Treachery of Hindu Chiefs and Civilisational Myopia of Hindu Monarchs

Alien Muslim invaders of India gained impressive successes owing to the repeated treachery of some Hindu chiefs and the short-sightedness of even powerful Hindu emperors.
Treachery of Hindu Chiefs and Civilisational Myopia of Hindu Monarchs

In this Series

Treachery of Hindu Chiefs and Civilisational Myopia of Hindu Monarchs
Hindu Responses to Islamic Invasions: A Historical Journey

Treachery of the Hindus seems to have played an important part in the success of Muhammad bin Qasim from beginning to end. The Buddhist priests of Sindh, we are told, had been carrying on secret correspondence with Hajjaj and openly helped Muhammad in capturing several strongholds. But on a close scrutiny of the Muslim accounts, some Buddhists, at any rate, were patriotic enough to fight against the Muslim, and many of those—chiefs and common people alike—who betrayed their king and country were not Buddhist. Some of the leading chiefs, including the chief minister of Sindh, helped Muhammad in subduing their own country.

Let us now resume the history of Sindh.

Jaisimha, son of Dahar, after a brave resistance, submitted and secured virtual independence on the condition of accepting Islam. But soon he reverted to his original Dharma and was defeated again. But though the Muslim authority was firmly established, and continued for a long time, their position was always insecure, and the Hindus kept alive the national spirit for more than five hundred years. In 1300 A. D. the Hindu tribe of Sumra became the rulers of Sindh. The Sumras were succeeded in A. D. 1439 by another Hindu tribe, the Samma, who ruled till Sindh was conquered by Shah Husain Arghun in A. D. 1521.

Treachery of Hindu Chiefs and Civilisational Myopia of Hindu Monarchs
The Depraved Annals of the Muslim Aristocracy in Medieval India

Another important fact must also be borne in mind. Although the Arabs had obtained a footing in India proper they could not extend their power beyond the valley of the lower Sindh. They attempted to penetrate into the interior, and once obtained great success under Junaid. But though the Arabs advanced as far as Malwa and Broach, they were defeated by the Pratihara ruler Nagabhata in the east, and the Chalukya Avanijanasraya Pulakesiraja in the south. Their naval expeditions against the Kathiawar Peninsula also ended in a miserable failure. On the whole their rule was confined to the Sindhu Valley as far as Multan in the north. Even their hold upon Multan was very precarious. It possessed the famous Murti of the Sun-god which attracted pilgrims from every part of India, and their rich presents constituted the greatest part of the revenue of its Muslim ruler. Al

Masu’Qdi, writing in the 10th century A. D. observes:

Multan is one of the strongest frontier places of the Musulmans. When the unbelievers ever march against Multan, and the faithful do not feel themselves strong enough to oppose them, they threaten to break their idols, and their enemies immediately withdraw.

lbn Haukal, a contemporary writer, repeats the same and adds “otherwise the infidels would destroy Multan.”

The older historians like Elphinstone were quite at a loss to account for the very slow progress of Muslim arms in India, as compared with their rapid advance in other countries. They offered some explanation based on the social and religious condition of India, but nobody would take it seriously today. There can be hardly any doubt that the powerful rulers of Kashmir, the Pratiharas of Kanauj and the Rashtrakutas of Deccan, among others, stood in the way of further expansion of Muslim power. The wonder is not that the Muslims advanced no further; but rather that they were not ousted from India.

Pratihara Era Temples
Pratihara Era Temples

The combined strength of the above three rulers, whose dominions were directly threatened by the Muslims, could easily have driven away the Muslims. The unity of purpose leading to any such concerted plan was, however, totally lacking.

The Pratiharas and Rashtrakutas were fighting with each other and never thought of joining hands to drive out the Muslims who constituted such a grave menace to the security of India. Nay, more; one of them was actually looked upon as friendly by the Arabs. The Arab writer Sulaiman says that “among all the kings (of India) there is no one to be found who is so partial to the Arabs as the Balhara (the Rashtrakuta king); and his subjects follow his example.”

Treachery of Hindu Chiefs and Civilisational Myopia of Hindu Monarchs
The Verse that Heralded a Half Century of the Splendid Reign of Paramara Bhoja Raja

Regarding the Pratihara ruler, the same writer observes that “among the princes of India there is no greater foe of the Muhammadan faith than here.”

It is not unlikely that political animosity was at the root of this difference of attitude towards the common national enemy.

Indeed, the attitude of the Rashtrakuta kings towards the Muslims deserves particular notice. There were Jama Masjids in a number of important cities in their kingdom, and Muslim magistrates were appointed to rule over the Muslims where they lived in large numbers.

This is in strange contrast to the attitude of the Muslims towards the Hindus. Wherever a city or a fort was taken by the Muslims they usually put the men to the sword and took the women as captives. The select among these were sent to the harems of the chiefs and the rest were sold as slaves. When Muhammad took the fort of Aror,

he put six thousand fighting men, who were in the fort, to the sword and shot some with arrows. The other dependents and servants were taken prisoners with their wives and children...When the number of the prisoners was calculated, it was found to amount to thirty thousand persons, amongst whom thirty were the daughters of chiefs and one of them was Rai Dahar’s sister’s daughter. They were all sent to Hajjaj.

It may be added that the queen of Dahar, who bravely defended the fort till the end, burnt herself along with a large number of women to escape this infamy. It is hardly necessary to state that after every victory the temples were desecrated and demolished and mosques were built in their place. These atrocities were the normal accompaniments of Muslim conquest.

But even these fell short of Islamic ideals.

Treachery of Hindu Chiefs and Civilisational Myopia of Hindu Monarchs
The Forgotten Hindu History of Pakistan: An Introduction

When Muhammad sent a detailed report of the conquest to Hajjaj, he mildly rebuked Muhammad for having spared the lives of some. The following passage in his letter reveals that the barbarous practices, referred to above, were regarded to be in full agreement with Islamic theory.

The ways and rules you follow are conformable to the law. Except that you give protection to all... God says, give no quarter to infidels, but cut their throats. You should not be too ready to grant protection, because it will prolong your work. After this give no quarter to any enemy except to those who are of rank.

The Rashtrakuta king, who showed such great favours to the Muslims, was almost a contemporary and could not possibly have been ignorant of all this. His religious toleration to the Muslims may be praiseworthy, but one can hardly believe that he had any sense or consciousness of a common bond of religious faith or nationality of the Indians.

Nor were the northern rulers fully alive to the danger that threatened them. During the long period of two and half centuries that elapsed since the Muslim conquest of Sindh, great upheavals took place in the Islamic world, which must have rendered the position of Muslims in India very precarious. There were many powerful rulers in India like Lalitaditya, Bhoja, and Dharmapala who even singly could have driven them out of India. But they were either deterred by the superstitious faith, as in the case of Multan, or did not sufficiently realise the gravity and importance of the task. In either case, we are bound to hold that they were devoid of national feelings and far-seeing statesmanship as we understand them to-day. If, instead of fighting with other Indian states, they had turned their arms against the Muslims of Sindh, India would have been rid of a grave danger.

To be continued

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