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Ancient, Medieval and Modern History of India Thread

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@Muloghonto @rahulrulezz Thought we could have a separate thread for the history discussions. Instead of spreading the knowledgeable posts across several different threads, why not put it all in one place for future reference ?

 

Let me start of with  a few questions to you guys:

 

1. How do you rate Tipu Sultan, tyrant or freedom fighter?  Or may be simply a shrewd ruler? Karnataka elections are due next year and this is becoming a hot topic, either you glorify him or cast him as the eternal villain. 

 

2. Rate the 5-6 (maybe more) greatest Ancient and Medieval rulers of India in terms of extent of empire, military, economy, administration and contribution to culture and arts.

 

3. is there a deliberate downplaying of the Imperial Cholas in our history books? We glorify the Mauryans, Guptas, Sultans, Mughals, Vijaynagar, Rajputs, Marathas etc but if you look at the extent of the Cholas during their prime and the cultural influence it is huge. South India, Lanka, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Malaya, Thailand, Cambodia all were under their sphere of influence. Even the North Indian kings (upto River Ganga) were soundly defeated by Rajendra Chola. We are talking about a great power that wielded tremendous power for close to 4 centuries and the Chola administration and land/water management is the stuff of legends. Even their ties with the Europeans, Chinese, Africans, Arabs was vast, they were very global in their outlook.

 

4. Were there any kind/just/tolerant non genocidal Muslim rulers in medieval India? Akbar was comparatively better I guess and I attribute his initial massacres of Hindus as politics/necessity rather than a compulsive desire to massacre non Muslims. Dara Shikoh could have been another one, but alas it never happened. 

 

Just a few questions from the top of my head, you can take your time in answering them :p:. Let us keep all history discussions here for the benefit of all.

Edited by Gollum

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5 minutes ago, Gollum said:

@Muloghonto @rahulrulezz Thought we could have a separate thread for the history discussions. Instead of spreading the knowledgeable posts across several different threads, why not put it all in one place for future reference ?

Good idea.

 

5 minutes ago, Gollum said:

Let me start of with  a few questions to you guys:

 

1. How do you rate Tipu Sultan, tyrant or freedom fighter?  Or may be simply a shrewd ruler? Karnataka elections are due next year and this is becoming a hot topic, either you glorify him or cast him as the eternal villain. 

Tyrant. He was in it, all just for himself and had no problems bowling over anyone who was in the way- including his own people. 

 

5 minutes ago, Gollum said:

2. Rate the 5-6 (maybe more) greatest Ancient and Medieval rulers of India in terms of extent of empire, military, economy, administration and contribution to culture and arts.

Tough to do. 5-6 may be too short a list.

Extent of empire :

1. Ashoka  2. Chandragupta Vikramaditya  3. Rajendra Chola  4. Kanishka  5. Indra III  

Military :

1. Ashoka/Chandragupta Maurya  2. Chandragupta Vikramaditya  3. Indra III  4. Vikramaditya III 5. Mahapadma Nanda


Economy: too hard, because in absolute terms, the Guptas were richer than the Magadh empires, but in relative terms (to rest of the world), Magadh empire was richer. Also, a more fuzzy area, since we've had large empires that were not so rich (e.g.: Pratiharas) and tiny kingdoms who were super-rich (Maitrakas)

 

Administration : I wouldn't rate any of them very highly, because they all failed to create institutions and Chanakya-niti is actually the downfall of Indian politics. But Gupta era and previous, the administration was on a sound footing, as far as structure goes. Also goes for the Cholas. 

 

Contribution to culture and arts : 

1. Samudragupta/Chandragupta Vikramaditya  2. Rajaraja/Rajendra Chola  5. Amoghavarsha 4. Krishna Deva Raya  5. Agnimitra   

 

5 minutes ago, Gollum said:

3. is there a deliberate downplaying of the Imperial Cholas in our history books? We glorify the Mauryans, Guptas, Sultans, Mughals, Vijaynagar, Rajputs, Marathas etc but if you look at the extent of the Cholas during their prime and the cultural influence it is huge. South India, Lanka, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Malaya, Thailand, Cambodia all were under their sphere of influence. Even the North Indian kings (upto River Ganga) were soundly defeated by Rajendra Chola. We are talking about a great power that wielded tremendous power for close to 4 centuries and the Chola administration and land/water management is the stuff of legends. Even their ties with the Europeans, Chinese, Africans, Arabs was vast, they were very global in their outlook.

Short answer: yes. Cholas are the first ever recorded trans-oceanic empire in the world, when Rajendra chola made vassals in Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Java. Another overlooked empire: Satavahanas. They were also excellent organizers, administrators and excellent builders. 

 

5 minutes ago, Gollum said:

4. Were there any kind/just/tolerant non genocidal Muslim rulers in medieval India? Akbar was comparatively better I guess and I attribute his initial massacres of Hindus as politics/necessity rather than a compulsive desire to massacre non Muslims. Dara Shikoh could have been another one, but alas it never happened. 

Yes. Sher Shah comes to mind. Akbar hogs all the limelight, but its Sher Shah who i think showed the most secular de-facto attitude. 

 

5 minutes ago, Gollum said:

Just a few questions from the top of my head, you can take your time in answering them :p:. Let us keep all history discussions here for the benefit of all.

Sounds good. 

 

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6 hours ago, Gollum said:

is there a deliberate downplaying of the Imperial Cholas in our history books? We glorify the Mauryans, Guptas, Sultans, Mughals, Vijaynagar, Rajputs, Marathas etc but if you look at the extent of the Cholas during their prime and the cultural influence it is huge. South India, Lanka, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Malaya, Thailand, Cambodia all were under their sphere of influence. Even the North Indian kings (upto River Ganga) were soundly defeated by Rajendra Chola. We are talking about a great power that wielded tremendous power for close to 4 centuries and the Chola administration and land/water management is the stuff of legends. Even their ties with the Europeans, Chinese, Africans, Arabs was vast, they were very global in their outlook.

I don't think its deliberate.  I think its a lack of knowledge.  And let's be a bit honest, geographically speaking, the cholas did not ever rule the 'heart' of India.   If you thnk about it, Hampi and the Vijaynagar empire does get its share of coverage in Indian history.  Location matters - that's my point.  Let's not jump to "southie bias" as the first possible explanation.  

 

Cholas were pretty cool though, and I would love to know more about them beyond what wikipedia etc gives you.

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6 hours ago, Muloghonto said:

Another overlooked empire: Satavahanas. They were also excellent organizers, administrators and excellent builders.

I stumbled upon these guys after reading up on Ajanta Ellora.  You are right in the sense that its overlooked.  Another era and regime that seems very interesting to learn about.  

 

As India slowly rises from the depths of poverty, I hope that adequate resources and people get devoted to further study and discovery of its history.  There's so much there to learn. 

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1 hour ago, sandeep said:

I don't think its deliberate.  I think its a lack of knowledge.  And let's be a bit honest, geographically speaking, the cholas did not ever rule the 'heart' of India.   If you thnk about it, Hampi and the Vijaynagar empire does get its share of coverage in Indian history.  Location matters - that's my point.  Let's not jump to "southie bias" as the first possible explanation.  

 

Cholas were pretty cool though, and I would love to know more about them beyond what wikipedia etc gives you.

Nah man I will be the last possible person to jump into such an argument having lived mostly in the east and north, and getting exposed to Southie culture only after college. I just believe all Indians should make a sincere attempt to respect and know about the history of the entire country and as an extension, the subcontinent. We are mostly exposed to Islamic and Northern/Western Indian rulers but the history of the Ahoms, Satavahanas, Rashtrakutas, Gangas, Chalukyas, Hoysalas, Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas is equally rich and awe inspiring. I was specifically talking about Cholas here because a friend of mine had once visited Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand and couldn't stop raving about the influence of Indian culture in those areas. I did a bit of reading and indeed if there is one place outside India where we have been able to export our culture successfully it is S.E Asia. Forget the temples, palaces and kings, even the names of Muslim citizens there are very Indianized. Hijab wearing women with names like Nandiputri, Devi, Sarala, Kaveri etc does blow your mind, just check out their names on social media. Indonesian national carrier is named Garuda, they have Ganesh, Karthik and Laxmi on their currency notes....all this for a region ruled by Muslims for the past 6 centuries makes me wonder how great an influence the Cholas must have had there. 

Edited by Gollum

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10 minutes ago, Gollum said:

Nah man I will be the last possible person to jump into such an argument having lived mostly in the east and north, and getting exposed to Southie culture only after college. I just believe all Indians should make a sincere attempt to respect and know about the history of the entire country and as an extension, the subcontinent. We are mostly exposed to Islamic and Northern/Western Indian rulers but the history of the Ahoms, Satavahanas, Rashtrakutas, Gangas, Chalukyas, Hoysalas, Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas is equally rich and awe inspiring. I was specifically talking about Cholas here because a friend of mine had once visited Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand and couldn't stop raving about the influence of Indian culture in those areas. I did a bit of reading and indeed if there is one place outside India where we have been able to export our culture successfully it is S.E Asia. Forget the temples, palaces and kings, even the names of Muslim citizens there are very Indianized. Hijab wearing women with names like Nandiputri, Devi, Sarala, Kaveri etc does blow your mind, just check out their names on social media. Indonesian national carrier is named Garuda, they have Ganesh, Karthik and Laxmi on their currency notes....all this for a region ruled by Muslims for the past 6 centuries makes me wonder how great an influence the Cholas must have had there. 

We are largely on the same page.  I have traveled to Thailand, Bali (Indonesia) and Cambodia.  Seeing Ramayana painted on the walls of the King's Palace in Bangkok, sculpted into the magnificent Angkor Wat, and seeing the massive statues of Hindu figures like Bheem and Arjun in the roundabouts in Bali does inspire a lot of pride and desire to learn more about how that happened.  

 

By the way, Thailand's king's official name is Ram.   And their airport is called SuvarnaBhoomi.  Although you will never hear it pronounced that way by any Thai!  

 

 

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We focus on Islamic conquests from the N.W and get upset about the what ifs and missed opportunities. But we have always been under attack from the N.W since ancient times. No one could attack us from north because of the great mountain wall, east was too hilly and forested. Until the European rise no foreigner was able to master the sea (come to think of it, our navies were so damn good, especially that of the Cholas and Pandyas), so an attack from the coasts was impossible. That left only the N.W with Khyber, Bolan and Gomal passed leading straight into modern day Khyber Pakthunkhwa. 

 

Forget medieval India. Think of the invaders of ancient Indian SC.

