Mahmud of Ghazni

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Mahmud of Ghazni (محمود غزنوی; November 971 – 30 April 1030), also known as Mahmūd-i Zābulī (محمود زابلی), was the most prominent ruler of the Ghaznavid Empire. He conquered the eastern Iranian lands, modern Afghanistan, and the northwestern Indian subcontinent (modern Pakistan) from 997 to his death in 1030. Mahmud turned the former provincial city of Ghazna into the wealthy capital of an extensive empire that covered most of today's Afghanistan, eastern Iran, and Pakistan, by looting the riches and wealth from the then Indian subcontinent.

Quotes from The History of India as told by its own Historians[edit]

  • Sultan Mahmud at first designed in his heart to go to Sijistan, but subsequently preferred engaging previously in a holy war against Hind, and he distributed arms prior to convening a council on the subject, in order to secure a blessing on his designs, of exalting the standard of religion, of widening the plain of right, of illuminating the words of truth, and of strengthening the power of justice. He departed towards the country of Hind, in full reliance on the aid of Allah, who guiding by his light and by his power, bestowed dignity upon him, and gave him victory in all expeditions. On his reaching Purshaur (Peshawar), he pitched his tent outside the City
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. pp. 24-25.
  • 'Noon had not arrived when the Musulmans had wreaked their vengeance on the infidel enemies of Allah, killing 15,000 of them, spreading them like a carpet over the ground, and making them food for beasts and birds of prey' The necklace was taken off the neck of Jaipal, - composed of large pearls and shining gems and rubies set in gold, of which the value was two hundred thousand dinars; and twice that value was obtained from necks of those of his relatives who were taken prisoners, or slain, and had become the food of the mouths of hyenas and vultures. Allah also bestowed upon his friends such an amount of booty as was beyond all bounds and all calculation, including five hundred thousand slaves, beautiful men and women. The Sultan returned with his followers to his camp, having plundered immensely, by Allah's aid, having obtained the victory, and thankful to Allah' This splendid and celebrated action took place on Thursday, the 8th of Muharram, 392 H., 27th November, 1001 AD'14
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. p. 27
  • 'The Sultan, contrary to the disposition of man, which induces him to prefer a soft to a hard couch, and the splendour of the cheeks of pomegranate-bosomed girls to well-tempered sword blades, was so offended at the standard which Satan had raised in Hind, that he determined on another holy expedition to that land'
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. p. 33
  • 'After this he returned to Ghazna in triumph; and, on his arrival there, he ordered the court-yard of his palace to be covered with a carpet, on which he displayed jewels and unbored pearls and rubies shining like sparks, or like wine congealed with ice, and emeralds like fresh springs of myrtle, and diamonds in size and weight like pomegranates. Then ambassadors from foreign countries, including the envoy from Taghan Khan, king of Turkistan, assembled to see the wealth which they had never yet even read of in books of the ancients'
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. p. 35
  • 'The Sultan again resolved on an expedition to Hind, and marched towards Narain, urging his horses and moving over ground, hard and soft, until he came to the middle of Hind, where he reduced chiefs, who, up to that time obeyed no master, overturned their idols, put to the sword the vagabonds of that country, and with delay and circumspection, proceeded to accomplish his design. He fought a battle with the chiefs of the infidels, in which Allah bestowed upon him much booty in property, horses, and elephants, and the friends of Allah committed slaughter in every hill and valley. The Sultan returned to Ghazna with all the plunder he had obtained'
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. p. 36
  • 'After the Sultan had purified Hind from idolatry, and raised mosques therein, he determined to invade the capital of Hind, to punish those who kept idols and would not acknowledge the unity of Allah. He collected his warriors and distributed money amongst them. He marched with a large army in the year 404 H., 1013 AD during a dark night ...'The Sultan returned, marching in the rear of this immense booty, and slaves were so plentiful that they became very cheap; and men of respectability in their native land, were degraded by becoming slaves of common shopkeepers. But this is the goodness of Allah, who bestows honours on his religion and degrades infidelity ...
