English Vocab

The Many Padmavatis
As the release of the Bollywood film Padmavati draws near, protests against it are reaching a fever pitch. Claiming to speak on behalf of all Rajputs, several political figures have objected to the portrayal of the title character of the film for two reasons — that it is a distortion of history and that it is disrespectful towards Queen Padmini (appearing in some texts as Padmavati), who is deeply revered by the Rajput community. Recent scholarly work on the Padmavat, such as that of Thomas de Bruijn, Shantanu Phukan and especially Ramya Sreenivasan, makes possible an informed engagement with these claims.

The earliest tale
The earliest known composition of the Padmini tale is Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s Padmavat, dating to 1540. This tale is part of a new genre, the Sufi premakhyan (‘love story’), that flowered from the 14th to 16th centuries in north India. Most of these tales feature a hero-king’s quest for union with supreme truth andtranscendent (exceptional) beauty — embodied in the texts by a woman of unparalleled physical beauty — and the difficulty of navigating the contradictory pulls of the spiritual and worldly domains. The Padmavat is perhaps the only one of these texts to be grafted upon a historical event, Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khilji’s siege of Chittor in 1303. Writing more than 200 years after the event, Jayasi’s tale bears little resemblance to surviving historical accounts of the siege and instead appears to draw in details from contemporaneous (existing at or occurring in the same period of time.)events and places.
In Jayasi’s composition, a parrot, Hiraman, tells the king of Chittor, Ratansen, of the unequalled beauty of the princess of Sinhal, Padmavati. Hiraman’s description is enough to trigger in Ratansen the desire to attain Padmavati. He leaves behind his wife, Nagmati, becomes a yogi, and heads out, along with his men who also become yogis, on the arduous quest to the faraway Sinhal. With great difficulty, and only after he is ready to give up his life for the quest, Ratansen is united with Padmavati and marries her. Due to the pulls of his natal home and the suffering of his first wife, he returns to Chittor, bringing Padmavati along with him. While Ratansen works on building peace between Padmavati and Nagmati, a deceitful brahman, expelled from Ratansen’s court, seeks revenge by going to Delhi and informing Khilji of Padmavati’s stunning beauty.Piqued (aroused), Khilji decides to march upon Chittor to demand Padmavati. Ratansen refuses to part with her. With the Sultan’s forces closing in, Ratansen dies of injuries sustained in a fight with a Rajput rival. Padmavati and Nagmati commit sati on Ratansen’s funeral pyre (a heap of combustible material, especially one for burning a corpse as part of a funeral ceremony.) while the remaining Rajput men go into the battlefield to be martyred. When Khilji manages to finally conquer the fortress, all that remains of Padmavati are her ashes. His victory is thus rendered hollow.
Some manuscript copies explain the Sufi import of the tale by referring to Chittor as the body, Ratansen the spirit, Padmini the mind, Hiraman the spiritual guide, and Khilji as illusion (‘maya’). Literary representations of Khilji in a polyvalent (having many different functions, forms, or facets.) text such as the Padmavat and in future iterations of the tale then should not be taken as historical. The historical Sultan Alauddin Khilji, as we know him from accounts of his time, was a gifted statesman who strengthened the fisc (the public treasury) of the Delhi Sultanate, expanded the frontiers of his kingdom, and capably protected north India from the expanding Mongol domain, a feat that many of his contemporaries could not accomplish.
As for Padmavati, there is no historical evidence that there was such a figure in Chittor when it was besieged, or that desire for a woman played any role in Khilji’s interest in conquering the fortress. Padmavati/Padmini, then, is a literary artefact (an object made by a human being, typically one of cultural or historical interest.), as is the entire story of love and sacrifice at whose heart she is placed. Any depiction of Padmavati thus cannot be a distortion of history since, in our current state of knowledge, she never existed. Born as a figment of poetic imagination, she is free to be reshaped in the hands of a different creator.
Padmini, recast
