The battle of Bahraich is registered as an iconic battle between Raja Suheldev and Gazi Sayed Salar Masud on 14-15 June 1033 CE. This battle changed the projection of Bharat in the eyes of Islamic invaders who used to come in waves from the North-West. The battle took place near Chittaura Lake near Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh. This battle was so mesmerizing that an army of 100,000 well-trained soldiers from the side of Salar Masud was annihilated and routed. This gave a very stern message to Islamists that none of their invading forces dared to look towards Bharat for the next 100 years lest they plan an expedition. Although it is a fact that before the Prime Minister laid the Suheldev Memorial and the development of Chittaura Lake, hardly people knew about this historic war. It is because our Darbari historians wrote only the defeat of Bhartiya Raja and the Conquest of Islamic invaders. Any king who fought valiantly and defeated the enemy was never mentioned whereas any Invader from North-West was explained in multiple chapters.
Introduction of Suheldev and Salar Masud: –
Salar Masud: –
Somnath temple was attacked in 1025 CE, by Mahmud of Ghazni, with a massive army he attacked the temple accompanied by his 15-16-year-old nephew Salar Masud. When the Turkic army entered the Sanctum Sanctorum, they had to face ever more resistance from Malladev. But soon was overpowered by the Turkic army and sacrificed his life. Salar Masud was a well-built soldier even at the age of 15-16, and he was learning barbarism not other than his uncle right from a very young age. He was born in Ajmer in 1010 CE. Since Masud got his senses he used to go on campaigns with his uncle and tried to inculcate all the military skills that need to be there to invade any country. After the death of his uncle Ghazni in 1030 CE. He started the invasion of Bharat in 1031 CE with a collection of a very professional army of 100,000 soldiers. He got an initial advance because there was a lack of unity among Bhartiya Kings, they were divided into small confederations and principalities.
Raja Suheldev: –
During this period 1031 CE kingdom of Shravasti was ruled by Suheldev. He was the younger son of Magaldhwaj, he was trained by his elder brother Malladev during his early days. Yes, the same Malladev, who went to protect Somnath temple in 1025 CE from Mahmud of Ghazni. Malladev was the crown prince at that time, when he was fighting enemies, Salar Masud witnessed Malladev’s battle with his soldiers. During the invasion by Salar Masud, regions of Lakhimpur, Sitapur, Lucknow, Barabanki, Unnao, Faizabad, Bahraich, Sravasti, Gonda, etc. were ruled by a confederacy of 21 Pasi & Bhar chieftains under Raja Suheldev. Shravasti region used to be a great home for cows and Suheldev initiated many measures for their protection. He was a patron of saints and a staunch follower of Vedic rituals.
Legend of the Battle of Bahraich: –
Prelude to Battle.
When Salar Masud started his invasion, he triumphed in Meerut, Kannuaj & Malihabad. Masud arrived in Satrikh, a town in the Barabanki district. Satrikh was an important Hindu place for pilgrimage where Guru Vashisht taught the young Ram and Lakshman. These Islamic invaders not only conquer the lands but devastate them with their inhuman and barbaric acts like razing temples, raping women, killing innocent children, taking women as sex slaves (sanctioned in Islam), converting people, and killing those who refuse. Using Satrikh as his base, Masud sent his armies to conquer the neighboring areas. He planned a simultaneous raid against multiple kings. Meanwhile, Salar Saifuddin besieged Bahraich and Salar Masud had to go to Ayodhya. But for some reason, he had to come to re-enforce Salar Saifuddin because he was facing some difficulty at the hands of Suheldev. Earlier in 1032 CE Salar Sahu, the father of Salar Masud came to conquer Bahraich but was slain by Suheldev. This was also the pain in the heart of Salar Masud to avenge Suheldev personally.
Suheldev was a visionary ruler, he knew the importance of allies and time. That’s why he started reaching out and inviting rulers of his neighboring kingdoms to his courts to muster their strength. Because he knew right from 1031 CE that, Salar Masud was planning an invasion and that invasion would devastate kingdoms. After Salar Masud’s father was killed in Bahraich, the war clouds became axiomatic. All the defeated rulers and those who were ready to face the Ghaznavid forces came together.
