Tradition of Kshaatra in India: Unbridled Barbarianism of Alauddin Khilji and Timur

A Muslim could silence a Hindu as per whim and hurl abuses on him without any repercussions. And as for a Hindu, he had to quietly swallow all humiliation without showing the slightest resentment. Ibn Batuta writes, "After defeating and destroying a king, one has to get the queen and the princesses to sing and dance in a filled assembly; and whoever desires them, they must be given away." He says that it was a common feature of Islamic imperialism to torture the common women and children and also share them with all the Muslim men publicly. Further he says, "I too got many such slaves. I got tired of sharing them with others. After that I don't know what happened to them."
Hindu couldn't build new temples; old temples must not be repaired or revived. A huge jeziya tax was imposed on anyone wishing to take a pilgrimage. There was even a tax to get married. These rules were so draconian that in Mathura, nobody had the rights to have a hair-cut or a shave!
The Muslims knew only warfare, bloodshed, and constant battle; they knew nothing about emotionally rich aspects of life like arts and crafts or any other things of beauty. Because Hindus were excellent traders and businessmen, the Muslims would squeeze every last penny from them; and the Hindus would give it to them. Their actions were as cruel as keeping a dead calf in front of a milch cow and milking it, or even worse, using a machine to draw milk and blood from the udders of the cow.
"With a view to restrict the Islamic enthusiasm of victory, Hindus slowly began developing strategies. Whenever necessary, they would reconcile with the kings; when things were uncertain, they even offered service. But in their individual homes, in their community, in their society, in their religious activities they never allowed any sort of blemish."
We find just a few references to re-converting people back to Hinduism, for example, Devalasmriti, Vidyaranya's Panchadashi, etc. However, this [what is now called Ghar Wapsi] happened in a very small scale. It is heartening to know that such activities took place all the way up to the times of Gagabhatta and Shivaji. However, it is sad that such an act did not become a full-fledged movement.
"The Dharmashastras attained more sanctity. Social ostracization and boycott became even more common. Women were further sidelined. Child marriages became the order of the day. The practice of Sati became common. 'Sacrifice of one's life is the greatest' - this sort of self-destructive tendencies set in. There was a huge obstacle for the free mixing of different jaatis. The social stratification ensured that the lower jaatis never had the opportunities to rise higher in the ladder and reach a higher status; it became stagnant."
The words of Manu, "Braahmanah shoodrataam yaati, shoodro yaati cha viprataam," were forgotten. Shudras never had the opportunity to rise to the level of, say, Ksatriyas or take up some other activities.
"Hindus were extremely skilled in business, commerce, trade, loaning money, and other financial activities. However blind a Muslim was in his religious bigotry, he had to be on good terms with a Hindu vaisya, giving him due respect. There is no doubt that such respect was purely driven by selfishness. Foreign traders followed suit. All trade in the Western Ocean [i.e. the Arabian Sea] was controlled by Hindus. The bloodthirsty Muslim youth had realized that without material strength, living a life of sensual indulgences is counter-productive. To avoid getting physically tortured or hassled by the Muslims, many of the Hindu moneylenders would not hesitate to give them a handful of money.
Thus, even when the Islamic armies were at their barbaric best, Indian was a land of the brave.
Al-Idris, a Muslim historian says, "Hindu businessmen had become famous for their sense of justice, integrity, and expertise in work. Even Marco Polo praised the great businessmen of southern Gujarat." "These baniya-brahamanas are the best in the world and the most trustworthy. They will not utter a lie for anything in this world. And whatever they say is the truth!" This is what Marco Polo, the great traveller and trader-companion, had to say about the businessmen of southern Gujarat. This was the state of India when the Islamic forces attacked first. Even traders who would roam about the world had a great value system. Sanatanadharma has been creating this sort of sustainable systems right from the beginning. Kshaatra stood as the backbone of this; and all this was influenced by the idealism of Braahma.
During the time of Allaudin Khilji, the Islamic rule obtained a hitherto unknown cruelty and horror. Khilji was capable and strong. But his skill and strength were such that they brought untold horror and torture upon his people. He was the first person to establish a strong Islamic empire in India. Even so, he did not rule for more than twenty years. The Tughlaq dynasty that succeeded him did not last even a decade in a stable manner. While these rulers did not have a long reign, the sort of damage they were able to do, the violence they subjected the people to, and the amount of looting and pillaging they did are of an extreme kind.
Like the proverb "Ashakto'ham grhaarambhe shakto'ham grhabhanjane" (Though I don't have the strength to build a house, I have the strength to destroy one) they proved to be disastrous for the people. Just like a drop of poison spoils an entire tub of milk, their short-lived reigns proved to be poisonous for Indians for a long time.
All these Muslims rulers, as easily and quickly as they rose to power and ascended the throne, they fell down with the same ease and speed. After these kings, Timur invaded India through Kambhoja. Historians say that there is no match to his violence, cruelty, and barbarity. Timur writes in his autobiography, "The aim of my life is to destroy the kafirs; I must establish Islam firmly everywhere; I am a Ghazi, a warrior for my religion; I will loot and pillage everything that belongs to kafirs." R C Majumdar refers to this in his writings. At that point of time, the Islamic empire in Delhi was weak. It was during such a time that Timur attacked India.
"Almost as if it is a historian's good fortune, he records all his horrific misdeeds and dark acts in his autobiography. Else, it would extremely difficult for anyone to even believe the sort of depraved and anti-human acts of his. He carried out all his depraved acts in the name of his religion and it is difficult for anyone to even imagine the sort of violence and brutality that he engaged in or his unbridled lust and desire or his countless murders, pillages, and acts of destruction. How to spell out in words his gory and terrifying acts, which he carried out till the very end?"
When he attacked Delhi and waged war, upon hearing that there were people who rejoiced when he was in a weak position, he brought together a hundred thousand people in one place and had them all killed. Timur had such a beastly attitude that he picked a man known for his sattvik nature, one who would not even hurt a bird, and place a knife in his hand and forced him to kill fifteen kafirs.
R C Majumdar further says, "As attempts have been recently made to minimize and explain away his  enormity, the account of his unmitigated barbarity has been given  in some detail, as far as possible in his own words, in this volume."



Dr. Ganesh is a 'shatavadhani' and one of India’s foremost Sanskrit poets and scholars. He writes and lectures extensively on various subjects pertaining to India and Indian cultural heritage. He is a master of the ancient art of avadhana and is credited with reviving the art in Kannada. He is a recipient of the Badarayana-Vyasa Puraskar from the President of India for his contribution to the Sanskrit language.



Sandeep Balakrishna is a writer, author, translator, and socio-political-cultural analyst. He is the author of "Tipu Sultan: The Tyrant of Mysore" and "The Madurai Sultanate: A Concise History." He translated Dr. S L Bhyrappa's magnum opus "Avarana" into English.


Hari is a writer, translator, violinist, and designer with a deep interest in Vedanta, education pedagogy design, literature, and films. He has (co-)written and (co-)edited many books, mostly related to Indian culture and philosophy.

Prekshaa Publications

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective...


इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।


अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...


ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...


“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...