Alternate History

To Share a River

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Today, the two major powers on the Indian subcontinent are India and Pakistan, the latter occupying much of Punjab, the Indus River, Kashmir and Baluchistan. Most of its population follows the Islamic religion. But it was not always that way. Over a thousand years ago, Sindh and Punjab were Buddhist and Hindu majority areas until after their conquest by Umayyad forces under General Bin Qasim. But what if that changed? This timeline explores the possibility of local king Raj Dahir's victory, helped by a prophecy that made many turn to his side that OTL prophesied his defeat. It also explores the aftermath of the conflict and a dramatic change in the course of history in Asia.

POD: The Umayyad Retreat

In 712, Muhammad Bin Qasim's army invaded India to take over the rich Sindh valley and Multan. They enjoyed success for a while, raiding communities while Dahir mobilized. However, within a few weeks the armies meet - Dahir's army had swelled to double it's previous amount, reinforced by mercenaries and commoners, believing that divine favor was with Dahir.

The Arab army was driven from Sindh in shables. Fearing yet another attack, Dahir married off his daughters to Gurjara and Vallabhi, two kingdoms in the east, forming an alliance with their dying kings and securing them an heir. The three armies met another Arab force at the Indus river and once again the Arabs were defeated. Dahir soon became ruler of the three kingdoms and declared himself emperor of Rajastan.

713 - 820: The Dahir dynasty

Dahir died in 719 and his son Kumara took the throne. When he died in 734, his son Narasimha took the throne. Narasimha expanded east towards the Ganges Delta, creating an empire stretching from Sindh to Delhi to Bengal. Narasimha's reign saw a decline of Buddhism and Jainism in the Indian subcontinent, as Narasimha, as a Brahmin, propagated Hinduism. Narasimha also established an advisory council called the Varna Sabha, consisting of four lower caste, three merchant class and two Brahmin and warrior caste representatives to advise a king and elect a new one if necessary.

When Narasimha died, his son Ramachandra took the throne in 762. Ramachandra did not expand his empire, rather he consolidated it and introduced an affordable income tax and property size limit law to decrease poverty, leading to a form of economic policy called Chandraic Feudalism. Kings ruled over nobles, who ruled over town governers who in turn ruled over the majority of the population, farmers, artisans and priests.

During Ramachandra's reign, in 802, the scholar Adi Shankaracharya became a part of Ramachandra's court and became an important political figure.From 803, Shankaracharya guided his heir, Vinayakraj, through caste equality and spreading the message that Rajasthan was designated the "Hindu Empire", prompting many Indian kingdoms to pledge loyalty to the empire. Eventually, Vinayakraj conquered all of Southern India until his death in 820 without an heir. From the Varna Sabha, a popular kshatriya general, Ramaraja Chauhan, was elected emperor, signalling the start of the Chauhan dynasty.

820 - 1000: Hindu Empire

Ramaraja Chauhan had earned his name in the war between Rajastan and a rival empire to the south, Rashtrakuta. He had won a battle near Ujjain against a Rashtrakuta force twice the size of his own by using guerrilla tactics and traps. Chauhan was declared a national hero before his election as king of Hindustan. Chauhan's only major accomplishments as king, however, were an alliance with the declining Abbasid empire to the west and reforms in the Varna Sabha, tasking them with electing one of his sons as king when he died even if that son was not the oldest. When Chauhan retired to the life of a monk in 839, his youngest son, Markandeya, was chosen as king. Markandeya, however, used his influence to disband the Varna Sabha and declare India a Buddhist kingdom. The members of the Varna Sabha, in retaliation, assassinated the king in 841 and replaced him with a puppet, his eldest son, Vikramaditya, who returned the Varna Sabha to power.

