HISTORY OF INDIA
THE REIGNS OF GHIYAS-UD-DIN TUGHLUQ AND MUHAMMAD TUGHLUQ,
AND THE SECOND CONQUEST AND REVOLT OF THE DECCAN
TUGHLUQ’S ascent of the throne recalls that of Jalal-ud-din Firuz Khalji. Both were aged warriors called upon to restore the dominion of Islam, menaced by the extinction of the dynasties which they had long served, but here all similarity between them ends. The powers of Firuz were failing when he was called to the throne, and his reign would have closed the history of his family but for the usurpation of his unscrupulous but vigorous nephew. Tughluq, on the other hand, though old, was in full vigor of mind, and during his short reign displayed none of the contemptible weakness of Firuz. He was able to enforce many of the salutary laws of Ala-ud-din and to enact others which restored order in a kingdom which had nearly passed from the grasp of Islam. He enjoyed the advantage of pure Turkish lineage, his elevation excited no jealousy among the nobles who had formerly been his equals, and he was able, within a week of his accession, to pacify the capital, and within forty days his sovereignty was everywhere acknowledged.
One of his first acts was to provide for surviving females of the Khalji house by suitable marriages. He pursued and punished with great severity all who had been in any way concerned in marrying the beautiful Deval Devi to the vile upstart Khusrav; he provided with lands and employment all old officials who had faithfully served the fallen dynasty, and he distributed appointments among his own adherents, the chief of whom, Fakhr-ud-din Muhammad Jauna Khan, his eldest son, received the title of Ulugh Khan and was designated heir apparent; he recovered the treasure which had been lavished by the usurper or had been plundered during the confusion of his short reign, and thus replenished his empty treasury. In giving effect to this unpopular measure he encountered much difficulty and opposition. Khusrav, in order to conciliate the professors of the dominant religion, had made large gifts, ostensibly for charitable purposes, to the leading shaikhs, or religious teachers. Three of these had refused to touch any money coming from a source so polluted and most of those who had feared to refuse the gift had prudently kept the money in deposit and restored it when called upon to do so, but Shaikh Nizam-ud-din Auliya, the most renowned of them all, who had received as much as half a million tangas, replied that he had at once distributed in charity all that he had received and was not in position to make restitution. Public opinion forbade, in the case of a religious leader so prominent and so renowned for sanctity, the torture or duress to which humbler delinquents were subjected and the king was obliged to accept the explanation instead of the money, but the Shaikh was a marked man, and was almost immediately denounced for indulgence in the ecstatic songs and dances of darvishes, a form of devotion regarded as unlawful by rigid Sunnis of the established religion. Tughluq summoned him before an assembly of fifty-three theologians, and though he was forced to bow to their decision that these religious exercises were not unlawful, relations between him and the Shaikh remained strained until his death, in which it is not improbable that the Shaikh was implicated.
The odium incurred by the forcible recovery of the usurper's gifts was dissipated by the king's judicious liberality and his care for the welfare of his subjects. Unlike his son he did not seek to conciliate the few and astonish the many by enormous gifts to favored individuals, but on occasions of public rejoicing his bounty, widely diffused, earned popularity and the only malcontents were the rapacious, whose avarice was disappointed by his settled policy of promoting the welfare of the public and discouraging the accumulation of great wealth by individuals.
Private property confiscated under the harsh rule of Ala-ud-din and still retained by the state was restored to its former owners; all the usurper’s decrees were revoked; public works of utility, such as forts in which peaceful husbandmen might seek a refuge from brigands, and canals to irrigate their fields were undertaken, and highway robbery was suppressed; but Tughluq devoted his attention above all to the encouragement of agriculture. Gardens were planted, the land tax or rent due to the state was limited to one-tenth or one-eleventh of the gross produce, which was to be assessed by the collectors in person, and not estimated from the reports of informers and delators; the revenue was to be collected with due regard to the cultivator's power to pay, and all officials were reminded that the surest method of improving the revenue was the extension of cultivation, not the enhancement of the demand, and thus ruined villages were restored, waste land was reclaimed, and the area under cultivation was extended. Fief-holders and local governors were held responsible for the observance of this policy and it was ordained that the emoluments of the collectors of the revenue should consist in the exemption of their holdings from taxation, and should not be derived from extortion. Some privileges were accorded to the nobles, place-seekers were forbidden to haunt the public offices, and torture was prohibited in the recovery of debts due to the state and was restricted to cases of theft and embezzlement.
One class was subjected to repressive legislation. Tughluq not unreasonably, considering the circumstances of his elevation to the throne, decreed that while it should be possible for Hindus to live in moderate comfort none should be permitted to amass such wealth as might nurture ambition. The decree, though harsh, was not altogether unnecessary, and it has benefited posterity by causing the concealment of portable wealth which, discovered in after ages, has shed much light on history.
Tughluq personally was a rigid Muslim, punctilious in the observance of all the ordinances of his faith, and especially in avoiding intoxicants. He forbade the manufacture and sale of wine and enforced, as far as possible, the observance of the Islamic law. He was devoid of personal pride and vanity and his elevation to the throne made no difference in his relations with his family, his associates, and his immediate attendants.
The security and order which reigned in the kingdom within a short time of his accession were due hardly less to his admirable system of communications than to his other measures of administrative reform. Postal systems had from time immemorial existed in India, but during recurring periods of disorder, such as Khusrav’s reign, shared the general disintegration of all administrative machinery, and Tughluq may be credited with the inauguration of the perfect system found existing in the reign of his son and successor, and minutely described by the Moorish traveler, Ibn Batutah
Posts were carried by horsemen, called ulaq (ulagh), or by runners, called dawat. For the former, horses were posted at distances of seven or eight miles along the roads, but the stages travelled by the latter were but the third of a kuruh, or about two-thirds of a mile. Ibn Batutah mistranslates the word dawat, properly dhawat, as the third of a kuruh but it means simply 'a runner’. He says that these occupied huts, without the villages, at every third part of a kuruh on the roads, and were always ready to start at a moment’s notice. Each carried a staff tipped with copper bells, and when he left a post town he took his letters in his left hand and his staff in his right, shaking it so that the bells jingled, and ran at full speed towards the next post-house, where a runner, warned of his approach by the sound, awaited him, took the letters from him, and ran at full speed in like manner towards the next post-house.
In parts of India a modification of this system still exists. The staff, or short spear, with its cluster of bells, is still carried, but the runner’s stage is about five miles, which he is expected to cover, at his peculiar jog-trot, in an hour, but these runners carry bags containing the public mails. Tughluq’s apparently carried only a few official dispatches and, as Ibn Batutah says, ran at full speed. Five minutes would therefore be a liberal allowance of time for each stage, and, as there was no delay at the post-houses, it may be calculated that news travelled at the rate of nearly two hundred miles in twenty-four hours. News of Ibn Batutah’s arrival at the mouth of the Indus reached Delhi, between eight hundred and nine hundred miles distant by the postal route, in five days. The king was thus in close touch with the remotest corners of his kingdom, and the service was rapid even for heavier burdens. In the next reign fresh fruit was transported from Khorasan and Ganges water for the royal table from Hindustan to Daulatabad on the heads of postal runners.
The province of the Deccan, under the rule of Malik Qavam-ud-din, who had been appointed to its government with the title of Qutlugh Khan, remained loyal to the new dynasty, but Prataparudradeva of Warangal appears to have believed that his fealty to Delhi was dissolved by the extinction of the Khaljis, and in 1321 Tughluq sent his eldest son, Ulugh Khan, to reduce him again to obedience.
The prince met with no opposition during his advance, and opened the siege of Warangal. The earthern rampart of Rudrammadevi was stoutly defended, but the Hindus were outmatched in the combats which were daily fought beneath it, and so many were slain that Prataparudradeva attempted to purchase peace by promises of tribute, hoping to obtain terms similar to those to which Malik Naib had agreed, but the offer was rejected. In the meantime, however, the Hindus, as in the former siege, had been engaged in cutting the communications of the besiegers, and the absence of news from Delhi suggested to Ubaid the Poet and the Shaikhzada of Damascus, two turbulent and mischievous favorites of the prince, the fabrication of false news, with the object of facilitating their master's usurpation of the throne, and Ulugh Khan suffered himself to be led astray.
Ulugh Khan’s Rebellion
A report of the king’s death was circulated in the camp and the army was called upon to swear allegiance to the prince as their new sovereign, but the leading nobles with the expedition knew that the report was fabricated and withdrew their contingents. One even suggested that the prince should be put to death as a traitor, but to this the others would not agree. The siege was raised and the army, marching in separate divisions, retired to Deogir, pursued and harassed by the Hindus.
Before the troops reached Deogir they learned by posts from Delhi that the king still lived, and the treason of the prince and his counselors became apparent to all, but the great nobles who had opposed him were apprehensive of his vengeance, or of his influence with his father, and fled, with his evil advisers. One died in Gondwana, another was slain by a Hindu chieftain who flayed his body and sent the skin to the prince, and the others were captured and sent to the prince.
Ulugh Khan travelled post haste to Delhi with the horsemen and by some means made his peace with his father and betrayed both his associates and his enemies, who were put to deaths.
So successful was Ulugh Khan in persuading his father of his innocence or his penitence that in 1323 he was permitted to lead another expedition into Telingana, and on this occasion he observed the precaution, which he had formerly neglected, of securing his lines of communication. His first objective was Bidar, the ancient Vidarbha, and having captured that fortress he marched on Warangal and opened the siege with more vigor than on the first occasion. The efforts of his troops were supported by such artillery as that age possessed, catapults and ballistae, and their velour, thus aided, reduced both the outer and the inner lines of defence. Prataparudradeva and his family, the nobles of the kingdom with their wives and children, and the elephants, horses and treasure of the state, fell into the hands of the victors, and Telingana, for the first time, was directly subjected to Muslim rule. The country was divided into fiefs and districts which were allotted to Muslim nobles and officers, and Warangal, now renamed Sultanpur, became the capital of a province of the empire. The news was received at Delhi with great rejoicings and Ulugh Khan remained for some time at Sultanpur-Warangal to establish the administration of the province. His restless activity led him into the ancient Hindu kingdom of Utkala in Orissa, called by Muslim historians Jajnagar, the ancestors of whose rulers had stemmed the advance of the earlier Muslim governors of Bengal. His expedition was a mere raid, undertaken with no design of permanent conquest, and its only immediate result was the capture of forty elephants, but the raja, who had lived for some time at peace with the quasi-independent rulers of Bengal, of the line of Balban, was disturbed by the discovery that the Turks were in a position to menace his southern as well as his northern frontier.
During the prince’s absence in the south an army of Moguls invaded the kingdom of Delhi from the north-west, but was defeated, its two leaders being captured and brought to Tughluq’s court. Almost immediately after this event the king received reports from Bengal which led him to form the resolution of invading that country in person for the purpose of restoring order and asserting the supremacy of Delhi, and he recalled his son from Telingana to act as regent during his absence.
It was a civil war arising from conflicting claims to the throne that summoned Tughluq to Bengal. Shams-ud-din Firuz Shah of that country, third son of Nasir-ud-din Mahmud Shah Bughra and grandson of Balban, had died in 1318, after a reign of sixteen years, leaving five sons, of whom the three eldest only need occupy our attention. These were Shihab-ud-din Bughra, who succeeded his father on the throne at Lakhnawati, Nasir-ud-din, and Ghiyas-ud-din Bahadur, who, having been appointed by his father governor of Sonargaon, or Eastern Bengal, had proclaimed his independence in that province in 1310 and, on his father's death, disputed the title of his elder brother, Shihab-ud-din Bughra, and in 1319 overcame him and usurped his throne, the succession to which was then claimed by Nasir-ud-din, who appealed to Tughluq. The king eagerly seized so favorable an opportunity of intervention in Bengal, the allegiance of which to Delhi had been severely shaken by the downfall of the Khalji dynasty and the rulers of which were bound by no ties either to Khalj or to Tughluq, but had, on purely hereditary grounds, a better claim than either to the throne of Delhi.
