Pramod Agrawal < > wrote:
A SHORT HISTORY OF INDIA—ITS HEROES AND INVADERS
This relates the invasions, challenges, massacres, and struggles of India’s people and heroes against the criminals who tried to destroy India and its culture. This is presented to preserve the real history of India.
ALEXANDER AND THE GREEKS
THE ARAB INVASIONS
THE TURKISH INVASION
THE MAMLUK (SLAVE) DYNASTY
THE SAYYID & LODHI DYNASTIES
THE BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY
THE INITIAL STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE
THE BRITISH RAJ
HEROES AFTER SHIVAJI
ADDITIONAL HEROES WHO WORKED FOR PROTECTING INDIA AND ITS CULTURE
HALL OF SHAME (Muslim Rulers and Criminals Against India)
For more than two millennia, India has suffered one bloody invasion after another, leaving a Holocaust of millions of lives and a civilization and culture left in near ruins. Through it all, India is the only one of the great ancient civilizations that has survived today. Hinduism is the most ancient and only continuously surviving religion and culture that has successfully maintained itself while so many other cultures and civilizations have vanished. No other ancient civilization has retained its ancient religion and culture under the onslaught of the western Abrahamic monotheist religions.
The first of the major invasions came from Alexander of Macedonia. His invasion of India was intended to bring Greek culture to India and to encourage cultural exchange between the Indic and Hellenic worlds. This invasion was mild compared to the savage invasions of Islam, which continue even today, attempting to decimate the Indian religions of Dharma and the Culture of Bhaaratvarsha (India). The contemporary French writer François Gautier has said, “The massacres perpetuated by Muslims in India are unparalleled in history, bigger than the Holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis; or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks; more extensive even than the slaughter of the South American native populations by the invading Spanish and Portuguese.”
Just as India was about to successfully throw off the yoke of Islamic barbarism after nearly 1000 years of slaughter, the British and Portuguese came with their missionaries. They tried to finish what Islam had begun, beginning centuries more of colonial strangulation of the great Vedic Culture of India, until finally India won her Independence in 1947. By then, so much damage had been done that India was forced to accept partition along religious lines and give up much of her northern territories to what are today the Islamic States of Pakistan and Bangladesh.
What is left of modern India is still rife with a growing population of Muslims and the continuing threat of Christian missionaries, openly seeking to wipe out Hinduism, which is not only the majority religion of India, but more than that, the Indian way of life and her very culture. Here we present a brief overview of the history of the foreign invasions and occupations of India.
ALEXANDER AND THE GREEKS
336 B.C.E. – 323 B.C.E.
Alexander was the King of Macedonia, a nation north of the city-states of ancient Greece, which was heavily influenced by the Hellenic (Greek) culture. Alexander was just 21 years old in the year 336 B.C.E., when he decided to invade India, after having conquered much of Asia Minor and the Middle East. At the time, King Taxiles ruled a large area in India. When he heard that Alexander was coming, Taxiles did not wait, but went in person to meet him in peace. “Why should we make war on each other,” Taxiles said, “if the reason for your coming is not to rob us of our water and our food? Those are the only things that a wise man has no choice but to fight for. As for any other riches or possessions, if I have more than you I am ready to share. But if fortune has been better to you than to me, then I have no objection to being in your debt.”
These courteous words pleased Alexander, and he replied: “Do you think your kind words and courteous conduct will avoid a contest between us? No, I will not let you off so easily. I will do battle with you on these terms: no matter how much you give me, I will give more in return.”
Thereupon Taxiles made many fine presents to Alexander, but Alexander responded with presents of even greater value and topped them off with a thousand talents in gold coins. This generosity displeased Alexander’s old friends but won the hearts of many of the Indians.
King Porus, however, refused to submit, and he took up a position to prevent Alexander from crossing the Hydaspes River. Porus was a huge man, and when mounted on his war elephant he looked in the same proportion as an ordinary man on a horse. After a long fight, Alexander won the victory, and Porus came to him as a prisoner. Alexander asked him how he expected to be treated, and Porus replied: “As a king.” When Alexander asked a second time, Porus explained that in those words was included everything that a man could possibly want. Alexander not only allowed Porus to keep his kingdom as a satrap, but he also gave him more territory.
This was a costly victory, however. Many Macedonians died, and so did Alexander’s old war horse, Bucephalus. This grieved Alexander so much that it seemed as though he had lost an old friend. On that spot he ordered a city to be built, named Bucephalia after his beloved horse, Bucephalus.
