Copyright
Vincent Arthur Smith.

The Oxford student's history of India online

. (page 7 of 27)
Online LibraryVincent Arthur SmithThe Oxford student's history of India → online text (page 7 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


is annoying to most readers.

Kumarila-bhatta and Sankaracharya. The Hindu reaction
against Buddhism was carried further early in the eighth cen-
tury by Kumarila-bhatta, an Assamese Brahman, who taught
the Mimansa philosophy, and is popularly supposed to have
led an active persecution of Buddhists. The reality of the
alleged persecution is doubtful. About a century later, San-
karacharya, a Nambudri Brahman of Malabar, taught a form
of Vedantist philosophy, which still has great vogue. He
travelled throughout India and established many maths, or
monasteries, several of which still exist, the principal one being
at Sringeri in Mysore. Professor Barnett observes that, ' the
religious attitude of Sankara is summed up in a fine verse
ascribed to him ' :

Though difference be none, I am of Thee,

Not thou, Lord, of me ;
For of the Sea is verily the Wave,

Not of the Wave the Sea.

Gupta Dynasty.

Dates (nearly exact).

A.D.

Chandragupta I ... ace. 320 (Gupta era, 319-20)

Samudragupta .... ace. 330 or a little later.

Temporary conquest of South 347-60

Chandragupta II, Vikramaditya ace. 375
Conquest of Malwa and

Surashtra ... 395 (Fa-hien's Travels, 399-413)

Kumaragupta I ... ace. 413

First Hun invasion . . 450 (? Kalidasa)

Skandagupta, Vikramaditya . ace. 455

Hun wars, to about . . 480 (Aryabhata born, 476)

Other Gupta kings, from about 480

Defeat of Mihiragula the Hun 528



88 HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B. C. TO A. D. 1193



Reign of Harshavardhana (Slladityd)

Accession .... 606

Conflict with Pulakesin II . 620 (Brahmagupta, astronomer, 628)

Assembly at Kanauj, almsgiving

at Prayag . . . 643 (Hiuen Tsang, Chinese pilgrim)

Death 647 (or late in 646).

Usurpation by Harsha's minister 617-8



CHAPTER VIII

The Muhammadan conquest of Sind : the rise of the Rajputs ; some Rajput

kingdoms.

New grouping of powers after Harsha's death ; the Rajput
period. It is impossible to narrate in detail the histories of
the many powers which emerged in India when the anarchy
and disturbance consequent upon Harsha's death in A. D. 647
began to settle down. In some cases the story of a single
dynasty would be enough to fill a volume. Most of the new
states took shape during the eighth and ninth centuries under
chiefs belonging to various Rajput clans, who claimed to be
the successors of the Kshatriyas of ancient times. The whole
period between the death of Harsha and the Muhammadan
conquest of Hindustan at the close of the twelfth century, com-
prising about five and a half centuries, may be called the
Rajput period, and we must consider who the Rajputs were,
and how they come so much into view at this particular time.
But in this chapter we shall confine our attention to the affairs
of Northern India before the time of Mahmud of Ghazni.

Muhammadan conquest of Sind. The new powers, as has
been said, almost without exception were Rajput. The
principal exception was Sind. An ancient Sudra dynasty,
with its capital at Aror (Alor), had ruled the country from the
Salt Range to the sea. In the seventh century the sceptre
passed into the hands of Chach, a Brahman. But meantime
the Arabs, full of enthusiasm for the Muhammadan religion,
then just started on its victorious career had occupied




INDIA

in 640 A.D.

Empire of Harsha..M&.

Scale of Miles
50 100 200 300 400



90 HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B. C. TO A.D. 1193

Balochistan (Makran). In A.D. 712, under the command of a
general named Muhammad, son of Kasim, 1 they invaded Sind,
slew the reigning king, Dahir, son of Chach, and established
a Muslim state which endured for centuries. The boundary
between it and India proper was the ' Lost River ', the Hakra
(ante,, p. 22). The Muhammadan occupation of Sind did not
much affect interior India, and the serious Muslim attack on
the countries east of the Indus did not occur until nearly three
centuries later.

