K. S. Lal

Indian historian

Kishori Saran Lal (1920 – 2002) was an Indian historian. He wrote many historical books, mainly on medieval India. Many of his books, such as History of the Khaljis and Twilight of the Sultanate, are regarded as standard works.


History of the Khaljis (1950)Edit

  • I have tried my utmost to be judicious in my conclusions, and have neither explained an act or policy to the extent of excusing, nor have I uncritically dispraised or blamed.
    • Preface

Twilight of the Sultanate (1963)Edit

  • With the Muslim conquest the position of Indian women suffered a set-back.
    • Quoted from the review by Riazul Islam.

Studies in Medieval Indian History (1966)Edit

  • Ziyauddin's sarcasm is incisive. Occasionally his sardonic humour helps him to sum up his ideas in a few words. His remark that in Alauddin's days " a camel could be had for a dang," but wherefrom the dang?" - shows at once how the reforms of Alauddin had made articles cheap and people poor.
  • If the medieval chronicler cries out "Jihad" it is not heard, but if he cries out persistently, it is claimed that he never meant it.

Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India (1973)Edit

  • Any study of the population of the precensus times can be based only on estimates, and estimates by their very nature tend to be tentative.
    • Preface (p. vi).

Bias in Indian historiography (1980)Edit

Devahuti, D., & Indian History and Culture Society. (1980). Bias in Indian historiography. Delhi: D.K. Publications.

  • We assert that the N.C E.R.T. books have met their fate because of the studied bias and fantastic theories and interpretations of writers like Habib and his friends, and their communal approach in deliberately glossing over the misdeeds of one section of medieval Indian society and repeatedly hammering on the failings of the other.....
  • It is not surprising that for some communal historians suffering from extra-territorial chauvinism, the Persian wheel, the spinning wheel, the dome and the arch all came from lands outside India and the highly developed ancient Indian civilization was unaware of these....

The Mughal Harem (1988)Edit

  • The large establishment of wives and servants rendered the nobles immobile. No Indian scholars, engineers or travellers went abroad to learn the skills the Europeans were developing in their countries. While people from Europe were frequently coming to Hindustan, no Indian nobleman could go to the West because he could not live without his harem and he could not take with him his cumbersome harem to countries situated so far away. Europe at this time was forging ahead in science and technology through its Industrial Revolution, but the Mughal elites kept themselves insulated from this great stride because of inertia. Consequently, the country was pulled back from marching with progress, a deficiency which has not been able to be made up until now.
    • p.203.

