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Battles of India: Critical Analysis

NRao
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Postby NRao » 30 Mar 2006 00:52

Any thoughts on the war that never happened: The Aryan Invasion of the subcontinent?

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Postby svinayak » 30 Mar 2006 01:36

Rakesh wrote:I got this from the wiki link in my previous post.

French Historian Gustave Le Bon wrote in his book Les Civilisations de L'Inde:

There does not exist a history of ancient India. Their books contain no historical data whatever, except for a few religious books in which historical information is buried under a heap of parables and folk-lore, and their buildings and other monuments also do nothing to fill the void for the oldest among them do not go beyond the third century B.C. To discover facts about India of the ancient times is as difficult a task as the discovery of the island of Atlantis, which, according to Plato, was destroyed due to the changes of the earth... The historical phase of India began with the Muslim invasion. Muslims were India's first historians.


Le Bon had a little too much burbon :)


This is important. Fundamentaly the European contact with Indians and Indian culture in the sub-continent gave them a look at a different culture vastly different from their own. The perception of Indian history in the eyes of the Europeans was either confusing, madeup or irrelevent. This made intellectuals such as Karl Marx declare that Indians do not have any history! Even Hegel declared that the culture and history of Indians is uncomprehensible

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Postby rocky » 30 Mar 2006 04:22

One of the most catastrophic events of the second millenia would be the very short and quick routing of the mammoth Maratha army led by the inexperienced Shadashivraubhau in the third Battle of Panipat at the hands of Ahmad Shah Durrani (Abdali).

Technically it could be considered a stalemate since Durrani's forces were almost nearly wiped out too, despite the fact that the Marathas are believed to have lost 1,00,000 troops within eight hours. Durrani lost more about 85,000 troops.

Politically, however, it was the routing of the most powerful force on this side of the Himalayas, and their defeat meant another 300 years of nonsense.

History and time were testimonial to the fact that Raghoba Rane was the more capable general to have led the invasion, but royal politics in Shaniwar Wada made sure he was sidelined to allow for the 16 year old Sadashiv to lead charge. Despite having seasoned
commanders like Mahadji Shinde, the Marathas were routed.

It is always portrayed that Raghoba was the cunning and scheming general and the queen mother (forget her name) was righteous in demanding the Sadashiv lead the battle, and being his uncle, Raghoba should give the young Peshwa a chance. Unfortunately, in war, there is no such thing called chance.

The third battle of Panipat is also a classic example of how to save your logistics tail before setting out on an attack. The Marathas boxed themselves into a situation where they had run out of all food and water and resources, and had no option whatsoever but to attack in order to get some fresh rations.

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Postby SRoy » 30 Mar 2006 08:44

NRao wrote:Any thoughts on the war that never happened: The Aryan Invasion of the subcontinent?

Lets rephrase the question :), the Battle of Ten Kings among ancient Aryans :!:
These descriptions and mention of these battles in RigVeda, was the source of BS called AIT.

This nonsense of AIT aside, the Battle of Ten Kings is the earliest recorded description of warfare, even if we consider the fact that RigVedic description falls into realms of mythology (atleast by official versions of history).

IMHO, invasion claim is height of BS, instead these battles appear to internal skirmishes among clans of an evolving society. Perhaps what is worth finding out is the real geography of the places mentioned and racial identity of the participants.

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Postby Rakesh » 30 Mar 2006 09:28

sroy: Just so that I get this str8....you are saying the Rig Vedas are BS?

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Postby SRoy » 30 Mar 2006 09:58

Rakesh wrote:sroy: Just so that I get this str8....you are saying the Rig Vedas are BS?


Quoting my post below

Lets rephrase the question Smile, the Battle of Ten Kings among ancient Aryans Exclamation
These descriptions and mention of these battles in RigVeda, was the source of BS called AIT.

This nonsense of AIT aside, the Battle of Ten Kings is the earliest recorded description of warfare, even if we consider the fact that RigVedic description falls into realms of mythology (atleast by official versions of history).

IMHO, invasion claim is height of BS, instead these battles appear to internal skirmishes among clans of an evolving society. Perhaps what is worth finding out is the real geography of the places mentioned and racial identity of the participants.

Invasion theory is BS.
Boss, agar aap aadha post pad kar conclusion draw karogey to problem ho jayegi :)

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Postby Rakesh » 30 Mar 2006 10:14

It does not matter to me either way sroy....I was just a little confused when I read it. You guys are the gurus on history...keep up the good work.

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Postby SRoy » 30 Mar 2006 10:39

Rakesh wrote:It does not matter to me either way sroy....I was just a little confused when I read it. You guys are the gurus on history...keep up the good work.

I hope more and more BRFites post and contibute in this thread. Despite my best attempts on the Net and in my modest library, I failed to compile a list of all Indian battles in chronological order.
In India, Military history is not accorded the status it should deserve and it reflects in the way our school/college text books are structured.

I encountered the following problem, textbooks seem to be centered around the history of Northern plains, battles are not maintained in proper chronology.
Among the major segments, i.e. ancient, middle age, modern the history of South and East comes as a kind of annexure and again the battles in the these regions too seem not to be described in a chronological order.

Across all regional histories the information revolves around kingdoms and dynasties which mutually overlap among themselves, so you cannot conclude the correct chronology of battles and encounters at a glance.

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Postby Lalmohan » 30 Mar 2006 13:53

aryan invasion can be replaced with aryan migration perhaps - the latter involving assimilation with indigenous peoples. the dasratha war seems to be generally agreed. it seems to me that it is the genesis of the mahabharata story

the indus valley people were displaced by someone - perhaps over a very long period

more links and sources on this welcome

on the central power theory, even genghiz khan paused on the indus after defeating kwarazam, knowing full well that beyond lay vast armies under central control that he would be hard pressed to defeat - better instead to consolidate his hold on persia

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Postby SRoy » 30 Mar 2006 14:53

Lalmohan wrote:aryan invasion can be replaced with aryan migration perhaps - the latter involving assimilation with indigenous peoples. the dasratha war seems to be generally agreed. it seems to me that it is the genesis of the mahabharata story

the indus valley people were displaced by someone - perhaps over a very long period

more links and sources on this welcome

Since this thread is about critical analysis...a close look at description of the dasaraja wars will go towards a long way establishing two things
1. Geography of the battlefields and adjoining areas
2. Corelation of various Aryan tribes with present day communities in India.

This is also related to to the central power theory. The primary hypothesis is that the Aryan were divided into five major tribes namely Yadus (South, SW), Turvasha(East, SE ), Anu (North NW), Druhyu(West) and Purus(Central).

It was the Puru king Sudasa that was victorius and RigVeda praises him while demonising the rest (again at appropriate times the others too are praised).

Two conclusions can be drawn
1. Purus being the victors, it is natural to see how they are glorified and rest are censured i.e. Southern, Eastern peoples (hence the skin colour divide) and Western people (Indian - Iranian divide).

2. The fact that the tribes/peoples from a central location fought to assert their supremacy and held their territories (instead of wasting energies to venture East/South/West) may have paved the way for doctrine of a powerful central authority to look after territorial interests.

There is no need for invasion/migration theory once you assign geographical domains for each tribe and try to gauge the rationale for their power struggle, and this also explain the attitude of bards in RigVeda towards the defeated tribes.

