Jambudveep's Blog

January 15, 2013

The History of the Reddi Kingdoms, by Malampalli Somasekhara Sarma

A seminal book by the scholar and epigraphist Malampalli Somasekhara Sarma.Details the history of the Reddi kingdoms of Kondavidu and Pithapuram.

 

The history of the reddi kindoms

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January 14, 2013

Vijayangar Chapter 6: The Great war of Liberation

As seen in the previous chapters the low point in the history of India came in the 1320’s. Long standing dynasties such as the Kakatiya’s of Warangal, the Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri,the Pandya rulers of Madurai were overthrown or extinguished by the Islamic war machine. The only Hindu kingdom left standing in South India was the Hoysala kingdom of Karnataka led by Veera Ballala III.

The just and equitable rule of the Hindu kings was replaced by an oppressive and merciless administration. The land was parcelled out to various Amirs, Maliks and Muslim jehadi’s from around the world. These parasites sucked the blood of the common people and destroyed the traditional way of life. The terrible sufferings of the people are illustrated in the Madhuravijayam and the Vilasa grant of Prolaya Nayaka. Temples fell into disuse and the old system of endowments was discontinued in favour of extorting money from the people. With the disappearance of the agraharas the Vedic system of learning was strangulated.

But the typhoon of Hindu revival in the South was coming…

 

6. The Eleven year war of Liberation (1325-1336 CE)

Map of War of Liberation

Fig. 6.1 Map of the war of Liberation

No sooner had the dust settled on the Tughlaq invasions that the Hindus of South India mounted a ferocious counter offensive. Out of the ashes of the fallen kingdoms arose a confederacy of Hindu chiefs, each determined to drive the Turuksha’s into the ground. The table below give the names and brief details of the prominent Hindu leaders of this great war of liberation.

Name of Hindu King/Chief Brief Description Area of Operations Year active from
Veera Ballala III Hoysala ruler of  Karnataka Karnataka, extending upto river Ponniyan in Tamil Nadu 1324-1342
Prolaya Nayaka (Musunuri family) One of the chief Nayaka of the erstwhile Kakatiya kings. Coastal Andhra with headquarters at Rekapalli 1325-1333
Kapaya Mayaka (Musunuri family) Cousin of Proalaya Nayaka and leader of confederacy of 75 Nayaka’s. Coastal Andhra,western Andhra and Telangana 1325-1367
Prolaya Vema Reddi Powerful Nayaka and founder of the  Reddi kingdom of Kondavidu. Region around Kondavidu in Andhra. Initial base at Addanki. 1325-1353
Chalukya Somadeva, Chalukya prince and ancestor of the Aravidu emperors of Vijayanagar Western Andhra with base at Kurnool. 1325- ?
Ariyseti Annamantri Surviving general of the erstwhile Kakatiya kingdom. Coastal Andhra 1325-?
Kolani Prataparudradeva Surviving general of the erstwhile Kakatiya kingdom. Coastal Andhra 1325-?
Racherla Singama Nayaka, Founder of the Velama kingdom of Rachakonda. Telangana 1325-1361
Ekramnath Sambuvararaya Ruler of Rajgambhira rajyam Headquarters at Kanchipuram. Kingdom comprised of  North Arcot district in Tamil Nadu and parts of Chittor district in Andhra Pradesh. 1325- ?

                 Table  6‑0‑1 The Main Leaders of the War of Independence

 

The below table gives the main opponents of the Hindus in the Deccan and the south:

The Hindu Confederacy Their Tughlaq Opponents
1.Veera Ballala III2.Kapaya Nayaka and 75 Nayakas’s

3.Prolaya Nayaka

4.Somadeva

5.Ekramanth Sambuvararaya

6.Prolaya Vema Reddi

7.Racherla Singama Nayaka

8.Kolani Prataparudradeva

9.Ariyseti Annamantri

1. Mohammed Tughlaq, Sultan of Delhi.2. Malik Muhammad, governor of Kampili.

3. Malik Maqbul,governor of the Warangal division of Telanagana.

4. Shihab Sultani, governor of the Bidar division of Telangana.

5. Qutlugh Khan, governor of Devagiri (1335-1342).

6. Jalal-ud-din Ahsan Shah,kotwal of Madura

Table 6‑2  The chief opponents from the Hindu and the Muslim side.

6.1 The war of liberation in Karnataka

In Karnataka the core area around Mysore right upto Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu was in the hands of Veera Ballala III. By 1328 CE, he was back in action and directing operations against the Muslim garrisons ensconced in Tamil Nadu. In 1327 CE, the situation was made serious by Muhammad Tughlaq shifting his capital to Devagiri from Delhi. This put enormous Muslim armies dangerously close to the Hoysala capital of Dvarasamudra.

To check the danger emanating from the north, Veera Ballala entrusted the task of defending the Northern frontier of the Hoysala kingdom to the five Sangama brothers of which Harihara and Bukkaraya are the most famous.The Sangama brothers who were Mahamandaleswara’s (Provincial governors) later went on to establish the Vijayanagar empire.

As a further precaution, Veera Ballala had established three capitals: Dvarasamudra,Kundani and Tiruvannamalai.This enabled him to mount a mobile defence against the Islamic incursions from Devagiri in the North, as well as secure his rear against the Muslims in Madurai. Tiruvannamalai was bang on the main road which linked Madurai to the North. For nearly fifteen years (1328-1342 CE) this city was his base of operations against the Muslim garrisons in Tamil Nadu. In the region of Anegondi and Kampili ferocious battles raged to drive out the Muslims.

6.1.1 A comparison of the armies of Veera Ballala and Mohammed Tughlaq

What was the strength of the army of Veera Ballala? From Ibn Batutas account, in 1342 CE Veera Ballala had 1, 00,000 infantry and 20,000 Muslim mercenaries in his army. In 1328 CE it is difficult to gauge his military strength, but it must have been considerable to go up against Mohammed Tughlaq.

To get an idea of the impossible odds facing the Hindus here are some numbers for Muhammad Tughlaq’s army:

Component of army

Estimated numbers

Horsemen (cavalry)

9,00,000

War elephants

3000

Turkish Mamluks

2000

Spearmen

1000

Eunuchs (all armed)

10,000

Bashmaqdars ( a type of bodyguard)

1000

Slaves

2,00,000

 Table   6‑3 The strength of Muhammad Tughlaq’s army.

Out of the nine lakh horsemen, the bulk accompanied Tughlaq on his campaigns while the rest were posted in various provincial garrisons around the country. In addition he could raise large forces for temporary expeditions .e.g. sometime before 1333 CE he raised and maintained an army of 3,70,000 horsemen to support his invasion of Khorasan (in Iran).This had to be disbanded after a year due to maintenance costs running in crores of tankas ( the currency of the day).

6.2 The war in Andhra desa

The final battle of the Kakatiya kingdom took place near Rajamahendravaram in 1323 CE. The cream of the kshatriya’s of Andhra perished in this terrible battle against Mohammed Tughlaq’s forces. But within two years of this disaster the banner of freedom was unfurled by the Musunuri chief Prolaya Nayaka and his cousin Kapaya Nayaka. With their headquarters at Rekapalli, they gathered around them 75 Nayakas (military chiefs) of the erstwhile Kakatiya kingdom. Promiment amongst the seventy five Nayakas were Prolaya Vema Reddi, Kopplua Prolaya Nayaka, Recharla Singama Nayaka and Manchikonda Ganapati Nayaka. In this heroic endeavour they were joined by surviving generals of the Kakatiya’s such as Ariyeti Annamantri and Kolani Rudradeva.

Prolaya Nayaka revived the old endowments and patronised Vedic learning. He also restored those temples which suffered destruction at the hands of the Islamic invaders. This liberating army of the Hindus moved swiftly and by 1328 CE coastal Andhra was liberated from the clutches of the Muslims. In western Andhra by 1329 CE they were joined by the Chalukya prince Somadeva, who from his base in Kondanavolu (Kurnool) launched attacks on the Muslim garrisons in the Bellary and Rayalseema regions. After fierce fighting, he retook the forts of Anegondi,Mudgal,Musalimadugu,Satanikota,Etagiri,Kunti and Sara. In concert with him, Veera Ballala attacked Kampili. Malik Muhammad the Tughlaq governor of Kampili was now facing simultaneous attacks from Somadeva and Veera Ballala. Somadeva defeated Malik Muhammad in a series of battles and managed to capture him along with his 6000 cavalry. However Muhammad managed to secure his freedom by making false promises.

