After the dearth of Mahumd Ghaznavi, the Ghaznavid Empire disintegrated quickly under his weak successors. The Seljuk Turks deprived them of Central Asian possessions while, within Afghanistan, they faced the most serious challenge from the Ghorids or Ghuris.
There ensued a long struggle between the ruling houses of Ghazni and Ghur for the dominance of Afghanistan. Ultimately the Ghurs captured Ghazni from the hands of the weak Ghaznavids.
Ghur is located at a high altitude of more than 10,000 feet between Ghazni and Herat. Some historians described the Ghur dynasty as Afghans but now this view is not accepted. The family was Turk, known as Shansbani, and originally belonged to Persia.
Primarily, the district of Ghur was agricultural but it was well known in Central Asia for its good horses and steel also which were the most effective means of warfare during those days. Ghur maintained its independence till the beginning of the 11th century. It was conquered and made feudatory by Mahmud Ghaznavi in 1009 CE.
However, with the decline of the Ghaznavids, the rulers of Ghur began to assert themselves and in the beginning of the 12th century became virtually not only independent but started contending for power against the Ghaznavids.
There ensued a long struggle between the ruling houses of Ghazni and Ghur for the dominance of Afghanistan which ultimately, resulted in the destruction of the Ghaznavids. Ala-ud-din Husain of Ghur succeeded in completely devastating the city of Ghazni and earned the nickname of Jahan Soz—‘the world burner’ who plundered the town and set fire to it.
It gave a death blow to the power and prestige of the Ghaznavids. Ala-ud-din was succeeded by his son, Saif-ud-din who in turn was succeeded by his cousin Ghiyas-ud-din. Ghiyas-ud-din sent his brother Shihab-ud-din alias Muiz-ud-din Muhammad to conquer Ghazni.
Muhammad conquered Ghazni in 1173-74 CE. He received appointment as governor of Ghazni and was permitted by Ghiyasuddin to govern and expand his dominions as he pleased. This was the very Muhammad who attacked India in the 12th century and succeeded in establishing his empire in India.
While his elder brother attempted to extend his empire towards the West and came in conflict with the Khwarizm Shah of Persia, Muhammad tried to extend the empire towards the East.
Muhammad Ghori thus became virtually an independent ruler, albeit he continued to show loyalty and allegiance to his elder brother during his lifetime and struck coins and read khutba in his name.
The Causes of the Invasions of Muhammad Ghori on India
After consolidating his hold over the kingdom of Ghazni, Muhammad Ghori directed his attention towards the conquest of India. Like Mahmud Ghaznavi, he also led many expeditions over a long period of 30 years. He attacked India due to several reasons. Historians have accepted the following reasons among them.
Muhammad Ghori was an ambitious ruler. Like all great rulers of his age he wanted to extend his empire for power and glory. He decided to conquer India for the same purpose.
The royal families of Ghur and Ghazni were hereditary enemies and, by that time, the Ghaznavids still ruled in Punjab. Muhammad Ghori after the capture of Ghazni wanted to annex Punjab as well to his kingdom so that he could finish the remaining strength of his hereditary enemy and also provide security to its kingdom from towards the East.
The ambition of the Ghur dynasty of extending their power towards the West was challenged and checked by the rising power of the Khwarizm dynasty of Persia. Therefore, the next alternative before the Ghurides was to proceed towards the East viz., towards India. Besides, the responsibility of extending the power of the Ghurides towards the West was on the shoulders of Ghiyas-ud-din. Therefore, Muhammad himself decided to conquer India.
Loot and plunder was definitely not the aim of Muhammad Ghori although he took care to acquire enough gold and silver as booty or tribute from the defeated chiefs. It helped him in raising a strong army for the defence of his Afghan dominions against the onslaught of Khwarizm Shahs.
Condition of India at the Time of Invasions of Muhammad Ghori
Almost 148 years had elapsed after the last invasion of Mahmud Ghaznavi in 1027 CE. Muhammad’s Ghori’s first attack on India took place in 1175 CE. But, there was not a single remarkable change in the condition of India except changes in the ruling dynasties and territories of their kingdoms.
