Top Military Commanders of India

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by Sabir, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. Sabir

    Sabir DFI TEAM Senior Member

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    There is a long list of emperors who ruled India from different regions. Some of them ruled for long and controlled almost whole of India. Some did not get time to consolidate but still recognized for their military organization. Let us try to form the list of the Bests.

    Please , remember only military organization and success are to be counted, not personal valors or nationalism etc. Come with logic , rather than my favourite this and that etc...

    In my opinion strongest contenders for the first post are Samudragupta and Ala-ud-din Khilji. There is no need to say about Samudragupta. Allahabad Inscription of Harisena testifies military success and statesmanship to consolidate that success. But I object calling him 'Nepolion of India'. Samudragupta never lost a battle in his life time but Nepolion did.

    Ala-ud-din Khilji not only defeated most of the North Indian and Deccan rulers but drove back the Mongols too. He made a drastic change in his military organization, improved defense of north-west frontier and employed effective strategy to defeat the opponent.

    Now, who should be number one needs a lot of discussion. A through analysis of many aspects.

    The other important rulers who were militarily successful are Chandragupta Mourya ( No.3), Asoka, Chandragupta II, Devapala,Akbar, Babur etc. There are many Deccan Kings who did not came to Aryavarta to expand their empire but were no less in Military organization.

    Please contribute to construct a list of l0 from ancient India to starting of British Era.

    Regards,
     
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  3. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    Top Military Commander of India?

    In my opinion, Chandragupta Maurya, for defeating the Seleucid Greeks in Punjab and Afghanistan, and being the first to unite India under one government.

    The second place should belong either to Shivaji Bhonsle or Babur, you decide which.
     
  4. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    In My opinion number one should be Ashoka the great and then comes Shivaji .
     
  5. Sabir

    Sabir DFI TEAM Senior Member

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    There are many rulers who had better military success and organization than Shivaji. I will put Rajendra Chola much ahead of him...
     
  6. Known_Unknown

    Known_Unknown Devil's Advocate Stars and Ambassadors

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    Babur was not Indian. He plundered India many times and eventually went back to central Asia where he came from. Moreover, he was a fanatic and religious zealot. Aurangzeb considered Babur to be his spiritual ideal throughout his murderous reign of suppressing Indian religions and spreading Islam by force.

    The top military commander from western India would probably be Shivaji and Baji Rao I.
     
  7. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    I voted for these two rulers because they both rose from adversity. Ashoka was not supposed to be the King and had to go through a great deal to become king Similarly Shivaji also built his empire from scratch. Having an army and leading is a lot diffrent from building an army and then leading it .
     
  8. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    I think it is difficult and probably not fair to say who was the best over such a long time.

    Kanishka
    Samudragupta
    Chandragupta
    Vikramaditya
    Harshavardhan
    Ashoka
    Sher Shah Suri
    Akbar
    Shivaji
    Haider Ali
    Tipu Sultan

    Some that i could think of as great generals.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2010
  9. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

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    Sam Manekshaw. It's surprising nobody mentioned him.
     
  10. Sabir

    Sabir DFI TEAM Senior Member

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    He is out of the time frame...up to British era...............the monarch only.........
     
  11. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

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    Sorry, I skipped that bit. Well, in that case it's Emperor Ashoka, for maintaining a much larger empire than the Mughals (size of the empire reflects upon one's merit in the military).
     
  12. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Tantia Tope is another one.
     
  13. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    jhansi ki rani laxmi bai,chand biwi
     
  14. sesha_maruthi27

    sesha_maruthi27 Senior Member Senior Member

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    In the recent History of Modern INDIAN MILITARY, the best Commander is FIELD MARSHAL MANIK SHAW. He was the master-mind of the 1971 Indo-Pak war, which the INDIANS won hands-down and thanks to the great work and co-operation of the INDIAN AIR- FORCE, without whom the VICTORY was not easily achievable.
     
  15. ALBY

    ALBY Elite Member Elite Member

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    Dudes the list would be incomplete without rana pratap,& pazhassi raja ...pazhassi raja was the master of guerilla warfare who thundered east india company by many of his successful ambushes over british army ....
     
  16. shaka

    shaka Regular Member

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    Some Sikh Military Commanders :


    During Sikh rule/struggle of Punjab region:

    Banda Singh Bahadur (http://www.sikh-history.com/sikhhist/warriors/banda.html)

    Nawab Kapur Singh (http://www.sikh-history.com/sikhhist/warriors/kapur.html)

    Hari Singh Nalua (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hari_Singh_Nalwa)


    In Indian Army:

    Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuldip_Singh_Chandpuri)

    I apologize for missing so many others. These names come to my mind right now. List will go on and on ..... :emot159:
     
  17. Phenom

    Phenom Regular Member

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    Shivaji is probably in the top. He had to face a much larger army and still managed to hold his own.

