Chintaman Vinayak Vaidya.

History of mediæval Hindu India (being a history of India from 600 to 1200 A.D.) .. (Volume 1) online

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Vaisya and Sudra /. e. the queen of Sahast, Dahar was
probably his son by a Brahmin or Kshatriya wife. For
Dahar was treated as a Brahmin by the Brahmins of his
time as the Chacha-nama distinctly states. Whether
Dahar is one of the 36 orthodox Rajput families, as Tod
relates we will discuss in our second volume and will now
proceed to describe the destruction of Dahar and the
conquest of Sind by the Arabs, an epoch making event in
the historj'- of India.

'' We may believe the story of an invasion of Sind by Kanauj incited by Matta
of Siwistan who after his defeat by Chacha had taken refuse with the Kanauj kinjj, They
vrere both Buddhists. Chacha had Siven a daughter in marriage to the Kaihmir king
and her son together with Sahiras king of Kanauj and Rasil his brother invaded Sind
but Dahar defeated them by a stratagem. The details are of course not very historical
and Sahiras of Kanauj is unquestionably Sriharsb." whose name still rang in India when
the Arabs conquered Sind. But since Harsha had long Iain in rest in Dahar's time it
must have been some other king if an invasion ot Sind by tCanauj did take place in
Dahar's regime. The Chacha-nSma also speaks of an i.nva3;on by a king of which
in Arabic means sand and this may have been a Bhati king of the desert, that is, what
Bahavalpur or Jaisalmere now are.


Like the nose of the alligator Sind is the most vulner-
able part of India being exposed to foreign attack. The
back of the country is covered by the Himalayan mountain
chain and is therefore like the back of the alligator im-
possible to assail. The head of the country and its fore-
head too are protected by the Hindukush and the Suleiman
ranges and are therefore practically unassailable. It is
lower down where the river Indus falls into the sea that
there is no natural obstacle in the path of a foreign invader.
This nose of India is doubtless approachable through a
sandy desert country without much water but to those
who are accustomed to traverse deserts on camels and
mules, Sind is easily accessible and hence it is that it has
frequently fallen a prey to foreign invaders in the history
of ancient India,

But though frequently thus attacked and conquered
b;^ the Persians before the period of which we treat the
Indians of Sind as frequently asserted themselves and
gained back their independence. The dynasty which
Chacha subverted had ruled in Sind for about 150 years
and Chacha and Dahar had ruled for about 60 years. The
conquest of the country by the Arabs in Dahar's time,
however, proved permanent and from 712 A, D. down to our
day ( with the apparent exception of a few years ) Sind has
remained under foreign subjection. We will, therefore,
describe the conquest of Sind by the Arabs in detail and
see what causes operated towards that eventually
permanent enslavement of the country which overtook
Sind at the beginning of the 8th century and the rest of
the country at the end of the 12th. Many details are fortu-
nately available in the Chacha-nama an almost contem-
porary account for this event.


The Arabs, it is said in the Chacha-nama, made several
abortive attempts during the reign of several Khalifas to
conquer Sind but when they had fully conquered
Iran and had thus a nearer and a stonger base for
their operations they made really earnest efforts to
subjugate the country. A good pretext soon offered itself.
Some ships conveying Mahomedan male and female pil-
grims from Screndib or Ceylon (it is strange that the Arabs
had already by this time taken their religion to Ceylon
probably directly by sea from Arabia ) with many valuable
presents in jewels and pearls from the king of Ceylon to
the Khalifa Walid who ruled in Baghdad, by way of the
Persian gulf were compelled by adverse winds to go to
Debala seaport town of Sind situated on the western bank
of the Indus. The Indus delta was then infested by robbers
as even Hiuen Tsang has described. They were very bad
men according to him though nominally Buddhists. These
men attacked these ships, conveyed the treasure to Debal
and imprisoned the Mahomedan men and women pilgrims.
The authorities of the town ought not to have countenan-
ced this act, but probably they had their due share in the
spoils and so perhaps Dahar himself to whom a complaint
was formally made on the subject by Hajjaj the governor
of Iran. Dahar is said to have replied " That is the work
of a band of robbers than whom none is more powerful-
They do not even care for us." This was certainly not a
fair reply for a powerful king to make and Hajjaj easily
induced the Khalifa Walid to declare a hoty war against
Sind promising him in spoils twice the amount of money
he would spend on an expedition for the conquest of Hind
and Sind as the Arabs styled it.

