Dahir (Raja)

Raja Dahir

Raja Dahir
Full name Dahir Sen
Born 661 AD
Died 712 AD
Predecessor Chandra
Successor Mohammed Bin Qasim
Dynasty Brahmin Dynasty
Father Chach of Alor
Mother Rani Suhanadi (Former wife of Rai Sahasi)
Religious beliefs Hinduism

Raja Dahir (Sanskrit: राजा दाहिर, Sindhi: راجا ڏاھر), born 661 AD — died 712 AD,[1] was the last Hindu ruler situated in Sindh and parts of Punjab in modern day Pakistan. During the beginning of the Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent his kingdom was conquered by Muhammad bin Qasim, an Arab general, for the Umayyad Caliphate.


Reign as recounted in the Chach-Nama

The Chach Nama is the oldest chronicle of the Arab conquest of Sindh. It was translated into Persian by Muhammad Ali bin Hamid bin Abu Bakr Kufi in 1216 CE.[2] from an earlier Arabic text believed to have been composed by the Thaqafi family, the kinsmen of Muhammad bin Qasim. At one time it was considered to be a romance until Mountstuart Elphinstone's observations of its historical veracity.

It recounts Raja Dahir as a Pushkarna Brahmin king and son of Chach of Alor who ascended the throne upon the death of his uncle Chandar. His sister Dahar grew up at Alor with their elder brother Dahar-Sena who arranged her marriage to the King Sohan of Bhatia. She was then moved to reside at the capital Alor (Aror) with Dahir preceding the wedding. However in an attempt to circumvent a prophecy that declared that her husband would rule a strong kingdom from his capital at Aror, Dahir is reported to have married her instead and the event resulted in both severe criticism and a conflict with his brother Dahar-Sena.[3] who immediately assembled an army and marched upon Dahir. His brother Dahar-Sena died due to a sunstroke while besieging Dahir at Aror. Dahir then marched to Alor where he subdued the area and consolidate his support base, by executing Dahar-Sena's son Chach. He became the ruler and marrying his brothers widow who was also the sister of Sarhand Lohanah, a powerful chieftain who commanded the allegiance of various Jat tribes.

Eight years later his kingdom was invaded by Ramal or Kannauj. After initial losses the enemy advanced upon Aror so he allied hismself with one 'Alafi Arab. Alafi and his warriors, who were in exile from the Umayyad Caliph were recruited and led Dahirs armies in repelling the invading forces. They then stayed on as valued members of Dahirs court. In the later war with the Caliphate however Alafi served in the capacity of a military advisor but refused to take active part in the campaign; as a result of which he later secured a pardon from the Caliph.

Lead up to war with the Umayyads

The primary reason noted in the Chach Nama for the expedition by the governor of Basra Al-Hajjaj bin Yousef against Raja Dahir, was the raid by pirates off the coast of Debal. resulting in the capturing both gifts to the caliph from the King of Serendib (modern Sri Lanka) as well as the female pilgrims on board who were captured.[4] The Chach nama reports that upon hearing of the matter Hajjaj wrote a letter to the Raja and upon unsuccessful resolution being reached, launched of a military expedition. Other reasons attributed to the Umayyad interest in gaining a foothold in the Makran, Balochistan and Sindh regions in addition to protecting their maritime interests, are the participation of armies from Sindh alongside Persians in various battles such as those at Nahawand, Salasal and Qādisiyyah and the granting of refuge to fleeing rebel chieftains. There is another untold history that Al-Hajjaj's decision to send a powerful army of soldiers commanded by his nephew, Muhammad Bin Qasim, was actually a revengeful act which was spurred by Raja Dahir's refusal of handing over some Arab exiles who had fallen out of favour with Hajjaj and had taken asylum in Sindh.[citation needed]The reason for the conquest of Sindh by Ummayyad Imperialism was Raja Dahir's refusal to return Muhammad Bin Allafi, who had taken asylum under Raja Dahir's government. As it was against the social rule of the Sindhis in those days, to return the parsons who had placed themselves under their protection from their enemies. Raja Dahir's tolerance and liberal minded-ness was a well known fact, or account of which people of various religions lived peacefully in Sindh, where Hindus had their temples and Parsis had their fire temples, Buddhists had their pagodas, Muslims had their mosques. The Muslims had settled in Sindh on account of the policy of the Arab rulers. These rulers had difference with the relations of the Prophet, and being intolerant, wanted to kill them. How could this God-fearing ruler return these sheltered people to the cruel and tyrant Arab rulers? It is said that Imam Hussain (Alahisalam), after being harassed by Yazeed and his followers, wanted to come to Sindhi on the invitation of Raja Dahir. But instead of being given permission to go to Sindhi, he was martyred at Karbala. The fact is that the Arab Imperialism started during the days of Umer, who had started conquering other countries. This was the fifteenth invasion of Sindh. How in the days of Waleed Bin Abdul Malik, the Arabs succeeded. It will be proper if I elaborate on the fourteenth invasion of Sindh, since the days of Caliph Umer. [[File:Example.jpg](A BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF SINDH'S PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE)