Lalmohan wrote:on the central power theory, even genghiz khan paused on the indus after defeating kwarazam, knowing full well that beyond lay vast armies under central control that he would be hard pressed to defeat - better instead to consolidate his hold on persia

I was not sure of the Genghiz Khans example, but yes a powerful center always deterred invaders. A good supporting evidence by the way :)

PS: Invasion/Migration theories are discarded by most scholar barring few lunatics like Witzel and Farmer. If gora skin is the yardstick of credibility then Frawley, Elst, Freustein, Danino too pass the muster :twisted:

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Postby Rien » 30 Mar 2006 17:35

Mind talking more about the Mongol invasion? I always wondered how come the comparatively incompetent Persians and Afghanis were able to invade India when the ruthless Mongols could not? Great competency on the part of the Indian generals then? What was the reason?

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Postby Lalmohan » 30 Mar 2006 17:51

the mongols did not invade india under the khanate. genghiz had enough recon and intel to know that the delhi sultans had massive military power. he had already exhausted his armies in subduing the kwarazm shah and his son jehangir. the kwarazm forces were large, well organised and equipped and also well led - atleast by jehangir. the battle on the indus was a close run thing, but the mongols prevailed. genghiz had enough strategic sense to know that he had already taken on two superpowers - Chin and Kwarazm and won through grit, determination and superior use of mobile shock forces and strategic surprise. he knew he was stretched thin and neither of his powerful adversaries had been properly subdued - adding another superpower to the list was not a good idea at this stage

now jehangir managed to survive the battle of the indus and ended up in the west punjab and took over a small kingdom, but the kafir mongols did not follow - prefering instead to consolidate in persia and then return to finish the job in Chin.

then of course genghiz dies and the successors decide to head west to baghdad and russia and south into china instead of down to india. the mongols then absorb the culture and religions of their newly conquered civilised lands - muslim and tao respectively.

its not until tamerlane - many years later and claiming descent from genghiz decides to raid india that the mongols are back. by now its no longer a mongol army but a muslim turkic one. again many years later babur repeats the foray, and eventually establishes a foothold. the name mughal/mongol now is only a distant connection to the northern steppes

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Postby D_Prem » 31 Mar 2006 11:33

mods can u please delete this post....
Last edited by D_Prem on 31 Mar 2006 11:36, edited 1 time in total.

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THE KHANWA FACE OFF

Postby D_Prem » 31 Mar 2006 11:35

After Tarain (I & II), I think the most significant battle would be the Battle of Khanua - fought between Babur and Rana Sanga. Despite numerical superiority and "home advantage", Babur won quite convincingly. This victory paved way for Babur to establish a foothold in India AND establish the Mughal dynasty.

Irrespecitve of what happened, this was a golden oppurtunity for the Rajputs to "redeem" themselves as the Delhi Sultanate was crumbling under infighting; and a power vaccum was developing.

Had this battle been won then Hindustan probably would not have been as we know it today....magar jo hua nahin uski baat kya karni

but what happened is given below:


BACKGROUND

In the early years of the 16th century, North India was ruled by Ibrahim Lodi, a sultan belonging to the Lodi clan of Afghans. Under the Lodi rulers, the sultanate of Delhi encompassed both the Ganga River basin and the Punjab. Yet, this empire was also crumbling at its very core and was ready to implode.

Zaheer-ud-din Babur was a Mughal warlord belonging to the lineage of Timur and Genghis Khan. His father had ruled the Fergana valley in central Asia, but Babur had early been driven out from there by his relatives, and was in 1526 ruling over Kabul in Afghanistan. He was forever longing to regain his beloved Fergana valley in central Asia. However, that was not to be; he was destined to found an imperial dynasty in India.

Ibrahim Lodi’s governor in Punjab, Daulat Khan Lodi, in cohorts with certain other Lodi chiefs of Punjab, opened communication with Babur, inviting him to attack Delhi and offering all help. Babur probably realized that it was hopeless to aim for Fergana, as the Uzbeks who now ruled it were simply too powerful for him. He concentrated his energy towards making his fortune in India. He started raiding the outlying Indian districts periodically, and finally, in April 1526, advanced towards Delhi. Ibrahim Lodi confronted Babur near the town of Panipat, not far from Delhi. The ensuing first battle of Panipat resulted in the collapse of the sultanate of Delhi; Ibrahim Lodi himself was killed on the field.

Whereas the sultanate of Delhi had been humbled, it was not at all clear what the future held for north India. It has long been the established tradition for invaders from the north-west (Afghanistan and central asia) to destroy all in their wake, conquer Delhi, loot the surrounding countryside, and then retire to their native lands with the booty thus obtained, leaving north India in a chaotic political vacuum. Not unnaturally, many in India surmised this to be Babur's intent as well, and prepared to exploit the situation.

Rana Sanga, more formally known as Maharana Sangram Singh I, ruler of Mewar in western central-India, was among the better placed to do so. Sanga was an intrepid warrior; legend has it that he had received as many as eighty wounds during his career of warfare. Unbelievably, Rana Sanga had at this point united nearly all the major Rajput clans of India under his leadership, an event with neither precedent nor recurrence, and had thus formed a powerful confederacy. This situation whetted his appetite for conquest.


IMMEDIATE CAUSE OF THE BATTLE

The immediate cause of the battle seems to have been the defiance of Hasan Khan Mewati, a Muslim chieftain belonging to the Meo community, who ruled over the Mewat region as a vassal of the Lodhi emperors. Mewat is a region lying south of Delhi, spread across south Haryana and North-East Rajasthan. The Meos themselves are Muslims of definitely Indian provenance, ethnic cousin of the Jat and Gujar castes. After the overthrow of the Lodhi dynasty, Hasan Khan aligned himself with Rana Sanga and refused to acknowledge the suzerainty of Babur. Babur tried to win him over with promises of high position in Mughal service, but Hasan Khan was apparently not impressed. It is possible that he also surmised that Babur would soon return to Kabul, and being firmly rooted in the land of Mewat, had no wish of follow him; Hasan Khan placed his bets firmly on Rana Sanga.


THE BATTLE


Babur moved into Mewat to chastise Hasan Khan, and soon Rana Sanga joined the war. The two armies closed in near Khanwa in March 1527.


STRENGHT OF THE ARMIES


According to Mewari sources, the Rajput army which took to the field comprised of 80,000 horsemen and 500 war elephants and included 7 Rajas, 9 Raos and 104 Rawals and Rawats (lesser chieftains). It had no artillery or Muskets. Hasan Khan Mewati and Mahmood Lodhi (the claimant to the Lodhi throne) joined this army with their contingent. Estimates of Mughal army strength are not clear. Babur had come to India with twelve thousand soldiers. There is reason to believe that this number must have swelled, as Mughal army must have been joined by the Afghan nobles who had invited Babur to India. Yet it is generally believed that Babur was vastly outnumbered by the Rajput confederacy. However, the Mughal army possessed artillery and firearms, which were a novelty in India at that time. This gave them a decisive edge in the battle.

PRECURSOR TO BATTLE

Babur sent about fifteen hundred choice cavalry troops in a probing attack on the Indian army. These were entirely destroyed by the Indians; this prompted Babur to ask for a negotiated settlement of the conflict. Unfortunately, Rana Sanga failed to follow up his advantage, being hampered by discord among his allies (one reason why Rajput confederacies were few and far between and seldom worked). He sent his one of the most trusted generals, Silhadi (Shiladitya), a Tomar or Purabia Rajput chieftain, to Babur for discussions. Babur won over this general by promising him an independent kingdom in northeast Malwa. Silhadi came back and reported to Sanga that Babur does not want peace, and wants to fight. The die was cast.

