Hindu Vengeance: Killing of Emir Junaid, the successor of Bin Qasim by gurjars and Maharaja Bappa Rawal.
With the break-up of the Gupta Empire (550 CE), northern India was covered with warring states, which attempted to wrest the imperial position left vacant by the Guptas. Among these were Yasodharman of Malwa, the Maitrakas of Vallabhi, and Emperor Harshavardhana of Thanesar. Emperor Harshavardhana unified whole North India in the 7th century. But in the early 8th century North India was divided into several kingdoms. The most powerful kingdoms of North India in the 8th century were the Gurjara Pratihara dynasty and the Pala dynasty.
Before the onset of this age West Asia was conquered by the politico-religious ideology of Islam (7th Century). Under the Umayyad Caliphs the Muslim Arabs attempted to conquer the frontier kingdoms of India; Kabul, Zabul, and Sindh, but were repulsed. In the early 8th Century the Kingdom of Sindh under Brahmin King Dahir of the Rai dynasty was convulsed by internal strife, taking advantage of the conditions the Arabs renewed their assaults and finally occupied it under Muhammad ibn Qasim, the nephew of Al-Hajjaj (governor of Iraq and Khurasan). Qasim and his successors attempted to expand from Sindh into Punjab and other regions but were badly defeated by Lalitaditya of Kashmir and Yasovarman of Kannauj. Even their position in Sindh was unstable at this time. Arab forces failed to make any substantial gains in India.
Events leading up to battle Junayd ibn Abd al-Rahman al-Murri, the successor of Muhammad ibn Qasim, finally subdued the Hindu resistance within Sindh. Taking advantage of the conditions in Western Bharat, which at that time was covered with several small states, Junaid led a large army into the region in early 730 AD. Dividing this force into two he plundered several cities in southern Rajasthan, western Malwa, and Gujarat. The desire to invade Bharat rose in the hearts of Muslim after they conquered Persia but they failed to meet success due the powerful leaders in Bharat.
Indian records confirm this invasion but record the Arab success only against the smaller states in Gujarat. They also record the defeat of the Arabs at two places. The southern army moving south into Gujarat was defeated at Navsari by Avanijanashraya Pulakesi who was sent by the South Indian Gurjar Emperor Vikramaditya II of the Chalukya Empire.The army that went east, reached Avanti whose ruler Gurjara Pratihara Nagabhata utterly defeated the invaders and they fled to save their life.
The Battle of Rajasthan
The Battle of Rajasthan was one of the serious battles fought in Bharat. Bappa Rawal was already fighting with Muslim soldier when he received help from other Hindu leaders in Bharat. Some which included Pratihara King, Nagabhata and king of Chalukya Empire, Jaysimha Varman. Later Jaysimha Varman asked his son to help Nagabhata. Both the kingdom helped Bappa Rawal in the war.
Gauging at the seriousness of the situation as well as the power of the arab forces, pratihara king, Nagabhata made pact with Jaysimha Varman of the Rashtrakuta Empire. Jaysimha in turn sent his son Avanijanashraya Pulakesi to support Nagabhata. The two Dynasties of India supplemented the already fighting Hindu Gurjar Mewar Kingdom, under Bappa Rawal, at the border of Rajasthan.
Bappa Rawal came across the truth that, Hindu faith and culture was on constant destruction under the ruler of Arabs. He also believed that Arabs were destroying the ancient temples and places belonged to Hindu. Bappa Rawal always had a vision to develop Bharat at any cost. He loved Bharat due to which he fought wars to save Bharat from foreigners.
The battle was fought between 8000 Gurjar Infantry and cavalry facing more than 40,000 Arabs. The Gurjar fought bravely and with extraordinary ferocity, managed to kill the Arab leader Emir Junaid during the war on the first day itself. This highly enhanced the morale of the Gurjar hindu forces while the Arabs disorganized and demoralized due to their leaders death retreated and were frequently attacked by local forces until they reached the indus river taking very high casualties.
Junayd’s successor Tamim ibn Zaid al-Utbi organized a fresh campaigns against Rajasthan but failed to hold any territories there. He would be further pushed across River Indus by the combined forces of the King of Kannauj, Nagabhata C.E. thus limiting the Arabs to the territory of Sindh across River Indus.
In the words of the Arab chronicler Suleiman, “a place of refuge to which the Muslims might flee was not to be found, river, trees, mountains every place were hunted for Arabs”. The Arabs crossed over to the other side of the River Indus, abandoning all their lands to the victorious Indian kings. The local chieftains took advantage of these conditions to re-establish their independence. Subsequently the Arabs constructed the city of Mansurah on the other side of the wide and deep Indus, which was safe from attack. This became their new capital in Sindh.
Equipment and resources
In the Gwalior inscription it is recorded that Nagabhata crushed the large army of the powerful muslim king. This large army consisted of cavalry, infantry, siege artillery, and probably a force of camels. Since Tamin was a new governor he had a force of Syrian cavalry from Damascus, local Arab contingents, converted Hindus of Sindh, and foreign mercenaries like the Turks. All together the invading army have had anywhere between 35,000-40,000 men. In comparison the Indians had around 6,000-8,000 men.
The Arab chronicler Suleiman describes the army of the Imperial Gurjara Pratiharas as it stood in 851 CE; The king of Gurjars maintains numerous forces and no other Indian prince has so fine a cavalry. He is unfriendly to the Arabs, still he acknowledges that the king of the Arabs is the greatest of kings. Among the princes of India there is no greater foe of the Islamic faith than he. He has got riches, and his camels and horses are numerous.
But at the time of the Battle of Rajasthan the Gurjar Pratihars had only just risen to power. In fact Nagabhatta was their first prominent ruler. But the composition of his army, which was predominantly cavalry, is clear from the description. There are other anecdotal references to the Indian kings and commanders riding elephants to have a clear view of the battlefield. The infantry stood behind the elephants and the cavalry formed the wings and advanced guard.
The Arabs in Sindh took a long time to recover from their defeat. In the early 9th Century the governor Bashar attempted an invasion of India but was defeated. Even a naval expedition sent by the Caliphs was defeated by the Saindhava clan of Kathiawar. After this the Arab chroniclers admit that the Caliph Mahdi, “gave up the project of conquering any part of India for next few centuries”.
The Arabs in Sindh lost all power and broke up into two warring Shia states of Mansurah and Multan, both of which paid tribute to the Gurjara Pratiharas. The local resistance in Sindh, which had not yet died out and was inspired by the victories of their Indian neighbors manifested itself when the foreign rulers were overthrown and Sindh came under its own dynasties like the Soomras and Sammas.
Bappa Rawal was one of the intelligent ruler. After being in throne for 20 years he gave up his throne to his son and he went on to become Siva Upasak. He then became a ‘Yati’. While leaving his throne Bappa Rawal always requested his successor that Bharat shouldn’t be harmed by any foreign country. Bappa Rawal was true Hindu who understood that he couldn’t control Bharat at so old age therefore he devoted himself in preaching and devoting himself to Shiva.
Note: I personally feel Maharaja Bappa Rawal to be the greatest dream killer of Mohammad as if Arabs entered Bharat deep at that time, and after 40-50 years of loot they would have went after China, Russia, entire Europe and Japan and captured it with army raised by India’s wealth in next few centuries i.e. by 900 -1000AD. Which brings a very probable scenario of America being discovered by some Arab traders. The present day world would have been very different if Emir Junaid was not killed.
– Satish Anna (Writer of Article)