Jambudveep's Blog

December 2, 2012

Rethinking our concept of Bharatiya history : The case of the Yadava’s of Devagiri

While flipping through the pages of a book on inscriptions found in Andhra Pradesh, I came across two interesting inscriptions which give a jolt to certain notions I had about the Seuna Yadava rulers of Devagiri. These raise a lot of questions regarding the kind of history we are taught in our schools and colleges.

 

1.A little background…

But I will digress here for a bit to give a brief background on the subject. Devagiri (modern day Daulatabad fort and its surroundings) was the seat of power of the Yadava rulers who ruled most of present day Maharashtra from 1173 to 1317 CE.It was a prosperous kingdom and a golden age in the history of Maharashtra. The conventional view of how the Yadavas of Devagiri fell to the Islamic onslaught is briefly like this:

In 1297 CE, Ala-ud-din Khilji conducted a surprise raid on Devagiri with a small cavalry based force. After defeating intital resistance near Baglana he besieged the capital itself. The Yadava king Ramachandra Deva had to shut himself in the fort as there were very few troops at hand.Most of the army was campaigning under his son Simghana down South against Veera Ballala III.On hearing of the Muslim attack Simghana rushed back to his fathers aid with a force of 20,000 soldiers.They are almost on the verge of finishing Khilji off when Ala-ud-dins reinfoircements arrive.Thinking that the entire Delhi army is attacking the Yadava army breaks and is defeated.Ramachandra has to empty his treasury and give his daughter in marriage to Ala-ud-din.Gradually the kingdom loses its independence till the last ember of freedom is extinguished by Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Khilji in 1317 CE.The entire royal family of the Yadavas is massacred and Haripala Deva (the son in law of Ramachandra Deva) is skinned alive and hung from the gates of Devagiri fort.

The inferences drawn from the above account are :

1. The Yadavas were utterly incompetent in matters of intelligence and their communication system was flawed. Otherwise how could Ala-ud-din penetrate right upto the capital without being detected?

2. They were so busy fighting senseless wars with their Hoysala and Kakatiya neighbours that they  lost sight of the Islamic monster looming in the horizon.

To my mind something was missing from the narrative. It did not gel that a powerful kingdom which excelled in every sphere of life (arts, culture, music etc) could be so blind to the intentions of the Islamic vandals who had entrenched themselves at Delhi for over a hundred years.

 

2.The Panagallu Inscription of Sarangapanideva

The inscription I talked about earlier is by Sarangapanideva,a son of the Yadava ruler Simghana I who ruled Devagiri from 1200-1247 CE.For unknown reasons this prince had migrated to Wrangal and was made administrator of the Panumganti sthala (area) by the kakatiya king Rudradeva.Theinscription records a gift of wet land to the temple of Chhaya Someshwara.The most intresting aspects of the inscription are some of the titles assigned to Sarangapanideva:

i.Prarajya-rajya-Turuhkopaplavamedini-Samuddharana : which means “ protector of the great kingdom from the trouble of the Turushka (Muslim) armies.”

ii. Gurjararaya-varana-ankusa : which means the ankush (controller) of the king of Gurjara desa.

iii.Malaviya-mana-mardana : Destroyer of the rpide of the Malavas (Malwa,central India).

iv. Gambhira-abhira-prachanda : Very ferocious for the yadavas (cow herds).

The government epigraphist has mentioned that Sarangapanideva probably inherited these titles from his father Simghana I as in an inscription found near Dharwad Simghana I has nearly the same epithets.

Additionally there is one more epithet found in the Dharwad inscription of Simghana I  dated from 1239 CE : “Turushka kopa pralaya maharnava magna medini samuddharana maha varaha.” Which means “incarnation of Lord Vishnu (in his varaha avatar) in lifting the earth from the deluge of the muslims.”

3.Inferences drawn from the inscriptions

The most obvious inference is that Simghana I ( and probably his sons) crossed swords with the Islamic jihadis pouring out from Delhi and defeated them. Their most likely adversary was Shams-ud-din Iltutmish  who ruled over the Delhi sultanate from 1211-1236 CE. There is no record of the Islamic hordes having crossed the Vindhyas at this early date. This means that Simghana I  most likely battered the Islamic armies in central India and Gujarat.In this period the Chaulukyas of Gujarat were actively assisting the survivors of Prithviraj Chauhan’s Ajmer kingdom in their freedom struggle. The inclusion of Malwa and Gurjara regions in the titles indicates that Simghana assisted these regions in throwing back the muslim offensive or defeated the muslims in his campaigns against these regions.

This militates against the view that the Yadavas sealed themselves off from the events overtaking northern India.

