The Prithviraj Raso or Prithvirajaraso is an epic poem composed by Prithviraj's court poet, Chand Bardai, on the life of Prithviraj III Chauhan, a Rajput king who ruled Ajmer and Delhi between 1165 and 1192.
The '''Prithviraj Raso''' was composed by Chand Bardai, Prithviraj's court poet, who accompanied the king in all his battles. Chand Bardai, whose traditional occupation was to compose poems and ballads in praise of their patrons, based loosely on historical incident; they were poets and scribes who accompanied the armies of their patrons and encouraged and exhorted the warriors to bravery in battle by reciting the great deeds of their illustrious clan forebears.
Over time, the Prithviraj Raso has been embellished with the interpolations and additions of many other authors. Only a small portion of the existing texts is likely to have been part of the original text. Several versions of the Prithivraj Raso are available, but scholars agree that a small 1300 stanza manuscript in Bikaner is closest to the original text. The longest available version is the Udaipur manuscript, which is an epic comprising of 16,306 stanzas. The language of the texts available today largely appears to be post-15th century.
According to the ballad, Prithvi Raj King who, after ceaseless military campaigns, extended his original kingdom of Sambhar (Shakambara) in present-day Rajasthan, to cover Rajasthan, Gujarat and eastern Punjab. He ruled from his twin capitals of Delhi and Ajmer. His fast rise aroused the envy of the then powerful ruler of Kannauj, Jaichand Gahadvala, and caused ill-feeling between the two.
The story of Prithviraj's exploits spread far and wide and became the subject of much discussion among the nobility. Sanyogita, daughter of Jaichand, fell secretly in love with Prithviraj. She met Prithviraj at the temple of Koteshwar. She was disguised as Nandini and Prithvi was disguised as Surya. He was on a mission to save the temple deity from sabotage by his archrival and king of Gujrat Bhimdev Solannki. Prithviraj had heard of Sanyogita's unmatched beauty in a poem and decided to meet her in disguise. However, Sanyogita who had seen a portrait of Prithviraj could see through his disguise and decided to meet him personally. She disguised herself as not to be recognized and hence their secret affair began. Her father got wind of this affair and resolved to have her safely wed at an early date. He arranged a Swayamwara, a Hindu ceremony where a maiden selects a husband from a number of suitors who assemble at the invitation of her guardian. Jaichand invited many princes of high rank and heritage, but deliberately failed to invite Prithviraj. To add insult to injury, Jaichand had a statue of Prithviraj made and placed at the door of the venue, thus parodying Prithviraj as a doorman. Prithviraj came to hear of this. He made his plans and confided the same to his lover, Sanyogita.
On the day of the ceremony, Sanyogita emerged from an inner chamber, entered the venue of the swayamwara, walked straight down the hall past the assembled suitors, bypassing them all. She reached the door and garlanded the statue of Prithviraj. The assemblage were stunned at this brash act, but more was to follow: Prithviraj, who had been hiding behind the statue in the garb of a doorman, emerged, put Sanyogita upon his horse and the two ran away with each other. This incident resulted in a string of battles between the two kingdoms and both of them suffered heavily. The Chauhan-Gahadvala feud led to the weakening of both Rajput kingdoms.
Muhammad'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 Sultan 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.
In 1192, the Ghori army returned to challenge Prithviraj at the Second Battle of Tarain. Sultan Muhammad Shahab-ud-din 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 large army with the aid of approximately 150 Rajput rulers and aristocrats. A large portion of the army consisted of Indian war elephants, which proceeded to meet Sultan Muhammad Shahab-Ud-Din 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. Sultan Muhammad Shahab-ud-din Ghori decided to attack. Taking advantage of the Rajput tradition of not fighting after dusk he attacked the rajput army and defeated them.What happens after this is clear from the local folk songs still prominent in Rajasthan. It is said that PrithviRaj was taken to Afghanistan along with his raj-kavi cum friend, Chandbhar. In Ghori's court, Prithviraj and Chandbhar were brought in shackles. PrithviRaj was asked to show the art of archery, wherein he could aim and shoot just by hearing the sound. It is also known as Shabdbhedi-baan. Ghori asked him to show him this art. To make game interesting for himself, he got his eyes pierced with hot iron rods. Chandbhar says, "A king, though as a prisoner, can receive command only from a king. So only you can ask him to shoot.". Then he says few verses or poetry, few of those lines were,"Chaar baans chaubees guz, angul asht pramaan,Taa oopar Sultan hai, Mat chooke Chauhan". Chaar baans meant four bamboos stick, chaubis guz as approximately 24 yards, angul asht pramaan meant eight fingers width. All this combined gave the exact location of Ghori sitting on his throne i.e. 4 bamboos stick high, 24 yards away and exactly eight fingers up was the Ghori sitting. "Go ahead O Chauhan and don't miss the aim". This is how PrithviRaj kills Ghori in his court and obviously to meet his own death.