India has always been a country of great warriors and, in India, for warriors to be brave is not sufficient. A brave is not called brave until he is not following Dharma. Only bravely is not only enough to be a great king. Brave without dharma is considered similar to a coward.
Here Dharma is not the religion but the set of rules which need to be followed in any of the circumstances. In prehistoric times, there was the battle of Mahabharat in India to establish a Dharma in society.
Vedic King Sudas defected his 10 rivals to re-establish Dharma. This battle is mentioned in Rigved by the name of Dasragya Yuddha or the battle of ten kings.
One such great king, Prithviraj Chauhan, lived in the land of India, who fought so many battles in his life and never leave his dharma just to win the battle. Prithviraj Chauhan is not just the name for Indians, he is the identity of India.
How many battles were fought between Mohammad Ghori and Prithviraj? This is the question which often asks by many readers or history enthusiastic. I am also searching for this answer.
To know the answer, I started reading “Prithviraj Raso” which was written by Prithviraj’s favorite poet Chand Verdai. After reading this book, more than ten instances I can count where both were face-to-face and it is true that Prithviraj granted the life of Mohammad Ghori every time.
For the rivalry between Prithviraj and Mohammad Ghori, there are different opinions as well but in this article, I am taking “Prithviraj Raso” into consideration.
Prithviraj (reign. c. 1178–1192 CE ), popularly known as Prithviraj Chauhan was a king from the Chahamana (Chauhan) dynasty.
According to historian R. B. Singh, at its height, Prithviraj’s empire extended from Sutlej river in the west to the Betwa river in the east, and from the Himalayan foothills in the north to the foot of Mount Abu in the south.
Thus, it included parts of present-day Rajasthan, southern Punjab, northern Madhya Pradesh, and western Uttar Pradesh.
His capital was located at Ajayameru (modern Ajmer), although the medieval folk legends describe him as the king of India’s political center Delhi to portray him as a representative of the pre-Islamic Indian power.
Prithviraj was a well-educated person. The Prithviraj Vijaya states that he mastered 6 languages. The Prithviraj Raso claims that he learned 14 languages.
The Raso goes on to claim that he became well-versed in a number of subjects, including history, mathematics, medicine, military, painting, philosophy, and theology. Both the texts state that he was particularly proficient in archery.
Mohammad Ghori – Shihab ad-Din
Muhammad Ghori, Shihab ad-Din (1149 – March 15, 1206), also known as Muhammad of Ghor, was the Sultan of the Ghurid Empire from 1173 to 1206.
He is credited with laying the foundation of Muslim rule in the Indian subcontinent, which lasted for several centuries.
Prithviraj was not the first who defeated the Ghori. Before Prithviraj, Chalukyas also defeated the Ghori. Battle of Kayadara which was the first campaign of Ghori against an Indian ruler.
Ghori army had suffered greatly during the march across the desert, and the Chalukyas inflicted a major defeat on him at the village of Kayadara (near to Mount Abu, about forty miles to the north-east of Anhilwara).
The invading army suffered heavy casualties during the battle, and also in the retreat back across the desert to Multan.
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How did Rivalry start Between Prithviraj and Ghori?
It will be very interesting to know how and why Mohammad Ghori became the enemy of Prithviraj? Was that only political or personal? There is an interesting story behind it which also shows, how Dharma was followed in ancient India.
Ghori and his brother Mir Hussain both were in love with Citrarekha but she loved Mir Hussain.
When Ghori came to know this, he ordered Mir Hussain to leave his land or ready to die. Mir Hussain decided to leave his land and came to Prithviraj for shelter.
When Ghori got this information he sent one of his men Arabkhan to Prithviraj and asked him to expelled Mir Hussain from his land otherwise be ready for war. Prithviraj explained Arya Dharma to Aarabkhan, that he will not expel Mir Hussain because he has come to him to get the shelter, and he is ready for war.
This event is mentioned not only in Prithviraj Raso but it was mentioned by Dr. Harnoli as well in his work related to the identification of Mir Husain. He also mentioned that Prithviraj made Ghori captive at-least 7 times.
Battle of Sarund – I
When Arabkhan returned to Gajni, he advised Ghori to consider the strength of Prithviraj before announcing the war. But Ghori ignored his advice and started towards India for battle.
