Saturday, November 28, 2009



Though 'Tughlaq' is a personal name (not referring to any tribe or family), it is customary to use the name 'Tughlaq' to denote an entire dynasty. The Tughlaqs provided three competent rulers-Ghiyas-ud-din, Muhammad-bin- Tughlaq and Firuz Shah Tughlaq.

GHIYAS-UD-DIN TUGHLAQ (1320-1325) Ghiyas-ud­din restored order everywhere. He built a strong fort called Tughlaqabad near Delhi and strengthened the defences of the northwestern frontier to guard against the recurring danger of Mongol inroads. He conquered Warangal and put down a revolt in BengaL By 1324, the Sultanate's power reached up to Madurai. Ghiyas-ud-din died in 1325, after a fall from a high-raised pavilion. Historians opine that his death was due to sabotage arranged by his son, Juna Khan.

MUHAMMAD-BIN- TUGHLAQ (1325-1351) Juna Khan, better known as Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq, ascended the throne on the death of his father, Ghiyas-ud-din. He tried to introduce many administrative reforms. But most of these failed due to his impatience and lack of judgement. One of his early measures was to improve the revenue depart­ment (1326-1327). He ordered the compilation of a register of revenue and expenditure of the provinces of his kingdom. His next measure was to increase taxation in the Doab with a view to augment his resources.

This step was unpopular with the people and the famine which had occurred at that time added fuel to the fire. The step had to be withdrawn in face of a revolt. Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq had advanced ideas about agricultural improvement and he approached it in a scientific way. He created an agricultural department called diwan-i-kohi. Its main objective was to bring the uncultivated land under cultivation by giving direct finan­cial support from the state treasury. But it failed on account of the Sultan's faulty method of giving effect to it.

Another important political measure which he undertook was the transfer of the capital from Delhi to Devagiri, which was renamed Daulatabad. This move caused a lot of human suffering. The reasons for the transfer were: (i) to have a centrally located capital; (ii) it was not near the north-west frontier which was constantly under Mongol attacks; (iii) to establish stability in the Deccan which was a recent conquest; (iv) to cement his relations with the people of the South which he found was a rich region. Ibn Batutah says that Muhamrnad-bin-Tughlaq was disgusted with the popu­lation of Delhi and thus wanted to punish them. But most of the historians do not agree with Ibn Batutah.

Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq carried out several monetary experiments and has been called a 'Prince of Moneyers'. In 1329-30, he ordered vast quantities of copper coins to be made with the same value as silver coins. The idea failed as he had done nothing to curb its private and unauthorised issue and thus every house became a mint. He led expedi­tions to conquer Khorasan and Quarajal. But both of these proved a failure.
Muhamrnad-bin-Tughlaq was cruel but generous, reli­gious but free from bigotry, proud but merciful. For these reasons he is called a 'Mixture of Opposites'.

A learned man, he knew both Arabic and Persian. He was at home with philosophy, astronomy, logic and math­ematics. He was also a good calligrapher. He built the fortress of Adilabad and the city of Jahanpanah. He main­tained good relations with foreigners, and received an envoy from the Chinese ruler, Toghan TImur (1341), who carne to seek permission to rebuild Buddhist temples in the Himalayan region which were destroyed during the Quarajal expedition. He, in turn, sent Ibn Batutah to the Chinese emperor in 1347.

Ibn Batutah was a Moorish traveller. He carne to India in 1333 and was appointed chief qazi of Delhi by Muhamrnad­bin-Tughlaq. He has left an invaluable account of Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq's reign. In his old age, Ibn Batutah recorded his adventures in a book called Safarnamah. In 1334, Madurai and then Warangal broke free of the Sultanate. In 1336, Vijayanagar and in 1347, the Bahmani kingdoms were founded.

FIRUZ SHAH TUGHLAQ (1351-1388) Firuz was born in 1309. He was Muhammad's cousin. Firuz was at Thatta when Muh~mmad-bin- Tughlaq breathed his last in 1351. He was chosen the Sultan by the nobles.

Firuz was of a merciful and pious disposition, and he preferred peace to the glories of conquest. He was a true friend of the peasants and he cancelled the loans which had been advanced by his predecessor. He reduced taxation to the limits prescribed by the Quran. Agriculture was devel­oped by the reclamation of waste lands and by providing irrigation facilities. Firuz mitigated the severity of the criminal law by abolishing torture and mutilation as forms of punishment. His other measures included the establish­ment of a charitable department in Delhi (diwan-i-khairat).

Firuz re-introduced the system of jagirs or grant of land with its revenue to his military officers in lieu of cash salaries. He decreed hereditary succession to iqta.
Firuz Tughlaq was an enthusiastic builder and is famous for his enlightened public works. He built a new capital at Delhi and named it Firuzabad. Its ruins are the Kotla Firuz Shah. He also founded the cities of Hissar, Fatehabad, Firuzpur and Jaunpur. Firuz Tughlaq constructed the Yamuna canal to supply water to the cities of Firuzpur and Hissar. He built the Kali Masjid and Lal Gumbad. He had two of Asoka's pillars brought to Delhi; one from Khizrabad and the other from Meerut. Barani and AsH wrote noteworthy historical works in his reign. Firuz Shah himself authored the Fatuhat-i-Firuz Shahi. He got several Sanskrit works translated into Persian. Firuz is also credited with organising the institution of slavery into a system. He took special care to maintain and educate the slaves, and utilise their services as soldiers, bodyguards and artisans.

Firuz declared his principle of levying taxes strictly according to the Shariat. As such, he insisted on the payment of jaziya by all non-Muslims. He was the first Muslim sultan to strictly impose jaziya on the brahmans who had so far been allowed to escape the tax. Surprisingly for a man of humanitarian actions, Firuz was intolerant towards non­Muslims especially in his later years; within the Muslim community, Firuz accepted only the Sunnis not the Shias or Ismailis. He is reported to have demolished Hindu temples. He is also supposed to have publicly burnt a brahman for preaching to Muslims. He got the painted murals in his own palaces erased.

Firuz Tughlaq is largely held responsible for the down­fall of the Tughlaq dynasty. His revival of the jagir system and establishment of a slave system proved ruinous for the kingdom. On top of this, his intolerant religious policy alienated the Hindus and Shias. His death was followed by succession wars and only a small area around Delhi remained with the Tughlaqs.

TIMUR'S INVASION (1398-99) Amir Timur or Timurlane was a mighty conqueror of Central Asia. His capital was at Samarqand. He invaded India in 1398 during the reign of Mahmud Tughlaq. He occupied Delhi on December 18, 1398 and remained there for 15 days. Delhi was sacked and plundered. The Tughlaq empire could never recover from such a terrible blow and came to an end in 1412.