Chach-na’ma or Tari’kh-I Hind wa Sind, translated into Persian by Muhammad ‘Ali bin Hamid bin Abu Bakr Kufi c. early 13th CE from an early Arabic manuscript.
In The History of India as Told by its own Historians. The Posthumous Papers of the Late Sir H. M. Elliot. John Dowson, ed. 1st ed. 1867. 2nd ed., Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1956, vol. 7, pp. 32-115.
The work known as Chach-na’ma is an account of the first Arab invasion of Sindh. The original Arabic text is lost, but the text survives in the Persian translation undertaken by Muhammad ‘Ali bin Hamid bin Abu Bakr Kufi during the early thirteenth century. The translator, in his preface, writes that in 613 H. (1216 CE), he turned his attention away from worldly concerns and turned to scholarship. Leaving the city of Uch he traveled to Alor and Bhakar, where there was still a significant Arab population. There he met the Maulana Qazi, Ismail bin ‘Ali bin Muhammad bin Musa bin Tai bin Yak’ub bin Tai bin Musa bin Muhammad bin Shaiban bin ‘Usman Sakifi, who brought to his attention the Arabic text of Chach Na’ma.
The narrative of the text begins with, and takes its name from, the Brahmin Chach, according to the text overthrew the Buddhist king of Sindh, Akham Lohana, and made himself king of Sindh. His son, Dâhir, succeeded to the throne, and it was during his rule that the Arabs invaded Sindh. The account of Chach’s usurption and rule is thus a prelude to the account of the Arab overthrow of his successor.
This invasion takes up the bulk of the narrative. It was undertaken during the reign of the Umaiyid Caliph ‘Abdul Malik (685-705), who appointed Hajjâj, the governor of Iraq and Khurasan, to lead invasions into Transoxiana and Sindh. These invasions were undertaken, respectively, by his two generals, Qutaybah bin Muslim and Muhammad bin Qâsim.
Muhammad bi Qâsim marched to Sindh with 15,000 men. He arrived at Debal, a port city near the modern Karachi, in 711. There he was bolstered by the arrival of his artillery by sea, and took the town. This was followed by his conquest of Alor, located north of Hyderabad in June 712. In the fighting before Aror the Raja Dâhir was slain. The next year he also conquered the important city of Multan.
Following the rapid conquest of Sindh, Arab progress was checked. In part this was caused by internal division. In 714 Hajjâj died, and in 715 the Calif Walid I (705-715) took interest in the campaign and recalled the conquering general, Muhammad bi Qâsim. Arab control thereafter rapidly disintegrated, leading many local rulers to repudiate their allegiance to the Arabs. The next Calif, ‘Umar II (717-720), was evidently unable to check this development. He sought, but was unable to secure, their nominal acceptance of Arab suzerainty. The Arabs also met stiff resistance from neighboring Indian kings. When an Arab governor of Sindh, Junaid, sought to seize Kacch and Malwa, he was foiled by the Pratihara and Gurjara kings. The Arabs were thus unable to expand beyond Sindh, but they were able to maintain their hold on the province. The region out of the control of the Caliphate, but remained under Muslim control; in 985 an Ismaili Fatamid dynasty declared its indendence in Multan.1
- 1. Muhammad bin Qâsim takes the fort of Alor, loots it, and slays King Dâhir.
- 2. Jaisiya attempts to organize resistance; Muhammad bin Qâsim takes the forts of Bahrur and Dhalila.
- 3. Muhammad bin Qâsim conquers Multan.
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The fort is taken and Bai (Main), the sister of Dahir, burns herself
Muhammad Kasim disposed his army, and ordered the miners to dig and undermine the walls. He divided his army into two divisions; one was to fight during the day with mangonels, arrows, and javelins, and the other to throw naphtha, fardaj (?), and stones during the night. Thus the bastions were thrown down. Bai (Main), sister of Dahir, assembled all her women, and said, “Jaisiya is separated from us, and Muhammad Kasim is come. God forbid that we should owe liberty to these outcast cow-eaters! Our honour would be lost! Our respite is an end,2
and there is nowhere any hope of escape; let [p. 75] us collect wood, cotton, and oil, for I think that we should burn ourselves and go to meet our husbands. If any wish to save herself she may.” So they went into a house, set it on fire, and burnt themselves. Muhammad took the fort, and stayed there for two or three days. He put six thousand fighting men, who were in the fort, to the sword, and shot some with arrows. The other dependants and servants were taken prisoners, with their wives and children.
