Jambudveep's Blog

May 16, 2014

The Victory of Lata Naresh Narendra Modi, an occasion to celebrate or to contemplate on the future?

Filed under: Strategy — Yogeshwar Shastri @ 11:14 am
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The overwhelming victory of Lata Naresh Narendra Modi  although an occasion for celebration, has agitated my mind due to some parallels in our history. To elaborate my point, I will discuss two seemingly separate but deeply interlinked strands of thought.

The main question which has perplexed me for some time now is : Are we heading for another battle of Panipat/ Tarain type situation?

In the long term I see this as a sign of Hindu resurgence which has been going on for the last 800 odd years. There is no doubt in my mind that eventually the wave of Sanatana Dharma will sweep across Bharata and across Asia like a tsunami, but for this there will be first a major retreat and consolidation of Hindus.I will expound on this further at a later point of time. However in the short term it might signal that we are being setup for a fall by the Semitic forces (Christianity and Islam).

I will first focus on a particular episode of  history before delving down into the strategic relevance of  Narendra Modi’s victory.

Remembering the Sankranti of 1761 CE

We need to rewind back in time to 1760 CE. Our eyes behold the fleet horses and the hardy warriors of the Marathas breaking the soil of Northern India under their feet. This year seems to herald the dawn of a golden age for the Hindus, where for the first time in centuries the saffron flag is fluttering over both Southern and Northern India. Nothing can stand in the way of the thundering Maratha horse, as it sweeps Islamic armies like flotsam. The restoration of Hindu rule in Delhi seems a foregone conclusion. However, political compulsions of the Gangetic plains force the Marathas to keep the puppet Mughal emperor Shah Alam on the peacock throne of Delhi.

This calm is actually the lull before the storm. The Afghan hordes under Ahmed Shah Abdali pour into Bharata answering their Muslim kins call for help against the kafir Maharattas. At first skirmishes rage between the two lions, culminating in a climatic battle near Panipat on 14th January 1761.The Maratha lion is badly mauled but not before inflicting mortal wounds on the Afghan invaders. This is the first battle of Panipat, where the invader does not become the ruler of Delhi. Although the fresh Islamic jihad is fought to a stalemate, this defeat results in the loss of an entire generation of superb military leaders of the Maratha army.The massacre and rape of Maratha civilians was one of the side horrors of this defeat. This irreparable loss then puts to paid Hindu expansion plans for another generation, by which time ( the 1780’s) the firangis are fast emerging as a formidable challenger.( a better and more accurate view of the Battle of Panipat can be found on Kalchirons blog).

The intervening British interlude with all its horrors debilitated the Hindu spirit and gave a fresh infusion of life to the Islamic jihad.

The March of armies from Lata (Gujarat) to Dhillika (Delhi)

Having had that background, we delve deeper into attempts by Hindus from Lata to wrest power from the Delhi Sultanate and its various incarnations over the years (including the Indian National Congress).

The impending victory of Gurjara Naresh Narendra Modi can be interpreted as Hindus  of Bharata collectively placing their hope on the ruler of Gujarat to salvage the dire situation which faces Bharata today. In the last 822 years this is probably the first time that the forces of Lata (Gujarat) have stormed Delhi successfully. Although Gujarat suffered under Islamic rule for over 400 years, Hindu’s in Lata have retained a strong affinity towards their religion. Below is a brief overview of previous attempts by rulers of Lata at restoring Hindu supremacy in Northern India. I have taken the defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan in 1192 CE as the starting point.

1. The first attempt started off soon after establishment of Islamic rule in Delhi. During the 1200’s, the armies of Lata were operating as far as Ajmer and were engaged in helping the remnants of the Chauhan forces to fight Qutb-ud-din Aibak. A further study is needed as to why these attempts petered out. In the meanwhile, Aibak was given a stout fight by the hardy Solanki kings.

2. The second major attempt was around 1320 CE, when Khusrau eliminated Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Khilji ( the son of Ala-ud-din and a particularly vicious jihadi).Khusrau was of Gujarati origin and most probably from the Bharwad community of Gujarat. Around 50,000 of his kinsmen stormed Delhi and for the brief period of a few months, Delhi was back in Hindu hands. But this ended with Khusrau’s defeat and death at the hands of Ghiyaz-ud-din Tughlaq.

3. The third major attempt was actually the near installation of Sardar Patel as the first prime minister of India. But this was botched up by the “secular” cohorts of the  Congress who choose an Anglicised- Islamised Nehru. The disastrous results this had for Hindu society are there for all to see.

4. This attempt is the fourth major attempt, and by the looks of it Lata Naresh Narendra Modi is ready to become the first major Hindu ruler of Delhi after Vikramaditya Hemachandra.

This brings me back to the nagging thought at the back of my mind: Are we being setup for a fall by the Christian countries? What will be their next move?

They will in all probability use the Islamic jihadi’s and the Chinese Hans to launch a coordinated strike against Bharata. This will most likely culminate in the fifth battle of Panipat. How many years down the line? It’s anybody’s guess. In my reckoning, not very far down the line. If we keep in mind the fact that the Congress has always been a proxy for Christian interests, the gradual erosion of our military and economic capability begins to make sense. The first thing to do for the new government is to setup a strong reserve to counter a Panipat type situation, wherein the invader walks away albeit badly wounded.This time no invader should be allowed to even crawl back out of Bharata.

Despite the “technological” advances since 1761 CE we are actually in a much weaker position in terms of clarity of purpose and the single mindedness to defend Dharma.

December 2, 2012

Rethinking our concept of Bharatiya history : The case of the Yadava’s of Devagiri

While flipping through the pages of a book on inscriptions found in Andhra Pradesh, I came across two interesting inscriptions which give a jolt to certain notions I had about the Seuna Yadava rulers of Devagiri. These raise a lot of questions regarding the kind of history we are taught in our schools and colleges.

 

1.A little background…

But I will digress here for a bit to give a brief background on the subject. Devagiri (modern day Daulatabad fort and its surroundings) was the seat of power of the Yadava rulers who ruled most of present day Maharashtra from 1173 to 1317 CE.It was a prosperous kingdom and a golden age in the history of Maharashtra. The conventional view of how the Yadavas of Devagiri fell to the Islamic onslaught is briefly like this:

In 1297 CE, Ala-ud-din Khilji conducted a surprise raid on Devagiri with a small cavalry based force. After defeating intital resistance near Baglana he besieged the capital itself. The Yadava king Ramachandra Deva had to shut himself in the fort as there were very few troops at hand.Most of the army was campaigning under his son Simghana down South against Veera Ballala III.On hearing of the Muslim attack Simghana rushed back to his fathers aid with a force of 20,000 soldiers.They are almost on the verge of finishing Khilji off when Ala-ud-dins reinfoircements arrive.Thinking that the entire Delhi army is attacking the Yadava army breaks and is defeated.Ramachandra has to empty his treasury and give his daughter in marriage to Ala-ud-din.Gradually the kingdom loses its independence till the last ember of freedom is extinguished by Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Khilji in 1317 CE.The entire royal family of the Yadavas is massacred and Haripala Deva (the son in law of Ramachandra Deva) is skinned alive and hung from the gates of Devagiri fort.

The inferences drawn from the above account are :

1. The Yadavas were utterly incompetent in matters of intelligence and their communication system was flawed. Otherwise how could Ala-ud-din penetrate right upto the capital without being detected?

2. They were so busy fighting senseless wars with their Hoysala and Kakatiya neighbours that they  lost sight of the Islamic monster looming in the horizon.

To my mind something was missing from the narrative. It did not gel that a powerful kingdom which excelled in every sphere of life (arts, culture, music etc) could be so blind to the intentions of the Islamic vandals who had entrenched themselves at Delhi for over a hundred years.

 

2.The Panagallu Inscription of Sarangapanideva

The inscription I talked about earlier is by Sarangapanideva,a son of the Yadava ruler Simghana I who ruled Devagiri from 1200-1247 CE.For unknown reasons this prince had migrated to Wrangal and was made administrator of the Panumganti sthala (area) by the kakatiya king Rudradeva.Theinscription records a gift of wet land to the temple of Chhaya Someshwara.The most intresting aspects of the inscription are some of the titles assigned to Sarangapanideva:

i.Prarajya-rajya-Turuhkopaplavamedini-Samuddharana : which means “ protector of the great kingdom from the trouble of the Turushka (Muslim) armies.”

ii. Gurjararaya-varana-ankusa : which means the ankush (controller) of the king of Gurjara desa.

iii.Malaviya-mana-mardana : Destroyer of the rpide of the Malavas (Malwa,central India).

iv. Gambhira-abhira-prachanda : Very ferocious for the yadavas (cow herds).

The government epigraphist has mentioned that Sarangapanideva probably inherited these titles from his father Simghana I as in an inscription found near Dharwad Simghana I has nearly the same epithets.

Additionally there is one more epithet found in the Dharwad inscription of Simghana I  dated from 1239 CE : “Turushka kopa pralaya maharnava magna medini samuddharana maha varaha.” Which means “incarnation of Lord Vishnu (in his varaha avatar) in lifting the earth from the deluge of the muslims.”

3.Inferences drawn from the inscriptions

The most obvious inference is that Simghana I ( and probably his sons) crossed swords with the Islamic jihadis pouring out from Delhi and defeated them. Their most likely adversary was Shams-ud-din Iltutmish  who ruled over the Delhi sultanate from 1211-1236 CE. There is no record of the Islamic hordes having crossed the Vindhyas at this early date. This means that Simghana I  most likely battered the Islamic armies in central India and Gujarat.In this period the Chaulukyas of Gujarat were actively assisting the survivors of Prithviraj Chauhan’s Ajmer kingdom in their freedom struggle. The inclusion of Malwa and Gurjara regions in the titles indicates that Simghana assisted these regions in throwing back the muslim offensive or defeated the muslims in his campaigns against these regions.

This militates against the view that the Yadavas sealed themselves off from the events overtaking northern India.

4.Questions raised by the inscriptions

1. Why was Devagiri unable to muster resources to fight the Islamic offensive? In previous decades it had clearly taken the offensive to the muslims, what happened in a fifty year period that sapped its aggressiveness?

2.Was there a natural calamity such as a long drought followed by famine that dimished the resources of the kingdom?

3.The fact that the Seuna Yadava’s could mount offensives beyond the Vindhya mountains indicates that they had some kind of an intelligence and communications system. Did it break down by 1297 CE? If so for what reasons?

4. The period from the 1290’s onwards was one in which the Islamic offensive of the Delhi sultanate gained new power and many large Hindu kingdoms ceased to exist by the 1320’s.This included Gujarat,Devagiri,Jalor,Ranthambor etc. Is there something we are not seeing in this pattern of collapse?

January 8, 2011

An Explanatory note on the Famines in India

Filed under: British Misrule — Yogeshwar Shastri @ 6:53 pm
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An Explanatory note on the Famines in India


Note: A pdf version of the article can be downloadedhere: An Explanatory note on the Famines in India.

From 1760 CE   till 1943 India was hit by terrible famines on a regular basis. More than 85 million Indians died in these famines which were in reality genocides   done by the British Raj.Contrast this to the fact that there have been no famine related deaths since independence!!

In the article below I will go over the causes and consequences of British made famines in India. I have used the words famine/genocide interchangeably as what happened in India was no different from genocide.

In the article I have tried to cover as many major points as I could, but it is inevitable that I will have missed quite a few. If brought to my attention I can add them sometime in the future.

1. What is a Famine?

Figure 1 Photograph of Famine Victims (taken from Wikipedia, year of Famine not known, possibly of the Terrible famine of 1899-1902)

A famine is defined as “A famine is a widespread scarcity of food that may apply to any faunal species. This phenomenon is usually accompanied and preceded by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality.”[1]

It is better known in Indian languages as a अकाल (Hindi), દુકાળ (Gujarati) or as दुष्काल (Marathi).

Droughts are usually the root cause of famines. In turn droughts where there is a scarcity of life giving water for the crops, are usually the direct causes of crop failure in India. The failure of the crops in turn leads to a scarcity of food in the affected area.  Droughts are themselves usually caused by the failure of monsoons[2].

The failure of monsoons in turn is due to a periodic natural phenomenon known as ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation).ENSO occurs every five to seven years and causes extreme weather such as floods, droughts and other weather disturbances in many regions of the world[3]. Putting it simply, ENSO is like a natural seesaw which   causes the failure of monsoons over India while causing unnatural rainfall over the coast of South America.

So, is the process of famine in India as simple as sequential steps below?

ENSO causes monsoon failure  —> Drought —–> Crops fail—–>Famine——> Millions dead?

Are famines then a natural follow on from   the   droughts caused by ENSO?

Not at all, for the last two steps where there is a food scarcity leading to a famine and consequent deaths are completely avoidable. Even a severe drought can be stopped from developing into a killer famine by Government policies such as: banning export of food grains, rushing   adequate food supplies to the famine affected parts and ensuring equitable distribution, reducing the burden of taxation on people and in general making sure that there are enough reserves to tide through the crises. Famines always give advance notice as they are following on from droughts. With correct policy and timely government intervention   it can be ensured that there are no famine related deaths nor the immense human suffering that precedes a famine.

Post Independence though we have had quite severe droughts, some of them   even leading to famine (in Bihar in 1966-67), there have been no famine related deaths!!

Timely intervention   by the Government of India was the main reason why droughts did not lead to millions of Indians dead. It is to the great credit of the governments of Independent India that they did not let Indians perish due to starvation.

This is precisely why I have referred to   famines in British India as “British Made” (or Man  made) .Millions of lives could have been saved if the British had really been bothered about doing the right thing. Nowadays of course they hypocritically moan about the number of people “starving” in India and gleefully make crap movies like “Slumdog Millionaire” which make them feel good about themselves.

2. The Ideological Framework of Extermination

For any genocide or holocaust there is a certain ideology which drives the killing machine.eg the Islamic invaders committed horrifying massacres in India driven by the ideology of Islam, the Portuguese massacred Hindus in Goa motivated by their Christian faith and the Nazis had their fantasy about being a superior race leading to the murder of millions deemed inferior. Once the ideology provides the justification for mass murder, the methods used to achieve it are just the “tools”. e.g.  burning of Hindus at the stake for refusing to convert to Christianity would be a tool of genocide.

So accordingly the first question that we should be asking is: What was the ideology that was the driving force of the British Empire?

The straight answer to that is: Christianity. The British themselves were very clear about this; even a cursory glance at the documents of that period will make this clear. In addition there exists a multitude of books/papers which explore the synergy between missionaries spreading Christianity and the British colonization   efforts[4]. Hence from here on I will refer to the British rule in India as the Christian British Raj (CBR   for short).

The next question is: How was it possible for the Christian British oppressors to be completely devoid of any feeling towards the dead and dying Indians?

I f you consider people different to you as human beings, it is next to impossible not to be affected by their suffering. But once you start viewing them as “primitive savages” or “heathens”, similar to animals that need to be herded in a particular direction, normal feelings of humanity cease to exist.

How was this desensitisation brought about? From my limited reading it appears that two factors led to the life of the Hindu becoming worthless in his own land. I have arranged them below in order of priority; the most important factor is the first one.

1.1  The “Heathen Hindoo”

(*A Heathen is defined as an uncivilized or barbaric person[5].More commonly used in the sense of someone who does not believe in Christianity. This is a particularly insulting term used towards Hindus by Christian missionaries even today.)

The first step of dehumanising the vast Hindu population of India was to portray them as heathens or unbelievers who were immersed in the “darkness” of Hinduism. According to the missionaries it was the divine duty of the British rulers to “liberate” Hindus from Hinduism[6]. For this they had the active protection and support of the   Christian British Raj. In the doublespeak of Christianity the word “heathen” or “pagan” is equivalent to the “sub human” of the Nazis. i.e. someone whose life has little or no value unless he /she embraces Christianity.

The below  statement made by   a prominent missionary of the late 18th century and early 19th century, a person who had lived for many years in India, illustrates the general attitude towards Hinduism.

