HISTORY OF INDIA
GHIYAS-UD-DIN BALBAN, MUIZZ-UD-DIN KAIQUBAD,
AND SHAMS-UD-DIN KAYUMARS
THE Forty could ill brook the elevation of one of their own number to the throne. The disorders of the late reign had been largely due to revolts against Balban's supremacy, and the jealousy of one noble had reft the Punjab from the kingdom, but in the absence of an heir of the line of Iltutmish the recognition of Balban's sovereignty was the only alternative to anarchy. Balban, on the other hand, was resolved on founding a dynasty and, as a necessary step to that end, on destroying the confederacy whose strength lay in the weakness of the crown.
His first, and probably his most unpopular reform, was the establishment of a rigid ceremonial at his court, which differed entirely from that of his meek and unassuming predecessor. His maxim was that the freedom which came naturally and easily to one born to a throne could not be safely used by a monarch who had acquired one, and was surrounded by courtiers who had formerly been his equals; but his policy ministered to his pride, for though his original position among the royal slaves had been extremely humble he claimed descent from Afrasiyab of Turan, and pretended, on this ground, to an innate right to sovereignty. His court was an austere assembly where jest and laughter were unknown, whence wine and gaming, to which he had formerly been addicted, were banished, partly because they were forbidden by the Islamic law but chiefly because they promoted good fellowship and familiarity, and where no detail of punctilious ceremony was ever relaxed. He atoned for former laxity by a rigid observance of all the ceremonial ordinances of his faith, and at meals his favorite companions were theologians and his favorite topic the dogmas of Islam. His justice knew no respect of persons, if we except a prejudice against the Forty. Malik Baqbaq, a great noble who maintained from the revenues of his fief of Budaun 4000 horse, caused one of his servants to be beaten so unmercifully that he died under the lash. When Balban next visited Budaun the man's widow demanded justice, and Malik Baqbaq was flogged to death and the news-writer who had suppressed the circumstance was hanged over the city gate. Haibat Khan, who held the great fief of Oudh, slew a man in a fit of drunken rage, and when the victim's relations appealed to Balban he caused Haibat Khan to be flogged with five hundred stripes and then delivered him to the widow, saying: “This murderer was my slave, he is now yours. Do you stab him as he stabbed your husband”. Haibat Khan found intercessors who induced the woman to stay her hand, and purchased his freedom for 20,000 tangas, but was so overcome with shame that to the day of his death he never left his house. Balban more than once announced that he would treat his own sons in like manner in similar circumstances. An officer who was defeated by rebels was hanged over the gate of the city which was the seat of his government. This was not a proper punishment for incapacity or ill fortune, but the officer was, like Baqbaq and Haibat Khan, one of the Forty. Balban was occasionally, as will be seen from the chronicle of his reign, capricious as well as cruel in his punishments. A virtue eulogized by Muslim historians was his capacity for weeping at sermons, but he could remain unmoved by the sight of cruel executions.
The informers or news-writers formed a branch of the public service to which he devoted special attention and were an important feature of Muslim rule in India, as of all despotic rule over large areas in which extensive delegation of authority is necessary. They were appointed by the king and were independent of local governors, the affairs of whose provinces it was their duty to report and on whose actions they were, in some sort, spies. Their position was extremely delicate and Balban took great pains in selecting and exercised great caution in promoting them.
His ambition of emulating Mahmud of Ghazni and Sultan Sanjar the Seljuk was restrained by the ever present menace of a Mogul invasion. To the courtiers who urged him to conquer Gujarat and recover Malwa and other provinces lost to the kingdom he replied that he had the will to do far more than this but had no intention of exposing Delhi to the fate of Baghdad. His energies found a vent in the hunting field, where his strenuous expeditions, in which he was accompanied by large bodies of horse and foot, were commended by the Mogul Hulagu as useful military exercises. Balban was much gratified by this commendation and complacently observed that those whose business it was to rule men knew how to appreciate in others the qualities of a ruler.
The record of his reign is chronologically less exact than that of preceding reigns, for our principal authority is Ziya-ud-din Barani, an interesting and discursive but unmethodical writer with no taste for chronology. He seldom troubles to assign a date to an event and never troubles to see that it is correct.
One of the first to recognize that the accession of Balban had inaugurated a new era was Arsalan Tatar Khan, now governor of Bengal, who had latterly withheld from Mahmud material recognition of his sovereignty, but at once sent Balban a gift of sixty-three elephants.