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. pp. 37-39
  • 'The chief of Tanesar was on this account obstinate in his infidelity and denial of Allah. So the Sultan marched against him with his valiant warriors, for the purpose of planting the standards of Islam and extirpating idolatry... The blood of the infidels flowed so copiously that the stream was discoloured, and people were unable to drink it. Had not night come on and concealed the traces of their flight, many more of the enemy would have been slain. The victory was gained by Allah's grace, who has established Islam forever as the best of religions, notwithstanding that idolators revolt against it. The Sultan returned with plunder which it is impossible to recount - Praise be to Allah, the protector of the world, for the honour he bestows upon Islam and Musulmans!...22
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. p. 40-41
  • 'When Chandal23 heard of the advance of the Sultan, he lost his heart from excess of fright, and as he saw death with its mouth open towards him, there was no resource to him but flight. The Sultan ordered therefore that his five forts should be demolished from their foundations, the inhabitants buried in their ruins, and imprisoned. The Sultan, when he heard of the flight of Chandal, was sorely afflicted, and turned his horse's head towards Chand Rai, one of the greatest men in Hind, who reigned in the fort of Sharwa [Siraswa]'
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. p. 47
  • 'The Sultan summoned the most religiously disposed of his followers, and ordered them to attack the enemy immediately. Many infidels were consequently slain or taken prisoners in this sudden attack, and the Musulmans paid no regard to the booty till they had satiated themselves with the slaughter of the infidels and worshippers of the sun and fire. The friends of Allah searched the bodies of the slain for three whole days, in order to obtain booty... The booty amounted in gold and silver, rubies and pearls, nearly to three thousand thousand dirhams, and the number of prisoners may be conceived from the fact, that each was sold for from two to ten dirhams. These were afterwards taken to Ghazna, and merchants came from distant cities to purchase them, so that the countries of Mawarau-n nahr, Irak and Khurasan were filled with them, and the fair and the dark, the rich and the poor, were commingled in one common slavery.'26
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. p. 49-50
  • The Sultãn then departed from the environs of the city, in which was a temple of the Hindûs. The name of this place was Maharatul Hind' On both sides of the city there were a thousand houses, to which idol temples were attached, all strengthened from top to bottom by rivets of iron, and all made of masonry work'...
    'In the middle of the city there was a temple larger and firmer than the rest, which can neither be described nor painted. The Sultãn thus wrote respecting it: - 'If any should wish to construct a building equal to this, he would not be able to do it without expending an hundred thousand, thousand red dînãrs, and it would occupy two hundred years even though the most experienced and able workmen were employed The Sultãn gave orders that all the temples should be burnt with naptha and fire, and levelled with the ground.'...
    'In Kanauj there were nearly ten thousand temples, which the idolaters falsely and absurdly represented to have been founded by their ancestors two or three hundred thousand years ago' Many of the inhabitants of the place fled and were scattered abroad like so many wretched widows and orphans, from the fear which oppressed them, in consequence of witnessing the fate of their deaf and dumb idols. Many of them thus effected their escape, and those who did not fly were put to death,'
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. pp. 44-46
  • 'So he prayed to the Almighty for aid, and left Ghaznî on the 10th of Sha'bãn AH 414' with 30,000 horse besides volunteers, and took the road to Multãn. After he had crossed the desert he perceived on one side a fort full of people, in which there were wells. People came down to conciliate him, but he invested the place, and God gave him victory' So he brought the place under the sway of Islãm, killed the inhabitants, and broke in pieces their images'
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. pp. 469-471
  • 'The chief of Anhilwãra called Bhîm, fled hastily' Yamînu-d daula again started for Somnãt, and on his march he came to several forts in which were many images serving as chamberlains or heralds of Somnãt, and accordingly he (Mahmûd) called them Shaitãn. He killed the people who were in these places, destroyed the fortifications, broke in pieces the idols and continued his march to Somnãt
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. pp. 469-471
  • 'This temple of Somnãt was built upon fifty-six pillars of teak wood covered with lead. The idol itself was in a chamber' Yamînu'd daula seized it, part of it he burnt, and part of it he carried away with him to Ghaznî, where he made it a step at the entrance of the Jãmi' masjid
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. pp. 469-471
  • SOMNÃT-A celebrated city of India, is situated on the shores of the sea, and washed by its waves. Among the wonders of that place was the temple in which was placed the idol called Somnãt' When the Sultãn Yamînu-d Daula Mahmûd bin Subuktigîn went to wage religious war against India, he made great efforts to capture and destroy Somnãt, in the hope that Hindus would become Muhammadans. He arrived there in the middle of Zîl K'ada AH 416 (December AD 1025). The Indians made a desperate resistance' The number of slain exceeded 50,000
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. I : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. pp. 97-98
  • Nãsiru-d dîn [Subuktigîn] died in the year AH 387 (AD 997) and the command of his troops descended to Mahmûd by inheritance, and by confirmation of Nûh, son of Mansûr' He demolished the Hindû temples and gave prevalence to the Muhammadan faith.