Detail of the slaves, cash, and stuffs, which were taken
It is said that when the fort was captured, all the treasures, property, and arms, except those which were taken away by Jaisiya, fell into the hands of the victors, and they were all brought before Muhammad Kasim. When the number of the prisoners was calculated, it was found to amount to thirty thousand persons, amongst whom thirty were the daughters of chiefs, and one of them was Rai Dahir’s sister’s daughter, whose name was Jaisiya.3
They were sent to Hajjaj. The head of Dahir and the fifth part of the prisoners were forwarded in charge of K’ab, son of Maharak. When the head of Dahir, the women, and the property all reached Hajjaj, he prostrated himself before God, offered thanksgivings and praises, for, he said, he had in reality obtained all the wealth and treasures and dominions of the world.
Hajjaj sends the head of Dahir, and some of his standards, to the Capital
Hajjaj then forwarded the head, the umbrellas, and wealth, and the prisoners to Walid the Khalifa. When the Khalifa of the time had read the letter, he praised Almighty God. He sold some of those daughters of the chiefs, and some he granted as rewards. When he saw the daughter of Rai Dahir’s sister, he was much struck with her beauty and charms, and began to bite his finger with astonishment. ‘Abdu-llah bin’ Abbas desired to take her, but the Khalifa said, “O my nephew! I exceedingly admire this girl, and am so enamoured of her, that I wish to keep her for myself. Nevertheless, it is better that you should [p. 76] take her to be the mother of your children.” By his permission, therefore, ‘Abdu-llah took her. She lived a long time with him, but no child was born from her. Afterwards, another letter was received about the capture of the fort of Rawar. It is said that after the conquest was effected, and the affairs of the country were settled and, the report of the conquest had reached Hajjaj, he sent a reply to the following effect. “O my cousin; I received your life inspiring letter. I was much pleased and overjoyed when it reached me. The events were recounted in an excellent and beautiful style, and I learnt that the ways and rules you follow are conformable to the Law. Except that you give protection to all, great and small alike, and make no difference between enemy and friend. God says, ‘Give no quarter to Infidels, but cut their throats.” “Then know that this is the command of the great God. You should not be too ready to grant protection, because it will prolong your work. After this, give no quarter to any enemy except to those who are of rank. This is a worthy resolve, and want of dignity will not be imputed to you. Peace be with you!” -Written at Nafa’, A.H. 73.
Jaisiya sends letters from Brahmanabad to Alor, 4 Batiya, and other places
Some historians from amongst the religious Brahmans have narrated respecting the death of Dahir and adventures of Muhammad Kasim, that when the accursed Rai Dahir went to hell, Jaisiya took refuge in the fort of Brahmanabad, and Rawar was taken, Jaisiya made preparations for war and sent letters in all directions; viz.: One to his brother Fufi,5
son of Dahir, who was in the fort of the capital of Aror; the other to his nephew Chach, son of Dharsiya, in the fort of Batiya; and the third to his cousin, Dhawal, son of Chandar, who was in the direction of Budhiya and Kaikanan. He informed them of Dahir’s [p. 77] death and consoled them. He himself was in Brahmanabad with his warriors ready to fight.
Battle of Bahrur and Dhalila
Muhammad Kasim now determined to march to Brahmanabad. Between Dawar and that city there were two fortresses called Bahrur and Dhalila which contained about sixteen thousand fighting men. When Muhammad Kasim reached Bahrur he besieged it for two months. After the war had been protracted so long, Muhammad Kasim ordered that part of his army should fight by day and part by night. They threw naphtha and plied their mangonels so that all the warriors of the adverse party were slain, and the walls of the fort thrown down. Many slaves and great plunder were taken. They put the fifth part of it into the public treasury. When the news of the capture of Rawar and Bahrur reached Dhalila, the inhabitants knew that Muhammad Kasim possessed great perseverance, and that they should be on their guard against him. The merchants fled to Hind, and the men of war prepared to defend their country. At last, Muhammad Kasim came to Dhalila, and encamped there for two months, more or less. When the besieged were much distressed, and they knew that from no quarter could they receive reinforcements, they put on the garments of death, and anointed themselves with perfumes. They sent out their families into the fort which faces the bridge, and they crossed over the stream of the Naljak,6
without the Musulmans being aware of it.
