The next challenge to Hinduism came after the fall of the Ghaznavids in the form of the Ghurids, a Mamluk dynasty of Iranian or Tajik origin. The Ghurids had overthrown the Ghaznavids and had completely annexed all their territories. They then turned their sight on the kingdoms in North India.
We are told by our eminent historians that the Ghurid conquest of India followed by Mamluk consolidation of its territories was a ‘cakewalk’. Let us analyze this cakewalk.
The Chalukyan army led by their queen Naikidevi, mother of the young king Mularaja, utterly crushed the Ghurids led by their ruler Muhammad of Ghor in 1178, when he tried to invade her kingdom. Muhammad Ghori was so ashamed of the defeat that he never invaded Gujarat again. (Prabandha Chintamani)
The great Prithviraj Chauhan, the Chahamana ruler of Ajmer and Delhi, defeated the mighty Muhammad of Ghor in the first battle of Tarain (1191 CE) despite having a kingdom that was nowhere as powerful as the mighty Ghurid empire.
Ghori ruled large parts of modern day Pakistan, modern day Afghanistan, modern-day Iran and other parts of central Asia.
Prithviraj ruled parts of eastern Rajasthan, Delhi, parts of Punjab and Haryana.
Bearing these factors in mind, the victory at the first battle of Tarain can be considered a great achievement.
The second battle of Tarain (1192 CE) was lost by Prithviraj because of deceptive tactics adopted by Ghori. The Rajputs had mostly only fought with adherents of ‘Dharma-Yudh’. Hence they were totally deceived by Ghori who did not follow this principle. Prithviraj treated his enemy as per the principle of Dharma-Yudh after Tarain I but Ghori refused to reciprocate this after Tarain II. The Ghurids won the second battle of Tarain after deploying a much larger army against the Chahamanas. Prithviraj was captured by Ghori after the second battle of Tarain and killed.
The following events took place after the second battle of Tarain according to an account, “He (Ghori) marched and encamped under the fort of Delhi. The city and its vicinity were freed from idols and idol-worship, and in the sanctuaries of the images of the Gods, mosques were raised by the worshippers of one God.”
According to Kãmil-ut-Tawãrîkh of Ibn Asir, “The slaughter of Hindus (at Varanasi) was immense; none were spared except women and children (they were enslaved), and the carnage of men went on until the earth was weary.”
A few years after the fall of Chittor to the Delhi Sultanate, a young warrior by the name of Hammir rose up in revolt and recaptured the fort.
After the conquest of Ajmer and Delhi, the Ghurids went eastwards conquering modern day Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and even parts of Bengal. Ghori eventually returned to Ghazni while his ‘Mamluks’ (Slave Warriors) took over his empire in India. The Ghurids had effectively taken over North India, managing to conquer lands beyond Punjab (something that even the Ghaznavids had failed to do).
Despite the conquest of Delhi and other parts of North India by the Ghurids, the native resistance to the Ghurids as well as their Turkic Mamluk successors continued.
- Hindu Khokhars (Khukrain tribe) began a revolt against Muhammad Ghori, prompting his return to India to quell the rebellion. The Khokhars used Ghori’s own tactics of deceit against him and stabbed him to death when he was on his way back to Ghazni from Lahore.
- The generals of the Chalukyans – Lavanaprasada, and Sridhara, put up a great fight against the Turks and managed to defeat them. This was not recorded by the Muslim historians. Muslim defeats were often ignored by Muslim historians.
- Bakhtiar Khilji led the Sultanate armies towards the east, conquering Bihar and western Bengal with ease. However, he was driven out of Eastern Bengal by the Sena Khilji was later driven out of Assam by the Kamarupa kingdom. Barely any Sultanate soldiers survived this disastrous campaign. Khilji died soon after due to grief and exhaustion.
- The great ruler of Odisha – Narasimhadeva repeatedly defeated the Turco-Afghan Mamluks of Bengal. He crushed them in several battles – Katasin (1243 CE), Lakhnauti (1244 CE), Umurdan (1247 & 1256 CE). The great temple of Konark was built to commemorate his victories over the Turks.
- Rajputs, Jats, and Khokhars rose up and created rebellions across North India. Razia Sultana and her husband Altunia were killed by rebelling Jats according to many accounts.
- Tens of thousands of Vaishnavas laid down their lives to protect the temple of Srirangam during the invasion of Malik Kafur.
A few years after the fall of Chittor to the Delhi Sultanate, a young warrior by the name of Hammir rose up in revolt and recaptured the fort. Hammir established the Sisodia dynasty and even captured the Sultan of Delhi – Muhammad Bin Thuglak after the Battle of Singoli and liberated Rajputana from Sultanate rule. This was a turning point in Sultanate history and marked the beginning of their decline in the North.
to be continued…