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Padmavati controversy: Amid criticism of violent activists, don't forget contribution of Rajputs to Indian history

The controversy surrounding the film Padmavati is as needless as anything could be. Such films are very necessary to bring to light stories from our history — something that is generally absent in today's public psyche. For instance, a lot of people know about Bajirao and Akbar only because of the films in which they have seen these characters. One can’t know if there's any distortion in the film Padmavati, without actually seeing it.

Having said that, in the hurry to criticise the actions of a few so-called Rajput activists, the entire contribution of Rajputs to Indian history is now being questioned. Memes of Rajputs being circulated by others are as senseless as actions of Karni Sena and its ilk.

Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

It is interesting at this point to recall a few great contributions of the Rajputs to our history.

One of the earliest accounts is that of the great Pratihara King Nagabhatta I — in the First Battle of Rajasthan, who defeated a large Arab Army decisively in 738 AD, after which the Arabs didn't dare cross the Indus, for at least two centuries.

Whenever Rajputs are mentioned, one simply cannot do it without mentioning Prithviraj Chauhan. He was the Rajput king who ruled Delhi at his time. Usually, people only remember that he was killed subsequent to the second battle of Tarain by Muhammad of Ghur. In the first battle of Tarain however, he indeed defeated Ghuri, decisively. Also, hardly anyone knows that his death was avenged by the Khukrain Rajputs, when they killed Ghuri, on his way back.

The first siege of Chittorgarh — around which the film Padmavati, although it resulted in the capture of the fort by the Khilji Sultan, it couldn't be held for very long. Rana Hammir — a distant descendent of Rawal Ratan Singh, the king of Chittorgarh who was defeated by Alauddin Khiljji — a short while later overthrew the titular king who was seated by Alauddin and restored Chittorgarh to its former glory.

It was only Akbar, who could win Chittorgarh for good, but that only happened two-and-a-half centuries later. However, Mewar accepted the sovereignty of the Mughals, even later, under Jahangir. The Mughals certainly had suzerainty over the major parts of the Rajputana, for a considerable amount of time, but it has to be remembered, that the most ables generals of the Mughal army have consistently and at all times, been Rajputs.

In the Battle of Haldighati, the Mughal army defeated Maharana Pratap, but not many know that the Mughal army was under the command of another Rajput King, Man Singh I. In fact, Mughals always had a Rajput as a prominent general of their armies, even on their Central Asia campaigns and when they defeated the Safavids.

Rajputs and Mughals were allied by multiple marriages in each generation between the royal families of Mughals and Rajputs. It is not so difficult to imagine why the mighty Mughals choose to marry the Rajputs. The Rajputs were certainly a force to reckon with, throughout the period of Mughal rule. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the longevity of the Mughal Rule in India was made sure only because of the wilful contribution of Rajputs to not just the Mughal army, but also its polity.

Saying that the Rajputs lacked valour and courage and were perennially subdued by a foreign power, is only manifesting one's own ignorance and needlessly perpetuating a lie. Rajputs had in fact defended the only land border of India, for the longest period of time in our history.

Published Date: Nov 24, 2017 07:50 AM | Updated Date: Nov 24, 2017 08:26 AM

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