Jump to content


Recommended Posts

Return of the Aryans - An Odyssey - by Ram Jethmalani

As a person born and brought up in Sindh for the first twenty-five years of my life, I always felt that there was something special about that part of the country. Its people lived in peace and wealth was not their dominant pursuit. There was a strange air of spiritual and cultural unity which one missed elsewhere.

During the formative years of my life, history that was taught to me assumed that the civilization of the world had begun with Greece and that India was a hotbed of barbarism until the Aryans, cousins of the Europeans, brought refinement and knowledge to a backward and benighted sub-continent. Something made me feel that this was wrong. But this remained only an unverified intuition until the Mohan-jo-daro and Harappa discoveries began to illuminate our knowledge of ourselves. Sir John Marshal and his Indian collaborators made us feel proud that when letters and arts were still unknown to the city of Athens and when scarcely a thatched hut stood on what afterwards became the site of Rome, India could boast of a breathtakingly advanced civilization. Let Sir John speak for himself:

"These discoveries established the existence in Sindh (the northernmost province of Bombay Presidency) and the Punjab, during the fourth and third millennium B.C. of a highly developed city life .."

The similarity of artifacts discovered in distant Sumeria, similarity of language, rituals, beliefs and names of gods clearly suggested that the ancient civilizations of Europe and the Middle East had one common source of inspiration in India. That the Aryans never came to India, but originated in India itself was a much more reasonable hypothesis than the one in favor - namely, that the Aryans invaded and conquered the flourishing inhabitants of India as a part of the process whereby periodically the barbarian North had swept down violently upon the more sophisticated but physically feeble South.

And now comes my friend Bhagwan S. Gidwani, who burst upon the literary scene with his gripping but somewhat controversial book, The Sword of Tipu Sultan, with another masterpiece vastly superior to the first. His first work encompassed a few years of the history of South India. But his magnum opus, Return of the Aryans, takes us back to almost the dawn of mankind.

Gidwani tells us a story of how the Hindu civilization flourished in Sindh and coexisted with other advanced civilizations in the Gangetic region and the south of India - the land of Tamala. He weaves the story of these three sister civilizations round a remarkable character whom he calls Sindhu Putra. His birth is shrouded in mystery, but Gidwani would have us believe that it was around the year 5068 B.C. and the location was the bank of Indus not where it joins the Arabian Sea but deep in the interior of what is now the province of Pakistan.

Sindhu Putra was born with two passions, one to unite the Hindus and all other tribes that inhabited the then known parts of Bharat Varsha, and second, to eradicate slavery and the misery and the loss of human dignity that went with it. Despite hostility and obstruction from lesser mortals, Sindhu Putra succeeded in his mission until hired assassins struck and stabbed him to death much in the manner in which some disgruntled elements put an end to the mortal life of Mahatma Gandhi. It is a most absorbing tale of kings, statesmen, poets, seers, gods, battles and romance.

The story, though not in the form of a novel, is not fiction. It is well documented and carries the stamp of scholarship and plausibility. The death of Sindhu Putra brought to the surface the evils, which his spiritual influence had kept in check for long. Sindhu Putra had wondered how God could co-exist with so much evil, but he reflected that God does not of his own volition choose to interfere with the world of man. Man moves his own world by his own actions, by his own will and by his own karma.

India quickly became the scene of strife and violence, of which the followers of Sindhu Putra became the victims. Wicked lords and mighty barons ruled the roost. The faithful felt rejected in the land of their birth. The rejected were the Aryans. Their sorrow and suffering were redeemed, however, by one common belief - that Sindhu Putra was not dead; instead he reigned elsewhere. Hundreds of songs were composed and sung to propagate this encouraging creed. The Aryans must discover the Holy Land to which the spirit of Sindhu Putra had migrated.

Thus began one mighty wave after another of Aryans going out of India in all directions. No point of the compass was left out. "Escapees, we are not, nor vagrants, nor aimless wanderers. But pilgrims we are, in search of Gods land, pure and free. . . ." became the refrain of their songs and the mission of their life thenceforward.

Gidwani then enthralls us with a story of Aryans on the move, their strange adventures, experiences, successes and frustrations, encounters with nature, disasters and survival. But the land of Sindhu Putra was never found or reached. It dawned on them that with all its faults, Bharat Varsha was better than the rest of the world into which they had tumbled in their futile search. To this land they finally decided to return. True they picked up local inhabitants from all the regions in which they had tried to settle. But by and large, it was a homecoming for the Aryans, not an invasion or a conquest. There the story ends.

But it is not a mere story of people on the move. It is also a history of human thought, more particularly of the variegated strands of Hindu thought and the metaphysical search of the Hindu mind. The Vedas and the Upanishads were the glorious, though late, products of the amazingly inquisitive Aryan mind that had not been ensnared by dogma or commitment to any small god. Gidwani gives us the glimpses of the questions that agitated the Aryan mind that sought to probe the mystery of this unintelligible world. The answers too are foreshadowed, but none dogmatically put across as final or free from doubt. Return of the Aryans is a book that should be read again and again, and the more it is read, the more will there be treasures to discover.



Extract from Key-Note Address of Hon’ble Ram Jethmalani at International SINDHI SAMMELAN, Florida, USA, August 1999 :

"Every Sindhi must read ‘Return of the Aryans’ to understand their history, heritage and Roots ... Not for yourself alone but for the sake of your children .. for the coming generation ... A pity it would be to deprive them of this knowledge .. Beg or borrow this book, or better still buy it and gift it to those you love .. but do not make the mistake of depriving your youngsters of this treasure-house of knowledge about their Roots .. " - Ram Jethmalani

Extract from Address of Hon’ble Ram Jethmalani at International SINDHI SAMMELAN, Chicago, USA, August 2000 :

"I think I said this to you at your Florida Session but it is worth repeating: Do not fail your coming generation. See to it that they know of the ancient culture, history, and the Roots of the people of Sindh. Do not deprive them of this knowledge ... See to it that ‘Return of the Aryans’ is available to libraries to which your youngsters have access. It will be your failure and their misfortune if this treasured memory is lost to them .." - Ram Jethmalani

Note: The foregoing review may be published in whole or part without permission - Ram Jethmalani

A summary of the history Of Sindh until 1947

BC 6000 : Indus Valley - Neolithic settlements.

