Panna Dhai’s sacrifice

By Tanvi12 - Own work CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

Maharana Sangram I (1509-1527) was a Rajput ruler (King) of Mewar. His eldest son by his wife Rani Karnawati had been killed in a battle in 1521. Three of his other sons also died during his lifetime. In the battle of Khanwa, Maharana Sangram Singh I died fighting Mughal emperor Babur. His eldest among the surviving sons succeeded to the throne. Unfortunately, he couldn’t rule for long and passed away after only four years. After his death, he was succeeded by his other brother Vikramaditya II. Vikramaditya was

After his death, he was succeeded by his other brother Vikramaditya II. Vikramaditya was ill-tempered and arrogant. His mother Rani Karnawati had placed the youngest son Udai, in the care of her trusted and loyal maid Panna, who was a wet nurse to Udai. Panna means ‘emerald’ in Hindi and Dhai means ‘wet nurse’. Panna had a son of her own, Chandan who was the same age as that of the young Prince Udai and they were playmates. Vikramaditya was all of 14 when he claimed the throne after his brother’s death, but his temperament was not good and that of an able ruler. The nobles and chieftains in the court of Mewar did not like his way of ruling. Once he abused and misbehaved with an old chieftain in the court. This was the last straw for them. They placed Vikramaditya under palace arrest and a distant cousin of Maharana Sangram, Bhanbir, was asked to be the king and ruler of Mewar.

Bhanbir, from the very start, considered himself as the rightful heir to the throne, he killed Vikramaditya II, in his palace and with the same bloodied sword he ran towards the palace quarters of Panna Dhai, to get rid of the other obstacle in between in him and the throne, Udai Singh.

A maid came running to inform Panna Dhai about the assassination of Vikramaditya II and the intentions of Bhanbir. Panna Dhai had to think and act fast to save the only heir of Mewar. Both Udai and her son were sleeping in the bed. She lifted the sleeping prince and put him in a fruit basket and covered it with fruits and quickly called in a male servant and ordered him to take the basket to a safe location by the river banks and wait there until she joined him by the river bank. After the servant was gone, she quickly shifted her son Chandan in the prince’s place and covered him with a blanket. Soon after Bhanbir rushed into the room with a blood covered sword and overcome with rage. He was so mad that he didn’t even lift the blanket to see who was sleeping under it, and he brought his sword down on poor Chandan who was killed.

Panna watched in horror as her own son was murdered. The Rajput women were known for their bravery and courage. After murdering little Chandan, he left the room and proclaimed himself as king. Panna meanwhile packed a few clothes and supplies in a bag and exited the fort to meet the servant at the designated spot. From there, Udai Singh and Panna started towards Kumbhalgarh. She could not reveal his true identity, fearing for his safety. She found refuge in the house of a rich merchant, the governor of Kumbhalgarh, Asha Shah. For few years they stayed there. In 1539, a chieftain from Mewar visited the fort and Udai, now a young man

In 1539, a chieftain from Mewar visited the fort and Udai; now a young man was sent to receive him. He was introduced as the governor’s nephew. However, his mannerisms and personality convinced the chieftain that the young man was no nephew of the governor. The rumour quickly spread that Udai Singh, the rightful heir to the throne had returned and was alive.

A group of nobles were sent from (Mewar) Chittor to Kumbhalgarh to interview Panna and Udai Singh. It was established without doubt that he was indeed Udai Singh, one surviving son of Maharana Sangram Singh and the rightful heir to the throne of Mewar.

Udai Singh was proclaimed the King by the nobles and chieftains. An attack was launched on Mewar under the rule of Bhanbir by a force of Kumbhalgarh and the nobles and chieftains of Mewar. Bhanbir was either killed, or he fled from battle, never to return. Udai Singh was declared the ruler of Mewar.

It was all made possible by the ultimate sacrifice made by Panna Dhai, the royal nurse. Her extraordinary courage so characteristically that of a Rajput is a legend. Her sacrifice of her son, for the sake of the country, finds no parallel in Indian history and maybe in all of the world’s history.

 

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