PRITHVI RAJ CHAUHAN - THE STUPID EMPERORThe career of Prithvi Raj Chauhan has a tragic irony of its own. Though among the bravest of India's warrior heroes, his political naivet=82 bordering on stupidity caused India to knuckle under Muslim rule and usher in an era of unmitigated rape, plunder, chaos, repression and religious conversions which lasted for 600 years.
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It is a pity that though Prithvi Raj ranks amongst some of India's greatest warriors, some vital details of his career remain unknown. The alien Muslim spell on India has been so blighting that no body seems to have bothered to piece together the life story of this great warrior and last Hindu emperor from beginning to end. This is a measure of India's tragic neglect of its brave and patriotic traditions.
Prithvi Raj Chauhan is also known as Rai Pithora. The surname Chauhan is the corrupt form of Chahaman. This solar dynasty hailing from Sambhar and Ajmer has given India some of her most distinguished rulers. A scion of that family, Vigraharaj IV, was not only a great warrior and ruler but also a celebrated scholar who wrote a Sanskrit drama.
Prithvi Raj's father, Someshwar, was the brother of Vigraharaj IV. The story of Prithvi Raj and his ruler colleagues of different principalities in India engrossed in their petty squabbles and enmities while Muslim hyenas prowled on India's borders, make depressing reading.
Bheemdeo, the ruler of Gujarat, had killed Prithvi Raj's father Someshwar in battle. Prithvi Raj was, therefore, itching to avenge his father's death. An opportunity presented itself when Bheemdeo asked for the hand in marriage of Ichchhini Kumari, the daughter of Jait Parmar, the ruler of Abu. When his suit was rejected, he threatened invasion. Jait Parmar sought Prithvi Raj's help. Prithvi Raj was only too willing to oblige because he had an old score to settle with Bheemdeo. In the battle fought on the banks of the Sabarmati river within Bheemdeo's territory, Prithvi Raj inflicted a crushing defeat on the former. A grateful Jait Parmar then gave his daughter Ichchhini Kumari in marriage to the proud victor Prithvi Raj.
Prithvi Raj's capital had been Ajmer. That non-descript modern name derives from the delightful Sanskrit word Ajaymeru. What is currently known as the Moinuddin Chishti tomb, the Taragadh, the Adhai-din-ka-Zopda, the Annasagar lake and the city palace, all existed during Prithvi Raj's times. They were part of his fortifications. And yet they have been falsely ascribed to subsequent Muslim usurpers by sycophant chroniclers. The palace in Ajmer town, mischievously credited to Akbar, was the palace in which Prithvi Raj used to stay when in town and not in the nearby mountain fortress of Taragadh.
By a stroke of luck Prithvi Raj also became the owner of the large territories forming part of the kingdom of Delhi. Anangpal, the maternal grandfather of Prithvi Raj, ruled in Delhi. He had two daughters. One of them was the mother of Prithvi Raj while the other had a son called Jaichand who ruled at Kannauj. Having no son, Anangpal willed away the kingdom to Prithvi Raj.
Obviously, so far as bravery and patriotism were concerned, Jaichand was no match to Prithvi Raj. Ananagpal too, in his great wisdom, refused to treat the kingdom of Hindusthan as a chattel to be divided equally between his two maternal grandsons, Prithvi Raj and Jaichand. With unerring judgment he selected Prithvi Raj as his sole heir and successor. He was not the one to countenance any fragmentation of his kingdom. Apparently, Prithvi Raj's weakness in believing in the faithless words of treacherous Muslim invaders, his generosity to his inveterate and unscrupulous Muslim enemies and complacency were later developments.
But wise as Anangpal's choice was, it caused short-sighted jealous and avaricious Jaichand a deep heart-burn. He felt specially piqued because he was much senior in age. Burning in ambition to go down in history as an unchallenged emperor of Hindusthan, Jaichand commenced the traditional Rajsooya Yajnya (sacrifice) to proclaim and claim emperorship. He had a daughter called Sanyogita who felt drawn toward Prithvi Raj.
