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Hindu Shahi Maharaja Anandpal: The battle of Chhuchh

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In a previous post titled “Hindu Shahi Maharaja Jaipal and the Islamic Invasion” we learnt about the resistance offered by the guardians of the north-west of our civilization, how a myth has been created that it was an easy path for the barbaric Islamic hordes into this ancient landmass. This post carries the events from there and describes the strong resistance put up by son and successor of Maharaja Jaipal – Anandpal.

After the self-immolation by Maharaja Jaipal, Anandpal ascended the throne in 1002 C.E. Just like his father, the king was well aware of the dangers that lurked his kingdom. Mehmud of Ghazni had been busy in subjugating the fort of Bhatiya and Multan and had even appointed a man named Nawasa Shah to oversee his conquered territories in India. Nawasa was a new convert to Islam, earlier named Sukhpal, he was a maternal grandson of Jaipal and had been “taken prisoner at the battle of Peshawar in 1001-02 C.E.” Although, later he had tried to renounce Islam and rule as an independent ruler, however he remained unsuccessful. But, discussion of these events are for another day.

Bottomline is Mehmud knew that the Hindu Shahis were “the most formidable stumbling block” if he wanted to invade further inside India and Anandpal was aware of the situation. In 1008-09 C.E., Mahmud invaded the kingdom with all his might. Maharaja had demanded help from other rulers of India. Rulers of Gwalior, Kannauj, Kalinjar didn’t dissappoint and provided some help, some aid to the Maharaja. Effort was quite comprehensive to face the invader.

Mehmud had made his own preparations. “With back to the Khyber Pass firmly secured and made safe for retreat in case of defeat, he entrenched his main army in the plain of Chhachh near Hazru on the east of the Indus.” But, there was a long wait. Both the armies weren’t ready to make the first move. For nearly forty days, no one moved and the armies remai

Unforutnately, the victory that was firmly under the hands of Hindu Shahis was taken away. The wounded elephant of Maharaja Anandpal lost his control and fled the battlefield, taking the Maharaja with himself. A panic ran through the forces and affected their morale. The thought of their leader leaving the battlefield created chaos in the army and the engegement broke. Many of these soldiers were killed in the retreat. Waihand, the seat of the Hindu Shahis was captured and the entire upper valley of Indus was brought under the invading armies of the barbarians. Anandpal lost a lot of territory and after a few years was succeeded by his son Trilochanpal.

While resisting the Islamic onslaught there were various kinds of reactions by our rulers. They certainly made it very hard for the invaders to succeed, even completely foiling their earlier attempts in seventh and eighth centuries. There was never a time during or after the Islamic invasions when one or the other attempts were not being made by our rulers or even the general public to free themselves of the barbarians. Many were successful and the result was that the Islamic armies could make a solid seat for their conquered landmass only in late 12th century and we should never forget the glorious empire of Vijaynagar, indefatigable resistance by Rajputs, the Maratha empire, the Sikh empire, the Oriya Kingdom, the Ahoms and many others about whom I hope to write in near future. Some compromised but such bad apples are found everywhere and in every civilization. Some did blunders but many of them provided heroic resistance even though loosing in the end like the Hindu Shahis.

What we as a country need is to learn about these attempts, every resistance which was successful so that we learn what our ancestors were capable of, every unsuccessful attempt so that we learn from those mistakes. By not acknowledging our mistakes, we our destined to repeat them but by not acknowledging our glorious resistance and our victories we our destined to become pale shadows of our ancestors, suffering from the inferiority complex about our capabilities. Unfortunately, even after 1947, we neither accepted our mistakes nor our victories when what we desperately needed was to avoid both these scenarios. But, a new dawn is upon us and by the grace of devas, we still have time to learn and correct. After all, we still are fighting similar enemies, outside our boundaries and inside.


Advanced study in the history of medieval India Vol 1 by J L Mehta

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