The first battle between Prithviraj and Mohammad Ghori took placed in Sarund, Rajasthan. Mir Husain was fighting from the side of Prithviraj.
Ghori camped in Sarund area. The side of Prithviraj occupied with approximately 15000 soldiers.
A battle began early in the morning at 4:30 AM. A terrible battle happened between both the parties. Mir Husain lost his life in the battle.
Before the sunset battle was finished by capturing the Ghori. Prithviraj won the battle. 20000 soldiers and 7000 horses and elephants died in this battle from the side of Ghori and 1300 soldiers died from the side of Prithviraj.
After five days the Shah was released and allowed to return to Ghazni taking Ghazi, Husain’s son, with him, and pledging himself no more to make war upon the Hindus.
The pledge, it need hardly be said, was not kept by the Shah, and the implacable hatred, which these events had created in his mind was never appeased till it was slacked in the blood of Prithviraj and the destruction of his Empire.
The capture of the Sháh here related is the first of the seven times, he is said to have become the captive of Prithviraj.
Shatu Forest Battle
It has been more than one year, Shabuddin (Ghori) was burning in the hate of Prithviraj and trying to find out the opportunity to get hold of Prithviraj.
He got the chance when Prithviraj went for the hunt in the Shatu forest. Ghori sent his spy to know the army strength which was with the Prithviraj in the forest.
Till now Ghori and his ministers were convinced by the fact that by direct attack we cannot beat Prithviraj. So they were planning to attack secretly when Prithviraj was engaged in the hunt. With 8000-foot soldiers, Ghori reached the forest.
Chand Verdai got the intuition about the secret attack and he requested the king to search nearby areas. When they started to search they found a few spies of Ghori which made Prithviraj alert about the incoming battle.
A terrible battle happened almost 3-4 hours in which almost 1000 of Ghori’s soldiers died, Prithviraj won the battle and Ghori ran away to Gazni.
Battle of Sarund – II
Ghori came for this battle with more plans. He was well prepared and occupied with 300 thousand infantry.
As Prithviraj defeated Ghori in the previous two battles and he knew the behavior of Ghori that he will definitely come back, Prithviraj was always keeping an eye on Ghori’s activity, so that he can be ready for battle at any time.
The battle which happened in 1080 A.D king Prithviraj defeated Ghori again. In this battle, the king of Abu (a city on the border of Gujrat and Rajasthan) “Salash” helped Prithviraj.
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Battle of 1082
Prithviraj’s maternal grandfather didn’t have any successor to rule on his empire which was Delhi, he decided to choose Prithviraj his successor and went for penance.
After some time one of Ghori’s spy came to the Delhi to get the knowledge about Prithviraj so that they can make their strategy.
When he went back to Gazni and told Ghori about the magnificence ruling ship of Prithviraj over Delhi, Ghori became more angry and desperate to attack Prithviraj.
This time Ghori came with the army of 200 thousand soldiers but every time Prithviraj was always one step ahead. In this battle, Ghori military general “Tatar Khan” died which broke Ghori and Ghori’s army completely.
Ghori tried to escape with his army but Chamund Rai (one of Prithviraj general) caught him and gave him to Prithviraj. Prithviraj kept Ghori one month in Delhi and after released him as usual.
Battle of Lahore
This was the battle that was expected to happen somewhere near Lahore. Ghori came with 18000 elephants and 1.8 million foot soldiers.
King Raval, Jait Pawar, Chamundrai, and Husain fought from the side of Prithviraj.
Sixty-Four Muslim and fifteen Hindu military leaders died in this battle. Husain son of Mir Husain fought with courage and captured his uncle and handed over Prithviraj. Prithviraj released him after one month after taking 9000 horses and jewels.
Battle with Anangpal
Prithviraj’s valor started spreading in all the four directions. He too started merging nearby states around Delhi in his empire. Enraged, all people went to Anangpal and asked him to establish his reign back in Delhi.
When Anangpal asked Prithviraj to return his empire, Prithviraj refused to give back. Angered by this, Anangpal started thinking of taking revenge from Prithviraj. In this regard, a minister from Anangpal told him to seek help from Ghori as Ghori was already an enemy of Prithviraj.
