HISTORY OF INDIA
THE KINGDOM OF THE DECCAN. A.D 1347-1490
THE revolt of the centurions and the establishment by Ala-udd-in Bahman Shah of the kingdom of the Deccan, not wholly recovered by Delhi for 340 years, have already been described in Chapter VI.
This kingdom was not conterminous with the southern provinces of Muhammad Tughluq’s great empire, for the Hindus of the south had not failed to profit by the dissensions of their enemies. Kanhayya Naik of eastern Telingana, who claimed to represent the Kakatiya dynasty, had readily assisted the rebels against the king of Delhi, but was not prepared to acknowledge Bahman Shah as his master. Vira Ballala III of Dvaravatipura had established his independence when the Muslim officers in the Deccan rose in rebellion, and having thrown off the yoke of Delhi was in no mood to bow his neck to that of Gulbarga. He pushed his frontier northward to the Tungabhadra river, which remained the extreme southern limit of Bahman’s dominions, nor did his successors invariably succeed in retaining even this frontier, for the great kingdom of Vijayanagar, which rose on the ruins of Dvaravatipura, claimed the Doab between the Krishna and the Tungabhadra, with its two strong fortresses, Raichur and Mudgal, and this tract remained a debatable laud while Bahman's dynasty endured.
Ibn Batutah, in his account of his voyage down the western coast of India, mentions petty rulers of ports and their adjacent districts owning allegiance and paying tribute to Muhammad Tughluq, but this allegiance was withheld from Bahman Shah, and only gradually recovered by his successors, whose authority over the Hindus of the Western Ghats was always precarious.
The new kingdom included the province of Berar, which marched on the north-west and north with the small state of Khandesh and the kingdom of Malwa, and it was separated from Gujarat by the small hilly state of Baglana (Baglan), which retained a degree of independence under a dynasty of native Rajput chieftains.
Ala-ud-din Hasan claimed descent from the hero Bahman, son of Isfandiyar, and his assumption of the title Bahman Shah was an assertion of his claim. Firishta relates an absurd legend connecting the title with the name of the priestly caste of the Hindus, but this story is disproved by the evidence of inscriptions and legends on coins, and the name Kanku, which frequently occurs in conjunction with that of Bahman, and is said by Firishta to represent Gangu, the name of the king's former Brahman master, is more credibly explained by Maulavi Abdul-Wali as a scribe's corruption of Kaikaus, which was the name of Bahman’s father as given in two extant genealogies.
The lesser Hindu chieftains of the Deccan, who had been bound only by the loosest of feudal ties to their overlord in distant Delhi, had followed the example of Dvaravatipura and Warangal, and Bahman was engaged during his reign of eleven years in establishing his authority in the kingdom which he had carved out of Muhammad’s empire. He first captured the forts of Bhokardhan and Mahur from the Hindu chieftains who held them, and then dispatched his officers into various districts of the Deccan to reduce the unruly to obedience. Imad-ul-Mulk and Mubarak Khan advanced to the Tapti and secured the northern provinces, and Husain Gurshasp received the submission of the remnants of Muhammad’s army which had been left to continue the siege of Daulatabad, and which submitted readily on learning that Bahman Shah was prepared to pardon their activity in the cause of the master to whom they had owed allegiance. Qutb-ul-Mulk captured the towns of Bhum, Akalkot, and Mundargi, and pacified, in accordance with the principle approved by his master, the districts dependent on them. Landholders who submitted and undertook to pay the taxes assessed on their estates were accepted as loyal subjects, without too rigorous a scrutiny of their past conduct, but the contumacious were put to death, and their lands and goods were confiscated. Qambar Khan reduced, after a siege of fifty days, the strong fortress of Kaliyani, and Sikandar Khan, who was sent into the Bidar district, marched as far south as Malkhed, receiving the submission of the inhabitants of the country through which he passed, and compelled Kanhayya Naik of Warangal to cede the fortress of Kaulas and to pay tribute for the territory which he was permitted to retain.
Bahman had rewarded Ismaill Mukh, who had resigned to him the throne, with the title of Amirul-Umara, the nominal command of the army, and the first place at court, but afterwards transferred this last honor to Saif-ud-din Ghuri, father-in-law of Prince Muhammad, the heir-apparent, and the old Afghan, bitterly resenting his supersession, conspired to assassinate the king, and paid the penalty of his crime, but Bahman was so sensible of his indebtedness to him that he appointed his eldest son, Bahadur Khan, to the post rendered vacant by his father’s death.
Bahman was as yet far from being secure in his new kingdom and a pretence of loyalty to Delhi furnished Narayan, a Hindu who possessed the tract between the Krishna and Ghatprabha rivers, and Muin-ud-din, a Muslim who held a fief in the same neighborhood, with a pretext for withholding tribute from a king who had renounced his allegiance to his former lord. Khvaja Jahan from Miraj and Qutb-ul-Mulk from Mundargi besieged the rebels in Gulbarga, their chief stronghold, which was captured and occupied by the former, whose politic leniency immediately conciliated the inhabitants of the surrounding country. Khvaja Jahan, while he was at Gulbarga, received news of the mutiny of an army which had been sent to besiege Kanbari, one of Narayan’s fortresses near Bijapur. The troops, suspecting their leader of trafficking with the enemy, rose and slew him, and then, intoxicated by success, and by possession of the treasure-chest, marched to Sagar, expelled the officers employed in that district and occupied the fortress. The news of the death of Muhammad Tughluq in Sind deprived the mutineers of a pretext for rebellion, and Bahman, who marched to Sagar in person, received their submission. He then captured Kalabgur, Kanbari, and Mudhol, pardoned Narayan, who surrendered to him, and marched to Miraj, which he had formerly held as a fief from his old master, Muhammad Tughluq. Here he halted for some time, and after establishing his authority in the neighborhood returned to Gulbarga, which he made his capital, renaming it Ahsanabad. His leisure here was interrupted only by a rebellion of two Muslim officers at Kohir and Kaliyani.
After the suppression of this revolt he devoted himself to the adornment of his capital with suitable buildings and to the establishment of a system of provincial government in his kingdom, which he divided into four provinces, each of which was known as a taraf. The first, Gulbarga, extended on the west to the Ghats, and later to the sea, on the north to the eighteenth parallel of latitude, on the south to the Tungabhadra, and on the east to the Banathora and a line drawn from its confluence with the Bhima to the confluence of the Krishna and the Tungabhadra. To the north of Gulbarga lay the province of Daulatabad, bounded on the north and north-east by the petty state of Baglana, Khandesh, and the southern Purna river; and north-east of this lay Berar, which, east of Burhanpur, was bounded on the north by the Tapti and on the east by the Wardha and Pranhita rivers, and extended on the south to the southern Purna and Godavari rivers, and on the west approximately to its present limits. The fourth province was Bidar, or Muhammadan Telingana, which included the towns and districts of Bidar, Kandhar, Indur, Kaulas, Kotagir, Medak, and as much of Telingana as was comprised in the Bahmani kingdom, extending eastward, at the end of Bahman's reign, as far as Bhongir; but the eastern border of this province, like the southern border of Gulbarga, where the Hindus of Vijayanagar often occupied the Raichur Doab, varied with the power of the Muslim kings to resist the encroachments or overcome the defence of the Hindus of Telingana. The governors first appointed to these provinces were Saif-ud-din Ghuri to Gulbarga; the king's nephew Muhammad, entitled Bahram Khan, to Daulatabad; Safdar Khan Sistani, to Berar; and Saif-ud-din’s son, who bore the title of Azami-Humayfin, to Bidar. Muhammad, the king’s eldest son, received his father’s former title of Zafar Khan, and the districts of Hukeri, Belgaum, and Miraj, which Bahman had formerly held of Muhammad Tughluq.
Rebellion never again raised its head during Bahman’s reign, and having thus provided for the administration of his kingdom he was at leisure to extend its frontiers. He marched first into the Konkan, where, having captured the port of Goa, he marched northward along the coast, and took Dabhol, returning to his capital by way of Karhad and Kolhapur, both of which towns he took from their Hindu rulers. After a period of repose at Gulbarga he led an expedition into Telingana, captured Bhongir, and remained in its neighborhood for nearly a year, during which time he completely subjugated the country between it and Kohir.
During one of his periods of repose the king, intoxicated with success in war and pride of race, indulged in extravagant dreams of conquest, similar to those which had once deluded Ala-ud-din Khalji and Muhammad Tughluq, and imitated the former by assuming, in the legends on his coins the vainglorious title of “the Second Alexander”. He proposed to inaugurate his career of conquest by attacking the Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar, which had suddenly risen to power, and carrying his arms to Cape Comorin, but, like his prototype, was recalled to sanity by the sober counsels of a faithful servant, the shrewd Saif-ud-din Ghuri, who reminded him that there was work nearer home, and that there still remained in the northern Carnatic Hindu chieftains who had not acknowledged his sovereignty. Against these he dispatched an expedition, the success of which may be measured by its booty, which included 200,000 golden ashrafis of Ala-ud-din Khalji, large quantities of jewels, 200 elephants, and 1000 singing and dancing girls, murlis from Hindu temples.
