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Arya Kings of Kaliyuga-VI
Arya Kings

Harsha Vardhan and others

Empire of King Harsha
harsha1.gif
Blue are signifies the Empire of Harsha

After the downfall of the Gupta Empire in the middle of the sixth century AD, North India was again split into several independent kingdoms. The Huns established their supremacy over the Punjab. The northern and western regions of India passed into the hands of a dozen or more feudatories. Gradually, one of them, Prabhakar Vardhana, the ruler of Thanesar, who belonged to the Pushabhukti family, extended his control over all other feudatories.

Prabhakar Vardhan was the descendent of Vikramaditya-I of Vardhan dynasty with his capital at Thanesar now a small town in the state of Haryana nearly 150 km. from Delhi. After his death in A.D. 606, his eldest son, RajyaVardhan, ascended the throne. He was killed in a battle which he won against Devagupta who had killed Grahavarman, the husband of his sister Rajyashri and usurped the throne of Kannauj.

Harsha ascended the throne at the age of 12. Though quite a young man, he proved himself a great conqueror and an able administrator. At the age of 14 he was already a master in Horse riding and Sword fight, he use to tame wild horses with his bare hands at the age of 14.  After his accession, Harsha first rescued is sister just as she was going to commit Sati. At the request of his sister, he united the two kingdoms of Thanesar  and Kannauj and transferred his capital from Thanesar to Kannauj. Harsha waged many wars. he defeated Sasank of Bengal. He also brought the five Indies i.e. Punjab, Kannauj, Bengal, Bihar and Orissa under his control. He conquered Dhruvasena of Gujarat. He also conquered Ganjam, a part of the modern Orissa State. He also conquered Rajputana, Mulatan, Blauchisthan and many parts of Deccan.

His empire included territories of distant feudal kings too. Harsha governed his empire on the same lines as the Guptas. The kings he conquered paid him revenue and sent soldiers when he was fighting war. They accepted his sovereignty, but remained rulers over their own kingdoms.

His reign is comparatively well-documented, thanks to his court poet Bana and Hieun Tsang. Bana composed an account of Harsha's rise to power in 'Harshacharita'. Hieun Tsang was a Chinese Buddhist pilgrim who came to India during this time to collect Buddhist literature and to visit places connected with Buddhism. He wrote a full description of his journey in his book 'SI-YU-KI'. Harsha died in the year 647 AD. He ruled over India for 41 years. He was the last empire builder of ancient India. Harsha supported the development of philosophy and literature and wrote three well-known plays - Nagananda, Ratnavali and Priyadarsika.

After Harsha's death, apparently without any heirs, his empire died with him. The kingdom disintegrated rapidly into small states. The succeeding period is very obscure and badly documented, but it marks the culmination of a process  which had begun with the invasion of the Hunas in the last years of the Gupta empire. Meanwhile, the kingdoms of the Deccan (Dasuyas) became powerful.

 AD 800-1200 Kingdoms controlled by Rajput rise in Central India and Rajasthan. Rajput rulers (kshatriya) class fight with each other as well as against Islamic invaders from Arabia. The four major families are the Pratiharas of Kanauj, the Paramaras of Malwa, the Chauhans of Delhi and Ajmer, and the Chalukyas of Gujarat. Perisans flee from Perisa after the atrocities done by Islamic rulers against them and take refuge in Gujrat. The Modern day parsis are the perisans who escaped persia and landed in Aryavrata.

The Story of Prithviraj Chouhan

In Jaichand's days, a rival Rajput clan had established itself in Delhi (Pithoragarh). The ruler there was Prithviraj Chouhan. Pritiviraj was a romantic, chivalrous and an extremely fearless person. After ceaseless military campaigns, Pritiviraj extended his original kingdom of Sambhar (Shakambara) to Rajasthan, Gujarat, Kashmir, West UP and  Punjab. He ruled from his twin capitals at Delhi and Ajmer. His fast rise caught the envy of the then powerful ruler Jaichandra Gahadwala and there was a lot of ill-feeling between the two.

Prithiviraj's Love for Sanyogita - Jaichandra's Daughter

The story of Prithviraj's bold exploits spread far and wide in the country and he was the center of much discussion in the circle of the nobility. Sanyogita, the daughter of Jaichandra Gahadwala fell secretly in love with Prithiviraj and she started a secret poetic correspondence with him. Her father the haughty Jaichandra got wind of this and he decided to teach his daughter and her upstart lover a lesson. So he arranged a Swayamwara (a ceremony where a bride can select her husband from the assembled princes. She had the right to garland any prince and she became his queen. This is an ancient Hindu custom among Royalty). Jaichandra invited all the big and small princes of the country to Kannauj for the royal Swayamwara. But he deliberately ignored Prithiviraj.

To add insult to injury, he even made a statue of Prithiviraj and kept him as a dwarpala (doorman).

The Elopement of Sanyogita with Prithviraj

Prithviraj got to know of this and he confided his plans to his lover.

On the said day, Sanyogita walked down the aisle where the royals had assembled and bypassed all of them only to reach the door and garland the statue of Pritiviraj as a doorman. The assemblage was stunned at this brash act of hers. But what stunned them and her father Jaichandra was the next thing that happened.

Prithiviraj who was hiding behind the statue, also in the garb of a doorman, whisked Sanyogita away and put her up on his steed to make a fast getaway to his capital at Delhi.