Such a difficult victory over only 22,000 Indians [May 326 B.C.] took the edge off the courage of the Macedonians. They had no enthusiasm for Alexander’s proposed crossing of the Ganges, a river said to be four miles wide and six hundred feet deep, to encounter an army on the other side consisting of 200,000 infantry, 80,000 cavalry, 8,000 chariots, and 6,000 war elephants.
Alexander was so angry at their reluctance that he shut himself up in his tent, saying that if they would not cross the Ganges, he owed them no thanks for anything they had done so far. But finally the persuasions of his friends, and the pleas of his soldiers, got Alexander to agree to turn back.
To exaggerate his reputation, Alexander left bridles and armor that were much bigger than normal, and huge altars to the gods. On a flotilla of rafts and barges, Alexander’s army floated down the Indus River.
Along the way, they stopped to take some fortified cities, and at one of them Alexander came very close to losing his life. Alexander was the first one up the ladders onto the wall of the city of the Mallians, and then he jumped down into the town with only two of his guards behind him.
Before the rest of the Macedonians could catch up and save him, Alexander had taken an arrow in the ribs and had been knocked dizzy by a club. He was unconscious when they carried him away, and he fainted when the doctors cut out the arrow. Rumors spread that Alexander was dead.
While in India, Alexander took ten of the Brahmins prisoner. These men had a great reputation for intelligence, so Alexander decided to give them a test. He announced that the one who gave the worst answer would be the first to die, and he made the oldest Brahmin the judge of the competition.
Which are more numerous, Alexander asked the first one, the living or the dead? “The living,” said the Brahmin, “because the dead no longer count.”
Which produces more creatures, the sea or the land? Alexander asked the second. “The land,” was his answer, “because the sea is only a part of it.”
The third was asked which animal was the smartest of all, and the Brahmin replied: “The one we have not found yet.”
Alexander asked the fourth what argument he had used to stir up the Indians to fight, and he answered: “Only that one should either live nobly or die nobly.”
Which is older: day or night? was Alexander’s question to the fifth, and the answer he got was: “Day is older, by one day at least.” When he saw that Alexander was not satisfied with this answer, the Brahmin added: “Strange questions get strange answers.”
What should a man do to make himself loved? asked Alexander, and the sixth Brahmin replied: “Be powerful without being frightening.”
What does a man have to do to become a god? he asked the seventh, who responded: “Do what is impossible for a man.”
The question to the eighth was whether death or life was stronger, and his answer: “Life is stronger than death, because it bears so many miseries.”
The ninth Brahmin was asked how long it was proper for a man to live, and he said: “Until it seems better to die.”
Then Alexander turned to the judge, who decided that each one had answered worse than another. “You will die first, then, for giving such a decision,” said Alexander. “Not so, mighty king,” said the Brahmin, “if you want to remain a man of your word. You said that you would kill first the one who made the worst answer.” Alexander gave all of the Brahmins presents and set them free, even though they had persuaded the Indians to fight him.
Alexander’s voyage down the Indus took seven months. When he finally arrived at the Indian Ocean, he decided not to take the army home by ship but to march them through the Gedrosian Desert. After sixty miserable days, they arrived at Gedrosia, where they finally found enough to eat and drink. Many died in that desert: out of the 120,000 infantry and 15,000 cavalry that Alexander took with him into India, only one in four came back.
THE ARAB INVASIONS
636 C.E. – 850 C.E.
In one of the Hadiths (Muslim scripture) the Prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying “Two groups of my Ummah, Allah has protected from the hellfire: a group that will conquer India and a group that will be with Isa ibnu Maryam (Jesus, son of Mary).” The first attempted invasion of India by Muslims occurred in 636 CE — under Caliph Umar, within four years of Muhammad’s death. The first 16 invasion attempts utterly failed. But the 17th attempt to invade India by Muhammad bin Qâsim, which was carried out against the wishes of the Kalifate, was successful. Muhammad bin Qâsim marched to Sindh with 15,000 men. He arrived at Debal, a port city near the modern Karachi, in 711. There he was bolstered by the arrival of his artillery by sea, and took the town. This was followed by his conquest of Alor, located north of Hyderabad in June 712. In the fighting before Aror the Raja Dâhir was slain. The next year he also conquered the important city of Multan.
