History is an interesting subject, especially the Indian history, which is distorted to such an extent, that people are not even aware of their ‘real’ heroes. We often read that Islamist expansionist forces came to India and took over us, ruled us for 1000 years, but all these claims are far from the reality.
If we read history from unbiased sources, then we do realize that how ill-informed we are. Liberals have portrayed an ill-image of our Hindu rulers, who not only endured the persecutions during the medieval period but also uphold the saffron flag of Dharma during those terrible times. In this article, we would share the story of one warrior king Narasingha Deva, who not only kept his Kingdom intact but destroyed the Islamist forces repeatedly.
‘Langula’ Narasingha Deva-I was a famous and immensely powerful warrior king of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty who ruled from 1238 AD till 1264 AD. He defeated the Muslim forces of Bengal who constantly tried to capture the Eastern Ganga dynasty’s rule over his kingdom of Kalinga (ancient Odisha) from the times of his father Anangabhima Deva III.
Narasingha Deva-I was among the very few rulers in India who took the offensive against the Islamic expansion over India by Turko-Afghan invaders. Even his father was successfully able to defend his kingdom against the Turko-Afghan rulers of Bengal. Not many people know that it was Narasingha Deva-I, who built the famous Konark Temple to commemorate his victories over the Muslim invaders.
He was instrumental in the construction of several other famous temples and other architectural marvels along with the largest fort complex of Eastern India at Raibania in Balasore.
Narasimha Deva was victorious against the Turko-Afghan rulers of the Mamluk dynasty in Bengal that had captured Bihar and Bengal. He repulsed their attacks and pushed them as far back as Padma River in current-day Bangladesh.
Narasingha Deva I’s military achievements against the Muslim forces gained him the title of “Yavanabani Ballabha“, which means the conqueror of Yavana or Muslim kingdom, and “Hamira Mada Mardana” meaning vanquisher of the Muslim Amirs of Bengal.
Narasimha assumed power in 1238 AD, and past that he followed the policy of aggressive imperialism. Narasingha Deva marched with his massive army, aided by Paramadrideva, who was his brother-in-law, towards Bengal in the years 1242 -1243 A.D. At that time Tughril Tughan Khan was the governor of Bengal as a vassal of the Delhi Sultanate.
His army overran a number of semi-independent Hindu rajas of the neighboring regions and then moved towards the northern areas of Gauda, Rarh, Varendra, and Gauda, which were the subordinate territory of the Delhi Sultanate. Sensing the threat, Tughril Tughan gave a clarion call to all the Muslims for a jihad against the Hindus. Even the Qazi Minhaj-us-Siraj joined Tughan’s forces against the Hindu forces of Narasimha.
Narasingha Deva’s strong army defeated the Islamist forces of Tughril-Tughan Khan. Narasingha decided to extend his sway up to Varendra, which was a division of Lakhnauti, and it was situated on either side of the Ganges. Lakhnor was the headquarters of Turko-Afghan expansionist operations in Bengal, consisting mainly of Rarh and Varendra subdivisions under direct authority of the Delhi Sultanate.
Narasingha Deva I, directed his army against Varendra and this movement created panic in the minds of the Muslims. Tughril Tughan Khan raised the alarm and pleased Sultan Alauddin Masud Saha of Delhi to come to his rescue.
Delhi’s Sultan sent Quamuruddin Tamur Khan (governor of Oudh) to help Tughan Khan. However, there were some differences among them, and thus they didn’t work together, later Tughan was driven away from Bengal and Tamur Khan continued as its governor of Oudh till his death in 1246 A.D.
The first battle of Lakhnauti
Narsingha’s Army laid a siege on the fort of Lakhnauti, which was considered as a strategic point of entry into the territory of the Mameluks Muslims from the western end. It was also an important point of communication with other Muslim kingdoms of North India and the Delhi Sultanate.
In 1244 A.D., Tughril Tughan launched an offensive attack to counter Narsingha’s army. Due to massive resistance, Narasingha Deva’s army decided to have a tactical retreat towards the frontier fort of Katasin. This first was strategically very important and well built, it was surrounded by jungles and thick cane-bushes.
Narsingha’s army dug trenches and fortified their defense apparatus. It forced the advancing Muslim cavalry to slow down and expose them to capture.
After the initial defensive confrontation, the Narsingha’s forces followed guerrilla warfare tactics and caused grave damage to the Muslim army. The tactical retreat of Narsingha’s army led Tughral Tughan to believe that the Hindus are leaving the area, and he ordered his army to remain at ease and settle down for a while for midday meals.
Narasingha Deva was waiting for this opportunity, he ordered his army to orchestrate an unprecedented attack on Tughan’s Muslim force and ensured a massive slaughter of invaders. Thousands of Muslim soldiers were killed in this attack and Tughan himself wounded and narrowly escaped the death.
This unprecedented and maverick march of Narasingha Deva-I’s army over the Muslim army has been described in the Ananta Vasudeva temple inscription.
Second seizure of Lakhnauti
In 1244 A.D, NArsingha’s army once again seized two provinces of Rarh and Varendra. Both were situated on the banks of river Ganga and surrounded the Lakhnauti fort. The attack was so furious that the then Muslim commander of the Lakhnauti fort, Fakr-Ul-Mulk-Karimuddin-Laghri, was brutally killed along with most of his commanders.
According to many independent sources, Narsingha’s army snatched both the provinces from Muslims and captured their weapons and wealth as well. The Muslim governor of Awadh and a vassal of the Delhi Sultanate, Qamruddin Tamur Khan arrived to rescue Muslims, but nothing worked in their favour.
It is said that there was a heated quarrel ensued between the two Muslim generals as Qamaruddin was shocked to see the tactical seize of the fort of Lakhnauti orchestrated by the superior army of Narsingha Deva.
As expected, the Muslim army was defeated once again and Tughan Khan was discharged from his governorship of Bengal by Qamruddin with the authority of the Delhi Sultanate. Qamruddin Tamur Khan himself assumed the governorship of Bengal after this incident.
The historical impact of Narsingha Deva-I
Naraingha Deva’s rule came at an important juncture, he was able to capitalize over the military achievements of his father and became a dominant king of Hindus, who defended the parts of Central India and the Eastern coast from the invading Muslim and Turkic forces.
Narsingha’s aggressive strategic tactics and military policies were able to establish a strong and independent Hindu state with a powerful military presence. Due to his supreme dominance, no Muslim forces were able to threaten the borders of Odisha’s Hindu kingdom.
He ensured a period of peace, tranquility, religious and architectural development. He built a massive military, he invested heavily in trade, art, and literature. He built multiple magnificent temples and other religious structures.
He has been glorified as a true devotee of the goddess Shakti. People from the eastern Ganga region often call him the son of Bhavani. He used to worship the holy triad deities of Odisha (Purushottama Jagannahta, Viraja Durga, and Lingaraja Siva).
We are so unfortunate that such an important and historical figure has been completely removed from our history textbooks. It is our duty to gain our knowledge about him and spread the positive word about him. The alleged 1000 years rule of Muslims is a big myth, we have so many brave warriors who resisted the evil Islamist invasion, and defeated them as well.