The Rajputs, their Princesses and the Muslim Rulers Harems
The Rajputs were very brave, but they were defeated by the Moslem invaders. They then started giving their daughters and sisters into the Moslem harems as a Quid pro Que to retain their privileges.
The Rujputs and the Muslim Harems
The Moslem rule is a watershed in the history of India. Right from the 9th century onwards for almost 900 years the Moslems ruled most of India. The initial onslaught of the Moslem invaders was faced by the Rajputs. They were hindu warriors who took great pride in their martial skills. However it is a sad fact of history that the Rajputs were defeated by the Moslems. Despite showing immense bravery, the Rajputs always ended on the losing side. These defeats really commenced from the time Mohammed Ghori the Afghan ruler faced Prithviraj Chauhan in the two battles of Tarain. Ghori won and the Rajputs were a demoralized lot. Again the advent of Babur saw the Rajputs unable to defeat him and he occupied the throne at Delhi. Akbar followed and the Rajputs decided to give him battle under Rana Sangha. But he was defeated and fled from the battlefield. All this makes sad reading and one cannot help concluding that these defeats played on the psyche of the Rajputs.
The so called brave Rajputs were perhaps at their wits end. They had to have a plan to retain their power and privileges. This plan was in all probability thrust on them, but they did something which has not been commented upon by later historians. In effect it really meant to use sex as a means to achieve their position, what they had not achieved on the battlefield. Thus the Rajput Rajas and Chieftains started giving their daughters into marriage and as concubines into the Harems of the Moslem rulers. These poor Hindu princesses were ushered into these harems and became part of hundreds of other women to a life of Purdah and seclusion till they died. In addition many of them had to convert to Islam. It is worth noting that the so called liberal Akbar had over 500 women in his harem, a large number of them Hindus.
There are also cases where in the Moghul ruler when he heard of the beauty of a Rajput Hindu princess sent his emissary with a message that the girl be given into his harem. Woe betides a Rajput who desisted. But history records that this phase of the Rajput Moslem ruler’s relationship had the end point of their women being given to the Moslem harems as concubines and hand maidens. In return for this the Rajput Chieftains were allowed to keep their small Jagirs and kingdoms on payment of tributes to the imperial ruler.
Social scientists must study this aspect of Rajput behavior. It is difficult to visualize what prompted the Rajputs to do this i.e. to hand over their girls to the Moslem harems, when the Moslems never allowed the reverse to happen i.e. marry Moslem girls into Rajput households.
This was certainly a dark period in India's history and one can feel for the poor Hindu princesses who had to spend their lives in Moslem harems as sex objects of the Moslem rulers. Perhaps we must have a fresh look at the so called bravery of the Rajputs. This process only stopped with the rise of the bigoted Aurangzeb and the British rule.