The paragon of valour and bravery- that is a Rajput. Isn’t it? With the recent release of the really long awaited trailer of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati, once again this sentiment has been rekindled. While once again the courage and mettle of the Rajput king has caught our eye, also once again the sacrifice of a selfless Rajput Queen for the honour and ethics of her highly glorious lineage has succeeded in giving us jittering chills through our spines. Amidst this moving series of ‘once agains’, have we aptly glorified everything that is worth glorification or have once again chose to overlook certain things owing to our ignorant and carefree attitude?
I’ve always looked up to the Rajputs as the definition of ethics coupled with strength. Unfortunately, each time I’ve mentioned that definition, I meant it only for the kings, or the princes, or the warriors- all males. While each one them believed, as the popular tradition goes, that fighting and dying in the battlefield is way more victorious a death than simply giving up, the same belief never happened to apply to our respective queens or princesses. Although I stand in no position today to judge what was committed centuries back, yet wasn’t fighting and dying in a battle way better than committing a mass suicide to protect one’s honour? Why couldn’t the Rajput women, just like their male counterparts be trained to fight battles by their sides instead of jumping into a pit of fire even without having tried to fight for their honour? Once trained, no doubt they could have been fabulous warriors, Rani Durgavati and Mastani Bai (both Rajputs) being some excellent examples, or at least just capable to put up a decent fight. Why couldn’t they just have been trained to protect themselves instead being trained to die?
These are certain questions that one may give an easy nod to, or may give passing disagreement. It’s history. How does it even matter now, around seven centuries after the act really happened? Well, the wise say that history repeats itself. And so it does. Reading the underlined implications of the act of royal Rajput women surrendering themselves to fire in a jauhar in order to die in ‘honour’ after the king lost a battle, in these successive series of ‘once agains’, we only once again go ahead defining and justifying the long existing gender roles. ‘Women are not meant for the world outside the household.’ Trying to draw parallels between that era and the current one, it is this dependence of women that we’ve fighting- on security, economic assistance, and what not. Isn’t it?
An Indian woman is a woman that must define strength and power; one who does not ‘completely depend’ on ‘anyone’ for her existence. She should be made capable to protect and fight for herself. She should walk with her male counterparts to fight by their side and to be a reason for their collective victory. It was about a war and a kingdom seven centuries back. It’s about a secure and fulfilled existence today.
‘Rajputi kangan mein utni hi taqat hai jitni rajputi talwar mein hai’.
True. So, shouldn’t we just let that ‘power’ rule?