As a matter of cold formality, Jaichand had invited Prithvi Raj to the Yajnya. It is customary for the host, on such occasions, to allocate various duties connected with the ceremony to his kith and kin so that the guests may be well looked after. To spite Prithvi Raj, Jaichand appointed him chief of the palace guard for the duration of the ceremony. Thereby Prithvi Raj had not only to keep standing outside the palace but do humble obeisance to all and sundry. This imposed duty did not quite accord with his reputation as a fearless warrior and patriot who held promise of being a future emperor.
Prithvi Raj made most of the humble role assigned to him by the inimical master of ceremonies and eloped with the latter's daughter Sanyogita who was already head over heels in love with him (A.D. 1175).
This added to the enmity between the two. Prithvi Raj now made Delhi his home. In 1183 A.D. he launched on a career of conquest and annexed Bundelkhand and other adjoining regions.
It was Prithvi Raj's ambition to consolidate his numerous fragmented kingdoms in one country-wide realm under his leadership. And but for his complacence, misplaced generosity, naivet and haughtiness, he held great promise of being one of India's most farsighted, brave and patriotic rulers.
JAICHAND, THE TRAITORTradition has it that Prithvi Raj inflicted 14 crushing defeats on Muslim invaders. But he allowed the enemy to hover on India's borders instead of following the latter to his source and nipping the enemy there. India has committed this blunder umpteen times. It is no use merely turning out hyenas, wolves and tigers from the house, slamming the door in their face and allowing them to go on prowling outside while we sit pretty inside. In the meantime, the simple people in the countryside are ravaged and made to turn against their own country by forced change of religion. Unfortunately, this is happening even today in India and our rulers refuse to learn any lesson from history.
Why teach history in our schools and colleges at all if history is not to teach us any lesson?
But our contemporary leaders are doing something worse. They are fattening and battening the enemy at the cost of the Indian tax-payer by supplying him with our money and our river waters and wishing him many happy returns of his umpteen invasions.
Jaichand, a cousin of Prithvi Raj, was chafing under imaginary scores he had to settle against the latter. Prithvi Raj's rising fortune, valor and victories, added fuel to Jaichand's fire of envy. He swore vengeance at any cost. He, in league with the king of Pattan, in impotent rage against Prithvi Raj's waxing fortune invited Mohammed Ghori, a Muslim gangster marauder prowling on India's borders. Can one imagine a more stupid and suicidal act?
Ghori was only too glad to have some royal Indian stooges to underwrite his adventure in India and avail himself of their royal protection to wage war against mighty Prithvi Raj Chauhan.
The two armies met at a place called Narain alias Tarain or Taraaori in 1191 A.D. According to Farishta, Narain is on the banks of the Sarsuti, 14 miles from Thaneshwar. General Cunningham places it on the banks of the Rakshi river, four miles southwest of Tirauri and ten miles to the north of Karnal. Taraaori was later named Azimabad.
Mohammed Ghori's army was so thoroughly routed that to save his reputation with his gang he rushed lance in hand in the thick of the fray at the elephant on which Gobindrai of Delhi was mounted. The Rai struck back and inflicted a gushing wound on Ghori's arm with his long lance. A Muslim chronicler, Minhaj-us- Siraj, describes these moments of Ghori's agony: "The Sultan reined back his horse and turned aside, and the pain of the wound was so insufferable that he could not support himself on horse-back. The Mussalman army gave way and could not be controlled...When the Mussalmans lost sight of the Sultan, a panic fell upon them; they fled and halted not until they were safe from the pursuit of the victors" (Pg. 296, Vol. II, Elliot and Dowson).
Muslim accounts say that Mohammed Ghori was whisked away by a young Khilji. But Hindu accounts, which seem to be more reliable, assert that Ghori was brought a captive before Prithvi Raj. With characteristic treachery and faithlessness of his tribe, Ghori shed crocodile tears over is folly and craved for pardon promising never again to violate India's borders. Prithvi Raj was a fool to believe in the Muslim's promises. He should have been well aware of the depredations and treason since the time of Mohammed Qasem.
In order that such lessons of history may not be lost on the reigning monarch, according to ancient traditions, a monarch's routine enjoined upon him to spend some time every day listening to the history of his ancestors and country.
