Jambudveep's Blog

May 1, 2010

Vijayanagar-Chapter 2

Vijayanagar –Empire of the Gods

Chapter 2


Malik Kafur

 

We have seen previously that Ala-ud-din Khilji made a surprise attack on Deogiri and with the enormous treasure he looted, became Sultan of Delhi.

Now his attention was naturally on the rich and flourishing kingdoms of the south. The Kakatiya kingdom of Warangal was next on his list of Hindu kingdoms to loot. In this he was ably aided by his trusted general and “lover” Malik Kafur [i].

Malik Kafur was originally a Hindu from Khambat (Cambay) on the coast of Gujarat. During Ulugh Khans attack on Gujarat in 1297 and its subsequent conquest, Malik Kafur was amongst the innumerable Hindus sold into a life of slavery. But by various accounts he was a handsome youth who attracted the Sultans attentions . Chroniclers like Zia-Ud-Din Barni are quite explicit in the details of Ala-ud-dins sexual infatuation towards Malik Kafur. It is quite hypocritical that Muslims cry foul on homosexuality when quite a few of the “Ghazis” (warriors who carry out jihad against the infidels) had a liking for young boys!

Ala-ud-din had him castrated and converted to Islam. Castration of slaves and making them eunuchs was an integral part of the Islamic slave system. This ensured that the captured men would not be able to reproduce and dilute the Muslim bloodlines. As per K S Lal the present day system of Hijras in our country is a direct consequence of the distinct class of eunuchs created by the muslim rulers .

Lo and behold, the new convert became even more fanatic than the sultan himself!! Being a favourite of Ala-ud-din, he rose fast through the ranks to become Malik Naib (senior commander of the army). An extremely shrewd and ruthless man, Malik Kafur was the ideal companion to Ala-ud-din.

Neo converts like Malik Kafur were more of a threat to the Hindus than the Sultans themselves. To prove themselves worthy of their new religion, they usually exceed even their masters in committing atrocities upon their former co-religionists. Even more damaging was the fact that they had an insider’s view of contemporary Hindu society and knew how society worked. Being aware of the Hindus strengths and weaknesses, they ruthlessly exploited them.

Malik Kafur became the second most powerful man in the Delhi Sultanate after Ala-ud-din After Ala-ud-dins miserable death due to dropsy(as per Barani, Kafur hastened Ala-ud-dins death by poison).Ironically, Kafur himself met a gruesome end in 1316, trying to play the kingmaker in Delhi.

Second Invasion of Deogiri

Fig 1 Malik Kafurs second invasion of Deogiri and second invasion of Warangal

Around 1300 AD Rama Raya of Deogiri had stopped sending tribute to Delhi. Ala-ud-din was preoccupied in quelling internal rebellions and pushing the Mongols back. Now his attention was again turned beyond the Vindhyas and the riches that lay in the kingdoms of Warangal.

Meanwhile in Deogiri Rama Raya’s son Shankar Deva (also known as Sangama) was a man of courage and a free spirit, who could not bear to see the devastation, wrought by the Muslims. The realisation that his sister was now part of the Sultans harem would also have spurred him against tyranny of the Muslims. It made no difference whether you submitted your kingdom to Ala-ud-din or were killed on the battlefield trying to defend it; the end result was always the same: total ruin of your people and destruction of contemporary Hindu society [iii].

While on one hand Rama Raya was constrained by many reasons: concern for the safety of the people of Deogiri, his daughter was now in the Sultans harem (this was part of the price extracted by Al-ud-din on the first invasion of Deogiri) and the fact that his treasury was nearly empty.

On the other hand Shankar Deva was made of sterner stuff and realised that if the Muslims were not defeated and driven out, it was only a matter of time before Deogiri’s independence was extinguished forever by the Sultan. Under Muslim administrators the life of Hindus would become a living hell, as was demonstrated later on when Deogiri was incorporated into the Sultanate.

By 1306 the heroic Shankar Deva had taken over the administration of Deogiri and after defeating the Muslim administrators put in place, nearly brought Deogiri back to its former independence. The reins of Deogiri were taken over from Rama Rayas hands by Shankar Deva.

There was another not completely unrelated reason why Ala-ud-din sent his hordes hurtling down into the Deccan.