Claudius Buchanan, a chaplain attached to the East India Company, counted himself among those who had known the Hindus for a long time.  He had concluded, “Those, who have had the best opportunities of knowing them, and who have known them for the longest time, concur in declaring that neither truth, nor honesty, honour, gratitude, nor charity, is to be found pure in the breast of a Hindoo.  How can it be otherwise?  The Hindoo children have no moral instruction.  If the inhabitants of the British isles had no moral instruction, would they be moral?  The Hindoos have no moral books.  What branch of their mythology has not more of falsehood and vice in it, than of truth and virtue?  They have no moral gods.  The robber and the prostitute lift up their hands with the infant and the priest, before an horrible idol of clay painted red, deformed and disgusting as the vices which are practised before it.”[7]

Was this the ranting of a deranged mind or was this common place Christian missionary propaganda for the British masses? Vicious anti Hindu propaganda such as this was widely disseminated not only among the general public but   was fed to all British employees of the East India Company[8].In addition most of the British administrators/soldiers etc were indoctrinated at church run schools from a very early age[9].

It must be kept in mind that even till thirty-forty years back Britain was a very “Christian” country, where the church played a central role in people’s lives. Much of the negative portrayal of Hinduism in the West   today can be directly traced back to Christian missionary propaganda. Nothing has changed even in the present day as Christian missionaries continue to gather money overseas for conversion of Hindus in India.

Hence the  would be oppressors of India had already a very fixed image of Hindus and Hinduism in their minds. I would call this the primary level of ideology, where it was already decided that Hindus were “bad”.

1.2  Malthusian Mumbo Jumbo

Remember how  for a long time we were bombarded by media propaganda that “population growth is bad”?  Or that we are heading for a disaster as population grows beyond control?

All this screaming about the population explosion being dangerous was specifically directed towards India and China. Western countries   were only concerned about the “population explosion” as the ease with which they mercilessly exploit resources   would be under threat from India & China. The underlying   current   to these “concerns” is the racist fear of the “browns” (Indians), “yellow” (Chinese) and “black” (this referred to both Indians and Africans when racism could be publicly practised) would overrun “white” civilisation. Some   western authors have even made a career out of predicting millions of deaths in India and China due to famines etc!

All this propaganda about “population growth is bad” has died out a bit in recent years as a more realistic viewpoint has emerged .Turns out population growth is  not a “disaster” as was being screamed by the Western media and academics. India is especially poised to reap rich benefits from its population growth as a large segment of the population is of youth. China due to its short sighted “one child” only policy is going to face a rapidly ageing population in the coming years. Most of Europe and Japan are already heading for a demographic disaster as their population falls below replacement levels.

All this western fear of a population explosion derives from the theories proposed by   an academic nutcase by the name of Thomas Robert Malthus in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Malthus taught History and Political Economy at the East India College at Hayleybury in Britian. And it is no surprise that Malthus was   member of the Christian clergy (a priest for short) and was inspired by “Christian principles”.

Hayleybury College can be considered to be the gutter where “well mannered” white Christian men laid out plans for the conquest and decimation of India. This college was where the future British murderers in India were trained.Some prominent  alumni of Hayleybury include  Sir John Lawrence (Viceroy of India from 1864-68),Sir Richard Temple (governot of Bombay presidency from 1877-1880).All the crazy economic and social engineering theories which led to the genocides in India were taught here. We can think of this as similar to a Nazi propaganda centre.

The basic theory as given by Malthus boils down to this[10]:

·         Population growth is bad as population would grow to an extent that the resources would no longer be enough to support it.

·         Two types of checks hold population within resource limits: positive checks, which raise the death rate; and preventative ones, which lower the birth rate.

·         The positive checks include hunger, disease and war; the preventative checks, abortion, birth control, prostitution, postponement of marriage and celibacy.

The mass murderers who went under the title of “Viceroys of India” were all pass outs from the East India College and deeply influenced by the rubbish taught there. They actually saw the massive death tolls due to famines as a “positive check” on the population of Indians!

This is illustrated in a confidential note sent by to Lord Ripon by one of his subordinates (Ripon was viceroy of India from 1880-1884 CE),

“In the words of Couper: ‘If the famine mortality in 1879 be tested, it will be found that about 80 per cent of the deaths come from the labouring classes, and nearly the whole of the remaining 20 per cent from cultivators owning such minute plots of land as to be hardly removed from labourers.’ Although they died more rapidly than any other, ‘still they reproduce themselves with sufficient rapidity to overcrowd every employment that is opened to them.’”[11]

Malthusian theories still exert tremendous influence on Western governments and intellectuals, as is evident by the constant fears of population growth expressed by them. Added to the Malthusian theories of growth were the economic theories of free trade which emphasised   minimum government interference in trade and advocated maximising profits. I haven’t read much on them at this point in time, I will add more matter once I have read enough to form a reasonable opinion.

All these theories combined to form the Secondary Level of Ideology, which basically acted as the template to justify the genocides subsequently carried out in India.

3. Tools of Genocide

In the passages below I have tried to present as many of the direct causes of the massive deaths in the British   genocides of Indians as I could gather from my limited reading.

3.1 Feed the English, Starve the Indian

In all the famines which took place under the Christian British Raj, there never was a shortage of food in the country overall .In fact during the worst famines, surplus food grains were being exported from India. Nothing illustrates this point better than the graphs below which show that records amount of rice and wheat were being exported out of India, while millions of Indians were dying of starvation. This begs the question: If taking food from the mouth of a starving man while he dies of hunger is not deliberate murder, then what is?

Example 1: The Terrible Indian Famine of 1876-79

Figure 2  Food Exports during the years 1872-1879 (source: Famines in Bengal 1770-1943,K C Ghosh,from pages 28-29)

The terrible famine of 1876-79 was spread out across nearly the whole of southern, western and northern India (Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh).The most realistic estimate of deaths is nearly 10 million. Those who survived the starvation of the famine were finished off by outbreaks of cholera.

During the famine of 1876-79 CE   rice and wheat exports continued more or less as usual. Close to a million tonnes of rice were exported each year while millions of Indians were dying of starvation. As can be seen from   fig.1 in the peak famine year of 1877-78 a record three lakh tonnes of wheat were exported!!

The worst affected area by far   was South India, particularly the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra (what used to be Madras Presidency and Bombay Presidency).

The worst affected districts were as follows:

Name of District
Kadapa Kurnool
Madurai Chingleput
Coimbatore Tanjore
Bellary Chennai
North Arcot South Arcot
Nellore Krishna
Salem Trichinopoly

Lord Lytton (or the “Butcher”) who was the Viceroy of India did not give a damn about the dying farmers. In fact he went out of his way to block any kind of help to the dying millions. An ardent believer of Malthusian mumbo jumbo, he believed that it was only right that the “surplus” Indians were being killed off by famine! The emphasis was always on saving money and he deputed his minion Sir Richard Temple to make sure “unnecessary” expenditure was not done on relief works.

Our culture dictates that hungry people should be given food without any conditions, it is considered reprehensible to make starving people work for food. But the inhuman British ethic was not to give any food unless half dead Indians had done some work in their relief camps.

Figure 3 A photograph of Famine Victims of 1877 CE , their bodies are skeletonised and are very near to death (source Wikipedia)

Temple went one step further and instituted relief camps which were not very different to Nazi concentration camps. People already half dead from starvation had to walk hundreds of miles to reach these relief camps, which   were hell holes (see fig 3 above for an illustration of a typical famine sufferers condition). Additionally he instituted a food ration for starving people working in the camps, which   was less than that given to the inmates of Nazi concentration camps. The rations given to prisoners by the Nazis at Buchenwald concentration camp in 1944 had a calorific value of 1627 calories, while the “Temple” ration for famine victims was 1500 calories[12]!

Half dead Indians were expected to work nine hours in the scorching Indian sun with only 450 grams of rice per day[13]. And this 450 grams of rice was supposed to cover the hunger of any dependents or relations of the worker. Mass death was inevitable on this concentration camp diet.

Temple’s policy was specifically designed to discourage people from using the relief camps and thus lessen the financial burden on the British government.  The British policy of systematic mass murder was very similar to the Nazi policy of getting rid of “undesirables”.

Figure 4 The architect of the terrible genocide of 1876-78, “Butcher” Lytton (image source: Wikipedia)

The situation of the people was desperate. But there was no relief from any quarter. Even as people fell dead outside the grain depots, the CBR took the “sensible” measure of posting armed guards in order   to prevent starving Indians from taking over the export depots[14]. Profits before humanity, that’s the British way!

Horrible scenes such as this were enacted throughout the country: “Scores of corpses were tumbled into old wells, because the deaths were too numerous for the miserable relatives to perform the usual funeral rites. Mothers sold their children for a single scanty meal. Husbands flung their wives into ponds, to escape the torment of seeing them perish by the lingering agonies of hunger. Amid these scenes of death the Government of India kept its serenity and cheerfulness unimpaired.”[15]

Or this one describing a scene from Tamil Nadu: “The greater part of the bed of the river is dry, and I was shocked to see that it had been selected as a burying- place where fresh ashes showed that several bodies had been recently burnt. There are pools of water here and there in the bed, and these are in an abominably foul state, owing to bodies out of the graves having been dragged to the water to be eaten. There were ten or twelve pariah dogs prowling about as fat as sheep, and unusually bold, and there were also vultures sailing overhead or perched on the ground. I had been positively assured that bodies were as often thrown down and left as buried, and that dogs could any day be seen eating them, so I resolved to satisfy myself fully of that. Accordingly, after a couple of minutes’ search, I came upon two dogs worrying over the body of a girl about eight years old. They had newly attacked it, and had only torn one of the legs a little, but the corpse was so enormously bloated that it was only from the total length of the figure one could tell it was a child’s. The sight and smell of the locality were so revolting, and the dogs so dangerous, that I did not stay to look for a second body ; but I saw two skulls and a backbone which had been freshly picked.”[16]

The mass murdering Viceroy, Lord “Butcher” Lytton had given specific orders that the news of the famine should be suppressed. But he went ahead with organising a grand durbar in Calcutta in honour of Queen Victoria .While this sham “durbar” was going on nearly 100,000 Indians died in Madras presidency of starvation.

In places like Mysore terrible atrocities were perpetrated on starving women and children. To quote from Mike Davis book, “When desperate women and their hungry children …attempted to steal from gardens or glean grain from fields, they were “branded, tortured, had their noses cut off, and were sometimes killed.”[17]

Example 2: The Terrible Famines of 1896-97 and 1899-1902

Figure 5 Food exports during the years 1892-1902 (source: Famines in Bengal 1770-1943,K C Ghosh,from pages 28-29)

The same dismal story is repeated again in the terrible famines of 1896-1902.As can be seen from fig 3 above rice and wheat exports soared to record levels in the years where the famine was at its peak. The most conservative estimates of Indians who died in these two killer famines are 8.4 million while the more realistic estimate is about 19 million.

Famines and epidemics went hand in hand. One of the main killers during famines was the sky rocketing prices of food grains which made it impossible for a majority of affected Indians to buy food. This same cause was responsible for the millions of deaths occurring during the epidemics[18]. Again the root cause was of course British economic rape of India.

3.2 The Economic Rape of the Indian Farmer

Why were farmers not able to tide over the particularly bad famine years under the Christian British Raj? It was not as if droughts, crop failures etc had never happened in India prior to the tyranny of the Christian British. So why did a few years of particularly bad drought lead to Indian farmers dying in their millions? Below are some of the main economic reasons for their   inability to survive the famines.

3.2.1        Exploitative Land Tax and Brutal collection methods:

The case of Bengal is illuminating to know how the British bled Indians white, even when farmers had nothing to eat. The British attitude towards tax and revenue extraction remained virtually unchanged till they left India. Bengal was the first to feel the devastating effects of the Christian British rule after East India Company became virtual rulers of the province post Battle of Plassey in 1757 CE. A devastating famine in   1768 CE killed off nearly ten million people in Bengal and Bihar.

Figure 6 Gross Revenue Collected during the Bengal Famine of 1768 (source: R C Dutt, The Economic History of India Under Early British Rule. From the Rise of the British Power in 1757 to the Accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. Vol. I, page 46)

But even while the dance of death was going on, record amounts of tax were recovered from the people by the most violent methods which included murder, rape etc.(see fig 4 above for a graphical representation of the revenues extracted by East India Company).

In Warren Hastings own words, “Notwithstanding the loss of at least one-third of the inhabitants of the province, and the consequent decrease of the cultivation, the nett collections of the year 1771 exceeded even those of I768. . . . It was naturally to be expected that the diminution of the revenue should have kept an equal pace with the other consequences of so great a calamity. That it did not was owing to its being violently kept up to its former standard.”[19]

And what was done to lessen the sufferings of the Indian people?

Absolutely nothing of course! The British   tyrants and the Indian traitors who collaborated with them forced farmers to   sell   seeds required for the next harvest and made immense profits by manipulating the prices of life saving grain[20]. Thus on one hand farmers were deprived of their sole source of future sustenance and on the other hand the sky rocketing prices of food made it impossible to buy life saving food grains!

3.2.2 The Quandary of Cash Crops

Farmers were forced to grow cash crops such as cotton, opium, indigo simply to keep paying off the extortionate demands of the British leeches. The Manchester Chamber of Commerce dictated and controlled the growth of cotton in fertile areas such as Berar (Vidarbha in Maharashtra).The entire social system of   Vidarbha was destroyed so that the British could put in place their own rapacious system known as   khatedari which was implemented in 1877 CE [21].The old landlord families were either destroyed or pauperised and the British government became the supreme owner of the farm lands.

Crops such as cotton grew readily in the fertile black soil of Deccan but had the side effect of destroying the fertility of the soil. In addition the British parasites even turned cow dung which had acted as a natural fertiliser, into a taxable revenue source[22].The   Manchester Chamber of Commerce pushed for the introduction of railways in Vidarbha so that it could have a vast   captive cotton growing plantation. The capitalists of Britain wanted a secure source of   raw cotton which they could turn to in case of any fluctuations in cotton supply from America. The poor farmers of Vidarbha were instantly exposed to the fluctuations in the world markets and had absolutely no share in the massive profits made by the British bloodsuckers. Thus when famine hit the impoverished farmers died in their lakhs.

Also increasing indebtness forced the farmers to sell their plots of land to sahukars (money lenders).This led to the concentration of fertile lands in the hands of a few thousand very rich non -resident landlords. The previously self sufficient farmer was forced to work as a labourer on his own land. Even those farmers who managed to hold on to their land, the acreage under their ownership was for most part between 5-6 acres, which was not sufficient to support the farmer and his family. Added to this was an influx of artisans, craftsmen etc   who had been thrown out of work due to the British murder of Indian industry. They had no option but to work as   labourers on bigger farms with virtually no resources to withstand a famine. The   grim story of Vidarbha was repeated in Bihar, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu etc.

3.2.3        The Tyranny of Taxation

The   amount of tax traditionally paid by the farmer   under the Maratha empire (or previously the Mughal regime) was between 16-17% of the   gross produce[23]. Again this was flexible depending on the conditions prevailing.ie if crops had failed the demand by the state would be reduced or in some cases suspended for the time being. What this used to do was to leave farmers with enough reserves to tide   them over though difficult times.eg under the Maratha Empire tax collection was flexible and kept in line with the circumstances of the day.

But under the Christian British Raj there was no such humanitarian response to the   life threatening crises faced by the Indian farmer. The tax itself came to about 33% of gross produce[24]. But this tax was not the end of things. On top of this basic tax were different taxes for roads, schools, post offices, dispensary, water tax etc. Taxes were levied on the most flimsy of excuses and the poor farmer had   no protection against the brutal force exercised by the British rulers. All these miscellaneous taxes added upto nearly   100% of the farmers real assets!![25]

The worst thing was that the British government would confiscate food stocks at the time of revenue collection. The ryots(farmers) had no option but to borrow money at rip off interest rates from money lenders to release their grain stocks[26].In fact the entire class of bloodsucking moneylenders came into existence because of the policies of the Christian British Raj.