In preparation for the battle, Babur used the same tactics that he had used a year earlier at the first battle of Panipat. He lined up the wagons and connected them with ox-hide ropes and chains to form a barricade. In front of this barricade, he dug trenches to prevent his fortification being overrun by cavalry charge. Behind this barricade and in between the wagons, he positioned his artillery and musketeers. Every few yards between this line of carts, he left gaps from where his horsemen can sally forth and attack the enemy. Babur calls this fortification an Ottoman tactic. He had effectively created a movable fortress right in the middle of the flat plains.


THE ARMIES MEET

On March 17, Rana Sanga launched a furious attack on the centre and right wing of the Mughal force; the conflict lasted several hours. Mughal artillery wreaked havoc in the Rajputs’ closed ranks. Their cannon fire caused the elephants in the Rajput army to stampede. Mughal cavalry archers made repeated flanking charges from the left and right of their fortified position. These mounted archers seem to have inflicted maximum losses on Indian ranks, as the latter were not accustomed to these tactics. Despite sustaining heavy losses because of superior Mughal tactics, the Indians initially appeared to have an advantage due to their sheer numbers and their frenzied charges at the Mughal position. Yet after many hours, the Rajputs failed to overrun the strongly defended central "fortress" of the Mughal army. This signaled to Silhadi which way the penny would drop.

Rana Sanga sustained more wounds, at one time being felled by an arrow; nevertheless, he fought on. For a while, the battle's outcome hung in balance. Then, sensing that Rana Sanga’s ship was sinking, Silhadi decamped to Babur with his entire force. After ten hours, the confederacy broke. It was all over for Mewar. The defection of a significant portion of the army fatally weakened the Indians. Mughal flanks finally rolled back the Indian flanks. The Rajput army disintegrated rapidly now. Rana Sanga chose to retreat from the battle, to live and fight another day.


AFTERMATH

After the customary erection of a tower of the heads of dead and prisoner enemy soldiers, a ritual that comes right from the Mongolian steppes, Babur added the title of Ghazi to his name, signifying his role as a warrior for Islam. The battle of Khanwa was almost certainly the first in which Babur confronted a Non-Muslim army. He remained firm on his vow of abstinence from alcohol till his death in 1530. At one time, he is said to have wistfully commented “Others have taken to the cup and later regretted it, I renounced the cup and later regretted it.â€

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Postby Raj Malhotra » 31 Mar 2006 12:09

I was reading somewhere that Rana Sangha had access to artillery but decided not to bother/wait for it.

In any case, why did Indians did not learn from tactics of Babur and adapt with it. This was not his first battle in India.

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Postby Anand K » 31 Mar 2006 12:46

The Mongol Invasions - I

Hulagu Khan, grandson of the Great Khan founded the IlKhanate house of Iran, whose eastern feudatories invaded us occasionally. Deva Khan, the Chaglatai ruler of TransOxania rose to prominence in the CAR and soon snatched Afghanistan from the IlKhanate.... next step, India. Now Jalaluddin Khalji had just been assassinated by his nephew Alauddin and Deva Khan, who thought of India as his property by right of force and "succession" was determined to remove the usurper.

1st Invasion: Took place immediately after AK ascends to the throne in 1296 AD. Hundred thousand Mongols under Kadar Khan, organised into ten Tumans or divisions, marched into India laying the NWFP and Punjab to waste. Lahore was sacked and occupied by the Mongols. However, the armies of theSultanate were massing near Julundher under Ulugh Khan and Zafar Khan, AK's ace generals..... the former was a brother of the Sultan and the latter was quite a hero of sorts. The battle for Julundher doab proved a decisive victory for the Sultanate and nearly a third of the Mongol force was killed in battle or executed en masse in captivity.

2nd Invasion: The very next year, another large army led by Saldi overran Sindh via Baluchistan and made Sehwan his HQ for the invasion of the heartland. Zafar Khan raced to Sehwan and captured it in a sudden assault..... a bitter hand-to-hand fighting for the ramparts, the streets and the Keep saw the obliteration of Saldi's entire force. Saldi himself fell fighting and the women and children in his camp were send to Delhi as slaves. Zafar Khan's legend grew and Barani says he was called Hindustan's own Rustam......and the young AK grew jealous of Zafar Khan's genius and popularity.

3rd Invasion: Stung by repeated failures, Deva Khan sent nearly a quarter million troops and auxillaries led by his young son Qutulugh Khwaja into Hindustan. This time, they bypassed the cities, resisting age old impulses to rape, pillage and plunder and headed straight to Delhi to finish off the pesky Sultanate (who managed to survive the Great Khan by sheer good luck and a murderous heat wave of that summer of 1222). The people flocked to the well defended fort of Delhi from the neighbouring areas and made the task of defense of the city more difficult. Against all advice of fighting a defensive war in Delhi and wait for the Sultanate's forces plus allies from Deccan to relieve them, AK sallied with his forces into Kili, just a few kilometres north of Delhi.
The battle line extended for miles and flanker reserve forces were kept behind in case the front didn't hold. Zafar Khan commanded the right, Ulugh Khan on the left and Allaudin himself commanded the centre. The Mongols charged with their fearsome Mangudai and horse archers without much ado.... the left and centre soon ground into a halt against the Mongol but Zafar Khan smashed through the lines and proceeded to finsih off the fleeing Tumans of the Mongolian left. The Sultanate infantry soon rushed in to plug the hole...... but the mop-up cavalry that were supposed to aid Zafar Khan never moved. Perhaps it was the fog of the battle..... perhaps AK saw his chance to do away with Zafar Khan as he saw the tide of battle change. Kill two birds with a stone, no? Some say AK had given explicit instructions to hold the line and make no rapid thrusts untill a parallel movement of fronts could be maintained and that Zafar Khan overstepped his brief.
Zafar Khan chased the Mongols for nearly 18 km till he found that the cavalry hasn't arrived...... Targhi, a mongol noble who had seen through the game had followed up with an entire Tuman and attacked Zafar Khan's forces in the rear. Sandwiched between the Mongol units, Zafar Khan's forces were obliterated and he himslef died fighting. The legend of Zafar Khan grew among the Mongols even.....' long remembered among the Mongols; and if their battle horses refused to drink, they used to ask if they saw Zafar Khan' - Barani.
By this time, AK and Ulugh Khan had routed the Mongol forces who fled all the way to the Khyber. The young Mongol prince took ill during the forced-march retreat and died on his way home. AK returned to his capital in triumph and obvious glee of having rid himself of a very popular general and possible contender to the throne without disgrace. None paid tribute to the fallen Zafar Khan that day......

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Postby chakkunny » 31 Mar 2006 12:48

Lalmohan wrote:the mongols did not invade india under the khanate. genghiz had enough recon and intel to know that the delhi sultans had massive military power. he had already exhausted his armies in subduing the kwarazm shah and his son jehangir.


I beg to disagree. It is true that Chengiz did not invade India (if one does not include Afghanistan). But the hordes launched several assaults esp during the reign of Khilji.

The Ghurian Turks were not exactly a potent military force at the start of their campaign of Northern India. After the first battle of Tarain, what they had going for them were the intercine struggles, most notable being Prithviraj Chauhan and his father in law Jai Chand. Ghuri lost Ajam to the Kwarazam Shah (They were enemies and not allies). Ghuri's home base in Afghanistan was taken down by Chengiz Khan's campaign against the muslim world starting in 1216. In fact one of the primary reasons why Ghuri came back to India was to raise an army. He was assassinated on the way back.