BC 5000 : Farming, pottery and beads developed.

BC 4000 : Potter’s wheel and bow drill invented.

BC 3500 : Growth of pottery.

BC 3000 : Amri civilization and its ruins.

BC 3100-850 : Sindhi language evolved over a period of 2400 years.

BC 2500 : Kani Kot ruins - civilization .

BC 2300 : Mohen-jo-daro civilization .

BC 1500 : Sehwan (Sivistan) was important center of Shiva cult.

BC 810 : Egyptian Emperor Sume Rames attacked Sindh.

BC 566-490 : Huns ruled Sindh.

BC 519 : Sindh annexed to Persian Achaemenian Empire ruled by King Darius for about 125 years.

BC 326-325 : Alexander the "Great" stormed through the Indus Valley, met resistance in Sindh and was injured in Multan.

BC 313 : Buddhism was popularised in Sindh during emperor Ashoka’s period.

AD 280-500 : Persian rule.

AD 550-711 : i) Rai Sahiras and his son Rai Sahasi ruled Sindh and formed Rai Dynasty. (ii) Chach succeeded the Rai and founded Brahman Dynasty. (iii) Raja Dahar (Chach’s son) took over from Chander (Chach’s brother). Raja Dahar ruled Sindh for several years until the invasion of Arabs, when he was martyred.

AD 711-1026 : Sindh was invaded by a 17-year old Arab General, Muhammad Bin Qasim, establishing the Arab rule for next 305 years.

AD 1026-1350 : Soomro Dynasty ruled Sindh for 300 years.

AD 1054 : Soomras faced ruinous invasion by Mahmood Ghaznavi and Allauddin Khilji.

AD 1351 : The rise of the Samma Dynasty in Sindh. "Jams of Lasbella or currently known as the Alianis".

AD 1521-1554 : Arghun Rule was established in Sindh by Shah Beg. He was a descendant of Changez Khan.

AD 1554-1591 : General Mirza Isa Beg found Tarkhan Dynasty in Sindh (Turks in origin) after the death of Shah Hassan Arghun.

AD 1555 : Portuguese sacked Thatta, a bustling metropolis of Sindh.

AD 1591-1700 : Shanshah Akbar, the Ruler of Hindustan, annexed Sindh, and ruled Sindh by appointing his governors. (40 Governors were appointed during the 81 years of rule.).

AD 1701-1782 : Kalhoras ruled Sindh for 85 years. Twelve Kalhora rulers ruled during this time. This period is known as the golden period of Sindhi literature. Poets like Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Sachal Sarmast, and Sami are among the prominent poets of Sindh.

AD 1782-1843 : Talpurs ruled Sindh for 61 years. The country was divided into three states - Hyderabad State, Khairpur State and the State of Mirpur Khas.

AD 1843 : Talpur rulers of Sindh and Baluchistan were defeated by the British under Sir Charles Napier.

AD 1847 : Sindh was made part of Bombay Presidency by the British.

AD 1851 : Sindhi language was declared official language of Sindh.

AD 1853 : Final and refined version of Sindhi script was adopted by the British throughout Sindh and Bombay, which still exist in Sindh today.

AD 1908 : Barrister Ghulam M. Bhurgri and Harchandrai Vishindas demanded independence of Sindh from Bombay.

AD 1936 : Sindh regained independence from Bombay Presidency.

AD 1947 : India achieved independence from British rule after a long struggle and great sacrifices. Sindh became part of newly created Islamic State of Pakistan. Riots and violence erupted in Sindh. A massive exodus of Hindu Sindhis resulted. More than 1.1 million Sindhis migrated to India.

Sindh was ruled by the following dynasties after the Arab invasion :

The Sumra Dynasty (750 [1026?] - 1350 A.D.)

The Samma Dynasty (1351 - 1521 A.D.)

The Arghun Dynasty (1521 - 1554 A.D.)

The Turkhan Dynasty (1555 - 1608 A.D.)

The Moghul Dynasty (1608 - 1701 A.D.)

The Kalhora Dynasty (1701 - 1783 A.D.)

The Talpur Dynasty (1783 - 1843 A.D.)

The British Rule (1843 - 1947 A.D.)

The Pakistani Rule (1947 A.D. - ?)

Truth about Dahir Sen


THE PROPHET of Islam had known Sindh and Hind. One of his wives was named Hind, and he used to say of her: ``May Allah bless this Hind and the country after which she is named!'' When he learned that Yemen had been occupied by foreigners, his immediate question was whether it had been occupied by the Sindhis or the Abyssinians.

Many Indian Jats used to reside in Arabia. One of them had cured Ayesha, Mohammed's youngest wife, of an ailment induced through witchcraft practised by her maid-servant.

The Jats used to part their hair in the middle --- and Mohammed liked it so well that he adopted that hair style. The Sindhi Jats' thick-soled shoes became famous in Arabia as `jutti'. Many of us still know it as Joota. In Sindhi it is still called jutti.

Arab traders had long reported that in Hindustan ``the rivers are pearls, the mountains are rubies, and the trees are perfume.''

Indeed the Arabs and the Sindhis --- and other west coast Indians --- knew each other very well. According to Arab belief, Adam and Eve lived in India and India was heaven, Janatnishan. They marvelled at the peacocks and the elephants, the camphor and the sandalwood of India The religion of the Arabs before Islam was very much like Hinduism, pantheistic. When the Arabs captured Sicily in 53 H, they got hold of the local gold idols, which they then sold to the king of Sindh.

When Islam exploded in the face of the world, and spread out in all directions, it was inevitable that it should hit India too. The tragedy is that India at this time was not in good shape. Northern India was in disarray after Harsha. And Sindh was ruled by a controversial dynasty.

Rai Sahasi, the king of Sindh, was the brother of the king of Chittor- He was childless. His wife Suhandi fell in love with the Brahmin minister, Chach. When Sahasi died, Suhandi had all the claimants to the throne liquidated. She then married Chach. The people were shocked.

