In our previous article, we had covered the early resistance provided by the kingdom of Sindh to the powerful Arabs invaders. Somehow this audacious resistance and struggle of Sindh didn’t catch the attention of modern historians. The Arabs under the Caliphates launched their expansionist policy in all possible directions.
After conquering Syria, Northern Africa, Persia, etc the Arabs hordes now touched the borders of the Indian subcontinent and posed a serious threat on India its people, and its century’s old cultural regime.
But initially, the early invasion of the mighty Arabs was checked by the northwestern kingdoms like Sindh, Kabul, and Zabul. However, these kingdoms couldn’t find their place in our history textbook despite repulsing wave after wave of Arab invasions.
This is the Story of a Brahman King who at the age of 70 defeated the Arabs. His name was Raja Dahir.
We had briefly covered the story of Rise of Arab and the initial resistance offered by the kingdom of Sindh to them in our previous article. The Sindhis audaciously repulsed more than 6 full-scale invasions of the Arabs and due to this the Arabs in the year 680 CE decided to put a stop to their invasion. For almost 28 years i.e. from 680-708 CE the Arabs gave up all their ideas of invasion on Sindh.
But this was the nature of the Arabs who had defeated every other kingdom that came in their way. They had the dream of world conquest and due to this the kingdom of Sindh in the year 708 CE once again witness the tides of Arab invasion.
Raja Dahir: The Guardian of Sindh
Al Hajjaj became the Governor of Iraq in 695 CE. He was aware of the fact that the Indians had repulsed several invasions from his predecessors and he wanted to achieve this unachieved dream. He immediately decided to launch a fresh invasion of India between 695 CE- 700CE.
The attack was launched on the Hindu kingdom of Kabul and Zabul but again this attack was repulsed and again the history repeated itself. In the year 708 CE, a ship (coming from Ceylon) of these Arabs was attacked by a group of dacoits at the coast of Debal (in Sindh). It is believed that this ship was carrying some girls which were to be presented to Al Hajjaj.
Incensed by this raid the governor of Iraq wrote to the king of Sindh i.e Raja Dahir (Brahman) to release all the girls and wealth captured by him. In return, the Brahman king replied that this was the move of robbers and he has nothing to do with it.
This gave Al Hajjaj the reason to invade Sindh and he wrote to the Caliph for giving him permission to attack Sindh. The Caliph initially rejected to give permission of invasion as the Arabs didn’t have a good history when it comes to Sindh. But when Al Hajjaj wrote another letter to the Caliph the latter gave him the permission to attack.
Soon after this Al Hajjaj sent Budail (Buzail) via sea to invade Debal. Budail also received reinforcement from nearby fellow Muslim kings.
Alor was the capital of Sindh and when the Arabian hordes under Budail arrived at Debal the people immediately informed their king. The army of Sindh arrived under Jaisiah the son of Dahir. Immediately the army of Sindh under Jaisiah and the natives started to break the enemy formations.
The battle was barbaric which last from morning till evening. But again the Sindhis routed the invaders and with the death of Budail the battle ended, yet another defeat of the Arabs.
Enraged by this disaster Al Hajjaj asked for another expedition on Sindh to the Caliph. This time Caliph replied that
We should not think any more of Hind because whenever we sent our army on that land lots of our Muslim brothers get killed.
But Al Hajjaj wanted to conquer Sindh and its wealth. So now he appointed his 17-year-old son in law whose name was Mohammad bin Kassim. This time Al Hajjaj tried all the possible ways to send a well-organized army. Hajjaj requested from Syrian Chief to send 6000 regular Syrian soldiers to launch the holy war of Sindh. Furthermore, regular cavalry of horses and Bactrian camels were also arranged for Mohammad bin Kassim. To add more ferocity to his attack Hajjaj also sent Catapults for total demolition of the Sindh.
This shows how much eager were these invaders to capture Sindh and convert it into Pan Islamic kingdom.
To add insult to injury for Sindhis the Arabs now adopted the path of deception. Indian rulers followed the code of Dharmayuddha and for them using false tactics against the enemy was considered unfair.