Given this shaky foundation of the early Turkish sultanates, it begs the question, how an alien ruling elite amass so much power (in barely 2-3 generations) in their newly won colonies to the point of actually repelling the Mongol hordes.

Now this may seem controversial, but one of the the primary reasons given in Warfare and Weaponry in South Asia - Gommans & Kolff (Oxford) for the powerful rise of the Slave and Khilji dynasties is the large scale conversion of low caste Hindus in urban centers of the time. Social decay in Hindu society made the sharia a more attractive option to the smritis, under the new rulers. I guess one way to look at Dhimmitude is to understand who stood to gain the most by conversion. This though does not in any way imply that the Sultanate was welcomed all over Northern India. But if it weren't for the support of significant constituent of its conquered territories, they wouldn't have stood a chance.

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Postby vonkabra » 31 Mar 2006 15:47

Murugan wrote:
Here to start with:

...The Indians were defeated in a fierce battle, even though they fought with elephants, which the Macedonians had never before seen. ...
http://wso.williams.edu/~junterek/india.htm




They are just shying away from accepting the obvious.


That is incorrect - Darius used war elephants against Alexander as well. As to the other bit about Alexander choosing the 'easy' way out to return, it wasnt his decision to return in the first place. It was his troops who lost heart, not him - taking a way back which would result in some more combat and conquest seems typical of the man.

Note - I'm not belittling our Indian warriors. I firmly believe that the Greeks would have been routed if they'd tried to attack Magadha. However I do believe that Alexander did deserve the title of "the Great" - any student of his military campaigns would agree.

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Postby SriKumar » 31 Mar 2006 22:05

vonkabra wrote:I firmly believe that the Greeks would have been routed if they'd tried to attack Magadha. However I do believe that Alexander did deserve the title of "the Great" - any student of his military campaigns would agree.


Am not a student of military history but this business about Alexander, 'the Great'... I do have a minor quibble with the 'great' appellation, which one sees all over the place. If Alexander's greatness is to be measured by his military conquests, I wonder why the no one writes of Chengiz Khan, 'the great'. Mr. C. Khan's Mongols went as far as Caspian sea, setting the stage for his successors to go even further westward into, heaven forbid.... Europe! And perhaps that is why you will never hear of Chenghis Khan, 'the Great'...not from any European (English) sources anyway. Maybe greatness happens when the conqueror heads East. (I am not a fan of Khan either, but this 'Alex, the great' does seem to wear thin after a while.......the selective application of this title has a whiff of Eurocentrism, IMHO).

On an unrelated note, it is a shame that the original work of Megasthenes, the Greek traveler/amabassador to the Maurya court, is lost. Some of his work on India, titled 'Indica', quoted by others survives. Translation at this website....makes for interesting reading. Other Greek historians' commentary on India also listed at this site:

http://tinyurl.com/je2e3

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Postby ramana » 31 Mar 2006 23:11

I think that Mahapadma Nanda who consolidated the North and created the first historic central power in Magadha and his battles to achieve the samea re very important. The idea of a strong central power in historical times comes from his rule.

But he does not get the primacy that he deserves as his descendents, who were depots, were overthrown by Chandra Gupta Maurya and Chanakya.

Some links on AIT
Demise of Aryan Invasion Theory

Map of Aryavarta Aryavarta.jpg

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Postby Singha » 31 Mar 2006 23:23

as everyone knows north-east india has been quite poor in the past and is still poor today. it lacks in any mineral like gold or diamond or good marbles and granites to make imposing structure, has flood prone farmlands, very difficult terrain and muggy climate...not exactly a treasure for anyone choosing to attack it. and technologically it was behind the islamic rulers in north india.

So I wonder why the afghani sardars ruling the roost in bengal and bihar got bothered enough to launch around 17 invasions on the freaking place !! the Ahoms and the Kachari dynasty had no ambitions to invade bengal and made no preparations on that account (sole exception being Rudra singha who raised a army of 100,000 for this purpose *after* he had beaten off a few musalman invasions).

here is an analysis" of the battle of saraighat which ended the ardour of the mussalman to conquer the brahmaputra valley:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Saraighat

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Postby Airavat » 01 Apr 2006 09:00

Anand K wrote:The Mongol Invasions - I

Hundred thousand Mongols under Kadar Khan, organised into ten Tumans or divisions, marched into India......


This is a lie—the Mongol invaders of India did not number over 10,000-20,000 soldiers at any time, which is only one or two Tumans. Each Tuman (something less than a modern division) would be led by an important general whose name would be known to contemporary historians. And yet in this case only one, Kadar, is mentioned by name. In the other Mongol invasions too only one or at most three generals are named, which gives us the correct picture of their numbers—moreover the Chagtai Khanate did not have the resources to organize large-scale invasions of India at a time when they had interests in other regions too.

Muslim historians were in the habit of exaggerating the number of the enemy forces to exaggerate their own victories—they used the same method in describing the Hindu armies.

In this situation where their own hold over India was so feeble, the Muslim rulers of the Delhi Sultanate naturally shrank from provoking the mighty Mongols and refused an alliance with their fellow Muslims of Khwarazim.

Jelal-ud-din fought against the local rulers in the Punjab, who sported titles like Rana and Rai, and usually defeated them in the open but could not occupy their lands. At last he proposed an alliance with the Gakkhar chieftain of the Salt Range and married his daughter—the Gakkhar Rai’s son joined the Turk army with his clansmen and received the title of Katlagh Khan. Jelal-ud-din’s Turk soldiers were under his officers Uzbek Pai and Hassan Qarlugh.

While fighting against the local Turk governor of Sindh, Jelal-ud-din heard of an uprising in the Kirman province of southern Iran and he immediately set out for that place, passing through southern Baluchistan on the way. Jelal-ud-din was also joined by Turk forces from Ghor and Peshawar—belonging to the Khalji, Turkoman, and Ghori tribes. With his new allies the Turk prince marched on Ghazni and defeated a Mongol division under Turtai, which had been assigned the task of hunting out Jelal-ud-din. The victorious allies quarreled over the division of the captured booty and the Khalji, Turkoman, and Ghori tribes deserted Jelal-ud-din and returned to Peshawar.

At this time Ogdai had become Kha-Khan—a Mongol general named Charmaghan sent by him attacked and defeated the Turk prince and ended his rebellion forever. Another Mongol general named Pakchak attacked Peshawar and defeated the army of the Turkish tribes who had deserted Jelal-ud-din but were still a threat to the Mongols. These men, mostly Khaljis, escaped to Multan and were recruited into the army of the Delhi Sultans.

When the striking power and reach of the Mongol armies had been displayed so graphically, the ambitions of the Turkish chiefs within the Delhi Sultanate were fired. One Delhi prince traveled all the way to Kara Korum to seek the assistance of Mangu Kha-Khan for seizing the throne from his elder brother. In 1257 the governor of Sindh offered his entire province to Hulagu Khan of Persia and sought Mongol protection from his overlord in Delhi—the Mongol Khan sent a strong force under Sali Bahadur into Sindh.

But Hulagu refused to sanction a grand invasion of the Delhi Sultanate and a few years later diplomatic correspondence between the two rulers confirmed the growing desire for peace. Hulagu after all had many other areas of conquests to take care of. Large-scale Mongol invasions of India ceased and the Delhi Sultans used the respite to recover the frontier towns like Multan, Uch, and Lahore…and punish the local Ranas and Rais who had joined hands with either the Khwarazim Turks or the Mongol invaders[2].

