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Ghaznevid - AD 999-1183

The Dynasty of Ghaznevids followed Samanides, A. D. 999-1183 -184 years, in its duration. This Dynasty was one of power, and, in its day, had very considerable celebrity. The first after Sebectagi (the father of the dynasty) was Mahmud, of Gazna, the emporium of the Indian merchants. For Mahmud the title of Sultan was invented, and his kingdom was soon extended from Transoxiana to the vicinity of Ispahan, and from the shores of the Caspian to the mouth of the Indus. The principal source of his fame and wealth was the holy war which he waged against the Gentoos of Hindostan. He made twelve expeditions into that country. His battles and sieges were endless. Over deep rivers, lofty mountains, amid drifting sands and howling tempests, during all seasons, that zealous monarch was in pursuit of his numerous enemies.

He penetrated far beyond the conquests of Alexander, and compelled all to bow to the Mussulman standard. Many hundred temples were destroyed, and thousands of idols were demolished, of which materials (gold, silver and diamonds) his soldiers were made rich. " The pagoda of Sumnat was endowed with a revenue of two thousand villages : two thousand Brahmins were consecrated to the service of the Deity, whom they washed each morning and evening in water from the distant Ganges; the subordinate ministers consisted of three hundred musicians, three hundred barbers, and five hundred dancing girls, conspicuous for their birth or beauty. Three sides of the temple were protected by the ocean, the narrow isthmus was fortified by a natural or artificial precipice.

The city and adjacent country were peopled by a nation of fanatics. They confessed the sins and the punishment of Kinnoge and Delhi (which Mahmud had taken); but if the impious stranger should presume to approach their holy precincts he would surely be overwhelmed by a blast of the divine vengeance. By this challenge the faith of Mahmud was animated to a personal trial of the strength of this Indian deity. Fifty thousand of his worshipers were pierced by the spear of the Moslems; the walls were scaled; the sanctuary was profaned; and the conqueror aimed a blow of his iron mace at the head of the idol. The trembling Brahmins are said to have offered ten millions sterling for his ransom; and it was urged by the wisest counsellors that the destruction of a stone image would not change the hearts of the Gentoos; and that such a sum might be dedicated to the relief of the true believers.

' Your reasons,' replied the Sultan, 'are specious and strong; but never in the eyes of posterity shall Mahmud appear as a merchant of idols' (he was Mahmud, the idol breaker). He repeated his blows, and a treasure of pearls and rubies, concealed in the belly of the statue, explained, in some degree, the devout prodigality of the Brahmins. The fragments of the idol were distributed to Gazna, Mecca, and Medina. Bagdad listened to the edifying tale, and Mahmud was saluted by the caliph with the title of guardian of the fortune and faith of Mohammed.

Mahmud's subjects enjoyed the blessings of peace and prosperity. His devotions covered his smaller vices, and he was celebrated for his justice and magnanimity, even where the lives of his own sons were involved. Mahmud's greatest sin was avarice, and in the vast resources of the Indies it was fully gratified. Hindostan is full of precious metals and the productions of her soil have in all ages attracted the gold and silver of the world. The Mohammedan conquerors robbed Hindostan of her virgin treasures. Mahmud, in the latter days of his life, evinced the vanity of such possession, the result of such unceasing toil, so dangerously held, and so inevitably lost. Looking through the treasury chambers at Gazna, he burst into tears, and again closed the doors, without bestowing any portion of those riches which he was about to leave.

For centuries the Jaxartes was the Turkman's southern boundary to- , ward Persia. But as the Persian power weakened this river was often crossed by the nomadic Turkman. Embracing the Mohammedan faith, they obtained a free encampment in the spacious plains and pleasant climate of Transoxiana and Carizme. The Turkish slaves who aspired to the throne encouraged the emigrations, which recruited their armies, awed their subjects and rivals, and protected the frontier against the wilder natives of Turkestan; and this policy was abused by Mahmud, the Gaznevide, beyond the example of former times.

Massoud, the son and successor of Mahmud, marched in person against the Turkmans and was totally defeated, and his dynasty was succeeded in Persia by the dynasty of the Shepherd Kings. Thus ended the reign of the dynasty of the Gaznevides, after a prosperous continuance of nearly two centuries.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:45:34 ZULU