Real Causes Of Hindu Defeats
Finally, Dr. Misra lays his probing finger on the real factors which contributed to Hindu defeats during this period. The very first factor, according to him, was the lack of a forward policy vis-a-vis the Muslim invaders. In his own words, What the Rajputs really lacked was a spirit of aggression so conspicuous among the Muslims, and a will to force the war in the enemys dominions and thus destroy the base of his power.5
Secondly, a forward policy could not be pursued in the absence of a strong central government for even the whole of northern India which could think and act for the whole country. As a result, The Rajput rulers found it difficult to look beyond the territorial limits of their own kingdoms and their regional interests pushed the national issues into the background.6 Compared to a strong central authority, the various confederacies organised by the Rajputs proved to be patch-works which came apart either under the impact of military defeat, or as soon as the immediate purpose of stopping the enemy had been served.
Thirdly, the military organisation of the Rajputs was inferior as compared to that of the Muslims. The Rajputs depended mainly on feudal levies assembled on the spur of the moment. These feudal levies with no unity of training and organisation, coming together at the last moment, fighting under the leadership of and for their individual leaders, could not be expected to beat back an enemy united in purpose and organisation and acting as on coordinate unit. A medieval Muslim historian quoted by Dr. Misra said so in so many words: A commander with a heterogeneous army consisting of soldiers - a hundred from here and a hundred from there - cannot achieve anything. An army with so varied and so many component elements has never been able to achieve anything great.7
Fourthly, The cavalry and mounted archers of the invading armies gave them a decisive superiority over the home forces. The Indian rulers too maintained cavalry units. But the Arabic and Turkoman horses were much better adapted to warfare The second strong point of the Turkish military machine was its mounted archery. Their deadly arrows easily covered a range of eighty to hundred paces Reference to archery among the Indian armies after the age of the epics is conspicuous by its absence.8
Lastly, the strategy and tactics employed by the invaders on the battlefield proved decisive in their favour. Indians failed to keep pace with the developments of military strategy taking place in Central Asia before the advent of Islam. The Arabs and Turks perfected them Besides, the traditional Rajput chivalry looked upon the battle as a ritual or a tournament for displaying their fighting skill and swordsmanship under well-recognised rules of sport. Did not Manu, the ancient law-giver proclaim A battle was ideally a gigantic tournament with many rules: a warrior fighting from a chariot might not strike one on foot; an enemy in flight, wounded or asking a quarter, might not be slain; the lives of enemy soldiers who had lost their weapons were to be respected; poisoned weapons were not to be used; homage and not annexation was the rightful fruit of victory. The Arabs and the Turks, on the other hand, knew no rules and waged a grim and ruthless struggle to destroy their enemies. Feints and sudden attacks, manoeuvering under the cover of darkness and pretending defeat and flights, keeping a large reserve to be used only at critical moments - all these took the Indians by surprise and crippled their fighting capacity. The Indians never tried to take advantage of their enemys weakness and perhaps considered it unchivalrous to do so. Such magnanimity on the part of Indian kings was a sure invitation to disaster against a ruthless foe who recognised no moral or ideological scruples in the pursuit of victory.9
5 Ibid., p. 123.
6 Ibid., p. 124.
7 Ibid., p. 125.
8 Ibid., p. 126-27.