The Hindú Kings of Kábul.*

Abú Ríhán al Bírúní has the following statement respecting this dynasty in his lately discovered Arabic work, entitled Táríkhu-l Hind:—

“Kábul was formerly governed by princes of Turk lineage. It is said that they were originally from Tibet. The first of them was named Barhtigín, * * * * and the kingdom continued with his children for sixty generations. * * * * * The last of them was a Katormán, and his minister was Kalar, a Bráhman. This minister was favoured by fortune, and he found in the earth treasures which augmented his power. Fortune at the same time turned her back upon his master. The Katormán's thoughts and actions were evil, so that many complaints reached the minister, who loaded him with chains, and imprisoned him for his correction. In the end the minister yielded to the temptation of becoming sole master, and he had wealth sufficient to remove all obstacles. So he established himself on the throne. After him reigned the Bráhman(s) Samand, then Kamlúa, then Bhím, then Jaipál, then Anandpál, then Narda-janpál, who was killed in A.H. 412. His son, Bhímpál, succeeded him, after the lapse of five years, and under him the sovereignty of Hind became extinct, and no descendant remained to light a fire on the hearth. These princes, notwithstanding the extent of their dominions, were endowed with excellent qualities, faithful to their engagements, and gracious towards their inferiors. The letter which Anandpál wrote to Amír Mahmúd, at the time enmity existed between them, is much to be admired. ‘I have heard that the Turks have invaded your dominions, and have spread over Khurásán; if you desire it, I will join you with 5,000 cavalry, 10,000 infantry, and 100 elephants, but if you prefer it, I will send my son with twice the number. In making this proposal, I do not wish to ingratiate myself with you. Though I have vanquished you, I do not desire that any one else but myself should obtain the ascen­dancy.’ This prince was a determined enemy of the Musulmáns from the time that his son, Nardajanpál, was taken prisoner; but his son was, on the contrary, well-disposed towards them.”

The publication of this extract by M. Reinaud has excited con­siderable discussion, and has given rise to some ingenious remarks and comments by those interested in this period of history, in which we have a series of names recorded, which add nearly a century to the barren annals of India previous to the Muhammadan conquest. A paper by Mr. E. Thomas, of the Bengal Civil Service, published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. IX. p. 177, is especially valuable, as in it he has endeavoured to trace the names of these particular kings upon a series of coins denominated Rájpút, of the bull and horseman type, and hitherto doubtfully ascribed to periods ex­tending from A.D. 1000 to 1200. I shall avail myself freely of his remarks, though I am not prepared to coincide in his conclusions, for taking into consideration the difficulty of identifying Hindí names in Arabic manuscripts, in which ignorance and carelessness give rise to every imaginable kind of error, he has endeavoured to correct the Arabic from the unquestionable record of the coins themselves, which have hitherto existed without the ascription of a kingdom and a date, and “instead of applying coins to kings, to apply the kings to their own coins.” It may easily be supposed that this principle gives too great a license to speculation, and it will appear in the sequel that very few of the attempted identifications can be admitted without question.

Before we examine these names in detail, it will be necessary to make a few general remarks on the subject of these Turks, and especially respecting Kanak, the most celebrated of them.

First of all, it admits of great question what particular position in the series of Kábul Turkish kings this Kanak occupied. M. Reinaud both in his translation of Al Bírúní in Fragments Arabes, and his Mémoire sur l'Inde, considers him to be the great Kanika or Kanishka of the Buddhists, and it is respecting this Kanak that the anecdote is related which will be found in this work, Vol. II. p. 10. Mr. Thomas, trusting to translations or abstracts of Al Bírúní, makes Kanak the last of the Turkish kings, and the immediate predecessor of the Brahmin Samand; but as the existence of the great Kanak who opposed the Ráí of Kanauj is not to be disputed, he must con­sider that the last of the Turks was a second Kanak.

This point requires further consideration, and we must consider what our several authorities say concerning it. The passage in the first line of the extract which I have translated thus, “The last of them was a Katormán,” is in the original Arabic of Al Birúní—


which M. Reinaud translates, “The last of them (the Turks) was Laktouzemán,” which is certainly correct, provided the reading is admitted to be so; but Mr. Thomas, after examining various copies of the Jámi'u-t tawáríkh and Binákití—the former of which is a translation, and the latter an abridgement of Al Bírúní's account, finds great reason to dispute it, and leans altogether to another in­terpretation. He finds the following in an excellent Arabic version of the Jámi', in the library of the Royal Asiatic Society—


“and Kanak returned to his country, and he was the last of the Katormán kings.”

The corresponding passage in the Persian Jámi' in the British Museum is—


Binákití has the following—


“and after him was Kanak, and he was the last of the Katormán kings.”

All the copies of Binákití which I have seen concur in this read­ing, and of three several copies of the Persian Jámi'u-t tawáríkh which I have examined, two are in conformity with the extract given above, with the exception of reading Katoriyán for Katormán, and a third has—


“after Básdeo from among their rulers (i.e., of the Indians), one was Kanak, and he was the last of the Kayormán kings.”

The omission of all notice of the Kábul Turkish dynasty, and the making Kanak succeed Básdeo, and the Brahmans succeed Kanak, without any notice or allusion to there being intermediate kings, is a culpable omission on the part of Rashídu-d dín and Binákití. The making Kanak the last of the Turkish dynasty does not seem au­thorized by the only original of Al Bírúní's Táríkhu-l Hind which we possess, and Rashídu-d dín must have had other copies or other works to have authorized him to make this statement. M. Reinaud (Mem. 30) considers that he has used some other work of Al Bírúní's which has not come down to us, but this may reasonably be doubted.

M. Reinaud altogether ignores these readings of the manuscripts consulted by Mr. Thomas, and merely observes upon them, “On a vu ci-devant, que le vizir de Perse Raschid-eddin, avait, dans son Historie des Mongols, mis à contribution un écrit d'Albyrouny autre que celui-ci, et que ne nous est point parvenu. Malheureuse-ment, les manuscripts de l'ouvrage de Raschid-ed din diffèrent entre eux: au lieu de Laktouzeman, ils portent Katourman, et on ne dis­tingue pas bien s'il s'agit là d'un prince ou d'un pays.” Notwith­standing this, I have been given to understand by those who have seen the original manuscript of the Táríkhu-l Hind, that even that bears a closer resemblance to Katourman than Laktouzeman.* Taking all circumstances into consideration, I am disposed to get rid of the name of Laktouzeman from the Táríkhu-l Hind, and to substitute for it, by two slight changes in the original, al Katormán, which repre­sents the name of a tribe, or prince of that tribe, as well as the name of the country in which that tribe resided. I have therefore trans­lated the disputed line, “The last of them was a Katormán.”

Let us now enter upon some of the considerations which this name suggests.

The Katormáns, or Kators, have hitherto been better known to modern than ancient history. We are informed that it was the name of one of the tribes of Káfiristán,* and that the ruler of Chitral to this day bears the title of Sháh Kator,* and I have heard the same designation given to the chief of Gilgit. The country of Kator is also spoken of by Sádik Isfaháni, as being the country of the Siyáh-poshes, or black-vested, on the borders of Kábul.*