Friday, August 10, 2012

Prithviraj Raso

The Prithviraj Raso or Prithvirajaraso is an epic poem composed by court poet, Chand Bardai, on the life of Prithviraj III, a Chauhan king who ruled Ajmer and Delhi between 1165 and 1192.Chand Bardai claimed to be contemporary of Prithviraj Chauhan.The historicity of Prithviraj Raso was proved unreliable by historical writers like Buhler, Morrison, GH Ojha and Munshi Devi Prasad.Some scholars held the view that Chand was poet's title and not the name of a particular individual and that Prithviraj Raso was work of many Charanas.


According to tradition, the '''Prithviraj Raso''' was composed by Chand Bardai, Prithviraj's court poet (raj kavi), who accompanied the king in all his battles, and completed by Bardai's son Jalhana. As court poet, Chand Bardai had the traditional occupation of composing poems and ballads in praise of his patron and based loosely on historical incident.

Versions and later embellishments

Over time, the Prithviraj Raso was embellished with the interpolations and additions of many other authors. Only a small portion of the existing texts is likely to have been part of the original version. Several versions of the Prithivraj Raso are available, but scholars agree that a small 1300-stanza manuscript in Bikaner is closest to the original text. The longest available version is the Udaipur manuscript, which is an epic with 16,306 stanzas. The language of the texts available today largely appears to be post-15th century and to be based upon the seventeenth-century compilation of Amar Singh of Mewar.

Significance and historical veracity

Many events and battle details narrated in Prithviraj Raso do not agree with other contemporary accounts found in both Hindu and Muslim sources
While not strictly history,the Prithviraj Raso is a source of information on the social and clan structure of the Kshattriya communities of northern India.

Biography according to Prithviraj Raso

According to the epic poem or ballad, Prithviraj was a king, who, after ceaseless military campaigns, extended his original kingdom of Sambhar (Shakambara) in present-day Rajasthan to cover Rajasthan, Gujarat and eastern Punjab. He ruled from his twin capitals of Delhi and Ajmer. His fast rise aroused the envy of the then powerful ruler of Kannauj, Jaichand Gahadvala, and caused ill-feeling between the two.

Svayamvara of Sanyogita

The upcoming svayamvara of Samyukta spread far and wide and became the subject of much discussion among the nobility. Samyukta, daughter of Jaichand, secretly fell in love with Prithviraj. She met Prithviraj at the temple of Koteshwar. She was disguised as Nandini and Prithvi was disguised as Surya. He was on a mission to save the temple deity from sabotage by his archrival and king of Gujrat, Bhimdev Solannki. Prithviraj had heard of Samyukta's unmatched beauty in a poem and decided to meet her in disguise. However, Samyukta, who had seen a portrait of Prithviraj, could see through his disguise and decided to meet him personally. She disguised herself to avoid recognition, and hence their secret affair began. Her father got wind of this affair and resolved to have her safely wed at an early date. He arranged a Swayamwara, a Hindu ceremony where a maiden selects a husband from a number of suitors who assemble at the invitation of her guardian. Jaichand invited many princes of high rank and heritage, but deliberately failed to invite Prithviraj. To add insult to injury, Jaichand had a statue of Prithviraj made and placed at the door of the venue, thus parodying Prithviraj as a doorman. Prithviraj came to hear of this. He made his plans and confided them to his lover, Samyukta.
On the day of the ceremony, Samyukta emerged from an inner chamber, entered the venue of the swayamwara, and walked straight down the hall past the assembled suitors, bypassing them all. She reached the door and garlanded the statue of Prithviraj. The assemblage were stunned at this brash act, but more was to follow: Prithviraj, who had been hiding behind the statue in the garb of a doorman, emerged, put Samyukta upon his horse and the two ran away with each other. This incident resulted in a string of battles between the two kingdoms, and both of them suffered heavily. The Chauhan -Gahadvala feud led to the weakening of both kingdoms. Prithviraj was a great Hindu ruler and defeated Muhammad Ghori many times.

First Battle of Tarain

The first move was taken by Muhammad of Ghor, who conquered territory up to the border of Prithviraj's kingdom. In 1191 Muhammad took the Sirhind or Bhatinda fortress (today in the Indian Punjab) on Prithviraj’s northwestern frontier. The next step was taken by Prithviraj, who, along with his vassal Govinda-raja of Delhi, rushed to save the frontier, and the two armies met at Tarain.
The Rajput armies first defeated the two wings of the Muslim army. The Muslim army fled while Muhammad still remained in the center with the rest of the Turki soldiers. It was then that Govind-raja and Muhammad of Ghor came face to face. The two were injured in the repeated clashes. Muhammad could not recover from the blow and fainted from the shock. Fearing that their leader had died, the army surrendered to Prithviraj and Muhammad was taken prisoner. He was brought in chains to Pihorgarh, Prithviraj’s capital, where he prostrated himself before Prithviraj, asked his forgiveness and promised never to look toward Bharat (India)again. Being a Hindu Rajput, Prithvi Raj forgave him.

Second Battle of Tarain

In 1192, Muhammad Ghori returned with a larger army and met Prithviraj’s army again at Tarain. This time Prithviraj's army was larger and included many Rajput forces from Northern India. Muhammad Ghori delivered an ultimatum to Prithviraj Chauhan that either he convert to the Muslim religion or be prepared for defeat. In reply Prithviraj Chauhan offered him a cease-fire to consider a retreat with his army.
Muhammad Ghori adopted a ruse and replied to Prithviraj with a letter indicating acceptance of the truce. The Rajput army believed him and started celebrating, letting down their guard in a relaxed and casual mood. With Prithviraj’s army thus unprepared, Ghori's army attacked in the early hours of morning. The Rajput army was nevertheless able to stave them off and make a retreat. Muhammad’s army then sent waves of mounted archers to attack the Rajput forces, but had to retreat as Prithviraj’s elephant force advanced. At dusk, however, Muhammad Ghori was able to achieve victory through creating confusion by sending heavily armoured horsemen to charge the center of Rajput defence.
About 100,000 Rajput soldiers are said to have died in the battle. Prithviraj was imprisoned and taken to Ghor/Ghazni. The second battle of Tarain is believed to be the most decisive battle in Indian history as it opened the path for later conquerors of India. Muhammad and his successors were able to conquer the Rajputs and establish their Empire in India known as the "Sultanate of Delhi".

In Ghor

Prithviraj, after being prisoned and taken to Ghor/Ghazni, was blinded when he refused to accept Ghori's rule over him. Then, with the help of Chand, he killed Ghori when he was asked to present his art of Shabdabhedi(hitting targets only after listening to sound), eventually taking his revenge.
But other versions by Islamic and Hindu histories, tell us that Ghori was assassinated in 1209 A.D

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