The way taxes were raised was extremely arbitrary and without any basis in reality. The rise was based on the value of the land, so called “public works” done by the CBR (which included railways, roads, schools, dispensaries etc). The tax was raised irrespective of the fact whether the farmer was getting better prices for his produce or not. This inevitably led to the situation of the already beggared farmer paying over 100% of his earnings in tax. Also, the arbitrary rise in taxes could not be appealed in the courts in Bombay Presidency. Thus there was not even the illusion of justice.

Quite a few examples are given of   the unsustainable level of debt   burden carried by Indian  farmers in RC Dutts “Famine and Land Assessments”. To quote one of these,

Murar the Patel, a young man, farms sixty acres, but there has been no produce this year. The farm is mortgaged to the extent of about 3000 rupees. He estimates his last year’s produce at 375 rupees, of which he paid 104 rupees to Government. He had to buy four bullocks for 100 rupees, and pay 40 rupees for servants, and was therefore unable to pay anything to the money-lender. The other expenses of cultivation amounted to nearly 60 rupees. He kept the rest for himself, his wife, uncle, and two children. He has been served with notice of assessment. He had six bullocks, and has lost four”.[27]

The net effect of this crushing taxation was to strip away   any saving capability of the farmers in years when the harvests were good. The following observation by A K Connell illustrates this point well,

Against this calamity (drought) the cultivator, when unable to get a permanent water-supply from wells,* tanks, canals, or rivers, has provided   from, time immemorial by the storage  of grain in air-tight pits or earthen¬ ware jars. If war or taxation, levied in excess, or at times of distress, has depleted these stores, then the worst horrors of famine have swept over the land;”[28]

The farmers were permanently in deep debt to money lenders just to keep paying the extortionate tax demands. They had to sell even their reserve food stocks just to stay afloat. This left the   farmer with no   buffer   when famines hit   him. With every passing year the farmers sank deeper into desperate poverty and further into the clutches of money lenders. Every year lakhs of farmers were dispossessed of their small plots of land.

In fact   in the Bombay and Madras Presidencies   the land tax demands kept on increasing every thirty years by an extortionate amount. For e.g. when the remnants of the Maratha empire were finally conquered by the British in 1817 CE the revenue  from those parts was  80 Lakhs, within a year it went upto 115 lakhs and in a few more years it was 150 lakhs[29]. So   between 1817 and 1818   in a span of one year there was a jump of nearly 43% in the actual revenue collected!

How was this possible? Did the farmers of   Deccan feel so happy at being conquered by the British that they expressed their joy   by paying more tax? Or did the soil become super productive thanks to the British “genius”?

The reality was horrifying and dismal. Farmers were fleeced of every spare anna on their persons. Brutal collection methods were employed to force   farmers to part with their meagre savings. Unable to withstand the torture meted out by the British on non payment of taxes many farmers abandoned their lands and fled into the areas ruled by the Princely states[30].Millions of acres of previously fertile land went out of cultivation as farmers voted with their feet and abandoned their lands[31].

3.3   So….Where did the money go?

You   will be justified in asking the question  … “Where did all this revenue extracted by the British murderers go?”

The major part of the revenue was sent to Britain. Every year nearly   20-30 million pounds were drained from India[32].This did not include the enormous amount of   money paid as salaries to the white British who occupied nearly all the important positions in India. In 1892 itself the total value of the jobs reserved for white British was over 15 million pounds sterling while the value of jobs reserved for Indians was little over 3 million pounds[33]!

Additionally we need to add to the above amounts the huge amount of personal wealth accumulated by white traders, officers etc who remitted most of it back to Britain. For a better idea of the huge amounts of wealth drained out of India by the British parasites, I would recommend reading R C Dutts books.

Another big drain on India’s finances was the cost of   maintenance of   Britain’s armed forces and funding its wars overseas. To give an example: while butcher Lytton blocked any “excess” expenditure on saving the victims of the famine of 1876-78, he fully utilised Indian revenues to fund his disastrous afghan war adventure (this was the second Anglo-afghan war fought from 1878-1880 CE). The same thing happened during the genocide of 1898-1902; our money was used to fund the Boer war in South Africa and the Third Anglo-Afghan war. Strange as it may sound, we were actually paying the British to kill us and carry on their genocides elsewhere.

3.3.1 The Fraud of the “Famine Grant”

After the terrible holocaust of 1876-78, another money grabbing tax was dumped upon Indians. This was known as the “Annual Famine Grant”. Theoretically what it was supposed to do was to raise enough money to prevent another holocaust like that of 1876-78 recurring.

But the tax was hated by Indians as soon as it was levied in 1877 CE and for a very good reason. After   putting on a show that the funds were not being misused, the money collected in the name of the famine grant was quietly combined with the general revenue of the country[34]. This meant the British parasites could use the money as they wanted. By the time the next terrible holocaust of 1897-1902 hit, over 22 crore rupees had been collected under this fraudulent   tax, out of which only 17 crore rupees had been spent[35].

But how was this giant reservoir of Indian money used? Nearly 58% of the seventeen crore rupees (to the tune of 10 crore rupees) was spent on “protective railways” and in paying “interest upon Indian Midland and Bengal Nagpore railways”!

3.3.1.1  Hey wait a minute…. Weren’t Railways Good for India?

Wait a minute you say…Wasn’t spending money on developing railway infrastructure a good thing? After all   weren’t the British parasites spending the money on “creating” modern infrastructure in India? So, what’s the catch?

First of all, the money was being collected for a very specific purpose i.e. to make sure that a repeat of 1876-78 famine did not occur. Using it for anything else was simply a theft   of funds.

Secondly, the existence of railways did not help in any way saving people from famine. All they did was to make the transport of food grains towards the coastal ports easier, thus depriving inner provinces of much needed food grain .The advent of railways was directly linked to the rise in food prices[36].If food prices shot up in one area, the food price rise was transmitted to other areas as well. This only served to worsen the starvation problem as poor farmers already drowning in debt due to excessive taxation were simply unable to buy any food. By this stage the poor farmers had already sold their last stocks of grain to moneylenders thus leaving them defenceless in face of famine.

The railways were also carriers of epidemic diseases such as cholera, influenza etc. Indians died in their millions due to these epidemic, their immune systems destroyed by starvation. Plus the traditional water drainage and water conservation systems were destroyed by the haphazardly constructed railway embankments, tracks etc.

Could the government have interfered and made sure the food prices did not sky rocket out of the reach of the poor and could the railways have been used to rush life saving food grains? This should have been done but never was; the British policy was not to interfere with “free trade”. i.e. their profits should not be affected!

Instead each devastating holocaust was used as to reap more profits for the British vultures by using the excuse that “there was not enough railway to make sure starvation does not take place” and thus more railway tracks were laid at the Indian tax payers expense!!

By the time of the holocaust of 1898 almost   26,059 miles of railway track had been laid down in India Even at this stage R C Dutt describes the railways as being “overdone”.

Thirdly, most of the railway projects in India were specifically designed to make British speculators and capitalist vulture’s very rich. A minimum return profit of 5% was guaranteed by the British raj to British investors, irrespective of whether the railways made a profit or a loss[37]. Most of the railway lines made losses or served no practical purpose, but British investors still made a large profit as all losses were paid by the Indian tax payer. There are many examples of how speculators in London dictated what lines should be constructed and what profits they would extract from the Indian tax payer.

Fourthly, the forced expansion to railways in India was primarily for the benefit of British industry. Everything including coal, steel for tracks/bridges etc, railway engines, and rolling stock was imported from Britain[38]. In fact at one stage it was cheaper to buy British coal in Calcutta than Bengal coal[39]!

There was zero benefit to Indians from the “modern technology” dumped on our heads by the British leeches. For nothing was produced in India! Any attempt by Indians to set up manufacturing facilities in India was forcefully discouraged.

Freight on the railways was heavily subsidized, thus directly undercutting traditional transports such as boats which plied the major river systems. As any loss made by the railways was picked up by the Indian tax payer, the British Raj had no problems with the huge losses made by the railways. By 1884   the total loss made by the railways in India was staggering £37 million pounds sterling[40].

This was what an astute British observer had to say about railways being constructed in India (specifically with reference to districts of Raipur & Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, Sambhalpur in Orissa):

At present there is no doubt that the peasantry in these districts are most prosperous. They make their own clothes ,they grow their own food; they have good pasture for their cattle, cheap fuel, and forests to attract rain. A railway will destroy the home weaving, absorb the profits of the carriers, cut down the forests, inflate wages and then depress them, and finally raise the land-tax. In twenty years’ time there will most probably be a famine.”[41]

The railway line in question was the Bengal-Nagpur Railway which was completed by 1890.This was a remarkably prophetic prediction as within ten years (in the holocaust of 1898) these districts suffered lakhs of deaths due to starvation and economic impoverishment.

3.3.1.2 But wasn’t some of the Famine grant used for “Protective Irrigation”?

Along with the railways, irrigation works (i.e. canals, dams etc) are frequently trumpeted as an example of “good” that the British did in India. But the fact remains that they were only built in those areas where the British had a commercial interest in growing grains or cash crops.

Even where built, they had a devastating effect on the fertility of the soils and on the general health of the Indian people. Previously fertile soil was rendered saline and waterlogged, unfit for cultivation due to the seepage of water through the canals[42]. The construction of river embankments led to a blocking of the natural system of rich fertile alluvial soil being carried by river action to the low lying plains. This in turn rapidly made millions of acres of fertile land useless and considerably lowered the quality of drinking water. The natural drainage systems were further blocked by the “modern” system of canals and embankments leading to water logging and creation of mosquito breeding swamps[43]. Due to these, malaria, cholera etc spread on an epidemic scale in India; killing millions (the toll from the epidemics actually comes close to the famine toll).e.g. the Influenza epidemic of 1918-19 killed approximately 12-13 million Indians.[44]

Traditional Indian irrigation systems were neglected and allowed to fall into ruin. Here is a British officer’s description of the superb irrigation systems of pre-British India (the below refers to south India):

In no part of the world has so much been done by ancient native rulers for the development of resources of the country. The further south one goes ,and the further the old Hindu polity was removed from the disturbing influence of foreign conquest ,the more complete and elaborate was the system of agriculture and irrigation works connected with it….Every available source of supply was utilised ,and works in advance of supply have been executed, for tanks  have been very generally constructed, not only for general rainfall, but for exceptional rainfall…Irrigation from rivers and channels..was also carried on.[45]

The British had no economic benefit of maintain and extending this system, so they let it fall into ruin. If these systems worked fine, what was the point of constructing expensive canal works which led to disaster?

4. The Devastating Effect of the British made Holocausts

4.1 Stagnation of Population Growth & a Short Life Span

Due to the horrific death toll extracted by the successive holocausts of the 19th and 20th centuries population growth stagnated and in many areas of India even went into negative. (Unless otherwise specified, all the data has been taken from the census reports for the relevant years).

Decade Life Expectancy
1871-81 24.6
1881-91 25
1891-1901 23.8
1901-11 22.9
1911-21 20.1

Table 1 Average Life Expectancy of Indians from 1871-1921 (source:  Death in India, 1871-1921Author(s): Ira Klein, The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Aug., 1973), pp. 639-659)

If you were an Indian living in the 1920’s the chances of your surviving beyond the age of twenty were extremely slim. The average life span of Indians went on steadily decreasing as the 1920’s approached. Table 1 above gives an idea of the average life expectancy of our people under the “beneficial” rule of the Christian British Raj.

Figure 7 Population in millions under British rule

 

Figure 8 Percentage increase in population from 1881-1941 under the Christian British Raj

From figures 6 & 7   above   it is clear that for most part of the British rule population growth was more or less stagnant. Over a period of 70 years the population grew by barely 100 million. The effect of devastating british made genocides can be seen in the census reports of 1881,1901,1921.What the graphs do not show is the terrible Bengal genocide of 1943 in which nearly seven million people died, as the last census under the Christian British Raj was done in 1941.

Now look at the same graphs below (fig 8 & 9) for population growth after independence in 1947.Keep in mind this does not include more than 33% of pre 1947 India. After 1947, Pakistan (Bangladesh and the present day rump remaining of West Pakistan), Burma etc were separated from India.

But even in the remaining Indian landmass the population has grown by over 500 million from 1961-2001!! From a simple glance at figures 6 and 8, it looks like some kind of a negative force has been taken off after 1947 and the population growth is back to normal.

The average percentage population growth after independence is around 23%!!

Figure 9  Population  growth in Azad Hind after 1947

 

Figure 10 Percentage increase in Population after 1947 in Azad Hind

 

4.2 Destruction of Traditional Indian Society

If we start talking about destruction of   traditional Indian village society, the logical question arises: “What was Indian society before the British conquest like?”

Going in detail is beyond the scope of this article, for a detailed description a reading of Sri Dharampal’s book “A Beautiful Tree” is highly recommended. For the time being as we are concerned with famine and traditional Indian society’s response to it, this short description by A K Connell will suffice,

The spirit of charity, deeply engrained in the native heart, has held the village society together, so that even the landless classes—with the exception perhaps of the very lowest outcasts—have been kept alive by their richer neighbours[46] .

This harmony and humanity of traditional Indian society was what kept droughts from developing into murderous holocausts. But this harmonious system broke down under the constant pressure and manipulation by the Christian British Raj. As we saw above, even in normal times simple survival had become a constant struggle for Indian farmers. Added to this the removal of traditional powers of the village chiefs   and into the hands of   inhuman British revenue/settlement officers destroyed the traditional village   accountability.

The horrors of the British made   holocausts destroyed traditional Indian society in more ways than one. As all hope of life ran out, village communities who had existed peacefully for centuries turned on each other for that last morsel of grain. Terrible violence followed as farmers fought for   the last stored supplies of grain[47].The Deccan region, covering Maharashtra and parts of Karnataka was worst affected in the holocausts of 1876 and 1898-1902.

Rural society in Maharashtra broke down under the relentless hammering of the British made holocausts. The   farmers in Maharashtra were traditionally militarised and had formed the backbone of the Maratha armies which brought down the Mughal Empire and kept the British parasites at bay for nearly a hundred years. But in the new circumstances groups which had traditionally lived and fought side by side, turned on each other[48].

Many villages were completely wiped off the map as almost all of their inhabitants died in the famines. Lakhs of Indians were forced by starvation to sign up as indentured labourers (a polite name for slaves) and shipped off to work in plantations in Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Guyana and Natal[49].

The condition of Indian women under the Christian British Raj was especially bad, but under famine it became even worse. Rape, sexual abuse and exploitation of Indian women were normal and accepted British practices. Under the racist justice system in India, white British and Anglo-Indians routinely got away with rape and murder.  Official British propaganda portrayed all Indian women (no exceptions) as “prostitutes” and carriers of sexually transmitted diseases (such as syphilis, gonorrhoea etc )[50].

In short the according to the British: Indian women had no honour and could be violated at will. In every military cantonment brothels (filled with Indian women) were constructed for the “exclusive” use of British soldiers[51].These were known as “sadr” bazaars. In times of famine, desperate starving Indian women were forced to work as prostitutes simply in order to survive and keep their children alive[52].Keeping in line with their hypocrisy, the British authorities simply designated them as professional prostitutes and subjected them to the degrading “medical examinations”. But white soldiers were exempt from being examined for sexually transmitted diseases as it would affect their morale!

In most   British orchestrated genocides such as the Bengal Famine of 1943, the death rate amongst male Indians was very high, leading to lakhs of women being left defenceless against being exploited by the British and their Indian collaborators. Mass prostitution resulted from the dire circumstances of the famine[53].

4.3 Harvesting the Dead

The main winners from these genocides apart from the British government, British people and speculators in London were   the Christian missionaries. I personally consider a Christian missionary to be the worst form of a human being. They thrive on the suffering, misery and distress of people. Their entire life revolves around converting non Christians by fraud, coercion or force. Their chief concern in life is “harvesting souls”, which is missionary speak for converting as many people as they can. Much like Islamic suicide bombers who are motivated by the promise of 72 virgin women in the next life, Christian missionaries are motivated by the premise of capturing the maximum number of souls before they depart this earth.

