Just days ahead of Raksha Bandhan, a particular tale starts doing the rounds of the media and liberal ecosystem. The historic tale is written about, cited and retweeted repeatedly to propagate the message of tolerance and brotherhood, and validate the importance of the sacred thread which sisters tie on the wrists of their brothers. It is another thing that some of those who quote this tale also believe that Raksha Bandhan is a symbol of patriarchy. But we would stick to the tale for now because it speaks of a great event in the valorous history of the Rajputs and involves the grandmother of Maharana Pratap.
A painting of Maharana Pratap by Raja Ravi Verma. Wikimedia Commons
Ran Sanga and a confederation of Rajputs considered Babur a foreigner and decided to oppose him. Their respective forces met at Khanwa in what is now Bharatpur district of Rajasthan. Rana Sanga’s forces were defeated and he succumbed to the injuries he suffered in battle. Rani Karnavati then became the regent of Rana Sanga’s elder son Vikramaditya.
Rana Sanga lost an arm, an eye in different battles, and limped because of a wound from an arrow.
Eight years had passed. Babur had died and his son Humayun had become the next Mughal emperor. At this time, Bahadur Shah of Gujarat invaded Mewar.
Rani Karnavati knew that the Rajputs will not fight under Vikramaditya, who they saw as a weak ruler. She, however, managed to win the support of the Rajput noblemen and rally them behind the flag of Mewar instead of Vikramadityas. The ruler and his brother Uday Singh had been already sent to the safety of Bundi.
A map of Mewar from Tods Annals. Wikimedia Commons
Mughal emperor Humayun. Wikimedia Commons/span>
The Chittorgarh Fort. Wikimedia Commons
Hand prints of women who committed Jauhar at a wall in Chittorgarh fort. India Opines
It is said that an enraged Humayaun took revenge by completely capturing the empire of Bahadur Shah starting with Mandu that same year.
Humayaun battles Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. Wikimedia Commons
But it has also been stated that Humayaun already had a rift with Bahadur Shah, who had sheltered one of the enemies of the Mughal ruler and refused to hand him over in 1532. And then there are some who say that Humayaun deliberately delayed his arrival because Bahadur Shah was able to pacify him for a brief duration.
Whatever be the tale, the truth remains that Rani Karnavati committed Jauhar.