The flight of the chief of Dhalila
When the day dawned through the veil of darkness Muhammad Kasim learnt that they had fled, so he sent some men of his army after them, who overtook part of them as they were passing over the river and put them to the edge of the sword. Those who had crossed previously fled to Hindustan through the country of Ramal and the sandy desert to the country (bilad) of Sir, the chief of which country was named Deoraj. He was the son of the uncle of Dahir Rai.
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Conquest of Sikka Multan by Muhammad Kasim
When he had settled affairs with Kaksa, he left the fort, crossed the Bias, and reached the stronghold of Askalanda,7
the people of which, being informed of the arrival of the Arab army, came out to fight. Rawa,8
son of ‘Amiratu-t Tafi, and Kaksa headed the advanced army and commenced battle. Very obstinate engagements ensued, so that on both sides streams of blood flowed. The Arabs at the time of their prayers repeated “Glorious God” with a loud voice, and renewed the attack. The idolaters were defeated, and threw themselves into the fort. They began to shoot arrows and fling stones from the mangonels on the walls. The battle continued for seven days, and the nephew of the chief of Multan, who was in the fort of that city, made [p. 107] such attacks that the army began to be distressed for provisions; but at last the chief of Askalanda9
came out in the night time, and threw himself into the fort of Sikka, which is a large fort on the south bank of the Ravi. When their chief had gone away, all the people, the artizans, and merchants sent a message to say that they were subjects and now that their chief had fled, they solicited protection from Muhammad Kasim. He granted this request of the merchants, artizans, and agriculturists; but he went into the fort, killed four thousand fighting men with his blood sword, and sent their families into slavery. He appointed as governor of the fort ‘Atba, son of Salma Tamimi, and himself with the army proceeded towards Sikka Multan It was a fort on the south bank of the Ravi, and Bajhra Taki, grandson of Bajhra (daughter’s son), was in it. When he received the intelligence he commenced operations. Every day, when the army of the Arabs advanced towards the fort, the enemy came out and fought, and for seventeen days they maintained a fierce conflict. From among the most distinguished officers (of Muhammad Kasim) twenty-five were killed, and two hundred and fifteen other warriors of Islam were slain. Bajhra passed over the Ravi and went into Multan. In consequence of the death of his friends, Muhammad Kasim had sworn to destroy the fort, so he ordered his men to pillage the whole city He then crossed over towards Multan, at the ferry below the city, and Bajhra came out to take the field.
Muhammad Kasim fights with the ferry-men
That day the battle raged from morning till sun-set and when the world, like a day labourer, covered itself with the blanket of darkness, and the king of the heavenly host covered himself with the veil of concealment, all retired to their tents. The next day, when the morning dawned from the horizon, and the earth was illumined, fighting again commenced, and many men were slain on both sides but the victory remained still undecided. For a space of [p. 108] two months mangonels and ghazraks10
were used and stones and arrows were thrown from the walls of the fort. At last provisions became exceedingly scarce in the camp, and the price even of an ass’s head was raised to five hundred dirams. When the chief Gursiya, son of Chandar, nephew of Dahir, saw that the Arabs were noway disheartened, but on the contrary were confident, and that he had no prospect of relief, he went to wait on the king of Kashmir. The next day, when the Arabs reached the fort, and the fight commenced, no place was found suitable for digging a mine until a person came out of the fort and sued for mercy. Muhammad Kasim gave him protection, and he pointed out a place towards the north on the banks of, a river. A mine was dug, and in two or three days the walls fell down, and the fort was taken. Six thousand warriors were put to death, and all their relations and dependants were taken as slaves. Protection was given to the merchants, artizans, and the agriculturists. Muhammad Kasim said the booty ought to be sent to the treasury of the Khalifa; but as the soldiers have taken so much pains, have suffered so many hardships, have hazarded their lives, and have been so long a time employed in digging the mine and carrying on the war, and as the fort is now take, it is proper that the booty should be divided, and their dues given to the soldiers.
