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Raja Dahir ( , ), born 679 AD — died 712 AD, was the last Hindu ruler situated in Sindhmarker and parts of Punjab in modern day Pakistanmarker. During the beginning of the Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent his kingdom was conquered by Muhammad bin Qasim for the Umayyad Caliphate.

Reign as recounted in the Chach-Nama

The Chach Nama is the oldest chronicle of the Arab conquest of Sindh. It was translated into Persian by Muhammad Ali bin Hamid bin Abu Bakr Kufi in 1216 CE. from an earlier Arabic text believed to have been composed by the Sakifí family, the kinsmen of Muhammad bin Qasim. At one time it was considered to be a romance until Mountstuart Elphinstone's observations of its historical veracity.

It recounts Raja Dahir as a PushkarnaBrahmin king and son of Chachmarker of Alor who ascended the throne upon the death of his uncle Chandar. His wife grew up at Brahmanabad with their elder brother Daharsiah who arranged her marriage to the King Sohan of Bhatia. She was then moved to reside at the capital Alor (Aror) with Dahir preceding the wedding. However in an attempt to circumvent a prophecy that declared that her husband would rule a strong kingdom from his capital at Aror, Dahir is reported to have married her instead and the event resulted in both severe criticism and a conflict with his brother Daharsiah. who immediately assembled and army and marched upon Dahir. His brother however died of disease during the siege of Aror. Dahir then marched to Brahmanabad where he subdued the area and consolidate his support base, by instating Daharsiah's son Chach as the ruler and marrying his brothers widow who was also the sister of Sarhand Lohanah, a powerful chieftain who commanded the allegiance of various Jat tribes to .

Eight years later his kingdom was invaded by Ramal or Kannaujmarker. After initial losses the enemy advanced upon Aror so he allied hismself with one Alafi Arab. Alafi and his warriors, who were in exile from the Umayyad Caliph were recruited and led Dahir's armies in repelling the invading forces. They then stayed on as valued members of Dahirs court. In the later war with the Caliphate however Alafi served in the capacity of a military advisor but refused to take active part in the campaign; as a result of which he later secured a pardon from the Caliph.

Reign as recounted by Ferishta

Ferishta s account of the events leading to the invasion and after of Sindh and Raja Dahir are at considerable variance to the Chachnamah . He cites various sources other than the Chahnamah in

Lead up to war with the Umayyads

The primary reason noted in the Chach Nama for the expedition by the governor of Basramarker Al-Hajjaj bin Yousef against Raja Dahir, was the raid by pirates off the coast of Debal. resulting in the capturing both gifts to the caliph from the King of Serendib (modern Sri Lankamarker) as well as the female pilgrims on board who were captured. The Chach nama reports that upon hearing of the matter Hajjaj wrote a letter to the Raja and upon unsuccessful resolution being reached, launched of a military expedition. Other reasons attributed to the Umayyad interest in gaining a foothold in the Makran, Balochistanmarker and Sindhmarker regions in addition to protecting their maritime interests, are the participation of armies from Sindh alongside Persians in various battles such as those at Nahawand, Salasal and Qādisiyyahmarker and the granting of refuge to fleeing rebel chieftains.

Ethnography of Raja Dahir's Sindh

Some writers call Raja Dahir a ruler of a predominantly Buddhist state However it is possible that the Buddhism of Sindh was actually just Buddhistic Hinduism as it was in Bengal under the Pala Dynasty and Andhra under the Satavahanas. It is also pointed out by some scholars such as Ikram that only southern Sindh was Buddhist in majority.

The Chinese Buddhist ambassador to Sindh in A.D. 641, Hiuen Tsiang reported many temples of Lord Shiva of Neelkanth Mahadev, especially along the banks of the Sindhu River this gives credence to presence of Bargujar Kings in this area as they were the worshipers of Neelkanth Mahadev and made many temples as in Sariska ,Alwar,Kalinjar ,Baroli etc.. It is believed that even Zoroastrians (or at least Magis) had lived in Sindh during the reign of Raja Dahir.

