|King of Mewar|
Ratnasimha (IAST: Ratna-Siṃha, r. c. 1302 –1303 CE) was a ruler of the Medapata (Mewar) kingdom in present-day Rajasthan, India. He belonged to the Rawal branch of the Guhila dynasty, which ruled from the Chitrakuta fort (modern Chittorgarh). The last ruler of this branch, he was defeated by Alauddin Khalji in 1303 CE.
The Rajasthani legends mention him as the Rajput ruler Ratan Singh. A fictionalized version of him appears as Ratan Sen in Malik Muhammad Jayasi's Padmavat. According to this poem, Alauddin attacked Chittorgarh to obtain his beautiful wife Rani Padmini; Alauddin captured the fort after Ratan Sen died in a battle with king Devpal of Kumbhalner; subsequently, Padmini and other women committed Jauhar to avoid falling in the enemy hands.
Ratnasimha is attested by the 1302 CE (1359 VS) Dariba temple inscription, which records a gift of 16 drammas (coins) to the temple during the reign of Ratnasimha. The inscription mentions his title as Maharajakula (which appears as Maharawal in colloquial literature).
A few coins issued by Ratnasimha have also been discovered.
Defeat against Alauddin Khalji
In 1303, Alauddin Khalji, the Muslim ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, invaded Chittor. After reaching the foot of the Chittor hill, two wings of his army attacked the fort from two different sides. After two months of unsuccessful siege, the attackers pelted stones on the fort using manjaniqs (mangonels), but still failed to capture the fort. Finally, on 26 August 1303, the invaders managed to enter the fort.
Fate after defeat
According to Amir Khusrau, who claims to have entered the fort with Alauddin, the ruler ("Rai") of Chittor surrendered to Alauddin. The Delhi Sultan massacred 30,000 other Hindus, but pardoned the ruler and his family. He assigned the fort to his young son Khizr Khan with Malik Shahin as the actual administrator, renamed it to Khizrabad, and then returned to Delhi.
Amir Khusrau's Khazain ul-Futuh
Khusrau's account is also corroborated by the 14th century Muslim chroniclers Ziauddin Barani and Isami. Historian Banarsi Prasad Saksena believes that Khusrau's account is correct. Kishori Saran Lal, on the other hand, doubts this account, arguing that it seems improbable that Alauddin spared the life of Chittor's ruler while ordering a massacre of 30,000 other Hindus.
Nabhi-nandana-jinoddhara-prabandha by Kakka Suri (1336)
The earliest Hindu account of the event is the Kumbhalgarh prashasti (eulogistic inscription) of 1460 CE. This inscription was issued by Kumbhakarna of the Guhila family's Rana branch, who were a rival of Ratnasimha's Rawal branch. The inscription states:
The inscription mentions the title of Ratnasimha and his predecessors as "Rāula", thus indicating that they belonged to the Rawal branch. However, Lakshmasimha (IAST: Lakṣmasiṃha) is explicitly called a "Mahārāṇā", thus indicating that he belonged to the Rana branch.
The word "departed" (tasmin gate in Sanskrit) in this verse has been variously interpreted as "died" or "deserted the defenders". Historian Gaurishankar Hirachand Ojha interpreted this verse to suggest that Ratnasimha bravely fought till death. Some other scholars such as Kalika Ranjan Qanungo and R. B. Haldar also accepted Ojha's translation.
However, according to other historians such as Akshay Kirti Vyas and R. C. Majumdar, the verse means that Ratnasimha cowardly fled from the battlefield. Subimal Chandra Datta points out that while describing the death of Lakshmasimha, the inscription states that he "departed for heaven". But while describing Ratnasimha's departure, it simply mentions that he "departed". This, combined with the surrender of the "Rai" described in the Muslim accounts, suggests that Ratnasimha departed from the battlefield and surrendered to Alauddin.
The 16th century Padmavat legend claims that Ratnasimha ("Ratan Sen") died in a combat with the ruler of Kumbhalner, before Alauddin's conquest of the fort. The 17th century chronicler Muhnot Nainsi, who wrote under Rajput patronage, states that Ratnasimha ("Ratan Singh") died on the battlefield.
The legend of Padmini
A legendary account of Ratan Singh (as Ratan Sen) appears in Malik Muhammad Jayasi's 16th century epic poem Padmavat. According to this account, he married the Sinhala princess Padmini after a quest. Alauddin Khalji invaded Chittor to obtain Padmini, after hearing of her beauty. Ratan Sen was captured by the Delhi forces, but his Rajput warriors rescued him on Padmini's request. While he was in captivity, his Rajput neighbour - Devpal of Kumbhalner - sent a marriage proposal to Padmini. Ratan Sen fought with Devpal to avenge this insult, and the two Rajput kings killed each other in a single combat. Alauddin then invaded Chittor, but before he could capture the fort, Padmini (Padmavati) and other women immolated themselves.