Politically, India was divided into a number of kingdoms, both in the North and the South.
Many of them were very large and powerful enough to meet the challenge of a foreign invader but their constant fighting against each other for glory and power was their primary weakness because it did not allow them either to unite themselves even in the hour of their greatest danger against a foreign enemy or left them free to utilize complete resources against him.
At that time, Sindh and Multan were ruled by two independent Shia Muslim rulers while Punjab was in the hands of Khusrav Shah, the last Ghaznavid ruler. He was not a powerful ruler. He had failed to achieve any success in India. Rather, the Chauhana ruler of Delhi had succeeded in snatching away certain places from him.
Gujarat and Kathiawar were ruled by the Chalukyas with their capital at Anhilwara. The Chalukyas had lost much of their power by fighting against the Chauhanas of Delhi and Ajmer. At that time, Mularaja II was their ruler.
Delhi and Ajmer were ruled by the Chauhanas. Prithviraja III was the ruler at that time. He was a capable commander and an ambitious ruler. He had successfully fought against his neighbouring kingdoms.
Therefore, he had provoked the jealousy of all of them. He had defeated and disgraced the Chalukyas of Gujarat, captured Mahoba from the Chandela ruler Paramaladeva and, by eloping with the daughter of king Jayachandra of Kannauj, had incited his permanent enmity.
Undoubtedly Prithviraja III was a chivalrous and daring ruler but he lacked farsightedness and diplomatic shrewdness. Therefore, he failed to receive any support from any of his powerful neighbours in his struggle against Muhammad Ghori.
The Gahadavalas ruled over Kannauj. Their empire was most extensive in North India at that time and was ruled by Jayachandra at that time.
Chandelas ruled in Bundelkhand while the Palas and the Senas ruled in Bengal. The South was similarly divided politically and was totally indifferent to the fate of north India.
There was no change in Indian society as compared to the conditions of the 11th century except that a large section of Muslims had peacefully settled in many parts of India. These small colonies of the Muslims were not effective in any way directly in the Indian politics but were certainly useful indirectly as any Muslim invader could get some sympathy and, at times, certain useful information from these colonists. Except this, India had not changed itself socially, culturally or militarily since the days of the invasions of Mahmud Ghaznavi.
Invasions of Muhammad Ghori on India
A novelty regarding Muhammad Ghori’s expeditions was that he did not use the Khyber Pass as the route for making an entrance into India as had been done by Mahmud Ghaznavi. Instead he used the Gomal pass, located to the West of Dera Ismail Khan which he considered to be safer and shorter route. Probably it was because of two reasons.
Firstly, the Khyber Pass was well defended by the Ghaznavid rulers of Lahore and
Secondly Muhammad Ghori intended to avoid a direct clash with the Ghaznavids.
Muhammad Ghori first attacked Multan in 1175 CE and conquered it easily from the Karmatia ruler.
Next he annexed Uch and lower Sindh to his territories. He brought the conquered territories under his effective military control and established an efficient civil administration there. In 1178 CE, Muhammad Ghori attacked Gujarat.
The Chalukya ruler, Mularaja II faced him near Mount Abu and gave him a crushing defeat. This was the first defeat of Muhammad Ghori in India.
Afterwards, he had to revise his plans and make an all-out effort to conquer Panjab from the Ghaznavids.
He occupiedPeshawar in 1179 CE, attacked Lahore after two years and received huge presents from the last Ghaznavid ruler, Khusrav Shah.
He conquered Sialkot in 1185 CE and attacked Lahore again in 1186 CE. He imprisoned Khusrav Shah by treachery and occupied the entire territories of Panjab.
Later on, Khusrav Shah was murdered in 1192 CE.
After the capture of Panjab, the boundaries of the kingdoms of Muhammad Ghori and Prithviraja III, the Chauhana ruler of Delhi and Ajmer, touched each other.