Indian Muslims: Who Are They (1990)Edit

  • In short, while there can be no doubt about the presence of some Muslims in Sind, Gujarat and on the western coast of India, their number till the end of the tenth century was almost microscopic. In Hindustan proper, east of the river Indus, there were hardly any Musalmans in C.E. 1000.
  • Indigenous converts added to the numerical strength of foreign Muslims. How quickly their numbers swelled may be inferred from the fact that when, early in the fourteenth century, Malik Kafur marched into Maabar (Malabar), about 20,000 Musalmans who had settled in South India for long and were fighting on the side of the Hindus, deserted to the imperialists and were spared.
  • A year before the dawn of the fifteenth century, Timur had claimed to have invaded Hindustan to destroy its infidels and idolators.1 In the year 1400 India was predominantly Hindu; Muslims comprised less than 2 per cent of the population. ... Timur might have made his declaration merely as a champion of Islam, and yet he was not wrong in his assessment of the Hindu population of India.
  • About the percentage of Muslims in the total population no precise information can be obtained from the contemporary records. Babur’s statement that most of the inhabitants were Hindus, conveys only a general impression. Two facts are, however, certain. First, it is widely recognised that the majority of Muslims were converts from Hinduism. Secondly, the largest number of conversions took place under the Turks and Afghans who ruled between C. 1300 and 1556.
  • In April 1667, four revenue collectors (qanungos), who had been dismissed for various faults, were reinstated on their accepting the Muhammadan faith.39 Aurangzeb’s declared policy of “Qanungo basharte Islam” (Qanungoship on the condition of conversion to Islam) brought many converts and many Muslim families in Punjab still retain the letter of reinstatement on conversion or fresh appointment of Muslims in place of Hindu Qanungos who were retrenched because they would not convert.
  • The forcible conversion of Frontier Tribes by Aurangzeb is a well-known fact. “Popular Hindu and Sikh tradition ascribes mass conversions by force to Aurangzeb’s reign.”
  • So, all through the medieval period, Foreign and Indian Muslims strove hard to make India a Muslim country by converting and eliminating the Hindus. They killed and converted, and converted and killed by turns. In the earlier centuries of their presence here, the picture was sombre indeed. Turkish rule was established in northern India at the beginning of the thirteenth century. Within fifteen years of Muhammad Ghori’s occupation of Delhi, the Turks rapidly conquered most of the major cities of northern India. Their lightening success, as described by contemporary chroniclers, entailed great loss of life. Qutbuddin Aibak’s conquests during the life-time of his master and later on in the capacity of king (c.1200-1210) included Gwalior, parts of Bundelkhand, Ajmer, Ranthambhor, Anhilwara, as well a parts of U.P. and Malwa. In Nahrwala alone 50,000 persons were killed during Aibak’s campaign.8 No wonder, he earned the nickname of killer of lacs.9 Bakhtiyar Khalji marched through Bihar into Bengal and massacred people in both the regions. During his expedition to Gwalior Iltutmish (1210-36) massacred 700 persons besides those killed in the battle on both sides. His attacks on Malwa (Vidisha and Ujjain) were met with stiff resistance and were accompanied by great loss of life. He is also credited with killing 12,000 Khokhars (Gakkhars) during Aibak’s reign.10 The successors of Iltutmish (Raziyah, Bahram, etc.) too fought and killed zealously. During the reigns of Nasiruddin and Balban (1246-86) warfare for consolidation and expansion of Turkish dominions went on apace. Trailokyavarman, who ruled over Southern U.P., Bundelkhand and Baghelkhand, and is called “Dalaki va Malaki” by Persian chroniclers, was defeated after great slaughter (1248). In 1251, Gwalior, Chanderi, Narwar and Malwa were attacked. The Raja of Malwa alone had 5,000 cavalry and 200,000 infantry and would have been defeated only after great loss of life. The inhabitants of Kaithal were given such severe punishment (1254) that they ‘might not forget (the lesson) for the rest of their lives.’ In 1256 Ulugh Khan Balban carried on devastating warfare in Sirmur, and ‘so many of the rebellious Hindus were killed that numbers cannot be computed or described.’ Ranthambhor was attacked in 1259 and ‘many of its valiant fighting men were sent to hell.’ In the punitive expedition to Mewat (1260) ‘numberless Hindus perished under the merciless swords of the soldiers of Islam.’ In the same year 12,000 men, women and children were put to the sword in Hariyana.
  • In 1000 Muslim numbers in India were microscopic. In 1200 they were perhaps about three to four hundred thousand. By 1400 their number had risen probably to 3.2 million and they formed about 1.85 percent of the total population. In 1600 they were probably 15 million. And from the 1:9 to 1:10 Muslim-Hindu ratio in 1600 the proportion of Muslims to Hindus had gone up to about 1:7 by the year 1800...Thus at about the middle of the ninteenth century, the Muslim-Hindu ratio stood approximately at 1:6.... By the end of the nineteenth century, the ratio had changed to 1:5, and Stanely Lanepoole, whose Medieval India was first published in 1903, rightly observes: “The population of India in the present day is over three hundred millions, and every sixth man is a Muslim.”

