The Emperor Humayun was in his palace one day when he heard a commotion. He asked his guards, “What is happening?”
One of them replied, “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 thread. It is traditional for sisters to offer this kind of affectionate and sacred thread to their brothers once a year on the Indian festival day of Rakhi. When offering the rakhi bandhan, 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 sacred thread is given by your sister to her adopted brother. Your sister needs your help to save Chittor from Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat.”
Humayun said, “Karmavati! Karmavati is a Rajput Queen, a Hindu Rani, 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 the fortress, he heard the horrible news that Karmavati had taken her own 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 Sultan Bahadur Shah, she threw herself into the 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. Rani Karmavati called me her brother. A Hindu Queen called a Moghul 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 kill you. In this way I shall 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.”
from The Moghul Emperors
by Sri Chinmoy