THE SAGA OF PRITHVIRAJ CHAUHAN

THE SAGA OF PRIHVIRAJ CHAUHAN

Dr K Prabhakar Rao

Prithviraj Chauhan ruled at Thaneswar near Delhi ( it is near kurukshetra). During 1170-1192. As per legend, he married priness Samyukta the daughter of Jayachandra the king of Kanoj against his wishes. As per the ballads, Jayachandra arranged for the swayamvara for his daughter and he made a statue of Chauhan and erected it at the entrance as if he was standing as a servent. However Prithviraj Chauhan came to the scene and carried away the princess from swayamvara and they were married. This was great insult to Jayachandra and he seethed with anger and sought revenge. He invited Mohd Ghori the rulwr of Kabul in Afghnaistan to attack Delhi and connived with him. Ghori invaded India and was defeated by Chauhan in 1192. The Sultan was brought to Chauhan in fetters. But he was pardoned and was also given many presents and was escorted out of the country with all honor. Ghori soon invaded again with more forces and preparations. Chauhan was defeated at the battle of tarain and history states that Chauhan was captured and put to death immediately.

However there are popular ballads that say that Chauhan was not put to death. He was blinded and taken to Kabul and was put in prison. As per popular belief Prithviraj’s wives were taken to harem where they were raped by Ghori. Samyukta committed suicide unable to bear dishonor. This could be very true in view of the prevailing atrocities committed by Muslim invaders on India. Capture and rape of Indian women was most common by Muslim invaders in those days. It is also learnt that Chand Bhatt a minister of Chauhan was also taken as prisoner to Kabul. King Jayachandra in remorse committed suicide by jumping in to river Yamuna.

Once in Kabul mohd Ghori in full court asked Chauhan to prove his prowess in archery. A bell was hung a distance and a bow and a set of arrows were given to Chauhan. Prithviraj Chauhan was a renowned archer of the times and he was an expert in wielding Shabdabhedi baan ( arrow). It is a specialized skill in which the archer shoots at the target based on the sound it makes. The bell was struck and the arrow fired by Chauhan soon struck the bell. The sultan in great appreciation applauded and shouted “Wah.. Wah”.. In next moment another arrow flew from Chauhan’s bow and it pierced throat of Sultan and he lay dead. Prithviraj thus took revenge. It is also believed that Chand Bhatt and Chauhan immediately committed suicide in the court by stabbing themselves with daggers. Thus Chauhan passed into golden pages of History. Although he was brave he followed the ancient code of conduct against his enemies by letting them off with honor and this proved dangerous to India. Ghori did not reciprocate and being a practical man and a cruel and cunning Mulsim killed Chauhan at the first opportunity. Thus India was soon enslaved by Mulsims. It is not that Indians lacked valor. But surely they lacked vision and this proved disastrous to the country. Indians have never learnt from history and same thing was repeated in 1947 and Pakistan was created.The Congress party that beats drums that it brought freedom to Indianssurely let down the country by agreeing for crating Pakistan. They were in hurry to capture power and rule at any cost.however dynastic rule also was on their cards that proved to be the reality very soon. Indian leaders again let down the nation never to recover. Situation is no different now. The pseudo secularism practiced by the Indian power mongers and leaders masquerading as patriots have taken the country to sure destruction and disability and likely creation of many Pakistans that are lurking around the corner. A dangerous situation indeed.They have taken cue from Chauhan and not from Rana Pratap, Sanga or Hemu the Vikramaditya.Shame indeed.

---------------- Note: Content of this blog post is writer's personal opinion and may not be SanghParivar.org or Sangh's view.

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The Second Battle of Tarain

The Second Battle of Tarain took place on January 14, 1192 at Tarain (Haryana State, India), about 80 miles (130 km) north of Delhi. The battle crushed the Rajput Empire. The main battle was fought between the forces under Sultan Shihad-ud-din Muhammed Ghori and the Rajput hosts under Prithviraj Chauhan. It is believed that nearly 20, 00,000 Chauhan soldiers died and many were injured in the one-day battle, though some historians estimate the total to be nearer to 26, 00,000.