Bahman next turned his eyes towards the southern provinces of the kingdom of Delhi, lying on the northern frontier of his kingdom, and set out for Malwa with an army of 50,000 horse, but before he had traversed the hilly country of southern Berar was persuaded by Raja Haran the Vaghela, son of that Raja Karan of Gujarat who had been expelled from his kingdom in the reign of Ala-ud-din Khalji and had found an asylum with the Rahtor raja of Baglana, to attempt first the invasion of Gujarat, which the raja promised, if restored, to hold as a fief of the kingdom of the Deccan. Bahman marched into that kingdom, but at Navsari fell sick of fever and dysentery, brought on by his exertions in the chase and by excessive indulgence in wine and venison, and was compelled to abandon his enterprise. As soon as he had recovered sufficiently to travel he returned to Gulbarga, where he lay sick for six months and died on February 11, 1358. He left four sons, Muhammad, Daud, Ahmad, and Mahmud, the eldest of whom succeeded him.
Immediately after the accession of Muhammad I his mother performed the pilgrimage to Mecca and either visited or communicated with al-Mutadid, the puppet Caliph in Egypt, from whom, on her return to India in 1361, she brought a patent recognizing her son as king of the Deccan, in consequence of which he assumed on his coins the title 'Protector of the People of the Prophet of the Merciful God'. His father before him seems to have sought and obtained this coveted recognition, for in 1356 the Caliph’s envoy to Firuz Tughluq of Delhi had desired him to recognize and respect the Muslim king of the Deccan.
Muhammad I was a diligent and methodical administrator, and on ascending the throne carefully organized his ministry, his household troops, and the provincial administration which his father had inaugurated. His institutions demand more than passing notice, for they not only endured as long as the kingdom of his successors but were closely imitated in the smaller states which rose on its ruins. The ministers were eight in number:
1-Vakilus-Saltanah, the Lieutenant of the Kingdom;
2-Vaziri-Kull, the Superintending Minister;
3-Amiri-Jumlah, the Minister of Finance;
4-Vaziri-Ashraf, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Master of the Ceremonies;
5-Nazir, the Assistant Minister of Finance;
6-Pishva, who was associated with the Lieutenant of the Kingdom, and whose office was in later times almost invariably amalgamated with his;
7-Kotwal, the Chief of Police and City Magistrate in the capital; and
8-Sadri-Jahan, the Chief Justice and Minister of Religion and Endowments.
The guards were commanded by officers known as Tavaji, many of whom acted as aides-de-camp to the king and gentlemen ushers at court, in which capacity they were styled Bardar. The whole bodyguard, known as Khass-Khail, consisted of 200 esquires to the king (Aslihadar) and 4000 gentlemen troopers (Yaka-Javan), and was divided into four reliefs (Naubat), each consisting of 50 esquires and 1000 troopers, and commanded by one of the great nobles at the capital, with the title of Sar-Naubat. The tour of duty of each relief was four days, and the whole force was commanded by one of the ministers, entitled, as commander of the guards, Sarkhail, who performed his ordinary military duties by deputy.
Rise of Vijayanagar
The Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar has already been mentioned. The founder of the dynasty which ruled it from 1339 to 1483 was Sangama I, a petty chieftain of Anagundi, on the north bank of the Tungabhadra and near the site of Vijayanagar. Sangama had never submitted to Muhammad Tughluq, but had maintained a rude independence in his stronghold, and was at first probably little more than a brigand chief; but the subjection of the Kakatiyas of Warangal, the destruction of the kingdom of Dvaravatipura by the Sayyid sultan of Madura, and the rebellion in the Deccan, which left the Peninsula free from Muslim aggression, were the opportunity of Sangama and his successors, and there are few examples in history of a large and powerful state being established by adventurers in the short time which sufficed for the establishment of the kingdom of Vijayanagar. Unfortunately we lack the means of tracing the process by which the insignificant chieftains of Anagundi became, within the short space of thirty years, the unquestioned rulers of this great and wealthy kingdom, but we may form some idea of the course of events by imagining a great Hindu population exasperated by the sacrilegious oppression of foreign warriors with whom they had been powerless to cope, deprived of their hereditary rulers, and suddenly relieved of the hostile yoke by the intestine feuds of their enemies, joyfully acclaiming a national hero.
Sangama I was succeeded, in 1339, by his son, Harihara I, who again was succeeded, in 1354, by his brother, Bukka I. It cannot be determined what share each of these rulers had in establishing the kingdom, but before 1357 it was so powerful that the sagest counselor of Bahman Shah dissuaded him from molesting it. Muhammad I came into conflict with this great power in consequence of a measure of domestic policy, adopted in no spirit of aggression. His father had minted few or no gold coins, but Muhammad, who objected both on religious and political grounds to the circulation of Hindu money in his dominions, coined gold in considerable quantities. Bukka I and Kanhayya of Warangal, without any justification, resented this measure as tending to limit the circulation of their gold, and received support from the bankers and moneychangers in Muhammad's dominions, native Hindus of the Deccan, who melted down all his gold coin falling into their hands, and either hoarded the metal, which was purer than that of the Hindu coins, or supplied it to the mints of Vijayanagar and Warangal. Repeated warnings were disregarded, and on one day in May or June, 1360, the Hindu bankers and money-changers in all towns of the kingdom were, by royal decree, put to death. Their place was taken by Hindus of the Khatri caste of northern India, who had accompanied the various armies which had invaded the Deccan, and now enjoyed a monopoly of the business of banking and money-changing until, in the reign of Firuz Shah Bahmani (1397-1422), the descendants of the slaughtered men were permitted, on payment of a large sum of money, to resume the business of their forefathers.
The rajas of Vijayanagar and Warangal feigned to regard Muhammad’s determination to establish his own gold currency as an assertion of suzerainty, and, knowing that his treasury had been depleted by the profusion customary at the beginning of a new reign, addressed arrogant and provocative messages to him. Bukka demanded the cession of the Raichur Doab, and threatened, failing compliance, to concert measures with the king of Delhi for a combined attack on the Deccan. Kanhayya of Warangal demanded the retrocession of Kaulas, and threatened war. Muhammad, on one pretext and another, detained the bearers of these insolent demands for eighteen months, by which time his preparations were complete, and, with an effrontery surpassing that of his enemies, haughtily inquired why his vassals, the rajas of Vijayanagar and Warangal, had not made the customary offerings on his accession, and demanded that they should atone for their negligence by immediately sending to him all the elephants fit for work in their dominions, laden with gold, jewels, and precious stuffs. Kanhayya’s reply to this insult was the dispatch of an army under his son Venayek Deva against Kaulas, and Bukka supplied a contingent of 20,000 horses for the enterprise. The armies of Berar and Bidar under Bahadur Khan defeated and dispersed the invaders, and while Bukka’s contingent fled southwards Venayek Deva took refuge in his fief of Vailampallam, on the sea coast. Bahadur Khan marched to the gates of Warangal, forced Kanhayya to ransom his capital by the payment of 100,000 gold bans and the surrender of twenty-six elephants, and returned to Gulbarga.
These hostilities permanently disturbed the friendly relations between Warangal and Gulbarga. In 1362 a caravan of horse-dealers arrived at Gulbarga, and to the king’s complaint that they had no horse in their stock fit for his stable, replied that on their way through Vailampallam Venayek Deva had compelled them to sell to him all their best horses, despite their protest that they were reserved for the king of the Deccan. Muhammad set out in person to avenge this insult, and led 4000 horse on a sudden raid to Vailampallam, performing a month’s journey in a week, and arriving at his destination with only a quarter of his original force; but his arrival was unexpected, and, having gained admission to the town by a stratagem, he captured Venayek Deva as he attempted to flee from the citadel. Exasperated by the foul abuse which his captive uttered, he caused his tongue to be torn out, and hurled him from a balista set up on the ramparts into a fire kindled below.
He was gradually joined by the complement of his original force, but imprudently lingered too long at Vailampallam, and in the course of his long retreat was so harassed by the Hindus that he was forced to abandon all his baggage and camp equipage, and lost nearly two-thirds of his men. Reinforcements which joined him at Kaulas not only checked the pursuit, but carried the war into the enemy's country, and devastated the western districts of Telingana.