The Legacy of Muslim Rule in India (1992)Edit

  • Had India been completely converted to Muhammadanism during the thousand years of Muslim conquest and rule, its people would have taken pride in the victories and achievements of Islam and even organised panIslamic movements and Islamic revolutions. Conversely, had India possessed the determination of countries like France and Spain to repulse the Muslims for good, its people would have forgotten about Islam and its rule.
  • Here the feudal nobility was a military aristocracy which incidentally owned land, rather than a landed aristocracy which occasionally had to defend Royal lands and property by military means but at other times lived quietly.
    • Chapter 1
  • Its history is soaked in blood of the supposed enemies of Islam. But all this is denied by Marxists who always try to cover up the black spots of Muslim rule with thick coats of whitewash.
    • Chapter 3
  • Abdul Qadir Badaoni is not an exception. This style of writing, born out of the ingrained prejudice against non-Muslims, is found in all medieval chronicles in various shades of intensity. They denounce non-Muslims. They write with jubilation about the destruction of their temples, massacre of men, raising towers of skulls and such other “achievements”. They also write about the enslavement of women and children, and the licentious life of their captors, their polygamy and concubinage. There is a saying that no man is condemned save by his own mouth. By painting their heroes as cruel and atrocious destroyers of infidelity, Muslim chroniclers themselves have brought odium on the kings and conquerors of their own race and religion, all the while thinking that they were bringing a good name to them.
    • Chapter 3
  • Now, it is a recognised fact that the contribution of European scholars in general and of British historians in particular to the study of Muslim literature and history is invaluable. ... Their painstaking diligence and honesty compel our admiration. ... Indian historians owe a lot to the pioneering researches of British historians, whatever may be said about their merits and shortcomings. .... There is no need to get ruffled about such assertions. Most of the conclusions of British historians about Muslim history do find confirmation in the description of cruelties perpetrated by the Muslims in their own chronicles as well as their reiteration in indigenous source materials in Hindi, Sanskrit, Rajasthani and Marathi. Hindu source materials are few. They are also not as informative as the Muslim chronicles. But curiously enough the meagre Hindu and the voluminous Muslim source-materials corroborate and supplement rather than contradict each other about the behaviour of the Muslim regime.
    • Chapter 3
  • At the close of the Khalji regime, Ghiyasuddin declared himself as a champion of the faith, because the Ulama had been dissatisfied with Alauddin’s policies and Ghiyasuddin with the activities of Nasiruddin Khusrau. “The slogan of ‘Islam in danger’ so common yet so effective in the history of the Muslims, was started.”39 And this to a great degree won Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq the throne.
    • Chapter 4
  • So that, in the Islamic state, Delhi was not the capital of the empire; it was Quwwat-ul-Islam. The king was not the ruler of the people; he was Amir-ul-Mauminin, “the conqueror of infidels and shelterer of Islam.” The army was not the royal army; it was Lashkar-i-Islam. The soldier was not a cavalry man or infantry man; he was Ahl-i-Jihad. The law of the state was not any secular or humanitarian law; it was Shariat, the law of Islam. The state was not an end in itself, like the Greek state, but a means of sub-serving the interests of Islam. Conquests were made, shrines were broken, captives were taken, converts were made - all in the name of Islam. The raison d’etre of the regime was to disseminate the Islamic faith.
    • Chapter 4
  • On the other hand, Hindu saints used to assuage the outraged feelings of Hindus and encourage them reconvert to Hinduism. For instance Harihar and Bukka, sons of the Raja of Kampil ,converted to Islam by Muhammad bin Tughlaq, fled his court. At the instance of sage Vidyaranya they reverted to Hinduism and founded the Vijayanagar kingdom to resist the expansion of Muslim power in the South. Like Vidyaranya, there were scores of Bhakta saints who were helping people to resist injustice and retain their original religion. In Maharashtra, Namdeva in the fourteenth century declared that people were blind in insisting upon worshipping in temples and mosques, while His worship needed neither temple nor mosque.69 Such courageous denunciations were infectious and these spread in Gujarat, Bengal, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Ramananda, Kabir, Nanak, Chaitanya, Raidas, Dhanna, Sain, Garibdas and Dadu Dayal and a host of others spoke out in the same idiom openly and repeatedly. They came from all classes of society - Raidas was a chamar, Sain was a barber while Pipa was a Raja, Raja of Gauranggarh - but they were all respected and listened to. Of these the three most important saints who turned Bhakti into a movement were Kabir, Nanak and Chaitanya.
    • Chapter 6
  • Muhammad Bihamad Khani, the author of Tarikh-i-Muhammadi, gives a clear idea of the keenness of the Muslim sultans and their subtle methods in obtaining converts. He writes that sultan Mahmud while fighting Rai Sumer in the vicinity of Irich “concluded that if he allowed his brave warriors to wage the war (outright), they would undoubtedly extirpate the infidels… but he deemed it fit to delay the operation (or advance slowly) in the hope that the infidels might accept Islam”.
    • Chapter 6, quoting Muhammad Bihamad Khani, Tarikh-i-Muhammadi, English trs. by Muhammad Zaki, pp. 57-58. [1]
  • The Girvan-Vanmanjari of Dhuniraj 119 written in 1702-04 during the reign of Aurangzeb, brings out this problem clearly. The book is written in the form of a catechism between two Brahmanas discussing the correct course of action to be adopted to put a stop to the injustices of Aurangzeb. One of them advocates protest and resistance. The other is of the view that such a course would still more exacerbate the tyranny of the King, but if they cooperated with the regime, they might obtain some relief and minimise the tribulations of the Hindus under the Mughal government. Centuries have rolled by, the country has been partitioned on religious lines, and yet the problem remains as a legacy of Muslim rule in India. How to live with the Muslims who cannot but discriminate between the faithful and the infidels? Through appeasement or confrontation? Not a happy legacy indeed.
    • Chapter 6
  • In short, the avalanche of Turco- Mughal invaders, and the policy of their Government turned many settled agriculturists into tribals of the jungles....For example, many Parihars and Parmars, once upon a time belonging to the proud Rajput castes, are now included in lower castes. So are the “Rajputs” counted in Backward Classes in South India. ... in course of time many of these Jats and Khokhars were pushed into belonging to low castes of to-day. For the later times is the example of the Satnamis. This sect was an offshoot of the Raidasis.....At last Aurangzeb crushed them by sending 10,000 troops (March, 1672) and facing a most obstinate battle in which two thousand Satnamis fell on the field and many more were slain during the pursuit. Those who escaped spread out into small units so that today there are about 15 million Satnami Harijans....
