Reading Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsam which traces the illustrious lineage of Sri Rama’s ancestors – the line of Ikshavaku, one is amazed at how morally upright, cultured, erudite, and sophisticated the Hindus of Bharat were.
Here, I reflect on Canto-7 “The marriage of Aja” and in particular two verses from this Canto: Aja, the son of Raghu; father of Dasharatha; and the grandfather of Rama was chosen as husband by the greatest beauty of the land – Indumathi in a Swayamvara attended by all the Kings of the land. The disappointed Kings (who were rejected by Indumati) decided to ambush Aja and his retinue made up of his core group of trusted warriors and kidnap the princess Indumati.
They set a trap near a cul-de-sac and waited for Aja and Indumati. As soon as Aja and his retinue reached this point in the forest they were attacked by these angry Kings.
Aja directed one of his ministers to guard Indumati along with a select group of bodyguards and turned to face the combined might of the kings of Bharatavarsha.
It was a bloody, gory battle and Kalidasa describes the battle scenes in great detail. What struck me were two verses (see attached photos):
Verse-37: The foot soldiers fought the foot soldiers; those on chariots attacked only those warriors equipped with chariots; horsemen engaged horsemen; and elephant troops fought elephant troops. Never did the charioteer attack the foot soldier or the horsemen – this moral warrior code was followed even in the heat of battle.
Verse-47: When a horseman struck another horseman and saw that he was badly wounded and lying supine across his horse’s back, he did not attack him again to kill him, instead he prayed for his recovery so that they could fight like true warriors – face-to-face.
Such was the chivalry and culture of the people of Bharata.
Aja won and bore Indumati to Ayodhya but that is not the point of this post.
I reflected on how the Islamic invasion must have been such a shock for a people so chivalrous, urbane, sophisticated, and cultured. The muslim invasion of India was characterized by unimaginable brutality, complete lack of morality, no respect for warrior codes, and remains unparalleled in the history of the world in terms of brutality, scale and mode of killing, enslavement, humiliation, and subjugation – and to think that such a cultured civilization was made to go through all this, sends a shiver down one’s spine.