The Meos had recovered from their severe chastisement and infested the jungle which had been permitted to grow unchecked round Delhi. They plundered travelers on the roads, entered the city by night, and robbed the inhabitants in their houses, and even by day robbed and stripped water-carriers and women drawing water from the large reservoirs just within the city walls, so that it became necessary to shut the gates on the western side of the city immediately after the hour of afternoon prayer. During the year following his accession Balban was occupied in exterminating the robbers. The jungle was cleared, the Meos lurking in it were put to death, a fort was built to command the approaches to the city from the west, and police posts were established on all sides.
A recrudescence of turbulence among the Hindus of the Doab, who had entirely closed the roads between Bengal and Delhi, necessitated measures of repression and precaution, and all important towns and villages in this region were granted as fiefs to powerful nobles, who cleared the jungles which harbored gangs of brigands, slew large numbers of Hindus and enslaved their wives and children. Balban himself remained for many months in the districts of Patiyali, Kampil, Bhojpur, and Jalali, extirpated all highway robbers, built forts at those places, garrisoned them with Afghans, who received lands in their vicinity for their maintenance, and by these measures secured the tranquility of the roads between Delhi and Bengal for a century.
While he was thus engaged he learnt that the Hindus of Katehr had risen and were overrunning and plundering that province in such force that the governors of Budaun and Amroha were unable to take the field against them. He hastily returned to Delhi, assembled his best troops, and, having misled his enemy by announcing his intention of hunting, made a forced march and appeared in Katehr sixty hours after he had left the capital. The rebels in arms, taken completely by surprise, fled, and Balban terribly avenged his outraged authority. All males over the age of eight were put to death, the women were carried off into slavery, and in every village through which the army passed huge heaps of corpses were left, the stench of which poisoned the air as far as the Ganges. The region was plundered and almost depopulated, and those of the inhabitants who were spared were so cowed that for thirty years order reigned in the province and the districts of Budaun, Amroha, Sambhal, and Gunnaur had peace.
Recovery of the Punjab
In 1268-69 Balban led his army into the Salt Range with the object, primarily, of preparing for the re-establishment of the royal authority in the Punjab, and, secondarily of obtaining a supply of horses for his army. His operations were successful; the Hindus were defeated and plundered and so many horses were taken that the price of a horse in his camp fell to thirty or forty tangas.
In the course of this campaign a grave abuse inseparable from the lax feudal system of India and constantly recurring in the history of Islamic kingdoms in that country was first brought to Balban's notice. Iltutmish had provided for the king’s personal troops by grants of laud in fee, on condition of service. Most of the actual grantees were now dead and the survivors were unfit for service, but the immunity which they had enjoyed under the feeble Mahmud encouraged them to advance the impudent claim that their fiefs had been granted unconditionally and in perpetuity. It appeared likely that an inquiry would arouse discontent and disaffection and even Balban was obliged to leave the question at rest for the time, but in 1270, in the course of an expedition during which he restored the city of Lahore and re-established a provincial government in the upper Punjab the quality of the contingent supplied by the grantees necessitated the investigation of the matter, and he discovered, on his return to Delhi, that there was a general tendency on the part of the actual holders of the lands to evade their personal liability for service and that many of the able-bodied, as well as those who were too young or too old to take the field, sent as substitutes useless and unwarlike slaves. The grants were resumed and the grantees were compensated beyond their deserts by the allotment of subsistence allowances, not only to themselves but to their descendants, but this did not satisfy them and they carried their grievance to the aged Fakhr-ud-din, Kotwal of Delhi, who worked on Balban’s feelings by the irrelevant argument that old age was no crime and that if it were he, the Kotwal, was one of the chief offenders. The emotional king failed to detect the fallacy and, after weeping bitterly, rescinded the reasonable orders which he had issued and wasted the resources of the state by confirming the grants unconditionally.
Balban’s intention of founding a dynasty and his attitude towards the Forty were no secret, and his own cousin, Sher Khan Sunqar the most distinguished servant of the kingdom, who now held the fiefs of Bhatinda, Bhatnair, Samana, and Sunam, had avoided Delhi since his accession. Sunqar’s courage and abilities, no less than his mistrust, rendered him an object of suspicion to his cousin, now about sixty-five years of age, and his sudden death at this time is attributed to poison which Balban caused to be administered to him. His fiefs of Samana and Sunam were bestowed upon Tatar Khan of Bengal, one of the Forty, but less formidable than Sunqar, and Tughril was appointed to Bengal in his place.