In 871,Vikramaditya died and his much more popular son, Siddhartha, succeeded him. Siddhartha placed checks and balances throughout the political makeup of the kingdom, with the king remaining the supreme leader of the country, but, like other citizens, under the law. Siddhartha ruled at a time when many of the kingdoms conquered by Vinayakraj and Ramachandra had broken free under Vikramaditya, the weakest ruler in the nation's young history. Siddhartha soon sent a large contingent of forces down towards these breakaway states and subdued them, bringing them back under his rule.

In 876, Siddhartha, realizing the importance of cities like Magadha to the Silk trade, proceeded to make the provinces along the borders better protected and more hospitable, creating a banking system similar to the Abbasid Sakk system to safeguard the money of merchants, called the Sekha banks, and provided cheap escorts for merchants throughout the empire. This move increased trade in Hindustan and gave more money to the government. However, things turned ugly when a group of spies attempted to steal the technology of Silk production in China (which had since reemerged as a great power after the prevention of a devastating rebellion by the official, An Lushan) and were caught. The spies were of Magadhan origin, leading the Chinese to believe that Hindustan was responsible (In fact, the spies were hired by Bengali land-owners who wanted to make their lands more profitable). In 880, the Chinese declared war and Bengal was swiftly occupied by the humongous force sent by the Chinese.

Slowly, the Hindustani forces regrouped, and in the next ten years reconquered lost territory and moved into southeast Asia, into Chinese vassals like Burma. They were also pushed back, however, and for three more years a stalemate occurred at the edge of Bengal until a treaty ended the war with no gains or losses for either side - officially. However, in return for the support of many land-owners, Siddartha sent his own spies to China who succeeded in discovering the secret to creating silk. Soon, landowners became even more rich from Silk - and politically powerful.

By 900, the artisan-merchant class was the dominant group in the Varna Sabha, with seats held by corporate giants who used their money for political gain. Out of the 100 seats that the Sabha was expanded to, land-owners held a staggering 80 seats in government. This came to a head when the merchants leading the Kolkota company, a trading corporation, attempted a coup against the king, Vikramaditya II. Vikramaditya II crushed the rebellion and gave seats to the other castes who had supported his side, leaving the merchants with only 25 seats. He also placed a limit on the value of property one person or corporation could own. With the end of corporate domination and political power, Hindustan started a shift away from feudalism.

713 - 1200: China and Africa

China also experienced a separate POD with the disastrous An Lushan rebellion being prevented by the execution of said person. China went through a resurgence in the power with the Tang Dynasty, and eventually reconquered the parts of central Asia lost to the Muslims. China also was able to establish a system similar to the Mameluke slave system used in Persia that brought it's first taste of Turkish culture into the country. Turks became powerful officials under the Chinese Strongman system, which took in Turkish families to train their sons for the army. Because of this, Islam spread very deep into China.

In 994, a decade after the war with Hindustan ended, a Turkish rebel named Nizam Seljuk sparked a rebellion and swiftly overran China. Though his empire would last only about two centuries and a half, during its reign Islam would gain a strong foothold in China. It also borrowed many Confucian and Buddhist values from China's ancient culture. by the 1000's, Chinese Sufism would be the second largest religion in the country, second only to Confucianism.

The Seljuks adopted a tolerance policy that helped them adopt Chinese culture. The later East Seljuk kings would only speak Chinese. However, the Seljuk tribe that conquered China was not the only branch of the clan. In 1055 Seljuk Bey conquered Baghdad and established a Turkish empire of West Asia. They became highly Persianized. Despite cultural similarities between the two Seljuk Empires, both frequently fought. Eventually the East Seljuks, richer from trade, prevailed, and overran the Seljuk capital of Baghdad in 1096. Jalaluddin Ibrahim Seljuq, the king of China at the time, conquered as far as Iraq before being repulsed by a Syrian kingdom that was established by rebels.

In 1130, reduced government involvement in Central Asian affairs caused many Turkish groups to break free from the empire. Consequently, the Turks were unable to control both China and Persia and the two empires fell to rebels.