Tughluq Shah marched to Bengal by way of Manaich, the town which had been stormed by Mahmud of Ghazni. In the year following his accession he had appointed to the government of this district Tatar Malik, whom he had entitled Zafar Khan. The governor’s first task had been to crush the local Rajput chieftain who, during the short interval of Hindu supremacy, had established himself in the district. According to tradition the Rajput was invited to a conference at which the merits of Islam and Hinduism were discussed and, being convinced of the truth of the former, accepted it and submitted, thus rendering unnecessary an appeal to arms. Zafar Khan renamed Manaich Zafarabad and was firmly established in the district when the king passed through it on his way to Bengal. He accompanied the royal army into Tirhut, where Nasir-ud-din waited upon Tughluq and did obeisance to him, and was sent in command of the force dispatched against Lakhnawati. All opposition was crushed and Ghiyas-ud-din Bahadur was captured and brought before the king with a rope around his neck. The elephants from the royal stables at Lakhnawati were appropriated by Tughluq and his army took much plunder, but Nasir-ud-din was placed as a vassal monarch on the throne of Western Bengal. Eastern Bengal, which had for thirteen years been independent under Bahadur, was annexed and administered as a province of the kingdom of Delhi.
Meanwhile disquieting news of his son’s behavior in the capital reached Tughluq. Ulugh Khan had purchased vast numbers of slaves and had formed a party by extravagant gifts and grants to those who he believed could be converted by this means into adherents. His chief crime appears to have been his intimate association with the obnoxious Shaikh Nizam-ud-din Auliya, whose disciple he had become, and who was believed to have prophesied, in one of his ecstatic trances, his imminent accession to the throne. It was also reported that astrologers had prophesied that the king would never return to the capital alive. Reports of these conversations and machinations reached Tughluq in his camp, and enraged him. He wrote to the astrologers, menacing them with his displeasure; to his son, threatening to deprive him of his office and to exclude him from any participation in public business; and to the Shaikh, to whom he addressed the threat that when he returned from Bengal Delhi would be too small to hold both of them. The Shaikh is said to have replied with the prophetic menace, which has since become proverbial, “Delhi is yet afar off”, and so it proved to be.
Tughluq sent Bahadur a prisoner to Delhi and himself set out for Tughluqabad, the capital which he had built for himself to the south of Old Delhi. He attacked on his way the raja of Tirhut, whose loyalty was doubtful, and reduced him to submission, and from Tirhut travelled towards the capital by forced marches, leaving the army to follow at its leisure.
Tughluqabad was elaborately decorated and Ulugh Khan prepared a welcome for his father by building for his reception at Afghanpur, a few miles from the city, a temporary kiosk, where he might take rest and refreshment after his toilsome journey and before his state entry into his capital.
Ulugh Khan caused this building, which was chiefly of wood, to be erected from his own designs, employing in the construction of it one Ahmad, son of Ayaz, known as Malikzada, an inspector of buildings whom, on his accession to the throne, he made his minister, with the title of Khvaja Jahan. The building was so designed as to fall when touched in a certain part by the elephants, and it appears that the device was a projecting beam. Ulugh Khan welcomed his father at the kiosk, and entertained him at a meal, at the conclusion of which he begged that the elephants from Bengal might be paraded and driven round the building. His father acceded to his request and Ulugh Khan, before the elephants were brought up, suggested to Shaikh Rukn-ud-din, for whom he had a special regard, that he should leave the kiosk for his prayers. Immediately after the Shaikh’s departure the elephants were brought up, came into contact with that part of the building which had been designed to effect its collapse and the whole structure fell on the old king and crushed him. Diggers were summoned, but their arrival was purposely delayed by Ulugh Khan, and the king’s body was discovered, when the débris was removed, bending over that of his favorite son, Mahmud Khan, as though to protect him. It was commonly believed that the king still breathed when his body was discovered and was dispatched under the orders of his son. He was buried at night in the tomb which he had selected for himself at Tughluqabad and Ulugh Khan ascended the throne under the title of Muhammad Shah.
Accession of Muhammad Tughluq
The death of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq occurred in February or March, 1325, and Shaikh Nizam-ud-din soon followed him, dying on April 3. Almost at the same time died the greatest of all the poets of India who have written in Persian, Yamin-ud-din Muhammad Hasan, known as Amir Khusrav, at the age of seventy-two. He was of Turkish origin, his father having been a native of “the green-domed city” of Kash, in Turkistan, who, driven from his home early in the thirteenth century by the horde of the Mughul, Chingiz Khan, had found an asylum in India. The poet was born at Patiala in A.H. 651 (AD 1253) and entered the service of Ala-ud-din Khalji as court poet, but later in his life became the disciple of Shaikh Nizam-ud-din Auliya, abandoned the court and worldly ambitions, and lived in religious retirement, but still wrote poetry. He was a most prolific writer and estimated the number of couplets which he had written at more than 400,000 but less than 500,000, dividing his poems into four classes, youthful effusions; poems of early middle age, written when he was putting off childish things and turning his thoughts to religion; poems written when he had attained the dignity of a religious teacher; and the poems of his old age. Each of the four classes bears, as might be expected, the impress of his views on this world and the next during the period of his life in which it was produced, but in the second class there are to be found poems sufficiently courtly to be acceptable to the vanity of a royal patron.
Amir Khusrav had a deep veneration for Sadi, whom he entertained when he visited India, and the great poet of Persia repaid his admirer by recommending him very warmly to Ala-ud-din. As Khusrav himself says in one of his verses, with a play upon words which cannot be preserved in translation:
The volume of my verse hath the binding of Shiraz.
Amir Khusrav was survived by another poet, Shaikh Najm-ud-din Hasan, known as Hasani Dildavi, whose works, less widely known than Khusrav's, were much admired. Both poets are honorably mentioned in the Tazkirat-ush-Shuara and in the Atashkada. Hasan died in 1338 at Daulatabad in the Deccan, and was buried there. The celebrated Jami refers in highly complimentary terms to these two poets of Delhi, and they are among the few Indian-born writers of Persian verse whose works have been read and admired beyond their own country.
Tughluq, following the example of other founders of dynasties at Delhi, had left an interesting monument of his short reign in the fortress capital of Tughluqabad, which he built for himself on a rocky eminence nearly ten miles to the south of the site afterwards selected by Shah Jahan for his city. He founded this town immediately after his ascent to the throne and completed it before he received the news of the conquest of Telingana. “Here, said Ibn Batutah, were Tughluq’s treasures and palaces, and the great palace which he had built of gilded bricks, which, when the sun rose, shone so dazzlingly that none could gaze steadily upon it. There he laid up great treasures, and it was related that he constructed there a cistern and had molten gold poured into it so that it became one solid mass, and his son Muhammad Shah became possessed of all of it when he succeeded him”. Tughluq’s mausoleum in red sandstone and white marble, connected with his town by a bridge carried on arches, and the massive walls of his fort still remain, but no palace now dazzles the eye, and the once brilliant town is entirely deserted.
Muhammad, after remaining for forty days at Tughluqabad, went in state to the old city of Delhi and there took his seat on the throne in the palace of the former kings. The city was decorated for his reception and the acclamations of the people were stimulated by a lavish distribution of gold and silver coins.
Character of Muhammad Tughluq
The delineation of a character so complex and contradictory as that of Muhammad Tughluq is no easy task. He was one of the most extraordinary monarchs who ever sat upon a throne. To the most lavish generosity he united revolting and indiscriminate cruelty; to scrupulous observance of the ritual and ceremonial prescribed by the Islamic law an utter disregard of that law in all public affairs; to a debasing and superstitious veneration for all whose descent or whose piety commanded respect a ferocity which when roused respected neither the blood of the prophet nor personal sanctity. Some of his administrative and most of his military measures give evidence of abilities of the highest order, others are the acts of a madman. His protégé Ziya-ud-din Barani, the historian, whom he admitted to a considerable degree of intimacy and whom he often deigned to consult, attributes many of the atrocities which he commanded or sanctioned to the evil influence of twelve wicked counselors, stigmatized as “miserable”, “accursed”, or “most accursed”, whose delight was to shed the blood of Muslims, but Muhammad Tughluq was no weakling, and was never a tool in the hands of his counselors. If his advisers were vile and bloodthirsty men it was he that chose them, and if he followed evil counsels he did so because they commended themselves to him. In like manner Barani attributes his disregard of the Islamic law in administrative and punitive measures to his early association with Sa’d, the heretical logician, Ubaid, the infidel poet, and Alim-ud-din, the philosopher, but this is mere special pleading. His association with these freethinkers never diminished his faith in Islam, his careful regard in other respects for its laws, or his veneration for its traditions. It was not the fault of logicians, poets, or philosophers that he scandalized the orthodox by deliberately preferring human reason to divine revelation as a guide in mundane matters, and by openly avowing his preference. His private judgment misled him, but this was due to his temperament. His peculiar vice as a judge and administrator was his inordinate pride, which deprived him of the power of discriminating between offences. All his commandments were sacred and the slightest deviation from an impracticable regulation and the most flagrant act of defiance and rebellion were alike punished by a cruel death. This policy acted and reacted with cumulative effect on the monarch and his people. Disgusted by their sovereign's barbarity they grew ever more refractory; exasperated by their disobedience he grew ever more ferocious. His wide dominions were seldom free from rebellion during his reign, and at his death the whole kingdom was in a ferment.
Barani, notwithstanding his gratitude and his fears, is surprisingly frank. So overweening, he says, was the king's pride that he could not endure to hear of a corner of the earth, hardly even of a corner of heaven, which was not subject to his sway. He would be at once a Solomon and an Alexander; nor did mere kingship content him, for he aspired to the office of prophet as well. His ambition was to make all the kings of the earth his slaves, and Barani would liken his pride to that of Pharaoh and Nimrod, who claimed divinity as well as royalty, but that his scrupulous personal observance of the law and firm adherence to the faith of Islam cleared him of the suspicion of blasphemy and infidelity. He would compare him with Bayazid of Bustam and Husain, son of Mansur-ul-Hallaj, who, in the ecstasy of their devotion, believed themselves to have been absorbed into the Godhead, but that his barbarous cruelty deprived him of any claim to sanctity.
Against his overweening pride must be set the groveling servility with which he received at his court the great-greatgrandson of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mustansir of Baghdad, the miser Ghiyas-ud-din, whom he received with more than royal honors, whom he compelled, much against his will, to place his foot upon his neck, and on whom he lavished wealth with astonishing profusion; his abasement before Haji Said Sarsari, envoy from the phantom Abbasid Caliph al-Mustakfi of Egypt, whose name appeared on the currency of his kingdom and of whose envoy's utterances he spoke as though they were divine revelations; and the extravagant veneration for the temporal, as well as the spiritual authority of the Caliphate which led him to strike from the formal Friday sermon the names of all his predecessors but such as had been formally recognised by one of the Caliphs.
Against his barbarous punishments and indiscriminate bloodshed may be set a few instances, related by Ibn Batutah, of a fantastic display of reverence for abstract justice and the forms of law. On one occasion a Hindu complained to the qazi that the king had slain his brother without a cause, and the king, having previously ordered the magistrate not to rise at his entrance, appeared unarmed in court and made his obeisance. He heard with humility and obeyed with promptitude the sentence directing him to compensate the complainant. In another cause a Muslim complained that the king had unjustly retained some of his property, and in obedience to the qazi's order restitution was made. In a third case a young man, son of one of the great officers of the kingdom, complained that the king had arbitrarily caused him to be beaten for no fault, his complaint was found to be true, and according to the Islamic law of retaliation he was permitted to take his revenge. A stick was placed in his hand and he gave the royal offender twenty-one strokes. The chastisement was probably purely formal, but the king's head-dress fell to the ground.
These rare displays, made probably in the early years of the reign, and possibly collusive, cannot palliate the arbitrary cruelty of a monarch whose punishments were as revolting as they were frequent, and whose gateway was seldom unpolluted by the corpse of a freshly slain victim, but they illustrate some of the extraordinary contradictions of his character. It may be that Muhammad thus compounded with his conscience for many barbarities. The severest condemnation of his cruelty is the remorse of his old servant Barani, who bitterly laments his own cowardice and that of his fellow-courtiers. “We were traitors, he says, who were prepared to call black white, though not devoid of that knowledge which ennobles a man. Avarice and the desire of worldly wealth led us into hypocrisy, and as we stood before the king and witnessed punishments forbidden by the law, fear for our fleeting lives and our equally fleeting wealth deterred us from speaking the truth before him”.
