Rani Padmini (The Heroine of Chittor) by B.K.Karkra
Rani Padmini is someone who needs no introduction thanks to the various works that have been written about her and also Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Padmavaat released in 2018. B.K.Karkra in this latest book attempts to clear all the doubts regarding her existence. It is written with a clear purpose of stating that she isn’t a figment of someone’s imagination. How much you believe the writer is debatable but there is no denying that the book makes for a good read particularly for those who are into history.
The book is divided into seventeen chapters. It starts off with the various things that people have written about her. This includes the most popular of the lot ‘Padmaavat’ written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi. After this we move to the Queens who were contemporaries of Queen Padmini along with various other facets of her period. There are also long chapters on Alauddin Khilji and Padmini’s husband Rana Rawal Ratan Singh. Karkra also brings in the perspectives of poets and other people.
One of the most engaging chapters in this book is about the politics of her times along with the dangers and the humiliations that the Queens had to face particularly during the wars. It is a well known fact that women were the worst sufferers of wars but the details make you feel emotional. There is a detailed chapter on this where he talks about the conditions of women of that period.
Through this chapter we come to know about how the practice of Sati, Jauhar etc germinated in our society.
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The chapters on Alauddin Khilji and Rawal Ratan Singh also make for a fascinating read. Talking about Alauddin Khilji, Karkra says that he was someone who had genuine respect for brave people irrespective of which side of the fence they were on. He takes the example of Hamir Dev Chauhan who was an adversery to Alauddin Khilji. We also get to know that he placed high value on loyalty.
Regarding Alauddin Khilji’s behavior towards women the writer says that he is believed to have behaved well with women in his harem. How much of that is true is something which cannot be ascertained.
The chapter on the practice of Jauhar before and after Padmavati is another engaging chapter. In this chapter Karkra talks about how majority of Jauhars are connected with the defeat of Hindus at the hands of the Muslim rulers. He adds that no Jauhars took place when Hindus won over Hindus or for that matter in wars related to the Britishers.
In the final tally, Rani Padmini makes an interesting read irrespective of how much you agree with B.K Karkra.