The changes in Silk Road power allowed trade to flow more easily throughout the Middle East and Africa. East African city states like Sofala and Kilwa rose about 990 AD. These two city-states are the most important because the leaders of the nearby city of Great Zimbabwe conquered them and used them as trading ports. The Kerala-Yemen-East Africa trade flow became one of the richest in history. Great Zimbabwe used these riches to fuel a wave of conquest stretching across the OTL southern fifth of the continent.

Great Zimbabwe eventually converted to Islam under the a ruler who killed his three brothers to gain the throne. about one hundred years later, by 1100, Great Zimbabwe had made permanent trading contact with Ghana in the west. Ghana was reeling from a recent attack by the Islamic Almoravid empire and was quickly falling apart. However, it was saved by West African trade flooding in with goods from China, India and the Muslim World. By the 1150's Ghana was regaining its power and had formed an alliance with Great Zimbabwe. Though both far behind technologically, They borrowed foreign naval advancements and eventually ships were patrolling Atlantic Africa.

Though empires rose and fell for the next 500 years, the effect of Indian goods reaching Europe so fast from a different and cheaper source helped spark European interest in the east...

1100 - 1300: India and the Mongols

India experienced great prosperity for a time under the Chauhan dynasty. Hindustan provided stability for the country and rarely had any slight misfortunes. In the 1000's, however, India was surrounded by the Turkish empires of China and Persia, sandwiched between the two. For many years only the mountains of the north separated Hindustan from the two powers. Thankfully for Hindustan, they were constantly at war. During the period of the united Turkish Empire, however, Hindustan had to guard its borders heavily and many forts were established in the Himalayas. Today many cities in that region came from these numerous mountain - forts. When the Turks finally fell, for a brief period peace once again reigned in the empire.

In 1206, however, a new threat started to the far north. After years of struggling for independence, the Mongol tribes under a man named Temujin Khan established their own empire, bestowing upon Temujin the title of Chingiz, or Genghis, Khan. Chingiz overran China and Persia and within a few decades was encroaching upon Hindustan's borders.

In 1230, Genghis Khan's son Ogedei Khan campaigned into Hindustan by launching dual attacks from Persia and Tibet. Hindustan's strategic mountain forts just barely survived the invasion, with the help of the harsh mountain winter. after a few decades, the Mongol empire finally divided and Hindustan was safe again.

1095 - 1187: Conflicts in Europe

In 1095 the Christian Pope Urban II launched a Europe-wide attempt to conquer the Holy Land from Turkish rule. After years of fighting, the Christians overwhelmed the weary Turks and established the kingdom of Israel which constituted the entire Holy Land in 1099. By this time, however, Syria was rising in power and took over Israel in 1106. Europe was enraged and a battle between the Catholics and the Muslims, Syria and the Turks, raged for about thirty more years until the Turkish empire fell. However, the Catholics never regained the Holy Land. Instead an independent Kurdish king was made king of Israel and he permitted Christians and Jews to live and travel there. His name was Saladin I.

In 1240, Ogedei Khan launched attacks on Christian Europe. after overcoming Russia, he turned to the West. Ogedei had occupied half of Germany until he died and the Empire fell apart, letting the Holy Roman Empire counter-attack and reclaim its lost territory as well as Poland. Russia would remain under the Mongol rule until Ivan the Great.

In 1200, trade with Ghana flourished when Spanish kingdoms invited their traders to travel there past the hostile Almoravids. That empire quickly deteriorated and Christianity was able to quickly take advantage. In 1304 the last Muslim kingdoms were ousted and the Inquisition snowballed into Iberia.

Ghanan trade not only helped secure Spain as Christian, but it led to an interest in the East and trade there. For example, the trader Miguel de Sevilla from Spain set out in 1320 to find Endieutan, the mythical land that the goods apparently originated from. Miguel finally found Endieutan, or Hindustan, in 1326 and stayed there as a government advisor until 1345 with the death of Ekadantaraya II Chauhan.

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