In India every famine/ disaster was a godsend for missionaries as they were able to convert lakhs of desperate people by holding out the promise of life saving grain. The interesting thing is that majority of   missionaries were white Europeans or Americans and had an ample supply of   food grains even when Indians were falling dead all around them.

In the later phase of British colonial rule, Indian converts to Christianity were increasingly used to ensure greater “penetration” of Hindu society. The spread of Christianity in India on a large scale closely coincides with the occurrence of famines/epidemics. Mahatma Gandhi called people who converted to Christianity under extreme circumstances as “rice Christians”.

Figure 11  Percentage Growth of Christians in India from 1871-1921 (all data sourced from Relevant census reports)

As can be seen from the graph there is a spurt in the number of Christians   in 1881 (right after the genocide of 1876-78), 1901 (during the genocide of 1898-1902), 1921 (after the influenza epidemic of 1918-1919).This shows as bogus the claims of missionaries that Hindus converted to Christianity to “escape” the caste system (or whatever vile reason they could come up with).

Here is an example of mass conversions during famine,

The high-water mark in the history of the Tinnevelly Church was reached in the year 1877. That year has been made ever memorable by the great famine which desolated the south. Ordinary missionary work was retarded in a heroic effort to save human life. Relief was rendered to Hindu and Christian alike ; hundreds were saved from starvation and death. In a few months 30,000 Shanans placed themselves under Christian instruction, not so much with a view to material gain as that they had felt the attractive power of love, ” The conviction prevailed “ so wrote Bishop Caldwell, “ that whilst Hinduism had left the famine-stricken to die, Christianity had stepped in like an angel from heaven with its sympathy to cheer them with its effectual succour.”[54]

Or this account of a Maharashtrian lady called Ramabai, who had converted to Christianity and zealously prayed for Hindu women to be widowed so she could convert them! The sickness of her mind can only be marvelled at!

The great famines of 1896-1897 and of 1900 gave Ramabai her opportunity. Before the earlier famine she asked that God would give her a great increase of conversions and prayed for a number of widows far in excess of anything her institution could hold. On the outbreak of famine she travelled to the Central Provinces. When the famine was over she had between five and six hundred women and children.”[55]

5.  In Conclusion: Famines as a Strategic British Weapon

Thanks to   Parag Tope ji, Brihaspati ji and Atri ji from Bharat Rakshak for pointing out the strategic aspect of the British genocides in India. I will very briefly go over the possible strategic reasons behind the British genocides in India. These are just brief outlines of selected areas, a determined patriot will need to do deeper research and connect the dots.

Maharashtra/Rajasthan: In heavily militarised societies such as in the Deccan and Rajasthan, even common people used to take up arms to fight invaders such as the Mughals, British etc. In fact the backbone of the Maratha armies were farmers from the Deccan. The pan Indian character of the Maratha Empire is illustrated by the fact that in the Anglo-Indian war of 1857, the main leaders (Tantia Tope, Rani Laxmi Bai, Nanasaheb Peshwa) were Maharashtrian, but the people of   Northern India threw their weight behind them in the war of liberation.

The destruction of this sturdy village society was essential to the British not only for easy economic exploitation but for total control over India. A heavily militarised society was bound to fight back against the injustices inflicted by the British. Once entire social classes were destroyed and people reduced to eating scraps for survival, the chances of a fully fledged pan Indian war were significantly reduced. The terrible famines of   1791-92, 1802-03, 1813-14, 1876-78, and 1898-1902 completely destroyed the social fabric of rural society in Maharashtra.

Uttar Pradesh: During the Anglo-Indian war of 1857, the British pursued a policy of   mass genocide by killing lakhs of villagers in Northern India. These villagers had been the main source of support and logistics to the freedom fighters. This genocide was directly responsible for the terrible famine of 1860 in Uttar Pradesh & Punjab. Over two million Indians died in this famine. The reason given for the famine of 1860 was that there was not enough land being cultivated due to a lack of   farmers who were either dead or had fled to safer areas during 1857.

Bengal Presidency: The two main famines which hit Bengal Presidency were in 1769-1772   and in 1942-44.Over 17 million people died in these two genocides. In 1769-1772 the famine was particularly advantageous for the British as they were facing ferocious resistance from armies of Sanyasis (immortalised in the great patriotic novel Anandamath by  Sri Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay).The death of nearly ten million people in the famine virtually destroyed the local support base of resistance to the British.

In 1942, the “brave” British armed forces were being thrashed black and blue by the Japanese. The Japanese had chased the British right till the gates of India. Leading the attack on the British were the patriots of the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army) under the inspiring leadership of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Once the INA   forces reached Bengal it was a certainty that the people of Bengal would join them. At that point it would be have been game over for the British in India.

To avert this, the British administration destroyed over 25,000 boats which were the lifeline of the people in Bengal. Plus food stocks were confisticated from  a large part of Bengal, thus condemning the people to death by starvation. Within months the Bengali people were fighting for survival and this destroyed the support base of the INA. The toll from the genocide of 1942-44 was horrific and over seven million Bengalis died in this genocide.

The above are just select examples of how the British pursued a genocidal scorched earth policy against our people whenever their rule was threatened.

Only by reading our history can we appreciate the magnitude of sacrifices made by Vasudev Balwant Phadke,Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekar Azad, Masterda Surya Sen and countless others. And we also can begin to understand why many of our freedom fighters performed the supreme sacrifice with Vande Mataram on their lips. We need to get out of the one track mind set which seems to pervade our country and become more alive to the threats from within and without.

वन्दे मातरम्


[2] Strictly speaking this type of a drought is known as a “meteorological drought”. There are two more types of droughts namely “hydrological” and “agricultural”. For simplicity I have mentioned only the meteorological drought. Although all three can be considered linked to one another especially in India.

[4] Susan Visvanathan, The Homogeneity of Fundamentalism: Christianity, British Colonialism and India in the Nineteenth Century, Studies in History, 2000,16:221

[6] Claudius Buchanan, Memories of the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India: Both as the means of Perpetuating the Christian Religion Among Our Countrymen; And as a Foundation for the Ultimate Civilization of the Natives, London, 1805, Part II, para 6.quoted in Sita Ram Goel, History if Hindu-Christian Encounters AD304 to 1996,Chapter 8.availiable at : http://voiceofdharma.org/books/hhce/index.htm

[7] Ibid.

[8]Bernard S. Cohn, ‘Recruitment and training of British civil servants in India, 1600–1860’.quoted by  Ian Copeland, CHRISTIANITY AS AN ARM OF EMPIRE: THE AMBIGUOUS CASE OF INDIA UNDER THE COMPANY, c. 1813 –1858,The Historical Journal, 49, 4 (2006), pp. 1025–1054

[9] Ibid, see 7 above.

[10] I have taken this from the Wikipedia article on Malthus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Malthus#1815:_The_Nature_of_Rent

[11] Malthusian Population Theory and Indian Famine Policy in the Nineteenth CenturyAuthor(s): S. Ambirajan. Source: Population Studies, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Mar., 1976), pp. 5-14

[12] Mike Davis,.Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 39,table 1.3.

[13] Mike Davis,.Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 38

[14] Digby quoted by Mike Davis,.Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 45.

[15] Osborne quoted by Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 53

[16] Digby, William (1878), The Famine Campaign in Southern India: Madras and Bombay Presidencies and province of Mysore, 1876-1878, Volume 1,page105

[17] Klein & Elliott quoted by Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 46.

[18] Death in India, 1871-1921Author(s): Ira Klein, The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Aug., 1973), pp. 639-659,quoting

[19] R C Dutt,Famines and Land Assessments, pg.53,  quoting Hunter’s “Annals from Rural Bengal”.

[20] Ibid,page 44

[21] Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 313

[22] Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 327

[23] Ibid,page 19

[24] Ibid,page 23

[25] Ibid,page 26

[26] Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 325

[27] Ibid,page 110

[28] Indian pauperism, free trade and railways: a paper read before the East India Association, 1884,Connell, A. K. Source: Bristol Selected Pamphlets, (1884),page 9

[29] ibid,page 43.

[30] Ibid,page 43

[31] Ibid, page 37

[32] R C Dutt, Indian Famines and Their Causes, page  10

[33] R C Dutt,Famines and Land Assessments, preface xix

[34] R C Dutt,Famines and Land Assessments, pg.78

[35] R C Dutt,Famines and Land Assessments, pg.79

[36] Economic History of India; From Pre-colonial Times to 1991,Dietmar Rothermund, page 34,table 4.1,quoting M.Mukherjee

[37] Economic History of India; From Pre-colonial Times to 1991,Dietmar Rothermund, page 32

[38] Economic History of India; From Pre-colonial Times to 1991,Dietmar Rothermund, page 33

[39] Economic History of India; From Pre-colonial Times to 1991,Dietmar Rothermund, page 33

[40] Indian pauperism, free trade and railways: a paper read before the East India Association, 1884,Connell, A. K. Source: Bristol Selected Pamphlets, (1884),page 6

[41] Indian pauperism, free trade and railways: a paper read before the East India Association, 1884,Connell, A. K. Source: Bristol Selected Pamphlets, (1884),page 6-7,footnote.

[42] Death in India, 1871-1921Author(s): Ira Klein, The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Aug., 1973), pp. 639-659,quoting R. B. Lal and K. S. Shah

[43] Death in India, 1871-1921Author(s): Ira Klein, The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Aug., 1973), pp. 639-659,quoting R. B. Lal and K. S. Shah

[44] Death in India, 1871-1921Author(s): Ira Klein, The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Aug., 1973), pp. 639-659,quoting Census of India, 1921

[45] Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 336,quoting Col.Anderson.

[46] Indian pauperism, free trade and railways: a paper read before the East India Association, 1884,Connell, A. K. Source: Bristol Selected Pamphlets, (1884),page 10

[47] Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 49

[48] Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 339,quoting Kaiwar

[49] Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 112

[50] Venereal Disease, Prostitution, and the Politics of Empire: The Case of British IndiaAuthor(s): Philippa Levine, Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Apr., 1994), pp. 579-602,quoting:IOL, L/MIL/7/13810, Surgeon-General of Bengal to Director-General, Army Medical Department, London, June 9, 1884, Letter 9903-A.

[51] Venereal Disease, Prostitution, and the Politics of Empire: The Case of British IndiaAuthor(s): Philippa Levine: Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Apr., 1994), pp. 579-602

[52] Venereal Disease, Prostitution, and the Politics of Empire: The Case of British IndiaAuthor(s): Philippa Levine: Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Apr., 1994), pp. 579-602

[53] K CGhosh,Famine in Bengal 1770-1943,page 83

[54] S K Datta, The Desire of India ,Page 178-79

[55] S K Datta, The Desire of India Page 249

October 10, 2010

VIjayanagar – Chapter 5

Vijaynagar

Chapter 5


Fig.1 Major Kingdoms of South India 1320 CE.

 

The map above shows the rough extent of the Delhi Sultanate and the extent of the major South Indian kingdoms.

In Delhi tectonic changes were taking place. In 1320 CE, Khusrau Khan assassinated Sultan Mubarak Khilji and proclaimed himself Sultan Nasir-ud-din. From the venom heaped upon him by Muslim historians like Barni, it is clear that Khusrau Khan   had converted back to Hinduism. Khusrau Khan is an enigmatic character who deserves an article on his own; I will touch very briefly on him.

Assisting Khusrau Khan in reasserting Hindu might in Delhi were fifty thousand Gujarati Hindus who had been enslaved by Ala-ud-din Khilji during his conquest of Gujarat. These are the Parwárís referred to by Muslim historians.

That the occasion of Sultan Nasir-ud-din’s accession to the throne of Delhi was a moment of joy for the despairing Hindus in the North is given by the following passage of Barani, “In those dreadful days the infidel rites of the Hindus were highly exalted, the dignity and the importance of the Parwárís were increased, and through all the territory of Islám the Hindus rejoiced greatly, boasting that Dehlí had once more come under Hindu rule, and that the Musulmáns had been driven away and dispersed”. (Baranī)

But this joy was short lived.Khusrau Khan was defeated in battle by Ghiyath-al-din Tughlaq and excecuted .Devala Devi who had married Khusrau Khan committed suicide by taking poison.

After killing Khusrau, Ghiyath-al-din Tughlaq   took over the reins of the Delhi Sultanate in 1320 CE. Once the Gangetic plains were subdued, he was able to direct his attentions to the south which had shaken off even nominal allegiance to the sultanate. Taking advantage of the chaos in Delhi, Prataparudra had thrown off the Muslim yoke. It is apparent that all the previous Muslim expeditions had not dented Warangal’s power much.

Third Invasion of Warangal

Once the gangetic plains were subdued, Ghiyath-al-din Tughlaq   turned his attention onto Deccan and further down south. Mubarak Khilji had completely wiped out the Yadava ruling family in Devagiri, which was now completely subdued. As mentioned previously Devagiri had become a stronghold of Muslims, who were   encouraged to come and settle.

Keeping in line with the genocidal policies of the sultans, Hindus were pushed to   bare subsistence levels wherever the Muslims gained a strong foothold. A detailed explanation of the economic and social catastrophe that befell Hindu society can be found on Dikgaj’s blog (http://dikgaj.wordpress.com/).

Fig 2   First Tughlaq invasion of Warangal in 1321 CE

 

Ghiyath-al-din Tughlaq   sensed that Warangal would not be easy to subdue. For this purpose a large army was assembled from the Muslim strongholds of Baduan, Oudh, Kara, Dabmu, Bangarmu, Chanderi etc. This sea of Muslim armies marched towards Warangal in 1321 CE led by Ulugh Khan (later on known as Mohammed Tughlaq).

This expedition was clearly with a view of conquering the Kakatiya kingdom, not just looting it. Ulugh Khan was accompanied by a host of other nobles and their retinues. After two months they reached Deogiri, where they were reinforced by other Muslim amirs and the invasion force rolled on towards Warangal.

At this point it needs to be appreciated that this was the third full scale invasion of Warangal in a short time of eleven   years. Muslims could generate and sustain massive armies on the back of relentless exploitation of the Hindus of the north and the looting of existing Hindu kingdoms. The enslavement of Hindu men and women was big business for the Delhi sultans. Northern India (Punjab and Gangetic plains) was stripped bare of resources after being raped for over three centuries by the Muslims.

It was official policy of the Delhi sultans to reduce the Hindus to bare subsistence levels. This is illustrated by a quote by Barani about Ala-ud-din Khiljis policy towards Hindus, “The Hindú was to be so reduced as to be left un­able to keep a horse to ride on, to carry arms, to wear fine clothes, or to enjoy any of the luxuries of life.” (Baranī)

On the other hand the Kakatiya kingdom was hard pressed to generate the same level of military resource without adversely affecting other sections of society i.e. agriculture, trades etc. Despite their obvious resource handicap the hardy Kakatiya warriors put up a fierce fight to the advancing Muslim host.

As on previous occasions Prataparudra along with his nobles took shelter in the formidable Warangal fort. Prataparudra was well prepared to withstand a long siege. In any event the siege dragged on for eight months. Roving bands of Kakatiya warriors disrupted the Muslim postal system and harassed the invaders from the rear.

I will deviate to give a brief description of the Delhi sultanates postal system. It is necessary to get an idea of how the Sultans were able to take rapid   military action on the basis of speedy communications.  Ibn Battuta says the sultans postal service was of two types:

1. Mounted Couriers: The first type was mounted couriers on horses. There were relays every 4 miles.
2.  Runners on foot: – Every third of a mile there was a village outside which three pavilions in which runners sat ready to move off. Each runner had a staff (yard and half long) with bells at the top. When a runner ran he had the message in the fingers of the free hand and the rod in the other. The bells alerted the men sitting in the next village of the runners approach and someone in the next pavilion took over the message. As per Ibn Battuta this was faster than mounted couriers. Fruits and criminals were also transported in this way to the sultan. This seems to have been only used for the sultan’s personal needs/military communications/government communications.