  • The Achaemenid Empire of Persia, largest empire of the ancient world started attacking us from the 6th century BC onwards. Cambyses II and later Darius I,  dad of Xerxes (300 wallah, shame on Hollywood for depicting such a great king as some sort of cartoon :bumsmack:) made real advance to as far as the lower Indus valley. It is a documented fact that Indians (experts in bow and arrow) and Tibetans(brought the Tibetan Mastiffs to war) fought in the Greek-Persian battles. Modern day Afghanistan and Pakistan (upto Indus, though some sources say it could be even bigger extending upto Indian Punjab) formed the 20th satrap of the mighty Persian empire. Some sources indicate that the wars were financed by Indian gold. Persia is modern day Iran, same place from where Nadir Shah would emerge in the 1700s. Nadir Shah was the man who broke the backs of the Mughals and Marathas before Abdali entered India. Same people, just their religion was different.
  • Alexander from Macedonia....self explanatory.
  • Greco Bactrians from Central Asia and Western Afghanistan, same people as Ghazni, Ghori (AFG) and Timur, Babur (Uzbekistan).
  • Scythians from Kazakhstan, Iran and Eurasian steppe. They became Sakas in India and most of them settled in western India.
  • Parthians from Central Asia. Popular theory is they are precursors of the Pallavas. I read somewhere that Pallava in Tamil means 'Rascal'. They were called rascals because they behaved like barbarians in the eyes of local Dravidians. Parthians were like proper barbarians in their mannerisms and fighting.
  • Kushanas from modern day Xinjian Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.
  • Hun invasion upto Mathura. 

What I am trying to get at is that we have been under perennial attack from the N.W. Even today there rests our most bitter enemy, waiting to pounce on any sign of weakness. Same people who attacked us in ancient times attacked us in medieval times. Only the religion of the attackers changed, else their way of life, military tactics/strategy and basic character was more or less the same. While we rightly denounce our Muslim past as being cruel and intolerant isn't is possible that even in ancient times the invaders were just as cruel and barbaric? Recency effect, literature, architecture etc tell us about the brutality of the Muslims. The statistics, death tolls and rapes of the invasions in ancient times haven't been recorded. even those recorded are mostly BS numbers, vastly exaggerated and with no objectivity (no way did C. Maurya have an army with 30 lakh soldiers and 100000 elephants, come what may :phehe:).

Same goes with the Aryan theory. If we believe that the Harappans (defensive people) were mostly Dravidians who collapsed at the onslaught of the fort breaking Aryans shouldn't we equally outrage about the brutality of the Aryans? I don't believe in Gods and Goddeses, I think they are merely symbols that signify something. Eg the all powerful fort breaking Aryan is Indira, the forest clearer is Agni and Varuna is the one who douses the fire. India was forest land then and the Aryans were pastoral people, who cleared vast tracts of forest land before settling down. Same Aryans wrote the Vedas and much of Hinduism can be traced back to these invaders. If Muslims were barbarians who shook up the country, I would argue that even the Aryans were barbarians who wiped out the local culture before imposing their will on the populace. Same goes for the Sakas, Parthians, Huns etc. 

Edited by Gollum

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48 minutes ago, sandeep said:

We are largely on the same page.  I have traveled to Thailand, Bali (Indonesia) and Cambodia.  Seeing Ramayana painted on the walls of the King's Palace in Bangkok, sculpted into the magnificent Angkor Wat, and seeing the massive statues of Hindu figures like Bheem and Arjun in the roundabouts in Bali does inspire a lot of pride and desire to learn more about how that happened.  

 

By the way, Thailand's king's official name is Ram.   And their airport is called SuvarnaBhoomi.  Although you will never hear it pronounced that way by any Thai!  

 

 

Nice. :two_thumbs_up:

 

More than Thailand, Indonesia is very surprising for me. Thailand is Buddhist majority, essentially just like us.

Indonesia is 90% Muslim majority, still they hold on to their Indian past. If you see the trend worldwide Muslims dissociate themselves from their pre Islamic past. Even Iran has distanced itself from its past and it has one of the greatest histories of the ancient world. But seeing Indonesia and Malaysia(61% Muslim) clinging on to their pre Islamic roots is shocking tbh. 

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10 minutes ago, Gollum said:

Nice. :two_thumbs_up:

 

More than Thailand, Indonesia is very surprising for me. Thailand is Buddhist majority, essentially just like us.

Indonesia is 90% Muslim majority, still they hold on to their Indian past. If you see the trend worldwide Muslims dissociate themselves from their pre Islamic past. Even Iran has distanced itself from its past and it has one of the greatest histories of the ancient world. But seeing Indonesia and Malaysia(61% Muslim) clinging on to their pre Islamic roots is shocking tbh. 

IMO South East Asia has an intrinsic accepting culture - they have been so open to outside influences - easily converted to hinduism, buddhism, islam etc.  All over Cambodia, you will see these cute little toyhouse looking things right next to a mailbox - these are chinese style "ancestor homes" - Cambodians have adopted quite a bit of that as well.  Lot of poverty in Cambodia though.  But Angkor Wat was amazing to see, as someone who enjoys history, and ancient architecture.  

 

Maybe its a bit of a hangover from my chilled vacations there, but I always get the impression that the S-E- asians are a lot more relaxed relative to some of the other parts of the world.  In their own unique way, different yet comparable to the 'island' vibe that you see in the caribbean.   

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20 minutes ago, Gollum said:

We focus on Islamic conquests from the N.W and get upset about the what ifs and missed opportunities. But we have always been under attack from the N.W since ancient times. No one could attack us from north because of the great mountain wall, east was too hilly and forested. Until the European rise no foreigner was able to master the sea (come to think of it, our navies were so damn good, especially that of the Cholas and Pandyas), so an attack from the coasts was impossible. That left only the N.W with Khyber, Bolan and Gomal passed leading straight into modern day Khyber Pakthunkhwa. 

 

Forget medieval India. Think of the invaders of ancient Indian SC.

  • The Achaemenid Empire of Persia, largest empire of the ancient world started attacking us from the 6th century BC onwards. Cambyses II and later Darius I,  dad of Xerxes (300 wallah, shame on Hollywood for depicting such a great king as some sort of cartoon :bumsmack:) made real advance to as far as the lower Indus valley. It is a documented fact that Indians (experts in bow and arrow) and Tibetans(brought the Tibetan Mastiffs to war) fought in the Greek-Persian battles. Modern day Afghanistan and Pakistan (upto Indus, though some sources say it could be even bigger extending upto Indian Punjab) formed the 20th satrap of the mighty Persian empire. Some sources indicate that the wars were financed by Indian gold. Persia is modern day Iran, same place from where Nadir Shah would emerge in the 1700s. Nadir Shah was the man who broke the backs of the Mughals and Marathas before Abdali entered India. Same people, just their religion was different.
  • Alexander from Macedonia....self explanatory.
  • Greco Bactrians from Central Asia and Western Afghanistan, same people as Ghazni, Ghori (AFG) and Timur, Babur (Uzbekistan).
  • Scythians from Kazakhstan, Iran and Eurasian steppe. They became Sakas in India and most of them settled in western India.
  • Parthians from Central Asia. Popular theory is they are precursors of the Pallavas. I read somewhere that Pallava in Tamil means 'Rascal'. They were called rascals because they behaved like barbarians in the eyes of local Dravidians. Parthians were like proper barbarians in their mannerisms and fighting.
  • Kushanas from modern day Xinjian Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.
  • Hun invasion upto Mathura. 

What I am trying to get at is that we have been under perennial attack from the N.W. Even today there rests our most bitter enemy, waiting to pounce on any sign of weakness. Same people who attacked us in ancient times attacked us in medieval times. Only the religion of the attackers changed, else their way of life, military tactics/strategy and basic character was more or less the same. While we rightly denounce our Muslim past as being cruel and intolerant isn't is possible that even in ancient times the invaders were just as cruel and barbaric? Recency effect, literature, architecture etc tell us about the brutality of the Muslims. The statistics, death tolls and rapes of the invasions in ancient times haven't been recorded. even those recorded are mostly BS numbers, vastly exaggerated and with no objectivity (no way did C. Maurya have an army with 30 lakh soldiers and 100000 elephants, come what may :phehe:).

Same goes with the Aryan theory. If we believe that the Harappans (defensive people) were mostly Dravidians who collapsed at the onslaught of the fort breaking Aryans shouldn't we equally outrage about the brutality of the Aryans? I don't believe in Gods and Goddeses, I think they are merely symbols that signify something. Eg the all powerful fort breaking Aryan is Indira, the forest clearer is Agni and Varuna is the one who douses the fire. India was forest land then and the Aryans were pastoral people, who cleared vast tracts of forest land before settling down. Same Aryans wrote the Vedas and much of Hinduism can be traced back to these invaders. If Muslims were barbarians who shook up the country, I would argue that even the Aryans were barbarians who wiped out the local culture before imposing their will on the populace. Same goes for the Sakas, Parthians, Huns etc. 

That's an interesting hypothesis.   Not sure if I agree though.  Another thing to keep in mind, is that modern day Pakistan is not really the 'other' as hard as the greenbros try to be.  They are essentially us, historically speaking.  Chanakya is a "pakistani", he stuided and taught at Takshasheela.   Although that's a bad example, you can argue that Chanakya was a proto-taliban mullah, who successfully launched a campaign that led to overthrowing the existing regime and installing Chandragupt as Emperor.  History does have a fascinating way of repeating itself.  Maybe the children of the Indus are prone to causing their own destruction by fratricidal conflict - whether its the Pandava-Kauravas in the times of the Mahabharata, or modern day divorced brothers in India-Pakistan.  

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2 hours ago, Gollum said:

We focus on Islamic conquests from the N.W and get upset about the what ifs and missed opportunities. But we have always been under attack from the N.W since ancient times. No one could attack us from north because of the great mountain wall, east was too hilly and forested. Until the European rise no foreigner was able to master the sea (come to think of it, our navies were so damn good, especially that of the Cholas and Pandyas), so an attack from the coasts was impossible. That left only the N.W with Khyber, Bolan and Gomal passed leading straight into modern day Khyber Pakthunkhwa. 

 

Forget medieval India. Think of the invaders of ancient Indian SC.

  • The Achaemenid Empire of Persia, largest empire of the ancient world started attacking us from the 6th century BC onwards. Cambyses II and later Darius I,  dad of Xerxes (300 wallah, shame on Hollywood for depicting such a great king as some sort of cartoon :bumsmack:) made real advance to as far as the lower Indus valley. It is a documented fact that Indians (experts in bow and arrow) and Tibetans(brought the Tibetan Mastiffs to war) fought in the Greek-Persian battles. Modern day Afghanistan and Pakistan (upto Indus, though some sources say it could be even bigger extending upto Indian Punjab) formed the 20th satrap of the mighty Persian empire. Some sources indicate that the wars were financed by Indian gold. Persia is modern day Iran, same place from where Nadir Shah would emerge in the 1700s. Nadir Shah was the man who broke the backs of the Mughals and Marathas before Abdali entered India. Same people, just their religion was different.
  • Alexander from Macedonia....self explanatory.
  • Greco Bactrians from Central Asia and Western Afghanistan, same people as Ghazni, Ghori (AFG) and Timur, Babur (Uzbekistan).
  • Scythians from Kazakhstan, Iran and Eurasian steppe. They became Sakas in India and most of them settled in western India.
  • Parthians from Central Asia. Popular theory is they are precursors of the Pallavas. I read somewhere that Pallava in Tamil means 'Rascal'. They were called rascals because they behaved like barbarians in the eyes of local Dravidians. Parthians were like proper barbarians in their mannerisms and fighting.
  • Kushanas from modern day Xinjian Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.
  • Hun invasion upto Mathura. 