A catalogue of the atrocities committed by Muhammad during his reign, such as that given by Ibn Batutah, would be tedious and revolting, but it will be necessary from time to time to refer to the punishments inflicted by him. One of the early acts of his reign was the murder of his brother, Masud, whose only offence seems to have been that he was handsome and popular. Muhammad professed to suspect him of treasonable designs, and the unfortunate prince discovered, as did so many of the tyrant's victims, that it was better to court a speedy death by a false confession than to suffer day by day the barbarous tortures devised by the perverted ingenuity of Muhammad.
Against this unnatural act may be set a display of foolish generosity. In the year of his accession Muhammad permitted Ghiyas-ud-din Bahadur, the worthless and turbulent prince whom his father had brought in chains from Bengal, to return to Sonargaon, where he was associated in the government of Eastern Bengal with Tatar Khan, who had been entitled Bahrain Khan and left at Sonargaon as governor by Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq. In the following year Nasir-ud-din, who was reigning at Lakhnawati as Muhammad’s vassal, died, and Qadr Khan was appointed by Muhammad governor of Western Bengal.
Muhammad may be compared, in his devotion to the details of administration, with Philip II of Spain, and one of his earliest acts was to order the compilation of a register of the revenue and expenditure of the provinces of his kingdom. The governors of provinces were directed to send to the capital all the materials for the compilation of such a register, and during the first few years of the reign a large number of clerks and officials was employed in the Palace of the Thousand Pillars at Delhi in the work of compilation. The object of the measure seems to have been to introduce a uniform standard of land revenue and to ensure that no village in the kingdom remained unassessed or unvisited by collectors. The register already maintained for the districts in the neighborhood of the capital served as a model for the larger work, and the revenue exacted from these districts as a standard for the assessment of the more distant provinces, but we have unfortunately no details of the principles on which allowance was made for the different classes of soil, for distance from markets and the other considerations which affect the assessment of the land revenue in India.
In the second year of the reign a most serious rebellion broke out in the Deccan. Baha-ud-din Gurshasp, sister’s son to Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq, and therefore first cousin to Muhammad, held the fief of Sagar, about ten miles north of Shorapur, and enjoyed great influence among the Muslim officials of the Deccan. He refused to recognize the new king and appears to have believed that he might be able to establish a claim to the throne, though relationship in the female line seldom counts for much in the east. He exerted all his influence, and the whole of the Deccan was soon aflame. The rebels advanced towards Deogir, but were met by the minister, Khvaja Jahan, and the brutal Mujir-ud-din, Abu Rija, who defeated them. Gurshasp fled to Sagar and thence to Kampli, on the Tungabhadra, where he took refuge with the raja. The imperial troops sustained a reverse before this place, but were reinforced, and the noble raja, seeing that he could no longer protect his guest, sent him to Dvaravatipura, with a letter commending him to the protection of Vira Ballala III, and performed the awful rite of jauhar. After the women had been destroyed the raja led his bravest warriors in a charge on the royal army, in which all the Hindus perished. Khvaja Jahan then entered Kampli and carried off the principal inhabitants, including the dead raja's eleven sons, into slavery. The Hindu princes were forced to accept Islam, but were otherwise treated with the distinction due to their high birth and their father’s valor. Ibn Batutah, while at Muhammad’s court, met three of these princes and describes one of them as an intimate friend of his own.
Vira Ballala was made of less stern stuff than the raja of Kampli, and tamely complied with Khvaja Jahan’s demand for the surrender of the fugitive, who was carried to Deogir, where Muhammad had now arrived, to receive his punishment. After being subjected to the insults of the women of the harem he was flayed alive. His flesh was cooked with rice and offered to the elephants, after portions of it had been sent to his wife and children, and his skin was stuffed with straw and exhibited in the principal cities of the kingdom.
Daulatabad is made the Capital
It was probably the rebellion of Gurshasp that impressed upon Muhammad the desirability of a more central situation than that of Delhi for the capital of a kingdom which included the Deccan and the Peninsula, and it was now, in 1327, that he decreed that Deogir, which he renamed Daulatabad, or the abode of wealth, should replace Delhi as the capital. Not only the great officers of state and the courtiers but apparently also provincial governors were commanded to build for themselves houses at Daulatabad, to send their families thither, and to make it their home. The king spared neither pains nor expense to beautify his new capital and to make it a worthy substitute for Delhi. Spacious bazaars were laid out and handsome buildings erected, and Ibn Batutah, who visited Daulatabad several years later, described it as a great and magnificent city, equal to Delhi. But the king's greatest work was the marvelous citadel, an ancient stronghold of the rajas of Deogir, which was strengthened and improved by him. The fort, probably as Muhammad left it, was described as follows, more than three centuries later, by Abul-Hamid Lahori, the official chronicler of Shah Jahan's reign. This lofty fortress, the ancient names of which were Deogir and Dharagir, and which is now known as Daulatabad, is a mass of rock which raises its head towards heaven. The rock has been scarped throughout its circumference, which measures 5000 legal yards, to a depth which ensures the retention of water in the ditch at the foot of the escarpment. The escarpment is so smooth and even that neither an ant nor a snake could scale it. Its height is 140 cubits, and around its base a ditch forty cubits in width and thirty in depth has been dug in the solid rock. Through the centre of the hill a dark spiral passage like the ascent of a minar, which it is impossible to traverse, even in daylight, without a lamp, had been cut, and the steps in this passage are cut out of the rock. It is closed at the foot of the hill by an iron gate, and after passing through this and ascending the passage one enters the citadel. At the head of the passage is a large grating of iron which is shut down in case of necessity, and when a fire is lighted upon it the ascent of the spiral passage becomes impossible owing to the intense heat. The ordinary means of reducing fortresses, such as mines, covered ways, batteries, etc., are useless against this strong fortress.
This passage still exists, and is the only work the attribution of which to Muhammad is doubtful, for Ibn Batutah, who visited Daulatabad late in 1342 or early in 1343, records that access to the citadel was then gained by means of a leathern ladder.
Besides officers of state and courtiers numbers of tradesmen and others who gained their livelihood by serving or supplying the court followed it to Daulatabad, and encouragement was given to any who could be persuaded voluntarily to transfer their domicile to the new capital, but the steps taken in this year must not be confounded, as some historians have confounded them, with those adopted two years later, when the whole of the population of Delhi was transported, as a punitive, not an administrative measure, to Daulatabad.
From the new capital as a base of operations it was possible to establish order more completely in the Deccan, and Muhammad’s troops were occupied for eight months in the siege of the strong fortress of Kondhana, now known as Sinhgarh. The fort, which was held by a Koli chieftain, surrendered at the end of that time.
Muhammad was not allowed to repose long at Daulatabad. In 1328 he was disturbed by news of the rebellion of Malik Bahram Aiba, Kishlu Khan, the governor of Multan and Sind. The position of this governor was peculiar. He had been on terms of the closest intimacy with Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq, had co-operated most cordially with him in the campaign against the usurper Khusrav, and had had a friendly contest with his comrade, in which each had urged the other to ascend the throne. Kishlu Khan had eventually prevailed by warning Tughluq that if he hesitated his ambitious son would certainly forestall him, and his old friend left him in virtual independence at Multan. The circumstances of Tughluq’s death had not improved the relations between Muhammad and Kishlu Khan, who rose in arms against his sovereign. Of the circumstances of his rebellion there are two accounts. According to one he incurred the king's wrath by decently interring the stuffed skin of the unfortunate Gurshasp instead of sending the miserable relic on for exhibition in another province, and according to the other Muhammad ventured to send Ali, a collector of revenue, to Multan to inquire when Kishlu Khan proposed to obey the order to build for himself a house at Daulatabad and to send his family thither. Ali’s insolence in delivering this message so inflamed the wrath of Kishlu Khan’s son-in-law that he slew the messenger, and Kishlu Khan raised the standard of revolt.
Muhammad hastened in person from Daulatabad to crush the rebellion, marching by way of Delhi. Kishlu Khan marched eastward from Multan and the armies met in the desert plain of Abohar, where Muhammad defeated his adversary by means of a stratagem. Shaikh Imad-ud-din, who closely resembled him in personal appearance, was placed in the centre of the army, under the royal umbrella, and Muhammad himself, with 4000 horse, lay in ambush. The rebels naturally directed their chief efforts against the centre of the royal army, and in an impetuous charge broke the line and slew the Shaikh. The army retired in real or feigned confusion and the rebels dispersed to plunder the camp. The king then emerged from his ambush, fell upon Kishlu Khan, who was but scantily attended, slew him, and severed his head from his body. The positions were now reversed, and the rebels broke and fled. Muhammad marched on to Multan, about 160 miles distant, occupied the city, and prepared to take punitive measures against the inhabitants, whom he condemned as the accomplices of Kishlu Khan. He seized the qazi, Karim-ud-din, caused him to be flayed alive, and ordered a general massacre, but this calamity was averted by the intercession of the saint, Shaikh Rukn-ud-din. Muhammad sent his minister, Khvaja Jahan, towards the coast of Sind, to repress disorders which had arisen in that province, and was almost immediately recalled to Delhi by the news of disturbances in the Gangetic Doab. Before leaving Multan he distinguished the house which he had occupied by hanging over its gate the head of the rebel, Kishlu Khan, which was seen by Ibn Batutah when he visited Multan five years later.
A Mughul Invasion
In 1328, or early in 1329, very shortly after Muhammad's return to Delhi, his dominions were invaded by Tarmashirin the Mogul, who may be identified with the Chaghatai, Ala-ud-din Tarmashirin, who reigned in Transoxiana from 1322 until 1330 or 1334. The invader passed through Lahore and Samana to Indri, and thence to the borders of the Budaun district, traversing the Doab to the banks of the Ganges and plundering and devastating the country on their way. The incursion was a mere raid and it is probable that the invaders lost no time on their homeward journey, but Muhammad pursued them as far as Kalanaur, a few miles south of the Ravi, afterwards to become famous as the town where the youthful Akbar ascended the imperial throne, and to have left Abu Rip, there to destroy the fort which had afforded a refuge to the marauders, while he returned to Delhi. According to another account he was on this occasion mean-spirited enough to bribe the Moguls to retire, but the inconsistency of such conduct with his character is sufficient to discredit the record.
After the retirement of the Moguls the king remained for some time at Delhi, where he had an account to settle with his people. The citizens were enraged against their sovereign, whose removal of the court to Daulatabad had gone far towards ruining Delhi and depriving those who had preferred to remain of their livelihood. Open resistance to a bloodthirsty tyrant who could count on the fidelity of his troops was not to be thought of, and the citizens vented their spleen by the characteristically oriental means of anonymous letters, filled with reproaches, invective, and abuse, which were thrown at night into the hall of audience. The tyrant avenged himself by issuing the monstrous decree that every soul should leave Delhi and migrate to Daulatabad, more than six hundred miles distant to the south. Some attempt was made to provide funds for the journey and accommodation on the way, but the decree was rigorously enforced and these measures were utterly inadequate to relieve the sufferings of the inhabitants of a whole city. The king ordered all the inhabitants to migrate from Delhi to Daulatabad, and, on their hesitating to obey, issued a proclamation that nobody should remain in the city for more than three days longer, and the greater part of them moved out, but some of them hid themselves in their houses, and he ordered a search to be made for those who had remained, and his slaves found in the narrow streets of the city two men, one of whom was a cripple and the other blind, and they brought them before him, and he ordered that the lame man should be cast from a ballista and that the blind man should be dragged from Delhi to Daulatabad, which is forty days' journey, and he was rubbed to pieces on the way, so that nothing but his foot reached Daulatabad. When he did this all the people departed from Delhi and left their goods and their wealth, and the city was left without inhabitants and deserted. Large numbers perished by the way and the greater part of those who reached their journey's end never ceased to mourn for their old homes. It was nothing to them that they dwelt in a city of which the courtly poet sang that the heavens were the anvil of the knocker of its door, that its gates were the eight gates of paradise, and much more in the same strain of exaggeration. To them the city was a foreign land, and the magnificence of its buildings, the fertility of the soil, and the beauty and majesty of the landscape could not appease their longings for the imperial city of the Jumna. After the wretched citizens had been driven forth on their perilous and toilsome journey the king, standing by night on the roof of his palace and looking over the city which he had made desolate rejoiced to see that no smoke rose and that neither lamp nor fire shone in its deserted dwellings. “Now, said he, is my heart content and my soul appeased”.
