Prithviraja III famously known as Prithviraj Chauhan or Rai Pithora was one of the greatest Rajput rulers ever lived. He is the famous ruler of the Chauhan dynasty who ruled the Sapadalaksha which is a traditional Chahamana territory. He controlled the present-day Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, and some parts of Punjab. He had kept Ajmer as his capital but many folk legends describe him as the king of India’s political centre Delhi.
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
Prithviraj Chauhan birth date: 1166 CE
Prithviraj Chauhan death date: 1192 CE
Prithviraj Chauhan age at the time of death: 43
Prithviraj Chauhan History
Prithviraj Chauhan Early Life
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.‘Prithviraja 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 and his younger brother were both brought up in Gujarat, where his father Someshvara was brought up by his maternal relatives.
According to ‘Prithviraja Vijaya,’ 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, defence, 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.
Early Reign of Prithviraj Chauhan
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.
During the 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. Prithviraja 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 Empire and his Conflicts with Other Rulers
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 to the throne. Prithviraj Chauhan showed his military supremacy by retaking Gudapura which Nagarjuna had captured. It was among the earliest military achievements of Prithviraj. After completely defeating his cousin, Prithviraj then went on and then captured the neighbouring kingdom of the Bhadanakas in the year of 1182 CE.
The Bhadanakas was an unknown dynasty that controlled the area around Bayana. Bhadanakas always were 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. Between the years of 1182-83 CE, The Madanpur inscriptions from the 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 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.
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.
The Battles of Tarain
There were multiple raids done by the Muslim dynasties on Prithviraj Chauhan’s predecessors and as a result of that, they had captured the north-western areas of the Indian subcontinent by the 12th century. In 1175 CE the Ghazna based Ghurid dynasty controlled the territory to the west of the Chahamana kingdom. The Ghurid ruler Muhammad of Ghor has crossed the Indus river and captured Multan which belonged to the Chahamana kingdom.
Muhammed Ghor had control over the territory of the west which used to belong to Prithviraj Chauhan and now Ghor wanted to expand his empire towards the east which led to a direct conflict between him and Prithviraj Chauhan. Though many legends claim that Muhammad of Ghor and Prithviraj Chauhan had fought many battles, historians have claimed that at least two battles were fought between the two rulers.
The First Battle of Tarain:
The year 1190 Ce had marked the beginning of the first battle of Tarain. Between the years of 1190 CE-1191 CE, Muhammad of Ghor had captured Tabarhindah which belonged to the Chahamana dynasty. Upon hearing this news, Prithviraj Chauhan marched towards Tabarhindah. Muhammad of Ghor’s initial plan was to return to his base after capturing Tabarhindah, but after hearing that Prithviraj Chauhan had marched he decided to put up a fight. Both the armies met at a place called Tarain and this battle is called the first battle of Tarain in which Prithviraj Chauhan’s army was successful in defeating the Ghurids. Muhammad of Ghor was injured and was able to escape during this battle.
The Second Battle of Tarain:
Prithviraj Chauhan was able to defeat Muhammad of Ghor in the first battle of Tarain but as time passed he treated the first battle as merely a frontier fight. He had made no preparations for fighting Muhammad of Ghor because he had underestimated his opponent. According to the legends of Prithviraj Raso, before his final confrontation with the Ghurids, Prithviraj Chauhan had neglected all the affairs of the state and spent his full time capturing small territories around his kingdom. Prithviraj Chauhan had conflicts with most of the Hindu rulers which resulted in most of his Rajput allies abandoning his and during the same time, Muhammad of Ghor returned to avenge his defeat of the first battle of Tarain.
Despite not having any Rajput allies, Prithviraj Chauhan was able to put on a good fight as he had an impressive army. The exact history of how Prithviraj was defeated during the second battle of Tarain is unknown but according to many sources, it is believed that Prithviraj Chauhan’s camp was attacked at night after Muhammad of Ghor had managed to deceive Prithviraj’s army. This allowed Muhammad of Ghor to defeat Prithviraj forces and capture the capital of Chahamanas, Ajmer.
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 "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 fulfil 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 the Indian power before the beginning of the Islamic rulers in medieval India.