Most of us relate to Genghis Khan as a Muslim ruler,who was brutal, barbaric and apparently, whose genes are found in 16 million men living today.But he wasn’t a Muslim.He prayed in the mountains to sky God and Khan title has Mongol origin,given to warrior or head of all tribes.Genghis is said to have believed in Shamaism.Can be co-related to Arab word for buddhists-Samani,which was derived from the Sanskrit Shravana.
How Genghis Khan,a warrior and one of History’s Immortals decides to take revenge from the Muslim world beyond Altai mountains and conquer territories is stuff history is made of.It is surprising to read that an all conquering religious force and a civilization so advanced,could be crushed with such ruthlessness.
To give a background of Genghis Khan or Temujin(his original name)initial years,he was born in an extremely inhospitable environment,in an area which was South of Siberia(close to Lake Baikal and North of Mongolia).
As a thirteen year old he had his half-brother brother killed,by shooting him with an arrow,all planned,in cold blood over a piece of meat.
Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan,Kyrgyztan, Kazakhstan were divided among smaller kingdoms and most of the cities( Samarkand ,Bukhara,urgench,nishapur,Otrar,Merv etc between Amurdarya or Oxus valley(Tansoxania/Jaxartes) and Syr darya lay within the Dominion of Khwarezm Shah,Mohammed.This region was supplied well from Pamirs,and was a fertile land and part of the silk route.
Genghis by now ruling Mongolia & parts of Northern China ( Beijing,Manchuria),had sent a delegation of 450 merchants along with his ambassador to the court of Khwarezm Shah, to build trade and commerce relations.He was a haughty,unscrupulous ruler who did not see what was coming.
This ruler not only refused the offer of trade,he also initially imprisoned those merchants and later got them, all killed(apparently most of those merchants were Muslims).Knowing this,Genghis got furious and decided to march to the Islamic world.(We need to remember that by this time he had the expertise of defeated Chinese army and its vast resources at his disposal)
The march started in 1219, led his army west,with close to one hundred and fifty soldiers and each soldier with atleast 2-3 horses,with its ability to cover 100 kms in a day.They also had the best of Seige machinery .Catapults(modern day artillery) with capability to fire 3 arrows in one go ,naphta bombs and other Chinese inventions,accompanied by finest battle hardened nomadic cavalry.
Mongols used Composite bow,which was lighter and easy to manage than your English longbow.
So,what rolled for 2700 kms from Mongolia to Kharwzem was a Juggernaut.Mongols could cover 800kms in 60 days,Compare this with mechanised army on the move at speed.In Aug 1944, after D day landings of June,Americans under General Patton rolled along at 30 kms a day for 3 days,with virtually no opposition,over the long straight paved roads.. Invasion_of_Khwarezmia
Mongols,initally attacked a city by the name of Otrar,whose commander had killed their merchants and ambassador.After having defeated the city and pouring molten gold down the throat of its commander,Genghis, ordered all the rich people of the city to gather in courtyard,and announced to them, that he is the curse of God!
Now he attacked the confederation of four cities, Samarkand,Bukara,Merv &Gurganj.
These four cities,all located on rivers running from Pamirs.All were trade Emporia linking East and West.
Juvaini(a traveller and author) says 7 thousand soldiers killed 1.2 million citizens of Merv- this city was pearl of central Asia.More than 3 million people were massacred in a span of a year,while the remaining population turned into slaves.
For a Mongol,an unresisting prisonar was easier to kill,than a sheep.You can cut a small hole in the chest,reach inside,grab the heart and stop it.To kill a man, was not more than a second’s job.Its possible for 7000 men to slaughter of a million would have been hard day’s work. Khwarezmian massacres can be easily equated to Nazi Holocaust,as there were similarities in the attitude of Mongol generals and the final solution.
Genghis believed Man’s greatest fortune is to chase and defeat his enemy,seize all his possessions,leave his married women weeping and wailing,use the body of women as night shirts and supports,gazing upon and kissing there rosy breasts,such their lips which are as sweet as the berries of the breasts.
Genghis Khan, while chasing the son of Shah Mohammed arrived till the banks of Indus,however did not cross the river, he saw a Rhinoceros,was told is a bad omen,and he turned back !
Mongol Empire was twice as large as the Roman Empire, Empire of Alexander(probably Alexander did was to defeat just one big ruler) and they conquered Russia in winters which neither Napoleon nor Hitler could do.(Russian story would be told sometime later in future).
The inspiration to write this blogpost has come from John Man.