During the king’s absence his cousin, Bahrain Khan Mazandarani, governor of Daulatabad, had rebelled, and had sought the assistance of Firuz Tughluq of Delhi. His mission, which was accompanied by envoys from Kanhayya of Warangal, failed to accomplish its object, and Muhammad sent an army to suppress the rebellion in Daulatabad and marched in person into Telingana to avenge his recent discomfiture. One force was sent against Golconda and another against Warangal, whence Kanhayya fled into the hills and jungles and vainly sued for peace. Muhammad remained for two years in Telingana, ravaging and laying waste the country, while his troops continued to besiege Warangal and Golconda. Kanhayya at length succeeded in obtaining peace by swearing fealty, paying an indemnity of 1,300,000 huns, surrendering 300 elephants, and ceding Golconda. To these concessions he added a throne studded with turquoises, which had originally been prepared as an offering to Muhammad Tughluq, but was now included in the regalia of the kingdom of the Deccan, where it was known as the Takht-i-Firuza, or turquoise throne.
First War with Vijayanagar
On March 21, 1365, Muhammad took his seat on this throne at Gulbarga and made himself merry with wine, dance, and song. The singers and dancers had to be suitably rewarded, and the king, flushed with wine and success, ordered that they should be paid by a draft on the treasury of Vijayanagar. His ministers hesitated to execute an order issued, as they were persuaded, under the influence of strong drink, but the king was in earnest, and insisted on obedience. The order, delivered to Bukka by an accredited envoy, incensed the powerful raja beyond measure, its bearer was ridden round the city on an ass and ignominiously expelled, and Bukka crossed the Tungabhadra and besieged Mudgal, a fortress then held by no more than 800 Muslim troops. The place fell, and its garrison was massacred before relief could reach it, and Muhammad set out for the Doab with no more than thirty elephants, crossed the flooded Krishna, and marched towards Bukka's great army of 30,000 horse and 900,000 foot, vowing that he would not sheathe the sword until he had avenged the massacre of the garrison of Mudgal by the slaughter of a hundred thousand misbelievers.
His impetuosity terrified Bukka, who fled with his cavalry towards Adoni, leaving the infantry, followers, and baggage animals to follow as best they could. The Muslims plundered the Hindu camp, taking a vast quantity of booty, and Muhammad, after slaughtering 70,000 Hindus of both sexes and all ages, retired for the rest of the rainy season into the fortress of Mudgal where he was joined by reinforcements from Daulatabad. He sent orders to all the forts in his kingdom, demanding a detachment of artillery from each, and sent the elephants which he had captured to Gulbarga, for the conveyance of the guns. At the close of the rainy season he advanced towards Adoni, while Bukka retired, leaving his sister’s son in command of that fortress.
Bukka reassembled his scattered army, and Muhammad, crossing the Tungabhadra at Siruguppa, advanced to meet him. Bukka detached an officer, Mallinath, with the flower of his army, consisting of 40,000 horses and 500,000 foot, to attack the Muslims, and Muhammad sent against him his cousin, Khan Muhammad, with 10,000 horses, 30,000 foot, and all the artillery, and followed him with the remainder of his army. Early in 1367 the forces met near Kauthal, and the first great battle between the Hindus of the Carnatic and the Muslims of the Deccan was fought. It raged with great fury from dawn until four o'clock in the afternoon, the commanders of the wings of the Muslim army were slain and their troops put to flight but the centre stood fast, encouraged by the news of the near approach of the king, and, by a timely discharge of the artillery, worked by European and Ottoman Turkish gunners, shook the Hindu ranks, and completed their discomfiture by a cavalry charge which prevented their artillery from coming into action, and in which Mallinath was mortally wounded. His army broke and fled, and Muhammad Shah arrived on the field in time to direct the pursuit, in the course of which the victors slaughtered every living soul whom they overtook, sparing neither women nor sucklings. Muhammad marched in pursuit of Bukka, who, after eluding him for three months, contrived to throw himself into Vijayanagar, which the Muslims were not strong enough to besiege, but Muhammad, by feigning sickness and ordering a retreat, enticed him from the fortress, and, having led the Hindus to a distance, attacked their camp by night, slew 10,000 men, and again captured their treasure and elephants. Bukka again fled to Vijayanagar and Muhammad, without attempting to besiege him, ordered a general massacre of the inhabitants of the surrounding country. Bukka, urged by his courtiers, sent envoys to sue for peace, and even the Muslim officers were moved to beg that the slaughter might cease, but Muhammad replied that although he had slain four times the number of Hindus which he had sworn to slay, he would not desist until his draft on Bukka's treasury was honored. To this the envoys consented, the draft was honored, and the war ended. The Hindus, horrified by the massacre of 400,000 of their race, including 10,000 of the priestly caste, proposed that both parties should agree to spare non-combatants in future. Muhammad consented, and the agreement, though sometimes violated, mitigated to some extent the horrors of the long period of intermittent warfare between the two states.
Bahram Khan and his confederate, Kondba Deva the Maratha, were now stronger than ever in Daulatabad. The failure of their missions to Delhi had been more than counterbalanced by the withdrawal of the royal troops for the campaign in the south, and Bahram was enriched by the accumulation of several years' revenue of the province and strengthened by the support of a numerous and well-equipped army, by an alliance with the raja of Baglana, and by the adhesion of many of the fief-holders of southern Berar. To a letter from Muhammad promising him forgiveness if he would return to his allegiance he vouchsafed no reply, and Khan Muhammad was reappointed to Daulatabad and sent against him, the king following with the remainder of the army.
Bahram and his allies advanced as far as Paithan on the Godavari, and Khan Muhammad halted at Shivgaon, only thirteen miles distant, and begged his master, who was hunting in the neighborhood of Bir, to come to his assistance. On the news of the king's approach the rebels dispersed and fled, evacuating even the fortress of Daulatabad, and were pursued to the frontiers of Gujarat, in which province they took refuge.
After some stay at Daulatabad Muhammad I returned to Gulbarga, and devoted himself to the domestic affairs of his kingdom, which enjoyed peace for the remainder of his reign. Highway robbery had for some time been rife, and he exerted himself to suppress it, with such success that within six or seven months the heads of 20,000 brigands were sent to the capital.
The provincial governors enjoyed great power. They collected the revenue, raised and commanded the army, and made all appointments, both civil and military, in their provinces. Under a strong king, and as long as the practice, now inaugurated by Muhammad, of annual royal progresses through the provinces was continued, this system of decentralization worked tolerably well, but as the limits of the kingdom were extended and the personal authority of the monarch waned its defects became apparent, and an attempt to modify it in the reign of Muhammad III led indirectly to the dismemberment of the state.
It was in 1367 that Muhammad I completed the great mosque of Gulbarga, which differs from other mosques in India in having the space which is usually left as an open courtyard roofed in. The late Colonel Meadows Taylor was mistaken in the idea that it was an imitation of the great mosque, now the cathedral, of Cordova, for it differs from it in the style of its architecture, but it is a noble building, impressive in its massive solidity.
Accession of Mujahid
In the spring or early summer of 1377 Muhammad I died, and was succeeded by his elder son, Mujahid, remarkable for his personal beauty, his great physical strength, and his headstrong disposition. One of his earliest acts as king was to demand from Bukka I the cession of the extensive tract bounded on the north by the Ghatprabha and on the south by the Tungabhadra, and stretching eastward nearly as far as Mudgal and westward to the sea. Bukka replied by demanding the return of the elephants captured in the previous reign, and Mujahid at once invaded his dominions. Sending a force under Safdar Khan Sistani to besiege Adoni, he marched in person against Bukka, who was encamped on the bank of the Tungabhadra, near Gangawati, and retreated southward on his approach. For five or six months Mujahid followed him through the jungles of the Carnatic, without succeeding in forcing a battle, and in the end Bukka eluded him and shut himself up in Vijayanagar. Mujahid followed him, penetrated beyond the outer defenses of the city, and defeated successive forces of Hindus sent against him. The failure of his uncle, Daud Khan, to hold a defile, the defence of which had been entrusted to him, imperiled his retreat, but he forced his way through the defile and retired at his leisure towards Adoni with sixty or seventy thousand captives, whose lives were spared, under the pact into which his father had entered. Bukka feared to follow, and Mujahid besieged Adoni for nine months, and was on the point of receiving its surrender when the rainy season began, replenished the water supply of the garrison, and caused much distress in the besiegers' camp. Saifuddin Ghuri persuaded him to raise the siege, peace was made with Bukka, and Mujahid set out for his capital.
His uncle, Daud Khan, had taken grave offence at the rebuke which he had received for his desertion of his post at the battle of Vijayanagar, and entered into a conspiracy to destroy him. An opportunity occurred when Daud Khan’s turn to mount guard over the royal tent came, and on the night of April 15, 1378, the conspirators entered Mujahid’s sleeping tent and slew him, and Daud was proclaimed king.
