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Prithviraja III (IAST: Pṛthvī-rāja; reign. c. 1178–1192 CE), popularly known as Prithviraj Chauhan or Rai Pithora was a king from the Chahamana (Chauhan) dynasty. He ruled Sapadalaksha, the traditional Chahamana territory, in present-day north-western India.
He controlled much of the present-day Rajasthan, Haryana, and Delhi; and some parts of Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. His capital was located at Ajayameru (modern Ajmer).
Early in his career, Prithviraj achieved military successes against several neighbouring kingdoms, most notably against the Chandela king Paramardi. He also repulsed the early invasions by Muhammad of Ghor, a ruler of the Muslim Ghurid dynasty.
However, in 1192 CE, the Ghurids defeated Prithviraj at the Second battle of Tarain, and executed him shortly after. His defeat at Tarain is seen as a landmark event in the Islamic conquest of India, and has been described in several semi-legendary accounts. The most popular of these accounts is Prithviraj Raso, which presents him as a Rajput.
Prithviraj Chauhan lived at Taragarh fort which was also known as Ajaymeru after which the town of Ajmer got its name.
Following year Ghori came again. Prithviraj advanced with his army and sent a letter to Ghori. In this letter Ghori was asked to return as he had been defeated the previous year and was spared his life. Ghori replied that he was in India on the orders of his brother, Ghiasuddin, and that he could only retreat after he got a word from his brother.
This letter was sent in the evening and after sending the letter Ghori moved his camp back a few kilometers to feign retreat. On receiving this letter and seeing Muhammad move his camp back Prithviraj assumed that Ghori was not interested in fighting. Ghori also knew that rajputs did not fight in the night and only started fighting after sun had come up.
(This is an ancient Kshatriya practice e.g Mahabharata was also fought mostly in day time). Ghori treacherously attacked in the early morning hours when Prithviraj and his army were sleeping and was able to win this war
The founder of the Gahadwala line was Govindchandra Gahadwala. He was an astute ruler and ruled from Kannauj. Most of North India, including the university town of Nalanda was a part of his kingdom. He stoutly defended his kingdom from further Muslims incursions. He instituted a tax for this purpose which was called Turushka Danda (i.e. tax to fight the Turushkas or Turks). His grandson was Jaichandra Gahadwala (Rathod) who played a tragic role in Indian History.
The Story of Prithviraj Chouhan and Mahmud Ghori
In Jaichand’s days, a rival Rajput clan had established itself in Delhi (Pithoragarh). The ruler there was Prithviraj Chouhan. Pritiviraj was a romantic, chivalrous and an extremely fearless person. After ceaseless military campaigns, Pritiviraj extended his original kingdom of Sambhar (Shakambara) to Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Eastern Punjab.
He ruled from his twin capitals at Delhi and Ajmer. His fast rise caught the envy of the then powerful ruler Jaichandra Gahadwala and there was a lot of ill-feeling between the two.
Prithiviraj’s Love for Sanyogita – Jaichandra’s Daughter
The story of Prithviraj’s bold exploits spread far and wide in the country and he was the center of much discussion in the circle of the nobility. Sanyogita, the daughter of Jaichandra Gahadwala fell secretly in love with Prithiviraj and she started a secret poetic correspondence with him. Her father the haughty Jaichandra got wind of this and he decided to teach his daughter and her upstart lover a lesson.
So he arranged a Swayamwara (a ceremony where a bride can select her husband from the assembled princes. She had the right to garland any prince and she became his queen. This is an ancient Hindu custom among Royalty). Jaichandra invited all the big and small princes of the country to Kannauj for the royal Swayamwara. But he deliberately ignored Prithiviraj.
Prithviraj was born to the Chahamana king Someshvara and queen Karpuradevi (a Kalachuri princess). Both Prithviraj and his younger brother Hariraja were born in Gujarat, where their father Someshvara was brought up at the Chaulukya court by his maternal relatives.
According to Prithviraja Vijaya, Prithviraj was born on the 12th day of the Jyeshtha month. The text does not mention the year of his birth, but provides some of the astrological planetary positions at the time of his birth, calling them auspicious. Based on these positions and assuming certain other planetary positions, Dasharatha Sharma calculated the year of Prithviraj’s birth as 1166 CE (1223 VS).
The medieval biographies of Prithviraj suggest that he was educated well. The Prithviraja Vijaya states that he mastered 6 languages; the Prithviraj Raso claims that he learned 14 languages, which appears to be an exaggeration. The Raso goes on to claim that he became well-versed in a number of subjects, including history, mathematics, medicine, military, painting, philosophy (mimamsa), and theology. Both the texts state that he was particularly proficient in archery.
Personal Life & Legacy
the Afghan invaders.
The name of his mother was Karpuridevi
Someshvar mother was the daughter of Jayasimha of Gujarat.The book Prithviraj vijaya states that some astrologers told that the son of Someshvar would be incarnation of Lord Rama.On hearing this Jayasimha brought Someshvar to Gujarat.And during Jayasimha’s son Kumarpal’s reign he married Karpuridevi of Tripuri.