    Cholas were great in military organization and logistics, but I don't think their tactics were any different from the standard Indian tactic of attacking with infantry and using elephants as heavy cavalry.
     
  18. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    Such a rhetorical question brings out the usual suspects,however let me just compile a short list of people from off the beaten path,but with unquestioned military ingenuity and who left a huge impression on our martial history.


    Maha Padma Nanda(Cicrca 450-362 BCE)

    When the Macedonian have landed on the door steps of India they are told about a great empire across the river Indus which had an infantry of some 200,000 men,20000 Cavalry,3000 war chariot and 6000 war elephants.

    Whether it was this awesome statistics that forced them to retreat i not known, but its clear that Nanda's Magadhan Empire was held in awe by all Indian historical/semi historical accounts. Of the 100 years reign tradition accounts for the Nanda ruled,Maha Padma Nanda is beleived to reigned the 88 of those years(the last 12 years were supposed to have seen nine of sons oscillate on the throne, with Dhana Nanda being the last).

    Maha padma Nanda was a Jain and perhaps of the lower caste, but all Indian accounts hold to him to the first Ekarata(One Sovereign) and Mauryas basically inherited his already extensive empire. Infact the Hindu Puranic vamshavali(king List)that traces the genealogy of Kings in the kali yuga, begins from the end of Mahabharata war to the ascension of Maha Padma Nanda(that was his impact, and the Brahmans didn't even like him )

    Kharavela of kalinga (Circa 180BCE)

    Kalinga saw the dawn of its golden age under kharavela.Kharavela's Hathigumpha inscription near Cuttack gives us one of the most detailed socio-economic political condition of India during the post Maurayan period.Kharavela reversed the nealry two centuries of humiliation and subjugation Kalinga suffered under Magadha(under Nandas,Mauryas and Sungas)and made Kalinga a power to be reckoned with.

    Kharavela is said to have defeated the Magadha in the north,Andhras to the west and the Dramida Confederacy(Confederacy of Tamil states under the Pandyas)to the south. It must be remembered all these were paramount powers of their respective regions.........

    However the reason why I put Kharavela on the list is because he perhaps represents the first instance when an Indian monarch forsake his own political interest and fended of a foreign invader and defended his native rival.

    Sometimes during the second half of the second century BCE,Kharavela and Brihaspati mitra Sunga were at war with one another and Kharavela has managed to lay siege to the Rajagriha(Sunga Capital).Sensing a golden opportunity Demetrius I of Bactria,who had conquered most of Punjab and the regions upto the western bank of Ganga and who coveted the weak Magadhan empire to the east, made a surprising move against Magadha in the north.

    Demetrius had hoped that with kharavela attacking from the south and Demetrius attacking from the north,Magadha will not be able to survive the two pronged attack and hence would be easy picking.Kharavela having heard this news immediately withdraws his siege of Rajagriha and heads towards Demetrius, although the Greek at first thinks Kharavela is coming to join his force, realizes Kharavela was coming for assualt,withdraws in haste and barely survives with his life.Kharavela could easily have used the Bactrian adventurer's distraction to defeat his enemy, the Sungas.Kharavela recognized the difference between a domestic quarrel and a foreign threat.

    Pulakeshi II of Chalukya (611-643 CE)

    Pulakeshi is veritable Kannada Hero.Chalukyas under Pulakeshi represented the coming of age for Karnataka as an Indian power center,culturaly and military-politically.Pulakeshi also heralded on of great Indian historical rivalry, that of between Tamil and Kannada empires.

    Karnataka region which had been long under the suzerainty of power Tamil empires, first attempted to break away the Tamil shackles under the kadambas and Gangas with some success.Pulakeshi Changed the game, not only did he force the power pallavas out of the traditional Kannada regions but also defeated the various Tamil confederacy of Pallavas Cholas,Pandyas and Cheras,the crowing glory being the seige of kancheepuram of Pallava Mahendravarman.Pulakeshi was the supreme lord of the peninsular India, so much so Hiuen Tsang referred to his empire as Maharashtra(great country)

    By the time Pulakeshi met Harshavardhana known as the Uttarapatheswara(lord of the North)on the banks of Narmada,he was the latter's sovereign equal in power glory and conquest and was referred to as Dakshinapatheswara.........