While the siege of Warangal was in progress, dissensions and intrigues broke out in the Muslim camp. Distrustful of Ulugh Khans motives, a group of rebels led by Tighin and Timur conducted secret negotiations with Prataparudra. As per their pact with Prataparudra, the rebels would abandon the camp and lift the siege of Warangal, provided Prataparudra allowed them to leave unmolested through his territory. Once assured of their safety the rebel faction rolled up their camp, destroyed the wooden stockades and left Ulugh Khan to face the wrath of the Kakatiya forces.

As soon as Prataparudra was sure that the rebels had left the Muslim camp for good, a ferocious sally issued forth from Warangal fort. This caused great slaughter in Ulugh Khans camp. Ulugh Khan had to depart in haste, all the while being pursued by the avenging Hindus.

Thus ended the fifth invasion of Warangal in total ignominy for the “ever victorious” armies of Islam.

Final invasion of Warangal: End of the Kakatiya Kingdom


When the news of the ignominious defeat reached Delhi, Ghiyath-al-din Tughlaq made sure that the rebels   who were responsible for the debacle were executed in the most painful way possible.Barani says, “The Sultán held a public darbár in the plain of Sírí, when ‘Ubaid, the poet, and Káfúr, the seal-keeper, and other rebels, were impaled alive;* some of the others, with their wives and children, were thrown under the feet of elephants.”  (Baranī)

Fig 3   First Tughlaq invasion of Warangal in 1322 CE

 

Within six months a more formidable invasion force was raised and Ulugh Khan swept into the Deccan. This time Prataparudra was taken unawares and was completely unprepared for the attack!

It is difficult to explain this failure in the light of the fact that on every previous occasion he had been well prepared to meet the Muslim attack. The   Kakatiya soldiers had been sent back to their villages and the granaries emptied, even Warangal fort was not properly provisioned. This can be only described in that oft repeated phrase of modern India as an “intelligence failure”!!

The Muslim force stormed Badrakot (Bidar) and besieged Warangal. The siege went on for five long months, but the breaking point for the brave Hindus came due to lack of food within the fort. Prataparudra surrendered on condition of amnesty.

While being taken as a prisoner to Delhi, Prataparudra committed suicide. Rather death than a life of dishonour!! This is a message strangely lost on modern   India wherein “compromise” and “adjustment” are the buzz phrases of the secular mob.

Thus fell the great Kakatiya kingdom which was a focal point of Hindu resistance against Islamic imperialism for nearly a quarter of a century. Ulugh Khan promptly renamed Warangal as Sultanpur. A typical act of Islamic vandalism wherein anything created by other cultures is appropriated as their own!!  Ishwa from India forum has written a nice series of articles analysing Islamic vandalism (http://www.india-forum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/2468-scheme-of-muslim-rule-in-india/page__pid__108412__st__0&#entry108412). Myths like the golden age of Islamic science etc which are being bandied about these days are a pretty good example of   gross distortion of history.

Resistance in Andhra

Although Prataparudra’s death brought the curtains down on the Kakatiya kingdom it did not extinguish Hindu resistance. In south western Andhra, Jagatapi Gangayadeva resisted the Muslims from his capital at Gutti. But in due course he was forced to submit to Ulugh Khan.

Fighting continued in the coastal Andhra region. Ulugh Khan established his authority and extracted tribute from the Hindu populace with the help of Muslim governors and the usual Hindu collaborators. Ulugh Khan also retained the key decision makers of the old Kakatiya kingdom to help govern the newly captured province. What limited freedom of movement the old Hindu officials had, would be closely watched by strong Muslim garrisons posted in key cities.

After the fall of Andhra, Ulugh Khan captured Madurai. In 1323 CE,  Parakaramdeva the Pandya king of Madurai was defeated and his family taken prisoner. A strong Muslim garrison was posted at Madurai   and the administration passed into the hands of Muslim amirs.

Change at Delhi

In 1325 CE, Sultan Ghiyath-al-din Tughlaq   was killed when a wooden structure erected to welcome him from his Bengal expedition collapsed on his head. The hand of Ulugh Khan in his father’s death has been strongly suspected by historians. With this Ulugh Khan ascended the throne of Delhi and proclaimed himself Sultan Mohammed Tughlaq.

Fig 4   South India in   1325 CE

 

At the time of Mohammed Tughlaqs ascension to the throne of Delhi   the major Hindu kingdoms still in existence were (see map above):

North: Rajputana (   I am clubbing all the existing Rajput states together, as I have not read enough of the situation in the North to give a clear picture)

South: Kampili (Karnataka), Dvarasamudram (major portion of Karnataka, parts of Andhra & parts of Tamil Nadu), Kandhyana (present day Pune region, not shown on map), Calicut.

East: Jajnagar (Orissa), Kamarupa (Assam, not shown on map).

The map above gives a rough idea of the size and location of the remaining Hindu kingdoms in the south of  India. I make no claims to the accuracy of the map; hence take it as a rough guide.

Mohammed Tughlaqs behaviour towards the Hindus was no less cruel and atrocious than the other Muslim sultans. Then why is so much opprobrium heaped on him? The Muslim historian Barani statement clearly illustrates the reason for his infamy:

“The punishment of Musulmáns, and the execution of true believers, with him became a practice and a passion. Numbers of doctors, and elders, and saiyids, and súfís, and kalandars, and clerks, and soldiers, received punishment by his order. Not a day or week passed without the spilling of much Musulmán blood, and the running of streams of gore before the entrance of his palace” (Baranī)

Its one thing if kafir Hindus are cut down like animals, but a different thing if a “true believer” i.e. a Muslim is killed!!

In recent times the secular lobby has tried to rehabilitate Mohammed Tughlaq by portraying him as a misunderstood visionary who was ahead of his time!  The same “eminent historians” are responsible for this reprehensible whitewash. On a side note many of these pseudo historians testified from the Muslim side in the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi court case which was decided recently upon by Allahabad High court. The way the Honourable judges tore apart their lies can be found in the extracts of the judgement posted in this thread in Bharat Rakshak (http://forums.bharat-rakshak.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5697).

What the secular historians neglect to mention is gems like these: “At this time the country of the Doáb was brought to ruin by the heavy taxation and the numerous cesses. The Hindus burnt their corn stacks and turned their cattle out to roam at large. Under the orders of the Sultán, the collectors and magistrates laid waste the country, and they killed some landholders and village chiefs and blinded others. Such of these unhappy inhabitants as escaped formed themselves into bands and took refuge in the jungles. So the country was ruined. The Sultán then proceeded on a hunting excursion to Baran, where, under his directions, the whole of that country was plundered and laid waste, and the heads of the Hindus were brought in and hung upon the ramparts of the fort of Baran. (Baranī)

In the above poassage, Barani is talking about the atrocious taxes levied by Mohammed Tughlaq and their effect on the Hindus of Uttar Pradesh.

So the “enlightened” Sultan first taxes Hindus till they have virtually no incentive to till their fields (It must be kept in mind that even in this day, land is everything to the Indian farmer.He will only abandon it in the most extreme circumstances: either when it does not provide  even subsistence level food or under  extreme force by external factors).Next when the Hindus flee inhuman persecution,the Sultan promptly organizes “shikaars” and hunts them down like wild animals!!

The Kampili wars

Kampili was a small but powerful kingdom founded by Mummadi Singeya from the fragments of the disintegrating Devagiri kingdom. Kampilideva succeeded Mummadi Singeya in 1313 CE. Please see the map for a rough idea of the kingdom of Kampili. It was tiny compared to the Delhi sultanate, but it punched well above its weight. It took three well equipped invasions before Kampili   faded into the night.

Kampilideva is one of those unacknowledged heroes   of our history who fought tooth and nail against the Muslim invaders. A staunch defender of dharma, he fought with even those Hindu chiefs who paid tribute to the Delhi sultans. Kampilideva fought many battles with bigger kingdoms such as Dvarasamudram and Warangal.

Mohammed Tughlaq decided to put an end to Kampili before it became the focal point of resurgent Hindu power in the Deccan. An ideal pretext for invasion was found in Baha-ud-din Garhasp’s rebellion. Baha-ud-din was a cousin of Mohammed Tughlaq and had been made governor of the Sagar town (Karnataka)   by Ghiyath-al-din Tughlaq .A brave warrior; he had fought with distinction against the Mongols in 1324 CE.

Baha-ud-din was disaffected with his treatment by Mohammed Tughlaq and rebelled in order to carve a separate kingdom for himself. All this while, he had been careful to cultivate excellent relations with Kampilideva. In 1327 CE, a pitched battle between the Delhi sultanates army and Baha-ud-din took place on the banks of the Godavari River in Karnataka. Garhasp was defeated and fled with his family to Kampilideva for protection.

Like on previous occasions in our history, the flight of a fugitive to the protection of a Hindu state was enough excuse for the Muslim sultans to attack the Hindu kingdoms. In Kampili’s case the excuse came in the form of Baha-ud-din Garhasp.

The outstanding moral character of Kampilideva is clearly demonstrated in the assurance of safety which he gave to Garhasp, “Now so long  as the pulse moves in my body, I won’t take in a breath except in friendship to you. I swear by the sun, the sacred thread (I wear) and the idols (I worship) that you shall find me faithful. If all (the people of the world) were to join together to take your life, they cannot cause you as much injury as a grain of barley.”

I have taken the descriptions of the three invasions straight from N Venkataramanayya’s book. Apologies if it sounds ad verbatim, as for most part it is.

First Invasion of Kampili

The first invasion of Kampili took place shortly after Garhasp’s rebellion in 1327 CE. Malik Zada aided by Malik Rukn- ud- din crossed the Krishna and mounted an attack on Kummata, which was the chief fortress of Kampilideva. At this time, Kampilideva was in his capital Hosdurg (Anegondi). Kampilideva sent a strong force headed by his minister Baicappa, his sons Ramanatha and Katanna, and Garhasp to reinforce Kummata.

On arrival Rukn- ud- din pitched his tents around the fort. Katanna conducted a surprise sally from the fort on the first day of the siege, inflicting heavy losses on the Muslims and capturing two thousand horses in the process. The next day the Muslims tried to storm the fort but were decisively beaten back by Ramanatha and Katanna. The Muslim army was completely routed and Rukn-ud- din forced to retreat back to Devagiri.

Thus ended the first invasion of Kampili; a complete failure for the world conquering armies of Islam.

Second invasion of Kampili

Incensed by the failure of the “mighty” armies of Islam to subdue the small kingdom of Kampili, Mohammed Tughlaq   promptly despatched another well equipped invasion force under Malik Qutb-ul-Mulk. The Muslims moved as before   to attack Kummata.

Kampilideva was well prepared to meet the second invasion as well. Both the forts of Kummata and Hosdurg were strengthened. This time Kampilideva himself led the defence of Kummata against the Muslims.

On the night of first day of the siege a surprise night attack by a band of Kampili warriors threw the Muslim camp into confusion. On the second day Qutb-ul-Mulk attacked   the fort with all his forces from three sides. They managed to take the outer wall, but were pushed out by the vigorous defenders led by Kampilideva.

On the third day of the siege Kampilideva arranged his troops in battle order outside the fort gates. Facing him was the Muslim army with their Turkish horse archers in the centre, cavalry to the right and elephants to the left. Ramanatha attacked the Turkish centre first throwing them into disarray. As they desperately tried to flee from the attack, they caused confusion in the cavalry and elephants stationed on their sides. Ramanatha charged the Muslim forces cutting most of them down and killing their top commanders. Qutb-ul-Mulk saved himself by escaping from the battlefield.

Final Invasion of Kampili

Within a short time Mohammed Tughlaq despatched an even larger force under his minister Malik Zada. There seems to have been a drought during this time in Kampili, as the Portuguese historian Nunes says that the Muslims had to wait for the rainy season before they could proceed further. This would perhaps explain why the two strong forts: Kummata and Hosdurg ran out of provisions relatively quickly.

The Muslims laid siege to Kummata first. Although Kampilideva and Garhasp sallied forth and assaulted the Muslims, they were defeated and forced to pull back inside the fort. Conditions inside Kummata got dire as the Hindus began to run out of provisions.

The Muslims stormed the fort in an all out assault forcing Kampilideva to abandon Kummata and seek shelter in his capital Hosdurg. Kampilideva relocated the fifty thousand citizens of Hosdurg to other places in Kampila, only keeping five thousand soldiers for the defence of Hosdurg.

Hot on Kampilideva’s trail, Malik Zada laid siege to Hosdurg. After one month the situation inside the fort got dire. The situation got even more precarious when the Muslims   stormed their way into the fort.

Kampilideva realised all was lost, but this great man first made sure his friend Garhasp escaped with his family to the Hoysala kingdom of Dvarasamudra, which was ruled by Veera Ballala III. Garhasp escaped with his family to Dvarasamudra.(Garhasp seems to have been quite an accomplished warrior, as he is described  tying three-four horses together, putting his family on them and riding out of  Kummata, only turning back to cut down his pursuers).

I am quoting this passage written by Ibn Battuta about the last hours of this great sovereign. It is extremely stirring to read, Then he (Kampilideva) commanded a great fire to be prepared and lighted. Then he burned his furniture, and said to his wives and daughters, “I am going to die, and such of you as prefer it, do the same.” Then it was seen that each one of these women washed herself, rubbed her body with sandal-wood, kissed the ground before the ráí(Raya) of Kambíla (Kampila), and threw herself upon the pile. All perished. The wives of his nobles, ministers, and chief men imitated them, and other women also did the same.

The ráí, in his turn, washed, rubbed himself with sandal, and took his arms, but did not put on his breastplate. Those of his men who resolved to die with him followed his example. They sallied forth to meet the troops of the Sultán, and fought till every one of them fell dead.” (Batuta).

As can be seen from the above passage the ladies of Kampila performed “jauhar” to save their honour. Ibn Batuta heard about this incident from a trusted source, but he was an   eye witness to another incident wherein the Hindu ladies burnt themselves on their husband’s pyre. Ibn Batuta clearly describes their fearlessness and devotion to their husbands in the face of the raging flames.

Kampilideva fought extremely bravely in battle before falling dead of his many wounds. Malik Zada had his head stuffed   and sent to Mohammed Tughlaq as a gift. The Muslims conducted a general massacre of the remaining residents of Hosdurg. Those who survived like the eleven sons of Kampilideva; were converted to Islam.

Thus was the end of the kingdom of Kampili, but the lowest ebb for the Southern Hindus was yet to come.

What of Baha-ud-din Garhasp? Veera Ballala III was unwilling to take the risk of inviting a full scale Muslim invasion by sheltering a fugitive. He promptly handed over Garhasp to Malik Zada.

As is illustrated by this passage Garhasp met a terrible end, He (Mohammed Tughlaq) ordered the prisoner (Garhasp) to be taken to the women, his relations, and these insulted him and spat upon him. Then he ordered him to be skinned alive, and as his skin was torn off, his flesh was cooked with rice. Some was sent to his children and his wife, and the re­mainder was put into a great dish and given to the elephants to eat, but they would not touch it. The Sultán ordered his skin to be stuffed with straw, and to be placed along with the remains of Bahádur Búra,* and to be exhibited throughout the country”. (Batuta)

References:

i.                    The Early Muslim Expansion in South India, N. Venkataramanayya, edited by Prof. K A N Sastri, Madras University Historical Series, 1942. Available at http://library.du.ac.in/dspace/

ii.                  Ibn Battuta, Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354; HAR Gibb; George Routledge & Sons, 1929.