The battle pitted the elephants, archers and trained cavalry of the Rajputs against the light cavalry of the Afghans. The scenario would have been slightly in favour of the Rajputs had not their own cavalry decided to charge prematurely, which lead to their defeat. Rajput forces were so heavily depleted that the Chauhan Empire fell, and the expansion of the Rajput power ended. The battle was most decisive because it crushed the Chauhan Empire's dream of uniting India.
The Rajputs had gained control of a considerable chunk of India in the intervening period (1107-1187). A large Rajput force restablised the Delhi administration after the invading Ghazni army retreated. After his invasion in 1024, Muhmud Ghazni had left the Rajputs in nominal control which however, proved to be a fateful mistake when his son, proved to be utterly incapable of maintaining control over the conquered territories. Soon the local population rose in revolt and asked for the protection of the Rajputs. Prithviraj Chauhan, the famed Rajput leader raised a powerful army consisting of three million Rajputs, and was successful in ousting Ghazni and his court from India. Ghazni`s fleeing army was defeated at various stations. The Rajputs chased him right up to Attock, at the base of the Khyber Pass, and Punjab was brought under their dominion.
Muhammed Ghori could not allow this to go unchecked, and in 1191 raised an army from the Ghori tribes with help from Ghazni, and invaded India once again. By the end of the year they had reached Lahore, but Rajputs continued to pour into the conflict and by 1192 had formed a single army of over 30, 00,000 to block him.
There followed much manoeuvring, with skirmishes fought at Karnal, Kunjapura. After the Rajputs failed to prevent Ghori's forces crossing the Saraswati river, they set up defensive works in the excellent ground near Tarain, thereby blocking Ghori's access back to Afghanistan just as his forces blocked theirs to south. Ghori slowly tightened the noose by cutting off the Rajput Army's supply lines. Their supplies and stores dwindling, the Rajputs then moved in almost 100 pieces of Hindu archery groups. With a range of several kilometres, these archers were some of the best of the times.
The Afghan forces arrived in late 1191 to find the Rajputs in well-prepared works. Realizing a direct attack was hopeless, they set up for a siege. The resulting face-off lasted two months. During this time Ghori continued to receive supplies from Ghazni. The Rajputs, however, had no difficulty in securing supplies, the local population having become hostile to Muslims. In their policy of intolerance towards non-muslims, Afghans had pillaged the surrounding Hindu population. This offense resulted in the Jats and other hindus joining on Prithviraj’s army in the war, and thus the Afghans were left without resupply in the battle zone. This battle zone was probably between Kaalaa Aamb and Sanauli Road of today. The Afghan lines probably were a few metres to the south of Sanauli road. Rajput lines began a little to the north of Kaalaa Aamb. They had thus blocked the northward path of Ghori's troops and at the same time they themselves were blocked by the latter from the south which was the direction to Delhi, where they could get badly needed supplies.
Realizing the situation was not in their favour, the Rajputs under Prithviraj Chauhan decided to break the siege. His plan was to pulverise the enemy formations with archery fire and not to employ his cavalry until the Afghans were thoroughly softened up. With the Afghans now broken, he would move camp in a defensive formation towards Delhi, where they had their supplies.
The line would be formed up some 26km across, with the bowmen in front, protected by infantry and elephants. The cavalry was instructed to wait behind the elephants and bowmen, ready to be thrown in when control of battlefield had been fully established.
Behind this line was another ring of 10, 00,000 young Rajput soldiers who were not battle tested, and then the roughly 3, 00,000 women entrained. Many were wives of rajput soldiers, prostitutes and concubines. The ladies were irrationally confident of the Rajput army, regarding it as one of the best in the world, and definitely one of the most powerful in Asia. Behind the women was yet another protective infantry line, of young inexperienced soldiers.
Before dawn on January 14, 1192 the Rajput forces emerged from the trenches, pushing the archers into position on their pre-arranged lines, some 2km from the Afghans. Seeing that the battle was on, Ghori positioned his 60 archer groups and opened arrow fire. However, because of the short range of the weapons, the Rajput lines remained untouched. Ghori then launched a cavalry attack to break their lines.
