Is the Telugu movie Bahubali a real story from history?

Or Fantasy script created by Director Rajamouli


Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:

As per his own admission, the story of Baahubali is a work of fiction that took form in the mind of S.S. Rajamouli’s father K.V. Vijayendra Prasad.

I had, however, come across the name of Mahishmati earlier. I have seen it mentioned in the Mahabharata as an ally kingdom of the Pandavas. The kings of Mahishmati fought in the Mahabharata war as well. Recently India Today had carried a news article[1] on this subject. It talks of how Rajamouli has cleverly taken inspiration from actual history to develop the final story line. Here are the relevant bits…

MAHISMATI

Baahubali is the story of the internal tussle within the ruling dynasty at Mahismati, which also has to fight off external aggression. Mahismati was the capital of ancient kingdom of Avanti.

Mahismati finds mention in the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and also in various Buddhist literatures. The most important reference comes from an epigraphic record from the Kalchuri kingdom.

Recovered from Nasik, the Abhona plates of Sankargana talk about the Kalchuri family ruling from Mahismati. Kalchuris ruled between 550 AD and roughly 625 AD. They kept reappearing on the scene till 11th and 12th century.

Mahismati was situated on the banks of Narmada. But, its location has not been conclusively established. Most historians place it in western Madhya Pradesh or adjoining Maharashtra. However, some believe that it was situated somewhere near modern Raipur in Chhattisgarh.

BHALLAL

Bhallal was a real king from Hoyasal and Kalchuri dynasties. Hoyasals were very powerful rulers in the southern India between 11th century and first half of the 14th century.

In fact, there were three kings named as Bhallal during this period. Veer Bhallal II, who ruled from 1173 to 1220 was the most powerful Hoyasal king. He defeated all other kings of the time in the south including the Chola and the Pandya’s. Bhallal founded the city of Bengaluru.

BAAHUBALI VS MAHARANA PRATAP

The character of Baahubali has uncanny similarities with the stories related to celebrated Mewar king Maharana Pratap. It seems that Baahubali has captured the Maharana Pratap’s dynasty more than the original king himself.

Baahubali’s birth in a cave and escape to safety after birth seems to have been picked up from an early story of the lineage that Maharana Pratap was to have belonged to. It dates back to an incident of around 525 AD, when one of the wives of the Rana of Mewar escaped after the fall of Balabhi. She took refuge with some locals and delivered a boy in a cave.

The boy got the name Goh or cave born. His descendents became Guhilot or Gahlot. Maharana Pratap is said to be from the same dynasty.

The story of Baahubali being raised by forest people or tribal community is also similar to that of Maharana Pratap. Historical annals have it that Rani Dheer Bai preferred her son from Rana Udai Singh to be the next king of Mewar.

Rani Dheer Bai is said to have got Maharana Pratap sent to live with villagers in the outskirts of Chittorgarh. Pratap grew in the company of ordinary folks away from the Royal comfort.

Rana Udai Singh later proclaimed Jagmahal – the son of Rani Dheer Bai – as his successor but the seniors in the Royal court were in favour of Pratap, who was coronated as the Maharana at a place away from the capital Chittorgarh.

However, the queen of Mahismati is more upright and deviates from the real story of Maharana Pratap.

KALAKEYA

Another strong character of Baahubali is Kalakeya. There is no epigraphic or archaeological proof of the existence of Kalakeya. But, the literature has abundance of references to Kalakeyas.

The Kalakeyas have been referred to as demons. In the Indian classical literatures, Kalakeyas are said to be the descendants of Danu – from whom term Danav or demon seems to have sprung out – through his grand-daughter Kalaka.

The Kalakeyas ruled from Hiranyapur – the city of gold, similar to that of Lanka of Ravana.

In the absence of solid archaeological evidence, the dates of Kalakeyas could not be placed. But, they find important place in Baahubali.

Very clever! ^_^

Footnotes

[1] Baahubali 2: How Rajamouli picked up patches from history for his fictional epic

Is the Telugu movie Bahubali a real story from history?

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