• Mahmud of Ghazni or Mahmud Ghaznavi was ruler and Sultan of the Ghaznavid Empire, ruling from 998 to 1030.
  • The Ghaznavid dynasty was a Muslim Turkish dynasty of Mameluk origin, ruling large parts of Iran, Afghanistan, Transoxiana and the North-West Indian subcontinent from 977 to 1186 CE.
    • The dynasty was founded by Sabuktigin upon his succession to the rule of Ghazni after the death of his father-in-law, Alptigin, who was an ex-general of the Samanid Empire from Balkh, North of the Hindu Kush in Greater Khorasan.
    • Although the dynasty was Central Asian Turkish, it was thoroughly Persianized in terms of language, culture, literature and administrative practices and there by became a Persian dynasty.
  • At the time of his death, his kingdom had been transformed into an extensive military empire, which extended from northwestern Iran proper to the Punjab in the Indian subcontinent, Khwarazm in Transoxiana, and Makran.

Ghaznavid Dynasty

  • The Yamini dynasty generally called as Ghazni dynasty, claimed its origin from the family of Persian rulers. During the course of Arab invasion, the family fled to Turkistan and became one with the Turks. Therefore, the family has been accepted as Turk.
  • Alptigin, a Turkish slave of the Samanid ruler Abdul Malik of Bukhara, founded the independent kingdom of this dynasty. He captured the kingdom of Jabul, with its capital Ghazni, from Amir Abu Bakr Lawik in 963 CE, but he died the same year.
  • He was succeeded by his son Ishaq who ruled only for three years. Then, the throne was captured by Balkatigin, the commander of the Turkish troops. Balkatigin was succeeded by his slave, Pirai, in 972 CE. But Pirai was a cruel king. His subjects invited Abu Ali Lawik, son of Abu Bakr Lawik, to invade Ghazni.
  • Jaipala, the Hindushahi ruler of Kabul and Punjab, who did not like the rise of a strong Muslim state at his border, also sent his army to help Abu Ali Lawik. But they were defeated by Sabuktigin, son-in-law of Alptigin.
  • The success of Sabuktigin against the enemies of Ghazni enhanced his prestige. He, ultimately, dethroned Pirai and himself became the ruler of Ghazni in 977 CE and laid the foundation of Yamini or Ghaznavid Dynasty.
  • Sabuktigin was a capable and great warrior. Slowly, he conquered Bust, Dawar, Ghur and some other nearby places. Towards the east lay the Hindushahi kingdom of east Afghanistan and Punjab. Sabuktigin started attacking its boundaries and occupied a few forts and cities.
  • The Shahi ruler, Jaipala could not ignore these attacks and attempted to curb the rising power of Sabuktigin. Since then began the long struggle of the kingdoms of Ghazni and Hindushahi which continued till Sultan Mahmud finally defeated the Hindushahis.
    • Jaipala attacked Ghazni twice and was supported by certain other Rajput rulers also who sent their contingents to help Jaipala.
    • But both his attempts failed and Sabuktigin succeeded in capturing all the territories which lay between Lamghan and Peshawar.
  • Thus, the Hindushahi kingdom failed to check the growing power of the Ghaznavids towards the East. However, two conclusions can be drawn out of this conflict between the two.
    • One, Jaipala was aware of the danger of the rising power of Islam on his border, tried to check its growth in the very beginning and pursued an aggressive policy for the purpose which we find lacking among other Rajput rulers afterwards.
    • The other, that the Rajput rulers were not indifferent to the rising power of Islam in the West, for which they are often blamed, otherwise, they would not have sent their forces to support Jaipala.
  • Sabuktigin died in 997 CE at the age of 56. He declared his younger son Ismail as his successor before his death. But when Ismail ascended the throne, he was challenged by his elder brother, Abdul Qasim Mahmud who succeeded in capturing the throne of Ghazni just after seven months, in 998 CE Mahmud justified his accession, became a powerful ruler, repeatedly attacked India and paved the way of the conquest of India by Islam.
    • Mahmud was born on November 1, 971 CE. He was educated in Islamic theology and jurisprudence. He had participated in a number of battles during the reign of his father.
  • After ascending the throne, Mahmud first consolidated his position in Herat, Balkh and Bust and, then conquered Khurasan.
    • In 999 CE, he secured recognition from the Caliph of Baghdad, Al Qadir Billah accepted him as the ruler of Afghanistan and Khurasan and bestowed him the titles of Aminul-Millat and Yamin-ud-Daulah.
  • Mahmud Ghaznavi was the first Muslim ruler to be credited with the title of ‘Sultan’. It is said that Mahmud, at the time of his investiture, took an oath to invade India every year.
Mahmud of Ghazni (Mahmud Ghaznavi)