In 1189 CE, Muhammad attacked and captured Bhatinda (Tabarhind). He was planning to go back when he received the news of the advance of Prithviraja Chauhan against him with a view to recapture Bhatinda.
Muhammad Ghori proceeded forward to face him. The enemies met each other on the battlefield of Tarain.
There is a controversy regarding the location of the site of the battle. A.B.M Habibullah agrees with Alexander Cunningham’s identification of the place with a village called Torvan, situated between Bhatinda and Sirsa.
According to Firishta Tarain was also known as Taraori; accordingly Elphinstone located it between Karnal and Thanesar.
Tarain was 80 miles from Delhi, and the first battle of Tarain took place in 1190-91 CE. Muhammad Ghori suffered a crushing defeat in this battle.
The Hammir-Mahakavya describes that Muhammad Ghori was taken prisoner by Prithviraja Chauhan but left free with grace. But this view is not accepted by historians.
Muhammad was wounded and taken to a place of safety by a Khalji noble. The Muslim army was routed and the battle was completely won over by the Rajputs.
Prithviraja, thereafter, attacked the fort of Bhatinda but could capture it only after 13 months. It is a sad commentary on the poor military organization and defective war strategy of the Rajputs that they took a very long time to recapture their own fort from the hands of the Turks who had conquered it from the former in a single sweep a short-while ago.
Muhammad Ghori could not forget his defeat the battle of Tarain. Prithviraja III had not only humiliated him but had also blocked his way to conquer India.
Muhammad Ghori prepared himself well. According to Firishta, he was so overwhelmed with a sense of grief and humiliation that he would neither eat or drink.
He spent day and night in preparation to fight Prithviraja Chauhan. He collected a strong force of one hundred and twenty thousand men and then proceeded towards India to avenge his defeat.
After the capture of Bhatinda, Muhammad Ghori again marched to Tarain. Though Prithviraja III came with a large army to face him but was decisively defeated. He tried to flee but was taken prisoner.
According to Professor Hasan Nizami, he was taken to Ajmer and he accepted the over lordship of Muhammad Ghori, but when found guilty of a conspiracy against Muhammad Ghori, was sentenced to death.
Hence the second battle of Tarain, fought in 1192 CE, proved to be one of the decisive battles of Indian history. It settled the future course of Indian history.
As Dr D.C. Ganguly writes: “The defeat of Prithviraja in the second battle of Tarain not only destroyed the imperial power of the Chahamanas (Chauhanas), but also brought disaster on the whole of Hindustan.”
The battle opened the way for the conquest of India by the Muslims. Ajmer and Delhi both were captured by Muhammad Ghori which paved the way for his further conquests in India.
Also, the battle definitely weakened the morale of other Rajput rulers to resist the Muslim invader.
Muhammad Ghori deputed his brilliant slave general Qutub-ud-din Aibak to take the charge of army occupation and himself returned to Ghazni.
Aibak consolidated the Indian conquests of Muhammad Ghori, suppressed the revolts of the Chauhanas at Ajmer, made Delhi the capital of Muslim kingdom in India in 1193 CE and captured Meerut.
He then laid siege to Baran (Bulandshahar) but met with stiff resistance. About this time, Aibak was recalled to Ghazni by his master.
He stayed in Ghazni for about 6 months and then returned to Delhi after receiving special instructions from Muhammad Ghori regarding their future line of action. Baran and Koil (Aligarh) were captured by Aibak in 1194 CE
Muhammad Ghori came back to India in 1194 CE with a well-equipped force.
This time his target was the kingdom of Kannauj. Jayachandra, the ruler of Kannauj, had enmity with Prithviraja III and therefore, had not helped him against the Turks.
Now, he too had to face Muhammad alone. The battle between Muhammad Ghori and Jayachandra took place near Chandawar on the river Yamuna, between Etawah and Kannauj.
The Rajputs were defeated and Jayachandra was killed in the battle. Muhammad Ghori proceeded as far as Banaras and occupied all the important places of the kingdom of Kannauj.
