From Panna Dhai's son

The theme of the post is from a Hindi poem a friend of mine discussed with me in my undergraduate college. I don't remember the poem or its author, and would be grateful if any of you can actually send me a link to them. For those of you who do not know the story, let me play Aesop for a while. Panna Dhai was the nurse of Udai Singh, lawful heir to the throne of the royal Mewar dynasty in Rajasthan. She had practically played mother of the baby, breast-feeding him from birth and taking care of him along with her own son (Chandan) who was almost of the same age.

The political scenario of the Mewar throne, however, was very uncertain at this time. A distant cousin of the ruling dynasty, Banbir, was the operational regent for the throne and had the teenage crown prince Vikramaditya under house arrest because of his juvenile ways while at the seat of power. Banbir thought that he could usurp the throne amidst all this turmoil and therefore, one night murdered Vikramaditya, the 14-year-old prince and thundered onwards towards the Bundi palace to remove the last barrier, Udai Singh. The news of his approach reached Panna Dhai earlier, and in a moment of supreme courage and patriotism, she swapped the two babies in the royal cradle and the ordinary one where her own son, Chandan, lay fast asleep. The accounts vary here, but in the poem, Banbir storms in within a few minutes, and doesn't really need to be told which is the royal progeny. Panna Dhai had stood there in horror as her own 10-month old son was butchered in front of her own eyes while she clutched on to the real Udai Singh as her son. Many years later, when Udai Singh grew up, the news of the nursemaid's courage and his survival spread. The young prince came back and claimed his right to the throne, after defeating Banbir in a battle who was never spotted again. Panna Dhai quietly went back into the oblivion of history.

Yes, what she had done was a display of extreme will and strength of mind. But, for a moment, step back and look at it from the eyes of her son. What had he done to deserve such an end to his life? Why did he have to be woken from his 10-month-old's innocent sleep and have his heart pierced by a sword? In the poem, he asks, "What was my fault, O Mother, that you put me through this?". Stop all bullshit about patriotism and duty: step into the heart of a 10-month old child sleeping peacefully, feeling safe in its mother's presence, and then answer that question. Do you have an answer?

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Well, in case you didn't notice, there is an update to the post below, mentioning that the charm works for Bengali guys as well. I am dying to update that post --- someone please try it out and let me know!!

Comments

  1. his fault was he dint have a voice.

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  2. sometimes loyalty defies all laws of normal human psychology. it reaches a point where it is not loyalty but madness. IMHO, the mother's loyalty should be first towards her own son; it is like an unwritten agreement-- something that she would have pledged to do when she was nurturing him in her womb. but then a different scenario would have emerged- that of a mother saving her own child but leaving the orphaned child out to die, what was his mistake? only that he didn't have a mother to protect him?

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  3. Interesting! I have read about this story but never thought about it from the eyes of the son. Do tell me too if you get to know the poem and author. Good post.

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  4. Shreemoyee, your comment is very thought-provoking and sort of makes me feel glad I posted this --- my inner turmoil over the issue has found a new dimension to ponder about through this. I don't know if I will ever come to a conclusion about this.

    Life lover, the child did 'live' through the fate destined for the royal infant. Perhaps the reason you quote was the reason that would've worked here?

    Alpine Path, thank you.

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  5. its a nice story. and its interesting to see the comments, the reactions. but then is death un-deserved death, innocent death, really that uncommon? if she had been mother first, like every one else, thought just of herself and her own, then who would have fought the fight? most mothers out their kids first ... not all. most people put their family, their immediate world, their life first. not everyone. we need both kinds to keep the world running, maybe? just a point of view ...

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  6. had this story as a lesson in hindi..i remember wondering even then whether it really made sense...i guess it boils down to wat one considers really important..she decided it was devotion to the king. But its correctness cud b debated forever.

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  7. Its tragic...the child was too young to realize wat was happening to him and why.I guess neither the mother nor her real son is to be blamed for anything...I must applaud d mother for she lay her sentiments at rest by her allowing her son die before eyes...n thus saving thousands of people from cruel hands of Banbir's reign once Udai Singh,the royal blood defeated him.I can say the story is that of sacrifice and has an unfortunate end.-Ms NMA

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  8. Ricercar, yes, that is an interesting point of view, just like some mothers ask their children not to join the military because typically, "someone else will do that".

    Di, yes, like I said: I wouldn't have an answer to that question anytime soon.