Works Cited

Baranī, Ż. a.-D. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2010, from http://persian.packhum.org/persian/main

Batuta, I. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2010, from http://persian.packhum.org/persian/main

Map References:

1.       Schwartzberg, Joseph E. A Historical Atlas of South Asia ,http://dsal.uchicago.edu/reference/schwartzberg/

2.      The Early Muslim Expansion in South India, N. Venkataramanayya, edited by Prof. K A N Sastri, Madras University Historical Series, 1942. Available at http://library.du.ac.in/dspace/

June 2, 2010

Vijayanagar Chapter 4

Vijayanagar

Chapter 4

Disintegration of Deogiri

In 1312 CE Rama Raya of Deogiri died and his son Sangama (some accounts call him Bhillama) took over the throne. The first thing Sangama did like his late brother Shankara Deva was to rebel against the Muslims and declare independence.

Ala-ud-din promptly despatched Kafur to dispose of the rebel. Kafur ravaged the lands of Deogiri .Sangama deciding discretion was the better part of valour fled from Deogiri.

However this  time no scion of the Yadava dynasty was installed on the throne. Deogiri lost its independence and was annexed to the Delhi sultanate for good. Malik Kafur made himself the governor of Deogiri and instituted an aggressive policy of Islamisation of the Deccan. The imperialism of the Muslims entailed settling large numbers of Muslims from the north and foreign countries in and around Deogiri. Deogiri like Delhi was fast becoming a Muslim city. Hindus were marginalised and terrorised. Kafur was an enthusiastic breaker of Hindu temples and took great delight in breaking them down and erecting mosques in their place.

As the Deogiri kingdom passed out of existence, various Hindu chiefs formerly under it refused to bow down to the Islamic oppressors. The hilly region of the Sahyadri Mountains, particularly around Pune was under the Koli king Naga Nayaka, who retained his independence in face of Muslim assaults.

In the southern part of the kingdom Mallideva the chief of Rayadurga   was a relation of Rama Raya. He declared himself the king of Maharashtra. Mallideva’s attempt at opposing the Muslims ended in failure, Mallideva being killed in battle by rival chiefs Mummadi Singeya of Kampili and Jagatapa Gangayadeva of Gutti.

Mummadi Singeya’s son Kampili Raya established the powerful kingdom of Kampili, which covered present day Dharward, Bellary and Raichur districts. Kampili stood as a bulwark against Muslim invasions till it was overwhelmed by Muhammad Tughlaq.

Malik Kafur departed for Delhi soon after leaving Ain –ul- Mulk as the governor of Deogiri.

Change at Delhi

In 1316 Ala-ud-Din   Khilji died and the administration of the sultanate was taken over by Kafur. In the   bloody   succession struggles which were typical   of the   Delhi sultanate,   he had two of Ala-ud-dins older sons Khizr Khan and Shadi Khan blinded. Imprisoning them in Gwalior he proclaimed Ala-ud-dins infant son as the sultan. Mubarak Khilji was thrown into prison and expected to meet the same fate as his brothers.

Kafur being a man of many enemies thought it wise to recall Ain-ul-Mulk to Delhi. Ain-ul-Mulk gathered all the Muslims of Deogiri and started his march to Delhi. As I have pointed out before the Muslim community was almost completely militarised, which meant each and every Muslim played the role of a soldier in battle. Hence for a brief period of time Deogiri was left completely to the Hindus.

However before Ain-ul-Mulk could reach Delhi, Kafur was assassinated by his bodyguards. They raised Mubarak to the throne, who proclaimed himself as Sultan Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Khilji. Mubarak himself had a male slave on whom he lavished his attentions. Known as Hasan he was subsequently given the title Khusrau Khan by Mubarak. Khusrau Khan was one of the enigmatic characters of the Delhi Sultanate.

Mubarak was a debauch and spent his time drinking or with women. He had his brothers Khizr Khan and Shadi Khan killed and took their wives for his own pleasure. The unfortunate Devala Devi was amongst these and Mubarak forcibly married her. With a fetish for cross dressing he used to appear in his court dressed in a woman’s clothes!!

But he was of one mind on the question of pursuing Jihad against the Hindus.

Haripala Deva

With the bulk of the Muslim forces departing with Ain-ul-Mulk (the governor of Deogiri), a war of independence was waged in Deogiri by   the valiant Haripala Deva.

Haripala Deva was the son in law of the late Rama Raya. The situation for Hindus had become intolerable with their day to day lives being dependent on the whims and fancies of the Muslim rulers. Hindu women were abducted in broad daylight and the peasantry taxed to death.

Haripala Deva was joined in his efforts by Raghava, a minister of   Rama Raya .For a brief period under the kingship of Haripala Deva, Deogiri regained its independence. He succeeded in defeating various Muslim amirs to the extent that Sultan Mubarak himself had to lead an army from Delhi to recapture Deogiri.

In 1318 CE, Mubarak accompanied by his lover Khusrau Khan started from Delhi with a large army. Entering Maharashtra they had to fight tough battles with Haripala Deva   and Raghava.

Raghava was defeated by Khusrau and his army destroyed. But Haripala Deva defeated Khusrau twice in battle. Making intelligent use of the mountainous terrain Haripala Deva with his strong army gave the Muslims a tough time.

Haripala Deva was finally cornered in Devagiri fort and agreed to surrender after Sultan Mubarak promised to spare his life. On surrendering this lion of the Yadava clan met a most gruesome end.

Mubarak in flagrant violation of his own promise, had Haripala Deva skinned alive and his lifeless corpse hung from the gates of Deogiri fort .The entire royal family of the Yadavas was massacred to prevent any future uprisings. Maharashtra was distributed to various Muslim chiefs as their reward.

Malik Yak Lakhy was made the governor of Deogiri and military garrisons were posted at Sagar, Gulbarga and other places. But the garrison meant to subdue Dvarasamudram was defeated by Katari Saluva Raseya Nayaka who was an officer in Veera Ballala’s army. Khusrau Khan was despatched to collect tribute from Prataparudra and Sultan Mubarak departed for Delhi on 5th August 1318 CE.

Thus ended the great line of the Yadavas of Deogiri.  With them came to an end the golden age of Maharashtra. For the next three hundred years   the life of Hindus in the Deccan  slipped into a dark age. The life of the common Hindu becoming worse than that of animals, as ravaging Muslim armies swept    across the landscape. Maharashtra passed from one genocidal sultan to the next, till divine deliverance came in the form of Chattrapati Shivaji in the seventeenth century.

Khusrau’s forays into the South

As soon as Sultan Mubarak was back in Delhi, Malik Yak Laky proclaimed himself Sultan Shams-ud-din and even minted coins in his own name. The Sultan promptly sent Khusrau khan with a large army to imprison the usurper. For a man with royal ambitions Malik Yak fell short of loyal friend’s .Betrayed by his own subordinates, he was imprisoned by Khusrau Khan who sent him to Delhi. There his ears and nose were cut off and would be sultan was deprived of all his wealth. Khusrau Khan appointed Ain-ul-Mulk as the viceroy of Deccan.

Khusrau Khan was further entrusted to attack the Pandya kingdom which was in a state of complete chaos. After Kafurs foray   in 1311 CE the Pandya brothers resumed their power struggles. However this time Vira Pandya gained the upper hand and Sundara Pandya was forced to flee into exile. Soon Vira Pandya himself was dethroned following an invasion by the Chera king of Kerala Ravivarman Kulashekhara. Ravivarman was forced to retire back to Kerala following troubles there and the Pandya kingdom was again in the hands of Vira Pandya.

Meanwhile in 1317 CE Prataparudra taking advantage of the disorder sent a powerful army under his general Muppidi Nayaka. The Kakatiya army successfully captured Kanchi from the Pandyas. Thus on the eve of Khusrau’s invasion the Pandya kingdom was in an even worse state of chaos than before.

As in Kafurs time the Pandyan army refused to fight a set piece battle with Khusrau. Civilians wise from previous experiences of the Muslims fled before the advance of the enemy, taking   along their possessions .Khusrau managed to capture a hundred elephants and the city of Pattan. The governor of Pattan was a Muslim named Siraj-ud-din. This did not stop Khusrau from   confiscating his wealth and taking his daughter!!

With the beginning of the rains and internal squabbles breaking out in his camp, Khusrau was forced to move back to Delhi. Khusrau’s southern campaign thus ended   in failure without producing any tangible results.

For Chapter 5 click here.

References:

  1. The Early Muslim Expansion in South India, N. Venkataramanayya, edited by Prof. K A N Sastri, Madras University Historical Series, 1942. Available at http://library.du.ac.in/dspace/
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandyan_Dynasty
  3. South India and Her Mohemmedan Invaders, S Krishnaswami Iyengar, S Chand & Co,1921, http://library.du.ac.in/dspace/
  4. TÁRÍKH-I FÍROZ SHÁHÍ,          ZÍÁU-D DÍN BARNÍ, Packard Humanities Institute, retrieved on 03-04-2010, http://persian.packhum.org/persian/main
  5. A History of South India, Prof K A N Sastri, Oxford University Press, 1966.

May 15, 2010

Vijayanagar – Chapter 3

I have created rough graphics of Malik Kafurs invasion routes using in S Krishnaswami Iyengar’s description and with the help of Google Earth .I have modified Vijaynagar Chapter 2 to show the map for Kafurs invasion of Deogiri and Wrangal.

Vijayanagar –Empire of the Gods

Chapter 3

After   extracting tributes from two of the most powerful Hindu Kingdoms in India at that time, Ala-ud-dins gaze was naturally turned on the rich Hoysala kingdom in Karnataka and Pandya kingdom in Tamil Nadu.

The Hoysalas

The Hoysala kingdom was extensive and covered almost all of modern Karnataka and parts of western Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. It was a rich and flourishing kingdom with revenues from sea trade, teak   etc. The Hoysala kings were known for their patronage of Kannada literature and fine architecture. Many temples from the Hoysala period still survive to this day and are outstanding examples with superb detail and exquisite craftsmanship.

The capital of the Hoysala’s was Dvarasamudram (modern day Halebid in Karnataka), a well fortified city. Veera Ballala III (ruled from 1291-1343 CE) was the ruler at the time of Kafurs raid on South India. He was a person with exceptional foresight, courage and   one of the mighty defenders of Hindu Dharma in troubled times of the fourteenth century. Even at the age of   eighty years this great king was still fighting against the Muslims, when he was treacherously murdered in 1343 CE by Sultan   Ghiyas-ud-Din Muhammad Damghani of Madurai.

The Pandyas

The Pandya kingdom was extremely rich and powerful, commanding the vital sea routes. It stretched from Quilon in Kerala to Nellore in Tamil Nadu. The capital of the Pandyan kingdom was Madurai and its second great city was Vira Dhavalapattanam (known to the Muslims as Bir Dhul).As it stood astride the major sea trading routes, it had a flourishing network of ports and a large fleet of ships.

The Pandya kings used to maintain a large cavalry force, sustained by constant imports from abroad. It must be pointed out here that India is not ideal horse country, the weather and climatic conditions render horses susceptible to a host of diseases and early death. Except for the hardy indigenous breeds of horses, foreign breeds had a very short life. This was why maintaining a large cavalry force was a luxury for most kingdoms .They needed to be constantly replenished and were a drain on resources. A good cavalryman in that age was worth his weight in gold. The Muslims in contrast had access to large cavalry forces straight from Central Asia.

The Pandyas also possessed a force of nearly thousand elephants, a large army with a contingent of Arab fighters as well. Elephants played a role on the battlefield much like battle tanks do today i.e.  steamroll   the opposition. War elephants   worked fine until they ran amok and turned on their own side.

The king ruling over this porsperous domain  just prior to the muslim invasion was Kulashekhara Pandya.He was an extremely capable and ambitious ruler. He defeated the Kakatiya’s and laid siege to the Hoysala capital of Dvarasamudram twice. Ceylon and other islands were subject to his power. After he was foully assassinated by his son Sundara Pandya, the Pandya kingdom fell on hard times.

A fratricidal war erupted between Sundara Pandya and his   younger brother Vira Pandya. Vira Pandya had been nominated by Kulashekhara as his successor. This was the reason why   Sundara Pandya killed his father and usurped the throne.

In a see-saw of battles the fortunes of Vira and Sundara Pandya rose and ebbed in turn. Thus on the eve of Kafurs attack the entire Pandya kingdom was in a state of chaos.

Attack on Dvarasamudram

Fig 1. Kafurs invasion route to Dvarasamudram and Madurai

In the map above I have charted out a rough route for Kafur’s attack on Dvarasamudram and Madurai based on the description given in in S Krishnaswami Iyengar’s book.

Malik Kafur reached Deogiri on 3rd February 1311 CE.As usual Rama Deva provided all the materials needed to help to the invaders.Rama Deva deputed one of his commander in chief Parshuram Dalavi to guide Kafur onto the right route for Dvarasamudram. Parshuram’s domains bordered Veera Ballala’s kingdom. Rama Deva had his own axe to grind against Veera Ballala III, as Veera Ballala had made repeated attacks on the Deogiri kingdom to seize territory.

Thus suitably provisioned, Kafurs force started from Deogiri on 7th February 1311 CE and reached a place called Bandir (as per S K Aiyangar this is Pandharpur in Maharashtra) on   22nd February 1311 CE. This was at the border of   Deogiri and the Hoysala kingdoms.

Like all good practitioners of warfare, Kafur had an intelligence wing in his army. Before penetrating into the Hoysala kingdom, Kafur despatched four officers(Bahram Karra, Qatlah Nehang, Mahmud Sartiha and Abaji Mughal), each accompanied by an interpreter to gather information about the enemy. The interpreters were fluent in the local language; I assume this was ancient Kannada.

Meanwhile Veera Ballala had decided to take advantage of the chaos in the Pandya kingdom and   was leading his army to try and take back territory lost by the Hoysala’s to Kulashekhara Pandya. As soon as Kafurs scouts reported this news, Kafur decided to head straight for   the capital Dvarasamudram.

Veera Ballala on his part learned of the Muslims at his rear and returned with great haste to Dvarasamudram.

En route one of Veera Ballala’s   Nayakas   attacked Kafurs   army, but was killed on the battlefield.

Following his tried and tested strategy of launching   surprise attacks straight on enemy capitals, Kafur reached Dvarasamudram on 25th February 1311 CE. In a short span of twelve days he had force marched his army straight to the gates of Dvarasamudram.

As per accounts initially Veera Ballala wanted to go into battle with Kafur. The Pandya king Vira Pandya had already despatched a force to help Veera Ballala. He however changed his mind on seeing the destructive capacity of Kafurs army. Before making up his mind he sent his advisor Kesava Mal to ascertain the strength of the enemy. Learning of the formidable strength of the enemy   Ballala decided to sue for terms. Veera Ballala was prepared to lose his treasure in order to safeguard his people and kingdom. He sent Ballapa Deva Nayaka who was known for his negotiation skills to Kafurs camp. Kafur made the same demands as before and extracted a heavy price from Veera Ballala.

There were two additional stipulations to the terms of surrender; one was that Veera Ballala’s son Veera Virupaksha Ballala was to accompany Kafur back to Delhi (possibly as a hostage to prevent Veera Ballala turning against Delhi) and that he should lead the Muslim army to Madurai.  With no way out of the quandary he was in Veera Ballala agreed to these terms.

Onward to Madurai

Guided by Veera Ballala, Kafur’s army reached the border with the Pandya kingdom on 15th March 1311 CE. The Pandyan princes mounted guerrilla warfare against the invaders almost as soon as they entered their territory.

Showing tactical ingenuity the Pandyas refused to fight set piece battles where Kafurs armoured cavalry would have an advantage. Instead they kept eluding Kafurs forces.

Kafur moved towards Veera Dhavalapattam, conducting savage massacres of defenceless Hindus along the way. Vira Pandya was in Veera Dhavalapattanam and he sent out a mixed force of Hindu and Muslim cavalry. A ferocious battle raged between the combatants from afternoon till sunset. In the might taking advantage of the lull in fighting Vira Pandya escaped with his family and treasure.

Furious at losing Vira Pandya, Kafur pursued him from place to place without any success. In the meanwhile rains had started and Kafur was obliged to stop as his army was in no position to fight.