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. pp. 252
  • He now attacked the fort of Bhîm, where was a temple of the Hindus. He was victorious, and obtained much wealth, including about a hundred idols of gold and silver. One of the golden images, which weighed a million mishkãls, the Sultãn appropriated to the decoration of the Mosque of Ghaznî, so that the ornaments of the doors were of gold instead of iron.
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. III : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. p. 65
  • He several times waged war against the infidels of Hindustãn, and he brought under his subjection a large portion of their country, until, having made himself master of Somnãt, he destroyed all idol temples of that country'.
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. IV : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. p. 166
  • Sultãn Mahmûd, having entered into the idol temple, beheld an excessively long and broad room, in so much that fifty-six pillars had been made to support the roof. Somnãt was an idol cut out of stone, whose height was five yards, of which three yards were visible, and two yards were concealed in the ground. Yamînu-d daula having broken that idol with his own hand, ordered that they should pack up pieces of the stone, take them to Ghaznîn, and throw them on the threshold of the Jãma' Masjid.
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. IV : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. p. 182-83
  • 'From that place the Sultãn proceeded to a certain city, which was accounted holy by the people of the country. In that city the men of Ghaznîn saw so many strange and wonderful things, that to tell them or to write a description of them is not easy' In short, the Sultãn Mahmûd having possessed himself of the booty, burned their idol temples and proceeded towards Kanauj.'....The Ghaznivids found in these forts and their dependencies 10,000 idol temples, and they ascertained the vicious belief of the Hindus to be, that since the erection of these buildings no less than three or four hundred thousand years had elapsed. Sultãn Mahmûd during this expedition achieved many other conquests after he left Kanauj, and sent to hell many of the infidels with blows of the well tempered sword. Such a number of slaves were assembled in that great camp, that the price of a single one did not exceed ten dirhams.'
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. IV : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. p. 178-80
  • Mahmûd, as soon as his eyes fell on this idol, lifted up his battle-axe with much anger, and struck it with such force that the idol broke into pieces. The fragments of it were ordered to be taken to Ghaznîn, and were cast down at the threshold of the Jãmi Masjid where they are lying to this day.
    • Elliot and Dowson, Vol. II : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. p. 471

Quotes from Muslim medieval histories[edit]

  • “many infidels were consequently slain or taken prisoner in this sudden attack, and the Musulmans paid no regard to the booty till they had satiated themselves with the slaughter of the infidels and the worshippers of sun and fire. The friends of god searched the bodies of the slain for 3 whole days in order to obtain booty.”
    • Utbi (court historian) cited in Andrew Bostom: Legacy of Jihad, p 631-2, 83, 445
  • The city of Taneshar is highly venerated by Hindus. The idol of that place is called Cakrasvamin, i.e. the owner of the cakra, a weapon which we have already described. It is of bronze, and is nearly the size of a man. It is now lying in the hippodrome in Ghazna, together with the Lord of Somanath, which is a representation of the penis of Mahadeva, called Linga.
    • E.C. Sachau (tr.), Alberuni's India, New Delhi Reprint, 1983 p. 117.