What I am trying to get at is that we have been under perennial attack from the N.W. Even today there rests our most bitter enemy, waiting to pounce on any sign of weakness. Same people who attacked us in ancient times attacked us in medieval times. Only the religion of the attackers changed, else their way of life, military tactics/strategy and basic character was more or less the same. While we rightly denounce our Muslim past as being cruel and intolerant isn't is possible that even in ancient times the invaders were just as cruel and barbaric? Recency effect, literature, architecture etc tell us about the brutality of the Muslims. The statistics, death tolls and rapes of the invasions in ancient times haven't been recorded. even those recorded are mostly BS numbers, vastly exaggerated and with no objectivity (no way did C. Maurya have an army with 30 lakh soldiers and 100000 elephants, come what may :phehe:).

Same goes with the Aryan theory. If we believe that the Harappans (defensive people) were mostly Dravidians who collapsed at the onslaught of the fort breaking Aryans shouldn't we equally outrage about the brutality of the Aryans? I don't believe in Gods and Goddeses, I think they are merely symbols that signify something. Eg the all powerful fort breaking Aryan is Indira, the forest clearer is Agni and Varuna is the one who douses the fire. India was forest land then and the Aryans were pastoral people, who cleared vast tracts of forest land before settling down. Same Aryans wrote the Vedas and much of Hinduism can be traced back to these invaders. If Muslims were barbarians who shook up the country, I would argue that even the Aryans were barbarians who wiped out the local culture before imposing their will on the populace. Same goes for the Sakas, Parthians, Huns etc. 

1. Don't go into Aryan invasion theory. Because of two reasons : 

  a) It isn't conclusive either way, whether Aryans came to India or Aryans are from India. I've been there, talking endlessly of the possibilities, but at this point, thats all they are. 

  b) Aryans, whether they came to India or left India is ultimately irrelevant to us. Too much focus is given on this topic, due to religious & ethnic ideologies ( latter, from both side, former, from Hindu side) and leads to complete side-track and ignoring of our actual history. In my experience, every history thread that talks about Aryans, gets quagmired in the endless possibilities of Aryan theory and ignores all the rest of history. The Pallavas, Cholas, Cheras,Senas, Gujjars, Solankis- ALL of them and many many more- are far more relevant to our history than whether the Aryans came or went. I personally lean towards 'Aryans are either from India or middle east' option but as i said, its a lean, its not a hardline position.

 

2. Notice the pattern of invasions ? Except for Hepthalite (Abdal/Huns) invasion, EVERY SINGLE INVASION comes against a broken Northern India, lacking an empire or an empire already falling. Achaemenids, Greeks, Parthians, Sassanids, Kushans, Ghaznavi, Bin Qasim, Ghori, Babur, Timur - all of them succeeded against small kingdoms, not against an empire. Hepthalites are the only ones who invaded and won against an empire (Gupta) spanning the North. 

The reason is simple : India sucks for horses and from ancient times, we've been importing horses from Bactria (Balkh). Our literature calls the people living around Bactria-Badakhshan as 'Kamboja' and further mentions their clans : Ashvaka and Ashvakayana ( Ashvaka is the genesis of the name Afghan btw). 
So how did we compensate for lacking horses ? Elephants. Unfortunately, elephants cost cr@p ton of money. This is why, when we see major empires around - like Pal, Magadh dynasties, Shungas etc. had 5,000-15,000 war elephants, but tiny kingdoms like Porus, Hindu Shahis, etc. had 100-200 elephants. Sometime before 500s AD, humanity invented stirrups and stirrups changed warfare. This is because now, with stirrups, you can 'lock your foot in' and weight transfer, thus making lancers a viable option. Prior to that, you couldn't barge into something full speed on a horse, because without stirrups, you'd fly off your saddle. Notice all the frescoes and coins of ancient rulers, nobody is resting his foot on a stirrup in all the horse imagery, till this timeframe. IIRC, its a Kushan seal that shows the first stirrup. 

So without stirrups, horses could not be used to counter elephants- because you cannot 'sword fight' with someone sitting on top of an elephant while you are on a horse- there is like 3 feet height disadvantage for the horseman. But after stirrups, you could atleast hope to put blinkers on your horse, run it full speed and barge into an elephant formation, poking them with 20 foot pointy sticks (lances). 

So this makes elephants an 'unsurmountable battle problem' for our enemies, when we could field them by the thousands.


This is why Alexander turned around and left. The popular story is his soldiers rebelled. Not WHY they rebelled. The myth is, all of a sudden, war-vets got tired of war and wanted to go home. But Greek sources themselves state, that when Alexander heard of 'the kings of Praesii & Gangaridai'( Greek transformation of the term Kashi and Ganga-hridaya- referring to either Magadh or Bengal) was marching with over 200,000 troops that included 5,000 war elephants, he promptly crapped his briefs and left. 

 

3. Not all invaders were bad or even harmful for us. Take for example the Kushans. They were Indo-European by stock, came in and conquered whole of north India. At one point, Kushan Empire was the 'central empire' of the world, because its boundaries touched the Chinese empire (in Tarim Basin) and almost touched the Roman Empire (Rome's eastern-most outpost was around the black sea coast, Kushan's western-most reach was the Aral Sea). They made India insanely rich and we have Roman writers like Pliny lamenting how much Roman silver is flowing into India because Roman nobility was addicted to cotton & spices. (Fun fact : All the togas you see in hollywood for Roman senators - they were the dress of the upper class. And all togas were made from cotton - imported from the only place in the world that grew cotton in those times : India). Furthermore, they wholesale adopted Indian religions & culture. Early Kushans, like Kajala Kadaphises, were sun-worshippers ( same as the Magi tradition of the Iranians) but from then on, they adopted either Buddhism or Hinduism. Kanishka was a Buddhist and the last 'great Kushan' was named 'Bazdeo' in his seals - which is Kushan corruption of the word 'Vasudeva'....and he was a devotee of...Vasudeva Krishna. 
I have no problem calling these people Indians, as they effectively became Indians in every sense of the word. 

 

 

4. The muslims kicked over a dying and decaying Indian civilization, committing countless atrocities. But the start of the insane murder, genocide and destruction was done right when Gupta Empire fell - at the hands of the Hepthalites. Hepthalites are noted in Iranic sources as staunchly sun-worshippers and categoric haters of Buddhism. Mihirkula is also demonized in Indian literature (in the Kashmiri written Rajatarangini) as an insane butcher of the Buddhists. They are also the reason why Pataliputra was abandoned, because Mihirkula or his father, Toramanna, razed Pataliputra to the ground. A 100 years before Mihirkula, I-Tsing came though India and though he didnt talk specifically about Indian cities by name, he exalted the 'mighty capital of the emperors, historic capital of India' (which can only be Pataliputra). Yet, 100 years after Hepthalites, when Xuanzong visited Harsha, he noted how Pataliputra, the ancient capital, was in 'ruins'. 

Its also the Hepthalites, that utterly annihilated Gandhara and the Takshashila tradition of learning. Currently, the mounds of Taxila, Sirkap, Sagala all show evidence of tremendous damage around 500 AD and the Hepthalites are known to've broken through the Gupta defences sometime after 470 AD but evicted from India, by Malwa king Yashodharman and Gupta emperor Baladitya, sometime before 525 AD. But people don't know how much of a centre of learning and culture Takshashila was.

 

We have several Chinese pilgrims, wonder-struck by the famous 'Kanishka Stupa' and the 'library of enlightenment' that greeted the the moment they crossed the Khyber into India. We currently have the base remains of Kanishka's stupa and it'd have been the second largest stupa standing today, after Jetavanaramaya stupa in Sri Lanka. But whats more wonder-some, is beside it, stood a wooden built library tower (similar to the Chinese tower pagodas - here's an interesting side-note : Chinese Pagoda style architecture is actually Himalayan  style architecture, adopted by the Chinese around 200 AD, with transmission of Buddhism into China). The height noted varies, but all of them mention it being atleast 200 feet tall (that would make it a 20 storey building) and being repeatedly hit by lightning (also makes sense for a one-of-a-kind tower being a lightning rod). This was ancient Takshashila. by 500 AD, nothing remained, except the foundation stones of the city of Takshashila. 

 

 

Edited by Muloghonto

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15 minutes ago, sandeep said:

@Muloghonto  Interesting post. I'm not familiar with I-Tsing and his visit to India.  Any English translation of the documentation of his visit?  

It used to exit in Jstor. I-tsing i only mention, because he mentioned 'the great city of the Indian emperors'. Mostly, I-tsing talks about Buddhism and people's demeanour. He notes that all Indians were generous, gentle people, trying to out-do each other in practice of dharma and capital punishment was not present in Gupta empire. He also notes, that Guptas had a highly advanced taxation system, which was later resurrected by Sher Shah : Back in those days, tax revenue wasn't always paid in coin, it was paid in produce, especially by farmers.

 

However, as basic as it may sound, the concept of 'you pay X % of your yield as tax' is a relatively new concept- being around for somewhere in the last 2000 years and Guptas were one of the first practitioners of it. Because in the ancient world, the standard methodology, from Rome to China, was based on land size : 'your land is X acres big, X acres pay Y amount of grain as tax' - which gave a lot of uncertainty to farmers, as you well know, farm yields vary vastly from year to year subject to weather conditions.

But beyond that, I-Tsing talks mostly about buddhism and buddhist books. Xuanzong is a much better read, though he sometimes gets a bit too flowery.

 

Edited by Muloghonto

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14 hours ago, Gollum said:

@Muloghonto @rahulrulezz Thought we could have a separate thread for the history discussions. Instead of spreading the knowledgeable posts across several different threads, why not put it all in one place for future reference ?

 

Let me start of with  a few questions to you guys:

 

1. How do you rate Tipu Sultan, tyrant or freedom fighter?  Or may be simply a shrewd ruler? Karnataka elections are due next year and this is becoming a hot topic, either you glorify him or cast him as the eternal villain. 

 

2. Rate the 5-6 (maybe more) greatest Ancient and Medieval rulers of India in terms of extent of empire, military, economy, administration and contribution to culture and arts.

 

3. is there a deliberate downplaying of the Imperial Cholas in our history books? We glorify the Mauryans, Guptas, Sultans, Mughals, Vijaynagar, Rajputs, Marathas etc but if you look at the extent of the Cholas during their prime and the cultural influence it is huge. South India, Lanka, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Malaya, Thailand, Cambodia all were under their sphere of influence. Even the North Indian kings (upto River Ganga) were soundly defeated by Rajendra Chola. We are talking about a great power that wielded tremendous power for close to 4 centuries and the Chola administration and land/water management is the stuff of legends. Even their ties with the Europeans, Chinese, Africans, Arabs was vast, they were very global in their outlook.

