Jain trader saved Mughal invader’s mom from pirate

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat), January 8, 2012: Gujaratis have always exulted hearing stories about the plucky Rajput king Bhimdev Solanki handing a crushing defeat on Mughal invader Muhammed Ghori, when he attacked the state in the 12th century.

But, there was also a Gujarati – a minister of the Solanki rulers – who had saved Ghori’s mother in Cambay, India’s most flourishing port then, from pirates.

The ship carrying Ghori’s mother was attacked by pirates while she was on the way to Mecca from Cambay. It was the navy squadron of influential Jain merchant Vastupal that saved her, writes historian Makrand Mehta in the book ‘Gujarat and the Sea’ citing Muslim chroniclers. When he heard that the ship was under attack, Vastupal sent his navy and chased the pirates away.

After invading Multan in Pakistan in 1175, Ghori proceeded to Gujarat’s capital of Anhilwara (modern Patan) in 1178. Bhimdev Solanki II’s mother, Naikidevi, who controlled the army due to her son’s young age, inflicted a huge defeat on Ghori in Kayadra, a village near Mount Abu. After the thrashing, Ghori never returned to Gujarat.

Besides being a minister, Vastupal was also in charge of the kingdom’s ports from 1220 until his death in 1240. He played a pivotal role in turning Cambay into a cosmopolitan city where Jains, Hindus, Turks, Arabs, Armenians as well as Parsis lived. “In fact, this great merchant-administrator encouraged Muslim merchants to settle in Cambay, where he also had a mosque constructed for them,” writes Mehta.

Mertungacharya, a great Jain scholar who composed the classic ‘Prabandhachintamani’ in 1305, described how Vastupal competed with one Said for the overlordship of the Cambay port and defeated him in a skirmish.

Vastupal and his equally influential brother Tejpal are credited with building the beautiful Dilwara temples in Mount Abu. – News Courtesy: Times of India

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Post Author: JHC