    • Chapter 7
  • In June 1576 Maharana Pratap of Chittor had to face Akbar’s armies in the famous battle of Haldighati. Rana Pratap fought with exemplary courage and of his soldiers only a little more than half could leave the field alive. In the darkness of the evening, the wounded Rana left the field on his favourite horse Chetak. A little later, in October, Akbar himself marched in person in pursuit of the Rana, but the latter remained untraced and unsubdued. Later on he recovered all Mewar except Mandalgarh and Chittor. His nearest associates, the Bhil and Lohia tribals, had taken a vow that until their motherland was not freed, they would not eat in metal plates, but only on leaves; they would not sleep on bedsteads, but only on the ground; and they would renounce all comforts. The bravest among them even left Chittor, to return to it only when Mewar had regained independence. That day was not destined to come in their life-time. It was not to come for decades, for generations, for centuries.
    • Chapter 7 citing Smith, Akbar the Great Mogul, p. 108; C.H.I., IV, pp. 115-16.
  • Throughout the Muslim rule destruction of Hindu shrines and construction of mosques and other building from their materials and at their very sites went on as a normal practice. From the Quwwal-ul-Islam mosque in Delhi built out of twenty-seven Hindu and Jain temples in the twelfth century to the Taj-ul-Masajid built from hundreds of Hindu and Jain temples at Bhopal in the eighteenth century, the story is the same everywhere.
    • Chapter 8
  • The exploits of Mahmud Ghaznavi in the field of forced proselytization were cherished for long. His example was presented as the model before all good Muslim rulers, as early as the fourteenth century by Ziyauddin Barani in his Fatawa-i-Jahandari and as late as the close of the eighteenth century by Muhammad Aslam in his Farhat-un-Nazirin. There were forcible conversion both during the war and in peace. Sikandar Butshikan in Kashmir to Tipu Sultan in Mysore, Mahmud Beghara in Gujarat to Jalaluddin Muhammad in Bengal, all Muslim rulers carried on large-scale forcible conversions through jihad.
    • Chapter 8
  • Hindus and Muslims can both be fanatics, but it is only Muslims (and Christians) who can be fundamentalists.
    • Chapter 8
  • Every riot is followed by an Inquiry Committee, but its report is never published. Take U.P. for instance. A report in the Times of India of 13.12.1990 from Lucknow says: “At least a dozen judicial inquiry reports into the genesis of communal riots in the state have never seen the light of the day. They have been buried in the secretariat-files over the past two decades. The failure of the successive state governments to publish these reports and initiate action has given credence to the belief that they are not serious about checking communal violence… There were other instances when the state government instituted an inquiry and then scuttled the commissions. In the 1982 and 1986 clashes in Meerut and in the 1986 riots in Allahabad, the judicial inquiries were ordered only as an ‘eye-wash’…” Judicial inquiries are ordered as an eye-wash because the perpetrators of riots are known but cannot be booked. In a secular state it is neither proper to name them nor political to punish them. Inquiry committee reports are left to gather dust, while those who should be punished are pampered and patronised as vote-banks in India’s democratic setup. Therefore communal riots in India as a legacy of Muslim rule may continue to persist. If these could help in partitioning the country, they could still help in achieving many other goals.
    • Chapter 8
  • Jaisi, Rahim, Raskhan and Dara Shukoh, though no conventional philosophers, are rare phenomenon. Recognized leading lights of Islamic philosophy like Shaikh Ahmad Sarhindi, Shah Waliullah and Shah Ismail Shahid, find no place in the histories of Indian philosophy.
    • Chapter 8
  • For example, Monstuart Elphinstone, a Governor of Bombay, suggested in his Minute dated 14 May 1859: “Divide et Impera was the old Roman motto, and it should be our”. Given the circumstances, it would have been foolish of any imperialist power not to follow such a policy. But for achieving this aim there was no need for them to distort Indian history. British historians had just to reiterate what the Muslim chroniclers themselves had written about the “glorious achievements” of their kings and conquerors. Their stories needed no proof: they stood confirmed by the hundreds of vandalised medieval monuments. The mistake lay with the misjudgement of our Congress-culture Government and the so-called secularist and Stalinist historians. They chose to treat history as a handmaid of politics to please the Muslim minority. They instructed their text-book writers to eschew mention of unpalatable historical facts like destruction of temples and forced conversions by Muslims in history, language and social science. But perpetration of lies has proved counter-productive. It has encouraged Muslims to ask for proof as to when Babur or Aurangzeb broke this or that temple, knowing full well that such shrines were actually vandalised and razed.
    • Chapter 8
  • Aurangzeb’s religious policy had created a division in the Indian society. Communal antagonisms resulted in communal riots at Banaras, Narnaul (1672) and Gujarat (1681) where Hindus, in retaliation, destroyed mosques. Temples were destroyed in Marwar after 1678 and in 1680-81, 235 temples were destroyed in Udaipur. Prince Bhim of Udaipur retaliated by attacking Ahmadnagar and demolishing many mosques, big and small, there. Similarly, there was opposition to destruction of temples in the Amber territory, which was friendly to the Mughals. Here religious fairs continued to be held and idols publicly worshipped even after the temples had been demolished.64 In the Deccan the same policy was pursued with the same reaction. In April 1694, the imperial censor had tried to prevent public idol worship in Jaisinghpura near Aurangabad. The Vairagi priests of the temple were arrested but were soon rescued by the Rajputs.65 Aurangzeb destroyed temples throughout the country. He destroyed the temples at Mayapur (Hardwar) and Ayodhya, but “all of them are thronged with worshippers, even those that are destroyed are still venerated by the Hindus and visited by the offering of alms.” Sometimes he was content with only closing down those temples that were built in the midst of entirely Hindu population, and his officers allowed the Hindus to take back their temples on payment of large sums of money. “In the South, where he spent the last twenty-seven years of his reign, Aurangzeb was usually content with leaving many Hindu temples standing… in the Deccan where the suppression of rebellion was not an easy matter… But the discontent occasioned by his orders could not be thus brought to an end.” Hindu resistance to such vandalism year after year and decade after decade throughout the length and breadth of the country can rather be imagined than described.
    • Chapter 6
  • A Hindu can not be a fundamentalist because there is nothing fundamental or obligatory in his socio-religious life, but he can be fanatic, a greater fanatic than all....