And indeed, the Padmavat was told and retold over the centuries and across the land. As the historian Ramya Sreenivasan has carefully shown in her book, The Many Lives of a Rajput Queen, in each retelling, the contours of the story and the key characters within it, including Padmini, changed. Starting a few decades after the original composition, the Padmavat was adapted into Persian forms in north India and Gujarat, and Jain literati (well-educated people who are interested in literature.) and bardic groups composed versions of it for Rajasthani courtly elites. In the 17th century, professional genealogists wove the Guhila house of Ratansen into the genealogy of their patrons, the Sisodia rulers of Mewar. By the 18th century, after the decline of the Mughal empire but before colonial conquest, the tale of Padmini was refashioned in Mewar to demonise Alauddin Khilji, also emphasising his Muslim identity and presenting the clash between the Rajputs of Chittor and the Sultan of Delhi as the resistance of Hindus against an encroaching (intrude on), ‘impure’ Islam.
In the 19th century, Colonel James Tod, Political Agent in Rajputana of the English East India Company, was guided in his attempt to write the first authoritative history (by contemporary European standards) of the region by the philological, historiographical, and intellectual frameworks of his age, as well as by the political goal of stabilising the region by strengthening the hands of kings against rebellious chiefs. He selectively chose information from the range of pre-colonial sources at his disposal. He incorporated the courtly Rajasthani Padmini narrative into his early 19th century history of Rajasthan, using it, along with other material, to cast Rajputs as a valiant, pure fighting race of Hindus that resisted Islamic conquest, just as Christians had done in the West. Bengali intellectuals of the nascent bhadralok were deeply impressed with the figure of the Rajput as presented in his account, not just for his selfless bravery but also for his resistance against a Muslim conqueror. As the earliest imaginings of an Indian nation — and a Hindu nation — began to take shape, Padmini became a token of the self-sacrificing, virtuous, and chaste (abstaining from extramarital, or from all, sexual intercourse.) Hindu woman that was to be at its heart. In this idealised form, her decision to annihilate (destroy utterly) her own body was celebrated for the preservation of her ‘honour’ (read ‘chastity’) through which was indexed the honour of her husband, her family, her community, and now, her nation.
In her journey from the 16th to the 21st century, Padmavati appears to have become increasingly shackled (restrained) in the confines of patriarchy. In Rajasthani versions, Padmavati lost her autonomous voice, reduced to a prop on the edges of a scene largely occupied by the king and his courtiers. It was this Rajasthani Padmavati who was celebrated in 19th century bhadralok plays beginning to imagine a Hindu nation and who is today deified (worship or regard) as the apotheosis (the elevation of someone to divine status.) of Rajput, and even Hindu, valour, purity, and sovereignty. Padmavati has been recast as adhering strictly to codes of conduct applied to elite Rajput women. Allegations of disrespect and inaccuracy being levelled against the film are thus rooted in the expectation, by those familiar only with the Rajput or early Hindu nationalist adaptations, of a silver-screen Padmavati who observes the purdah and does not display any trace of sexuality. The current row over Padmini’s portrayal only underscores that in the long arc of its history, the imagined Hindu nation holds in its heart the dutiful, chaste Hindu woman, who acquiesces (accept something reluctantly but without protest.) to patriarchal controls and only exercises her agency within their bounds.
No exclusive legacy
It is important to bear in mind, as Ms. Sreenivasan has shown, that at the same time that the Rajputs were articulating a new claim upon the Padmavat in the 17th century, other Padmini tales continued to be composed. A Sufi migrant from Bengal to the Arakan court (in today’s Myanmar) composed his own version of the text in Bengali. In the 19th century, there were multiple Urdu adaptations of the tale printed in north India and an opera performed in 1923 in Paris. There have then been many Padmavats, just as there were many Ramayanas. The tale, and its heroine, are then not the exclusive legacy(something left or handed down by a predecessor.) of any single community. The effort of spokespersons of a single community, one that continues to exercise tremendous sociopolitical power, to freeze the text into a single, authorised version, will rob it of the vitality that has allowed it to thrive over the ages.
Courtesy: The Hindu (National issue)
1. Transcendent (adjective): (Surpassing the ordinary; exceptional.) (उत्कृष्ट/उत्तम)
Synonyms: Supreme, Consummate, Paramount, Superlative, Unique, Unsurpassed, Incomparable.  
Antonyms: Ordinary, Inferior.
Example: To many, a god is a transcendent being who has powers that exceed those of mere mortals.
Origin: From Latin transcendere, from trans- ‘across’ + scandere‘climb’.