When Ulugh Khan invaded Gujarat in 1297 CE, Karnadev Vaghela cowardly fled his capital Anhilwara Patan leaving his queen, the beautiful Kamala Devi to fall into the hands of the Muslims. Kamala Devi was made by Ala-ud-din a part of his harem, but her only surviving daughter Devala Devi was still with Karnadev. As per different accounts Karnadev sought sanctuary with Deogiri .

The Khiljis made a demand for Devala Devi and Karnadev refused. Instead of giving his daughter to the Muslims to use as chattel, he agreed to marry his daughter to Rama Raya’s son Shankar Deva (also known as Sangama). Muslim chroniclers have portrayed the incident as Kamala Devi pining for her daughter and asking Ala-ud-din to get her from Karnadev!! It is one thing for Kamala Devi to be resigned to her fate, but which mother would want her daughter to be subjected to a life of sexual slavery in a Muslim harem?

Thus two expeditions started from Delhi in 1306:-

1. One was led by Malik Ahmad Jitam. Its purpose was to defeat Karnadev and bring Devala Devi to Delhi and completely extinguish resistance in Gujarat.

2. The second expedition was under Malik Kafur tasked with extracting tribute from Rama Raya and making him submit.

They were joined by reinforcements from Gujarat and Malwa.

The first mission was successful; Karnadev was reduced to a refugee fleeing from court to court seeking protection. The unfortunate Devala Devi was captured by the Muslims when she was being escorted to Deogiri and was subsequently sent to Delhi. This brave woman was forcibly married to Ala-ud-dins son Khizr Khan. On Khizr Khans assassination, Qutbuddin Mubarak Khilji in turn forcibly made her his concubine. To add to her miseries after Qutbuddin was killed by his lover Khusrau Khan, she was forced into Khusrau’s harem [ii]. A terrible fate to the princess of the royal house of Vaghelas.

Malik Kafur started with nearly 100,000 horsemen and in March 1307 CE clashed with Shankar Deva outside Deogiri. Shankar Deva being aware of Kafurs advance gathered all his troops near the capital. Shankar Deva had made the strategic mistake of allowing the invader to advance unmolested right upto the capital and then fighting him with all his troops in once place. This meant that the battle became a set piece one. Ideally Shankar Dev should have set up ambushes and tried to cut off the supply lines of Kafurs army.

In the meantime Kafurs army had caused immense destruction of the surrounding countryside. Civilians were massacred, women raped and wanton destruction of crop and property took place.

Shankar Dev was assisted by his brother Bhillama, his commanders Raghava and Ramadeva. After a hard fought battle Shankar Dev was defeated and was martyred by Malik Kafur. Deogiri was plundered, and its population was made to experience all the horrors of Islamic conquest. The same gory story of rape, murder and loot was repeated here as well.

Rama Raya and the royal family were made prisoners and sent to Delhi, where Ala-ud-din Khilji pardoned his father in law and reinstated him to his kingdom. Kafur had specific instructions to spare Rama Raya during the sack of Deogiri. As per N. Venkataramanayya the reason for Ala-ud-dins benevolence towards Rama Raya was due to Rama Raya having informed the sultan of Shankar Deva’s rebellion. Of how true this explanation is I have no idea.

First Invasion of Warangal

Warangal was the capital of the Kakatiya kingdom. The Kakatiya kingdom covered a wide area including most of present day Andhra Pradesh, parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Orissa. The Kakatiya kings were suryavamshi kshatriyas.

The Kakatiya’s produced a great line of monarchs and most unique among them was the warrior queen Rudramba who took over the reins of the kingdom after her father Ganapatis death in CE. She fought off aggressive attempts by the Yadavas of Deogiri to expand into Kakatiya territory.

Her grandson Prataparudra succeeded her after she retired from public life. Prataparudra was an ambitious ruler who carried out regular campaigns against the Hoysala who ruled the present day Mysore region, the Deogiri Yadavas and the Pandyas of Tamil Nadu. It is a sad testament to our short sightedness that these four great Hindu dynasties were constantly engaged in trying to overthrow each other, rather than combine their arms and kick the invaders out of India.

The first invasion of Warangal took place in 1304 CE. A large Muslim army led by Malik Fakhr-ud-din Juna (Mohammed Tughlaq) and Malik Jhaju of Karra was despatched to plunder the riches of Warangal.

