Joint Coins of Prithviraj Chauhan & Muhammad Ghori

Prithviraj Chauhan (r: 1179-1192) also known as Rai Pithora was the king of Ajmer and Delhi. We know that in the second battle of Tarain in 1192 Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated by Mu'izz al-Din Muhammad Bin Sam, otherwise known as Muhammad Ghori (r: 1173-1206), governor of Ghor and afterwards king of Ghazni.

Obverse of the coins of Prithviraj Chauhan has the figure of a horseman with a lance to right as well as the legend Sri Prithvirajadeva in Devanagari characters. The reverse shows the figure of a recumbent humped bull with the legend Asavari Sri Samanta Deva. These coins were usually of billon and are known as Dilliwals.


Join Coins of Prithviraj Chauhan & Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Ghori also known as Muiz-ud-din Muhammad Bin Sam:

Muhammad Ghori after his victory issued many coins on the pattern of the Chahamana and Gahadavala coins. However, some coins bear the name of Ghori on one side and Prithviraj Chauhan on the other.


A Chahamana horseman-bull type coin issued by Muhammad Ghori

According to Cunningham the occurrence of these two names on the same coin shows that Prithviraj became a tributary of Muhammad Ghori. Dasaratha Sharma and many other scholars are of the same opinion and agree that after his defeat Prithviraj Chauhan accepted Ghori's sovereignty and issued coins bearing additionally the name of his master.

It is not clear what happened to Prithviraj Chauhan after the battle of Tarain. Some historians say that he was taken prisoner (Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh & Jami'-ul-Hikayat), while some others say that he was captured and executed. (Futuh-us-Salatin, Tabakat-i-Nasiri, Tabakat-i-Akbari, Rauzatu-t-Tahirin, Mirat-i Ahmadi, Ferishta)

According to Tajul Ma'asir of Hasan Nizami, Prithviraj Chauhan was taken prisoner, but his life was spared. 'The Rai, who had managed to obtain his release, and whose ancient hatred against the Musalmans was deeply rooted and concealed in the bottom of his heart, appears to have been detected in some intrigue, so that orders were issued for his death'. Prabandha Chintamani informs that when Ghori was about to reinstate Prithviraj as sovereign in his own palace, he saw there in the gallery, Musalmans represented as being slain by pigs. This incensed Ghori so much that he put Prithviraj to death. However, this account can not be trusted.

We know only this much that Prithviraj Chauahan was executed for some reason and Ajmer was conferred on his son Govindaraj.

According to Rajasthan District Gazetteers it is highly doubtful that Ghori could have ever thought of allowing so dangerous an enemy as Prithviraj Chauhan to survive.

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On the other hand, P. L. Gupta rejects the theory of the joint rule and suggests that the joint coins are mules, that is, the result of a mistake of Ghori's mint officers who put Prithviraj's name on the obverse which should have carried the Sultan's title Hammir. When the mistake was noticed, the issues were stopped and fresh coins were made by replacing Prithviraj's name by the Sultan's title Hammir.


A. S. Altekar also supports the view of P. L. Gupta. He says that when officers of Ghori occupied Prithviraj's royal mint after subduing his kingdom there were a large number of dies of Prithviraj showing the bull and Samantadeva on one side and horseman and Prithviraj's name on the other. Muhammad Ghori wanted to issue for his Indian subjects the coin type having the bull and the legend Samantadeva on one side and the horse man, and the legend Sri Hammir on the other. At the early stage when all the previous dies had not removed from the mint, by mistake a mint employee may have put the obverse die of the earlier reign along with the reverse die of the new one. "The mistake must have been seen before half a dozen coins were issued and corrected immediately by putting the proper obverse die of the new reign", he observes.

The term mule in the above case means the manufacture of coins by dies of two different rulers of a dominion in the same mint. Similar coins were issued in India by the British bearing an obverse of William IV and a reverse of Victoria dated 1840, but they were struck in one mint. But Ghori had several mints in India and Gupta do not mention the minting place of these coins.