Causes of the Invasions of Mahmud Ghaznavi

  • Mahmud was a great conqueror. He led 17 expeditions into India from 1000 CE to 1027 CE. Various reasons have been attributed by historians which resulted in repeated attacks by Mahmud on India. Mahmud desired to establish the glory of Islam in India.
  • Professor Muhammad Habib has opposed this view.
    • He opined that Mahmud did not possess religious zeal; he was not a fanatic; he was not prepared to follow the advice of Ulema; he was purely a man of this world; and his barbaric deeds, instead of raising the prestige of Islam, destroyed its image before the world.
  • However, Jafar, Nazim and Havell supports this view.
    • Jafar opined that he attacked Hindu temples not because of his religious zeal but because of his desire to acquire their wealth.
    • Nazim contends that if he troubled the Hindu kings and looted their wealth, he repeated the same story with the Muslim rulers of Central Asia.
    • Prof. Havell has expressed the view that he could loot the holy land of Baghdad the same way as he looted Indian cities if he could get wealth from there.
    • Thus, these historians have maintained that the primary motive of the invasions of Mahmud was economic and not religious. According to them, Mahmud desired to acquire the wealth of India.
  • However, Utbi, the court historian of Mahmud, described the attacks of Mahmud in India as Jihads (holy wars) to spread Islam and destroy idolatry.
  • Viewed from the circumstances of that age and the religious zeal of the Turks, who were new converts to Islam, it is possible also. Besides, Mahmud not only looted the wealth of Hindu temples but destroyed them and the images of Hindu gods. Therefore, it is mostly accepted that one of the aims of Mahmud was the propagation of Islam and establishing its glory in India.
  • Another aim of Mahmud was to plunder the wealth of India. No historian has contradicted this view. Mahmud needed a lot of money to raise the army for the expansion of a vast Central Asian empire. He desired wealth for the sake of wealth.
    • Therefore, the wealth of India was alluring for him and he repeated his attacks to acquire more and more wealth from India.
  • Apart from these, Mahmud had a political objective too. The Ghaznavids and the Hindushahis were fighting against each other since the reign of Alptigin and the Hindushahi rulers had attacked Ghazni thrice. It was necessary for Mahmud to destroy this aggressive and powerful neighbor.
    • Therefore, he himself pursued an aggressive policy against it. The success against the Hindushahi kingdom encouraged him to penetrate deeper into India.
  • Similar to the other great rulers of his age, Mahmud also desired to acquire fame by his conquests and victories and that also was one reason of his attacks on India. Thus, his attack on Hindu temples served both the purposes—acquisition of wealth and fame as an idol breaker.