As soon a Kafur made camp, Pandyan cavalry launched a fierce attack in the rain and were only repulsed after a terrible battle. Realising that making camp in the rains would make him a sitting target Kafur resumed Vira Pandyas pursuit.

With the entire landscape flooded by torrential rains, it was left to Veera Ballala to safely guide the Muslims across the waters. In the course of his pursuit Kafur came upon hundred and twenty elephants laden with Vira Pandyas treasure which he promptly appropriated.

After sacking the town of Kandur, Kafur’s forces fell upon the town of Marhatpuri in the night where every civilian was killed. In Marhatpuri the Brahmana’s and other courageous civilians had decided to defend the temples to their last breath and were killed to a man fighting Kafur’s forces. The temples in every case were razed to the ground.

Reaching Veera Dhavalapattanam on 1st April 1311 CE, Kafur destroyed the temples; even going to the extent of digging up their foundations to make sure no traces remained of them.

Kafur   reached Madurai on 10th April 1311 CE, but was unable to plunder it .Madurai was the seat of power of Sundara Pandya and was very well defended. Sundara Pandya had already fled Madurai.

Just when it seemed all was lost, a hurricane rose up which nearly destroyed Kafur and his band of thugs. Vikrama Pandya who was the younger brother of Kulashekhara Pandya took charge of the army. Vikrama Pandya was   eighty years old and with the help of his veteran Brahmana commander he marshalled the Pandya warriors to destroy the invaders ( to put the significance of this in context, try to imagine geriatrics like Manmohan Singh, Lal Krishna Advani etc taking up arms to defend India, can’t see that happening can you?!).

By now Kafur had overstretched himself and had penetrated too deep into the Pandya territory. Gathering a   vast force Vikrama Pandya attacked Kafur (I’m not sure of the location).The Pandyan warriors were incited to terrible fury by the heinous acts committed by Kafur. In the fury of their attack the Muslim cavalry was annihilated and most of Kafurs army destroyed.

Like other Hindu kings Vikrama Pandya fell short of completely annihilating Kafurs army and killing Kafur.

On his part Kafur managed to escape along with the treasure which had been despatched to Delhi. The battered remains of Kafurs army returned to Dvarasamudram and from there made their way to Delhi, reaching Delhi on 30th October 1311 CE.

Kafur took  Veera Virupaksha Ballala to Delhi where Ala-ud-din pleased with the help rendered by Veera Ballala, presented him with ten lakh tankas (silver coins) and sent him back to Dvarasamudram.

Thus Kafurs attack on the Pandya kingdom came to an ignomious end at the hands of the valiant Vikrama Pandya. Veera Ballala’s kingdom was left intact and he would be the last Hindu king left standing when the next wave of conquest started from Delhi.

For Chapter 4 click here.

References :

  1. The Early Muslim Expansion in South India, N. Venkataramanayya, edited by Prof. K A N Sastri, Madras University Historical Series, 1942. Available at http://library.du.ac.in/dspace/
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandyan_Dynasty
  3. South India and Her Mohemmedan Invaders, S Krishnaswami Iyengar, S Chand & Co,1921, http://library.du.ac.in/dspace/
  4. The Never to be Forgotten Empire “Vijayanagar”, B Suryanarain Row,1905, http://library.du.ac.in/dspace/handle/1/3601

May 1, 2010

Vijayanagar-Chapter 2

Vijayanagar –Empire of the Gods

Chapter 2


Malik Kafur

 

We have seen previously that Ala-ud-din Khilji made a surprise attack on Deogiri and with the enormous treasure he looted, became Sultan of Delhi.

Now his attention was naturally on the rich and flourishing kingdoms of the south. The Kakatiya kingdom of Warangal was next on his list of Hindu kingdoms to loot. In this he was ably aided by his trusted general and “lover” Malik Kafur [i].

Malik Kafur was originally a Hindu from Khambat (Cambay) on the coast of Gujarat. During Ulugh Khans attack on Gujarat in 1297 and its subsequent conquest, Malik Kafur was amongst the innumerable Hindus sold into a life of slavery. But by various accounts he was a handsome youth who attracted the Sultans attentions . Chroniclers like Zia-Ud-Din Barni are quite explicit in the details of Ala-ud-dins sexual infatuation towards Malik Kafur. It is quite hypocritical that Muslims cry foul on homosexuality when quite a few of the “Ghazis” (warriors who carry out jihad against the infidels) had a liking for young boys!

Ala-ud-din had him castrated and converted to Islam. Castration of slaves and making them eunuchs was an integral part of the Islamic slave system. This ensured that the captured men would not be able to reproduce and dilute the Muslim bloodlines. As per K S Lal the present day system of Hijras in our country is a direct consequence of the distinct class of eunuchs created by the muslim rulers .

Lo and behold, the new convert became even more fanatic than the sultan himself!! Being a favourite of Ala-ud-din, he rose fast through the ranks to become Malik Naib (senior commander of the army). An extremely shrewd and ruthless man, Malik Kafur was the ideal companion to Ala-ud-din.

Neo converts like Malik Kafur were more of a threat to the Hindus than the Sultans themselves. To prove themselves worthy of their new religion, they usually exceed even their masters in committing atrocities upon their former co-religionists. Even more damaging was the fact that they had an insider’s view of contemporary Hindu society and knew how society worked. Being aware of the Hindus strengths and weaknesses, they ruthlessly exploited them.

Malik Kafur became the second most powerful man in the Delhi Sultanate after Ala-ud-din After Ala-ud-dins miserable death due to dropsy(as per Barani, Kafur hastened Ala-ud-dins death by poison).Ironically, Kafur himself met a gruesome end in 1316, trying to play the kingmaker in Delhi.

Second Invasion of Deogiri

Fig 1 Malik Kafurs second invasion of Deogiri and second invasion of Warangal

Around 1300 AD Rama Raya of Deogiri had stopped sending tribute to Delhi. Ala-ud-din was preoccupied in quelling internal rebellions and pushing the Mongols back. Now his attention was again turned beyond the Vindhyas and the riches that lay in the kingdoms of Warangal.

Meanwhile in Deogiri Rama Raya’s son Shankar Deva (also known as Sangama) was a man of courage and a free spirit, who could not bear to see the devastation, wrought by the Muslims. The realisation that his sister was now part of the Sultans harem would also have spurred him against tyranny of the Muslims. It made no difference whether you submitted your kingdom to Ala-ud-din or were killed on the battlefield trying to defend it; the end result was always the same: total ruin of your people and destruction of contemporary Hindu society [iii].

While on one hand Rama Raya was constrained by many reasons: concern for the safety of the people of Deogiri, his daughter was now in the Sultans harem (this was part of the price extracted by Al-ud-din on the first invasion of Deogiri) and the fact that his treasury was nearly empty.

On the other hand Shankar Deva was made of sterner stuff and realised that if the Muslims were not defeated and driven out, it was only a matter of time before Deogiri’s independence was extinguished forever by the Sultan. Under Muslim administrators the life of Hindus would become a living hell, as was demonstrated later on when Deogiri was incorporated into the Sultanate.

By 1306 the heroic Shankar Deva had taken over the administration of Deogiri and after defeating the Muslim administrators put in place, nearly brought Deogiri back to its former independence. The reins of Deogiri were taken over from Rama Rayas hands by Shankar Deva.

There was another not completely unrelated reason why Ala-ud-din sent his hordes hurtling down into the Deccan.

When Ulugh Khan invaded Gujarat in 1297 CE, Karnadev Vaghela cowardly fled his capital Anhilwara Patan leaving his queen, the beautiful Kamala Devi to fall into the hands of the Muslims. Kamala Devi was made by Ala-ud-din a part of his harem, but her only surviving daughter Devala Devi was still with Karnadev. As per different accounts Karnadev sought sanctuary with Deogiri .

The Khiljis made a demand for Devala Devi and Karnadev refused. Instead of giving his daughter to the Muslims to use as chattel, he agreed to marry his daughter to Rama Raya’s son Shankar Deva (also known as Sangama). Muslim chroniclers have portrayed the incident as Kamala Devi pining for her daughter and asking Ala-ud-din to get her from Karnadev!! It is one thing for Kamala Devi to be resigned to her fate, but which mother would want her daughter to be subjected to a life of sexual slavery in a Muslim harem?

Thus two expeditions started from Delhi in 1306:-

1. One was led by Malik Ahmad Jitam. Its purpose was to defeat Karnadev and bring Devala Devi to Delhi and completely extinguish resistance in Gujarat.

2. The second expedition was under Malik Kafur tasked with extracting tribute from Rama Raya and making him submit.

They were joined by reinforcements from Gujarat and Malwa.

The first mission was successful; Karnadev was reduced to a refugee fleeing from court to court seeking protection. The unfortunate Devala Devi was captured by the Muslims when she was being escorted to Deogiri and was subsequently sent to Delhi. This brave woman was forcibly married to Ala-ud-dins son Khizr Khan. On Khizr Khans assassination, Qutbuddin Mubarak Khilji in turn forcibly made her his concubine. To add to her miseries after Qutbuddin was killed by his lover Khusrau Khan, she was forced into Khusrau’s harem [ii]. A terrible fate to the princess of the royal house of Vaghelas.

Malik Kafur started with nearly 100,000 horsemen and in March 1307 CE clashed with Shankar Deva outside Deogiri. Shankar Deva being aware of Kafurs advance gathered all his troops near the capital. Shankar Deva had made the strategic mistake of allowing the invader to advance unmolested right upto the capital and then fighting him with all his troops in once place. This meant that the battle became a set piece one. Ideally Shankar Dev should have set up ambushes and tried to cut off the supply lines of Kafurs army.

In the meantime Kafurs army had caused immense destruction of the surrounding countryside. Civilians were massacred, women raped and wanton destruction of crop and property took place.

Shankar Dev was assisted by his brother Bhillama, his commanders Raghava and Ramadeva. After a hard fought battle Shankar Dev was defeated and was martyred by Malik Kafur. Deogiri was plundered, and its population was made to experience all the horrors of Islamic conquest. The same gory story of rape, murder and loot was repeated here as well.

Rama Raya and the royal family were made prisoners and sent to Delhi, where Ala-ud-din Khilji pardoned his father in law and reinstated him to his kingdom. Kafur had specific instructions to spare Rama Raya during the sack of Deogiri. As per N. Venkataramanayya the reason for Ala-ud-dins benevolence towards Rama Raya was due to Rama Raya having informed the sultan of Shankar Deva’s rebellion. Of how true this explanation is I have no idea.

First Invasion of Warangal

Warangal was the capital of the Kakatiya kingdom. The Kakatiya kingdom covered a wide area including most of present day Andhra Pradesh, parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Orissa. The Kakatiya kings were suryavamshi kshatriyas.

The Kakatiya’s produced a great line of monarchs and most unique among them was the warrior queen Rudramba who took over the reins of the kingdom after her father Ganapatis death in CE. She fought off aggressive attempts by the Yadavas of Deogiri to expand into Kakatiya territory.

Her grandson Prataparudra succeeded her after she retired from public life. Prataparudra was an ambitious ruler who carried out regular campaigns against the Hoysala who ruled the present day Mysore region, the Deogiri Yadavas and the Pandyas of Tamil Nadu. It is a sad testament to our short sightedness that these four great Hindu dynasties were constantly engaged in trying to overthrow each other, rather than combine their arms and kick the invaders out of India.

The first invasion of Warangal took place in 1304 CE. A large Muslim army led by Malik Fakhr-ud-din Juna (Mohammed Tughlaq) and Malik Jhaju of Karra was despatched to plunder the riches of Warangal.

But the Hindus of Warangal were prepared for them. Armies led by Prataparudra’s commanders Potuganti Maili & Venna among others, met the Muslims at Upparapalli in Karimanagar district (Andhra Pradesh).In the ferocious battle which took place, the heroic Telugu chiefs destroyed a large part of the sultans army and forced the remnants to flee in confusion.

This was a great setback to Ala-ud-dins plans of looting the Kakatiya kingdom. At the same time the Mongol chief Targhi penetrated right upto Delhi with the speed of a hawk and an army of 20,000 Mongols. The “brave” Ala-ud-din was forced to take shelter in Siri fort as no reinforcements were at hand, most of them down south trying to conquer Warangal!!

Although this incident has been presented as an attempt to raid Warangal for loot, I believe this was more to try and establish Ala-ud-dins administration in the south. Why would Ala-ud-din risk sending a large force when his frontiers were threatened by the Mongols? All these years he had been cautious not to open another front within India, till the Mongol threat to his sultanate had passed over.

This incident like many other Islamic defeats has been glossed over by Muslim historians. It is a great pity that we know more about Muslim tyrants like the Khiljis, rather than about valiant heroes like Potuganti Maili who risked all to protect their motherland against the Muslim hordes.

Second Invasion of Warangal

After getting a sound thrashing Ala-ud-din kept away for some years from the Deccan. He was now occupied with defeating the valiant Raja Satal Deva of Siwana and Raja Kanhad Dev Songara of Jalor (Rajasthan).

Kanhad Deva Songara was the true embodiment of how a Kshatriya should be. He had not only rescued over 50,000 Gujarati Hindus who were being taken to Delhi as slaves by the Muslims, but also the fragments of the broken Shiva lingam of Somnath which was being taken to Delhi to be defiled by the Muslims.

Kanhad Deva and his son Vikrama Deva both attained veeragati fighting Ala-ud-dins forces and the women of Jalor committed jauhar to save their honour. With northern India subdued for the time being, the avaricious Ala-ud-din turned his gaze back upon the Kakatiya kingdom.

Going back to the Deccan, Rama Raya had become a staunch ally of the sultan and kept sending him regular tribute.

A vast force under the command of Malik Kafur and Khwaja Haji started on 31st October 1309 from Delhi. This force would have been extremely well armed and well supplied. In the five years since the Muslim defeat at the hands of the Telugu people, Ala-ud-din would have put a lot of thought and effort to avoid a repeat of the disastrous performance of the Muslims.

Their first stop was Deogiri which had now become a base for further operations in the Deccan. Rama Raya gave all the assistance required to Kafurs army and they proceeded into Telangana.

The first encounter with the Kakatiya’s took place at Sirpur fort. Kafur besieged the fort from all sides. The Kakatiya garrison fought valiantly, but with food and other supplies running out the situation inside the fort became desperate. As a last resort a huge pyre was lit inside the fort and the Hindu warriors along with their families sacrificed themselves in the yajna kunda of war. Whatever few survivors of this assault remained fled to the protection of Warangal.

Prataparudra was well prepared to meet the invasion. By some accounts his army consisted of 20,000 horsemen, hundred elephants and a large number of archers. In some ways his strategy mirrored that of Shankar Deva of the Yadavas. Prataparudra pulled back all his forces from the forts in the path of the invading army and concentrated them in and around Warangal. In the formidable fortress of Warangal, Prataparudra was joined by many of his chiefs along with their forces.

Following a scorched earth policy, Telugu soldiers laid to waste the route the Muslim armies would take, in order to deny the invaders any provisions.

One of the reasons why Kafurs forces were able to reach Warangal in quick time by January 1310 CE, as there was no substantial force to oppose them on their way.

On 19th January 1310 CE, Malik Kafurs forces began the siege of Warangal. As a first step they captured the hill fort of Hanumakonda, which overlooked the city and from which the interiors of Warangal were visible.

Warangal itself was a great fortress with a circumference of nearly 12,546 yards. It was protected by two massive walls, the outer wall made of mud and the inner wall made of stone. The inner and outer walls were essentially two separate forts, which meant if one fell the defenders could retire to the inner fort. The outer wall had nearly seventy seven bastions (burj or towers) manned by Prataparudra’s chiefs who were known as “Nayakas”. The outer wall was surrounded by a large moat.

As per Venkataramanayya the fort was well equipped with weaponry to withstand a prolonged siege. Presumably this means catapults, trebuchets etc. Malik Kafur was also well prepared to assault such a strong fort. His army was equipped with the most advanced siege equipment of that age including weapons such as maghribi (catapults), mangonels, trebuchets etc.