His vindictive wrath had blazed against his people, not against his city, and efforts were made, by persuading or compelling the people of other towns and of the surrounding country to move to Delhi, to repopulate the city, but these efforts were not successful.
Ibn Batutah, who arrived at Delhi five years later, describes the splendors of the royal palace and the pomp of the court, but of the city itself he says, “When I entered Delhi it was almost a desert. Its buildings were very few and in other respects it was quite empty”.
The Fictitious Currency
The transportation of the population of Delhi has been described as a punitive rather than an administrative measure. A measure adopted in the following year, the enhancement of the assessment on land in the Doab and the introduction, with a view to further taxation, of a census of the houses and cattle, partook of both characters. The Hindus of the Doab were disaffected and turbulent, but it is inconceivable that they should have been guilty of the folly, imputed to them by Muhammad, of inviting the Moguls to invade the country. They had had experience of Mogul raids, and would not have prepared a scourge for their own backs, but the measure was designed to replenish the treasury as well as to punish the people, and it failed of both its objects.
The extent of the enhancement is uncertain. The statement that the demand was increased ten-fold and twenty-fold is almost certainly hyperbolical, and the statements of Firishta, who says that it was increased three-fold and four-fold, and of Budauni, who says that it was doubled, are probably nearer the truth; but whatever the extent of the enhancement may have been the cultivators were unable to meet the demand, and abandoned their holdings and took to brigandage, so that the treasury suffered and the guilty went unpunished. The reprisals ordered by the king converted one of the richest and most fertile provinces of the kingdom into the seat of a war between the royal troops and the inhabitants.
Some means of replenishing the treasury had to be devised, and it was now that Muhammad conceived the idea of his famous fictitious currency. He may have heard of the paper currency of Khublai Qa-an in China, and the fictitious money of the Moguls in Persia, and it was perhaps in imitation of these fiscal measures that he issued brass or copper tokens which were, by his decree, to pass current for the silver tanga of 140 grains. Mr Thomas, in his Chronicles of the Pathan Kings of Delhi has contended that Muhammad’s vast power and the great wealth of his dominions justified, or almost justified, this measure, and that its failure was due to unforeseen causes, but the contemporary historian Barani asserts that it formed a part of the king's extravagant design of bringing under his sway the whole habitable world, for the execution of which boundless wealth would be necessary, and from this statement it would appear that Muhammad had no clear notion of the uses and limitations of a fictitious currency, but believed that he could, by his decree, virtually convert brass and copper into silver and gold. He was rudely undeceived. With the almost worthless tokens the people purchased the gold and silver coins for which they were legal tender. The revenue was paid in the tokens, which were also freely used by foreign merchants in their disbursements but refused by them in payment for their goods, but the principal factor in the collapse of the scheme was the wholesale counterfeiting of the tokens. As Mr Thomas says, “there was no special machinery to mark the difference of the fabric of the royal mint and the handiwork of the moderately skilled artisan. Unlike the precautions taken to prevent the imitation of the Chinese paper notes there was positively no check on the authenticity of the copper tokens, and no limit to the power of production of the masses at large”. The justice of these remarks will be appreciated by those acquainted with the appearance and workmanship of the copper coinage of India before the introduction of European methods of minting. An artisan with a few simple tools and a moderate degree of skill in their use could sell at the price of silver any brass or copper which fell into his hands, and this result might have been foreseen. The enormous extent to which counterfeiting was carried on is described in graphic terms by all the historians, and Barani merely paints the picture in somewhat vivid colors when he writes that every Hindu's house became a mint.
The tokens were not current for more than three or four years, and as an oriental despot, who is, in fact, the state, cannot be expected to understand that public funds are held in trust for the public, some credit is due to Muhammad for his prompt acknowledgement of his error by the recall of the tokens, though it is doubtful whether he had any conception of the cost of the measure. It was proclaimed that silver coins would be issued to the public from all treasuries in exchange for brass and copper tokens, so that the state began by buying copper at the price of silver and ended by virtually distributing silver gratis, for so vast was the quantity of tokens which poured in that no use could be found even for the metal. Mountains of them arose at the treasuries and lay there for years. The remains of them were still to be seen, a century later, in the reign of Muizz-ud-din Mubarak Shah. As Budauni says, “after all, copper was copper, and silver was silver.'
Condition of the Country
Discontent now manifested itself among a very different class of Muhammad’s subjects. It was three years since he had compelled his courtiers to transfer their families to Daulatabad, and he had already been absent for two years and a half from his new capital. Those in attendance on him began to murmur that they might as well have been permitted to keep their families at Delhi if they themselves were to be compelled to live there, but Muhammad was probably obeying his own impulse rather than their importunity when he returned, in 1330, to Daulatabad.
In the following year Ghiyas-ud-din Bahadur rose in rebellion at Sonargaon, but the rising was crushed by Bahram Khan, and the rebel was put to death. His skin, like that of Gurshasp, was stuffed with straw and exhibited in the principal cities of the kingdom.
The following year, 1331-32, passed uneventfully at Daulatabad, but the king's tyranny was bearing its fruit in the Doab, and in 1333 he returned to Delhi and led a punitive expedition into that region, which he treated in all respects as a hostile country. Baran, now Bulandshahr, was first attacked, and the whole district was plundered and laid waste. The inhabitants were slaughtered like sheep, and rows of Hindu heads decked the battlements of the city of Baran. Those who escaped fled into the jungles, where they were hunted like wild beasts. Continuing his march in a southeasterly direction the king plundered and devastated, in like manner, the districts of Kanauj and Dalmau, where he was still engaged when Ibn Batutah arrived at Delhi late in 1333 or early in 1334.
The Moorish traveler’s account in his Tuhfat-un-Nuzzar fi Gharaib-il-Amsar, of his journeys and sojourn in India, throws much light on the condition of the country, the character of its sovereign, and many details. He arrived at the mouth of the Indus on September 12, 1333, and his arrival, as he was a foreigner, had to be reported to Qutbul Mulk, the governor of the city of Multan. He describes a rebellion at Sihwan, not mentioned in the general histories of the reign, which had been suppressed shortly before his arrival. The king had appointed to the government of Sihwan a Hindu named Ratan, who was well skilled in accounts, and whom he entitled Azimus Sind. The appointment gave great offence to Wunar, chief of the Sumras, and to a noble named Qaisarur Rumi living at Sihwan, who resented the appointment of a Hindu governor over them. Having involved him in hostilities with some brigands or tribesmen in the neighborhood of Sihwan, they attacked him by night, slew him, and afterwards plundered the treasury. Imad-ul-Mulk Sartiz, governor of Sind, marched against the rebels, and Wunar fled to his tribe, but Qaisar sustained a siege of forty days in Sihwan and eventually surrendered on receiving an assurance that his life would be spared, but Imad-ul-Mulk broke faith with him, and put him and large numbers of his followers to death. Many were flayed, and their skins, stuffed with straw, were suspended from the walls and public buildings of the city. The sight of these miserable relics so horrified Ibn Batutah, who was compelled by the heat of the weather to sleep in the open air, as to hasten his departure from the city. After some stay at Multan he travelled by way of Abohar, Pakpattan, Sirsa, and Hansi to Delhi. His account of the journey illustrates Muhammad's lavish hospitality to foreigners visiting his dominions and the disorder prevailing in the country.
When he reached Delhi Muhammad was in the Kanauj district, but the minister, Khvaja Jahan, saw that he and his fellow travelers were well received at the capital. The king's generosity to these strangers, who had no claims on him, was fantastic. Ibn Batutah himself received 6000 tangas in cash, a grant of three villages within thirty miles of Delhi which gave him an annual income of 5000 tangas, and ten Hindu slaves.
Some months later Muhammad returned from Kanauj, and on June 8, 1334, reached Tilpat. Ibn Batutah was among those who went forth to meet him, and describes the king's kindly reception of himself and others, his ceremonial entry into the capital, and the great honor shown to foreigners, whom he was ever solicitous to attract to his court. They were offered appointments, which few were prepared to accept, for they were, for the most part, mere beggars, who had visited India with the object of amassing wealth as quickly as possible and carrying it back to their own countries. Ibn Batutah, to whose original grant two other villages were added and whose annual stipend was fixed at 12,000 tangas, was willing to work for his bread, but hesitated to accept the post of qazi of Delhi on the ground of his ignorance of the language of the country and of his attachment to the Maliki sect of the Sunnis whose practice differed somewhat from that of the Hanafi sect, whose religion was established in India. The king removed both obstacles by offering to appoint two assistants, who would perform the duties of the post while Ibn Batutah enjoyed the stipend.
The Kingdom of Madura
The king had enjoyed but a brief period of repose at Delhi when he was summoned southward by the news of a serious rebellion. He had appointed Sayyid Jalal-ud-din Ahsan of Kaithal to the government of Mabar, the most southerly province of his kingdom. Ahsan now raised the standard of rebellion at Madura, proclaimed his independence under the style of Jalal-ud-din Ahsan Shah, and struck coin in his own name. On January 5, 1335, Muhammad left Delhi for southern India, travelling by way of Daulatabad, where he levied heavy contributions to the expense of equipping his army. He marched thence for Madura by way of Bidar and Warangal, but at the latter place his further progress was stayed by a pestilence, probably cholera, which broke out in his army. The disease raged in the camp, smiting alike the great noble and the humble camp follower, and the mortality was appalling. The king himself fell sick and his health was not restored for several months. All thought of a further advance was abandoned, and Muhammad, leaving Malik Qabul at Warangal as governor of Telingana, began to retrace his steps. He never had another opportunity of recovering the lost province of Mabar, which remained a petty kingdom for the next forty years. All that is known of its history is to be ascertained from its coins, from the narrative of Ibn Batutah, who was son-in-law to its founder, and from a few inscriptions, and may be related in the course of a brief digression.
Jalal-ud-din Ahsan Shah, having declared his independence in A.H. 735, was slain in A.H. 740 by one of his officers, who usurped the throne under the title of Ala-udd-in Udauji, but had not reigned a year when he was slain by a stray arrow which penetrated his head when he had removed his helmet after a victory over the infidels, that is to say the subjects either of the Pandya or of the Kerala kings, and was succeeded by his son-in-law, Qutb-ud-din Firuz Shah, who was slain in a revolt after a reign of forty days. On his death the throne was seized by Ghiyas-ud-din Damaghani, who had been a trooper in the service of Muhammad Tughluq, and now assumed the title of Ghiyas-ud-din Muhammad Damaghan Shah. He married a daughter of Ahsan Shah, and thus became the brother-in-law of the wife of Ibn Batutah, who was a guest at his court after leaving that of Muhammad Tughluq, and records some of the atrocities committed by him, such as the torture and massacre of a great number of Hindu captives, men, women, and children. He also records Damaghan Shah's victory over Vira Ballala III of Dvaravatipura, who was over eighty years of age and was captured, strangled, and flayed by his adversary, who had learnt some lessons at the court at Delhi, and hung the stuffed skin of the raja on the wall of Madura. The death of Damaghan Shah's only son from cholera on his return to Madura and his own death a fortnight later from the effects of an aphrodisiac were regarded as the due punishment of his cruelties.
He was succeeded in A.H. 745 (AD 1344) by his nephew, Nasir-ud-din, who had been a domestic servant at Delhi before his uncle's elevation to the throne of Madura, and now assumed the title of Mahmud Ghazi Damaghan. He slew all the officers of the kingdom likely to disturb his possession of the throne, and among them the husband of his predecessor's daughter, whom he married immediately after her husband's death. It was during his reign that Ibn Batutah, though pressed by him to stay, left the court of Madura.
