India is on the move. It is already a great power. It is, therefore, time to shed the hangovers of the past. And one such is the canard that ?200 Muslim horsemen conquered India.? No such thing ever happened. This was the Muslim and British line. It is time we knew the facts.
Then how do we account for the defeat of the Hindus at the hands of the Muslims? This has to do with the philosophic outlook of the Hindus. The Hindu has been an atheist, an agnostic, but never a hedonist. To eat and be merry has never been his outlook in life. Naturally, the Hindu gave little attention to his political life. Which is why the Hindus have no place in the political history of the world. Only such a view of ancient India provides the key to understanding and explaining India'slong subjection to foreign rule.
To the Hindu conquest of other people was never a matter of prestige. What mattered to him was self-conquest.
Then, again, it is wrong to judge the Muslim attack on India in isolation. It was part of a major upsurge of the Arab people, inspired by a religion which openly called upon them to wage a war on the world. And they fought with the resources of an empire. But our historians never project the Muslim invasion in this manner. Remember, within four years of the Prophet'sdeath, the Arabs brought the mighty Sassanian (Persian) empire under their control!
But it took them (and Muslims in general) 500 years to get a foothold in India.? Shows the obstinate resistance of the Hindus. Remember, Alexander dared not go deeper into India. Then what was it that won the day for the Arabs and Muslims? The fact that they were inspired by a religious frenzy. Hindus were not. They did not even understand the nature of this frenzy.
But they fought bravely. I?ll give two major instances: The first Arab attack on India was on Thane (Bombay) in 636. It took the Muslims 570 years more before they could establish themselves in Delhi. Surprisingly, Muslim rule came to an end after 500 years with the demise of Aurangzeb in 1707. Between 636 AD and 1206 AD, the Hindus never ceased to resist.
Muslim historians say that there were two major reasons for the defeat of the Hindus:1) superiority of the Muslims over Hindus and 2) the caste system.
Let us examine these claims. The Caliph Muawiyah (661-680 AD) sent as many as six expeditions against Sind. All of them were repulsed with great force and massacre. And Sind was largely Buddhist! The aim of the Arabs was to loot, not conversion. They wanted the wealth of India, its women and slaves.
The repeated Arab failure to capture Sind made Caliph Uthman to call for a report on the matter. Hajjaj, governor of Iraq, however, mounted an expedition, but it was defeated by the son of Dahir, the king of Sind. The Caliph gave up all hope of conquering Sind. Hajjaj, then pleaded for a new attempt. He had an army of 50,000. He put them under his 19-year-old in-law, bin Qasim and himself guided the battles. But this time the Hindus were betrayed by a pries (712 AD).
It is true Dahir was no great general. He hardly knew the nature of the Islamic upsurge. And he was blind believer in astrology.
My second story: The Arab armies came close to the Indian border, i.e. Afghanistan, in 636 AD. And yet they could not break though the Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms for another 350 years! Such was the resistance of the Hindus.
Jayapala of the Sahiya dynasty (Punjab) tried to nip the mischief at the source. He mounted an attack on Ghazni, but was driven back by a fierce storm.
Subuktigin (977-997 AD), father of Mahmud of Ghazni, had a series of battles with Jayapala, but could not prevail. The Muslim historian says that Jayapala'ssoldiers were as ?impetuous as a torrent?. They could not be defeated. At last Subuktigin resorted to a trick. He threw beef into the wells from where Jayapala'ssoldiers drew water.
No doubt the Muslims were clever. But it is not proved that they were superior. And the world knows that it was a priest who betrayed India at Somnath.
Caste was never a decisive factor. But weapons were. And it is not true that Hindus willingly accepted Islam. Al-Bi runi says that the Hindus held the Muslims in ?inveterate hatred.? On the soldiers of Jayapala, Hassan Nizami writes in his book ?Taj-ul-Maasir? that ?they wee demons in human form.?
No wonder, Mahmud employed one Tilak to head his Central Asian army. And his son followed the tradition. And let us not forget that the Mughal and British empires were sustained by Indian soldiers.
For years after Mahmud, the Afghans dared not attack India. But when they did under Mohammed Ghori, he was soundly defeated twice. What demoralised the Hindus was the cruelty of the invaders. Ziyauddin Burani, a contemporary of Khusrau, writes that wars against the Hindus were no ordinary wars, but were massacres of extermination. It was perhaps against this unheard of brutality that the Hindus gave up resistance and withdrew into a shell.