Padmavati Row : Myth of Benevolent Alauddin Khalji

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 :

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:

A third article highlighted administrative and agrarian reforms brought about by Alauddin Khalji :

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.

References :

Stories of a Rajput queen | The Indian Express

Why India Should Be Grateful to Alauddin Khilji | The Siasat Daily

Beyond Padmavati row: 5 things Alauddin Khilji … – Business Standard

Khalji dynasty – Wikipedia

Ratnasimha – Wikipedia

Alauddin Khalji’s conquest of Gujarat – Wikipedia

Alauddin Khalji’s conquest of Devagiri – Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “Padmavati Row : Myth of Benevolent Alauddin Khalji

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  1. Somehow I get a feeling that this whole controversy has been created either to promote the movie or for some sort of benefit to some group. It is difficult to judge or compare these ambitious rulers who existed at a very different time period. As you have put it, sir Alauddin Kahlji’s men may not really have been very different from the Mongol armies that were trying to invade India.Just that he may have got the first opportunity.

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    1. Initially I was very angry with Rajput groups. I still do not support threats to behead, nose chopping, name calling etc. I think those people should be behind bars. At the same time, Royal family of Mewar claims Rani Padmavati was their ancestor. As part of continuous lineage, should permission not have taken from them? Should the film not have been shown to them? I know Bhansali has said there is nothing in the film to offend Rajput. Then why not show the film to royal family?

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      1. Exactly. The issues that have been created defy logic. It also appears unlikely that the royal family would not have seen the film. The whole thing may be staged by someone with some ulterior motive, Otherwise, so many people would not collectively start opposing and issuing threats.

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    2. I do not support those who issue threat of beheading, nose chopping, face blackening etc. People issuing such a threat should be behind bars. I was very angry when Rajput Karni Sena was opposing release of film. One has to realize that Mewar Royal Family claims Rani Padmavati to be their ancestor. So why not show the film to a Royal Family member to iron out any difference. Bhansali has shown the film to journalists. Is there some thing to hide?

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  2. Another point I think need to be included…Khilji’s homosexuality…there was a general I can’t recall his name was his long-time partner…in the movie the role had been played by Jim Sharb as far I recollect…this is a well written dissective post…

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    1. I agree there was a rumoured relationship with Malik Kafur. Kaur had converted from Hinduism to Islam. Many call him Kala Pahar. Some historians believe Kafur was close to Khalji, but they may not be sexually involved. Anyway, since sexual orientation may no impact character of a man, that is why I did not include it. But strictly speaking homosexuality is against practices of islam. So in some way Khalji may be going against tenets of his religion.

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  3. I totally find this as much ado about nothing! SLV’s gimmick and a sure-shot way to make a business of 200/300 crores. He always does this. Remember his “Devdas” in 2002? It was shown that Parbati or Paro, wife of the Jaminder, was dancing during the Durga Pujo with Chandramukhi, the lady from the brothel in Kolkata. No Bengali or Indian per se could ever imagine such an act 100 years ago 😀 ( I wonder if anyone could be able to do it even now). Social media was not so powerful at that time so though it also became a highly controversial issue, the outrage was limited. I went with my friends to watch it and was laughing aloud during the dance saying, “Saratchandra erokom dekhle suicide korten”… 😀
    I find no point taking SLV seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You made an excellent point. Paro and Chandramukhi dancing in traditional Durga Pujo was unthinkable and hilarious. I guess Sanjay Bhansali may have done something similar when he showed Padmavati dancing.

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