Several adaptions of the Padmavat legend appeared in the later years. The 16th century historians Firishta and Haji-ud-Dabir were among the earliest writers to mention Padmini as a historical figure, but their accounts differ with each other and with that of Jayasi. For example, according to Firishta, Padmini was a daughter (not wife) of Ratan Sen. Some other medieval legends written under Rajput patronage state that the contemporary ruler of Chittor was Lakhamsi (Lakshmasimha), and Ratan Sen (Ratnasimha) was his younger brother. Another version, compiled by James Tod, states that Padmini was the wife of Lakhamsi's uncle Bhimsi (Bhimasimha); this version does not mention Ratan Sen at all.
Historian Kalika Ranjan Qanungo, in his A Critical Analysis of the Padmini Legend (1960), proposed that there were actually four distinct people with similar names. According to him, the medieval bards confused and linked these four individuals:
- Ratnasimha, the Guhila ruler mentioned in the Kumbhalgarh inscription
- Ratnasen, mentioned as Ratan Sen in Padmavat; he was actually a ruler of Chitrakoot in modern Uttar Pradesh, not Chittor in Rajasthan
- Ratna, the son of Kshema; he and another warrior named Bhimasimha were killed in a battle at the foot of the Chittor hill
- Ratnasimha, the son of the Chahamana ruler Hammira. Lakshmasimha, the ruler of Chittor, gave him shelter at Chittor, prompting Alauddin to attack Chittor
- The Guhila king Ratnasimha and the Ratan Sen of Padmavat cannot be different persons, given that both are described as kings of Chittor who were defeated by Alauddin Khalji. Jayasi names the father of Ratan Sen as a person other than Samarasimha, but according to Singh this is simply a mistake, resulting from the fact that Jayasi wrote over 200 years later.
- Ratan Sen of Padmavat could not have been a king of present-day Uttar Pradesh, because the text explicitly refers to Chittor of Mewar region, describing Kumbhalgarh as its neighbour.
- Ratna, the son of Kshema, could not have fought against Alauddin: his death is mentioned in a 1273 CE inscription, while Alauddin ascended the throne only in 1296 CE. There is no evidence that Bhimasimha, the person who died fighting alongside him, is same as the Bhim Singh mentioned in the bardic legends.
- It is a mere conjecture that Alauddin attacked Chittor because Lakshmasimha sheltered Hammira's son Ratnasimha. The source for this claim is Surajmal's Vaṃśabhāskara, which is a 19th-century work based on historically unreliable bardic tales. None of the contemporary sources suggest that Hammira had a son named Ratnasimha. Hammira Mahakavya, the earliest biography of Hammira, states that Hammira appointed his minister Jajadeva as the ruler of his kingdom before marching to the battle with Alauddin. If Hammira had a son, he would have appointed his own son (rather than Jajadeva) as his successor. Moreover, Hammira had invaded Chittor in the past, and the relations between the two kingdoms were not cordial enough for Chittor to grant shelter to Hammira's son.
Most modern historians have rejected the authenticity of the Padmini legend.
In popular culture
- Ratnasimha appears as Ratan Sen in Malik Muhammad Jayasi's epic poem Padmavat (1540).
- Ratnasimha was portrayed by Sivaji Ganesan in Chitrapu Narayana Rao's film Chittoor Rani Padmini (1963).
- Rohit Bakshi portrayed Ratnasimha in Sony Entertainment Television's historical drama Chittod Ki Rani Padmini Ka Johur.
- Shahid Kapoor portrayed Ratan Singh (Ratnasimha) in epic period drama film Padmaavat (2018) directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
- Upendra Nath Day 1978, p. 5: "He died in 1302 A.D. leaving Mewar to his son Ratnasimha (1302-1303 A.D.) to face the brunt of the Khalji attack."
- P. K. Mishra 1996, p. 115: "The Dariba temple inscription, dated V.S. 1359 records the gift of 16 drammas to the temple when the Maharajakula Ratnasimha was ruling over Medapata."
- Manjit Singh Ahluwalia 1978, p. 93: "…his rule over Chitor is conclusively proved by the Darībā inscription of Māgh Sudī 5, 1359/1301 A.D., already noted, which designates him Medāpatmanḍale Mahārajākula Śri Ratna Siṃha kalyān vijay rājye…"
- Kalyan Kumar Ganguli 1983, p. 120:"...the ruling prince Ratna Simha is found to have been qualified in his inscription as a Maharajakula coloqualised as Maharawal."
- Jogendra Prasad Singh 1964, p. 95.
- Rajendra Singh Kushwaha 2003, p. 273.
- Subimal Chandra Datta 1931, pp. 291-292.
- Banarsi Prasad Saksena 1992, p. 368.
- Mohammad Habib 1981, p. 189.
- Aditya Behl 2012, p. 177.
- Kishori Saran Lal 1950, p. 120.
- Dasharatha Sharma 1956, pp. 96-98.
- Subimal Chandra Datta 1931, p. 288.
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- Akshaya Keerty Vyas 1937, p. 313.
- Dasharatha Sharma 1970, pp. 39-40.
- Akshaya Keerty Vyas 1937, pp. 313-314.
- Subimal Chandra Datta 1931, p. 293.
- Ramesh Chandra Majumdar 1977, p. 343.
- Ramya Sreenivasan 2007, p. 209.
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