Nag Bhat I, the Gurjar Pratihar King Badly Defeated Arab Forces; We Were Not Taught This

As soon as a child goes to school and starts learning Indian History, all he/she learns is defeats faced by Indian kings at the hands of invaders. From my childhood to teenage, I went through the same ordeal. History, especially Military History being my favorite subject, I was often left wondering: were we always defeated? Were we on the losing side always? So I started reading whatever I could find anywhere beyond the pathetic NCERT books.

Yes, NCERT books are indeed pathetic because as a young mind I, like countless others, was influenced much by the defeats and routs. Such portrayal creates a feeling that we were inferior to the invaders, thus sowing the seeds of inferiority complex. This happens to such an extent that one robotically tends to think that all that is from foreign lands is better than what we have here.

My passion in studying History of India to the depths has prompted me to share with you all the shortcomings of Indian History taught to us. In this journey, let us trace the path of finding and knowing about the battles which we have never read before, about heroes we never knew existed. Let us read about the stratagems, the pure valor and strength of our brave warriors who decimated the invaders.

Here is a battle of a period which has been more or less ignored by History books taught in schools. Today’s battle we are going to delve into was fought between the Arab forces and an alliance of Indian dynasties i.e. the Gurjar Pratihars, Chalukyas, Rashtrakuta, Guhil, etc. This was actually a series of engagements fought between Arabs and Hindus and it finally culminated in utter destruction and defeat of the Arab forces.

The final engagement of this bloody series was fought in 738 AD. The Arabs had previously attacked and ransacked cities up to Ujjain but could not hold on to their outposts. This was due to two reasons: problems in maintaining a long supply line and revolts by locals.
The Arab governor of Sindh, Emir Junaid led a large army consisting of Infantry and cavalry numbering to a total of 50,000 to 60,000 men. As news of this oncoming foe reached the Indian kings, they decided to forge an alliance to face the enemy.
The Arab force consisted of cavalry from Syria and Iraq, aided by men from Sindh along with mercenaries.
Nag Bhat I, king of the Gurjar Pratihar empire, was chosen as the leader of the Indian alliance comprising of Rashtrakuta, Guhil, Chalukya, and Gurjar armies to face the enemy. This alliance was between North Indian and South Indian rulers.  Vikramaditya II was then the king of the Chalukya dynasty.
Nag Bhat I led an army mostly consisting of cavalry and infantry. He was a great military commander and organised his army by dividing his cavalry in parts on the flanks. The battle hardened infantry was positioned in the center with reserve cavalry and possibly war elephants in the back as a rearguard.
The battle was fought somewhere on the borders of modern day Rajasthan and Sindh.
The Arabs advanced, ravaging the countryside and destroying many temples along the way besides forcefully converting many to Islam.
Arabs made a dash at the center of Hindu lines hoping to dissect the army into two and directly reaching the king. But, the infantry held on and the resulting melee gave enough time to the cavalry of Nag Bhat I to outflank the Arab army. Once flanked, what followed was total carnage as Arab flanks disintegrated and total confusion prevailed.
The Arab cavalry could not withstand the furious charge of the Indian cavalry and a rout started. Emir Junaid tried his best to motivate his forces and stop the rout but the charge was too strong to hold on and in the ensuing melee, Junaid was killed. Without a leader, the Arab army disintegrated.
In the words of Suleiman, an Arab chronicler, the Arab forces were scattered like hay by the hoofs of the horses of the Gurjar king and his alliances.
A battered Arab army reached the other bank of the Indus. They later constructed a new city in Sindh named Mansurah and abandoned all dreams of capturing India.
The annihilation was so complete that even Arab chroniclers described the Gurjar king in their History records as the biggest enemy of Islam in the whole world.
Inscriptions about this great victory have been found at various places including Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh.
Now, why this important battle has been omitted from Indian History is anyone’s guess. So, let us keep unraveling the past and find more gems of a victory like these!
Featured image courtesy: Heaven Games Forum and Pinterest.
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Yogaditya Singh Rawal

Yogaditya Singh Rawal

National level competitive bodybuilder, Mr. India 2016 (Federation Cup Bodybuilding), Certified Fitness Trainer (ISSA-USA), Performance Nutrition Consultant, Diet Consultant, Writer. He runs a gym (Total Training Terminal) in East Delhi.