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Kamilu-t Tawarikh

Kamilu-t Tawarikh of Ibn Asir (b. 555 H., 1160 CE).  It is a general history of the world ending in 628 H. (1230 CE), the date of the work’s completion.

In The History of India as Told by its own HistoriansThe Posthumous Papers of the Late Sir H. M. Elliot. John Dowson, ed. 1st ed. 1867. 2nd ed., Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1956, vol. 12, pp. 100-108.

  1. Overview

The Kamilu-t Tawarikh is an influential and early history.  Composed by Ibn Asir (b. 555 H., 1160 CE), it is a general history of the world ending in 628 H. (1230 CE), the date of the work’s completion.  It is particularly valuable for the information it provides concerning the latter period of the Ghaznavid dynasty, and the usurpation of their throne by the Ghûrid, followed by the establishment of the Delhi sultanate, since all of these events occurred during the lifetime of the author.

The excerpt here concerns Sultan Muhammad Ghûri, whose rise to power is of some interest.  Following the death of Sultan Mahmud, the power of the Ghaznivid dynasty declined due to infighting.  One of his successors, Bâhrâm, initiated a blood feud with the chieftains of Ghûr, a principality in Afghanistan which until acknowledged Ghaznivid suzerainty, by executing two princes of Ghûr.  ‘Alâ-ud din Husain, the chieftain of Ghûr, took vengeance in 1151 CE by thoroughly sacking Ghazni over the course of seven days, during which time the buildings were burned, the men slain, and the women and children taken prisoner.  Ghazni was so weakened that Khusrû Shah, Bâhrâm’s son, was soon forced to abandon Ghazni and flee to Lahore in India.

The Ghûris did not immediately take advantage of the collapse of the Ghaznivids to expand their sphere of influence, but they did eventually, in 1173 CE when Sultan Ghiyâs-ud-din of Ghûr defeated the Ghuzz Turks and took over Ghazni.  He passed control of all of the conquered Ghaznivid territory, including both that which is now modern Afghanistan as well as that in the Punjab, to his brother, Muhammad Ghûri.  Also known as Shihâb-ud-din and Muizz-ud-din, he began an aggressive policy of conquest in India.  First he conquered Sindh, attacking Multan and Uch in 1175-76 CE.  Next, in 1178 CE, he attacked Gujrat, but suffered a severe defeat at the hand of Râja Bhîmdev II.  Following this defeat he deposed Khusrû Shah, and secured his hold over the Punjab.

His hold over Northern India was secured by the two great Battles of Tarâin fought in 1191 and 1192 CE north of Delhi, in which the Ghûrid invaders faced off with Râja Prithvirâj and an assembled confederacy of Indian armies.  In both of these battles the Ghûrids were victorious.  Following these victories Muhammad Ghûri returned to Khurasan, leaving his holdings in India in the hands of Qutb-ud-din Aibak, a slave who had been promoted to the rank of a general.  Qutb-ud-din made Delhi his capital, and then made inroads into the Doab.  In 1193 CE he was joined by Sultan Muhammad Ghûri for an attack on Kanauj, which resulted in the overthrown of King Jai Chand.  The excerpt included herein narrates an attack on Benaras conducted in 1194 CE by Qutb-ud-din.

  1. Excerpt

[p. 107]

War Between Shahhabu-d Din and the King of Benares

Shahabud-din Ghori, king of Ghazni, sent his slave, Kutbu-d din, to make war against the provinces of Hind, and this general made an incursion in which he killed many, and returned home with prisoners and booty. The king of Benares was the greatest king in India, and possessed the largest territory, extending lengthwise from the borders of China to the province of Malawa (Malwa), and in breadth from the sea to within ten days’ journey to Lahore.  When he was informed of this inroad, he collected his forces, and in the year 590 (1194 A.D.), he entered the territories of the Muhammadans, [p.108] Shahabu-d din Ghori marched forth to oppose him, and the two armies met on the river Jumna, which is a river about as large as the Tigris at Musal.  The Hindu prince had seven hundred elephants, and his men were said to amount to a million.  There were many nobles in his army.  There were Mussulmans in that country since the days of Mahmud bin Subuktigin, who continued faithful to the law of Islam, and constant in prayer and good works.  When the two armies met there was great carnage; the infidels were sustained by their numbers, the Musulmans by their courage, but in the end the infidels fled, and the faithful were victorious.  The slaughter of the Hindus was immense; none were spared except women and children, and the carnage of the men went on until the earth was weary.  Ninety elephants were captured, and of the rest some were killed, and some escaped.  The Hindu king was slain, and no one would have recognized his corpse but for the fact of his teeth, which were weak at their roots, being fastened in with golden wire.  After the flight of the Hindus Shabadu-d din entered Benares, and carried off its treasures upon fourteen hundred camels.  He then returned to Ghazni.  Among the elephants which were captured there was a white one.  A person who saw it told me that when the elephants were brought before Shahabu-d din, and were ordered to salute, they all saluted except the white one.  No one should be surprised at what I have said about the elephants, for they understand what is said to them.  I myself saw one at Musal with his keeper, which did whatever his keeper told him.