Following the rapid conquest of Sindh, Arab progress was checked. In part this was caused by internal division. In 714 Hajjâj died, and in 715 the Calif Walid I (705-715) took interest in the campaign and recalled the conquering general, Muhammad bi Qâsim. Arab control thereafter rapidly disintegrated, leading many local rulers to repudiate their allegiance to the Arabs. The Arabs also met stiff resistance from neighboring Indian kings. When an Arab governor of Sindh, Junaid, sought to seize Kacch and Malwa, he was foiled by the Pratihara and Gurjara kings. The Arabs were thus unable to expand beyond Sindh, but they were able to maintain their hold on the province. In 985 an Ismaili Fatamid dynasty declared its independence in Multan.
THE TURKISH INVASION
1000 C.E. – 1206 C.E.
The break-up of the Gurjara-Pratihara empire led to a phase of political uncertainty in north India. As a result, little attention was paid to the emergence of the aggressive and expansionist Turks from north-west.
The three most important of the Rajput states in north India were the Gahrwals of Kanauj, the Paramaras of Malwa and the Chauhans of Ajmer.
There were other smaller dynasties in different parts of the country, such as the Kalachuris in the area around Jabalpur, the Chandellas in Bundelkhand, the Chalukyas of Gujarat, the Tomars of Delhi, etc. Bengal remained under the control of the Palas and later, the Senas.
There was a continuous struggle and warfare between the various Rajput states. It was these rivalries which made it impossible for the Rajput rulers to join hands to oust the Ghaznavids from the Punjab. In fact, the Ghaznavids felt strong enough to make raids even up to Ujjain.
Most of the Rajput rulers of the time were champions of Hinduism, though some of them also patronized Jainism. The Rajput rulers protected the privileges of the brahmanas and of the caste system. Between the tenth and the twelfth century, temple-building activity in north India reached it’s climax.
The most representative temples of this type are the group of temples at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh. Most of these temples were built by the Chandellas, who ruled in the area from the beginning of the ninth to the end of the thirteenth century. In Orissa, magnificent examples of temple architecture are the Lingaraja temple (11th century) and the Sun temple of Konark (13th century). The famous Jagannath temple at Puri also belongs to this period.
Mahmud of Ghazni
Mahmud of Ghazni raided the country in 1000 AD, with his first great victory against the Hindushahi kings of Peshawar. The muslim rulers of Multan were the second targets. In a short period of 25 years, he is said to have made 17 raids into India. From the Punjab, Mahmud raided Nagarkot in the Punjab hills and Thanesar near Delhi.
His most daring raids, however, were against Kanauj in 1018 and against the fabulously rich Somnath temple in Gujarat. No attempt was made to annex any of these areas. The rich spoils from the temples, which were repositories of wealth, helped him to consolidate his rule and embellish Ghazni with palaces and mosques. He died in Ghazni in 1030.
Muhammad of Ghur
The second Turkish attack was led by Mu’izzu’d-Din Muhammad (also known as Muhammad Ghuri), who conquered Sindh and Lahore in 1182. Soon after, he commenced his attack on the Rajput kingdoms. Prithviraj Chauhan successfully led the Rajputs against Ghuri at the first battle of Tarain in 1191 AD. However, at the second battle of Tarain in 1192 AD, Prithviraj was defeated and the kingdom of Delhi fell to Muhammad Ghuri. Before Ghuri’s assassination in 1206, Turkish control had been established along the whole length of the Ganga. Bihar and Bengal were also overrun.
Ghuri’s conquests started a new era in Indian history… The Delhi Sultanate
THE MAMLUK (SLAVE) DYNASTY
1206 C.E. – 1290 C.E
Ghuri’s conquest became the nucleus of a new political entity of India – the Delhi Sultanate. For almost one hundred years after that, the Delhi Sultanate was involved in foreign invasions, internal conflicts among the Turkish leaders and the dispossessed Rajput rulers and chiefs to regain their independence.
Ghuri left his Indian possessions in the care of his former slave, General Qutb-ud- din Aibak. He played an important part in the expansion of the Turkish sultanate in India after the battle of Tarrain.
On the death of his master, Aibak severed his links with Ghazni and asserted his
independence, and founded the Slave Dynasty (mamluks). This helped to prevent India being drawn into central asian politics and enabled the Delhi Sultanate to develop independently.
Iltutmish (1210 AD – 1236 AD), son-in-law of Aibak – succeeded Aibak as the sultan by defeating Aibak’s son. Thus, the principle of heredity, of son succeeding his father was checked at the outset. Iltutmish must be regarded as the real consolidator of the Turkish conquests in north India.
