Archaeology and Vaishnava Tradition, Part Five

BY: SUN STAFF - 7.1 2019

Muslim Invaders, from Kashmir to China

Part Five of a monograph by Ramaprasad Chanda, published by the Archaeological Survey of India, 1998.

Varahamihara died in 589 A.D. The door of the Hindu society of those days was open to foreigners. Huns, Gujars, and Ye-tas [1] (Yets or Gats) who poured into the north-western parts of India in the fifth century A.D. were absorbed by the Hindus. So Alberuni's statement that the aversion of the Hindus for westerners dates from the time of the Zoroastrian revival in Persia is not quite correct. But Alberuni himself offers the best explanation of this great change in the Hindu attitude towards foreigners in what he says after his reference to the expulsion of the Buddhists from the Persian kingdom. He writes:

"But then came Islam; the Persian empire perished, and the repugnance of the Hindus against foreigners increased more and more when the Muslims began to make their inroads into their country; for Muhammad Ibn Elkasim Ibn Elmunnabih entered Sindh from the side of Sijistan (Sakastane) and conquered the cities of Bahmanva (Brahmanavata) and Mulasthana (Multan), the former of which he called Al-mansura, the latter Al-mamura.

He entered India proper, and penetrated even as far as Kanauj, marched through the country of Gandhara, and on his way back, through the confines of Kashmir, sometimes fighting sword in hand, sometimes gaining his ends by treaties, leaving to the people their ancient belief, except in the case of those who wanted to become Muslims. All these events planted a deeply rooted hatred in their hearts." [2]

The Arab invasion did something more far-reaching than mere planting "a deeply rooted hatred" for aliens in the hearts of the Hindus. It led to a revolutionary change of the Hindu angle of vision. Hindus could no longer recognize in the new invaders from the west the representatives of those Sakas, Yavanas and Pahlavas, who, according to their sacred books, were originally Kshatriyas but had degenerated into Sudras merely from not enjoying the opportunity of seeing Brahmans. The new Yavanas came, they saw Brahmans, but instead of rushing to the feet of the latter to pray for the restoration of their lost Kshatriyahood, summoned them to accept the Koran.

The coming of the Muslims caused biter disappointment and disillusionment both to the Brahmans and to the Sramans who were otherwise indifferent to political changes and fortunes of war. The Muslim desecraters of the temples could not of course be recognized as niravasita or clean. Muhammad Ibn Alkasim "himself hung a piece of cow's flesh" on the neck of the famous Sun-god of Multan "as a sign of mockery." "When the Karmatians occupied Multan, Jalam Ibn Shaiban, the usurper, broke the idol into pieces and killed its priest." [3]

The cultured and tolerant Arabs are the actors in the first act of the great drama of the Muslim conquest of Hindustan. In the second act were concerned a different type of Muslims, the ruthless and fanatical Turks. Alberuni is an eye-witness of the tragedy. I shall conclude this long digression with this acute and impartial observer's account of those events and their consequences:

"Now in the following times no Muslim conqueror passed beyond the frontier of Kabul and the river Sindh until the days of the Turks, when they seized the power in Ghazna under the Samani dynasty, and the supreme power fell to the lot of Nasir-uddaula Sabuktagin. This prince chose the holy war as his calling, and therefore called himself Al-ghazi (i.e., warring on the road of Allah). In the interest of his successors he constructed, in order to weaken the Indian frontier, those roads on which afterwards his son Yamin-uddaula Mahmud marched into India during a period of thirty years and more. God be merciful to both father and son! Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country, and performed there wonderful exploits, by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions, and like a tale of old in the mouth of the people. Their scattered remains cherish, of course, the most inveterate aversion towards all Muslims. This is the reason why Hindu sciences have retired far away from those parts of the country conquered by us, and have fled to places which our hands cannot yet reach, to Kashmir, Benaras and other places. And there the antagonism between them and all foreigners received more and more nourishment both from political and religious sources." [4]



[1] Watters, On Yuan Chuang, I, p. 200 
[2] Alberuni's India, I, p. 21
[3] Ibid, p. 116 
[4] Alberuni's India, I, p. 22