Historical or Fictional? Examining Non-Persian Accounts of Prithviraj Chauhans End

Prithviraj Chauhan, also known as Rai Pithaura, the king of Ajmer, was defeated and captured by Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Ghori, also known as Muiz-ud-din Muhammad Bin Sam, during the second battle of Tarain in 1192. However, events that occurred between Prithviraj's defeat and ultimate demise remain shrouded in mystery.

We have already analyzed several Persian accounts detailing the aftermath of the Second Battle of Tarain. Now, let us delve into non-Persian sources.

1. Prithviraj Raso of Chand Bardai:

During one of the battles against Jaichand, Prithviraj was impressed by the bravery of his general, Dhirasen Pundir, and held him in high regard. This caused jealousy among his veteran generals, who began to plot with Ghori. Unfortunately, Prithviraj was too preoccupied with his love for Jaichand's daughter to pay attention to these affairs. Meanwhile, Ghori seized the opportunity to invade Delhi. Due to the disorganization of Prithviraj's army, Ghori emerged victorious, and Prithviraj was captured and taken to Ghazni, where he was blinded. Chand Bardai, Prithviraj's court poet and loyal companion, journeyed to Ghazni and entered Ghoris service, quickly gaining his trust. During an archery competition, with the help of Chand, who provided him with an auditory cue of Ghoris location, Prithviraj shot Ghori. Prithviraj and Chand were subsequently killed by Ghoris followers.

There is another version of the story that suggests that both Prithviraj and Chand committed suicide.


2. Surjana Charita of Chandrashekhara:

The story of Surjana Charita is almost identical to that of Prithviraj Raso. However, in the end, Prithviraj and his companion bard managed to escape to Kurujangala, where Prithviraj died sometime later.

3. Virudha-vidhi-vidhvamsa of Laksmidhara

Skanda, Prithviraj's General, brought great joy to the king by consistently defeating the Turks. When Skanda went to another battle, Prithviraj, whose intellect was shrouded by the vice of sleep (for vice and sleep), who, though alive, was as good as dead in battle, was slaughtered by the Turks.

4. Hammira Mahakavya of Nayachandra Suri:

Ghori was determined to avenge his previous defeat against Prithviraj. He made seven attempts, but all were in vain. Eventually, he sought the assistance of the King of Ghataika, and with their reinforcements, he was able to successfully capture Delhi. Prithviraj, who was confident from his previous victories, gathered a small army and marched forward to confront the invader.

This time Ghori won over the king's master of the horse and the royal musicians with promises of large sums of money. Ghori also sent a large number of soldiers secretly to Prithviraj's camp, who entered it early in the morning. As the king's followers were preparing to meet their assailants, the disloyal master of the horse, acting on the advice of his seducers, brought forth a dancing horse. When the king mounted the horse, the musicians began to play his favorite tunes, and the horse began to dance. The king was diverted with this performance for some time, and seizing the moment, Ghori's army launched a vigorous attack. A soldier took the king unawares from behind, threw his bow around his neck and bringing him down to the ground, while others bound him captive. One of Ghori's advisors suggested that it would be appropriate for him to release Prithviraj, who had several times taken him captive and then dismissed him with honors. However, Ghori was not pleased with this idea and ordered that Prithviraj be taken to the fortress. Sadly, a few days after this Prithviraj breathed his last.

5. Prithviraja Prabandha in Puratana Prabandha Sangraha of Muni Jina Vijaya:

Prithviraj had defeated, captured and released Ghori seven times. His spearman was Pratapasimh, and his minister was Kaimasa. Pratapasimh poisoned the king's mind against Kaimasa, falsely accusing him of the repeated attacks by the Turks. Prithviraj dismissed Kaimasa and appointed a new minister. The king had imprisoned a nephew of Pratapasimh whom he did not release. Pratapasimh called upon Ghori to invade the kingdom. In the final battle, Prithviraj was caught while trying to escape and was brought before Ghori in Delhi, bound in fetters. Ghori asked him what he would do if he were set free, to which Prithviraj replied that he had released Ghori seven times and, therefore, should be set free once. However, Ghori rejected his request, and blinded him.