Now, there remained no other powerful kingdom in north India to resist Muhammad’s armies.
Muhammad Ghori went back to Ghazni, again leaving Aibak who consolidated his fresh conquests and suppressed a number of revolts which took place at Ajmer, Aligarh, etc.
Muhammad came back to India in 1195 CE. This time he conquered Bayana and attacked Gwalior. Pratihara chief, Sulakshanapal accepted the suzerainty of Muhammad Ghori and peace was granted to him.
Ghori assigned the command of the territories between Rajputana and Doab to Baha-ud-din Tughril and went back. Tughril captured the fort of Gwalior in his absence.
Muhammad Ghori could not come back to India for some next years and the responsibility of consolidating his conquests in India rested on his governors here, particularly on Aibak.
A serious revolt in Rajasthan was suppressed by Aibak after much difficulty. Thereafter, Aibak attacked Gujarat and plundered its capital Anhilwara, Aibak also conquered Badaun, Banaras and Chandawar in 1197 CE which were lost to the Turks and, thus, consolidated the conquest of Kannauj.
One of the most important conquests of Aibak was that of Bundelkhand. The Chandela ruler, Paramaladeva, was now the only independent Rajput ruler in Central India and the fort of Kalinjar was considered to be impregnable.
Aibak attacked it in 1202-1203 CE. Paramaladeva died during this period of fighting but the Chandelas fought under the leadership of his minister, Ajayadeva.
But, ultimately, the Chandelas had to leave the fort, which was occupied by Aibak who occupied Mahoba and Khajuraho as well.
A petty noble named Ikhtiyar-ud-din Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji attempted the conquest of Bengal and Bihar. To his surprise, Khalji found that nobody tried to oppose him anywhere. That enhanced his ambitions.
He went on increasing his resources and his soldiers. In 1202-1203 CE, he attacked Odantapuri and plundered the Buddhist monastery there.
Next, he sacked and destroyed Nalanda and Vikramasila as well and put thousands of Buddhists to sword.
Lakshamana Sena, the ruler of Bengal, took no steps to check him so far and, ultimately, paid the price for his neglect.
Ikhtiyar-ud-din attacked Nadia, the capital of Pala ruler of Bengal, in 1204-1205 CE. He moved so swiftly that he left the bulk of the army much behind himself and reached the palace-gates with only 18 horsemen.
Lakshmana Sena felt that the Turks had made a surprise attack and fled out of fear. In the meantime, the Turkish army also reached there and Ikhtiyar-ud-din plundered Nadia.
East Bengal remained with Lakshmana Sena, while South-West Bengal was occupied by Ikhtiryar-uddin for Muhammad Ghori. He established his headquarters at Lakhnauati.
Ikhtiyar-ud-din also attempted to conquer Tibet also but the expedition failed miserably.
Before his death, he had brought Bihar and a large part of Bengal under Turkish control which was not even imagined by Muhammad Ghori or Aibak.
When Muhammad Ghori’s nobles were expanding and consolidating his empire in India, he himself was busy fighting against Khwarizm Shah of Persia.
Muhammad Ghori’s elder brother, Ghiyas-ud-dinhad died in 1202 CE and therefore Muhammad had become the ruler of the entire Ghur Empire.
Ghiyas-ud-din had always fought against the Khwarizmians. Muhammad pursued the similar policy. But, he was severely defeated by them in 1205 CE at the Battle of Andhkhud.
This defeat of Muhammad Ghori gave a setback to his reputation in India as well and it was rumoured that he had been killed.
It led to revolts in different parts of India. In the North-West, the Khokars attempted to capture Lahore.
Muhammad came to India in 1205 CE and fought a battle against Khokars between the Jhelum and Chenab rivers.
The Khokars fought fiercely but were defeated and punished harshly. After setting right the affairs at Lahore, Muhammad Ghori returned to Ghazni.