Large numbers of Turk tribes that took shelter in the Delhi Sultanate as a result of the Mongol Cataclysm changed the balance of power in North India. The Khalji tribe firstly usurped power from the older Turk Sultans and began to rapidly project their power into other parts of India. At about this time the Mongol raids into India were also renewed.


more at Mongols in India

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Postby Singha » 01 Apr 2006 09:32

what does Kha-Khan mean ? some kind of Level2 Khan over a set of Level1 ?

there was a BR member called Khaqqan from Pak long back. a pathan he called himself. could be his surname derived from the title of his ancestors.

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Postby D_Prem » 01 Apr 2006 09:46

Raj Malhotra wrote:I was reading somewhere that Rana Sangha had access to artillery but decided not to bother/wait for it.

In any case, why did Indians did not learn from tactics of Babur and adapt with it. This was not his first battle in India.


I think Rana Sanga didnt have access to arty fire at all. To quote BR itself
Artillery first appeared on the Indian scene at the First Battle of Panipat in 1526.

Source: http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/LAND-FORCES/Army/Articles/Article27.html

The battle of Khanwa took place only a year later in 1527. I dont think technology transfer took place that quick in those days. :D So it'd be safe to assume that Rana didnt have arty support at all.

But you have a good point there that the Indians failed to learn about Babur's tactics. Afterall Rana Sanga's forces had been complemented by the addition of Mahmud Lodhi; and Mahmud himself had fought against Babur at the First Battle of Panipat.

On the other hand the Ottoman tactic was quite remarkable. Babur's artillery could pound Sanga's formations quite easily, while Sanga didnt have countermeasures for that. Moreover, cavalary charge would be suicidal since they'd expose themselves to cannon and musket fire...on top of that they're advance would be halted by the trenches and carts.

Sanga deserves the credit for putting up a resistance and fighting without any artillery at all. But ultimately Babur had superior tactics and he prevailed because of them.

This defeat in many ways was the beginning of the end of Rajput power in northern india. Sadly enough they could never be the power that they once were.

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Postby Anand K » 01 Apr 2006 10:48

Re Airavat

This was not the "lean" and mean horde of Chingiz Khan anymore..... these Mongols carried a lot of excess junk in the trunk, sacrificing some of their mobility. Even Abdullah, the grandson of Chengiz who came by in the reign of Jalaluddin Khalji had an army of near 150,000. The "junk" composed was mainly personal retainers, family etc, most of which acted as auxillaries to the main force of the Mongols. Something like the Roman (Marian) Legions of the old where soldiers were not allowed to marry during service of 16/32/48 yr service period but were allowed to bring their "family" and loot along with the main legion.....
It's also possible that the numbers could have been exaggerated (the main source is Barani, for one thing), but it's more or less a very accepted fact that AK himself had a *standing army* of 230,000. A force which was organised by a surprisingly effective military apparatus and bureaucracy. Add to it the forces of his allies and subordinate rulers, you can have a pretty large army for even the Sultanate. Dawa Khan was the master of Khwarzam, the Chaglatai Turk tribes and Afghanistan and lands of the Qa-Khan of Iran. It's possible he could have featured a very large army for his greatest dream.

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Postby Raj Malhotra » 01 Apr 2006 11:00

I cannot remember the source now but I think it stated that Rana Sangha had ability to organise artillery through some sources of Lodhi but was too confident in his might.

I any case, ancient artillery was nothing compared to modern ones. The shell was non-exploding and could only fire a dozen (?) or so rounds in the whole battle.

Most of battles we hear about we see lack on any innovative tactics by Indians. Off hand I can think of only shivaji who used his brain as well as daring.

To circumvent the artillery, why not attack at night or use heavy (roman type) slings.

Me thinks 1000AD and after Indian Hindu religion became too ritualistic and society was castist which curbed our abilities. Also modern thinking in warfare was lacking.

So should we blame it on Ashoka turning to Buddhism, resurgent Hinduism being too castist and absense of any organised training and thinking in General man ship in battlefield.


D_Prem wrote:
Raj Malhotra wrote:I was reading somewhere that Rana Sangha had access to artillery but decided not to bother/wait for it.

In any case, why did Indians did not learn from tactics of Babur and adapt with it. This was not his first battle in India.


I think Rana Sanga didnt have access to arty fire at all. To quote BR itself
Artillery first appeared on the Indian scene at the First Battle of Panipat in 1526.

Source: http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/LAND-FORCES/Army/Articles/Article27.html

The battle of Khanwa took place only a year later in 1527. I dont think technology transfer took place that quick in those days. :D So it'd be safe to assume that Rana didnt have arty support at all.

But you have a good point there that the Indians failed to learn about Babur's tactics. Afterall Rana Sanga's forces had been complemented by the addition of Mahmud Lodhi; and Mahmud himself had fought against Babur at the First Battle of Panipat.

On the other hand the Ottoman tactic was quite remarkable. Babur's artillery could pound Sanga's formations quite easily, while Sanga didnt have countermeasures for that. Moreover, cavalary charge would be suicidal since they'd expose themselves to cannon and musket fire...on top of that they're advance would be halted by the trenches and carts.

Sanga deserves the credit for putting up a resistance and fighting without any artillery at all. But ultimately Babur had superior tactics and he prevailed because of them.

This defeat in many ways was the beginning of the end of Rajput power in northern india. Sadly enough they could never be the power that they once were.

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Postby Anand K » 01 Apr 2006 12:00

Many historians say that armies couldn't have been so large in those times. Perhaps they are extrapolating from today's situation where logistics is the prime factor. One thing to remember in this respect that the invaders didn't always come stacked full of supplies, they DID have some supplies in the train but they mostly lived off the land they came to plunder..... and payoffs for not disturbing extra-territorial commerce into the targeted kingdom, plundering trade caravans going out of it etc. Some enterprising generals infact turned their soldiers in farmers for some time..... if he had time in his hands. Eg, Julius Ceasar during his first invasion of Britian and that Chinese general who conquered Turkestan. The latter infact waited a whole year for harvesting enough foodgrain before conquering the godforsaken lands of Western Turkestan. The 'financing" and motivation dimension was in the invader's favor as they could look forward to loot and plunder. The invaded OTOH can't get that much leeway 'coz it's his own territory and the last thing he needs is his own people turning against him at the time of need. It's therefore possible that all those hordes actually fielded that many troops.

In fact, it was this logistics aspect that led to the Maratha defeat at Panipat in 1761..... and their final fall in 1817. The Maratha state was not financially strong and based on sound financial principles as existed as mainly a "plunder" state as some historians assert. Contemporary historians describe Maratha March as "not a leaf was standing on a twig". Moreover, their numbers were bolstered by the Pindari cavalry who were to mop up the defeated enemy and these guys were not paid.... they had right of plunder to support themselves. Sometimes they looted Maratha lands when pickings were slim and the lMaratha leaders were forced to look the other way. They were very useful you see.... Plus their high tax rates of Chauth (1/4 instead of the usual 1/6) even in arid lands which were conquered. They had p1ssed off the Rajputs and powerful warlords of Central India so bad that they refused to aid them when Bhau's army was cut off by the Ruhelas and Mughals and advance guard of Abdali.... thus forcing Bhau to attempt a make or break battle.