By 1333 CE the position of the Muslims in Andhra had become precarious. The survivors retreated to Warangal which was under Malik Maqbul. At the same tine in 1335 CE, Muhammad Tughlaq descended into the Deccan to subdue the revolt of Jalal-ad-din Ahsan Shah (the kotwal of Madurai). Ahsan Shah had declared himself as an independent Sultan of Madura and minted coins in his own name. When Tughlaq was encamped in Warangal (or Bidar as per another account) a plague struck the city of Warangal .A majority of the Hindu population of that city perished along with a great part of Muhammad Tughlaqs army. Many seniors Malik’s and Amirs also perished due to the plague. Muhammad Tughlaq himself was taken sick and had to beat a hasty retreat. Ahsan Shah was left to his own devices in Madurai.

By 1336 CE the stage was clear for the liberation of Warangal. Like a hurricane Kapaya Nayaka swept into Telangana and liberated Warangal in 1336 CE. In this he was aided by Veera Ballala who sent forces to reinforce Kapaya. Warangal the declared as the capital of the short lived but glorious Musunuri kingdom. In Kondavidu, Prolaya Vema Reddi began to lay the foundations of the kingdom of the Reddi’s.

6.3  A bird’s eye view of the Scene at Delhi…

The period from 1325 CE   onwards was one of a general collapse of the Delhi sultanate. Till his death in 1351 CE Muhammad Tughlaq was constantly running from one end of his  short lived empire to the other, constantly fighting rebellions and uprisings. By 1336 CE the major part of South India was back in Hindu hands. The only aberration was the Sultanate of Madurai in Tamil Nadu.

Like the rule of other Muslim sultans, Muhammad Tughlaq’s rule was marked by extortionate taxation and oppression of the Hindu’s. The years from 1325 to 1340  CE were of one long famine in North India, especially in the Doab region of Uttar Pradesh. The doab region is one of the most fertile regions in India. Muhammad Tughlaqs oppressive policies had exacerbated the drought into a deadly famine. Hindus abandoned their lands and fled into the safety of the jungles. For this Muhammad Tughlaq organised hunts to kill them like wild animals. The decision to move the capital of the Sultanate to Devagiri in 1327 CE was dictated by many factors:

i. Primary amongst them was to check the wave of Hindu resurgence sweeping South India. Far flung places like Madurai were six months march from Delhi. Devagiri had the advantage in being centrally located and within striking range of the main centres of the liberation struggle i.e. Karnataka and Andhra.

ii. The famine in the countryside  had finally affected Delhi, as the supplies of corn into the city were disrupted by chaos in the countryside.To ease the  suffering of the Muslims in Delhi ,Mohammed Tughlaq ordered the evacuation of the Muslim residents of Delhi to prosperous Devagiri. The fact that it was exclusively the Muslim population that was transferred is indicated in the sources. Delhi had become a parasitical city whose prosperity depended on the exploitation of the Hindu countryside.

iii. The threat of Mongol invasions still loomed over Delhi. The geographical location of Delhi makes it inherently vulnerable to a straight thrust from the side of the Punjab. Once the buffer of Punjab is gone it is only a matter of time before the invader reaches Delhi. (As a side note: Punjab during this time was decimated by the rapacious policies of the  Delhi Sultans and the ravages of the Mongol invasions . During this period i.e. 1328 CE, famines stalked Punjab and the rivers changed their courses leading to thousands of people perishing in the ensuing cataclysmic floods.)

In 1329 CE the Mongol ruler Tarmashirin swept over  Delhi. At this crucial juncture most of the officers of the Tughlaq administration were in Devagiri. Mohammed Tughlaq had to buy Tarmashirin off with a huge bribe which nearly emptied the treasury. To make up for the bankrupt state Mohammed Tughlaq issued copper coins thus effectively devaluing the currency. This led to large scale forgeries and the hoarding of gold and silver by the people.

By 1333 CE rebellions had broken out all over the Tughlaq empire. The most pertinent for us is the declaration of indepence by the Jalal-ud-din Ahsan Shah; the kotwal of Madurai in 1335 CE.

The heroism of Veera Ballala, the tenacious bravery of Kapaya Nayaka,the foundation of the Vijayanagar empire, its life and death struggle against the Bahmani Sultanate and the Sultanate of Madurai will form the ensuing chapters.

 

References:

1. Vijayanagar,Never to be Forgotten Empire; Suryanarayan Row.

2. The Qarnuah Turks, Ishwari Prasad.

3.South India and her Muhammadan invaders; S.K.Aiyangar.

4.The History of the Reddi Kingdoms; Malampalli Somasekhara Sarma.

5. Prof.N.Venkataramanayya’s articles in Vijayanagar history in Itihaas, the journal of Andhra Pradesh State Archives,vol II,no.2,1975, Prolegomena to the Study of Vijayanagar.

6. Social and Political Life in the Vijayanagara Empire, B.A.Saletore,Vol I & II

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?

August 22, 2012

Bukkaraya,Part I

This is the first part of a two part series on the Vijayanagar emperor Bukkaraya I.

I have taken the liberty of not quoting references as it tends to become time consuming.But most of them can be found quite easily.The translation of verses from the Madhuravijayam is from an original translation being done by my parents, which I plan to being out sometime this year.If you are interested in  buying the book as and when it comes out please do send me a message.

Bukkaraya, Part -I

He (Bukkaraya) was the first among all kings , just as Adisesa  is among snakes, Himalaya is amongst the mountains and Lord Vishnu is amongst the gods.” verse 27, First Canto, Madhuravijayam.

Such was the greatness of Bukkaraya that he is compared to Lord Vishnu who delivered the earth from adhrama. Bukkaraya was the  second emperor of the glorious Vijayanagar empire, ruling from 1357-1377 CE .The first ruler of which was his elder brother Harihara I. In popular folklore these two brothers have been immortalised as Hakka-Bukka. There were actually five brothers in all, better known as the Sangama brothers. It was due to his herculean efforts that that the wave of Islamic jihad broke on the banks of the Krishna and a badly wounded Hindu society was nursed back to health.It would be worth adding that without the divine guidance of seers like Vidyaranya and Kriyashakti who guided the Sangama brothers ,the successful fight back would not have been possible.

To see the greatness of Bukkaraya in the correct perspective it is essential to have a little understanding of the challenges faced by him and his achievements in overcoming them.

1.1   Some Years before…

In the early 1300’s the marauding hordes of the Islamic barbarians led by Malik Kafur had penetrated into the Deccan and as far as Tamil Nadu.Soon afterwards in the 1320’s came the wave of the Tughlaq invasions which swamped the southern kingdoms. For a while the fate of the Dharma hung in balance. The Yadavas of Devagiri were wiped out, the Kakatiya’s of Warangal were gone and the Pandyas of Tamil Nadu vanquished as well.The only Hindu kingdom left fighting was that of the Hoysalas led by Veera Ballala III. It seemed certain that the  terrible disaster which had convulsed Northern India after Prithviraj Chauhan’s death in 1192 CE would be repeated in the South.

But things were destined differently. A ferocious fight back began all over South India. By 1336 CE the rollback of the Tughlaq invasions from most of South of India had been accomplished by a confederation of Hindu Kings and commanders. Notable among them were Prolaya Vema who liberated large parts of  Andhra Pradesh, the Chalukya prince Someshwara who ousted the tyrannical muslim governors from parts of Karnataka and the great Hoysala King Veera Ballala III who liberated large parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.In this great war of independence to which only the twenty seven years of ferocious warfare waged by the Maratha people against the Mughals can be compared, there was complete participation of every segment of South Indian society.From a reading of various sources it seems likely that the Sangama brothers were feudatories of  Veera Ballala III. This explains why Veera Ballala had the confidence to attack the murderous sultans of Madurai with the main component of his army in 1342 CE, as the Sangama brothers were securing his northern frontiers against an attack by the Muslim forces from Devagiri. And by 1346 CE the construction of the magnificent capital of the empire later known as Vijayanagar was nearly complete.

2.The Challenges faced by Bukkaraya

2.1. The Bahmani and the Madurai Sultanates

The sultanate of Madurai was established around 1333 CE by Jalal-ud-din Ahsan Shah, the governor of Madurai. His rebellion was amongst the first of a long revolts by governors of Muhammad Tughlaq all over India which eventually led to the disintegration of  Tughlaq empire.

Veera Ballala III was engaged in near constant warfare with this genocidal regime in desperate attempts to destroy it and liberate the deep south. He was over eighty years old at this time met a tragic end in 1342 CE at the hands of  Ghiyas-ud-din Damghan Shah, a successor of Ahsan Shah.. This great defender of Dharma was captured in the decisive battle of Kannur-Koppam  and skinned alive by the blood thirsty Ghiyas-ud-din. His brutal murder was a great setback to the liberation of the deep south, as it was essential to secure the rear before the Muslims from the North launched a fresh offensive.