The House of Balban
Balban soon discovered that in attempting to protect the interests of his posterity he had endangered the peace of his kingdom. Sunqar had been dreaded by the Moguls and by the Khokars and other turbulent Hindu tribes, and his death revived the courage of both foreign and domestic enemies. Owing to the renewed activity of the Moguls the king transferred his elder son, Muhammad Khan, entitled Qa’an Malik, from his fief of Koil to the government of Multan. This prince was the hope of his line. He was gentle and courageous, able and learned, a diligent student and a munificent patron of letters. The poets Amir Khusrav and Amir Hasan began their literary careers as members of his household, and he invited the famous Sadi of Shiraz to visit him at Multan, and was disappointed of the honor of entertaining him only by reason of the poet's extreme age. His table and intimate circle were adorned by the presence of the learned and the wise, and though wine was in use it was drunk for the purpose of stimulating, not of drowning, the intellect. No obscenity or ribald conversation was heard in that society, nor did cheerfulness and merriment ever transgress the bounds of decorum. Eastern historians and poets are wont to associate the names of princes with fulsome and almost blasphemous adulation, but in all that has been written of Muhammad Khan affection, as well as admiration, may be traced. In him were centered all the hopes of the stern old king; for him the Forty were doomed, and for him the blood of near kinsmen was shed. The relations between father and son were of the most affectionate character, and Muhammad Khan used to travel every year from Multan to visit Balban, to enjoy his society, and to profit by his counsels. Before his departure he was formally designated heir-apparent and was invested with some of the insignia of royalty.
The character of Balban’s second son Mahmud, entitled Bughra Khan, was a complete contrast to that of his brother. He was, slothful, addicted to wine and sensual pleasures, and devoid of generous ambition. His father, though well aware of his faults and the weakness of his character, regarded him with natural tenderness and attempted to arouse in him a sense of responsibility by bestowing on him the fief of Samana. Bughra Khan, who dreaded his father's critical scrutiny and found the restraint of his society irksome, was well content to leave the capital; but for the general advice which had been deemed sufficient for Muhammad Khan, Balban substituted, in the case of his younger son, minute and detailed instructions, accompanied by special warnings against self-indulgence and intemperance and a threat of dismissal in case of misconduct.
Rebellion in Bengal
About the year 1279 the Moguls again began to appear in north-western India, and in one of their incursions even crossed the Sutlej, but though they harried the upper Punjab Delhi had little to apprehend from them, for domestic enemies had now been crushed, and a force of seventeen or eighteen thousand horse composed of the contingents of Muhammad Khan from Multan, Bughra Khan from Samana, and Malik Bektars from Delhi so severely defeated them as to deter them from again crossing the Sutlej.
In the same year Balban learnt with indignation that Tughril was in rebellion in Bengal. The allegiance of the governors of this distant and wealthy province to the reigning king had usually depended on circumstances. A strong ruler was gratified by frequent, though seldom regular remittances of tribute, one less strong might expect the compliment of an occasional gift, but with any indication of the king’s inability to maintain his authority nearer home remittances ceased entirely. Lakhnawati had thus earned at Delhi the nickname of Balghakpur, ‘the city of rebellion’. Tughril was encouraged by Balban’s advancing age and by a recrudescence of Mogul activity on the north-western frontier, to withhold tribute, and Balban ordered Malik Aitigin the Longhaired, entitled Amin Khan, to march against him from Oudh. Amin Khan was defeated, many from his army joined Tughril, and those who attempted to save themselves by flight were plundered by the Hindus. Balban, whom the first news of the rebellion had thrown into such paroxysms of rage that few durst approach him, was now nearly beside himself, and caused Amin Khan to be hanged over the gate of the city of Ajodhya. In the following year an army under Malik Targhi shared the fate of its predecessor, and Tughril was again reinforced by deserters. Balban now gnawed his own flesh in his fury, and when his first outburst of rage was spent prepared to take the field in person. Fleets of boats were collected on the Jumna and the Ganges, and Balban, accompanied by his second son, Bughra Khan, set out from Delhi and marched through the Doab. In Oudh he mustered his forces, which numbered, including sutlers and camp-followers, 200,000, and, although the rainy season had begun he crossed the Gogra and invaded Bengal. Here he was often compelled by the state of the weather and the roads to halt for ten or twelve days at a time, and when he reached Lakhnawati he found it almost deserted, for Tughril, on hearing of his approach, had fled with his army and most of the inhabitants to Jajnagar in eastern Bengal. After a short halt Balban continued his march until he reached Sonargaon, on the Meghna, near Dacca, where he compelled the raja, Bhoj, to undertake to use his utmost endeavors to discover Tughril and to prevent his escape by land