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Statue of Prithvi Raj Chauhan at Ajmer

Prithvi Raj III, commonly known as Prithvi Raj Chauhan, (1166-1192 CE) was a king of the Hindu Kshatriya Chauhan (Chauhamana) dynasty, who ruled the kingdom of Ajmer and Delhi in northern India during the latter half of the 12th century.

According a number of scholars Prithvi Raj Chauhan was from Gurjara stock and belonged to the Agnikula Kshatriyas.[1][2] Prithviraj Chauhan was the last independent Hindu king to sit upon the throne of Delhi. He succeeded to the throne in 1169 A.D. at the age of 20, and ruled from the twin capitals of Ajmer and Delhi which he received from his maternal grand-father Ballal Sen of the Sen Dynasty in Bengal. He controlled much of present-day Rajasthan and Haryana, and unified the Rajputs against Muslim invasions. His elopement with Samyukta (Sanyogita), the daughter of Jai Chandra Rathod, the Gahadvala king of Kannauj, in 1175, 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.

Prithvi Raj defeated the Afghan ruler Muhammad Ghori in the First Battle of Tarain in 1191 CE. Ghori attacked for a second time next year, and Prithvi Raj was defeated and slain at the Second Battle of Tarain in 1192 CE. After his defeat Delhi came under the control of Muslim rulers. Qila Rai Pithora in Delhi, also known as Pithoragarh, is named after him.

Contents

Biography

Prithviraj Chauhan's succession was not secure since the death of Vigraha-raja in 1165; Prithviraj re-consolidated control over the Chauhan kingdom and conquered several neighboring kingdoms, making the Chauhan kingdom the leading Hindu kingdom in northern India. He campaigned against the Chandela Rajputs of Bundelkhand and his kingdom included much of present-day northwest India including Rajasthan, Haryana, parts of Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab. The princely state of Nabha had close relations with Prithviraj Chauhan.

Coin of Prithiviraj Chauhan or Chahamanas of Ajmer/Delhi , circa 1179 AD -1192 AD. Minted in Ajmer
Obv: Rider bearing lance on caparisoned horse facing right. Devnagari Legends : Sri Pr/thvi raja Deva'. Rev: Recumbent bull facing left, trishula on bulls rump, Devnagari Legends : Asavari / Sri Samanta Deva.

Prithviraj Chauhan, also called Rai Pathora, was the ruler of Ajmer and Delhi, and was the strongest ruler of Northern India toward the end of the twelfth century. He was known to be brave, powerful, and was the essence of Rajput chivalry. Prithvirajs' first cousin Jaichand (Raja of Kanauj), had strained relations with Prithviraj because their grandfather Ajaya Deva (father of both their mothers) made Prithviraj heir to the throne of Delhi.

Lineage

Ballal Sen, the King of Delhi and Gaud (Bengal), had two daughters, Roopsundari and Kamaladevi. Roopsundari was married to Vijaypal, King of Kannauj and had a son Jai Chandra. Jai Chandra's daughter was named Sanyogita. Kamaladevi was married to Someshwar Chauhan, the King of Ajmer and had a son Prithviraj and a daughter Pratha. Prithviraj later married cousin Sanyogita and Pratha was married to Samar Singh (Maharana (King) of Chittor). His uncle Kanh's daughter was married to Raja Pajawan or Pajjun of Amber.

Early Battles

1) The battle against Bhimdev Solanki of Gujarat.

Prior to this battle, Prithviraj Chauhan had killed many of Bhimdev's generals. During this battle Bhimdev's son Vanraj Solanki was seen as a real danger to watch out for due to his known military tactics. A general who served Someshwar had betrayed Prithviraj and had joined Bhimdev. He had given all the inside information to Bhimdev and had poisoned Prithviraj Chouhan's army. Prithviraj's army was then reduced to a mere 300. Bhimdev's first round of combat was sending 500 soldiers to finish Prithviraj Chauhan's army off. However, as this failed, Bhimdev then decided to send 1000 soldiers to attack in the middle of the night. On the final day, Bhimdev himself clashed with Prithviraj Chauhan's sword and was defeated.

2) The battle against Mahoba.