This is another reason why defender forces never sally forth too far from their stronghold to meet the invaders.... as their communication and logistc lines would be strained and they might have to resort to robbing their own folks. Only Balban and Jalaluddin and Allaudin took a real forward *defense* policy against the Mongols...... a long time after the Guptas took the battle for Magadh right into Saka or Hun lands in about 300 AD. This was due to high degree of centralisation of command and control in these cases, as opposed to feudal lords and private armies which can't be really trusted.

The Brits on the other hand could defeat 50000 strong Indian armies with just cpl of thousand troops due to superior drill, policy of disciplined march (plunder comes later, the defeated power himself would hand it on a gold platter) and their superior financing. In case the Company was in debt and the shareholders were in no mood to fund Wellesly's or Hastings's audacious plans, they relied on financiers like the House of Jagath Seth or the Shroffs for short term.
With the advent of canning, pasteurization and later, refridgeration... a lot of these issues were solved.

Raju

Postby Raju » 01 Apr 2006 20:33

Sometimes they looted Maratha lands when pickings were slim and the lMaratha leaders were forced to look the other way. They were very useful you see.... Plus their high tax rates of Chauth (1/4 instead of the usual 1/6) even in arid lands which were conquered. They had p1ssed off the Rajputs and powerful warlords of Central India so bad that they refused to aid them when Bhau's army was cut off by the Ruhelas and Mughals and advance guard of Abdali.... thus forcing Bhau to attempt a make or break battle.


I have read somewhere that the Marathas had really rubbed the Rajputs the wrong way because of their plunder and anarchy they indulged in when they had crossed/overcome Rajput kingdoms.

In case the Company was in debt and the shareholders were in no mood to fund Wellesly's or Hastings's audacious plans, they relied on financiers like the House of Jagath Seth or the Shroffs for short term.
With the advent of canning, pasteurization and later, refridgeration... a lot of these issues were solved.


Your theory of foodgrains is also relevant, if the hordes had attacked in a 'bad year' agricultaral-wise, then all the good work of successfully defending your land numerous times would go to waste during just one bad year.

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Postby Airavat » 02 Apr 2006 07:00

Singha wrote:what does Kha-Khan mean ? some kind of Level2 Khan over a set of Level1 ?

there was a BR member called Khaqqan from Pak long back. a pathan he called himself. could be his surname derived from the title of his ancestors.


Basing himself in the Kerait mud city of Kara Korum (black sands) Chingiz called for a council of Khans to elect a single man to rule over them—an Emperor. The choice was natural and all the Khans chose Chingiz as the Kha-Khan (Khan ruling over other Khans). It was on this occasion that he was hailed, for the first time, by the new name of Chingiz[6].

On his part Chingiz too had an announcement for the other Khans regarding their followers, “These men, who will share with me the good and bad of the future, whose loyalty will be like the clear rock crystal—I wish them to be called Mongols. Above everything that breathes on earth, I wish them to be raised to power.â€

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Postby Singha » 02 Apr 2006 08:51

wrt the Hun invasions I recall a old amar chitra katha about their depredations including an episode where elephants were pushed over a cliff for their leader to enjoy the alarmed trumpeting on the way down. in the end a alliance of small indian kings get together to whip their arse. more details if any are welcome.

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Postby Murugan » 03 Apr 2006 12:23

Regarding Assom's Ahoms intention to invade other regions:

looking at the medievel history that includes shivaji's exploits, it sounds that the invaders were good at war in plains and land with least obstacles and manageable vegetation.

The ahoms were good at river warfare and jungle warfare but might not be well trained to take on armies on plains.

Shivaji harrassed the mughals in ghats which were again inaccessible and confusing for the the invaders, althoug, invaders' lieutenants were indians, includes ; Mansingh - against shivaji, ramsingh against Lachit's army, jaysingh against rana pratap(?). these lieutenants were again from the plains of rajasthan/northern india.

the ghats of maratha kingdom and complex network of rivers /thick jungle of assom were very difficult to negotiate even for these mughal's lieutenants. IMHO

while, the armies of rajputs of north india who took on invaders were adept in warfare in plains but their skill deteriorated either because of not learning from enemies/too confidnet about their skills or they had lots of infighting and the enemies within india helped the invaders. even rana sanga helped them(babur)/jay chand rathor helped ghori (?)

kindly correct if the above is misplaced.

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Postby Murugan » 03 Apr 2006 13:08

I have read somewhere that the Marathas had really rubbed the Rajputs the wrong way because of their plunder and anarchy they indulged in when they had crossed/overcome Rajput kingdoms.


same thing happened in Gujarat. during maratha rules, including that of Baji Rao etc, the taxes were very heavy and most of the people defaulted. the business of region became lowly and traders of karnavati (ahmedabad) fleed ahmedabad because of maratha tyranny.

ironically, marathas kept on fighting with invaders, with indian small time kings and never tried to consolidate with rajputs and sikhs.

even in their own strongholds, they never gave enough attention in creating wealth for the people. shivaji maharaj was exception and he did proved himself to be the best administrator of the time. still his taxing system / tax extraction might not be sufficient, he had to loot surat and other places(?) to keep liquidity unaffected.

on the other hand, rajput kings proved themselves to be people friendly, created wealth for themselves and their own people and business flourished even in bad times. the traces are still seen in present indian corporates. this is not true for the others.

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Postby ramana » 03 Apr 2006 23:20

GD, You are thinking of Mihirkula the Hun and Yasovarman or Yashodarman who headed the confedracy to defeat the HUns.

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Postby Airavat » 04 Apr 2006 07:24

The Battle of Samugarh

Fought more than a month after the Battle of Dharmat on the 29th of May 1658. The rebel princes Aurangzeb and Murad out-maneuvered the Mughal heir-apparent Dara Shikoh to reach the village of Samugarh on the outskirts of Agra.

Military Resources: Shah Jahan and Dara had received news of Jai Singh’s victory over Shuja near the city of Benares in February. Dara’s son Sulaiman was leading that army further east to hunt down his rebellious uncle but there was bad news from the south. Jaswant Singh had been defeated at Dharmat and his army had dissolved—this news reached Dara ten days after the battle had been fought.

Collecting a fresh army, the Mughal heir marched south to block the road to Agra. At Dholpur he built mud embankments, planting there his heavy artillery and posting his musketeers in the trenches. The road from Ujjain, after passing through Gwalior, crossed the Chambal at Dholpur but Dara Shikoh took the added precaution of sending patrols along the river to watch any other place of crossing.

In the meantime Aurangzeb and Murad were at Gwalior—the latter prince was now completely under the spell of his older brother. The losses they had suffered at the hands of the Rajputs in Dharmatwere repaired by the adhesion of more imperial contingents joining them at every town and fort. Moreover the local powers of Malwa province also came to salute the rising sun and sought some gain by joining the winning side.

Among these were Champat Rao Bundela and the Jat zamindar of Gohad (a village near Gwalior). One of them told Aurgangzeb of a little-used ford further east that was unknown to most travelers. Since the way passed through thick jungles and rocky pathways Aurangzeb’s army suffered losses but successfully crossed the Chambal on the 23rd of May. Now the rebel army was marching north to Agra, in the rear of Dara Shikoh’s force. (Gohad later became one of the three leading Jat states along with Bharatpur and Dholpur. On the other hand, Champat Rao Bundela was killed by order of Aurangzeb only three years later and his famous son Chhatrasal led a campaign to free Bundelkhand from Aurangzeb's oppression.)

