The Rajasthan government might have backed protests against alleged “historical inaccuracies” in Bollywood film Padmavati but its own textbook and tourism department material contain similar narratives about the legendary Hindu queen Padmini, HT has found.
The Class 12 history textbook of the Rajasthan state board says one of the reasons Delhi’s Muslim emperor Alauddin Khilji attacked Chittor was to capture Padmini, the Rajput queen who legend says chose to kill herself rather than be captured. The book further goes to say that Khilji was mesmerised by Padmini’s beauty after he saw her reflection in a mirror, and that the queen was the daughter of Gandharvsen, king of Sri Lanka.
The protesters dispute all three points.
These points are contained in chapter 4 which is named ‘Mughal Akraman: Prakar Aur Prabhav’ (Mughal invasion: Form and impact) that bases the story of Chittor king Rawal Rattan Singh, his one-year reign between 1302 and 1303, and his wife Padmini on Malik Mohammed Jayasi’s description of her in Padmavat, a 16th century verse that forms the foundation of the troubled film Padmavati.
Moreover, the book also mentions poets such as Surajmal Mishran and modern historians, who don’t think Padmini was a real historical character.
The Shri Rajput Karni Sena and other outfits have staged violent protests against the makers and actors of the film, even issuing death threats, over the depiction of Padmini, and the rumoured romance between Padmini and Khilji.
Additionally, any depiction of Padmini’s reflection in the mirror being seen by Khilji violates the honour of the community’s women, the protesters claim. They also staunchly believe that Padmini was a real life character – a belief shared by several politicians, including the CM of Madhya Pradesh who banned the film in his state on Monday.
Rajasthan school education minister Vasudev Devnani told HT the books would be reviewed. “I will ask the Rajasthan Board chairman and secretary to look into this and review the books,” he said.
Lokendra Singh Kalvi, head of the Karni Sena, said he wasn’t aware about the textbook.
“I will check the history textbook regarding facts about Padmini when I return to Jaipur after two days,” he told HT.
A plaque outside Padmini’s palace at the Chittorgarh fort states “Here Rana Rattan Singh showed a glimpse of legendary beauty of his wife Padmini to Alauddin Khilji through a mirror. After which Alauddin Khilji went to the extent of ravaging Chittor to possess her.”
The Rajasthan tourism website on Chittorgarh says Khilji spotted Padmini’s reflection in the pool and was so besotted by her beauty that he led his forces to abduct her.
Pradeep Kumar Borad, director of Rajasthan’s tourism department, refused to comment. Kalvi said he was aware of the “inaccuracies” and blamed it on a Mumbai-based firm that had been given the contract.