  • The linga he raised was the stone of Somnath, for soma means the moon and natha means master, so that the whole word means master of the moon. The image was destroyed by the Prince Mahmud, may God be merciful to him! - AH 416. He ordered the upper part to be broken and the remainder to be transported to his residence, Ghaznin, with all its coverings and trappings of gold, jewels, and embroidered garments. Part of it has been thrown into the hippodrome of the town, together with the Cakrasvamin, an idol of bronze, that had been brought from Taneshar. Another part of the idol from Somanath lies before the door of the mosque of Ghaznin, on which people rub their feet to clean them from dirt and wet.
    • E.C. Sachau (tr.), Alberuni's India, New Delhi Reprint, 1983, p. 102-103
  • 'When Sultãn Mahmûd ascended the throne of sovereignty, his illustrious deeds became manifest unto all mankind within the pale of Islãm when he converted so many thousands of idol temples into masjids' He led an army to Nahrwãlah of Gujarãt, and brought away Manãt, the idol, from Somnãth, and had it broken into four parts, one of which was cast before the entrance of the great Masjid at Ghaznîn, the second before the gateway of the Sultãn's palace, and the third and fourth were sent to Makkah and Madînah respectively.'
    • Tabqãt-i-Nãsirî, translated into English by Major H.G. Reverty, New Delhi Reprint, 1970, Vol. I, pp. 81-82.
  • 'Among die different coins struck in Mahmûd's reign one bore the following inscription: 'The right hand of the empire, Mahmûd Sultãn, son of Nãsir-ud-Dîn Subuk-Tigîn, Breaker of Idols.' This coin appears to have been struck at Lãhor, in the seventh year of his reign.'
    • Tabqãt-i-Nãsirî, translated into English by Major H.G. Reverty, New Delhi Reprint, 1970, Vol. I,p. 88, footnote 2.
  • The Sultãn now received information that there was a city in Hindustãn called Thãnessar, and there was a great temple there in which there was an idol called Jagarsom, whom the people of Hindustãn worshipped. He collected a large force with the object of carrying on a religious war, and in the year AH 402 marched towards Thãnessar. The son of Jaipãl having received intelligence of this, sent an envoy and represented through him, that if the Sultãn would relinquish this enterprise, he would send fifty elephants as tribute. The Sultãn paid no heed to this offer, and when he reached Thãnessar he found the city empty. The soldiers ravaged and plundered whatever they could lay hands upon, broke the idols and carried Jagarsom to Ghaznîn. The Sultãn ordered that the idol should the placed in front of the place of prayer, so that people would trample upon it.'
    • The Tabqãt-i-Akbarî translated by B. De, Calcutta, 1973, Vol. I, p. 7
  • 'From that place [Mahãwan] the Sultãn advanced to Mathurah, which is a large city containing many temples' and the Sultãn completely destroyed the city and burnt the temples' There was one golden idol which was broken up under the orders of the Sultãn...'Then in accordance with his custom, he advanced with his army towards Hindustãn with the object of the conquest of Somnãth' there were many golden idols in the temple in the city, and the largest of these idols was called Manãt'...When he reached Somnãth, the inhabitants shut the gate on his face. After much fighting and great struggles the fort was taken, and vast multitudes were killed and taken prisoners. The temples were pulled down, and destroyed from their very foundations. The gold idol Somnãth was broken into pieces, and one piece was sent to Ghaznîn, and was placed at the gate of the Jãmi' Masjid; and for years it remained there.'
