Hindu Resistance to Muslim Invaders – Excerpts

PUTTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

Hindu society owes it to its own survival in the present and to the prosperity of its future generations to repudiate this perverse version of India’s history, and to put the record straight so that no one dares divorce Hindu spirituality from Hindu heroism, Hindu nation from the Hindu homeland, and Hindu culture from the national culture of India. Hindu saints, sages and scholars in general and Hindu historians in particular have to come forward to do their duty towards their society and culture and to pay homage to their ancient heritage. Hindu Dharmashãstras have enjoined upon every Hindu to repay according to his or her capacity the rishi-riNa, that is, the debt we owe to our seers and sages, by passing on to the next generation the Veda and the Itihãsa-PurãNa, that is, the spiritual and cultural vision of Sanatana Dharma and the historical tradition of Hindu heroism. In the present situation, that is perhaps also the best way to repay thepitri-riNa, that is, the debt we owe to our forefathers for the protection, preservation and perpetuation of our great Hindu society and its continuously creative culture.

Scholar and historian to repay the rishi-riNa in an ample measure is Dr. Ram Gopal Misra whose  monograph is titled ” Indian Resistance to Early Muslim Invaders Upto 1206 A.D”., Anu Books, Shivaji Road, Meerut city, 1983. The book has been reprinted in 1992.

The present thesis, writes Dr. Misra in his Preface, is an attempt to provide a connected account of the prolonged and sustained efforts made by Indians to stem the tide of early Muslim invaders. The political and military resistance was spread over more than five and half centuries till its final collapse in northern India in the last decade of the 12th Century A.D. For long, historians have emphasised merely the ultimate collapse of the Indians, ignoring completely the resistance offered by them. It is a fact of history that such sustained resistance as encountered by the Muslim arms in India was not faced by them in any other land conquered by them. The Indian resistance had another facet, which was the outcome of the resolute determination of the Indians to preserve their religious and cultural identity. While country after country, from the straits of Gibralter to the banks of the Indus, witnessed the rapid Islamization of their individual cultures, even Northern India managed to survive as a predominantly heathen land even after five centuries of Muslim rule

Dr. Misra’s monograph is pertinent not only to a past period of Indian history but also to our situation at present. The lessons which this learned study draws for us can be ignored by us only at our own peril.

Firstly, it highlights Hindu heroism in the face of an inveterate Islamic imperialism. Such heroism has seldom been seen in the annals of any other people. Read with the record of similar heroism in a later period and in a continued struggle with the same foe, the story can help us correct the current notion that Hindus have always been, and continue to be, a race of lily-livered cowards who have invariably run away from every contest. The notion has become prevalent not only among the non-Hindus but also among the Hindus themselves due to a wrong teaching of Indian history over a long period of time. Hindus have to revive and re-affirm their old tradition of heroism. They have to make it known to all concerned that they are not going to tolerate those forces and factions which question the independence and integrity of their country, nor remain passive towards those elements which are trying to temper with the Hindu character of their homeland in the name of Secularism, or composite culture, or minority rights, or some other subversive slogan.

Secondly, it presents an authentic portrait of Islam as a political ideology of aggressive and tenacious imperialism which will not stop at any means or methods in order to achieve its ultimate aim – the conquest of all non-Muslim lands and the conversion of all infidels (non-Muslims). Islam has legitimised in the name of its godling, Allah, and from the mouth of its prophet, Muhammad, not only a permanent war against the unbelievers but also the plunder, slaughter, and enslavement of all those who get defeated in war, or allow themselves to be subverted otherwise. Hindus have been misled, mostly by their own intellectuals and political leaders, into believing that Islam is also a religion as good as or, in some respects, even better than their own Sanatana Dharma. They have to realize and correct this mistake before it is too late. So long as Hindus entertain the false belief that Islam is a religion and that Muslims are a religio-cultural minority, the so-called communal problem will never be solved.

Coming to serious and scholarly explanations of Hindu defeats, Dr. Misra deals, first of all, with the defects of the political system of the Hindu states and observes that disunity among the Hindu states was not a very material cause of these defeats. No doubt the Hindu states were for ever engaged in internecine conflicts among themselves but such quarrels were a common feature of the Middle Ages everywhere and more so in Central Asia. If such almost intermittent struggle among the Muslims of Central Asia did not prevent them from expanding their rule over other lands, it is useless to blame Indian rulers internecine struggle for their ultimate collapse.It may be added that in spite of their disunity, not a single Indian state ever sided with the invader, nor failed to put up a resolute resistance in its own turn.