The rise of the Rajputs. Most of the existing Rajput clans
trace back their pedigrees to the eighth or ninth century, but
no farther, and the reason seems to be that their ruling families
became prominent about that time. Multitudes of foreign
settlers, Hunas, Gurjaras, and others, who had taken up their
abode in the Panjab and Rajputana during the fifth and sixth
centuries (ante, p. 80), became Hinduized in the course of two
or three generations, and were then recognized as Hindu castes.
War and government being the business of a Kshatriya, the
chiefs and their kinsmen, when they adopted the Hindu
dharma, or rule of life, were considered Kshatriyas, while the
humbler folk took rank in castes of less degree.

How foreigners became Hinduized. Several causes made it
easy for the new comers to become Hindus quickly. The
invaders must generally have arrived without their woman-
kind. When they settled down in India they married Hindu
wives, who naturally continued to follow their old customs
which they taught to their children. The men, being far
away from home, could not possibly keep up the mode of life
to which they had been used in Turkistan. They thus readily
dropped into the ways of their wives, children, and neighbours.
In order to be a good Hindu it is not necessary to hold any
particular creed. All that is needed is to follow the Indian
dharma, or rule of life, which may be defined roughly as
reverence for Brahmans, respect for the sanctity of cows, and
scrupulous care about diet and marriage. In the course of a
Not ' Muhammad Kasim '.



HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B. C. TO A. D. 1193 91

generation or two the descendants of the original invaders began,
to adopt the Hindu dharma, and so became Hindus. The Brah-
mans were then ready to find everybody a suitable place in the
caste system. The ruling classes, as stated above, were treated
as Kshatriyas, while the common people were recognized as
castes included in either the Vaisya or the Sudra group. The
Central Asian tribes which entered India during the fifth
and sixth centuries do not seem to have possessed any or-
ganized or well-defined religion of their own, which could
hinder their acceptance of Hindu belief and practice.

Exactly the same process has often been observed going
on in modern times. In the wilder parts of the country,
multitudes of so-called ' aboriginal ' tribes gradually slide
into Hinduism, almost without knowing it. Superintendents
of the census profess to distinguish among such tribes between
Animists, or the worshippers of sundry spirits or demons, and
Hindus, but in reality no line can be drawn separating the
two, because the tribesmen continue to mix up ' animist '
rites with the worship of the regular Hindu gods. Even after
the lapse of many centuries it is still possible to trace ' Scythian *
customs in the practice of high-caste Rajput clans.

Foreign origin of some elans. It has been proved that the
Parihar Rajputs of the present day are descended from the
Gurjaras, who came into India as foreigners, and it is, of
course, obvious that Gujars are the same as Gurjaras. But
the Parihars count as Kshatriyas or Rajputs because they
were a ruling clan in ancient days, while the Gujars, who
represent the rank and file of the old Gurjaras, now form
a large middle-class caste, much inferior in social standing to
Rajputs. There is reason to believe that many other famous
Rajput clans originated in the same way from the ruling septs
of foreign tribes.

Aboriginal origin of other clans. Another group of Rajput
clans has been formed by the promotion of the so-called
aborigines. For instance, the famous Bais clan of Oudh is
closely connected with and seems to be descended from the



92 HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B. C. TO A. D. 1193

Bhars, who are now represented by a numerous caste of very
low rank, and the Chandels of Bundelkhand are similarly
associated with the Gonds of the Central Provinces. While
the Rajas and the kinsmen of Rajas of aboriginal blood are
universally acknowledged to be Kshatriyas, the other mem-
bers of the old tribes now form all sorts of lower-grade Hindu
castes. Very often the clans of aboriginal origin had a stand-
ing feud with neighbours of foreign, or Scythian, origin, as the
Chandels had with the Parihars, but, of course, this arrange-
ment did not always hold good. Rajput clans of all sorts
combined occasionally to resist the Muhammadans.

