Padmavati’s story is as real as Batman, Robin hood or any fictional character : Historians

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Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming film, Padmavati, is a story about a fictional story. It is based on a 16th century literary saga by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi, a romantic fiction about Delhi sultan Alauddin Khilji’s sack of Chittor which itself had occurred over 200 years earlier, in 1303. In Jayasi’s allegorical poem, a Rajput queen of Chittor chooses to immolate herself rather than submit to the sultan.

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The only truth about the story is Alauddin Khilji capturing Chittorgarh, there is no historical evidence that he was in love with any Rajput queen.

Eminent historian Prof Irfan Habib said Padmavati was a character in the book Padmawat written by Malik Mohammad Jaisi in Bhaktikal, which has no connection with history at all.

Jaisi had penned it (the book) during Akbar’s reign around 1550 AD, wherein he had mentioned Alauddin Khilji. But Khilji existed from 1296 to 1316,” he said.

Commenting on the need to de-link works of fiction from history, Habib said, “There are stories in every country, but they cannot be accepted as part of history. England has a story of Robinhood, but it was never treated as history. But in our country, myths and stories are given a status of history.

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But things went totally wrong after false news reported by few local newspapers that there is a romantic scene between Rani Padmavati whom some Rajput communities believe as sacred and Alauddin Khilji whom they considered as a barbaric, lustful and dreaded Muslim  Emperor. Although this is completely fictional and has nothing to do with reality or history.

Members of Karni Sena attacked Sanjay Leela Bhansali and vandalized his shooting set. They also threatened to stop his movie.

The myth, written in Avadhi in 1540 by a poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi, 200 years after the Chittorgarh siege, 30 years before Tulsidas began his Ramcharitmanas, has ended up being taken literally as history.

It created, out of whole cloth, the legend of Padmini or Padmavati, the Ceylonese princess turned loyal queen —there is not a shred of historical evidence that she existed. And because of the popularity of the epic, the actual Alauddin Khilji, destroyer of the Mongols and one of India’s most finest and able administrators, is only remembered as a thwarted lover-boy, whose obsession and lust for another man’s wife leads him to destroy a kingdom which is totally false and fictional.

Alauddin Khilji was a marvellous Sultan

Alauddin Khilji, earlier known as Juna Khan Khilji, was one of the most powerful Sultan of Delhi Sultanates. He belonged to the Khilji Dynasty. He captured the throne in 1296 A.D. He became famous as an organizer of real purposeful kingdom.

Alauddin Khilji introduced many economic reforms during his rule. Alauddin fixed the prices of food grains, cloth and other commodities, and had them enforced rigorously. Everything was set down in tariff; vegetables, fruits, sugar, old, horses, caps, shoes, combs, and needles.” No one was permitted to purchase grain from the cultivators directly. Only the authorized traders could do so.

All merchants in Delhi were required to register themselves. “To the merchants he gave wealth, and placed before them goods in abundance”. In return they had to sell all commodities at the fixed rates. All types of speculation and black marketing were stopped.

Alauddin’s economic measures and more specifically his market regulations have been regarded by historians as marvels of ‘medieval statesmanship’.

Administration: Alauddin took steps to make administration rigid and sound along with conquering of kingdom. He banned the meddling of Ulemas and other religious leaders in the administration. He declared that the Sultan’s will is the law. To curb the audacious relatives and aristocrats he took few very important steps. For example:

  1. He banned drinking of alcohol in open in his kingdom.
  2. He made it compulsory to take Sultan’s permission before establishing relationship amongst aristocrats.
  3. He ordered the confiscation of endowments and free grants of land made by the state.
  4. To help him in administration he appointed few very agile and competent staffs. He invested powers to collect taxes, maintain law and order and to maintain army, to officers known as Iktadar or Makti, in remote areas. The lands thus estimated were known as `Ikta’.
  5. To check corruption in the army he introduced dag (mark a horse) and chehra (the physical descriptions of army men).

Extent of his empire: The historic account of wars and conquests indicates the limits of the Alauddin’s empire. On the north-western side, both Punjab and Sindh were under his control and the Indus formed the boundary of his vast empire. Most of the regions over Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Malwa, and Rajputana were under his authority. In the south, the state of Narbada were held by tributary vassal chiefs.

The conquests of Alauddin Khilji were very successful and he called himself a second Alexander.

Thus the present generation and masses are doing a great injustice with a Emperor who stopped a vile force of Mongols and brought plenty of reforms which benefited to his kingdom.

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