Turushka-Danda: A Hindu Fiscal Response to Early Islamic Invasions

A little-known fact of Hindu history that shows how the mighty Gahadavala Empire built a solid deterrent against alien Islamic invasions using a fiscal measure called the Turushka-Danda.
Turushka-Danda: A Hindu Fiscal Response to Early Islamic Invasions

A PROFOUNDLY INTRINSIC GOOD GOT PERMANENTLY destroyed with the decline and fall of the Gupta Empire. Sanatana Bharatavarsha would never unite again in the way it had remained till the fall of that Empire. Two centuries after its fall, Muhammad bin Qasim’s fanatical knock on our frontier doors signalled the initial feeble rap of the warning of an impending loss of freedom.

Three centuries later, Mahmud’s sweeping Islamic incursions throughout northern and western India awakened Hindus to a new human and uncultured reality that was here to stay permanently: the universally despised Turushka. New realities ushered in new responses, new adjustments, newer reconciliations.

One such adjustment was something called the Turushka-Danda.

As we never tire of repeating in these pages, the national perversion that is known as history textbooks is a conveyor belt designed to induce lasting civilizational amnesia among Hindus. It is only in India that Hindus can specialize in Hindu history and end up hating themselves. History studies in India is akin to Rahul Gandhi’s potato metaphor: you insert a profound Sanatana potato at one end of the machine and it emerges as the black gold of a desert death cult at the other end. You begin to read Maharashi Veda Vyasa and curiously end up with incurable lust for Muhammad, Mahmud, Balban, Ala-ud-din Khalji, Babur, Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan.

Turushka-Danda: A Hindu Fiscal Response to Early Islamic Invasions
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Unsurprising that “scholars” with multiple history PhDs today wouldn’t have heard about Turushka-Danda, one of the early responses of Hindu Kingdoms for safeguarding their dominions and to combat the recurring Islamic menace emanating from Afghanistan.

The first mention of Turushka-Danda occurs in the inscriptions of the powerful Gahadavala Empire, which at its imperial height, spanned the entire region from Indrasthaniyaka (today’s Delhi) to Mudgagiri (today’s Munger) and from the foothills of the Himalayas (in today’s Uttarakhand) to the southern banks of the sacred Yamuna Nadi. For a full century, the Gahadavala Empire protected the Sanatana civilisation and its sacred geography against the depredations of the Islamic barbarians pouring in from Ghazni until the unfortunate death of its penultimate luminary, Jayachandra at the hands of Muhammad Ghori. With his death, his capital, Kashi, the most sacred Sanatana city, tasted the full horrors of an all-out Islamic Jihad for the first time. A thousand temples of untold antiquity pitilessly razed to the ground in a single day. Kashi was also his capital. What we’re seeing in the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is child’s play compared to what Kashi underwent in that era.

The very first inscription of Chandradeva, the founder of the Gahadavala dynasty mentions Turushka-Danda. In plain words, it was a special tax levied for the explicit purpose of maintaining additional troops for resisting Turushka inroads. In the annals of Hindu polity, Danda has a twofold meaning: tax and army (the other word for army or military in general, is Bala). Thus, in both senses, the meaning of Turushka-Danda is highly appropriate in this context.

As soon as he ascended the throne in 1089-90, Chandradeva realized the need for a permanent defence system against the Turushkas. He had the foresight to raise tax revenue solely dedicated for the purpose, a practice that was continued for the next eighty years. Although Mahmud was long dead before Chandradeva was coronated, he knew the havoc that the Turushkas had created throughout northern India and correctly predicted that their Jihad knew no rest. There is no record of any military engagement between Chandradeva and the Ghazni barbarians which is an oblique proof of his solid vigilance.

Turushka-Danda: A Hindu Fiscal Response to Early Islamic Invasions
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This is an extract from Chandradeva’s inscription of the grant dated 1090:

The victorious king Chandradeva issues the following order to all the people assembled, residing in the Vadagava Village in the Vavana-Pattala and also to the Rajas, Rajnis, Yuvarajas, councillors, Purohitas, wardens of the gates, generals, treasurers, record-keepers, physicians, astrologers, chiefs of gymnasiums, messengers, elephant-keepers, chief of the horses, superintendents of mines, head of the mints, Sthanikas and Gokulas:

“Be it known to you that the aforesaid village, with its water and dry land, with its mines of iron and salt, with its fishing places, with its ravines and saline, with and including its groves of and mango, grass and pasture land, with what is above and below defined as to its four abuttals, up to its proper boundaries has been granted by us for as long as the sun and moon endure… the residents are required to pay to the king sundry taxes comprising three items, viz., bhagabhogakara, pravanikara, and turuskadanda.”

The Vadagava mentioned in this inscription is the modern-day Baragaon, about 15 kilometres from Varanasi, one of the hubs of Banarasi silk saris. Our Hindu ancestors of this place paid taxes to ward off potential Islamic invasions. In this backdrop, you know what you need to do the next time you visit the place.

Turushka-Danda: A Hindu Fiscal Response to Early Islamic Invasions
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More than thirty Gahadavala inscriptions mention the Turushka-Danda.

About a century after the destruction of the Gahadavala Empire, we notice a southern echo of the Turushka-Danda in a tangential fashion. Although it was not called by that name, its intent and purpose was similar on a devotional plane. This was the Hebbale Inscription granted by the Hoysala monarch, Vira Narasimha III to enable Hindu pilgrims from south India to Varanasi to pay off the extortionate Jiyza to the fanatical officers of Balban. The Dharma Dispatch has already published the full story of this extraordinary grant.

Postscript

Among countless such other buried truths of Hindu history, Turushka-Danda blows the lid off two great Marxist lies: one, that the “lower castes” and “oppressed classes” of Hindu society welcomed the Islamic invaders and embraced Islam to escape oppression; and two, that Islamic invaders had a cakewalk in their fanatical conquest of Hindustan.

But from one perspective, the Gahadavalas who levied Turushka-Danda regarded it as akin to Apaddharma, a temporary fiscal measure to meet an emergency. The unfortunate historical reality is that they, like hundreds of other Hindu kings, failed to study the roots of what necessitated this Apaddharma in the first place: the Islamic “holy” books.

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