Kingdom of Kanauj or Panchala. In A. D. 880 the most
powerful state in Northern India was that of Panchala or
Kanauj, then ruled by Raja Bhoja Parihar, whose Gurjara
ancestors had been masters of a large kingdom in Rajputana.
At the beginning of the ninth century one of those princes
occupied Kanauj and made it the capital of his dynasty. For
fifty or sixty years after the middle of the ninth century the
kings of Kanauj governed a dominion rivalling that of Harsha
in extent. It included Kathiawar or Surashtra, and extended
from the boundary of Magadha (South Bihar) to the Sutlaj.
Unluckily, hardly anything is known about Raja Bhoja's
method of government, or the state of the country in his time.

Pala dynasty of Bengal. At the same time the so-called Pala
kings were lords of Bengal and Bihar and enjoyed great power.
They were often at war with Kanauj, and early in the ninth
century Dharmapala was strong enough to depose a king of
Kanauj and replace him by another. At that moment the Pala
sovereign was the most powerful monarch in Northern India.

Chandel dynasty of Jejakabhukti. Another important king-
dom was that of the Chandels of Jejakabhukti, the modern
Bundelkhand. The capital was Mahoba (now in the Hamirpur
District) and the strong fortress of Kalanjar (now in the Banda
District) gave much importance to the Raja. This kingdom,
separated from that of Kanauj by the Jumna, was at the height
of its grandeur in A. D. 1000.



HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B. C. TO A. D. 1193 93

Raja Bhoja of Dhara. Many more Rajput kingdoms,
Gwalior, Chedi, and others, played a part in the history of the
times, but are too numerous for mention. The learned Raja
Bhoja, of Dhara in Malwa, who was a Pawar Rajput, and
reigned from about A. D. 1018 to 1060, must not be confounded
with Raja Bhoja Parihar of Kanauj mentioned above. Raja
Bhoja of Dhara was a liberal patron of Sanskrit learning, and
his name has become proverbial as that of the model king
according to the Hindu standard.

CHAPTER IX

The kingdoms of the Deccan and the Far South.

The Deccan and the Far South. Before proceeding to
narrate the story of the Muhammadan conquest of the Pan jab
we shall turn aside for a moment to bestow a passing glance
on the kingdoms of the Deccan and the Far South, which, for
the reasons explained in chapter i (ante, p. 18), were rarely in
touch with the North.

The Andhras, and the Chalukyas of Vatapi. The Andhra
dynasty (ante, p. 70) held the Deccan until about A. D. 236.
The next dynasty of which we know anything substantial is
that of the Chalukya Rajputs, which established itself at Vatapi
(Badami) in the Bijapur District. The most notable prince of
this line was Pulakesin II (608-42), who has been mentioned
(ante, p. 81) as having successfully opposed the attempt made
by Harsha to intrude on the south. His capital, probably
then at or near Nasik, was visited by the Chinese pilgrim
Hiuen Tsang, in A. D. 641, who noted that the king was a
Kshatriya by caste and that his people had a high and warlike
spirit. Pulakesin, relying on his brave soldiers and mighty
elephants, received loyal service from his subjects and treated
neighbouring countries with contempt. Learning was prized.
The kingdom contained more than a hundred Buddhist monas-
teries with more than five thousand residents, but votaries of
the Hindu gods were also numerous.



94 HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B. C. TO A. D. 1193

In the following year, 642, this proud monarch was humbled
and deprived of his kingdom by the Pallava king of Kanchi
(Conjeeveram). Thirteen years later the Chalukya line was
restored, and lasted for a century longer. The kingdom of
the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi between the Godavari and
Krishna (Kistna) rivers, an offshoot of the Western Chalukya
monarchy, lasted for about four centuries from A. D. 615. In
the end it became merged in the Chola kingdom of the south.

