Contributed by: Chetan Shirasi

There exist countless gems on earth  yet not known, beyond the light in the darkness lies mysteries never solved and lost in the sands of the time are many heroic tales of unsung heroes.

Even in this 21st century Indians are lucky to worship a religion which is one of oldest. It’s only in India we can say  that our religion is still alive and is in our hearts and not just in any museum .The citizens of Egypt, Greece, Rome and Central Asian cultures are not that so lucky. Today’s generation in these countries can only marvel on these ancient wonders and not be a part of its.  For them they are relics of past. They now have a different religion and a different a God.

Well we have a common belief that the any foreigners who wished to conquer us came and easily conquered us.  “they came they saw and they conquered”

I do say that “they came they saw and they conquered”…but not without a tough fight.

This series of article talks about those souls who gave the tough fight. Because of such men and efforts we can boast that we have a not only our past but also our present connected to a one greatest civilizations the world has ever seen.  Though efforts have been made by indologist and Europeans to conceals their identity, many nationalist writers have given their details .Efforts are being made to carve a place for them in the minds of modern India

‘Let’s pay homage in to these unsung heroes who got lost in the pages of history’

In AD 632, after the death of Muhammad, the Arab Empire was limited only till Arabian Peninsula. The next four Successors of Muhammad (Rashidun Caliphate) rapidly expanded the Arab Empire.

Astonishing as these victories of Islamic armies were, equally amazing was the ease and rapidity with which people of different creeds and races were assimilated within the Islamic fold. To some, Islam did a job of liberator but for others it was forcibly thrust upon. In the span of 35 years Syrians, Persians, Berbers, Turks and others – all were rapidly Islamized and their language and culture Arabicised.

The same Islamic armies, however, had to struggle for 69 long years to make their first effective breach in the borders of India. In the next three centuries, they pushed forward in several provinces of Northern and Western India. But at the end of it all, India was far from being conquered militarily or assimilated culturally. The Arab invasion of India ended in a more or less total failure.

The credit for it goes to the dynasties like Rai’s of Sind, Shahis of Kabul and brave kings like Lalitaditya. These sons of soil put up a stiff resistance for nearly 500 years and allowed the rest of India to blossom.

The Rai dynasty-Hindu-(c.489 AD-712 AD)

The Rai Dynasty was a Hindu dynasty of Sindh-Baluchistan .The influence of the Rai empire extended from Kashmir in the east, Makran and Debal (Karachi) port in the west, Surat port in south, Kandahar, Sistan, Suleyman, Ferdan and Kikanan hills in the north, ruling an area of over 600,000 square miles.

The Emperors of this dynasty were great patrons of Hinduism and Buddhism.

Unfortunately the history of the Rai dynasty is entirely based upon Muslim chronicles such as the Chachnama and the Shahnameh, thereby dating them to about the 5th century. Much of the history in these chronicles degrades these dynasties and Hindu religion. But many of the important fact are also mentioned which give a great deal of insight of these times.

Rout of 1st Caliphate (Rashidun):(632AD-661AD):

After the Arabs defeated the Sassanid allies of Persia (641 AD), the y prepared for the Islamic conquest of the Indian Subcontinent, an area where Buddhism and Hinduism flourished.

Chach of Alor

Chach of Alor came to the throne of Rai dynasty during this time (c. 622-AD) He was Brahmin Chamberlain and Secretary to Rai Sahasi the Second, of the Rai Dynasty .After the death of Rai Sahasi, he married the queen and through her he took power.

The first Encounter: Failed naval expedition:

To gain a control over the silk rout, Caliph Umar (AD 634-644) launched three naval expeditions (circa 636).

  • The first  against Thana on the coast of Maharashtra ,
  • the second against Broach on the coast of Gujarat and
  • third Debal (karachi)in Sindh

All the three were repulsed .and the leader of the Arab army, Mughairah, was defeated and killed in the venture.

Battle of Rasil

The Battle of Rasil was fought between the Rai Kingdom of Sindh and Rashidun Caliphate in early 644. It was first encounter (according to Chachnama) of Rashidun Caliphate in the Indian subcontinent. The exact location of Battle is not known but historians suggest it was fought at the western bank of River Indus.