2. Pique (verb): (Arouse/ feel irritated or resentful.) (उकसाना/मनमुटाव करना)
Synonyms: Displease, Upset, Affront, Vex, Provoke.
Antonyms: Delight, Please, Make Happy.
Example: The trailer of Padmavati has piqued the sentiments of a community.  
Verb forms: Pique, Piqued, Piqued.
Related words:
Pique (noun) -  A feeling of irritation or resentment
Origin: from French piquer ‘prick, irritate’.

3. Literati (noun): (Well-educated people who are interested in literature.) (विद्वन्मण्डली)
Synonyms: Academics, Pedagogues, Scholars, Professorate.
Antonyms: Inept, Illiterates. 
Example: Since he was born in a Literati family, so eventually he became scientist.
Origin: from Latin, literatus ‘acquainted with letters’

4. Encroach (verb): (Intrude on (a person's territory, rights, personal life, etc.).) (अनधिकार प्रवेश करना/अतिक्रमण करना)
Synonyms: Intrude, Trespass, Impinge, Butt In, Barge In, Cut In, Obtrude.
Antonyms: Keep Off.
Example: As the forests continue to be destroyed for development, bears have no choice but to encroach into residential areas to seek food.
Verb forms: Encroach, Encroached, Encroached.
Related words:
Encroachment (noun) - अतिक्रमण

5. Chaste (adjective): (Abstaining from extramarital, or from all, sexual intercourse.)   (पतिव्रता/पवित्र/विशुद्ध)
Synonyms: Vestal, Celibate, Monogamous, Virginal. 
Antonyms: Unchaste, Defiled, Immoral.
Example: If your thoughts are not chaste, you will find it difficult to live the life of a nun.
Verb forms: Chasten, Chastened, Chastened.
Related words:
Chasten (verb) - शुद्ध करना
Origin: from Latin castus.

6. Annihilate (verb): (Destroy utterly) (अस्तित्व मिटाना)
Synonyms: Destroy, Wipe Out, Obliterate, Exterminate, Eradicate.
Antonyms: Create, Build, Establish, Protect, Guard. 
Example: Because the citizens believe the hurricane is going to annihilate the city, they are evacuating their homes.
Verb forms: Annihilate, Annihilated, Annihilated.
Related words:
Annihilation (noun) – विनाश
Origin: From Latin  annihilare, from ad- ‘to’ + nihil ‘nothing’.

7. Deify (verb): (Worship or regard). (पूजा करना/आदर करना)
Synonyms: Revere, Venerate, Reverence, Hold Sacred, Pay Homage To, Extol, Exalt.
Antonyms: Despise, Degrade, Dishonor.
Example: Many North Koreans deify their leader, treating him as if he is a god rather than a dictator.
Verb forms: Deify, Deified, Deified.
Origin: from Latin deus ‘god’.

8. Apotheosis (noun): (The elevation of someone to divine status./ The highest point in the development of something; a culmination or climax) (आदर्शपन)
Synonyms: Elevation, Idolization, Pinnacle, Crowning Moment
Antonyms: Relegate, Downgrade, Put Down, Lowering the position.
Example: We were ecstatic to meet the athlete who was said to be the apotheosis of his sport.
Origin:  from Greek apo ‘from’ + theos ‘god’.

9. Acquiesce (verb): (Accept something reluctantly but without protest.) (मान लेना/स्वीकार कर लेना)
Synonyms: Accede, Conform, Comply, Accept, Agree.
Antonyms: Dissent, Forbid, Refuse, Resist.
Example: While I did not want to go to the show with Laura, her begging eventually caused me to acquiesce.
Verb forms: Acquiesce, Acquiesced, Acquiesced.
Related words:
Acquiescence (noun) - अनुमति

10. Legacy (noun): Something left or handed down by a predecessor. (विरासत)
Synonyms: Bequest, Inheritance, Patrimony, Endowment
Example: Though none of his family was famous, John intended to leave a mark on the world, creating a legacy that would be remembered around the world.
Origin: from Latin legatus ‘person delegated’
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