or water. He dismayed his army by solemnly swearing that he would not rest nor return to Delhi, nor even hear the name of Delhi mentioned, until he should have seized Tughril, even though he had to pursue him on the sea. His troops, who had not yet even discovered the place of Tughril’s retreat, wrote letters, in the deepest dejection, bidding farewell to their families at Delhi, and the search for Tughril began. One day a patrol under Sher Andaz of Koil and Muqaddir encountered some grain merchants who had been abroad on business. When two had been beheaded to loosen the tongues of the rest, Sher Andaz learned that he was within a mile of Tughril, who was encamped with his army beside a reservoir. After sending word to Bektars, commanding the advanced guard, he rode cautiously on, found the rebel army enjoying a day's halt after the fashion of undisciplined troops and, fearing lest an incautious movement should give the alarm, formed the desperate resolution of attacking the enemy with his party of thirty or forty horsemen. As they galloped into the camp with swords drawn, shouting aloud for Tughril, the rebels were too astonished to reckon their numbers or to attempt resistance and they rode straight for his tent. Amid a scene of the wildest confusion he fled, and, mounting a barebacked horse, endeavored to escape, but was recognised and pursued. Malik Muqaddir brought him down with a well-aimed arrow and was thenceforward known as Tughril-Kush, ‘the Slayer of Tughril’. Bektars then arrived on the scene and, receiving Tughril's head from Muqaddir, sent it to Balban with news of the success which had been gained. Balban summoned the adventurous officers to his presence and after severely reproving their rashness generously rewarded their success. The army passed at once from despair to elation; their master's vow was fulfilled and the remainder of their task was a labor of love. The rebel’s demoralized force was surrounded and nearly the whole of it was captured. The army then set out on its return march to Lakhnawati where Balban proposed to glut his revenge. On either side of the principal bazaar, a street more than two miles in length, a row of stakes was set up and the family and the adherents of Tughril were impaled upon them. None of the beholders had ever seen a spectacle so terrible and many swooned with terror and disgust. Such was the fate of Tughril’s own followers, but those who had deserted from the two armies sent against him and had joined his standard were reserved for what was designed to be a yet more appalling spectacle at the capital.
Before leaving Bengal Balban appointed Bughra Khan to the government of the province and after repeating the advice which he had given him on appointing him to Samana added a brief and impressive warning. He said, after the punishment of the rebels, “did you see?” The prince was silent and the question was repeated. Still there was no answer. “Mahmud”, repeated Balban, “did you see the punishment inflicted in the great bazaar?” “Yes”, at length replied the trembling prince, “I saw it”. “Well”, said Balban, “take it to heart, and while you are at Lakhnawati remember, that Bengal can never safely rebel against Delhi”. He then proceeded, with strange inconsistency, to advise his son, if he should ever find himself in arms against Delhi, to flee to some spot where he might baffle pursuit and remain in hiding until the storm should have passed.
Death of Balban
The only cloud overshadowing the rejoicings which marked Balban's triumphant return to Delhi was the impending fate of his wretched captives, most of whom had wives and families in the city. These repaired in their grief to the qazi of the army, a pious and gentle man, and besought him to intercede for the lives of those dear to them. He gained the royal presence and, after a harangue on the blessedness of mercy which reduced Balban to tears, applied his arguments to the fate of the doomed men. His efforts were successful; the double row of stakes which had been set up from the Budaun gate of the city to Tilpat was removed, and the prisoners were divided into four classes. The common herd received a free pardon, those of slightly greater importance were banished for a time, those who had held respectable positions at Delhi suffered a term of imprisonment, and the principal officers were mounted on buffaloes and exposed to the jeers and taunts of the mob. This act of mercy blotted out the remembrance of the atrocity perpetrated at distant Lakhnawati and from all parts of the kingdom congratulations poured in.
Balban, now eighty years of age, was at the height of his prosperity and glory when he received a blow which darkened the brief remainder of his days. The Moguls, under Tamar Khan, invaded the province of Multan in great force and Muhammad Khan attacked and defeated them, but was surprised by an ambush and slain on March 9, 1285. The historian Barani give an affecting account of the behavior of the aged king. He would in no way compromise his dignity, and transacted business with his usual stern and grave demeanor, though the weight of the blow which had fallen on him was manifest to all; but at night, and in the privacy of his chamber, he rent his clothes, cast dust upon his head, and mourned for his son as David mourned for Absalom. The dead prince was henceforward always known as Shahid, ‘the Martyr’, and his youthful son Kaikhusrav was sent from Delhi with a large staff and a numerous force to take his father's place as warden of the marches.