Safdar Khan, governor of Berar, and Azami-Humayun, the new governor of Daulatabad, both partisans of Mujahid, had preceded the army to the capital, and on learning of the success of the conspirators took possession of the royal elephants and returned to their provinces without waiting to tender their allegiance to the new king. Their defection menaced Daud’s authority, but there was also a party in the capital which was prepared to oppose his enthronement, and the Hindus, on hearing of the death of Mujahid, crossed the Tungabhadra and laid siege to Raichur. The aged regent, Saif-ud-din Ghuri, averted the calamity of a rebellion at Gulbarga, but refused to serve the usurper, and retired into private life, and on May 20, 1378, Daud, at the instigation of Mujahid’s sister, Rub Parvar Agha, was assassinated at the public prayers in the great mosque. Khan Muhammad, Daud’s principal supporter, slew the assassin and attempted to secure the throne for Daud’s infant son, Muhammad Sanjar, but the child’s person was in the possession of Ruh Parvar, who caused him to be blinded, and, with the concurrence of the populace raised to the throne Muhammad, son of Mahmud Khan, the youngest son of Bahman Shah.
Muhammad II imprisoned Khan Muhammad in the fortress of Sagar, where he shortly afterwards died, and punished his accomplices. The provincial governors who had refused to recognize the usurper returned to their allegiance to the throne, Saifuddin Ghuri again became chief minister of state, and Bukka, on learning of the unanimity with which the young king was acclaimed, prudently raised the siege of Raichur and retired across the Tungabhadra.
Muhammad II was a man of peace, devoted to literature and poetry, and his reign was undisturbed by foreign wars. His love of learning was encouraged by the Sadri-Jahan, Mir Fazlullah of Shiraz, at whose instance the great poet Hafiz was invited to his court. Hafiz accepted the invitation and set out from Shiraz, but he possessed that horror of the sea which is inherent in Persians, and he was so terrified by a storm in the Persian Gulf that he disembarked and returned to Shiraz, sending his excuses to Mir Fazlullah in a well-known ode, and the king was so gratified by the poet’s attempt to make the journey that although the plentiful provision which he had sent for him had been dissipated, he sent him valuable gifts.
Between 1387 and 1395 the Deccan was visited by a severe famine, and Muhammad’s measures for the relief of his subjects displayed a combination of administrative ability, enlightened compassion, and religious bigotry. A thousand bullocks belonging to the transport establishment maintained for the court were placed at the disposal of those in charge of relief measures, and travelled incessantly to and fro between his dominions and Gujarat and Malwa, which had escaped the visitation, bringing thence grain which was sold at low rates in the Deccan, but to Muslims only. The king established free schools for orphans at Gulbarga, Bidar, Kandhar, Ellichpur, Daulatabad, Chaul, Dabhol, and other cities and towns, in which the children were not only taught, but were housed and fed at the public expense. Special allowances were also given to readers of the Koran, reciters of the Traditions, and the blind.
The peace of Muhammad’s reign was disturbed in its last year by the rebellion of Baha-ud-din, governor of Sagar, who, at the instigation of his sons raised the standard of revolt. A Turkish officer named Yasuf Azhdar was sent to quell the rebellion, and besieged Sagar for two months, at the end of which time the garrison rose against their leader, decapitated him, and threw his head over the battlements as a peace offering. His sons were slain while making a last stand against the royal troops, and the rebellion was crushed.
On April 20, 1397, Muhammad II died of a fever, and on the following day Saif-ud-din Ghuri, the faithful old servant of his house, passed away at the great age of 104 (solar) years, and was buried beside his master.
Muhammad was succeeded by his elder son, Ghiyas-ud-din, a resolute but indiscreet youth of seventeen. He angered Tughalchin, the chief of the Turkish slaves, by refusing to appoint him governor of Gulbarga and lieutenant of the kingdom, and incautiously placed himself in his enemy's power, lured by his infatuation for his daughter. Tughalchin blinded the young king and caused the leading nobles of the kingdom to be assassinated.
The unfortunate Ghiyas-ud-din, who had reigned but one month and twenty-six days, was blinded and deposed on June 14, 1397, and on the same day Tughalchin raised to the throne his younger half-brother, Shams-ud-din Daud, and assumed the regency. He secured his position by playing on the vanity, the fears, and perhaps on the warmer sentiments of the young king's mother, who had been a maid-servant of Ghiyas-ud-din’s mother, but his dominance in the state and the degradation of the royal family were deeply resented by the king's cousins, the brothers Firuz and Ahmad, sons of Ahmad Khan, one of the younger sons of Bahman Shah, who had been brought up by their cousin Muhammad II and had each been married to one of his daughters, full sisters of Ghiyas-ud-din. The brothers, now young men of twenty-seven and twenty-six, do not seem to have been actuated at first by selfish motives, but desired only to protect the dignity of the throne and to serve the dynasty. Tughalchin so aroused their apprehensions by poisoning the mind of the queen-mother against them that they fled from Gulbarga to Sagar, where they were befriended by the governor, and demanded that the king should dismiss Tughalchin. On receiving the reply that he was unable to exercise his authority they marched with a small force on Gulbarga, where they expected support from the minister's enemies, but they were disappointed, and Firuz, in order to encourage the faint-hearted among his followers, assumed the royal title. Their troops were defeated by the royal army, led by Tughalchin and the puppet king, and they fled to Sagar. After a short time they professed penitence, and returned to Gulbarga, where they were received with outward tokens of forgiveness, but continued to concert plans for the overthrow of the slave in which it was now clear that his puppet must be involved.
On November 15, 1397, Firuz and Ahmad contrived to enter the palace with a few armed adherents, on the pretext of paying their respects to the king, and overpowered both him and Tughalchin. Firuz ascended the turquoise throne, and was proclaimed under the title of Taj-ud-din Firuz Shah, and Shams-ud-din was blinded and imprisoned, and eventually permitted to perform, with his mother, the pilgrimage to the Hijaz, where he died. The blind Ghiyas-ud-din was brought from Sagar, a sword was placed in his hand and Tughalchin, who was compelled to sit before him, was cut to pieces by his former victim.
Firuz, at the time of his accession, was an amiable, generous, accomplished, and tolerant prince, possessed of a vigorous constitution and understanding, both of which he undermined by indulgence in the pleasures of the harem. His first task was to reorganize the administrative machinery of the kingdom, and he appointed his brother, Ahmad Khan, minister, with the titles of Amir-ul-Umara and Khankhanan, and Mir Fazlullah Inju governor of Gulbarga and lieutenant of the kingdom, and Brahmans were more extensively employed in important posts.
In 1398 the long peace between the Deccan and Vijayanagar was broken, the aggressor being Harihara II, who invaded the Raichur Doab with an army of 30,000 horse and 900,000 foot, while the Hindu chieftain on the north bank of the Krishna headed a rebellion of the Kolis. Firuz first dealt with the latter, and after defeating them in the field put to death large numbers of them and crushed the rising, but was compelled to send back the armies of Berar and Daulatabad, which he had summoned to his assistance against Harihara, in order that they might deal with Narsingh, the Gond raja of Kherla, who had invaded Berar and ravaged the eastern districts of that province as far south as Mahur, on the Penganga. No more than 12,000 horse remained to him, but he ventured to advance to the Krishna. The rainy season of 1399 had now set in, and Harihara’s vast army held the southern bank of the river. The tactics and discipline of the Hindus were contemptible. They were scattered over an area which extended for some seventeen miles along the bank of the river and the same distance in depth to the south of it, and this dispersion, necessary for purposes of supply, was sufficient to destroy their cohesion, but their mere numbers precluded any attempt to force the passage of the river, and Firuz chafed at his enforced inaction until his health suffered. At this juncture Qazi Siraj-ud-din, an inferior officer of his court, whose enterprise and hardihood became rather his military than his judicial office, suggested a bold adventure, which Firuz at first forbade, but afterwards sanctioned.
The Qazi, a man of parts, had in the course of a riotous youth, acquired considerable proficiency in music, dancing and juggling, and he proposed that he should cross the river with a small band of performers who would readily be admitted into the disorderly camp of the enemy, and might, by assassinating either Harihara or his son, throw it into confusion and thus give the Muslim army an opportunity of crossing in the darkness.
