Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav The brave king who drove away the Arabs

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Anupama Nair

This year 2022, is the 75th year of Independence from the British. There is hardly a month before our Independence Day. Our beloved Prime Minister decided to celebrate this year as “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. So, I am starting to write a feature on all those sons and daughters of Bharat Ma who fought against foreign invasion from time immemorial. I had written about Bharat Ma, As it is said “Janani Janmabhumishcha Swargadapi Gariyasi” which means “mother and motherland are superior even to heaven” in Dev Bhasha Sanskrit, from our great epic Ramayana. I believe in this motto and think my mother and Bharat Maa are superior to heaven. I am going to write about the mighty 7th Century Hindu king of Kashmir called Lalitaditya or Muktapida and historians call him “Alexander of Kashmir”.

Let me take you a year back to mid-2021 when, our military success over our enemy China and reclaiming places in LAC had given us all a moment to rejoice even though, the whole world was suffering from Covid and the world economy was suffering. I heard many historians compare the strategy of our beloved “Prime Minister Modi and the mighty 7th Century Hindu king of Kashmir Lalitaditya and most nationalists stated that they were happy with India using Lalitaditya’s strategy of taking the battle to the enemy territory, rather than the one of Prithviraj Chauhan and other rulers’ strategy of forgiving the enemy, and to be later beaten by them”. The result was Bharat Ma was invaded and looted and a slave for nearly 800 years.

Unfortunately, the name, Lalitaditya is totally unfamiliar to a vast majority of Indians, even though he was the mightiest ruler of India, reigning over the largest of the territories – “extending from Kashmir to Central Asia and from Uzbekistan to Sunderbans in Bengal”. I admire him as he was the only ruler who made ‘Akhand Bharat’ a reality, and also extended the territory of Bharat to the neighboring countries and beyond. The extent of his territory would disprove the theory of the ultra-left historians, that India as a nation did not exist before the British colonized us. Just because he was a Hindu king, his greatness, achievements, and military escapades were quietly ‘brushed under the carpet by our Leftist Lutyens historians, who, only with the vile intent of demeaning the Hindus, never wanted India to learn about the greatness of Hindu kings, who not only stalled any invasion attempt but also had the courage to march into their territory and occupy it.

These historians after Independence glorified and glamorized the Islamic invaders and plunderers, making the Hindu rulers appear meek and insignificant, who gave in easily to them. The result was that it demoralized Hindus for generations to come, “making them suffer from low self-esteem and low in confidence and it would be correct to say we were suffering from Stockholm syndrome, wherein, we started believing that invaders be it the Islamic rulers or the British were good and had an overbearing effect on them and were destined to be their lords and protectors, being more powerful than them”. It’s time for us to learn about the great Hindu rulers who were mightier than the invaders who should be our role models. Thankfully, it is changing as it should when we have a ruler like Modiji.

Lalitaditya was the most powerful ruler of the Karkota dynasty of Kashmir. We know more about him from the reports of the 12th-century historian, Kalhana who stated Lalitaditya was a world conqueror in his ‘Rajtarangini’. He ruled for 37 years from 724 AD to 761AD. His rule was a ‘golden age’ where art, architecture, and learning flourished. Karkota dynasty was founded by king Durlabhvardana in 625 AD. Lalitaditya was the 5th ruler. His parents were Pratapaditya and Narendraprabha of which Lalitaditya was the youngest. His two elder brothers were Chandrapida and Tarapida who ruled Kashmir before him. His aim was to expand his kingdom throughout the world.

Famous historian R.C. Majumdar wrote the book ‘Ancient India’,  and he stated that Lalitaditya first faced Yashovarman, the successor of the famous ruler of the Pushyabhuti dynasty, Harshavardana. He conquered Yashovarman’s kingdom, Antarvedi, whose capital was Kanyakubja (Modern day Kanauj) After consolidating power in Kanyakubja, Lalitaditya proceeded to the East reaching Kalinga (modern-day Odisha) and Gauda (Bengal).  After that, he set out towards the Vindhyas where he met the Karnata queen, Bhavangana of the Rashtrakut dynasty. However, a powerful ruler like her, too, bowed to Lalitaditya. He then conquered the seven Konkans to Dwarka to Avanti, and all the way into Punjab and Afghanistan, establishing his rule over all of the Indian territories. According to some folk tales, Bappa Rawal, the famous warrior from Mewar was not only a close friend of Lalitaditya but also participated in some of his famous victories against the foreign invaders and may have died during Lalitaditya’s Central Asia campaign.

Following his victories in the South, Lalitaditya now turned his attention on the North again and attacked Ladakh as well as other western provinces, which were under the rule of the Tibetans. This was the time when Muhammed Bin Qasim had invaded Multan in 712 AD and the Arabic invaders had wanted the entire Indian Subcontinent to be dominated by Islam. What we need to understand is the victory over the Arabs was, not easy. Lalitaditya contacted Tang dynasty of China, and he was successful in making them his ally in his fight against the Arabs and Tibetans. He recruited a number of Chinese mercenaries and strategists in his army, which helped him a lot. With the help of the Tangs, he successfully defeated the Tibetans and extended his rule over modern-day Bangladesh and Ahom (Assam), and the other North Eastern States. He extended his empire even up to China.  

