III. The Postclassical Period, 500–1500 > C. South and Southeast Asia, 500–1500 > 3. South Asia, 1000–1500
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
3. South Asia, 1000–1500
 
INDIA BEFORE THE MUSLIM CONQUEST (MAP)
State forms began to be elaborated in this period, both in the north and the south, under the influence of models and values imported from other parts of the Islamicate world and renegotiated in the subcontinent as they met with emerging regional cultural systems. Though scholars and commentators have used shorthand labels that identify these kingdoms as Hindu or Muslim, they became increasingly distinctive as Indian or South Asian in ways that are independent of particular religious practices or values.  1
Throughout much of this period, the dominant pattern continued to be that of smaller kingdoms vying for dominance in a region, although the Delhi Sultanate did manage to expand its rather loose hold over significant parts of the subcontinent before it was superseded by the Mughals. In the Deccan, particularly, a range of differing regional cultures met and interacted, including the Telugu kingly culture from the south, the Maharashtrian military culture from the west, and Muslim notions of ruler and state brought through Islamicate ties. In this politico-cultural melting pot, much influence from Islamicate states helped to shape, especially, the emerging empire of Vijayanagara. (See India, 1500–1800)  2
 
a. North India and Deccan
1093–1143
 
The Chalukya ruler, Jayasimha Siddharaja, a patron of letters, although himself a Saiva, organized disputations on philosophy and religion, and favored a Jain monk, Hemachandra, who converted and dominated Kumarapala.  3
 
1143–72
 
As a good Jain, Kumarapala decreed respect for life (ahimsa); prohibited alcohol, dice, and animal fights; and rescinded a law for confiscation of property of widows without sons. He also built (c. 1169) a new edifice about the Saiva temple of Somanatha, which had been reconstructed by Bhimadeva I (1022–62) after destruction by the Moslems.  4
 
1151–1206
 
The Shansabani Persian princes of Ghur (Ghor), having burned Ghazni (1151), drove the Yamini to the Punjab and deposed them there (1186).  5
 
1172–76
 
Ajayapala, a Saiva reactionary, ordered the massacre of Jains and the sacking of their temples, until he was assassinated. Jain rule was restored under a mayor of the palace whose descendants displaced the dynasty (c. 1240).  6
Two Jain temples at Mt. Abu are the work of a governor, VimalaSaha (1031), and a minister, Tejpala (1230). Built of white marble with a profusion of ornamented colonnades, brackets, and elaborately carved ceilings, they represent the most elegant version of the northern or Indo-Aryan architectural style.  7
Kashmir, already (c. 100) an important home of the Sarvastivadin Buddhist sect, remained a center for Buddhist studies (till the 10th century; degenerate before the Muslim conquest, 1340) and the study of Sanskrit literature (until today). Its history from c. 700 is rather fully known through the Rajatarangini, the only extant document by Kalhana (c. 1100), the sole early Indian historian, who consulted literary sources and inscriptions but accepted tradition without criticism.  8
 
1175–1206
 
Muhammad of Ghur, Mu'izz-ud-Din, undertook conquest of Hindustan by capture of Multan and Uch. He ruled from Ghazni as governor for his elder brother, Ghiyas-ud-Din Muhammad, whom he succeeded as ruler of Ghur (1203).  9
 
1192
 
A battle at Tararori (14 miles from Thanesar) decisively crushed a new Hindu confederacy led by the Chauhan king of Ajmer and Delhi. Cumbersome traditional tactics, disunited command, and caste restrictions handicapped the Hindu armies in conflict with the mounted archers from the northwest. Victory led to occupation of Delhi (1193) and to conquest of Bihar, where the organized Buddhist community was extinguished (c. 1197), Bengal (c. 1199), and the Chandella state in Bundelkhand. Muhammad appointed Kutb-ud-din Aibak, a slave from Turkestan, viceroy of his Indian conquests, and left him full discretion (1192, confirmed 1195).  10
 
1206–66
 
A dynasty of slave kings, the first of six to rule at Delhi (until 1526), was founded by Aibak (killed playing polo, 1210).  11
The numerically weak early Muslim rulers in India were forced to employ Indian troops and civilian agents, welcome allegiance of Indian landholders, and afford their native subjects much the same limited protection (including tacit religious toleration) and justice to which they were accustomed. This led to active efforts to create a polity regarded as legitimate both in the Islamicate world and in the eyes of local elites. Rebels, both Hindu and Muslim, were slaughtered with ruthless barbarity.  12
 
1211–36
 
Shams-ud-din Iltutmish, the ablest slave and son-in-law of Aibak, succeeded to his lands in the Ganges Valley only, but recovered the upper Punjab (1217), Bengal (1225), the lower Punjab with Sind (1228), and Gwalior after a long siege (Feb.–Dec. 1232). He advanced to sack Ujjain (1234).  13
 
1229
 
Iltutmish was invested as sultan of India by the Abbasid caliph of Baghdad.  14
Islamic architects brought to India a developed tradition of a spacious, light, and airy prayer chamber covered by arch, vault, and dome, erected with aid of concrete and mortar, and ornamented solely with color and flat linear, usually conventional, decoration. This formula was applied with recognition of local structural styles and the excellence of Indian ornamental design. Aibak built at Delhi (1193–96) with the spoils of 27 temples a mosque of “Hindu” appearance to which he added (1198) an Islamic screen of arches framed with Indian carving. He began (before 1206) a tower for call to prayer, which was finished (1231–32) and named Kutb Minar to honor a Muslim saint (d. 1235) by Iltutmish, who also enlarged the mosque in strictly Islamic style. In the new architectural style that emerged, the emphasis shifted from mosques to tombs of rulers and of Sufi saints. The shift underscored the importance of local rulers (rather than an internationalized Islam) and of the new force of devotionalism (which expressed a value common to those called Hindus and Muslims).  15
Upon the death of Iltutmish, actual power passed to a group of 40 Turks who divided all offices save that of sultan and controlled the succession.  16
 
1266–90
 
A new dynasty at Delhi was founded by Balban (d. 1287), a slave purchased by Iltutmish (1233) who was made chamberlain (1242) and became father-in-law and lieutenant (1249–52 and 1255–66) of King Mahmud (1246–66). As king, aided by an effective army and corps of royal news writers, Balban repressed the 40 nobles, ended highway robbery in the south and east, and suppressed rebellion in Bengal. His son repelled the Mongols established in Ghazni (since 1221) but was killed by them (1285).  17
The tomb of Balban is the first structure in India built with true arches instead of Hindu corbeling.  18
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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