While imprisoned, Prithviraj was approached by his ex-minister, who offered his condolences and suggested that the unfortunate events were simply a result of fate. Prithviraj declared that if he were given his bow and arrow, and somehow bring Ghori in front of him, he would slay the Sultan. The treacherous minister informed Ghori of Prithviraj's plan. The Sultan had an iron statue of himself placed on his seat. Prithviraj shot an arrow, causing the statue to fall into two pieces. Ghori then ordered Prithviraj to be thrown into a pit filled with stones, where he met his tragic end.

6. Prabandha Chintamani of Merutunga Acharya:

Prithviraj had successfully defended his territories against the invading army of the mlecchas twenty-one times, but nevertheless the mleccha king returned for the 22nd time with a formidable army. Prithviraj's advanced guard of skilled bowmen repelled the enemy's army with their arrows, and the king pursued them. His minister Someshwara, tried to dissuade him, but Prithviraj, suspecting him of favoring the enemy, cut off his ears. This cruel act incensed Someshwara, who went to the king of the mlecchas and led them to Prithviraj's camp. Prithviraj was sleeping after breaking his ekadasi fast when the mlechha army attacked. He was so drowsy that he was easily put in chains by them and taken to Ghori. The guards taunted him, asking if he still had any heroic vigor left in him. Prithviraj replied that he would show his strength if he managed to return to his own palace. The guards informed Ghori of this, and Ghori, who was eager to behold Prithviraj's valor, brought Prithviraj to his palace in Ajmer. When Ghori was about to reinstate Prithviraj as sovereign, he came across paintings depicting Musalmans being slain by pigs in Prithviraj's picture-gallery. Ghori was exceedingly incensed at this insult, and he beheaded Prithviraj with an axe.

7. Kanyanayaniya-Mahavir-Pratima Kalpa:

When in V.S. 1248 (AD 1192) Prithviraj, the leader of the Chahamana clan was killed by Sahabadina (Ghori) at Ajmer, his minister Ramadeva sent a letter to the Jain Sanghas: "The kingdom of the Turks has begun. Keep the image of Mahavira hidden away".

Exaggerations and Facts:

Abul Fazl's Ain-i-Akbari and Ganes Das Badehra's History of the Rajahs of Jamun (Rajdarshani: Tawarikh-i-Rajgan-i-Jammu) recounts the fascinating tale of Prithviraj Raso. This may explain why some people believe that there is a tomb for Prithviraj Chauhan at Ghazni. Readers may be left with a lingering doubt: If Chand died along with Prithviraj, then who wrote the Prithviraj Raso?

The truth is that Prithviraj Chauhan was executed at Ajmer itself while in captivity in 1192. However, it is uncertain if Ghori had blinded him. Muhammad Ghori was murdered in 1206 by Ghakkars near Dhamiak.

Interestingly, the number of Prithviraj's victories against Ghori varies in each account. Some records mention seven, while others mention twenty-one. It is important to clarify that there were only two battle between Prithviraj Chauhan and Muhammad Ghori. In the first battle, Ghori was not captured by Prithviraj Chauhan, as he was able to escape and the Chauhan army did not pursue.

One notable account worth mentioning is the Prithviraja Vijaya of Jayanaka, according to this account, 'Ghori the beef-eating mlechha, who had captured Ghazni, learned of Prithviraj's vow to exterminate the mlechhas, sent an ambassador to Ajmer. Prithviraj became angry and resolved to lay Ghori's glory to dust. At that time a messenger arrived with news that the Rai of Gujarat had utterly routed Ghori's forces'. Unfortunately, the rest of the manuscript has been lost.

On the basis of Prabandha Chintamani and Tajul-Ma'asir, it is widely believed that Prithviraj ruled for a short time as a vassal of Muhammad Ghori, and the joint coins bearing the names of both Prithviraj and Muhammad Ghori, may have been minted during that period.