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Tomb of Mahmud of Ghazni
Tomb of Mahmud of Ghazni
History Vignettes

Maharaja Jayapaladeva: The Lionhearted Symbol of Unyielding Hindu Resistance

Maharaja Jayapaladeva is a great symbol of the full story of the unyielding Hindu resistance against repeated Islamic invasions into India, yet to be told

Sandeep Balakrishna

Sandeep Balakrishna

If there was one thing that the successive waves of alien Muslim invasions and the protracted regime of pious Islamic oppression could not snatch away from the Hindus, it was this: their unwavering faith, conviction and indomitable pride in the exalted nobility of their ancient, ancestral Sanatana Dharma. That vile task of inducing self-humiliation the logical consequence of which is deracination was completed by two forces: (i) the British through “education” and (ii) Mohandas Gandhi through his death cult of non-violence and Satyagraha of which the worst and the most representative example is Ishwar Allah tere naam.

Topic for a PhD Thesis

Here is a topic for a PhD thesis for the interested student: even at the height of British colonial rule, there were significant numbers of Princely States who clandestinely encouraged, supported and even instigated rebellion against these Mlecchas. A diligent study of the copious historical archives of the period between the early-19th century and mid-20th century will reveal stunning truths.

A Flash in the Pan

Muhammad bin Qasim’s no-holds-barred, no-rules-necessary and total war of annihilation introduced Raja Dahir and the frontier chiefs who protected India’s north-western borders to a completely new form of warfare. But because it was a blip that largely faded away after he left, the rest of Bharatavarsha didn’t pay serious heed to it to their everlasting civilisational detriment. Even the permanent loss of Mulasthana to Muslim hands didn’t seem to matter in the larger and long-term scheme of things.

Which is what paved the way for the second and perhaps the deadliest precedent of all: the savage incursions of Mahmud of Ghazni who for the first time gave mainland Bharatavarsha a bloody and feral taste of what a full-blown Islamic invasion really meant for the Hindus. But the fact that nearly three centuries had elapsed between Qasim and Mahmud’s invasion precisely proves a carefully-buried truth of history: the sheer grit, determination, courage, and solid defence that the Hindu kings and warriors put up for this extensive length of time safeguarding the already vulnerable frontiers and sustaining their ancient Dharma in such hostile climate and treacherous terrain.

Raja Dahir’s son, Jaisimha presents a great example of this. The moment Muhammad bin Qasim departed from India, Jaisimha and all other major and minor Hindu rulers recaptured their former territories, threw off the Muslim yoke and those who had been forcibly converted to Islam, reconverted in an astonishingly quick span. Muhammad bin Qasim’s fabled success in Sind was just the proverbial flash in the pan. It was as though the people of the territories he had conquered were waiting for his departure. Jaisimha immediately reoccupied Brahmanabad and Alor and grew from strength to strength.

When Caliph Umar II noticed this, he sent a force which managed to subdue a few Hindu chiefs but the Caliph realized that there was no way he could impose a permanent occupation in these regions without substantial losses. So he offered a choice to leave them independent on the condition of accepting Islam. Some Hindu chiefs including Jaisimha agreed. But he quickly reverted to Hinduism under the Caliphate of Hisham and declared war against Junaid, the governor of Sind. Unfortunately, he lost and became Junaid’s prisoner. The Hindu royal dynasty of Sind was permanently finished with Jaisimha as its last tragic hero who submitted to Islam as a matter of strategy but refused to succumb to the alien invader and extra-territorial imperialism till the very end.

For the next three centuries, we see all Hindu kings of varying strengths and sizes following Jaisimha’s fearless, never-say-die precedent.

