The Moslem Conquest (of India)
Our Oriental Heritage | 1936 | Will Durant
Posted on Sat Feb 14 2004 21:33:32 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time) by ml/nj
The Mohammedan Conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precarious thing, whose delicate complex of order and liberty, culture and peace may at any time be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within. The Hindus ... had failed to organize their forces for the protection of their frontiers and their capitals, their wealth and their freedom, from the hordes of Scythians, Huns, Afghans, and Turks hovering about India's boundaries and waiting for national weakness to let them in. For four hundred years (600-1000 A.D.) India invited conquest; and at last it came.
In the year 997 a Turkish chieftain by the name of Mahmud became the sultan of the little state of Ghazni, in eastern Afghanistan. ... Each winter Mahmud descended into India, filled his treasure chest with spoils, and amused his men with full freedom to pillage and kill ... At Mathrua 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 year later he sacked another opulent city of northern India, Somnath, killed all its fifty thousand inhabitants, and dragged its wealth to Ghazni. ... Sometimes he spared the population of the ravaged cities, and took them home to be sold as slaves. ... Moslem historians ranked him as the greatest monarch of his time, and one of the greatest sovereigns of any age.
Seeing the canonization that success had brought to this magnificent thief, other Moslem rulers profited by his example, though none succeeded in bettering his instruction. ... The first of these bloody sultans, Kuth-d Din Aibak, was a normal specimen of his kind-fanatical, ferocious, and merciless. His gifts, as the Mohammedan historian tells us, "were bestowed by hundreds of thousands, and his slaughters likewise were by hundreds of thousands." ... Another sultan, Balban, punished rebals and brigands by casting them under the feet of elephants, or removing their skins, stuffing these with straw, and hanging them from the gates of Delhi. ... Sultan Muhammed bin Tughlak acquired the throne by murdering his father, became a great scholar and an elegant writer. dabbled in mathematics, physics and Greek philosophy, surpassed his predecessors in bloodshed and brutality, fed the flesh of a rebel nephew to the rebel's wife and children, ruined the country with reckless inflation, and laid it waste with pillage and murder till the inhabitants fled to the jungle. He killed so many Hindus that, in the words of a Moslem historian, "there was constantly in front of his royal pavilion and his Civil Court a mound of dead bodies and a heap of corpses, while the sweepers and executioners were wearied out by their work of dragging" the victims "and putting them to death in crowds." ... Sultan Ahmed Shah feasted for three days whenever the number of defenseless Hindus slain in his territories in one day reached twenty thousand.