The region from the south of river Coleroon right till Rameshwaram was in the hands of the Sultanate of Madurai. With their capital at Madurai the so called “Sultans” had their paws on the rich trading routes of Asia via the flourishing ports on the Tamil Nadu coastline.The ports were a source of not only trade but also the entry point for Islamic jihadis arriving from West Asia and Africa.The most fertile region of the south was under their control.This allowed to Sultanate to field resources to fend off larger enemies like the Hoysalas. It was upto Bukkaraya I to remove this vicious dagger sticking in the back of the fledgling empire. The terrible atrocities carried out by the Sultans of Madurai were recorded by Gangadevi in her epic poem Madhuravijyam. I am presenting a few verses which give graphic details of the tyranny of these animals.

I am pained by seeing the beautiful groves of Madura where the coconut trees have been  cut down and in their place are to be seen rows of iron spikes hanging with garlands of crores of human skulls.” Verse 8, Eighth Canto, Madhuravijayam.

In Madura the kings courtyards which were very cool by sprinkling the camphor and sandal waters are now polluted by the imprisoned Brahmins tears ,I am distressed seeing that.” Verse 11, Eighth Canto, Madhuravijayam.

Ibn Battuta was also  witness to the blood thirsty nature of these tyrants.He says,

the Hindu prisoners were divided into four sections and taken to each of the four gates of the great catcar. There, on the stakes they had carried, the prisoners were impaled. Afterwards their wives were killed and tied by their hair to these pales. Little children were massacred on the bosoms of their mothers and their corpses left there. Then, the camp was raised, and they started cutting down the trees of another forest. In the same manner did they treat their later Hindu prisoners. This is shameful conduct such as I have not known any other sovereign guilty of. It is for this that God hastened the death of Ghiyath-eddin.”

The Madurai sultanate was not without its allies. The ruler of Kanchipuram was Champaraju,also known as Sambuvaraya by  historians. The region of North and South Arcot districts and parts of Chittor  district were included in his kingdom. He was an ally of the Madurai sultanate and this is hinted to in the Madhuravijyam wherein the Sultan is referred as the tree and Chamapraju as the branches. Thus there was a buffer region which had to be overcome before the Muslims in Madurai could be disposed off.

The Bahmani Sultanate : A new danger had arisen in the Deccan. On 3rd August 1347 at Gulbarga in Karnataka, Hasan Kangu proclaimed himself Sultan Abu’l Muzzafar Ala-ud-din Bahman Shah. The foundation of the Bahamani sultanate with its epicentre at Gulbarga marked the start of a bloody epoch in the history of the Hindus. The Bahmani sultanate was no less genocidal than the Madurai one.Large parts of Maharashtra were depopulated under the “secular” rule of the Bahmanis. The Bahmanis particularly after 1357 CE were engaged in aggressive campaigns of attacking Goa (which was under the Kadamba kings, who were tributaries of Vijayanagar), Telangana and the dominions of Vijayanagar proper around the Krishna river.

Bukkaraya had to  fight against enemies in the front and in the rear. Both the Muslim sultanates coordinated with each other in the attacks against the Vijayanagar empire. In fact one of the sultans of Madurai was a relation of the first Bahmani sultan. As witnessed by Ibn Batutta the Madurai sultans used to conduct regular devastating raids into the Tamil countryside.

2.2  Anarchy in society

The damage to the fabric of society was the most serious havoc wrought by the Islamic invaders. The waves of destructive invasions and the establishment of  Muslim rule in parts of South India had destroyed the traditional ways of living.The large scale sack and destruction of temples by the Islamic fanatics had left a large vacuum in rural and urban society.Hindu society has traditionally been decentralised and village based.In the villages the temples acted as the employer, land holder,bank, hospital, consumer of local goods and services etc. Thus to the muslims what was an easy source of plunder was the life blood to the common man.With the destruction of the temple the anchor which held together communities was effectively broken. The plight of the temples is well illustrated by this verse from the Madhuravijyam.

The state of the temple is such that the spiders are weaving their fine cobwebs, wild elephants rub their heads against the walls and lord Shiva himself is bereft of caretakers.” Verse 3, Eighth Canto, Madhuravijayam.

Added to these there was no security for the common Hindu as the Muslims engaged in wanton raping and killing. The slavery of the Hindus was big business for the Muslim sultanates. Brahmana’s were especially targeted as they were viewed to be the intellectual bastion of resistance against the Muslims (This strategy of targeting them was and is being used by Christian missionaries and other anti national forces).Atrocious taxation measures adopted by the Sultans were designed to fleece every single penny from the Hindus.

2.3 Damage to Infrastructure 

  In the scorched earth  warfare tactics practised by the Muslims the traditional water management systems such as tanks, bunds, canals, dams and bridges were the prime casualities. Not being endowed with any quality other than barbarity they neither had the will nor the expertise to repair the extensive damage caused by them. Agriculture which was  completely dependent on timely rains and in case the rains failed these water management systems were the fall back option. With their destruction droughts inevitably turned into catastrophic famines, as the stores of grains were requisitioned by the Muslim tyrants without any reciprocal relaxation in the taxation.

Compounding the woes of the Hindus was the serious drop  in the monsoon rains. The period from 1300s to 1500’s was the little ice age which was accompanied by serious droughts in India. Large scale famines which carried off lakhs of Hindus were a regular occurrence, one of the more serious ones being the famine of 1337-1344 CE which depopulated large parts of Northern India (which were fortunate to be under Muslim rule). We again turn to the Madhuravijayam for an eye witness view of the Muslims vandalism and the resulting famines.

At present the river Kaveri breaking her traditional course is flowing in wrong directions.It seems that she is imitating the Tulushkas by flowing in all wrong directions.” Verse 6, Eighth Canto, Madhuravijayam.

Unlike earlier times the earth no longer produces wealth, Indra does not give timely rains and the god of Death carries away the survivors left alive after the massacres by the yavanas.” Verse 14, Eighth Canto, Madhuravijayam.

The above verse refers to the plague that was ravaging Madura in the 1340’s.

 

The article is continued in Part II.

October 10, 2010

VIjayanagar – Chapter 5

Vijaynagar

Chapter 5


Fig.1 Major Kingdoms of South India 1320 CE.

 

The map above shows the rough extent of the Delhi Sultanate and the extent of the major South Indian kingdoms.

In Delhi tectonic changes were taking place. In 1320 CE, Khusrau Khan assassinated Sultan Mubarak Khilji and proclaimed himself Sultan Nasir-ud-din. From the venom heaped upon him by Muslim historians like Barni, it is clear that Khusrau Khan   had converted back to Hinduism. Khusrau Khan is an enigmatic character who deserves an article on his own; I will touch very briefly on him.

Assisting Khusrau Khan in reasserting Hindu might in Delhi were fifty thousand Gujarati Hindus who had been enslaved by Ala-ud-din Khilji during his conquest of Gujarat. These are the Parwárís referred to by Muslim historians.

That the occasion of Sultan Nasir-ud-din’s accession to the throne of Delhi was a moment of joy for the despairing Hindus in the North is given by the following passage of Barani, “In those dreadful days the infidel rites of the Hindus were highly exalted, the dignity and the importance of the Parwárís were increased, and through all the territory of Islám the Hindus rejoiced greatly, boasting that Dehlí had once more come under Hindu rule, and that the Musulmáns had been driven away and dispersed”. (Baranī)

But this joy was short lived.Khusrau Khan was defeated in battle by Ghiyath-al-din Tughlaq and excecuted .Devala Devi who had married Khusrau Khan committed suicide by taking poison.

After killing Khusrau, Ghiyath-al-din Tughlaq   took over the reins of the Delhi Sultanate in 1320 CE. Once the Gangetic plains were subdued, he was able to direct his attentions to the south which had shaken off even nominal allegiance to the sultanate. Taking advantage of the chaos in Delhi, Prataparudra had thrown off the Muslim yoke. It is apparent that all the previous Muslim expeditions had not dented Warangal’s power much.

Third Invasion of Warangal

Once the gangetic plains were subdued, Ghiyath-al-din Tughlaq   turned his attention onto Deccan and further down south. Mubarak Khilji had completely wiped out the Yadava ruling family in Devagiri, which was now completely subdued. As mentioned previously Devagiri had become a stronghold of Muslims, who were   encouraged to come and settle.

Keeping in line with the genocidal policies of the sultans, Hindus were pushed to   bare subsistence levels wherever the Muslims gained a strong foothold. A detailed explanation of the economic and social catastrophe that befell Hindu society can be found on Dikgaj’s blog (http://dikgaj.wordpress.com/).

