Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/118

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

114 EARLY MUHAMMADAN CONQ UER CJ?S. sovereignty stretching from Persia on the west, to far within the Punjab on the east. Having spent four years in consolidating his power in Afghanistan to the west of the Khaibar Pass, Mah- mud led in iooi a. d. the first of his seventeen invasions of India. Of these, thirteen were directed to the subjugation of the Western Punjab, one was an unsuccessful incursion into Kashmfr, and the remaining three were short but furious raids against more distant cities, — Kanauj, Gwalior, and Somn&th. Jaipal, the Hindu frontier Chief of Lahore, was again defeated. Accord- ing to Hindu custom, a twice-conquered prince was deemed unwoi thy to reign ; and Jaipal, mounting a funeral pile, solemnly made over his kingdom to his son, and burned himself in his regal robes. Another local Chief, rather than yield himself to the victor, fell upon his own sword. In the sixth expedition (1008 a. d.), the Hindu ladies melted their ornaments, while the poorer women spun cotton, to support their husbands in the war. In one great battle the fate of the invaders hung in the balance. Mahmud, alarmed by a coalition of the Indian kings as far as Oudh and Malwd, entrenched himself near Peshawar. A sortie which he made was driven back, and the wild Ghakkar tribe burst into the camp and slaughtered nearly 4000 Musalmans. The Sack of Somnath, 1024. — But each expedition ended by further strengthening the Muhammadan foothold in India. Mahmud carried away enormous booty from the Hindu temples, such as Thaneswar and Nagarkot ; and his sixteenth and most famous expedition was directed against the temple of Somnath in Gujarat (1024 a. d.). After bloody repulses, he took the town. The Hindu garrison, at the end of their gallant defence, left 5000 of their warriors dead, and put out in boats to sea. The famous idol of Somnath was merely one of the twelve renowned lingas or phallic emblems of Siva-worship erected in various parts of India. But Mahmud, having taken the name of the ' Idol-Smasher,' the modern Persian historians gradually con- verted the plunder of Somnath into a legend of his pious zeal. Forgetting the contemporary accounts of the idol. as a rude block of stone, Firishta tells how Mahmud, on entering the temple, was offered an enormous ransom by the priests if he would spare the image. But Mahmud cried out that he would