Some soldiers from Delhi were injured in Digvijay and decided to stop at the Mahoba royal gardens and ask for help. The Mahoba soldiers at the royal gardens told the Delhi soldiers that they had given insult to the Mohaba king Parmar by stepping into his garden and were attacked and killed. Prithviraj Chauhan came to know of this and declared war on Mahoba. During the battle for Mahoba the Mahoban army was split into 3 different sections. One was led by the Prince of Mahoba, while the other two were led by the brothers Alha and Udal. Prithviraj Chauhan defeated the section under the control of Udal and also the section under the control of the Prince of Mahoba. Udal had injured Pundir (a friend and general of Prithviraj Chauhan) in combat. Udal was then killed by Prithviraj Chauhan who was badly injured during the battle and could hardly move. Prithviraj and another friend Sanjham Rai, who was also badly injured, fell down a nearby hill and were left to be eaten by crows. Sanjham Rai, in an attempt to save his friend Prithviraj, allowed the crows to feed on him and not on Prithviraj. Prithviraj Chauhan was saved by Sanjham Rai who died a slow death. Alha's section was still in battle with Prithviraj's army when Alha had seen Prithviraj fall. Alha was stopped from killing Prithviraj Chauhan by his guru as his guru explained that Alha only wanted to kill for revenge of his brother Udal and not for the welfare of the Mahoba State. When help arrived from another friend, Chand Bardai, Prithviraj became unconscious. Prithviraj later woke in a hut in front of an alchemist. He was shocked for the death of his close friend and grieved for him.

Prithviraj Chauhan recovered from this battle and continued his conquests winning one kingdom after another.

3) One of Prithviraj's small battles was against King Raichand. King Raichand and some of the other neighbouring kings saw Prithviraj's injury and tenderness. At a time when they knew Prithviraj could not fight, they attacked Delhi's army. The generals and close friend of Prithviraj Chauhan guarded the king of Delhi. Some villagers also came in handy to help fight off King Raichand. King Raichand was killed in this battle.

4) Prithviraj Chauhan had claimed victory over forces in mountains, taking over the Kukada kingdom. He continued to take over kingdoms, extending his region in all four directions. His army continued a somewhat bloody victory march for over four years.

5) The last battle of his victory march was against the king of Dariyagargh. Prithviraj Chauhan won the battle and decided to return to Delhi, to celebrate his victory in the Digvijay. But soon after conquering the kingdom of Daryigargh he had to witness the destruction of a major portion of his state. This was Muhammad Ghori's first attack on Prithviraj's domain. .

First Battle of Tarain

Ghori's conquests brought him to the border of Prithviraj's Chauhan kingdom, and in 1191 A.D. Muhammad Ghori captured a fortress, either at Sirhind or Bathinda in present-day Punjab state, on the Chauhan's northwestern frontier. Prithviraj's army, led by his vassal prince Govinda-Raja of Delhi, rushed to the defense of the frontier, and the two armies met at the town of Tarain (Taraori), near Thanesar in present-day Haryana, approximately 150 kilometres north of Delhi.

According to urban myth in contemporary India the armies clashed first with the charge of the Rajput cavalry. Two regiments of the Turkic army with Muhammad Ghori fled the center with a body of soldiers; where Ghori met Govind-raja in personal combat. Govinda-raja lost his front teeth to Muhammad Ghori's lance. As the battle continued the Ghori army was exhausted, shorn of water, and unfamiliar with the scale of its opponent it retreated in apparent disarray towards the Afghan highlands. Ghori was also wounded in the battle and had to be rescued. [3]

Second Battle of Tarain

In 1192, the Ghori army returned to challenge Prithviraj at the Second Battle of Tarain. Muhammad Ghori proceeded towards India with an army numbering 120,000. When he reached Lahore, he sent his envoy to Prithviraj Chauhan to demand his surrender but Prithviraj Chauhan refused to comply. Prithviraj Chauhan then issued a fervent appeal to his fellow Rajput rulers and aristocracy to come to his aid against Muhammed Ghori.

Prithviraj assembled a very large army with the aid of approximately 150 Rajput rulers and aristocrats, according to Firishta, it consisted of 3,000 elephants, 300,000 horsemen and considerable infantry.[4] Some historians believe these figures may be exaggerated but the army was larger than that of Ghori. The army proceeded to meet Ghori in Tarain where Prithviraj a year before he had inflicted defeat on his adversary, confident of defeating him again. Muhammad Ghori delivered an ultimatum to Pritviraj that he convert to Islam or be defeated. Prithviraj countered with an offer that Muhammad consider a truce and be allowed to retreat with his army. Ghori decided to attack.

