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The Story Of Prithviraj Chauhan And The Islamic Conquest Of India--In My Words




Movie Critic
Jul 19, 2011
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 .

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 .......

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.......


Apr 3, 2005
Thanks for your version .It looks more reliable than which I posted Earlier.You are probably right that someone may have Changed the battle of Panipat with Battle of Tarain.BTW here is another version

In the second battle of Tarain, Shahabuddin Ghori defeated Prithviraj Chauhan. This happened in 1192. It was not that Ghori had a army larger in number than Prithvi. After studying the various accounts of history, the reliable and non reliable sources, we get the clear picture. The war was nothing but the shataranj ka khel between the two great kings. One Hindu and another Muslim. Prithvi had three thousand elephants in his army. These elephants were war-like and fierce. In the first battle of Tarain, which was took place in 1191, these elephants had played a major role in the victory of Prithviraj. Ghori had not a single elephant in his army at that time. His army was also small in number. His army was confused in the first battle as the soldiers of Ghori were not aware how to fight against the war-like elephants...

After the defeat in first battle of Tarain, when Ghori returned to Ghazni, he punished his generals who had ran away from the battlefield. Then he assigned a task to his new trusted general named Hammad, who was from Nishapur (nowadays in Iran and nearer to the border of Afghanistan). Hammad was assigned a task to find a trick to fight against these warlike elephants. Hammad did some experiments and within a month he was succeed to find a solution. In Ghazni he gave a demo of his new experiment to his Master and Ghori approved it and implemented it in the second battle of Tarain. What was that new trick?....
In the battlefield, Prithviraj was unaware of the fact that Ghori had come along with a new trick to take on the challenge of his elephants. In the beginning of the battle, Prithvi's three thousand elephants attacked Ghori's army from front view. Ghori signaled Hammad. Hammad's Mukaddamtuljaish cavalry was ready to take on this challenge. This force immediately counter attacked these warlike elephants. Each elephant of Prithviraj was attacked by three TulJaish soldiers. The trick was such that, One TulJaish soldier kept an elephant engaged in a fight with him while the two other TulJaish soldiers one from his left and other from his right side attacked on elephant and cut its trunk with their swords. Badly injured and jolted elephant then became more fierce and turned to Prithvi's own army and attacked on it madly. The elephants who were able to divert towards Ghori's army by Prithvi's men forcefully were jolted by the second fierce attack by Hammad's TulJaish men. These TulJaish soldiers rode towards the back of the elephants and cut each of their two back feet. Due to this attack the elephants sat on the ground and unable to move forward. Hammad's Tuljaish army thus cut around nine hundred elephants of Prithvi mercilessly. After seeing this view Prithvi called the rest of the two thousand elephants back and drove them to the back of his entire army.
By getting the first success in the battle, Ghori's confidence thus increased. In the afternoon he played second trick. He called all of his generals and made a plan. He himself along with his forty thousand Kalb cavalry attacked on Prithvi's army from front side. He had his general Kharmil with his forty thousand Maisra cavalry. His second troop of forty thousand Maimna cavalry under the leadership of Kutubuddin Aibak attacked Prithvi's army from left hand side. His third troop of forty thousand cavalry of TulJaish under the leadership of Hammad attacked Prithvi's army from right hand side. The Rajputs thus get confused and diverted into three groups to take on this new challenge.
When the battle was in its full edge, Hammad, the general of Ghori played the third trick. He kept his two commanders fighting at the right hand side of Prithvi and he himself plucked out his twelve thousand Tuljaish cavalry and rode five miles away from the battlefield and attacked on the back side of Prithvi's army. He attacked on the elephants of Prithvi, who were drove and kept at the back of his army by the Hindu king from the battlefield. Hammad's troop attacked these elephants and cut their trunks. With this sudden attack, the elephants got panic and to save theirs souls they marched straight on Prithvi's army. Thus Prithvi's army was caught in a trap. He was attacked from all the four sides.
Now it is no need to say what was the result of this Shataranj ki chal. Ghori won the battle. Prithvi did not play well and hence lost the war. No doubt, Ghori was the enemy of Rajputana India. But we should not forget here that he was an able field marshal. He was restless, dream chaser, real heart warrior and the man of the field. He was introspective. He corrected his errors in the first battle of Tarain and rectified them in the second battle. Hats of him! It is not that, Sachin Tendulkar is good but Sanath Jaisurya or Brain Lara aren't. Though Lara and Jaisurya played against India, they played well. Ghori also, played politically and militarily against Rajputana India, but played well....There is no point to blame him blindly and accused him to be greedy, rapist, cruel and all...It's all ********, I think....He got the noble generals like Hammad and Kutubuddin Aibak who made him champion. That's all...



1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
ashdoc ji

Please provide a link for your article. I know this is "in you words" but we still need a source url. Thank you!