Rai dynasty
489–632
GovernmentMonarchy
History 
• Established
489
• Disestablished
632
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Hind (Sasanian province)
Brahmin dynasty of Sindh
Today part ofSindh, Pakistan

The Rai dynasty (c. 489–632 CE) was a polity of ancient Sindh.[2]

Scholarship

Pre-Islamic Sindh has been the subject of voluminous scholarship concerning the eve of Arab conquests; otherwise, the paucity of source materials remains a severe hindrance. Under the British Raj, as bureaucrats and amateur historians mined the Chachnama to justify their invasion of Khairpur, and presence in the subcontinent, the Rai dynasty received some attention.[3][a] In modern scholarship, the dynasty has attracted recent attention from a few numismatists.[5]

Background

See also: Sasanian coinage of Sindh

Coinage attests to the indirect influence of Sasanians over Sindh since the reign of Shapur II.[6][b] In the last Sassanian mints discovered from the region—of Peroz I (r. 459–484)—a new Brahmi legend "Ranaditya Satya" appears on the reverse, which was probably the name of the local ruler.[6][c] Sometime soon, Sindh appears to have fallen off the orbit of Sassanians who were reeling under Hephthalite invasions.[6] The Rai dynasty's origin probably laid in this power vacuum.[5]

Sources

Sindh, as a region, had no extant histories until late-medieval era and our knowledge of Rai dynasty remains rudimentary.[4] The lone literary source remains Chachnama.[2][3] Though the historical accuracy of Chachnama remains disputed among scholars,[d] its narrative has made to multiple Persian and Oriental histories of the region—Tarikh i Sind (17th c.), Tuhfatul karaam (18th c.), British Gazettes etc.[4] No definitive epigraphic or archaeological evidence, pertaining to the dynasty, can be located.[4][e]

Rulers

The Rais reigned for a period of 144 years c. 489 – 632 A.D. They allegedly had familial ties with other rulers of South Asia including Kashmir, Kabul, Rajasthan, Gujarat etc.[12] However, their origins and the precise circumstance of rise remains unknown.[f] The first three kings were Rai Diwaji, Rai Sahiras I, and Rai Sahasi I.[2] Nothing is known about them; their names are mentioned in a single line in the Chachnama, where Wazir Buddhiman describes the territorial expanses and administrative structure of Rais under Rai Sahiras II to Chach.[2][13]

Rai Sahiras II

The Chachnama in its opening verses note Rai Sahiras II to be famed for his justice and generosity; his coffers overflowed with wealth.[12] The kingdom was divided into four units, each under a governor or a vassal.[14] The southern unit extended from the coasts of Arabian Sea to Lohana and Samona—including Nerun and Debal port—and had its capital at Brahmanabad.[14] The central unit spanned across the areas around Jankan and Rujaban to the Makran frontier; it had Sewistan as its capital.[14] The western unit extended over a vast area—Batia, Chachpur and Dehrpur—of western Sindh; Iskalanda was the capital.[14] The northern unit was centered around Multan, adjoining Kashmir.[14]

Sahiras II met his death while attempting to ward off an invasion by the Sassanian King of Nimroz into Kirman. He was portrayed as a valiant king who battled till death despite much of his forces deserting the battle; Makran and other unknown territories were lost in the conflict.[2][14][13]

Rai Sahasi II

Under his regime, the kingdom exhibited socioeconomic prosperity; Sahasi II is praised as a benevolent ruler who chose to abide by his counsel.[13] He was married to Sohman Devi.[12]

During his regime, Chach, a poor learned Brahmin was inducted under minister/chamberlain Ram in the epistolary office. He impressed Sahasi II with his expertise and rose through the ranks quickly, eventually becoming his personal secretary after Ram's death.[12][13] As Chach gained access to the interiors of palace, Devi became enamored of him and proposed for marriage but met with Chach's rejection; Chachnama explains that he did not wish to incur the King's wrath and swerve further away from the scriptural ideals of a Brahminic life.[12][13] Yet, Chach accepted her request for providing company and their relationship blossomed.[12] Sahasi II, ignorant of Chach's ways, continued to let him gain unprecedented control in the affairs of the state until his natural death.[12]

