Prithviraj III famously known as Prithviraj Chauhan or Rai Pithora was one of the greatest Rajput rulers who ever lived. He is the famous ruler of the Chauhan dynasty who ruled the Sapada Baksha which is a traditional Chahamana territory. He controlled the present-day Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, and some parts of Punjab. Even though he had kept Ajmer as his capital, many folk legends describe him as the king of India’s political center Delhi.
Prithviraj Chauhan fell in love with a woman named Sanyukta, she was the daughter of the king of Kannauj whose name was Raja Jaichand. The king of kannauj didn't like this and he didn't want Prithviraj to marry his daughter so he arranged a 'swayamvara' for her. He invited all the princes except Prithviraj. He didn't invite him to insult Prithviraj but Sanyukta rejected all other princes and later fled with Prithviraj to Delhi, where they married later.
Prithviraj Chauhan Against the Muslim Ghurid Dynasty
Prithviraj Chauhan is widely known as a warrior king who bravely resisted the Muslim ruler, Muhammad of Ghor, the ruler of the Muslim Ghurid dynasty with all his might. In 1192 CE, Prithviraj was defeated by Ghurids at the second battle of Tarain and later he was executed after his defeat. His defeat at the second battle of Tarain is considered to be a landmark event in the Islamic conquest of India.
Prithviraj Chauhan Full Name: Prithviraja III
Prithviraj Chauhan was also known as: Rai Pithora
Father's Name: Someshvara
Important Battles: Battles of Tarain
Prithviraj Chauhan Birth
According to the famous eulogistic Sanskrit poem, Prithviraj Chauhan was born on the twelfth day of Jyeshtha, which is the second month in the Hindu Calendar which corresponds to May -June of the Gregorian calendar. Prithviraj Chauhan’s father’s name was Someshvara who was the king of Chahamana and his mother was queen Karpuradevi, a Kalachuri princess. ‘Prithviraj Vijaya’, is a Sanskrit epic poem on the life of Prithviraj Chauhan and it does not talk about the exact year of his birth but it does talk about the certain planetary positions at the time of Prithviraj’s birth. The description of the described planetary position helped Indian Indologist, Dasharatha Sharma to estimate the year of Prithviraj Chauhan’s birth which is believed to be 1166 CE.
Prithviraj Chauhan Early Life and Qualifications
Prithviraj Chauhan and his younger brother were both brought up in Gujarat, where his father Someshvara was brought up by his maternal relatives. Prithviraj Chauhan was educated well. It states that he had mastered six languages. Prithviraj Raso went on and claimed that Prithviraj had learned 14 languages which seems to be an exaggeration. Prithviraj Raso also has claimed that he had mastered many subjects such as mathematics, Medicine, History, military, defense, painting, theology, and philosophy too. The text also claims that Prithviraj Chauhan was also good at archery. Both the text also claims that Prithviraj from a younger age had an interest in warfare and hence was able to learn the difficult military skills quickly.
Prithviraj Chauhan Coming to Power
After the death of Prithviraj II, Someshvara the father of Prithviraj Chauhan was crowned as the king of Chahamana and Prithviraj was only 11 years old when the entire incident happened. In the year 1177 CE, Someshvara passed away which led 11 years old Prithviraj Chauhan to ascend the throne in the same year with his mother as the regent. At the early age of his rule as the king, Prithviraj Chauhan’s mother managed the administration which was assisted by the regency council.
Early Reign of Prithviraj Chauhan and his Important Ministers
During his early years as the young king, Prithviraj was assisted by a couple of loyal ministers who assisted him in running the kingdom.
The chief minister during this period was Kadambavasa who was also known as Kaimasa or Kailash. In the folk legends, He was described as an able minister and a soldier who devoted his life to the young king’s progress. Prithviraj Vijaya also states that Kadambavasa was responsible for all the military victories during the early years of Prithviraj’s reign. According to Prithviraja-Prabandha a man by the name Pratapa-Simha conspired against the minister and fully convinced Prithviraj Chauhan to believe that the minister was responsible for the repeated Muslim invasions that took place on his kingdom. This caused Prithviraj Chauhan to execute the minister later on.
Another important minister who is mentioned in the ‘Prithviraja Vijaya’ is Bhuvanaikamalla who was the paternal uncle of Prithviraj's mother. According to the poem, he was a very capable general who served Prithviraj Chauhan. The ancient text also states that Bhuvanaikamalla was also a very good painter.
Prithviraj Chauhan assumed the actual control of the administration in the year 1180 CE.
Prithviraj Chauhan’s Conflict with Nagarjuna
Prithviraj Chauhan took complete control in the year 1180 CE and soon he was challenged by many Hindu rulers who tried to capture the Chahamana dynasty. The first military achievement of Prithviraj Chauhan was on his cousin Nagarjuna. Nagarjuna was the son of Prithviraj Chauhan’s uncle Vigraharaja IV who revolted against the coronation of him on the throne. Prithviraj Chauhan showed his military supremacy by retaking Gudapura which Nagarjuna had captured. It was among the earliest military achievements of Prithviraj.
Prithviraj Chauhan’s Conflict with Bhadanakas
After completely defeating his cousin, Prithviraj then went on and then captured the neighboring kingdom of the Bhadanakas in the year of 1182 CE. The Bhadanakas was an unknown dynasty that controlled the area around Bayana. Bhadanakas always was a threat to the Chahamana dynasty for capturing the area around Delhi which was under the Chahamana dynasty. Seeing the rise of the future threat Prithviraj Chauhan decided to destroy the Bhadanakas completely.