Attack on Sindh 712 CE
The city of Debal fell into the hands of Arabs due to deceptive tactics of the Arabs. From Debal the Arabs marched towards Nerun where a Buddhist priest known as Bhandarkan. He supplied provisions to the invaders and even wrote a letter on the demand of Kassim to the cousin of Raja Dahir telling him that the Arabs are faithful and true to their word so we shall enter into a treaty with them.
The priest also transferred the information to Kassim about the Bachehra the cousin of Dahir who didn’t have enough men to fight. Due to this Arabs captured Siwistan. Even after this, the Arabs had to cross the Indus River which was a big challenge for them. But Prince Mokah surrendered in front of the Arabs at Jortah and with this, the Arabs were now stood face to face with Raja Dahir and his son Jaisiah.
The Arabs then marched towards Dahir at reached Nawabshah (Raor fort). When Dahir heard this news he said this is the place where his (Mohammad bin Kassim) bones shall lie. Dahir minister advised him to leave the city and take shelter in a nearby kingdom but Dahir said
I will meet the Arabs in open battle if I overpower them I shall crush them and my kingdom will be on a firm footing. But if I am killed in the battle then my name will be remembered forever in the books of Hind and Arabia. Future Kings will remember my sacrifice for my kingdom and country.
The battle between Raja Dahir and Mohammad bin Kassim continued for several days. According to Chachnamah on the second day of the battle, the Muslim army was completely routed.
But as happened in the second battle of Panipat, the Hindu king Hemu seated on an elephant and became an easy target for the Mughals archers. An arrow was stuck in the eye of Hindu king Hemu and the victorious army lost the battle. The same happened to Raja Dahir, he was sitting on a howdah and became an easy target for the Arabic lancers. An arrow struck on his chest and the 70 years old king of Sindh died soon after this.
Seeing this his army lost the motivation and retreated to the fort of Brahmanabad under prince Jaisiah. The wife of Raja Dahir i.e Rani Bai and Ladi along with Jaisiah decided to make a last stand against the Arabs.
The Arabs then marched against the fort of Raor which was under Rai Bai. She decided to fight till her last breath and when all hopes were gone Rani Bai along with other ladies committed Jauhar with other ladies to save themselves from being polluted by the mlecchas.
After this, the Arabs laid the siege on the Brahmanbad fort which was guarded by a handful of a remaining soldiers of Sindh under prince Jaisiah.
This handful of soldiers resisted the siege for almost 6 months. The Arabs were completely harassed and now they decided to use the move of deception. The commander of Jaisiah’s army i.e. Wazir Sisakar sided with the Arabs and due to this betrayal, the defeat of Sindhis became inevitable. The Arabs captured the fort of Brahmanabad in the year 713 CE. The Arabs took 76 years and a series of deception to capture the small kingdom of Sindh.
Mohammad bin Kassim was recalled after this victory by the caliph Sulayman ibn.
Note: after this Jaziya was introduced in Sindh. Jizya was a type of tax or type of religious Tax which was taken from the non-Muslims.
Raja Dahir had two daughters, namely Surya Devi and Parimal Devi. After the subjugation of Sindh, the Arabs destroyed the cities, temples and captured women for slaves. This may be the first time when an Indian city witness such a type of cruelty to both people and places.
Mohd bin Qasim captured the daughters of Raja Dahir and sent them to the Caliph in Damascus as a gift. On reaching the haram of the Caliph, Surya Devi decided to avenge her father and also try to save herself and her sister from being dishonoured. When the Caliph met Surya Devi, she told him that Mohd bin Kassim had dishonoured her and in a way dishonoured the Caliph.
The Caliph was furious, and he immediately wrote an order that Mohammad bin Qasim be wrapped alive in rawhide and put in a box and sent to Damascus immediately. On receiving the orders, Mohammad bin Qasim was treated the way it was mentioned in the letter, and he died a very torturous death en route to Damascus.
Later she then told the Caliph how she tricked him into avenging her father and how she wanted to save herself and her sister from being made slaves in the harem and being dishonored. The Caliph was furious because he was indeed tricked into killing one of his most successful and able generals. He ordered Princess Surya Devi and her sister to be tied to a horse’s tail and run through Damascus streets until their last breath. His orders were carried out immediately.
With the martyrdom of Raja Dahir, the 76 year-long resistance of the Sindh’s came to an end. But sadly this heroic resistance hasn’t found its place in our history textbook.
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