Bughra Khan, whom Balban now designated as his heir, was summoned from Bengal in order that his presence at the capital might avert the evils of a disputed succession, but the worthless prince had always chafed under the restraints of his father’s austere court and declined, even for the sake of a throne, to endure existence under the cloud of gloom which now overhung it. Leaving the city on the pretext of a hunting excursion, he returned without permission to Bengal, but before he reached Lakhnawati his father was on his deathbed. Balban summoned a few trusted counselors and disinherited his unworthy son, designating as his heir Kaikhusrav, the son of the Martyr Prince. When he had issued these injunctions the old king breathed his last.
His counsellors disregarded his last wishes, and enthroned Kaiqubad, a youth of seventeen or eighteen, son of Bughra Khan. The historian Barani says that for a reason which could not be mentioned without disclosing the secrets of the harem they had been on bad terms with the Martyr, and feared to raise his son to the throne. These expressions may indicate a former lapse from virtue on the part of the otherwise blameless prince, or a suspicion that Kaikhusrav was not the son of his putative father, but their import cannot be accurately determined.
Nizam-ud-din, nephew and son-in-law of the aged Kotwal Fakhr-ud-din, acquired on Kaiqubad’s accession in 1287 a prominent position at the capital, and the son of Balban’s brother Kashli Khan, who bore his father’s title but was more generally known as Malik Chhajju, received the important fief of Samana. Bughra Khan tamely acquiesced in his supersession by his son, but assumed in Bengal the royal title of Nasir-ud-din Mahmud Bughra Shah.
The young king had been educated under the supervision of his grandfather in the straightest paths of virtue, and his guardians and tutors, trembling under the old despot’s eye, had subjected him to the most rigid discipline. As a natural consequence of this injudicious restraint the youth, on finding himself absolute master of his actions, plunged at once into a whirlpool of debauchery. The unrestrained indulgence of his appetites was his sole occupation, and to the duties of his station he gave not a thought. The Arabic saying, “Men follow the faith of their masters”, found ample confirmation during his brief reign, and as in the reign of Charles II in England the reaction from the harsh rule of the precisians and the evil example of the king produced a general outburst of licentiousness, so in that of Kaiqubad at Delhi the reaction from the austere and gloomy rule of Balban and the example of the young voluptuary inaugurated among the younger generation an orgy of debauchery. The minister, Khatir-ud-din, abandoned in despair the task of awakening his young master to a sense of duty and the ambitious Nizam-ud-din was enabled to gather into his own hands the threads of all public business and, by entirely relieving Kaiqubad of its tedium, to render himself indispensable. His influence was first exhibited in the course followed with Kaikhusrav, whose superior hereditary claim was represented as a menace to Kaiqubad. The prince was summoned to Delhi and, under an order obtained from Kaiqubad when he was drunk, was put to death at Rohtak. Nizam-ud-din then obtained, by means of a false accusation, an order degrading the minister, who was paraded through the streets on an ass, as though he had been a common malefactor. This treatment of the first minister of the kingdom and the execution, at Nizam-ud-din’s instigation, of Shahak, governor of Multan, and Tuzaki, governor of Baran, alarmed and disgusted the nobles of Balban’s court, and caused them gradually to withdraw from participation in public business, and the power of Nizam-ud-din, the object of whose ambition could not be mistaken, became absolute. All who endeavored to warn the king of what all but he could see were delivered to Nizam-ud-din to be dealt with as sedition-mongers. The aged Kotwal attempted to restrain his nephew, but he had already gone so far that he could not safely recede. Even the slothful and self-indulgent Bughra sent letters to his son warning him of the inevitable consequences of his debauchery and neglect of business, and, more guardedly, in view of Nizam-ud-din’s control of the correspondence, of the danger of permitting a subject to usurp his authority. A proposed meeting between father and son, on the frontiers of their kingdoms, was postponed by an irruption of the Moguls under Tamar Khan of Ghazni, who overran the Punjab, plundered Lahore, and advanced nearly as far as Samana. Amid the general demoralization of the court and the capital Balban’s army still remained as a monument of his reign, and a force of 30,000 horse under the command of Malik Muhammad Baqbaq, entitled, perhaps for his services on this occasion, Khan Jahan, was sent against the invaders, who were overtaken in the neighborhood of Lahore and utterly defeated. Most of their army were slain, but more than a thousand prisoners were carried back to the capital. The description of these savages by the poet Amir Khusrav, who had been a prisoner in their hands for a short time after the battle in which his early patron, the Martyr Prince, was slain, is certainly colored by animosity, but is probably as true as most caricatures: “Their eyes were so narrow and piercing that they might have bored a hole in a brazen vessel, and their stench was more horrible than their color. Their heads were set on their bodies as if they had no necks, and their cheeks resembled leathern bottles, full of wrinkles and knots. Their noses extended from cheek to cheek and their mouths from cheekbone to cheekbone. Their nostrils resembled rotten graves, and from them the hair descended as far as the lips. Their moustaches were of extravagant length, but the beards about their chins were very scanty. Their chests, in color half black, half white, were covered with lice which looked like sesame growing on a bad soil. Their whole bodies, indeed, were covered with these insects, and their skins were as rough-grained as shagreen leather, fit only to be converted into slides. They devoured dogs and pigs with their nasty teeth....Their origin is derived from dogs, but they have larger bones. The king marveled at their beastly countenances and said that God had created them out of hell fire”.
