As the band of a dozen gAzI-s swooped to the marahaTTA shores — and following the tradition of jihad laid down by the prophet, torturously dispatched countless kAfirs of both buta-parasta and yahUdI varieties to dozakh, took hostage the place belonging to pArasIka mahA-shreShThI of an equally despicable Atish-parasta creed and paralyzed the nation — memory of this similar event of long past, now almost evaporated from the Hindu subconscious, suddenly surfaced. As the blessed peacemakers, born through the womb of India but conceived during the prolonged gang-rape by the mlechCha-s, light up that “Gateway” built in honour of the mlechChAdhipati who ravaged her for centuries as his maid and his mistress, it was hard to put down this old fragment of lost memory when a similar act was played out centuries back on her eastern regions by the turuShka-s.
That band of gAzI-s was not unlike this one, with only dozen and half mujAhidIn riding on Arabic horses, wearing the cloak of merchants and carrying leather sacks on horseback concealing large-scale weaponry. With Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji, the trusted turuShka-Afghan lieutenant of Qutb-ud-deen Aybak at their head, gAzI-s swiftly rode eastwards deep into the delta of ga~NgA, and it was approaching dusk as they entered the market streets of nAdiyA, the sena capital of Bengal famed worldwide for its riches. The year was 1198.
Khalji had, just in the previous decade, brought the province of Bihar to under the umbrella of dar-ul-islam, and cleansed it of numerous places of infidels, destroying most notably the universities of nAlandA and vikramashilA, the despised seats of jAhiliA and kufr. The Persian chronicler Minhaj reports in tabAqat-i-nasIrI that during the sack of nAlandA, thousands of monks were burned alive and other thousands put to the sword of Islam, and after ensuring that there was no copy of Quran on the shelves, the massive library of university was put to flames. The size of library was such, that the fire continued for several months as the “smoke from the burning books of infidels hung for days like a dark pall over the hills”, says Minhaj.
With Bihar under Islam, Khalji’s sight had been set for some time now to further east, towards the riches of Bengal. While the army of Bengal was not any weak, its ruler the scholarly lakshamaNa sena, the patron of famous jayadeva, and a staunch vaiShNava, had become too weakened by age and turned pacifist by temperament. What else could be said of the lack of kShatriya spirit in him, that even after seeing the treatment meted out to the neighbouring countries of magadha and kAshI, he did not adopt any forward policy and comfortably waited in his capital wishing they would be spared by the turuShka-s!
So, as this band of mujAhid-s entered the streets of his capital, it did not attract much attention. They were taken by citizens to be a group of horse-merchants, a frequent sight in the markets of nAdiyA. As the sun was now setting, gAzI-s enquired about and swiftly made their way towards the royal palace. It is not clear whether by deceit or by bribe, by trickery or simply by overpowering the platoons guarding the garrison opening, the band in whichever way managed to gain a quick entrance. And as soon as the entry was made, they swooped onto the harem and took it hostage, probably also some the ministers and generals. If we have to believe the account of Minhaj, the aged King was at the time being served his dinner when he heard of the turuShka attack. His personal body guards swiftly escorted him through secret alleys to outside the palace which opened far away near a riverine, and through a raft he escaped either to kali~Nga or kAmarUpa, or more likely, to his other capital in eastern Bengal near dhAkA.
Back in nAdiyA, the band of dozen and half gAzI-s was hard at work, razing the residential quarters and markets and putting some citizens to sword and taking others as hostage. As soon as they were joined by the larger turuShka army that poured into the capital, Minhaj says, they “swept the town with the broom of devastation, completely demolishing it”. Countless temples were razed throughout the state, and mosques erected from the rubble. Most notable of these being the famed AdinAtha temple of mAldA dedicated to mahAdeva, that moslems later converted into a mosque, known these days as adInA-masjid, and on walls of which a mutilated body of dancing gaNapati can be seen to this date, and the complex still suggesting how magnificent the original temple could have been. Countless women of Bengal were dispatched to the harem of Aybak in Delhi and also to the Rightly Guided Khalif in Iraq, together with much booty and precious gifts. Khalif of the momin, soon sent to Khalji a letter of praise. Many boys were castrated and taken as slaves and sent to be sold in the markets of bukhArA and basarA.
(Image, thanks to shrI Saurabh Basu)
While Khalji failed to press further deep into Bengal, and sena-s managed to halt him from east and south, the reign of Islam was thus inaugurated in Bengal by just a dozen and half gAzI-s swooping into the city of Hindu-s and paralyzing the whole country. Let this be remembered as we repeatedly hear about the “unprecedented” attack in Mumbai, in mid of the chants of “terrorism has no religion”.
But one can not just stop here without mentioning the retaliation from Hindu-s soon after. The Hindu-s of Orissa and Assam had still in them the flame of kShatriya spirit burning, and far from losing heart of coming under Khilji’s control, rAjA-s of both these countries marshaled their armies and independently smashed him.
First, the Armies from Orissa marched proactively and completely devastated the capital of Khilji, Lakhnauti, with such ferocity that he had to flee and take shelter in Awadh province.
Later, In 1205, Khalji received a final body blow from Hindus, when he set out on an invasion of kAmarUpa, Bhutan and Tibet, and crossed through the border region of prAgjyotiSha via dArjIling with a cavalry of 10,000 moslems. The retaliation from Himalayan kingdoms was extremely fierce and turuShka-s met heavy losses in a kind of warfare they had not seen before, forcing them to retreat. Here, Hindus must learn a lesson from an event that is recorded in a saMskR^ita inscription on the rocks of kanaibarasibowa not very far from the shrine of kAmAkhyA devI.
Anticipating the turuShka return, the King of kAmarUpa had prepared a trap for them. He destroyed the stone bridge over brahmaputra which the Moslems would have crossed, and blocking the way forward, his armies intercepted the enemy from three sides. No prisoners were taken and a general wipe out followed. While many turuShka-s perished from the poisonous darts, others who jumped into bramhaputra were devoured by it. In the end, leaving his army to perish, only Khalji escaped with 300 horsemen, his personal bodyguards, to his capital near gaur, and this is all that became of the large Moslem army of Bengal. Khalji died soon after his return.
1. riyAzu-s-salAtIn of Maulavi Abdus Salam, translated from Persian by Gulam Husain Salim, Baptist Mission Press, Calcutta, 1903
2. tabaḳAt-i-NAṣIrI, a Persian chronicle of Maulana Minhaj-ud-din Abul Umar-i-Usman, translated by H. G. Raverty as “A General History of the Muhammadan Dynasties of Asia, Including Hindustan (810–1260)” (Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta, 1881). This account by Minhaj is the earliest narrative of this event. It is likely that some of the historian’s informants had been eyewitnesses to the events.
3. pAdshAh-buranjI, an old Assamese chronicle translated by S K Bhuyan as “Annals of the Delhi Badshahate” (Dept. of Historical & Antiquarian Studies, Govt. of Assam, 1947)