Either that thoughtful provision had not been continued during Prithvi Raj's time or he failed to derive any benefit from it, and he ordered Mohammed Ghori's unconditional release.
In this Prithvi Raj should have taken a lesson from the Muslims themselves. In Muslim internecine warfare, brother used to murder a brother for the father's throne or at least scoop out the eyes of his fraternal adversary. Had Prithvi Raj dealt the same punishment and meted out justice to the aggressor, he would have saved generations of Indians untold misery and humiliation. Instead, he committed the folly of allowing an injured snake to slither away only to come back with more venom. All that Mohammed Ghori was asked to remit by way of reparations was 8,000 horses which the gangster gladly did.
The success seems to have gone to Prithvi Raj's head. He became progressively unmindful of his royal duties. His wife Sanyogita appears to have exercised an unwholesome influence upon him. They perhaps preferred to live in a romantic isolation!
Prtihvi Raj made himself unapproachable even to his counselors and erstwhile colleagues. He neglected the cultivation of good and friendly alliances with his fellow princes. On the other hand, he alienated the sympathies of many because of his haughty isolation. Chaos and dissatisfaction followed Prithvi Raj's despotic and whimsical behavior. An honest and faithful nobleman, Chamundrai, was put in prison on some flimsy and trumped up charges. The vigilant chief minister, Kalmas, was done to death. This alienated the sympathies of some of Prithvi Raj's courtiers. They plotted against him and secretly extended their help to Ghori. Among the contemporary rulers Bheemdeo was not interested in helping Prithvi Raj because of their old antagonism. Jaichand, though a near cousin, was a sworn enemy of Prithvi Raj. Jaichand invited Ghori once again to attack Prithvi Raj.
Their second engagement took place in 1192 A.D. again on the same battlefield near Thaneshwar. About 150 princes had gathered under Prtihvi Raj's standard but their hearts were hardly with Prithvi Raj. He had done nothing to win their love and loyalty.
Prithvi Raj had also neglected gathering intelligence of the Muslim enemy's armies and moves. Ghori, on his own part, had shown better earnestness of purpose by meticulously collecting all intelligence about Prithvi Raj's army and tactics.
Aware of the great threat that Ghori, aided by Jaichand and some other Hindu princes presented, Prithvi Raj's supporters such as Chamundrai, Samar Sinha and Hamir Hada swore by the holy Ganga water to stand by him in battle at all costs.
When the engagement commenced Indian valor proved superior and Ghori's ranks were broken. As they fell back in disorder and prepared to flee, Prithvi Raj's army, either due to bad leadership or complacence and neglect, fell into disarray and set in disorderly pursuit of the enemy. Assessing the potentialities of the situation, Ghori retreated to a safe distance.
He then negotiated for a truce for the night. Drunk with two easy victories, Prithvi Raj's army consented not to press the attack during the night. They sheathed their swords and snored away with a faithless and treacherous enemy like Ghori licking his wounds. Seeing Prithvi Raj's army complacently encamped and dotingly resting for the night, Ghori led a stealthy but savage attack at the dead of night. Taken unawares, the Rajputs, despite their supreme bravery, were annihilated. Prithvi Raj was captured and produced before Ghori. When Prithvi Raj reminded Ghori of the day when the former had magnanimously allowed the latter to go free, Mohammed Ghori contemptuously replied that he was not an idiot to let loose an enemy. So saying he ordered that Prithvi Raj be tortured to death.. His order was faithfully carried out. A valiant but stupid son of India thus met his death at the hands of a 32-year-old criminal, Ghori.
There is, however, another version about Prtihvi Raj's end. See the previous narration on Mohammed Ghori, the terrorist and tyrant. Traitor Jaichand too met a sad end; neither did Ghori die peacefully in his bed among his kith and kin. His head was chopped off in his own tent by a group of Hindu warriors.
The story of Prithvi Raj and Jaichand should serve as an eye- opener to India's rulers and prevent them from repeating for the umpteenth time the same mistake of complacency and naively fattening the enemy on India's frontiers.