Usurpation

On Sahasi II's death, Devi proposed that Chach usurp the throne.[12] Chach conceded to Devi's plan, albeit unwillingly, and the news of Sahasi II's death was withheld from public; in the meanwhile, the familial claimants to the throne were incited against each other in a fatal internecine warfare.[12][g] Then Devi proclaimed that Sahasi II, though recovering, was unable to hold court and had appointed Chach as the caretaker ruler for his lifetime.[12][13] The elites were lured into supporting the coverup and Chach ruled as the de-facto King for about six months.[13]

However, the news of the King's death somehow made way to Sahasi II's brother—Rai Mahrit, then ruler of Chittor—who claimed the throne and mounted a military offensive against Chach.[12][13] Chachnama notes Chach to have been ambiguous about the morality of taking on a legitimate successor before being coaxed by Devi, who shamed his masculinity.[2][12] After securing an unanticipated victory,[h] Chach commissioned triumphal arches and held public feasts; soon, Devi had him declared as the heir to the throne, being a man of unsurmountable intellect and bravery, and would marry him with the approval of the court.[2][12][13]

Thus the Brahman dynasty was established, in what is portrayed in Chachnama, as the intrigues of a femme fatale working in conjunction with a willing-yet-ethical apprentice.[2][12] Chach would later have to subdue protracted resistance from Bachhera, a relative of Sahasi II and the governor (or vassal) of Multan province.[13]

Imperial houseRai Dynasty Preceded bySassanian dynasty Monarchy 489–632 Succeeded byBrahman dynasty

Notes

  1. ^ Alexander Cunningham proposed an alternate chronology (? – >641 A.D.) — primarily on the basis of local coin-finds and equating Sindhu with the Sin tu kingdom, as described in the Great Tang Records on the Western Regions — identifying the first two Rais as Toramana and Mihirakula, and the latter three as Tegin Shah, Vasudeva, and an anonymous successor.[4]
  2. ^ Abundant Sasanian mints but with significant variations —in typology, style, and especially, denomination— have been excavated from Sind.[6] Literary sources do not record Sasanian activity and details thereof in these frontier regions.
  3. ^ Two series of Peroz's coin (first crown and third crown) are observed in Sindh. Only in the second, does this legend appear replacing the two attendants of the fire temple![6]
  4. ^ Chachnama purports to be a Persian translation by `Ali Kufi (13th-century) of an undated, original Arabic text which is not extant anymore. Manan Ahmed rejects Kufi's assertion and hypothesizes it to be an original work that drew on then-extant histories to imagine an alternative romantic-nationalist past of Sindh. In contrast, Irfan Habib and Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila emphasizes on unique features of the text that would have been impossible without a literal translation and rejects Asif's doubts on the veracity of the events described in Chachnama,[7][8] as does André Wink criticizing Asif's intensely source-critical approach.[9]
  5. ^ Alexander M. Fishman and Ian Todd speculate a series of gold dinars and silver dammas found in the region — similar to the Ranaditya Satya mints, in deriving from Sassanian coinage but bearing different legends and different crown patterns — to have been minted by the Rais.[5] The legends might be read as Sri Shahi Rasra(…), Sri Jayataka, Sri Harsharuka, and Sri Bharharsha some of which match, albeit roughly, with speculative reconstructions obtainable from the Chachnama — Diwaj > Diwaditya > Devaditya alias Ranaditya (?), Sahiras I > Shahi Rasra(…) (?), Sahsi I > ?, Sahiras II > Sri Harsha (?), and Sahsi II > ?.[5][10] Pankaj Tandon does not find the attribution convincing.[11]
  6. ^ Chintaman Vinayak Vaidya held the Rais to be descendants of Mauryas and hence, Shudra, by caste.[4] This descent was proposed on the basis of Rai Mahrit, then ruler of Chittor claiming to be Sahasi II's brother. Rulers of pre-Sisodia Rajasthan usually claimed a descent from Mauryas and this identification went perfectly with Xuanzang's noting the King of Sin-tu to be a Sudra.
  7. ^ The claimants were asked to meet the frail King, one by one. In reality, Devi had each of them imprisoned and claimed that it was the King who had them imprisoned out of a quarrel with some other claimant. Thus, it was necessary to kill him to gain King's trusts, and freedom.
  8. ^ Chach challenged Mahrit to a one-on-one combat, claiming his Brahmin origins had precluded learning the skills of cavalry. However, in the combat, Chach mounted a horse and beheaded Mahrit. Mahrit's forces went into a disarray receiving the news of his death.