Fig 2   First Tughlaq invasion of Warangal in 1321 CE

 

Ghiyath-al-din Tughlaq   sensed that Warangal would not be easy to subdue. For this purpose a large army was assembled from the Muslim strongholds of Baduan, Oudh, Kara, Dabmu, Bangarmu, Chanderi etc. This sea of Muslim armies marched towards Warangal in 1321 CE led by Ulugh Khan (later on known as Mohammed Tughlaq).

This expedition was clearly with a view of conquering the Kakatiya kingdom, not just looting it. Ulugh Khan was accompanied by a host of other nobles and their retinues. After two months they reached Deogiri, where they were reinforced by other Muslim amirs and the invasion force rolled on towards Warangal.

At this point it needs to be appreciated that this was the third full scale invasion of Warangal in a short time of eleven   years. Muslims could generate and sustain massive armies on the back of relentless exploitation of the Hindus of the north and the looting of existing Hindu kingdoms. The enslavement of Hindu men and women was big business for the Delhi sultans. Northern India (Punjab and Gangetic plains) was stripped bare of resources after being raped for over three centuries by the Muslims.

It was official policy of the Delhi sultans to reduce the Hindus to bare subsistence levels. This is illustrated by a quote by Barani about Ala-ud-din Khiljis policy towards Hindus, “The Hindú was to be so reduced as to be left un­able to keep a horse to ride on, to carry arms, to wear fine clothes, or to enjoy any of the luxuries of life.” (Baranī)

On the other hand the Kakatiya kingdom was hard pressed to generate the same level of military resource without adversely affecting other sections of society i.e. agriculture, trades etc. Despite their obvious resource handicap the hardy Kakatiya warriors put up a fierce fight to the advancing Muslim host.

As on previous occasions Prataparudra along with his nobles took shelter in the formidable Warangal fort. Prataparudra was well prepared to withstand a long siege. In any event the siege dragged on for eight months. Roving bands of Kakatiya warriors disrupted the Muslim postal system and harassed the invaders from the rear.

I will deviate to give a brief description of the Delhi sultanates postal system. It is necessary to get an idea of how the Sultans were able to take rapid   military action on the basis of speedy communications.  Ibn Battuta says the sultans postal service was of two types:

1. Mounted Couriers: The first type was mounted couriers on horses. There were relays every 4 miles.
2.  Runners on foot: – Every third of a mile there was a village outside which three pavilions in which runners sat ready to move off. Each runner had a staff (yard and half long) with bells at the top. When a runner ran he had the message in the fingers of the free hand and the rod in the other. The bells alerted the men sitting in the next village of the runners approach and someone in the next pavilion took over the message. As per Ibn Battuta this was faster than mounted couriers. Fruits and criminals were also transported in this way to the sultan. This seems to have been only used for the sultan’s personal needs/military communications/government communications.

While the siege of Warangal was in progress, dissensions and intrigues broke out in the Muslim camp. Distrustful of Ulugh Khans motives, a group of rebels led by Tighin and Timur conducted secret negotiations with Prataparudra. As per their pact with Prataparudra, the rebels would abandon the camp and lift the siege of Warangal, provided Prataparudra allowed them to leave unmolested through his territory. Once assured of their safety the rebel faction rolled up their camp, destroyed the wooden stockades and left Ulugh Khan to face the wrath of the Kakatiya forces.

As soon as Prataparudra was sure that the rebels had left the Muslim camp for good, a ferocious sally issued forth from Warangal fort. This caused great slaughter in Ulugh Khans camp. Ulugh Khan had to depart in haste, all the while being pursued by the avenging Hindus.

Thus ended the fifth invasion of Warangal in total ignominy for the “ever victorious” armies of Islam.

Final invasion of Warangal: End of the Kakatiya Kingdom


When the news of the ignominious defeat reached Delhi, Ghiyath-al-din Tughlaq made sure that the rebels   who were responsible for the debacle were executed in the most painful way possible.Barani says, “The Sultán held a public darbár in the plain of Sírí, when ‘Ubaid, the poet, and Káfúr, the seal-keeper, and other rebels, were impaled alive;* some of the others, with their wives and children, were thrown under the feet of elephants.”  (Baranī)

Fig 3   First Tughlaq invasion of Warangal in 1322 CE

 

Within six months a more formidable invasion force was raised and Ulugh Khan swept into the Deccan. This time Prataparudra was taken unawares and was completely unprepared for the attack!

It is difficult to explain this failure in the light of the fact that on every previous occasion he had been well prepared to meet the Muslim attack. The   Kakatiya soldiers had been sent back to their villages and the granaries emptied, even Warangal fort was not properly provisioned. This can be only described in that oft repeated phrase of modern India as an “intelligence failure”!!

The Muslim force stormed Badrakot (Bidar) and besieged Warangal. The siege went on for five long months, but the breaking point for the brave Hindus came due to lack of food within the fort. Prataparudra surrendered on condition of amnesty.

While being taken as a prisoner to Delhi, Prataparudra committed suicide. Rather death than a life of dishonour!! This is a message strangely lost on modern   India wherein “compromise” and “adjustment” are the buzz phrases of the secular mob.

Thus fell the great Kakatiya kingdom which was a focal point of Hindu resistance against Islamic imperialism for nearly a quarter of a century. Ulugh Khan promptly renamed Warangal as Sultanpur. A typical act of Islamic vandalism wherein anything created by other cultures is appropriated as their own!!  Ishwa from India forum has written a nice series of articles analysing Islamic vandalism (http://www.india-forum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/2468-scheme-of-muslim-rule-in-india/page__pid__108412__st__0&#entry108412). Myths like the golden age of Islamic science etc which are being bandied about these days are a pretty good example of   gross distortion of history.

Resistance in Andhra

Although Prataparudra’s death brought the curtains down on the Kakatiya kingdom it did not extinguish Hindu resistance. In south western Andhra, Jagatapi Gangayadeva resisted the Muslims from his capital at Gutti. But in due course he was forced to submit to Ulugh Khan.

Fighting continued in the coastal Andhra region. Ulugh Khan established his authority and extracted tribute from the Hindu populace with the help of Muslim governors and the usual Hindu collaborators. Ulugh Khan also retained the key decision makers of the old Kakatiya kingdom to help govern the newly captured province. What limited freedom of movement the old Hindu officials had, would be closely watched by strong Muslim garrisons posted in key cities.

After the fall of Andhra, Ulugh Khan captured Madurai. In 1323 CE,  Parakaramdeva the Pandya king of Madurai was defeated and his family taken prisoner. A strong Muslim garrison was posted at Madurai   and the administration passed into the hands of Muslim amirs.

Change at Delhi

In 1325 CE, Sultan Ghiyath-al-din Tughlaq   was killed when a wooden structure erected to welcome him from his Bengal expedition collapsed on his head. The hand of Ulugh Khan in his father’s death has been strongly suspected by historians. With this Ulugh Khan ascended the throne of Delhi and proclaimed himself Sultan Mohammed Tughlaq.

Fig 4   South India in   1325 CE

 

At the time of Mohammed Tughlaqs ascension to the throne of Delhi   the major Hindu kingdoms still in existence were (see map above):

North: Rajputana (   I am clubbing all the existing Rajput states together, as I have not read enough of the situation in the North to give a clear picture)

South: Kampili (Karnataka), Dvarasamudram (major portion of Karnataka, parts of Andhra & parts of Tamil Nadu), Kandhyana (present day Pune region, not shown on map), Calicut.

East: Jajnagar (Orissa), Kamarupa (Assam, not shown on map).

The map above gives a rough idea of the size and location of the remaining Hindu kingdoms in the south of  India. I make no claims to the accuracy of the map; hence take it as a rough guide.

Mohammed Tughlaqs behaviour towards the Hindus was no less cruel and atrocious than the other Muslim sultans. Then why is so much opprobrium heaped on him? The Muslim historian Barani statement clearly illustrates the reason for his infamy:

“The punishment of Musulmáns, and the execution of true believers, with him became a practice and a passion. Numbers of doctors, and elders, and saiyids, and súfís, and kalandars, and clerks, and soldiers, received punishment by his order. Not a day or week passed without the spilling of much Musulmán blood, and the running of streams of gore before the entrance of his palace” (Baranī)

Its one thing if kafir Hindus are cut down like animals, but a different thing if a “true believer” i.e. a Muslim is killed!!

In recent times the secular lobby has tried to rehabilitate Mohammed Tughlaq by portraying him as a misunderstood visionary who was ahead of his time!  The same “eminent historians” are responsible for this reprehensible whitewash. On a side note many of these pseudo historians testified from the Muslim side in the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi court case which was decided recently upon by Allahabad High court. The way the Honourable judges tore apart their lies can be found in the extracts of the judgement posted in this thread in Bharat Rakshak (http://forums.bharat-rakshak.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5697).