 

4. Were there any kind/just/tolerant non genocidal Muslim rulers in medieval India? Akbar was comparatively better I guess and I attribute his initial massacres of Hindus as politics/necessity rather than a compulsive desire to massacre non Muslims. Dara Shikoh could have been another one, but alas it never happened. 

 

Just a few questions from the top of my head, you can take your time in answering them :p:. Let us keep all history discussions here for the benefit of all.

1) Tipu Sultan was probably the worst not in terms of brutualess but considering that he was so late in the Indian history and still prosecuted Hindus. Can't believe the fact that he had time to destroy Hindu temples even though Brits were on his ass

 

2) I agree with Muloghonto choices. Definitely put Ashoka on top

 

3) I agree. They were greatly superior and definitely deserve more credit in Indian history. However, one thing went against them was the fact that they were limited to south and didn't try to come up Delhi or Hindustani belt. And till you conquer Delhi or northern India, Indian history text books didn't glorify you. Regardless, I read about Chola empire in my history books in CBSE grade 9,10 books so ya, it wasn't as if Cholas were ignored. 

 

4) I am glad you mentioned Dara Sikhon. If he made it to the kingship, he would have been the best. Tbh I won't say Sher Shah was the best as mentioned by Muloghonto. He also started Jehad against Rajputs and his raid against Pooranmal , he declared it officially Jehad. Also the way he treated Jodhpurs Mladeo was another sign of Islamic superiority. Similar is war of Kalinjar. Regardless, he put Islam as his supreme power but didn't downgrade Hinduism completely. Plus his empire didn't last long after his accidental death because of a landline. But you have to give it to him that he was the only emperor to kick out Mughals out of India. something not even a single indian emperor could do.

Answering your question, Akbar, even though massacred thousand of Hindus and destroyed thousands of temples , Akbar was probably best of the lot considering he was raised by Hindus and most importantly, had the guts to start his religious sect which no Muslim emperor could even think of. That doesn't mean he was tolerant to Hindus. In order to get his Muslims mullahs and Muslim commander to fight for him, he had to do Jehad and destroy Hindu temples. In 2nd battle of Chittorgarh, one of the biggest Jauher was performed and almost 600,000 Hindus were massacred under Akbars directions. He was a very strange ruler. He had strong influence of Hindus around which is why he became calmer to Hindus later in his life. 

 

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25 minutes ago, rahulrulezz said:

 

4) I am glad you mentioned Dara Sikhon. If he made it to the kingship, he would have been the best. Tbh I won't say Sher Shah was the best as mentioned by Muloghonto. He also started Jehad against Rajputs and his raid against Pooranmal , he declared it officially Jehad. Also the way he treated Jodhpurs Mladeo was another sign of Islamic superiority. Similar is war of Kalinjar. Regardless, he put Islam as his supreme power but didn't downgrade Hinduism completely. Plus his empire didn't last long after his accidental death because of a landline. But you have to give it to him that he was the only emperor to kick out Mughals out of India. something not even a single indian emperor could do.

Answering your question, Akbar, even though massacred thousand of Hindus and destroyed thousands of temples , Akbar was probably best of the lot considering he was raised by Hindus and most importantly, had the guts to start his religious sect which no Muslim emperor could even think of. That doesn't mean he was tolerant to Hindus. In order to get his Muslims mullahs and Muslim commander to fight for him, he had to do Jehad and destroy Hindu temples. In 2nd battle of Chittorgarh, one of the biggest Jauher was performed and almost 600,000 Hindus were massacred under Akbars directions. He was a very strange ruler. He had strong influence of Hindus around which is why he became calmer to Hindus later in his life. 

 

Slight bit of nitpick here - Sher Shah didn't start a jihad to conquer Rajputs, he did a normal, standard military campaign and didn't engage in loot and pillage. Infact, Sher Shah is astonishing in how his troops did not loot and pillage almost everywhere he went.

 

The way he treated Maldeo, i believe anyone in his place would've done that. Sher Shah was put in an impossible situation - he gave his word of protection to Maldeo, but muslims in Malwa alleged that Maldeo raped muslim women and murdered their husbands. They went to the Ulema in Delhi and Sher Shah still didn't renege on his word. But when the Ulema issued a fatwa, stating that on judgement day, the victims will call out his name for protecting an unjust kaffir, denying him resurrection, did Sher Shah cave in and deal with Maldeo. 

 

As such, i find his position 'stuck between a rock and a hard place'  but the very fact that he stuck to his word of protection towards a hindu, despite allegations of rape and murder of muslims against him, shows, that man was so not a religious or a fundamentalist man.

 

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^^
Whoops, my bad. I mixed up Puran Mal with Maldeo. In Maldeo's case, Sher shah sowed misinformation, that Maldeo's commanders were about to betray him, so he went home and Sher shah won at Sammel. 

But from what we know, the disturbance in Malwa happened when Sher Shah went after Puran Mal. Puran Mal, instead of surrendering, he instructed his troops to follow him into standard Rajput suicide mission and all the women and children to do jauhar. 

 

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4 hours ago, Muloghonto said:

1. Don't go into Aryan invasion theory. Because of two reasons : 

  a) It isn't conclusive either way, whether Aryans came to India or Aryans are from India. I've been there, talking endlessly of the possibilities, but at this point, thats all they are. 

  b) Aryans, whether they came to India or left India is ultimately irrelevant to us. Too much focus is given on this topic, due to religious & ethnic ideologies ( latter, from both side, former, from Hindu side) and leads to complete side-track and ignoring of our actual history. In my experience, every history thread that talks about Aryans, gets quagmired in the endless possibilities of Aryan theory and ignores all the rest of history. The Pallavas, Cholas, Cheras,Senas, Gujjars, Solankis- ALL of them and many many more- are far more relevant to our history than whether the Aryans came or went. I personally lean towards 'Aryans are either from India or middle east' option but as i said, its a lean, its not a hardline position.

 

2. Notice the pattern of invasions ? Except for Hepthalite (Abdal/Huns) invasion, EVERY SINGLE INVASION comes against a broken Northern India, lacking an empire or an empire already falling. Achaemenids, Greeks, Parthians, Sassanids, Kushans, Ghaznavi, Bin Qasim, Ghori, Babur, Timur - all of them succeeded against small kingdoms, not against an empire. Hepthalites are the only ones who invaded and won against an empire (Gupta) spanning the North. 

The reason is simple : India sucks for horses and from ancient times, we've been importing horses from Bactria (Balkh). Our literature calls the people living around Bactria-Badakhshan as 'Kamboja' and further mentions their clans : Ashvaka and Ashvakayana ( Ashvaka is the genesis of the name Afghan btw). 
So how did we compensate for lacking horses ? Elephants. Unfortunately, elephants cost cr@p ton of money. This is why, when we see major empires around - like Pal, Magadh dynasties, Shungas etc. had 5,000-15,000 war elephants, but tiny kingdoms like Porus, Hindu Shahis, etc. had 100-200 elephants. Sometime before 500s AD, humanity invented stirrups and stirrups changed warfare. This is because now, with stirrups, you can 'lock your foot in' and weight transfer, thus making lancers a viable option. Prior to that, you couldn't barge into something full speed on a horse, because without stirrups, you'd fly off your saddle. Notice all the frescoes and coins of ancient rulers, nobody is resting his foot on a stirrup in all the horse imagery, till this timeframe. IIRC, its a Kushan seal that shows the first stirrup. 

So without stirrups, horses could not be used to counter elephants- because you cannot 'sword fight' with someone sitting on top of an elephant while you are on a horse- there is like 3 feet height disadvantage for the horseman. But after stirrups, you could atleast hope to put blinkers on your horse, run it full speed and barge into an elephant formation, poking them with 20 foot pointy sticks (lances). 

So this makes elephants an 'unsurmountable battle problem' for our enemies, when we could field them by the thousands.


This is why Alexander turned around and left. The popular story is his soldiers rebelled. Not WHY they rebelled. The myth is, all of a sudden, war-vets got tired of war and wanted to go home. But Greek sources themselves state, that when Alexander heard of 'the kings of Praesii & Gangaridai'( Greek transformation of the term Kashi and Ganga-hridaya- referring to either Magadh or Bengal) was marching with over 200,000 troops that included 5,000 war elephants, he promptly crapped his briefs and left. 

 

3. Not all invaders were bad or even harmful for us. Take for example the Kushans. They were Indo-European by stock, came in and conquered whole of north India. At one point, Kushan Empire was the 'central empire' of the world, because its boundaries touched the Chinese empire (in Tarim Basin) and almost touched the Roman Empire (Rome's eastern-most outpost was around the black sea coast, Kushan's western-most reach was the Aral Sea). They made India insanely rich and we have Roman writers like Pliny lamenting how much Roman silver is flowing into India because Roman nobility was addicted to cotton & spices. (Fun fact : All the togas you see in hollywood for Roman senators - they were the dress of the upper class. And all togas were made from cotton - imported from the only place in the world that grew cotton in those times : India). Furthermore, they wholesale adopted Indian religions & culture. Early Kushans, like Kajala Kadaphises, were sun-worshippers ( same as the Magi tradition of the Iranians) but from then on, they adopted either Buddhism or Hinduism. Kanishka was a Buddhist and the last 'great Kushan' was named 'Bazdeo' in his seals - which is Kushan corruption of the word 'Vasudeva'....and he was a devotee of...Vasudeva Krishna. 
I have no problem calling these people Indians, as they effectively became Indians in every sense of the word. 

 

 

4. The muslims kicked over a dying and decaying Indian civilization, committing countless atrocities. But the start of the insane murder, genocide and destruction was done right when Gupta Empire fell - at the hands of the Hepthalites. Hepthalites are noted in Iranic sources as staunchly sun-worshippers and categoric haters of Buddhism. Mihirkula is also demonized in Indian literature (in the Kashmiri written Rajatarangini) as an insane butcher of the Buddhists. They are also the reason why Pataliputra was abandoned, because Mihirkula or his father, Toramanna, razed Pataliputra to the ground. A 100 years before Mihirkula, I-Tsing came though India and though he didnt talk specifically about Indian cities by name, he exalted the 'mighty capital of the emperors, historic capital of India' (which can only be Pataliputra). Yet, 100 years after Hepthalites, when Xuanzong visited Harsha, he noted how Pataliputra, the ancient capital, was in 'ruins'. 

Its also the Hepthalites, that utterly annihilated Gandhara and the Takshashila tradition of learning. Currently, the mounds of Taxila, Sirkap, Sagala all show evidence of tremendous damage around 500 AD and the Hepthalites are known to've broken through the Gupta defences sometime after 470 AD but evicted from India, by Malwa king Yashodharman and Gupta emperor Baladitya, sometime before 525 AD. But people don't know how much of a centre of learning and culture Takshashila was.