    • The Tabqãt-i-Akbarî translated by B. De, Calcutta, 1973, Vol. I, p. 11-16
  • Asjadi composed the following qaSîda in honour of this expedition: When the King of kings marched to Somnãt, He made his own deeds the standard of miracles' 'Once more he led his army against Somnãt, which is a large city on the coast of the ocean, a place of worship of the Brahmans who worship a large idol. There are many golden idols there. Although certain historians have called this idol Manãt, and say that it is the identical idol which Arab idolaters brought to the coast of Hindustãn in the time of the Lord of the Missive (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him), this story has no foundation because the Brahmans of India firmly believe that this idol has been in that place since the time of Kishan, that is to say four thousand years and a fraction' The reason for this mistake must surely be the resemblance in name, and nothing else' The fort was taken and Mahmûd broke the idol in fragments and sent it to Ghaznîn, where it was placed at the door of the Jãma' Masjid and trodden under foot.'....'In the year AH 402 (AD 1011) he set out for Thãnesar and Jaipãl, the son of the former Jaipãl, offered him a present of fifty elephants and much treasure. The Sultãn, however, was not to be deterred from his purpose; so he refused to accept his present, and seeing Thãnesar empty he sacked it and destroyed its idol temples, and took away to Ghaznîn, the idol known as Chakarsum on account of which the Hindûs had been ruined; and having placed it in his court, caused it to be trampled under foot by the people...From thence he went to Mathra which is a place of worship of the infidels and the birthplace of Kishan, the son of Basudev, whom the Hindûs Worship as a divinity - where there are idol temples without number, and took it without any contest and razed it to the ground. Great wealth and booty fell into the hands of the Muslims, among the rest they broke up by the orders of the Sultãn, a golden idol
    • Muntakhãbut-Tawãrikh, translated into English by George S.A. Ranking, Patna Reprint 1973, Vol. I, p. 17-28
  • The king, in his zeal to propagate the faith, now marched against the Hindoos of Nagrakote, breaking down their idols and razing their temples. The fort, at that time denominated the Fort of Bheem, was closely invested by the Mahomedans, who had first laid waste the country around it with fire and sword.'...'In the year AH 402 (AD 1011), Mahmood resolved on the conquest of Tahnesur, in the kingdom of Hindoostan. It had reached the ears of the king that Tahnesur was held in the same veneration by idolaters, as Mecca by the faithful; that they had there set up a number of idols, the principal of which they called Jugsom, pretending that it had existed ever since the creation. Mahmood having reached Punjab, required, according to the subsisting treaty with Anundpal, that his army should not be molested on its march through his country...'The Raja's brother, with two thousand horse was also sent to meet the army, and to deliver the following message:- 'My brother is the subject and tributary of the King, but he begs permission to acquaint his Majesty, that Tahnesur is the principal place of worship of the inhabitants of the country: that if it is required by the religion of Mahmood to subvert the religion of others, he has already acquitted himself of that duty, in the destruction of the temple of Nagrakote. But if he should be pleased to alter his resolution regarding Tahnesur, Anundpal promises that the amount of the revenues of that country shall be annually paid to Mahmood; that a sum shall also be paid to reimburse him for the expense of his expedition, besides which, on his own part he will present him with fifty elephants, and jewels to a considerable amount.' Mahmood replied, 'The religion of the faithful inculcates the following tenet: That in proportion as the tenets of the prophet are diffused, and his followers exert themselves in the subversion of idolatry, so shall be their reward in heaven; that, therefore, it behoved him, with the assistance of God, to root out the worship of idols from the face of all India. How then should he spare Tahnesur?'...'This answer was communicated to the Raja of Dehly, who, resolving to oppose the invaders, sent messengers throughout Hindoostan to acquaint the other rajas that Mahmood, without provocation, was marching with a vast army to destroy Tahnesur, now under his immediate protection. He observed, that if a barrier was not expeditiously raised against this roaring torrent, the country of Hindoostan would be soon overwhelmed, and that it behoved them to unite their forces at Tahnesur, to avert the impending calamity....
    • Tãrîkh-i-Firishta, translated by John Briggs under the title History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India, first published in 1829, New Delhi Reprint 1981, Vol. I, pp. 27-37.