Firuz Shah’s preparations for crossing the river attracted the attention and earned the ridicule of the Hindus, but were not connected by them with the appearance in their camp of a band of twenty-six wandering minstrels, who, having crossed the river lower down, had lodged in a liquor shop, and exhibited their skill before other professional entertainers whom they met there. The new-comers soon gained a high reputation, and some nights after their arrival were commanded to perform before Harihara’s son. The Qazi sent a secret message to Firuz, warning him to be prepared, and led his troupe to the prince's tents. Only the Qazi and two others were required to dance, and the rest of the party remained outside, and were instructed to be ready to facilitate the escape of the performers. After the exhibition of some tricks Siraj-ud-din called for arms for the performance of the sword and dagger dance, and the three gave an exhibition of sword and dagger play which amazed the half-inebriated Hindus. Then, suddenly rushing forward, Siraj-ud-din fell upon and cut down the prince, while his two confederates disposed of the minister, the other spectators, and the torch-bearers. The three escaped in the darkness and joined their companions without, who, on the first symptoms of a disturbance, had attacked and slain the guard, so that the gang was enabled to escape to a place of safety and await the success of the enterprise. The camp of the Hindus was thrown into confusion, and the wildest rumors circulated. It was widely believed that the enemy had crossed in force, and slain the raja, and some of the Hindus mistook others, in the darkness, for enemies, and fell upon them. The slaughter was only stayed when a conflagration caused by the ignition of some tents discovered to the combatants their error; others, not knowing whither to turn, stood to arms by their tents, but none knew where to strike.
Defeat of the Hindus
During the tumult some three or four thousand horse crossed the river in relays under cover of the darkness, and the Hindu picquets on the river bank, attacked in front and alarmed by the uproar in their rear, turned and fled: those who had already crossed the river covered the passage of the remainder, and before daybreak Firuz and his whole force had gained the southern bank. At dawn they attacked the vast and scattered camp of the Hindus, which was still in confusion, and Harihara, who had left the conduct of affairs entirely in the hands of his son, was so overwhelmed with grief and dismay that he fled to Vijayanagar, carrying his son's body with him, and leaving his army to follow as best it could. Firuz pursued the flying mob, annihilating any small bands which attempted to stern his progress, and at last halted before Vijayanagar. His numerical weakness precluded any idea of siege operations, or of attempting to carry the great city by storm, and part of the army was detached to plunder and lay waste the populous tract to the south of it. The agreement to spare the lives of non-combatants was respected, but large numbers, including 10,000 Brahmans, were enslaved, and the leading Brahmans of Vijayanagar insisted on the conclusion of peace on any terms obtainable, and on the ransom of the captives. These objects were attained by the payment of an indemnity of about £330,000 sterling, and Firuz retired. On his return to Gulbarga he made the first departure from the provincial system of Bahman Shah and Muhammad I by appointing Fulad Khan military governor of the Raichur Doab, which had hitherto formed part of the province of Gulbarga, from which it was now separated.
It was now necessary to formulate the foreign policy of the kingdom with respect to the territories on its northern frontier, Gujarat and Malwa, which had declared their independence of Delhi in 1396 and 1401, and the small state of Khandesh, which had been established in 1382 by Malik Raja, a partisan of Bahram Khan Mazandarani who had fled from the Deccan. The kingdom of the Bahmanids, freed from the menace of its southern neighbor, would have been stronger than any one of these states, stronger, perhaps, than all together, but as matters stood Malwa was only slightly weaker than the Deccan and Gujarat equal to it, or perhaps slightly stronger, while the small state of Khandesh could not have stood alone under any conditions, and was formidable only by reason of the support which one or other of its powerful neighbors was ever ready to lend it.
The aggression of Narsingh of Kherla had been prompted by Dilavar Khan of Malwa and Nasir Khan of Khandesh, and the governors of Berar and Daulatabad had not only been unable to punish him, but had not even succeeded in restoring order in Berar. Firuz was thus compelled, after two or three months’ rest at Gulbarga, again to take the field, and at the beginning of the winter of 1399 marched to Mahur, where he received the submission of the governor, a Gond or Hindu who had declared for Narsingh. After halting there for a month he continued his march to Ellichpur, whence he dispatched a force under his brother Ahmad and Mir Fazlullah Inju to punish Narsingh. The Gonds, disappointed of the help which they had expected from Malwa and Khandesh, fought with such desperate valor that the centre of the Muslims was broken, and many of the leading officers, among them Shujaat Khan, Dilavar Khan, and Bahadur Khan, were slain.
Ahmad Khan and Fazlullah Inju rallied the fugitives and saved the day by causing the great drums to be beaten and spreading the report that the king was hastening to the support of his army. They attacked the Gond centre, captured Kosal Rai, Narsingh’s son, who commanded it, slew 10,000 Gonds, and pursued the remainder to the gates of Kherla, which were shut only just in time to exclude the victors. The fortress endured a siege of two months, at the end of which time Narsingh was informed, in reply to his prayers for peace, that the besiegers were not empowered to treat, and that he must make his submission to Firuz Shah at Ellichpur. He was fain to comply, and after offering forty elephants, a considerable weight of gold and silver, and a daughter for the king's harem, and promising to pay tribute annually, 'as in the days of Bahman Shah', was invested with a robe of honor and dismissed. Mir Fazlullah Inju was appointed governor of Berar, and Firuz returned to Gulbarga.
In the interval of peace which followed the expedition to Kherla, Firuz built for himself and the 800 women of various nations who composed his harem the town of Firuzabad, on the Bhima, the site of which had attracted him on his return from Vijayanagar. The new town was his Capua, but never superseded Gulbarga as the administrative capital of his kingdom.
In 1401 Firuz, disturbed by rumors that Timur, who was now in Azerbaijan, proposed to return to India and seat one of his sons on the throne of Delhi, is said to have sent to him an embassy, and to have obtained, in return for his gifts and promises, a decree bestowing on him the Deccan, Gujarat, and Malwa. Chroniclers of Timur’s reign make no mention of this, but a mission from a ruler so remote and comparatively obscure may well have passed unnoticed by them, and it is only on the supposition that the mission was sent and the decree received that the events of the next few years can be explained. Muzaffar I of Gujarat, Dilavar Khan of Malwa, and Nasir Khan of Khandesh, alarmed and enraged by Timur's grant, demanded of Firuz that he should keep the peace, and sent envoys to Harihara II promising to assist him, when necessary, by attacking the Deccan from the north. Harihara, emboldened by these offers, withheld the tribute which he had paid since Firuz Shah's invasion of his kingdom, and Firuz, apprehensive of attacks from the north, dared not attempt to enforce payment. He had gained little by his sycophantic and costly mission.
The Goldsmith’s Daughter
In 1406 Harihara II died, and was succeeded by his son, Bukka II, and in the same year occurred the romantic episode of the goldsmith’s daughter of Mudgal, a strange occurrence, but reasonably well attested. A poor goldsmith and his wife, living near Mudgal, are said to have had a daughter named Parthal, of such surpassing beauty and brilliant accomplishments that her fame spread far and wide, and was carried by a Brahman who had been her instructor to the court of Bukka, who sent messengers to demand her of her parents. They, regarding the proposal as an honor, were disposed to comply, but the girl declined it. Bukka crossed the Tungabhadra with 5000 horse and sent a party to Mudgal to abduct the girl, but news of the raid had preceded it, and by the time that the party reached Mudgal Parthal and her parents had fled. The disappointed Hindus vented their spleen by plundering the inhabitants, and rejoined Bukka, but Fulad Khan, governor of the Doab, attacked him, and, after suffering a reverse, defeated the invaders, slew a thousand of them, and drove Bukka back to Vijayanagar.
In order to avenge this outrage, Firuz assembled the provincial armies at Gulbarga, and at the end of 1406 marched to Vijayanagar and attempted to carry the city by assault, but within the walls the Hindu infantry, contemptible in the field, was more than a match for the Muslim horse, who were driven out of the city. Bukka, encouraged by this success, followed, attacked, and defeated them, wounding Firuz himself. They fell back for twenty-four miles, fortified their camp, and halted to enable their wounded to recover. Bukka attacked them no less than eight times, but was defeated on each occasion, and was further disappointed by the silence of the kings of Gujarat, Malwa, and Khandesh, from whom he had demanded the fulfillment of their promises. Firuz, on his recovery, sent his brother, Ahmad Khan, with 10,000 horse to plunder the country to the south of his enemy’s capital, and Mir Fazlullah Inju to besiege Bankapur. Both operations were successful, and Fazlullah not only captured Bankapur, but reduced to obedience the country lying between it and Mudgal, thus making the Tungabhadra, throughout its course, the southern boundary of the kingdom, and securing the frontier for which Mujahid had contended.
Ahmad Khan’s spoils included 60,000 captive Hindu youths and children, and Firuz, recognizing the impossibility of capturing Vijayanagar, marched to Adoni, but before he could form the siege envoys from Bukka arrived in his camp to sue for peace. It was with difficulty that he could be persuaded to consider their proposals, and when he consented to treat he insisted on the humiliating condition that Bukka should surrender a daughter to him for his harem. Bukka also ceded the fort and district of Bankapur as the dowry of the princess, and delivered to Firuz 130 pounds of pearls, fifty elephants, and 2000 boys and girls skilled in singing, dancing, or music, and paid an indemnity of about £300,000.