He gave the new state capital, Delhi, a monarchical form of government and governing class. He introduced Iqta – grant of revenue from a territory in lieu of salary. He maintained a central army and introduced coins of Tanka (silver) and Jital (copper). The famous Qutub Minar was completed during his reign. He despatched an expedition against the Chalukyas of Gujarat but it was repelled with losses.
Around this time, Mongols under the leadership of Ghinghiz Khan, swept across central Asia and mercilessly sacked the kingdoms. They periodically crossed river Indus to attack Punjab and Iltutmish had to keep constant check on this side.
During his last years, Iltutmish finally nominated his daughter Raziya (1236 AD – 1239 AD) to the throne. Raziya was the First and only Muslim lady to sit on Delhi Throne. In order to assert her claim, Raziya had to contend against her brothers as well as against powerful Turkish nobles, and could rule only for three years.
Though brief, her rule had a number of interesting features like the beginning of the struggle for power between the monarchy and the Turkish chiefs, sometimes called as the forty or Chahalgami. She sent an expedition against Ranthambhor to control the Rajputs, and successfully established law and order in the length and breadth of her kingdom. In 1239 AD, an internal rebellion broke out in which Raziya was imprisoned and killed by bandits.
The struggle between the monarchy and the Turkish chiefs continued till one of the Turkish chiefs Balban (Ulugh khan) (1265 AD – 1285 AD) ascended the throne. During the earlier period he held the position of naib or deputy to Nasiruddin Mahmud, a younger son of Iltultmish. He broke the Chahalgami and made the Sultan all important.
After Balban’s death, there was again confusion in Delhi for some times. In 1290, the Khilji’s, under the leadership of Jalaluddin Khilji, wrested power from the incompetent successor of Balban.
1290 C.E. – 1320 C.E.
The Khiljis used their Afghan descent to win the loyalties of the discontented nobles, who felt that they had been neglected by earlier Slave sultans.
Jalaluddin Khilji (1290 AD – 1296 AD) tried to mitigate some of the harsh aspects of Balban’s rule. He was the first ruler to put forward the view that the state should be based on the willing support of the governed and that since the majority of Indians were Hindus, the state cannot be truly Islamic.
Alauddin Khilji (1296 AD – 1316 AD) treacherously murdered his uncle and father-in-law, Jalaluddin. By harsh methods, he cowed down the nobles and made them completely subservient to the crown. He was ambitious and dreamt of an all India empire.
Over a twenty five years period, Malwa, Gujarat and Rajasthan was brought under his control. To solve the water problems in summer, he constructed lot of Baolis (Wells). His famous general Malik Kafur led the campaign (1308 AD – 1312 AD) to the south and defeated the Yadavas of Deogiri, the Kakityas of Warangal and the Hoysalas of Dwarasamudra.
Alauddin also repelled the Mongols successfully. His military success was because of the creation of a large standing army directly recruited and paid by the state. He revoked all grants made by previous sultans, introduced price control covering almost the entire market and rationed the grain.
In order to effectively subordinate nobles, he banned drinking of intoxicants. The sultan’s permission was necessary before marriage could be arranged among the member of nobility, so that marriage alliances of a political nature could be prevented. No further rebellion took place during his life time, but in the long run his methods proved harmful to the dynasty. As the old nobility was destroyed, the new nobility was taught to accept any one who could ascend the throne of Delhi.
Kings followed in quick succession after his death, till in 1320, a group of officers led by Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq raised the banner of revolt and put an end to the Khilji dynasty.
1320 C.E. – 1412 C. E.
The Tughlaqs also wished to rule the whole of India. Ghyasuddin’s (1320 AD – 1325 AD) campaign to Warrangal, Orissa and Bengal were directed towards this end. He built the city Tughlaqabad near Delhi.
By 1324 AD, the territories of the Delhi sultanate reached upto Madurai. However, his economic policy was not consistent with his political ambitions. As the Iqta holders were permitted their earlier perquisites, power gradually slipped back into the hands of nobles.
Muhammad-Bin-Tughlaq (1325 AD – 1351 AD) succeeded his father and was referred to as an ill-starred idealist, whose experiments generally ended in failure. He extended the kingdom beyond India, into Central Asia.
