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Padmavati in BHU Exam, History Students Asked to Explain Jauhar

The fabled queen of Chittor, who featured in Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s 16th-century poem, inspired director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus Padmavati, which has been at the heart of a raging.

Deepa Rana | CNN-News18

Updated:December 10, 2017, 3:05 PM IST
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Padmavati in BHU Exam, History Students Asked to Explain Jauhar
Deepika Padukone in a still from the Bollywood film Padmavati. (YouTube/ Bhansali Productions)
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New Delhi: Second-year MA History students of Banaras Hindu University, while appearing for an exam, were asked questions relating to Rani Padmini and her Jauhar (sacrifice by self-immolation).

The fabled queen of Chittor, who featured in Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s 16th-century poem, inspired director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus Padmavati, which has been at the heart of a raging.

The students, who were taking the third-semester exam on Society and Culture in Medieval India, were asked to answer a 10-mark question on Rani Padmini’s Jauhar — a medieval Hindu tradition wherein women would resort to self-immolation to avoid capture by invading forces. The question read, “What do you mean by Jauhar tradition? Describe Rani Padmavati’s Jauhar in the period of Alauddin Khilji.”

This exam was held before the recently reported controversy in BHU, where students taking a political science paper were asked to answer questions on GST in Kautilya’s Arthshastra as well as globalisation as Manu’s theory.

While Rajput folklore swears by the tale of Rani Padmini, also referred to as Padmavati, many historians remain unsure of the veracity of the legend.

Fables say, Padmini was a princess of the Singhal kingdom (present-day Sri Lanka). After Ratan Sen, the Rajput ruler of Chittor, won her hand in marriage and brought her to his kingdom, Delhi’s Sultan Alauddin Khilji also heard of her beauty and laid siege to Chittor in order to obtain her.

Eventually, the fort was taken but Padmini and her companions committed Jauhar.

Khilji’s siege of 1303 CE is a well-documented event but Padmini’s story cannot be verified. Even Amir Khusrao, Khilji’s court poet, scribe and companion in the siege wrote nothing of Rani Padmini or her sacrifice in his battle accounts.

There was, though, a mention of Jauhar in the account of Khilji’s victory at Ranthambhore, which took place before the Chittor siege.

The earliest available record of Rani Padmini was written over 200 years after the Battle of Chittor.

Concurrently, students were also asked to “discuss teen talaq and halala as a social evil in Islam”. Students say the Medieval India syllabus does not include the topic of teen talaq or Halala.

According to practice, the question paper is usually set by a professor who teaches the subject. It is then vetted and approved by a moderation board of the University that constitutes of other professors.

Students in the main university campus say there was a special class held on the issue of the wretched condition of women during times of Delhi sultans but it wasn’t related to Rani Padmini. However, it is not clear whether the same was done for students studying in colleges affiliated to BHU.
| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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