Samyukta

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Samyukta
First appearance 16th century
Created by Chand Bardai
Information
Spouse(s) Prithviraj Chauhan

Sanyukta, also known as Sanyogita, Sanjukta, or Samyukta, is a character in the medieval heroic romance Prithviraj Raso who is said to have been the daughter of Jaichand, the King of Kannauj, and one of three wives of Prithviraj Chauhan .[1] Prithviraj Chauhan is a popular figure of romance and chivalry from the folklore of medieval India, and also a figure of tragedy, who is said to have ruled from his twin capitals of Pithoragarh and Ajmer. The love between Prithviraj and Samyukta is one of India's most popular medieval romances, immortalized in Chand Bardai’s epic Prithviraj Raso (or, Chand Raisa), but the historicity of the Samyukta episode remains a matter of debate.[2]

Legend[edit]

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, Samyogita, was a headstrong girl who was known for her bewitching beauty. She is said to have fallen in love with Prithviraj- like the two other princesses, Shashivrata and Padmavati, before her[3] -- 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 a rival Rajput clan.

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 in 1185 CE. 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 a dvarpala(or, a figurative "doorman") to Jaichand's court.

Prithviraj Chauhan, 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.

Historicity[edit]

The historicity of Samyogita is a matter of debate. Prithviraj Raso is a historically unreliable text, having been embellished under the patronage of the Rajput rulers since the 16th century. However, some scholars such as Dasharatha Sharma believe that the more reliable Prithviraja Vijaya, which was composed during the reign of Prithviraj Chauhan, also contains a reference to Samyukta.[4]

An unfinished theme in the 11th chapter of Prithviraja Vijaya refers to Prithviraj's love for an unnamed woman who lived on the banks of the Ganges river (just like Samyukta). This woman is mentioned as an incarnation of Tilottama, a legendary apsara (celestial nymph).[4] However, even if this woman is same as Samyukta, there is no concrete evidence to support the Prithviraj Raso narrative of Samyuka's abduction and marriage to Prithviraj Chauhan.[4]

Modern Indian culture[edit]

"Samyukta", which means "united" in Sanskrit, is a popular girl's name in modern India. The life of Prithviraj Chauhan has also been the subject of a television show aired on Star Plus, and a historical film titled Raani Samyuktha was made in 1962 with Padmini and M. G. Ramachandran in the lead roles.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cynthia Talbot 2015, p. 132.
  2. ^ "Prithviraja III". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  3. ^ Cynthia Talbot 2015, p. 284.
  4. ^ a b c Cynthia Talbot 2015, p. 40.

Bibliography[edit]