Ghori divided his troops into 5 parts and attacked the Rajput armies in the early morning hours sending waves of mounted archers to attack the Rajput forces, but retreated as the Rajput elephant phalanx advanced. Ghori deployed four parts to attack the Rajputs on four sides keeping a fifth part of his army in reserve. Khande Rao (General of Prithviraj), was killed. The enthusiasm of Prithviraj also dampened against these reverses. At dusk, Ghori led a force of heavily-armored horsemen to the center of the Rajput line which collapsed into confusion, Prithviraj deserted the battlefield and attempted to escape,[3][5] but was captured and killed by Ghori. The Rajput Army also broke ranks and fled, giving victory to Sultan Muhammad Ghori.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Aftermath

The Rajput kingdoms of Saraswati, Samana, Kohram, and Hansi were captured by Ghori without difficulty and he marched onwards unchallenged towards Ajmer. Sultan Muhammad Ghori spared the son of Prithviraj Chauhan, Kola, who in turn took the oath of loyalty to Ghori.

Pritviraj Raso

The Raso written by Chand Bardai and finished by his son, wrote an alternate end to the second battle of tarrain in which Prithviraj kills Ghori in his own court.The historical correctness of this is debatable.[13] He describes that,a Blind Prithviraj(He was blinded by Ghori for not lowering his eyes in front of Ghori) was ridiculed by Ghori and his soldiers and was asked to show his talent in an archery contest. He agreed and on the day of the exhibition, guided by the instructions given in form of poetry by his friend and biographer Chandbardai, and listening to the voice of Ghor he shot his arrow and killed him. The famous doha or couplet in Hindi is char bans chaubis gaj , angul asth praman, ta uper sultan hai, mat chuke chauhan. His son then writes that he and Prithviraj kill each other in a heroic end. [14][15][16]

In popular culture

Tales of Prithviraj are found in Prithviraj Raso, an epic poem by his court poet, Chand Bardai. He is subject of a biographical TV series, Dharti Ka Veer Yodha Prithviraj Chauhan, which ran for three years, from 2006 to 2009.

References

  1. ^ Dasharatha Sharma (1975). Early Chauhān dynasties: a study of Chauhān political history, Chauhān political institutions, and life in the Chauhān dominions, from 800 to 1316 A.D.. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 280. ISBN 0842606181, ISBN 9780842606189. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=n4gcAAAAMAAJ&q=bhandarkar++gurjara&dq=bhandarkar++gurjara&cd=6. "According to a number of scholars, the agnikula clas were originally Gurjaras."  
  2. ^ Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1834). Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 1999. Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland.. p. 651. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=TPgAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA651&. "By that marriage Haarsha had contracted an alliance with the dominant race of the Gurjaras, of whom the chohans were a prominent clan."  
  3. ^ a b Medieval India: From Sultanate to the Mughals (1206-1526) - I By Satish Chandra
  4. ^ Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals (1206-1526) By Satish Chandra http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=L5eFzeyjBTQC&pg=PA26&lpg=PA26&dq=muhammad+sam+prithvi+defeat&source=bl&ots=3q7YwSwvq4&sig=rZNn3EWbkCoLbgEH3TDJK7zDgLs&hl=en&ei=8exRSrGLNoWNjAfB26CiBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3#v=onepage&q=&f=false
  5. ^ History of the Rise of Mahommedan Power in India Translated by John Briggs
  6. ^ A History of India By August Friedrich Rudolf Hoernle, Herbert Alick Stark
  7. ^ The history of India from the earliest ages By James Talboys Wheeler
  8. ^ History of India By N. Jayapalan
  9. ^ Pakistan resolution revisited By K. F. Yusuf, Muhammad Saleem Akhtar, Syed Razi Wasti
  10. ^ Studies in medieval Indian history By Sri Ram Sharma
  11. ^ Outline of Indian history By Sri Ram Sharma
  12. ^ City of Djinns By William Dalrymple
  13. ^ A History of Hindi Literature By F. E. Keay
  14. ^ Col. James Tod, "Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan" Two volumes, published in 1829, 1832.
  15. ^ Kaviraj Syamaldas "The Antiquity, Authenticity and Genuineness of the epic called the Prithviraj Rasa and commonly ascribed to Chand Bardai" J Asiatic Soc. of Bengal, V 55, Pt.1, 1886
  16. ^ D.C. Ganguly, "Northern India during the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries", History and Culture of the Indian People, Ed. R.C. Majumdar, Vol 5, Ch II, pp 87-88, Bombay 1979.

Prithviraj Chauhan
File:Prithvi Raj Chauhan (Edited).jpg
Statue of Prithviraj Chauhan at Ajmer
Born 1149
Died 1192
Other names Prithvi Raj III
Occupation 12th century king of Ajmer and Delhi

Prithvi Raj III, commonly known as Prithviraj Chauhan (1149-1192 CE), was a king of the Hindu Kshatriya Chauhan (Chauhamana) dynasty, who ruled the kingdom of Ajmer and Delhi in northern India during the latter half of the 12th century.