    Miss NMA, yes, that is an interesting perspective: the story of a sacrifice that has an unfortunate end.

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  9. Sorry don't agree with you...however right now running out of time...so will send you reply on this this weekend...! Till then byeee

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  10. R, okay... will look forward to your views

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  11. It is not Panna Dhai's son who asks the question, "O mother..." It is the poet who asks that question. It is we, we with a guilty-conscience who ask the question.. The boy is too small to be of significance here. He is an infant: he does not know that he is alive. He doesn't know the meaning of life..-I'm not talking of the philosophical meaning of life here; I'm talking of what life is, the praanshakti --.. hence he does not know what death is. He does not ask any questions. He is dead before he knows that he is alive. It is the fact that the boy is Panna Dhai's son that counts here; his emotions and any questions he may ask (which, he doesn't) don't. The little boy affects the scenario in that his very existence puts Panna Dhai on the horns of a dilemma; the boy himself doesn't play any role. He doesn't even get the time to feel the sense of infantile betrayal he might have, had he been murdered when awake. So all the patriotism and duty, here, is no bullshit. Those are the two things that define the moment. And her deed doesn't lend itself to the insult of debate.

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  12. I agree with Raman. But I guess it is more than just loyalty. It can be seen from the perspective of someone being patriotic. Protecting the destiny of one's country by such a sacrifice isn't unusual. Panna, in that sense, did protect the country from being ruined at the hands of the usurper.

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  13. Raman, all I can say is, well said!! But the buy had an equal right to live as the other one: just that he did not come from the right womb --- this I suppose was his fault. And no, just because the boy didn't have self-awareness doesn't mean that he is a candidate for sacrifice: everyone begets that the moment he/she is born.

    Kunal, well, as you say, it is a perspective: thats all!

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  14. dis was a gr8 act of loyalty and patriotism,many such acts have gone unnoticed in our histry bt it is due to dese brave unselfish acts only dat the sisodia clan flourished. if she wud not have been loyal ,the wrld wud not have seen rana pratap, the great

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  15. Anonymous, yes, but was the child necessarily a volunteer in the sacrifice?

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  16. i have recently read that poem; it is titled "itihas mein panna dhay" and has been written by priyadarshan...can't find it on the net though...an extremely touching and thought-provoking poem...

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  17. Anonymous, thank you so much for citing the correct source. The poem is still very thought-provoking whenever I revisit this post.

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  18. Few things to consider here

    Lets assume both Udhay and Chandan survived that day. Being raised in an patriotic environment and normally what Rajputs were supposed to do, Chandan would have willingly joined Royal Sena to server Udhay only either as body guard if he was brave enough or a common soldier. Now sacrificing his life for same person makes sense as it's his wish. As a soldier he might take lives of others, that also makes sense. Then it seems patriotic. We can think same Panna dhai did as a soldier.

    Maharana is niether a king nor religious post but they are considered as Deewan of "Shree EklingJi". For them saving people of Mewar is as serving EklingJi. So they were treated at highest regard and their people were ready to do any sacrifice they need to.

    If you consider Maharana's as King/ruler of Mewar, this sacrifice cannot be justified. But if you think them as leaders/fighters for common man, you will find several sacrifices made by common people to save them for good of all.

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  19. Anonymous, that still doesn't change the argument. Even if you are the leader or fighter for a common man, nobody has the right to sacrifice someone else's life.

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  20. Extremely unfortunate that poor Chandan had to sacrifice his life for no fault of his, imagine the pain the poor baby would have felt when he died, I am just sobbing right now, seriously to hell with patriotism, an innocent life is anyday more important.... Totally heartbroken and in tears :(

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    Replies
    1. Rahul - I am sorry that you feel this way. Perhaps if nothing else, the history of millions of of such innocent children who have been "sacrificed" should teach us a lesson.

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    2. Thank you Sudipta and yes, no innocent should ever be sacrificed for anything, I feel that the principle of "larger good" is bullshit , family comes first, seriously to hell with the rest of the world , also very well written by you, especially the part when the child asks "What was my fault, Oh Mother, That you put me through all this ?" .

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    3. First of all let this b clear to all that panna's son is not ten month but at least 2yrs old being carried by panna all the time.she had to take this decision which was tough for her

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    4. First of all let this b clear to all that panna's son is not ten month but at least 2yrs old being carried by panna all the time.she had to take this decision which was tough for her

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