On his return journey, he was stabbed to death on March 15, 1206 CE at Dhamyak on the banks of the river Indus by the party of Khokhar dare-devils, while he was engaged in the evening prayers. The body of Muhammad Ghori was carried to Ghazni and buried there.
Character Estimate of Muhammad Ghori
While making an assessment of the character and achievements of Muhammad Ghori, one is usually tempted to compare him with those of Mahmud Ghaznavi which sometimes unreasonably diminishes his importance. But, the status of Muhammad Ghori in Indian history, even while comparing him with Mahmud Ghaznavi, is undisputable.
As a general Muhammad Ghori was no match for Mahmud Ghaznavi. Mahmud was a born military commander. He was successful in all his campaigns in India and he had been equally successful in Central Asia.
Mahmud Ghaznavi, thus, established an extensive and powerful empire and rightly deserved to be the first Sultan of the Islamic world. Mahmud Ghaznavi remained unbeaten during his life-time.
Muhammad Ghori was badly defeated by Mularaja, Prithviraja Chauhan and Khwarizm. However, the greatness of Muhammad Ghori was that none of those defeats could dampen his spirit or check his ambition.
He learned from his every failure, realised his weaknesses, and removed them and finally attained success.
Muhammad Ghori did not inspire awe but confidence among his generals and extracted their collective wisdom in the search of his clear cut imperialist ideals.
He gave full credit to the lieutenants for their achievements and did not eclipse their stature by the imposition of his own personality cult.
The successes and conquests of Muhammad Ghori brought about more permanent results than the conquests of Mahmud Ghaznavi.
Professor K.A. Nizami writes. “This hero of three stupendous defeats-Andhkhud, Tarain and Anhilwara”, as Professor Habib calls him, “has to his credit the establishment of one of the greatest empires of the Middle Ages, and in this he definitely rises above Mahmud of Ghazni”.
Muhammad Ghori made a correct estimate of the decadent political structure of India and visualized the establishment of a Turkish Empire here by all means.
Of course, the conquest of North India was not easy. Muhammad Ghori met with resistance everywhere and were twice defeated by the Rajputs. Yet, he did not give up his goal. Mahmud Ghaznavi was never defeated, though he attacked India more times than Muhammad Ghori. Yet, he did not think of establishing his empire here and confined his vision simply to plunder the wealth of India. Thus, Muhammad Ghori possessed a higher ideal as compared to Mahmud Ghaznavi.
Muhammad Ghori also gave proof of his political farsightedness in dealing with different Rajput rulers. He ensured that the Rajputs should, in no way, be able to raise a common resistance to him and therefore, tried to attain the sympathy or support of a few of them. It is because of this reason he did not annex Delhi and Ajmer to his territories just after the Second battle of Tarain Instead, he handed over the administration of Delhi to the son of Govindaraja and that of Ajmer to the son of Prithviraja Chauhan. It was Aibak who annexed them afterwards.
Muhammad Ghori neither changed the status of those Hindu chiefs who accepted his suzerainty nor interfered in their administration. He simply set up military posts all over the place and garrisoned them with Turkish troops in order to consolidate his hold over the conquered territories. This aided him in consolidating the Turkish power in India.
Muhammad Ghori was a good judge of human nature. He could select the best men for his service, give them responsibility according to their capability and get the best results out of their efforts. Qutubuddin Aibak, Tajuddin Yalduz and Malik Bahauddin Tughrilwho proved themselves fairly capable and were mainly responsible for his successes in India,were trained by Muhammad Ghori.
Professor A.B.M. Habibullah writes, “If he failed to found a dynasty, he yet trained up a band of men who were to prove more loyal to his ideals and better fitted to maintain his empire.”
Muhammad Ghori was successful mainly due to his own strength of character. He possessed a higher ideal from which he refused to diverge even after his initial failures in India and his defeat by Khwarizm Shah.
Muhammad Ghori planned his attacks and conquests beforehand, changed them whenever necessary removed his weaknesses when known and did not take unnecessary risks in battles and politics.