He was succeeded by Shah, whose coins were dated A.H. 757 (AD 1356), and he by Fakhr-ud-din Mubarak Shah, whose earliest coins are dated in A.H. 761 (AD 1360), and who apparently reigned until AD 1368-69, or perhaps until AD 1372-73, when he was succeeded by Ala-ud-din Sikandar Shah, whose latest coin is dated in A.H. 779 (AD 1377-78). The rising power of the great Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar had, some years before, begun to overshadow the small Muslim state of Madura, and an inscription of Sangama I, the founder of the first dynasty of Vijayanagar, records a victory over that proud lord of Madura, the valiant Turushka. In another inscription of 1371 Goppana, commanding the army of Bukka I, son of Sangama and third raja of Vijayanagar, claims a victory over the Turks of Madura, and the date of Sikandar’s latest coin is probably that of the extinction of the Muslim dynasty of Madura by Bukka I
The Farming of the Revenue
We now return to the movements of Muhammad Tughluq, who retired from Warangal to Bidar, of which city and province he appointed Shihab-ud-din governor, conferring on him the title of Nusrat Khan. This appointment marks the introduction of the pernicious system, which was soon to become general, of farming the revenue. Muhammad’s lavish profusion and wild and disastrous schemes of conquest so impoverished him as to render him desperate, and the system of farming the revenue was introduced with the object of wringing from the wretched cultivator the utmost farthing. His experience in the Gangetic Doab should have taught him the axiom that there is a point beyond which demands cannot be raised, and that human beings will not labor to till the soil unless they are allowed to retain a proportion of its fruits sufficient to maintain life. In the later years of the reign no experienced and conscientious official would enter into the unholy competition for governorships, for the government of districts and provinces was virtually put up to auction, and he who promised to pay the largest annual sum to the treasury obtained the prize. The successful bidders were usually men of mean origin, devoid of knowledge, experience, and compassion, who, without staying to consider what men could or would pay, made the most extravagant promises, only to discover that they could not meet their obligations. It was well known that the king would make no allowance for circumstances, and the defaulter was left with no remedy but rebellion.
Nusrat Khan agreed to pay the treasury, for the districts placed under his charge, the annual sum of ten millions of tangas, and Muhammad continued his retreat. At Bir he suffered from a severe toothache, and his vanity caused to be erected over the spot where the tooth, when extracted, was buried, a domed tomb, which is still standing and is known as the Dome of the Tooth.
Reports of the king’s sickness at Warangal had been exaggerated into rumors of his death, which had been believed by Malik Hushang of Daulatabad, a noble with whom he had been on terms of peculiar affection and intimacy. Hushang had risen in rebellion, but on learning that Muhammad was alive and was returning to Daulatabad fled and sought an asylum with a Hindu chieftain in the Western Ghats, who subsequently surrendered him. The rebel, strange to say, was pardoned.
Muhammad had for some time past deliberately encouraged foreigners of all nations to settle in his dominions. He cherished the insane design of subjugating the whole world. His knowledge of geography was scanty and he could form no conception of the magnitude of the task which he proposed to himself, but he understood that the first step to be taken would be the conquest of the neighboring countries of Transoxiana and Persia, and with this object in view he encouraged wealthy and influential Moguls and natives of Khorasan to enter his service in the hope that they would assist him in the conquest of their native lands. Later in his reign, when he had succeeded in obtaining the formal recognition of al-Hakim II, the Abbasid Caliph in Egypt, he obliged these foreigners to swear allegiance to him as the only lawful Muslim sovereign.
For the conquest of Persia he raised an enormous army, the maintenance of which so depleted his treasury that in the second year of the army's existence no funds remained for its payment, and it melted away.
Not all the foreigners so freely welcomed and so liberally remunerated proved to be faithful, and during the king's absence in the south Hulagu, a Mogul noble at Lahore, proclaimed his independence, appointed Gul Chandar, chief of the Khokars, his minister, and slew the governor, Tatar Khan the elder. Khvaja Jahan, the minister, assembled an army at Delhi and marched towards Lahore, taking with him, among others, Ibn Batutah, who has left an account of the expedition which, though brief, is the most circumstantial which has come down to us. Hulagu and Gal Chandar marched to meet Khvaja Jahan, and the two armies met and fought on the banks of one of the great rivers of the Punjab, probably the Sutlej. Hulagu was defeated and fled, and large numbers of his army were drowned in the river. Khvaja Jahan advanced to Lahore, where he punished, after his master's manner, the remnant of the rebels and their partisans. Many were flayed alive and many were slain in other ways, and three hundred of the widows of the victims were sent into imprisonment at Gwalior.
Before leaving Daulatabad the king gave general permission to those who had been transported from Delhi eight years before to return to their former home, and most of them returned joyfully, but some had become attached to the land of their exile, and remained there.
Famine and Rebellion
During Muhammad’s absence from Delhi a heavy calamity had befallen northern India, and famine was sore in the land. It lasted, like that recorded in the Book of Genesis, for seven years, and was the most severe famine of which we have any record in India. It is attributed by historians to natural causes, and Budauni goes as far as to say that “for seven whole years not a drop of rain fell from the heavens”. This is, of course, mere hyperbole, and must be interpreted to mean that the rainfall was deficient for seven years, but it is certain that the famine was not due to natural causes alone, or the province of Oudh would not have been able to afford relief during that period to the inhabitants of Delhi and the Doab. Muhammad's exactions, which extinguished cultivation in large tracts of the Doab, and his severity, which destroyed those who might have cultivated the land, contributed in no small measure to the calamity, which is always mentioned in connection with, though not directly attributed to, his ill-treatment of his subjects in the Doab.
His way to Delhi lay through the usually fertile province of Malwa, and here he had an opportunity of observing the havoc which famine had wrought upon his people. Towns and whole districts were depopulated and even the postal runners were constrained to abandon their posts, so that the royal mails no longer ran between Delhi and Daulatabad. A pound of grain cost twenty-two or twenty-three grains of silver, and the people were reduced to eating unnatural and loathsome food. Ibn Batutah saw some women cutting strips from the skin of a horse which had been dead for some months, and eating them, cooked hides were exposed for sale in the bazaars, and people thronged round the butchers to catch and drink the blood of slaughtered cattle. Some travelers resting in the deserted city of Agroha, now Hissar, found a man cooking a human foot, and as the famine grew ever more severe human flesh became a common article of food.
Muhammad was not regardless of the sufferings of his people. A daily ration of grain was issued for six months to all the citizens of Delhi, and cooked food was distributed at the wealthy college which his eccentric piety had endowed at the tomb of the worthless Qutb-ud-din Mubarak, and at other shrines in the city. Large sums of money were advanced to enable husbandmen to buy seed and plough-cattle, to sink wells, and to improve and extend their holdings, but the king insisted on the application of these grants or loans to the objects for which they were made, and to no other. In some cases the starving people were too weak to carry out the works for which the money was granted, in others they were convinced, by the continued failure of the rains of the futility of spending money on tilling and sowing the parched land, and they applied the grants to their own immediate needs. This was regarded as contumacy and Muhammad punished the miserable transgressors with such rigor that the tale of executions shocked and disgusted even those accustomed to his barbarous severity, and this measure of relief produced more misery than would have resulted from a policy of inaction.
It was not only at Daulatabad that the news of the king's sickness in Telingana had given rise to reports of his death. The rumor had been circulated and had gained some credence at Delhi and in its neighborhood. Sayyid Ibrahim the Pursebearer, son of Sayyid Jalal-ud-din Ahsan of Madura, was a favorite of the king, whose confidence in the son was so little shaken by the father's rebellion that Ibrahim was left as governor of the districts of Hansi and Sirsa when Muhammad left Delhi for the south. He heard and was inclined to credit the news of the king's death, and when a large remittance of treasure of Sind reached Hansi on its way to Delhi he detained the convoy on the pretext that the roads were unsafe, with the intention of seizing the treasure and establishing his independence as soon as he should receive confirmation of the news of the king's death, but on learning that the rumor was false he allowed the convoy to pass on to Delhi. No overt act of rebellion had been committed, and had Ibrahim kept his own counsel, he might have escaped suspicion, but he had incautiously mentioned his design in the presence of his servants, and the matter reached the king's ears. Owing to the regard which he had for Ibrahim he hesitated to proceed to extremities against him, and he might have escaped had not a treasonable speech, rashly uttered, been reported at court. He was arrested and confessed, under fear of torture, his real object in detaining the treasure, and the king put him to death.
Nusrat Khan now discovered that he was not able to remit to Delhi even a quarter of the sum of ten millions of tangas which he had promised to pay annually from the revenues of Bidar, and rose in rebellion. Reinforcements were sent to Qutlugh Khan at Daulatabad, and he marched against the rebel, besieged him in Bidar, captured him, and sent him to Delhi.
Muhammad now decreed a fresh evacuation of Delhi, actuated on this occasion by a desire for the welfare of his subjects. The fertile province of Oudh had for many years prospered under the mild and paternal rule of its governor, Ainul Mulk, and from its overflowing granaries the king purposed to relieve the misery of his people. Any attempt to transport grain through the starving and turbulent Doab would have been foredoomed to failure, and since he could not bring food to his people he led his people to the food. On the western bank of the Ganges, near the site of the ancient city of Khor, at a distance of 165 miles from Delhi, he caused a city of booths to be built, to which he gave the Sanskrit name of Sargadwari (Swarga-dwavra), the Gate of Paradise, and which he made his headquarters for the next six years. To this city he brought the inhabitants of Delhi, and here they were fed. Ainul-Mulk and his brothers loyally supported him, encamped on the opposite bank of the river, and conveyed the hoarded grain of Oudh to Sargadwari, the temporary booths of which were replaced in the following year by more permanent buildings, where the citizens of Delhi dwelt, not only in plenty, but in moderate comfort.
Invasion of Tibet
Neither his people’s distress nor his preoccupation in relieving it could restrain the king from indulging his vain dreams of world-empire, and in 1337-38, the year after the foundation of Sargadwari, he perpetrated one of his greatest acts of folly. The dream of conquering Transoxiana and Persia had faded, but there were other lands to subdue. Beyond the vast mountain chain which bounded his kingdom on the north-east lay the mysterious land of Tibet, and beyond that again the great empire of China, and an army which could traverse the mountains might, Muhammad believed, take those two countries by surprise. Of the nature of the country and the inhabitants, the narrow passes, the perilous mountain paths, the sheer precipices, and the bitter cold to be endured by troops bred in the scorching plains of India he could form no idea, and he persuaded himself that dread of his wrath would carry his troops over all obstacles. An army of 100,000 horse and a large number of foot was assembled at Delhi under the command of Malik Nikpai, who held the honorary post of chief of the inkstand-bearers, and was dispatched on the desperate adventure. The troops marched by way of Nagarkot, or Kangra, the capture of which in this year is recorded in an ode of Badr-i-Chach, and entered the mountains after plundering and devastating the villages on their lower slopes. They advanced by a narrow road, which would admit no more than one horseman at a time, along the precipitous mountain side, but safely reached the stronghold, which Ibn Batutah calls Warangal, of the local chieftain, where they halted after their toilsome journey. Here they were overtaken by the heavy and drenching rains of the mountains, which spread disease among men and horses and destroyed large numbers of both. The officers sought and received permission to lead their men back to the plains, there to await the end of the rainy season, when a second attempt might be made to traverse the mountains, and they set out with all their plunder, but the mountaineers had assembled to harass their retreat and occupied the gorges and defiles. Great stones and felled trees were hurled from the heights on the retreating host, laden with its plunder, stragglers were cut off, the passes were held and stoutly defended, and the highlanders so thoroughly performed their task that they destroyed the army almost to a man, and recovered all the plunder. Nikpai, two other officers, and about ten horsemen were all who returned to Delhi and the king was deeply humiliated. He was obliged to conclude with the mountaineers who had destroyed his army a treaty of peace, in which the only condition to his advantage was an undertaking to pay tribute for the land cultivated by them in the plains, which was at all times liable to be overrun by his troops.
