Military history is an interesting subject and not just for soldiers. By studying it we can guard against similar problems in the years to come. The defeat of the Hindus at the hands of the Muslims and the Turks is worth study. It shows us why the Hindu armies lost, despite displaying tremendous courage and bravery and a fatalistic contempt of death. This is part of the module on mobility, which we studied when I was undergoing the 41st Staff course at Wellington.
Principles of War
One thing should be clear that bravery alone is not a substitute for victory. The important thing is to understand the concept of war and the principles involved. In the 19th century Clausewitz propounded the Principles of War and earlier Sun Tzu outlined his ideas in the Art of War. One wishes that the Hindus had studied the art of war.
Bravery and Hindus
The Hindus liked war and were very brave. They had a warrior class called the Kshatriyas , yet in most encounters with Turki and Muslim armies they were decisively defeated. An excellent analysis of the causes of the Hindu defeat is written by Field Marshal Viscount Barnard Montgomery of Al Alamein in his "History of Warfare." Field Marshal Montgomery also referred to as "Monty “was the most successful British general during World War II.
Lack of strategic Concept
Monty states that one of the reasons for the defeat of the Hindus was a lack of strategic concept as the passes of the North West like the Khyber Pass were never defended. He also states that the Hindu armies were sluggish and slow moving affairs and lacked mobility.
Mobility and Muslim tactics
Mobility is one of the most important principles of war. This concept was imbibed by the Muslim armies. This concept consisted of reliance on the horse cavalry with mounted archers. Muslim armies consisted of hordes of mounted archers who would encircle an enemy and mount offensive as and when required. They would also retreat and counterattack in a short time. The Hindu armies used to a static concept of war with elephants were thus found wanting in their battles with the Muslims. This weakness was evident from the time of 7th century when Muhammad Qasim defeated the Hindu king Dahir of Sind. yet the Hindus learn't nothing from this defeat and the reliance on the elephant continued. The elephants were slow moving and countering thousands of archers on horseback was a difficult proposition. The Muslim army had mobility and along with it came a better tactical sense. It also allowed a commander to change tactics and reposition his force during a battle.
The Mounted Archer: a Muslim Concept
This concept of the mounted archer was something new. It was known to others, but the development to its full potential goes to the credit of the Muslims. The entire campaign by which the massive Ottoman Empire and subsequent conquests in India were carried out was by legions of mounted archers.
The Hindus by neglecting the art of war and not copying the Muslim tactics of mobility and strategic retreat and counterattack sealed their fate and lost, leaving the Muslims to rule India for close to 900 years