Prithviraj Chauhan

Prithviraj Chauhan (Prithviraj 3): The Last Hindu king of North India:

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The Hindu hero as portrayed by many historians Prithviraj Chauhan and his reign is full of military conquest and able administration.

He is believed to be the last Hindu monarch of north India who resisted the invasion from Turks and shielded the Indian subcontinent.     

Prithviraj Chauhan
Image of the Rajput king of Delhi
Prithviraj Chauhan III (Rai Pithora)

Most of the information about Prithviraj Chauhan came from the medieval legendary chronicles such as Prithviraj Vijaya, Hammira Mahakavya, Prithvirajraso, etc. Muslim chronicles also mention the exploits of this great Hindu king.

Childhood and Early Life: Rise of Prithviraj Chauhan

He was the son of Chauhan king Someshvara and Kapuradevi in the year 1666 CE. At that time the capital of the Chauhan’s was at Ajmer.

According to Prithvirajvijaya the gallant Chauhan king had the knowledge of six languages. Prithvirajraso also suggests the same thing. Prithvirajraso also mentioned that Prithviraj was a brilliant student in mathematics, medicine, history, military, philosophy, painting, and theology. He was also the champion of archery.

He ascended the throne after the death of his father in 1177 CE at Ajmer’s throne. As he was a minor (only 11 years of age) so his mother i.e. Kapuradevi became his regent.

According to one story, it is believed that king Somehvara himself installed young Prithviraj on the throne and then retired to the forest. But this fact is a topic of debate as most historians had rejected this claim.

Note: The Shakambhari Chauhans during the reign of Prithviraj (Rai Pithora) had established their supremacy over present-day Rajasthan, Haryana, and Delhi.

During his early days, Kadambavasa the chief minister and a loyal administrator guarded the kingdom of Chauhans through military expeditions.   

Military Campaigns: Relations with the neighboring states

Prithviraj’s cousin Nagarjuna revolted against his coronation and captured the fort of Gudapura (considered as modern-day Gurugram).

It is widely accepted that Nagarjuna was very confident but when the news reached Prithviraj the latter immediately went to crush this rebellion.

Nagarjuna fled from the battlefield and the Chahamana king was successful in putting down the rebellion. This campaign was the first military expedition of Prithviraj Chauhan.

Next around 1182 or before king Prithviraj moved against the kingdom of Bhadanakas. According to the inscriptions found in madanpur Prithviraj defeated the Chandela king Paramardi in 1182 CE.

Note: Some historical sources also suggest that Prithviraj also fought against the Chalukyan king Bhima II. Another source known as Kharataragachchha-pattavali mentions that the Chahamana king also practiced the Digvijaya ritual (Conquering of the quarters).

He also concluded a peace treaty with Chaulukya king Bhima II. The Chaulukya feudatory Dharavarsha who belonged to a branch of the Paramara dynasty is believed to have repulsed an invasion of the Chahamanas.

With Jaichand (Jayachandra) of Kannauj

Another popular conflict of Prithviraj Chauhan was with the Gahadavala kingdom of Kannauj.

Jaichand was the king of the Kannauj kingdom. He wanted to expand his empire and for this reason, he conducted a Vedic ritual known as Rajsuya Yagya.

But Prithviraj refused to accept the supremacy of Jaichand thus beginning the rivalry between the two. On the other hand, it is believed Sanyogita and Prithviraj fall in love with each other.

Later Jaichand organized the swayamvar for his daughter but he did not invite Prithviraj Chauhan.

Later according to legends Prithviraj eloped with Sanyogita infuriating Jaichand. Due to this king, Jaichand wanted to avenge his humiliation at the hands of Prithviraj.

Arch Rivals: Prithviraj Chauhan and Muhammad Ghori

Muhammad of Ghor consolidated his power in the territory to the west of the Chahamanas conquering Peshawar, Sindh, and Punjab.

Prithviraj Chauhan
Muhammad Ghori

The Chauhans of India and the Turks (this time under Ghurids) had previously fought many titanic battles against each other.

Rajput kings like Arnoraja Chauhan and Visaldev Chauhan had stopped the advance of the Turkish hordes in the previous decades. The Turks also wanted to control the territories of India since the beginning of the 10th century. Due to this several encounters took place between the two.

All in all two major battles were fought between Ghori and Prithviraj. In 1189 Ghori captured Tabarhind (Bhatinda) this was the territory of Chauhan’s.

When this news reached the Rajput king he immediately augmented his army and marched towards Tabarhind. Initially, Muhammad Ghori wanted to return to his base after his conquest but when heard about Prithviraj’s March the former decided to fight a battle.

The first battle of Tarain was fought in the year 1191 in which the Rajput forces of Prithviraj Chauhan decisively defeated the Turks. Moh Ghori underestimated the skills strength and ferocity of the Rajputs in close combat due to this the Rajputs came out victorious in the battle. In this battle, Muhammad Ghori was injured and was forced to retreat.

This was a big humiliation and the sultan wanted to remove this stain of humiliation from his character.

In the year 1192 Ghori again attacked India with his rejuvenating Turkish army.

Second Battle of Tarain: Midnight Attack on Sleeping Rajputs

Before the battle (Second Battle of Tarain), Ghori sent a message to Prithviraj in which he suggested that the latter should accept his supremacy and religion. But proud and bold Chauhan king refused and replied that he will crush the Turushka.

Qutub ud di Aibak
Prithviraj Chauhan
Image of Prithviraj Chauhan who fouth against Mohammed Ghori in the two battles of TarainImage of Prithviraj Chauhan who fouth against Mohammed Ghori in the two battles of Tarain

Later Ghori sent a false truce to Prithviraj and convinced him that he had come to India on the orders of his brother Ghiyath al-din Muhammad. The Chauhan king followed the code of Raj Dharma and believed the lie of Ghori and later lowered his arm.

Moh Ghori was aware of Rajput’s principles of war so he decided to launch a night attack from his mounted Turkish bowmen’s who were mostly slaves and were ferocious warlords. They were armed with lances and caught the Rajputs soldiers completely unprepared.

Despite being numerically outnumbered the mounted bowmen were able to cause much loss to the Rajput soldiers who were caught off-guard.

Later after the successful night attack the hit and run tactics and reserve forces of the Turks saved their day and defeated the Rajput forces of Prithviraj Chauhan.

According to Sandeep Balakrishna, Muhammad Ghori won the second battle of Tarain through his treachery, not from valor. After the battle of Tarain kingdom after the kingdom fell to the invaders and led to the formation of the Delhi Sultanate.

According to V.S.Smith “The second battle of Tarain may be regarded as the decisive contest which ensured the ultimate success of the Turks attack on Hindustan.”

But the Hindu hero i.e. Prithviraj Chauhan fought till his last breath in order to save his kingdom and nation. His life, legacy, and courage are still alive among the Indians. Both Prithviraj and his brother Hariraja died heroic deaths which infused and revitalized the spirit of Indians against the Turks onslaughts. The Mher Rebellion was one example of it.

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