Dara had to abandon all his elaborate defense works and rush back to bar the enemy’s path to Agra. In the process he lost some of his heavy artillery. Dara entrenched at Samugarh and waited for the enemy.

Aurangzeb reached the place after a non-stop march; Dara immediately marched out to give battle (a good move). But some distance from his camp he halted and decided to wait and watch (a bad move…the general who hesitates is lost). Aurangzeb profited from this by resting his men and horses throughout the heat of the day while Dara foolishly kept his soldiers armed and his artillery deployed without advancing an inch, and then retired from the field at sunset! His younger sibling had gained a moral victory without firing a shot. It became clear to all that Dara feared Aurangzeb’s military capacity.

The Battle: The next morning (29th May) the two armies deployed for the battle in the usual formations and began the contest with the futile discharge of artillery at long range. Dara had no real experience of pitched battles and had drawn up his artillery in a single line, while Aurangzeb followed the normal practice of assigning guns to each division separately. In his ignorance Dara overestimated the effect of his cannonade and ordered his band (pipes, kettledrums, and brass drums) to play—the usual method of ordering a general advance on the enemy.

From Aurangzeb’s side Prince Murad, commanding the left wing, rashly advanced towards the opposing right wing of Dara’s army. This wing was under an imperial officer named Khalilullah Khan and his Uzbek clansmen who only made a show of fighting—Aurangzeb had already corrupted them to support his cause. The rest of Aurangzeb’s army rigidly kept its place and the various divisions directed their artillery fire at the advancing enemy.

From Dara’s left wing Rustam Khan and his charging Sayyid cavalry were stopped by the artillery shots of Aurangzeb’s right wing and veered towards the vanguard under Muhammad Sultan. Trapped between the vanguard, the advanced reserve that came up in support, and the charging right wing, Rustam Khan and his men died fighting in desperation.

However a far greater crisis had developed for Aurangzeb on his left. Murad’s reckless advance blocked the line of sight of the artillery in the vanguard and gave a golden opportunity to Dara’s vanguard—commanded by Rao Chhatrasal Hada of the Rajput Kingdom of Bundi. Apart from the Hadas, there were Gaurs, Rathors, and Sesodias in the thousands wielding swords and lances and mounted on spirited horses.

These Rajputs saw their chance and charged forward, throwing themselves on Murad’s contingent—the enemy artillery could not harm them without also killing Murad’s men. The Mughal prince was severely wounded and lost his chief officers; his army crumpled when some Afghan retainers of Dara came up in support of the Rajput charge.

The victorious Rajputs turned their horses against Aurangzeb himself in the center. By this time their momentum had been spent and a severe hand-to-hand fight raged. Rao Chhatrasal’s wounded elephant turned away but the battle-hardened Rajput jumped down and mounted a horse. One by one the Rajputs fell but no support came from their commander.

The inexperienced Dara had made his last and most fatal mistake. Excited by the charge of Rustam Khan and his Sayyids, Dara had advanced his center in support. This movement blocked his own artillery from harming the enemy—worse the gunners, foot-soldiers and camp followers promptly turned aside to loot the camp, which was their practice when no one was sternly watching over them.

While Dara’s guns fell silent the enemy artillery continued firing. As Rustam Khan’s force crumbled Dara lost his chance to take the attack to Aurangzeb in the center. Just then he learnt that the Rajputs of his vanguard had defeated Murad and were then breaking through to attack Aurangzeb from the other side. The excited Dara once again goaded his elephant to swerve right and his men rode a long way across their entire front to support the Rajputs but it was too late. The vanguard had elicited a whiff of victory and ended its struggle with an act of desperate valour—Raja Rup Singh Rathor jumped off his horse and with his double-handed sword cut a path to Aurangzeb’s elephant.

With the same heavy sword the Rajput chief slashed the legs of the elephant and cut the ropes holding Aurangzeb’s howdah. Aurangzeb cried out to his men to spare the life of such a hero but they had already surrounded and cut down the last hope of Dara’s side. The enemy’s right wing was behind them and the vanguard was advancing forward, while artillery fire carried off many men and beasts. Dara left his elephant for a horse to avoid being hit by a gun—seeing this the Uzbek right wing, which had stayed aloof from the battle took the pretext to flee, and following their example the rest of the army broke up.

Dara’s center, which had first moved forward, then swerved right a long way and now was facing artillery fire, played no part in the battle except to exhaust itself in the heat. Aurangzeb’s band began playing the tune of victory—Dara’s men in the center either fled or surrendered to the enemy. The luckless prince, inexperienced in campaigning and ignorant of warfare to the very end, fled to his mansion in Agra but at least kept some honor by sending the following message to his dear father Shah Jahan:

“I don’t have the face to appear before your Majesty in my present plight…give up your wish to see my ashamed face…I only beg your Majesty to pronounce the fatiha on this confused and half-dead man in the long journey that he has before him.â€

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Postby Airavat » 12 Apr 2006 07:22

The Mughal-Maratha contest in southern India - full campaign

In the middle of the 16th Century the Mughal[11] Empire was truly established in North India under Emperor Akbar. The unwritten ideology of this empire, personified by Akbar, was that men of character and ability are found in all communities---the wise man overcomes bigotry and clannish feelings to attract them to his side. Thus rulers and officers of former independent kingdoms became generals and administrators under the Mughals---their services were paid for by the grant of estates, which could not pass on to their descendants by inheritance[12] and were instead appropriated by the state.

The primary military force of this empire was still cavalry although a new element provided quicker victories and allowed the Mughal army to penetrate into previously inaccessible regions---this new element comprised of artillery and firearms. These also gave the Mughals a distinct superiority over the Deccan Sultanates and by the middle of the 17th Century Berar and Ahmadnagar had been annexed while Golconda had been made tributary and a treaty had curbed the northern ambitions of the Bijapur Sultanate. The Mughals thus gained several points of access from the Deccan into the land of the Gonds[13] and soon triumphed over them. It seemed apparent that the remaining southern kingdoms would be annexed to the Empire and their rulers and officers would be enrolled into the Mughal army and administration just as those in the north had been. This could have happened but for the rise of Shivaji.

[11] The Mughals were actually Turks but their homeland had been dominated by the Mongols for so long that to the outside world they were all Mughals---the Persian pronunciation of Mongol.

[12] The only exceptions to this rule were the Rajputs whose estates and kingdoms passed down from father to son usually without any interference by the Mughals.

[13] On the northern side Gondwana was protected by the Rajput dominated regions of Bundelkhand and Baghelkhand.


The principal military force of the Maratha mercenaries was light cavalry for two reasons. Firstly the best foreign horses, used as heavy cavalry, embarked into the ports of Western India and were appropriated by the Sultanates and the Vijaynagar Empire. Secondly a breed of indigenous horses was found in the Maratha homeland---from lack of a credible study it is not known whether this breed was descended from a pure ancient stock or had been infused with the blood of imported horses. This question may never be answered since the once famous Dakhini breed is now practically extinct (see http://nrce.nic.in/eqindia.htm).


Causes of the Mughal defeat

Within fifteen years Aurangzeb was on the retreat and the Deccan, economically ruined and depopulated by war and pestilence, lay prostrate under the Marathas. How did this sudden change from near dominance to total defeat happen? A contemporary writer, traveling with Aurangzeb's army, tried to answer this question in the following words: "Rajaram, who succeeded Shambhuji, lost his capital and had to flee to Jinjee. So the Maratha state servants supported themselves by plundering on all sides, and paying a small part of their booty to the King...In despair of getting their monthly salaries regularly, they regarded the plunder of Mughal territory as a gain and a means of maintaining themselves."[31]

[31] This is from Nuskha-i-Dilkash, a Persian history written by Pandit Bhimsen, the secretary of Rao Dalpat Bundela who was the chief lieutenant of the Mughal general Nusrat Jang.