What the secular historians neglect to mention is gems like these: “At this time the country of the Doáb was brought to ruin by the heavy taxation and the numerous cesses. The Hindus burnt their corn stacks and turned their cattle out to roam at large. Under the orders of the Sultán, the collectors and magistrates laid waste the country, and they killed some landholders and village chiefs and blinded others. Such of these unhappy inhabitants as escaped formed themselves into bands and took refuge in the jungles. So the country was ruined. The Sultán then proceeded on a hunting excursion to Baran, where, under his directions, the whole of that country was plundered and laid waste, and the heads of the Hindus were brought in and hung upon the ramparts of the fort of Baran. (Baranī)

In the above poassage, Barani is talking about the atrocious taxes levied by Mohammed Tughlaq and their effect on the Hindus of Uttar Pradesh.

So the “enlightened” Sultan first taxes Hindus till they have virtually no incentive to till their fields (It must be kept in mind that even in this day, land is everything to the Indian farmer.He will only abandon it in the most extreme circumstances: either when it does not provide  even subsistence level food or under  extreme force by external factors).Next when the Hindus flee inhuman persecution,the Sultan promptly organizes “shikaars” and hunts them down like wild animals!!

The Kampili wars

Kampili was a small but powerful kingdom founded by Mummadi Singeya from the fragments of the disintegrating Devagiri kingdom. Kampilideva succeeded Mummadi Singeya in 1313 CE. Please see the map for a rough idea of the kingdom of Kampili. It was tiny compared to the Delhi sultanate, but it punched well above its weight. It took three well equipped invasions before Kampili   faded into the night.

Kampilideva is one of those unacknowledged heroes   of our history who fought tooth and nail against the Muslim invaders. A staunch defender of dharma, he fought with even those Hindu chiefs who paid tribute to the Delhi sultans. Kampilideva fought many battles with bigger kingdoms such as Dvarasamudram and Warangal.

Mohammed Tughlaq decided to put an end to Kampili before it became the focal point of resurgent Hindu power in the Deccan. An ideal pretext for invasion was found in Baha-ud-din Garhasp’s rebellion. Baha-ud-din was a cousin of Mohammed Tughlaq and had been made governor of the Sagar town (Karnataka)   by Ghiyath-al-din Tughlaq .A brave warrior; he had fought with distinction against the Mongols in 1324 CE.

Baha-ud-din was disaffected with his treatment by Mohammed Tughlaq and rebelled in order to carve a separate kingdom for himself. All this while, he had been careful to cultivate excellent relations with Kampilideva. In 1327 CE, a pitched battle between the Delhi sultanates army and Baha-ud-din took place on the banks of the Godavari River in Karnataka. Garhasp was defeated and fled with his family to Kampilideva for protection.

Like on previous occasions in our history, the flight of a fugitive to the protection of a Hindu state was enough excuse for the Muslim sultans to attack the Hindu kingdoms. In Kampili’s case the excuse came in the form of Baha-ud-din Garhasp.

The outstanding moral character of Kampilideva is clearly demonstrated in the assurance of safety which he gave to Garhasp, “Now so long  as the pulse moves in my body, I won’t take in a breath except in friendship to you. I swear by the sun, the sacred thread (I wear) and the idols (I worship) that you shall find me faithful. If all (the people of the world) were to join together to take your life, they cannot cause you as much injury as a grain of barley.”

I have taken the descriptions of the three invasions straight from N Venkataramanayya’s book. Apologies if it sounds ad verbatim, as for most part it is.

First Invasion of Kampili

The first invasion of Kampili took place shortly after Garhasp’s rebellion in 1327 CE. Malik Zada aided by Malik Rukn- ud- din crossed the Krishna and mounted an attack on Kummata, which was the chief fortress of Kampilideva. At this time, Kampilideva was in his capital Hosdurg (Anegondi). Kampilideva sent a strong force headed by his minister Baicappa, his sons Ramanatha and Katanna, and Garhasp to reinforce Kummata.

On arrival Rukn- ud- din pitched his tents around the fort. Katanna conducted a surprise sally from the fort on the first day of the siege, inflicting heavy losses on the Muslims and capturing two thousand horses in the process. The next day the Muslims tried to storm the fort but were decisively beaten back by Ramanatha and Katanna. The Muslim army was completely routed and Rukn-ud- din forced to retreat back to Devagiri.

Thus ended the first invasion of Kampili; a complete failure for the world conquering armies of Islam.

Second invasion of Kampili

Incensed by the failure of the “mighty” armies of Islam to subdue the small kingdom of Kampili, Mohammed Tughlaq   promptly despatched another well equipped invasion force under Malik Qutb-ul-Mulk. The Muslims moved as before   to attack Kummata.

Kampilideva was well prepared to meet the second invasion as well. Both the forts of Kummata and Hosdurg were strengthened. This time Kampilideva himself led the defence of Kummata against the Muslims.

On the night of first day of the siege a surprise night attack by a band of Kampili warriors threw the Muslim camp into confusion. On the second day Qutb-ul-Mulk attacked   the fort with all his forces from three sides. They managed to take the outer wall, but were pushed out by the vigorous defenders led by Kampilideva.

On the third day of the siege Kampilideva arranged his troops in battle order outside the fort gates. Facing him was the Muslim army with their Turkish horse archers in the centre, cavalry to the right and elephants to the left. Ramanatha attacked the Turkish centre first throwing them into disarray. As they desperately tried to flee from the attack, they caused confusion in the cavalry and elephants stationed on their sides. Ramanatha charged the Muslim forces cutting most of them down and killing their top commanders. Qutb-ul-Mulk saved himself by escaping from the battlefield.

Final Invasion of Kampili

Within a short time Mohammed Tughlaq despatched an even larger force under his minister Malik Zada. There seems to have been a drought during this time in Kampili, as the Portuguese historian Nunes says that the Muslims had to wait for the rainy season before they could proceed further. This would perhaps explain why the two strong forts: Kummata and Hosdurg ran out of provisions relatively quickly.

The Muslims laid siege to Kummata first. Although Kampilideva and Garhasp sallied forth and assaulted the Muslims, they were defeated and forced to pull back inside the fort. Conditions inside Kummata got dire as the Hindus began to run out of provisions.

The Muslims stormed the fort in an all out assault forcing Kampilideva to abandon Kummata and seek shelter in his capital Hosdurg. Kampilideva relocated the fifty thousand citizens of Hosdurg to other places in Kampila, only keeping five thousand soldiers for the defence of Hosdurg.

Hot on Kampilideva’s trail, Malik Zada laid siege to Hosdurg. After one month the situation inside the fort got dire. The situation got even more precarious when the Muslims   stormed their way into the fort.

Kampilideva realised all was lost, but this great man first made sure his friend Garhasp escaped with his family to the Hoysala kingdom of Dvarasamudra, which was ruled by Veera Ballala III. Garhasp escaped with his family to Dvarasamudra.(Garhasp seems to have been quite an accomplished warrior, as he is described  tying three-four horses together, putting his family on them and riding out of  Kummata, only turning back to cut down his pursuers).

I am quoting this passage written by Ibn Battuta about the last hours of this great sovereign. It is extremely stirring to read, Then he (Kampilideva) commanded a great fire to be prepared and lighted. Then he burned his furniture, and said to his wives and daughters, “I am going to die, and such of you as prefer it, do the same.” Then it was seen that each one of these women washed herself, rubbed her body with sandal-wood, kissed the ground before the ráí(Raya) of Kambíla (Kampila), and threw herself upon the pile. All perished. The wives of his nobles, ministers, and chief men imitated them, and other women also did the same.

The ráí, in his turn, washed, rubbed himself with sandal, and took his arms, but did not put on his breastplate. Those of his men who resolved to die with him followed his example. They sallied forth to meet the troops of the Sultán, and fought till every one of them fell dead.” (Batuta).

As can be seen from the above passage the ladies of Kampila performed “jauhar” to save their honour. Ibn Batuta heard about this incident from a trusted source, but he was an   eye witness to another incident wherein the Hindu ladies burnt themselves on their husband’s pyre. Ibn Batuta clearly describes their fearlessness and devotion to their husbands in the face of the raging flames.

Kampilideva fought extremely bravely in battle before falling dead of his many wounds. Malik Zada had his head stuffed   and sent to Mohammed Tughlaq as a gift. The Muslims conducted a general massacre of the remaining residents of Hosdurg. Those who survived like the eleven sons of Kampilideva; were converted to Islam.

Thus was the end of the kingdom of Kampili, but the lowest ebb for the Southern Hindus was yet to come.

