(Online Course) History for IAS Mains: The Thirteenth Century – The Ghurian Invasions –[Factors behind Ghurian success]

(Online Course) History for IAS Mains: The Thirteenth Century – The Ghurian Invasions –[Factors behind Ghurian success]

(Online Course) History for IAS Mains: The Thirteenth Century – The Ghurian Invasions –[Factors behind Ghurian success]

The Thirteenth Century

Topic: The Ghurian Invasions – factors behind Ghurian success

Third Phase (Muhammad Ghori – Turkish invasion)

Alter Mahmud s death, the Ghaznavid Empire was confined to
Ghazni and Punjab. His successors were soon overthrown by their vassals, the
Ghurids, who came from Ghur, the mountainous region east of Herat. Muhammad
Ghori’s first invasion was directed against Multan, then ruled by the Ismailis.
Both Multan and Uch fell in A.D. 1175 and the subjugation of the whole of Sind
was completed in 1182 with the annexation of Lower Sindh. Muhammad’s invasion of
Gujarat, however, ended in a crushing defeat at the hands of the Chalukyan
forces in 1178-79, near Mount Abu. Muhammad was badly routed at Tarain by
Prithviraj and his ally, the ruler of Delhi, and barely escaped with his life.

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Back home, he made furious preparations to avenge his defeat.
In 1192, he led a mighty army into the same field of Tarain, in which he got the
better of his Chauhan adversary and even captured Prithviraj. The Ghurid forces
occupied Hansi, Kuhram, and Sursuti, though Ajmer was left in possession of
Prithviraj. After his execution, on charges of conspiracy a short while later,
Ajmer was conferred on his son. The famous college of Ajmer built by Vigraharaja
IV Visaladeva was converted into a mosque by the invading Turks, and became
known as the Adhai din ka jhompra. Prithviraj’s son now relocated himself at
Ranthambor, where he founded a strong Chauhan kingdom.

In 1194 Muhammad Ghori marched against Jaichandra, the
Gahadavala king of Kanauj. Jaichandra’s vigorous defence perplexed the invading
army, till an arrow hit him, leading to his death. Immediately after the victory
at Chandawar, Muhammad Ghori looted the Gahadavala treasury occupied the holy
city of Banaras and desecrated its temples. Subsequently, he won the fortress of
Thangir from the Chandellas and accepted tribute from the ruler of Gwalior.
Qutbuddin Aibak, his premier slave, was responsible for a string of Ghurid
conquests- Apart from thwarting an attempt at Chauhan revival by Prithviraj’s
brother. Hariraj, Aibak occupied Delhi and defeated the Chalukyas at Mount Abu.
thus avenging Muhammad Ghori’s humiliation , two decades earlier.

Aibak also took advantage of the declining power of the
Gahadavalas to occupy Meerut. Aligarh, Badaun, and Kanauj. Gwalior surrendered
to him and he took possession of Kalinjar, the Chandella capital after fierce
resistance by the chief minister of the kingdom. Meanwhile, another slave,
Bakhtiyar, Khilji began raiding-the province of Bihar. In one such expedition he
reached as far as Uddandapur Vihara, a university town inhabited by Buddhist
monks. Encouraged, he planned the conquest of Bengal. then ruled by the aged
Lakshmanasena. Disguised as a horse dealer, he burst upon the unsuspecting ruler
at Nadia. Bakhtiyar Khilji established himself at Lakhnauti while Lakshmanasena
continued to rule in, eastern Bengal.

Muhammad Ghori died in 1206 without a mate heir and his
relatives and slaves fought over his vast territories. His senior slave,
Tajuddin Yalduz, occupied Ghazni while Aiabk took charge of the Indian
possessions. Some modern historians attribute the Turkish success to the
internal weaknesses of Hindu society. They depict the caste system as having
played a crucial role in this regard. It is said to have restricted
participation in warfare to the Kshatriyas, and thereby militarily enfeebled the
Hindus and inhibited unity among them. The argument fails to note that
recruitment to Hindu armies was never the preserve of Kshatriyas. Peasants
routinely served as soldiers, especially during non-harvest seasons. a practice
which continued till the colonial period when the British for the first time
disarmed the Hindu peasantry.

The Kshatriya Varna moreover had always been an open-ended
category; any enterprising leader who acquired political power could claim
Kshatriya rank. Throughout Indian history, several powerful agricultural and
tribal groups took this route to Kshatriya status. Modern research has explained
the Turkish success to some possible advantage in military technology. Ghur was
rich in metal deposits and famous for its manufacture of weapons. Contemporary
chroniclers refer to the Turkish armies’, use of  the crossbow (nawak) and
its ability to pierce armour. The effective use of cavalry, coupled with swift,
surprise attacks seems to have contributed to the Turkish victories.

Superior military tactics could also have played a role in
the Turkish triumph. The Indian princes, on the other hand, were still wedded to
ageold techniques of pitched warfare and the formation of the four-fold army,
and were no match for the ferocity and determination of the invaders. The
Ghurids also enhanced their strength by recruiting warriors from Khurasan, Ghuzz
and Khalaj, all of whom participated in significant numbers in the battle of


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