  • 'Mahmood having reached Tahnesur before the Hindoos had time to take measures for its defence, the city was plundered, the idols broken, and the idol Jugsom was sent to Ghizny to be trodden under foot...'Mahmood having refreshed his troops, and understanding that at some distance stood the rich city of Mutra, consecrated to Krishn-Vasdew, whom the Hindoos venerate as an emanation of God, directed his march thither and entering it with little opposition from the troops of the Raja of Delhy, to whom it belonged, gave it up to plunder. He broke down or burned all the idols, and amassed a vast quantity of gold and silver, of which the idols were mostly composed. He would have destroyed the temples also, but he found the labour would have been excessive; while some say that he was averted from his purpose by their admirable beauty. He certainly extravagantly extolled the magnificence of the buildings and city in a letter to the governor of Ghizny, in which the following passage occurs: 'There are here a thousand edifices as firm as the faith of the faithful; most of them of marble, besides innumerable temples; nor is it likely that this city has attained its present condition but at the expense of many millions of deenars, nor could such another be constructed under a period of two centuries.'...'The King tarried in Mutra 20 days; in which time the city suffered greatly from fire, beside the damage it sustained by being pillaged. At length he continued his march along the course of a stream on whose banks were seven strong fortifications, all of which fell in succession: there were also discovered some very ancient temples, which, according to the Hindoos, had existed for 4000 years. Having sacked these temples and forts, the troops were led against the fort of Munj'...'The King, on his return, ordered a magnificent mosque to be built of marble and granite, of such beauty as struck every beholder with astonishment, and furnished it with rich carpets, and with candelabras and other ornaments of silver and gold. This mosque was universally known by the name of the Celestial Bride. In its neighbourhood the King founded an university, supplied with a vast collection of curious books in various languages. It contained also a museum of natural curiosities. For the maintenance of this establishment he appropriated a large sum of money, besides a sufficient fund for the maintenance of the students, and proper persons to instruct youth in the arts and sciences'...'The King, in the year AH 410 (AD 1019), caused an account of his exploits to be written and sent to the Caliph, who ordered it to be read to the people of Bagdad, making a great festival upon the occasion, expressive of his joy at the propagation of the faith.'
    • Tãrîkh-i-Firishta, translated by John Briggs under the title History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India, first published in 1829, New Delhi Reprint 1981, Vol. I, pp. 27-37.
  • 'In this year, that is AH 412, Sultãn Mahmûd learnt that the people of Hindustãn had turned against the Rãjã of Qanauj' Nandã, the Rãjã of Kãlinjar attacked Qanauj because Rãjã Kuwar (of Qanauj) had surrendered to Sultãn Mahmûd. As a result of this attack Rãjã Kuwar was killed. When Sultãn Mahmûd learnt it, he collected a large army' and started towards Hindustãn with a view to take revenge upon Rãjã Nandã. As the army of Musalmãns reached the Jumnã, the son of Rãjã Ãnand Pãl' stood in the way of Mahmûd. The river of Jumnã was in spate at this time' and it became very difficult for the army to get across' But as chance would have it, eight royal guards of Mahmûd showed courage and crossed the river' they attacked the army of the Hindûs and dispersed it' the son of Ãnand Pãl ran away with his chiefs. All the eight royal guards' entered a city nearby and they plundered it to their heart's content. They demolished the temples in that place
    • Tãrîkh-i-Firishta, by Muhammad Qãsim Hindû Shãh Firishta, Translated from the Urdu version of Tãrîkh-i-Firishta by Abdul Haî Khwãjah, Deoband, 1983, pt. I, p. 125. In Goel S.R. Hindu Temples What Happened to them
  • 'About this time the King learned that the inhabitants of two hilly tracts, denominated Kuriat and Nardein, continued the worship of idols and had not embraced the faith of Islam' Mahmood resolved to carry the war against these infidels, and accordingly marched towards their country' The Ghiznevide general, Ameer Ally, the son of Arslan Jazib, was now sent with a division of the army to reduce Nardein, which he accomplished, pillaging the country, and carrying away many of the people captives. In Nardein was a temple, which Ameer Ally destroyed, bringing from thence a stone on which were curious inscriptions, and which according to the Hindoos, must have been 40,000 years old...'The celebrated temple of Somnat, situated in the province of Guzerat, near the island of Dew, was in those times said to abound in riches, and was greatly frequented by devotees from all parts of Hindoostan' Mahmood marched from Ghizny in the month of Shaban AH 415 (AD Sept. 1024), with his army, accompanied by 30,000 of the youths of Toorkistan and the neighbouring countries, who followed him without pay, for the purpose of attacking this temple'...'Some historians affirm that the idol was brought from Mecca, where it stood before the time of the Prophet, but the Brahmins deny it, and say that it stood near the harbour of Dew since the time of Krishn, who was concealed in that place about 4000 years ago' Mahmood, taking the same precautions as before, by rapid marches reached Somnat without opposition. Here he saw a fortification on a narrow peninsula, washed on three sides by the sea, on the battlements of which appeared a vast host of people in arms' In the morning the Mahomedan troops advancing to the walls, began the assault...'