Kafur set up his headquarters a miles from the main gate and ordered his army to pitch their tents all around the fort. Each division of his army was responsible for the siege of the 1200 yards of fort walls allocated to it. In addition the camp of each division was protected by a strong wooden stockade (wooden wall).

The siege started in earnest on 19th January 1310 CE .In the meantime Kafurs postal service which enabled Ala-ud-din to get rapid communication from the battle front, was destroyed by Telugu soldiers who engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Muslims.

A valiant night attack by thousand horsemen commanded by Vinayaka Deva was launched on the Muslim camp. A fierce encounter ensued with heavy causalities on both sides, but the attack failed.

Prataparudra was in no mood to surrender, as the Muslims had not made even a breach in the outer wall. Kafur kept up the momentum of the attack and had the moat filled .

Finally a breach was made in the outer wall and a flood of Muslim soldiers rushed in. Heavy fighting followed with neither party giving nor taking any quarter.

By means of a night attack three bastions of the outer wall were taken and within three days Kafur was in command of the whole outer wall.

Inside the inner fort conditions were growing increasingly grim. The inner stone fort was filled to the brim with civilians, nobles & soldiers. People suffered greatly in such crowded conditions. And once the Muslims gained control of the outer wall, civilians came straight in the line of fire. Many were killed by the arrows launched by the enemy. Treating the wounded became a near impossibility in such conditions.

Not being able to see the suffering of his people and realising that prolonging the siege would end in a general massacre, Prataparudra decided to negotiate with the Muslims.

The siege finally came to an end on 20th April 1310 CE.

As per the truce which was subsequently agreed, Prataparudra had to give Kafur all his treasure. This amounted to a golden image of Prataparudra, hundred war elephants and nearly thousand camels laden with gold. Additionally Prataparudra agreed to pay the jizya and send tribute annually. Prataparudra dutifully sent the annual tribute every year till the disturbances caused by Ala-ud-dins death.

Kafur reached Delhi on 10th June 1310, where he was given a grand reception by Ala-ud-din.

 

For Chapter 3 click here

References:

[1] TÁRÍKH-I FÍROZ SHÁHÍ,      ZÍÁU-D DÍN BARNÍ, Packard Humanities Institute, retrieved on 16-04-2010, http://persian.packhum.org/persian/main

[2] Muslim Slave System in Medieval India, K.S.Lal, Voice of India  Books, http://voiceofdharma.org/books/siii/index.htm

[3] The Early Muslim Expansion in South India, N.Venkataramanayya, edited by Prof.K A N Sastri, Madras University Historical Series, 1942. Available at http://library.du.ac.in/dspace/

April 30, 2010

Vijayanagar- The Empire of the Gods

Vijayanagar- The Empire of the Gods


“The city of Bijanagar (Vijayanagar) is such that the pupil of the eye has never seen a place like it, and the ear of intelligence has never been informed that there existed anything to equal it in the world.” –Abdur Razzak, ambassor of Persia to Vijayanagar.
To avoid confusion let me make it clear that Vijayanagar was both the name of the empire and its capital city (present day Hampi, Karnataka).
In the south of India, Vijayanagar is a household name. The name itself evokes civilisational memories of a glorious bygone past, the evidence of which can be still seen in the mute ruins of Hampi in Karnataka.
But in other parts of India, especially the north, awareness of this great Hindu empire, which acted as the last refuge to persecuted Hindus from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, remains woefully low.
There are many reasons for this, the chief one being the complete whitewash of our history by a government which is continually haunted by the spectre of the truth about Muslim rule in India becoming popular knowledge .A false creed of “secularism” has been foisted by the rulers onto a gullible majority. Add to this cocktail a feckless media and an education system which presents our history as a lifeless caricature of itself
What the media and the government fail to realise is that Hindus are not going to go rampaging against the minorities if the real history of Islamic invasions is publicised. The civilisational memory is very strong; attempts to whitewash our history are only going to end in grief. The majority has enough common sense to realise that the present day Indian Muslims are not responsible for the atrocities committed by their forebears.
But what an honest rendering of our history will do is clear the air for a clear dialogue between the two communities without prejudices and predilections’.
As I begin this article, my only request to the reader is: read with an open mind .I will give references as applicable. Feel free to read up and check on them. If I have missed some, please point them out to me. Almost all of the original texts of Muslim chroniclers are available online. I have used the notation “CE” (Christian Era) instead of “AD” (Anno Domini) for denoting the years.
I am a firm believer in our national motto “Satya meva jayate”. The rotting carcass of lies will eventually fall off and truth will break free with the force of a typhoon.
And so we begin….
To understand the significance of Vijayanagar in our history we need to dig a bit deeper into the century and the circumstances in which it was born.

1. A Century before…
It is said that the true eclipse of the Hindu civilisation started with fall of the last Hindu king of Afghanistan, Jayapala Shahi in 1001 CE. If that was beginning of the eclipse, the darkest moment for our holy land was when the Mohemmedan hordes under Ulugh Khan (later known as Mohammed Tughlaq) overran southern India in 1314 CE. This meant that for a very brief period of time the whole of India came under Muslim rule.
By the beginning of the fourteenth century, Northern India (except for Rajputana) had become a lifeless limb, being ravaged for over a century by the genocidal sultans of Delhi. The Delhi sultanate was well entrenched for more than a century by now. The horrors inflicted on the populace were beyond description. To get an idea of the life of the average Hindu under the enlightened sultans one does not need to look very far. To give an example from the Kãmil-ut-Tawãrîkh of Ibn Asir, “The slaughter of Hindus (at Varanasi) was immense; none were spared except women and children, and the carnage of men went on until the earth was weary.” This was to describe the sack of Varanasi, after the last Gahadvad King Jaichandra (better known as Jaichand of Prithviraj Raso infamy) was killed on the battlefield by Qutub-uddin-Aibak in 1194.
Another example from Zia- ud -Din Barni’s “Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi”, “In two nights and three days he crossed the Ganges at Kateher, and sending forward a force of five thousand archers, he gave them orders to burn down Kateher and destroy it, to slay every man, and to spare none but women and children, not even boys who had reached the age of eight or nine years. He re¬mained for some days at Kateher and directed the slaughter. The blood of the rioters ran in streams, heaps of slain were to be seen near every village and jungle, and the stench of the dead reached as far as the Ganges.” This is a graphic description of the massacre of Hindus in the doab by Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din Balban. The date is unclear, but would have been sometime during his reign (1265-1285 CE). Hindus had rebelled against the sultanate and were close to overthrowing the Muslim governors of Badaun and Amroha.
The list of atrocities goes on and on, the incidents described in graphic details by the Muslim chroniclers themselves. The horrific accounts are written with great pride by these chroniclers, who see the sultans as fulfilling their religious obligations as laid out in the Quran.
Resistance was fierce, but was crushed with overwhelming force and brutality. The common people of India had never experienced such horrors. Mass rapes, murder and mayhem had become the order of the day.
Like I said, don’t take my word for it, read the references which are freely available on the internet.

2. The major Hindu Kingdoms
At this point in time it would be pertinent to see the situation in the rest of India. At the close of the thirteenth century, what is present day Maharashtra was ruled by the Yadava kings of Deogiri (present day Daulatabad), Rajputana by various Rajput kings, the Telangana region ruled by the Kakatiya kings, Andhra by the Hoysala kings, present day Tamil nadu by the Pandyas, Assam by the Ahom kings and Kashmir by its last Hindu ruler Suhadeva. Bengal had fallen to the Bakhtiar Khilji at the beginning of the thirteenth century in 1206 CE and Gujarat to Alauddin Khiljis hordes in 1297 CE.
3. While Elsewhere

Fig 1 The extent of the Mongol empire (image courtesy Wikipedia)
On the world stage, the descendents of Chengiz Khan were tearing a blaze of destruction across the Muslim world (which included central Asia, Afghanistan, Persia, Iraq, today’s Middle East),China, southeast Asia, carrying on right till Europe. This led to an influx of dispossessed Muslim princes and soldiers into the Delhi sultanate .And of course each one of them would be eager to go on a jihad against the unbelieving Hindus!!
The sultanate meanwhile was still consolidating its grip on the gangetic plains and simultaneously defending its northern frontier (Punjab) against the Mongols.

4. The First Incursions into the South

Fig 2.Deogiri Fort (Daulatabad) (image courtesy Wikipedia)
The first successful incursion into the south was via Deogiri (present day Aurangabad, Maharashtra). Ala-ud-din Khilji, the wily nephew of Sultan Jalal-u-ddin laid siege to Deogiri in 1294.At this precise moment most of Deogiri’s forces were fighting with the Hoysala kings further down south. Rama Raya, the king of Deogiri was forced to submit after the reinforcements led by his son Shankar Deo were beaten back by the Turks. Alauddin extracted a tremendous price from Deogiri, virtually denuding it of all riches. As per Ferishta the booty included, “ 600 maunds of gold, seven maunds of pearls, two maunds of other jewels, thousand maunds of silver, and a yearly tribute of the revenues of Elichpur province”. A maund is roughly anywhere between 18-59 kgs. So we can easily imagine what the size of the treasure was!!
Backed by this treasure, Ala-uddin subsequently murdered his uncle the Sultan, in cold blood and took over the throne of Delhi. Murderous wars of succession and assassinations have always been an integral part of any Muslim sultanate anywhere in the world. With the aid of the looted treasure, a massive standing army of 4, 75,000 ( four lakhs and seventy five thousand) was maintained and the frontiers secured against the Mongol threat .Successive Mongol incursions were repelled, in fact the cunning Alauddin got rid of his powerful rival Zafar Khan in one of the Mongol raids. The Mongol incursions more or less stopped after 1308 CE, the Mongols now being fully immersed in their own disputes.
As the Mongol threat receded it was but natural for the avaricious sultan to turn his gaze back to the kingdoms beyond the Vindhyas.

5. Interregnum…
Before we move on I will expound a bit on the nature of the sultanate and why it scored quick successes under able sultans like Alaudddin and Mohammed Tughlaq.
Shri Sita Ram Goel has given an excellent account of the main reasons in his book “The story of Islamic Imperialism in India” (available for free reading from http://voiceofdharma.org/books). I will very briefly touch on them here.
Spiritual & Intellectual Decline: The foremost reasons were the spiritual and intellectual decline of society. India had been exposed to Islamic invasions since the establishment of Islam in the seventh century. The first phase of invasion was of the Arabs (starting around 650 AD) which lasted for nearly three hundred years, till about the tenth century and was a dismal failure. Thus five hundred years had passed since the first clash with the armies of Islam and the time Muḥammad Ibn Sām (Mohammed Ghori) broke through into India proper. The pattern of Islamic atrocities was always the same as in later ages; people were aware of what they were facing.
Despite this, in the span of five centuries, why was no effort made to understand the ideology which motivated the invaders? Why did no religious leader declare that dharma itself was in danger and that the invaders had to be completely and utterly destroyed? Why were the defeated Muslim armies not pursued to their homelands and annihilated?
Despite knowing the nefarious tactics employed by the invaders, why did we consistently stick to myopic codes of honour, which in the end brought centuries of dishonour and tremendous suffering to our people?
Due to a refusal to see the true nature of the invader there was no strategic focus with Hindu rulers, bar a few notable exceptions. On the other hand irrespective of which person became Sultan , the overriding goal remained the same i.e. conquest and conversion.
The situation is not very different today, where any attempt to probe the true nature of the Islamic threat is dismissed as “communal”. An entire race seems to be in denial about the danger it faces.
Structure of Society: Hindu society had traditionally different classes such as, scholars (Brahmins), traders; kshatriyas (warriors).The movement of classes within the society was fluid as has been pointed out by Sita Ram Goel. This division of labour is characteristic of all modern societies, where different segments of society tackle different tasks.
Muslim society in India by contrast was fully militarised. The entire focus was on maintaining strength of arms, this being the only way they could subjugate a hostile majority (i.e. Hindus). This was remarkably similar to the Mongols who were a fully militarised society as well. In contrast the Muslim empires like Khwarazim, who fell like nine pins in front of the Mongol onslaught, were what could be called as normal societies in terms of the way their social structure.
The chief difference of course lay in the fact that the Mongols were shamanistic and by very nature accommodating of other faiths. Whereas the “secular” Sultans did not even accord Hindus the status of human beings!!
And the only way to sustain a militarised society was a constant inflow of looted treasure and slaves from their wars with the Hindus. Enslavement of Hindus was big business; the markets of central Asia were flooded with Hindus sold into slavery. The fate of Hindu women was even more terrible. They were treated like chattel and sold in market places into sexual slavery .It is not surprising not a few times Hindu women preferred to be consumed by the flames and commit jauhar, rather than put their honour at the tender mercies of the invader.
There was a very good reason why a total extermination of Hindus was not carried out even under fanatics like Alauddin. The sultans realised early on they needed the farmers, the traders and administrators to carry on his wars of conquest. This was a temporary arrangement till the number of Muslims reached a critical mass. But the ulema (Muslim theologians, more commonly known as “scholars of Islam”!) had to be kept happy, so Hindus were routinely massacred to “cleanse the land of idolaters”. The concentration of Muslims was still in the urban areas, e.g. Delhi had become more or less a Muslim city by the beginning of the thirteenth century, but the rural areas remained overwhelmingly Hindu.

Structure of Armies: Another contrast, as pointed out by Sita Ram Goel was the way in which the armies were maintained . In Hindu kingdoms, the main fighting core under the king was comparatively small but dedicated group of Kshatriyas .A liberal tax regime meant that more focus was on general economic and social progress rather than on maintaining a vast standing army. Rest of the recruits were levies provided by local feudatories or chiefs. This meant that the quality of the army could vary significantly. And once the king was killed on the battlefield or the main core of warriors smashed, the rest of the army would flee the battlefield. Throughout their wars the Muslim chiefs almost always focussed on killing the opposing king or key commanders. This invariably led to even the most well equipped Hindu armies to flee the battlefield. This trend was not reversed till Chattrapati Shivajis time, who taught his followers to fight for Dharma rather than the king.
The Muslim armies on the other hand were fully professional, mostly directly under the command of the sultan .Even the nobles or the amirs under the Khiljis and the Tuglaq’s remained fearful of their power being taken away, or in the worst case ending up dead; if they disobeyed the sultan . Even if the sultanates armies were defeated once, a vast reserve meant the Sultans could send a steady stream of invading armies at very short time intervals. On the other hand the Hindu kingdoms resources would have been depleted in the previous wars and the same exhausted army would be facing a much fresher invigorated enemy. Additionally, the scorched earth tactics pursued by the Muslims in ravaging the countryside and killing people in droves, shook the fabric of society and took their toll on the defenders.

Deception & Betrayal: Muslims used every trick of statecraft, deception and stratagem against the Hindu kings. No treaty was worth the paper it was written on. And they had scriptural justification for these acts, for Taqiyya (deception) with unbelievers is sanctioned by the Quran itself . Assurances of safety to surrendering Hindus were repeatedly violated. E.g. The last Yadava ruler of Deogiri, Haripala Dev; was skinned alive and his corpse hung from the gates of Daulatabad fort in 1318 CE. This was in clear violation of the assurances of safe passage given by Mubarak (the successor of Ala-ud-din Khilji) in 1318 CE .

Taxation: Under Hindu kings the taxes on the people were kept at a low level. In contrast under the sultanate, the common people were taxed to death; their blood being sucked dry by a parasitical sultanate .Non payment of taxes meant being sold into slavery and subsequent conversion to Islam. Revolts were common and as seen in the previous passages, very brutally put down. The most ignominious was of course the Jaziya, the tax on non Muslims.
The existence of Hindus who lived within the frontiers of the sultanate was pathetic, their existence that of a Zimmi or a second class citizen. On the borders people were subjected to constant raids and pillaging by the Muslim armies.

In the second part, I will touch upon the invasion of Malik Kafur beyond Devagiri into the Kakatiya kingdom till Madurai.

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