The Emperor Humayun was in his palace one day when he heard a commotion. He asked his guards, “What is happening?”
The guard said, “A messenger has come from Chittor. Queen Karmavati of Chittor has sent a message for you.”
“How strange!” exclaimed the Emperor. “Let him in. I am curious to know what a Hindu Queen has to say to a Muslim Emperor.”
When the Emperor opened the letter, he found a special bracelet. It is traditional for sisters to offer this kind of bracelet to their brothers once a year on the Indian festival day of Rakhi. When offering the bracelet, the sister asks her brother to protect her honour and save her if anything should happen during the coming year.
The message read: “To Emperor Humayun, this bracelet is given by your sister to her adopted brother. Your sister needs your help to save Chittor from Bahadur Shah of Gujarat.”
Humayun said, “Karmavati! Karmavati is a Rajput Queen, a Hindu Queen, and I am a Muslim. She calls me her brother? If I am her brother, this means that all Hindus and Muslims are of one family, that Hindus and Muslims will not remain enemies forever but will one day live together as a single family. This is the happiest day of my life.”
Humayun immediately rushed to Chittor with his army. Before he reached Chittor, he heard the horrible news that Karmavati had taken her life. When her husband had been killed in battle, she had written to Humayun and had been waiting for his arrival ever since. But when she was about to be captured by the Muslim King Bahadur Shah, she threw herself into fire rather than surrender to him.
Humayun was shocked and horrified. He felt miserable that he had not come in time to save her. He cried out, “I shall take revenge. Karmavati called me her brother. A Hindu Queen called a Mogul Emperor ‘brother’. This brother shall not rest until he avenges his sister’s death. This is my promise.”
As soon as Bahadur Shah heard about Humayun’s arrival in Chittor, he fled and went into hiding. But Humayun made a pledge, both to himself and before the Hindu Queen’s subjects: “O Bahadur Shah, no matter where you go in Allah’s entire creation, I shall find you and keep my promise to Karmavati. Now, my Hindu sister, you are in the other world, but I shall carry out my promise. I shall be worthy of your trust in me.”
GIM 33. 13 January 1979↩