    This would have bee enough to place Pulakeshi at the top of the Indian military hall of fame, he went one step further and defeated even the great Harshavardhana to cement that place.

    Pallava Narasimhavarman I(son of Pallava Mahendravarman) and Chalukya Vikramaditya I(son of Pulakeshi II)

    The reason why i would place them in a this list is because both proved they were capable commanders who surmounted impossible odds to emerge triumphant, but also were worthy successors to their illustrious fathers by avenging the humiliation that visited both their fathers.

    How Narasimhavarman took on the might of Pulakeshi II and the turned the tide of war against Chalukyas at height of their power and supremacy is a study in astute diplomacy and alliance building and military acumen. When Narasimhavarman ascended the throne,pallavas had been humiliated and ceded lot of territory to the Chalukyas and had become defacto vassals of the Chalukyas.

    Narasimhavarman lost no time in resurrecting the defeated Tamil confederacy and started a war of attrition against the Chalukyas which finally resulted in Pallava conquest of Badami,capital of Chalukyas under Narasimhavarman and Pulakeshi II,who was of ripe old age by then, is supposed to have died bravely as is expected of a Kshatrya,with a sword in his hand.

    Vikramaditya I,son of Pulakeshi returned the honor and avenged his fathers defeat by doing what his great father had not been able to do in his own time, capture and sack the city of kancheepuram of Pallava Narasimhavarman I.Vikramaditya and Narasimhavarman engaged each other in a series of war and in the end Chalukyas recovered much of their lost pride under Vikramadiya.

    Rajendra Choza(1014-1044CE)

    Rajendra Choza is almost always overshadowed by his illustrious father Raja Raja Choza in the pages of history. That he probably was the first Southern monarch to expand his borders to the banks of Ganga(after his defeat of Palas of Gauda)alone would have been enough to pay homage to his military skills, but Rajendra is on this list because he probably wrote the first chapter in India's maritime military history.

    Rajendra's legendary Choza navy probably holds the distinction of conducting the first and perhaps still the most successful of all blue water military operation. His conquest of Srilanka,Malayan archipelago,Sumatra,Nicobar islands was not a on the spur military expedition that relied on dollops of blessings from the sea gods.

    Rajendra had a very clear cut objective to undercut the unfair monopoly of the kingdom of Srivijaya in the maritime trade between India and China and had evolved a very careful strategy for achieving the same. before his famous naval assault on South-east Asia in 1025CE,Rajendra send several small expeditions in 1015 to prepare ground support and intelligence before the major assault.

    The major highlight of his naval expedition was how close it resembled modern naval amphibious assaults, Choza schooners carried men and small landing boats like the catamaran ,which were launched from the main ship(carrying armed men) as soon as the ships got close to the coast.

    Significantly in 1025 CE when Rajendra Choza's navy was plundering Srivijaya,Mahmud of Ghazni was plundering Somnath.One wonders what would have resulted if the two had met.

    Prithiviraja of Chahamanas(1178-1192 CE)

    Although most of are aware of prithviraja as the hero of Chand bardai's 'Prithviraj Raso' and his famous romantic dallying with princess samyogita of Kanauj,prithviraja was also an accomplished conqueror.By far the most powerful Rajput in the north in his time and probably explains why prithviraja was the one who headed the Rajput confederacy against Muizzuddin muhammad of Ghur's invading army.

    Prithviraja had acquitted himself very well in his campaign against Chandellas and the Chalukyas of Gujarat, he was also threatened by the Gahadavalas of kanauj(Jayachandra Gahadavala,father of Samyogita,probably explains the source of the elopement story).By the time Prithviraja had secured his position in his neighborhood and made himself a power to be reckoned with, Muhammad of Ghur came into the picture.

    His encounter with Muhammad Ghuri probably forever secured him a memorable place in Indian history in the past millennium.

    History would prove that although a skilled warrior and who had perfected the art of cavalry warfare, unlike rajendra or his father Raja Raja Choza,prithviraja was rather defensive in warfare and never decisive. Long before the battle of Tarain Prithviraja had an opportunity to put Ghuri mnace to an end in 1178,when Ghuri marched on Gujarat(infact Ghuri sought Prithviraja's assistance, who however declined).Gujarat had been ruled by western Chalukyas and had past enmity with prithviraja,either because of this or perhaps because he himself was busy defending his new throne from other Chahamana claimants,Prithviraja did come to the rescue of Guajarat.its another matter that Chalukya Mularaja had given a nice hiding to Ghuri who was forced to submit to a retreat.

