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PANNA DHAI (C. 1542)


Panna was the nurse of the Rajput prince Udai Singh, posthumous son of Maharana Sanga (1509-1527). She brought him up along with her own son, Chandan. The history of Mewar during this period is turbulent. Maharana Sanga was killed in battle against Babur, and two of his sons occupied the throne in succession. Finally in 1536, Udai Singh was declared the ruler and his cousin Banbir Singh, appointed as his regent. However, Banbir Singh was rumoured to be an illegitimate son of Udai Singh’s uncle, and was suspected of having poisoned one of his elder brothers. Panna Dhai had protected her charge’s life through many upheavals, but she now knew the prince was in mortal danger, and had him conveyed out of the palace hidden in a fruit basket. Banbir Singh entered the prince’s apartment with a sword drawn and demanded to see the child. Silently Panna pointed to the cradle where her own son, Chandan, slept. Banbir killed the child and Panna arranged the funeral as if the boy had really been the prince. She then slipped out of the fort and after some difficulty succeeded in obtaining sanctuary for Udai Singh with the Jain governor of Kumbhalmer, who pretended that the boy was his nephew. Thus Udai Singh remained incognito for some years, until Panna produced proof of his identity to the nobles of Mewar and he was reinstated on the throne.
 
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