They were ready to jump on the burning pyre with their children clutched to their hands. On the other hand, the whole kingdom was grieving on the besieged by the Mughal rulers. While we have celebrated numerous glorious victory, Indian history has also seen devastating defeats. The defeats not only observed the failure of the Rajput Kings and their soldiers but also seen the heroism of their wives. The wives of the defeated decided not to be the medal of glory for the invader, and instead jumped into flames and commited Jauhar to avoid capture.
Jauhar, the tradition that seems similar to the ritual “Sati” however has a thick line that differentiates the two. “Sati”- a tragedy through the ages was mandatory in Hindus where a widow was often forced on her dead husband’s funeral pyre. On the other hand, in Jauhar, a mass of women sacrificed their life jumping into the fire along with their children either before or after the husbands’ death and if the defeat was imminent.
The first Jauhar took place in 1303 CE by the women of Chittorgarh fort in Rajasthan, faced with invading army of Khalji dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate. The Queen Padmavati along with other women of the kingdom decided to end their lives to escape capture.
While performing Jauhar the Rajput women clad themselves in their marriage dresses, along with their young children, embrace sandalwood flames. The Brahmin priests would chant Vedic mantras while performing the divine ritual. Next morning, the men after taking a bath, would wear kesariya (saffron) and apply the ash from the maha samadhi of their wives and children on their foreheads and put a tulsi leaf in their mouth. Then the Palace Gates would be opened and men would ride out for complete annihilation of the enemy or themselves. This phenomenon is known as Saka. Rajput men and women could not be captured alive.
The Jauhars and Saka were not observed in a Hindu-Hindu battle, for example, it was not seen in the wars of Marathas and Rajputs. However, it became prominent during the battle between Rajputs and Muslim rulers. One of the examples is the war between King Puran Mal of Raisina (in Madhya Pradesh) and brutal Afghan Emperor Sher Shah Suri. The Rajput King and the Mughals decided on peace but the later found to slaughter the women and children. This was when the traditions like “Jauhars” come into existence which is a result of the brutality of the invaders.
The saddest part is, there is some fringe that is talking about the movie Padmavati. Taking the advantage of their caste, this fringe group are destroying the country’s public property, spreading violence to show their protest against this movie. They started abusing women and shaming the Indian culture by their nasty destructive deeds. On the other hand, many people from the same community didn’t see any problem in this feature film showing our country’s culture and history.
I think as a citizen of the country let’s not support the ones who are trying to spread communal hatred within the country.