The effects of this campaign on the kingdom were disastrous. Not only had a great, army and the enormous quantity of treasure which accompanied it been lost, but Muhammad's reputation had received such a blow that disaffection in the regions groaning under his tyranny blazed into rebellion, and he was never again able to place himself at the head of such a host as he had assembled for the conquest of China.
In 1338-39 Bahram Khan, governor of Eastern Bengal, died, and an officer of his troops proclaimed his independence in that province under the title of Fakhr-ud-din Mubarak Shah. The tortuous course of events in Bengal which resulted in the death of Qadr Khan, governor of Lakhnawati and in the establishment of Fakhr-ud-din Mubarak in the eastern and of Shams-ud-din Iliyas in the western province and finally, in 1352, as sultan of all Bengal will be traced in Chapter XI. Muhammad's activities were paralyzed by the blow which he had received in the Himalaya and by the havoc which famine had wrought in his dominions, and he could take no steps to restore his authority in the eastern provinces, so that Bengal was permanently lost to him.
In the following year, 1339-40, came news of another serious rebellion in the Deccan. Ali Shah Kar (the Deaf), an officer serving under Qutlugh Khan, was sent to collect and escort to Daulatabad the revenue due from the province of Gulbarga, the defenselessness of which tempted him to rebellion. He attacked and slew Bhairon, the Hindu officer who held Gulbarga, raised a force by means of the treasure which he should have conveyed to Daulatabad, marched to Bidar, slew the governor, and occupied the town. Here, however, he was defeated by Qutlugh Khan, surrendered to him, and was sent to Delhi.
Rebellion of Ain-ul-Mulk
The king himself was now embarrassed by a rebellion. Ain-ul-Mulk, governor of Oudh, had for many years governed his province with ability and clemency and had acquired great influence and popularity. The successful victualling of Sargadwari was due entirely to his prudence and foresight and to his admirable arrangements for the conveyance of grain to the temporary city. Many of the respectable inhabitants of Delhi, fearing the king's tyranny, had withdrawn from the city and had settled in Oudh, where they received generous treatment at the hands of Ain-ul-Mulk, who attached them to himself and ensured the extension of cultivation in his province by granting them villages in fee. With these immigrants had come others, less desirable fugitives from justice, who were harbored on the immoral eastern principle that it is dishonorable to surrender to justice even a malefactor who has sought an asylum with a protector. Ain-ul-Mulk was humiliated by a demand for their surrender, but the chief cause of his estrangement from the king was the latter's design of transferring him to the government of the Deccan in the place of Qutlugh Khan. The avowed reason for the transfer was Ain-ul-Mulk’s efficiency and success as a provincial governor, from which some improvement in the situation in the Deccan might be expected, but it was generally known that the deplorable condition of the southern provinces was due not to any fault of Qutlugh Khan, who was a loyal and able governor, but to the pernicious system of farming the revenues, and Ain-ul-Mulk feared, probably with justice, that the king's real motive in transferring him from Oudh was jealousy of his power and influence, and that the object of appointing him to a government in which Qutlugh Khan had failed was to ensure his disgrace and destruction. His brothers, who had loyally assisted him in the government of Oudh now urged him not to submit to the caprice of an ungrateful master, but to rely on the support of the people by whom he was so well beloved. Opportunity favored him, for the elephants, horses, pack animals and cattle of the royal army had been sent across the Ganges into Oudh for grazing, and the rebellion was precipitated by the seizure of those animals, while Ain-ul-Mulk fled from the camp and joined his own army on the east of the Ganges. He assumed the title of Sultan Ala-ud-din, and Muhammad, for the first time in his reign, had cause to tremble for his throne and his life. The disaster to his army in the Himalaya had impaired his prestige and his severity and cruelty had alienated the nobles in his camp, on whose fidelity he could no longer rely. The rebel army, though composed of poor material, was more numerous than his own, and he desired to avoid an immediate battle. Hastily summoning reinforcements from Delhi and other towns, he marched rapidly towards Kanauj, seeking the protection of its walls. The rebels on the eastern bank marched from Bangarmau, and it seemed that Muhammad's only hope of safety lay in outstripping them. When it became known that they had crossed the river he was much alarmed, for he did not believe that they would have ventured on this step without encouragement from traitors in his own camp. The rebels, to the number of 50,000, attacked his outposts by night, and the battle soon became general. Notwithstanding the overwhelming numerical superiority of the enemy, the Persians, Turks and Khurasanis in the royal army fought valiantly, and at dawn the rebels were in full flight and were pursued for twenty miles. Many, including two of Ain-ul-Mulk’s four brothers, were slain in the battle or the pursuit, or drowned in the Ganges. Malik Ibrahim, one of Ain-ul-Mulk’s accomplices in rebellion, seized him and carried him before the minister, Khvaja Jahan, in the hope of earning a pardon, and the minister, after causing Ain-ul-Mulk to be stripped, carried him before the king. The captive was naked save for a small loin-cloth, and was mounted on an ox. Following him was a large number of other prisoners, and the sons of the courtiers disgraced themselves by crowding round the unfortunate prisoners, heaping abuse on Ain-ul-Mulk, spitting in his face, and beating with their fists his companions in misfortune.
Few rebels who fell into the hands of Muhammad Tughluq escaped a cruel death, but the tyrant had the grace to remember the long and faithful service of Ain-ul-Mulk, and the captive, instead of being executed, was condemned to imprisonment in sackcloth and chains.
From Kanauj Muhammad marched to Bangarmau, and thence performed a pilgrimage to the shrine of the half-mythical hero Salar Masud, said in story to have been sister’s son to Mahmud of Ghazni, and one of his bravest warriors. From Bahraich, where the hero's tomb stands, he sent Khvaja Jahan with a sufficient force to intercept the remnant of Ain-ul-Mulk’s army and to prevent the fugitives from entering the kingdom of Bengal. The minister was also entrusted with the task of collecting all those who had migrated from Delhi into Oudh, and of conducting them to their homes. This measure, strange to say, was conceived in clemency and the fugitives were kindly treated instead of being dealt with as rebels.
From Bahraich the king returned to Delhi after an absence of two and a half years, and here found Ali Shah Kar and his brothers, who had been sent from the Deccan by Qutlugh Khan. With rare clemency he contented himself with banishing them to Ghazni, but Ali Shah afterwards returned to India without permission, and was captured and executed. At the same time Ain-ul-Mulk was pardoned, released from prison, and reinstated in the government of Oudh.
Reception of Ghiyas-ud-din
Muhammad’s active but inconstant mind had conceived at Sargadwari the notion that no sovereign could legitimately wield authority unless he were commissioned by God's vicegerent on earth, the Caliph and Commander of the Faithful, and set himself diligently to inquire who the Caliph was and where he was to be found. He ascertained from travelers that there still existed in Egypt a puppet of the house of Abbas, who claimed the dignity. Their information was not very recent, for they styled him alMustakfi, while he who bore that title had died or had been deposed a year earlier, but the coins of A.H. 740 (A.D. 1340-41) bear the title of al-Mustakfi and the ceremonial performance of the Friday prayers and the observation of the great festivals of Islam were suspended until the king should have received the Caliph's recognition, which he sought by means of a humble petition, accompanied by costly gifts, but three years passed before a reply could be received. This act of humility indicated no change in the king's nature, and neither his arrogance nor his impatience of contradiction or disobedience was diminished.
Had he only had patience he might have maintained at his court, like the Mamluks of Egypt, a submissive Caliph of his own, for in this year there arrived at Delhi from Transoxiana, where he had been living under the protection of the Mogul Khan, Ala-ud-din Tarmashirin, Ghiyas-ud-din Muhammad, son of Abdul Qahir, son of Yusuf, son of Abdul Aziz, son of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mustansir of Baghdad, who reigned from 1226 to 1242. His descent having been verified he was received with great honor. To the two messengers who arrived at the court seeking permission for their master to visit it the king gave 5000 tangas, to which were added 30,000 tangas for Ghiyas-ud-din himself. The leading ecclesiastics and theologians of the court were sent as far as Sirsa to meet him, and the king himself met him at Masudabad, now Bahadurgarh. After a ceremonious interchange of gifts he held Ghiyas-ud-din’s stirrup while he mounted and they rode together, the royal umbrella being held over the heads of both. Ghiyas-ud-din received extraordinary privileges at court, and the profusion of the king's liberality to him is not to be reconciled with sanity. The vessels in his palace were of gold and silver, the bath being of gold, and on the first occasion of his using it a gift of 400,000 tangas was sent to him; he was supplied with male and female servants and slaves, and was allowed a daily sum of 300 tangas, though much of the food consumed by him and his household came from the royal kitchen; he received in fee the whole of Ala-ud-din's city of Siri, one of the four cities (Delhi, Siri, Tughluqabad, and Jahanpanah) which composed the capital, with all its buildings, and adjacent gardens and lands and a hundred villages; he was appointed governor of the eastern district of the province of Delhi; he received thirty mules with trappings of gold; and whenever he visited the court he was entitled to receive the carpet on which the king sat. The recipient of all this wealth and honor was but a well-born beggar, mean and miserly almost beyond belief. He ate alone, not from pride or arrogance, but because, as he confessed to Ibn Batutah, he could not bear to see other mouths eating his food, and grudged even a lamp in his palace, preferring to sit in darkness. He personally collected sticks in his garden for firewood, and stored them, and compelled his personal servants to till his land. He was dishonest as well as parsimonious, and Ibn Batutah vainly demanded payment of a debt which the descendant of the Caliphs owed him.
Multan was the scene of the next rebellion. Malik Shau Lodi, an Afghan noble who had a considerable following of his own tribe, had risen in that province, slain Malik Bihzad, its governor, expelled another officer, and seized the city. The king assembled his army and set out from Delhi, but had travelled no more than two or three stages when he heard of the death of his mother. This was a real loss to the kingdom, for she was charitable and generous, not with the insane profusion of her son, but in due measure. The people, no less than the king, deplored her loss, for her counsels had to some extent restrained her son's ferocity, and after her death no such acts of clemency as the pardoning of Ain-ul-Mulk, Ali Shah Kar, Hushang, Nusrat Khan, and other rebels are recorded.
Muhammad would not permit his mourning for his mother to interrupt the expedition which he had undertaken, but when he reached Dipalpur he received a petition from Shahu expressing contrition, and learnt at the same time that the rebel and all his followers had fled beyond his reach into the mountains of Afghanistan, and accordingly returned to Delhi. The subsequent rebellions in Gujarat and the Deccan were partly due to the severity of the restrictions placed upon Afghans in India in consequence of Shahu's revolt.
When the king returned to Delhi the famine was at its worst, and the people were eating human flesh. He had been engaged, since his return from Sargadwari, in devising schemes to restore prosperity to the land which his tyranny had done so much to devastate. To the regulations which he framed he gave the name of uslub, or ‘methods’, and by their means, says Barani, with probably unconscious irony, agriculture would have been so improved and extended that plenty would have reigned throughout the earth, and so much money would have poured into the treasury that the king would have been able to raise an army capable of conquering the world—had they been practicable.
A department to deal with all questions relating to agriculture was created and placed under the charge of a minister called, for no apparent reason, Amir-i-Kuhi, or Mountain Lord, and it was ordained that the kingdom should be divided into districts thirty by thirty leagues, or about 1800 square miles, in area, in which not one span of land was to be left uncultivated, and crops were to be sown in rotation. This ordinance was the conception of a mere theorist. No allowance was made for forest, pasture, or unculturable land, and though the order relating to rotation appears to indicate some knowledge of the principle of scientific agriculture it is clear, from the examples given, that these principles were not understood. Barley, for instance, was to follow wheat; sugarcane, a most exhausting crop, after which the land should have been allowed to lie fallow for at least a year, was to follow barley; and grapes and dates were to follow sugarcane.