The Rashtrakutas. In the middle of the eighth century
the sovereignty of the Deccan passed to the Rashtrakutas,
a Rajput dynasty of uncertain origin, whose capital, at first at
Nasik, was transferred to Manyakheta, now Malkhed, in the
Nizam's dominions. The Rashtrakuta kings acquired great
power, and were regarded as the leading princes in India by
Muhammadan writers of the ninth and tenth centuries. In fact,
Amoghavarsha, who reigned in the ninth century for more than
sixty years, was reckoned to be the fourth among the great
kings of the world, the other three being the Khalif of Baghdad,
the Emperor of China, and the Emperor of Constantinople
{Rum). The rank and power of the Rashtrakuta prince were
largely due to his immense wealth, acquired apparently by
commerce. The members of his dynasty were always on the
best of terms with the Arab rulers of Sind, with whom no doubt
the Indian kingdom did profitable trade. The Gurjaras of
Rajputana and Kanauj , on the contrary, were as hostile to the
Arabs as they were to the Rashtrakutas, who actually captured
Kanauj in A. D. 916. Amoghavarsha was a great patron of the
Digambara Jains.

The Chalukyas of Kalyani. In 973 the Rashtrakutas had
to give way to the second Chalukya dynasty of Kalyani, which
lasted for more than two centuries, and was engaged in con-
stant wars with the neighbouring powers.

The Hoysala and Yadava dynasties. When Muhammadan
armies entered the Deccan, at the close of the thirteenth and
the beginning of the fourteenth century, the Mysore country
\vas held by the Hoysala dynasty, and the western side of the



HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B. C. TO A. D. 1193 95

Deccan was under the rule of the Yadava kings of Deogiri.
The Hoysala capital, Dorasamudra, was captured by Malik
Kaffir and Khwaja Haji in 1310, and reduced to ruins by
Muhammad bin Tughlak in 1327. Ramachandra, the Yadava
king, was forced to submit first to Ala-ud-din, and then to
Malik Kafur, purchasing his life by payment of enormous
treasures. His son Harapala, who tried to shake off the
foreign yoke, was defeated in 1318 by Kutb-ud-dm Mubarak,
who barbarously caused him to be flayed alive.

Religion. During the centuries summarily noticed in the
preceding paragraphs, many changes occurred in the religious
condition of the kingdoms on the Deccan table-land and in
Mysore. Buddhism, which had never obtained very wide
acceptance in Southern India, slowly declined, and can be
hardly traced after the twelfth century. Jainism, which,
according to tradition, had been introduced into Mysore in
the days of Chandragupta Maurya, continued to be popular
for many ages. As already observed, the religion of Mahavira
was specially favoured by Amoghavarsha Rashtrakuta in
the ninth century. The conversion of Bittiga or Vishnu,
Hoysala king of the twelfth century, from Jainism to Vish-
nuism, under the influence of the famous reformer Ramanuja,
testified to the growth of orthodox Hinduism, and contributed
to the decay of Jain influence. We hear from time to time
of fierce conflicts between the adherents of rival creeds, and
occasionally of violent persecutions.

Art and literature. Some of the best paintings in the caves
of Ajanta date from the time of the first Chalukya dynasty in
the sixth and seventh centuries. The marvellous rock -cut
Kailasa temple at Ellora, one of the wonders of the world, was
executed under the orders of Krishna I, Rashtrakuta, in the
latter half of the eighth century. The rule of the Hoysala kings
of Mysore is memorable for the erection during the twelfth
and thirteenth centuries of many magnificent Hindu temples,
covered with elaborate ornament and adorned by multitudes
of fine statues. Sanskrit literature was cultivated with



96 HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B. C. TO A. D. 1193

success at many Rajas' courts, but no great original work of
general fame was produced.

The three kingdoms of the Far South. From very ancient
times the Far South, or Tamil Land (Tamilakam), was shared
between three Dravidian kingdoms : (1) the Pandya, corre-
sponding with the Madura and Tinnevelly Districts, (2) the
Chera or Kerala, in the Malabar region, and (3) the Chola, on
the Madras or Coromandel coast. 1 These kingdoms kept up
a brisk trade with the Roman empire in the early centuries
of the Christian era, and possessed an advanced civilization of
their own, with institutions quite different from those of the
Aryan north. Very little is known about their political history
before the ninth century.

