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Thread: Prtihviraj: A Tale of Romance, Honour and Trajedy

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    Default Prtihviraj: A Tale of Romance, Honour and Trajedy

    I noticed that there is no thread about Prtihviraj the 3rd, Probably the most famous of all Rajput's, so i thought ill post some information on his life. feel free to add any comments/corrections.










    Prithviraj III

    1168-1192 CE) Prithviraj Chauhan was a king of the Rajput Chauhan (Chauhamana) dynasty, who ruled a kingdom in northern India during the latter half of the 12th century.


    Prithviraj Chauhan was the second last Hindu king to sit upon the throne of Delhi (the last Hindu king being Hemu). He succeeded to the throne in 1179 CE at the age of 11, and ruled from the twin capitals of Ajmer and Delhi. He controlled much of Rajasthan and Haryana, and unified the Rajputs against Muslim invasions. His elopement with Samyukta, the daughter of Jai Chandra, the Gahadvala king of Kannauj, is a popular romantic tale in India, and is one of the subjects of the Prithviraj Raso, an epic poem composed by Prithviraj's court poet and friend, Chand Bardai.





    Prithviraj fought and defeated the Afghan ruler Muhammad Ghori in the First Battle of Tarain in 1191 CE but was later defeated at the Second Battle of Tarain in 1192 CE. After his defeat, India was open to invasion by Muslim invaders, and Delhi came under the control of the Muslim rulers. Qila Rai Pithora in Delhi, also known as Pithoragarh, is named after him.



    Prithvi Raj Chauhan, also called Rai Pathora, was the ruler of Ajmer and Delhi, by far the strongest of all the rulers of Northern India at the end of the twelfth century. He was brave, powerful, haughty and considered the flower of Rajput chivalry.



    At gurukul(=place of learning) , Prithviraj learnt shastra vidya (weaponry, armed combat), sahitya (literature), kala (arts) and rajniti shastra (politics).It was here that he learned the art of "shaabd bhedi baan vidhya" that is the art of "hitting a target(with an arrow) without seeing it, aiming at the sound/noise it makes"(this fact is important cos this is used in the latter part of this story)




    Swayamvar of Princess Sanyogita

    The story of Prithviraj's exploits spread far and wide and became the subject of much discussion among the nobility.Princess Sanyogita,daughter of Jaichand, fell secretly in love with Prithviraj.


    Her father got wind of this affair and resolved to have her safely wed at an early date. He arranged a Swayamwara, a Hindu ceremony where a maiden selects a husband from a number of suitors who assemble at the invitation of her guardian. Jaichand invited many princes of high rank and heritage, but deliberately failed to invite Prithviraj. To add insult to injury, Jaichand had a statue of Prithviraj made and placed at the door of the venue, thus parodying Prithviraj as a doorman. Prithviraj came to hear of this. He made his plans and confided the same to his lover, Sanyogita.


    On the day of the ceremony, Sanyogita emerged from an inner chamber, entered the venue of the swayamwara, walked straight down the hall past the assembled suitors, bypassing them all. She reached the door and garlanded the statue of Prithviraj. The assemblage were stunned at this brash act, but more was to follow: Prithviraj, who had been hiding behind the statue in the garb of a doorman, emerged, put Sanyogita upon his horse and galloped away. This incident resulted in a string of battles between the two kingdoms and both of them suffered heavily. The Chauhan-Gahadvala feud led to the weakening of both Rajput kingdoms.


    First Battle of Tarain (1191 CE)


    Muhammad Ghori, hailing from Ghor in present-day Afghanistan, grew increasingly powerful. He conquered Ghazni and subsequently defeated the Ghaznavid governor of Punjab. Muhammad Ghori's domain now touched upon that of Prithviraj Chauhan. A clash was inevitable.


    Muhammad Ghori invaded Prithviraj's domains and laid siege to the fortress of Bhatinda in Punjab, which was at the frontier between the two kingdoms. Prithviraj's appeal for help from his father-in-law was scornfully rejected by the haughty Jaichandra. Undaunted, Prithviraj marched on Bhatinda and gave battle to the invaders at a place called Tarain near the town of Thanesar.