To meet the expenses of the large army Muhammad increased the tax but the peasants refused and rebelled. Though the rebellion was suppressed, the taxation policy had to be revised. He decided to issue token coins in brass and copper which had the same value as silver coins. But due to the absence of a central mint, people began to forge the new coins, and the token coins had to be discontinued.
Muhammad Bin-Tughlaq decided to move his capital from Delhi to Deogir (Daulatabad), in order to control the Deccan and extend the empire into the south. The plan ended in failure because of discontent amongst those who had been forced to move to Deogir and Muhammad also found that he could not keep a watch on the northern frontier.
In 1334 bubonic plague wiped out more than half his army, and the army ceased to be effective. Due to this, in 1334 the Pandyan kingdom (Madurai) rejected the authority of the sultanate and this was followed by Warangal. In 1336 the Vijayanagara empire and in 1337 the Bahamani kingdom were founded. They built magnificent capitals and cities with many splendid buildings, promoted arts and also provided law and order and the development of commerce and handicrafts. Thus while the forces of disintegration gradually triumphed in north India, south India and the Deccan had a long spell of stable government.
Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351 AD – 1388 AD) succeeded Muhammad. Having become sultan with the support of the nobles and the theologians, he had to appease them. His death was followed by civil war among his descendants.
The sultanate became weak and in 1398, the Mongols, under the leadership of Timur (Tamerlane), mercilessly sacked and plundered Delhi. Timur returned to central Asia leaving his nominee to rule in the Punjab.
THE SAYYID & LODHI DYNASTIES
1414 C.E. 1526 C.E.
The Tughlaq dynasty ended soon after the Timurs invasion but the sultanate survived, though it was merely a shadow of its former self. Timurs nominee captured Delhi and was proclaimed the new sultan and the first of Sayyid Dynasty (1414 AD – 1451 AD), which was to rule the earlier half of the fifteenth century.
Their rule was short-lived and confined to a radius of some 200 miles around Delhi. They kept the machinery going until a more capable dynasty, the Lodhis, took over. The Lodhis were of pure Afghan origin, and brought an eclipses to the Turkish nobility. Bahlul Lodhi established himself in Punjab after the Timur’s invasion. The most important Lodhi Sultan was Sikandar Lodhi (1489 – 1517), who controlled the Ganga Valley as far as Bengal. He moved his capital from Delhi, to be able to control the kingdom better, to a new town which later become famous as the city of Agra.
The last, Lodhi Ibrahim, asserted his absolute power and did not consider the tribal feelings. This lead to his making enemies with them. Finally they plotted with Babar and succeeded in overthrowing him in 1526 at the first battle of Panipat.
As the power of the Sultanate declined, a number of other kingdoms arose.
In Western India – Malwa and Gujarat,
In Eastern India – Jaunpur and Bengal,
In Northern India – Kashmir, and
In the Deccan and the south – The Vijayanagara and the Bahamani.
As the Islamic population in India swelled, the identity of the Indian Moslem acquired a new definition. Islam now actively influenced most facets of life. The Hindu elite adopted the purdha system and their language began to be written in Arabic script, leading to a new language, Urdu. Calligraphy came into its own and was raised to the highest form of aesthetic expression.
Around this time on the north-western part of India, especially around Punjab a new religion Sikhism started to gain popularity
1346C.E. – 1689 C.E.
The Bahamani kingdom was founded by Hasan Gangu, who led a rebellion against Sultan Muhammad- Bin-Tughlaq and proclaimed the independence of the Bahamani kingdom (1346 AD).
He took the title of Bahaman Shah and became the first ruler of the dynasty. This kingdom included the whole of the northern Deccan upto the river Krishna. South of the kingdom was the Vijayanagara Empire with which it had to fight continueous wars for various reasons.
The most remarkable figure in the Bahamani kingdom was Firuz Shah Bahamani (1397 AD – 1422 AD), who fought three major battles with the Vijayanagara Empire without any major result. He was well acquainted with religious and natural sciences. He wanted to make the Deccan the cultural centre of India.
Ferhishta – the court poet, calls him an orthodox Muslim, his only weakness being his fondness for drinking wine and listening to music. Firuz Shah was compelled to abdicate in favour of his brother Ahmad Shah I, who was called a saint (wali) on account of his association with the famous Sufi Gesu Daraz. He invaded Warangal and annexed most of its territories.