    • Tãrîkh-i-Firishta, translated into English by John Briggs under the title History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India, 4 Volumes, New Delhi Reprint, 1981. p. 38-49
  • The battle raged with great fury: victory was long doubtful, till two Indian princes, Brahman Dew and Dabishleem, with other reinforcements, joined their countrymen during the action, and inspired them with fresh courage. Mahmood at this moment perceiving his troops to waver, leaped from his horse, and, prostrating himself before God implored his assistance' At the same time he cheered his troops with such energy, that, ashamed to abandon their king, with whom they had so often fought and bled, they, with one accord, gave a loud shout and rushed forwards. In this charge the Moslems broke through the enemy's line, and laid 5,000220 Hindus dead at their feet' On approaching the temple, he saw a superb edifice built of hewn stone. Its lofty roof was supported by fifty-six pillars curiously carved and set with precious stones. In the centre of the hall was Somnat, a stone idol five yards in height, two of which were sunk in the ground. The King, approaching the image, raised his mace and struck off its nose. He ordered two pieces of the idol to be broken off and sent to Ghizny, that one might be thrown at the threshold of the public mosque, and the other at the court door of his own palace. These identical fragments are to this day (now 600 years ago) to be seen at Ghizny. Two more fragments were reserved to be sent to Mecca and Medina. It is a well authenticated fact, that when Mahmood was thus employed in destroying this idol, a crowd of Brahmins petitioned his attendants and offered a quantity of gold if the King would desist from further mutilation. His officers endeavoured to persuade him to accept of the money; for they said that breaking one idol would not do away with idolatry altogether; that, therefore, it could serve no purpose to destroy the image entirely; but that such a sum of money given in charity among true believers would be a meritorious act. The King acknowledged that there might be reason in what they said, but replied, that if he should consent to such a measure, his name would be handed down to posterity as 'Mahmood the idol-seller', whereas he was desirous of being known as 'Mahmood the destroyer': he therefore directed the troops to proceed in their work'...'The Caliph of Bagdad, being informed of the expedition of the King of Ghizny, wrote him a congratulatory letter, in which he styled him 'The Guardian of the State, and of the Faith'; to his son, the Prince Ameer Musaood, he gave the title of 'The Lustre of Empire, and the Ornament of Religion'; and to his second son, the Ameer Yoosoof, the appellation of 'The Strength of the Arm of Fortune, and Establisher of Empires.' He at the same time assured Mahmood, that to whomsoever he should bequeath the throne at his death, he himself would confirm and support the same.'
    • Tãrîkh-i-Firishta, translated into English by John Briggs under the title History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India, 4 Volumes, New Delhi Reprint, 1981. p. 38-49
  • After a long time, in AH 400, Allãh' conferred the honour of sultanate on Sultãn Mahmûd Ghãzî, son of Subuktigîn' Nine men from among the Afghãn chiefs' took to his court and joined his servants' The Sultãn' gave to each one of them enamelled daggers and swords, horses of good breed and robes of special quality and, taking them with him, he set out with the intention of conquering Hindustãn and Somnãt....'Rãî Dãishalîm whom some historians have pronounced as Dãbshalîm or Dãbshalam was the great ruler of that country. The Sultan inflicted a smashing defeat on that Rãjã, demolished and desecrated the idol temples there, and devastated that land of the infidels.
    • Tãrîkh-i-Khãn Jahãn Lodî, Translated from the Urdu version by Muhammad Bashîr Husain, second edition, Lahore, 1986, pp. 121-22. In Goel S.R. Hindu Temples What Happened to them. Tãrîkh-i-Khãn Jahãnî wa Makhzan-i-Afghãnî of Khwãjah Niamatallãh Harwî, translated into Urdu by Muhammad Bashîr Husain, second edition, Lahore, 1986.