Chola supremacy. In the tenth and eleventh centuries the
Chola kingdom, under Rajaraja and his successors, became the
leading power in the south, and maintained a strong fleet,
which ventured across the Bay of Bengal and annexed Pegu.
The Chola kings ordinarily were zealous devotees of Siva, and
some of them are said to have cruelly persecuted the Jains.
Such persecution seems to have had a good deal to do with
the gradual decline of Jainism in Southern India. When
the Muhammadans came, at the beginning of the four-
teenth century, the power of all the old Dravidian kingdoms
had become much weakened. Even Madura, the Pandya
capital, was held by Muhammadan governors from about 1311
to 1358. During the fourteenth century the new Hindu state
of Vijayanagar arose and dominated the whole of the Far
South until its fall in 1565.

The Pallavas. Between the fourth and eighth centuries the
ancient Dravidian states were disturbed and overshadowed
by an intrusive and vigorous dynasty of uncertain origin, the
Pallavas, who made Kanchi (Conjeeveram) their capital, and
attained the maximum of their power in the seventh century,
when they destroyed Pulakesin II, Chalukya, as already stated.

1 The word Coromandel is a corruption of Chola-mandala, ' Chola terri-
tory '.



MAHMUD OF GHAZNI 97



CHAPTER X

The Muhammadan conquest of the Panjab : Sultan Mahmud of GhaznI.

Muhammadan invasion ; Amir Sabuktigin. Towards the
close of the tenth century the Hindu Rajput states of Northern
India, which had enjoyed long immunity from foreign attack,
were disturbed by the intrusion of Muhammadan invaders
through the north-western passes. About A. D. 962, Alptigln,
a Turk, who had been a slave in the service of the Samani king
of Khurasan and Bukhara, established himself in practical
independence as master of a small principality with its capital
at Ghaznl, between Kabul and Kandahar. When he died
he was succeeded by his son Ishak. After a few years, in
A.D. 977, Sabuktigin, who also had been a slave, became chief
of GhaznI, and, like his predecessors, bore the style of Amir.
Subsequently he received the title of Nasir-ud-dln from the
Khalifa.

Wars between Sabuktigin and Jaipal. In A. D. 986-7. Amir
Sabuktigin began to make raids into the territory of Jaipal
Raja of the Panjab, whose capital was at Bathindah, now in
the Patiala state. A year or two later the Indian king retaliated
by invading the GhaznI territory, but lost most of his army
from the excessive cold, and was forced to purchase peace.
Jaipal, having broken the treaty, was promptly punished by
a fresh invasion, in the course of which the Amir reduced to
subjection the Lamghan territory between Peshawar and
Kabul. Jaipal then organized a great league of Hindu princes,
including the Rajas of distant Kanauj and Kalanjar, and made
a final effort to save his country by leading the allied army of
100,000 men into the dominions of the Amir. A fierce battle,
probably fought somewhere in the Kurram valley, ended in
the total rout of the Hindus. The invaders, eaters of meat,
inured to war, and bound together by fierce religious fanati-
cism, were too much for the Hindus.

Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. In A.D. 997 (A.H. 387), the

1776 D



98 MAHMUD OF GHAZNl

crown of the Amir Sabuktigin descended, after a short interval
of dispute, to his famous son Mahmud, then twenty-six years
of age, the first Musalman chief who enjoyed the title of Sultan.
Mahmud, urged by religious zeal and love of plunder, vowed
to carry on what he considered to be a ' holy war ' against the
idolaters of India, and to lead an expedition into that land
each year. To the best of his ability he kept his vow, and, in
pursuance of it, is computed to have made fifteen or. according
to some authorities, seventeen expeditions of which the more
important will now be noticed.

