Prithviraj Chouhan - Ten measures ahead of you and twenty four feet away
Ten measures ahead of you and twenty four feet away, is seated the Sultan, do not miss him now, Chouhan
In the 12th century, when Mohammed Ghori was earlier defeated by the Solankis and had to retreat from the western edge of the Thar, he tried invading Bharat ( aka India ) from another route. But on the other side of the Thar lay the domains of the Maharaja of Sambhar (Shaka-ambara) Prithviraj Chauhan, who was known for his bravery and chivalry.
Mohammed having tasted defeat at Hindu hands once, decided to make use of subterfuge. He studied Hindu warfare, as had been done by Sabuktgin two hundred years before him. Thus, fully prepared to invade Bharat ( aka India ), he advanced through West Punjab and laid siege to the fortress of Bhatinda in East Punjab, that lay on the borders of Prithvitraja’s domains. Soon, he had to face the wrath of the Rajputs, and at Tarain (also known as Taraori) in today’s Haryana, the two armies clashed furiously.
Mohammed Ghori captured by Prithviraj Chouhan
In face of the repeated onslaughts of the Rajput cavalry, the Muslims broke ranks and fled leaving their king Mohammed Ghori a prisoner in Prithviraja’s hands. Their defeat by the Solankis of Anahilwada had given the Muslims a foretaste of Hindu valor. But in that retreat they had to leave behind many of the best steeds in their cavalry which fell in to the hands of the pursuing Solanki army.
To prevent this from happening again this time, the Muslims resorted to a trick. Once the fortunes of the battle turned against them at Tarain, and their king Mohammed Ghori himself was captured by the Rajputs, the Muslims broke into retreat, with the Rajputs in hot pursuit, the fleeing Muslim general Kutub-ud-din Aibak let loose a large herd of cows chained to each other to block the path of the pursing Hindu army. Thus with their path blocked by bovines, whom the Hindus looked upon as a deity, it was impossible for the Hindus to cut down the cows blocking their path, and the Muslim army shrewdly made its escape, reducing its losses and preventing many Muslim soldiers from being taken as captives by the victorious Hindus.
How Prithviraja pardoned Mohammed Ghori whom he had defeated and captured in 1191
When the captured Mohammed Ghori was brought before Prithviraja as a captive bound in chains, he pretended to be repentant, while internally he was seething with rage at being humiliated for having been captured by a Kafir king. This rage proved itself a few years later when their (Prithviraj’s and Ghori’s) roles were reversed.
But for now as a prisoner in chains before Prithviraja, Mohammed Ghori begged for mercy and promised that he would never lift his eyes toward Bharat ( aka India ).
This melted the innocuous Prithviraja and he ordered that Mohammed’s chains be removed. On reaching Ghor, Mohammed reneged on his sham promise to Prithviraj and promptly murdered the Rajput escorts and envoys that Privithraja had sent to accompany Mohammed to Ghor. Displaying utter contempt for noble behavior, Ghori sent their severed heads as a token of his “goodwill” to the astonished Prithviraj. Mohammed Ghori also immediately started preparing for another assault on Bharat ( aka India ). Going by the experiences of his two defeats at the hands of the Solankis and Chauhans, the wily but twice beaten Mohammed decided to go by subterfuge, the patented mentality of the Muslims that has given them victory over more powerful, but less scheming and treacherous adversaries.
Mohammed’s use of subterfuge to defeat Prithviraja
In the following year, Mohammed broke his deceptive promise to Prithviraja and attacked Bharat ( aka India ) once again. The two armies again gathered at the same battlefield of Tarain (Taraori) near the ancient town of Thanesar (Sthaneshwara). Thanesar had been the winter capital of Harsha Vardhana during 620 - 644, the last major Hindu king who ruled over most of Northern Bharat ( aka India ) at the beginning of the Muslim onslaught.
So at the battle of Tarain, when the two met and Prithviraja’s sword felt heavy on Qutub who risked losing his life, Qutub resorted to a feint and by whirling below his saddle he cut off one of the feet of Prithviraja’s horse, before Prithviraj could realize what he was up to. As the horse lost balance, Prithviraja tripped and fell off his wounded horse.
This was a foul move, and it would have been fair, had after this, Qutub, also dismounted and fought Prithviraja on foot. Instead at a pre-arranged signal from Qutub, a band of truculent Muslim soldiers, who had till then stood aside in the grab of horse-tenders, jumped on Prithviraja, pinned him down, pressed on his face a dose of hashish (that grew abundantly in the poppy farms of Afghanistan as they do till this day). They bound the drugged Prithviraja in chains and galloped away with him as a prisoner into their ranks, before the Rajputs could realize and react to this unexpected act of treachery.
The Muslims immediately carried away the captive and drugged Prithviraj and hoisted him on one of the elephants that Prithviraj had gifted to Mohammed Ghori when he had released Ghori. The Muslim spread a rumor in the Rajput camp that Prithviraj was dead and that they were holding aloft his dead body to show the Rajputs the futility of fighting further.
When the Rajputs saw that they their Maharaj (King) was evidently dead with his corpse in the hands of the enemy, they lost nerve and through enraged, fell back against Pithoragarh, their fortified capital at Mehrauli near Delhi. The Muslims retreated with the captured Prithviraj to Afghanistan.
The betrayal and blinding of Prithviraja, and how he avenged his humiliation
When Prithviraj was presented in chains before Mohammed Ghori, he reminded Mohammed how Ghori was himself presented before Prithviraja in chains and how Prithviraja had honorably released him. On hearing this Mohammed and his courtiers laughed derisively at Prithviraja and told him that he did not understand Islam and the Muslim psyche! When Prithviraja glared back at Mohammed and his courtiers, Mohammed ordered him to lower his eyes as he was now a captive. When Prithviraja told him that a Rajput’s eyes are lowered only after death, Mohammed in a fit of rage ordered that Prithviraja’s eyes be pierced with red hot irons. He kept the blinded Pritiviraja in solitary confinement and had him occasionally hauled to his court for being made fun of as the “Lion of Delhi”.
During this period of humiliating captivity, Prithviraja was joined by his friend and biographer Chandra Vardai (Chand Bardai) who joined his master in prison, after offering himself as a prisoner to Mohammed. It was in prison, that Chandra Vardai told Prithviraja of a plan to avenge his betrayal and humiliation. Before an annual event of Buskhazi (a kind of wild sport in which the Muslims indulged) was to be organized, Chandra Vardai told Mohammed, that Prithviraja would like to show his skill in archery, but he would accept orders only from a king who had defeated him. And as Mohammed was the only king who had done that, Mohammed Ghori himself would have to order Prithviraj to shoot!
Mohammed’s ego being rubbed the right way, he readily agreed. On the said day Prithviraja was brought to the assemblage. And when Mohammed gave the order for Prithviraja to shoot, Chandra Vardai in the following poetic stanza “Char bans, chaubis gaj, angul asta pramaan, Ete pai Sultan hai, Ab mat chuko Chouhan." (Ten measures ahead of you and twenty four feet away, is seated the Sultan, do not miss him now, Chouhan). On hearing these words Prithviraja whirled in the direction of Mohammed and shot three arrows one after the other and wounded Mohammed fatally. Thus Prithviraja had his justice, although due to his folly in pardoning the ghoulish fiend Mohammed, he lost his kingdom and Bharat ( aka India ) lost its sovereignty to the beastlike Muslims.