152 THE MUGHAL DYNASTY. host, and, after a massacre in the streets of Delhi and a fifty- eight days' sack, returned through the north-western passes with a booty estimated at 32 millions sterling. The destroying host of the Persian king was succeeded by a series of invasions from Afghanistan. Six times the Afghans burst through the passes under Ahmad Shah Durani, pillaging, slaughtering, and then scornfully retiring to their homes with the plunder of the Mughal empire. In 1738, Kabul, the last Afghan Province of the Mughals, was severed from Delhi; and, in 1752, Ahmad Shah obtained the cession of the Punjab from the miserable emperor. The cruelties inflicted upon Delhi and Northern India during these six Afghan invasions form an appalling tale of bloodshed and wanton cruelty. The wretched capital opened her gates, and was fain to receive the Afghans as guests. Yet on one occasion it suffered for six weeks every enormity which a barbarian army can inflict upon a prostrate foe. Meanwhile the Afghan cavalry were scouring the country, slaying, burning, and mutilating, in the meanest hamlet as in the greatest town. They took especial delight in sacking the holy places of the Hindus, and murdering the defenceless votaries at the shrines. Misery of the Provinces. — A single example must suffice to show the miseries inflicted by the invaders of India from the North-west. A horde of 25,000 Afghan horsemen swooped down upon the sacred city of Muttra during a festival, while it was thronged with peaceful Hindu pilgrims engaged in their devotions. ' They burned the houses,' says the Tyrolese Jesuit Tieflfenthaler, who was in India at that time, 'together with their inmates, slaughtering others with the sword and the lance ; haling off into captivity maidens and youths, men and women. In the temples they slaughtered cows ' (the sacred animal of the Hindus), ' and smeared the images and pavement with the blood.' The borderland between Afghanistan and India lay silent and waste ; indeed, Districts far within the Indian frontier, which had once been densely inhabited, and which are now again thickly peopled, were swept bare of in- habitants. Thus Gujranwala, the seat of the ancient capital of the Punjab in Buddhist times, was utterly depopulated. Its present inhabitants are immigrants of comparatively recent date.
Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/156
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