Prithviraj III (c. 1168-1192) was a king of the Rajput Chauhan (Chahamana) dynasty, who ruled a kingdom in northern India during the latter half of the 12th century. He was born c. 1168 to king Someshwara Chauhan and his wife Karpuravalli. He succeeded to the throne c. 1179, while still a minor, and ruled from the twin capitals of Ajmer and Delhi. His elopement with Sanyogita, the daughter of Jai Chandra, the Gahadvala king of Kannauj, is a popular romantic tale in India, and is one of the subjects of the Prithviraj Raso, an epic poem composed by Prithviraj's court poet, Chand Bardai. The Chauhan succession had been rather confused since the death of Vigraha-raja in 1165; Prithviraj reconsolidated control of the Chauhan kingdom and conquered several neighboring kingdoms, which made his state the leading Hindu kingdom in northern India. Delhi was captured from the Tomara Rajputs during the early years of his reign, and was renamed Qila Rai Pithora. He campaigned against the Chandela Rajputs of Bundelkhand. His kingdom included much of the present-day Indian states of Rajasthan and Haryana, and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. To this day, Prithviraj is considered to be a legendary hero and martyr by Hindus.
Prithviraj Chauhan is one enigmatic being who has a lot written about him, be it in history books, Amar Chitra Kathas, numerous websites, or just pure folklore passed down the ages in the form of stories, anecdotes and parables. It is but obvious that some of the stories are conflicting!
Here are some interesting facts about Prithviraj Chauhan….
- Anganpal, the King of Delhi had two daughters, Roopsundari and Kamaladevi.
- Roopsundari married Vijaypal, King of Kannauj. They had a son Jaichand. His daughter was the beautiful Sanyogita.
- Kamaladevi married Someshwar, the King of Ajmer. Prithviraj was their son, born after 10 years of marriage.
- At his guru Ram Purohit's gurukul, Prithviraj learnt shatra vidya (weaponry, armed combat), sahitya (literature), kala (arts) and rajniti shastra (politics). It was here that he was groomed to be the King of Ajmer.
- One day at the gurukul, young Prithviraj was attacked by a lion. Though caught unawares and unarmed, Prithviraj bravely fought the lion and killed it! Tales of his heroism spreading far & wide….
- Similarly, once Prithviraj and his friends were lost in the jungle. During the night, when they were resting, they were attacked by dacoits. With Prithviraj courageously leading the way, they managed to chase the dacoits away. Just another example of Prithviraj's cleverness!
- On the suggestion of Ram Purohit, Someshwar took Prithviraj to the Brahma temple in Pushkar where he was taught the art of "shabd bhedi baan chalana" i.e. using a bow and arrow to shoot without having to see the target, purely on the basis of sound).
- With the stories of Prithviraj's courage, valour and intelligence spreading far and wide, Anangpal the King of Delhi decided to adopt him. He announced Prithviraj Chauhan as his heir. Thus he was crowned prince of Delhi at the young age of 13 years.
His Battles with Ghori
- One of Prithviraj's major battles was fought against Ghori, the ruler of Afghanistan. Ghori had become very powerful. He had captured Ghazni and defeated the Governor of Punjab. His kingdom stretched up to the domains of Prithviraj Chauhan and a clash was inevitable.
- They first clashed during the first battle of Tarain-Prithviraj won the battle and took Ghori as a captive but he respectfully released him. Some say that Prithviraj actually pardoned him 16 times over 16 encounters.
- Desperate to avenge his defeat, Ghori attacked Prithviraj the next year, before sunrise. Prithviraj was unprepared, as Hindus didn't fight between sunset and sunrise. Through his deceit, Ghori captured him.
- In captivity, Prithviraj refused to lower his gaze before Ghori. Thus the angry Ghori burnt his eyes with red-hot iron rods and blinded him!
- The blind Prithviraj then took revenge on his enemy by shooting him during an archery competition thanks to his knowledge of shabd bhedi baan chalana. His friend Chand Bardai is said to have helped him with the help of the couplet:
Dus kadam aggey, beed kadam daey, baitha hai sultan. Ab mat chuko chauhan, chala do apna baan.
His Immortal Love
- During his reign, Prithviraj heard the court poet describe the unmatched beauty of a lady. Immensely impressed, he soon found out that the beauty described was Sanyogita, the daughter of the Jaichand, King of Kannauj. He disguised himself and went to see her.
- Meanwhile Sanyogita too had heard tales of Prithviraj's courage and valour and was smitten. When she finally saw an attractive painting of Prithviraj Chauhan, she knew in her heart that she would marry him. She met the King in disguise and they fell in love.
- Suspecting the relationship between the two of them, Jaichand decided to organize a swayamvar in all pomp and splendour for his daughter. He called many princes worthy of his daughter, from all across the country. However Prithviraj wasn't invited. Jaichand despised Prithviraj as the latter had been chosen by Anangpal to be the heir to the throne of Delhi.
- So as to humiliate Prithviraj, Jaichand erected his statue, dressed and bent as a dwaarpal at the gateway to the swayamvar. However, at the time of the swayamvar, Sanyogita passed all the eligible princes and finally garlanded Prithviraj's statue. At that moment, Prithviraj stepped out and whisked his beloved away! It is believed that after Sanyogita's haran, Prithviraj was presented with a special, magical bow and arrow.