War with the Ghurids
Prithviraj’s predecessors had faced multiple raids from the Muslim dynasties that had captured the north-western areas of the Indian subcontinent by the 12th century. By the late 12th century, the Ghazna-based Ghurid dynasty controlled the territory to the west of the Chahamana kingdom. While Prithviraj was still a child, in 1175 CE, the Ghurid ruler Muhammad of Ghor crossed the Indus River and captured Multan.
During its march to Gujarat, the Ghurid army appears to have passed through the western frontier of the Chahamana kingdom, as evident by the destruction of several temples and sacking of the Bhati-ruled Lodhruva.
The Prithviraja Vijaya mentions that the activities of the Ghurid army were like Rahu to the Chahamana kingdom (in Hindu mythology, Rahu swallows the Sun, causing a solar eclipse). However, it does not mention any military engagement between the two kingdoms. On its way to Gujarat, the Ghurid army besieged the Naddula (Nadol) fort, which was controlled by the Chahamanas of Naddula.
Prithviraj’s chief minister Kadambavasa advised him not to offer any assistance to the rivals of the Ghurids. And he advised him to stay away from this conflict. The Chahamanas did not immediately face a Ghurid invasion. Because the Chaulukyas of Gujarat defeated Muhammad at the Battle of Kasahrada in 1178 CE, forcing the Ghurids to retreat.
Over the next few years, Muhammad of Ghor consolidated his power in the territory to the west of the Chahamanas, conquering Peshawar, Sindh, and Punjab. He shifted his base from Ghazna to Punjab. And made attempts to expand his empire eastwards, which brought him into conflict with Prithviraj.
Prithviraja Vijaya mentions that Muhammad of Ghor sent an ambassador to Prithviraj, but does not provide any details. Hasan Nizami’s Taj-ul-Maasir (13th century CE) states that Muhammad sent his chief judge Qiwam-ul Mulk Ruknud Din Hamza to Prithviraj’s court. The envoy tried to convince Prithviraj to “abandon belligerence and pursue the path of rectitude”, but was unsuccessful. As a result, Muhammad decided to wage a war against Prithviraj.
The Hammira Mahakavya claims that after defeating Muhammad for the first time, Prithviraj forced him to apologize to the princes whose territories he had ransacked, before letting him go. However, his ninth invasion succeeded.
The Prithviraja Prabandha states that the two kings fought 8 battles; Prithviraj defeated and captured the Ghurid king in the first seven of these, but released him unharmed each time.
The Surjana Charita and Prithviraj Raso also enumerate 21 battles.
The Prabandha Chintamani gives the number of battles between Muhammad and Prithviraj as 22. It also states that Prithviraj’s army defeated the preceding enemy king in a previous battle, in which a subordinate of Prithviraj heroically sacrificed himself.
While these accounts seem to exaggerate the number, it is possible that more than two engagements took place between the Ghurids and the Chahamanas during Prithviraj’s reign. The early victories mentioned by the Hindu and Jain writers probably refer to Prithviraj’s successful repulsion of raids by Ghurid generals.
Coins of Prithviraj Chauhan
This is corroborated by numismatic evidence: some ‘horse-and-bullman’-style coins bearing names of both Prithviraj and “Muhammad bin Sam” were issued from the Delhi mint, although another possibility is that the Ghurids initially used Chahamana-style coinage to ensure greater acceptance of their own coinage in the former Chahamana territory.
After Prithviraj’s death, Muhammad installed the Chahamana prince Govindaraja on the throne of Ajmer, which further supports this theory.
The various sources differ on the exact circumstances
According to Prabandha Chintamani (c. 1304), Muhammad took him to Ajmer, intending to let him rule as a vassal. Enraged, he beheaded Prithviraj with an axe.
The noblemen of the Ghurid king suggested that he release Prithviraj. It just like the Chahamana king had done to him in the past. But Muhammad ignored their advice, and Prithviraj died in captivity.
Prithviraja-Prabandha (dated 15th century or earlier) states the Ghurids placed Prithviraj in gold chains and brought him to Delhi. Prithviraj reproached the Ghurid king for not following his example of releasing the captured enemy.
The treacherous minister supplied him the bow-and-arrows, but secretly informed Muhammad of his plan. As a result, Muhammad did not sit at his usual place, and instead kept a metal statue there. Prithviraj fired an arrow at the statue, breaking it into two. As a punishment, Muhammad had him cast into a pit and stoned to death.
The 16th-century historian Firishta also supports this account. According to historian Satish Chandra, Minhaj’s account suggests that Prithviraj was executed immediately after his defeat, but R. B.
On hearing this, the poet Chand Bardai traveled to Ghazna and tricked Muhammad of Ghor into watching an archery performance by the blind Prithviraj. During this performance, Prithviraj shot the arrow in the direction of Muhammad’s voice and killed him.
Shortly after, Prithviraj and Chand Bardai killed each other. This is a fictional narrative, not supported by historical evidence. Muhammad of Ghor continued to rule for more than a decade after Prithviraj’s death.
After Prithviraj’s death, the Ghurids appointed his son Govindaraja on the throne of Ajmer as their vassal. In 1192 CE, Prithviraj’s younger brother Hariraja dethroned Govindaraja, and recaptured a part of his ancestral kingdom. Govindaraja moved to Ranastambhapura (modern Ranthambore), where he established a new Chahamana branch of vassal rulers.
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