Soon after, Junaid, the Arab governor of Sind attacked Kashmir on the orders of Caliph Hisham. The Arabs had established their rule over Sind with Muhammad Bin Qasim and the region was thoroughly looted. His next target was Kashmir which was a prosperous region. Lalitaditya defeated Junaid and the Arab army so badly that they did not attack Kashmir till he was alive. His achievements were mentioned in ‘Fatenama Sindh’. Lalitaditya then defeated the invading Turks of Turkmenistan, Bhutas from Baltistan and Tibet and the Dardas (Darius). He also won over Central Asia which comprises Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, South Kyrgyzstan, and southwest Kazakhstan.  Then he invaded Turkistan through Kabul and defeated Momin of Bukhara four times and killed him the fifth time.  According to Alberuni, “a Kashmiri king, defeated Momin, the governor of Uzbekistan. His presence discouraged the Muslim kingdoms from attacking Kashmir”. He expanded his kingdom till the Caspian Sea and went on to the Karakorum mountain ranges. He was so furious with the Arabs that he would send back prisoners of war with half their heads shaven.

“From Tibet in the North to Dwarka and the seas of Odisha in the south, from Bengal in the East to Central Asia in the West, Lalitaditya’s empire had been established with supreme might. His forces reached Aranyaka, now known as Iran”.

“He was not only a great warrior but also was a benevolent ruler and a great patron of science, arts and architecture who left behind the memoirs of his reign through marvelous works of architecture. Kashmir has always been a great seat of Hindu learning, research, science and Hindu architecture and he also promoted all Hindu arts and sciences”. He built great temples, the most like the Martanda Sun Temple which is now unfortunately in ruins. He built many schools and learning centers in Kashmir that were destroyed by Islamic invaders. Like thousands of other temples, the Sun temple was also destroyed by orders of Sikander Butshikan.

Hindu kings never destroyed the culture of the lands they conquered. When Indian kings fought with each other, they maintained principles that was mentioned in the shastras, which is in sharp contrast to the  “Islamic or other invaders who destroyed the culture and civilization of the land they conquered and did not follow any principles of war. They murdered innocents, burnt crops, raped women, took them as slaves and forcefully converted them to Islam. Defeat to these invaders meant total annihilation of our culture”.

The first Islamic invasion since the capture of Multan by Muhammed Bin Qasim in 712 AD, happened only after a long gap of 300 years when Mahmud of Ghazni invaded India between 1020-1025 AD. “The reason was that a Hindu ruler who, not only defeated Arabic and Turkish invaders at home, but also in their very own backyard, and struck such terror in their hearts that nobody dared to set their eyes on India for centuries”.

The question arises, why have the ultra-left historians never told us the tales of valor of this great king. If it was not for Uncle Pai and Amar Chitra Katha, I too would not have read about such great warriors. We came to know about him when a German art historian, Hermann Goetz read Kalhan’s ‘Rajitarangini’! The reason why Lalitaditya was never mentioned in our history books was that he was a Hindu ruler of India who had a vast empire extending the whole of the Indian subcontinent up to Central Asia, proving that ‘Akhand Bharat’ was a reality in the ancient times too. On the contrary, Leftists believed that, before the British, India as a united entity never existed.

Lalitaditya’s empire was bigger than the Mughal empire. This again is contrary to the Leftist historians’ glorification of the Islamic invaders as rulers who established welfare states, taking good care of their citizens and at the same time promoting art and culture. The might and power of Lalitaditya would surely have inspired generations of Hindus suffering from low esteem and an overbearing belief that they are and traditionally have been weaker than the Islamists as well as foreigners, thus giving in easily to them. History has primarily taught us about Hindu kings who were defeated in the war most of the time. Lalitaditya’s story and that of many other Hindu rulers prove that it was otherwise. This is something that the leftists did not want as their aim was always to make the Hindus appear inferior and weak to demoralize the present generation and attract them towards the other, ‘visibly more powerful’ faiths.

Lalitaditya’s rule proved to the world that Kashmir, the land of Rishi Kashyap, was and will always be an integral part of India, and the center of excellence in science, art, literature, and architecture. We need to understand that for a country to prosper, it needs to recognize its roots, religion, culture, and real heroes and heroines. Let us not even for a minute forget our glorious past and remember with pride, we are the only existing ‘ancient civilization’ today. Let us never forget our Hindu History!

(Dedicated to the Video by Atul Mishra of ‘The Frustrated Indian’ and Kreately and also Uncle Pai for telling us the tales of valor, and my Bharat Ma for giving birth to such great brave children)

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