Numbers of these prisoners were decapitated and others were crushed under the feet of elephants, and “spears without number bore their heads aloft, and appeared denser than a forest of bamboos”. A few were preserved and kept in confinement. These were sent from city to city for exhibition, and, as the poet again observes, “sometimes they had respite and sometimes punishment”.
It was after this irruption of the Moguls that Nizam-ud-din persuaded Kaiqubad to put to death the “New Muslims”. These were Moguls who had been captured in former campaigns and forcibly converted, or who had voluntarily embraced Islam and entered the royal service, in which some had attained to high rank. They were, for many years after this time, a source of anxiety, for it was believed that they, like the “New Christians” of Spain and Portugal, were not sincere in their change of faith, and they fell under the suspicion of treasonable correspondence with their unconverted brethren. The accusations against them were vague, and were not substantiated by any trial or enquiry, but they were proscribed and put to death, and those who had been on friendly terms with them and had permitted them to intermarry with their families were imprisoned.
Meanwhile Bughra had advanced with his army to the frontier of his kingdom and was encamped on the bank of the Gogra. His intentions were undoubtedly hostile. He had acquiesced in his son’s elevation to the throne, but the latter’s subsequent conduct and the prospect of the extinction of his house, had aroused even his resentment. Kaiqubad, on learning that his father had reached the Gogra, marched from Delhi in the middle of March, 1288, to Ajodhya, where he was joined by his cousin Chhajju from Kara.
The armies were encamped on the opposite bank of the Gogra, and the situation was critical, but Bughra hesitated to attack his son’s superior force and contented himself with threatening messages, but when they were answered in the same strain changed his tone and suggested a meeting. This was arranged, but it was stipulated that Bughra should acknowledge the superior majesty of Delhi by visiting his son. He consented, and crossed the river. Kaiqubad was to have received his father seated on his throne, but as Bughra approached his natural feelings overcame him, and he descended from the throne and paid to him the homage due from a son to his father, and their meeting moved the spectators to tears. A friendly contention regarding precedence lasted long and was concluded by the father taking the son by the hand, seating him on the throne, and standing before him. He then embraced his son and returned to his own camp. Kaiqubad celebrated the reconciliation, in characteristic fashion, with a drinking bout at which he and his courtiers got drunk. He exchanged complimentary presents with his father and three more meetings took place between them. Bughra took his son to task for putting to death Kaikhusrav and so many of the old nobles and advised him to substitute a council of four for a single adviser. At the last meeting he whispered in his son’s ear, as he embraced him, a caution against Nizam-ud-din and advised him to put him to death. The two parted with tokens of affection and returned to their capitals. “Alas!” cried Bughra, “I have seen the last of my son and the last of Delhi”. His counsels induced Kaiqubad to make a faint effort to reform his ways, but before he reached Delhi he had returned like a dog to his vomit and a washed sow to her wallowing in the mire. The rejoicings with which his hardly expected return was celebrated were the occasion of general license, in describing which the aged and toothless Barani, writing more than half a century later, is beguiled into rhapsodical and unseemly reminiscences of his own misspent youth.