Also, Dr. Misra does not agree with the thesis that Indians at that time lacked national consciousness, love of country and pride of freedom.  He writes: That Indians were fully alive to the dangers of foreign invasion and their love of the country was equally matched by desire to fight for it, is a reality that can be substantiated. Each wave of Muslim invasion created a profound stir among the Indian states and they often pooled their resources to meet the aggressor. He cites evidence of at least four confederacies formed by Hindu states during this period. The evidence is not a Hindu concoction but has been culled from the accounts of medieval Muslim historians.

More on the resistance is in the book below

Excerpts from the book – Heroic Hindu Resistance to Muslim Invader

Coming to the real causes of Hindu defeats, they can be summarised in a few points below :

REAL CAUSES OF HINDU DEFEATS ( IN SOME BATTLES )

Dr. Misra lays his probing finger on the real factors which contributed to Hindu defeats during this period. The very first factor, according to him, was the lack of a forward policy vis-a-vis the Muslim invaders.In his own words, What the Rajputs really lacked was a spirit of aggression so conspicuous among the Muslims, and a will to force the war in the enemys dominions and thus destroy the base of his power.

Secondly, a forward policy could not be pursued in the absence of a strong central government for even the whole of northern India which could think and act for the whole country. As a result, The Rajput rulers found it difficult to look beyond the territorial limits of their own kingdoms and their regional interests pushed the national issues into the background. Compared to a strong central authority, the various confederacies organised by the Rajputs proved to be patch-works which came apart either under the impact of military defeat, or as soon as the immediate purpose of stopping the enemy had been served.

Thirdly, the military organisation of the Rajputs was inferior as compared to that of the Muslims. The Rajputs depended mainly on feudal levies assembled on the spur of the moment. These feudal levies with no unity of training and organisation, coming together at the last moment, fighting under the leadership of and for their individual leaders, could not be expected to beat back an enemy united in purpose and organisation and acting as on coordinate unit.A medieval Muslim historian quoted by Dr. Misra said so in so many words: A commander with a heterogeneous army consisting of soldiers – a hundred from here and a hundred from there – cannot achieve anything. An army with so varied and so many component elements has never been able to achieve anything great.

Fourthly, The cavalry and mounted archers of the invading armies gave them a decisive superiority over the home forces. The Indian rulers too maintained cavalry units. But the Arabic and Turkoman horses were much better adapted to warfareThe second strong point of the Turkish military machine was its mounted archery. Their deadly arrows easily covered a range of eighty to hundred paces Reference to archery among the Indian armies after the age of the epics is conspicuous by its absence.

Lastly, the strategy and tactics employed by the invaders on the battlefield proved decisive in their favour. Indians failed to keep pace with the developments of military strategy taking place in Central Asia before the advent of Islam. The Arabs and Turks perfected them Besides, the traditional Rajput chivalry looked upon the battle as a ritual or a tournament for displaying their fighting skill and swordsmanship under well-recognised rules of sport. Did not Manu, the ancient law-giver proclaim A battle was ideally a gigantic tournament with many rules: a warrior fighting from a chariot might not strike one on foot; an enemy in flight, wounded or asking a quarter, might not be slain; the lives of enemy soldiers who had lost their weapons were to be respected; poisoned weapons were not to be used; homage and not annexation was the rightful fruit of victory. The Arabs and the Turks, on the other hand, knew no rules and waged a grim and ruthless struggle to destroy their enemies. Feints and sudden attacks, manoeuvering under the cover of darkness and pretending defeat and flights, keeping a large reserve to be used only at critical moments – all these took the Indians by surprise and crippled their fighting capacity. The Indians never tried to take advantage of their enemy’s weakness and perhaps considered it unchivalrous to do so. Such magnanimity on the part of Indian kings was a sure invitation to disaster against a ruthless foe who recognised no moral or ideological scruples in the pursuit of victory. 

SAPPERS AND MINERS OF ISLAMIC IMPERIALISM

Muslims had two more advantages in addition to their aggressiveness and superiority in the art of warfare. During this long period of Indian resistance, observes Dr. Misra, the infiltration of Arabs, and later on the Turks, continued almost unabated into India, both through armed invasions as well as through peaceful migration from Central Asia. The Hindus, true to their catholicity of religious outlook and rich tradition of tolerance, never obstructed the peaceful immigrants and even zealously granted them security and full religious freedom The greatest Chishti saint of India, Shaikh Muinuddin Chishti, came to Ajmer just before the battles of Tarain and was able to attract a number of devoted followers. It is all the more remarkable that this Hindu tolerance towards the Muslim merchants and mystics should have continued even after the invasions of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. As Professor Habib points out, the far-flung campaigns of Sultan Mahmud would have been impossible without an accurate knowledge of trade routes and local resources, which was probably obtained from Muslim merchants. The same can be said to hold good about the invasions of Muhammad Ghori or Qutbuddin Aibak. The sufis were working not only as the spies of Islamic imperialism but also as deceivers of gullible Hindu masses.