While this analysis accounts for the dissolution of the Maratha state and the failure of the Mughal administration to provide a replacement, it does not explain how the Mughal army was defeated by these "Maratha state servants...plundering on all sides"? From our access to more numerous sources and our broader perspective of the historical forces of those times we can cite several reasons for the military defeat of the Mughals:

· Mughal weakness: the conquest of Bijapur and Golconda brought no gain to Aurangzeb. These Shia Sultanates were at the last stage of their existence; their individual ministers and tributary chiefs were more powerful than the governments at each capital. The Mughal annexation of Muslim Kingdoms in North India had been a smooth process, by which the nobles of those states were enrolled into the Mughal military system and the wealth of the annexed state paid for the expenses of its conquest. Neither of these things happened in the south---the Mughals had to take out military expeditions into the estates of the Bijapuri and Golkonda nobles before they submitted. Even then these nobles and indigenous chiefs sighed for their former independence and found ready support from the numerous Maratha armies in the field, thus further complicating the military situation for the Mughals.

· Mughal Finances: For the reasons cited above, and also due to the Maratha plunder, the Mughal army could not live off the conquered land and had to be sustained on the revenues from the Northern provinces. Thanks to Aurangzeb's bigotry even the north was restless and burning with strife and eventually the treasure of three generations, stored at Delhi and Agra, had to be opened and sent to Aurangzeb[32]. This movement of money and material to the south was an easy target for the Maratha armies, who found a wonderful source of wealth to sustain them for a long time. It was remarked by a contemporary writer, "I have heard that every week the Marathas give away sweets and money in charity, praying for the long life of the Emperor who had proved to be the feeder of the universe for them!"[33]

· Mughal administration: In the Mughal army the nobles were assigned estates where they could retire after campaigning. But the estates in the Deccan and the Carnatic suffered from Maratha plundering; the local villagers joined the raiders rather than engaging in the thankless task of farming while paying rent and revenue to two sets of masters! This quote from a contemporary historian illustrates this system, "The powerful headmen of certain villages, in concert with the Marathas, built small forts and refused to pay revenue"[34] The foreign breeds of horses, so important for the Mughals, did not last long in the heat and humidity anyway but their non-stop use in campaigning without any rest or repose wore them out even further.

[32] Aurangzeb's letter to his general Nusrat Jang, from the Ruka'at-e-Alamgiri, reads, "My sincere Nusrat Jang, our whole energy was devoted to the conquest of the Deccan. Thank God that we have accomplished that work. But the expenses incurred are defrayed from the treasury of Northern India. We are still in debt."

[33] Nuskha-i-dilkash.

[34] Khafi Khan.


This Maratha system of war, where light cavalry hovered around each Mughal army, plundered and reduced the country around to dust and then swooped down in lightning charges when the enemy's guard was lowered, was termed ghanimi qawait in the Persian histories. Ghanimi translated to "light forays" qawait to "tactics". The Central Asian soldiers in the Mughal army instantly recognized this method of warfare as similar to what their kinsmen practiced in that steppe land---particularly the Kazzaks. Hence another word for this system of war was Kazzaki.

And this light cavalry had no base, no stronghold, whose blockade or destruction would destroy its power. The women and children of the Marathas were of course lodged in the forts of their homeland; but whenever the Mughals besieged these strongholds the Marathas would pull out their families and take them away to the forts of the Berads or of the Portuguese or even far south to the relative safety of the southern region. Having done that these Marathas would then hover around the besieging army, cut-off its supply lines and swoop down on isolated groups of soldiers and camp followers. Such was their impact that the Mughals had to build mud walls around their camps and siege lines to protect their men from the Maratha light cavalry---the besiegers effectively became the besieged[35]!

Even with these factors it should not be assumed that the Marathas had it easy against their enemies---their superiority became apparent only towards the close of the 17th Century. Up to that time there were continuous diplomatic negotiations between the leaders of the two sides and several Maratha chiefs[36] sought legitimacy and rank from the Mughal Emperor and served him loyally against their own brethren.

[35] Such was the origin of the "Maratha wall" around European factories and its variant, the "Maratha ditch", dug out to break the advance of light cavalry.

[36] Some of these had been dispossessed by Shivaji, some had rebelled against Shambhuji, and some sought financial gain by allying with the Mughals. Those that remained loyal to the Mughal cause were the Jadavs of Sindhkhed (Shivaji's mother's family), Kanhoji Shirke and his sons (Rajaram's mother's family), Nagoji Mane, the Dafles of Jath, and several thousand Mavle infantry under individual Mughal or Maratha commanders.

Singha
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Postby Singha » 12 Apr 2006 10:33

Purely as a theoritical exercise could a regiment of 18 x 105mm modern light artillery have swung the tide in the major battles seen in northern india invasions ?

I read a novel wherein a WW2 japanese steam powered carrier is encased in artic ice , hundreds of years later when other advanced forms of propulsion no longer seem to work ...alien invasion or such...this carrier is finally melted out of the glacier and put to work - gotta recall the name of that novel...

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Postby Lalmohan » 12 Apr 2006 13:21

Singha wrote:Purely as a theoritical exercise could a regiment of 18 x 105mm modern light artillery have swung the tide in the major battles seen in northern india invasions ?


without question - since armies tended to mass in the open. but then so could proper deployment of contemporary artillery, or proper deployment of mobile forces before the gunpowder age

indian armies relied on static warfare, adherence to ancient rules of chivalrous behaviour and a failure to politically or conceptually understand the enemy - who practiced total warfare and targetted civillians

hindu kings spent too long fighting each other in ritualistic warfare and did not appreciate that a new uncompromising threat had emerged over the horizon

whenever there was a strong Samrat/Shah-en-shah in the centre who saw the big picture, large standing Indian armies, well armed and trained, robustly defended the frontiers and deterred invaders

true even today! (especially today)

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Postby Murugan » 12 Apr 2006 17:57

remember, that the indian history we read is having at least two layers,

first layer is mughal where there will be mention of mughal superiority - when they are being defeated there will be words like 'plunder', 'qayamat', 'badnasibi' etc.

while the british layer will be reverse - try to tell you that there were 'poor tactics', 'not so modern weapons', 'indians were disintegrated' etc. and if they are defeated : indians won by 'sheer chance'! brilliant strategy is (was) their
monopoly.

remove these two layers and understand the history afresh is perhaps a crtical analysis

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Postby JCage » 12 Apr 2006 19:10

Rudra

What will you do for ammunition once your initial stocks run out?

Murugan,

Well said!

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Postby Lalmohan » 12 Apr 2006 20:13

as a counterpoint, the zulus at isandhlwana had only a few rifles but had much superior numbers and knowledge of terrain to the british - who also used poor tactics. however the british did have light artillery and rockets which killed hundreds of zulus as they advanced across open ground, but they still kept coming until they reached hand to hand range and then it was game over for the thin red line

by contrast at rourke's drift a few miles away, a handful of british were able to keep a larger zulu force at bay from a defensible farmhouse

the main force with cavalry and others were far off to the north trying to entice the zulus out, who were already behind them and attacking their supply base in the open veldt of isandhlwana

moral of the story - artillery on its own may not be enough


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