In the midst of his debauchery Kaiqubad bore in mind his father’s warning and one day summoned up courage to inform Nizam-ud-din abruptly that he was transferred to Multan and must leave Delhi at once. He so delayed his departure on various pretexts that the king concluded that he intended to defy his authority, and, caused him to be poisoned. Barani, who condemns the minister's unscrupulous ambition, praises him for his judicious selection of subordinates, and justly observes that but for his unremitting attention to public business the authority of Kaiqubad could not have been maintained for a day. His sudden removal dislocated the machinery of the administration and the king, incapable of personal attention to business, summoned to Delhi the most powerful and capable noble in the kingdom, Malik Jalal-ud-din Firuz Khalji, who, since the transfer of Chhajju to Kara, had held the important fief of Samana, transferred him to Baran, and appointed him to the command of the army. His advancement gave great offence to the Turkish nobles and to the people of the capital, who affected to despise his tribe and feared both his power and his ambition. Almost immediately after he had taken possession of his new fief incontinence and intemperance did their work on Kaiqubad, who was struck down with paralysis and lay, a helpless wreck, in the palace which he had built at Kilokhri, while Firuz marched with a large force from Baran to the suburbs of Delhi.
Death of Kaiqubad
The Turkish nobles and officers, headed by Aitamar Kachhan and Aitamar Surkha, were in a dilemma. Firuz, though his designs were apparent, had not declared against Kaiqubad and had done nothing which his official position, which required him to keep the peace, would not justify, and they were debarred by the king’s physical condition from the usual expedient of carrying him into the field and so arming themselves with his authority. They therefore, although Kaiqubad still lived, carried his three year old son into the city and enthroned him under the title of Shams-ud-din Kayumars.
Kaiqubad lay unheeded in his palace at Kilokhri while the two parties contended for the mastery. Neither wished to be the first to appeal to arms, and Kachhan visited Firuz to invite him to discuss the situation with the Turkish nobles in the city, but Firuz, having ascertained that the invitation was a snare, and that preparations had been made to murder him and his Khalji officers, caused Kachhan to be dragged from his horse and slain. The sons of Firuz then dashed into Delhi, carried off Kayumars, and defeated a force sent in pursuit of them, slaying Surkha, its leader, and capturing the sons of Fakhr-ud-din, the Kotwal. The success of the unpopular party so incensed the people that they rose and streamed out of the city gates, with the intention of attacking Firuz in his camp, but the kotwal who was a man of peace, and trembled for the fate of his captive sons, quelled the disturbance and dispersed the mob. Firuz was now master of the situation, and most of the Turkish nobles, who had lost their leaders, openly joined him, and the rest, with the populace of Delhi, maintained an attitude of sullen aloofness. Meanwhile the wretched Kaiqubad was an unconscionable time a-dying, and, with the approval of Firuz, an officer whose father had been executed by the sick man’s orders was dispatched to his chamber to hasten his end. The ruffian rolled his victim in the bedding on which he lay, kicked him on the head, and threw his body into the Jumna. At the same time Chhajju, whose near relationship to Kaiqubad might have encouraged him to assert a claim to the throne, was dismissed to his fief of Kara, and on June 13, 1290, Firuz was enthroned in the palace of Kilokhri as Jalal-ud-din Firuz Shah.
The early Muhammadan kingdom of Delhi was not a homogeneous political entity. The great fiefs, of which the principal were, on the east, Mandawar, Amroha, Sambhal, Budaun, Baran (Bulandshahr), Koil and Oudh; on the south-east Kara-Manikpur; on the south Bayana and Gwalior; on the west Nagaur, recently abandoned; and on the north-west and north, Hansi, Multan, Uch, Lahore, Samana, Sunam, Guhram, Bhatinda and Sirhind, were nuclei of Muhammadan influence, the holders of which discharged some of the functions of provincial governors, but the trans-Gangetic fiefs of Mandawar, Amroha, Sambhal, and Budaun were mere outposts of dominion against the territory of Katehr, where the independence of the Hindus was only occasionally disturbed by punitive expeditions which usually engaged the sovereign with the greater part of his available military strength; and similarly the fiefs to the south, south-west, and west were outposts against Rajput chieftains who might have been strong enough, had union been possible to them, to expel the foreigners. Gwalior had been taken by Aibak, but lost during the reign of his son and with difficulty recovered by Iltutmish; the fortress of Ranthambhor had been dismantled and abandoned by Raziyya and occupied and restored by the Rajputs; and Nagaur, at one time held by Balban as his fief, was also in their hands. On the north-west Lahore, Uch and Multan were exposed to the constant inroads of the Moguls of Ghazni, and the ties which bound them to Delhi were now relaxed. The fiefs or districts in the heart of the kingdom were interspersed with tracts of country in the hands of powerful Hindu chieftains or confederacies. Immediately to the south of Delhi Mewat, which included parts of the modern districts of Muttra and Gurgaon, most of Alwar, and part of the Bharatpur State, had never been permanently conquered, and the depredations of its inhabitants, the Meos, extended at times to the walls of Delhi and beyond the Jumna into the Doab. The rich fiefs of the latter region supported strong Muslim garrisons but the disaffection of the Hindu inhabitants was, for long after the period of which we are writing, a menace to domestic peace, and the ferocious punishment inflicted on them by Muhammad Tughluq exasperated without taming them. After his time Etawah became a stronghold of Rajput chieftains who gathered round themselves the most turbulent elements in the indigenous population, were frequently in revolt, and seldom recognised the authority of Delhi otherwise than by a precarious tribute.