When he suffered a setback at Anhilwara, he changed his course of attack on India and once defeated at the battle of Tarain, he came again with comprehensive preparation and even changed his military strategies. As a military commander, he kept his eyes upon all his campaigns.
When he was fighting the Khokars in India he had not lost touch with his campaigns in Central Asia. It was because of this reason that he was ultimately successful in his military campaigns.
Muhammad Ghori was the real founder of Turkish rule in India and therein lay his greatest achievement and greatness.
Muhammad Ghori could hardly find any time to look after the administration of his territories in India. Virtually, he remained the ruler of Ghazni and Ghur The task of administering his Indian conquests was mostly left to Qutubuddin Aibak. Muhammad Ghori patronised many scholars like Fakhruddin Razi and Nizami Uruzi. However, his greatest achievement was the establishment of the Turkish Empire in India which added a fresh chapter to the history of India.
Causes of the Success of Turks and Defeat of Rajputs
Arnold Toynbee, while examining the circumstances leading to the fall of the great civilizations, put forward the view that no ‘foreign invasion’ had ever been the cause of their collapse; ‘it simply gave the coup d’grace.
The decadent political structure, the outdated military organization,the stagnant Indian structure, the society with its inherent socio-religious defects and economic imbalance which created a gulf between the masses and the socio-political leadership, have been earlier in this chapter.
These carried the seeds of decay of the pre-muslim Indian society and its Rajput leadership. It was plagued, mainly, by the self-destructive characteristics-the neglect of a sound political-cum-military machinery of collective self-defense, the lack of feeling of overall national consciousness and mutual warfare.
Unsurprisingly, it stood a very poor chance of survival in the struggle against the Turkish invaders.
The Turkish invaders, on the other hand, exhibited superiority over their Indian opponents in many respects.
They had better military organization, discipline and consistency. They invariably followed one leader and fully realized the value of unity of command.
Their leaders were well aware of the latest techniques of warfare, and they took keen interest in updating their knowledge in this respect.
The Turkish invaders were good archers who depended mainly on the use of efficient and well-disciplined cavalry against the Rajput infantry.
They used their strategies wisely; they resorted to sham fights, laid ambuscades, made surprise attacks, kept reserve armies and employed all means, fair or foul, to win the war.
They fought as criminals. They were aware of the fact that they had to fight in a foreign land; therefore, if defeated, they might not be able to return alive to their country.
The Turkish invaders were full of religious zeal. They were inspired by the ideal of bringing glory to Islam.
They thought that if successful in the holy war (jihad), this world would lie at their feet, otherwise they would attain martyrdom in their death and would attain paradise (jannat).
Thus, the invaders fought for a cause while the Rajputs had nothing better than clan or class interests to defend.
There is no doubt that love for loot and plunder was a great material incentive to the Turkish invaders to fight stubbornly.
They impartially distributed the spoils among themselves and their leaders on established principles.
They received promotions and rewards from their leaders for their outstanding performance in the war.
Naturally, every Muslim soldier, who participated in the expedition, had his personal career and fortune at stake.
No high office, not even that of the Sultan or supreme commander of the forces, was beyond the reach of a really capable soldier.
Even from the ranks of their slaves, they produced, highly capable men like Qutub-ud-din Aibek and Bakhtiyar Khalji, without whose contributions it was not possible for Muhammad Ghori to conquer the whole of Northern India during his life-time.
Attracted by the fabled wealth of India and the love of adventure, thousands of the Muslim youth from Central Asia joined the Turkish armies as ghazis who brought their own horses and weapons of war with them; on the other hand, the military resources of the Rajput chiefs were confined to their own principalities, whose scopes were sometimes not greater than those of a modern Indian district.
The army organization of the Rajputs was based on worn out conceptions. The Indians did not try to improve their weapons, tactics and other equipments.
The Turkish commanders could afford to exercise qualitative control over the selection of their soldiers whereas the Rajput princes were satisfied with the addition to their numbers alone.
The Indians had to pay heavily not only for their faults but also for their virtues of character. The Rajputs observed certain Hindu traditions of warfare and did not mind whether they were able to win the battle or not.