Conditions of India at the Time of Invasion of Mahmud Ghaznavi

  • Politically, India was divided into a number of states. There were many kingdoms which constantly fought against each other for fame and expansion of their territories. Many of them were quite extensive and powerful but, because of their internal conflicts, none of them could utilize its complete resources, nor could they unite themselves against Mahmud which was their primary weakness.
    • Multan and Sindh constituted the two Muslim states of India. In the North-West was the Hindushahi kingdom whose contemporary ruler was Jaipala. Kashmir was also an independent state and it had family relations with the Hindushahis. The Pratiharas ruled over Kannauj and Rajyapala was the ruler. Mahipala I ruled over Bengal but his kingdom was weak. There were independent kingdoms in Gujarat, Malwa and Bundelkhand as well. In the South, the later Chalukyas and the Cholas had their powerful kingdoms.
  • Socially, the four-fold division of the Hindu society had created sharp differences between sections of the society and therefore, had weakened it.
    • Apart from the traditional four castes, there was a large section of the people called Antyaja. The hunters, the weavers, the fishermen, the shoemakers and the people engaged in similar professions belonged to this section. Their position was lower than that of the Sudras. Yet lower in social status were Hadis, Doms, Chandalas, Bagatu etc. who were engaged in the work of maintaining cleanliness but were forced to live outside cities and villages. They were out-castes and untouchables. Even Vaisyas were not allowed to study the religious texts.
      • According to Al Beruni if anyone dared to attempt it, his tongue was cut off. Thus, the position of the lower castes, including the Vaisyas had been lowered very much and the castesystem had become very rigid as well.
  • Such a state of affairs had divided the society into a number of different antagonistic groups. The position of woman too had deteriorated much and she was regarded simply as an article of pleasure and enjoyment for man.
    • Child marriages, polygamy among males and the practice of Sati among women of higher castes were becoming quite widespread, while widow remarriage were not allowed. All this had weakened the Hindu society.
    • That is why Islam could get here a large number of converts.
  • Religion and morality also deteriorated. Both Hinduism and Buddhism suffered from ignorance and corruption. The people, particularly the rich and upper classes, engaged themselves in corrupt practices, lost the true spirit of religion or, rather, made it an instrument for the fulfilment of their worldly desires.
    • The temples and the Buddhist monasteries became centers of corruption. The practice of keeping Devadasis in the temples was also became a mode of corruption. Even educational institutions did not remain free from corruption.
    • The prevalent corruption in social and religious institutions was both a cause and the result of the corruption prevailing in the Indian society in general. Probably, the common people were yet free from that. But corruption in the educated and ruling classes was sufficient to weaken the country. Such a society lacked the desire and the capacity to resist a strong invader.
  • The worsening society and religion led to deterioration in culture also. The literature and the fine arts also suffered. The temples of Puri and Khajuraho and the books like the Kutini-Matama and the Samaya-Matraka (the biography of a prostitute) characterize the taste of the people of that time.
  • The Hindus did not try to improve their arms and the methods of warfare. They heavily depended on their elephants. Sword was still their principal weapon and their policy was yet defensive. They neither cared to build forts in the North-West nor adopted any other means to defend their frontiers. Thus, India was also weak, militarily.
  • Politically, socially and militarily India was weak at the time of Ghaznavid invasions. One of the primary cause of the weakness of the Indians was that they did not try to know, understand and learn from what was happening in the religious and cultural fields. Therefore, they became ignorant and also developed a false pride.
    • Al Biruni’s statement helps us in understanding the contemporary attitude of the Indians about themselves. He wrote, “The Hindus believed that there is no country like theirs, no nation like theirs, no king like theirs, no religion like theirs, no science like theirs.” Such attitude was the denial of progress. He also wrote, “The Hindus did not desire that a thing which has once been polluted should be purified and thus recovered.” This attitude showed the narrow vision of the life of the Indians at that time.
  • Thus, by that time, the Indians had lost their vigor and intelligence. They were not capable of improving themselves nor did they desire to learn from others. However, the one thing that India possessed as yet was its wealth. Its agriculture, industries and trade were in a good condition and it had accumulated wealth which was concentrated in the hands of upper classes and in the temples.
  • The wealth of India was a temptation for a foreign invadors. The wealth of India was like the wealth of a weak person which could tempt any strong man to possess it. Mahmud did the same.