The first defensive arrow attack of the Rajputs went over the Afghans' heads and inflicted very little damage, but the Afghan attack was nevertheless broken by Rajput bowmen and elephants, along with some famed Rajput generals stationed close to the archery positions. The second and subsequent arrow attacks were fired at point blank range into the Afghan ranks. The resulting carnage sent the Afghans reeling back to their lines. The Chauhan-style plan had worked just as envisioned.
The Rajputs then started moving their infantry formation forward, led by the elephants. The Afghans responded with repeated cavalry attacks, all of which failed. About 1,000 Afghan cavalry and infantrymen lost their lives in this opening stage of the battle.
At this stage it looked as though Prithviraj would clinch victory for the Rajputs once again. However, some of the Rajput lieutenants, particularly Govind Rai and Khandae Rai, decided to exploit the gaps in the enemy lines & dash; despite strict instructions not to charge or engage Afghan cavalry in hand to hand fight. The mass of Rajput horsemen raced through their own artillery lines and charged towards the demoralised Afghans, intending to cut the faltering army in two.
The over-enthusiasm of the charge saw many of the Rajput horses exhausted long before they had travelled the two kilometres to the Afghan lines; some simply collapsed. Making matters worse was the suffocating odour of the rotting corpses of men and animals left on the field from the fighting of the previous months. Still, a major mass of Rajput cavalry collided with the Afgan cavalry, initially taking down a few thousand of Afghani troops.
In response, the Afghan officers stiffened their troops resistance. Ghori sent his body guards to call up his reserves of 10,000 from his camp and arranged it as column right in front his cavalry of archers and spear-men on the back of camels. Because of their positioning on camels they could throw their spears over the heads of their own infantry and at the Rajput cavalry, who were unable to withstand the cavalry and camel-mounted spears of the Afghans. Ghori had 2000 such spear-men. They could be fired without the rider having to dismount and were especially effective against fast moving cavalry.
With their own men in the firing line, the Rajput archers could not respond, and about 7, 00,000 Hindu cavalry and infantry perished before the hand to hand fighting began at around 2PM. By 4PM the tired Rajput infantry began to succumb to the onslaught of attacks from fresh Afghan reserves, though protected by armoured leather jackets.
The Rajput army had captured some afghan slaves earlier during the siege of Bhatinda. They had not been trusted to be in the front line because their loyalty was suspect. As they were captured slaves, saw an opportunity to avenge the humiliation. They started fighting the Rajput army from the inside. This brought confusion and great consternation to loyal Rajput soldiers, who thought that the enemy had attacked from behind.
Prithviraj Chauhan, seeing his forward lines dwindling and civilians behind, could not move forward his young soldiers as reserves from behind and felt he had no choice but to come down from his elephant and lead the battle at the head of household troops. He left instructions with his bodyguards that, if the battle were lost, they must kill his new wife Padmavati, (Very Beautiful Queen know popularly by other name Sanyogita) for he could not tolerate her being dishonoured by the Afghans.
Some Rajput soldiers, seeing that their general had disappeared from his elephant, panicked and began to flee. Khandae Rai, the big general, had already fallen to a spear shot in the head. Govind Rai and his loyal bodyguards fought to the end but they were massacred by the Muslims. The Rajput leader Prithviraj Chauhan having three horses shot out from under him by afghan archers when he tried to escape from the battle-field was finally butchered by Qutub-ud-din Aibak, Ghori’s loyal slave general, near Sirsuti.
The Afghans pursued the fleeing Rajput army, while the Rajput front lines remained largely intact, with some of their archery units fighting until sundown. Choosing not to launch a night attack, made good their escape that night. Padmavati escaped the battlefield with her bodyguards, but eventually captured by the Qutub-ud-din near Delhi. Ghori raped her and forced her into his harem. Ghori later even married Padmavati and made her his chief Queen by giving her the title Mallik-e-jahan. All other wives of Prithviraj chauhan were also dumped into Ghori’s harem. After Ghori’s death in 1206, Aibak took Padmavati and made her his wife.
