Hindu Shahi

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The Hindu Shahis (850–1026 CE) were a Gujar dynasty that held sway over the Kabul Valley, Gandhara and western Punjab during the early medieval period in the Indian subcontinent. Details regarding past rulers have been assembled from chronicles, coins and stone inscriptions by researchers as no consolidated account of their history has become available.


  • ’The Hindu Shahi dynasty is now extinct, and of the whole house there is no longer the slightest remnant in existence. We must say that, in all their grandeur, they never slackened in the ardent desire of doing that which is good and right, that they were men of noble sentiment and bearing.
  • Dr. Misra observes: “The Shahis fought with valour and tenacity for nearly fifty years. They ultimately collapsed against the repeated onslaughts of the Turks, led by one of the greatest generals their race has produced but not before three generations of the Shahi kings had sacrificed themselves on the battlefield.”
    • S.R. Goel, (1994) Heroic Hindu resistance to Muslim invaders, 636 AD to 1206 AD. ISBN 9788185990187 , quoting Ram Gopal Misra, Indian Resistance to Early Muslim Invaders Upto 1206 A.D. (1983).
  • The Sahis were great patrons of scholars and religious foundations. Anandapala is known to have paid a lavish sum of 200,000 dirhams , besides other presents of similar value, to publicise the work of his teacher Ugrabhuti. Bhimadeva is said to have built a temple in Kashmir as an act of charity. The construction of at least two temples at Udabhandapura by members of the royal family is known from inscriptions.
    • Abdur Rahman, The Last Two Dynasties of the Shahis, Delhi Reprint, 1988
  • In spite of these religious foundations and the keen interest they took in promoting the Hindu sciences, the Sahis displayed tolerance towards other communities. The existence of Jews and Muslims at the capital cities of Kabul and UdabhangLapura is clearly mentioned by our sources. The fact that our chroniclers do not mention molestation, except on one occasion when the Muslims were driven out of Kabul, presumes peaceful co-existence.
    • Abdur Rahman, The Last Two Dynasties of the Shahis, Delhi Reprint, 1988
  • “On reaching Dawar, [Ibn Samurah] surrounded the enemy in the mountain of Zur, where there was a famous Hindu temple.... As he entered victoriously into the sacred precincts of the temple, also called Zur or Zun, he noticed an idol of gold with two rubies for eyes. The zealous Muslim at once cut off the hands of the idol with one stroke and plucked the eyes out of their sockets but then returned everything to the priest, remarking that he 'only wanted to demonstrate how powerless was his idol to do either good or evil'.
    • About Ibn Samurah at Seistan. Abdur Rahman, The Last Two Dynasties of the Shahis, Delhi Reprint, 1988
  • “…Their idol of Zur was of gold, and its eyes were two rubies. The zealous Musalmans cut off its hands and plucked out its eyes, and then remarked to the Marzaban how powerless was his idol to do either good or evil…”
  • “He first took Bamian, which he probably reached by way of Herat, and then marched on Balkh where he ruined (the temple) Naushad. On his way back from Balkh he attacked Kabul…“Starting from Panjhir, the place he is known to have visited, he must have passed through the capital city of the Hindu Sahis to rob the sacred temple - the reputed place of coronation of the Sahi rulers-of its sculptural wealth…“The exact details of the spoil collected from the Kabul valley are lacking. The Tarikh [-i-Sistan] records 50 idols of gold and silver and Mas’udi mentions elephants. The wonder excited in Baghdad by elephants and pagan idols forwarded to the Caliph by Ya’qûb also speaks for their high value....“ The best of our authorities put the date of this event in 257 (870-71). Tabari is more precise and says that the idols sent by Ya’qub reached Baghdad in Rabi’ al-Akhar, 257 (Feb.-March, 871). Thus the date of the actual invasion may be placed at the end of AD 870.”
    • About Ya’qub bin Laith (AD 870-871) at Balkh and Kabul (Afghanistan) . Abdur Rahman, The Last Two Dynasties of the Shahis, Delhi Reprint, 1988,
  • “It is related that Amru Lais conferred the governorship of Zabulistan on Fardaghan and sent him there at the head of four thousand horse. There was a large Hindu place of worship in that country, which was called Sakawand, and people used to come on pilgrimage from the most remote parts of Hindustan to the idols of that place. When Fardaghan arrived in Zabulistan he led his army against it, took the temple, broke the idols in pieces and overthrew the idolaters…”
    • About ‘Amru bin Laith (AD 879-900) at Sakawand (Afghanistan). Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians Vol. II, p. 172.
  • But the Arabs, inspired as they were by an imperialist ideology, did not give up. .... The war against Kabul was renewed in AD 695 when Hajjaj became the governor of Iraq. He sent an army under Ubaidullah, the new governor of Seistan. Ubaidullah was defeated .... Once again, the treaty was denounced by the Caliph, and another general, Shuraih, tried to advance upon Kabul. He was killed by the Hindus, and his army suffered huge losses as it retreated through the desert of Bust. Poor Ubaidullah died of grief. That was the third round won by the Hindu kingdom of Kabul.... The Arabs had failed once again to conquer finally another small Hindu principality, in spite of their being the mightiest power on earth. The struggle had lasted for more than two hundred years. ... The kingdom of Kabul suffered a temporary eclipse in AD 870 but not on account of the Arabs, nor as a result of a clash of arms. The Turkish adventurer, Yaqub bin Layth, “who started his career as a robber in Seistan and later on founded the Saffarid dynasty of Persia”, sent a message to the king of Kabul that he wanted to come and pay his homage. The king was deceived into welcoming Yaqub and a band of the latter’s armed followers in the court at Kabul. Yaqub “bowed his head as if to do homage but he raised the lance and thrust it into the back of Rusal so that he died on the spot”. A Turkish army then invaded the Hindu kingdoms of both Kabul and Zabul. The king of Zabul was killed in the battle, and the population was converted to Islam by force. ... But the succeeding Hindu king of Kabul who had meanwhile transferred his capital to Udbhandapur on the Indus, recovered Kabul after the Saffarid dynasty declined. Masudi who visited the Indus Valley in AD 915 “designates the prince who ruled at Kabul by the same title as he held when the Arabs penetrated for the first time into this region”.
    • S.R. Goel, (1994) Heroic Hindu resistance to Muslim invaders, 636 AD to 1206 AD. ISBN 9788185990187, also quoting Ram Gopal Misra, Indian Resistance to Early Muslim Invaders Upto 1206 A.D. (1983).
  • [In short, the economic crisis in the Hindu-Shahiya kingdom added to its political predicament...] Hindu women sold their jewels and sent the monneny from distant parts to be used against the Musalmans. Their poorer sisters, who had no jewels to sell, worked feverishly at the spinning-wheel or as hired labourers to be able to send something to the men of the army.
    • Ferishtah, quoted in Lal, K. S. (2001). Historical essays. New Delhi: Radha.(II:13)

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