    In face of the Rajput onslaught, the invading Muslim army was defeated. The invader was brought in chains to Qila rai pithora where Mohammad Ghouri pleaded for mercy and Prithviraj Generously allowed him to go back, because according to the Rajput code of Chivalry; an enemy who lost a battle is ought to be treated properly.




    Not only did Prithviraj let Ghouri leave; but he even bestowed rich gifts on him; and sent him back.But Ghouri's nature was very different to that of Prithviraj and the Rajputs. He was back in India Soon...with an ever bigger army.....so much for the chivalry of the Rajputs...


    Second Battle of Tarain (1192 CE):

    The very next year, Ghori repaid Prithviraj's gesture by again invading Prithviraj's kingdom with a stronger army. Again, the two armies met at Tarain. The Hindus followed a traditional practice of battling only between sunrise and sunset.This practice was based upon great epics and ethics in their civilized society.The Ramayana and the Mahabharata support this practice. Ghori attacked the surprised Rajput army before daybreak(actually in the middle of the night) and thus emerged victorious.


    Thus surprised..and totally not expecting this..the battle was lost for the Rajputs..Prtihviraj was wounded and captured......But when the army of Ghouri went into the now defenseless Delhi..they saw a sight that shocked and amazed them....every Rajput woman and child has committed suicide by Mass self-immolation called Jauhar.


    Prithviraj's revange

    As a prisoner in Ghor, Prithviraj was brought in chains before Muhammad Ghori.He haughtily looked Ghori straight into the eye. Ghori ordered him to lower his eyes, whereupon a Prithviraj scornfully reminded him that the "eyes of a rajput is lowered only when a rajput dies".On hearing this,Ghori ordered that his eyes to be burnt with red hot iron rods.


    Prithviraj's former courtier Chand Bardai, whoes poems were later collected and added to by other poets came to be known as the Prithviraj Raso, a ballad-biography of Pritiviraj, came to Ghori to be near Prithviraj in his misery. Chand Bardai came in disguise and paens. On the one hand, he earned Mahmud's regard; on the other, he took every oprportunity to meet with Prithviraj and urge him to avenge Ghori. The two got an opportunity to kill Muhammad Ghori when Ghori announced an archery competition.


    Chand Bardai told Ghori that Prithviraj was so skilled an archer, that he could take aim based only on sound, and did not even need to look at his target.Ghori disdained to believe this; the courtiers guffawed and taunted Chand Bardai, asking how a blind man could possibly shoot arrows. In the spirit of their usual barbaric mockery, they brought the blind and hapless Prithviraj out to the field. Pressing a bow and arrows into his hand, they taunted him to take aim.


    Chand Bardai told Ghori that this taunting would avail nothing, for Prithviraj would never do as some sundry courtiers bade him do. He said that Prithviraj, as an anointed king, would not accept orders from anyone other than another king. His ego thus massaged, and in the spirit of the occasion, Mahmud Ghori agreed to personally give Prithviraj the order to shoot.Some iron plates were hung and Prithiviraj was asked to aim at them.A man was to strike the plate with a hammer and Prithviraj was supposed to hit that plate.
    Thus, Chand Bardai provided Prithviraj with an oral indication of where Ghori was seated by composing a couplet on the spot and reciting the same in Prithviraj's hearing. The couplet, composed in a language understood only by Prithviraj went thus:


    "Char bans, chaubis gaj, angul ashta praman, Ta upar sultan hai, Chuke mat Chauhan."
    (Four measures ahead of you and twenty four yards away as measured with eight finger measurement, is seated the Sultan. Do not miss him now, Chauhan).