Suheldev personally strategized the military formations and other tactics to defeat Salar Masud and his forces. His army consisted of cavalry, war horses, and elephants. Salar Masud came to know about the plans of Suheldev supplied by his intelligence services. Masud was well aware that Suheldev revered cows. Hence, he hatched a plan. He decided to put a huge herd of cows in front of the Hindu army on the battlefield. And he knew Suheldev would not harm cows and hence he and his army would retreat. So, at that very moment, Masud would attack his army. But before the great battle was to start, the Suheldev’s men quietly released all the cows from the clutches of the Masud army.
On 15th June 1033 CE Ghaznavid forces assembled, due to last night’s strategy change, they tried to surprise Suheldev by following the Blitzkrieg strategy, in which army movement is so fast, that enemy forces don’t stand a chance to comprehend the attack. Ghaznavid forces dashed the center of the Hindu army lines hoping to dissect the army into two and directly reach the king. But, the Hindu infantry held on and the resulting melee gave enough time to the cavalry of Suheldev to outflank the Ghaznavid army. While the majority of the masses were facing resistance to cutting through the center of the Hindu army. Two flanks, one from the right and another from the left were circumventing the Ghaznavid’s army very fast. Once the flank was completed, what followed was total carnage as the enemy was trapped inside the bubble of the Hindu army, and confusion prevailed among the Mohammedan forces. They were under attack from the left, right, and center. Salar Masud also got trapped inside this bubble of the Hindu army. Suheldev himself marched ahead and decapitated Salar Masud. Destiny is very just, he was the same Salar who was witnessing the decapitation of the elder brother of Raja Suheldev’s elder brother while he was defending Somnath temple. And on 15th June 1133 CE Suheldev avenged the dharma caused by this barbaric brute.
Hindu kings have a track record of following the rules of Dharma even in warfare. They took care of the injured at the end of the day. They never interfered in the religious affairs of the followers of other religions, whereas these brute of 6th CE desert cultured, people don’t believe in rules. Salar Masud was allowed to be buried with all the religious rights, as the Indian Army did during Kargil when Pakistan refused to accept even their soldiers, despite the treatment meted to Captain Saurav Kalia, we respected the Dharma. This is in the blood of Bharatiya culture and alien to the Islamic culture of desert origin.
The valor and victory of Suheldev spread like wildfire from Bharat to Ghazni and the Turkic world. That a single King of a small principality defeated the army of Ghaznavid. And such was the story of the battle of Bahraich that Bhartiya kings were thumping their chests and Invaders or Malacha in the North-West were frightened to even visit Bharat for the next 100 years. Because the kind of annihilation and blood-bath had to be faced by the Ghaznavid army was self-explanatory. Had it not been for Raja Suheldev there would have been multiple invasions and much more carnage, pillage, rape, and loot of Bharat and its people.
Ironically, Salar Masud burial place was turned into a Dargah by Firuz Shah Tughlaq and a large number of Hindus visit this dargah even today to offer prayers to the Ghaznavi Ghazi who once looted and plundered Hindu kingdoms, destroyed temples, killed Hindus, Converted many to Islam via sword, raped their Hindu women and sisters during 1031-1033 CE. Our copy-paste historians have cast stories of Salar Masud as a tragic youth who was cursed to die as an unmarried or that of a liberator who fought against the oppression of the ‘evil’ King Suheldev. Even today when a strong wind blows, the gates of the Dargah are closed and an iron chain said to be of magical powers, is tied at its front so that the “evil spirit” of Suheldev can’t enter the tomb to torment the Ghazi Miyan and his followers.
From the 1960s onwards, the name of Raja Suheldev began to be openly used in political campaigning by various candidates to appeal to the Hindus, especially Pasi & Bhar communities. All major political parties from BSP and BJP to SP to smaller local parties like Bharat Kranti Raksha Party (BKRP) invoke the name of Raja Suheldev to garner votes. Bhar’s votes as also mobilized in his name by smaller caste-based parties like the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party. When BSP came to power in UP, several statues of Raja Suheldev were installed across the state under the greater BSP project of ‘re-instating’ the Dalit leaders and heroes in the public discourse.