What of Baha-ud-din Garhasp? Veera Ballala III was unwilling to take the risk of inviting a full scale Muslim invasion by sheltering a fugitive. He promptly handed over Garhasp to Malik Zada.

As is illustrated by this passage Garhasp met a terrible end, He (Mohammed Tughlaq) ordered the prisoner (Garhasp) to be taken to the women, his relations, and these insulted him and spat upon him. Then he ordered him to be skinned alive, and as his skin was torn off, his flesh was cooked with rice. Some was sent to his children and his wife, and the re­mainder was put into a great dish and given to the elephants to eat, but they would not touch it. The Sultán ordered his skin to be stuffed with straw, and to be placed along with the remains of Bahádur Búra,* and to be exhibited throughout the country”. (Batuta)

References:

i.                    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/

ii.                  Ibn Battuta, Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354; HAR Gibb; George Routledge & Sons, 1929.

Works Cited

Baranī, Ż. a.-D. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2010, from http://persian.packhum.org/persian/main

Batuta, I. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2010, from http://persian.packhum.org/persian/main

Map References:

1.       Schwartzberg, Joseph E. A Historical Atlas of South Asia ,http://dsal.uchicago.edu/reference/schwartzberg/

2.      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/

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.

May 19, 2010

Some Books on Vijayanagar and Muslim Invasions of South India

I downloaded these books from the Delhi University DSPACE website.These cover the history of Vijayanagar,muslim invasions of South India etc.I will add more books to the list from time to time.

1.South India and her Mohammedan Invaders: written by KAN Sastri who was a pioneering historian of South India.
South India & Her Mohammedan Invaders

2. Early Muslim expansion in South India :

Early Muslim Expansion in South India

3.  Sources of Vijayanagar History

Sources of Vijayanagar history

4.Vijayanagar Sexcentenary Commeration Volume

Vijayanagara Sexcentenary Commemoration Volume

5. Studies in the Third Dynasty of Vijayanagara

Studies in Third Dynasty of Vijayanagara

6. Mediveal Jainism With Reference to Vijayanagara History

Mediveal Jainism-With Ref to Vijaynagara Empire

7. Social and Political Life Vijayanagara Empire Vol I ( AD 1346-AD 1646)

Social and political life in the Vijayanagara Empire Vol 1

8. Social and Political life in Vijayanagara Empire Vol II ( AD 1346-AD 1646)

Social and Political Life in Vijayanagara Empire

May 15, 2010

Vijayanagar – Chapter 3

I have created rough graphics of Malik Kafurs invasion routes using in S Krishnaswami Iyengar’s description and with the help of Google Earth .I have modified Vijaynagar Chapter 2 to show the map for Kafurs invasion of Deogiri and Wrangal.

Vijayanagar –Empire of the Gods

Chapter 3

After   extracting tributes from two of the most powerful Hindu Kingdoms in India at that time, Ala-ud-dins gaze was naturally turned on the rich Hoysala kingdom in Karnataka and Pandya kingdom in Tamil Nadu.

The Hoysalas

The Hoysala kingdom was extensive and covered almost all of modern Karnataka and parts of western Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. It was a rich and flourishing kingdom with revenues from sea trade, teak   etc. The Hoysala kings were known for their patronage of Kannada literature and fine architecture. Many temples from the Hoysala period still survive to this day and are outstanding examples with superb detail and exquisite craftsmanship.

The capital of the Hoysala’s was Dvarasamudram (modern day Halebid in Karnataka), a well fortified city. Veera Ballala III (ruled from 1291-1343 CE) was the ruler at the time of Kafurs raid on South India. He was a person with exceptional foresight, courage and   one of the mighty defenders of Hindu Dharma in troubled times of the fourteenth century. Even at the age of   eighty years this great king was still fighting against the Muslims, when he was treacherously murdered in 1343 CE by Sultan   Ghiyas-ud-Din Muhammad Damghani of Madurai.

The Pandyas

The Pandya kingdom was extremely rich and powerful, commanding the vital sea routes. It stretched from Quilon in Kerala to Nellore in Tamil Nadu. The capital of the Pandyan kingdom was Madurai and its second great city was Vira Dhavalapattanam (known to the Muslims as Bir Dhul).As it stood astride the major sea trading routes, it had a flourishing network of ports and a large fleet of ships.

The Pandya kings used to maintain a large cavalry force, sustained by constant imports from abroad. It must be pointed out here that India is not ideal horse country, the weather and climatic conditions render horses susceptible to a host of diseases and early death. Except for the hardy indigenous breeds of horses, foreign breeds had a very short life. This was why maintaining a large cavalry force was a luxury for most kingdoms .They needed to be constantly replenished and were a drain on resources. A good cavalryman in that age was worth his weight in gold. The Muslims in contrast had access to large cavalry forces straight from Central Asia.

The Pandyas also possessed a force of nearly thousand elephants, a large army with a contingent of Arab fighters as well. Elephants played a role on the battlefield much like battle tanks do today i.e.  steamroll   the opposition. War elephants   worked fine until they ran amok and turned on their own side.

The king ruling over this porsperous domain  just prior to the muslim invasion was Kulashekhara Pandya.He was an extremely capable and ambitious ruler. He defeated the Kakatiya’s and laid siege to the Hoysala capital of Dvarasamudram twice. Ceylon and other islands were subject to his power. After he was foully assassinated by his son Sundara Pandya, the Pandya kingdom fell on hard times.

A fratricidal war erupted between Sundara Pandya and his   younger brother Vira Pandya. Vira Pandya had been nominated by Kulashekhara as his successor. This was the reason why   Sundara Pandya killed his father and usurped the throne.

In a see-saw of battles the fortunes of Vira and Sundara Pandya rose and ebbed in turn. Thus on the eve of Kafurs attack the entire Pandya kingdom was in a state of chaos.

Attack on Dvarasamudram

Fig 1. Kafurs invasion route to Dvarasamudram and Madurai

In the map above I have charted out a rough route for Kafur’s attack on Dvarasamudram and Madurai based on the description given in in S Krishnaswami Iyengar’s book.

Malik Kafur reached Deogiri on 3rd February 1311 CE.As usual Rama Deva provided all the materials needed to help to the invaders.Rama Deva deputed one of his commander in chief Parshuram Dalavi to guide Kafur onto the right route for Dvarasamudram. Parshuram’s domains bordered Veera Ballala’s kingdom. Rama Deva had his own axe to grind against Veera Ballala III, as Veera Ballala had made repeated attacks on the Deogiri kingdom to seize territory.

Thus suitably provisioned, Kafurs force started from Deogiri on 7th February 1311 CE and reached a place called Bandir (as per S K Aiyangar this is Pandharpur in Maharashtra) on   22nd February 1311 CE. This was at the border of   Deogiri and the Hoysala kingdoms.

Like all good practitioners of warfare, Kafur had an intelligence wing in his army. Before penetrating into the Hoysala kingdom, Kafur despatched four officers(Bahram Karra, Qatlah Nehang, Mahmud Sartiha and Abaji Mughal), each accompanied by an interpreter to gather information about the enemy. The interpreters were fluent in the local language; I assume this was ancient Kannada.

Meanwhile Veera Ballala had decided to take advantage of the chaos in the Pandya kingdom and   was leading his army to try and take back territory lost by the Hoysala’s to Kulashekhara Pandya. As soon as Kafurs scouts reported this news, Kafur decided to head straight for   the capital Dvarasamudram.

Veera Ballala on his part learned of the Muslims at his rear and returned with great haste to Dvarasamudram.

En route one of Veera Ballala’s   Nayakas   attacked Kafurs   army, but was killed on the battlefield.

Following his tried and tested strategy of launching   surprise attacks straight on enemy capitals, Kafur reached Dvarasamudram on 25th February 1311 CE. In a short span of twelve days he had force marched his army straight to the gates of Dvarasamudram.

As per accounts initially Veera Ballala wanted to go into battle with Kafur. The Pandya king Vira Pandya had already despatched a force to help Veera Ballala. He however changed his mind on seeing the destructive capacity of Kafurs army. Before making up his mind he sent his advisor Kesava Mal to ascertain the strength of the enemy. Learning of the formidable strength of the enemy   Ballala decided to sue for terms. Veera Ballala was prepared to lose his treasure in order to safeguard his people and kingdom. He sent Ballapa Deva Nayaka who was known for his negotiation skills to Kafurs camp. Kafur made the same demands as before and extracted a heavy price from Veera Ballala.

There were two additional stipulations to the terms of surrender; one was that Veera Ballala’s son Veera Virupaksha Ballala was to accompany Kafur back to Delhi (possibly as a hostage to prevent Veera Ballala turning against Delhi) and that he should lead the Muslim army to Madurai.  With no way out of the quandary he was in Veera Ballala agreed to these terms.