War with the Umayyads

First Campaign

The first force was led by Badil bin Tuhfa and landed at Nerun Kot (modern Hyderabadmarker), where it was supported by Abdullah bin Nahban the governor of Makran. They were, however, defeated at Debal (modern Karachimarker)Elliot places it at Thattamarker.

Second Campaign

Hajaj's next campaign was launched under the aegis of Muhammad bin Qasim. In 711 A.D Qasim assaulted Debal and upon the express orders of Al-Hajjaj exacted a bloody retribution on Debal in the freeing of both the earlier captives as well as prisoners from the previous failed campaign. Other than this instance the policy adopted is seen as generally being one of enlisting and co-opting support from both defectors as well as the defeated lords and forces. From Debal he then moved on to Nerun for supplies, where the city's Buddhist governor had acknowledged itself as a tributary of the Caliphate after the first campaign and opened the gates to the forces of the second. Qasim's armies then moved on to capture Siwistan (Sehwanmarker) and received the alliance of various tribal chiefs and secured the surrounding regions, With whom he captured the fort at Sisam and thereby secured the regions to the west of the Indus Rivermarker.

The Chachnama provides accounts of the rule by successors of the Rai Dynasty as one marked by persecution of Buddhists, Jats and Meds from the time of Chach as well as of a prophecy on the fall of Raja Dahir being a factor in swaying many defections to Qasim's army.

However, sociologist U.T Thakur suggest a more complex dynamic, suggesting that Hinduism (being the religion of the dominant castes) and Buddhism (being the religion of the recessive castes) existed side by side. The king was a Brahmin, but a majority of his advisers were Buddhists. The ruler of Brahmanabad, a Jatt, also had professed Buddhism as his spiritual guide. Nonetheless, there was a strong sense of "ideological dualism" between them, which he wrote was the inherent weakness that the Arabs exploited in their favor when they invaded the region.

By enlisting the support of various local tribes, such as the Jats, Meds, Bhuttos and Buddhist rulers of Nerun, Bajhra, Kaka Kolak and Siwistan, as infantry to his predominantly cavalry army Muhammad bin Qasim defeated Dahir and captured his eastern territories for the Umayyad Caliphate.

Dahir then attempted to prevent Qasim from crossing the Indus river and so moved his forces to its eastern banks in an attempt prevent Qasim from furthering the campaign. Eventually however, Qasim successfully completed the crossing and defeated an attempt to repel them at Jitor led by Jaisiah, the son of Dahir. Qasim then advanced onwards to give Dahir battle at Raor near modern day Nawabshahmarker (712 A.D.) where Dahir died in battle.

King Dahir died in battle and the sister Dahar had married for the sake of his kingship burned herself to death with other women of her household. The historian Mada'ini preserves a short poem of triumph said to have been uttered by the Arab who killed him:

The horses at the battle of Dahir and the spears
And Muhammad b. Qasim b. MuhammadBear witness that I fearlessly scattered the host of them
Until I came upon their chief with my sword.And left him rolled in the dirt.Dust on his unpillowed cheek


When Dahir's severed head was presented to Hajjaj, a courtier sang: ``we have conquered Sindh after enormous trouble.... Betrayed is Dahir by Mohammed Bin Qasim's masterly strategy. Rejoice, the evil doers are disgraced. Their wealth has been brought away . . . They are now solitary and brittle as eggs and their women, fair and fragrant as musk-deer, are now asleep in our harems.

Lineage

He was the son of the Rani Suhanadi and Chach of Alor. Chach was initially the Munshi (Chamberlain) of Raja Sahasi Rai II of the Rai Dynasty then later ruler of Sindhmarker.

