Commander Chudda – The Forgotten Lioness of Kashmir

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Kashmir has not only been a land of learning, spirituality, and philosophy but is also known for brilliant women who have imprinted their names in eternity for their wisdom as Consorts, Rulers, Advisors, and Poetesses. There is one aspect, however, which, though mentioned in Rajtarangini, has somehow escaped the attention of the public at large – the brave Warrior Women of Kashmir who earned the grudging respect of even their enemies in battle. Recently, Pt Ashish Kaul brought the names of two such brave women into the limelight through this pathbreaking research documentary “StreeDesh – The Forgotten Women of Kashmir”. The world woke up with a start to learn about a warrior in medieval India who created a name for herself as a brave and fierce warrior – Commander Chudda! 

Born in the last decade of the eleventh century in Kashmir, Chudda belonged to a well-off family of warriors; she received training in the usage of arms and the art of warfare from her own father. Tall, well-built, and having the suppleness of a cheetah – as befitted a soldier, Chuddah got introduced to the Court of the King of Kashmir at the age of 15 when she got married to Garg Chand, a person of power and influence who was elevated as Prime Minister by King Sussala in 1112 CE. Over the next few years, to strengthen the relations with the King, Garg Chand married off his two daughters into the Royal Family – one to King Sussala himself and the other to his young prince! The early part of the twelfth century was a period of turbulence and internal strife in Kashmir! Garg Chand became a power center, playing up to various warring factions within the court. Palace intrigues one day led to the assassination of Garg Chand, much to the dismay of Chudda! King Sussala, however, was convinced that Chudda’s loyalty towards the throne of Kashmir was unwavering.

Two names that emerged as challengers to King Sussala were Bhikshachar, grandson of King Harsh Dev, the king dethroned by Sussala in 1112, and Mallakosth, leader of another discontented faction. It was Mallakosth who emerged as the main challenger and he almost defeated Sussula in the battle at Vijayeshwara (South Kashmir).  To protect Kashmir, King Sussala entrusted the command of his army to Commander Chudda. Assisted by her son Panchtantra, Chudda arranged training camps for her soldiers before marching towards the enemy fortifications. Chudda’s valor defeated Mallakosth and he was forced to seek shelter in the mountains! Victorious, Chudda made a triumphant entry into Srinagar and was welcomed with great pomp! People are said to have sung welcome songs and danced all the way to the palace, happy that the internal strife within the Kingdom was over! King Sussula appointed Chudda and her son, Panchtantra as joint governors of Lohara (modern Poonch). 

Chudda is reported to have led her army against several rebels and armies of neighboring kingdoms and vanquished each one of them. In her own lifetime, Chudda became a legend, as a person who ruthlessly defended her motherland against tyrants and traitors.  Masses treated her as a mother, the way she defended her Kingdom. The most vicious of her enemies, Mallakoshth could not digest his defeat at the hands of a woman. Smarting under the humiliation, he gathered his forces again but the prospect of facing Chudda was daunting. He, therefore, chose the path of subterfuge and deceit. Chudda had come to the town of Divsar to meet her friends in the month of Paushya. She was walking alone, unarmed when Mallakoshth’s assassins, Prithvihara and Tikka, attacked Chudda from behind. Injured but not defeated, like a valiant soldier, Chudda held on to Tikka till people caught him. Chudda did not survive the sneak attack.

Chudda’s death was widely mourned by the people of Kashmir, mostly because they feared that political unrest and uncertainty would return to haunt their country. Her demise marked the end of a great tradition – a fearless, well-trained warrior who happened to be a woman!

My painting is a great tribute to this fearless, brave, and undefeated soldier who laid down her life for the country.

Thanks to Pt. Sanjeev Munshi Ji eminent scholar and researcher for revising this write-up.

Comments

    • Suniel Kumar Dhar
      Suniel Kumar Dhar

      An interesting article by Pt.Ravi Dhar on the life a great woman warrior of medieval time of Kashmir! Almost all kashmiri Pandit Community is not aware about our rich past of almost 5000 years, and these kind of write ups will give us an opportunity to know our heritage.My regards to Pt.Ravi jee for uploading his beautiful paintings of different historical persons on the site!🙏🙏

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