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which the gods, and warriors, and sacred animals of Southern India had to engage with foreign invaders. The chief intercourse of the Malays appears, how. ever, to have been with Magadha.
This rapid sketch of the commercial relations of ancient India will, it is hoped, assist the reader to form a more correct, as well as more comprehensive notion of the history of the country, than can be obtained from the obscure annals of its petty dynasties. It will be seen, in the first place, that India has always been indebted for its political importance and the splendour of its empires, chiefly to the boundless wealth which nature has lavished upon its soil, and next, to its commerce. Yet, it has never been a maritime power; in this respect strikingly resembling ancient Egypt and modern China. The Phenicians, the Arabs, the Egyptian Greeks, the Malays, the Portuguese, the British, those who have successively been the lords of the seas, have been the merchants of India, and have constantly enriched themselves by the monopoly of the trade. The next remark which suggests itself is, that India, in its most comprehensive sense, could never be held as an undivided empire by any but a
To whatever extent, therefore, the nominal sovereignty of its emperors may at any time have been acknowledged, we may be certain, that they could exert no permanent or effective control over the more remote principalities. Even the Mogul sovereigns were never able to extend their empire over the whole of the Deccan ; and the peninsular provinces seem to have been always very distinct. The histories of Cashmeer, of Magadha, and of Delhi, must, then, be regarded as only sections of the history of ancient India.
Another striking feature in the general history of
this country is, that it has never assumed the attitude of a belligerent power ; never sent forth a conqueror to invade other territories by sea or land ; never, in the person of its native monarchs, long preserved a substantial independency. In almost every age, India has been a tributary; and the country has not more enriched its princes and its merchants, than it has its foreign conquerors and spoilers. The hereditary claim to this splendid dependency has passed from hand to hand, if we may credit tradition, from the heirs of Japheth to the days of the Great Mogul; and it is remarkable, how little difficulty the Great King of the age has seemingly found in obtaining the recogni tion of his right and title. The mass of the population have, in addition to this political subjection to a foreign power, been held, from time immemorial, in a state of the most abject social degradation, by the ascendancy of a sacerdotal nobility and the singular institution of caste. That which some learned authorities maintain to have been the primitive religion of the country, now exists only among a depressed and scattered sect; and the ecclesiastical supremacy of the Buddhic world has been transferred from the kings of Magadha to the Tatar sovereign of the celestial empire.
These circumstances amply account for the strikingly peculiar and original character of the Hindoo nation, the fixed character of their institutions, and the unchanged nature of their language. They have never been blended down with other nations by either colonization or conquest. * During more than sixteen hundred years, that is, from the fall of the Bactrian kingdom till the arrival of the Portuguese in the East, no European power acquired territory, or esta. blished its dominion in that country.
* “Megasthenes assures us,” says Arrian, “ that the Indians neither waged war with other nations, nor any other nation with them; and that Sesostris, the Egyptian monarch, having subdued a great' part of Asia, and carried his victorious army almost to Europe, retired and went back without attempting any thing against India."-ROOKE'S Arrian, ii. 194.
«Nothing more was aimed at by any nation,” remarks Dr. Ro. bertson, “ than to secure an intercourse of trade with that opulent country.” The Mohammedan conquests may be regarded, however, as an exception to this remark; and of these we shall now proceed to take a review.
