|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
Sanyukta, also known as Sanyogita, Sanjukta, or Samyukta, was the daughter of Raja Jaichand of Kannauj. She became the wife of Prithviraj Chauhan, the King of Delhi. Prithviraj was a Rajput who ruled from his twin capitals of Delhi (Pithoragarh) and Ajmer. He is a popular figure of romance and chivalry from the folklore of medieval India, and also a figure of tragedy.
The love between Prithviraj and Samyukta is one of India's most popular medieval romances. At the peak of his reign, Prithviraj had annexed vast regions of India to his kingdom, and his fame had spread all across the subcontinent and to Afghanistan. Many lesser kings were envious and wary of his power, including Raja Jaichand of Kannauj. Jaichand's daughter, Samyukta, was a headstrong girl who was known for her bewitching beauty.
Samyukta fell in love with Prithviraj as his reputation dazzled her. She desired nobody but him. For his part, Prithviraj had heard of Samyukta's loveliness and fell in love with her as well.
However, Jaichand and Prithviraj belonged to rival Rajput clans.
On finding out about the affair, Raja Jaichand was outraged that a romance had been budding behind his back. Jaichand decided to insult Prithviraj and arranged a Swayamvara for his daughter. He invited royalty from far and wide to the ceremony, every eligible prince and king except Prithviraj. He then commissioned a clay statue of Prithviraj, which served as doorman (dwarpala) to Jaichand's court.
Prithviraj, on hearing about the impending swayamvara, devised a plan to elope with the bride to be.
On the day of the ceremony, Samyukta walked through the court holding the ceremonial garland, ignoring the gazes of her ardent suitors. She passed through the door and put the garland around the neck of Prithviraj's statue, declaring him her husband. Prithiviraj, who meanwhile was hiding behind the statue, caught Samyukta up in his arms, set her on his horse, and whisked her away to Delhi. Raja Jaichand was enraged. This led to a rift between Delhi and Kannauj, which was later taken advantage of by Mohammad Ghori of Afghanistan.
Battles of Tarains
Mohammad Ghori attacked the fortress of Bhatinda in East Punjab, which was on the frontier of Prithiviraj's vast domain. Prithviraj's appeals to Kannauj for help were rejected. Undaunted, the famous warrior king of Delhi marched on to Bhatinda and met his enemy at Tarain, near the ancient temple town of Thanesar. Prithiviraj won the battle there, and Mohammad Ghori was made his prisoner. He begged for mercy and release. Prithviraj, who was renowned for his sense of honor and chivalry, respectfully released Ghori against the advice of his ministers.
Ghori rode to Afghanistan, and then returned to India with a stronger army. Kannauj again did not come to Prithviraj's aid. Prithviraj killed Ghori when he shot him with the arrow even when he was blind.
Maharani Samyukta, along with her ladies, committed Jauhar and ended their lives instead of surrendering the Afghan invader.
Prithiviraj and Samyukta in modern Indian popculture
Samyukta is a popular girl's name in modern India, which means "united" in Sanskrit.
Indian filmmaker Rajkumar Santoshi has expressed interest in making a film on Samyukta and Prithviraj's story.
The life of Prithviraj Chauhan has been made into a television show which is aired on Star Plus.