Division of Plunder
Then all the great and principal inhabitants of the city assembled together, and silver to the weight of sixty thousand dirams was distributed, and every horseman got a share of four hundred dirams weight. After this, Muhammad Kasim said that some plan should be devised for realizing the money to be sent to the Khalifa. He was pondering upon this, and was discoursing on the subject, when suddenly a Brahman came and said, “Heathenism is now at an end, the temples are thrown down, the world has received the light of Islam, and mosques are built [p. 109] instead of idol temples. I have heard from the elders of Multan that in ancient times there was a chief in this city whose name was Jibawin,11
and who was a descendant of the Rai of Kashmir. He was a Brahman and a monk, he strictly followed his religion, and always occupied his time in worshipping idols. When his treasure exceeded all limit and computation, he made a reservoir on the eastern side of Multan, which was a hundred yards square. In the middle of it he built a temple fifty yards square, and he made there a chamber in which he concealed forty copper jars each of which was filled with African gold dust. A treasure of three hundred and thirty mans of gold was buried there. Over it there is a temple in which there is an idol made of red gold, and trees are planted round the reservoir.” It is related by historians, on the authority of ‘Ali bin Muhammad who had heard it from Abu Muhammad Hindui that Muhammad Kasim arose and with his counsellors, guards and attendants, went to the temple. He saw there an idol made of gold, and its two eyes were bright red rubies.
Reflection of Muhammad Kasim
Muhammad Kasim thought it might perhaps be a man, so he drew his sword to strike it; but the Brahman said, “O just commander, this is the image which was made by Jibawin,12
king of Multan, who concealed the treasure here and departed. Muhammad Kasim ordered the idol to be taken up. Two hundred and thirty mans of gold were obtained, and forty jars filled with gold dust. They were weighed and the sum of thirteen thousand and two hundred mans weight of gold was taken out. This gold and the image were brought to the treasury together with the gems and pearls and treasure, which were obtained from the plunder of the city of Multan.
It is said by Abu-1 Hasan Hamadani, who had heard it from Kharim son of ‘Umar, that the same day on which the temple was dug up and the treasure taken out, a letter came from Hajjaj Yusuf to this effect: – “My nephew, I had agreed and pledged myself, at the time you marched with [p. 110] the army, to repay the whole expense incurred by the public treasury in fitting out the expedition, to the Khalifa Walid bin ‘Abdu-l Malik bin Marwan, and it is incumbent on me to do so. Now the accounts of the money due have been examined and checked, and it is found that sixty thousand dirams in pure silver have been expended for Muhammad Kasim, and up to this date there has been received in cash, goods, and stuffs, altogether one hundred and twenty thousand dirams weight. Wherever there is an ancient place or famous town or city, mosques and pulpits should be erected there; and the khutba should be read, and the coin struck in the name of this government. And as you have accomplished so much with this army by your good fortune, and by seizing fitting opportunities, so be assured that to whatever place of the infidels you proceed it shall be conquered.”
1. For a survey of this period see S. A. A. Rizvi’s “The Muslim Ruling Dynasties” in A Cultural History of India. A. L. Basham, ed. (New York: Oxford, 1975), pp. 245-65.
2. This passage is taken from B. MS. A. is unintelligible.
3. M.S. B has “Hasna“.
5. “Kufi” always in A.
6. “Manjhal” in B.
7. Aksalanda A., Ala Kandah B.
8. Randa in B.
9. Askalanda A. , Aad Kandah B.
10. Translated “a breastplate,” “warlike instrument,” in Richardson’s Dictionary. The Haft Kulzum says it also bears the meaning of offensive weapons, as “javelins,” “daggers.”
11. “jur” in MS. A. and “jabwin” in MS. B. The second letter may be s, making the name Jasur or Jaswin.
12. “Jibuin” in MS. A. “Jalbur” in MS. B.