But Chach proved a successful ruler. He annexed Multan and fixed the frontier of Sindh with Kashmir by planting the deodar of Sindh and the poplar of Kashmir and then letting their branches intertwine. He had similarly planted palm trees to mark the frontier with Iran. That was certainly more beautiful than the cement pillars of modem boundaries.

Chach and Suhandi had two sons, Dahir and Daharsiah. Chach also had a daughter, Bai, by another wife. Dahir ruled upper Sindh at Alor and Daharsiah ruled lower Sind at Brahmanabad, near modern Nawabshah. When Bai came of age, the court astrologer predicted that she would never go out of the Alor fort and that her husband would become the ruler of Sindh and Hind. Thereupon the minister, Budhiman (the wise one) --- but who in this case proved quite buddhiheen (unwise) --- begged of Dahir to marry his half-sister and save himself and the kingdom. Dahir was as scandalised by the suggestion as anybody else. But on second thoughts he agreed to marry Bai symbolically. He did this by presenting her a ring, placing his sword in her lap and covering her head with his scarf. Because of Dahir ``marrying'' his half-sister, though only symbolically, the word Dahiri came to mean in Sindhi, ``a silly fool''.

But be it said in defence of Dahir that marriages between half- brothers and half-sisters and between cousins were not unknown in ancient royal history. The Pharoahs of Egypt and the old Shahinshahs of Iran invariably married their half-sisters or cousin-sisters --- on the ground that anything less than a royal princess would not be good enough for a real prince; and marriage into other royal families could lead to rivalries between brothers- in-law. And Bai was only a half-sister of Dahir.

However, Dahir's marriage with Bai scandalized the people and divided them. This was the situation in Sindh during the mortal Arab challenge. The remarkable thing is that Sindh resisted as well as it did.

When an Arab chief asked a Sindhi trader about Sindh, the latter told him: ``There is too little water. The fruit is useless. The thieves steal with impunity. A small army will get annihilated. A large army will starve to death.'' The Arab saw in this reply a Sindhi patriotic effort to discourage Arab invasion. However, the Arabs who had already tasted blood --- and spread from Iran to Morocco --- were not easily dissuaded. On the basis of modern researches, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad in his Humanity at Death's Door and Maulana Nadvi in his Indo-Arab Relations, write that between 638 and 711 A.D., the Arabs launched as many as fifteen attacks against Sindh by land and by sea. And it was only the last by Mohammed Bin Qasim in 711 that succeeded.

Chachnama, the most authentic and almost contemporary account of Arab invasions of Sindh reports that as early as 638 A.D. Khalifa Umar sent Mughairah to launch a naval attack against Sindh, but it was repulsed on the Indian side. The Chachnama Iists six more major attempts by land and/or by sea during the next 80 years, led by Hakam, Abdullah, Rashid, Munzir, Sinan, and Bazil, but they were all repulsed and the invading commanders killed.

Khalifa Usman was so upset by the Arab defeats in Sindh during his term that he forbade any more attempts on Sindh, on the ground that ``its water is dirty, its soil stony, and its fruit poisonous.''

It is interesting how a land of ``musk and pearls'' can suddenly become ``dirty and stony'', when there is no way to sack it. The Sindh grapes became sour! It reminds one of the contrasting Muslim view of the Hindus before and after partition. Before partition, the Hindus were ``dhoti-wearing cowards, drinking daal and munching papad''. But, after partition, when the Hindus showed that they could hit back real hard, they became ``terrible fiends''!

However, the itch for war and the bug for booty had bitten the Arab soul. And so Khalifa Ali also sent an expedition. But they returned disheartened when Ali died. The next Khalifa, Muawiyah, had sent a big land army with provisions enough not to need to light any fire in the camp. But the Sindh army gave them hell and their commander Abdullah had raised the piteous cry before he fell dead: ``Oh children of the Prophet's companions, do not turn your faces from the infidels so that your faith may remain free from any flaw and you may acquire the honour of freedom''. However, the Arabs had decided to run away and live, if only in Makran --- rather than fight on and die, just to go to heaven.

The next major invasion was led by ``Sinan, son of Salmah'', who had been blessed on his birth by Mohammed himself. Sinan now even saw in a dream, Mohammed bless his adventure. But neither the blessings on birth nor the benediction from the other world, availed him when the Sindhis killed him at Budhiya.

Governor Ziyad then appointed Munzir, son of Harud, son of Bazhar, in A.D. 680 to go and get Sindh. However, as he got up in the court, his robe was caught in a piece of wood and torn, Abdullah, the governor of Iraq, took this as a bad omen and wailed: Munzir will never return from this journey and will die.'' And that was exactly what happened.

At this stage, Hajjaj, a notorious pervert and tyrant, was appointed governor of Iraq. And it was directly his charge to conquer Sindh. An Arab leader Alafi with 500 men had fled from his terror to Sindh and Dahir had given him asylum. Hajjaj also claimed that the Sindhi pirates had looted some Arab ships coming from Lanka. He made these two incidents a new excuse to go to war against Sindh. Khalifa Walid gave reluctant permission. Hajjaj sent Bazil with a large army, but he was worsted by Jaisiah, the son of Dahir, and killed. Hajjaj now threatened ``not to leave a single kafir alive up to the frontiers of China''. And on the basis of his astrologers' predictions, he appointed Mohammed Bin Qasim, his nephew and son-in-law, as the new invader of Sindh. So, astrologers were heeded not only by Dahirs but also by Hajjajs!

However, Khalifa Walid was in no mood for another bloody attempt on Sindh. He wrote to Hajjaj: ``The people (of that country) are cunning and the country itself is very distant. It will cost us very large sums of money to provide a sufficient number of men and arms and instruments of war. This affair will be a source of great anxiety, and so we must put it off; for every time the army goes (on such an expedition) vast numbers of Muslims are killed. So think no more of such a design.'' But Hajjaj invoked the ``honour of Islam''and vowed to ``spend the wealth of the whole of Iraq'' to ``avenge the death of Bazil''.

