By H. Bhuban Singh
The recent visit of Her Excellency Smt. Pratibha Devi, the President of India to Mongolia and the signing of trade and cultural agreements, induced me to write about Genghis Khan, the Great Mongol of around 1210 who conquered the then whole known world.
Genghis Khan was born around 1210. His father was a Petty Chief of a sub-clan, who was always fighting with other sub-clans. It was like the existence of sub-kingdoms of Moirang, of Khumans, of Marams, of Tangkhuls, of Kabui’s etc, in Manipur till all these sub-kingdoms were brought together by Meitei Kings (Meidingus) like Khagemba or Pamheiba, who later on became Maharaja Garibniwas after conversion to Hinduism by Shanti Das Goswain.
In these sub-clan fights, Genghis Khan fought along with his father, when he reached the age of fifteen or sixteen. Therefore, he had acquired minor and major close-combat experience. Unfortunately, his father died in combat and the mantle of leading his sub-clan became his responsibility, when he was in his teens around seventeen or eighteen.
Young Genghis Khan led his sub-clan and was able to unite all other sub-clans and became the supreme chief of all Mongols. The young king of Mongolia desired to live peacefully and thus he sent messengers to all neighbouring kings for peaceful co-existence. Accordingly, he sent messengers to the Sultan of Arzebaijan (now, Uzbekistan), whose capital was Samarkand.
The fool-hardy Sultan got so angry that he beheaded, the messenger boy and sent the severed head to Mongolia through their other companion messengers from Mongolia with a warning that the Mongol king should never dare to send messenger boys to the Sultan of Arzebaijan. On receipt of the dried–up head at Ulanbator, the capital of Mongolia, the fiercely angry Genghis Khan decided to inflict revenge.
Leading the Mongol Army, Genghis Khan attacked Samarkand, the capital of the then Arzebaijan and mercilessly chopped-off the heads of anyone and everyone, who were Samarkhandis and piled their heads like a mountain in revenge. A similar thing happened in Manipur also, when the King of Manipur subdued the King of Moirang, who revolted and brought prisoners of war who were beheaded and buried at Moirang-Kom, now known as Moirangkhom.
Once Genghis Khan realized that to live peacefully, he had to subdue his enemies, he became prone to conquest as a means of preserving peace and thus he continued on a venture of conquering the whole known world of his time. So, he sent his eldest son, Kublai Khan to conquer China. Kablai did conquer China but he and his Mongol troops married Chinese girls and got absorbed into Chinese society and nation. All Mongols including Kublai Khan became pucca Chinese.
In brief intervals between campaigns and rest, the Mongol Army used to indulge in hunting. For example, if there was a dense jungle, measuring ten miles by three miles, the Mongol Army would surround the thirty square miles of jungles by Mongol cavalry and foot soldiers. They would beat drums and cymbals and drive the animals to a central spot where the animals would be slaughtered. Genghis Khan would come forward to kill the first animal victim, may be a tiger or a leopard etc. It is needless to mention that close behind the heels of the great Mongol Emperor, there would be armed soldiers to render help, if necessary. Invariably therefore, the Great Khan would succeed in killing the first prey and then, the nobles in order of seniority would slaughter their assigned prey-animals. The Mongol Army would kill all the captured animals and cook and eat. If there were excess of meat, they would smoke the meat and preserve for future consumption.
In between campaigns, the Great Khan would visit Ulan Bator and make sure that, no one dared to revolt against him in Mongolia. During his absence from battle-field areas, Genghis Khan used to depend on Sabutai his capable general who conquered southern parts of present-day Asia, like present-day Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, southern Russia, Armenia and parts of Georgia. The Mongols raped young women of Russia and of Georgia. That might be the reason, why the Russian Dictator, Stalin had trace of Mongolian look on his face because of Stalin’s Georgian origin.
Sometimes, when the Great Khan stayed at Ulan Bator for longer periods, he would summon Sabutai to Ulan Bator, for discussion. On receiving the command from Emperor Genghis Khan, General Sabutai would cover his head with a black cloth with a slit over his eyes, so as to enable him to see where he was going and ride on one pony, though he took three Mangolian ponies, right from the start of his journey. After the pony, which he rode got tired, he would change into another Mongolian pony which he took and continue with his journey.
Mongolian ponies were small in size like ponies of Manipur and could gallop at 30 miles per hour for short duration of one hour or a bit more time. After one hour of galloping, Sabutai would rest for 5 minutes and then start his journey towards the capital of Mongolia on a fresh pony, he brought. This process of changing ponies would continue during day-time. In other words, Sabutai covered about 30×12 miles in twelve hours =360 miles, in a journey of one day-time. Since the distance from Caspian sea to Ulan Bator was about 5000 miles, Sabutai would reach the Mongolian capital in about 5000-360 = about 14 days. If any pony of Sabutai got injured, he was at liberty to confiscate any pony belonging to anyone. Refusal to give a pony would invite pain of death. If there were moon-lit nights, Sabutai would cover the distance within about less than ten days.
Similarly, Emperor Genghis Khan’s mail service carried by successive runners on indentured or confiscated ponies, riding day and night with torches would reach Ulan Bator in half the number of days or five days. Therefore, the thirteenth century mail service of Emperor Genghis Khan was much faster than our Speed Post mail service carried by super-sonic jet planes of Indigo /Jet/ Indian Airlines etc which takes about five days to reach Delhi from Imphal which is 3000 nautical miles only, as against 5000 miles from Caspian see to Ulan Bator. What a shame for postal service!
The Great Genghis Khan died around 1260, when he was about fifty, while campaigning. His dead body was put on a carriage which was pulled and also pushed up to Ulanbator. On steep and muddy hill roads, the carriage refused to move.
Upon this, the Mongol soldiers sang paeans and requested God and Genghis Khan’s soul to reach his native Ulan Bator. Singing paeans, the Mongol soldiers and horses pushed and pulled the carriage. The dead body of the Great Genghis Khan on a wheeled carriage moved surprisingly, after prayers and reached Ulan Bator. So, the saying goes, as believed in Mongolia.
After Genghis Khan’s death, the Mongol Empire which spread up to western Asia and parts eastern Europe fragmented. However, the Great Khan was able to consolidate and integrate Mongolia. That was a legacy left by Genghis Khan and bequeathed to his nation, when Her Excellency Smt. Pratibha Patil visited Mongolia recently.