Mass of surrendered Rajput soldiers were handcuffed and then murdered, their heads chopped off by Afghans to earn blessings for killing Kafirs on account of their families back in Afghanistan.
(“the unhappy prisoners were paraded in long lines, given a little parched grain and a drink of water, and beheaded… and the women and children who survived were driven off as slaves - twenty-two hundred thousand, many of them of the highest aristocratic rank in the land, says the Siyar-ut-Mutakhirin.”22)
About 20, 00,000 Rajput soldiers alike were slain this way on 15 January 1192. Many of the fleeing Rajput women jumped into the Tarain wells rather than risk rape and dishonour. Many others did their best to hide in the villages near Tarain when even the Hindus of the town refused to give them refuge in fear of Muslims.
The main reason for the failure of Rajputs was that they went to war with their women. Prithviraj Chauhan was just married and so he could not leave his wife alone. During the face-off period of two months Prithviraj had planned nothing to surprise the Muslims. He simply spent the time in honeymoon with his new beautiful bride Padmavati at Tarain. As a result Padmavati became pregnant and the Rajputs even had a festival for this joy just before the battle begun. Following their King, the Rajput soldiers began to enjoy with their women and wine in the face-off period. This is the fatal reason for Rajput defeat. Though their infantry was based on upto date style contingent and had some of the best Hindu made bow and arrow of the times, they failed to organize. They had interfered in the internal affairs of the Muslim states (in far north west) and levied heavy taxes and huge fines on them. Their raids in the Ghazni territory had angered the Ghazni chiefs. Similarly the Jat chiefs, on whom also they had imposed heavy fines, did not trust them. They had, therefore, to fight their enemies alone, except for the weak support of all ranas of Hindustan. Moreover, the Rajput chiefs constantly bickered with one another. Each one of them had ambitions of carving out their independent states and had no interest in fighting against a common enemy.
A conservative estimate places Rajput losses at 35, 00,000 on the Tarain battlefield itself. At least 22, 00,000 women and children were captured as prisoners and slaves. According to Mr. Hamilton of Bombay Gazette about half a billion people were present there on Panipat town from Maharashtra and on any rate he gives figure of 40, 00,000 prisoners as executed.
To save their own kingdom, allied Rajputs ran to their native places, forgetting that Chauhans had just lost 10, 00,000 men and so many women for their cause. However, the news soon arrived that Solanki and Gahadwala Rajputs had organised another 10, 00,000 men in the south to avenge their loss and to rescue the captured prisoners. So Ghori left Delhi two months after the battle, heading for Afghanistan with his loot of 5,000 elephants, 15,000 camels, 5, 00,000 horses and at least about 22, 00,000 women and children. Delhi was under the charge of his general Aibak. Hasan Nizami was left in charge of Chauhan capital Ajmer.
The Rajputs remained in nominal control over small areas of India, but were never a force again. The empire officially ended in 1192 itself when its last emperor Prithviraj Chauhan was killed by Muhammed Ghori.
The Rajputs expansion was stopped in the battle, and soon broke into infighting within their empire. They never regained any unity, and were soon under increasing pressure from the Muslims. Their claims to empire were officially ended in 1194.
It is worth noticing the fact the Rajput empire provided the biggest challenge to the Muslims in the erstwhile India keeping in check the influence of Muslim invaders, forced conversions and oppression of the local people.
This Second Battle of Tarain saw an enormous number of casulties and deaths in a single day of battle, perhaps unmatched even today in the later wars. It was the scene of uncommon valour, unwanted strategic blunders, internal bickerings, murders of prisoners of war, and large scale rapes perpetrated on women.
