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Biography

Politics & War

Politics & War

Prithviraj Chauhan

Prithviraj Chauhan
RAJPUTS
  • The most important of the Rajput states in North India were the Chauhans of Ajmer and Delhi, the Gahadavallas or Rathors of Kanauj, the Chandellas of Bundelkhand, the Guhilas or Sisodiyas of Mewar, the Parmars of Malwa, the Tomars of Delhi, the Pratiharas or Gurjaras of Kanauj, and the Palas of Bengal. The Hindushahi kingdom and the kingdom of Kashmir were the two other important Hindu kingdoms of North India.
  • Two Muslim kingdoms were of Multan and Sindh. The Rashtrakutas of Malkhid (Deccan), the Chalukya kingdom of Kalyani and the Chola kingdom of Tanjore were the important kingdoms of the South India

SOURCES

  • The extant inscriptions from Prithviraj’s reign are few in number, and were not issued by the king himself. Much of the information about him comes from the medieval legendary chronicles.
  • Besides the Muslim accounts of Battles of Tarain, he has been mentioned in several medieval kavyas (epic poems) by Hindu and Jain authors.
  • These include Prithviraja Vijaya, Hammira Mahakavya and Prithviraj Raso. These texts contain eulogistic descriptions, and are, therefore, not entirely reliable.
  • Prithviraj Raso, which popularized Prithviraj as a great king, is purported to be written by the king’s court poet Chand Bardai.
EARLY LIFE
  • Prithviraj was born to the Chahamana king Someshvara and queen Karpuradevi (a Kalachuri princess). Both Prithviraj and his younger brother Hariraja were born in Gujarat.
  • Based on these positions and assuming certain other planetary positions, Dasharatha Sharma calculated the year of Prithviraj’s birth as 1166 CE.
  • The medieval biographies of Prithviraj suggest that he was educated well. The Prithviraja Vijaya states that he mastered 6 languages; the Prithviraj Raso claims that he learned 14 languages.
 REIGN
  • Prithviraj moved from Gujarat to Ajmer, when his father Someshvara was crowned the Chahamana king after the death of Prithviraja II.
  • Someshvara died in 1177 CE when Prithviraj was around 11 years old. Prithviraj, who was a minor at the time, ascended the throne.
  • The Hammira Mahakavya claims that Someshvara himself installed Prithviraj on the throne, and then retired to the forest. However, this is doubtful.According to historian Dasharatha Sharma, Prithviraj assumed actual control of the administration in 1180 CE.
CONFLICT AND EXPANSION
  • Nagarjuna: The first military achievement of Prithviraj was his suppression of a revolt by his cousin Nagarjuna, and recapture of Gudapura.
  • Bhadanakas : Two verses of Kharatara-Gachchha-Pattavali mention the victory of Prithviraj over the Bhadanakas, while describing a debate between two Jain monks. This victory can be dated to sometime before 1182 CE, when the said debate took place.
  • Chandelas of Jejakabhukti: The 1182–83 CE (Madanpur inscriptions from Prithviraj’s reign claim that he “laid to waste” Jejakabhukti (present-day Bundelkhand), which was ruled by the Chandela king Paramardi.
CONFLICT AND EXPANSION
  • Chaulukyas of Gujarat : The Kharatara-Gachchha-Pattavali mentions a peace treaty between Prithviraj, and Bhima II, the Chaulukya (Solanki) king of Gujarat. This implies that the two kings were previously at war.This war can be dated to sometime before 1187 CE .
  • Paramaras of Abu : Abu was ruled by the Chaulukya feudatory Dharavarsha, who belonged to a branch of the Paramara dynasty. Partha-Parakrama-Vyayoga by his younger brother Prahaladana describes Prithviraj’s night attack on Abu. This attack, according to the text, was a failure for the Chahamanas. It probably happened during the Gujarat campaign of Prithviraj.
  • Gahadavalas of Kannauj : The Gahadavala kingdom, centered around Kannauj and headed by another powerful king Jayachandra. According to a legend mentioned in Prithviraj Raso, Prithviraj eloped with Jayachandra’s daughter Samyogita, leading to a rivalry between the two kings.
GHURIDS
  • Prithviraj’s predecessors had faced multiple raids from the Muslim dynasties that had captured the northwestern areas of the Indian subcontinent by the 12th century.
  • Muhammad of Ghor consolidated his power in the territory to the west of the Chahamanas, conquering Peshawar, Sindh, and Punjab.
FIRST BATTLE OF TARAIN
  • During 1190–1191 CE, Muhammad of Ghor invaded the Chahamana territory, and captured Tabarhindah or Tabar-e-Hind (identified with Bathinda).
  • Muhammad’s original plan was to return to his base after conquering Tabarhindah, but when he heard about Prithviraj’s march, he decided to put up a fight. In the ensuing battle, Prithviraj’s army decisively defeated the Ghurids. Muhammad of Ghor was injured and forced to retreat.
SECOND BATTLE OF TARAIN
  • Muhammad Ghori was determined to establish his authority over India. He was not disheartened over his defeat. He wanted to avenge his humiliation. He reorganised and strengthened his army. With a large cavalry of unrivalled marks-men, he again descended the plains of Tarain in 1192.
  • Prithviraj again formed a confederation of the north Indian Kings. Nevertheless, Jai Chand of Kanauj, not only kept himself aloof.
  • The crux of the defeat of Prithviraj is that the sovereignty of a considerable part of India passed into the hands of the foreigners. The sovereignty of the Rajputs ended to a great extent. In the words of V.S. Smith, “The second battle of Tarain in 1192, may be regarded as the decisive contest which ensured the ultimate success of the Mohammadan attack on Hindustan.”
 DEATH
  • After Prithviraj’s death, Muhammad installed the Chahamana prince Govindaraja on the throne of Ajmer, which further supports this theory.