Rajasthan, a state that had witnessed numerous deaths in the guise of wars had also seen several martyrdoms. Thousands of women of the state had sacrificed their lives for the honor of their clan and families. Many of these women had their names themselves dissolved in the flow of time; some of them however, got themselves immortalized in the pages of history and the folklores of Rajasthan. Here are enlisted three of the well-recognized dames of Mewar region of Rajasthan the sacrifices of whom have been sung by the generations.
When visiting the historical events of the valiant noblewomen of Rajasthan the first name that comes up is that of Queen Padmini. The queen had presented the unprecedented instance of bravery of her times. Hers is the story of beauty and bravery. Hers is the story of undefied defiance and honor. After catching a glimpse of the queen, Alauddin Khilji (also known as the most powerful ruler of Khilji dynasty) was enamored by her ethereal beauty. He then tried to acquire her for his harem through means of trickery. He treacherously imprisoned her husband Rana Ratan Singh and asked her to go to his kingdom in delhi with him as the ransom. Bound by her family’s honor, the queen could not agree with his conditions, so in order to save her husband queen deceived him by sending warriors in her palanquin who freed their king and started the battle against Khilji right there. In the end, however, the outnumbered forces of Rajput Army had to perform Saka (a fight where warriors fight till their last breath despite obvious defeat) making it imperative for the ladies of the court to perform Johar. Led by their noble queen Padmini, hundreds of women of Chittor had committed self-immolation that fateful day in 1303 C.E.
Years later, the women of Chittor again had to face similar circumstances where they had to choose between life and honor; and once again they chose to die instead of facing a disgraceful life. It all happened in the year 1535, when Shah of Gujarat attacked the kingdom which was then administered by the Regent Queen Karnavati. Queen’s husband Rana Sanga had died in the battle of Khanua in 1527 leaving the kingdom with very little defense forces. Bahadur shah of Gujarat took advantage of these frail situations and attacked the fort with his enormous army. In face of these adversities, the defeat was inevitable. The court men of Chittorgarh were gripped by panic, but the queen did something that was unheard of in those times. He sent an emissary to Humayun (emperor of Mughal Empire) with a sacred thread called Rakhi. Rakhi is a ceremonious string that women of India tie on the hands of their brothers with the promise that he will always protect her. The diplomatic move, as is believed, would have saved that kingdom on the day, had the entourage of Humayun wasn’t but a day too late. It is said that Humayun eventually waged war against Bahadur Shah and defeated him to avenge the sister who died by committing Jauhar on March 8, 1535 A.D.
Panna Dai was a maid of queen Karnavati, whom she entrusted with the safety of her son Udai Singh II, before committing the mass suicide on the aforementioned date. Once the throne was recaptured, the elder brother Vikramaditya started his obnoxious reign on the place earning despise of his subjects and courtiers alike. Soon it was evident that his deed had him palace-arrested by the noblemen of Chittor, leaving the young Udai Singh II the heir-elect. When a distant cousin of the brothers, Banvir, heard of these ongoing, he decided to acquire the throne for himself by killing off the two, now vulnerable, brothers. He successfully killed the older of the two, but when he came to kill the 14 year old Udai Singh her nurse cum guardian saved his life by sacrificing that of her own son Chandan. She spirited the young prince out of the castle, by placing Chandan in his place. Banvir, not recognizing this trickery assassinated the nurse’s son believing him to be the prince. This maneuver saved prince’s life for years to come, until he was old and strong enough to fight his treacherous cousin in a battle. The predicted battle took place on the plains of Mavli (area between Udaipur and Chittorgarh) where Rana Udai Singh II won his first battle by defeating Banvir, bringing her guardian’s heartrending sacrifice to fruition.