    The first battle of Tarain in 1191 however proved that the Rajputs, esp prithviraja, were masters of cavalry based combat, The classic Rajput stratagem of keeping infantry behind heavy war elephants and flanked by swift moving cavalry, completely routed Ghuri and his Turk horsemen(no strangers to cavalry warfare themselves).

    While various accounts report either Ghuri was captured and allowed to go Scot free or that he fled the battlefield(after being abandoned by his Turkmen),Prithviraja erred by being defensive, should have killed him if he had been captured or should have pursued Ghuri all the way and finished him decisively. Had Prithviraja been more aggressive the second and most disastrous battle of Tarain could have been avoided.

    Hemachandra (1501-1556 CE)

    prithviraja Chahamana is often chronicled a the tragic hero of India(or atleast of Hindu India)but that epithet most aptly suits Hemachadra or simply called Hemu.

    Who would have guessed that nearly 350 years after the mohameddan conquest of North India and with the dawn of a even newer Mohamedan conquest, this upstart son of a Brahman street vendor, would pull off one of the greatest upsets in Indian history and nearly got away with it.

    Hemu put up what could be called the last Hindu effort to throw out the foreign yolk and restore native Hindu tradition.Hemu was in the service of Islam shah of the Suri dynasty and worked his way into the inner circle of the Sultan. By the time Adil Shah Suri had become the Sultan of Delhi Hemu was the defacto ruler of the empire, this perhaps also gave him the opportunity to study the weakness of the Suris and encourage him to stage his ultimate coup, when Humayun,the second Mughal emperor(deposed) and son of Babur died.

    Even though hemu had convinced the Afghans to render him assistance to crush the 'foreign' Mughals,even the Afghans had no inkling that Hemu had no plans to restore the Afghan Suris,but rather to kick both the Afghans and the Mughals and restore the Hindu rule.That became evidently clear when he coronated himself according to the Hindu Tradition of Rajyabhisheka and even assumed the Hindu royal title 'Vikramaditya'.Still by his cunning and sheer resourcefulness kept this Hindu-Afghan alliance going.

    What can one but say hemu's tragedy was India's tragedy, when a one obscure fleeting moment in time can forever change the course of the History of a nation.Hemachadra who was supposed to be the undefeated general of 22 consecutive battle, fought all over India, was killed a lucky, but fatal arrow shot to his head and died in the most decisive battle field of Panipat in 1556, that he had nearly handsomely won(and in the process rescued India)

    Its said, the only Hindu to assume a seat of a sovereign in Delhi after Hemachandra, was Dr Rajendra Prasad, first president of independent India(after a gap of 400 years)

    Rani Tarabai (1675-1671 CE)

    More often than not when there is reference to great Marathas, one often hears the names like Shivaji,Baji Rao,Sadashivrao Bhau or Mahadji Scindia.But let it be remembered for posterity that there was only one king of Marathas, that was Chatrapati Maharaj Shivaji Bhonsle and there was only one Queen of the Marathas Rani Tarabai.

    Shivaji's death in 1680 and the brutal slaying of his son and heir to the Maratha throne Sambhaji Bhonsle in 1689 and the occupation of Maratha capital Raigad by the forces of Aurangazeb threatened to forever snuff out the last Indian resistance to the Mughals(Aurangazeb took hostage the wife of Sambhaji and his child Sahu).

    Sambhaji's brother Rajaram and his wife Tarabai literally lived their life under constant threat of arrest and execution. While her husband stayed in the secure location Jinji,Tarabai virtually orchestrated Maratha resistance from the stronghold of Panhala.

    Clever as she was and well acquainted with military tactics of Shivaji(her father Hambir Rao Mohite was one Shivaji's closest and trusted lieutenants)Tarabai resorted to the time tested Maratha strategy of intrinsic guerilla warfare against Aurangzeb and kept his forces harassed throughout the deccan.Much as Aurangzeb wanted to confront tarabai in a decisive battle,Tarabai never gave him such an opportunity. Following the foot steps of her Father in law,Tarabai never held on to any territory, her forces attacked the Mughals in their strongholds, inflicted as much casualty as possible(taking some in good measure)and disappeared into the wooded mountains and hill fortresses.

    Tarabai for nearly a decade kept the Maratha resistance going until old Auranzeb finally gave up and ordered an end to his deccan campaign and died before he could go back to Agra.Aurangzeb died heartbroken and its said, cursing the Maratha queen.
     
  19. rcscwc

    rcscwc Tihar Jail Banned

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    Chadraupta Maurya founded an empire from scratch, Alexander did not.

    Samudragupta, later, comprehensively defeated Huns and for centuiries they kept off India.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2010

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