Friday, November 21, 2008

The Hindu Struggle to Resist Muslim Aggression

In the earlier chapter covering the story of Prithviraj Chouhan the last Hindu Ruler of Delhi, we read how Muslim Rule was established at Delhi in the year 1194 C.E.
The very first Muslim attack on India had taken place nearly 500 years earlier in Sindh in the year 715 C.E. These Muslim invaders were Arabs led by Mohammad Bin Qasim. They had displaced Raja Dabir who ruled Sindh from his capital Deval (near modern Karachi). The actual reason for this invasion was that Raja Dabir was aiding the Iranian (Zoroastrian) princes in trying to overthrow the Arab Rule in Persia. This seems to be a fact as many Sassanian nobles from Iran had taken refuge in Sindh and were plotting for the liberation of their country from the Arab yoke. But the pretext given by Arab historians for the Arab invasion of Sindh is that Raja Dabir's navy had detained an Arab merchant ship. To avenge this detention of a merchant ship, the Arabs overran the entire kingdom of Raja Dabir as also the neighbouring kingdom of Mulasthana (Multan). They even unsuccessfully tried to attack Malwa (Malibah in Arab records)!

After this invasion which was limited to Sindh, for a period of 300 years all further Muslim attacks were thwarted by Kings like Raja Bhoja and other Gurjara Kings.

The second surge of the Muslim aggression began in 980 C.E. and lasted till 1020 C.E. This was the time when the Shahi Kings of Punjab grappled with the invaders. By the year 1020 C.E. Muslim rule had been established in Afghanistan, Paktoonistan (NWFP) and West Punjab. These Muslim invasions were led by Mahmud of Ghazni. The Rajputs ruling North India resisted further Muslim aggression.

The third wave of a successful Muslim invasion led by Mahmud Shabuddin Ghori (or Ghauri) took place between 1191 C.E. and 1255 C.E. This was the time the Muslims extended their occupation to Delhi. The lead role in resisting this invasion was played by Prithviraj Chouhan. This Muslim surge brought East Punjab, the Ganges Valley (Uttar Pradesh and Bihar) and Bengal under Muslim Occupation. This invasion reached up to Bengal where the last Hindu kingdom ruled by Laxman Sena was overurn by the Muslims. But the Muslims were checked and repelled when they tried to invade Orissa, where the Hindu King Narasimha Deva defeated Tugan Khan who invaded Orissa from Bengal. To commemorate this victory, Narasimha Deva erected the Sun Temple at Konark.

The next surge of the Muslim Invasion was launched from Delhi by Allah-ud-din Khilji in the year 1310 and was led by his general Malik Kafur. This invasion trampled the Hindu Kingdoms of the Yadavas of Devgiri in Maharashtra, the Kakatiyas of Warangal in Andhra Pradesh, the Hoysala of Belur-Halebid in Karnataka and the Pandyas of Madurai in Tamil Nadu. This invasion lasted till the year 1328 and with this invasion, except Orissa and Assam, the whole of India passed under Muslim Occupation.

The Hindu Struggle for Independence against Muslim Tyranny

Thus the struggle of the Hindus to resist the Muslim aggression into India was spread over a period of 600 years from 715 C.E. up to 1328 C.E. This contrasts with the the swift Muslim victories in Persia (Iran) over the Zoroastrian Sassanians and in Mesopotemia, Egypt and North Africa over the Romans (Byzantines). The Muslims could not subjgate India with ease. And even after subjugating different parts of the country, they were never able to rule it enitrely. The next 400 years from 1328 up to 1720 was marked by a valiant and ceaseless struggle for independence by Hindus to deliver India from Muslim tyranny.

This struggle was first led in North India by the Rajputs and then by the Jats, Marathas and Sikhs. In the South this struggle was embodied in the Vijayanagar Empire. This struggle for independence culminated when the Marathas began to bring an end to the Muslim domination of India. The Gurkhas came in later in the 18th century, but their activities also played a role in weakening the Muslim power in North India which was on its last legs in the 18th century. The Gurkha struggle was more with the British East India Company. But more of this later.
The Muslim rulers built on the same Feudal Base* of the Hindu Period…

But the successful aggression of the Muslim invaders did not change the Base of the earlier pre-Muslim society. Base* defined as the land ownership system and the system of making land grants to middlemen (feudal lords) who collected taxes for the higher authority - the king (Sultans of Delhi in the context of the middle ages). The very first act of the Muslim invaders was to pillage the well endowed Hindu temples at Somnath, Thanesar, Mathura, Kannauj; and other places. By this, with one stroke, the riches concentrated in the hands of these temples through many centuries of grants from Hindu rulers, fell into the hands of the Muslim invaders from Ghazni and Ghori.

..But the Muslims Aimed at Totally Destroying the Superstructure** Associated with the Hindu Period

The Muslims aimed to totally destroy the Superstructure associated with the Hindu period. The term Superstructure** which the Muslims aimed at destroying included a wide spectrum of aspects of social life including Indian religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism), language (Sanskrit and its various vernaculars), universities (like Nalanda), traditions of learning (ashramas, gurukulas), architectural symbols (temples, Chaityas, Viharas, Stupas), etc. The policy during the 700 years of Muslim occupation of India was to totally replace the superstructure of the Hindu period with a typical Muslim one.

Towards this end the Muslim invaders undertook the desecration of places of worship, destruction of universities like Nalanda, the wholesale slaughter of the monks and priests to wipe out the intellectual bedrock of the people they overran. Such tyrannical polices which the Muslim rulers folllowed since their rule was established in 1194 C.E. they left a trail of bitterness in the regions which passed under their domination. Hindu tradition survived only in remote corners of the country like in Orissa, Assam and parts of South India.

Contrasts between non-Muslim Invasions and the Muslim Aggression of India
Though the new rulers built upon the same feudal economic foundations of the Hindu period, they aimed at total destruction of the super-structure as it then existed. In the early days of their reign the Muslim rulers unleashed a reign of terror the kind of which India had never experienced before in its history.

Before, the Muslims, India had been invaded by the Greeks (Yavanas), Huns (Hunas), Shakas and Kushanas, but what contrasted their invasions from that of the Muslims was that, after their initial collision with Indian society, the previous invaders were completely absorbed into the existing Indian society. Even the memory of their ever having been foreign invaders was wiped out.

Continue reading at

Hindu History
-The Intervention of Alien rule from 1194 C.E. up to 1947 C.E.
By Sudheer Birodkar
Table of Contents

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