Chauhan was a member of the Gujjar ethnic group,[1][2] and belonged to the Agnivansha group of Rajputs. Chauhan was the last independent Hindu king to sit upon the throne of Delhi.[citation needed] He succeeded to the throne in 1169 CE at the age of 20, and ruled from the twin capitals of Ajmer and Delhi which he received from his maternal grandfather Ballal Sena of the Sena Dynasty in Bengal. He controlled much of present-day Rajasthan and Haryana, and unified the Rajputs against Muslim invasions. His elopement in 1175 with Samyukta (Sanyogita), the daughter of Jai Chandra Rathod, 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 Chauhan's court poet and friend, Chand Bardai.

Prithviraj Chauhan defeated the Muslim ruler Shahabuddin Muhammad Ghori in the First Battle of Tarain in 1191. Ghauri attacked for a second time the next year, and Prithviraj was defeated and captured at the Second Battle of Tarain (1192). Sultan Ghauri took Prithviraj to Ghazni, where he was executed. After his defeat Delhi came under the control of Muslim rulers.

Contents

Biography

Prithviraj Chauhan's succession was not secure since the death of Vigraha Raja in 1165; Prithviraj re-consolidated control over the Chauhan kingdom and conquered several neighboring kingdoms, making the Chauhan kingdom the leading Hindu kingdom in northern India. He campaigned against the Chandela Rajputs of Bundelkhand. His kingdom included much of present-day northwest India including Rajasthan, Haryana, parts of Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab. The princely state of Nabha had close relations with Chauhan.

Lineage

Ballal Sena, the King of Delhi and Gaud (Bengal), had two daughters, Roopsundari and Kamaladevi. Roopsundari was married to Vijaypal, King of Kannauj, and had a son named Jai Chandra. Jai Chandra's daughter was named Sanyogita. Kamaladevi was married to Someshwar Chauhan, the King of Ajmer, and had a son, Prithviraj, and a daughter, Pratha. Prithviraj married his cousin, Sanyogita, and Pratha was married to Samar Singh, Maharana of Chittor. His uncle Kanh's daughter was married to Raja Pajawan of Amber.

Early battles

The battle against Bhimdev Solanki of Gujarat

Prior to this battle, Prithviraj Chauhan had killed many of Bhimdev's generals. During this battle Bhimdev's son, Vanraj Solanki, was seen as a real danger due to his military tactics. A general who served Someshwar had betrayed Prithviraj and had joined Bhimdev. He had given information to Bhimdev and had poisoned Prithviraj Chouhan's army, which was reduced to 300 men. Bhimdev's first round of combat was to send 500 soldiers to finish off Chauhan's army. When this failed, Bhimdev sent 1,000 soldiers to attack in the middle of the night. On the final day, Bhimdev himself clashed with Prithviraj Chauhan's sword and was defeated.

The battle against Mahoba

Some soldiers from Delhi were injured in Digvijay and decided to stop at the Mahoba royal gardens to ask for help. Guards at the gardens told the soldiers that they had insulted the Mahoba king Parmar by stepping into his garden and attacked and killed the men. Chauhan learned of this and declared war on Mahoba. During the battle the Mahoban army was split into three different sections. One was led by the Prince of Mahoba, while the other two were led by the brothers Alha and Udal. Chauhan defeated the sections under Udal and the Prince of Mahoba. Udal had injured Pundir, a friend and general of Chauhan, in combat. Udal was killed by Chauhan, who was badly injured and could hardly move. Prithviraj and Sanjham Rai, who was also badly injured, fell down a nearby hill and were left to be eaten by crows. Sanjham Rai, in an attempt to save his friend Prithviraj, allowed the crows to feed on him and not on Prithviraj. Chauhan was saved by Sanjham Rai, who died a slow death. Alha, commander of the third section, had seen Chauhan fall. Alha was stopped from killing Chauhan by his guru, who explained that Alha only wanted to kill to revenge his brother Udal, and not for the welfare of the Mahoba State. When help arrived from another friend, Chand Bardai, Prithviraj became unconscious. He woke in a hut in front of an alchemist, and was shocked and grieved to learn of the death of his friend.

Prithviraj Chauhan recovered from this battle and continued his conquests winning one kingdom after another.

