Rulers who crossed the Khyber Pass westwards

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Poseidon, May 15, 2012.

  1. Poseidon

    Poseidon Regular Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Messages:
    984
    Likes Received:
    405
    Location:
    New Delhi
    This is the list of people who crossed Khyber pass.All of them led Armies into India except the bolded ones:


    Cyrus the Great
    Alexander the Great
    Chandragupta Maurya
    Demetrius I of Bactria
    Muhammad Bin Qasim
    Mahmud Ghaznavi
    Muhammad Ghori
    Genghis Khan
    Qutlugh Khwaja
    Tamerlane
    Babur
    Humayun
    Shah Jahan
    Nader Shah Afshar
    Ahmad Shah Durrani
    Ahmad Shah Abdali
    Ranjit Singh
    George Pollock
    General Sir Samuel James Browne VC
    Sir Donald Stewart, 1st Baronet


    Of these bolded ones Chandragupta Maurya was the most successful one,
    Shahjahan,George Pollock failed very badly,Browne was partially successful but had to withdraw his army.

    The Sikh Empire managed to control the pass till Ranjit Singh and Hari Singh Nalwa was alive.

    NOTE:It is believed that the Pala emperors also crossed Khyber Pass.

    So what do you think are the reasons that so few managed to cross westwards successfully?
     
  2.  
  3. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    Messages:
    31,640
    Likes Received:
    17,125
    Location:
    EST, USA
    You forgot, Taliban! ;)
     
  4. Poseidon

    Poseidon Regular Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Messages:
    984
    Likes Received:
    405
    Location:
    New Delhi
    Taliban are local tribesmen,they cross daily.
     
  5. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Messages:
    4,674
    Likes Received:
    2,923
    Location:
    Delhi, India, India
    It was considered a sin to cross the ancient Aryavarta boundary.
    The person would be deemed to have lost his caste/ vedic character and need rituals to re-enter vedic society.
    That is just my hazy second hand knowledge on this topic. This rule has vedic/puranic basis.
    Probably it was laid down so, because of the relegated un-vedic tribes that fought with their cousins and went westwards.
    Example - For the same reason Raja Bhagwant Das was initially reluctant to cross this western boundary to rein in the unruly afghan tribes when Akbar asked him to go for this campaign.

    Regards,
    Virendra
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2012
    W.G.Ewald likes this.
  6. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    4,562
    Likes Received:
    2,526
    Location:
    తెలంగాణ
    For those already living in the Subcontinent and enjoying its natural wealth, there was nothing particularly compelling about invading the barren, godforsaken piece of land known today as Afghanistan. Those who did cross the Khyber Pass in the westerly direction usually did it out of defence or some geopolitical motive related to protecting the real prize of India.

    Also, you did not mention Kanishka in your list. Under the Kushans both sides of the Khyber Pass were part of the same politico-cultural entity, and in those days Afghanistan was actually not so bad.
     
    devgupt likes this.
  7. Poseidon

    Poseidon Regular Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Messages:
    984
    Likes Received:
    405
    Location:
    New Delhi
    But then why did Chandragupta Maurya cross the pass?

    @Civfanaitic
    Kanishka was of central asian descent.So naturally he will cross the Khyber pass.
     
  8. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Messages:
    4,674
    Likes Received:
    2,923
    Location:
    Delhi, India, India
    That is exactly why we see most of the rulers who defeated invasion attempts did not go full length to demolish the invaders core base completely. To some extent, the inferiority of our cavalry to the best bred turkish cavalry was also responsible. They were capable of easily out maneuvering our chasing armies.
    As far as the barren lands are concerned - Yes, The turks and afghans had their economy geared towards war/plunder.
    They lived off by looting the wealth of neighboring regions.
     
  9. Poseidon

    Poseidon Regular Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Messages:
    984
    Likes Received:
    405
    Location:
    New Delhi
    By the way large parts of Afghanistan were in Aryavarta(See Gandhara)
    [​IMG]

    And the Aryans first settled in Bactria(Present day Afghanistan).
    Remember Afghans are caucasians and not semites like arabs.
     
  10. Poseidon

    Poseidon Regular Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Messages:
    984
    Likes Received:
    405
    Location:
    New Delhi
    We were able to chase of white hunas and Arabs(See battle of rajasthan in 730A.D) until 'vegetarianism' slipped in.:facepalm:
     
    nrj likes this.
  11. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Messages:
    4,674
    Likes Received:
    2,923
    Location:
    Delhi, India, India
  12. Poseidon

    Poseidon Regular Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Messages:
    984
    Likes Received:
    405
    Location:
    New Delhi
  13. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Messages:
    4,674
    Likes Received:
    2,923
    Location:
    Delhi, India, India
    Yet he was an Indian ruler.
     
