collection of hauma hamiddha's scattered posts

Posts tagged ‘indian’

Muhammad Tuglaq’s invasion of China

“1337 A.D.

Mahomed Toghlaq had heard about the great wealth of China and decided
to possess that for himself, so says Ferishta. The saner of his
courtiers warned him against doing so. They told him that such a
daunting task was beyond his capability. Mahomed Toghlaq instead
decided to listen to sycophants. He put together a great force that
comprised of 1,00,000 horses and made his nephew, Khoosrow Mullik its
commander. He ordered that forts and camps be built all the way
across the Himalayas. That task accomplished, the army made its foray
into China. The Chinese awaited them in strength. They were far
numerous, better equipped, familiar with the mountain terrain and
physically superior. Mahomed’s army was attacked with a fury they had
not even imagined before – and routed. As they made a retreat, the
Chinese, who had the advantage of attacking from a higher altitude,
chased them mercilessly. To make the matters worse, rains and floods
cut off the escape routes of Mahomed’s army. The Chinese massacred
them within 7 days and just a handful returned to tell the story.
Once the enemy was humiliated, the Chinese returned, not even
bothering about the territory that was theirs for the asking.”

To be precise this massive defeat that was handed to Mohamed bin Tughlaq in
1337 was by the armies of Toghan Timur,
the Mongol Kha’Khan who was then ruling over China. The army was comprised of
light Tibetan cavalry divisions and a few
heavily armored Mongol squadrons. Ironically this was one of the weaker Mongol
armies at time when the Mongol empire
in China was already only a pale reminder of the fierce force that it was under
Kublai, the ancestor of Toghan. This was
also one of the rare occassions when a Buddhist army gave the Moslems a much
needed punch in the face. The Tibetan
Buddhists, unlike the Indian BUddhist maintained a large force of horse borne
archers. Tughlaq’s men while having good
horses were simply out of touch with involved archery shootouts after their easy
conquests in India. This battle is a very
important data point to show how the Turkic armies had degenerated since the
days of Alla-ad-din due to the neglect of
archery.

Alans, hUnas:I-Irs and Altaic peoples on the steppe

The issue of how the Central Asian Steppe passed on from the
Indo-Iranians to Altaic is quite complex. More detailed investigation
are much required in this regard. However there are few points that
suggest that Altaics gradually ate away into the Iranian domain over a
long period of time and many of these tribes showed considerable
admixture of the Altaic and I-Ir streams. By 300 BC the Iranians had
practically become the main force on the Central Asian and
European steppes with Indics restricted to certain areas and rapdily
facing assimilation. However, there may be faint echoes of Indic
persistance within the Iranian cloak for a while. Between 250 to 210
the Khan Tuman started organizing the first great horde in Mongolia
that played out the first round of the familiar Altaic expansion under
his son Motuen Tegin, the aggressive Altaic expansionist.
The Alan horde is traditionally a Sarmatian tribe- probably Iranian
speaking. They appear earliest as the Alan group around 285AD; their
rulers were called by the title Kundajiq- it is not clear if this was
Iranian or Altaic in derivation, though superficially it sounds
Altaic. Their first ruler is termed a certain Akshadar (Apparently
Iranian). Then we see two more rulers after the Alan horde liberated
itself from the Hunas around 450AD called Saros and Kandak (At least
the later may be of Iranian derivation). Interestingly the name Saros
also appears as the first Khan of the expansionist Altaic horde of the
Avars about 80-100 years later.

Later when the Turkic Khazar Khans overran the Alani, they appear to
have taken the horde under their control: we see a Kundajiq with an
Altaic name Itaz. The before the conquest of the Alani by the
Chingizid horde we see two Kundajiq’s with peculiar names: Suarna
ruling around 1150 and a successor named Pancalo Bagratuni. Atleast
the first name seems to be an Indic (rather than Ir?) hangover while
the second has Ir elements. So it appears that the Alans subject to
much Altaization over time and in large part were absorbed (A part by
Cuman tribes, the tribe from which Qutub ud Din Aibak(may Allah
perfume his pit) comes). Similarly on the West the Alani appear to
have been Germanized via interactions with assorted German tribes.

The Hephalites or the hUnas who invaded India were of
originally Iranian origin. Even they show signs of admixture with
Altaics. Their first recorded ruler Akhshunwar (Ir name) appears to
have had marriage relationships with Iranian royals. However, one of
his successors is named Yelue Dua- while sinicized it resembles the
Khitan names. The rulers in India, successor of Lakhana are called
Khingila and Vahi Tegina suggesting persisting Altaic elements.

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