Muslim Slave System in Medieval India (1994)Edit

  • Many women from Hindu rulers’ families were forcibly married by Muslim kings throughout the medieval period and yet only Shams Siraj Afif narrates in detail of the marriage of Firoz Shah’s mother to Malik Rajjab, a cousin of the king, and emperor Jahangir tells how he demanded daughters of Hindu kings.
    • Chapter 12
  • In this background, it would be an unremitting task both in volume and repetition to give all anecdotes, facts and figures of enslavement and concubinage of captive women in the central and provincial kingdoms and independent Muslim states found mentioned in the chronicles. This would only lead to repetition resulting in the book becoming bulky.
    • Chapter 12
  • From the day India became a target of Muslim invaders its people began to be enslaved in droves to be sold in foreign lands or employed in various capacities on menial and not-so-menial jobs within the country. To understand this phenomenon it is necessary to go into the origins and development of the Islamic system of slavery. For, wherever the Muslims went, mostly as conquerors but also as traders, there developed a system of slavery peculiar to the clime, terrain and populace of the place.
    • K.S.Lai, The Muslim Slave System in Medieval India, Aditya Prakasha, New Delhi, 1994. Quoted in Easy Meat, Inside Britain’s Grooming Gang Scandal by Peter McLoughlin.
  • The special interest of Muslims in sex slavery was universal and widespread.
    • K.S.Lai, The Muslim Slave System in Medieval India, Aditya Prakasha, New Delhi, 1994. [2] Quoted in Easy Meat, Inside Britain’s Grooming Gang Scandal by Peter McLoughlin.
  • The Hindus who naturally resisted Muslim occupation were considered to be rebels. Besides they were idolaters (mushrik) and could not be accorded the status of Kafirs, of the People of the Book-Christians and Jews.... Muslim scriptures and treatises advocated jihad against idolaters for whom the law advocated only Islam or death.... The fact was that the Muslim regime was giving [them] a choice between Islam and death only. Those who were killed in battle were dead and gone; but their dependents were made slaves. They ceased to be Hindus; they were made Musalmans in course of time if not immediately after captivity ... slave taking in India was the most flourishing and successful [Muslim] missionary activity.... Every Sultan, as [a] champion of Islam, considered it a political necessity to plant or raise [the] Muslim population all over India for the Islamization of the country and countering native resistance.
    • also quoted in Bostom, A. G. M. D., & Bostom, A. G. (2010). The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims. Amherst: Prometheus.

