Rani Durgavati: a forgotten queen

 

India has had the privilege of having many sons and daughters as her rulers. Unfortunately, not many are known to us because leftist historians have not just distorted history but left out brave Hindu warriors and their feats that have the potential to inspire the present and future generations. It is our duty to bring out the story of such forgotten heroes and heroines into the limelight.

Not just kings but queens of this land have also etched a name for themselves as both brave warriors and just administrators. Bharatvarsha has produced brave-hearts such as Chennamma, Ahilya Bai Holkar, Laxmi Bai and many other illustrious queens who have not just defied authority and made a name for themselves but also proved to be able administrators and just rulers. One among such illustrious queens is Maharani Durgavati, born in the Chandel dynasty and married into the Gond dynasty. She ruled Gondwana from 1550 to 1564.

The only child of Chandel Rajput Emperor Keerti Singh, Durgavati was born on the day of Durgashtami in 1524 at the Kalinjar fort. Since she was born on Durgashtami she was named Durgavati. True to her name she was brave, intelligent and beautiful as well. Due to her extremely pleasing qualities and personality, Maharaja Sangram Shah of Gondwana had her married to his son Dalpat Shah. Unfortunately, Dalpat Shah died just a few years after their marriage leaving behind Durgavati to take care of both their infant son Narayan and the Gondwana kingdom. She took over the reins of the kingdom and using her sharp wit and excellent war tactics brought glory to herself and her kingdom. Present day Jabalpur was the focal point of her kingdom.

Rani Durgavati had to face severe hostilities from Muslim rulers such as Baz Bahadur and Mughal emperor Akbar. Baz Bahadur wanted to annex Gondwana and make it a part of his kingdom. But the brave queen repelled his attacks and kept her boundaries intact. Akbar lusted after the queen and intended to make her a part of his harem. In his pursuit he tried many tricks and asked her to gift him the queen’s favourite white elephant Sarman and her trusted lieutenant Aadhar Singh. The queen turned down his advances and refused to give in to his demands. Angered by this Akbar sent an army under the command of Asaf Khan to Gondwana. Rani Durgavati routed Asaf Khan’s army and the latter faced an embarrassing defeat. However, he returned with a bigger army and attacked Gondwana for a second time.

During the second attack the queen’s forces were lesser in number but she fought bravely. The queen and her troops camped at Narai Nala near Jabalpur. She dressed up as a man and led her forces from the front. On the first day of the war the queen faced terrible losses but not before killing around 3000 Mughal soldiers. The next day, 24th June 1564, Mughal forces re-launched their attack. Rani Durgavati realised that it would be impossible for her to keep the Mughals at bay for a long time. She ensured that her son was sent away to a safe and secure place and resumed the battle. One arrow pierced her arm and she discarded it. The second one pierced her eye, although she removed the arrow; the arrowhead remained in her eye and could not be removed. At that very moment a third arrow struck her throat. She realised that her end was near and hence requested her minister Aadhar Singh to kill her with his sword. The minister could not bring himself to do this act and he turned down the queen’s request. She then gave up her life by stabbing herself with her own dagger.

She ruled Gondwana for a period of 15 years. During this time she carried out numerous administrative, welfare and social schemes that ensured the well being and safety of her subjects. She had numerous mutts, wells, dharamshalas and step-wells constructed. The Jabalpur University was renamed as Rani Durgavati Vishwavidyalaya in her honour by the Madhya Pradesh State Government in the year 1983. Government of India issued a postal-stamp commemorating her death, on 24 June 1988. The train between Jabalpur Junction and Jammutawi has been named Durgavati Express after the Queen.

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