This is the abridged version – based on Auriel Stein’s reading – of the early verses of book VII of Kalhana’s Rajatarangini with some supplementary commentary/detail enrichment. The referenced text describes the fated final battle between Mahmud of Ghazni and the (Hindu) Shahis of Udhbandhapura (modern day Hund, in the Swabi district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) under Trilochanapal from the Kashmiri POV. Kashmiri feudals played a major role in this battle, and one of their own, Tunga, a Khakha Rajput from Poonch was specifically responsible for losing the initiative and the battle. This resulted in the complete destruction of the Shahis and ultimately opened the way for Ghaznavid (and many more) Turkic incursions into India proper.
In the laukikA era four thousand and eighty nine (1013CE) the ruler of kashmIra-bhU (kingdom of Kashmir) was saGgrAmarAja – great grandson of kubhesha (lord of Kabul) bhIma shAhi of the great shAhIyaH dynasty. saGgrAmarAja had inherited the throne after a long series of succession intrigues (interspersed with violence) in the court of Kashmir through his maternal aunt (and erstwhile queen) diddA, sister of saGgrAmarAja’s illustrious father udayarAja and grand-daughter of bhIma shAhi.
One of the principal architects of these court intrigues was a certain khAsha (cf Khakha) rAjaputraH (Rajput) from parNotsa (Poonch) by the name tuGga, who had gained importance in the court of Kashmir partly due to his political machinations but also due to his infamous affair with queen diddA. diddA had elevated tuGga to sarvAdhikArin (prime ministership) of the country while she was alive. However, she was forced by the Kashmiri DAmara-s (feudals) and brAhmaNa-s (priests) to choose the successor king from the royal family and udayarAja’s son was the obvious choice. While the relations between saGgrAmarAja and tuGga were never good, queen diddA – on her deathbed – had made both of them take kosha (oath by sacred libation) that they would not harm each other.
While these intrigues were going on in the court of Kashmir, the related shAhi dynasts of UdabhAndapura (Hund) were zealously trying to keep the turuSka vAhini-s (Turkic armies) at bay. Therefore, in the month of mArgashIrSa (mid November – mid December) of laukika 4089, king saGgrAmarAja dispatched sarvAdhikArin tuGga to UdabhAndapura, country of his illustrious second cousin shAhi trilocanapAla who has asked for help against the turuSka mlecchAH (barbarians).
A large army followed the sarvAdhikArin. In attendance was his own son kandarpa-siMha, many rAjaputras from dvigartaH (Dogra), trigartaH (Kangra) and jalaMdhara (cf Jallandhar), chief councillors of the court and Kashmirian sAmanta-gaNAH (feudals, i.e. lAvanya-s, modern day Lone caste in Kashmir, and DAmara-s). Other officers of high rank: the mahAsaMdhivigraha (the chief minister of foreign affairs), mahAsAdhanabhAga (chief administrator) and mahAshvashAla (lord of the horse cavalry) also followed him. It is as if the himavataH (Himalayas) themselves shook at the sight of them all.
Prime minister tuGga and his son were hospitably received and treated with great respect by the shAhi. However, shAhi trilocanapAla noticed that even after a week of initial hospitalities, tuGga gave little thought to night watches, posting of scouts, cavalry charge exercises and other proper preparations for an attack. tuGga acted with a lot of over-confidence in his ability to marshal the substantial army of Kashmir and other rAjaputra-s to reduce the turuSka-s, which trilocanapAla advised against. trilocanapAla’s repeated counsel to tugGa was to post himself in a defensive position on the scarp of a hill near the bank of tauSi (seasonal snow-melt stream; vRddhi derivative of tuSAra, i.e. “snow”) – usually a reference to a tributary of vitastA (K. Vyeth; Jehlum) or sindhu – and not engage the enemy early. tuGga was meant to watch and get acquainted with the turuSka warfare tactics, which trilocanapAla himself had much experience of. Yet the sage advice fell on deaf ears, even after repeated instructions of the wise and battle-hardened trilocanapAla. The ever arrogant tuGga did not accept this wise counsel and remained with his troops eagerly looking out for a fight at the earliest instance. [At this point Kalhana repeats an old Sanskrit phrase for tuGga that is still in common currency today: vinAshkAle viprItaH buddhiH, lit. the mind does not think straight when the end is nigh]
Thus, in the cold morning of the end of the first week of mArgashIrSa, laukika 4089 (~25 Nov 1013), tuGga left his fortified position with a detachment to cross the tauSi and defeated a small corps that the turuSka chief, hammIra (Sanskritization of Mahmud Ghaznavi’s title, amir-ul momineen), had sent for reconnaissance. And the fateful battle commenced. Later in that morning came in fury and full battle array the leader of the turuSka army himself, hammIra, skilled in battle stratagem. The small cavalry of tuGga could not hold the line and dispersed immediately. shAhi’s force, however, joined the battle at this point. Also aiding them from the Kashmirian army were the brave jayasiMha – the lAvanya lord, shrIvardhana and the DAmara lord vibhramArka (related to king saGgramarAja). These three valiant men, fighting on the terrible field of battle that resounded with the tramp of horses and the clash of metal, preserved the honour of their country (Kashmir) from being totally lost (on account of tuGga’s actions).
Who can describe the sheer bravery of trilocanapAla, whom numberless turuSka-s could not defeat in battle? [Here Kalhana refers to trilocanapAla as simply trilocana, the epithet of Lord Shiva, and uses that metaphor explicitly]. trilocana causing floods of blood to pour forth from the mleccha in battle verily resembled Lord Shiva sending forth the fire that burns the world at the end of kalpa (~armageddon in Hindu mythology). Even after fighting a sea of armour-clad soldiers in battle tirelessly, trilocana remained singularly committed to fight unto his death rather than retreat. The battle see-sawed and even when trilocana was losing, he resolutely tried to marshal his force of elephants to press on for victory. When finally trilocana passed away, the whole country of gandhAra was over-shadowed by hordes of these cANDAla-s (barbarians) like a cloud of rapacious locusts. Yet hammIra did not breathe freely having witnessed the bravery of the illustrious trilocana and his troops.
Epilogue: It cannot be overstated what a calamity for the civilized world the defeat was. The royal glory and opulence of the shAhis has all but vanished and only the name remains, and the defeat a mere incident of history. Nothing is impossible to Fate – it affects with ease what appears incredible even in dreams and what flights of fancy fail to reach. That shAhi kingdom whose greatness on earth was unmatched stands utterly ruined – now one asks whether its kings, ministers and court really did exist? And that coward tuGga, after having brought about the descent of turuSka-s on the face of mother earth by his false pride and cowardly defeat, marched back slowly to his own country. The king recalled his kosha (sacred oath) to his departed aunt and did not put tuGga out of the way in spite of his terrible defeat.
Edit: Some of the comments seem to be confused about the transliteration used for Sanskrit words/names. I’ve always used the Harvard-Kyoto scheme for this purpose and have grown used to it. However, it may not be the most easy to make sense of especially for those not used to writing Sanskrit in Roman.
So for the benefit of those who know their devanAgarI, here’s an example of the HK phonetic table. E.g. a name written as tuGga will be rendered as तुङ्ग in the nAgarI original. (Worth bearing in mind kalhaNa was writing in shAradA, but the correspondence with devanAgarI is 1:1)