Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/121

This page needs to be proofread.

MUHAMMAD OF GHOR. 117 in Northern India. A Chauh&n Rajput prince, ruling over Delhi and Ajmere, bore the proud name of Prithwf Raja or Suzerain. The Rahtor Rajput king of Kanauj, whose capital can still be traced across eight square miles of broken bricks and rubbish in Farukhabad District, celebrated a feast, in the spirit of the ancient Hindu Horse-Sacrifice (see pp. 68, 70), to proclaim himself the overlord. At such a feast all menial offices had to be filled by royal vassals; and the Delhi monarch was summoned as a gatekeeper, along with the other princes of Hindustan. During the ceremony, the daughter of the King of Kanauj was to make her swayam-vara, or ' own-choice ' of a husband, as in the Sanskrit epics (see pp. 67, 69). The Delhi Raja loved the maiden, but he could not brook to stand at another man's gate. As he did not arrive, the Kanauj king set up a mocking image of him at the door. When the princess entered the hall to make her choice, she looked calmly round the circle of kings, then, stepping proudly past them to the door, threw her bridal garland over the neck of the ill-shapen image. Forthwith, says the story, the Delhi monarch rushed in, sprang with the princess on his horse, and galloped off towards his northern capital. The outraged father led out his Kanauj army against the runaways, and, having, according to the legend, called in the Afghans to attack Delhi on the other side from the west, brought about the ruin of both the Hindu kingdoms of Delhi and Kanauj. Distribution of Rajputs, 1193. — The tale serves to record the disputes among the Rajput princes, which prevented a united resistance to Muhammad of Ghor. Muhammad found Delhi occupied by the Tomara clan, Ajmere by the Chauhans, and Kanauj by the Rahtors. These three Rajput States formed the natural breakwaters against invaders from the north-west. But their feuds are said to have left the King of Delhi and Ajmere, then united under one Chauhan overlord, only 64 survivors out of his 108 warrior Chiefs. In 11 93, the Afghans again swept down on the Punjab. Prithwf Raja of Delhi and Ajmere was defeated and slain. His heroic queen burned herself on his funeral pile. Muhammad of Ghor, having occupied Delhi, pressed on to Ajmere ; and in n 94 overthrew the rival Hindu monarch of Kanauj, whose body was identified on the field of