On an ``auspicious day'' in A.D. 711 --- fixed by astrologers --- Mohammed Bin Qasim started for Sindh at the head of the Iraqi, Syrian, and other Arab soldiers of fortune. His horses and camels were given coats of mail to look like lions and elephants, respectively!

When the Arab army besieged Debal (meaning ``Deval'' or ``Devalaya'', `place of god' temple) the battle raged for ten days even though it was not a major town of Sindh like Alor, Sehwan Nerunkot (Hyderabad), or Brahmanabad. The fortified temple fell when a frightened Brahmin crept out and told the Arabs to knock off the tall flagpole flying the huge red flag, to demoralise the defenders. At this stage, Jahin Budh, the incharge of Debal, surrendered. Carnage followed. And so did general collapse.

At a time when the Arabs were short of both food and fodder, Bhandarkan Samani, the man incharge of Nerunkot, surrendered that town. The Samanis or Shamans --- the Buddhist counterparts of Brahmins --- took the line that, as Buddhists, they were men of peace and not interested in who ruled the country. They would not let Bachehra, the governor of Sehwan, to continue the defence of the town after one week. At a time when the Arabs did not know how to cross the Sindhu, one Mokah, the son of Besayeh, a princeling, made boats and provisions available in return for crown and estate. The astrologers now began to predict the ``inevitable victory of the Arabs''. But Dahir still continued to be over-confident. Contrary to the Arab Alafi's advice, he allowed the Arabs to cross the river to be able to fight, ``lest it be imagined by them that we are in perplexity and have become very weak and powerless.''

As the battle raged between the Sindhis and the Arabs, Ubaid, a lieutenant of Alafi, went over to the Arabs and told them of Dahir's plans. Even so, the Sindhi army fought so well that, says the Chachnama, on the eleventh and last day, ``the army of Islam became irresolute and their lines were broken up in great confusion. It was generally believed that the Arabs were defeated, and put to flight.''

Mohammed Bin Qasim was then ``so perplexed that he called out for water''. At this stage traitor Mokah with his men arrived on the scene and joined the Arab forces. Simultaneously a cry went up that the princesses in the Sindhi army had been cornered. This led to confusion. Dahir was heard by the Arabs shouting something like ``nisi man, nisi man'', (meaning ``here I am, here I am'') -so as to tell his men not to lose heart. But then a fiery arrow hit Dahir's howdah and set it on fire. Soon after, another arrow pierced his heart. And then all was over. It was on the evening of Thursday the 16 June A.D. 712. After fifteen attempts by nine Khalifas over a period of seventy-four years (638-712 A.D.) the Arabs had conquered Sindh. It was one of the saddest days in Indian history.

Dahir's wife Ladi was captured. In the Arab camp she tried to act as a shock-absorber between the invaders and the local people. Dahir's ``wife'' Bai committed suttee to escape the hands of ``these chandals (untouchables) and cow-eaters''. Resistance continued.

But the Muslim problem had been created in lndia with the very first conversion to Islam in Debal. This man was promptly named Maulana Islami and sent, with a Syrian noble, to deliver a message to Dahir. The Chachnama reports that when the two entered Dahir's court. the Syrian bowed low to salute, but the new Muslim refused to bow or to salute. Dahir recognised him and asked him why he was not observing the court etiquette, and the latter said that with his change of religion his loyalty now was to ``the king of Islam''. Change of religion had resulted in change of nationality! The Pakistani mentality had born.

When Dahir's severed head was presented to Hajjaj, a courtier sang: ``we have conquered Sindh after enormous trouble.... Betrayed is Dahir by Mohammed Bin Qasim's masterly strategy. Rejoice, the evil doers are disgraced. Their wealth has been brought away . . . They are now solitary and brittle as eggs and their women, fair and fragrant as musk-deer, are now asleep in our harems.''

Why did it all happen?

The basic point, of course, is that no country can always be on top of the world . There are cycles in the fortunes of a people. And Sindh was not exactly in good shape at the time. The great Chinese traveller, Hiuen Tsiang, who visited Sindh in A.D. 641, exactly seventy years before, did not find things too good. He wrote:

``There are several hundred Sangh aramas, (resting places) occupied by about 10,000 priests.... There are about thirty Deva temples, in which sectaries of various kinds congregate. The king is of the Sudra (Sho-tu-lo) caste. He is by nature honest and sincere, and he reverences the law of Buddha.... By the side of the river Sindhu along the flat marshy lowlands there are several hundreds of thousands of families settled. They are of an unfeeling and hasty temper, and are given to blood- shed only. They give themselves exclusively to tending cattle.... Men and women, both cut their hair short.''

Although the ruler at the time was Chach, a Brahmin, Hiuen Tsiang describes him as a Sudra (Sho-tu-lo) either because he had come to the throne in an irregular manner, or because he was ruling a rough border area, off the Indian mainstream. Some scholars interpret Sho-tu-lo not as Sudra but as ``Kshudrak'' an ancient republic in central Sindh. Still others think that Sho-tu-lo does not mean Sudra at all, that it stands for 'Shrotriya'' Brahmins. The king was a Brahmin but there were too many Buddhists, making for social dissonance. The social tensions showed in hasty temper and bloodshed. Many of the Buddhists were traders who preferred peace to resistance.

Apart from this general decline, there were specific reasons.

One reason no doubt was the controversies surrounding the royal family. Another was the failure of Dahir to prevent --- and punish --- cowardice and treason in the local camp. Yet another was the dubious position of many Buddhists, who conveniently camouflaged their cowardice as desire for peace, even though Dahir had placed them in important positions. But a much bigger reason was the explosive nature of Islam which had combined one Allah and one Prophet with the single-minded devotion to murder and loot and rape. It is no wonder that the Arabs who had overrun Iran in A.D. 641 in spite of Sindhi help --- and entered even far-away Spain in A.D. 711, should roll up Sindh in A.D. 712.

The north Indian kingdom of Kanauj could have helped --- as the Franks did help Spain --- but after the death of Harsha in A.D. 647, it was too weak to help itself, much less others. Sindh fought and fell alone.