Invasions of Mahmud Ghaznavi on India

  • Mahmud Ghaznavi invaded India 17 times. Although, there are no adequate proofs of that, yet, all historians agree that Mahmud attacked India at least twelve times.
  • His first expedition occurred in 1000 CE when he occupied a few frontier fortresses.
  • In 1001 CE, he attacked again.
    • This time Hindushahi king, Jaipala, gave him a battle on 27th November, 1001 near Peshawar but was defeated and taken prisoner. Mahmud advanced as far as the capital city of Waihand and then returned to Ghazni after getting good booty.
    • He released Jaipala after getting 25 elephants and 2,50,000 dinars from him. Jaipala could not bear the disgrace and burnt himself to death on a self-lit pyre.
      • He was succeeded on the throne of Waihind by his son, Anandapala, in 1002 CE.
  • After the conquest of Siestan (1002-04 CE) Mahmud attacked Bhatiya or Bhatia in 1004 CE. Its ruler Baji Rai of Biji Rai gave a heroic fight but was defeated and he killed himself before his capture by the Muslims.
  • In 1006 CE Mahmud proceeded to attack the Shia kingdom of Multan. The Hindushahi king, Anandapala, refused to give him passage, fought against him near Peshawar, but was defeated and fled. Mahmud captured Multan in 1006 CE. The karmatia ruler of Multan, Abdul Fateh Daud, agreed to pay an annual tribute of 20,000 Dirhams.
    • Mahmud left Nawasa Shah (grandson of Jaipala, who had accepted Islam) as governor of his Indian territories and went back to fight the Seljuq-Turks who were threatening his territories from the North.
    • Mahmud, therefore remained busy on his Central Asian frontier for about two years.
  • Daud and Nawasa Shah revolted in his absence and therefore, he came to India in 1008 CE, defeated them both and annexed all the territories including Multan to his empire.
  • The ever-increasing frequency of Mahmud’s invasions made Anandpal, the Hindushahi ruler, extremely anxious about the safety of his state. Hindushahi was the only Hindu state which tried to resist the foreign invaders with the help of other Hindu states.
  • Again, in 1009 CE, its ruler Anandapala sought support from other Hindu states, collected a large army and proceeded towards Peshawar to challenge Mahmud Ghaznavi. Mahmud fought against him near Waihand and defeated him. Mahmud marched as far as Nagarkot and conquered it.
    • Anandapala’s defeat reduced the strength and the territories of Hindushahi kingdom. Anandapala was forced to accept a treaty with Mahmud who firmly established his power in Sindh and West Punjab.
    • Anandapala shifted his capital to Nandana in the salt range and tried to build up his lost strength but failed. He was succeeded by his son Trilochanapala after his death in 1012 CE.
  • Mahmud attacked Nandana in 1013 CE and occupied it. Trilochanapala fled to Kashmir and sought the help of its ruler but Mahmud defeated their combined armies. Mahmud did not attack Kashmir though he plundered the places on its border.
    • Trilochanapala retired to the Shiwalik hills, strengthened his position and also took the help of Vidyadhar the Chandela prince of Kalinjar (Bundelkhand), but he was again defeated by Mahmud in 1019 CE. The Hindushahi kingdom was now reduced to the status of a small jagir.
    • Between 1021-1022 CE, Trilochanapala was assassinated by some of his own selfish men and was succeeded by his son, Bhimapala who outlived his father by six years without claiming any royal title. He died as a petty chief in 1026 CE, and with him ended the once mighty Hindushahi kingdom of North-Western India.
  • Mahmud had defeated the ruler of Narayanpur in 1009 CE and plundered its wealth. In 1014 CE, he attacked Thanesar, defeated Rama, the chief of Dera and then looted Thanesar. All the temples and the images of Thanesar were destroyed, while the principal deity of Chakraswami temple was taken to Ghazni and placed in a public square for desecration.
  • In 1018 CE, Mahmud proceeded to attack Ganga-Yamuna Doab. He first attacked and looted Mathura. The city of Mathura was a beautiful city and a sacred religious place of the Hindus having a thousand temples.
