prithviraj chauhan was the king of ajaymeru ( now ajmer ) ,who also ruled over delhi .he was the most powerful king in north india ,and had incurred the wrath of jaychand ,the ruler of kanauj in UP , by eloping with his daughter sanyogita .
all these rulers , including those in UP, were rajputs ,who dominated north india .
they were descendants of scythian invaders from central asia ,who had intermarried into local people after settling in india. because the brahmins had realised that these warlike people were set to be the rulers of india for a long time , they had smartly co-opted the rajputs into the hindu system , by declaring them to be kshatriyas.this happened in the seventh century ,after the death of emperor harshavardhan.
by the time of prithvi , the rajputs had dominated india for a period of 5 and a half centuries.they were a people who followed a code of chivalry .......did not hurt innocent women and children in war ,did not chase an opponent who turned away to flee ,and did not attack or destroy the towns and cities or even villages ......indeed ,people went about calmly working and tilling their fields while armies fought battles nearby !!......in short , dharmayudda.......
they also considered death in battle the passageway to heaven if they fought by principles of dharmayudda ,and were not at all afraid to die........but the major weakness of this was that to them , the result of the battle was not important ,it was more important to fight bravely without compromising their principles.
this was okay while fighting other indians , but was glaringly exposed while fighting against determined opponents on an international scale .
not all times they were unsucessful however , and a major arab invasion was defeated by raja bhoj ,the king of ujjain ,in the ninth century.
also muhammad ghauri ,the opponent of prithvi was defeated by the rajput ruler of gujrat ,and by prithvi himself in early encounters.
but in the 11th century , one of the greatest generals mahmud of ghazni invaded india 17 times ,including somnath in gujrat ,which he utterly destroyed, and the weakness of the rajput military machine was glaringly exposed.
the chief advantage of the turks was archery , and their main technique was the parthian shot.......this involved turning back while the horse was galloping at full speed ,and still be able to fire the arrow accurately backwards on the chasing opponent.
thus the opponent could be lured in to chasing the turkish army which feigned retreat ,and suddenly the fleeing turkish army would turn back on their horses and fire arrows on the enemy ,surprising the opponent.
this was not easy , as firing arrows backwards accurately while the horse was moving forwrds required a lot of skill and practice ,but the turks had mastered it.
mahmud of ghazni's invasions resulted in loss of punjab ,northwest frontier ,while sind and baluchistan had already gone to arabs.
thus the area that has become pakistan was under muslim occupation for a much longer time than other parts of india ,which explains the greater muslim population in that area , and the creation of pakistan.
later mahmuds dynasty was replaced by the ghurids , to whom muhammad ghauri ,prithviraj's principle opponent belonged.as punjab passed to him from mahmuds dynasty ,he already had a foothold in india.
now he confronted the brave ,chivalrous prithviraj , ruler of rajasthan ,and dhillika ( delhi ).
but afraid to confront such a powerful and capable ruler ,he first tried his hand in invading gujrat . in this ,he was soundly beaten by the rajput ruler of gujrat .
however , jaychand ,the king of kanauj , proved traitor to his country by inviting ghauri to invade india and crush prithvi , in order to take revenge for the humiliation he had suffered ,when his daughter sanyogita had eloped with prithvi.
realising that cracks were appearing between the rajputs themselves , ghauri decided to invade delhi .declaring that '' he would send the cow-faced hindus to hell '' he proclaimed jehad ,and advanced with a force of maybe 50-60,000 horsemen on delhi ,which was governed by govind rai ,prithviraj's brother .
but as luck would have it , prithvi was in the vicinity of delhi ( actually dhillika ), not in ajaymeru ( ajmer ) his capital.he had with him a force of one lakh cavalry( horsemen ).
the two met at the village of tarain ,near thaneswar north of delhi.
mahmud's army was divided into 3 wings , right ,left and center.
the rajputs had all taken opium , which made them forget all attachment to the world , and fight with reckless bravery.
they attacked in a solid mass onto the turks. the turks were overwhelmed by the superior numbers of the rajputs , and their death defying heroics.
the sheer force of the rajput attack seperated the right and left wing of the turkish army from the center , and the turks began to lose heart.
