It’s been long I saw this image and may be in the same location itself. This tells one very important thing, how the Muslims sweated to take over India. 550 long years to gain permanent foot hold in the country is no mean task if there is no external support. The graph shows there are three waves of invasions. It’s not the waves we need to see, but the troughs in between, which are more important. The waves are an indication that the effort put to bring down India failed and the realisation dawned upon the invaders till someone with a new zeal came.
But, I am not at all happy with this narrative. When did it become a fight between Muslim and Hindu? Or Islam just an excuse, but with naked expansion being the prime motive? Remove the concept of Islam for a minute. What do we see here? The Arab armies destroyed the Persian Empire and marked it’s formal end in 651 AD. The next kingdom in line was Sind. After continuous warfare for almost 60 years completely disproportionate to it’s size, Sind fell in 712 AD. That gave a renewed aggression in Arabs under Qasim and lasted till Junayd where the Arabs understood that they can’t take down India and were forced to turn back. There were two major theatres of invasion – into core India through Sind which were permanently beaten by the Chalukyas and Pratiharas and the other, through the passes of Afghanistan. This level of warfare has got a direct link with the collapse of Arab rule in the area – the battles of Marj Ardabil, Defile and the blood letting in Khorasan Theatre(India and Sogdiana) destroyed the core of the Umayyad military force and hastened up it’s collapse. Even, Kabulshahis had the temerity to give sanctuary to a prominent Arab general who decided to rebel.
After the collapse of Arab imperialist effort, their outlying territories fragmented into local kingdoms. A general of one such local kings, captured as a slave in his childhood from an area just north of the Kabul Shahi territories and which is still Hindu/Buddhist. He led a counter invasion of Kabul Shahi territories which finally collapsed under his son and successor, famously known as Mahmud of Ghazni. He fought 13 wars with the Kabulshahis and their allies, finally crushing them for good. There was a lull after him for a while when Muhammad of Ghori led the next round of raids which finally broke through the resistance, more because of the foolishness of Prithviraj Chauhan who entered the battlefield without an army and Jayachandra Gahadavala who decided to side Ghori there by removing the buffer Prithviraj offered.
So, what is happening here?
1. An Arab imperial army, bent on expanding it’s realm launches itself on the world in the garb of spreading it’s religion. The army is broken beyond repair at the borders of India and the borders are stabilized.
2. Through percolation and internecine border wars, the border areas get slowly converted to Islam. A governor in such an area raises a flag of revolt, he and his son wage war of aggression eating into it’s neighbour. They spent all their life fighting against the same kingdom and it’s allies. Even though it was claimed as an Islamic advance, the reality is that it’s just another border war which went on for centuries and the situation turned decisive only in the last thirty years in the side of the northern kingdom.
3. One of his successor kingdoms led another charge, this time, conquering a small part of Northern India. By shifting the base into core India, they slowly expanded.
Does this look, from any angle, an Islamic invasion of India? There was the zeal of spreading Islam with gusto but was Islam the reason for invasion?
Just compare this with another happening in India.
1. Alexander invaded India and was turned back from the borders.
2. In the wake of it, Pahlavas and Greeks tried to entrench themselves in India till the Satavahanas pushed them back. There were waves after waves of this happening before it was beaten down/assimilated into the local culture.
When this is not an invasion of whatever pagan religion Greeks propagated, why is Qasim/Junayd’s and Ghazni’s an invasion of religion – invasion for land and not for religion?