 

We have several Chinese pilgrims, wonder-struck by the famous 'Kanishka Stupa' and the 'library of enlightenment' that greeted the the moment they crossed the Khyber into India. We currently have the base remains of Kanishka's stupa and it'd have been the second largest stupa standing today, after Jetavanaramaya stupa in Sri Lanka. But whats more wonder-some, is beside it, stood a wooden built library tower (similar to the Chinese tower pagodas - here's an interesting side-note : Chinese Pagoda style architecture is actually Himalayan  style architecture, adopted by the Chinese around 200 AD, with transmission of Buddhism into China). The height noted varies, but all of them mention it being atleast 200 feet tall (that would make it a 20 storey building) and being repeatedly hit by lightning (also makes sense for a one-of-a-kind tower being a lightning rod). This was ancient Takshashila. by 500 AD, nothing remained, except the foundation stones of the city of Takshashila. 

 

 

Kudos for this post. Learnt so much from it. 

Also, a great original post by @Gollum  and Gollums theory on Aryan. You guys rock!!

 

Btw such a great introspective on stirrups!! Wow just wow!

 

btw @Muloghonto, are you a history prof or got some double degree in Indian history. How in the world you have so much knowledge!! I personally spend lots of time on ready books and articles on Indian medieval rulers however I do admit that my knowledge is limited to only last 700 years of Indian history. Plus my awareness is mostly limited to North/Rajputana belt considering I am a Northie myself. 

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1 hour ago, Muloghonto said:

Slight bit of nitpick here - Sher Shah didn't start a jihad to conquer Rajputs, he did a normal, standard military campaign and didn't engage in loot and pillage. Infact, Sher Shah is astonishing in how his troops did not loot and pillage almost everywhere he went.

 

The way he treated Maldeo, i believe anyone in his place would've done that. Sher Shah was put in an impossible situation - he gave his word of protection to Maldeo, but muslims in Malwa alleged that Maldeo raped muslim women and murdered their husbands. They went to the Ulema in Delhi and Sher Shah still didn't renege on his word. But when the Ulema issued a fatwa, stating that on judgement day, the victims will call out his name for protecting an unjust kaffir, denying him resurrection, did Sher Shah cave in and deal with Maldeo. 

 

As such, i find his position 'stuck between a rock and a hard place'  but the very fact that he stuck to his word of protection towards a hindu, despite allegations of rape and murder of muslims against him, shows, that man was so not a religious or a fundamentalist man.

 

You actually think Puranmal and his kingdom raped Muslim women. Come on bro, you think Rajput Purammal would do that. it was a fabricated story used by Sher Shah to motivate soldiers and conquer infidel land (not the first Muslim emperor to implant fake stories Against a Hindu king raping Muslim women) 

 

he wanted the support of his Muslim commanders to fight against Rajputs and it was not a easy mission 

Regarddless, even going by your logic that he was just being fair to Muslims in other kingdoms, he eventually played by the religion aka Muslim card. 

As I said, I don't expect you to agree to my views and neither do I. So I guess we can respectfully agree to disagree on Sher Shah

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8 minutes ago, rahulrulezz said:

You actually think Puranmal and his kingdom raped Muslim women. Come on bro, you think Rajput Purammal would do that. it was a fabricated story used by Sher Shah to motivate soldiers and conquer infidel land (not the first Muslim emperor to implant fake stories Against a Hindu king raping Muslim women) 

I have no idea, to be honest. Its not like there are 0 rapists and Chors amongst Rajputs either, so could be. Either way, rightly or wrongly accused, it became a hindu king vs muslim people issue and the Ulema acted. It kind of puts Sher Shah in a 'no choice unless you want a lot of strife from muslims at you' position. 

 

8 minutes ago, rahulrulezz said:

he wanted the support of his Muslim commanders to fight against Rajputs and it was not a easy mission 

Regarddless, even going by your logic that he was just being fair to Muslims in other kingdoms, he eventually played by the religion aka Muslim card. 

As I said, I don't expect you to agree to my views and neither do I. So I guess we can respectfully agree to disagree on Sher Shah

I don't think Sher Shah was being fair or unfair, i simply think that he was put in an impossible situation: remember, he does not have a huge dynasty behind him, he is the start- and i highly doubt he could've survived the optics of 'muslim who lets hindu raja rape muslims' stigma, whether right or wrong. These kind of situations make it rife for someone close to him- maybe one of his sons- to murder him. As it is, Suri dynasty fell apart pretty much immediately after him, precisely because they chose to kill each other over who gets to be king. 

 

I see where you are coming from, but i think its telling that Sher Shah at first, still chose to side with Puran Mal, despite the complaints of the muslim civilians. 

 

Also, it just doesn't fit in Sher Shah's MO. He was an extremely unique 'subcontinental muslim ruler', in the sense that he was one of the very few (i think there was a Nizam, forget who), who was the complete package. Brilliant at war, pretty even-keeled in conquest brilliant in strategy : his fort at Rohtas was an example of Sher Khan understanding the overall geo-strategy of his situation. He also seemed to be quite brilliant in governance- not only investing heavily in the grand trunk road (ancient Uttarpath), he also standardized coinage and came up with a much more advanced and even taxation system. 

Infact, Mughal success owes its big part to them not tampering too much with the taxation system that Akbar put in place, straight-lifting some of Sher Shah's policies and such.

 

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59 minutes ago, rahulrulezz said:

Kudos for this post. Learnt so much from it. 

Also, a great original post by @Gollum  and Gollums theory on Aryan. You guys rock!!

 

Btw such a great introspective on stirrups!! Wow just wow!

 

btw @Muloghonto, are you a history prof or got some double degree in Indian history. How in the world you have so much knowledge!! I personally spend lots of time on ready books and articles on Indian medieval rulers however I do admit that my knowledge is limited to only last 700 years of Indian history. Plus my awareness is mostly limited to North/Rajputana belt considering I am a Northie myself. 

:bow::embaressed_smile:

 

I wish i was a professor- too bad, it means either making $0 as a job or be 100% dedicated to teaching or arguing petty $hit with other history professors, almost all who lack a fundamental understanding of science and technology and don't understand over-arching, big picture of it anyways. (I don't claim to either, btw).

As the brilliant line from Shawshank Redemption says : "Thats all it takes really. Pressure and time. Pressure. And time". I've been reading history in my spare time for close to 20 years now. Did a few courses on it, happened to get a minor in it. Its easy, in the west , to turn pursue a life-long passion/hobby into something of that nature. So i'd say, i am much the same as you. But i don't restrict myself to any history. 

 

The only thing i can say, both from studying history in university setting as well as reading on my own, 99% of people-even history professors- tend to see history through tunnel vision. Its natural, because kinship interests people in history most of the time and most people read about their kin's history (thats also how you get a lot of crazy conspiracy theorists/superiorists/nutbags in history. People who read too much about 'their own' and practically nothing about everyone else). But reality is, all history is more or less connected. Sure its ok to have focuses/be more interested in one region than others, but don't ignore other regions totally. I will make no qualms saying my big 'hole' in history, is native american history & sub saharan African history, except Mali.


Especially, in good ol Eurasia. What happened in China at 250 BC, ultimately affected India in 100 BC. What happened in Arabia in 500AD, affected, in very short time, people thousands of miles away in Kabul. Whatever migrations happened, there are knock on effects. 

 

So don't restrict yourself to 'our history/this history/that history'. History is history. Ofcourse its natural to have interests and focuses, but one should try to see things in terms of 'this very interesting thing happened in this part of the world at X date. I wonder, what was going on in another part of the world, far away but linked, because of trade routes and travel, around the same time?'. 
If you realize, that the entire old world is basically linked together by people (Africa-Eurasia), with only two major bottlenecks of isolation : the Siberian north & east, beyond the lakes Baykal, the polar regions and sub-saharan Eastern, Central Africa and beyond, where the choke point was the Sahara and the nile river the only connection. All the way back to probably 8,000-6,000 years ago. 


People may not have known of China in Egypt or England in India, but information trickled down, technologies travelled and incidents of huge consequence at one end of this landmass, often ended up affecting things at the other end. 

 

Lastly, for the saddle and stirrup bit - i am an engineer originally, so my interest in history has always been primarily materials history. I got into history by my fascination of 'how did they build XYZ' and as an adult, that has long since moved on from just architecture, to history of metallurgy, pottery, etc. Admittedly, i am much more familiar about metallurgic history than pottery ( easier for my chemistry background to grasp metallurgy i suppose). In order to know how technology shaped mankind, one has to also look into technological history of mankind, in the true sense of the word.

 

Political history is something i truly got into around 10 years ago, because with less alone time, its an easier topic to follow and enjoy.

 

 

Edited by Muloghonto

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An interesting note, on horses and stirrups:

 

What we had for cavalry, prior to the 'true heavy cavalry', aka lancers (who had swords of course as secondary weapons),were mostly horse archers, chariot riders and cavalrymen relying on swords. However, cavalry warfare did have some wielding spears, a pseudo version of early lancers. IIRC, its what Alexander's cavalry was originally of ( Systophori or something like that) : they had spears, but these were smaller, balanced spears, used for stabbing. The idea was, to wade into infantry or engage other cavalry by repeated stabbing motion, with a 8 foot or so spear (any bigger and the spear is too heavy for repeated stabbing or too unwieldily for it). 

 

This you could accomplish, because while the ancients did not have stirrups, they were not total nincompoops: they had long since invented saddles that would keep you seated, while allowing you to thrust and absorb force. Look up the Roman 4-point saddle, thats typically how ancients everywhere rode. You just couldn't absorb the force of a horse running full tilt while you were skewering a target. 

These cavalry-men, could stab with a spear repeatedly or engage with their sword. But that is not true heavy cavalry- true heavy cavalry relies on fixed point lancers : where you 'fix' a long pole (lance) to your chest/shoulder/saddle etc. and deliver killing force blow by using the momentum of the horse. Ie, a lancer does not 'stab' with his lance, he keeps it steady and still, letting the horse do the work.

 

Everywhere, except Iran. Iran, sometime around 200 AD, came up with true heavy cavalry, despite not having stirrups. They are called the Savaran ( probably from where the word 'sawari'/'ghor-sawar' comes from. 

It was these guys :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aswaran#/media/File:Taq-e_Bostan_-_equestrian_statue.jpg

 

Notice, the legs. There are no stirrups depicted (and legs won't make that angle with stirrups anyways) but the guy is a full blown 'old school European knight', covered in plate mail from head to toe, riding a very heavily armoured horse.


What the Persians did, was invent the special, Persian saddle. They simply solved the problem of weight transfer, by fixing the legs of the riders, with clamps that came up from the saddle, to lock you in place. This enabled the Persians, to field the first true feudal style heavy cavalry the world has ever seen. 


Unfortunately, it came with a huge problem (and probably why this model didn't survive the advent of stirrups) : by locking the rider's legs in place, the rider often went down with the horse and had no chance to fall off or jump off the horse if the horse was killed in combat, thus exacting a very heavy price on the rider. This is why, we see from Roman and Byzantine accounts, Sassanids used their cavalry meticulously and the first evidence of 'cavalry formation warfare' : by keeping the cavalry tightly knit and emphasizing formation, one could reduce the chances of riders being isolated and thus, being brought down with their horse. 