In that extraordinary revolution which transferred the conquests of Alexander, the kingdoms of Ptolemy and Seleucus, to the rude soldiers of Arabia, and reduced the empire of Noushirwan to a province of the khalifate, Bassora succeeded to the commerce of Alex. andria, and the Indian trade fell into the hands of Mohammedan merchants. Khorasan and Balkh were subdued by Abdallah, the governor of Bassora, in the khalifate of Othman, A.D. 651. cities of Bokhara and Samarcand were taken by Kateibah, the Arabian governor of Khorasan, about sixty years after. * When the sceptre of Persia “ fell from the nerveless grasp of the despicable successors of Omar and Ali,” Trans. oxiana, Bactria, Khorasan, and Cabul were united in one empire under the dynasty of the Samaneean princes, who for ninety years reigned in tranquillity at Bokhara. f On the death of the fifth sovereign of that family, Abustagein (or Aleptekein), who had risen from a state of servitude to be governor of Kho. rasan, seized upon the city and territory of Ghizni, and assumed the ensigns of royalty. Three successive victories over the general of Munsur, the monarch of Bokhara, secured to Abustagein the undisputed possession of Khorasan and Zabulistan; and at his death, in the year 974, he left the throne of Ghizni to his son. The young monarch enjoyed for only two years the honours of royalty, his life being shortened by his debaucheries ; and on his death, Subuctagi (or Sebek. tekein), the favourite general of his father, was proclaimed king by the army. His marriage to the daughter of Abustagein ratified this election; and the Mohammedan historians dwell upon the valour, moderation, and justice which gained him the hearts of all his subjects. *
* Price's Mohammedan Hist., vol. i. pp. 160~4; 473-6. + Mod. Trav., Persia, voi. i. p. 129.
Previously to his reign, the “Mohammedan khalifs had made some attempts to extend their conquests to the western provinces of India, and in the reign of the khalif Walid, they obtained possession of Sinde, whence they made frequent incursions into the neighbouring provinces. Subuctagi, after having subdued the fortresses of Bost and Kosdaur, carried his arms across the Indus, and ravaged the Punjaub ; but he made no permanent acquisitions in that direction. After exterminating vast multitudes of the idolaters, he returned loaded with spoil to Ghizni. At this time, we are told by Ferishta, Jeipal, the son of His. pal, of the Brahmin race, reigned over the country east of the Indus, from Cashmere to Moultan; and he had the kings of Delhi, Ajmeer, Kanouje, and Kallinjur for his allies. It may, therefore, as Major Rennell remarks, be concluded, from the circumstance of the frontier provinces being under a Hindoo government, that the Mohammedans, whatever ravages they had
* Dow's Hindostan, i. 20, 21. Price, ii. 244, 277. The latter Writer, following the Kholausset-ul-akbaur, takes no notice of the son of Aleptekein, but says, he was succeeded by his slave, Sebektekein.
committed, had not hitherto formed any establishment in Hindostan. In fact, after gaining a great victory over the allies, Subuctagi is represented as retiring, laden with glory and wealth, through the countries of Peishawir* and Limgan, which he annexed to his dominions, stamping their names upon his coins. One of his omrahs was appointed to the government of Peishawir, which may evidently be regarded as the eastern limit of his permanent conquests. Before he was at leisure to renew his incursions, his career was cut short by a fatal distemper, of which he expired A.D. 997, in the fifty-sixth year of his age, leaving, " like Philip of Macedon, his projects as well as kingdom to his son." +
That son was the celebrated Sultan Mahmoud Ghiznavi, by whom the glories of his house were raised to their zenith. The first two or three years of his reign were occupied in securing to himself the throne of his father, and restoring tranquillity to his dominions ; and he is said to have made a vow, that, when he had put down all his enemies, he would turn his arms against the idolaters of India. In pursuance of this sanguinary vow, in the year 1001, he marched from Ghizni, with 10,000 of his chosen cavalry, and was met at Peishawir by Jespal, prince of Lahore, at the head of a far superior force, supported by 300 elephants. An obstinate battle ensued, in which Mah. moud was victorious ; Ježpal, with fifteen of his prin cipal chiefs, was taken prisoner, and 5000 of his troops
• Peishawir (i.e. the advanced post), situated on the S. side of the Cabul river, 40 miles W. of the Indus, from its advantageous position, has become an important entrepát, uniting, in commercial intercourse, Persia and Affghanistan with India.-HAMIL Ton's Gaz.
† Rennell, xliv, Dow, i. 22-9. Price, i. 278.