    Ghori then ordered Prithviraj to shoot. Prithviraj thus came to know the location of Ghori and started shooting at the plates.When he hit the target courtiers said "vah" "vah" and Ghori said "Shabash",



    recognising Ghori's voice and turning in the direction from where he heard Ghori speak.Prithviraj took aim based only on the voice and on Chand Bardai's couplet, he sent an arrow racing to Ghori's throat. Ghori was thus stuck dead by Prithviraj.




    Prithviraj and Chandar did not want to die at the hands of Ghori's courtiers so they stabbed each other.



    Thus ended the life story of Brave Prithviraj.





    PS:

    Even today afghans vent their anger on Prithviraj's Grave by stampinging on it and then going pay accolades to their defeated king Ghauri.
    Last edited by Arjun; March 23, 2008 at 01:27 PM.
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    Default Re: Prtihviraj: A Tale of Romance, Honour and Trajedy

    I just have couple of points:

    - The story of Pritviraj killing Ghori as prisoner is most likely hindu folklore instead of actual history. Most Islamic sources record that he was killed by Ismaili Hashashins agents while camping with his army on the Indus river. Other Muslim sources say gakkar tribesmen (a medieval punjabi tribe) killed Muhammad in a surprise ambush.

    - Muhammad Ghori was one of the most successful and least known generals in history. He was able to establish a functioning state from Afghanistan to the Bengal. His conquests would establish the first real Muslim state in India - the Delhi Sultanate.

    - Being an Afghan myself, I'm sure lots of wicked treachery was important in the Muslim success. However, most sources state clearly that the Muslim armies were not just demonic invaders but qualitatively better in both their military ethos and equipment than their Rajput counterparts. The Muslim came from a highly meritocratic miltiary lifestyle that were used to fighting very dangerous central asian foes. On the other hand the Hindus were not as used to the highly mobile and fluid military and command structures the Muslims had.

    So while romantic depictions are nice, real history tends to be considerably more complicated.

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    Default Re: Prtihviraj: A Tale of Romance, Honour and Trajedy

    Quote Originally Posted by mirage41 View Post
    I just have couple of points:

    - The story of Pritviraj killing Ghori as prisoner is most likely hindu folklore instead of actual history. Most Islamic sources record that he was killed by Ismaili Hashashins agents while camping with his army on the Indus river. Other Muslim sources say gakkar tribesmen (a medieval punjabi tribe) killed Muhammad in a surprise ambush.
    Hehe thats why i put the disclaimer "feel free to add any comments/corrections." at the top of my post cos i was not sure of the accuracy of the last past.and i did check online and got some conflicting reports with no real confirmation about Ghauri's death. so i just posted the version in the poem . i agree that its most probably not true.



    - Being an Afghan myself, I'm sure lots of wicked treachery was important in the Muslim success. However, most sources state clearly that the Muslim armies were not just demonic invaders but qualitatively better in both their military ethos and equipment than their Rajput counterparts. The Muslim came from a highly meritocratic miltiary lifestyle that were used to fighting very dangerous central asian foes. On the other hand the Hindus were not as used to the highly mobile and fluid military and command structures the Muslims had.

    So while romantic depictions are nice, real history tends to be considerably more complicated.
    lol i wasn't trying to cast aspersions on the afghani's . and i agree that they had better equipment and experience; as you said; due to the wars they had often.


    but i do believe that the second battle of Tarren was during the middle of the night; a time when Indian armies never battled(due to their custom). Ghori probably knew about this and assaulted the Rajput camp before daybreak. and i guess he was being militarily prudent when he did that..while the Indians were mistaken to assume that the Enemy would not attack during the night because it was unthinkable in their(the Indian) military tradition.

    the fact that Ghori whose life was spared by Prithviraj came back to attack again ought to have told the Indians that their norms and practices of chivalry were very different from that of their enemy.
    Last edited by Arjun; March 23, 2008 at 06:06 PM.
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    Default Re: Prtihviraj: A Tale of Romance, Honour and Trajedy

    I agree with that Arjun. The Muslims did regularly exploit the chivalric and ritualistic tendencies - this is written by Muslim historians themselves.

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