The Caliph is said to have defeated the Chach of Alor in battle of Battle of Rasil. He annexed Makran and did not venture further into Sindh. The reason for being not venturing in the Sindh was said to be aggressiveness of Chach Rai and the land being described as barren and waste, former being a more apt reason.

Other failed Attempts by Caliphate.

The fourth Caliph, Ali (AD 656-661), sent an expedition by land in AD 660. But the leader of this expedition and those who were with him, saving a few, were slain in the land of Kikan in the year AD 662

Hence the 1st Caliphate movement ended in AD 661 without being able to conquer Sindh.

In 661 AD after a civil war, Umayyad caliphate succeeded the 1st Caliphate. Muawiyah, the succeeding Caliph (AD 661-680), sent as many as five expeditions by land. All of them were repulsed by Rai Chach of Alor with great slaughter

Chach of Alor breathed his last in AD 671. Even today he is revered in the lands of Sindh as the greatest son of soil

Muawiyah sent the last expeditions in which succeeded in occupying Makran in AD 680. Chandra, brother of Chach was ruling Sindh at this time.

Raja Dahir and Muhammad bin Qasim:

Chach of Alor was succeeded by his brother Chandra in 671 AD and ruled around 680 AD. After his rule came Raja (Rai) Dahir. Dahir inherited his father’s persona and is celebrated even today for his bravery

This was the beginning of the 8th century and India was flourishing. Debal (Karachi) was one nerve centre of the silk rout on Arabian Sea. The interest of the Arabs grew in Sindh and Debal in particular.

An expedition was dispatched by Hajjaj, the governor of Iraq to take Debal in AD 708. This twin expedition met with stronger than expected resistance.Its two successive commanders, Ubaidullah and Budail, were killed and the Arab army was routed and slaughtered. Caliph seeing a huge loss was reluctant to send any further expedition.

However Hajjaj was desperate to attack Sind and was looking for a pretext to attack. Soon luck favored him.  According to Chachnama ,a Ship bound to Baghdad  was raided by pirates off the coast of Debal(Karachi), resulting in the capturing both gifts to the caliph from the King of Serendib (modern Sri Lanka) as well as the female pilgrims on board. Using this as a pretext  Hajjaj  declare Jihad on Raja Dahir.

This story is declared highly unreliable by western scholars and Indian scholars because it was written by uncle of Muhammad bin Qasim.

Hajjaj launched a military expedition in AD 711 and gave the command to Muhammad bin Qasim, who entered Sind with an army of 20000.

The majority of populace of sindh was Buddhist and resented Hindu rule.  . This resentment continued in the reign of Raja Dahir as well and many Buddhist locals and their leaders opposed him. When Muhammad bin Qasim attacked Sind they sided with him by enlisting in his army.

Qasim was able to conquer Debal(Karachi)then crossed Indus .He advanced onwards to give Dahir battle at Raor near modern day Nawabshah (712 A.D.) where Dahir died in battle and his wife burned herself to death along with other women of the household in line with Hindu religious custom.

This marked the end of Hindu rule in Sindh for ever.

The Arabs proved to be a bad choice over Raja Dahir and faced opposition from populace. He later adopted secular policies and stopped desecrating Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries. But as soon as he was recalled in AD 714, people of India rebelled, and threw off their yoke, and the country from Debalpur to the Salt Sea only remained under the dominions of the Khalifa.This was only a narrow coastal strip.

Subsequently, the Islamic armies reconquered Sindh, and advanced further where the met a stiff opposition as well.

In the next article we shall see the valor of the Shahis of Kabul

Reference and books

  1. Voice of Dharma (http://www.voiceofdharma.org/books/hhrmi/ch2.htm)
  2. Wikipedia
  3. Chacnama(http://www.cristoraul.com/ENGLISH/readinghall/UniversalHistory/INDIA/THE_CHACHNAMAH/CHACHNAMAH-2.html)

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