The film Padmavati is embroiled in great nation wide debate. Right wing groups are demanding film should not be allowed to release. According to them, film has shown Rajput queen Rani Padmavati in a poor light and glorified the role of invader Alauddin Khalji. At the same time, those who want the film should be seen, are not only questioning the very historical existence of Rani Padmavati, but they are also claiming Sultan Alauddin Khali to be a benevolent ruler, who was a great general and an able administrator.
In an earlier article, I had tried to bring forward evidence and arguments in support of Rani Padmavati. In this article, I shall try to put forward my thoughts on the myth of Alauddin Khalji being a benevolent ruler.
Articles have emerged that claim Alauddin Khalji to be a brilliant general who had brought about reforms and no way he could have been involved in lustful pursuit of women :
- “Sultan Alauddin Khalji had earned a reputation among contemporary and modern historians for several achievements: Successfully thwarting Mongol invasions of India, conquest of large territories, strictly enforcing low prices of commodities in the markets for the common people’s daily purchases, declared defiance of the Shariat in matters of governance etc, but not for lustful pursuit of women. So how does he get tied up with Padmavati?”
In another article published in Siasat Times, it is claimed that India should be grateful to Alauddin Khalji for stopping Mongol invaders from pillaging and plundering India:
- “…..This is because during his rule, the Mongols of the Chagatai Khanate invaded India. Khilji, by his military brilliance, managed to defeat the Mongols not once, but *five* times…………The Mongols had a very peculiar way of conducting war. When they did conquer a country, they would raze it to ground. They used to leave nothing in that place – no trace of the civilization that existed there“
A third article highlighted administrative and agrarian reforms brought about by Alauddin Khalji :
- “credited with bringing several reforms and regulating markets to control the prices of essential food items. He is said to be the first ruler to address the problem of price control in a systematic manner to maintain stable prices for a decade“
A glance at wikipedia entries against Khalji Dynasty and Alauddin Khalji reveal the following traits that go against the image makeover of Alauddin Khalji that is being published. Let us consider the following :
Ferocious and faithless: Historians note Alauddin Khalji was a tyrant. Alauddin Khalji had killed his uncle, who was also his father in law, by treachery to ascend the throne of Delhi. Alauddin also killed his own family members, and nephews, after he suspected them of rebellion, by first gouging out their eyes and then beheading them.
Tyrant : Alauddin Khalji was known for his cruelty against attacked kingdoms after wars. After capturing Chittor, Alauddin Khalji had ordered slaughter of 30000 citizens. In Delhi, Alauddin Khalji had executed between 15000 to 30000 newly converted muslims for suspicion of treason. Killing so many people, including his own family members, may not get him the tag of a benevolent king. Infact by todays standard, killing of so many human beings will be called genocide.
Plundered and pillaged neigbhors: Alauddin Khalji had invaded many neighbouring kingdoms in an attempt to expand his empire. His army invaded Ranthambhor, Chittor, Gujarat, Devagiri and further down all the way to Madurai. At all places, invaders had looted treasury, looted temple treasure, destroyed temples and brought the loot back to Delhi. Thus Alauddin’s men were not really very different from the Mongol armies that were trying to invade India.
Capturing Women of Captured Kingdom : Generals of Alauddin had captured wife Kamala Devi of King Karna after capturing Patan in Gujarat. Kamala Devi was presented to Alauddin Khalji as a booty of war. Sultan had married Kamala Devi. This gives enough ammunition to argument that one of the objective of Alauddin to attack Chittor was to attain Rani Pamini.
Agrarian Reform : As described in Khalji Dynasty, Alauddin Khalji enforced four taxes on non-Muslims which included – jizya (poll tax), kharaj (land tax), kari (house tax) and chari (pasture tax). He had created laws that would allow officers to seize by force half of all produce any farmer generates to fill sultanate granaries.
Anti Hindu Bias : Alauddin Khalji created “rules and regulations in order to grind down the Hindus, so as to reduce them to abject poverty and deprive them of wealth and any form of surplus property that could foster a rebellion the;
This article is not an attempt to demonise Alauddin Khalji. It is understood that Alauddin Khalji was an individual of his time, that is 14th century. He had his religious inclinations, his own beliefs, own ambition and prejudices. Judging by standards of 21st century he may be potrayed as a monster. In his own time and own world he was probably trying to remain true to his own self. We may champion his bravery in battlefield and praise his mastery in marshalling his forces, we should not try to paint him as a man washed in milk and honey.