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Queen of Gadha Mandala

Sunil R P Sethi , The Queen of Gadha Mandala "Daily Excelsior" 10/4/2016

Riding on white elephant Banraj she was looking ahead towards the huge army which Emperor Akbar of Delhi had sent under command of Behram Khan to subdue Mandala . Estimates given to her was about 80000 soldiers. She looked to dedicated 16500 of her soldiers and her elite Laxmi Sena of female warriors of 920 ready to fight for the independence and honour of their motherland even in the face of total annihilation. They had come to defend her resolve and commitment to Honour and Independence knowing of little chance of going back to their families . Father had left sons and daughters , Husbands their wives , Sons their parents with hopes of seeing them only in next life . In true Rajput traditions they were together on the path to glory, on the path to death .

She got married to King Dalpatishah of Gadha Mandala four years back and came to royal palace as shy bride of 16 years . She was truly in love with her husband , a true warrior and able administrator who was loved by his subjects and respected even by his enemies. It was time of Mughal Expansion with support of number of Rajput kings who had accepted subjugation of Akbar but there were many few like King Dalpatishah who were holding on their own . With him around even Mughal forces with huge number and infrastructure could still not have courage to start direct conflict with Mandala .

The things changed however in 1576 with death of King Dalpatishah in sudden fever and with there being no heir the mantle fell upon her to take control of state. She was doing her best but she had limitations. The allies started deserting and the state got weakened. This was open invitation to Mughals to invade and Akbar took no longer time to oblige. Now she is facing sea of army from North threatening to innhilate her Kingdom and subjects.

She could had avoided conflict by accepting conditions set out by Behram Khan requiring her to accept subjugation of Akbar , to pay subjugation tax , to maintain minimum army with permission and to allow free propagation of Islam in her territory. She called the grand council to take their advice which put the onus on her to take decision and all took the vow to stand by her decision. Decision she took was to fight . Decision not to be subjected to subjugation. Decision to choose free death over chained freedom . All stood up and stood by .

She waited for two months in the fort for enemy to retreat because of frustration and fatigue as fort was impregnable but reverse happened . Food stock of her was almost finished whereas Mughals had steady food supply line . There was no option left then to fight in open and here she was . In open ready to fight and ready to die in the name of honour and freedom .

Battle continued for whole day and she proved her warrior skills by killing scores of enemy soldiers from back of her elephants by accurate use of her archery skills . By Dawn the situation had slipped out of her hands . She was outnumbered heavily and there was dissension in the temporary soldiers too . Her casualties were more than 8000 to around 13000 of Mughals . But Mughals could still withstand the higher number of casualties.

By evening it was clear that her army will be completely innhilated and she was will be caught as war criminal . This was time to take decision . She again didn’t fail herself . Decision she tool again . Not to allow enemy the glory of having Maharani of Mandala as prisoner of War and facing humiliation of royal trial . She chose the path of sacrifice . Laying down her life at the alter of freedom. With final war cry Jai Janani she slit her throat with her sword . Thus fell from Banraj the greatest of female warrior India had seen . Her blood fell on the earth and shined like jewel . Motherland couldn’t withstand the agony of having blood of Daughter of the Soil on her bosom . Darkness fell .

She was Durgawati , Queen of Gadha Mandala.

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