Prithviraj Chauhan’s Conflict with Chandelas
Between the years of 1182-83 CE, The Madanpur inscriptions from Prithviraj's reign claimed that he had defeated the Jejakabhukti which was ruled by Chandela king Paramardi. After the Chandala king was defeated by the Prithviraj, it caused many rulers to form a hate relationship with him as a result of which an alliance was formed between Chandelas and Gahadavalas. The combined Chandelas-Gahadavalas army had attacked the Prithviraj’s camp but was soon defeated. The alliance was broken and both the kings were executed a few days after the war. The Kharatara-Gachchha-Pattavali has mentioned that a peace treaty was signed in the year 1187 CE between Prithviraj Chauhan and Bhima II who was the king of Gujarat. A peace treaty was signed to end the war that both the kingdoms had with each other in the past.
Prithviraj Chauhan’s Conflict with Gahadavalas
According to the legends of Prithviraja Vijaya, Prithviraj Chauhan also came into conflict with the most powerful king of the Gahadavala kingdom, Jayachandra. Prithviraj Chauhan had run away with the daughter of Jayachandra, Samyogita which led to a rivalry between the two kings. The incident has been mentioned in popular legends such as Prithviraja Vijaya, Ain-i-Akbari, and Surjana-Charita but many historians believe that the legends may be false.
Reign Of Prithviraj
Prithviraj's father died in a battle in 1179 CE after which Prithviraj became the king. He ruled both Ajmer and Delhi and once he became the king, he initiated various operations to expand his kingdom. He first started capturing the small States of Rajasthan and did successfully conquer each of those. After that, he attacked the Chandelas of Khajuraho and Mahoba and defeated them. He launched a campaign on the Chalukyas of Gujarat in 1182 CE which resulted in a war that went on for years. He was finally defeated by Bhima 11 in 1187 CE. Prithviraj also attacked the Gahadavalas of kannauj. He didn't indulge himself politically with other neighboring states and isolated himself even though he was successful in expanding his kingdom.
Prithviraj Chauhan fought many battles in his life and was a very famous ruler of his time but there are some battles that are very famous. In the 12th century, the Muslim dynasties had done many raids on the northwestern areas of the subcontinent due to which, they were able to capture most of that part. One such dynasty was the Ghurid dynasty, whose ruler Muhammad of Ghor crossed the Indus river to capture Multan which was an earlier part of the Chahamana kingdom. Ghor controlled the western territories which were part of Prithviraj's kingdom.
Muhammad Ghor now wanted to expand his kingdom to the east which was controlled by Prithviraj Chauhan. This led to many battles between the two. These two, i.e, Prithviraj and Muhammad of Ghor are said to have fought many battles, but shreds of evidence are for only two of those. Which were known as the battles of Tarain.
The First Battle Of Tarain
This battle, the first battle of Tarain, began in the year 1190 CE. Before this battle started Muhammad Ghor had captured Tabarhinda which was a part of Chahamana. The news reached the ears of Prithviraj and he was very furious. He launched a campaign towards that place. Ghor after capturing Tabarhindah had decided that he would go back to his base but when he heard about Prithviraj's attack, he decided to hold his army and put up a fight. The two armies clashed and there were many casualties. Prithviraj's army defeated the army of Ghor, which resulted in Ghor being injured but he somehow escaped.
The Second Battle Of Tarain
Once, Prithviraj defeated Muhammad Ghor, in the first battle of Tarain, he had no intentions of fighting him again as with time, the first battle was merely a frontier fight for him. He underestimated Muhammad Muhammad Ghor and never thought that he would have to fight him again. It is said that Muhammad Ghor attacked Prithviraj at night and he was able to deceive his army. Prithviraj didn't have many Hindu allies but despite his army being weak, he put up a good fight. He was finally defeated by Ghor in the second battle of Tarain and Muhammad Ghor was able to capture Chahamana.
This is important to note that it is not clear when actually he died and how. Many medieval sources suggest that Prithviraj was taken to Ajmer by Muhammad of Ghor where he was kept as a Ghurid vassal. After sometimes Prithviraj Chauhan rebelled against Muhammad of Ghor and was later killed for treason. This theory is supported by the 'horse-and-bullman'-style coins which have the name of Prithviraj on one side and the "Muhammad bin Sam" name on another. The exact reason for the death of Prithviraj Chauhan varies from one source to another.
A Muslim historian, Hasan Nizami states that Prithviraj Chauhan was caught conspiring against Muhammad of Ghor which allowed the king to behead him. The historian has not described the exact nature of the conspiracy.
According to Prithviraja-Prabandha, Prithviraj Chauhan has kept the building which was close to the court and was close to the room of Muhammad of Ghor. Prithviraj Chauhan was planning to kill Muhammad and had asked his minister Pratapasimha to provide him with a bow and arrows. Minister did fulfill his wish and provided the weapons to him but also informed Muhammad about the secret plan which Prithviraj had been plotting to kill him. Prithviraj Chauhan was then later taken captive and was thrown into a pit where he was stoned to death.
According to Hammira Mahakavya, Prithviraj Chauhan after his defeat had refused to eat which ultimately led to his death. Various other sources state that Prithviraj Chauhan was killed immediately after his death. According to Prithviraj Raso, Prithviraj was taken to Ghazna and was blinded and later on killed in the prison. According to ‘Viruddha-Vidhi Vidhvansa,’ Prithviraj Chauhan was killed immediately after the battle.
R. B. Singh and historians state that at its peak Prithviraj Chauhan’s empire extended from the foothills of Himalayan in the North till Mount Abu in the South. His empire extended from the Betwa River to the Sutlej river when we consider East to West. If we include the present day, the empire of Prithviraj Chauhan had Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Punjab. Prithviraj Chauhan is largely portrayed as the greatest Hindu king as he was successful in keeping the Mulsim invaders at the bay for many years. Prithviraj Chauhan was the symbol of Indian power before the beginning of the Islamic rulers in medieval India.