This is the story of Prithviraj Chauhan.
It is often wondered how the Islamic invaders were successful in breaking through the defences of the Indian Kings. But unlike modern-day India, the Indian subcontinent was divided into multiple small kingdoms. The invaders on the other hand were united under the umbrella of a common religion. The man in question, Prithviraj Chauhan was the only threat to these invaders. The only Hindu king under whose banner multiple Hindu kingdoms were willing to fight together.
Prithviraj was born in modern-day Gujrat to Someshvara. Someshvara was next in line to become the ruler of the Chahamana dynasty. After being throned as the King, Someshvara decided to move to the city of Ajmer, modern-day Rajasthan. A few years later Someshvara succumbed to illness. And Prithviraj Chauhan was given the throne at the early age of 11.
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For the next three years, Prithviraj Chauhan learned the various skills required by an able king. He took on a journey of his entire kingdom in disguise as an ordinary man. This way he looked into his people’s lives through a common man’s lens. This journey also led him to a secret tribe where he learned the art of ‘Sabd Bhedi Baan’. This form of archery abled him to shoot arrows in the direction of a sound, without even looking at the source of the sound.
At the age of 14, he no longer needed the help of her mother, who acted as a regent till then. He started attending people’s courts and solved the problems of ordinary folk. His experience of being among them helped. His sense of justice and kindness made him a trendy leader.
The Islamic invasion started with the forces of Mohmmad Ghori winning over the Hindu kings of Afghanistan. Prithviraj ruled from modern-day Rajasthan to Delhi and parts of Pakistan. He was the biggest kingdom on the border of central India. But Ghori’s army had a big reputation. Prithviraj did not underestimate his enemy and called for an alliance with neighbouring smaller kingdoms.
The two armies met on the battlefield of Tarain. The fearless approach of the Rajputanas took Ghoris men by surprise and they faced a big defeat. Ghori who had a big horse infantry was able to escape.
Prithviraj Chauhan and his kingdom felt a sense of relief. They had defeated their biggest threat. The time of war had gone, now it was time for love. Prithviraj fell in love with Sanyukta. Prithiviraj Chauhan as a lover is equally popular as Privthiraj as a warrior. The folklore sings both of Prithvi’s battles and his pairing with Sanyukta.
Sanyukta’s father Jaichand was the ruler of the Kannauj kingdom. He was against an alliance with Prithviraj Chauhan. A marriage would have forced his hands. But Prithvi was able to flee with Sanyukta on the day of her Swayamvar. This cemented the rift between Prithviraj and Jaichand.
In the next battle of Tararin, Ghori took advantage of this rift. Prithviraj Chauhan was crushed between a betrayal from Jaichand and a well-executed attack from Ghori. He lost the battle and was taken to Afghanistan as a prisoner. What happened to him there is a matter of debate. One of Prithvi’s royal poets was also taken as a prisoner. According to his account, Ghori burned Prithviraj’s eyes as punishment. Ghori was ignorant of Prithvi’s ‘Sabd Bhedi’ art of archery. Prithviraj used this skill to kill Ghori while the latter gave a victory speech.
With a figure like Prithviraj Chauhan, it is hard to separate legends and facts. For the next 600 years of Islamic rule, Prithviraj shone as a guiding light for Hindu rebellions. His stories and folklore sparked the fire of courage and determination in upcoming Hindu kings. While in present-day India, he became a jewel of Indian history and Hindu heritage.