 

Anyways, back to Indian history now. 

 

PS: "locking your foot in", is not 'my theory', its common knowledge in equestrian persuits. It was so important, that this is why we actually have high heels. 

Look at this picture of Shah Abbbas :

Shah_Abbas_Horse.jpg

 

Or this picture of Louis :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_XIV_of_France#/media/File:Louis_XIV_of_France.jpg

 

Notice the high heels. Its so that riders could 'lock' their foot with the stirrup platform and weight transfer. Over time, it became a symbol of nobility (because only noblemen could afford horses, thus horse-shoes) and a status symbol, their daintiness in walking, slowly becoming a fashion symbol of the fairer sex.

 

Edited by Muloghonto

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3 hours ago, Muloghonto said:

:bow::embaressed_smile:

 

I wish i was a professor- too bad, it means either making $0 as a job or be 100% dedicated to teaching or arguing petty $hit with other history professors, almost all who lack a fundamental understanding of science and technology and don't understand over-arching, big picture of it anyways. (I don't claim to either, btw).

As the brilliant line from Shawshank Redemption says : "Thats all it takes really. Pressure and time. Pressure. And time". I've been reading history in my spare time for close to 20 years now. Did a few courses on it, happened to get a minor in it. Its easy, in the west , to turn pursue a life-long passion/hobby into something of that nature. So i'd say, i am much the same as you. But i don't restrict myself to any history. 

 

The only thing i can say, both from studying history in university setting as well as reading on my own, 99% of people-even history professors- tend to see history through tunnel vision. Its natural, because kinship interests people in history most of the time and most people read about their kin's history (thats also how you get a lot of crazy conspiracy theorists/superiorists/nutbags in history. People who read too much about 'their own' and practically nothing about everyone else). But reality is, all history is more or less connected. Sure its ok to have focuses/be more interested in one region than others, but don't ignore other regions totally. I will make no qualms saying my big 'hole' in history, is native american history & sub saharan African history, except Mali.


Especially, in good ol Eurasia. What happened in China at 250 BC, ultimately affected India in 100 BC. What happened in Arabia in 500AD, affected, in very short time, people thousands of miles away in Kabul. Whatever migrations happened, there are knock on effects. 

 

So don't restrict yourself to 'our history/this history/that history'. History is history. Ofcourse its natural to have interests and focuses, but one should try to see things in terms of 'this very interesting thing happened in this part of the world at X date. I wonder, what was going on in another part of the world, far away but linked, because of trade routes and travel, around the same time?'. 
If you realize, that the entire old world is basically linked together by people (Africa-Eurasia), with only two major bottlenecks of isolation : the Siberian north & east, beyond the lakes Baykal, the polar regions and sub-saharan Eastern, Central Africa and beyond, where the choke point was the Sahara and the nile river the only connection. All the way back to probably 8,000-6,000 years ago. 


People may not have known of China in Egypt or England in India, but information trickled down, technologies travelled and incidents of huge consequence at one end of this landmass, often ended up affecting things at the other end. 

 

Lastly, for the saddle and stirrup bit - i am an engineer originally, so my interest in history has always been primarily materials history. I got into history by my fascination of 'how did they build XYZ' and as an adult, that has long since moved on from just architecture, to history of metallurgy, pottery, etc. Admittedly, i am much more familiar about metallurgic history than pottery ( easier for my chemistry background to grasp metallurgy i suppose). In order to know how technology shaped mankind, one has to also look into technological history of mankind, in the true sense of the word.

 

Political history is something i truly got into around 10 years ago, because with less alone time, its an easier topic to follow and enjoy.

 

 

Interesting very interesting. How you mentioned that history is connected and how you gave examples of that is amazing. Afghanistan was primarily Hindu/Buddhist states and these Pashtuns were infedils till almost 800ad. In just 150 years, whole landscape of Afghanistan was changed just because Islam came in Arab. Same goes for Persians. 

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Let my elaborate my views about Tipu Sultan because I asked the question in the first place. 

 

History demands objectivity, one mustn't get very emotional while dealing with any historical subject. What is done is done, simply whining and crying about the past won't change the events. Tipu is a subject which has divided Karnataka right down the middle. Either you worship/adore him or castigate him as the eternal villain of South India, there is no middle ground as far as he is concerned. With elections due next year expect Tipu to be a talking point in the campaign by all sides. Right wing forces are already in the process of spreading fake information and spewing hatred against Muslims rallying behind the atrocities of Tipu. Congress wants to consolidate its Muslim votebank, hence the annual Tipu Jayanti celebrations all across the state, something that has entered the vogue only in the last 3-4 years.

 

First let me get a few facts out of the way before presenting my views about Tipu the man.

  • He was a freedom fighter in the sense that he took up arms against the British and died fighting in battle. Right wing extremists may argue that he did it for his own selfish reasons and not for the country, duh....there was no concept of India the nation at that phase of time. We were a fragmented lot with some rulers accepting British/French/Dutch/Portuguese/Danish (European) paramountcy while others resisted tooth and nail ultimately losing to the superior Europeans in due course of time. If we are to accord the status of freedom fighter to the likes of Rani Laxmibai, Nana Sahib, Tantya Tope, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Kunwar Singh etc we must accord the same status to Tipu Sultan. They all did it for selfish reasons if you look at it from a particular angle but the cold hard truth is that they all resisted the European onslaught paying the ultimate price in the end. 
  • Tipu was a military genius. His use of rocket warfare was the stuff of legends. That the British adopted this technology after Tipu's fall is a testament to Tipu's innovation. The Congreve rocket was a straight imitation of Tipu's rocket and played a pivotal role in the Napoleonic Wars to follow. This is something we must be proud of, in an age where we were left so far behind in science and technology, there was a brown man who was a pioneer in a technology which was subsequently borrowed by the European powerhouses. May be after the Gupta empire this was the first instance of a desi actually inventing something ( correct me I am wrong and missing something @Muloghonto @rahulrulezz because I am under the impression that we lost our scientific edge after the fall of the Guptas). If you have read 'Wings of Fire' by our beloved late President Dr Kalam, he mentions that NASA's head office has a picture of Tipu Sultan with his rockets and that is something which made him proud. Indeed it should make each of us proud.
  • Tipu was one of the few Indian rulers with multiple victories against the British (Pollilur, Kumbakonam, Chidambaram), some of them crushing victories. The 2nd Anglo Mysore war can be described as a victory for Mysore and the subsequent Treaty of Mangalore was the last British Indian treaty with the Indian ruler having a more favorable footing. Of course if you delve deeper you will see that the 2nd Anglo Mysore war and 1st Anglo Maratha wars overlapped, meaning the Company was fighting a 2 front war for over 2 years, a blunder on their part. This was also the last time they would be making this mistake (2 front war in Indian SC), they never repeated their mistakes and this is what made them so hard to beat. 
  • Tipu was a cruel man. He did convert/kill many Hindus and Christians in South India and I am not going to deny these facts. There is ample proof of these happenings and it will be intellectual dishonesty on my part to blatantly deny his despotic mannerisms against non Muslims in certain areas. 

Now coming to my analysis of Tipu the man, let me try to break down his decisions and explain why did what he did and why he is a much more complicated character and simply portraying him as black or white without shades of grey is doing disservice to history.

  • Forceful conversions in Malabar- This is something we hear all the time. Tipu converted thousands, may be lakhs of Nairs and other lower castes to Islam. Yes there were large scale conversions of Nairs to Islam. But let me break it down. Kerala at that point of time was a very rigid society, caste rules were very strict and lower castes were treated like scum. Namboothiri/Nambudiri Brahmins were pakka Brahman supremacists and all the lower castes were treated very badly, even Kshatriyas were slaves of these Brahmins. By custom, only the eldest Namboothiri son could marry, other sons couldn't. They could have relations with Nair women. So what happened was that Nair women were confined in a residential area and the Namboothiri men would come at nightfall and * multiple Nair women, kind of like prostitution. Nair women were held in those places against their will, they couldn't come out of their trapped lives, reduced to the status of prostitutes forced to service the highest caste men. The bastard children conceived from these acts wouldn't get the caste of their fathers, they were relegated to the status of their mothers and hence left as outcast bastards. Thus the Nairs were a matrilineal society (only other matrilineal societies in Indian SC back then were in Nagaland and Manipur), at the mercy of the Brahmins all the time. Tipu came to Malabar coast because the Namboothiri Diwan of Travancore had invaded Cochin, which was under Mysore's protection at that time. As such Tipu was pissed off at the Namboothiris and when he saw the plight of Nair women on his way, he offered them a way out of their misery. I am not saying that there was no forceful conversion there, but isn't it possible that many Nairs converted to Islam to escape the hegemony of Namnoothiris in Kerala?  You all must be familiar with the breast tax on lower caste women in Kerala imposed by the Brahmins. Lower caste women had to pay taxes if they wanted to cover their breasts, being bare chested was a sign of respect to Brahmins in that society. Do read about Nangeli, the Ezhava women who cut off her breasts as a protest against the breast tax system. Tipu when he saw this nonsense ordered all lower caste women to stop paying such a tax and supplied blouses to them. Isn't it possible that in such an oppressive environment the lower castes had had enough and willfully converted to Islam?
  • Tipu hated Brits and liked the French. Napolean himself sought an alliance with Tipu to face the common enemy. Tipu was a member of the extremist club of the French Revolution, the Jacobin Club. He also planted a Liberty Tree in Mysore and rechristened himself as Citizen Tipu. He was a perennial ally of the French in India, because he was enamored  by the ideas propagated by French Revolution. Bear in mind that in that period, America had just won its freedom. The American Revolution was over in 1783 and the treaty of Paris was signed during the middle of the 2nd Anglo Mysore War. Who supported the American Patriots in the colonial revolt? FRANCE. Who was supporting Tipu in his revolt? FRANCE. Indeed France was the key link in both cases. The Brits had lost America because of France and their only true remaining rival in India was again being supported by the same country. More reason for the Brits to be wary. There is a reason why British historians went out of their way to portray Tipu as a tyrant whilst glorifying the Company forces as liberators. The divide and rule policy of Brits involved fabricating many lies about Tipu's atrocities against the Hindus to get the Marathas on their side. No Indian ruler was vilified by the British historians more than the Tiger of Mysore. It is no surprise that they rolled out their best commanders to take out Tipu. Charles Cornwallis the British hero in the Great American Revolution was called up to lead the Company forces in the 3rd Anglo Mysore War. Arthur Wellesley led their troops in the 4th Anglo Mysore War , in which Tipu ultimately died. Arthur Wellesley was the Duke of Wellington (capital of NZ is named after him) and the person who defeated Napolean in Waterloo, one of the greatest British heroes. Another French connection, the man who defeated Tipu also defeated Napolean !!!!
  • Tipu was ruthless. Anyone not from his kingdom who crossed his path was dealt with severely. He butchered the Kodavas of Coorg who had successfully irritated Mysore through their guerrilla tactics. He butchered the Mallus, same with Mangalorean Christians who had pledged loyalty to the British. He didn't massacre Christians who were supporting France. He hated Brits and anyone who was against him was shown no mercy. He even massacred many of Nizam's men because they were supporting the Brits. Right wing extremists won't tell you how he tortured Muslim prisoners from the Nizam's camp. That was one of the main reasons why Nizam sent such a huge army in support of the Company in the 4th and final Anglo Mysore War. More than a bigot, I see a ruthless man in Tipu here.
  • His enmity with the Marathas can be gauged from the fact that Mysore was under continuous attack from the Marathas after the 3rd battle of Panipat. Marathas were weakened by that point of time and they didn't want another major power to rise in the South. Hyder Ali was under continuous attack from Madhavrao, there was an invasion every 2-3 years from the Maratha side. But Tipu never really got into a major tiff with them because his mind was preoccupied elsewhere and the Marathas weren't weak like the Kodavus or Namboothiris. Nevertheless they were on opposite sides of the field in the 4th Anglo Mysore War.
  • His treatment of Hindus in the Mysore region was radically different from those outside the region. Marathas were no angels. When they sacked Hindu temples in Mysore including Sringeri, it was rebuilt by Tipu. While he destroyed some temples in the enemy states he built temples in his region. The Sringeri Sharada Preeth, seat of the Sankaracharya was rebuilt from scratch by Tipu after being destroyed to rubble by the Marathas (Marathas have destroyed many temples in Surat and Bengal region also, killing many Hindus in the process, inconvenient truth that many Hindus don't want to admit). Tipu exchanged 100s of letters with the Sringeri Sankaracharya , he even wore a ring bearing the name 'Ram' in his final battle, it was gifted to him by Sringeri Sankaracharya. He made liberal endowments to many temples in Mysore and even today the Sringeri mutt honors him on his jayanti. There were many Hindus in his court, his Diwan and Treasurer were both Hindus. My understanding of this is that he was tolerant towards his citizens but ruthless against outsiders, irrespective of religion. He was a cruel man, but difficult to call him a bigot. At worst he can be described as a cunning ruler who knew how to get the support of Hindus in his kingdom in spite of holding a negative opinion about them. 

