In his book on the ruler, Prithviraj Raso, his putative bard Chand Bardai wrote that the king was imprisoned and taken to Ghazni, accompanied by the bard-narrator himself. There Chauhan was blinded and imprisoned, but later, in a demonstration of his archery skills, he struck the Ghurid ruler instead of aiming his arrows at the metal gongs. Thus was the legend made. It was one that endured and was added onto over the centuries. The epithet has struck, making Chauhan an enduring icon and a symbol, co-opted by the Hindu Right, along with the Rana Pratap and Shivaji, of those who stood up for the preservation of Hinduism and Hindu. It is the latter examination that makes this book almost a resolution of a historical mystery.
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It is attributed to Chand Bardai , who according to the text, was a court poet of the king. The earliest extant copy of the text dates back to the 16th century, although some scholars date its oldest version to the 13th century. By the 19th century, several interpolations and additions had been made to the original text under the patronage from Rajput rulers.
The text now exists in four recensions. It contains a mixture of historical facts and imaginary legends, and is not considered historically reliable. According to tradition, the Prithviraj Raso was composed by Chand Bardai , Prithviraj's court poet raj kavi  , who accompanied the king in all his battles. Most modern scholars do not consider Prithviraj Raso to have been composed during Prithviraj's time. The text's language points to a date much later than the 12th century, and its current recension mentions the 13th century king Samarsi Samarsimha or Samar Singh , whom it anachronistically describes as a contemporary of Prithviraj.
However, some scholars still believe that Chand Bardai was a historical court poet of Prithviraj, and he composed a text that forms the basis of the present version of Prithviraj Raso. The earliest extant manuscript of Prithviraj Raso , discovered at Dharanojwali village of Gujarat, is dated This manuscript contains the shortest recension of the text, and its language is more archaic than the one found in the other 17th century manuscripts.
This suggests that the shortest recension most probably composed sometime before , towards the end of the 16th century. Scholars such as Narottamdas swami, Namvar Singh, and Cynthia Talbot date the text to the 16th century, during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar r. This theory is based on the fact that two narratives written during c.
Some episodes contained in Prithviraj Raso such as the existence of a minister called Kaymas or Prithviraj's defeat by the Ghurid king are mentioned in the earlier texts, but these earlier texts do not follow the storyline of the Prithviraj Raso. If such episodes were known during the 15th century, the author of Hammira Mahakavya would not have failed to mention them. This suggests that the Prithiviraj Raso narratives did not exist in the 15th century in oral form, as speculated by some writers.
The oldest extant recension of Prithviraj Raso is from the 16th century. Somani, the original Prithviraj Raso was composed around CE, within decades after Prithviraj's death. Since the 16th century, the size of the text has expanded greatly because of several interpolations and additions, resulting in multiple recensions.
A small stanza manuscript in Bikaner is closest to the original text. The longest available version is the Udaipur Mewar manuscript, which is an epic with 16, stanzas. Modern scholars categorize the various recensions of Prithviraj Raso into four broad categories, represented by the following editions:  .
Several manuscripts deviate from these editions. For example, some manuscripts of the medium recension omit the episode of Prithviraj killing the Ghurid Sultan. The patrons of only 17 of these can be identified: they include kings and princes from the royal families of Bikaner , Amber Jaipur , Kota , Jodhpur , and Udaipur ; and a chief of Mewar.
The classification of the text's language has been debated by scholars, as its language varies noticeably between the various recensions, and sometimes, even between the different portions of the same manuscript. Prithviraj Raso frequently uses the six-line "chappay" metre , which has "harsh, warlike connotations", and is more prevalent in Dingal than in Brajbhasha.
The text features archaic vocabulary: this is especially true of the longest recension. The various manuscripts use different proper names. For example, Prithviraj is variously called Prathiraj, Prathurav, Prithiraj etc. This is a summary of the shortest Rajmal Bora recension of Prithviraj Raso : . The long recension contains several additions. For example, it mentions that Anangpal demanded his kingdom back a few years later.
