Date: 3/13/2005


The Hindu Counterattack on Muslims

The Hindu counterattack against Islam does not have any fixed date.

From the very first battle of the Rajas of Makara (Makran) and Sindh in 638, till the Muslim rule was finally eliminated by the Maratha, Jats, Rajputs, Gurkhas and Sikhs in the 18th and early 19th centuries, this constant Hindu-Muslim war did not stop. So we can only define the counterattack as that period when the Hindus started turning the tactics of their tormentors on the Muslims. The first to do that were the kings of Orissa.

Narasimhadeva''s defeat of Tugan Khan

After the easy victories over North India from Punjab, through Bengal, the Muslims turned and attacked Orissa. Here the Muslim met their match. The people of Orissa were hardy fighters. (In ancient and medieval times, Orissa was also called Kalinga or Utkal from Uttam Kala which means Excellent Art that reflects the tradition of sculpture of that region) They had given a hard time when in the 3rd century B.C.E. the king of Kalinga Kumara gave a tough battle to Samrat Ashoka Mauya, before Orissa could be annexed to the Maurya Empire. When Tugan Khan attacked Orissa, the then ruling king of Orissa, Narsimhadeva, decided to use subterfuge against the Muslims.

He sent word to the invader that he wanted to surrender as had Lakshmansena, the ruler of Bengal without a fight. Tugan Khan had easily conquered Bengal a few years earlier, since the king of Bengal instead of fighting fled the advancing Muslim armies and Begal fell without a fight. Tugan thought that Orissa would also be a cakewalk, as he had put the fear of death in the heart of the Hindus.

Tugan accepted Narasimhadeva's surrender proposal and asked for the surrender of the major city of Puri (Narasimhadeva had his capital elsewhere at Jajanagara), hand over all weapons and embrace Islam in the central square in front of the Jagannath Temple and convert the temple into Mosque. To the delight of the Muslims, all these terms were accepted and the Muslims advanced into the city, blissfully aware that the shrewd Hindu king had laid a trap for them. On the orders of Narasimhadeva, the bustling city had been completely evacuated of its pilgrims and soldiers from all over the kingdom had occupied every nook and cranny of the city, hidden away inside the closely built houses Once the Muslim army was inside the city, it had to disperse itself into the maze of narrow lanes and bylanes with which they were not familiar and where thy had to dismount from their horses and advance single file. And unaware of the danger lurking they advanced cautiously and slowly towards the central square where the surrender ceremony was to take place.

When the Muslim army was dispersed, at a prearranged signal from one of lookouts from the temple spires, the temple bells started ringing, and this was the signal for the Hindus to pounce on the Muslims. The pitched battle lasted whole day and went into the night pierced by the cries of wounded and dying Muslim and Hindu soldiers. While the Hindus took many losses, the entire Muslim army was caught like in a mousetrap and annihilated. Very few Muslims could escape this trap.

And this idea succeeded, as it had never been used till then, by any Hindu king, as it went against the Hindu rules of warfare. But precisely because of it being totally unexpected, the Muslims had to suffer from a bloody nose and the Hindus emerged victorious. Orissa was to remain a Hindu bastion for many centuries and this accounts for the very low percentage of Muslims in Orrisa even today, unlike Bengal, where the eastern part (known today as Bangladesh) has been totally Islamized, and the Western half is undergoing the process of Islamization especially in the district of Murshidabad.

The victorious King Narasimhadeva erected a victory pillar designed as a war chariot. This temple was dedicated to Surya the Sun god, at a place near the temple town of Puri. He named this place Konark which means "Essence of the Corners" While the structure commemorates the victory in the battle against the Muslims, the name Konark commemorates the science of astronomy of which the King was an avid student. Although the Hindus of south India, like the Kings of Vijaynagar and the Marathas, displayed this shrewdness against the Muslims, in the North the Rajputs continued to wage a noble war with the ignoble Muslims and lost out. It was for this reason, that the Muslim could never subjugate the Southern half of India (Dakkan or Deccan from Dakshin which means south in Sanskrit) as they did with North India. It was Hindus of Vijaynagar in the South who gave a tougher time to the Muslim and held back the tide of Muslim aggression at the Krishna river, to finally throw off the Muslim yoke and march northwards to liberate North India, when the Marathas marched to Delhi, and Punjab and beyond up to Attock in Paktoonisthan.