According to D. C. Sircar it is difficult to believe that the mint officers of Ghori could have committed such a strange mistake and taken considerable time in detecting it. 'Moreover, such a mistake on the part of a Hindu officer so soon after the overthrow of Hindu rule, must have been regarded as high treason by his Turkish master', he observes.

On the joint coins Prithviraj's legend has been written in different ways. Cunnigham's coin reads Sri Prithviraja. Thomas's Prithvi and Wright's coin reads as Sri Prithvirajadeva. It means that different obverse dies were used in the preparation of such coins. This shows that they were not made by mistake. These coins were of different weights and sizes too. Moreover, no coins of Muhammad Ghori with the word Samanta Deva have been found.

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Thomas, who noticed one of the joint coins for the first time, suggest that the joint issues may have been struck in the name of Prithviraj's son, under authority of the headquarters, for special circulation in his government. D. C. Sircar also thinks that a son of Prithviraj Chauhan, who was a tributary of Ghori, could possibly have issued such type of coins in the name of both his present and former suzerains.

It is unlikely that any subordinate ruler would put the name of his deceased father on his coins and not his own name. P. N. Singh observes that if the joint coins were issued by Prithviraj's son, then possibly the name of the issuer too should have been there.

Who Issued the Joint Coins?

H. N. Wright thinks that it was issued by Muhammad Ghori as a suzerain of Prithviraj Chauhan. He observes that the said coin shows the transition stage, one side of it bears the name of the conqueror and the other that of the conquered Prithviraj. Subsequently, the latter was dispensed with the words Sri Hammir in Nagari letters which is equivalent to the Persian title 'Amir' used by the Ghaznavid and Ghurid kings.

Kunwar Devi Singh opines that Muhammad Ghori considered it wise to retain on it, at least for some time, the name of Prithviraj overthrown by him, just to make them popular in the newly conquered territory.

In the opinion of P. C. Roy the joint coins were issued by Muhammad Ghori, most probably from the Delhi mint. After the conquest of Ajmer and Delhi, Ghori perhaps thought of issuing his coins having on the obverse the legend Hammir and on the reverse his name Muhammad Sama in Nagari characters. But he would have realized that sudden and complete change in legends of the existing coins would not command popular circulation. Hence he did not remove the obverse legend having the name of Prithviraj. In other words, the legend Asavari Sri Samanta Deva was replaced by Sri Mahamada Sama. The use of Prithviraj's legend thus served his purpose for smoother circulation.

A Gahadavala goddess Lakshmi type coin issued by Muhammad Ghori

A unique Lakshmi type gold coin bearing the names Ghori and Prithviraj in the collection of N. M. Kansal also negates the mule theory of P. L. Gupta because there are no Lakshmi type coins in the Chauhan dynasty.

Ghori conquered the Gahadavala capital Kannauj after defeating Raja Jaichand in the battle of Chandawar in 1193. He adopted the seated goddess Lakshmi type coins of the Gahadavalas for circulation not only in the Gahadavala territories, but also in Delhi and Ajmer too.

On the obverse of this coin is an Arabic legend reading 'Sultan Muhammad' and 'Bin Sam' below. On the right side a legend reading 'Prithvi' in Nagari characters. The reverse depicts a rude figure of goddess Lakshmi bordered by beads.


According to H. D. Pathak  & N. M. Kanshal, the joint coins were issued by Muhammad Ghori to show his victory over Prithviraj in the battle of Tarain in 1192.

Thus the joint issues seem to be Ghori's earliest coins. On his later issues the legend of Prithviraj is replaced with Hammir.

Notes:

The name of Chahadadeva appears on some coins of Iltutmish together with that of the Sultan.

Reference:

The Coinage of Northern India: The Early Rajaputa Dynasties from the 11th to the 13th Centuries A.D. By Prafulla Chandra Roy

A Joint Issue of Muhammad Bin Sam and Prithviraja III By H. D. Pathak & N. M. Kanshal

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