    • Mahmud desecrated about one thousand temples in Mathura and its neighbourhood. Mahmud described its main temple in his Memoirs. He wrote, “If anyone should undertake to build a fabric like that he would expend thereon one lakh packets of a thousand Dinar, and would not complete it in 200 years, and with the assistance of the most ingenious architects.
    • There were a number of huge idols of gold and silver which were studded with costly pearls and diamonds. Mahmud looted the city for twenty days, broke up all the idols and destroyed all the temples. He got enormous booty from Mathura.
  • From Mathura, Mahmud marched to Kannauj. He encountered resistance from the Hindus at a few places but defeated them. Rajyapala, the Pratihara ruler of Kannauj fled and left his capital at the mercy of Mahmud. He looted the city and then destroyed it. He invaded a few more places and then went back to Ghazni.
  • After the return of Mahmud, Ganda (Vidyadhar) in collaboration with the ruler of Gwalior, put Rajyapala to death for having brought dishonor to the country by his act of cowardice. In 1019 CE, Mahmud returned to India with the purpose of punishing Vidyadhar. He defeated the Hindushahi ruler, Trilochanapala on the way and reached the border of Bundelkhand during 1020-21 CE.
    • Vidyadhar faced him with a huge army but, became suspicious of treachery on the part of his colleagues and fled at night, leaving behind immense baggage and armory which fell into the hands of the invaders.
    • Mahmud, who had lost his courage at the sight of large army of the Chandelas, felt happy. He ravaged the territories of Vidyadhar and then left, next year, he came again. On the way, he forced the ruler of Gwalior to submit and then reached the fort of Kalinjar. The siege of the fort lasted for a long time. Vidyadhar agreed to give Mahmud 300 elephants as tribute and, in return, received the right of governing fifteen fortresses from him.
  • The most outstanding invasion of Mahmud was directed against the Somnath temple (1025-26 CE) situated in the sea-coast in the extreme South of Kathiawar. He had the two-fold objective of acquiring its wealth and winning fame and glory as an idol-breaker among his co-religionists.
    • This beautiful and famous temple received offerings in different forms from lakhs of devotees daily and had a permanent income from the resources of ten thousand villages. It possessed enormous wealth.
      • Its Shiva-linga had a canopy studded with numerous costly jewels and diamonds. The chain attached to one of its bells weighed 200 maunds of gold, one thousand Brahmanas were appointed to perform the worship of the linga and 350 males and females were employed to sing and dance before the deity.
    • The temple of Somnath was wonderful but the pride of their priests was unique who claimed that Mahmud could do no harm to their deity. The Hindus of Gujrat were fed on the mistaken belief that the deities of Northern India had fallen victims to the Turks because they had lost patronage and sympathies of Somnath, the greatest of the Gods.
    • Mahmud proceeded through Multan, reached the capital city of Anhilwara which was left by its ruler Bhima I without offering resistance and reached the temple of Somnath in 1025 CE. The devotees of the temple offered him resistance about 50,000 of the defenders fell fighting. The victory was followed by the sack of the temple as well as the town and general slaughter of people.
    • He returned with a huge booty. He was troubled on the way by his Hindu guides who led his army to a dreary part of the desert. But, ultimately, he reached Ghazni safely with his booty.
  • Mahmud came back to India for the last time in 1026-27 CE on a punitive expedition against the Jats who had obstructed his path on his return journey from Somnath. The Jats were severely punished. Mahmud looted their property, killed all males and enslaved their women and children.
  • Thus, Mahmud repeatedly attacked India. He never suffered defeated here. He took from India whatever he could and destroyed the rest. Besides engaging himself in loot and plunder, he annexed Afghanistan, Punjab, Sindh and Multan to his empire. Mahmud died in 1030 CE after a brief illness at the age of 59.