Onward to Madurai

Guided by Veera Ballala, Kafur’s army reached the border with the Pandya kingdom on 15th March 1311 CE. The Pandyan princes mounted guerrilla warfare against the invaders almost as soon as they entered their territory.

Showing tactical ingenuity the Pandyas refused to fight set piece battles where Kafurs armoured cavalry would have an advantage. Instead they kept eluding Kafurs forces.

Kafur moved towards Veera Dhavalapattam, conducting savage massacres of defenceless Hindus along the way. Vira Pandya was in Veera Dhavalapattanam and he sent out a mixed force of Hindu and Muslim cavalry. A ferocious battle raged between the combatants from afternoon till sunset. In the might taking advantage of the lull in fighting Vira Pandya escaped with his family and treasure.

Furious at losing Vira Pandya, Kafur pursued him from place to place without any success. In the meanwhile rains had started and Kafur was obliged to stop as his army was in no position to fight.

As soon a Kafur made camp, Pandyan cavalry launched a fierce attack in the rain and were only repulsed after a terrible battle. Realising that making camp in the rains would make him a sitting target Kafur resumed Vira Pandyas pursuit.

With the entire landscape flooded by torrential rains, it was left to Veera Ballala to safely guide the Muslims across the waters. In the course of his pursuit Kafur came upon hundred and twenty elephants laden with Vira Pandyas treasure which he promptly appropriated.

After sacking the town of Kandur, Kafur’s forces fell upon the town of Marhatpuri in the night where every civilian was killed. In Marhatpuri the Brahmana’s and other courageous civilians had decided to defend the temples to their last breath and were killed to a man fighting Kafur’s forces. The temples in every case were razed to the ground.

Reaching Veera Dhavalapattanam on 1st April 1311 CE, Kafur destroyed the temples; even going to the extent of digging up their foundations to make sure no traces remained of them.

Kafur   reached Madurai on 10th April 1311 CE, but was unable to plunder it .Madurai was the seat of power of Sundara Pandya and was very well defended. Sundara Pandya had already fled Madurai.

Just when it seemed all was lost, a hurricane rose up which nearly destroyed Kafur and his band of thugs. Vikrama Pandya who was the younger brother of Kulashekhara Pandya took charge of the army. Vikrama Pandya was   eighty years old and with the help of his veteran Brahmana commander he marshalled the Pandya warriors to destroy the invaders ( to put the significance of this in context, try to imagine geriatrics like Manmohan Singh, Lal Krishna Advani etc taking up arms to defend India, can’t see that happening can you?!).

By now Kafur had overstretched himself and had penetrated too deep into the Pandya territory. Gathering a   vast force Vikrama Pandya attacked Kafur (I’m not sure of the location).The Pandyan warriors were incited to terrible fury by the heinous acts committed by Kafur. In the fury of their attack the Muslim cavalry was annihilated and most of Kafurs army destroyed.

Like other Hindu kings Vikrama Pandya fell short of completely annihilating Kafurs army and killing Kafur.

On his part Kafur managed to escape along with the treasure which had been despatched to Delhi. The battered remains of Kafurs army returned to Dvarasamudram and from there made their way to Delhi, reaching Delhi on 30th October 1311 CE.

Kafur took  Veera Virupaksha Ballala to Delhi where Ala-ud-din pleased with the help rendered by Veera Ballala, presented him with ten lakh tankas (silver coins) and sent him back to Dvarasamudram.

Thus Kafurs attack on the Pandya kingdom came to an ignomious end at the hands of the valiant Vikrama Pandya. Veera Ballala’s kingdom was left intact and he would be the last Hindu king left standing when the next wave of conquest started from Delhi.

For Chapter 4 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. The Never to be Forgotten Empire “Vijayanagar”, B Suryanarain Row,1905, http://library.du.ac.in/dspace/handle/1/3601

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/

April 30, 2010

Vijayanagar- The Empire of the Gods

Vijayanagar- The Empire of the Gods


“The city of Bijanagar (Vijayanagar) is such that the pupil of the eye has never seen a place like it, and the ear of intelligence has never been informed that there existed anything to equal it in the world.” –Abdur Razzak, ambassor of Persia to Vijayanagar.
To avoid confusion let me make it clear that Vijayanagar was both the name of the empire and its capital city (present day Hampi, Karnataka).
In the south of India, Vijayanagar is a household name. The name itself evokes civilisational memories of a glorious bygone past, the evidence of which can be still seen in the mute ruins of Hampi in Karnataka.
But in other parts of India, especially the north, awareness of this great Hindu empire, which acted as the last refuge to persecuted Hindus from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, remains woefully low.
There are many reasons for this, the chief one being the complete whitewash of our history by a government which is continually haunted by the spectre of the truth about Muslim rule in India becoming popular knowledge .A false creed of “secularism” has been foisted by the rulers onto a gullible majority. Add to this cocktail a feckless media and an education system which presents our history as a lifeless caricature of itself
What the media and the government fail to realise is that Hindus are not going to go rampaging against the minorities if the real history of Islamic invasions is publicised. The civilisational memory is very strong; attempts to whitewash our history are only going to end in grief. The majority has enough common sense to realise that the present day Indian Muslims are not responsible for the atrocities committed by their forebears.
But what an honest rendering of our history will do is clear the air for a clear dialogue between the two communities without prejudices and predilections’.
As I begin this article, my only request to the reader is: read with an open mind .I will give references as applicable. Feel free to read up and check on them. If I have missed some, please point them out to me. Almost all of the original texts of Muslim chroniclers are available online. I have used the notation “CE” (Christian Era) instead of “AD” (Anno Domini) for denoting the years.
I am a firm believer in our national motto “Satya meva jayate”. The rotting carcass of lies will eventually fall off and truth will break free with the force of a typhoon.
And so we begin….
To understand the significance of Vijayanagar in our history we need to dig a bit deeper into the century and the circumstances in which it was born.

1. A Century before…
It is said that the true eclipse of the Hindu civilisation started with fall of the last Hindu king of Afghanistan, Jayapala Shahi in 1001 CE. If that was beginning of the eclipse, the darkest moment for our holy land was when the Mohemmedan hordes under Ulugh Khan (later known as Mohammed Tughlaq) overran southern India in 1314 CE. This meant that for a very brief period of time the whole of India came under Muslim rule.
By the beginning of the fourteenth century, Northern India (except for Rajputana) had become a lifeless limb, being ravaged for over a century by the genocidal sultans of Delhi. The Delhi sultanate was well entrenched for more than a century by now. The horrors inflicted on the populace were beyond description. To get an idea of the life of the average Hindu under the enlightened sultans one does not need to look very far. To give an example from the Kãmil-ut-Tawãrîkh of Ibn Asir, “The slaughter of Hindus (at Varanasi) was immense; none were spared except women and children, and the carnage of men went on until the earth was weary.” This was to describe the sack of Varanasi, after the last Gahadvad King Jaichandra (better known as Jaichand of Prithviraj Raso infamy) was killed on the battlefield by Qutub-uddin-Aibak in 1194.
Another example from Zia- ud -Din Barni’s “Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi”, “In two nights and three days he crossed the Ganges at Kateher, and sending forward a force of five thousand archers, he gave them orders to burn down Kateher and destroy it, to slay every man, and to spare none but women and children, not even boys who had reached the age of eight or nine years. He re¬mained for some days at Kateher and directed the slaughter. The blood of the rioters ran in streams, heaps of slain were to be seen near every village and jungle, and the stench of the dead reached as far as the Ganges.” This is a graphic description of the massacre of Hindus in the doab by Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din Balban. The date is unclear, but would have been sometime during his reign (1265-1285 CE). Hindus had rebelled against the sultanate and were close to overthrowing the Muslim governors of Badaun and Amroha.
The list of atrocities goes on and on, the incidents described in graphic details by the Muslim chroniclers themselves. The horrific accounts are written with great pride by these chroniclers, who see the sultans as fulfilling their religious obligations as laid out in the Quran.
Resistance was fierce, but was crushed with overwhelming force and brutality. The common people of India had never experienced such horrors. Mass rapes, murder and mayhem had become the order of the day.
Like I said, don’t take my word for it, read the references which are freely available on the internet.