To these districts were appointed superintendents who, to borrow a term from Anglo-Irish history which literally translates their designation, were styled ‘undertakers’, who undertook to see not only that the regulations were carried out to the letter, but also to repeople the land and make every square mile maintain a fixed number of horse soldiers. None but irresponsible adventurers would have entered into such an agreement, and even these would have held aloof but for the immediate inducements offered. The king, who was as bad a judge of men as he was of affairs, would not see a favorite scheme baulked at the outset, and undertakers were induced to come forward by gifts of caparisoned horses, rich robes of honor, and estates to reward them for their promises and large sums of money to enable them to inaugurate the scheme. These gifts were, as the historian says, their own blood-money, for when they perceived the impossibility of meeting their engagements they appropriated to their own use all that they had received and trusted to events to enable them to escape an almost inevitable fate. More than seventy millions of tangas were thus disbursed in gifts to the undertakers and at the end of the stipulated term of three years so little of what had been promised had been performed that Barani speaks of the performance as not one-hundredth, nay, not one-thousandth part of the promise, and adds that unless Muhammad had died when he did, in his expedition to Sind, not one of the undertakers would have survived his resentment.
The second regulation encouraged Moguls to settle in India. These fierce nomads might furnish a mobile and efficient army, but they could not replace the industrious peasantry whose labors had filled the coffers of the state and who had been, in many tracts, dispersed and destroyed by famine and oppression. The Moguls were attracted to India by enormous gifts, and by favors of every description, so that at the beginning of every winter numbers of commanders of tens of thousands and of thousands arrived with their wives, their families, and their followers, received great sums of money, horses, and jewels, and were entertained at princely banquets. This expenditure on an unproductive class maintained at great cost necessitated further schemes for the improvement and development of the resources of the state, and the third regulation was framed to this end. Of the details of the scheme nothing is recorded, nor is it easy to divine what sources of revenue the king could have tapped other than those which he had already exploited to the utmost, but as the regulation is said to have been enforced by clemency mingled with severity it perhaps provided for the levy of forced loans and benevolences, which led naturally to the framing of the fourth regulation, enhancing the severity of the penal code. The frequency and cruelty of the punishments inflicted by the king bred seditious and rebellion which still further inflamed his wrath and increased his severity, and even suspects were seized and cruelly tortured until in their agony they confessed to imaginary crimes and were executed on their confessions.
Barani relates an interesting conversation which he had with the king on political offences and their punishment. The occasion was Muhammad's halt at Sultanpur, about two years after this time, on his way to suppress the rebellion in Gujarat. The king, referring to the disorders and revolts in all parts of his dominions, expressed a fear lest men should attribute them all to his severity, but added that he should not be influenced by irresponsible opinion. He asked Barani, as one versed in history, for what offences kings of old had been wont to inflict death. Barani admitted the necessity for capital punishment, without which order could not be maintained, and said that the great Jamshid of Persia had inflicted it for seven offences, viz. apostasy, willful murder, adultery by a married man with another's wife, high treason, rebellion, aiding the king's enemies, and such disobedience as caused injury to the state, trivial acts of disobedience being expressly excepted. Muhammad then asked for what crimes capital punishment was sanctioned by the Islamic law, and Barani replied that there were only three for which it was provided, apostasy, willful murder of a Muslim, and rape of a chaste woman, but that it was understood that kings might, for the maintenance of peace and order, inflict it for the other four crimes for which it had been sanctioned by Jamshid.
Muhammad replied that Jamshid's code had been framed for earlier times, when men were innocent and obedient, and that in the latter times wickedness had increased upon the earth and a spirit of disaffection was everywhere abroad, so that it had become necessary to punish with death acts of disobedience which would formerly have been regarded as venial, lest the infection should spread and disaffection breed open rebellion. In this course, he said, he would persevere until his death, or until his people became submissive. His reply embodies his whole theory of penal legislation. He regarded his people as his natural enemies, and the penal laws as a means of visiting his personal displeasure on them. They accepted the challenge, and the hideous rivalry continued until his death.
Ibn Batutah’s Mission
On July 22, 1342, Ibn Batutah left Delhi. Favored foreigner though he was his life had been twice in danger. In terror for his own life, he was sickened by the daily spectacle of the king’s cruelty. “Many a time, he writes, I saw the bodies of the slain at his gate, thrown there. One day my horse shied under me and I saw something white on the ground and asked what it was, and my companions told me that it was the breast of a man who had been cut into three pieces. The king slew both small and great, and spared not the learned, the pious, or the noble. Daily there were brought to the council hall men in chains, fetters, and bonds, and they were led away, some to execution, some to torture, and some to scourging. On every day except Friday there was a gaol delivery, but on Friday the prisoners were not led out, and it was on that day only that they took their ease and cleansed themselves. May God preserve us from such calamities!”
Muhammad took advantage of Ibn Batutah’s desire to leave India and intention of continuing his travels to appoint him his envoy to China. During the expedition into the Himalaya a temple or shrine to which Chinese pilgrims resorted had been destroyed, and the emperor of China had sent a mission seeking leave to rebuild it. Muhammad was prepared to grant this permission on condition that the worshippers paid jizya, the poll-tax levied from idolaters, and Ibn Batutah, with a hundred followers, was deputed to accompany the Chinese mission on its return and to deliver this decision. He was accompanied to the port of embarkation by an escort of 1000 horse, without which it would have been unsafe to travel through Muhammad's dominions, and his account of his journey discloses the deplorable condition of the country. The Gangetic Doab was seething with revolt. The town of Jalali, near Koil (Aligarh) was besieged by 4000 Hindu rebels, and seventy-eight of the mission's escort were killed on the way thither. Ibn Batutah was himself taken prisoner by a band of Hindus, and escaped with great difficulty, after suffering many hardships. It was no unusual thing for Muslim governors to be besieged in their cities by bands of Hindu rebels, and they were sometimes obliged to appeal to Delhi for assistance. Ahmad Khan, governor of Gwalior, offered to entertain Ibn Batutah with the spectacle of the execution of some Hindus, but the Moor had had his fill of horrors at Delhi, and begged to be excused.
In 1343 Muhammad was called to the districts of Sunam, Samara, Kaithal, and Guhram where the Hindus had entirely abandoned agriculture and deserted their villages, assembling in large camps in the jungles, where they lived by brigandage. The rebellion spread as far east as the lower slopes of the Himalaya and called for extensive operations and vigorous action. Muhammad performed the congenial task thoroughly. The camps of the rebels were plundered and broken up, and the gangs were dispersed, but the ringleaders were treated with unusual leniency. They were deprived of their ancestral lands, but were brought into Delhi and settled there with their wives and families. Many became Muslims, and as many were also ennobled it may be assumed that their conversion was the price of their preferment.
On his return to Delhi in 1344 Muhammad received Haji Said Sarsari, the envoy sent from Egypt by the Abbasid al-Hakim II in response to his prayer for pontifical recognition. The envoy was received with the most extravagant honors, and the arrogant Muhammad’s self-abasement before him verged on the grotesque. The king, all the great officers of state, the Sayyids, holy and learned men, and all who could pretend to any importance went forth from Delhi to meet the envoy, who bore the Caliph’s decree of recognition and a robe of honor for Muhammad. The king walked several bowshots barefoot as the envoy approached, and, after placing the decree and the robe of honor on his head in token of reverence, kissed his feet several times. Triumphal arches were erected in the city and alms were lavishly distributed. On the first Friday after the envoy's arrival the long discontinued Friday prayers were recited with great pomp and the names of such previous rulers of India as had failed to secure the formal recognition of one of the Abbasid Caliphs were omitted from the formal sermon. The most exaggerated respect was paid to the envoy. His utterances were recorded and repeated as though they had been inspired and, as Barani says, “without the Caliph’s command the king scarcely ventured to drink a draught of water”. The festivals of Islam were now again observed, the legends on the coins were corrected, and Muhammad sent Haji Rajab Burqai to Egypt as envoy to the Caliph.
Rebellion in Kara
In 1344 a rebellion broke out in Kara. This rich district had been farmed for an immense sum to a worthless debauchee, who bore the title of Nizam-ul-Mulk. He discovered, when he attempted to fulfill his promise to the king, that he could not collect the tenth part of what he had contracted to pay to the treasury and, in his drunken despair, raised the standard of rebellion, styling himself Sultan Ala-ud-din. The king was assembling troops at Delhi when news was received that Ain-ul-Mulk had justified the clemency with which he had been treated by marching from Oudh and capturing and slaying Nizam-ul-Mulk, and the news was confirmed by the arrival of the rebel’s skin. The Shaikhzada of Bastam, who had married the king’s sister, was sent to complete the work and to restore order in the Kara district, and stamped out the embers of rebellion with great severity.
The king’s attention was now turned to the Deccan where the revenue collections had fallen by ninety per cent. The decrease was probably due to the introduction of the farming system and to consequent rebellions, but Muhammad was easily persuaded to attribute it to the sloth and peculation of the collectors appointed by Qutlugh Khan. On December 8, 1344, the poet Badr-i-Chach was sent from Delhi to recall Qutlugh Khan from Daulatabad, and his brother, Maulana Nizamuddin, a simple man devoid of administrative experience, was sent from Broach to succeed him, but with restricted powers. Muhammad, ever ready to remedy disorders by new devices, now divided the Deccan into four revenue divisions to each of which was appointed a governor upon whom the enforcement of new regulations and the extortions of the uttermost tanga of the revenue were strictly enjoined. The removal of the mild and pious Qutlugh Khan, whose benevolent rule and readiness to stand between the people and the king's wrath had won the love of Hindu and Muslim alike, excited the gravest apprehensions, and a discontent which might at any moment burst into the flame of rebellion; and the king's avowed intention of collecting annually 670 millions of tangas from the four divisions, and the selection of the agents who were to enforce the demand, increased the people's alarm. Malwa was included in the Deccan and formed with it one shiqq, to the government of which was appointed Aziz Khammar, a low-born, unscrupulous and extortionate official who had won an evil reputation as revenue collector in the “thousand” of Amroha, a tract containing about 1500 villages, and whose propensity to cruelty was now stimulated by the express injunctions of the king, whose fury stigmatized all officials and farmers in the Deccan, but above all the “centurions”, as traitors and rebels. In respect of this class Aziz received special instructions. Impelled by the hope of plunder and profit the “centurions”, said the king, were the instigators and fomenters of every revolt and rebellion, and Aziz, liberally supplied with troops and funds, was to use his utmost endeavor to destroy them. These injunctions fell upon willing ears, and Aziz, immediately after his arrival at Dhar, the seat of his government, caused eighty-nine “centurions” to be put to death before his official residence. This barbarous act excited among the “centurions” of Gujarat and the Deccan a horror which was enhanced by the king's official approval of it. Not only did Muhammad himself send Aziz a robe of honor and a farman praising his services to the state, but the courtiers and great officers at the capital were commanded to follow their master's example.
Rebellion in Gujarat
This insane policy produced its inevitable result. The king had declared war against a whole class of his servants and the “centurions” of Dabhol and Baroda in Gujarat were the first to take up the challenge. Taking advantage of the dispatch by Muqbil, governor of Gujarat, of the annual remittance of revenue from his province they fell upon the caravan and were enriched not only by the tribute but by quantities of merchandise which the merchants of Gujarat were sending to Delhi under the protection of the convoy.
When the news of the rebellion reached Delhi the king appointed a council of regency consisting of his cousin Firuz, Malik Kabir, and Khvaja Jahan and towards the end of Ramadan, A.H. 745, left Delhi, never to return. He halted for some days at Sultanpur, about twenty-two miles west of Tughluqabad, in order to avoid marching during the fast, and on Shawwal 1 (February 5, 1345) continued his march towards Gujarat. While at Sultanpur he was disturbed by the news that Aziz had marched against the rebels. In oppressing the poor, in plundering the rich, in torturing and slaying the helpless, Aziz had few equals, and was a servant after his master's heart, but Muhammad knew that he was no soldier and learnt to his vexation, but without surprise, that the rebels had defeated and captured him and put him to death with torture.