Great preparations were made at Kufa the capital of
Iran by Hajjaj who placed the expedition under the
command of his nephew and son-in-law Mahomed Kasim,
an upright true Mahomedan and a discreet energetic com-
mander. 6000 men of good family from Sham (Syria)
joined the expedition. There were battering rams and
catapults also taken to assail fortified towns and these
were put on board ships near Shiraz from whence they went


by sea to Debal, while Mahomed Kasim marched by-
land through Mekran towards the same town. The army
arrived fist at Arraan Bela and from thence proceeded to
Debal where it was joined by the ships. The whole army
with battering rams and catapults now encamped before
the fortified town of Debal and socn invested it. Hajjaj
kept up constant communication by means of swift run-
ners ( on camels ) with the expedition and minutely direct-
ed and supervised its operations.

Dahar seems to have done nothing to save Debal.
There was a band of 500 Arabs under one Alafi in Dahar's
service, Alafi having fled from his country in consequence
of a murder committed by him. The Chacha-nama states that
Dahar consulted Alafi who said that Mahomed Kasim was
invincible and thereupon Dahar kept quiet. But probably
Dahar thought the place strong as it had withstood attacks
by previous Arab expeditions. This present expedition was
however more serious than others that had preceded it
and Debal fell before the conquering Kasim. One inci-
dent of the attack and capture requires to be noted. There
was a high temple with a higher flag in the town and
people said there was a talisman in it. So long as the
tower and flag stood, Debal would not fall. Mahomed
•Kasim had that temple's tower and its flag-mast thrown
down by the charge of the Khalifa's catapult an engine
worked by 500 men and thus the city fell. Talismans and
magic were believed in bothby the Arabs and the Buddhists
in those days and the magical absurdities related in the
Arabian Nights of the day of Haroun-al-Rashid Khalifa
of Baghdad are well known. The historian may set magic
aside, but he cannot but remark that improved weapons
of warfare are an important factor in the success of
armies. The Arabs were skilful in the use of catapults
which then were what cannons are now and catapults and
and battering rams were not much known to the Indians.
Their subjugation by the Arabs may therefore particularly
be attributed to better weapons of destruction possessed
by the Arabs.


The conquerors gave the first lessons of terrible Ma-
honiedan warfare to the Hindus and Buddhists of Debal.
For they massacred all the male population of the town.
The people stood aghast and prayed for mercy ; but
Mahomed Kasim said he had no orders to show mercy ;
probably he wanted to make an example by inflicting a
terrible lesson. When Mahomed Kasim came to the
temple whose tower had been thrown down, he found
" 700 beautiful females under the protection of Buddha
who were of course made slaves." The temple was prob-
ably a Buddhist female Vihara. Debal was mostly
Buddhist. The Governor was also a Buddhist and
called in the Chacha-nama Jahin Budh. He escaped,
and joined Jaisiah son of Dahar who was then at Nerun
Mahomed Kasim had already granted pardon to
certain persons who had promised to show the imprisoned
Mahomedan male and female prisoners. These m'en
were spared on bringing out the prisoners and also a
Hindu otficer who had charge of them for having treated
them, kindly during their confinement. What a great
difference between the cruel treatment of prisoners by
Mahomedans and their kind treatment by Buddhists!!!
That officer, however, had to become a Mahomedan. The
town was of course pillaged and the valuable plunder was
divided into five parts one of which was sent to Hajjaj for
the Khalifa as the government's share "according to the
religious law" and the rest were shared between the com-
mander and the soldiers according to fixed rules. In this
manner the Arabs strove for conquests all the more for it
was thus the self-interest of the governm.ent, the
commander and each soldier to conquer. This proce-
dure had its own share in the causes which maybe assigned
for the success of the Arabs.

Such was the terrible beginning of the eventual con-
quest of India by the Mahomedans, Debal being its first
victim. The male population was mostl massacred,
the town was completely plundered, many willing and
unwilling people were converted, and beautiful females


were carried away into captivity. It was a terrible exam-
ple and when Mahomed Kasim after having arranged for
the government of the town proceeded towards Neruii. the
next city higher up the Indus, also on the west bank, near
modern Hyderabad, the city .submitted without fighting.
It had indeed shut its gates in the absence of its Samani
or Buddhist governor ; and Jaisia, Dahar's son who was
there with some force had by Dahar's order crossed the
river and gone to Brahmanabad. But the Samani soon
returned, went to Mahomed Kasim's camp and tendered
his allegiance. He also gave plentiful supplies to the
army. Nerun was therefore spared. Mahomed Kasim
entered the town and built a mosque in place of a temple
and made arrangements for the government of the place.