The official history of Sindh published in ten volumes in Pakistan makes interesting reading on the subject. According to Dr. Mumtaz Hussain Pathan, the reasons adduced by the Arabs for the invasion were all false. He thinks that the story of the loot of Arab ships by the Sindhi pirates is ``a fabrication''. He adds: ``That the Arab prisoners were recovered from Debal after the Arab conquest is another fabrication, not supported by historical evidence and contrary to the facts recorded in contemporary sources. He thinks the real reasons were two --- loot, and the necessity of keeping the in-fighting Arabs occupied elsewhere. ``In order to meet the financial deficiency, al-Hajjaj; ventured on new designs of lucrative nature, to fill in the coffers of the State. The main purpose of these attacks may also have been actuated by political reasons, with the sole intention of diverting the energies of the Arabs to new enterprises, rather than fighting . among themselves.'' Dr. Pathan has no doubt that it was a case of aggression, pure and simple. ``The conquest of Sindh was included in the pre-planned programme of Hajjaj, for which some flimsy grounds were needed.'' Indeed Hajjaj had asked his men to advance to the frontiers of China!

Dr. Khan also thinks that ``the Alafis who had taken shelter in Sindh as fugitives, too, seem to have acted as secret agents for the Arab viceroy. Although they posed to be the enemies of Hajjaj, yet they communicated news of strategic importance to the Arabs and instigated them to make an attack on Sindh.''

Dr. Khan also blames the Buddhist Shamanis who betrayed the trust placed in them by Dahir. He says that while some classes suffered inequality under Dahir's rule, their lot grew much worse under the Arab rule. Earlier, the common people were forbidden to wear silks or ride horses. Now the Arabs additionally ordered them not to cover their heads, and to walk barefoot in Arab presence Also, the Buddhists were ordered to entertain any Arab --- soldier, trader or adventurer --- for at least three days. In many cases the Arab guests succeeded in eloping with the wives and daughters of their hosts.'' The Arabs let hell loose on Sindh Even those who embraced lslam to save their skin found themselves called mawalis (clients) and charged jeziya (head tax) like any Hindus. And so most of them promptly returned to their ancestral faith. The Deval Smriti was enunciated to facilitate the shuddhikaran (re-conversion) of the forced converts, on performance of certain purificatory rites. No wonder even for the Sindhi Muslims today, Dahir Sen is hero, and Mohammed Bin Qasim, a villain.

Within two years of the Arab invasion, the Arab influence was confined to Debal and the surrounding coastline. Dahir's son Jaisiah had become a Muslim to survive --- only to become Hindu again to survive with honour. The Arabs thereupon sent a huge army twentyfive years later under the leadership of Salim. In the titanic battle that raged on the Sindh-Rajasthan border, Jaisiah, assisted by his mother Ladi, and the redoubtable Bappa Rawal of Chittor (A.D. 739-753),and blessed by Hirat Swami, worsted the Arabs. A treaty of peace was signed only when Salim surrendered all equipment, gave his daughter Maiya in marriage to Bappa Rawal, and vowed that the Arabs would never again attack India. It is significant that in the succeeding centuries the Arabs never again attacked India.

However, more than heroes, the period of Arab conquest of Sindh had its heroines --- Surya Devi and Parimal Devi, the daughters of Dahir. Mohammed Bin Qasim had sent them to Khalifa Walid in Baghdad for his harem. The Khalifa, reports the Chachnama, was ``charmed with their perfect beauty'' and their ``blood-sucking blandishments''. However, the two princesses said to the Khalifa that Qasim had already violated their chastity. The Khalifa flew into a rage. He ordered that Mohammed Bin Qasim be killed and his body brought to him in a bullock's hide. When the orders were duly executed, the princesses revealed that they had cooked up the violation story only to avenge ``the ruination of the king of Sindh and Hind and desolation of the kingdom of our fathers and grandfathers''. The enraged Khalifa ordered them tortured to death and had their torn bodies thrown into the river Tigris. The defeat of Sindh had been partly avenged.

In Sindh the very first thing the Arabs did was to convert the Debal temple into a prison. Soon, however, all Sindh became an Arab prison. The loot of Sindh enriched the Arab lands. Twenty thousand Sindhis were sold in slavery, mostly as cooks and cashiers. Here they specially popularized the Sindhi rice porridge bhatt (Sanskrit Bhakt, Hindi bhaat, rice). Others captivated the Arab hearts with their sweet singing, to the accompaniment of the ektara and the cymbals. Many other Sindhis became trusted accountants in Arab business houses. A Sindhi accountant became a guarantee of business success. Several Sindhi vaids (native physicians) became famous in West Asia. One of them, Manik, cured Khalifa Harun al-Rashid, when the local and Greek physicians had given up hope. On another occasion Manik revived the Khalifa's dear cousin Ibrahim, after he had been declared dead by the physicians. Many Hindu arts and sciences began to flow from Sindh into the Arab lands. Hindu astronomy, medicine, and mathematics reached Europe through the Arab hands. To this day, the numerals 1,2,3,.... are known in Arabic as Hindsa. The Panchatantra stories of wisdom were translated into Arabic as Kalilah wa Dimnah.

Even the Arabic script came from India --- centuries before the Arab invasion of Sindh. According to experts, sixteen of the twenty-two basic Arabic characters are directly traceable to the Brahmi lipi of Ashoka's days. They look very different only because they came to be written from right to left in the style of ``Kharoshthi'' (in the manner of ``asses' lips''). Dr. Pathan notes: ``Even the Arabic script, which is supposed to have been -borrowed from the Nabataeans, was greatly influenced by the Hindu Nagari script.''

Under the Hindu influence, the great Syrian poet Abdul Alaal-Maorri became a Hindu and went vegetarian. Al-Hallaj visited Sindh, cried ``anal-Haqq'' (Aham Brahm Asmi --- I am the Truth) and was crucified. There even was an Arab-Sindhi romance. Luai was a descendant of Mohammed. He and his wife Hind had a son, Asim. The family settled down in Samarra in Sindh. Here Hind repaired the local Hindu temple. Asim fell in love with Sita, the daughter of the temple priest. But Luai would not consent to Asim becoming Hindu --- and the priest would not agree to Sita becoming Muslim. At last Hind took the two to Saniyya (now Sann, the native village of the prominent Sindh leader G.M.Syed). There they were married while keeping their respective religions. When Sita died, Asim immolated himself on her funeral pyre!