Ghori saw a great opportunity this time to defeat the Prithviraj, so he got ready to help Anangpal and came with 20000 soldiers.
After the battle, 7000 Muslim soldiers and 500 Hindu soldiers died. Chamund Rai caught the Mohammad Ghori and handed over Prithviraj. After taking 200000 mudras, Prithviraj released him and sent back to Gajni.
Other short battles before Final Battle
There are five or six more battles that happened between both parties before the final battle but it is not necessary to mentioning here.
Above mentioned battles are to give an Idea, how, when, and where Ghori could attack Prithviraj.
He always wanted to defeat Prithviraj at any cost. Neither he followed any dharma not he kept his words where he took the oath for not to attack again on the Hindu kingdom before taking release from Prithviraj court.
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Final Battle and End of Prithviraj
Prithviraj was the biggest reason behind his failure. He became blind after getting so much success in a short time. He defeated Ghori many times, he defeated Jai Chand as well.
Poet Chand didn’t forget all these instances in his book Prithviraj Raso. A Few blunders which were done by Prithviraj:
- He arrested one of his most brave soldier Chamund Rai, just because he killed Prithviraj’s favorite elephant.
- Prithviraj also worsened relations with Rawal Samar Singh.
- After marriage with Sanyogita Prithviraj taking less or no interest in the state affairs.
Mohammad Ghori who always had an eye on Prithviraj states installed a few spies who made Shihab ad-Din aware of Prithviraj’s situation.
Mohammad Ghori knew it was a golden opportunity to defect his lifetime rival.
He gathered forces from nearby states and friends and planned an invasion on Prithviraj with full strength.
One good thing that happened was before the battle was Prithviraj fixed all of these mistakes and become ready for the battle.
This battle took place somewhere Santoorpur near city Panipat and started on Saturday. As mentioned earlier that Ghori and his ministers were convinced that by honest battle they cannot defeat Prithviraj.
So this time they planned to attack at night when people in Prithviraj camp were taking rest. However, they could not win the battle at the same time but harm too much in Prithviraj camp. The worst thing which any warrior will not expect from his rival.
But after that attack as well Prithviraj camp fought the tremendous fight. All the great warriors from Prithviraj camp died one by one and by Wednesday, the Muslim army captured Prithviraj and took him to the Gajni.
There first Ghori ordered to burst Prithviraj’s eyes before executing Prithviraj. He didn’t perform Prithviraj’s last rights as well as per the Hindu religion and buried him in the land (Prithvi).
According to reports, there is one evil tradition in Afghanistan as of today that those who pay visit to the tomb of Mohammad Ghori, must first disrespect the grave of Prithvi Raj Chauhan by stamping and jumping on the place, where the Indian emperor’s mortal remains are buried.
The inscription on the tomb reads: “Here lies the Kafer king of Delhi.”
What else could be expected from a coward king who burnt years to get revenge from Prithviraj by any hook or crook? Finally, he succeeded in his plans. He could not show little sympathy towards the king who granted his life many times in the past.
When I was in school I was taught that Prithviraj defected Ghori 16 times.
One day Ghori was seating in his room and he saw an ant that ant was trying to push one small sugar cube but failed every time but on 17th-attempt ant succeeded.
By taking inspiration from ant Ghori attacked 17th time and won. So the proverb was “Those who try are never defeated and always get succeed”.
Such a false proverb in this case. Instead, I should have been taught that there was a king named Prithviraj who never gave up his Dharma no matter how many times he had to granted life of his enemy.
Ghori never showed gratitude for the grant of life. Instead of gratitude, he became an enemy of Prithviraj’s life.
How he could have been because Dharma was not the part of Muslim invaders. The only thing which matters to them was a victory.
The victory where many Hindu kings helped Mohammad Ghori (Anangpal, Jaichand) was not a victory. It was just revenge which a coward king willing to take on any cost.
Prithviraj won multiple battles against Ghori but every time he let him go without executing him because every time he apologized.
But it is also true that this event changed the faith of India as after this victory Muslim invasion increased in the north Indian region and there was no king like Prithviraj to stop them.