A BROTHERHOOD OF BANDITS

Secondly, rich plunder acted as a good supplement to the religious zeal of the Muslims. The Muslim practice of dividing the spoils of war between the leader and the soldiers might have encouraged the soldiers to follow their leaders through thick and thin. The Hindu soldiery had no such incentive. Hindu religion and culture forbade such beastly motives for bravery. But this was the very basis on which Muslim brotherhood had been organised from the very beginning. In its behaviour towards non-Muslim societies, it has always been a brotherhood of bandits.

These are the lessons we have to learn from the history of the period surveyed by Dr. Misra if we want to deal effectively with the new wave of Islamic aggression which is now trying to engulf us from within and without. Islam is still far from being cured of its self-righteousness. Its inborn imperialist instinct is impelling it towards a truncated India which it feels and finds to be an easy target. Let us not be taken in by the howls of contrived grievances which the spokesmen of Islam in India have started hawking in increasingly hysterical voices. In the history of Islam this has always been a prelude to predatory action. Hajjaj had hawked some grievances against Raja Dahir on the eve of equipping an armed force more formidable than any that had ever been sent against Sindh. The Pirpur Report of the Muslim League was only a preparation for the demand for Pakistan.

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2 thoughts on “Hindu Resistance to Muslim Invaders – Excerpts

  1. Arushi Dubey

    I am very proud that my grandfather wrote the book… ‘ indian resistance to early Muslim invasion upto 1206 A.D ‘ 🙂

    Reply
  2. Skanda

    There were indeed military reasons like asymmetric warfare that were disadvantageous for Hindus. Most important is the fact that barbarians invading a civilized land will always cause damage to civilization no matter who wins. Still, “Real Causes of Hindu Defeats” is a pre-assumption that Hindus indeed failed in defense. That is not true:

    1. The win-loss ratio of Hindus is higher than the enemy and this sense of proportion is lost on the defeatist analyses we tend to do.

    2. The assumption that the defeats Hindus saw indicate failure and not human loss after super human performance. The sheer number of battles each Rajput fought and the average life expectancy of a male of warrior groups in north west region during invasions tells us the mind boggling magnitude of struggle, which goes straight against the narrative of defeats and failures.

    So the perspective we have today is neither by sense of proportion nor by standards of performance of any known human civilization, accurate. One cannot imagine success to be some imaginary absolute lack of defeat – it is not “setting the bar high”, it is simply illogical and not going to give us any lessons for today. The lesson is positive that we have to learn from our ancestors, not indirect.

    Wars are civilizationally costly: in terms of wealth, in terms of denying creative leisure, in terms of destruction of precious civilizational creations. Civilizations that saw large wars in their homes seldom survived. Hindus not only survived, but kept up their creative potential to keep generating knowledge, wealth, valor. Which is why we could after all the struggle, bounce back as the biggest economy in 18th century, and not merely as a survivor of invasions. This sense of proportion is not visible in most narratives.

    Terming victory as failure, has several other logical lapses behind it. The difference between battles, wars, continued civilizational struggle is clouded.

    1. Hindus did not lose many battles compared to what we won, but civilizational damage happened to Hindus and not to the invading barbarian. This is usually interpreted as a Hindu defeat when it is simply not.

    2. Another example is the recently corrected articulation we get to see of the “27 year war” the Marathas waged from 1680 to 1707 where they lost many battles & won many but finally “won the war” by ultimately expanding the empire. The view of a centuries long war that Hindus waged does also need to be viewed thus. After Afghanistan (which was always a para national territory anyway) Hindus have NOT lost any territory (meaning recovered what they lost) until British broke Bharata into today’s Pakistan, Bangla Desh, Burma and India.

    3. The destruction done by British is usually clubbed with how Hindus dealt with Muslim invasions, which does not give the real picture of Hindu resurgence of 18th century, its magnitude, significance.

    4. Two major struggles are usually not correlated for the cumulative damage they do but the second one is usually seen as an on-par battle. For instance, Rana Sanga’s battle with Babur came after he was significantly fatigued with a successful struggle in dislodging Lodhis. Similarly Hindu encounter with Brits came not with a fresh nation but with a weakened and just reviving nation.

    These are the problems in most of the existing narratives, and not those that are wrong with the article.

    Reply

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