Without our tales of bravery, we Rajputs would be just a bunch of non-intelligent losers

Deepika Padukone in a still from the film Padmavati

The amazing tales of Rajput valour are what makes their losses palatable, and questioning the authenticity of these legends shows them that their best days are behind them. 

There’s this scene in Toy Story, where Buzz Lightyear, the astronaut doll, is trying to prove to the other toys that he can fly. (Of course he can’t.) He takes a flying leap off a trampoline, goes up-up-up into the air and then, of course, falls, landing with a mighty thump, but manages to recover himself, strike a graceful pose and go Ta-da! The credulous toys are impressed.

‘He can fly!’ They murmur, awed.

‘That’s not flying!’ retorts the very fed-up cowboy doll Woody. ‘That’s falling with style!’

This according to me, is the special talent of us Rajputs. Right through my childhood, I heard tales of the several P’s – Prithviraj Chauhan, Panna Dai, Rani Padmini, Maharana Pratap. All of the stories were stories of amazing final stands, romantic lost causes, huge courage in the face of unsurmountable odds and death before dishonor.

All of them lost.

But man, did they lose with style. Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated and blinded and bought before Muhammad Ghori, but he turned his bow upon his enemy, unerringly following the sound of the hated voice, and dropped Ghori with a single arrow. Panna saved her prince, but lost her son. Maharana Pratap lost at Haldighati, but never surrendered. Rani Padmini and the women of Chittorgarh commited Jauhar, death was preferable to them, over dishonor and slavery.

Rajput pride is goose-bumpy stuff. It’s a heady mix of little Gaulish village against the might of Rome, 300 Spartans against the Persian Empire, all served up with lashings of the best Bollywood masala. Losing with style is romantic, cinematic and massively comforting to the survivors who have to live to hear the tale. It is no coincidence that Thakur Baldev Singh in Sholay is a Thakur. Who else could be that bloody but unbowed character, defeated, but still unbroken in spirit, a heap of bitter embers planning a raging fire of revenge be?

According to me, every wage-slave worm who finally turns, who flashes the hated boss the middle finger and quits to become a stand-up comic or open a river-rafting camp is channeling his inner Rajput.

Consequences be damned, is a very Rajput thought. So is never backing down. So is tilting at windmills. And of course, doing the straightforward thing. Our grandmothers taught us that Rajputs aren’t cunning and wily (like Muslims), or wordly-wise (like the Punjabis). So many Rajputs in the Indian Army and so few Chiefs of Staff – why? Mostly because we tend to tell our bosses to shove it, and hence don’t get promoted. Or we die in battle. Perhaps we aren’t even very smart (A headlong dash with no plan B, tends to be our usual war ‘strategy’). Perhaps we’re hotheaded and stupid. But that’s okay, even something to be proud of.

But we’re brave. Being brave is non-negotiable.

I remember this other Rajput story my grandmother told us as we huddled around her bed, about this random Rajput king who came back from war because he was too scared to fight. His wife, a docile woman with full ghunghat and downcast eyes, naturally could not criticise him, but that night, when the dinner was being prepared, she went into the kitchen and castigated the cook for banging the iron vessels together so loudly.

‘Don’t you know my husband is afraid of the sound of metal clashing against metal?’ she said in her gentle voice. Red faced and ashamed, he rose from the table, and rode right back into the battle. And died. And she commited sati. Such a happy (for Rajputs) ending!

And then there’s the other, equally grisly one about this love-struck, honeymooning king who didn’t want to go to battle and leave his bride behind in her nuptial bed. She kept telling him to go, and not be distracted, and so finally he did – but then he stopped outside the gates and sent a messenger back to her, bidding her to send him a senani (a love token, to be worn in battle, to remind you of your loved one) Exasperated at this unheroic, maudlin malingering man, she chopped off her head and thrust it at the messenger to give it to the king as a bloody senani.

Yeah.

It gets better.

Immediately sobered, and reminded of his real duty by this grisly gift, the king tied her head around his neck with her hair, and rode into battle. I can’t remember what happened after that. I think maybe he died. Heroically, of course.

These are the stories we heard at our grandma’s knees.

Which is why, our jodhpurs get into such a twist when people question the authenticity of our legends, like it is happening currently with the legend of Rani Padmini. See, what makes all the Rajput losses palatable, are the amazing tales of courage in the face of death that accompany them. Poke holes in those tales, belittle or question them, or dismiss them as fiction made up to console ourselves; and then we’re just… umm… pretty much a loser class, with our best days behind us, a heap of crumbling castles and some denting-painting mechanics businesses to run.

Just a sad bunch of not-very intelligent folk, falling without style.

So please don’t doubt our heroes are real, all you common people. They’re all we’ve got.

Anuja Chauhan is the author of “Those Pricey Thakur Girls”, “Battle for Bittora”, and “The Zoya Factor”. 