In order to leave no unconquered territory behind
before he attempted to cross the Indus, Mahomed Kasim
led his army towards Siwistan. The Sibis were a warlike
people and probably Kshatriyas. The ruler of the fortified
town was a cousin of Dahar, named Bachchra ( Vatsaraj )
son of Chandra. He resolved to fight and closed the gates.
But the population was Buddhist. And there was a Samani
party ( Buddhist ) within. It said to Bachchra " We are a
priestly class ; our religion is peace. According to our
faith, fighting and slaughter are not allowable. You are
moreover sitting in a safe place. We are afraid the Arabs
will take our place and will deprive us of our life and
property. So we advise you to make peace. " But Bach-
chra did not accept their cowardly advice and fought. Ma-
homed Kasim who brought up his battering rams and cata-
pults up the Indus river in boats to Nerun and from there
took them by land to Siwistan now invested the town
and fort. The Samani party in the town sent word to
him : " All the people whether agriculturists, artizans,
merchants, and others have left Bachchra's side and do not
acknowledge allegiance to him. " The result was, the
town was soon taken and Bachchra finding it difficult to
hold the fort, fled with his men at night towards Budhia.
Mahomed Kasim entered the fort, plundered the town
except the Samani party and made arrangements for the


due government of the fort and the country. He sent the
usual one-fifth of the plunder to Hajjaj and gave the rest
to the army. He then moved in pursuit of Bachchra to
Budhia where the Arabs had to fight, but eventually all
the country to the west of the Indus was reduced to
subjection and Kasim came back to Nerun, without leav-
ing any enemy behind him, to consider the means of
crossing the Indus which it must be stated here has in
recent times changed its course considerably. For it is
now to the west of Hyderabad the modern substitute of
Nerun but in Kasim's days it was to the east of it.

We cannot but pause here to reflect upon the conduct
of the Buddhists of Nerun and Siwistan. Indeed the
verdict of history cannot but be that given by Giboon viz
that as Christianity enfeebled the Romans and was one
of the causes of Rome's downfall ; so in India the spread
and paramountcy of Buddhism was one of the causes of
the fall of India's independence. Of course Christianity
has not enfeebled the Teutonic races, so has Buddhism
not enfeebled the Mongolian races notably the Japanese.
But as the tenet of Ahimsa or non-slaughter of living
beings, together with the abandonment of animal food
took strong root in India and became the supreme article
of faith and conduct of the people martial spirit naturally
declined. Cruelty has its dark side, but without cruelty
there can be no martial spirit. The Budahist Harsha did
succeed in establishing a widespread empire by his military
achievements, but he was a meat-eater from his childhood
though perhaps not to the end of his life. The Guptas
who were orthodox Hindus and followers of the religion
of animal sacrifice were of course a flesh-eating clan and
during their days the middle class, the traders and agri-
culturists, the Vaisyas so to speak were also carnivorous-
and were consequently as martial as the Brahmins above
and the Sudra population below them. It is hence that the
Guptas of Magadha and the Vardhanas of Thanesar though
Vaisyas were able to drive away such ferocious foreign
invaders as the Kushans and the Huns, But Harsha's
Buddhistic zeal and his imperial power succeeded in


abolishing animal-slaughter and animal food from the
land. The natural effect of this prohibition, working for
nearly half a century, became visible among the middle
classes of the country, the orthodox Brahmins and the
strong Kshatriyas, however, evading the prohibition as
well as the lowest classes. The middle class thus at the
beginning of the 8th century was completely emasculated
for ever ( and it remains so to this day ) and thus half
nay more than half the population of the country was,
when the Arabs came to India, as tame as sheep, only fit
to be slaughtered by the ferocious Arabs. The Buddhists
as we have seen openly declared that their article cf
faith was no slaughter and no fighting and we thus find at
Neriin and a^ Siwistan the people divided into two camps;
those whc' did not want to fight and those who did. The
former usually consisted of the agriculturists, the merchants
and the artizans or the Vaisyas and the quieter portions
©f the Sudras, the middle class of the people so to speak.
They were both averse to kill and afraid to be killed and
they always sided with the Arabs when they foand they
were strong and likely to be victorious. The Brahmins
and the Kshatriyas, however, fought vigorously. Bachchra
and his Thakurs, the Chacha-nama says, lost their lives
'' in trying to accomplish their sinful deeds " '.'.'. The turbu-
lent Jats too, though degraded by Chacha to the position
of Sudras fought valiantly. But as one-half of the population
was cowardly and even favourable to the Arabs, Sind could
not avert its fate. Fortunately at that very time Aryanism
( we will not call it full Hinduism yet) or the religion of
animal sacrifice revived elsewhere. Buddhism was conquer-
ed or driven into the background and the downfall of the
rest of India was averted for three centuries more. Sind
of course fell a prey to the Arabs and remained aMahomer,
dan province throughout the succeeding centuries of
ndian hist

Online LibraryChintaman Vinayak VaidyaHistory of mediæval Hindu India (being a history of India from 600 to 1200 A.D.) .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 38)