A page from history
The Khan and the Lama
By Dr Ganeshi Lal Verma
IN AD 1251 Prince Manju Shri or Mongbe was elected the emperor by the Buddhists of Mongolia. The emperor wanted to undertake an expedition to China, but the news from Iran, especially the mountain region to the south of Caspean sea were also disturbing. The fortress of Alamut was the stronghold of Muslim terrorists. So the emperor assigned Iran and all the regions up to Egypt to his brother, Sulagnua Kanha, commonly known as Haluku Khan.
Khan therefore embarked on the conquest. He was successful in breaking the back of revolt in the mountain region; the fortress of Alamut was taken over and the terrorists were executed in large numbers. Soon the principalities in the north-west of Iran and in Zagros mountains were also retaken. As an astute politician, Khan wanted to occupy Baghdad, the seat of Abbasid Caliphate and the treasure-house of Muslim world.
The Lamas and the Bikkhus (Bakshis) were also insisting on the same course, though for different reasons. Under the circumstances, Khan consulted his courtiers and astronomers, especially Hisham-ud-din, so says Jama-ul-Taivarikh of Rashid-ud-din. In the absence of any other version to our knowledge, this has to be accepted. Hisham-ud-din, the astronomer, advised Khan not to undertake expedition against the Caliph?the Prince of Hajarat Mohammad'suncle Abbas? family. He warned the Khan that up to that time every king who dared to march against Baghdad and the descendants of Abbas had maintained neither his throne nor his life. And Hisham-ud-din added: ?If Khan refused to listen to my (Hisham-ud-din?s) advise and persisted in his design, six serious misfortunes would result?1. All the horses of Khan would die and the soldiers would be attacked with incurable diseases. 2. The Sun will not rise. 3. The rain will not fall. 4. Violent winds will blow. 5. Land will no longer produce plants. 6. The great Khan himself would die in the course of a year.
The Buddhists called this hypocrisy and conspiracy of Hisham-ud-din to Muslim King. Khan then sent for Nasir-ud-din Tusi to advise him on the situation. Nasir-ud-din (the author of the Jama-ul-Taivarikh says that Tusi was frightened and thought that Khan wanted to test his loyalty.) said: ?Of all the misfortunes, none will come to pass?, adding further that ?Khan would be installed in the palace of Caliph?.
Hisham-ud-din, the astronomer, advised Khan not to undertake expedition against the Caliph?the Prince of Hajarat Mohammad'suncle Abbas? family. He warned Khan that up to that time every king who dared to march against Baghdad and the descendants of Abbas had maintained neither his throne nor his life.
So Khan decided to march upon Baghdad. Crossing the Zagros mountains, the Khan'sarmy advanced to Baghdad and besieged the capital on February 10, 1258. There was utter confusion in the capital. The Buddhists took the city by storm and laid hold of the person of Caliph?Qadir Billah. The Khan'ssoldiers obliged him to show the treasure when that was done. The Caliph was killed in such a way that not a single drop of his blood fell on the earth. He was smothered with carpet.
In Baghdad, indeed in Iraq, Iran and Central Asia, the Buddhists kings continued to rule for decades. They tried to propagate Buddhism and built Baudh-viharas. The Buddhist version, however, is not available to us. The Shia as well as Christian versions of religious policies of the Buddhist emperors are there. And they say that Sunnis were overthrown and Sunnis as well as Christians were allowed to build mosques and churches. Shias organised themselves and elected naqib, or Shias? representative to advise the government on their problems.
These versions of the Christians and Muslims are obviously biased as there is no connected description on which a reasoned appreciation of the situation could be based. For, we know that rulers like Halaku, Abqa and a number of others were convinced Buddhists and tried their best to propagate the Buddhist faith.
(The writer can be contacted at 4423, Arya Pura, Subzi Mandi, Delhi-110 007.)