The marriage was celebrated with great pomp, but failed to promote goodwill between the two kingdoms. Bukka, when escorting Firuz from Vijayanagar to his camp, turned back too soon, and the two parted in anger.
After his return to Firuzabad the king sent to Mudgal for the beautiful Parthal and her parents. The girl was given in marriage to Hasan Khan, his son, and the parents received gifts in money and a grant of their native village. It was probably on this occasion that the goldsmiths of the Deccan were permitted once more to follow their ancestral calling as bankers and money-changers, from which they had been debarred by the edict of Muhammad I.
In 1412 Firuz led an expedition into Gondwana. The Gond or Hindu governor of Mahur was again in rebellion and Firuz, finding the fortress too strong to be reduced, plundered southern Gondwana, slaying the inhabitants and capturing 300 wild elephants, but was eventually obliged to return to his capital, leaving the rebel unpunished.
The Saint ‘Gisu Daraz’
After his return the famous saint Jamal-ud-din Husaini, nicknamed Gisu Daraz (‘Long ringlets’) arrived from Delhi and established himself at Gulbarga, where he was received with great honor. The cultured Firuz soon wearied of the society of the ignorant and unlettered saint, but the simpler and more pious Ahmad took much delight in his discourse, and gained his support, which contributed largely to his success in the impending contest for the throne. From this time both Ahmad and the saint, who was indiscreet enough to prophesy his disciple's success, became objects of suspicion and aversion to Firuz, who, though no more than forty years of age, was worn out by his pleasures and delegated much of his authority to others. Ahmad, who had served his brother faithfully in the past, now lost his confidence, and the king’s choice fell upon Hushyar and Bidar, two manumitted slaves whom he ennobled under the titles of Ain-ul-Mulk and Nizam-ul-Mulk, and into whose hands, as habits of indolence grew upon him, he gradually resigned the entire administration of the kingdom.
In 1417 be so far roused himself from his lethargy as to lead an expedition into Telingana, the raja of which country had withheld payment of tribute. The suzerainty of Firuz was acknowledged, the arrears of tribute were paid, and amendment was promised for the future.
It is doubtful whether Firuz, after this campaign, returned to his capital or marched directly to Pangul, situated about twenty-five miles to the north of the confluence of the Krishna and the Tungabhadra, in which neighborhood he waged his last and most unfortunate war against the misbelievers. Pangul had been included in the district of Golconda, ceded by Kanhayya to Muhammad I but was now in the possession of Vira Vijaya of Vijayanagar by whom, or by whose father, Devaraya I, it had been occupied. Firuz was opposed, on his way thither, by a division of the enemy’s army, which fought with great bravery and was not defeated until it had inflicted heavy losses on his troops. The siege of Pangul exhibited the physical, mental, and moral deterioration of Firuz. Its operations were protracted for a period of two years, until the insanitary conditions of the standing camp bred disease among men and beasts, and disease caused panic and wholesale desertion. Vira Vijaya, seizing this opportunity, made an offensive alliance with the raja of Telingana and marched to the relief of the town. Firuz Shah’s vanity and the recollection of his early successes forbade him to follow the wise advice of those who counseled a present retreat and preparations for future vengeance, and he insisted on giving battle to Vira Vijaya. Mir Fazlullah Inju was treacherously slain during the battle by a Canarese Hindu of his own household, and the Muslims were routed, and would have been annihilated but for the careful dispositions and patient valor of Ahmad Khan, which enabled them to retire in some sort of order towards Gulbarga. The Hindus occupied the southern and eastern districts of the kingdom and repaid with interest the treatment which they had received.
Ahmad succeeded in expelling the Hindu troops, but the humiliation and anxiety to which Firuz had been subjected had shattered a constitution enfeebled by excesses, and the management of affairs fell entirely into the hands of Hitshyar and Bidar, who desired to secure the succession of the king's son, the weak and voluptuous Hasan Khan, and induced the king to order that his brother should be blinded. Ahmad withdrew, with his eldest son, Ala-ud-din Ahmad, to the hospice of Gisu Daraz, where he spent the night in making preparations to flee from the capital, and early in the morning left Gulbarga with 400 horse. He was joined by a rich merchant, Khalaf Hasan of Basrah, who had long been attached to him, and halted in a village near Kaliyani. The two favorites hastily collected a force of three or four thousand horse, with elephants, and pursued Ahmad, whose followers now numbered a thousand. Khalaf Hasan encouraged Ahmad to assume the royal title and withstand his brother's troops, and by circulating a report that the provincial governors had declared for him, and by a stratagem similar to that of the Gillies’ Hill at Bannockburn, enabled his patron to defeat his enemy and pursue the favorites to Gulbarga. Here they carried Firuz, now grievously sick, into the field, and ventured another battle, but the king swooned, and a rumor that he was dead caused the greater part of the army to transfer its allegiance to Ahmad. The citadel was surrendered, and Ahmad, in an affecting interview with his brother, accepted his resignation of the throne and the charge of his two sons, Hasan Khan and Mubarak Khan.
Ahmad Shah, ‘Vali’
Ahmad ascended the throne at Gulbarga on September 22, 1422, and on October 2, Firuz died. He was probably not far from death when Ahmad usurped the throne, but the event was too opportune to have been fortuitous, and of the three best authorities for this period two, citing early historians, say that he was strangled, and the third says that he was poisoned.
Hasan, who had inherited his father’s vices without his virtues, was content with a life of voluptuous ease at Firuzabad, where his uncle’s indulgence permitted him to enjoy such liberty as was compatible with the public peace, but Ahmad’s son and successor blinded him as a precautionary measure.
Firuz holds a high place among the princes of his house. His character at the time when he ascended the throne has been described, and it was not until he had reigned for some years that the wise, spirited, and vigorous king became a jailed and feeble voluptuary. He was a sincere, but not a rigid Muslim, and though nominally an orthodox Sunni of the Hanafite School, he drank wine, while confessing the sinfulness of his indulgence, and availed himself of the license, admitted by theologians of the laxer school, and by the Shiahs, of temporary marriage. In his harem were women of many nations, with each of whom he is said to have been able to converse fluently and easily in her own language. His curiosity regarding the marriage law of Islam was enlightened on one occasion by a woman taken in adultery, who pleaded with irrefutable logic, that as that law allowed a man four wives her simplicity was to be pardoned for believing that it allowed a woman four husbands. Her impudent wit saved her.
The new king’s first care was to honor the saint to whose patronage and blessing he attributed his success, and his gratitude took the form of extravagant endowments. The shrine of Gisu Daraz is yet honored above that of any saint in the Deccan, and the constancy of the mob has put to shame the fickleness of the king, who lightly transferred his favor from the successor of the long-haired saint to a foreigner, Shah Nimatullah of Mahan, near Kirman, in Persia.
Ahmad was eager to punish the insolence of Vira Vijaya, but the need for setting in order the domestic affairs of the kingdom postponed the congenial task. The merchant to whose energy and devotion he owed his throne was appointed lieutenant of the kingdom, with the title of Malikut-Tujjar, or 'Chief of the Merchants', and Hushyar and Bidar were rewarded for their fidelity to the master to whom they had owed allegiance, the former with the title and post of Amir-ul-Umara and the latter with the government of Daulatabad.
The status and power of the great officers of the kingdom were more precisely determined by Ahmad than by his predecessors. Each provincial governor ranked as a commander of 2000 horse, though his provincial troops were not restricted to this number, and were supplemented when the king took the field by large contingents from the great fief-holders.
After a demonstration in the direction of his northern frontier, which expelled a force which had invaded the Deccan from Gujarat, Ahmad marched, with 40,000 horse, against Vira Vijaya, who, with the help of the raja of Telingana led an army, of which the infantry and gunners numbered nearly a million, to the southern bank of the Tungabhadra, where he purposed to oppose the passage of the Muslims. Ahmad marched to the northern bank, and, having for forty days attempted in vain to lure the enemy into attempting the passage, took the offensive. A division of 10,000 men was sent up stream by night, to cross the river above the enemy's camp and create a diversion by attacking him on the left flank, or in rear. The Hindus, expecting a frontal attack in the morning, bivouacked by the river bank, but Vira Vijaya himself was pleasantly lodged in a garden of sugarcane in rear of the position. The division which had crossed the river in the night reached the garden shortly before dawn, on their way to attack the Hindus in rear, and the raja's attendants fled. The Muslims, who had still some time to spare, spent it in cutting sugarcanes for themselves and their horses, and Vira Vijaya, fearing lest he should fall into their hands, crept out and concealed himself in the standing crop, where he was found crouching by the troopers. Taking him for the gardener they gave him a sheaf of sugarcane to carry, and drove him on before them with blows of their whips. Meanwhile the main body of the Muslim army had begun to cross the river, and the Hindus, momentarily expecting their onslaught and taken in rear by the force which had, all unknowingly, captured the raja, were seized by the panic which always strikes an eastern army on the disappearance of its leader, and dispersed. The Muslims began to plunder the camp, and the raja, exhausted by the unwonted exercise of running under a heavy load, and smarting under the humiliation of unaccustomed blows, seized the opportunity of making his escape. He might even yet have rallied his army, but his spirit was so broken and his bodily powers so exhausted that he fled with it to Vijayanagar.