The Hindu Side of the Historical Picture

Indeed, when we read the unending, sickening accounts of early medieval and medieval Muslim historians gloating about the predatory genocides, temple destructions, cow slaughter, gang rapes and genocide of Hindus, the inevitable picture we get is one of Hindu weakness and almost a propensity for inviting their own doom. To their eternal and unforgivable shame, legions of our eminent distorians have outdone and outshone these medieval Muslim historians in reinforcing this image of Hindu weakness. Quite naturally, these extraordinary savageries were attributed to the inevitable victory of Islam in this land of idolatory guided by the light of Allah and his favourite Prophet. Take these accounts for example:

Amir Sabuktigin marched out towards Lamghan, which is a city celebrated for its great strength and abounding in wealth. He conquered it and set fire to the places in its vicinity which were inhabited by infidels, and demolishing the idol-temples, he established Islam in them. He marched and captured other cities and killed the polluted wretches, destroying the idolatrous and gratifying the Musulmans. After wounding and killing beyond all measure, his hands and those of his friends became cold in counting the value of the plundered property. On the completion of his conquest he returned and promulgated accounts of the victories obtained for Islam, and every one, great and small, concurred in rejoicing over this result and thanking God.
The blood of the infidels flowed copiously and conversion was often the only way of survival.
The land had been saturated with the water of the sword and the vapours of infidelity (i.e. Hindus) had been dispersed.
Amir Khusrav

However, these sordid episodes had a Hindu side to them, which very few books on Indian history have presented.

This is the Hindu side.

Somanatha Temple
Somanatha Temple

Taken both individually and together, all these episodes present an extraordinary picture of unyielding heroism, indomitable valour, steely resistance, and death-defying fight for freedom. It is a picture of hundreds of thousands of battle-hardened men, ordinary villagers and boys in their teens with one foot in the grave, gallantly charging at the temple-breaking and cow-slaughtering Mlecchas, willingly flinging themselves to death. Of hundreds of thousands of women and girls preferring a fiery death to dishonour and slavery. Of courageous Hindu parents who flung their kids into wells in order that they might not be subjected to being sold as slaves in the lucrative markets at such diverse places as Ghazni, Debal, Khurasan, Jeddah, Aden, Muscat, and Khartoum. Of newer and newer heroes emerging from the inspirational and courageous tales of these martyrs who continued their work of checking and resisting the surging tides of repeated Muslim invasions.

The fact that there is no single volume that comprehensively records this Hindu side of the historical picture is an ongoing crime against the heroic memory of the sacrifice and blood of the millions of these nameless lionhearts but for whom large portions of undivided India would’ve already become akin to Egypt and Persia. Only two slim volumes have shone light in this direction: Indian Resistance to Early Muslim Invaders by Dr. Ram Gopal Misra, and Heroic Hindu Resistance to Muslim Invaders by the intrepid Sita Ram Goel.

The Example of Somanatha

Nowhere is this unyielding spirit of resistance and bounce-back from defeat clearer than in the case of the glorious Somanatha Temple in Gujarat. The arch barbarian and ultra-Islamic bigot Mahmud of Ghazni definitely succeeded in leaving a pervasive and sweeping trail of destruction across northern and western India, and the tragic tale of Somanatha needs no repetition here. However, what happened after he destroyed Somanatha definitely needs mention. Mahmud had seriously underestimated the power of Hindu retribution. And so, when he decided to return to Ghazni with his massive plunder of Gujarat, he took a long, circuitous and difficult route because he was mortally scared of the powerful confederacy of Hindu kings under Paramara Bhoja Deva baying for his blood. When he did reach Ghazni, it was at great cost: he had nearly lost his life in a skirmish in the last leg of his journey, had fallen ill many times, and most of the plunder was gone.

On the Hindu side, in just five years after Mahmud had departed, the Somanatha Temple was rebuilt on an even grander scale, a great metaphor in itself. Gujarat and Malwa had become even more powerful than before and earned prestige as a great centre of learning, literature and art.

The period beginning with the vicious invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni is a largely overlooked but crucial juncture in Indian history. I will venture to say that this period presents the most comprehensive picture of Bharatavarsha’s civilization and culture which was poised on the anvil of its full contact with Islam.

This semi-detailed backdrop was necessary to understand and appreciate the full extent of the singular contribution of the valorous defence that Parama Bhattaraka Maharajadhiraja Sri Jayapaladeva put up for years, blocking the inward march of Mahmud of Ghazni. But Jayapaladeva’s resistance didn’t begin with Mahmud of Ghazni. It began with his father, the slave-turned-ruler, Sabuktigin.

To be continued

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