Modern Legacy

In modern times, Raja Dahir is admired by many, including a countable part of Sindhi Muslims (Sunni and Shiites) for defending both Sindh and Muhammad Bin Allafi, Hindus for defending India and the Hindus, and Zoroastrians for defending Sindh for them.

Even though the Sindhi Muslims admit Raja Dahir as their king, the Muslims elsewhere in the country publish slander about the raja. In a Pakistan textbook of Social Studies for Class VI (Sindh Textbook Board, 1997) Raja Dahir is described as a cruel king, who went on to marry his own sister and was involved in piracy. On the other hand, textbooks of Sindh and Sindhis themselves refuse to classify Raja Dahir as an enemy and perceive him as a fatherly-figure.

Ayaz Latif Palijo, referred to by Sindhis as “Quaid-e-Inqilab” (Leader of Revolution), admired by Sindhi nationalists criticized the invader and praised Raja Dahir.

See also



Footnotes

  1. Wink, 153
  2. Common Era year is an approximation of the Islamic calendar date 613 AH.
  3. Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg: The Chachnamah, An Ancient History of Sind, Giving the Hindu period down to the Arab Conquest. Commissioners Press 1900, Section 14 [1] Then Dáhar wrote a letter to his brother, couched in gentle words, and in it he referred to the horoscope of Bái, and said: “The astrologers divined, by means of their science, that this princess would be the queen of Alór, and her husband would be the king who was to hold fast all these territories. To remedy and avert this unpleasant consequence, I took it upon myself to commit this shameful breach of royal etiquette and social rules. We now make the apology that what we considered expedient to do was done through necessity, and not of our own free will. Do therefore excuse us.”
  4. Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg: The Chachnamah, An Ancient History of Sind, Giving the Hindu period down to the Arab Conquest. Commissioners Press 1900, Section 18: "It is related that the king of Sarandeb* sent some curiosities and presents from the island of pearls, in a small fleet of boats by sea, for Hajjáj. He also sent some beautiful pearls and va­luable jewels, as well as some Abyssinian male and female slaves, some pretty presents, and unparalleled rarities to the capital of the Khalífah. A number of Mussalman women also went with them with the object of visiting the Kaabah, and seeing the capital city of the Khalífahs. When they arrived in the province of Kázrún, the boat was overtaken by a storm, and drifting from the right way, floated to the coast of Debal. Here a band of rob­bers, of the tribe of Nagámrah, who were residents of Debal, seized all the eight boats, took possession of the rich silken cloths they contained, captured the men and women, and carried away all the valuable property and jewels." [2]
  5. Nicholas F. Gier, FROM MONGOLS TO MUGHALS: RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE IN INDIA 9TH-18TH CENTURIES, Presented at the Pacific Northwest Regional Meeting American Academy of Religion, Gonzaga University, May, 2006[3]
  6. "Introduction by Frances W. Pritchett"
  7. Religion and Society in Arab Sind, by Derryl N. Maclean
  8. Al Hind the Making of the Indo Islamic World: Early Medieval India By André Wink
  9. (Sindhi Culture, by U.T Thakur Bombay 1959 )
  10. Baladhuri, Futuh, p.438
  11. The Subtle Subversion, "The State of Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan"
  12. P. 270, Religious Fundamentalism in the Contemporary World By Santosh C. Saha
  13. Awami League


Sources

  • Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg: The Chachnamah, An Ancient History of Sind, Giving the Hindu period down to the Arab Conquest. Translated by from the Persian by, Commissioners Press 1900[251030]
  • Thakur Deshraj: Jat Itihas, Delhi, 1934
  • R.C. Majumdar, H.C. Roychandra and Kalikinkar Ditta : An Advanced History of India, Part II,
  • Tareekh-Sind, By Mavlana Syed Abu Zafar Nadvi
  • Wink, Andre, Al Hind the Making of the Indo Islamic World, Brill Academic Publishers, Jan 1, 1996, ISBN 90-04-09249-8


See also




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