Early Medieval India

After the death of Harsha, there was no political unity in north India for about five centuries. The country was split up into a number of states which were constantly fighting and changing their frontiers. The important kingdoms in north India were Kashmir, Gandhara, Sind, Gujarat, Kanauj, Ajmir, Malwa, Bengal and Assam. In the early eighth century Kashmir was dominant. Then, the Palas of Bengal reigned supreme till the Pratiharas became the most powerful rulers of north India. But in the tenth century, the Rashtrakutas of Deccan tried to extend their power in north India but ultimately failed in their attempt.

Rajput Kingdoms

The dominance of Rajputs began from the seventh and eighth centuries and lasted till the Muslim conquest in the twelfth century. Even after that, many Rajput states continued to survive for a long time. In the period of Muslim aggression, the Rajputs were the main defenders of the Hindu religion and culture.

There are several theories about the origin of Rajputs. They were considered as the descendents of the foreign invaders and the Indian Kshatriyas. The foreign invaders were Indianized and absorbed into Indian society. Many legends of Rajputs support this theory. Therefore, it can be said that diverse elements constitute in the shaping of the Rajput clan. They became homogenous by constant intermarriage and by adopting common customs. They made war as their chief occupation. However, trade and agriculture also prospered. The Arab travellers refer to the prosperity of the land and the great trade of the cities. They built strong forts.

The Gurjara-Pratiharas were the earliest of the Rajput rulers. Its first great leader was Harischandra. He conquered extensive territory in Rajaputana and ruled with his capital at Bhinmal. The Gurjaras were in different branches. One branch ruled Gujarat and another at Avanthi. The Pratiharas involved themselves in a threecornered contest with the Palas of Bengal and the Rashtrakutas of Deccan. Later the Pratiharas became weak. The Chauhans, the most valiant of the Rajput races, ruled Ajmir. Vigraharaj was their most important king, who occupied Delhi. Therefore the Chauhans faced the onslaught of the Muslims under Muhammad of Ghori. The Paramaras were also important Rajput rulers of this period. The most important king was Bhoja. His military conquests as well as cultural contributions remain notable in the history of Rajputs.

Constant fighting weakened the Rajputs. Also, they never united against a common enemy. Their lack of political foresight and constant rivalries prevented any combined opposition to the Muslim invaders.

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