Estimate of Mahmud’s Character and Achievements

  • Mahmud was a great conqueror, courageous soldier and a successful commander. He was one of the greatest military generals the world has ever possessed. He had leadership qualities and knew how to utilize his resources and circumstances in the best possible way. He was a good judge of human nature and assigned work and responsibility to others according to their capability.
    • His army consisted of the people of different nationalities like the Arabs, the Turks, the Afghans and even Hindus. Yet, it became a unified powerful force under his command. Thus Mahmud possessed many virtues. Mahmud was equally ambitious as well. He always attempted to win glory and extend his empire.
  • He had inherited only the provinces of Ghazni and Khurasan from his father. He converted this small inheritance into a mighty empire which extended from Iraq and the Caspian Sea in the West to the river Ganges in the East and which was certainly, more extensive than the empire of Caliph of Baghdad at that time. It would be wrong to say that Mahmud had succeeded only against the weak and divided Hindu rulers. He had achieved the similar success against his enemies in Iran and Central Asia. Therefore, Mahmud ranks among the greatest commanders and empire-builders of Asia.
  • Mahmud was no barbarian at home. He was an educated and cultured person. He was a patron of scholarship and fine arts. He gathered at his court scholars of repute. They included Al Beruni, Utbi, Farabi, Baihaki, the Iranian poet Ujari, Tusi, Unsuri, Asjadi, Farrukhi, Firdausi and others. Of course, each of them was a capable person but there is no doubt that Mahmud’s patronage had certainly helped them in enhancing their capabilities.
  • Mahmud established a university, a good library and a museum which stored invaluable trophies of war and laid beautiful gardens and parks in Ghazni. He also patronized the artists. He invited all sort of artists from all parts of his empire, even from foreign countries, and engaged them in beautifying Ghazni.
  • He constructed magnificent palaces, mosques, tombs and other buildings in Ghazni. During his rule, Ghazni became not only a beautiful city of the East but also the centre of Islamic scholarship, fine arts and culture. Mahmud was a just ruler.
  • He killed his nephew with his own hands when he found him guilty of keeping sexual relations with the wife of another person. He forced prince Masud to present himself in the court and accept the judgment because the prince had failed to pay back the debt of a trader. Many similar stories are known about the sense of justice of Mahmud.
  • Mahmud was successful in maintaining peace and order, protect trade and agriculture and safeguard the honor and property of his subjects within the boundaries of his empire. Mahmud was a fanatical Sunni Musalman and, what to say of Hindus, he was intolerant even to the Shias.
    • Several historians like Muhammad Habib have tried to exonerate him of this charge. But we should also keep in view the opinions expressed by contemporary historians. Al Beruni had criticized his bigoted religious acts. The contemporary Muslims regarded him as the champion of Islam and he was titled as Ghazi (slayer of infidels) and the idol breaker.
    • The Caliph honored him after his successful loot and plunder of the temple of Somnath. The contemporary Islamic world recognized Mahmud as the destroyer of the infidels and the one who established the glory of Islam at faraway places like India.
  • It has been upheld by many scholars that Mahmud destroyed Hindu idols and temples, primarily because of economic reasons. Undoubtedly, one of his reason was definitely economic. But equally rational is the view, which was expressed by his contemporaries, that Mahmud engaged himself in these acts because of his religious zeal. He desired to acquire wealth or, rather, loved it but, simultaneously, spent it also generously.
  • He had agreed to pay Firdausi, his court poet, a golden dinar for every verse composed by him. But when Firdausi presented before him the Shahnama which consisted of one thousand verses, he offered him one thousand dinars of silver, which Firdausi refused. Of course, he sent one thousand dinars of gold to him afterwards but, by then, Firdausi had died.
    • Professor Brown has commented, “Mahmud tried to acquire wealth by every possible means. Besides that, there was nothing wrong in his character.”
  • But Mahmud was not a great statesman, nor a great ruler. He failed to evolve an efficient administrative hierarchy to run the government. He did little beyond giving his dominions peace and order. There was no police force to protect the life and property of his subjects. He failed to form a stable empire. His empire existed only during his own life time. The empire crumbled down to pieces after his death. He, thus, failed to establish his empire on certain permanent institutions.
    • Lane-Poole wrote, “Mahmud was a great soldier and possessed tremendous courage and the untiring mental and physical capacity. But, he was not a constructive and far-sighted statesman. We find no laws, institutions or administrative system whose foundations were laid down by him.”
    • He did nothing to consolidate his Indian conquests as well. Thus, Mahmud was, certainly, not a good administrator. He showed no interest in public welfare or nation-building activities. His autocratic and extremely self-willed behavior did not allow freedom of expression and action to his ministers and the ruling elite.
  • Yet, Mahmud was a great Muslim ruler. The Muslim chroniclers regarded Mahmud as one of their greatest kings. In fact, in the history of Islam he was the first ruler who justly deserved the title of Sultan. He ranks among the great rulers of Central Asia.
    • Professor Muhammad Habib writes of him, “Mahmud’s pre-eminence among his contemporaries was due to his ability and not due to his character.”
    • Mahmud established a vast empire, brought peace and prosperity within its boundaries, helped in its cultural progress and established the glory of Islam at distant places.
    • Ghazni became the seat of power of Islam and the centre of its progress in culture including education, scholarship and fine arts. It was all due to the success and achievements of Mahmud.
  • However, Mahmud was a fanatical Sunni Muslim in the history of India, a barbaric foreign bandit, a plunderer and cruel destroyer of fine arts. In fact, Mahmud was the ruler of Ghazni and not of India. The Punjab, Sindh and Multan, which formed parts of his empire, served the purpose of bases for his invasions deeper into India. He did not care to administer them well. While penetrating deep into India, he simply desired loot, plunder and conversion. In his every invasion, wherever he went, he looted whatever he could, destroyed what he could not, took along with him the wealth of Hindu temples, forced lakhs of people to accept Islam otherwise killed them, took thousands of beautiful women to Ghazni while thousands others were dishonored here, burnt hundreds of villages and beautiful cities and destroyed fine pieces of arts. Thus, to the Indians of his days Mahmud was a veritable devil incarnate.