23 COMMENTS

  1. a well written article miss Thakur but let me just point out why exactly fingers are pointed at the authenticity of the Rajput Legends. you see, a bunch of fringe elements who claim to represent the Rajputana pride vandalised public property and put bounty on the heads of a certain filmmaker who in my honest opinion is just trying to add more colour to those stories of valor.

    see, the logic here is simple, if you’re going to point a finger at someone, the rest three will point at you. i for once never knew much about Padmini before this whole controversy but this compelled me to read about these legends and then finally critique it. so, the ones who are pointing fingers aren’t the cause but just and effect.

  2. Maybe she should be thankful to them instead of loathing them. It’s because of them that she is still Anuja .. otherwise she would have been someones 4th wife Aisha in a Burkha with FGM

  3. There is a great story somewhere about a tribe of very accomplished artists, builders and storytellers trapped in their own fierce, war hero narrative. Maybe Anuja should write it.

  4. Did you know historically Factually Untrue that Prithviraj killed Ghori ?

    Infact He died much later than Prithviraj did !
    He was assassinated while offering his evening prayers

  5. She has lost all the right to comment on Rajputs after she tweeted herself the following in December 2014 – “I converted to christianity. Ten years AFTER my marriage to a christian. Everybody should have the freedom to chose their religion” end of quote. so she has no locus standi to comment on anything which is her former religion and that too when congress blood is now flowing inside her….So please stop writing biased articles out of malaise and trying to throw DHOOL in to un suspecting janata 🙂 Whats happening with Parmavati movie is sad. It should not have happened. But it could have been handled differently so all left leaning liberals had to find something else to concentrate their guns on ! Move on folks…get some life 🙂

  6. “Exasperated at this unheroic, maudlin malingering man, she chopped off her head and thrust it at the messenger to give it to the king as a bloody senani.”
    Ha ha great read. Keep em coming.

  7. What happened to you? Did your parents not care for you when you were a child? I have never seen self-loathing and self-hate as in this one post

  8. This narration by Ms Chauhan speaks of her non-intelligence and biased writing more than anything else. Why does she not write that it was Mr Prithviraj Chauhan who defeated Ghori several times, about Mr Bappa Rawal who invaded into the territories of present Iran (Persian Empire) in 7th century, why does she not say that while Islam could spread easily all across Africa and Asia, even till Malaysia and Indonesia, what intelligent move from the Rajput rulers in the 12th -18th century still saved India as a Hindu majority (no offense against my muslim friends though 😛 ). Ruling would not mean only fighting and sacrificing, but it also heavily deployed strategic alliance , and many a times inviting one tribe to attack Delhi, such as Babur, and then making alliance with him and his descendants forming a new URDU language for alliance and a new religion altogether Dīn-i Ilāhī (lit. “Religion of God”), different than Islam. Yes, there were people from Rajput community who believed more in war than in strategic re-grouping and social engineering such as the people from Chittor as their ancestors had once conquered even Persia & Afghanistan in 7th century, but nevertheless, there were other Rajputs such as the house of Jaipur & Jodhpur who were more strategic alliance thinkers. Ms Chauhan by her article seems only an expert in English writing and not a wise English writer, only distantly aware of the real facts. Cheer 🙂 .

  9. Tales of valor , however fictitious it may be inspire a person / community to move ahead with pride. Let us not drive it to the quagmire of “historic authenticity ” and touch the wrongs chords of sensitivity.
    Like religious practices, let it remain a personal affair of an individual/ community.

  10. this lady is a blatant shameless liar. she says ‘we’ rajputs ,since when christians become rajputs,lady? in any case u should have clarified that you r not even a hindu forget about being a rajput and then people could have read your article in perspective but u decided to lie. is this a typical tactic of your abrahmic cult to lie to the dirty heathens/kafirs and give them lecture on peace and love while sharpening ur knife behind their backs. the killers who raise minarets of heads of us dirty kuffar are a hero for you and bollywierds, for that savage did a pious job u would say of wiping us evil yindu out from india.

  11. Very brave article. It takes courage to criticise one’s own community the way the author has done here. The section of Rajputs who are indulging in thuggery to prevent the movie’s release is damaging whatever little goodwill Rajputs have left in 21st century India. In a democracy, you can only gain disrespect by indulging in mob behaviour and issuing death threats to actors. If they really want society’s respect then they must behave like a civilised community and abide by the rule of law. I would once again like to congratulate the author and also The Print for having the courage to publish it in these times of intolerance and bigotry.

  12. Fantastic write up,from Ms Chauhan.If each writer from all groups,sub groups and communities writes self deprecating stuff couched in homour we will all lower our holier,braver,loftier and more morally upright than thou attitudes and come to an agreement that we are only humans after all with all the frailties that come with it.

  13. Many of the things you have said is correct but you are also doing the same thing which your grandmother did, making biased opinions about a particular community.I totally accept that whatever is happening over the Padmavati issue is total nonsense but we should give respect to those who deserve it.
    BOLD, APPRECIATIVE, BIASED

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