The king marched from Sultanpur to Anhilvara (Patan) in Gujarat, and, leaving Shaikh Muizz-ud-din and other officers in that town to reorganize the administration of the province, passed on to Mount Abu, whence he sent an army to Dabhoi and Baroda against the “centurions”, who were defeated with heavy loss and, after collecting their wives and families, retired towards Daulatabad. The king then marched to Broach and thence sent a force to intercept them. His troops came up with them on the bank of the Narbada, again defeated them, captured their wives and families, camp equipage, and baggage and slew most of the men. A few of their leaders contrived to escape on barebacked horses, and took refuge with Man Singh, raja of Baglana, who imprisoned them and took from them such money and jewels as they had succeeded in carrying off. The royal troops halted on the Narbada, and there their leader, Malik Maqbul, received and promptly executed an order to arrest and execute the “centurions” of Broach, who had accompanied him. There is no suggestion that these officers had failed in their duty, but they were “centurions” and that was enough for Muhammad. The few who escaped the executioner's sword fled to Daulatabad, where their account of the king's ferocity added fuel to the fire of sedition in the Deccan.
At Broach Muhammad found such employment as suited his temper. The collection of the revenue had been neglected for some time past, and the tale of arrears was heavy. Extortionate collectors were appointed, no excuse was accepted and what was due was exacted with the utmost severity. Inability to pay, as well as obstinacy in refusing payment, was punished with death, and the ghastly list of executions was increased by means of a minute and careful investigation of the past behavior of the people. Whoever had in any way helped the rebels, whoever expressed sympathy with them, whoever bemoaned their fate, was put to death, and as though the rumors of his proceedings in Gujarat were not sufficient to exasperate his subjects in the south, the king appointed two notorious oppressors to conduct an inquisition into the conduct and opinions of his people at Daulatabad. One of these reached the city, and the other, Zain Banda, Majd-ul-Mulk, travelling less expeditiously, had not passed beyond Dhar when it became evident that a rebellion was on the point of breaking out at Daulatabad. The actual outbreak was accelerated by an act of ill-timed severity. Two officers were sent from Broach to Daulatabad with orders to Maulana Nizam-ud-din, the feeble governor, to collect 1500 horse and to send the “centurions” of his province to Broach under escort. The escort was assembled and the “centurions” were dispatched from Daulatabad, but at the end of the first day's march took counsel together and, preferring the chances of a rebellion to the certainty of death, slew Malik Ali and Malik Ahmad Lachin, who were conducting them to court, and returned to Daulatabad. Here they imprisoned Nizam-ud-din, seized the fort, with the treasure which had accumulated in it owing to the insecurity of the roads, which had rendered remittances to Delhi impossible, and proclaimed one of their number, Ismail Mukh the Afghan, king of the Deccan, under the title of Nasir-ud-din Shah. The treasure was distributed to the troops, and Maharashtra was parceled out into fiefs which the “centurions” divided among themselves. The rebellion was at its height when the remnants of the “centurions” of Dabhol and Baroda, who had been imprisoned in Baglana, escaped and joined their fellows at Daulatabad.
Muhammad at once assembled a large force at Broach and marched to Daulatabad. The rebels came forth to meet him, but were defeated with heavy loss and, with their wives and families, took refuge in the citadel which Muhammad himself had made impregnable, while Hasan the centurion, entitled Zafar Khan, the rebels from Bidar, and the brothers of Ismail Mukh retired to Gulbarga with a view to consolidating their position in the outlying districts of the province since the neighborhood of Daulatabad was no longer safe.
The royal troops were permitted to sack the city of Daulatabad and plunder the defenseless inhabitants, the Muslims among whom were sent as prisoners to Delhi with dispatches announcing a great victory over the rebels. The king then opened the siege of the citadel and sent Imad-ul-Mulk Sartiz, who had been governor of Ellichpur when the rebellion broke out and had fled to court, to Gulbarga to crush the rebellion in that region.
Revolt of the Deccan
Meanwhile the provinces of the extreme south were slipping from the king’s grasp. Vira Ballala III of Dvaravatipura established his independence; Kampli was occupied by one of the sons of its valiant raja, who apostatized from Islam and restored Hindu rule southward of the Tungabhadra; and Krishna or Kanhayya Naik, apparently a scion of the Kakatiyas, expelled all Muslim officers from Telingana and established himself at Warangal.
Muhammad had been besieging the citadel of Daulatabad for three months when he received news of another serious rebellion in Gujarat, where Taghi, a cobbler, had assembled a band of rebels who promised to become formidable owing to the disaffection which the king had excited throughout the province. Taghi, despite his humble antecedents, was a man of ability and energy. He attached to his cause the remnant of the centurions of Gujarat and some of the Hindu chieftains of the hilly country on the east of the province, and attacked Patan, where he captured and imprisoned the governor, Shaikh Muizz-ud-din, and some of his officers, and put to death his assistant, Malik Muzaffar. From Patan he marched to Cambay, and, after plundering that town, ventured further southward, and laid siege to Broach, recently the king's headquarters. On hearing that Broach was besieged Muhammad decided that his presence was more urgently required in Gujarat than in the Deccan. Appointing Khudavandzada Qavam-ud-din, Malik Jauhar, and Shaikh Burhan Bilarami to the command of such troops as he could leave before Daulatabad, and to the government of the province, he set out for Broach. Taghi, on learning of his approach, raised the siege and fled towards Cambay with no more than 300 horse, and Muhammad sent Malik Yusuf Bughra with 2000 horse in pursuit of him. Yusuf came up with the rebels near Cambay, and, notwithstanding his superiority in numbers, was defeated and slain. Muhammad now marched against Taghi in person, but the latter retired before him to Asawal, now Ahmadabad, and put to death Shaikh Muizz-ud-din and his other prisoners. As the king advanced to Asawal, Taghi again retired to Patan, but, emboldened by a relaxation of the pursuit, the royal army having been obliged by the poor condition of its horses and the heavy rains to halt for nearly a month at Asawal, advanced as far as Kadi, apparently with the object of attacking the king. Incensed by this insolence Muhammad marched to meet him. Taghi, in order to encourage his troops to meet an army commanded by the king in person, had plied them with liquor, under the influence of which they charged so recklessly that they succeeded in penetrating the centre of the royal army, but here they were overpowered by the elephants, and the survivors fled to Patan, leaving their camp and baggage in the hands of the enemy, who slew the baggage guard of 500 men. The son of Yusuf Bughra was placed in command of a force detached to pursue the rebels and Taghi caused his followers to collect their wives, followers and dependants at Patan and to remove them to Khambaliye, whither he retired. Thence he fled further into Kathiawar and took refuge with the raja of Gunar (Junagarh) who afforded him 'wood and water' in the hills and forests of his small kingdom.
Muhammad meanwhile advanced to Patan, where he received the submission of the Hindu chieftains of the province, and from the raja of Mandal and Patri an offering of the heads of some of the rebels who had taken refuge with him. While at Patan he received the news that the Deccan, where everything had gone ill with his cause since his departure, was lost to him. The “centurion” Hasan, who had received from the Afghan king the title of Zafar Khan, had marched to Bidar and, with the help of reinforcements received from Daulatabad and from Kanhayya Naik of Warangal, had defeated and slain Imad-ul-Mulk Sartiz and dispersed his army. His victory was the death-blow to the royal cause in the Deccan, and as Hasan approached Daulatabad the royal troops raised the siege and hastily retreated on Dhar. Nasir-ud-din Shah left the citadel and met the conqueror at Nizampur, about three and a half miles from the fortress, where he entertained him for fourteen days. Ismail, an old man who loved his ease, clearly perceived that Hasan was the man of the hour, and resolved to descend gracefully from a throne which he had not sought and professed not to desire. Summoning his officers, he announced to them his intention of abdicating and professed his readiness to swear allegiance to any, worthier than himself, on whom their choice might fall. The election of Hasan was a foregone conclusion. It was he who had driven the royal troops from the Deccan, and his claim to descent from the half-mythical hero, Bahman son of Isfandiyar, seemed to mark him out for the honor of royalty. On August 3, 1347, he was acclaimed by the assembled nobles of the Deccan under the title of Abul-Muzaffar Ala-ud-din Bahman Shah, and founded a dynasty which ruled the Deccan for nearly a hundred and eighty years.
Independence of the Deccan
The king had already summoned Khvaja Jahan and other nobles from Delhi with a large army, with a view to dispatching them to the Deccan, but the news of Bahman Shah's success deterred him from attempting the recovery of the southern provinces while Taghi was still at large in Kathiawar and disaffection was rife throughout his dominions, and he resolved to restore order in Gujarat before attempting to recover his lost provinces. The local officials and chieftains who had come from the Daulatabad province to wait on him, on learning this decision, returned in a body to Daulatabad, where they settled down quietly as loyal subjects of Batman Shah.
The loss of the Deccan was a bitter blow to Muhammad, and after his custom he sought counsel and consolation of Barani, the historian. He sadly likened his kingdom to a sick man oppressed by a variety of diseases, the remedy of one of which aggravated the rest, so that as soon as he had restored order in one province another fell into disorder, and he appealed to Barani for historical precedents for the course to be followed in such a case. Barani could give him but little comfort. Some kings so situated, he said, had abdicated in favor of a worthy son and had spent the rest of their lives in seclusion, while others had devoted themselves to pleasure and had left all business of state in the hands of their ministers. The king replied that he had intended, had events shaped themselves according to his will, to resign the government of his kingdom to his cousin Firuz, Malik Kabir, and Khvaja Jahan, and to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca, but that the disobedience of his people had so inflamed his wrath and his severity had so aggravated their contumacy that he could not escape from the vicious circle, and must continue, while he lived, to wield the sword of punishment.
Having definitely abandoned the idea of recovering the Deccan he was able to devote the whole of his attention and resources to the suppression of Taghi’s rebellion and to the re-establishment of his authority in Gujarat and Kathiawar. He spent the rainy season of 1348 at Mandal and Patri, engaged in reorganizing his army and in improving the administration of Gujarat. At its close he marched into Kathiawar with the object of subjugating the raja of Girnar, who had harbored the rebel. The raja, with a view to averting his vengeance, was preparing to seize and surrender Taghi, but the latter, being apprised of the design, fled from Kathiawar to Sind. The rainy season of 1349 was spent in the neighborhood of Girnar, which fortress Muhammad captured, establishing his authority in all the ports of the Kathiawar coast. Not only the raja of Girnar, but Khengar, raja of Cutch, whose dominions extended into Kathiawar, and the minor chieftains of the peninsula appeared before him and made their submission to him, acknowledging him as their overlord. From Girnar he marched to Gondal, in the centre of Kathiawar, where he was attacked by a fever which prostrated him for some months. Here he spent the rainy season of 1350, and here he received news of the death of Malik Kabir at Delhi, which deeply grieved him. Khvaja Jahan and Malik Maqbul were sent to Delhi to carry on the administration of the kingdom and Muhammad ordered the nobles at Delhi to join him with their contingents, to reinforce the army with which he purposed to invade Sind and punish the Jam, who had harbored the rebel Taghi. Contingents were likewise summoned from Dipalpur, Multan, Uch and Sehwan, so that it was at the head of a great host that the king, in October, 1350, set out for Sind. After crossing the Indus he was joined by a force of four or five thousand Mughul auxiliaries under Ultun Bahadur, who had been sent by the Amir Farghan to his assistance. He then marched on towards Tattah, and was within thirty leagues of that town on Muharram 10, 752 (March 9, 1351) which, being a day of mourning, he observed by fasting. He broke his fast with a hearty meal of fish, and the fever from which he had suffered in the previous year returned. He still, however, travelled on by boat, but was obliged to rest when within fourteen leagues of Tattah, and as he lay sick fear fell upon his great army, held together by his personal authority alone. Far from home, encumbered with their wives and families, within reach of the enemy, and attended by allies whom they feared hardly less, they knew not what should become of them on the death of their leader. On March 20, 1351, the event which they dreaded came to pass, “and so, says Budauni, the king was freed from his people and they from their king”.
Enough has perhaps been said of the extraordinary character of Muhammad Tughluq. He was a genius, with an unusually large share of that madness to which great wit is nearly allied, and the contradictions of his character were an enigma to those who knew him best. Both Barani and Ibn Batutah are lost in astonishment at his arrogance, his piety, his humility, his pride, his lavish generosity, his care for his people, his hostility to them, his preference for foreigners, his love of justice and his ferocious cruelty, and can find no better description of their patron than that he was a freak of creation.