It was against their morality to mix poison in water, to attack suddenly or from behind the enemy, to destroy agricultural fields in order to check the supply of the enemy or adopt such methods to win the battle.
The Rajputs were generous and merciful to their enemies. A Rajput would seldom attack his enemy when the latter was without adequate armament, or injured or fallen on the ground; he would rather give him a fair chance to settle the scores between the parties.
A Rajput knew how to fight and die a chivalrous death whereas the sole aim of a Turkish soldier was to win by hook or by crook.
The principle non-violence had made the Indians humane and peace-loving. They showed non-aggressive, rather non-defensive attitude even in the face of the unprincipled invaders and thus fell an easy prey to their aggression.
The 11th and 12th centuries presented the last phase of the declining ancient Indian civilization and culture, during which Toynbee’s formula of Beat-Rally-Rout played its full circle.
During this period, the uncreative political leadership of the Rajputs was faced by a periodic challenge which it repeatedly failed to meet.
The Rajput polity of Northern India suffered a serious setback at the first holocaust (Invasions of Mahmud Ghaznavi) from which it never fully recovered; and at the next crisis (viz., Muhammad Ghori’s invasions), it went to pieces forever.
The failure of their political and military structure was followed quickly by the disintegration and decay of ancient Indian civilization.
Toynbee describes this consequence as due to the ‘nemesis of creativity’. According to him, the Rajput ‘leadership had lost its claim to the mimesis of the society at large’; ‘nevertheless, it insisted on imposing its will on the society’.
It manifested ‘the most fateful occurrence’ in the life-history of the Indian civilization because the Rajputs represented merely ‘the dominant minority’ who had ceased to be creative in their outlook, were ‘hardened into some self-stultifying idolatry-the ‘worship of the ghost of the defunct polity’. They crumbled down to the dust before the Turkish invaders owing to their ‘sin of pride’.
Impact of Turkish Conquest of India
The triumph of the Turks against the Rajputs led to the establishment of Turkish rule in North India. It affected the fortunes of India in a number of ways. The Turks attempted to establish a strong centralized government and, hence, attempted to overthrow feudalism in India. Sultans such as Iltutmish, Alauddin Khalji and Ghiyasuddin largely succeeded in it. They also succeeded in setting up a uniform system of administration as well in North India.
According to J.N. Sarkar “India forewent its aloofness during the rule of the Turks.” India had lost its contact with the outside world during the so-called Rajput age. It revived its contact with the Asian and African countries during the Turkish rule.
Professor A.B.M Habibullah has opined that the conquest of North India by the Turks created an urban revolution. The Turkish rulers permitted every person to live within cities without any discrimination on grounds of class, caste or religion.
Therefore, all categories of people-rulers, labourers, educated ones, traders, the Brahmanas, the Vaishyas, the Sudras etc. lived together in cities and all of these, in their own way, helped in building and developing cities.
Contacts with the outside world, administrative unity, growth of cities, coinage system, etc. aided the growth of trade and industries which increased the prosperity of India.
During Turkish rule, Persian was accepted as the court language. Therefore, both the Hindus and the Muslims studied it which helped in integrating the culture of both.
The Turkish rule attacked the caste system of the Hindus. Although, the caste system could not be abolished among the Hindus, yet caste-distinctions and untouchability suffered serious setbacks and lower castes got the protection of the state.
The Turks improved the military organization and fighting strategies of the Indians. The feudal organization of the army was disposed off, centralized armies were raised, cavalry organization was emphasized, arms were improved, people of all castes and creeds were recruited in the army and the mobility of the army was increased. All these changes enhanced the efficiency of the Indian army and it came on par with the best armies in Asia. It was because of this reason that Alauddin Khalji could successfully repulse all Mongol invasions.
The Turkish rule brought Islam and Hinduism together in India which helped in the growth of Indo-Muslim culture. Both the Hindus and the Muslims contributed to the formation of that culture which created a society in India that was different from the past.