  14. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    4,562
    Likes Received:
    2,526
    Location:
    తెలంగాణ
    Most of the rulers that you mentioned are Central Asian.

    However, the Kushans deserve special mention since they appear to have campaigned in Central Asia even while they became Indianized and established their rule over northern India. They can be compared to the Mughals in this regard, though the Kushans were possibly more successful in creating a trans-Khyber empire.
     
  15. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Messages:
    4,674
    Likes Received:
    2,923
    Location:
    Delhi, India, India
    True. Mughals links to Central Asia were severed by Afghans and Uzbeks and there were Shia Kings further straight west. Overall it seems Khyber Pass was used extensively.
     
  16. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    4,562
    Likes Received:
    2,526
    Location:
    తెలంగాణ
    Many/most of the Central Asians that invaded India were nomadic or semi-nomadic in nature and were quite decentralized as far as political organisation was concerned. As such there were no "cores" which would be attacked to subdue the the whole tribe or people. Furthermore, Central Asia, though sparsely populated, is a vast region; in total land area it is as large as the entire Subcontinent itself. Practically, it would have been impossible to "demolish the invaders' core base". The Chinese faced a similar problem throughout their history in regards to barbarian invasions emanating from their vast and turbulent northern frontier. Their solution was to build a series of static fortifications which over the centuries would become the Great Wall; however, such a solution was not feasible in the subcontinent due to various impediments, the chief of which were geography and the lack of centralised political organisation.

    On the point of cavalry, the main military threat posed by the Turks was not their light cavalry but their armored heavy cavalry. The Turkish heavy cavalry were highly versatile, carrying bows as well as lances and shields. They adopted the Persian method of "shower shooting", where a line of heavy cavalry would repeatedly shoot volleys of arrows into the enemy formation; the Turkish cavalry would then follow up such a bombardment with a massed charge to break the enemy. These tactics were quite effective against Indian armies, of whom levied foot archers formed a large part.
     
    devgupt likes this.
  17. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Messages:
    4,674
    Likes Received:
    2,923
    Location:
    Delhi, India, India
    I was wrong to use the word "core". Indeed they were highly mobile and fluid, specially the military. Its the stationary agrarian societies that have such cores.
    But even after the Indian armies had adapted to the invasions and fielded light to medium cavalry, they were unable to give a successfull chase to the fleeing enemy. Outrunning a seasoned army of cavalry archers on their own fields was still extremely tough.

    Turks were defeated at occasions where their ranks were enveloped by a frontal cavalry charge and individual close combat had started. Their the light to medium cavalry would take advantage of the bogged down heavy cavalry which can't maneuver at all or slice and dice so easily now.
    That is exactly how Rajputs fought the Turks and almost all their enemies in future. That is exaclty how Tarain-I was won.

    Later when the European technology and better gunpowder descended to India, we see the same cavalry oriented powers diminish and infantry based powers like Jats or European Tech based powers like Marathas under Scindia; Sikhs under Ranjit Singh rise to prominence.

    Regards,
    Virendra
     
  18. panduranghari

    panduranghari Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2012
    Messages:
    1,790
    Likes Received:
    1,245
    Fascinating discussion. One question why could soviets or Brits not conquer and control Afghanistan inspite of superior military might and organisational ability,
    Ignore if off topic
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2012
  19. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    Messages:
    31,640
    Likes Received:
    17,125
    Location:
    EST, USA
    Why ignore it? That is a good topic of discussion. You should open a new thread. You can also make it general like why did big powers fail to control Afghanistan?

    Also, I think Soviets and Britain succeeded in conquering Afghanistan, but their occupation came at a high cost, and they had to leave.
     
  20. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2010
    Messages:
    8,008
    Likes Received:
    5,718
    Location:
    irrelevant
    In this context, Vegetarianism had nothing to do with that.

    In case you referred to Brahmins, it had more to do with superior tactics of the invaders, sticking with a war confined within raj dharma against barbarians, traitorous in-laws and cousins than with anything else.
     
  21. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2010
    Messages:
    4,674
    Likes Received:
    2,923
    Location:
    Delhi, India, India
    a) Geography and b) the Style of Conflict play an important role.
    Both are elusive for the heavy baggage, slow, professional and predictable imperlialistic armies that ever set foot there,
    Afghans were not an agrarian society with a stable fixed core that could be overwhelmed and game over. There was nothing to destroy. What would you loot in the barren lands of elusive looters. Not only the military quotient, there is hardly any prosperous, usable civlian population. The one that survives in any condition, would never support you.
    The unruly afghan tribes have always been a headache to control. They used to loot Mughal lines and trade caravans on the highways even in medieval centuries.
    Something similiar happened to Mughals when they went deep in Mewar after the elusive Maharan Pratap.There was guerilla warfare originating from dense mountain forests of Aravali.

    Regards,
    Virendra
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2012

Share This Page