|Hadi Rani::A Rajasthani Folktale|
- Mr. Siri Siri
|Bundi is one of the most picturesque towns in Rajasthan. It is situated along a narrow gorge in the hills and is enclosed by walled fortifications with four gates. The town is said to have been named after Bubda, a Meena chieftain and later on ruled by Hada Rajputs. Throughout Rajasthan, which had many grand and fine palaces, the Taragarh Palace of Bundi, possesses the first rank. The Hada Rajputs played a prominent role in the medieval period, particularly in the Mughal regime.|
In the seventeenth century, many Rajputs linked their fate with the Mughals. They accepted the subordination of Mughals and had marriage alliances with them. But there were some among them who considered them as usurpers. Prabhavati, a Rajput princess, of Roop Nagar was one of them. Her fame as the most beautiful woman had spread far and wide in the country. Mughal emperor Aurangzeb wanted to make her one of queens.
Inspite of the acceptance of her father, she rejected this relation and sought the help of the Maharana of Mewar, Raj Singh. The gallant Maharana came to her rescue. The marriage of Prabhavati and Raj Singh was possible only because of heroic decision of another newly married couple Rao Ratan Singh and his bride Hadi Rani as the folktale proceeds.
It was a day of rejoicing. The Chudawat Sardar, Rao Ratan Singh had brought home his beautiful bride Hadi, the Princess of Bundi. At night, when they were in their honeymoon chamber, they heard a soft knock from outside.
Rao Ji got up in an angry mood and opened the door. There stood a maidservant, bowed and said 'Khamma Ghani their was an urgent message from the Maharana of Mewar who had taken up a challenge thrown up by the Mughal Emperor to marry the Rajput Princess Prabhavati of Roop Nagar and wanted that Rao Ji should proceed there and then to check the march of the Mughal army.
Hadi Rani, who stood by the wall-side, heard some part of the message and was equally worried. Rao Ji returned to his chamber.
'What is the matter ?' asked Hadi Rani.
'The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb is on his way to Roop Nagar to marry the Princess Prabhavati. She has appealed to our Maharana Raj Singh for help and Marriage,' Rao Ji replied in a mocking tone.
'But, suppose the Mughal forces get there before Rana does? Are you not going to help her ?' Hadi raised a question.
'Yes' Rao Ratan Singh replied, 'Maharana has already left for Roop Nagar to marry her before Aurangzeb reaches and he wants me to intercept the march of the Mughal army.'
Rani was caught in a dilemma, but soon a smile touched on her lips and remembered what her mother used to teach her off and on about the glory and honour of the Rajput traditions.
Hadi Rani stood and said – 'Rao Ji you should prepare for battle.' 'what ! battle,' Rao Ji was confused and troubled.
Seeing the pale face of Rao Ji, Hadi Rani called her maidservant and told her, 'Tell the messenger of Maharana Ji that Chudawat Sardar is moving with forces to check the march of the Mughal Emperor headed by General Dilawar Khan ?'
The infuriated Sardar went up to the jewel bedecked bride still in her bridal dress and caught her shoulders, telling ''hat does this mean, Hadi you don'’ want me ?''
Hadi Rani'’ reply was cool and calculated, ''he honour of a Rajput is at stake. You should keep up the glorious traditions, otherwise coming generations will spit on my name, if I detained you at this moment. Our people will never forgive us.'
Rao Ratan Singh was still hesitant, 'We have just been married. You asked me to leave straight away for the battlefield. Are you not worried about the danger ahead?'
'Only cowards are afraid of coming dangers, my Lord. The brave woo them,' Hadi Rani replied.
Hadi’s words had their effect, soon the drumbeats resounded throughout the Garh and preparation for the battle began.
With a heavy heart, Rao Ratan Singh left with his brave soldiers. But suddenly he stopped. He sent one of his trusted lieutenants to the palace with a message for Hadi Rani for sending a memento for him. Hadi Rani saw her maidservant rush excitedly – 'Rani Ji, Rani Ji'.
'What'? Hadi Rani asked.
'Rao Ji wants a memento for you'.
Hadi’s limbs were rigid. A memento at such a time. A glorious thought rose in her mind.
'All right, I know what to send him as a memento. Take to him what I give'. There was a gleam in her eyes. She ordered her maidservant to bring a sword and salver.
A word of smile touched Hadi’s lips. She closed her eyes and murmured, ‘Jai Durge’.
Before anyone could realise what was about to happen, Hadi struck her head off with a powerful stroke. The maidservant screamed. She told the soldier, 'Take it to your Sardar and give him this memento'. Rao Ratan Singh was waiting impatiently for the memento. As the lieutenant came with a salver covered with a red piece of cloth, Ratan Singh was hurriedly removed the cloth and was dumbfounded to see the head of the Rani in it.
A sudden change came over Rao Ratan Singh. He explained, 'Brave Hadi you have upheld the Rajput tradition. I could not, but you have done it'. He raised his hand in the air and called out to his soldiers to move onwards to the battlefield.
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