Theory and Practice of Muslim State in India (1999)Edit

  • In the preliminary pages, the list of books "by the same author" shows that during the past fifty years I have written a dozen books on medieval Indian history beginning from 1950 onwards. As usual these have been reviewed in journals in India and abroad, bestowing both praise and blame as per the custom of the reviewers. However, during the last fifteen years or so, some of my books have received special attention of a certain brand of scholars for adverse criticism. Although this gives me publicity and raises demand for my books because such reviews arouse curiosity of readers, it also provides me with an opportunity to defend myself from my detractors determined to denigrate my work. It is not customary to answer the reviewers - they have their right of judgement - but when a systematic smear campaign is launched criticising everything that I say, without a single word of appreciation for anything, a rebuttal is called for, more so when a connection and not mere coincidence is discernible between the uncharitable review of one of my books in a British journal and some other harsh reviews by a group of Aligarh historians in Indian historical journals.
  • Like proselytization, desecrating and demolishing the temples of non-Muslims is also central to Islam.... India too suffered terribly as thousands of Hindu temples and sacred edifices disappeared in northern India by the time of Sikandar Lodi and Babur. Will Durant rightly laments in the Story of Civilization that "We can never know from looking at India today, what grandeur and beauty it once possessed". In Delhi, after the demolition of twenty-seven Hindu and Jain temples, the materials of which were utilized to construct the Quwwat-ul-Islam masjid, it was after 700 years that the Birla Mandir could be constructed in 1930s. Sita Ram Goel has brought out two excellent volumes on Hindu Temples: What happened to them. These informative volumes give a list of Hindu shrines and their history of destruction in the medieval period on the basis of Muslim evidence itself. This of course does not cover all the shrines razed. Muslims broke temples recklessly. Those held in special veneration by Hindus like the ones at Somnath, Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura, were special targets of Muslims, and whenever the Hindus could manage to rebuild their shrines at these places, they were again destroyed by Muslim rulers. From the time of Mahmud of Ghazni who destroyed the temples at Somnath and Mathura to Babur who struck at Ayodhya to Aurangzeb who razed the temples at Kashi Mathura and Somnath, the story is repeated again and again.
  • The scale and effectiveness of conversions by force are clearly detailed in al-Kufi's Chachnama (for Muhammad Qasim in Sindh), Utbi's Tarikh-i-Yamini (for Mahmud of Ghazni) Hasan Nizami's Taj-ul-Maasir (for Muhammad Ghauri, Qutbuddin Aibak etc.) and Minhaj Siraj's. Tabqat-i-Nasiri (for the early years of the Sultanate period). All Muslim chronicles from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century write with pride about forcible conversions by rulers and nobles.
  • In my computation, however, sufficient historical evidence has been set forth for any demographic behaviour and on that basis I have arrived at the conclusion that the population of India in A.D. 1000 was about 200 million and in the year 1500 it was 170 million.... The loss of Indian population during Mahmud of Ghaznavi's invasions was about 2 million as studied in some detail in Appendix A of the Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India.
    • Chapter 7
  • The Raja of Malwa had 5,000 cavalry and 200,000 infantry and would have been defeated only after great slaughter. The inhabitants of Kaithal were given such severe punishment (1254) that "they might not forget the lesson for the rest of their lives". In 1256 Ulugh Khan Balban carried on devastating warfare in Saimur, and "so many of the rebellious Hindus were killed that numbers cannot be computed or described". Ranthambhor was attacked in 1259 and many of its valiant fighting men were killed. In the punitive expedition to Mewat (1260) "numberless Hindus perished. In the same year 12,000 men, women and children were put to the sword in Hariyana." When Balban became the sultan "large sections of the male population were massacred in Katehar and, according to Barani, in villages and jungles heaps of human corpses were left rotting". During the expedition to Bengal, "on either side of the principal bazar (of Lakhnauti), in a street two miles in length, a row of stakes was set up and the adherents of Tughril were impaled upon them"..... During campaigns and wars, the disorganized flight of the panic-stricken people must have killed large numbers through exposure, starvation and epidemic. Nor should the ravages of famines on populations be ignored. Drought, pestilence, and famines in the medieval times find repeated mention in contemporary chronicles.
    • Chapter 7
  • But, I remember, we students used to discuss among ourselves that there was lot of 'white washing' and 'polishing' and suppressio veri in what we were taught in the class room. .... I became convinced that until this "gagging of others" was not challenged, their brand of history would go unchecked. Since then I have challenged them in my books.... And since I do no believe that "Muslim rule should not attract any criticism. Destruction of temples by Muslim invaders and rulers should not be mentioned and forcible conversions to Islam should be ignored and deleted, etc. etc.", my books are free from such restrictions. I now also apply the same yardstick to medieval Indian history as is done with respect to modem Indian history. If British imperialism was bad for the Indian people so also was Muslim imperialism. Both these sought sustenance from cooperation of indigenous elements but neither of them became indigenous in nature. We in India write the history of British rule not from the point of view of European imperialism but from that of the victims of colonization. I apply the same methodology to the history of Muslim rule. I write about it from the people's point of view rather than from the view of Islamic imperialists. We cannot apply different standards of approach and methodology to different periods of Indian history.
    • Chapter 7
  • The growing awareness that Muslim religion and Muslim rule were impositions and that Indians belonged to a different religious and political tradition, has not escaped Hindu consciousness of medieval history. It does not accept the Ilbaris, the Khaljis, the Tughlaqs, the Bahmanis, the Sharqis, the Lodis and the Mughals as indigenous dynasties on par with the Mauryas, the Guptas, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Sangamas, the Marathas, the Sikhs, and the Jats. Its heroes are Prithviraj Chauhan, Vikram Pandya of Madura, Harihar and Bukka and Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar, Maharanas Kumbha, Sanga and Pratap, Maharajas Shivaji and Ranjit Singh and not Muhammad Ghauri, Alauddin Khalji, Sikandar Lodi or even Shahjahan.
    • Chapter 1
  • Akbar abolished Jiziyah in 1564. In all probability many of his 'devout' officers in far off regions, did not care to enforce this anti-Islamic measure. Therefore, ten years later he once again issued orders for its abolition. Badaoni tells us that it was customary "to search out and kill heretics" (Shias), let alone non-Muslims as late as 1574. Hemu's father, when captured, was offered his life if he turned Muslim. Abdun Nabi executed a Brahman for blasphemy on the complaint of a Qazi. Husain Khan, the governor of Lahore (died 983H/ 1575-76) ordered Hindus to stick patches on their shoulders so that no Muslim could be put to the indignity of showing them honour by mistake, nor did he allow Hindus to saddle their horses. Jihad was practised as usual, massacre at Chittor was done in true Jihadist spirit. "The Akbar Nama, the Ain-i-Akbari and Badaoni are all agreed that prior to 1593, some Hindus had been converted to Islam forcibly." In 1581 some Portuguese captives at Surat were offered their lives if they turned Muslim. Even iconoclastic zeal did not disappear under Akbar. Kangra was invaded in 1572-73, and even though Birbal was in joint command, the umbrella of the Goddess was riddled with arrows, 200 cows were killed and Muslim soldiers threw their shoes full of blood at the walls and doors of the temple. A Mughal officer, Bayazid, converted a Hindu temple into a Muslim school. Jain idols in Gujarat could not escape vandalism. "Such seem to have been and continued to be the popular prejudices against the Hindus", under Akbar and his successors as per the obligations of the Shariat and practice of Sunnah, writes S.R. Sharma.
