– Faruque Wasif*
The battlefield of controversy on the Bollywood picture Padmabat is now soundless. The Rjputs are appeased and the BJP-minded people are also tranquillized. On finding no symptom of undermining of the heroism and prestige of the Rajputs and the Hindu kings-queens they are happy. The Indian Muslims from whom the objection was likely to be raised are quiet. But the famous historians of Mughal India are not silent. Complaint has been raised by leading Indian historians like Romila Thaper, Irfan Habib, Ruchira Sharma and others telling that the character, history and contribution of Sultan Alauddin Khilji of Delhi have been disfigured in the Cinema.
Two and a half hundred years after the life time of Alauddin Khilji Malik Muhammad Jayasi composed the book of verse ‘Padmabat’. Following this imaginary story afterwards Bengali poet Alaol of Arakan Royal Court wrote ‘Padmabati.’ But none of them claimed that they compiled history. The claim of the BJP supporters is that Alauddin Khilji whom has been presented in ‘Padmabat’ represents the true history. The claim of historian Ruchira Sharma is that Alauddin Khilji is certainly not a villain, rather India is indebted to him. He brought about unity in India; saved India by resisting Mongal attack five times. If India had the misfortune of going under the Mongal occupation the destination of India would have been like that of Persia: genocide and destruction of towns and cities.
From a small Delhi based state Alauddin established a very big empire. The very unified India through the hands of Mughals and the British yet exists as independent India. As an emperor Alauddin Khilji might have been cruel, but although he might have the desire for kingdom, nothing is known about his longing for women. A good number of slave-generals was in the army of Khilji. Persons of lower classes in his administration were pulled up on the basis of competence. On such a practice the Hindu-Muslim aristocrats got dissatisfied. The taxation system introduced by him ran upto twentieth century. His reforms that dislodged the intermediate beneficiaries agitated the Rajputs. He also suspended the the right of possession of tax-free land of Sufis in Doab region between Ganges-Jamuna.
As a follower of these Sufi poets Jayasi of ‘Padmabat’ was annoyed on Khilji. After two hundred and fifty years he showed Khilji as the lustful person to Padmabati. As the Rajput aristocrats were patrons to Jayasi, this poet had the liability of pleasing them. Be it so but during the Chitore expedition of Khilji there was no Rajput queen named Padmabati. Shyamal Das, the court historian of the kingdom of Mewar once mentioned the issue of Padmabati, but in a fully separate context. Alauddin Khilji never met Padmabati. Even Bollywood Director Sanjoy Lila Bansali made Padmabati to take her to the funeral pyre of her husband to save herself from the hands of Khilji going outside the story written by the poet. In the original fiction Padmabati offered her in the ‘Satidaha’ at her husband’s funeral following existing religious custom only and not in fear of Khilji.
Even the Rajput kings were not any sort of hero. Due to addiction to opium and ancient war strategy they lost battles against Mahmud Gazni, Ghuri, Khilji, Maratha, Akbar and all others. Even there is no example of heroism by Rana Pratap Singh or Shibaji. Moreover, there is little scope of looking the battles and administration of that time from the communal perspective. Muslim generals fought in Rajput side while Rajput generals fought in Alauddin Khilji army. Akbar’s Army Commander Mansingha was a Rajput. Again the Muslim rulers also fought against each other many times. Emperor Akbar made Rajput leaders and aristocrats Mansabder and Jaigirdar of different regions. So the Khilji or Mughal dynasty rule was tantamount to the rule of Rajput or domestic kings-princes. So the claim of battles for empire or kingdom in those days as a religious or patriotic one sounds laughter provoking an imaginary prince of birds as the ancient aeroplane. If the Mughals were communal how the Rajputs happened to become chief associates of Mughal rule?
In the BJP ruled India the imaginary truth is done more magnified than the truth in history. To consolidate the power the spices of communalism for inciting the people is necessary. After Bahubali, Padmabat is a glaring example. That is why an efficient emperor and an army general Alauddin Khilji had to be presented as cruel and a women hunter. Even his flag has been shown crescent drawn on the green to harmonize with the present flag of Pakistan. Renowned historian Irfan Habib informs us that the Khilji forces did not use this sort of flag. The BJP nationalism is suffering from a mental perversion or trauma how the Indian subcontinent came under the occupation of the foreign Muslims? As because this history can’t be deleted their producers have adopted the strategy of damaging the image of the Muslim rulers.
But the spirit of patriotism in India was brought about by the Muslim poets and rulers. During Goutam Buddha there was no empire in India politically undivided. Jambudwip, stated in the plaques of Emperor Asoka was constituted with a very small area. In the first century B.C. the king of Kalinga sounded the name as Bharat, but that was also constituted with a limited area. Glorification of Hindustan for the first time was made by the Persian poet Amir Khasru in his book of verse Nuh Shifir (Published in 1318 A.D.). He said there that Hind was his motherland, homeland and country. He said, ‘patriotism is a part of religious faith.’ The naming of ‘Hind’ and ‘Hindustan’ was also coined by Arab-Persians. In 1350 A.D. poet Ishami remarked India in ‘Bharat Bandhana’ book of verse that India is more beautiful than the paradise. Minister Abul Fazal of Emperor Akbar (1556-1605) also expressed his love to Hindustan in his book Ain-E-Akbari. It is during the regime of Akbar that the history of six kingdoms on the basis of land and people was written outside the history of royal dynasty. Abul Fazal gave birth to the conception of great India. Kitab Al-Hind written by scientist and philosopher Al-Biruni is full of love for India. Emperor Akbar developed agriculture, prohibited ‘Satidaha’ and child marriage and stood against the deprivation of the female child in the Muslim law of inheritance. Akbarnama gives testimony to how much Akbar loved India and its people.
Akbar’s regime in India may be compared with the European Renaissance. During his time extinction of art-songs-philosophy of the ancient India was deterred. The Sanskrit language was saved by providing patronization, scriptural books were translated. Humanitarianism, arts and law got flourished. Akbar claimed the superiority of reasoning in place of faith. He adopted a state policy termed ‘Sul-E-Qul’ or extreme peace. An incident where the decision transferring a postal messenger was postponed on the objection of the wife of the said postman bears the testimony of his respect to the women. In his time these qualities of the rulers was rare in the world. Patriotism was a pronounced direction of the royal court.
Akbar’s concept of the country was people and land-based. But during the British rule the idea of ‘Bharatmata’ got built on the shape of British mother Britannia intruder. However, the outsider Alexandar became ‘The Great’ whereas the Sultans and Emperors who contributed to the development of the country living in India itself became villain. Mughal India was one of the highest rich countries in the world. Manufacturing of folk tale, by disowning this history may result suicidal for India. Undoing things what Khilji to Akbar did would mean repudiation of the truth also. If History is made accused, the very present would be captivated in falsehood and hatred.E
* Faruque Wasif, Assistant Editor, Prothom Alo
** Translated into English by ‘The Economy’ Analyst.