While watching Maharana Pratap serial on Sony TV you might have come across the two words – Jauhar and Saka. A common practice during the medieval period in the Rajputana, here we tell you the meaning, need and importance of Jauhar and Saka in the darkest era of the Indian History – the invasion of the Moslems.
The Rajputs Ethos
The Rajputs are well known as India’s ominous martial clan who went out to fight the invaders to protect their motherland. The clan is renowned as bravehearts who will war till the last man is alive. This is is the reason why they preferred Jauhar and Saka – a practice where they chose death over dishonor. It is interesting to note that it was followed in the Rajput communities only.
What is Jauhar and what is Saka?
The moment the ladies and the children of the Rajputana would know that the outcome of the Battle is against the Rajputs, and there is no chance of a win, the women of the fort would commit mass self-immolation. No sooner the ladies would know that defeat is inescapable, than they would wear their wedding dress, hold the hands of their children, and give up their chastity in a colossal pyre – preferring death over dishonor by the invaders. This practice was mainly carried out in the night with the Vedic chants.
Next morning, the Rajput men would get out of the palace with a die-hard attitude to annihilate the enemies. They would fight fiercely till they breath their last. This day would start with all the Rajput men taking a bath, wearing saffron, applying the ash from the previous night of the maha Samadhi on their forehead, and then venturing out like a warrior.
Why Did the Raputana Prefer Jauhar Rather than Consuming Poison?
You may wonder why the women did not consume poison which could take away their life instantly but choose a painful way to death i.e. burning them alive in a pyre? Well, according to the Hindu dharma, Agni symbolizes purity and it is the prefered way to dispose dead. It is apparent that there would not be enough time to cremate so many dead bodies in fire after their death. Also, the question remains who would do their cremation?
Perhaps this is the reason why they chose the path of self-immolation. No wonder, according to the Hindus, it is believed that the fire god is asked to devour the body, to generate its quintessence in heaven. Moreover, Agni possess the power to scare away any type of harmful things like spirits, and demons.
Besides, cremation is a very significant ritual for Hindus as Hindus believe that once an individual dies, the body releases a spiritual essence from the physical body so that it reborns. They are of the opinion that if the cremation is not done properly then the soul of the deceased person will be disturbed. This is the reason why the women did Jauhar, rather than consuming poison.
However, Jauhar and Saka was performed only when the Hindu Rajputs were defeated against the Moslem rulers. There were no Jauhar or saka if a Hindu fought another Hindu because, in that case, the people who were defeated were treated with respect and dignity.
Chittor Witnessed Three Jauhar And Saka
The first one was in 1303 when Alauddin Khilji began the siege of Chittor. The second Jauhar took place in 1535 when Chittor was defeated by Bahadur Shah of Gujarat during the reign of Rani Karnavati, the widow of Rana Sanga who died in 1528. The last Jauhar is well documented in the history which happened during Akbar’s reign – It was in the year 1568 when the women of Chittor committed Jauhar for the third time. The ruler then was Rana Uday Singh II, father of Maharana Pratap.
By: Deepti Verma