4.Questions raised by the inscriptions

1. Why was Devagiri unable to muster resources to fight the Islamic offensive? In previous decades it had clearly taken the offensive to the muslims, what happened in a fifty year period that sapped its aggressiveness?

2.Was there a natural calamity such as a long drought followed by famine that dimished the resources of the kingdom?

3.The fact that the Seuna Yadava’s could mount offensives beyond the Vindhya mountains indicates that they had some kind of an intelligence and communications system. Did it break down by 1297 CE? If so for what reasons?

4. The period from the 1290’s onwards was one in which the Islamic offensive of the Delhi sultanate gained new power and many large Hindu kingdoms ceased to exist by the 1320’s.This included Gujarat,Devagiri,Jalor,Ranthambor etc. Is there something we are not seeing in this pattern of collapse?

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June 2, 2010

Vijayanagar Chapter 4

Vijayanagar

Chapter 4

Disintegration of Deogiri

In 1312 CE Rama Raya of Deogiri died and his son Sangama (some accounts call him Bhillama) took over the throne. The first thing Sangama did like his late brother Shankara Deva was to rebel against the Muslims and declare independence.

Ala-ud-din promptly despatched Kafur to dispose of the rebel. Kafur ravaged the lands of Deogiri .Sangama deciding discretion was the better part of valour fled from Deogiri.

However this  time no scion of the Yadava dynasty was installed on the throne. Deogiri lost its independence and was annexed to the Delhi sultanate for good. Malik Kafur made himself the governor of Deogiri and instituted an aggressive policy of Islamisation of the Deccan. The imperialism of the Muslims entailed settling large numbers of Muslims from the north and foreign countries in and around Deogiri. Deogiri like Delhi was fast becoming a Muslim city. Hindus were marginalised and terrorised. Kafur was an enthusiastic breaker of Hindu temples and took great delight in breaking them down and erecting mosques in their place.

As the Deogiri kingdom passed out of existence, various Hindu chiefs formerly under it refused to bow down to the Islamic oppressors. The hilly region of the Sahyadri Mountains, particularly around Pune was under the Koli king Naga Nayaka, who retained his independence in face of Muslim assaults.

In the southern part of the kingdom Mallideva the chief of Rayadurga   was a relation of Rama Raya. He declared himself the king of Maharashtra. Mallideva’s attempt at opposing the Muslims ended in failure, Mallideva being killed in battle by rival chiefs Mummadi Singeya of Kampili and Jagatapa Gangayadeva of Gutti.

Mummadi Singeya’s son Kampili Raya established the powerful kingdom of Kampili, which covered present day Dharward, Bellary and Raichur districts. Kampili stood as a bulwark against Muslim invasions till it was overwhelmed by Muhammad Tughlaq.

Malik Kafur departed for Delhi soon after leaving Ain –ul- Mulk as the governor of Deogiri.

Change at Delhi

In 1316 Ala-ud-Din   Khilji died and the administration of the sultanate was taken over by Kafur. In the   bloody   succession struggles which were typical   of the   Delhi sultanate,   he had two of Ala-ud-dins older sons Khizr Khan and Shadi Khan blinded. Imprisoning them in Gwalior he proclaimed Ala-ud-dins infant son as the sultan. Mubarak Khilji was thrown into prison and expected to meet the same fate as his brothers.

Kafur being a man of many enemies thought it wise to recall Ain-ul-Mulk to Delhi. Ain-ul-Mulk gathered all the Muslims of Deogiri and started his march to Delhi. As I have pointed out before the Muslim community was almost completely militarised, which meant each and every Muslim played the role of a soldier in battle. Hence for a brief period of time Deogiri was left completely to the Hindus.

However before Ain-ul-Mulk could reach Delhi, Kafur was assassinated by his bodyguards. They raised Mubarak to the throne, who proclaimed himself as Sultan Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Khilji. Mubarak himself had a male slave on whom he lavished his attentions. Known as Hasan he was subsequently given the title Khusrau Khan by Mubarak. Khusrau Khan was one of the enigmatic characters of the Delhi Sultanate.

Mubarak was a debauch and spent his time drinking or with women. He had his brothers Khizr Khan and Shadi Khan killed and took their wives for his own pleasure. The unfortunate Devala Devi was amongst these and Mubarak forcibly married her. With a fetish for cross dressing he used to appear in his court dressed in a woman’s clothes!!

But he was of one mind on the question of pursuing Jihad against the Hindus.

Haripala Deva

With the bulk of the Muslim forces departing with Ain-ul-Mulk (the governor of Deogiri), a war of independence was waged in Deogiri by   the valiant Haripala Deva.