After failing to regain it by force, he went on to sought support from Shihab al-Din. Prithviraj defeated both of them, and convinced Anangpal to retire. Among the various medieval texts that mention Prithviraj Chauhan, Prithviraj Raso shares some similarities with the Sanskrit-language narrative Prithviraja Prabandha.
Unlike other texts, the two texts feature three common characters beside Prithviraj and his Ghurid rival Shihab al-Din : . Kaymas or Kaimbasa appears to have been a historical person, as he is mentioned under the name Kadambavasa in the Prithviraja Vijaya , which was composed during Prithivraj's reign. However, unlike these texts, the Prithviraja Prabandha mentions the king's attack on this minister - an episode also mentioned in the Prithviraj Raso. In the Prithviraja Prabandha , Kaimbasa is not on good terms with Prithviraj's spear-bearer Pratapasimha.
One day, he complains to the king against Pratapasimha, but the spear-bearer convinces the king that Kaimbasa had been supporting the king's Ghurid enemies. On a subsequent night, the king attempts to kill Kaimbasa with a bow and arrow in the dark, but Kaimbasa escapes. The king feigns innocence about the attack, but Chand Baliddika knows about the incident, and condemns the king in private. The next day, Prithviraj dismisses both Kaimbasa and Chand Baliddika from his service.
Kaimbasa later helps the invading Ghurid king Shihab al-Din defeat and capture Prithviraj. While imprisoned, Prithviraj asks Kaimbasa for a bow-and-arrow to kill Shihab al-Din, but the minister betrays him by divulging his plan to Shihab al-Din.
A statue is kept in the Ghurid Sultan's place: Prithviraj ends up shooting an arrow at the statue, and is later stoned to death on Shihab al-Din's orders. In the Prithviraj Raso , Kaymas falls in love with a slave from Karnataka , and visits the queen's palace to meet her at night, while the king is away on a hunting expedition.
Prithviraj's Paramara queen sends him a letter complaining that Kaymas has been violating the privacy of the women's quarters. Prithviraj returns to the palace at night, and without any warning, attacks Kaimbasa with arrows. The first arrow misses Kaimbasa, but the second one kills him. Prithviraj then secretly buries Kaymas along with his slave-lover, but Chand Bardai learns about the king's dishonourable act in a dream.
He is subsequently defeated and blinded by the Ghurid king Shihab al-Din, but later kills the Ghurid king with an arrow during an archery performance, assisted by the bard Chand Bardai. Frances Pritchett, a professor of South Asian Literature at the Columbia University , notes that the killing of Kaymas is one of the three key episodes integral to the plot of the original version of the Prithviraj Raso , the other two being the king's eloping with Samyogita , and his killing of Shihab al-Din.
Pritchett notes that Prithviraj's shooting of Kaymas foreshadows his shooting of Shihab al-Din: in the first episode, Prithviraj demonstrates his ability to shoot at night with poor visibility in the dark; in the second episode, he repeats this feat when he is blind.
There is also an insinuation that Prithviraj's unjustified murder of Kaymas led to his misfortune of being defeated and blinded by the Ghurids. The king's blindness can be seen as a metaphor: when he starts ignoring the state affairs after being infatuated with Samyogita, he "becomes blind, figuratively-speaking, to the dangers to his kingdom". Here, his arrow misses Kaimbasa, indicating that he is not a phenomenal archer. Also, he dismisses his bard from his service, and his subsequent attempt to kill Shihab al-Din fails.
Prithviraja Prabandha and Prabandha Chintamani , both written by Jain authors, present Prithviraj as an inept and unworthy king. Alternatively, it is possible that the Jain texts borrowed the story from an older oral tradition which is the basis of Prithviraj Raso. Another possibility is that both the narratives may have been adapted from another, now-lost account.
