did not go well, and following the battle of Buxar in
the Company gained control of Bengal’s reve-nues. A few years later they became the direct rul-ers and ruined the region with heavy taxes, unfairtrade restrictions and corrupt practices.The Company seldom launched a direct attackto conquer a region of India. Rather, they enteredinto treaties,
and other deals with localrulers, exploiting the divisions among them. Alongthe way, they defeated several heroic kings, suchas the Muslim king Tipu Sultan of Mysore, andeventually conquered the powerful Marathas andSikhs after many battles. In this manner, by
,they achieved direct rule over much of India andcontrolled the rest through
Why Did the Muslims and the British Win?
Most historians agree that the Hindu kings simplyfailed to realize the danger they faced and thusdid not mount a common defense. Historians alsoblame the caste system, saying that people re-lied solely on the warrior caste to do the ﬁghting.Basham shows this explanation to be inaccurate,as all castes were present in Indian armies. Also,he points out, Muslim kingdoms themselves wereoverrun by subsequent invaders, such as Timurand Nadir Shah, putting up no better defense thanthe earlier Hindu kings.Basham explains that each new invader suc-ceeded by virtue of superior military organization,strategy, training, weapons, horses and mobility.With these they overpowered the large but cum-bersome Indian armies, Hindu and Muslim alike,which failed to adapt to new methods of warfare.The British also possessed great military skill andmodern weapons, a result of their wars in Europeat the time. The Indian rulers failed to recognizeand counter the brilliant British strategy and tac-tic of conquering a region by exploiting internaldivisions among its rulers and only occasionallyusing its own armed forces in an outright invasion.Hindus. In just one instance alone, he killed
Hindu captives. In
, Babur,a descendent of both Genghis Khan andTimur, seized Kabul. This gave him a baseto attack India. He overwhelmed both thesultan of Delhi (in
) and the Rajputconfederacy (in
) to found the MughalEmpire. His army was the ﬁrst in India touse
and ﬁeld cannons.Babur’s grandson, Akbar, becameemperor in
. He expanded the MughalEmpire over northern India and part of the Deccan by entering into alliances withHindu kings, particularly the ﬁerce Rajputs.Akbar’s rule was noted for its religious har-mony. Unfortunately, his successors did notinherit his tolerance. Akbar’s great-grand-son, Aurangzeb, destroyed temples andreimposed the
religious tax on Hindus.By the mid-eighteenth century, theMughal Empire had declined. The Sikhs, Jats, Rajputs, Marathas and the Empire’sown provincial governors (called nawabs)had asserted their independence, leavingno strong central government in India. Theregional Muslim rulers continued to oppressHindus, but less harshly than the centra-lized Muslim governments of Delhi had.
The Colonial Period
a group of English merchants setup the East India Company to buy and sellgoods between Britain, India and othereastern countries. They arrived in Indiaas businessmen, not conquerors, and builtmajor trading posts at Surat, Bombay, Ma-dras and Calcutta. Over time, they
their posts and developed private armies fordefense, paid for with the immense proﬁtsof their trade. They hired Hindus and Mus-lims as soldiers, called
who servedunder British ofﬁcers.Emboldened by their strength, the Britishproceeded to
in local politics. Theygained power and proﬁt by playing one rivalagainst another. The French, especially inSouth India, did the same. If one king wassupported by the French, the Companywould back his rival as a way of weaken-ing the French position.But they wantedstill more. Robert Clive, commander of theCompany’s army, conspired to overthrow theNawab of Bengal, which led to the Nawab’sdefeat in the Battle of Plassey in
.Mir Jafar, the new Muslim ruler of Bengalrewarded Clive’s support with huge gifts anda promise to favor the Company. But things
Section 1 Assessment
How do we know so much about thedestruction in India under the Muslims and British?2.
What are three diﬀerent ways that invadingforces could proﬁt from their conquests?3.
How was the Muslim style of warfarediﬀerent from that of the Hindus?4.
How could Indian kings have better foughtthe Muslim invaders and the British empire builders?5.
How can studying the history of violencein India be useful in helping to bring about a morepeaceful world today?
hinduism today october/november/december, 2009october/november/december, 2009hinduism today
an early typeof riﬂe
to build walls,towers and gatesto protect fromattack
to interfere insomeone else’saﬀairs
an agreement towork together
a state rulerwho is actuallycontrolled byanother ruler
Buddhist university atNalanda is destroyedby Bakhtiyar Khalji, aTurk; soon afterwardsBuddhism severelydeclines in India
MarathaVaishnava saintJnaneshvaraand Namdevaare born
Shivaji foundsMaratha Empire;frees largeareas fromMuslim control
Guru Gobind Singhfounds Sikh Khalsaorder, militarizinghis followers
Turkic warrior Timurconquers Delhi, killingtens of thousands of residents and carryingoﬀ great wealthand many slaves
Jesuit missionarySt. Francis Xavierarrives in Goa;eventually callsfor an Inquisitionwhich leads tomany deaths andforced conversions
Surya Temple isbuilt in Konark,Orissa, for theSun God, Surya
Lord Macaulaymakes English theoﬃ cial languageof schools in India;the teachingof Sanskrit wasdrastically curtailed
The ﬁrst indenturedIndians are sent toBritish plantationsabroad: Mauritius,Guyana and theWest Indies
Guru Nanak, founderof Sikhism, is born
Appaya Dikshitar,South Indianphilosopher-saint, compilesa priest manualstill used today
Kabiris born;preachesunity of allreligions
Tulsidasa writespopular Hindiversion of
Mughal EmperorAurangzebdemolishesall temples inMathura, said tonumber 1,000, andmany in Varanasi
Golden era of Carnatic musicunder Tyagaraja,MuthuswamiDikshitar andSyama Sastri
Invading Mongolsunder GenghisKhan reach India’sborder; Mongolraids continueinto 14th century
Arab scholarAl-Biruni writesextensive accountof Indian religion,science andgeography
British East IndiaCompany takes directrule of Bengal; adevasating famineoccurs in 1770
Sun Temple OrissaGuru Nanak