But otherwise the relations between the Sindhis and the Arabs were none too good. In Sindh, the Arabs lived in isolated colonies, particularly in Mansurah, the twin-city of Brahmanabad, while the people went their own way under the local chiefs. The Sindhis viewed the iniquities of Baghdad with horror. To this day, in the Sindhi language, ``Baghdad'' means the ``limit of tyranny''. Mahmud Ghazni's invasion of Sindh put an end to the rump of the Arab governors of Sindh, and thereby helped the local Rajput dynasty of the Soomras to came up. Today there is no trace of the 300-year-long Arab adventurc in India. The twin-cities of Brahmanabad and Mansurah, now known only as Brahmanabad, were so completely destroyed that according to Richardson, archaeologist, ``even twenty barrels of gunpowder under each house would not destroy it so completely.''

As for Arab influence on Sindhi character, Dr. Pathan is quite sarcastic. He writes in the year of grace, 1978: ``A Sindhi is an embodiment of Arab mentality. Arrogant in leisure time,. he is equally timid and cannot withstand force. Like an Arab, he takes pleasure in having as many wives as he can and maintains sexual relations with a number of women called surets (concubines). Like the Ghazwah practice of the Arabs, women are stolen away.... Woman, therefore, is the root cause of crime and bloodshed in Sindh''. He adds: ``In psychological traits, a Sindhi is a brother of an Arab, being vindictive and full of deceit at all times. Like a true Arab, he is a cunning hypocrite and matchless intriguer.'' Dr. Pathan even goes so far as to say that ``Quraishi'' --- the family name of Mohammed --- in Arabic means ``a sea monster'', ``a profiteer''.

Professor Humayun Kabir had said that while the Government of India supported the Arabs against the Israelis, the people of India favoured the Israelis against the Arabs. The reason, he. said, was the Arab invasion of Sindh twelve hundred years ago. He was quite right. The race memory has neither forgotten nor forgiven the Arab invasion. Even the Sindhi Muslims share this Indian resentment of the Arab aggression of long ago. Today they honour ``Dahir Sen of Sindhudesh'' --- and look upon Mohammed Bin Qasim as an invader.

G.M. Syed, the ``Grand Old Man'' of Sindh, and the moving spirit behind the ``Independent Sindh'' movement, is ecstatic about the bravery and statesmanship of Dahir. According to him, Dahir had even offered asylum to Hussain, the grandson of Mohammed --- married to a Sindhi girl --- who was being persecuted at home. He was on his way to Sindh when he was intercepted at Karbala in Iraq --- and killed most cruelly. The Sindhis weep for lmam Hussain --- and they weep for Raja Dahir Sen.

``Jhoolay Lal''


WHEN Mahmud Ghazni was returning from his sack of Somnath early in A.D. 1017 he had decided to take the Sindh route. Here, however, the Jats gave him so much hell that later the same year he had led a special expedition to punish the Sindhis. The `religious' reason for the expedition was that Mahmud was a Sunni, attached to the Khalifa in Baghdad, and the Muslims in Sindh were inclined towards the Karmatian Shia rulers of Egypt, who had even carried away the black stone of Kaaba. The Karmatians in India were half-Hindu; they looked upon Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed and fourth Khalifa, as the tenth avatar of Vishnu!

Obviously, Mahmud's effort was not particularly successful. The contemporary writers do not even mention it. The later flattering historians, however, claim that Mahmud defeated the Sindhis in a titanic river fight in which his 1400 boats allegedly worsted the Sindhis' 4000 boats. These historians also claim that Mahmud's horoscope was identical with that of Prophet Mohammed. Which, in turn, could be quite an embarrassment for the latter!

However, historians dispute the victory claim. They point out that Mahmud's was a land army and never an amphibious force. They also point out that Mahmud had never before used boats --- and that so many boats were never found even in all the Sindh- Punjab rivers put together.

Mahmud's fans claim that the underwater spikes attached to his boats had pierced and overturned the Sindhi boats. Historians ask: how could Mahmud'5 spiked boats overturn the Sindhi. boats, without themselves overturning in the process!

But Mahmud did seem to have succeeded in carrying away many Sindhis as slaves. Today, they are known as ``Sintis'' among the sixty lakh Gypsies now in Europe.

Students of history, however, do note three points: Mahmud,. who had invaded India seventeen times between A.D. 1000 and 1026, did not repeat the exercise after his Sindh adventure,. though he had ruled for another five years. Secondly, the Karmatians survive today as Ismaili Khojas --- who, till 1937, were governed by the Hindu civil law --- having produced in modern. Sindh, important leaders such as Mohammed Ali Jinnah and the Aga Khan. Thirdly, Mahmud's attack had ended the Arab presence in Sindh and it was followed by the local Rajput clan of Soomras emerging as sovereign rulers of Sindh.

The first big Soomra name early in the eleventh century was that of Dalurai. In folklore, Dalurai was a bad man who required every new bride to spend the first night with him. God, it is believed, visited His wrath on him and destroyed ``Dalurai ji Nagari''. Nobody knows for sure what was this Dalurai's capital. But the local people point to every major pile of ruins in Sindh as ``Dalurai ji Nagari''!

It is possible that Dalurai did indulge in ``First-Night-with-the- King'', an old anthropological custom surviving in some mediaeval societies. (Till modern times the bridegrooms of certain castes in Kerala looked upon the bride's bleeding caused by the tearing of the hymen as ``violence'', and engaged professionals to do the ``dirty bloody job'' for them!) Very probably the public opprobrium represents a later, higher morality. For while a couple of early sources --- known to be hostile to the Soomras, and close to their rivals, the Sahtas of Sahiti, Central Sindh --- denounce Dalurai for this practice, many other sources praise him as a great and just king.

