Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava

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Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava, more commonly known as A.L. Srivastava, born 16 September 1899, in Andhana, Uttar Pradesh, died 12 July 1973, in District Agra, was an Indian historian specialising in medieval, early modern and modern history of India, author of fifteen monographical works, ten of which are research monographs.


  • [The Sultanate of Delhi] “was an Islamic State, pure and simple, and gave no religious toleration to the Hindus… and indulged in stifling persecution.”
    • A.L. Srivastava . The Mughal Empire (Agra, 1964), p.568. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 3
  • Throughout the period of the Sultanate of Delhi, Islam was the religion of the State. It was considered to be the duty of the Sultan and his government to defend and uphold the principles of this religion and to propagate them among the masses ... even the most enlightened among them [the Sultans], like Muhammad bin Tughlaq, upheld the principles of their faith and refused permission to repair Hindu (or Buddhist) temples.... Thus even during the reign of the so-called liberal-minded Sultans, the Hindus had no permission to build new temples or to repair old ones. Throughout the period, they were known as dhimmis, that is, people living under guarantee, and the guarantee was that they would enjoy restricted freedom in following their religion if they paid the jizya. The dhimmis were not to celebrate their religious rites openly ... and never to do any propaganda on behalf of their religion. A number of disabilities were imposed upon them in matters of State employment and enjoyment of civic rights.... It was a practice with the Sultans to destroy the Hindu temples and images therein. Firoz Tghlaq and Sikander Lodi prohibited Hindus from bathing at the ghats [river bank steps for ritual bathers] in the sacred rivers, and encouraged them in every possible way to embrace the Muslim religion. The converts were exempted from the jizya and given posts in the State service and even granted rewards in cash, or by grant of land. In short, there was not only no real freedom for the Hindus to follow their religion, but the state followed a policy of intolerance and persecution. The contemporary Muslim chronicles abound in detailed descriptions of desecration of images and destruction of temples and of the conversion of hundreds and thousands of the Hindus. [Hindu] religious buildings and places bear witness to the iconoclastic zeal of the Sultans and their followers. One has only to visit Ajmer, Mathura, Ayodhya, Banaras and other holy cities to see the half broken temples and images of those times with their heads, faces, hands and feet defaced and demolished.
    • AL Srivastava, Sultanate of Delhi, pp. 304-305., also quoted in Bostom, A. G. M. D., & Bostom, A. G. (2010). The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims. Amherst: Prometheus.
  • Srivastava describes what transpired after Timur's forces occupied Delhi on December 18, 1398: The citizens of the capital, headed by the ulema, waited on the conqueror and begged quarter. Timur agreed to spare the citizens; but, owing to the oppressive conduct of the soldiers of the invading force, the people of the city were obliged to offer resistance. Timur now ordered a general plunder and massacre which lasted for several days. Thousands of the citizens of Delhi were murdered and thousands were made prisoners. A historian writes: “High towers were built with the head of the Hindus, and their bodies became the food of ravenous beasts and birds…such of the inhabitants who escaped alive were made prisoners.”
    • Srivastava quoted in Bostom, A. G. (2015). Sharia versus freedom: The legacy of Islamic totalitarianism.
  • Barring the one short generation under Akbar when the moral and material condition of the people was on the whole good, the vast majority of our population during 1526-1803 led a miserable life.
    • A.L. Srivastava The Mughal Empire (Agra, 1964), quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 3
  • There was persecution, partly religious and partly political, and a stubborn resistance was offered by the Hindus… The state imposed great disabilities upon the non-Muslims… Instances are not rare in which the non-Muslims were treated with great severity… The practice of their religious rites even with the slightest publicity was not allowed, and cases are on record of men who lost their lives for doing so.
    • About persecution in the Delhi Sultanate. Ishwari Prasad. History of Medieval India (Allahabad, 1940 Edition), pp.509-513. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 3
  • Maratha documents show that one of their main objectives was the liberation of the sacred cities of Ayodhya, Varanasi and Prayag. In the year 1751, Maratha armies led by Malhar Rao Holkar defeated the Pathan forces in Doab and immediately after victory, requested Safdarjang to handover Ayodhya, Kashi and Prayag to the Peshwa.
    • A.L Srivastava's (1899 -1973) book "First Two Nawabs of Awadh"(1954)
  • Changiz Khan, who was probably not desirous of violating a neutral state, returned from Afghanistan. Delhi was thus saved. Had he chosen a different course, the Sultanate of Delhi would have been finished in its infancy. But the country, in all likelihood, would have gained, for the Mongols, unlike the Turks, would gradually have merged in Hindu society as they were Shamanists and had much in common with the Indian people.
    • Srivastava, The Sultanate of Delhi, 97. quoted from Sandeep Balakrishna - Invaders and Infidels_ From Sindh to Delhi_ The 500-Year Journey of Islamic Invasions. Bloomsbury India (2020)

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