Open main menu

Page:Provincial geographies of India (Volume 1).djvu/189

This page needs to be proofread.
ch. xviii]

Decline of Buddhism.— The iconoclastic raids of Mahmud probably gave the coup de grace to Buddhism. Its golden age may be put at from 250 B.C. to 200 a.d. Brahmanism gradually emerged from retirement and reappeared at royal courts. It was quite ready to admit Buddha to its pantheon, and by so doing it sapped the doctrine he had taught. The Chinese pilgrim, Fahien, in the early part of the fifth century could still describe Buddhism in the Pan jab as "very nourishing," and he found numerous monasteries. The religion seems however to have largely degenerated into a childish veneration of relics.

Conquest of Delhi.— For a century and a quarter after the death of Mahmud in 1030 a.d. his line maintained its sway over a much diminished empire. In 1155 the Afghan chief of Ghor, Ala ud din, the "World-burner" (Jahan-soz), levelled Ghazni with the ground. For a little longer the Ghaznevide Turkish kings maintained themselves in Lahore. Between 1175 and 1186 Muhammad Ghori, who had set up a new dynasty at Ghazni, conquered Multan, Peshawar, Sialkot, and Lahore, and put an end to the line of Mahmud. The occupation of Sirhind brought into the field Prithvi Raja, the Chauhan Rajput king of Delhi. In 1191 he routed Muhammad Ghori at Naraina near Karnal. But next year the Afghan came back with a huge host, and this time on the same battlefield fortune favoured him. Prithvi Raja was taken and killed, and Muhammad's slave, Kutbuddin Aibak, whom he left to represent him in India, soon occupied Delhi. In 1203 Muhammad Ghori had to flee for his life after a defeat near the Oxus. The Ghakkars seized the chance and occupied Lahore. But the old lion, though wounded, was still formidable. The Ghakkars were beaten, and, it is said, converted. A year or two later they murdered their conqueror in his tent near the Indus.