Ethnography of Raja Dahir's Sindh

Some writers call Raja Dahir a ruler of a predominantly Buddhist state[5] However it is possible that the Buddhism of Sindh was actually just Buddhistic Hinduism as it was in Bengal under the Pala Dynasty and Andhra under the Satavahanas. It is also pointed out by some scholars such as Ikram that only souther Sindh was Buddhist in majority.[6]

The Chinese Buddhist ambassador to Sindh in A.D. 641, Hiuen Tsiang reported many temples of Lord Shiva, especially along the banks of the Sindhu River.[7] It is believed that even Zoroastrians (or at least Magis) had lived in Sindh during the reign of Raja Dahir.[8]

The Brahman Dynasty of Raja Dahir, introduced[citation needed] the caste system and laws that prevented Oshatri Hindus from entering temples.

War with the Umayyads

First Campaign

The first force was led by Badil bin Tuhfa and landed at Nerun Kot (modern Hyderabad), where it was supported by Abdullah bin Nahban the governor of Makran. They were, however, defeated at Debal (modern Karachi)Elliot places it at Thatta.

Second Campaign

Hajaj's next campaign was launched under the aegis of Muhammad bin Qasim. In 711 A.D Qasim assaulted Debal and upon the express orders of Al-Hajjaj exacted a bloody retribution on Debal in the freeing of both the earlier captives as well as prisoners from the previous failed campaign. Other than this instance the policy adopted is seen as generally being one of enlisting and co-opting support from both defectors as well as the defeated lords and forces. From Debal he then moved on to Nerun for supplies, where the city's Buddhist governor had acknowledged itself as a tributary of the Caliphate after the first campaign and opened the gates to the forces of the second. Qasim's armies then moved on to capture Siwistan (Sehwan) and received the alliance of various tribal chiefs and secured the surrounding regions, With whom he captured the fort at Sisam and thereby secured the regions to the west of the Indus River.

The Chachnama provides accounts of the rule by successors of the Rai Dynasty as one marked by persecution of Buddhists, Jats and Meds from the time of Chach as well as of a prophecy on the fall of Raja Dahir being a factor in swaying many defections to Qasim's army.

However, sociologist U.T Thakur suggest a more complex dynamic, suggesting that Hinduism (being the religion of the dominant castes) and Buddhism (being the religion of the recessive castes) and the high Buddhists were descendants of migrants from Bactria. The king was a Brahmin, and the majority of his advisers were from his family. The ruler of Alor, a Jatt, also had professed Buddhism as his spiritual guide. Nonetheless, there was a strong sense of "ideological dualism" between them, which he wrote was the inherent weakness that the Arabs exploited in their favor when they invaded the region.[9]

By enlisting the support of various local tribes, such as the Jats, Meds, Bhuttos and Buddhist rulers of Nerun, Bajhra, Kaka Kolak and Siwistan, as infantry to his predominantly cavalry army Muhammad bin Qasim defeated Dahir and captured his eastern territories for the Umayyad Caliphate.

