Conquerors Warriors and Statesmen of India
This remarkable book of history was written by the author after an extensive journey of India and Ceylon in the middle of the 19th century. Its first edition was published in 1866. On author’s own testimony, he has written nothing without authority and that before writing, he consulted every work or article that had been written on India in the English and French languages. The author’s mode of description is truly classic and, like his contemporary, Lord Macaulay he has produced a series of words pictures that have not many equals in English language. The author has painted a pathetic picture of Indian history prior to the 11th century due to the absence of any reliable history of that period. Such a world-renowned event as the march of Alexander’s forces in India does not find adequate mention in the Indian history books of the age. Most fortunately for mankind, Aledander was accompanied by Greek historian, Arrian, who has left for posterity a reliable account of India, compiled from the evidences of eye-witnesses and his own observations. It is gratifying to read the history of India of 300 years before the Christian era which says, (in author’s own words): “When the whole of Western Europe was peopled by skin-clad savages, who contested with wild animals the roots and nuts of their primeval forests, the companions of Alexander should have found on the banks of Indus the strange, social distinctions, the tinsel civilization, the elaborate excellence in the arts and sciences, the laborious practice of metallurgy and penumatics, the slender make of the women that even now, after a lapse of sixty generations rivet the wonder and curiosity of the traveller”. The author further adds: “there is scarcely a tenet of philosophy from the code of Pythagorus to that of Plato, or a discovery in science, from the introduction of numerals to the calculations of astronomy whose rise cannot in some degree be traced to the Brahmins or Gymonosophists of India.” From earliest times this great land of India has been considered the fountainhead of wealth, ‘the El-Dorado of conquerors and merchants.’ Its fabulous wealth and meek population have been the target of plunderers and freebooters from the Ghazni whose philosophy was that “the sword is the Key to paradise and hell. A drop of bloodshed in the cause of God, a night spent in-arms is of more avail than two months of fasting and prayer”. Strange are the ways of retributive justice of God. The city of Ghazni, most magnificent to the East of Suez in those days, which he embellished with the wealth, amassed as a result of twelve invasions of Indian cities and temples, was in turn not only plundered but also totally demolished by the fierce mountaineers led by equally ferocions free booters, Mohammed of Ghor. The other three great ‘scourges’ of the earth mentioned in the volume are Changez Khan, Timur, the Tartar and Nadirshahof Persia. Chengezkhan’s career was one of unceasing course of bloodshed and destruction. During 20 years of his active life, is stated to have slaughtered fourteen millions of human beings. Taimur, the Tartar who was lame of one foot wrote new pages of history with blood-curdling tales of cruelty and bloodshed. Before invading India he has already depopulated half of Asia. On 13-12-1398, the ancient city of Delhi was subjected by him to most appalling scenes of mass massacre. Nadirshah of Persia crossed the Indus in 1738. For three days he was encamped outside the city of Delhi. Provoked by the false rumour of his own assassination, he ordered his soldiers to ransack and butcher one and all in every street of Delhi. Perhaps no city in the world had witnessed such frequent blood-baths as Delhi. Equally gripping is the story of Mohammad Tughlak who was only eclipsed Nero in ferocity but equalled him in folly. He call to shift his capital from North to South and the story of burial of his aching tooth over which a magnificent mausoleum was raised at Bier are still a reminder of his eccentric nature. The book is not solely covered with stories of plunder and bloodshed. There are redeeming features when the author describes in vivid and moving language the magnanimity and chivalry of Baber and his illustious grandson, Akbar. Baber had in his person the joint lineage of Changez Khan and Timur but not their barbarism. Akber was the glory of Mogul race and stands without a rival in the Indian history perhaps with the exception of Ashoka, the Great. Then there is a very exiciting story of Pertal, the stunningly beautiful daughter of a Hindu farmer of village Mudkul in the Deccan. “She was more graceful than the seven wives of Lord Krishna”. She was so much intoxicated with her beauty, that under the guidance of her Brahmin Guru, she would not marry any one less than the muslim King of Bahamni Dyansty. And this followed a fierce war between the Bahamni King and the Hindu King of Beejapur. The author has also done equal justice to the military adventures of Sivaji, the founder of Marahatta rule. His exciting and romantic life and his fiery spirit fanned into a flame the latent energy and ambition of the Hindu races of India. Such a remarkable volume written by a historian with a pen, as penetrating as that of Macaulay, must be the proud possession of any library worth the name. besides, it will stimulate more enterprising work of research on the traumatic and tumultuous events of the age.
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