Haripala Deva was the son in law of the late Rama Raya. The situation for Hindus had become intolerable with their day to day lives being dependent on the whims and fancies of the Muslim rulers. Hindu women were abducted in broad daylight and the peasantry taxed to death.

Haripala Deva was joined in his efforts by Raghava, a minister of   Rama Raya .For a brief period under the kingship of Haripala Deva, Deogiri regained its independence. He succeeded in defeating various Muslim amirs to the extent that Sultan Mubarak himself had to lead an army from Delhi to recapture Deogiri.

In 1318 CE, Mubarak accompanied by his lover Khusrau Khan started from Delhi with a large army. Entering Maharashtra they had to fight tough battles with Haripala Deva   and Raghava.

Raghava was defeated by Khusrau and his army destroyed. But Haripala Deva defeated Khusrau twice in battle. Making intelligent use of the mountainous terrain Haripala Deva with his strong army gave the Muslims a tough time.

Haripala Deva was finally cornered in Devagiri fort and agreed to surrender after Sultan Mubarak promised to spare his life. On surrendering this lion of the Yadava clan met a most gruesome end.

Mubarak in flagrant violation of his own promise, had Haripala Deva skinned alive and his lifeless corpse hung from the gates of Deogiri fort .The entire royal family of the Yadavas was massacred to prevent any future uprisings. Maharashtra was distributed to various Muslim chiefs as their reward.

Malik Yak Lakhy was made the governor of Deogiri and military garrisons were posted at Sagar, Gulbarga and other places. But the garrison meant to subdue Dvarasamudram was defeated by Katari Saluva Raseya Nayaka who was an officer in Veera Ballala’s army. Khusrau Khan was despatched to collect tribute from Prataparudra and Sultan Mubarak departed for Delhi on 5th August 1318 CE.

Thus ended the great line of the Yadavas of Deogiri.  With them came to an end the golden age of Maharashtra. For the next three hundred years   the life of Hindus in the Deccan  slipped into a dark age. The life of the common Hindu becoming worse than that of animals, as ravaging Muslim armies swept    across the landscape. Maharashtra passed from one genocidal sultan to the next, till divine deliverance came in the form of Chattrapati Shivaji in the seventeenth century.

Khusrau’s forays into the South

As soon as Sultan Mubarak was back in Delhi, Malik Yak Laky proclaimed himself Sultan Shams-ud-din and even minted coins in his own name. The Sultan promptly sent Khusrau khan with a large army to imprison the usurper. For a man with royal ambitions Malik Yak fell short of loyal friend’s .Betrayed by his own subordinates, he was imprisoned by Khusrau Khan who sent him to Delhi. There his ears and nose were cut off and would be sultan was deprived of all his wealth. Khusrau Khan appointed Ain-ul-Mulk as the viceroy of Deccan.

Khusrau Khan was further entrusted to attack the Pandya kingdom which was in a state of complete chaos. After Kafurs foray   in 1311 CE the Pandya brothers resumed their power struggles. However this time Vira Pandya gained the upper hand and Sundara Pandya was forced to flee into exile. Soon Vira Pandya himself was dethroned following an invasion by the Chera king of Kerala Ravivarman Kulashekhara. Ravivarman was forced to retire back to Kerala following troubles there and the Pandya kingdom was again in the hands of Vira Pandya.

Meanwhile in 1317 CE Prataparudra taking advantage of the disorder sent a powerful army under his general Muppidi Nayaka. The Kakatiya army successfully captured Kanchi from the Pandyas. Thus on the eve of Khusrau’s invasion the Pandya kingdom was in an even worse state of chaos than before.

As in Kafurs time the Pandyan army refused to fight a set piece battle with Khusrau. Civilians wise from previous experiences of the Muslims fled before the advance of the enemy, taking   along their possessions .Khusrau managed to capture a hundred elephants and the city of Pattan. The governor of Pattan was a Muslim named Siraj-ud-din. This did not stop Khusrau from   confiscating his wealth and taking his daughter!!

With the beginning of the rains and internal squabbles breaking out in his camp, Khusrau was forced to move back to Delhi. Khusrau’s southern campaign thus ended   in failure without producing any tangible results.

For Chapter 5 click here.

References:

  1. 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/
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandyan_Dynasty
  3. South India and Her Mohemmedan Invaders, S Krishnaswami Iyengar, S Chand & Co,1921, http://library.du.ac.in/dspace/
  4. TÁRÍKH-I FÍROZ SHÁHÍ,          ZÍÁU-D DÍN BARNÍ, Packard Humanities Institute, retrieved on 03-04-2010, http://persian.packhum.org/persian/main
  5. A History of South India, Prof K A N Sastri, Oxford University Press, 1966.

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