Bhavashankari, The battles of legendary queen of Bengal part 1:
One of the most under rated empires to ever grace India is the kingdom of Bhurshut from central Bengal.
A medieval powerhouse this kingdom stood firm against the Pathan invasion from Orissa twice, and with each time devastating the enemy forces.
Along with this, we also have to note that this was the time when the empire was under the reign of a widowed queen named Bhavashankari.
She wasn’t even born in a royal family and yet she achieved what most of the kings couldn’t do
This begs the question, why does no one remember this great kingdom?
Bhurshut empire thrived from 15th century till late 18th century as an independent kingdom while acting as tributary state with full autonomy.
These three hundred years was the time full of political uprising and turmoil. And yet this kingdom survived.
What’s even more puzzling is that no one knows about the great queen Bhavanshakari who thrashed the Pathans single handedly without the aid of their allies.
So today we shall unearth the glory days of this great empire and their critical war against the Pathans.
Status prior to the battle.
The relations between Kingdom of Bhurshut and Pathans of Gaur was not an amicable one.
At best Bhurshut-Pathan diplomacy would be called neutrally ignorant.
But as of late news upon news were reaching to the Samrat’s chambers that forceful conversions were rampant in the entire region.
This prompted a strong retaliation and Rudranarayn, King of Bhurshut started extensive war preparations for the defense of his kingdom.
At the same time the Pathans had lost against the Mughals and were forming rogue states in the land of Orrisa.
A new upstart named Osman Khan held the reigns of the Pathans and under his wing the invaders were sure of victory.
After the death of Rudranarayan, the affairs of the kingdom fell upon Bhavashankari.
She entrusted her ministers with their respectful jobs such as affairs of the State with Durlabh Dutta, the revenue minister.
Along with him Chaturbhuj Chakravarti became the Commander of the armed forces.
Once done, Bhavashankari being a widow left for the Mahadev temple at Kastasangrah along with prince Pratapnarayan.
Despite being in temple, she was always armor clad with her trusted sword and firearm by her side.
For childhood she had a penchant for fighting and the Pathan incursion in her territory was just the moment for her to shine.
According to the legend, she had once prayed to Ma Durga for three days straight and had asked for a boon that no man may ever defeat her in battle.
In the temple she was guarded by the elite royal bodyguards, all of which were women warriors.
Despite the tense situations, prayers of Shiv ji were of daily occurance. These kirtans allowed the stressful moments to subside as the pujaris and monks and beggars were being fed.
All in all Bhavashankari was more than ready for a fight against the Pathans. But there was one thing that she wasn’t aware of.
One of her ministers Chaturbhuj Chakravarti was playing the two sided game as he entered in a pact with Osman Khan.
Without letting out any information, the two men agreed that when the Pathans will attack the defender, Chaturbhuj would help them out.
In return, Chaturbhuj will become the new ruler of Bhurshut while the Pathans will get a good chunk of the kingdom for their new state.
The invaders were being fed intelligence of all the local forts of Bhurshut kingdoms were now fully confident that the victory is in their hands.
They even had plans to capture the queen along with her son alive so that they could ransom a hefty fee and set an example by torturing them to death.
Osman khan with his own elite platoon took the guise of Hindu monks and infiltrated the territory.
Beside him were more than 200 Pathan soldiers in complete darkness ready to attack the temple.
Luckily though, one of the Bhurshut scout located the invaders at Amta and quickly informed it to the queen.
Now Bhavanshakari was in big dilemma.
If she retreated back then the invaders would surely destroy the temple and take the entire region under their territory.
If she fought then her command of less than two dozen troops will be outnumbered and killed.
The queen ordered the scout to bring in a detachment of 200 soldiers from her nearest garrison.
And told half of her guards to stand at high alert, acting as scouting parties and wreck chaos at the invading army.
As the night grew high, the enemies closed in.
But by the time the Pathan force arrived, the defenders were already well inside the temple.
Realising that it is already too late for a retreat, and that still they held the advantage for a stealthy assault, Osman continued with his plan.
With the element of surprise on the invader’s side, they slowly started marching forward in hopes of breaching the temple security.
But within minutes their advance was halted when one of the sentries noticed them and alerted the defenders of their presence.
What followed was an all-out battle as fighting raged on.
The invaders nearly breached the temple but Bhavashankari was ready.
With her own troops she smashed into the enemy lines and routed their unit.
At the same time, the scouting parties of Bhurshut kingdoms emerged from the forest after hearing all the commotion.
As they joined the forces, the invaders started taking a heavy toll over their contingent.
Osman Khan understood that escape was the only option and tried to carry out a full scale retreat.
It shattered their morale and devasted the front line soldiers. As the Pathans retreated, even more of their troops were cut down.
But Osman Khan still had some semblance of faith. He had hoped that a secondary unit that was told to await will arrive at any time soon.
With this new refreshed force they will counter charge the defenders and over run them.
And yet, no Pathan secondary contingent came to save them.
Unbeknownst to the Khan, the secondary force was already killed by the Naga Sadhus of the Shaiva Akhada.
These warrior Sadhus were always more of a lose canon as they were monks and travelled a lot.
But at the same time they knew about all the localised intelligence in the region and once they caught the Pathan army red handed, then well, it was massacre time.
Osman Khan’s scouts came rushing back.
The informed that now the combined force of Naga Sadhus and Bhurshut troops are advancing.
And under the command of Bhavashakari, they are trying to cut off their retreat.
With whatever men he had left, Osman Khan ran back to his hideout swearing revenge against Bhavashankari.
While the great queen of Bhurshut was celebrated in her kingdom.
But her plans weren’t done yet. Osman Khan was persistant and will surely attack again.
She now took command of her troops personally, discharging Chaturbhuj from his post.
The great battle to save her kingdom had just begun…
End of part 1
Part 2 will be next week.
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