“They were no ordinary women. Ahead of their times, these warrior queens made a significant impact on society with their bravery and never-say-die spirit. A look at the ones every kid should know. We need women who are so strong they can be gentle, so educated they can be humble, so fierce they can be compassionate, so passionate they can be rational, and so disciplined they can be free." – Let me begin my article with these words of Kavita Ramdas, who was globally recognized as an advocate for gender equity and justice.
Today I am going to write about a brave queen who fought against Islamic terror against Akbar– Rani Durgavati.
Rani Durgavati was born on 5th October 1524 in the family of famous Chandel emperor Keerat Rai. In 1542, she was married to Dalpatshah, the eldest son of king Sangramshah of Gond Dynasty. Chandel and Gond dynasties became friends, as a consequence of this marriage and that was the reason Keerat Rai got the help of Gonds and his son-in-law Dalpatshah at the time of invasion of Shershah Suri in which Shershah Suri died. She gave birth to a son in 1545, who was named Vir Narayan. Unfortunately, Dalpatshah died in 1550 and as Vir Narayan was too young at that time, Durgavati took the reins of the Gond kingdom in her hands.
After the death of Shershah, Sujat Khan captured the Malwa zone and was succeeded by his son Baj Bahadur in 1556. Baj Bahadur is famous in history for his love affair with Rani Roopmati. After ascending to the throne, he attacked Rani Durgavati but the attack was repulsed with severe losses to his army. In the year 1562 Akbar vanquished the Malwa ruler Baj Bahadur and annexed Malwa with Mughul dominion. Consequently, the state boundary of Rani touched the Mughal kingdom.
Rani's contemporary Mughul Subedar was Abdul Mazid Khan, an ambitious man who vanquished Ramchandra, the ruler of Rewa. Prosperity of Rani Durgavati's state lured him and he invaded Rani's state after taking permission from the Mughul emperor. This plan of Mughul invasion was the result of expansionism, imperialism and greed of Akbar. When Rani heard about the attack by Asaf Khan she decide to defend her kingdom with all her might although her minister Adhar pointed out the strength of Mughal forces. Rani stated that it was better to die respectfully than to live a disgraceful life.
“To fight a defensive battle, she went to Narrai situated between a hilly range on one side and two rivers Gaur and Narmada on the other side. It was an unequal battle with trained soldiers and modern weapons in multitude on one side and a few untrained soldiers with old weapons on the other side”. Her Fauzdar Arjun Daswas was killed in the battle and Rani decided to lead the army herself and as the enemy entered the valley, soldiers of Rani attacked them. Rani was victorious in this battle. She chased the Mughul army and came out of the valley.
Rani then decided to review her strategy with her counsellors. She wanted to attack the enemy in the night but, her lieutenants did not accept her suggestion. By next morning Asaf khan had summoned;tropps. Rani rode on her elephant Sarman and came for the battle, and her son Vir Narayan also took part in this battle. He forced Mughul army to move back three times but, he got wounded and had to retire to a safe place. In the course of battle Rani also got injured. An arrow pierced her neck and she lost her consciousness. However, on regaining consciousness she realized that defeat was looming. Her Mahout advised her to leave the battlefield but she refused and took out her dagger and killed herself on 24th June 1564 and is even today commemorated as "Balidan Diwas".
Rani Durgavati was a woman with varied facades. She was valiant, beautiful and brave and also a great leader with administrative skills. Her self-respect forced her to fight until her death rather than surrender herself to her enemy. She, like her ancestral dynasty, built so many lakes in her state and did a lot for the welfare of her people. She respected the scholars and extended her patronage to them. She welcomed the Vitthalnath of Vallabh community and took Diksha from him. The place where she sacrificed herself has always been a source of inspiration for freedom fighters.
In the year 1983, the Government of Madhya Pradesh renamed the University of Jabalpur as Rani Durgavati Vishwavidyalaya in her memory and the Government of India paid its tribute to the valiant Rani by issuing a postal-stamp commemorating her martyrdom, on 24th June 1988.