The Arab conquest of India in the eight century was only a passing phase in the History of India. In other words we can also say that their invasion was merely an episode in the History of India. However, the work started by the Arabs was completed by the Truks, a brave, energetic and enthusiastic people who poured into India from beyond the Afghan hills. The Turks were barbaric people who were employed by the Khalifas to protect their person.
In other words we can also say that in the eighth and ninth centuries, the Turks got the upper hand over the Khalifas of Baghdad. The Turks were different from the Arabs. They were more aggressive than the Arabs. They spread Islam at the point of sword. They were brave and full of boundless energy. They were thoroughly materialistic in their outlook. They were full of ambition. They were eminently fitted for establishing a military empire in the East so, in the course of time
Turks came to occupy a position of dominance by relegating the Arabs to the background. Actually the power of the Arabs began to decline after the fall of Khalifa omaxyad. The new Khalifa Abbasibs, who succeeded him began to neglect the Arab aristocracy and entrusted the administration to the persion officials. This led to the replacement of the democratic Ideals of the Arabs by the despotic ideas of the Persians.
With the decline in the power of the Khalifa the central authority was greatly weakend. This encouraged the local governors to assert their independence and a number of independent principalities made their appearance which was ruled by the persions, Turkish, Kurdish, Arab and other.
Slowly the Turks established their dominance and conquered large parth of western Asia. By the middle of the tenth century, they even began to invade India Lane-Poole descibes the expansion of the Turks as “the master movement in the Mohammadan Empire in the tenth and eleventh centuries.”
Early TURK Invasions of India
The first Turkish adventurer whose name is associated with the story of Muslim conquest of India was Alaptgin. He was a man of great ability and courage. He was originally a slave of Abdul Malik, the Samanid King of Bukhara (Persia). By dint of sheer ability, he rose to the rank of Hajib-ul-Hujjab. He was appointed the Governor of Khorasan in 956 A.D. When Abdul Malik died in 962 A.D., there was a struggle for succession to throne between his brother and uncle.
Alaptgin took up the cause of the uncle but in spite of that, Mansur, the brother of Abdul Malik, gained throne. It was under these circumstances that Alaptgin settled in Ghazni in Afghan territory with his personal retainers who numbered about 800. He frustrated the plots of Mansur to dislodge him from Ghazni and retained the mastery of the city and its neighbourhood. Alaptgin died in 963 A.D. and was succeeded by chiefs like Abul Ishaq, Bilaktgin and Piritgin. The latter even organised certain attachs against India and but did not succeed.
After the death of Alaptgin, there was once again struggle for power” and it was in 977 A.D. that Subuktgin became the king of Ghazni. Subuktgin was also originally a slave of Alaptgin. He had been’purchased by Alaptgin from a certain merchant who had brought him from Turkestan to Bukhara. As Subuktgin appeared to be a promising youngman, he was given promotions by his master. He was given the title of Amir-ul-Umra. Alaptgin also married his daughter to him.
It was with the accession of Subuktgin the Afghan power greatly expanded. Subuktgin tried to coalesce the Afghans into a compact body and extended him sphere of influence by conquering Lamghan and Sistan. After settling himself on the throne, he started a career of conquest which brought him into prominence in the Eastern world. After years of continued fighting, he was able to secure the province of Khorasan in 994 A.D. Ambitious as he was; Subaktgin directed his attention towards the conquest of India, a country full of riches and the worshippers of idols.
First Invasion the first Indian ruler he had to meet was Raja Jai Pal of the Shahi Dynasty whose kingdom extended from Sarhind to Lamghan (Jalalabad) and from Kashmir to Multan. Shahi Kings had their capitals successively at Und, Lahore and Bhatinda. In 986-87 A.D., Subuktgin attacked the Indian Territory for the first time. He conquered forts and captured cities “which had up to that time been tenanted only by infidels and not trodden by the camels and horses of Musalmans.”
This was too much for Jai Pal. He collected his troops and marched into the valley of Lamghan where he was met by Subuktgin and his son. The battle dragged on for several days. A snow-storm upset all the calculations of Jai Pal. It was under these circumstances that he sued for peace. Subuktgin was willing to accept the terms of peace but Mahmud, his son, asked him to continue the war for “the honour of Islam and of Musalmans.”
He addressed his father in these words: “Cry neither for peace nor demand it, for you are the highest and God is with you, and will not suffer your affairs to fail.” In spite of his initial failure, Jai Pal sent the following message to Subuktgin: “You have seen the impetuosity of the Hindus and there in difference to death whenever any calamity befalls them, as at this moment.
If therefore, you refuse to grant peace in the hope of obtaining plunder, tribute, elephants, and prisoners, then there is no alternative for us but to mount the horse of stern determination, destroy our property, take out the eyes of our elephants, cast our children into the fire, and rush on each other with sword and spear, so that all that will be left to you, is stones and dirt, dead bodies, and scattered bones.”
After this, peace was made and Jai Pal agreed to pay a tribute of one million Dirhams, fifty elephants and some cities and fortresses situated in his dominion. He was also to send two hostages to Subuktgin as a guarantee for fulfilling the terms of the treaty.
The Second Invasion:
It is stated that as soon as Jai Pal found him out of danger, he decided to violate the terms of peace and imprisoned the officers of Subuktgin who had accompanied him. Subuktgin was very much annoyed and he appeared like a “foaming torrent”. He at once marched towards India to punish Jai Pal for his “wickedness and infidelity.” The border lands of Jai Pal were ravaged and the town of Lamghan was captured.
When Jai Pal found that “his chiefs had become the food of vultures and hyenas and that weakness had fallen on his arm, he resolved to fight once more against the Muslims.” He organised in 991 A.D., a confederacy of the rulers of Ajmer, Kalinjar and Kanauj and started at the head of more than a lakh of soldiers to meet the enemy.
There was bitter fighting and ultimately the Hindus “turned their tails, towards their heads like frightened dogs and the Raja was contented to offer the best things in his most distant provinces to the conqueror on condition that the hair on the crowns of their heads should not be shaven off.” Subuktgin got a lot of booty including 200 elephants of war. Jai Pal a heavy tribute. The sovereignty of Subuktgin was acknowledged by Jai Pal. Subuktgin appointed one of his officers with ten thousand horses to the government of Peshawar.
Before Subuktgin could proceed further, he died in 997 A.D. exhausted by perpetual worse and conquests living behind him a large and well established kingdom for him son, Mahmud. There is no doubt that Subuktgin was a brave and virtuous ruler. He ruled him territory for about 20 years with prudence, equity and moderation.