India On The Eve Of Turkish Invasion – Free PDF Download


  • Around 7th century with the rise of Islam in Central Asia, the confrontations between the expansionist Caliphate forces and the native kingdoms of Gurjara-Pratihara and later with the Chauhans of Delhi-Ajmer paved way for Age of Conflict.
  • The frontier regions, especially northwest from time immemorial had witnessed foreign invaders making their way to the Indian subcontinent.
  • By the end of the 9th century CE, the Abbasid Caliphate declined.
  • The Turkish government established independent kingdoms and the Caliph became only a ritual authority.
  • One among them was Alpatgin, whose actual capital was Ghazni.
  • His successor and son-in-law Subuktigin wanted to conquer India from the northwest.
  • He succeeded in capturing Peshawer from Jayapal.
  • But his raids did not produce a lasting effect.
  • He was succeeded by his son Mahmood.
  • By the 11th century, these newly Islamized Turks began to push in India.

Rise of Islam:

  • The religion Islam was born at Mecca in Arabia.
  • Its founder was Prophet Muhammad.
  • But his teachings made the wealthy people of Mecca his enemies.
  • Therefore, he migrated to Medina in 622 CE, which was the starting point of the Muslim calendar and the Muslim era called Hijra.
  • After eight years he returned to Mecca with his followers.
  • He died in 632 CE.
  • The followers of Muhammad set up an empire called the Caliphate.
  • Ummayads and Abbasids were called the Caliphs.
  • Expanded their rule by conquest and spread their religion Islam.

Developments invest in Central Asia:

  • The rise of Islam, it’s conquest of West Asia and Iran, and it’s slow expansion into Khorasan( northeast part of Persia and covering also parts of Central Asia and Afghanistan) and Central Asia, particularly the fertile tract called Transoxiana or Mawara-un-nahar(“transitional zone” between Central Asia and the Lands of ancient civilization in East Asia that is between the rivers Oxuz and Syr Darya) led to a gradual contraction of India’s cultural and political influence in the area, which was largely Buddhist and affected India’s Overland trade with the China and West Asia and trade from the seaports.
  • However, the rise of Arab sea traders revived India’s sea trade, or did not keep themselves away on account of the sentiments in some quarters that travel across the salt-seas or beyond the areas where the munj grass grew would lead to the loss of one’s Caste.
  • Thus, Indian traders lived in the areas around the Persian Gulf and beyond, and of Indian wades and Craftsman were being welcomed at the court of the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad.
  • Arab traders settled down in Malabar.

  • The Rashtrakuta rulers who dominated western India, Malwa parts of South India up to the 10th century welcomed the Arab traders, and even permitted them to build mosques for worship.
  • TheAbbasid empire, which reached its zenith in the 9th century, comprised at its height the areas of Constantinople and Egypt to Central Asia and the Arabian Peninsula.
  • From the end of the 9th century, when the Abbasid empire disintegrated, a series of aggressive, expansionist state arose.
  • These states were independent in all but name, as they accepted the nominal Suzerainity of the Caliph who legitimized their position by granting them a formal letter or Manshur.
  • In course of time, rulers of these states began to be called Sultans.
  • Most of these Sultans were Turks.
  • TheTurks who were nomads and lived in areas now known as Mongolistan and Sinkiang, since, 8th century, been infiltrating into the region called

Islamization of Turks:

  • Iranian rulers of the area, and the Abbasid Caliphs, brought in the Turks as mercenaries and slaves, and recruited them as Palace guards.
  • Turkish immigrants became Islamized and Persianized.
  • They assimilated the Iranian language and culture which was dominant in the region.
  • Even earlier, both Arabic and Persian had been the languages of the ruling classes, and Persian culture and administrative practices had influenced the Abbasids.
  • Turks fought the Turkish tribes which had not converted, and later expanded into India.
  • The dynasties that came after the fall of Abbasids were Samanid dynasty(874-999 CE), Ghaznavids(962-1186), Seljukids and Khwarizmi.
  • The Khwarizmi empire was destroyed by the Mongol, Genghis Khan, in the 13th century.
  • These empires fought each other, as also smaller potentates in the region whom they tried to subordinate.
  • In the fierce battle for survival in the West and Central Asia, military efficiency was considered the most valuable asset.
  • This led to the growth of a militarism which spelt immediate danger to India and its outlying areas- Zabulistanand Afghanistan, which till, then, had not been converted to Islam.