The loss of Warangal changed the balance of power in south India. The Bahamani kingdom gradually extended and reached its climax under the prime ministership of Mahmud Gawan (1466 AD – 1481 AD). One of the most difficult problems which faced the Bahamanis was a strife among the nobles, who were divided into Deccanis (old-comers) and Afaqis or gharibs (new-comers).
Since, Gawan was a new-comer, it was hard for him to win the confidence of the Deccanis. His broad policy of conciliation, could not stop the party strife. In 1482, Gawan who was over seventy years, was executed by Sultan Muhammad Shah of the Deccan.
After his death, the party strife became more intense and various governors became independent and were finally divided into five parts, namely, Adil Shahi of Bijapur, Qutub Shahi of Golconda, Nizam Shahi of Ahmadnagar, Barid Shahi of Bidar and Imad Shahi of Berar.
This kingdom together crusaded against Vijayanagara Empire and defeated it in 1565. Later on, Imad Shahi was conquered by Nizamshah (1574 AD) and Barid Shahi was annexed by Adilshah (1619 AD). These three kingdoms played a leading role in the Deccan politics till their absorption in the Mughal empire during the seventeenth century. It was Aurangzeb, the Mughal king, who after the death of Shivaji, marched towards the south and annexed Bijapur (1686 AD) and Golconda (1689 AD) and brought an end to the Bahamani kingdom.
One of the largest domes of the world, Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur and Charminar at Hyderabad were the fine examples of architecture of this time. The Bahamanis, in many respects were similar to the Delhi sultanate. Their income came almost entirely from land and the administration revolved around the assessment and collection of land revenue.
The Bahamani kingdom acted as a cultural bridge between the north and the south. The culture which developed as a result had its own specific features which were distinct from north India.
These cultural traditions were continued by the successors states and also influenced the development of Mughal culture during the period.
1526 C.E. – 1857 C.E.
The Mughal period can be called a second classical age in northern India. In this cultural development, the Indian traditions were amalgamated with the Turko-Iranian culture, brought to the country by the Mughals.
The Mughal rulers of India kept up the closest of contacts with Iran and there was a stream of scholars and artists coming over the frontiers to seek fame and fortune at the brilliant court of the Great Mughal, Babar.
Babar (1526 AD – 1530 AD)
Babar founder of the Mughal dynasty, was the king of Kabul. He was invited to India to fight against Ibrahim Lodhi. He confronted and defeated Lodhi in 1526 at the first battle of Panipat.
Babar was the first king to bring artillery to India and succeeded because the cavalry that he had brought from central Asia, which was new to the Indian army, and the fact that he was a good general, with an easily moved army.
Before his death, he had made himself the master of the Punjab, Delhi and the Ganga plains as far as Bihar. He wrote Tuzuk-i-Babari an autobiography, containing a lively description of India, in Turkish.
Humayun (1530 AD – 1556 AD)
He inherited a vast unconsolidated empire and an empty treasury. He also had to deal with the growing power of the Afghan Sher Shah, from the east, who had Bihar and Bengal under him. Sher Shah defeated Humayun in Kannauj (1540 AD) and Humayun passed the next twelve years in exile. In 1555, after Sher Shah’s death, Humayun regained the throne from his weak successor.
Akbar, his son, succeed him in 1556 AD, and consolidated the empire. He was such a good builder that the edifice he had erected lasted for another hundred years in spite of inadequate successors.
There was great subversion of Indian culture, in an effort to Islamicize it. Indian music was adopted as a whole and with enthusiasm by the Muslim Courts and the nobility. Literature and poetry were also encouraged and among the noted poets in Hindi some were Muslims. Ibrahim Adil Shah, the ruler of Bijapur, wrote a treatise in Hindi on Indian music.
Akbar (1556 AD – 1605 AD)
He consolidated the occupying Mughal empire. Daring and reckless, an able general, and ruthless. An idealist and a dreamer, and yet a man of action and a leader of men who roused the passionate loyalty of his followers.
He was only thirteen, when he came to the throne. His first conflict was with Hemu, a general of Adil Shah, under whom the Afghan resistance had regrouped. King Hemu was the only one Hindu King who ever ruled the Delhi Throne in Indian History. At the second battle of Panipat (1556 AD), Hemu was defeated and Akbar reoccupied Delhi and Agra. Akbar annexed Malwa and brought a major part of Rajasthan under his control. He built the Buland Darwaza, after his successful campaign in dominating Gujarat. Most of the Rajputs were forced to recognise his suzerainty, except Mewar, which continued to resist under the great hero Rana Pratap and his son Amar Singh.