The Hindus now had reason to repent their breach of the humane treaty between Muhammad I and Bukka I for never, in the course of a long series of wars, did either army display such ferocity as did Ahmad’s troops in this campaign. His temper, not naturally cruel, had been goaded by the spectacle of the atrocities committed by the Hindus after the disastrous campaign of Pangul, and he glutted his revenge. Avoiding Vijayanagar, the siege of which had been discovered to be an unprofitable adventure, he marched through the kingdom, slaughtering men and enslaving women and children. An account of the butchery was kept, and whenever the tale of victims reached 20,000 the invader halted for three days, and celebrated the achievement with banquets and the beating of the great drums. Throughout his progress he destroyed temples and slaughtered cows, he sent three great brazen idols to Gulbarga to be dishonored, and omitted nothing that could wound the natural affections, the patriotism, or the religious sentiments of the Hindus. In March 1423, he halted beside an artificial lake to celebrate the festival of the Nauruz and his own exploits, and one day, while hunting, followed an antelope with such persistence that he was led to a distance of twelve miles from his camp, and was observed by a body of five or six thousand of the enemy’s horse. Of his immediate bodyguard of 400 men half were slain in the furious onslaught, but he contrived to find shelter in a cattle-fold, where his 200 foreign archers for some time kept the Hindus at a distance, but they had thrown down part of the wall of the enclosure and were endeavoring to force an entrance when aid unexpectedly arrived. A faithful officer, Abdul-Qadir, whose family had served the king’s for three generations, had grown apprehensive for his master’s safety, and had led two or three thousand of the royal guards in search of him. This force now appeared, and fell upon the Hindus, who stood their ground until they had slain 500 of their assailants, and then fled, leaving a thousand of their own number dead on the field.
Abd-ul-Qadir was rewarded with the title of Khanjahan and the government of Berar, and his brother, Abd-ul-Latif, who had shared the merit of the rescue, with that of Khan Azam and the government of Bidar. The defence made by the foreign mounted archers had so impressed upon Ahmad the importance of this arm that Malikut-Tujjar was ordered to raise a corps of 3000 of them—a measure which was destined to have a deep and enduring effect on the history of the Muslims in the Deccan.
Having effected all that arms could accomplish against a defenseless population, Ahmad marched on Vijayanagar, where Vira Vijaya, appalled by the sufferings of his people, sued for peace, and was forced to accept the conqueror's terms. Payment of the arrears of tribute for several years was the lightest of these, for the immense sum had to be borne to Ahmad's camp by the choicest elephants in the royal stables, escorted by the raja's son Devaraya with every demonstration of joy. The prince was obliged to accompany Ahmad in his retreat as far as the Krishna, and the Muslims retained the vast number of captives whom they had taken. Among these were two destined to rise to high rank. One, a Brahman youth, received the name of Fathullah on his reception into the fold of Islam, was assigned to the new governor of Berar, succeeded his master in that province, and eventually became, on the dissolution of the kingdom, the first independent sultan of Berar; and the other, Tima Bhat, Kai of Bhairav, an hereditary Brahman revenue official of Pathri, who had fled to Vijayanagar to avoid punishment or persecution, received the Muhammadan name of Hasan, rose, by a combination of ability and treachery, to be lieutenant of the kingdom, and left a son, Ahmad, who founded the dynasty of the Nizam Shahi kings of Ahmadnagar.
The king returned to Gulbarga shortly before the time when the fierce heat of the dry months of 1423 should have been tempered by the advent of the seasonal rains, but the rain failed, and its failure was followed by a famine. He was in his capital at the same season of the following year, when the distress of his people was at its height and the usual signs of the approach of the rainy season were still absent. The calamity was attributed to the displeasure of heaven, and Ahmad imperiled his reputation, if not his person, by publicly ascending a hill without the city and praying, in the sight of the multitude, for rain. Fortune favored him, the clouds gathered, and the rain fell. The drenched and shivering multitude hailed him as a saint, and he proudly bore the title.
At the end of 1424 Ahmad invaded Telingana and captured Warangal, which he made his headquarters while Abd-ul-Latif, governor of Bidar, established his authority throughout the country. The raja was slain, and Ahmad, having extended his eastern frontier to the sea, returned to Gulbarga leaving Abd-ul-Latif to reduce the few fortresses which still held out.
The governor of Mahur was still in rebellion, and late in 1425 Ahmad marched against him. Of his operations against the fortress we have two accounts, according to one of which he was obliged to retire discomfited after besieging the place for several months, and returned and captured it in the following year. According to the other, which is more probable, the raja was induced, by a promise of pardon for past offences, to surrender, and Ahmad violated every rule of honor and humanity by putting him and five or six thousand of his followers to death. From Mahur he marched northwards to Kalam, which was in the hands of a Gond rebel, captured the place, which was of no great strength, and led a foray into Gondwana, where he is said to have taken a diamond mine, the site of which cannot be traced. He then marched to Ellichpur and remained there for a year, engaged in rebuilding the hill forts of Gawil and Narnala, which protected his northern frontier. This task was undertaken in connection with a project for the conquest of Gujarat and Malwa, suggested by Timur’s grant of these two kingdoms to his brother, and he missed no opportunity of embroiling himself with the two states, and furnished himself with a pretext for interfering in their affairs by entering into a close alliance with the small state of Khandesh, the allegiance of which was claimed by both.
War with Malwa
Hushang Shah of Malwa had already, in 1422, furnished him with a casus belli by disregarding the position which Narsingh of Kherla had accepted in 1399, and compelling him to swear allegiance to Malwa. In 1428 Hushang prepared to invade Kherla, to enforce payment of tribute, and Ahmad, in response to Narsingh’s appeal, marched to Ellichpur. Hushang nevertheless opened the siege of Kherla, and Ahmad marched against him, but was perplexed by scruples regarding the lawfulness of attacking a brother Muslim on behalf of a misbeliever, and contented himself with sending a message to Hushang begging him to refrain from molesting Narsingh. As he immediately retired to his own dominions, Hushang attributed his conduct to pusillanimity, and marched against him with an army of 30,000 horse, but Ahmad, on reaching the Tapti, decided that he had suffered enough for righteousness' sake, and resolved at least to defend his kingdom. Hushang came upon his army unexpectedly, and was taken by surprise, but the troops of Malwa fought bravely until their discomfiture was completed by a force which had lain in ambush, and under the leadership of Ahmad himself attacked their right flank. They broke and fled, leaving in the hands of the victors all their baggage and camp equipage, 200 elephants, and the ladies of Hushang’s harem. Narsingh issued from Kherla, fell upon the fugitives, and pursued them into Malwa. Ahmad advanced to Kherla, where he was sumptuously entertained by Narsingh, and thence sent to Malwa, under the immediate charge of his most trusted eunuchs and the protection of 500 of his best cavalry, the ladies who had fallen into his hands.
His return march to Gulbarga led him to Bidar, a still important city occupying the site of the ancient Vidarbha, the capital of the ancient kingdom of the same name. It had been restored by Raja Vijaya Sena, one of the Valabhis of the solar line, who succeeded the Guptas in AD 319, and on the establishment of the Bahmani kingdom more than a thousand years later became the capital of one of its provinces. Ahmad halted for some time at this town, and was so impressed by the beauty of its situation, the salubrity of its climate, and perhaps by its legendary glories that he resolved to transfer his capital thither, and an army of surveyors, architects, builders, and masons was soon engaged in laying out, designing, and erecting a new city under the walls of the ancient fortress, which received the name of Ahmadabad Bidar.
As soon as he was settled in his new capital, in 1429, Ahmad sent a mission to Nasir Khan of Khandesh, to demand the hand of his daughter, Agha Zainab, for his eldest son, Alauddin Ahmad, whom he designated as his heir. The proposal was readily accepted by Nasir Khan, to whom an alliance with the powerful kingdom of the Deccan was at once an honor and a protection.
