India possesses an esteemed history of valor, courage, and sacrifice. History remembers the irrefutable tales of Jauhar by the Rajput Veerangnas, the brave lady warriors who fought the battles within the palaces.
You must be wondering what exactly is Jauhar, and how is it related to sacrifice and valor? Who initiated the concept of Jauhar? Or whether the stories of Rani Padmavati myth or truth?
Here is a brief article answering all your questions!
Jauhar, The Self- Immolation Practice
Jauhar was a custom that prevailed in the early centuries of Rajputana rule. It symbolized self-renunciation- the fierce desire of Rajput women to protect their dignity and honor of their motherland even at the cost of their death.
According to the sources, whenever Rajputs braved harsh battles with Muslim invaders and the defeat was imminent, all the women, including the queen, lit a massive fire and jumped into it, upon the arrival of the message of the kingdom defeat.
The male warriors fought gallantly until the last drop of blood, while female warriors turned the victory of the enemy into defeat by committing Jauhar.
This practice was a form of self-preservation to protect themselves from rape, enslavement, dishonor, and other brutalities. Instead of allowing the enemy to sully their bodies and virtue, they willingly sacrificed their lives into the massive fire.
How Was The Ritual Performed?
The ritual spoke of the pride and unequivocal gallantry of the Rajput Gharana.
Two rituals were performed simultaneously, named Saka and Jauhar.
The ruler and thousands of soldiers would wear Kesariya clothes and turban, share beetle leaf among themselves, hailed their godfather, and leave the Mahal (castle) to fight till their last breaths. This ritual was known as Saka.
Even after knowing that their military strength was way lesser than the enemy’s, they never hesitated.
On the other hand, the lady warriors would attire themselves in bridal clothes with all the valuables, following which they would leave a handprint of their right hand on clay, chanted holy mantras, and when the message of the King’s death would arrive, they would entire the massive fire dauntlessly.
Fire symbolizes purity; the aim was to protect the honor and dignity of their Empire and even at their stake. This ritual was Jauhar, a blessing, and a curse!
Three Most Prominent Jauhars
The first Jauhar took place in 1303 AD when the Battle of Mewar between Alauddin Khilji and Maharaja Rana Rawal Ratan Singh of Chittor took place. Khilji won by treachery. The unparalleled beauty, Maharani of Chittor, Padmavati, wife to Maharaja Rana Rawal Ratan Singh, gave herself to the holy fire.
She performed Jauhar along with thousands of other ladies and children. The queen decided that the enemy would enter an empty palace with no soul left to torment with slavery and obscene acts.
The second mass self-immolation happened in 1535 AD. In 1527, Maharaja Rana Sangha of the Sisodia dynasty, Mewar, combined all the Rajput forces in the Battle of Khanua to fight against Babur and capture the throne of Delhi, where he met his untimely demise. Rani Karnavati handled the kingdom in the name of her elder son, Vikramaditya. When the Sisodia dynasty met defeat at the hands of Bahadur Shah of Gujrat, the great Rani Karnavati, with all the Rajput women, committed Jauhar.
The third Jauhar happened in 1568 AD. At that time, Rani Karnavati’s 4th son was ruling Chittor. Akbar had the Fort of Chittorgarh besieged for four long months. The 30000 brave soldiers and Maharaja Rana Uday Singh sacrificed their lives for the sake of the motherland, and all the 8000 Veerangnas performed Jauhar to protect their self-respect and dignity. All that remained for the enemies were the painful screams of young, old, pregnant ladies, children, and the massive flames, burning Jauhar kunds, and a hollow victory.
Every year the local public celebrates this stunning sacrifice and the enormous willpower of Veerangna as Jauhar mela.
Jauhar is not a symbol of submission or fear. Instead, it is a symbol of extraordinary courage, incompatible sacrifice, and esteemed dignity. These Veerangnas and the traces of their stories remain alive in the memories of the palaces they gave their lives in. Jauhar Kund and the handprints persist in Chittor palaces.