After his success in military activities and administration, Akbar’s insatiable quest and his personal need led him to build the Ibadat-Khana – Hall of prayer (1575 AD). Initially it was open only to the Sunnis but later in 1578, it was opened to people of all religions in an effort to win over those who refused to convert. However, in 1582, he discontinued the debates in the Ibadat-Khana.
Later the academic, spiritual and metaphysical aspects of it crystallized into Tauhid-i-Ilahi (Divine Monotheism). Akbar did not create a new religion but suggested a new religious path based on the common truths of all religions, which continued to place Islam in a supreme position. The word Din (Faith) of Din-i-Ilahi, was applied after eighty years.
Akbar claimed to believe that a ruler was the guardian of his subjects and had to look after their welfare irrespective of their sect or creed. He claimed a policy of Sulh-i-kul (peace to all).
Because of his attempt to convince the native population that he was a generous and tolerant tyrant, he has come to be called by the gullible as one of the great rulers in Indian history, a lie still believed by many today.
Salim (1605 AD – 1627 AD)
Akbar’s son, Salim succeeded him as Jahangir after his death. He strengthened his control over Bengal and his four successive campaigns forced Amar Singh of Mewar to accept his suzerainty. The Mughal empire became more vulnerable to attacks from central and western Asia. Towards the end of his reign, he had to deal with the rebellion of his son Shah Jahan. Toward the end of his reign, the East India Company (1600 AD) was established in India. An important event of his reign was the active interest taken by Nur Jahan, his queen, in matters of the State and she also ruled the empire when he was ill.
Shah Jahan (1628 AD – 1658 AD)
On his succession to the throne, the first thing he had to face was revolts in Bhundelkhand and the Deccan. The former he put down easily and the latter came into control with difficulty. Meanwhile the Marathas also emerged as a major threat to the authority of the Mughals.
The Famous peacock throne and the Red Fort were completed by him. He seized and remodeled a great Shiva Temple, the Tejo Mahila, and turned it into a graveyard for one of his dead wives and renamed it Taj Mahal. His failing health started a war of succession amongst his four sons in 1657.
Aurangzeb (1658 AD – 1707 AD)
Aurangzeb, the third son treacherously emerged victorious by killing his brothers and imprisoned his father in Agra fort till his death. He ruled for almost 50 years. During his long reign the Mughal empire reached its territorial climax. At its height, it stretched from Kashmir in the north to Jinji in the south, and from the Hindu Kush in the west to Chittagong in the east.
He was an orthodox in his outlook and kept himself within the narrow confines of the Islamic law. He discarded Akbar’s supposedly secular principles and vigorously enforced the Jaziya Tax on all non-muslims with severity and destroyed many temples. This did not make Muslims more loyal to the Islamic state, although, the vast native Hindu majority became even more alienated.
Most of his time was spent in trying to put down the revolts in different parts of his empire. While the empire was rent by strife and revolt, the new Maratha power was growing and consolidating itself in western India. Shivaji, the Maratha King, stopped Aurangzeb’s mission of expanding towards the south. However after Shivaji’s death Aurangzeb accomplished his mission of southward expansion. Apart from him, no one else, except the Britishers held India under a single rule.
Aurangzeb, the last of Mughals, tried to put the clock back, and in his attempt broke up the empire. After his death, the Mughal empire collapsed with internal conflicts among the successors and was reduced to the area around Delhi.
The various provinces declared their independence and the Marathas under the leadership of Peshwas, gradually extended their hold in North India. Foreign invasion of Nadir Shah Abdali in 1729 AD and Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1747-61 AD further weakened the empire. The last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was imprisoned by the Britishers after the 1857 mutiny.
India’s connection with the west has predominantly been related to trade. Amongst the modern Europeans, the Portuguese were the first to establish themselves in India and the last of the Europeans to leave. They arrived as early as 1498 via the ocean route discovered by Vasco-da-Gama.
He was the first discoverer of sea route via Cape of Good Hope to India, when Constantinople came under Arab power. Portuguese left behind Roman Catholic Christianity with its Baroque churches, its musical liturgy and its great monastic order committed to education. What happened to India when the Portuguese arrived?