ghauri decided to bolster up his force's courage and attacked govind rai ,prithviraj's brother with a lance that broke his teeth . but undaunted , govind rai picked up a spear ,and threw with accurate aim , wounding ghauri ,who fell from his horse.
just as govind rai's bodyguards began to close in to kill ghauri ,a khalji ( turk stteled in afghanistan ) soldier quickly picked him up on his horse ,and carried him to safety.
by this time the rout of the turks was complete ,and the first battle of tarain had gone in favour of the rajputs .
ghauri had done the mistake of meeting the brave rajputs in frontal charge ,where the rajputs excelled ,instead of using archers to attack them from far......hence he had lost.
true to their chivalrous spirit ,the rajputs did not try to destroy the retreating turks ......a mistake which would cost india dear in the days to come...........as many turks fled with their lives intact , free to fight another battle......
after this ,the rajputs laid seige to the fort of bhatinda , but did not possess seige engines , and could not capture it ........eventually ,it was starved into surrender after thirteen months........ but this again exposed indias lack of military knowledge .
prithviraj returned in triumph to his capital which was gayly decorated to welcoming him by his wife sanyogita .here , he remained immersed in pleasures and enjoyment , and neglected the defence of the frontiers. this was his grave mistake as he should have realised that ghauri would attack again. prithvi clearly had become overconfident of his strength.
his achievements were sung by his court poet chanda bardai ,who has left us an account from which we also know the story of prithviraj from his veiwpoint ......as also the story of his romance with sanyogita.
not so ghauri ,who was so incensed by his defeat ,that he put the generals who had fled from the battlefield in prison ,and freed them only when they took an oath to be ready to die on the battlefield if they fought again.
next year , he advanced fully prepared , with a force of no less than one lakh and twenty thousand horsemen .
such preparations could not go unnoticed , and prithviraj called upon all the rajput kings in north india ,who advanced to help him. his total forces numbered a mighty 3 lakh horsemen.
again the two armies came face to face at tarain .it was an year after the earlier battle ....the year was 1192 , a fateful year that would change the destinies of india.
the rajputs sent a haughty message telling ghauri of their vast forces.clearly they were overconfident of success. to this ghauri replied by lying that he was indeed impressed by the size of the rajput force ,and he wanted to negotiate a peace and return home.
the rajpots became so relaxed by his answer that they spent the night wining , dining and dancing and taking opium , thinking that no war was going to be fought.
next dawn ,they were rudely woken up from their slumber and morning ablutions,as 1,20,000 turkish cavalrymen charged them from all sides.........
this time ghauri had brought along his horse archers ,who formed four wings ,and surrounded the rajputs from all sides ,firing arrows.
as the rajputs tried to close in with them for hand to hand combat , they would retreat , and fire the arrows backwards while retreating , the classic parthian shot.
the rajputs were frustrated as they could not get into grips with the enemy , and the constant shower of arrows harassed them and began to thin their numbers. this continued for 3 hours.
as rajputs were dwindling in numbers , and began to tire out ,ghauri sent in his reserve force ,who were heavy cavalry expert in hand -to hand combat ,and wore chain armour. these troops were fresh ,and had not fought ,so they were untired. rajputs ,on the other hand ,were tired ........above all ,they had not kept a reserve ,to face untired enemy troops .Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/general/36388-story-prithviraj-chauhan-islamic-conquest-india.html
this turkish reserve force charged at full gallop into the rajputs ,who were tired by now by the constant skirmishing ,and did not have the energy for hand to hand combat anymore.
slowly but surely the rajputs were cut down .......Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=36388
finally ,they began to flee .....it was now every man for himself.....
the turks did not show them any chivalry , and a great massacre began .......
prithviraj ,the tragic hero of the tale , proved that he was no hero at all, by trying to escape from the battlefield on a horse ,instead of dying a true general's ( and needless to say ,rajput's )death ,by suffering the same fate as his soldiers........but to no avail ,as he was caught by turkish soldiers and put to death.
nobody knows what happened to sanyogita and chanda bardai . as far sanyogita's father jaychand is concerned , the traitor did not live to relish his revenge for long ,as the turks invaded his domains and killed him ,destroying his capital kanauj .
with that this saga had come to an end.......