The cordial tie between Hindus and the Muslims is often credited to Emperor Akbar. However the seed of this long lasting tie was not sown in Agra, but in a not so far away province in the present day Madhya Pradesh called Mandu. This initiation finds a unique place in our history because the roots of this beautiful unison was not greed, lust or want unlike witnessed in Mughal chronicles but out of something very pure termed as “love”. Yes, it was not an alliance, treaty or a pact but a romantic love affair between Sultan Baz Bahadur and a Hindu singer Roopmati who later became his queen and Rani Roopmati.
Baz Bahadur was the Sultan of Malwa who inherited the province after the death of his father Shujaa’t Khan, a governor under Sher Shah Suri. It is noted that in 1555 he declared himself independent and it was during this time only he met his lady love while out on a hunting expedition. One day when he was out for hunting, a piece of music piercing the line of shrubs and trees reached his ears. The Sultan moved along the tune only to encounter a beautiful shepherdess singing along with her group of friends. She was none other than Roopmati, the Sultan’s future wife. Being, a woman of rare charm, Baz Bahadur fell instantly in love with her soon after getting mesmerized by her exceptional beauty and captivating voice. Being the Sultan of Malwa, he, if wanted could have forced her for her submission. He however, asked her hand in marriage and requested Roopmati to accompany him to his capital.
Roopmati could not say “no” to her majesty, but laid her own condition that, in return he would have to construct a palace for her which would be within the sight of River Narmada. Her wish was the Sultan’s command and thus was constructed the famous Rewa Kund reservoir of Mandu, only to fulfill Roopmati’s fancy. Till today, it is one of the most hot-spot areas in Madhya Pradesh. People around the globe come here to witness the beautiful setting which the lover built in for his love. The two then married with great pomp and honor both in Muslim and Hindu style.
Love blossomed between the two greatly. While, Roopmati was a great poetess, faultless composer, reciter and singer, Baz Bahadur was a talented musician and lyricist. Both of them were immersed in each other so much that the two never separated from each other – neither in the day nor during the night. This made Baz Bahadur negligent towards his kingdom. He paid no attention to his kingdom and from a Sultan he was soon transformed into a musician and lover. Meanwhile, the news of his laxity towards his kingdom had reached the ears of Akbar and so was the tale of Roopmati’s beauty to his General and Foster brother Adham Khan.
It was Friday, the twelfth day of Rajab, year 968 of the Hegira and 1561 of the Christian Era when the Mughal troops led by Adham Khan attacked Malwa. Baz Bahadur reached Sarangpur with a very small army to challenge the huge Mughal army. However, when he felt that he would be defeated and killed, he then fled from Mandu leaving his harem, province and most prominently his love, Roopmati all alone. Wonder, what made him coward. Maybe Socrates was write in quoting, “The hottest love may have the coldest end.”
When Adham Khan got to know about Baz Bahadur’s escape he tried to lay his hand over Roopmati. However, Roopmati being a lady of great chaste continued to be faithful to her lover even till the last unlike Baz Bahadur who fled away. When she realized that Adham Khan would capture her soon and disgrace her, she consumed poison and set herself free from any disgrace.
And this led to the end of a beautiful loving tale… But, even today it is still alive in the folklore of the Malwa Province.
P.S: Appreciating her fidelity for her husband, Roopmati was buried with respect by Adham Khan. Baz Bahadur once again with the help of few associates captured Malwa but for a very short period of time and escaped once more when Emperor Akbar invaded the area yet again. Later, after wandering for a short period of time in the forest and the mountains he finally submitted himself to Akbar, who made him mansabdar in his Government.