    • ch. 2
  • The chroniclers of the early Turkish rulers of India take pride in affirming that Qutbuddin Aibak was a killer of lakhs of infidels. Leave aside enthusiastic killers like Alauddin Khalji and Muhammad bin Tughlaq, even the "kind-hearted" Firoz Tughlaq killed more than a lakh Bengalis when he invaded their country. Timur Lang or Tamerlane says he killed a hundred thousand infidel prisoners of war in Delhi. He built victory pillars from severed heads at many places. These were acts of sultans. The nobles were not lagging behind. One Shaikh Daud Kambu is said to have killed 20,000 with his dagger. The Bahmani sultans of Gulbarga and Bidar considered it meritorious to kill a hundred thousand Hindu men, women and children every year. .... The rite of Jauhar killed the women, the tradition of not deserting the field of battle made Rajputs and others die fighting in large numbers. When Malwa was attacked (1305), its Raja is said to have possessed 40,000 horse and 100,000 foot.43 After the battle, "so far as human eye could see, the ground was muddy with blood". ...Under Muhammad Tughlaq, wars and rebellions knew no end. His expeditions to Bengal, Sindh and the Deccan, as well as ruthless suppression of twenty-two rebellions, meant only depopulation in the thirteenth and first half of the fourteenth century. For one thing, in spite of constant efforts no addition of territory could be made by Turkish rulers from 1210 to 1296; for another the Turkish rulers were more ruthless in war and less merciful in peace. Hence the extirpating massacres of Balban, and the repeated attacks by others on regions already devastated but not completely subdued..... Mulla Daud of Bidar vividly describes the war between Muhammad Shah Bahmani and the Vijayanagar King in 1366 in which "Farishtah computes the victims on the Hindu side alone as numbering no less than half a million." Muhammad also devastated the Karnatak region with vengeance..... Under Akbar and Jahangir "five or six hundred thousand human beings were killed," says emperor Jahangir. The figures given by these killers and their chroniclers may be a few thousand less or a few thousand more, but what bred this ambition of cutting down human beings without compunction was the Muslim theory, practice and spirit of Jihad, as spelled out in Muslim scriptures and rules of administration.
    • Ch 3
  • I knew Muhammad Mujeeb personally. He was Head of the Department of History and Shaikh-ul-Jamia... In 1972, however, there was a mild 'confrontation' between him and me. Sometime that year there was a Selection Committee meeting for the post of Professor of History in Delhi University. I was then a Reader and candidate for the post of Professor. Mujeeb was an 'expert'... Mujeeb asked me a question: "Why did the Hindu convert to Islam?" It was a loaded question carrying the suggestion that the initiative for conversion came from the Hindu. In all probability Mujeeb expected me to say that the Hindus suffered from the injustices of the caste system, that Islam was spiritually so great and its message of social equality so attractive that the Hindus queued up for conversion the moment they came in contact with Islamic invaders. A tactful candidate (not a truthful one) would have said what Mujeeb desired, but my answer was different. I said that Hindus did not (voluntarily) convert to Islam; they were converted, often forcibly, as told by Muslim chroniclers. Muslim invaders and rulers felt proud of their achievements in the fields of loot and destruction, enslavement and proselytization. Their chroniclers, writing at their command or independently, speak about their achievements in these spheres in glowing terms. They repeatedly write about the choice offered to the Hindus - "Islam or death". Mujeeb expected a different answer. I was not selected.
    • Chapter 6
  • In the reign of Akbar, a mosque was built in 975 H/1567-68 CE at Jaunpur. It merits mention because the details of the undertaking show how the owner was dispossessed of his property and how the officer completing the task was rewarded. The mosque was built by Nawab Mohsin Khan. The materials for the mosque were "taken from those of the temple of Lachman Das, Diwan of Khan-i-Zaman Ali Quli Khan... Akbar made over all the property of the Diwan to Nawab Mohsin Khan," for "thanks that by guidance of the Everlasting and Living (Allah), this house of infidelity became the niche of prayer (i.e. Mosque). As a reward for that the generous Lord, constructed an abode for its builder in paradise."148 Akbar took great interest in conserving, repairing and adding to the Dargah of Muinuddin Chishti at Ajmer which is also built on a Dev temple.
    • Chapter 3
  • According to Mulla Ahmad, "the main object of levying of Jiziyah on them (the Hindus) is their humiliation... God established (the custom of realising) Jiziyah for their dishonour. The object is their humiliation and the (establishment of) prestige and dignity of the Muslims."6
    • Chapter 4
  • Sri Ram Sharma reproduces Aurangzeb's order about the imposition and collection of Jiziyah dated 26th July, 1696. It says that "Jiziyah lapses on death and on acceptance of Islam". During the course of the year some people used to die and some used to convert, but the amount of Jiziyah for the place remained unaltered. In view of this the first type of payment was disadvantageous to Hindus. The last paragraph of the order reads: "The nonMuslim should himself bring the Jiziyah; if he sends it through his deputy it should not be accepted. At the time of payment the non-Muslim should keep standing, while the chief should keep sitting. The hand of the non-Muslim should be below and that of the chief above it and he should say. 'Make payment of Jiziyah, O! non-Muslim' and should not say, 'O! infidel'." Aurangzeb thus imposed it in the true spirit and letter of the tax.
    • Chapter 4
  • In medieval India Muslim ruling classes drank freely, at the same time punishing poor helpless Muslims for the "crime". For example, while Alauddin Khalji had prohibited wine-drinking, his own son Qutbuddin Mubarak drank hard and so drank his nobles. All Mughal emperors from Babur to Shahjahan drank hard, Jahangir drank the hardest. But since wine is prohibited in Islam, it was a matter of routine for rulers to put a stop to drinking by common people. Even orthodox sultans like Firoz Tughlaq and Sikandar Lodi drank secretly "to keep in good health". Most of the Mughal nobles drank openly and "all princes drank in secret."
  • Should it be a matter of criticism if I deplore "government-sponsored attempts to rewrite Indian history in the interest of minorityism by suppressing unpalatable truths about the character of Muslim rule"? I have quoted from government circulars addressed to authors of school and college textbooks. Here some instructions/suggestions are reproduced. These appear on p. 70 of the Legacy. "Muslim rule should not attract any criticism... Destruction of temples by Muslim invaders and rulers should not be mentioned... Ignore and delete mention of forcible conversions to Islam" etc., etc. Curiously enough the instructions themselves admit of destruction of temples and forcible conversions. Why are there no instructions about writing the history of the ancient (Hindu) period or the British period? Does it mean that the record of Muslim rule in India alone is unmentionable? Or, does it mean that only the destruction of temples by Muslim rulers and invaders should not be mentioned (for the appeasement of one minority), while destruction by Portuguese invaders and rulers should be freely mentioned? Evils of Hindu society may be discussed but the evils of Muslim society should not. Warren Hastings, Wellesley and Dalhousie may be impeached relentlessly but no Muslim governor or ruler. These are double angles of approach, double standards of judgement recommended for writing Indian history. But this is actually being done by historians engaged by the establishment for writing school and college textbooks.
    • Chapter 7, A Riposte on Reviews

