Saturday, April 4, 2015
D IS FOR RANI DURGAVATI MARAVI
Durgavati Marati was born in what is now Utter Pradesh, India, into the Chandel dynasty of Emperor Keerat Rai. At the age of 18 she was married to Dalpat Shah of the Gond dynasty, thus forming a strategic alliance between the two powerful families.
When her husband Dalpat Shah died in about 1550, their only child, a son named Vir Narayan, was only seven years old. Because he was too young to assume leadership, Durgavati took control of the Gond Kingdom, assuming the title Rani (Queen). Her effectiveness in this role was tested in 1556 when her kingdom was attacked by Baz Bahadur from the neighboring Malwa region. The Gond armies repelled the attack and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy. But in 1562, Bahadur was defeated by the very powerful Mughal sultanate, and as a result, Rani Durgavati's kingdom now shared a border with the famously fierce Mughals. Asaf Khan, a Mughal general, wasted no time in invading Gond territory.
Rani Durgavati engaged Asaf Khan's forces in battle and, although her soldiers were greatly outnumbered by the better-trained and better-armed Mughal forces, and her top general was killed, Durgavati herself took over the battle and was able to temporarily disperse the Mughal forces.
Durgavati wanted to attack the Mughals again that night, but her lieutenants refused to carry out this plan. As a result, the Mughals were able to receive reinforcements during the night. The following morning, June 24, 1564, Durgavati, riding her war elephant Sarman, personally led her troops into battle. Although her soldiers forced the Mughals to retreat three times, the tide turned when Durgavati's son was wounded and had to be removed from the battlefield. Then Durgavati's neck was pierced by an arrow and she lost consciousness. When she awoke and realized that defeat was imminent, she killed herself with her dagger rather than surrender to the enemy.
Rani Durgavati Marati is still renowned in India for her great courage and leadership. In 1983, Jabalpur University was renamed Rani Durgavati Vishwavidyalaya, and the present-day train between Jabalpur and Jammutawi is known as the Durgavati Express. And Durgavati lives on, astride her elephant, as a noble statue in Jabalpur
and on a 1988 postage stamp, where she resembles an Amazon warrior.
p.s. I hope you like this post, Archana! It's for you!