Political condition of India on the Eve of Turkish invasion

  • The Indian subcontinent was a mosaic of many kingdoms of varying size and strength.
  • The neighboring kingdoms constantly indulged in warfare for the extension of their territories.
  • Political disintegration in the North and central India can be traced to the death of Harshvardhan(647 CE).
  • On the ruins of Vardhana empire a number of new kingdoms came into existence.

  • These kingdoms were not bound by any principle of unity.
  • Though some of these kingdoms were quite extensive and powerful they could not present any tangible opposition to the Turkish invaders as they weaken themselves due to internal strife and external conflict.
  • The chief kingdoms that existed on the Eve of Turkish invasion were the following:

The Arab kingdoms of Sindh and Multan:

  • The Arab invasion of Sindh 712 CE under the leadership of Muhammad bin Qasim resulted in the establishment of the Arab rule over Sindh and Multan.
  • Initially, the Arab rulers owed their allegiance to the caliph of Baghdad.
  • However, since 871 CE they asserted their political independence from the Caliph and for diplomatic reasons they offered nominal allegiance to him.
  • However, it is important to note that the Arab conquest of Sindh did not help in any way in the establishment of the Turkish rule in India.


The Brahmin Hindu Shahi Kingdom:

  • The Brahmin dynasty of the Shahiyas ruled over an extensive territory spread from the River Chenab to Multan and including the northwestern frontier.
  • The Hindu Shahi Kingdom had played an important role in resisting the advance of the Arabs in North India for nearly 200 years.
  • The rise of Ghaznavid empire in Afghanistan, the Hindu shahis were forced to give up a part of their Kingdomincluding Kabul and shift their capital toward hand on the right Bank of River Indus.


The Kingdom of Kashmir:

  • Kalhan’s Rajtarangini( 12th century) gives a detailed account of the Kingdom of Kashmir.
  • After the death of emperor Ashoka, Kashmir became an independent Kingdom.
  • The greatest ruler of Kashmir was Lalitaditya( 725- 755) who defeated Yashovarman, the ruler of Kannauj in 740 CE.


The Pratihara rulers of western India:

  • The origin of Pratihara is shrouded in mystery.
  • A number of scholars are of the opinion that they were the descendants of Gurjara race.
  • The Pratihara established a powerful Kingdom in the western regions of India.
  • Vatsraja was one of the prominent rulers of the dynasty who acquired the title of Samrat.
  • He defeated Dharampala, the ruler of Bengal and gainedcontrol over Kannauj , which had been the Imperial capital of Harshwardhan and Yashovarman.
  • There was a Tripartite Struggle for the control of Kannauj between the Pratiharas, Palas of Bengal and the Rashtrakutas of deccan.



The Palas of Bengal:

  • The Pala Kingdom was founded in Bengal in the middle of 8th century.
  • The Pala dynasty lasted for four centuries and had 17 rulers.
  • The Pala Kingdom included considerable regions of Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Assam.
  • Pala influence extended to Tibet and Southeast Asia.
  • The greatest ruler of the Pala dynasty was Dharampala.
  • The struggle for mastery over Kannauj began during his reign.


The Rashtrakutas of Malkhed:

  • Rahtrakutas were feudatories of Chalukyas of Badami.
  • Following the downfall of Chalukas, one of their vassals, Dantidurga laid the foundation of Rashtrakuta power in 750 CE with Malkhed near Sholapur as capital.
  • The Pratiharas and Palas was a contemporary of the Rashtrakutas.
  • Rashtrakutas came into conflict with the Pratiharas for the control of Gujarat and Malwa.


The Rajput Kingdoms:

  • With the break of the Pratihara empire, a number of Rajput kingdoms came into existence in North and central India.
  • On the Eve of Turkish invasions, the Rajputs ruled major parts of northern and central India.
  • Where and how the Rajputs originated is still a mystery.
  • According to some scholars, the Rajputs were of foreign origin.
  • This suggested by the efforts that were made by the Brahmins to give them Royal lineages and grant them Kshatriya status.
  • They were provided with Genealogies, which connected them either with the Solar( Sooryavanshi) or Lunar( Chandravanshi) or fire( Agnivanshi)
  • In this way Royal respectability was conferred on them.




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