MAHM&D OF GHAZNI. 115 rather be remembered as the breaker than the seller of idols, and clove the god open with his mace. Forthwith a vast treasure of jewels poured forth from its vitals, which explained the liberal offers of the priests, and rewarded the disinterested piety of the monarch. The growth of this fable can be clearly traced, but it is still repeated. Mahmud carried off the temple gates, with frag- ments of the phallic emblem of Siva-worship, to Ghaznf, and on the way nearly perished with his army in the Indus desert. But the so-called ' sandal-wood gates of Somnath,' brought back as a trophy from Ghaznf by Lord Ellenborough in 1842, and paraded through Northern India, were as clumsy a forgery as the story of the jewel-bellied idol himself. Mahmiid died at Ghaznf 'in 1030 A. D. Besults of Mahmud's Invasions. — As the result of seven- teen invasions of India, and of twenty-five years' fighting, Mahmud had reduced the western districts of the Punjab to the control of his Afghan kingdom of Ghaznf, and left the remem- brance of his raids throughout northern India as far as Kanauj on the east and Gujarat in the south. He never set up as a resident sovereign in India. His expeditions beyond the Punjab were the adventures of a religious knight-errant, with the plunder of a temple-city, or the demolition of an idol, as their object, rather than serious efforts at conquest. But as his father Subuktigfn had left Peshawar as an outpost garrison of Ghaznf, so Mahmiid left the Punjab as an outlying Province of that Afghan kingdom. Stories about Mahmud. — The Muhammadan chroniclers tell many stories, not only of his valour and piety, but also of his thrift. One day a poor woman complained that her son had been killed by robbers in a distant desert of Irak. Mahmud said he was very sorry, but that it was difficult to prevent such accidents so far from the capital. The old woman rebuked him with the words, 'Keep no more territory than you can rightly govern ' ; and the Sultan forthwith rewarded her, and sent troops to guard all caravans passing that way. Mahmud was an enlightened patron of poets, and his liberality drew the great Ferdousi to his court. The Sultan listened with delight to his Shdh-ndmah, or Book of Kings, and promised him a dirhavi,
Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/119
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