A very interesting character IMO, and may be controversial to some here but I believe he has been treated unfairly by the British historians and modern day Hindutva supporters. 

Edited by Gollum

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Guys I have a couple of questions.

 

Since most of our invasions came from N.W and there were only 3 passes:Khyber, Bolan and Gomal did it not ever occur to the North Indian rulers to cut off those entry points? The passes look steep, narrow and very difficult to navigate. I once read that Ghori got lost near Khyber pass and only in the 3rd attempt was he able to figure out the correct route to enter India. The narrowness of the passes and heights of the surrounding mountains could have been a strategic advantage for the hosts. Not many invaders can enter at once because of the narrow width of the passes and high mountains nearby can house archers to do some target practice of the enemy soldiers. In that sense these passes are like the Eyrie (Game of Thrones wallah), defensively too solid and impregnable. I don't understand how the invaders were allowed to enter so easily and so frequently, am I missing something here?

 

And why did the Indian rulers meet the invaders in the open fields of Panipat 3 successive times? Being the hosts they had the opportunity to choose the venue? Is it because Panipat is near Delhi and hence they could bring in reinforcements quickly? Do you guys think in hindsight they could have chosen some other venue as the battlefield. 

Edited by Gollum

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14 hours ago, rahulrulezz said:

Answering your question, Akbar, even though massacred thousand of Hindus and destroyed thousands of temples , Akbar was probably best of the lot considering he was raised by Hindus and most importantly, had the guts to start his religious sect which no Muslim emperor could even think of. That doesn't mean he was tolerant to Hindus. In order to get his Muslims mullahs and Muslim commander to fight for him, he had to do Jehad and destroy Hindu temples. In 2nd battle of Chittorgarh, one of the biggest Jauher was performed and almost 600,000 Hindus were massacred under Akbars directions. He was a very strange ruler. He had strong influence of Hindus around which is why he became calmer to Hindus later in his life. 

 

Do you attribute Akbar's destruction of temples and massacre of Hindus to bigotry, politics or the Mongol DNA? We must remember that Akbar was controlled by his regent Bairam Khan till the age of 15/16, Bairam Khan took most of the decisions then. Then when Akbar was a mature adult, he did what any king was expected to do, destroy the enemies and strike fear in the hearts of potential opponents. This brings me to the question I raised in a previous post, was the cruelty in Chittorgarh because of Islam or was it a natural Mongol trait? We must understand how brutal the Mongols were. Genghis Khan wasn't a Muslim but I read somewhere that 1% of people on Planet Earth today are direct descendants of the Khan and his army, that shows how many women he and his troops raped in their conquests. Read about the Siege of Baghdad (1258), probably the most brutal massacre in human history. Forget soldiers, the Mongols even killed the animals, fishes, didn't even leave earthworms and plants alive after the siege. They destroyed all possible forms of life there and made it a desert. The House of Wisdom too was destroyed, marking the end of the Islamic Golden Age. That is how brutal these Mongols were. Babur was a Mongol, just one of the rare Mongols whose forefathers had embraced Islam. I don't think Islam made him cruel, it was the Mongol DNA. Mountains made of human skulls was a Mongol ritual, not an Islamic one. Babur and his descendants just happened to be Muslims. If the Mughals were non Muslim Mongols, in stead of jihad they would have found some other rallying cry. 

 

I think Akbar was truly great in the sense that he changed as he grew older. He abolished forceful conversion of POWs, allowed Hindus who had been forced to convert to Islam to reconvert, abolished jizya and pilgrimage tax of Hindus, etc. He participated in Hindu festivals like Diwali/Rakshabandhan and embraced local culture with an open mind. As you rightly said, Din-i-ilahi was path breaking. He respected scholars from other religions and had many Hindus occupying high posts in his court. In fact Akbar turned vegetarian on the advice of the Jain monk Hiravijay Suri. After becoming a disciple of the Jain teacher Akbar banned cow slaughter in India. He also built a chapel in Fatehpur Sikri for his Georgian wife/lover.....this I read in an article in The Hindu. Akbar even built a huge 7 storey temple in Vrinadavan for his friend Mansingh but I think it was later demolished by Aurangzeb. 

Edited by Gollum

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5 hours ago, Gollum said:

Do you attribute Akbar's destruction of temples and massacre of Hindus to bigotry, politics or the Mongol DNA? We must remember that Akbar was controlled by his regent Bairam Khan till the age of 15/16, Bairam Khan took most of the decisions then. Then when Akbar was a mature adult, he did what any king was expected to do, destroy the enemies and strike fear in the hearts of potential opponents. This brings me to the question I raised in a previous post, was the cruelty in Chittorgarh because of Islam or was it a natural Mongol trait? We must understand how brutal the Mongols were. Genghis Khan wasn't a Muslim but I read somewhere that 1% of people on Planet Earth today are direct descendants of the Khan and his army, that shows how many women he and his troops raped in their conquests. Read about the Siege of Baghdad (1258), probably the most brutal massacre in human history. Forget soldiers, the Mongols even killed the animals, fishes, didn't even leave earthworms and plants alive after the siege. They destroyed all possible forms of life there and made it a desert. The House of Wisdom too was destroyed, marking the end of the Islamic Golden Age. That is how brutal these Mongols were. Babur was a Mongol, just one of the rare Mongols whose forefathers had embraced Islam. I don't think Islam made him cruel, it was the Mongol DNA. Mountains made of human skulls was a Mongol ritual, not an Islamic one. Babur and his descendants just happened to be Muslims. If the Mughals were non Muslim Mongols, in stead of jihad they would have found some other rallying cry. 

 

I think Akbar was truly great in the sense that he changed as he grew older. He abolished forceful conversion of POWs, allowed Hindus who had been forced to convert to Islam to reconvert, abolished jizya and pilgrimage tax of Hindus, etc. He participated in Hindu festivals like Diwali/Rakshabandhan and embraced local culture with an open mind. As you rightly said, Din-i-ilahi was path breaking. He respected scholars from other religions and had many Hindus occupying high posts in his court. In fact Akbar turned vegetarian on the advice of the Jain monk Hiravijay Suri. After becoming a disciple of the Jain teacher Akbar banned cow slaughter in India. He also built a chapel in Fatehpur Sikri for his Georgian wife/lover.....this I read in an article in The Hindu. Akbar even built a huge 7 storey temple in Vrinadavan for his friend Mansingh but I think it was later demolished by Aurangzeb. 

And add to that, Akbar also patronized great saints of his time. He ensured that the songs of Sur das are collated together and announced prize money for people who collect those songs. That's how we have "Sur Sagar", the collection of all songs of Sur das ji. 

He even offered Tulasi das ji the position of one the ratna's (jewels which is like a top poet in his court) which Tulasidas declined. 

 

Without many such harmonizing efforts of Akbar, Mughal empire could not have survived and thrived that strongly for so long after his reign. If his descendants were at least similar to him, the East India company could have never been able to capture the subcontinent like they did. The intolerance and cruelty of Aurangazeb eventually gave rise to the rise of Marathas and weakening of empire every where else and this gave ample opportunity for the rise of British EIC and eventually establishment of British Raj. 

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6 hours ago, Gollum said:

Guys I have a couple of questions.

 

Since most of our invasions came from N.W and there were only 3 passes:Khyber, Bolan and Gomal did it not ever occur to the North Indian rulers to cut off those entry points? The passes look steep, narrow and very difficult to navigate. I once read that Ghori got lost near Khyber pass and only in the 3rd attempt was he able to figure out the correct route to enter India. The narrowness of the passes and heights of the surrounding mountains could have been a strategic advantage for the hosts. Not many invaders can enter at once because of the narrow width of the passes and high mountains nearby can house archers to do some target practicing of the enemy soldiers. In that sense these passes are like the Eyrie (Game of Thrones wallah), defensively too solid and impregnable. I don't understand how the invaders were allowed to enter so easily and so frequently, am I missing something here?

1. The Bolan and Gomal pass didn't really matter for invasion routes, as most invaders came through the Khyber. Only two invaders came from the Bolan/Gomal pass : The Arabs ( Bin Qasim) and the Scythians ( Northern & Western Kshatrapas) . 

 

2. Bolan and Gomal pass are also very difficult to hold from India, because :

 a) Unlike the Khyber, the Bolan and Gomal are west of Indus after Indus widens significantly, this makes crossing the Indus back and forth opposite of Bolan or Gomal pass, virtually impossible. On the other hand, Indus is narrow around Attock and the traditional crossing point. 

b) The Gomal and Bolan pass are in the Suleiman range, a region that has been mostly lawless, for most of its history. Nobody controlled these areas directly, not even the Mughals or Nader Shah. 