Historical essays (2001)Edit

  • To people at large, life inside the harem was a mystery.
  • Study of history has a value at all times. But it is of the utmost importance today when the world is shrinking and we are coming closer to one another. We can be nearer to one another better if we understand one another well. (Meaning and Purpose of History in Volume I)
  • Bias or prejudice born out of chauvinism and imaginary interests of national glorification is not only undesirable, it is indeed dangerous. It is harmful not only to the cause of historical truth... (Meaning and Purpose of History in Volume I)

Return to Roots (2002)Edit

  • In brief, the onus of protecting Hindus against Muslim and Christian proselytization falls on Hindu social and cultural organizations.
    • p. 105

About K.S. LalEdit

  • Dr. K.S.Lal belongs to the the galaxy of serious Indian scholars who have interpreted a number of sensitive problems of medieval Indian history and attempted to place the whole period covering about one thousand years on a rational footing in the overall context of global history.... In contrast to a large number of his companions, he does not adhere to any rigid school of historiography whether it be "pro-Muslim" or "apologist", "Marxist" or "manipulated". ... The literary flavour found in the writings of Dr. Lal recalls to the mind the style of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by the celebrated historian Gibbon.
    • V.P. Gupta, Introduction, Historical essays by K.S. Lal (2001)
  • Professor Lal was already a veteran whose major book, History of the Khaljis, was compulsory reading for students of medieval Indian history from the undergraduate class onwards. I still find it very useful when I teach any course on the Delhi sultanate. ... Historiographically the book fell entirely and conspicuously in the genre of nationalist historiography whose hallmark was its challenge· to the portrayal of medieval Indian history as a story of unrelenting conflict between the medieval Muslim rulers and their Hindu subjects. History of the Khaljis is one of the best works in this genre: empirically sound, objective in its assessment of events and persons, non-judgemental in its evaluation of the motives of rulers or their opponents. The remarkable quality gave the book a long life in the discipline, even when newer problematiques of socio-economic history began to displace the ones of dynastic history that had remained the preoccupation of the earlier generation.

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