European interest in India has persisted since classical times and for very cogent reasons. Europe had much to steal from India such as spices, textiles and other oriental products. The best classical accounts are in fact the commercial ones. When direct contact was lost with the fall of Rome and the rise of the Muslims, the trade was carried on through middlemen. In the late Middle Ages it increased with the increasing prosperity of Europe. It should be remembered that the spice trade was not solely a luxury trade at that time. Spices were needed to preserve meat through the winter (cattle had to be slaughtered in late autumn through lack of winter fodder) and to combat the taste of decay. Wine, in the absence of ancient or modern methods of maturing, had to be ‘mulled’ with spices. This trade suffered two threats in the later Middle Ages. There was
the threat of Mongol and Turkish invasion which interfered with the land routes and threatened to engulf the sea route through Egypt, and there was the threat of monopoly shared between the Venetians and Egyptians.
In 1510 Affonso de Albuquerque captured the island of Goa on the west coast of India from the Sultan of Bijapur and made it the capital of the Portuguese eastern empire. Its strong points besides Goa were Socotra off the Red Sea (he could not take Aden), Ormuz in the Persian Gulf, Diu in Gujrat, Malacca, the entrepot for the Far East and the spice trade in the East Indies, and Macao in China. The function of Goa was to supervise Malabar, to control the pilgrim traffic to Mecca as well as the general trade to Egypt, Iraq and Persia, and of Malacca to control the East Indian spices at their source.
However, the Portuguese irked some of the Mughal and preceding rulers because of the toll they took of the trade from the port of Surat and the pilgrim traffic. In seizing and retaining their strong points they acquired a reputation for cruelty and peridy because their practice on both these points was below the current Indian standard. They were deeply impregnated with the idea that no faith need be kept with an infidel. It was from this period that the word feringi (lit.farangi, frank) acquired the opprobrium of which echoes may still be heard today.
However, the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir admired their pictures and had them copied. Emperor Akbar listened with interest to Jesuit Father’s discourses. The New Testament was translated into Persian. However, during the whole of the 16th century the Portuguese disputed with the Muslims the supremacy of the Indian seas, and the antagonism between Christianity and Islam became gradually more intense. In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese navigator commanded the first expedition to sail around the world. In the Collins Encyclopaedia it is written that Magellan set sail to check the power of Muslim navy and fleet that was dominant. In 1560, the Portuguese
being intolerant in religion, introduced the Inquisition with all its horrors. This was regarded as sub-standard from the Indian standpoint, advertising this trait in their rough handling of Syrian Christians of Malabar to secure their submission to the Catholic faith.
Socially the policy of Albuquerque in encouraging mixed marriages had important results. His object was to rear a population possessing Portuguese blood and imbued with Portuguese Catholic culture who would be committed by race and taste to the Portuguese settlements and so form a permanent self-perpetuating garrison. The result was the race long known as Luso-Indians and now as Goansese or Goans. They are mainly Indian in blood, Catholic in religion, and partially western in outlook. In recent times, they have spread all over India as traders and professionals, a less successful version of the Parsis. (Of all the Asians in Britain, a majority of whom are Muslim, the first Asian MP had to be a Roman Catholic of Goanese descent, Keith Vaz).
Some Portuguese words have even crept into the Urdu language such as the names of items for furniture (mayze for desk, almaari for cupboard/wardrobe). Also vindaloo (curry) is part Portuguese and part Urdu: vian is Portuguese for meat and aloo is the Urdu for potato – thus we have meat and potato curry.
The Portuguese were soon followed by European rivals like the French, Dutch and British. Rivalry between the Dutch and English resulted in the Dutch East India Company “winning” Southeast Asia and Indonesia (known to Europeans as the East Indies); and the British East India Company having to settle for “second-best”, that is India.
THE BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY
The East India Company chartered by the British crown and ultimately responsible to the parliament, launched British rule in India. The British East India Company was established under a Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I for 15 years for spice trading on 31st December 1600 AD with the capital of £70,000.
By the middle of the eighteenth century, the company succeeded in establishing power in Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and the east coast. After the battle of Plassey, in 1757, they secured permission from the Mughals to collect land revenue from these provinces in return for an annual tribute and maintaining of order and peace.
They collected the land revenues through the local Nawab and took control of his army. This gave them power without responsibility. The Company took control of Mysore by defeating Tipu Sultan in 1792 and the Marathas were finally defeated in 1817 AD – 1819 AD. Further the company expanded its rule by defeating Nepal in 1814-16, Sind in 1843, Punjab in 1848-49 and Burma in 1886.
The cruel management of the company ultimately lead to the mutiny of 1857, after which its rule over India ended and the British Crown officially took over the administration in 1858.
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