Essay on the Impact of Ghurid invasions on India


Slowly but inexorably, vital changes occurred in the Indian political, economic and a social life after the Ghurid invasion. The multi-state system of the eleventh and twelfth centuries gradually went out and in came the political ideal of the early Turkish Sultans, a centralised monarchy with absolute pow­ers.

The legal immunity enjoyed by a feudal lord and the localised nature of such an administration could no fit into such a scheme of things and were therefore eased out. Iqtas given to various function­aries played a vital role in dismantling such feudal practices as also in bringing together of the various far-flung parts of the empire and in connecting them to the centre.

“The great advantage of the Ghurids and Turks lay in fact that (unlike the great Rais whom they had displaced) they were acquainted with the fun­damental conditions of an imperial (of large-scale) administration.


The conception of an all-India ser­vice for the higher officers of the king and their appointment, postings, promotions) transfers and dismissals by him in his discretion but after careful consideration and consultation with his high officers would not have been possible for Prithvi Rai III with reference to his subordinate Rais”, says K.A. Nizami.

There came a marked charge in the political sphere, the insularity was got and a broader outlook led to the reduction of the areas of isolation.

According to Sir Jadunath S ka, “….(the close) contact between India and the outer Asiatic world, which had been established in the early Buddhist age, was lost when the Hindu society was reorganised and set in rigidity like a concrete structure about the eighth century AD, with the result that India again became self-centred and isolated from the moving world beyond her natural barriers.

This touch with the rest of Asia and the nearest parts of Africa was restored by the Muslim conquest at the end of the 12th century…”


Then, there was what Professor Habib calls the ‘urban revolution’. The caste cities of the Rajputs were thrown open to all, high and low, brahmanas and chandalas, artisans and workers, because the Turks refused to take caste as the deciding factor, as the principle of civic life.

The artisans, workers and other under-privileged non-caste people joined hands with the new government to build new cities. Actually, the strength of the early Sultans lay centred in those cities, in which the entire surplus of the working classes was at the disposal of the govern­ment.

Next, there was the change in the composition and character of the army, in its recruitment and maintenance. There was no more the monopoly of a special group or caste; the army was open to all who could stand the rough and tumble of war, irrespective of caste, creed or colour. No more was it a heterogenous group of divided loyalties made up of the feudal quota system.

In its place, there was a standing army, centrally recruited, centrally paid and centrally administered. There was a depar­ture in the tactics as also in strategies: Sawaran-i- Muqatala (mounted soldiers) replaced the Paiks (the foot-soldiers) and crushing heaviness gave way to mobility and swift striking ability. No wonder, the Turks were able to resist the Mongol incursion into India with the reorganised Indian armies.


Professor Nizami is of the opinion that the Turkish invasion was a rude shock to the then existing social order and was naturally welcomed by the people who suffered under it. “The continuance of Turkish rule in India for a long period and the almost continuous expansion of its sphere of influ­ence is inexplicable except in terms of the accep­tance and acquiescence of the Turkish rule by the Indian people. Had the Indian masses resisted the establishment of their rule, the Ghurids would not have been able to retain even an inch of Indian territoiy.”

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