  • One of Chauhan's minor battles was against King Raichand. King Raichand and some of the other neighbouring kings saw Prithviraj's injury. At a time when they knew he could not fight, they attacked. The generals and close friends of Chauhan guarded him. Some villagers also came to help fight off King Raichand. King Raichand was killed in this battle.
  • Chauhan had claimed victory over forces in mountains, taking over the Kukada kingdom. He continued to take over kingdoms, extending his dominion in all four directions. His army continued these tactics for over four years.
  • The last battle of his victory march was against the king of Dariyagargh. Chauhan won the battle and decided to return to Delhi to celebrate his victory.

First Battle of Tarain, 1191

In 1191, Shahabuddin Muhammad Ghori, leading an army of 120,000 men, invaded India through the Khyber Pass and was successful in reaching Punjab. Shahabuddin Ghori captured a fortress, either at Sirhind or Bathinda, in present-day Punjab state on the northwestern frontier of Prithviraj Chauhan's kingdom. Prithviraj's 200,000 strong army led by his vassal prince Govinda-Raja of Delhi rushed to the defense of the frontier, and the two armies met at the town of Tarain, near Thanesar, in present-day Haryana, 150 kilometres (93 mi) north of Delhi.

Shahabuddin Ghori's army was divided into three flanks, with Shahabuddin Ghori on horseback leading the centre flank. In addition to being almost twice in number, Chauhan's army had elephant cavalry comprising 300 elephants, whereas Shahabuddin Ghori's army had no elephants. Many Turkish soldiers in Shahabuddin Ghori's army had not even seen elephants before. The armies clashed first with the charge of the Chauhan cavalry. Shahabuddin Ghori's horse cavalry was unable to hold its own against the elephants, which resulted in the defeat of Shahabuddin Ghori's left and right flanks.

Shahabuddin Ghori led two regiments in an attack on the center, where Shahabuddin Ghori met Govinda Raja in personal combat. Govinda Raja, mounted on an elephant, lost his front teeth to Shahabuddin Ghori's lance. As the battle continued, Ghori's army, exhausted and out of water, retreated.

Defeat and death in the Second Battle of Tarain, 1192

In 1192, Shahabuddin Ghori reassembled an army of 120,000 men and returned to challenge Prithviraj at the Second Battle of Tarain. When he reached Lahore, he sent his envoy to demand surrender but Prithviraj Chauhan refused to comply. Chauhan then issued a fervent appeal to his fellow Rajput rulers and the aristocracy to come to his aid against Shahabuddin Ghori.

Prithviraj assembled a very large army with the aid of approximately 150 Rajput rulers and aristocrats. According to the Persian historian Firishta, it consisted of 3,000 elephants, 300,000 horsemen, and considerable infantry. The army was larger than that of Shahabuddin Ghori. The armies met in Tarain, where Shahabuddin Ghori delivered an ultimatum to Pritvi Raj that he convert to Islam or be defeated. Prithviraj countered with an offer that Ghori should consider a truce and be allowed to retreat with his army. Shahabuddin Ghori decided to attack.

Shahabuddin Ghori divided his troops into five parts and attacked in the early morning hours, sending waves of mounted archers. They retreated as the Chauhan elephant phalanx advanced. Shahabuddin Ghori deployed four parts to attack the Rajputs on four sides, keeping a fifth part of his army in reserve. General Khande Rao of the Chauhan forces was killed. At dusk, Shahabuddin Ghori himself led a force of 12,000 heavily-armored horsemen to the center of the Rajput line, which collapsed into confusion. Prithviraj attempted to escape but was captured. The Rajput army broke ranks and fled, thereby conceding victory to Shahabuddin Ghori.

Shahabuddin Ghori took the captured Prithviraj back with him to Ghazni, where he was executed in 1192.

With his victory at Tarain, Shahabuddin Ghori pushed Muslim rule much further east than Mahmud of Ghazni had. Shahabuddin Ghori became Sultan of the Ghorid Empire upon the death of his brother, Ghiyās-ud-Dīn, in 1202.

References

  1. ^ Dasharatha Sharma (1975). Early Chauhān dynasties: a study of Chauhān political history, Chauhān political institutions, and life in the Chauhān dominions, from 800 to 1316 A.D.. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 280. ISBN 0842606181, ISBN 9780842606189. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=n4gcAAAAMAAJ&q=bhandarkar++gurjara&dq=bhandarkar++gurjara&cd=6. "According to a number of scholars, the agnikula clas were originally Gurjaras." 
  2. ^ Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1834). Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 1999. Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland.. p. 651. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=TPgAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA651&. "By that marriage Haarsha had contracted an alliance with the dominant race of the Gurjaras, of whom the chohans were a prominent clan." 


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