When the Mohammedans, under the first

A.D. 977, war
with the Hin­dus,
who are

king of Ghazní, Násir-ud-dín-Sabukín, carried their arms against the Hindús, they were opposed by an allied army of Rájpúts, commanded by the Rájás of the Panjáb, Dehlí, Kanauj, and Kálanjar. The confederate army of the latter, amounting to a hundred thousand horse, accompanied by many elephants, was led to battle by Jaipál I., chief of the Panjáb, and son of Chait or Chaitra Pál. His country extended from Sirhind, south-east, to the river of Alishang in Kábúl, north-west, or the district of Lamghán. The kingdoms of his allies were situated near the Jumna and Ganges, and could not have exceeded in extent the modern provinces of Dehlí, Agra, and Alláhábád. The opposing armies, having met near Lamghán, fought a battle, which was gained by Sabuktagín. If we may believe the accounts, the Rájpúts, though numerous as the locusts of the wilderness, proved themselves very inferior soldiers, when tried against their opponents. The latter, though few in number, were confi­dent in themselves; and Sabuktagín, by suc­cessively bringing up fresh squadrons of cavalry against the enemy's centre, succeeded in break­ing their line. After this had been effected, the whole of the Hindús gave way, and left the Mohammedans an easy victory.

The latter appear to have been so unequal in

Causes which
rendered them
inferior in war
to the Moham­medans.

number to their enemies, that, know­ing, as we do, the bravery of the Ráj­púts, and their utter recklessness of life, we might well doubt whether the armies were so disproportioned as represented by Mohammedan authority. Causes, however, were at this time existing, in the constitution of Hindú soci­ety, which rendered the Rájpúts inferior in war. The Mohammedans, stimulated by religious zeal and elated by the success of conquest, had triumphantly carried their arms and their faith from the shores of the Mediterranean to the banks of the Jaxartes. Every successive con­quest had enriched their leaders; and the secret springs of avarice and ambition equally impelled the soldier and his chief to support fatigue or encounter danger. The whole were, conse­quently, a devoted band of warriors, consecrated to the support of a common cause, and had been long accustomed to exertion. The Hindús, on the contrary, though bound together by religious faith, viewed it more with superstitious awe than worldly enthusiasm; and, though ready to sacrifice their lives on the funeral pile, when fortune forsook them, were more disposed to propitiate her favour by vain ceremonies than secure success by daring efforts. Other causes were not wanting to destroy unanimity, and paralyse their spirit; of which deliberative councils of war, to which the priesthood were admitted, and the inferior equipment of their cavalry, were the principal.

Multiplicity of opinion is no where more

Councils of

inimical to success than in war. One brave and active commander, who has mastered the affections of his soldiers, and can control their wishes, leads them against an enemy with a confident daring that can do all but ensure victory; whilst a confederated body, without any singleness of effort, wastes the time in frivolous discussions, or finds the bravery of its numbers rendered nugatory through the jealousy or caprice of its leaders. It was the cus­tom, as would appear, among the Hindú chiefs of those days to assemble their feudal retainers on occasions of great public emergency, or when the national safety and religion were threatened from without. The confederate lead­ers submitted in part to the guidance of a com­mon chief, who had, as we learn, the title of Pál, or Protector; though we are left to sur­mise whether he was entitled to the office by birth or raised to it by election. The last was probably the right on which he held his com­mand; and, if so, it gave those he commanded undue influence over his authority. To add to the difficulty of his situation, he was, moreover, thwarted in his measures by the Bráhmans, or priesthood; who had a voice in the national councils, which took cognisance of his proceed­ings. We are told by Ferishta, that Sabukta­gín, on first advancing towards India, had fought a previous skirmish, in which he was successful; and, after consenting to return to Ghazní, was to receive a tribute for his forbear­ance. No sooner, however, had the Mohammedans retired, than the Bráhmans advised that the treaty should not be ratified. Jaipál, on reaching Lahore, imprisoned the persons whom Sabuktagín had sent to receive the money; though the noblest Kshatrís, or Rájpúts, who also formed part of the council, remonstrated against so impolitic a proceeding. At this time, it was the custom for the Bráhmans to be seated on the right, and the Rájpúts on the left, of the throne. The former, who kept in subjection the minds of a superstitious people, could enforce their advice by appealing to popular prejudices; but the latter, with more wisdom, and with the natural manliness of their character, said, “The troops have not forgotten the terror of the enemy's arms; and Jaipál may rest assured that Sabuktagín will not brook such an insult, with­out a dreadful revenge.”* The issue soon proved the truth of the prediction; and Jaipál, by not listening to their advice, brought on fresh disasters, with the return of the Mohammedans.

The latter, we are told, were better mounted

equipment of
the Hindú

than the Hindús, who were unable to withstand their charge. The motley cavalry of feudal chieftains, brought together on emergency, could not well sustain the supe­rior weight of northern horses and their riders, when these had been long trained to the exer­cises of war, and taught to act in concert. The Rájpút vassals were an ill-equipped and worse-commanded body of national militia, who per­formed military service as the price of a feudal fief;* and, though sometimes called out in cases of internal warfare, were little prepared or inclined to face the standing army of a foreign invader.