 

Chouhan-Rathod Warfare Leads to Weakening of both Rajput Kingdoms

Jaichandra and his army gave earnest chase and in the resultant string of battles between the two kingdoms fought between 1189 and 1190, both of them sufferred heavily. While this drama was being enacted, another ruler also named Mahmud who was from Ghori in Afghanistan had grown powerful and had captured Ghazni and subsequently attacked the Ghaznavid Governor of Punjab and defeated him. The kingdom of Mahmud Ghori now stretched up to the domains of Prithiviraj Chouhan. A clash was inevitable.

The 1st Battle of Tarain 1191 C.E. - Victory of Prithiviraj Chouhan

Mahmud Ghori threw the gauntlet by laying siege to the fortress of Bhatinda in East Punjab which was on the frontier of Prithiviraj's domains. Prithviraj's appeal for help from his father-in-law was scornfully rejected by the haughty Jaichandra. But undaunted Prithviraj marched on to Bhatinda and met his enemy at a place called Tarain (also called Taraori) near the ancient town of Thanesar. In face of the persistent Rajput attacks, the battle was won as the Muslim army broke ranks and fled leaving their general Mahmud Ghori as a prisoner in Pritiviraj's hands.

Mahmud Ghori was brought in chains to Pithoragarh - Prithviraj's capital and he begged his victor for mercy and release. Prithviraj's ministers advised against pardoning the aggressor. But the chivalrous and valiant Prithviraj thought otherwise and respectfully released the vanquished Ghori. Historians also say that Prithiviraj defeated Ghori not once but 17 times. When he was deafted in First battle of Tarain that was his 17th defeat but we dont take it as most world historians dont agree with that.

The 2nd Battle of Tarain 1192 C.E. - Defeat of Prithiviraj Chouhan

The very next year Prithiviraj's gesture was repaid by Ghori who re-attacked Prithiviraj with a stronger army and guilfully defeated him by attacking the Rajput army before daybreak. (The Hindus incidentally followed a hoary practice of battling only from sunrise up to sunset. Before Sunrise and after Sunset there was to be no fighting- as per a time honoured battle code).The defeated Prithiviraj was pursued up to his capital and in chains he was taken as a captive to Ghor in Afghanistan.

The Blinding of Prithviraj

The story of Prithiviraj does not end here. As a prisoner in Ghor he was presented before Mahmud, where he looked Ghori straight into the eye.

Ghori ordered him to lower his eyes, whereupon a defiant Prithiviraj scornfully told him how he had treated Ghori as a prisoner and said that the eyelids of a Rajputs eyes are lowered only in death.

 On hearing this, Ghori flew into a rage and ordered that Prithviraj's eyes be burnt with red hot iron rods.

This heinous deed being done, Prithiviraj was regularly brought to the court to be taunted by Ghori and his courtiers. In those days Prithiviraj was joined by his former biographer Chand Bardai, who had composed a ballad-biography on Pritiviraj in the name of Prithviraj Raso (Songs of Prithviraj). Chand Bardai told Prithiviraj, that he should avenge Ghori's betrayal and daily insults.

The Blind Prithviraj Avenges the Injustice done to him

The two got an opportunity when Ghori announced a game of Archery. On the advice of Chand Bardai, Prithviraj, who was then at court said he would also like to participate. On hearing his suggestion, the courtiers guffawed at him and he was taunted by Ghori as to how he could participate when he could not see. Whereupon, Prithiviraj told Mahmud Ghori to order him to shoot, and he would reach his target.

Ghori became suspicious and asked Prithviraj why he wanted Ghori himself to order and not anyone else. On behlaf of Prithiviraj, Chand Bardai told Ghori that he as a king would not accept orders from anyone other than a king. His ego satisfied, Mahmud Ghori agreed.

On the said day, Ghori sitting in his royal enclosure had Prithiviraj brought to the ground and had him unchained for the event. On Ghori's ordering Prithviraj to shoot, we are told Prithiviraj turned in the direction from where he heard Ghori speak and struck Ghori dead with his arrow. This event is described by Chand Bardai in the couplet, "Dus kadam aggey, bees kadam daey, baitha hai Sultan. Ab mat chuko Chouhan, chala do apna baan." (Ten feet ahead of you and twenty feet to your right, is seated the Sultan, do not now miss him Chouhan, release your baan - arrow).

Thus ended the story of the brave but unrealistic Prithviraj Chouhan - the last Arya ruler of Delhi. Delhi was to remain under Muslim rule for the next 700 years till 1857 and under British rule till 1947. Those few Aryas who came close to liberating Delhi during the seven centuries of Muslim rule were Rana Sanga in 1527, Raja (Hemu) Vikramaditya in around 1565 (2nd battle of Panipat), and Shrimant Vishwas Rao who was the Peshwa's son and was co-commander of the Maratha forces in the 3rd battle of Panipat in 1761. Although Aryas remained untammed in Rajasthan and Central India but Nothern India remained under Islamic rulers. North India witnessed People like Banda Bahadur and Ranjit Singh, later one was fearless fighter whom every Muslim feared of just the way Muslims feared from the Kings of Rajputana and Maharshtara. Dasuays remained untammed too. It was only under British rule when entire Aryavrata was under the controll of one single ruler.

Aryas came under the influnce of Ahimsa and that was the main cause we saw Mughal and British rule. Other reason was rivaliary among Kashatriyas.