Islamo-Marxist historians have painted a picture of Islam arriving as a religion to ‘deliver oppressed Hindu masses’. Furthermore, they’ve attributed the ‘oppression of lower caste’ Hindus to the Manu Smriti while adding that had the masses not embraced Islam, the invaders wouldn’t have survived in Bharat.
Nothing can be further from the truth as evident from contemporary pieces of evidence. The fact remains that Hindus irrespective of their caste continued to follow their Dharma faithfully. Therefore, claims of public opinion turning in favor of Islam or Hindus willingly converting to it escape the rigors of Hindu society and religion aren’t supported by historical facts.
In this regard, Alberuni writes “The repugnance of the Hindus against foreigners increased more and more when the Muslims began to make their inroads into their country…Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country…their scattered remains cherish, of course, the inveterate aversion towards all Muslims. This is the reason too, why Hindu sciences have retired far away from those parts of the country conquered by us and have fled to places which our hands cannot reach yet”.
It can’t be emphasized enough that even those who had converted to Islam in Sindh returned to the Hindu fold. Here, it is worth citing the example of the Hindu-Sahi dynasty Prince Sukhapala, son of Anandapala who had been forced to accept Islam during Mahmud of Ghazni’s reign adopting the name Nawasa Shah. Mahmud had put him in charge of his Bharatiya territories before his return to Ghazni. As soon as Mahmud left, Sukhapala overthrew his allegiance to Mahmud and reconverted to Hindu Dharma. Sadly, he received no help from his father Anandapala when Mahmud attacked him thereby leading to his defeat and capture by the Islamist ruler. Importantly, though he was imprisoned for life, he did not give up his Hindu faith.
It is worth reiterating that in country after country that fell to the sword of Islam, the inhabitants had been converted to Islam. The invading Islamists, be it Turks or Arabs, never made a concession in as far as shoving Islam down the throats of conquered is concerned. An exception was certainly made for the people of the book, meaning Jews who follow the Torah and Christians who adhere to the Bible, on the payment of Jizya.
There was no such concession for Hindus who had to choose between Islam and death. Hindus were equally determined, if not more, to preserve their religious and cultural identity as much as the Muslims wanted to foist Islam upon them. Despite the Islamic carnage at Sindh’s Debal when it fell into their hands where temples were destroyed and Hindus massacred, Hindus refused to give up their faith thereby forcing the Arabs to change their strategy. The zeal and spirit of the Hindus in preferring death over giving up their religion forced governor Hajjaj to afford them the same concession that had been reserved only for Jews and Christians.
Coming to the political and militaristic resistance put up by the Hindus, it must be highlighted that even though the resistance broke down towards the end of the twelfth century CE, for five centuries Hindu rulers and their men had put up such stiff resistance, the likes of which had never been witnessed before by the Islamist. “Even after the victory of Tarain in 1192 Ce, Muhammad Ghori had no easy access to Delhi. Repeated risings around Delhi and Ajmer went on for about a decade before the Muslim rule could settle down in these places”, writes Dr. Mishra.
Hindu military resistance to Islamic invaders can be divided into four epochs. The first was the struggle between the Arabs and Sind where the latter gave a tough fight despite being just a quarter in strength as compared to the Arab forces. Even their conquest of Sindh brought only the principalities of Multan and Mansurah under their control while they faced constant incursions by the surrounding Hindu kingdoms. The second epoch is the resistance put up by the tiny Hindu principalities of Kabul and Zabul for more than two centuries and it was only in 867 CE that Zabul was lost to the Turkish Saffarid invader Yaqub Ibn Layth.
The third phase begins in 963 CE when Turkish slave Alptigin ascends the throne of Ghazni and the fourth and final epoch commences in 1175 CE when Muhammad Ghori embarked on his conquest of Bharat. It is erroneous to assume that the Hindu rulers weren’t alive to the Islamic threat. They did form an alliance to offer joint resistance but only on two occasions and even the Hindu-Sahi ruler Jayapala went on the offensive only twice when, unfortunately, nature forced him to withdraw. Other Hindu rulers had also offered assistance to Jayapala in the form of men and money.
For almost 6 centuries, from the first Arab naval expedition in 636 CE to 1206 CE when with the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate the Muslims secured a foothold in northern Bharat, the Hindus had succeeded in keeping the flag of resistance flying. It is no mean feat by any stretch of the imagination! In fact, even after 1206, the Hindus didn’t simply surrender.
Bharat’s historians have been unfair, to say the least, to the valor and martial spirit displayed by medieval Hindu kings.
Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, and Part 8
- Heroic Hindu Resistance To Muslim Invaders 636 AD 1206 AD – Shri Sita Ram Goel (Source)
- Indian Resistance To Early Muslim Invaders up to 1206 AD – Dr. Ram Gopal Mishra