Dahir then attempted to prevent Qasim from crossing the Indus river and so moved his forces to its eastern banks in an attempt prevent Qasim from furthering the campaign. Eventually however, Qasim successfully completed the crossing and defeated an attempt to repel them at Jitor led by Jaisiah, the son of Dahir. Qasim then advanced onwards to give Dahir battle at Raor near modern day Nawabshah (712 A.D.) where Dahir died in battle and his wife burned herself to death along with other women of the household in line with Hindu religious custom.

When Dahir's severed head was presented to Hajjaj, a courtier sang: ``we have conquered Sindh after enormous trouble.... Betrayed is Dahir by Mohammed Bin Qasim's masterly strategy. Rejoice, the evil doers are disgraced. Their wealth has been brought away . . . They are now solitary and brittle as eggs and their women, fair and fragrant as musk-deer, are now asleep in our harems.''


He was the son of the Rani Suhanadi and Chach of Alor. Chach was initially the Munshi (Chamberlain) of Raja Sahasi Rai II of the Rai Dynasty then later ruler of Sindh.

See also


  1. ^ Wink, 153
  2. ^ Common Era year is an approximation of the Islamic calendar date 613 AH.
  3. ^ Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg: The Chachnamah, An Ancient History of Sind, Giving the Hindu period down to the Arab Conquest. Commissioners Press 1900, Section 14 [1] Then Dáhar wrote a letter to his brother, couched in gentle words, and in it he referred to the horoscope of Bái, and said: “The astrologers divined, by means of their science, that this princess would be the queen of Alór, and her husband would be the king who was to hold fast all these territories. To remedy and avert this unpleasant consequence, I took it upon myself to commit this shameful breach of royal etiquette and social rules. We now make the apology that what we considered expedient to do was done through necessity, and not of our own free will. Do therefore excuse us.”
  4. ^ Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg: The Chachnamah, An Ancient History of Sind, Giving the Hindu period down to the Arab Conquest. Commissioners Press 1900, Section 18: "It is related that the king of Sarandeb* sent some curiosities and presents from the island of pearls, in a small fleet of boats by sea, for Hajjáj. He also sent some beautiful pearls and valuable jewels, as well as some Abyssinian male and female slaves, some pretty presents, and unparalleled rarities to the capital of the Khalífah. A number of Mussalman women also went with them with the object of visiting the Kaabah, and seeing the capital city of the Khalífahs. When they arrived in the province of Kázrún, the boat was overtaken by a storm, and drifting from the right way, floated to the coast of Debal. Here a band of robbers, of the tribe of Nagámrah, who were residents of Debal, seized all the eight boats, took possession of the rich silken cloths they contained, captured the men and women, and carried away all the valuable property and jewels." [2]
  5. ^ Nicholas F. Gier, FROM MONGOLS TO MUGHALS: RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE IN INDIA 9TH-18TH CENTURIES, Presented at the Pacific Northwest Regional Meeting American Academy of Religion, Gonzaga University, May, 2006[3]
  6. ^ "Introduction by Frances W. Pritchett"
  7. ^ Religion and Society in Arab Sind, by Derryl N. Maclean
  8. ^ Al Hind the Making of the Indo Islamic World: Early Medieval India By André Wink
  9. ^ (Sindhi Culture, by U.T Thakur Bombay 1959 )


  • Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg: The Chachnamah, An Ancient History of Sind, Giving the Hindu period down to the Arab Conquest. Translated by from the Persian by, Commissioners Press 1900 [4]
  • Thakur Deshraj: Jat Itihas, Delhi, 1934
  • R.C. Majumdar, H.C. Roychandra and Kalikinkar Ditta : An Advanced History of India, Part II,
  • Tareekh-Sind, By Mavlana Syed Abu Zafar Nadvi
  • Wink, Andre, Al Hind the Making of the Indo Islamic World, Brill Academic Publishers, Jan 1, 1996, ISBN 90-04-09249-8

See also

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