References

  1. ^ Schwartzberg, Joseph E. (1978). A Historical atlas of South Asia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 26, 145 map XIV.1 (i). ISBN 0226742210.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Wink, Andre (1996). Al Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World. BRILL. pp. 133, 152–153. ISBN 90-04-09249-8.
  3. ^ a b Asif 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e Mirchandani, B. D. (1985). Glimpses of Ancient Sind: A Collection of Historical Papers. Sindh: Saraswati M. Gulrajani. pp. 25, 53–56.
  5. ^ a b c d Fishman, A. M.; Todd, I. J.; Pieper, W. (2021). "Recently Discovered Gold, Silver and Copper Coins of pre-Islamic Sindh and the Yashaditya Series". Numismatische Zeitschrift. 127: 389–392.
  6. ^ a b c d e Schindel, Nikolaus; Alram, Michael; Daryaee, Touraj; Pendleton, Elizabeth (2016). The Parthian and Early Sasanian Empires: adaptation and expansion. Oxbow Books. pp. 126–130. ISBN 9781785702105.
  7. ^ Habib, Irfan (June 2017). "Book Review: Manan Ahmad Asif, A Book of Conquest: The Chachnåma and Muslim Origins in South Asia". 4 (1): 105–109. doi:10.1177/2348448917694235. ISSN 2348-4489. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ Hämeen-Anttila, Jaakko (2018-10-02). "A Book of Conquest: The Chachnama and Muslim Origins in South Asia". Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations. 29 (4): 536–538. doi:10.1080/09596410.2018.1522158. ISSN 0959-6410.
  9. ^ Andre Wink. Review of Asif, Manan Ahmed, A Book of Conquest: The Chachnama and Muslim Origins in South Asia. H-Asia, H-Net Reviews. May, 2017.
  10. ^ Habib, Irfan (2012). "Linguistic Materials from Eighth-century Sind: An Exploration of the Chachnama". In Jafri, S.Z.H (ed.). Recording the Progress of Indian History: Symposia Papers of the Indian History Congress, 1992–2010. Delhi: Primus Books. pp. 80–81, 86.
  11. ^ Tandon, Pankaj (2022). "Research on the Guptas and (Iranian) Huns, 2014–2020" (PDF). In Alram, Michael; Bodzek, Jaroslaw; Bursche, Aleksander (eds.). The Survey of Numismatic Research 2014–2020. Vol. II. International Numismatic Council.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Asif, Manan Ahmed (2016). A Book of Conquest: The Chachnama and Muslim Origins in South Asia. Harvard University Press. pp. 65, 81–82, 131–134. ISBN 9780674660113.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Baloch, N. A., ed. (1983). Fathnamah I-Sind: Being the Original Record of the Arab Conquest of The Sind. Islamabad, Pakistan: Institute of Islamic History, Culture and Civilization: Islamic University.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Siddiqi, Iqtidar Husain (2013). Indo-Persian Historiography Up to the Thirteenth Century. Primus Books. p. 31.