2. The major Hindu Kingdoms
At this point in time it would be pertinent to see the situation in the rest of India. At the close of the thirteenth century, what is present day Maharashtra was ruled by the Yadava kings of Deogiri (present day Daulatabad), Rajputana by various Rajput kings, the Telangana region ruled by the Kakatiya kings, Andhra by the Hoysala kings, present day Tamil nadu by the Pandyas, Assam by the Ahom kings and Kashmir by its last Hindu ruler Suhadeva. Bengal had fallen to the Bakhtiar Khilji at the beginning of the thirteenth century in 1206 CE and Gujarat to Alauddin Khiljis hordes in 1297 CE.
3. While Elsewhere

Fig 1 The extent of the Mongol empire (image courtesy Wikipedia)
On the world stage, the descendents of Chengiz Khan were tearing a blaze of destruction across the Muslim world (which included central Asia, Afghanistan, Persia, Iraq, today’s Middle East),China, southeast Asia, carrying on right till Europe. This led to an influx of dispossessed Muslim princes and soldiers into the Delhi sultanate .And of course each one of them would be eager to go on a jihad against the unbelieving Hindus!!
The sultanate meanwhile was still consolidating its grip on the gangetic plains and simultaneously defending its northern frontier (Punjab) against the Mongols.

4. The First Incursions into the South

Fig 2.Deogiri Fort (Daulatabad) (image courtesy Wikipedia)
The first successful incursion into the south was via Deogiri (present day Aurangabad, Maharashtra). Ala-ud-din Khilji, the wily nephew of Sultan Jalal-u-ddin laid siege to Deogiri in 1294.At this precise moment most of Deogiri’s forces were fighting with the Hoysala kings further down south. Rama Raya, the king of Deogiri was forced to submit after the reinforcements led by his son Shankar Deo were beaten back by the Turks. Alauddin extracted a tremendous price from Deogiri, virtually denuding it of all riches. As per Ferishta the booty included, “ 600 maunds of gold, seven maunds of pearls, two maunds of other jewels, thousand maunds of silver, and a yearly tribute of the revenues of Elichpur province”. A maund is roughly anywhere between 18-59 kgs. So we can easily imagine what the size of the treasure was!!
Backed by this treasure, Ala-uddin subsequently murdered his uncle the Sultan, in cold blood and took over the throne of Delhi. Murderous wars of succession and assassinations have always been an integral part of any Muslim sultanate anywhere in the world. With the aid of the looted treasure, a massive standing army of 4, 75,000 ( four lakhs and seventy five thousand) was maintained and the frontiers secured against the Mongol threat .Successive Mongol incursions were repelled, in fact the cunning Alauddin got rid of his powerful rival Zafar Khan in one of the Mongol raids. The Mongol incursions more or less stopped after 1308 CE, the Mongols now being fully immersed in their own disputes.
As the Mongol threat receded it was but natural for the avaricious sultan to turn his gaze back to the kingdoms beyond the Vindhyas.

5. Interregnum…
Before we move on I will expound a bit on the nature of the sultanate and why it scored quick successes under able sultans like Alaudddin and Mohammed Tughlaq.
Shri Sita Ram Goel has given an excellent account of the main reasons in his book “The story of Islamic Imperialism in India” (available for free reading from http://voiceofdharma.org/books). I will very briefly touch on them here.
Spiritual & Intellectual Decline: The foremost reasons were the spiritual and intellectual decline of society. India had been exposed to Islamic invasions since the establishment of Islam in the seventh century. The first phase of invasion was of the Arabs (starting around 650 AD) which lasted for nearly three hundred years, till about the tenth century and was a dismal failure. Thus five hundred years had passed since the first clash with the armies of Islam and the time Muḥammad Ibn Sām (Mohammed Ghori) broke through into India proper. The pattern of Islamic atrocities was always the same as in later ages; people were aware of what they were facing.
Despite this, in the span of five centuries, why was no effort made to understand the ideology which motivated the invaders? Why did no religious leader declare that dharma itself was in danger and that the invaders had to be completely and utterly destroyed? Why were the defeated Muslim armies not pursued to their homelands and annihilated?
Despite knowing the nefarious tactics employed by the invaders, why did we consistently stick to myopic codes of honour, which in the end brought centuries of dishonour and tremendous suffering to our people?
Due to a refusal to see the true nature of the invader there was no strategic focus with Hindu rulers, bar a few notable exceptions. On the other hand irrespective of which person became Sultan , the overriding goal remained the same i.e. conquest and conversion.
The situation is not very different today, where any attempt to probe the true nature of the Islamic threat is dismissed as “communal”. An entire race seems to be in denial about the danger it faces.
Structure of Society: Hindu society had traditionally different classes such as, scholars (Brahmins), traders; kshatriyas (warriors).The movement of classes within the society was fluid as has been pointed out by Sita Ram Goel. This division of labour is characteristic of all modern societies, where different segments of society tackle different tasks.
Muslim society in India by contrast was fully militarised. The entire focus was on maintaining strength of arms, this being the only way they could subjugate a hostile majority (i.e. Hindus). This was remarkably similar to the Mongols who were a fully militarised society as well. In contrast the Muslim empires like Khwarazim, who fell like nine pins in front of the Mongol onslaught, were what could be called as normal societies in terms of the way their social structure.
The chief difference of course lay in the fact that the Mongols were shamanistic and by very nature accommodating of other faiths. Whereas the “secular” Sultans did not even accord Hindus the status of human beings!!
And the only way to sustain a militarised society was a constant inflow of looted treasure and slaves from their wars with the Hindus. Enslavement of Hindus was big business; the markets of central Asia were flooded with Hindus sold into slavery. The fate of Hindu women was even more terrible. They were treated like chattel and sold in market places into sexual slavery .It is not surprising not a few times Hindu women preferred to be consumed by the flames and commit jauhar, rather than put their honour at the tender mercies of the invader.
There was a very good reason why a total extermination of Hindus was not carried out even under fanatics like Alauddin. The sultans realised early on they needed the farmers, the traders and administrators to carry on his wars of conquest. This was a temporary arrangement till the number of Muslims reached a critical mass. But the ulema (Muslim theologians, more commonly known as “scholars of Islam”!) had to be kept happy, so Hindus were routinely massacred to “cleanse the land of idolaters”. The concentration of Muslims was still in the urban areas, e.g. Delhi had become more or less a Muslim city by the beginning of the thirteenth century, but the rural areas remained overwhelmingly Hindu.

Structure of Armies: Another contrast, as pointed out by Sita Ram Goel was the way in which the armies were maintained . In Hindu kingdoms, the main fighting core under the king was comparatively small but dedicated group of Kshatriyas .A liberal tax regime meant that more focus was on general economic and social progress rather than on maintaining a vast standing army. Rest of the recruits were levies provided by local feudatories or chiefs. This meant that the quality of the army could vary significantly. And once the king was killed on the battlefield or the main core of warriors smashed, the rest of the army would flee the battlefield. Throughout their wars the Muslim chiefs almost always focussed on killing the opposing king or key commanders. This invariably led to even the most well equipped Hindu armies to flee the battlefield. This trend was not reversed till Chattrapati Shivajis time, who taught his followers to fight for Dharma rather than the king.
The Muslim armies on the other hand were fully professional, mostly directly under the command of the sultan .Even the nobles or the amirs under the Khiljis and the Tuglaq’s remained fearful of their power being taken away, or in the worst case ending up dead; if they disobeyed the sultan . Even if the sultanates armies were defeated once, a vast reserve meant the Sultans could send a steady stream of invading armies at very short time intervals. On the other hand the Hindu kingdoms resources would have been depleted in the previous wars and the same exhausted army would be facing a much fresher invigorated enemy. Additionally, the scorched earth tactics pursued by the Muslims in ravaging the countryside and killing people in droves, shook the fabric of society and took their toll on the defenders.

Deception & Betrayal: Muslims used every trick of statecraft, deception and stratagem against the Hindu kings. No treaty was worth the paper it was written on. And they had scriptural justification for these acts, for Taqiyya (deception) with unbelievers is sanctioned by the Quran itself . Assurances of safety to surrendering Hindus were repeatedly violated. E.g. The last Yadava ruler of Deogiri, Haripala Dev; was skinned alive and his corpse hung from the gates of Daulatabad fort in 1318 CE. This was in clear violation of the assurances of safe passage given by Mubarak (the successor of Ala-ud-din Khilji) in 1318 CE .

Taxation: Under Hindu kings the taxes on the people were kept at a low level. In contrast under the sultanate, the common people were taxed to death; their blood being sucked dry by a parasitical sultanate .Non payment of taxes meant being sold into slavery and subsequent conversion to Islam. Revolts were common and as seen in the previous passages, very brutally put down. The most ignominious was of course the Jaziya, the tax on non Muslims.
The existence of Hindus who lived within the frontiers of the sultanate was pathetic, their existence that of a Zimmi or a second class citizen. On the borders people were subjected to constant raids and pillaging by the Muslim armies.

In the second part, I will touch upon the invasion of Malik Kafur beyond Devagiri into the Kakatiya kingdom till Madurai.

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