Tracing the Many Lives of Rani Padmavati through Oral Narratives

Medha Guru
Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

Abstract

Identities of several communities in India are constructed and formed on the conventions drawn from oral histories. Legends and folk tales passed down from generation to generation are an integral part of how people view themselves and the world around them. In such cases it gets difficult to distinguish between facts and fictions. The legend of Rani Padmavati is one such instance where oral narratives have sentimental values for communities and modern day interpretations and adaptations of these narratives have sparked outrage. In light of the riots that tore through the city before the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Padmavat, it has become essential to analyse historical circumstances surrounding some of our heroic figures. it is crucial to understand how such tales have been twisted and morphed to suit the needs. This paper attempts to analyze texts that have been influenced by the oral narratives and examine the socio political conditions under which they have developed. These oral narratives can sometimes be traced to particular textual traditions as it is in the case of Rani Padmavati. It is also essential to understand the source of these textual traditions as some were commissioned by certain communities or by powerful royals and might have a bias. Therefore, only through the holistic understanding of all textual traditions or conventions, as well as through the understanding the community perspective in question can we aim to arrive at a certain conclusion. Methods employed to establish this trajectory is a systematic literature review and interviews. The conclusion raises critical questions about whether or not such debates are viable and how if at all interpretations have been biased.

Keywords: Oral History, Cultural Identity, Rani Padmavati, Rajput Community