The rhapsodies of Muslim historians in their accounts of the suppression of a rising or the capture of a fortress, of towns and villages burnt, of whole districts laid waste, of temples destroyed and idols overthrown, of hecatombs of misbelievers “sent to hell”, or “dispatched to their own place”, and of thousands of women and children enslaved might delude us into the belief that the early Muslim occupation of northern India was one prolonged holy war waged for the extirpation of idolatry and the propagation of Islam, had we not proof that this cannot have been the case. Mahmud the Iconoclast maintained a large corps of Hindu horse; his son Masud prohibited his Muslim officers from offending the religious susceptibilities of their Hindu comrades, employed the Hindu Tilak for the suppression of the rebellion of the Muslim Ahmad Niyaltigin, approved of Tilak’s mutilation of Muslims, and made him the equal of his Muslim nobles; Muizz-ud-din Muhammad allied himself with the Hindu raja of Jammu against the Muslim Khusrav Malik of Lahore, and employed Hindu legends on his coinage; all Muslim rulers in India, from Mahmud downwards, accepted, when it suited them to do so, the allegiance of Hindu rulers and landholders, and confirmed them, as vassals, in the possession of their hereditary lands; and one of the pretexts for Timur’s invasions of India at the end of the fourteenth century was the toleration of Hinduism. Neither the numbers nor the interest of the foreigners admitted of any other course. Their force consisted in garrisons scattered throughout the land among the indigenous agricultural population vastly superior in numbers to themselves and not unwarlike. On this population they relied not only for the means of support but also, to a great extent, for the subordinate machinery of government; for there can be no doubt that practically all minor posts connected with the assessment and collection of the land revenue and with accounts of public and state finance generally, were filled, as they were many generations later, by Hindus. Among those who met Balban at each stage on his triumphal return from the suppression of Tughril’s rebellion were rais, chaudharis and muqaddams. The first two classes were certainly Hindu landholders and officials of some importance, and in the third we recognize a humbler class of Hindu revenue officials which in many parts of India retains its Arabic designation to this day. The Hindu husbandman is not curious in respect of high affairs of state, and cares little by whom he is governed so long as he is reasonably well treated. He is more attached to his patrimony than to any system of government, and while he is permitted to retain enough of the kindly fruits of the earth to satisfy his frugal needs, concerns himself little with the religion of his rulers; but oppression or such extortion as deprives him of the necessaries of life may convert him into a rebel or a robber, and there was at that time no lack of warlike leaders and communities of his own faith ready to welcome him in either character. Rebellion and overt disaffection were repressed with ruthless severity, and were doubtless made occasions of proselytism, but the sin was rebellion, not religious error, and there is no reason to believe that the position of the Hindu cultivator was worse under a Muslim than under a Hindu landlord. The disaffected were those of the upper and recently dominant class of large landholders and petty chieftains.
It was certainly possible for Hindus to obtain justice, even against Muslims, for Barani tells us that the Multanis and moneylenders of Delhi, the former term being evidently employed much as the local designation Marwari is used today, were first enriched by the profusion and improvidence of the nobles of Balban's court, who not only borrowed largely but were defrauded by dependants who borrowed in their names. As the usurers could not have been enriched by lending money which they could not recover it is evident that even the grandees of the court were not permitted to plunder the Hindus indiscriminately, nor to withhold from them their just dues.
That there was in other respects some sympathetic intercourse between Muslims and Hindus we may infer from Hindi nicknames by which some of the nobles were beginning to be known. One of the two Aitamars was known as Kachhan, and Balban’s nephew Abdullah as Chhajju.
On the whole it may be assumed that the rule of the Slave Kings over their Hindu subjects, though disfigured by some intolerance and by gross cruelty towards the disaffected, was as just and humane as that of the Norman Kings in England and far more tolerant than that of Philip II in Spain and the Netherlands.