But the Hindus of Warangal were prepared for them. Armies led by Prataparudra’s commanders Potuganti Maili & Venna among others, met the Muslims at Upparapalli in Karimanagar district (Andhra Pradesh).In the ferocious battle which took place, the heroic Telugu chiefs destroyed a large part of the sultans army and forced the remnants to flee in confusion.

This was a great setback to Ala-ud-dins plans of looting the Kakatiya kingdom. At the same time the Mongol chief Targhi penetrated right upto Delhi with the speed of a hawk and an army of 20,000 Mongols. The “brave” Ala-ud-din was forced to take shelter in Siri fort as no reinforcements were at hand, most of them down south trying to conquer Warangal!!

Although this incident has been presented as an attempt to raid Warangal for loot, I believe this was more to try and establish Ala-ud-dins administration in the south. Why would Ala-ud-din risk sending a large force when his frontiers were threatened by the Mongols? All these years he had been cautious not to open another front within India, till the Mongol threat to his sultanate had passed over.

This incident like many other Islamic defeats has been glossed over by Muslim historians. It is a great pity that we know more about Muslim tyrants like the Khiljis, rather than about valiant heroes like Potuganti Maili who risked all to protect their motherland against the Muslim hordes.

Second Invasion of Warangal

After getting a sound thrashing Ala-ud-din kept away for some years from the Deccan. He was now occupied with defeating the valiant Raja Satal Deva of Siwana and Raja Kanhad Dev Songara of Jalor (Rajasthan).

Kanhad Deva Songara was the true embodiment of how a Kshatriya should be. He had not only rescued over 50,000 Gujarati Hindus who were being taken to Delhi as slaves by the Muslims, but also the fragments of the broken Shiva lingam of Somnath which was being taken to Delhi to be defiled by the Muslims.

Kanhad Deva and his son Vikrama Deva both attained veeragati fighting Ala-ud-dins forces and the women of Jalor committed jauhar to save their honour. With northern India subdued for the time being, the avaricious Ala-ud-din turned his gaze back upon the Kakatiya kingdom.

Going back to the Deccan, Rama Raya had become a staunch ally of the sultan and kept sending him regular tribute.

A vast force under the command of Malik Kafur and Khwaja Haji started on 31st October 1309 from Delhi. This force would have been extremely well armed and well supplied. In the five years since the Muslim defeat at the hands of the Telugu people, Ala-ud-din would have put a lot of thought and effort to avoid a repeat of the disastrous performance of the Muslims.

Their first stop was Deogiri which had now become a base for further operations in the Deccan. Rama Raya gave all the assistance required to Kafurs army and they proceeded into Telangana.

The first encounter with the Kakatiya’s took place at Sirpur fort. Kafur besieged the fort from all sides. The Kakatiya garrison fought valiantly, but with food and other supplies running out the situation inside the fort became desperate. As a last resort a huge pyre was lit inside the fort and the Hindu warriors along with their families sacrificed themselves in the yajna kunda of war. Whatever few survivors of this assault remained fled to the protection of Warangal.

Prataparudra was well prepared to meet the invasion. By some accounts his army consisted of 20,000 horsemen, hundred elephants and a large number of archers. In some ways his strategy mirrored that of Shankar Deva of the Yadavas. Prataparudra pulled back all his forces from the forts in the path of the invading army and concentrated them in and around Warangal. In the formidable fortress of Warangal, Prataparudra was joined by many of his chiefs along with their forces.

Following a scorched earth policy, Telugu soldiers laid to waste the route the Muslim armies would take, in order to deny the invaders any provisions.

One of the reasons why Kafurs forces were able to reach Warangal in quick time by January 1310 CE, as there was no substantial force to oppose them on their way.

On 19th January 1310 CE, Malik Kafurs forces began the siege of Warangal. As a first step they captured the hill fort of Hanumakonda, which overlooked the city and from which the interiors of Warangal were visible.

Warangal itself was a great fortress with a circumference of nearly 12,546 yards. It was protected by two massive walls, the outer wall made of mud and the inner wall made of stone. The inner and outer walls were essentially two separate forts, which meant if one fell the defenders could retire to the inner fort. The outer wall had nearly seventy seven bastions (burj or towers) manned by Prataparudra’s chiefs who were known as “Nayakas”. The outer wall was surrounded by a large moat.

As per Venkataramanayya the fort was well equipped with weaponry to withstand a prolonged siege. Presumably this means catapults, trebuchets etc. Malik Kafur was also well prepared to assault such a strong fort. His army was equipped with the most advanced siege equipment of that age including weapons such as maghribi (catapults), mangonels, trebuchets etc.