 

3. Indian empires that are based out of the north, tend to get mired with Deccan empires/kingdoms as they get big, because of two reasons: a) Deccan kingdoms start seeing a mega-empire in the north as a threat vice versa  and b) Northern Empires start seeing the riches of the Deccan as higher priority of conquest than barren but strategic lands in the NW subcontinent. 

 

I will however, point out, that the two Indian empires that established a lasting hegemony over the north and completely dominated the Deccan - Mauryas and Guptas - did prioritize control of the Khyber. Mauryas definitely concentrated forces in Takshashila, specifically for the Khyber pass and Guptas had their boundary at Takshashila, just miles from Peshawar. Only reason they did not conquer Peshawar and make it directly under their control, is because the Sassanids and Guptas were allies and Sassanids had conquered Peshawar from the Kushans first. However, when Sassanids started to lose control of Peshawar-Kabul region in early 400s AD, under the Chionite expansion, Chandragupta Vikramaditya went ahead and whacked the heck out of the region. 

 

But except these two empires, no other Northern empire formed a complete hegemony over the north,beyond the lifetime of 1 conqueror, so i'd say it was rarely the case that a Northern empire could extend all the way to the Khyber without getting mired in the south. 

 

4. The areas immediately beyond Indus were an immense logistical challenge for Indian rulers. Predominantly because of elephants: our warfare was dependent on elephants being the apex war unit but elephants usually need nearly half a tonne of plant matter and 200 litres of water per elephant per day. This, is extremely hard to provide in the barren lands west of the Indus and without competent cavalry, we couldn't face the cavalry based forces based in Afghan regions easily. We could've faced cavalry without their elephants, if India had heavy infantry-like the Romans/Greeks, but India is not where heavy infantry evolved/is the place for it to evolve. 

 

6 hours ago, Gollum said:

And why did the Indian rulers meet the invaders in the open fields of Panipat 3 successive times? Being the hosts they had the opportunity to choose the venue? Is it because Panipat is near Delhi and hence they could bring in reinforcements quickly? Do you guys think in hindsight they could have chosen some other venue as the battlefield. 

Panipat I and II are completely justified where they were. I will point out, Panipat is close to where most of the major, historic battles for India have occurred. Tarain is pretty close and the Guptas too, likely fought the Alchon Huns ( Hepthalites who invaded India) in the plains of Punjab, likely between Attock and Delhi.

This is because of their reliance on war elephants. When you have so many war elephants on the march/fielded, you need two things:

a) You *MUST* be close to a major water source and 

b) You should seek a big flat land, where you can unleash your war elephants with full effect. 

 

We also used chariots until pretty late (Pal Empire was the last empire in the world to use chariots), because in the vast Indo-gangetic plains, which are also very flat, chariots can be a viable option (chariots are useless over broken/hilly ground, hence abandoned very quickly in the middle east, where most wars used to involve fighting in the mountains ringing Iraq, Turkey etc). 

 

Panipat III was just all-round case of stupids. Marathas should not have fought there but then again in this case, probably the proximity to Delhi played a 'comforting factor' as a fall-back/supply option.

 

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8 hours ago, Gollum said:

Let my elaborate my views about Tipu Sultan because I asked the question in the first place. 

.....

A very interesting character IMO, and may be controversial to some here but I believe he has been treated unfairly by the British historians and modern day Hindutva supporters. 

Wow ! Kudos, its a very well thought out post and quite convincing. You've managed to change my opinion of Tipu. Though i must say, my detailed analysis of Indian political history does not include near-modern Indian history (partly because i am never that interested in politics and these events- from Plassey to WWII- still play a big part in our political shenanigans/worldview). 

I usually focus on ancient & medieval history (thats my interest focus), as i find history of the last 300-400 years too detailed and too complicated to follow, compared to the ones of distant past.

 

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7 hours ago, Muloghonto said:

1. The Bolan and Gomal pass didn't really matter for invasion routes, as most invaders came through the Khyber. Only two invaders came from the Bolan/Gomal pass : The Arabs ( Bin Qasim) and the Scythians ( Northern & Western Kshatrapas) . 

 

2. Bolan and Gomal pass are also very difficult to hold from India, because :

 a) Unlike the Khyber, the Bolan and Gomal are west of Indus after Indus widens significantly, this makes crossing the Indus back and forth opposite of Bolan or Gomal pass, virtually impossible. On the other hand, Indus is narrow around Attock and the traditional crossing point. 

b) The Gomal and Bolan pass are in the Suleiman range, a region that has been mostly lawless, for most of its history. Nobody controlled these areas directly, not even the Mughals or Nader Shah. 

 

3. Indian empires that are based out of the north, tend to get mired with Deccan empires/kingdoms as they get big, because of two reasons: a) Deccan kingdoms start seeing a mega-empire in the north as a threat vice versa  and b) Northern Empires start seeing the riches of the Deccan as higher priority of conquest than barren but strategic lands in the NW subcontinent. 

 

I will however, point out, that the two Indian empires that established a lasting hegemony over the north and completely dominated the Deccan - Mauryas and Guptas - did prioritize control of the Khyber. Mauryas definitely concentrated forces in Takshashila, specifically for the Khyber pass and Guptas had their boundary at Takshashila, just miles from Peshawar. Only reason they did not conquer Peshawar and make it directly under their control, is because the Sassanids and Guptas were allies and Sassanids had conquered Peshawar from the Kushans first. However, when Sassanids started to lose control of Peshawar-Kabul region in early 400s AD, under the Chionite expansion, Chandragupta Vikramaditya went ahead and whacked the heck out of the region. 

 

But except these two empires, no other Northern empire formed a complete hegemony over the north,beyond the lifetime of 1 conqueror, so i'd say it was rarely the case that a Northern empire could extend all the way to the Khyber without getting mired in the south. 

 

4. The areas immediately beyond Indus were an immense logistical challenge for Indian rulers. Predominantly because of elephants: our warfare was dependent on elephants being the apex war unit but elephants usually need nearly half a tonne of plant matter and 200 litres of water per elephant per day. This, is extremely hard to provide in the barren lands west of the Indus and without competent cavalry, we couldn't face the cavalry based forces based in Afghan regions easily. We could've faced cavalry without their elephants, if India had heavy infantry-like the Romans/Greeks, but India is not where heavy infantry evolved/is the place for it to evolve. 

 

Panipat I and II are completely justified where they were. I will point out, Panipat is close to where most of the major, historic battles for India have occurred. Tarain is pretty close and the Guptas too, likely fought the Alchon Huns ( Hepthalites who invaded India) in the plains of Punjab, likely between Attock and Delhi.

This is because of their reliance on war elephants. When you have so many war elephants on the march/fielded, you need two things:

a) You *MUST* be close to a major water source and 

b) You should seek a big flat land, where you can unleash your war elephants with full effect. 

 

We also used chariots until pretty late (Pal Empire was the last empire in the world to use chariots), because in the vast Indo-gangetic plains, which are also very flat, chariots can be a viable option (chariots are useless over broken/hilly ground, hence abandoned very quickly in the middle east, where most wars used to involve fighting in the mountains ringing Iraq, Turkey etc). 

 

Panipat III was just all-round case of stupids. Marathas should not have fought there but then again in this case, probably the proximity to Delhi played a 'comforting factor' as a fall-back/supply option.

 

Brilliant post as usual man. Makes a whole lot of sense now. 

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I came across this video on youtube that has done a very good job of representing Indian history through maps.
Yes, there are some inaccuracies regarding boundaries/borders (particularly of the Magadh Empire and the post-Gupta era period) but here is the video. It gives a very good general concept (and in many cases, very accurate) potrayal of Indian political history through time:

 

 

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2 hours ago, Muloghonto said:

I came across this video on youtube that has done a very good job of representing Indian history through maps.
Yes, there are some inaccuracies regarding boundaries/borders (particularly of the Magadh Empire and the post-Gupta era period) but here is the video. It gives a very good general concept (and in many cases, very accurate) potrayal of Indian political history through time:

 

 

The youtube video maker "Ollie Bye" is still teen or barely twenty but has built tremendous reputation for making such timeline maps on everything including world history, European history and many many individual countries. You can even see older versions which are not upto the mark and after receiving feedback from various commenters etc., he came up with improved presentation of timeline maps. There is an older version of Indian history timeline video for which lot of UK's were m*****bat**g for probably since there is a long duration when the Indian map is all red (deep red, light red etc.). 

 

 

 

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One of the biggest blunders that Indian text books and Bollywood has missed out on was that they missed out on biggest super heroes of kings of Mewar that is Rana Kumbha.  He was undefeated through out his career and have built highest amount of forts in India. Kumbalgarh, IMO, is the most beautiful fort in India.  

 

Ncert should definitely mention about Rana Kumbha and his legacy and his architectures

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9 minutes ago, rahulrulezz said:

One of the biggest blunders that Indian text books and Bollywood has missed out on was that they missed out on biggest super heroes of kings of Mewar that is Rana Kumbha.  He was undefeated through out his career and have built highest amount of forts in India. Kumbalgarh, IMO, is the most beautiful fort in India.  

 

Ncert should definitely mention about Rana Kumbha and his legacy and his architectures

The guy was without a doubt the fiercest general of his times having defeated the powerful Sultans of Malwa and Gujarat. Even the Sultanate of Delhi couldn't do much to contain him and their powers were reduced to mostly around the city area.

 

Even credited with destroying many mosques in Nagour if that pleases our Hindutva friends here.

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6 hours ago, Stradlater said:

The guy was without a doubt the fiercest general of his times having defeated the powerful Sultans of Malwa and Gujarat. Even the Sultanate of Delhi couldn't do much to contain him and their powers were reduced to mostly around the city area.

 

Even credited with destroying many mosques in Nagour if that pleases our Hindutva friends here.

That’s not enough. If you actually the temples he built, his architectures in Chittorgarh, his contribution to music, his life, if there is any Indian King after Ashoka it was Rana Kumbha

 

His life was full of drama as well and as they, “hamko apno ne luta, gairon main kya dum tha”, his murder was biggest black mark in Mewars history. 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, rahulrulezz said:

That’s not enough. If you actually the temples he built, his architectures in Chittorgarh, his contribution to music, his life, if there is any Indian King after Ashoka it was Rana Kumbha

 

His life was full of drama as well and as they, “hamko apno ne luta, gairon main kya dum tha”, his murder was biggest black mark in Mewars history. 

 

 

Killed by his son wasn't he? Was quite surprised when came to know about it. You don't often see such instances in the history of Bharatvarsha.

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I have deceided that from time to time, i will do a history article on a particular period/ruler/events in Indian history. No promises, just seeing how it goes.
But i am sick and tired of the ENTIRE Indian history discussion being limited to: a) AMT/OOI  b) Mahabharata/Ramayana c) Muslim invasions + Delhi Sultanate + Mughals + Colonial period.


These, quite literally, leave out the best parts of Indian history and pretty much ignores almost everything from 500 BC to 900s AD. The period of the golden age of Indian civilization. 
In my small way, i will try to remedy that a little bit. 

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