Essay on the Second Battle of Tarain (1191-92)

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The humiliation of the defeat in the first battle of Tarain affected Muizzuddin deeply. Ferishta says that the Sultan was morose for a long time and aban­doned food and drink. He engaged himself day and night to prepare for a major offensive against the Rai of Pithora and then, all of a sudden, after a year’s preparation he was on the road to India. At Peshawar, listening to the entreaties of an old Ghurid officer, he pardoned the disgraced Amirs.

The Tajul Maasir says that from Lahore he sent Ruknuddin Hamza with a letter to Prithviraj asking for submission. Prithviraj replied in the negative and appealed to all the rais of Hindustan for help.

According to ferishta, Prithviraj’s army consisted of hundred thousand Rajput and Afghan horse-men which again is doubtful. The army of Muizzuddin composed of one hundred and twenty thousand fully equipped soldiers, reported Minhaj. He set up camp in the same place at Tarain where he had suffered defeat a year or so before, facing 150 Rais of Hindustan who came to crush him or be crushed, according to Ferishta.

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Muizzuddin chalked out a very careful strategy lor this encounter. His central division consisting of supplies, banners, elephants, etc. were left far behind to give the enemy a wrong impression of his strength. He advised this contingent to come to his only after the other divisions had engaged themselfs the fight. They were required to act as a reserve. The rest of his force he divided into divisions, and they were to attack the enemy fro four sides. A further 10,000 lightly armed e also with them and they were specially aim their arrows at the elephant-drivers.

The strategy worked and the whole line of elephants was disi irbed as soon as some elephant-drivers were wounded. On seeing the enemy ranks disturbed, Muizzuddin applied pressure from right, left and the centre. The Hindu formations were broken up and the soldiers scattered in all directions.

It is said that the elephants of the Indian army Delhi ruler, Govind Rai, attacked the archer contingent under the command of the Ghurid general Kharbak. Kharbak protected himself with a shield known as karwa, a cover made of raw bullock- hide, stuffed on both sides with wool or cotton. No weapon could pierce it and the Ghurid infantry was protected by this defensive covering like a wall.

Anyway, Muizzuddin’s plans were successful in defeating Prithviraj heavily. Dismounting from his elephant, Prithviraj took a horse and fled from the battlefield, but was caught near Sarsuti. He was taken to Ajmer and was allowed to function for some time. Later, however, he was charged with treason and was executed. A semi-contemporary Sanskrit account, Viruddhavidhi-Viddhavamsa refers to his rule in Ajmer and there are some coins of him bearing the legend Sri Muhammad Sam indicating that he accepted Muizzuddin as his sovereign. After his death, his son ruled Ajmer as a vassal of Muizzuddin for some time. The same policy was followed in respect of Govinda who was killed in the battle. His successor was allowed to rule Delhi under the authority of Muizzuddin. According to Hasan Nizami, other Rais and Muqaddams of the area were likewise allowed to continue after they agreed to pay Malguzari and were ready to perform marasim-i-khidmati (duties of submission). Muizzuddin, however, maintained a lashkar-gah (military outpost) at Indpat.

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