Kafur set up his headquarters a miles from the main gate and ordered his army to pitch their tents all around the fort. Each division of his army was responsible for the siege of the 1200 yards of fort walls allocated to it. In addition the camp of each division was protected by a strong wooden stockade (wooden wall).

The siege started in earnest on 19th January 1310 CE .In the meantime Kafurs postal service which enabled Ala-ud-din to get rapid communication from the battle front, was destroyed by Telugu soldiers who engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Muslims.

A valiant night attack by thousand horsemen commanded by Vinayaka Deva was launched on the Muslim camp. A fierce encounter ensued with heavy causalities on both sides, but the attack failed.

Prataparudra was in no mood to surrender, as the Muslims had not made even a breach in the outer wall. Kafur kept up the momentum of the attack and had the moat filled .

Finally a breach was made in the outer wall and a flood of Muslim soldiers rushed in. Heavy fighting followed with neither party giving nor taking any quarter.

By means of a night attack three bastions of the outer wall were taken and within three days Kafur was in command of the whole outer wall.

Inside the inner fort conditions were growing increasingly grim. The inner stone fort was filled to the brim with civilians, nobles & soldiers. People suffered greatly in such crowded conditions. And once the Muslims gained control of the outer wall, civilians came straight in the line of fire. Many were killed by the arrows launched by the enemy. Treating the wounded became a near impossibility in such conditions.

Not being able to see the suffering of his people and realising that prolonging the siege would end in a general massacre, Prataparudra decided to negotiate with the Muslims.

The siege finally came to an end on 20th April 1310 CE.

As per the truce which was subsequently agreed, Prataparudra had to give Kafur all his treasure. This amounted to a golden image of Prataparudra, hundred war elephants and nearly thousand camels laden with gold. Additionally Prataparudra agreed to pay the jizya and send tribute annually. Prataparudra dutifully sent the annual tribute every year till the disturbances caused by Ala-ud-dins death.

Kafur reached Delhi on 10th June 1310, where he was given a grand reception by Ala-ud-din.

 

For Chapter 3 click here

References:

[1] TÁRÍKH-I FÍROZ SHÁHÍ,      ZÍÁU-D DÍN BARNÍ, Packard Humanities Institute, retrieved on 16-04-2010, http://persian.packhum.org/persian/main

[2] Muslim Slave System in Medieval India, K.S.Lal, Voice of India  Books, http://voiceofdharma.org/books/siii/index.htm

[3] The Early Muslim Expansion in South India, N.Venkataramanayya, edited by Prof.K A N Sastri, Madras University Historical Series, 1942. Available at http://library.du.ac.in/dspace/

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3 Comments »

  1. About Khusrau Khan, if I remember correctly he was a former Hindu from Gujarat turned into a sex slave by the Sultan Qutubuddin.

    Then when he killed Qutubuddin he raised an anti Islamic rebellion in Delhi after becoming Sultan for a brief period, in this he was assisted by Devala Devi according to Savarkar in his “Six Glorious Epochs”. This rebellion of Khusrau Khan along with his Barwari community who were made slaves by Muslims is described by KS Lal:

    “. But one day the Hindus struck back. The opportunity came when Nasiruddin Khusrau Shah ascended the throne of Delhi (1320). Khusrau Shah was a Hindu convert. He belonged to the Barwari class of Gujarat and they were known for their bravery.64 Qutbuddin was very much ‘enamoured’ of him. It was customary in those days, says Ibn Battuta, that when a Hindu accepted Islam, the sultan used to present him with a robe of honour and a gold bangle.65 Khusrau Khan pleaded with the sultan that some of his relations wanted to embrace Islam and in this way collected about 40,000 Barwaris in the capital.66 One day they killed Qutbuddin Khalji and started rioting and killing.67 Copies of the Quran were tom to pieces and used as seats for idols which were placed in the niches (mehrabs) of the mosques. A later but otherwise reliable chronicler, Nizamuddin Ahmad, says that some mosques were also broken.68 The Barwaris had known the Muslims breaking temples and destroying religious books of the Hindus. This they had done on a large scale in Gujarat itself about twenty years ago.69 In the Delhi rioting, they paid the Muslims back in the same coin. Their King Khusrau Shah even forbade cow-slaughter.70 But in the end this rioting was brought under control by Gazi Malik.

    http://voiceofdharma.org/books/tlmr/ch8.htm

    Savarkar examines this rebellion in more detail in one of his books, I think in “Six Glorious Epochs”. So is incorrect to think of Khusrau as a Jihadi, he in fact was a Dharmayodha and it is likely Devala Devi helped him in his Dharmayuddha.