Interestingly enough, the Alor and the Brahmanabad ruins, hundreds of miles apart, are both supposed to be ``Dalurai ji Nagari''. But it is now known that Brahmanabad was destroyed in an earthquake in 962, about fifty years before Dalurai; and Alor was ruined only by the shift of the river course, almost three hundred years later!

History is something more than a chronicle of events; it is also an expression of hopes and fears of the people. The story of ``Dalurai ji Nagari'' is people's way of rejecting a lower morality and fostering a higher morality in men's minds.

The Soomras ruled Sindh for almost three hundred years --- until A.D. 1315. But, who were they? Some Muslim writers are inclined to think that there was at least some Arab blood in them. But scholars have no doubt that, like the Jareja Rajputs, they were Parmars. According to the Tarikh-e-Tahiri, the Soomras were Hindus. According to H.T. Sorley, the Soomras did become Muslim, but nobody knows when. They were like the Jareja Rajputs, he says, ``of whom the Rao himself once averred that out of 2,000 Jarejas, there were not three who knew what their religion was''. Obviously, the Soomras were Hindus with some Muslim influence, who later became nominal Muslims while retaining their Hindu culture.

At this distance in time it is no use going into the rise and fall of dozens of Soomra kings --- from Rajpal and Bhoongar and Dodo to Hamir and Nangar and Chanesar. There even was a Nehro Dodo, who saluted the commanders of Alauddin Khalji's invading force with his left hand, by way of Sindh's defiance of the Khaljis. But more revealing than the chronicles of kings are the epics of men which throw a flood of light on the life and culture of a society. As Arnold Toynbee puts it in his Study of History: ``History, like the drama and the novel, grew out of mythology, a primitive form of apprehension and expression in which --- as in fairy tales listened to by children or in dreams dreamt by sophisticated adults --- the line between fact and fiction is left undrawn. It has, for example, been said of the Iliad that anyone who starts reading it as history will find that it is full of fiction but, equally, anyone who starts reading it as fiction will find that it is full of history.'' The same is true of the tales of Sindh which combine history with story to produce literature that reflects life intensely and reflects it whole.

The oldest extent tale of Sindh is the Rai Diyach, with its locale in lower Sindh and Saurashtra. The Samma Rajputs of Sindh had migrated to Saurashtra (``Sorath'' in Sindhi) after the Arab invasion. In the first decade of the eleventh century, Rai Dewas (or Diyach), belonging to the Chuda tribe of the Sammas, was ruling in Girnar, Junagadh. His sister gave birth to a male child who, the astrologers said, would slay his maternal uncle. The mother asked her maid to dispose of the unlucky child, but the latter was so charmed by the baby's looks that she put him in a box and let it float down the river. The box was picked up by a charan (minstrel) in the territory of King Anirai and the child was named Bijal. Bijal grew up to be a great singer. At this stage, Sorath, the daughter of potter Ratna, in Girnar, was engaged to Anirai. When the marriage procession was on way, Rai Diyach intercepted it, carried away Sorath, and married her.

Anirai was furious over this humiliation. He announced a big platter of precious stones for whoever would avenge his insult and bring Rai Diyach's head. Bijal's wife, who was sure her husband could achieve anything with his bewitching voice, accepted the jewellery on promise of doing the needful. She persuaded Bijal to go and sing in front of the palace of Rai Diyach --- and when the king would ask him for ``any favour'', to ask for his head. That was exactly how it worked out. The king chivalrously agreed to offer his head and said: ``If I had a hundred thousand heads, I'd cut them one by for every song of yours.'' Shah Abdul Latif [shrine], the Mahakavi of Sindh, has made the story immortal in his ``Sur Sorath''. It makes four great points: justice must be done; fate is inevitable; women have a fatal weakness for finery; and Music has more power over men than anything else.

Another incident of the same period is the story of Lila- Chanesar. Chanesar was the Soomra ruler of Devalkot near Thatta. He was happily married to Lila. Kounroo, the daughter of Rai Khangar, the Solanki ruler of Lakhpat, fell in love with Chanesar, but she could not seduce him. Thereupon Kounroo hit upon an idea. She dressed up as a maid servant and joined Lila's service. After some time she offered Lila a rare necklace, if only she would let her spend one night with Chanesar. In a fit of weakness for a rare piece of jewellery --- and hoping that Chanesar in his cups would not be able to distinguish Kounroo from Lila --- Lila agreed. But Chanesar found it out, rejected Lila for good, and married Kounroo. The story highlights women's weakness for gold --- and for gadgets of all kinds. It also empha- sizes that the Lord --- whether he be temporal or spiritual --- can not be trifled with.

Shah in his Sur Lila-Chanesar tells Lila: ``What you thought was a necklace, became a stone round your neck.'' Lila says: ``Oh God, one should never be too smart; the smart ones come to grief.'' Shah ends with this advice to Lila: ``Oh Lila, weep no more; get up and sweep your yard, and go and sacrifice your own self, your father and your grandfather at the altar of your Lord.''

However, the Sindhi epic of the period par excellence is the Umar Marui. Marui is a village belle, engaged to her kinsman, Khetsen. When the Soomra ruler Umar of Umarkot or Amarkot comes to know of her beauty, he abducts her, confines her in his fort, and invites her to marry him. Marui declines. She refuses to take any rich foods or wear any finery. She would not even oil or comb her hair. She is afraid her kinsfolk have given her up, thinking she may not like to give up the palace for the sand-dunes of the Thar desert. However, she manages to send word to her people. She then tells Umar she would like to go out for a stroll. That makes Umar think she is relaxing and relenting in her rejection of him. She then goes out and is rescued and taken home among joyous scenes.

Marui reminds us of Sita in her confinement in Lanka. Interestingly enough, both Ravana and Umar, old villians, were gentlemen enough; they did not force their will on their captive beauties.

Marui is very emphatic that she is a poor girl, in love with her desert land; that she is already engaged and will not marry any other man --- for love or money or both. Her love of her poor land and poor people almost makes us wish to go and live in a blooming desert. Her pining for her desert-home has elicited some of the most patriotic poetry in Sindhi literature.

