Saturday, November 17, 2012






 Tawareekh ul-Hind or Tahqiq-i-Hind (History of India) was written by Al-Biruni after he visited India and learned about Indian culture and civilization. Al-Biruni, short for Abu al-Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Biruni, was a prominent philosopher, astronomer, polymath, mathematician, and historian from Central Asia who was considered a jewel in the court of Mahmud of Ghazni. Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni invaded India 17 times looting and plundering its riches and wealth apart from destroying Somnath Temple.

 Al-Biruni was a Shiite of Iranian origin and a master of many languages including Sanskrit, Turkish and Hebrew. Before his country Khwarizm was invaded by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, Al-Biruni was close to many kings and kingdoms including Sahi Hindu kings of Gandhara. Al Biruni was made court astrologer and accompanied Mahmud on his invasions into India, living there for a few years. He was 44 when he accompanied Mahmud of Ghazni in his invasions of India. His exploration and study of the country gave way to a scholarly work that, in its profound understanding of almost all aspects of Indian life, remained unmatched for eight hundred years. While the Sultan and his forces were engaged in plunder and looting of India, Al Biruni busied himself in the pursuits of knowledge and culture of India. He travelled extensively in Northern India.

 Born in 973 in Khwarizm in present-day Uzbekistan, an important centre of learning in Central Asia at that time, Al Biruni was a Muslim by conviction with a deep-rooted quest for universal knowledge. The literal translation of his name Al-Biruni is "The Outsider". Some historians have also called Al-Biruni a person of agnostic beliefs.

 Tawareekh-ul-Hind gives us a detailed description of the problems created in India due to the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni, the social conditions, taxation methods, religious beliefs, etc. The book holds an important key to the History of India during the medieval period. It has exhaustive notes on Mimasa, Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Manusmriti, Tantras, Samhita, astrology astronomy and Indian mathematics. Al-Biruni gives details of almost all the rivers including Chenab and Jhelum. He is very clear not only about the existence of river Saraswati but also about its path which he describes clearly. Al Biruni seems to be fascinated by Kashmir and the scholarship of its residents. About Kashmir, he writes this:-

 “ Long before our time, Vasukra the famous Kashmiri scholar took upon himself the task of explaining and committing to writing the Vedas "

 " There is a book by Utpala a Kashmiri scholar called" Rahunarkarna " and another book called" Karanapata" dealing with astronomy ."

 “ In central and Northern India, people use the bark of the Tuz tree generally used to cover bows. It is called Bhurja. They take a piece of one yard long and as broad as the outstretched fingers of the hand or somewhat less, prepare it in various ways. They oil and polish it to make it hard and smooth and then they write on it. They wrap this in cloth to be finally called a Pothee or Pustaka. “

 "The city of Kashmir covers a space of four Farsakh being built along both banks of river Jailam ( Jehlum ) which are connected by bridges and ferry boats. "

 "In the mountain of Harmukata ( Harmukh ), the snow never melts nor disappears. Behind these mountains is the country of Machacin or China. ”

 “The inhabitants of Kashmir are pedestrians. They have no riding animals. The noble among them ride Palankis called Hatt which is carried on men's shoulders. They are particular about the natural strength of their country and therefore always keep a strong hold on the entrances and roads leading into it. They do not allow any Hindu whom they do not know personally to enter their country, much less other people "

 " In the inner Kashmir, about three days journey from the capital towards the mountain of Bolor ( Wular lake ), the idol of Sharda is much venerated and frequented by pilgrims."

 " Varanasi and Kashmir are the high schools of Hindu Science. Sidhamatrika originated from Kashmir and the people of Kashmir use it. The most generally known alphabet of Hindus is called Siddhamatrika. Like Greeks, Hindus write from left to right."

 In 1973, the then USSR ( Russia ) honoured him by releasing a special postal stamp bearing his photograph. The UNESCO Courier ( published in 15 languages including Turkish ), dedicated its 1974 issue to al-Biruni. and separated him from the rest of the world. They introduced Al-Biruni as "the universal genius who lived a thousand years ago in Central Asia".

 ( Avtar Mota )



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