    Comment by Julian — September 19, 2010 @ 1:21 am | Reply

  2. “Escape into the jungles to get away to safety from the tyranny of
    oppressive taxation was common;it formed an indirectr method of
    resistance. There were also occasions of direct confrontation
    between low caste HIndus and the Muslim regime . The case of the
    Barwaris of Gujarat is perhaps the first case of the kind.

    The leader of the Barwari insurrection in Delhi was a Hindu convert
    Hasan. He was captured while only a child in the invasion of Malwa
    by Ain-ul-Mulk Multani in 1305 CE. He was brought to Delhi and
    enrolled among the personal slave boys of Sultan Alauddin Khalji.
    When Alauddin’s son Qutbuddin Mubarak K succeeded to the throne (20
    April 1320) he became highly enamored of the youthful Hasan and made
    him his Wazir. He conferred upon him the title of Khusrau Khan
    together with all the jagirs and extrqaordinary distinctions which
    Alauddin had bestowed on his own favorite Wazir, Malik kafur. And he
    proved to be as good or as bada protege as Malik Kafur had proved to
    Ala..K…

    “There were reasons for Hasan to kill his patron and for the
    Barwaris to wreak vengeance agains the Muslims. Some eunuch slaves
    could not forget the circumstances of their conversion. Some others
    resented their low status vs-a-vis their foreign counterparts. The
    Humiliation caused by the infliction of unnatural carnal acts of
    their masters made some other sullen and rvengeful. Khusrao Khan ,
    it appears was such a one. Outwardly he surrendered his body to the
    sultan, but actuall he hated the later and thirsted for his blood
    (Barani). He collected his Barwari clansmen in Delhi in strength,
    got Qutbuddin killed (September 1320) with their help, and ascended
    the throne as Nasiruddin Khusrau Shah.

    Khusrau Shah was the leader. It was actually the Barwaris who rose
    in revolt. There is a difference of opinion about who the Barwaris
    were and how low their tribe was. (for details see Lal, Khiljis).
    But all chroniclers including Barani, Amir Khusrao, and Ibn Battuta
    credit them with low social status coupled with bravery and
    readiness to lay down their lives for their masters. The Barwaris
    had heard or eye witnessed the atrocities of the Muslim soldiers in
    Gujarat during their invasion in 1299 CE. The massacres in
    Anhilwara, Asavalli, (near Ahmedabad) , Cambay, Vanmanthali, Surat
    etc., had earned Ala, according to the Rasmala, the nickname of
    Khuni (shedder of blood). A number of monasteries, temples and
    palaces in Gujarat had been destroyed. So when a call came from
    their clansman Khusrau, thousands of Barwaris trudged hundreds of
    miles on foot andcarts for the capital of Hindustan to avenge the
    sack of Gujarat. According to Farishtah , there were forty thousand
    Barwaris in Delhi at the time of their insurrection.

    They helped in planning and executing the assassination of
    Qutbuddin. Thereafter they finished all the scions of the Khalji
    house, all the possible claimants to the throne. Khusrau Shah
    ascended the throne; he usurped the chief wife of Qutbuddin … ”

    More from KS Lal, forget exactly which book of his contains this info. I think the one on Scheduled Castes and Tribes.

    Comment by Julian — September 19, 2010 @ 1:32 am | Reply

    • Julian,you are correct about Khusrau Khan.I believe all along he planned to escape from the sexual abuse at the hands of his muslim tormentors and revert back to his Hindu roots.But out of compulsion or neccesity he acted as a ghazi in the early phases of his career.Witness the brutal capture and exceution of the last scion of Devagiri: Haripala Deo.
      It is a modern day myth that the low castes converted to Islam becasue of “oppression under Hindus” or whatever twaddle our secularists are busy propogating.They suffered the most under the Islamic regimes.
      Thanks for the link to the Savarkar books website,will have a look at it.

      Comment by Yogeshwar Shastri — September 19, 2010 @ 9:19 am | Reply


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