Padmavati

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Padmavati
An 18th-century painting of Padmini.
An 18th-century painting of Padmini.
Information
TitleRani of Mewar
Spouse(s)Ratan Sen
ReligionHinduism

Padmini, also known as Padmavati, was a legendary 13th–14th century Indian queen (Rani). Several 16th-century texts mention her, of which the earliest source is Padmavat. Padmavat is an epic fictionalized poem written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi in 1540 CE. The Jayasi text describes her story as follows: Padmavati was an exceptionally beautiful princess of the Singhal kingdom (Sri Lanka). Ratan Sen, the Rajput ruler of Chittor Fort, heard about her beauty from a talking parrot named Hiraman. After an adventurous quest, he won her hand in marriage and brought her to Chittor. Alauddin Khalji, the Sultan of Delhi, also heard about her beauty, and laid siege to Chittor to obtain her. Many events occurred during the period of the siege, till the fort was finally taken. Meanwhile, Ratan Sen was killed in a duel with Devpal, the king of Kumbhalner, who was also enamoured with Padmavati's beauty. Before Alauddin Khalji could capture Chittor, Padmavati and her companions committed Jauhar (self-immolation) to protect their honour. After her sacrifice, the Rajput men died fighting on the battlefield.

Many other written and oral tradition versions of her life exist in Hindu and Jain traditions. These versions differ from the Sufi poet Jayasi's version. For example, Rani Padmani's husband Ratan Sen dies fighting the siege of Alauddin Khalji, and thereafter she leads a jauhar. In these versions, she is characterised as a Hindu Rajput queen, who defended her honour against a Muslim invader. Over the years, she came to be seen as a historical figure, and appeared in several novels, plays, television serials and movies. However, while Khalji's siege of Chittor in 1303 CE is a historical event, many modern historians question the authenticity of the Padmini legends.