The language of the texts available today largely appears to be postth century and to be based upon the 17th-century compilation commissioned by Amar Singh II , the Sisodiya ruler of Mewar. The version commissioned by Amar Singh was compiled by the poet Karuna-udadhi.
Its manuscript, generally dated to CE, states that "stupid poets" had separated Chand Bardai's text into different parts: Karuna-udadhi wrote the current version by "picking through the strands" on the orders of Amar Singh. The resulting text is actually a revised text, which is very different from the earlier versions of the text. This version appears to have been written as the part of a campaign to revive the Mewar dynasty's prestige, which had declined as a result of their setbacks against and later alliance with the Mughals.
On the other hand, the shortest recension of Prithviraj Raso does not even mention Samar Singh. Unlike the shortest recension which mentions Samyogita as Prithviraj's only wife, the Mewar version claims that Prithviraj married 12 other princesses, many of them presented to him by his nobles.
On the other hand, the Mewar family's Samar Singh is the only one who marries a woman from Prithviraj's family, thus highlighting Samar Singh's high status. The recension devotes an entire chapter to the marriage of Samar Singh and Pritha, describing how Prithviraj's father Someshvar decided to marry his daughter to Samar Singh, because of the Mewar's family's glory. Because of the claim that Prithviraj Raso was written by Prithviraj's contemporary Chand Bardai, the text was historically regarded as an authoritative source.
The largest version of the text is especially known to contain several inaccuracies, and is of little historical value. Since the 16th century, the Rajput rulers patronized Prithviraj Raso for its elements of heroic exploits, romance and revenge. James Tod , who introduced the text to the Western scholarship, characterised it as an authentic historical source  but is today considered himself not to be reliable. From onwards, several Hindi -language narratives based on Prithviraj Raso were published.
In , Kaviraj Shyamaldas raised doubts about the text's historicity, finding faults with its chronology. Pandya's arguments were rejected by prominent scholars such as G.
Ojha and Ram Narayan Dugar. While not strictly history, the Prithviraj Raso is a source of information on the social and clan structure of the Kshattriya communities of northern India.
The different recensions of the text also vary with each other. For example, the most popular recension of the text mentions the Agnikula legend, according to which Chahavana or Chahamana, the progenitor of the Chauhan dynasty, was born out of a fire-pit. However, the earliest extant manuscript of the text does not mention the Agnikula legend at all. It states that the first Chauhan ruler was Manikya Rai , who was born from Brahma 's sacrifice.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Raj kavi were expected to accompany the king while hunting and making war. His role also may have included that of a balladeer who encouraged and exhorted the warriors to bravery in battle by reciting the great deeds of their leaders and illustrious clan forebears. In general see Bloomfield, Morton W.
Jindal A history of Hindi literature. Kitab Mahal. A history of Rajasthan. Somani , pp. Somani , p. Retrieved 12 July In K Ayyappap Panikkar ed.
Medieval Indian literature: an anthology Volume 1. Sahitya Akademi.
He ruled Sapadalaksha , the traditional Chahamana territory, in present-day north-western India. His capital was located at Ajayameru modern Ajmer , although the medieval folk legends describe him as the king of India's political centre Delhi to portray him as a representative of the pre-Islamic Indian power. Early in his career, Prithviraj achieved military successes against several neighbouring Hindu kingdoms, most notably against the Chandela king Paramardi. He also repulsed the early invasions by Muhammad of Ghor , a ruler of the Muslim Ghurid dynasty. His defeat at Tarain is seen as a landmark event in the Islamic conquest of India , and has been described in several semi-legendary accounts. The most popular of these accounts is Prithviraj Raso , which presents him as a " Rajput ", although the Rajput identity did not exist during his time. The extant inscriptions from Prithviraj's reign are few in number, and were not issued by the king himself.
Prithvi Raj Raso
Prithviraj Chauhan: Which stories about the king have been made up over the years?