Quotes about Mahmud of Ghazni from 1800 onwards[edit]

  • In the year 997 a Turkish chieftain by the name of Mahmud became sultan of the little state of Ghazni, in eastern Afghanistan. Mahmud knew that his throne was young and poor, and saw that India, across the border, was old and rich; the conclusion was obvious. Pretending a holy zeal for destroying Hindu idolatry, he swept across the frontier with a force inspired by a pious aspiration for booty. He met the unprepared Hindus at Bhimnagar, slaughtered them, pillaged their cities, destroyed their temples, and carried away the accumulated treasures of centuries. Returning to Ghazni he astonished the ambassadors of foreign powers by displaying "jewels and unbored pearls and rubies shining like sparks, or like wine congealed with ice, and emeralds like fresh sprigs of myrtle, and diamonds in size and weight like pomegranates." 73 Each winter Mahmud descended into India, filled his treasure chest with spoils, and amused his men with full freedom to pillage and kill; each spring he returned to his capital richer than before. At Mathura (on the Jumna) he took from the temple its statues of gold encrusted with precious stones, and emptied its coffers of a vast quantity of gold, silver and jewelry; he expressed his admiration for the architecture of the great shrine, judged that its duplication would cost one hundred million dinars and the labor of two hundred years, and then ordered it to be soaked with naphtha and burnt to the ground. Six years later he sacked another opulent city of northern India, Somnath, killed all its fifty thousand inhabitants, and dragged its wealth to Ghazni. In the end he became, perhaps, the richest king that history has ever known. Sometimes he spared the population of the ravaged cities, and took them home to be sold as slaves; but so great was the number of such captives that after some years no one could be found to offer more than a few shillings for a slave. Before every important engagement Mahmud knelt in prayer, and asked the blessing of God upon his arms. lie reigned for a third of a century; and when he died, full of years and honors, Moslem historians ranked him as the greatest monarch of his time, and one of the greatest sovereigns of any age.
  • At that date, the Mohammedan conqueror, Mahmoud of Ghizni, crossed India; seized on the holy city of Somnauth; and stripped of its treasures the famous temple, which had stood for centuries--the shrine of Hindoo pilgrimage, and the wonder of the Eastern world. Of all the deities worshipped in the temple, the moon-god alone escaped the rapacity of the conquering Mohammedans. Preserved by three Brahmins, the inviolate deity, bearing the Yellow Diamond in its forehead, was removed by night, and was transported to the second of the sacred cities of India--the city of Benares.
  • In the year C.E. 1000 the first attack of Mahmud of Ghazni was delivered. The region of Mahmud’s activity extended from Peshawar to Kanauj in the east and from Peshawar to Anhilwara in the South. In this, wherever he went, he converted people to Islam. In his attack on Waihind (near Peshawar) in 1001-3, Mahmud is reported to have captured Jayapal and fifteen of his principal chiefs and relations some of whom, like Sukhpal, were made Musalmans. At Bhera all the inhabitants, except those who embraced Islam, were put to the sword.
    • Lal, K. S. (2012). Indian muslims: Who are they.
  • Mahmud broke temples and desecrated idols wherever he went. The number of temples destroyed by him during his campaigns is so large that a detailed list is neither possible nor necessary. However, he concentrated more on razing renowned temples to bring glory to Islam rather than waste time on small ones. Some famous temples destroyed by him may be noted here. At Thaneshwar, the temple of Chakraswamin was sacked and its bronze image of Vishnu was taken to Ghazni to be thrown into the hippodrome of the city. Similarly, the magnificent central temple of Mathura was destroyed and its idols broken. At Mathura there was no armed resistance; the people had fled, and Mahmud had been greatly impressed with the beauty and grandeur of the shrines. And yet the temples in the city were thoroughly sacked. Kanauj had a large number of temples (Utbi’s ‘ten thousand’ merely signifies a large number), some of great antiquity. Their destruction was made easy by the flight of those who were not prepared either to die or embrace Islam. Somnath shared the fate of Chakraswamin.
    • Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • No honest historian should seek to hide, and no Musalman acquainted with his faith will try to justify, the wanton destruction of temples that followed in the wake of the Ghaznavid army. Contemporary as well as later historians do not attempt to veil the nefarious acts but relate them with pride.
    • Mohammed Habib, quoted in Elst, K. 2002, Ayodhya: the case against the temple. Ch.10.

External links[edit]

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