War with Gujarat
In 1430 Ahmad, in pursuance of his short-sighted policy of aggression against his northern neighbors, wantonly attacked Gujarat. Kanha, raja of Jhalawar, apprehending that Ahmad I of Gujarat intended to annex his territory, fled to Khandesh and conciliated Nasir Khan by the gift of some elephants. Nasir Khan, who was not strong enough to support or protect the refugee, sent him with a letter of recommendation to Ahmad Bahmani, who supplied him with a force which enabled him to invade Gujarat and lay waste the country about Nandurbar. An army under Muhammad Khan, son of Ahmad of Gujarat, defeated the aggressors with great slaughter, and drove them to take refuge in Daulatabad, whence they sent news of the mishap to Bidar. A fresh army, under the command of Ala-ud-din Ahmad, assembled at Daulatabad, where it was joined by Nasir Khan and by Kanha, who had fled to Khandesh, and advanced to Manikpunj, where it found the army of Gujarat awaiting its approach. The army of the Deccan was again defeated and again fled to Daulatabad, while Nasir Khan and Kanha shut themselves up in the fortress of Laling in Khandesh, and Muhammad Khan of Gujarat withdrew to Nandurbar, where he remained on the alert.
The effect of this second defeat was to arouse rather than to daunt the spirit of the sultan of the Deccan, and he sent a force under Malikut-Tujjar to seize and occupy the island of Bombay. For the recovery of this important post Ahmad of Gujarat sent an army under his younger son, Zafar Khan, and a fleet from Diu. His troops occupied Thana, thus menacing Malikut-Tujjar’s communications, and succeeded in enticing him from the shelter of the fort and in inflicting on him such a defeat that the remnant of his troops with difficulty regained its protection. They were closely invested by the fleet and army of Gujarat. Ahmad Bahmani sent 10,000 horse and sixty elephants under the command of Ala-ud-din Ahmad and Khanjahan of Berar to their relief, and thus enabled them to escape from the fortress, but the army of the Deccan was again defeated in the field, and Malikut-Tujjar fled to Chakan and the prince and Khanjahan to Daulatabad.
Disappointment and defeat only increased the obstinacy of Ahmad Bahmani, and in the following year he invaded in person the hilly tract of Baglana, the Rahtor raja of which was nominally a vassal of Gujarat, and at the same time besieged the fortress of Bhaul, on the Girna, which was held for Gujarat by Malik Saadat. Ahmad of Gujarat was engaged in an expedition to Champaner, but raised the siege of that place and marched to his southern frontier. A series of undignified maneuvers exhibited the unwillingness of the two kings to try conclusions. Ahmad Bahmani raised the siege of Bhaul and retired to Bidar, leaving a force on his frontier to check the anticipated pursuit, but Ahmad of Gujarat, greatly relieved by his enemy's flight, returned to his capital. Ahmad Bahmani then returned to Bhaul, and resumed the siege, disregarding a mild protest addressed to him by Ahmad of Gujarat, but Malik Saadat repulsed an attempt to carry the place by storm, and in a sortie inflicted such heavy losses on the besiegers that Ahmad Bahmani, learning that Ahmad of Gujarat was marching to the relief of the fortress, raised the siege and turned to meet him. The battle was maintained until nightfall, and is described as indecisive, but the sultan of the Deccan was so dismayed by his losses that he retreated hurriedly towards his capital.
In 1432 the citadel of Bidar was completed, and Ahmad put to death his sister’s son, Sher Khan, who, having originally counseled him to seize the scepter from his brother's feeble grasp was now suspected of the design of excluding his sons from the succession and usurping the throne.
The exhaustion of the kingdom after the disastrous war with Gujarat encouraged Hushang Shah to retrieve his late discomfiture by capturing Kherla and putting Narsingh to death. Ahmad was unprepared for war, but could not ignore so gross an insult, and marched northward to exact reparation, but Nasir Khan intervened, and composed the quarrel on terms disgraceful to Ahmad. Kherla was acknowledged to be a fief of Malwa and Hushang made, in the treaty, the insolent concession that the rest of Berar should remain a province of the Deccan.
After this humiliating peace Ahmad marched into Telingana, which, though nominally under the government of one of his sons, was in a condition approaching rebellion. Some of the petty chieftains of the province, who had defied the prince’s authority, were seized and put to death, and order was, for the time, restored.
The decline of Ahmad’s mental and bodily powers had for some time been apparent. He had recently allowed the management of all public business to fall into the hands of Miyan Mahmud Nizamul-Mulk, a native of the Deccan who had succeeded Malikut Tujjar as lieutenant of the kingdom on the latter's transfer to the government of Daulatabad, and shortly after this time he died, at the age of sixty-three or sixty-four.
The character of Ahmad was simpler than that of his versatile and accomplished brother, Firuz, whose learning, with its taint of skepticism, was replaced in Ahmad by superstition, with a tinge of fanaticism. The uncouth enthusiasm of the long-haired zealot, Gisu Daraz, which had disgusted the cultured and fastidious Firuz, delighted the devout and simple mind of his brother. But Ahmad, though scantily endowed with wit and learning, despised neither, and his court, if less brilliant than that of Firuz, was not destitute of culture. Of the men of learning who enjoyed his patronage the foremost was the poet Azari of Isfarayin in Khurasan, who was encouraged to undertake the composition of the Bahman-nama, a versified history of the dynasty, now unfortunately, lost. From fragments preserved in quotations it seems to have been an inferior imitation of the Shahnama of Firdausi. Azari returned to his own country before Ahmad's death, but in remote Isfarayin continued the history until his own death in 1462. It was carried on by various hands until the last days of the dynasty, and some of the poetasters who disfigured the work with their turgid bombast, impudently claimed the whole as their own.
Ahmad transferred his devotion from the successor of Gisu Daraz to Nimatullah, the famous saint of Mahan, but failed to attract the holy man himself to India, and had to content himself with his son Khalilullah, surnamed Butshikan, ‘the Iconoclast’, who visited Bidar and whose shrine, a cenotaph, is still to be seen there. The saint’s family were Shiabs, and it is clear, from the inscriptions in Ahmad’s tomb, that they converted him to that faith, but his religion was a personal matter, and he wisely refrained from interfering with that of his subjects. The first militant Shiah ruler in India was Yusuf Adil Shah of Bijapur.
The employment of foreign troops in the Deccan, already mentioned, raised a question which shortly after this time became acute, and remained a source of strife as long as any independent Muslim state existed in the south. This was the feud between the Deccanis and the Foreigners. The climate of India is undoubtedly injurious to the natives of more temperate climes who adopt the country as a permanent domicile, and the degeneracy of their descendants is, as a rule, rather accelerated than retarded by unions with the natives of the soil. In northern India such degeneracy was retarded by the influx of successive waves of conquest and immigration from the north-west, and the country, from the time of its first conquest by the Muslims, seldom acknowledged for long rulers who could be regarded as genuine natives of India; but the Deccan was more isolated, and though a domiciled race of kings succeeded in maintaining their power for more than a century and a half they looked abroad for their ablest and most active servants and their bravest soldiers. Most of Bahman Shah’s nobles were foreigners. His Afghan minister was succeeded by a Persian from Shiraz, and he again by a native of Basrah. As the descendants of foreigners became identified with the country they coalesced with the natives, and acquired their manners, the process being sometimes retarded by the avoidance of intermarriage with them; and their places were taken by fresh immigrants, who were usually employed, in preference to the less virile and energetic natives, in difficult and perilous enterprises, in which they generally acquitted themselves well, and the Deccanis found themselves outstripped at the council board as well as in the field, and naturally resented their supersession; but it was not until the reign of Ahmad, who was the first to enlist large numbers of foreigners in the rank and file of his army, that the line between them was clearly drawn. War was openly declared between them when Malikut-Tujjar attributed his defeat by the troops of Gujarat to the cowardice of the Deccanis, and the feud thus begun was not confined to intrigues for place and power, but frequently found expression in pitched battles and bloody massacres, of which last the Foreigners were usually the victims, and contributed in no small measure, first to the disintegration of the kingdom of the Bahmanids, and ultimately to the downfall of the states which rose on its ruins.
The feud was complicated by religious differences. The native Deccanis were Sunnis, and though all the Foreigners were not Shiahs, a sufficient number of them belonged to that sect to associate their party with heterodoxy, so that although the lines of cleavage drawn by interest and religion might not exactly coincide, they approached one another closely enough to exacerbate political jealousy by sectarian prejudice.
One class of foreigners, however, the Africans, who were afterwards largely employed, stood apart from the rest. Their attachment to the Sunni faith, and the contemptuous attitude adopted towards them by other Foreigners, who refused to regard the unlettered and unprepossessing negro as the equal of the fair-skinned, handsome, and cultured man of the north, threw them into the arms of the Deccanis. To the negroes were added the Muwallads, a name applied to the offspring of African fathers and Indian mothers. Thus in this disastrous strife the Foreign Party consisted of Turks, Arabs, Mughuls, and Persians, and the Deccani Party of native Deccanis, negroes, and Muwallads. Instances of temporary or permanent apostasy, due to religious differences, to self-interest, or to gratitude to a benefactor, were not unknown, but were not frequent enough to affect the homogeneity of either party. Rarer still were disinterested endeavors to restore peace for the benefit of the state, for party spirit was stronger than patriotism.