The historical record states that a large number of prisoners, mostly female civilians fleeing the battle, were taken as slaves to Afghanistan. It is likely that many of these prisoners died, unaccustomed, as they were, to the climatic conditions of Afghanistan. However, a large portion of people in Rajasthan (a State in India where Rajputs live in large numbers) feel that some of the Rajput prisoners could have survived and settled in Afghanistan. They believe even now, after 644 years (circa 2006), that the enslaved descendants of prisoners of war can still be found at least Balochistan in Bugti and Marri tribal areas. Moreover, the belief holds that the Rajput Bugtis and Marri in Balochistan have become a separated social group - perhaps even a dedicated caste - under Islamic rule. This ethnic group would claim descent from Rajputs captives of war brought back by members of the Bugti tribe, who served the armies of Muhammed Ghori after the fateful battle of Tarain. In time these descendents most likely intermarried and converted to Islam, though they were once considered bonded labour and prohibited from buying or owning land. Unsurprisingly, a rumor exists among some Rajputs that, till a generation ago, Rajput-descended Bugtis and Marri could be 'bought' for twenty or thirty rupees. Rumors also circulate that, even today, Rajputs-descended women living in Pakistan occupied Balochistan remain "fair game" for Bugtis and Marris. This has raised tensions between the Rajputs of India and the Fanatic Muslims of Pakistan, making the Tarain War a politically sensitive issue, over 640 years after its conclusion.
The Rajputs and Marri Bugtis took jobs as unskilled labourers, which their tribal overlords disdained. Over the years some of them have come to occupy higher positions. However they are still targeted and remain to be rescued. It is interesting to note that this caste-like phenomenon has endured for more than two centuries, even in a region largely devoid of Hindus.
After their defeat at Tarain, many Rajput women & children took refuge with local Ghazni chieftains, possibly intermarrying with their hosts, and converting to Islam. It has been noted that women in the family trees of several Islamic families, have Rajput names like Gajanabai, Tukabai or Indumati. This raises the possibility that these women came from Rajput roots. Unfortunately for researchers, after the Partitioning of India, access to the Punjab province of the newly created Pakistan was restricted, and confirmination of any Islam-Rajput lineage became difficult. Nonetheless, several Jat familes acknowledge about mixing of Rajput lineage, especially those settled around Panipat, Tarain & Karnal.
The fate of the descendants of Rajput prisoners taken to Afghanistan remains a poorly-understood to this day, and is likely to remain so for some time. Neither the Rajput nation nor Chauhan leadership recognise the existence of Chauhan descendants in Afganistan, nor is there much support for the rescue of these descendents, if they do indeed exist.
In the year 1429-30, Qutb khan, son of Hasan Khan, held the fief of Rapri which was resumed by Mubarak Shah ( 1421-1434, the successor of Khizr Khan, in 1429-30 , when the former’s complicity was suspected in the series of revolts organised by the Rajput chiefs against the authority of the sultan. During the reign of Ala-ud-din Alam Shah 1444-1450) Rapri came again into the possession of Qutb Khan and Rai pratap or pratap Rudra Chauhan held Bhongaon. Rai pratap Chauhan according to Sir H.E. Elliott was a son of Raja Sangat, the great grandson of Chatir Deo, the brother of Prithvi Raj, the last chauhan king of Delhi, who was vanquished in 1193 by shihab-ud-din Ghuri. The father of the Emperor's vizier, Hamid Khan had some years before, carried off the wife of Rai Pratap and plundered his estates, The Rajput chief, implacable in his vendetta, offered support to Ala-ud-din who needed assistance to strengthen his position as a ruler. The demanded as the price of his help the death of Hamid Khan. Ala-ud-din unwisely embraced the injured husband's cause and gave order for Hamid Khan's execution, but the vizier escaped and seizing Delhi offered it to Bahlul Lodi. Ala-ud-din retired to Budaun and soon after resigned his crown to Bahlul, who,in 1450, assumed the imperial title. Thus the abduction of the Chauhan Rani of Bhongaon was an important cause of the downfall of the Saiyed dynasty. Rai Pratap soon collected a large army of Rajputs and attacked Hamid Khan to rescue his beautiful wife. But Hamid Khan killed him in the battle. With the death of Rai Pratap, Chauhan dynasty perished from the world.