I have been mulling over some issues about our history. For example, why we know very little about certain dynasties that ruled for centuries, made immense contributions socially, made the ultimate sacrifices to defend our civilization?

Second Battle of Tarain is particularly important to Indian history. Defeat of Prithviraja III opened the gates for Muslim invaders to northern planes of India. This is well-known and beyond debate. But was he the only Chauhan Monarch to die in battlefield in defense of Civilization? Is 1191-92 AD the only relevant date in our discussion around Chauhan/Chahamana dynasty (Shakambhari/Ajmer)? The heroic struggle of Chauhan dynasty did not start in 1191, neither it ended in 1192.

Dasharatha Sharma writes “Patriotic Hindus must have admired the Chauhans for their long and brave stand against the Muslims. In the very beginning of their historical career, they helped the Pratiharas in stemming the onrush of the Arabs. They fought against the Ghaznavites. From the twelfth to the fourteenth century Arnoraja, Vigraharaja IV, Prithviraja III, Vagbhata, Hammira, Sataladeva, Kanhadadeva formed the vanguard of that noble and heroic band of warriors who fought for Hindu independence and Hindu culture.”

Then why only one Chauhan Monarch is known or studied; compare that to Khilji dynasty which did not rule more than three decades in Delhi?

Even after the defeat at Tarain, there were three rebellions before Chauhans of Ajmer retired from Indian History. Chauhans of Ranthambore continued the fight for next 100 years. As per a Sanskrit epic, Chauhan king of Ranthambore, Hammiradeva (1283-1301), passed through Ajmer in the course of a victorious progress from Abu back to his capital. This shows subsequent recovery of Ajmer by Hindus. Muslim rule did not consolidate until Alauddin Khalji entered picture.

We can agree with Peter Jackson when he writes, “For much of the period after 633/1236 Muslim domination either remained static or receded as the Sultanate proved unable even to hold on to the acquisitions made by Mu’izz ad-Din and Aybeg or by Iltutmish.”

Following is a brief timeline of Chahamans and their fight against invaders before battle of Tarain.

Fight against Hunas (1st half of 6th Century)

Chahamanas allied with king Yasodharman of Malwa in driving away the Hunas from India and carved out a principality around modern Nagor.

Fight against Arabs (As feudatories of Pratihara Empire)

-Gopendraraja (771-84 AD) defeated one Arab general Beg Varisa

-Guvaka I (809-36 AD) assisted Pratihara overlord in defeating Arab incursion into India

-Simharaja (944-71 AD) alongwith some other allies defeated one Heji-ud-Din (probably an Arab general from Sind)

Fight against Ghaznavids (As Sovereign rulers)

Durlabharaja II (998-1012 AD) This Chauhan king joined the league of Hindu rulers under Anandapala, the son of Jayapala, to oppose Mahmud of Ghazini in 1008 A.D.

-Govindaraja II (1012-26 AD) alongwith Bhimadeva I of Gujarat blocked return route of Mahmud through desert which made Mahmud to return to Ghazini by the route of Sindh.

Chamundaraja (1040-65 AD) defeated and killed one Hejim-ud-Din, probably a Ghaznavid general

-Durlabbaraja III (1065-70 AD) was killed in battle against Ghaznavids

Vigraharaja III (1070-90 AD) achieved victory over Shahab-ud-Din, probably a general of Sultan Ibrahim of Ghazini

-Prithviraja I (1090-1110 AD) defeated one Baguli Shah, probably a Ghaznavid general who raided India

-Ajayaraja JI. (1110-35 AD) pushed back a Ghaznavid attack on his domains

-Arnoraja (1135-50 AD) dealt a crushing blow to the Muslim army of invasion. This victory was celebrated in Ajmer with great pomp.

vs Ghaznavids (As Imperial power)

With the decline Pratihara Empire, the task of defending the north-western borders of India passed on to their political successors, the Chahamanas. For about half-a-century Chahamanas accomplished the task with remarkable success and finally perished in their endeavour by the end of the 12th century AD.

-Vigraharaja IV (1150-64 AD) raised his family to an imperial status by defeating all his political rivals in Northern India.  The Delhi-Siwalik pillar inscription credits him with having made Aryavarta once more what its name signifies by causing the barbarians (Mlechchhas) to be exterminated. He re-captured Hansi, an outpost of Ghazanavids in India.

As we can see, Chahamans were not in awe of any invaders and fought for more than five centuries with reasonable degree of success. The problem with our history writing has been to limit this achievement to just one battle; missing the whole picture in the process. This is pretty much the story of all dynasties/empires of India; be it Gupta empire, Mewar, Ahoms or Marathas.


Early Chauhan Dynasties by Dasharatha Sharma

History of the Chāhamānas by R. B. Singh

Delhi Sultanate: A Political and Military History by Peter Jackson

The Later Ghaznavids: Splendour and Decay : The Dynasty in Afghanistan and Northern India, 1040-1186 by Clifford Edmund Bosworth

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