Says Shah's Marui: ``I wish I had not been born; or if I were born, l wish I had died there and then, rather than face this ignominy.... Oh Umar, don't make a laughing stock of me by making this poor girl wear those silks of yours. We are poor but we don't change our life-partners for gold. O Umar, when I die, send my body to my land [watan], where it will then come back to life....''

The Umar Marui is one long paean of patriotism. Even more, it is a plea for swadharma --- for y our own life values and life style. The Umar Marui is an abiding source of inspiration for the Sindhi nationalists today.

However, the long and memorable Soomra rule is enshrined most in the historic contest of Dodo and Chanesar. When Bhungar Rao died towards the end of the thirteenth century, the court elders had decided to crown Dodo, his younger and brighter son by his regular wife, and not Chanesar, his elder son, by an iron- smith girl. Neither half-brother was keen on the pugg (pugree, turban or crown); and Dodo even said that he would be a titular sovereign and Chanesar would be the real ruler. But even so, the formal crowning of the younger brother infuriated Chanesar's mother and wife --- even as Kekayi and Manthura had been enraged by Rama's succession --- who provoked him to seek the aid of Alauddin Khalji in Delhi. What followed was a titanic struggle between Sindh and the Khaljis in 1296--1300. A huge army descended on Sindh via Gujerat. The army was so huge, say the Sindhi bards, that ``they drank the Sabarmati dry''.

The Khaljis now not only wanted to replace Dodo by Chanesar; they also wanted Bhagi, Bhungar Rao's daughter by a third (regular) wife, for Alauddin. However, the Soomras would not agree to either demand. Rejecting the idea of a matrimonial alliance, they said: ``Tu Turk asee Soomra, ahri jor na jugai'' (``You are a Turk and we are Soomras; such a union will not be right''). In the fight that ensued, both sides suffered heavily. Dodo's son Bhungar Jr. and even Chanesar s son Nangar ``Nehro'', fought heroically for Dodo --- and fell. Sabar Abro, a Samma chief on the Soomra side, killed Alauddin's son Syed Ghazi Salar. When Dodo was speared and raised high, he told Chanesar standing by: ``Even now I am above you!''

Meanwhile the Khalji attack on his own land and people had induced second thoughts in Chanesar. He now began to hate Alauddin for his excesses against Sindh. He is believed to have died fighting Alauddin.

The most important aspect of this episode is that in Sindh it became a people's war. Even peasants, shepherds, cowherds, bards, faqirs, fishermen, potters and weavers joined the fray. They all said: The sword is our plough.''

The Soomra ladies secretly left for the safety of Samma protection in Kutch, and Alauddin found the palace deserted. He left Sindh disgusted and disappointed.

To this day songs are sung in praise of the heroism of the Soomras and the beauty and purity of their womenfolk. Dodo's martyrdom is still observed with an annual fair in the month of Chaitra. Three-hundred-year-old ballads, still sung in Sindh, go on like this:

``Sindh is the life-breath of the Soomras.... Their Vagahkot is God's own fort; may it not suffer the slightest indignity. Oh Dodo, glory unto your mother who gave you birth. The warriors of Sindh are fighting the enemy. Oh God, give them victory....Let there always be peace and prosperity in this auspicious land....''

The Soomras gave us, even in the twentieth century, Allah Bux Soomro, the prime minister of Sindh, who resisted partition till his dying day. And dearest to the hearts of the Sindhi people are two holy figures of the Soomra times --- Jhoolay Lal and Lal Shahbaz (Red King-falcon).

Lal Shahbaz Qalandar's Shrine

Lal Shahbaz ``Qalandar'' [shrine] was born Pir Usman Shah in Marwand, now Afghanistan, in 1143. He came and settled down in Sehwan, famous for its ancient Shiva temple. He is the first well-known Muslim to have preached love and tolerance in Sindh. He, therefore, became an instant hit with the Muslims and the Hindus alike. He was called Shahbaz because he was believed to have turned himself into a falcon to pick up his friend Sheikh Farid Shukur Ganj from the gallows of the fanatics. He was called ``Lal'' (red) for the red robe which he wore all his life. Lal Shahbaz is the first important Sufi saint in Sindh. The Hindus regarded him as the incarnation of Bhartihari, the saintly brother of King Vikramaditya, who is believed to have worshipped Shiva at the spot where Lal Shahbaz's shrine stands today.

The other holy figure is that of Jhoolay Lal, also known as Udero Lal, Amar Lal or Lal Sain. In the tenth century when Arabs were declining and the Soomras were coming up, Mirkh Shah, the fanatical ruler of Thatta, ordered the Hindus to embrace lslam. The bewildered people collected en masse on the banks of the Sindhu and prayed to Varuna Devata for a saviour. Legcnd has it that a handsome young man emerged from the river on a charger, showed many miracles and saved the people from cultural genocide. He is shown in Nasarpur --- where he is believed to have been born to Rattan Rao Luhana and his wife Devaki---as a baby in a silver swing(jhoola or peengho) --- just like Lord Krishna in his childhood. Elsewhere he is shown with a flowing white beard, like Guru Nanak, but seated on the river- fruit, fish. But he was obviously a great youth leader who saved the Sindhi Hindus a thousand years ago. To this day temples are built in his honour and panjaras (five-line verses) are sung to his greater glory. And in recent years Roona Laila has made Jhoolay Lal --- and Mast Qalandar --- household names in Hindustan and Pakistan alike, with her lilting ``O Lal, Meri Pat Rakhiyo Sada Jhoolay Lalan....'' Rendered in English, it reads:

OH LORD of Sindh, Jhoolay Lal, and Sire of Sehwan, the red- robed Cod-intoxicated Qalandar, glory unto you! May I always have your benign protection.

YOUR SHRINE is always lighted with four lamps; and here I come to light a fifth lamp in ycur honour.

LET YOUR heroic name ring out in Hind and Sindh; let the gong ring loud for your glory.

OH LORD, may you prevail every time, everywhere. In the name of Ali, I pray to you to help my boat cross (the river of life) in safety.

Об истории,культуре и развитии синдхов:



О языке синдхи:


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...