Defeat and Death of Jaipal, A. D. 1001. During the course
of his second expedition the sultan met Jaipal on the plain
near Peshawar, on the 27th of November, A. D. 1001, and utterly
defeated him, taking him and his family prisoners. After
a while the Raja was released, but on return to his own country,
committed suicide by fire, and Anandpal, his son, reigned in
his stead. The Peshawar territory was annexed by the sultan.

Capture of Multan. Mahmud's fourth expedition (A.H. 396
= A. D. 1005-6) was directed against Multan, but before he
captured that city the invader attacked Anandpal, ' stretching
out upon him the hand of slaughter, imprisonment, pillage,
depopulation, and fire, and hunted him from ambush to
ambush.'

Rout of Anandpal and his son. The sixth expedition
(A.H. 399 = 1008-9) was aimed specially against Anandpal,
who, following his father's example, organized a league of the
Hindu powers, including the Rajas of Ujjain,Gwalior,Kalanjar,
Kanauj, Delhi, and Ajmer, and assembled a greater army than
had ever taken the field against the Amir Sabuktigm. The
hostile forces watched each other in the plain of Peshawar for
forty days, the Hindus meantime receiving reinforcements
from the powerful Khokhar tribe. The sultan was obliged to
be cautious, and formed an entrenched camp. Thirty thou-
sand Khokhars by a sudden rush stormed it, and in a few
moments had slain three or four thousand Musalmans. Victory
seemed to be in the grasp of the Hindus, but at the critical



MAHMCD OF GHAZNI 99

moment, the elephant carrying Anandpal turned and fled. 1
The Indians, thinking this accident to be a signal of defeat,
gave way and broke. The Musalman cavalry pursued them
for two days and nights, killing 8,000 and capturing thirty
elephants and enormous booty.

Capture of Kangra. This decisive victory was followed up
by the capitulation of the fort of Kangra, also known as
Nagarkot or Bhimnagar, where treasure of immense value was
taken. ' Among the booty was a house of white silver, like to
the houses of rich men, the length of which was thirty yards,
and the breadth fifteen. It could be taken to pieces and put
together again.'

Expedition against Kanauj and Mathura. One of the most
celebrated of Sultan Mahmud's raids was that which is
reckoned as the twelfth, and had for its object the conquest
of Kanauj, the imperial city of Northern India. The sultan
started from Ghazni in October, passed all the rivers of the
Panjab, and crossed the Jumna on December 2, A. D. 1018.
He captured the forts which obstructed his path, and was
preparing to attack Baran, the modern Bulandshahr. when the
local Raja, Hardatt by name, tendered his submission, and
with ten thousand men accepted the religion of Islam. The
holy and wealthy city of Mathura having been taken, ' the
sultan gave orders that all the temples should be burned with
naphtha and fire, and levelled with the ground '.

Conquest of Kanauj. In January, A.D. 1019, the ever
victorious invader appeared before Kanauj. The Raja,
Rajyapal Parihar, fled to the other side of the Ganges, and
allowed his capital to be occupied without serious resistance.
The seven forts, or lines of fortification, guarding it fell in one
day, and were given over to plunder. Rajyapal submitted,
and the city, as a whole, seems to have been spared, although
the temples were destroyed, many of the inhabitants slain, and
much plunder was acquired. Mahmud then advanced through
the Fatehpur District and entered the hills of Bundelkhand

1 Al Utbi says that the Hindu leader was Brahmanpal, son of Anandpal.



100 MAHMUD OF GHAZNI

before he returned to Ghazni at the beginning of the hot
season.

Death of Rajyapal. The submission of Rajyapal to the
foreigner angered the neighbouring Hindu princes, who under
the leadership of Vidhyadhara, son of Ganda, the Chandel Raja
of Kalanjar, and the chieftain of Gwalior, attacked Kanauj,
and slew Rajyapal. He was succeeded by Trilochanpal. 1

The vengeance of the sultan. Mahmud, who regarded the
king of Kanauj as his vassal, was furious when he heard
the news and determined to punish the audacious Hindus.



Online LibraryVincent Arthur SmithThe Oxford student's history of India → online text (page 7 of 27)