnami baba was Netaji himself living in disguise. In the lifetime of gumnami baba, many people from Bengal started meeting him after April 1962 when Atul Sen, an associate of Netaji met gumnami baba and recognized him. The doubt became clearer when after probing his house after his death, many belonging of gumnami baba was found which were related to Netaji such as– range of books and documents pertaining to Netaji, including the dissent report of Suresh Chandra Bose (Netaji’s elder brother) to the Shah Nawaz Committee that asserted that the patriot had died in the air crash. There was also the report of Radha Binod Pal who had dissented from the International Tribunal on whose report Japanese bigwigs, like H Tojo, the Japanese Prime Minister were sent to the gallows. There were also books on contemporary politics and the original photograph of the Baba the copy that had been released by Parliamentarian Samar Guha in the late 1970s to newspaper, claiming Netaji was in hiding. There were newspapers from 1964, with comments of the Baba on the side. All the stuff were later stored in the Faizabad district treasury where it still remains. Above all there were also many documents related with Indian National Army of Netaji. There have been many committees set up to probe about the death or disappearance of Netaji which instead of solving the case made it more complicated.

In the recent past, when RTI was filed to disclose the closely confined files related to Netaji, government of India refused to provide information under Right to Information Act. In response to RTI filed by Subhash Agrawal, Prime Minister Office declined to declassify files related to disappearance of Bose saying that, “Disclosure of documents contained in these files would prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries. As such, these files are exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1) (a) read with Section 8(2) of the Right to Information Act,”. Out of 41 files related to the disappearance of Subhas Chandra Bose, only 2 have been declassified. These documents have been seen by Mukherjee Commission.

Whenever it seems that we are on the verge of finding how Netaji died or who gumnami baba was, any other hindrance come across the case and it seems as hard to find about Netaji’s life, death, living in disguise and gumnami baba’s identity, as it was when the whole case became known to the world about Netaji not boarding into the flight which was crashed on 18th august 1945 and when the world got to know about the uncanny resemblance between the life of that of gumnami baba with that of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.