Impact of Mahmud’s Invasion on India

  • It has been suggested by several scholars that the invasions of Mahmud left no permanent impact on India. He came like a great storm and destroyed everything and then passed off.
  • The Indians soon forgot his raids and atrocities and rebuilt their temples, idols and cities. Of course, the Indians forgot his invasions and, therefore, paid a heavy price later on. But, it would be inappropriate to accept that Mahmud left no permanent mark on Indians and Indian history.
  • Mahmud shook the entire economic and military strength of the Indians and also their morale to resist Muslim invaders. The Hindushahis, the heroic defenders of Panjab and the North-Western frontier perished; Khyber pass, the Gateway of India, was lost to the foreigners forever. The political division and the disunity of the country was exposed.
  • Mahmud never met a serious challenge in India and his constant success against the Indians created fear and a pessimistic attitude among the Indians that the Turks were invincible. This fear persisted for a very long time. The inclusion of Panjab, Multan and Sindh in the Ghaznavid Empire made easier the advance of later Turk invaders in India. Muhammad of Ghur first entered into India to snatch away these places from his enemy Ghaznavid ruler. It paved the way for the conquest of India by the Turks.
  • Dr D.C. Ganguly writes: “The inclusion of the Panjab and Afghanistan in the kingdom of Ghazni made the Islamic conquest of India comparatively easy process. It was no longer a question of whether, but when, that mighty flood would overwhelm the country as a whole.”
  • Indian civilization was fatally wounded and left bleeding. India witnessed a dreadful holocaust.

How did the Ghaznavids in Central Asia and India fall, and the Ghurids rise?

  • Despite the wealth plundered from India, Mahmud was unable to become a good and capable ruler. He built no lasting institutions in his state and his rule outside Ghazni was tyrannical.
  • An unexpected rise of Ghurids at a small and isolated province of Ghur located between Ghaznavid empire and that of the Seljuqids was an unusual development in the 12th century.
    • It was one of the least developed regions of the present-day territory of Afghanistan. It lay west of Ghazni and east of the Herat province in the fertile valley of the Herat/Hari River in western Afghanistan. 
    • Since it was a hilly tract of land, the main occupation was mostly cattle-rearing or agriculture. It was “Islamicized” by Ghaznavids in the late 10th and the early 11th century.
  • The Ghurid rulers or the Shansabanids were humble pastoral chieftains. They tried to make themselves supreme in the middle of the 12th century by intervening in Herat when its governor had rebelled against the Seljuqid king named Sanjar.
  • The Ghaznavids felt threatened by this act of the Ghurids, they captured and poisoned the brother of the Ghauri emperor Alauddin Hussain Shah.
  • Subsequently, he captured Ghazni (city) by defeating the Ghaznavid ruler Bahram Shah. The city of Ghazni was plundered and thoroughly destroyed. For the same reason Alauddin was given the title of Jahan Soz (“world burner”). This marked the fall of Ghaznavids and the rise of Ghurids.
Later Ghaznavids

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments