The Khaijis and the Tughlaqs in Haryana

The Khaijis and the Tughlaqs:


Administrative reforms


During the reign of Balban’s successor Muizz-ud-din Kaiqubad, a physical and moral wreck, Jalaluddin Firuz Khalji, who had already distinguished himself in the wars against the Mongols, usurped the power and ascended the throne in June, 1 290. Under Balban, Jalaluddin had served as iqtadar of Kaithal and received also the niayabat (deputyship) of Samana and was raised to the position of the governor of Baran under Kaiqubad. While at Kaithal, he rewarded a Mandahar Rajpur although the latter had wounded him on the face in an encounter following the destruction of a Mandahar village. The Mandahar was appointed vak’ldar under Malik Khurram on a salary of 100,000 jitals. During the early years of his reign Jalaluddin led an expedition (via Rewari, Narnaul and Alwar) against the Chauhanas of Ranthambhor who under their famed leader Hamira Deva aimed at territorial expansion in the neighbouring regions specially those parts of Haryana whose inhabitants, the Mewatis, even Balban’s exertions had failed to reduce.'”’ The expedition, although failed in its main objective to capture Ranthambhor, succeeded for sometime in bringing the Mewatis into submission.


The Sultan was assassinated by his nephew Ali Gurshasp, who ascended the throne as Ala-ud-din Khalji (1296). Ala-ud-din’s reign witnessed the re-occurrence of the Mongol invasions. Towards the end of 1299 Qutlugh Khwaja with 200 000 soldiers passed through this region on his way to Kili (about 8 kms from Delhi) where an encounter between the Mongols and the imperial forces took place. Although the exact route which the Mongols followed is not recorded but it could be only through Haryana where it was easier to get cattle, grains and fodder for the army.


The Mongols again attacked Indian territories under Targhi (1301-03) Ali Beg and Tartaq (1305-06).“They plundered the ‘Siwaliks whose distressed inhabitants fled across the fords of the Ganges but were pursued and many of their towns were put on fire but in their further advance the Mongols met with stiff resistance led by Malik Nayak, Ala iddin’s Hindu general and the governor of Samana and Sunam/Isami locates the battle at Hansi-Sirsawa whereas according to Barani it was fought in the Araroha district. The Mongols, although in large numbers, were defeated by the more compact and disciplined army of Nayak who arrested two Mongol commanders— AH Beg and Tartaq and presented 20,000 of their horses to the Sultan. Alauddin organised a grand durbar to receive Malik Nayak alongwith his officers and his staff.


Alauddin was a military dictator believing in curbing the rebellions firmly. As according to him ‘prosperity bread sedition and revolt, and poverty were the guarantee of stability and peace’, he ordered his officials to frame such laws by which people could be suppressed and their wealth and property drained. Further, he increased the revenue, reduced the prices of products and imposed several other duties and restrictions on the business community. These measures naturally irritated people whose sharp reaction came to the surface under Alauddin’s weak successors. Although one, of them Qutb ud-din Mubarak Shah (1315-20) dropped many of these harsh measures reduced the revenue, remitted the arrears and lifted the controls yet owing to addiction to drinking and other vices, the Sultm did not last long to see the final implementation of his policy. A palace revolution put Nasiruddin Khusrau Khan on the throne on April 15, 1320.


The political developments at the capital were not approved by Ghazi Malik Tughlaq, the governor of Lahore and Dipalpur who decided to oppcse it. His task was made easy by his son, Fakhruddin Jauna (later wellknown Muhammad Tughlaq), then a high official at the Delhi court. Jauna joined his father’s forces at Dipalpur while Muhammad Sartiah, an officer of Malik Tughlaq, took possession of Sirsa to protect him. ‘‘With these precautionary measures began Malik Tughlaq’s campaign for the capture of the throne of Delhi. He was shrewed enough to accept the assistance of the brave local chiefs of Haryana — the Khokar Gulchandra, Niju and Sahij Rai and the Meos even though he was fighting for the glory of Islam.


A detailed account of the battle of Sarasvati is provided by Baran, Isami and Amir Khusrau.^* The imperial army bypassed the fort of Sirsa which was held by Muhammad Sartiah a faithful officer of Ghazi Malik. The Tughlaq army marched via Alapur and the bank of Bhat. Khusrau refers to the ‘stupid miscalculation’ of Delhi army which wandered aimlessly through wilderness in the night. The soldiers, thirsty and exhausted, found themselves close to the enemy forces next morning, and had no alternative but to face the enemy and fight.


The severe Khokar attack completely shattered the front ranks of Delhi army. Khan-i-Khanan, who had hardly led an army on the battle-field before, decided on flight. Gulchand, the Khokar chief, drove his charger straight at Khan-i-Khanan’s chatra (uQibrella) bearer, slew him and brought the chatra and placed it on Tughlaq’s head. Ghazi Malik thus received his first symbol of royalty from the hands of a Khokar chief.’According to Khusrau, ‘the Delhi army was routed in one attack but as rightly pointed out by K.A. Nizami “he (Khusrau) was unfortunately not in a position to acknowledge frankly (as was done by Isami) that it was the Khokars who won the battle of Sarasvati for Malik Tughlaq and the ‘glory of Islam.


The valient commander Qutlugh Khan was killed in the action while Khan-i- Khanan alongwith Yusuf Khan, Shaista Khan and Qadr Khan fled from the battlefield. As stated by Amir Khusrau, the victorious army captured Hansi and following the route via Madina (a village north of Rohtak), xMandoti and Palam finally encamped at Lahrawat where it again scored a decisive victory over the imperial army.’ Malik Tughlaq sternly maintained order in the newly conquered territory which included larger area of Haryana. We are told that he refused the sum of six lakhs of tanks which his officers had extracted from a caravan of innocent corn- merchants.


Ghazi Malik ascended the throne of Delhi as Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq (1320). He revived Alauddin’s policy of repression especially against those who rose to prominance under Khusrau Khan, a Hindu convert-Muslim. While enunciating his policy he ordered that the peasants should be treated in such a way ‘that wealth did not tempt them to raise the standard of rebellion, nor were they to be made paupers, because in that case they would give up cultivation’. He made serious attempt to regulate revenue affairs with firmness and sympathy. He laid down rules of conduct for the muqtas and governors regarding the realization of land revenue, and took all possible precautions to save the peasant from their high-handedness and oppression. Ghiyasuddin was followed by his son Muhammad bin-Tughlaq who, by his wild schemes added to the miseries of the people. Further, largely increased revenue, crushing burden of the taxes on houses and even branding of cattles must have substantially contributed in generating popular unrest against these oppressive measures. This has been aptly described by Barani.He relates


The Hindus (by this he meant the peasants) burnt their barns and drove their cattle; they formed themselves into groups of ten or twenty and took shelter in jungles near tanks; the majority of people fled away and became untraceable; collectors and accountants returned empty-handed.


The revolt was wide spread. At Kuhram, Sunam, Kaithal, Samana and other places the peasants refused to pay taxes and the villagers had taken to highway robbery. Combining themselves into small groups they even clashed with the administration. The Sultan himself marched against the insurgents and crushed them. Further, to curb the seditious tendencies he appointed only men of his confidence to administer several of which the most important were those of Delhi, Hansi and Sirsa frequently mentioned by contemporary Muslim writers. Ibn-Batuta gives the name of the iqtadar of Hansi as Malik Muajjam Hoshang, a position which was later on held by Ibrahim Kharetadar, who was given additional charge of Sirsa. As the latter became much powerful and even revolved against the imperial authority, he was put to death by the orders of the Sultan. Besides the internal difficulties the Sultan had also to face the Mongol invasion under Tarmashirin. Not only did he repulse the invaders but followed their armies up to Thanesar and from there despatched troops to chase them further up to the Indus. But soon after Muhammad’s death at Thalta in Sindh, people once again took to rioting and plunder.


Ibn-Batuta, the well known Arab traveller, visited this pajt of India during the times of Muhammad Tughlaq. He mentions Sarasuti (Sirsa) and Hansi as chief towns of northern India. The town of Sirsa was famous for its excellent quality of rice which grew in abundance and was in great demand in the Delhi market. Its taxes were high. The town of Hansi was thickly populated, well planned and beautiful with a high boundary wall surrounding it. It was built by an inhdel king Tura (Tomara) about whom various popular stories were current. Among the prominent personages of the town the traveller mentions Qazi Kamaluddin, Kazi uI-Quzat, Qutlugh Khan, the tutor of the Sultan and his brothers Nizamuddin and Samsuddin who went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, Amir Khurd informs us of the Sultan’s close association with Qutbuddin Munawwar of Hansi who along with others made the prediction that the glory of the Tughlaq dynasty would come to a close with the reign of Furuz who would rule like a saint.


During this period Kaithal grew into a centre of activity of noted Saiyyid families. Saiyyid Mugisuddin and his elder brother Mujibuddin Kali Pagadiwale were well known for their spiritual knowledge. Barani’s family was related to the Saiyyids of Kaithal, his father Saiyyid Jalaluddin was considered among the most influential and respected Saiyyids of Kaithal, while his grand-mother, a saintly lady, used to perform miracles. But it must be noted that the Saiyyids of Kaithal did not find favour with the Sultan probably because of the popularity of Sufism, their creed, and also possibly due to the protest of some of them against the repressive measures of the Sultan. According to Tarikh-i-Mubdrak Shdhi and Mmtakhab-ut-TawCirikh many of them were executed by him and their land was conferred upon the Hindu chiefs as jagirs


Firuz Tughlaq, Ghiyasuddin’s nephew, born of a Bhatti Rajput mother (the daughter of Ran Mai of Abohar) was proclaimed the successor to the throne on March 24, 1351 at Thatta. Supported by nobles, Shaiks and Ulema of the court, Firuz started on his return march to Delhi where Khwaja-i-Jahan, the nazir had rebelled. On 23 August, 1351 the naib-wazir Qawamul Mulk, along with Amir-i-Azam Qatbugha who fled from Delhi, joined the Sultan at Agroha, a place near which the city of Fatehabad was constructed later. The new city was so named after Sultan’s son Fateh Khan who was bom on that very day.’ At Sirsa, the grocers and bankers presented him several lakhs of tankas money which was badly needed to meet the expenses of the army but which the Sultan accepted only as a loan to be repaid after his arrival at Delhi. At Hansi he called on the noted mystic, Shaikh Qutb-ud-din Munawwar but at a very wrong hour when the Shaikh was on his way to Friday prayer. The Shaikh reprimanded the Sultan for drinking wine and hunting animals unnecessarily. The dialogue between the two has been thus recorded by Afif in his Tdnkh-i-Fzruz Shdhi


I have heard it said that you are addicted to wine; but if Sultans and the heads of religion give themselves up to wine-bibbing, the want of the poor and needy will get little attention. The Sultan thereupon said that he would drink no more. After this the Shaikh said that he had been informed that the Sultan was passionately fond of hunting; but hunting was a source of great trouble and distress to the world and could not be approved. To kill any animal without necessity was wrong and hunting ought not to be prosecuted farther than was necessary to supply the wants of man — all beyond this was reprehensible.


The Sultan, it must be noted, although showing due reverence to the Shaikh, evaded the question and did not promise to abstain from hunting. Consequently, the Shaikh too did not accept the presentations offered by the Sultan. But the Shaikh gave hearty welcome to his fellow brother Nasiruddin Mahmud (who accompanied Sultan), both disciples of Shaikh Nizamuddin Aulia being ordained the same day. In the memory of their great master, the Shaikh summoned religious gatherings and recital of Holy Scriptures was arranged. Firuz next marched to Dhansa where Khwaja-i-Jahan offered his submission, gave his life and cleared Firuz’s entry to the imperial capital.


Sultan Firuz’s reign was marked by various administrative reforms specially his plan of canal constructions which greatly benefitted agricultural cultivation in Haryana. He conferred the title of Khan-i-Jahan on Malik Maqbul who later became Naib- wazir. His new administrative measures included the appointment of Malik Khatab, the Kotwal of Hansi as the governor of Sirhind and Multan, of Kamaluddin as the Chief of Samana,” Yal Khan, Tajjuddin and Bahadur Nahir as the new iqtadars of Safidon, Rewari and Mewat respectively.


The new iqta of Hisar-Firuzah was created specially because of the help which its people rendered to the Sultan in getting the crown. Afif describes the city as ‘large, populous and flourishing’. Its rampart was surrounded by ditch; and within the ram- part were a royal palace (kushak) and a tank (hauz) (constructed by Firuz) and also the officials residences. Firuz constructed two canals — called Rajiwaha and Ulugh Khani which flowed from Yamuna and Satluj respectively to Hisar-Firuzah, both passing through Karnal.’ Hansi, Agroha, Fatehabad and Sirsa up to Salura and Khizrabad and the adjoining area was then included in the jurisdiction of Hisar-Firuzah which became the shiq (the provincial capital) under Malik Delan as its Shiqdar (provincial governor). Besides these places Jind, Dhatrat, Tughlaqpur (Safidon) were also considerably benefitted by the above canal constructions.


The canal construction was undertaken with a view to meeting the scarcity of water during summer so much so that even foreigners from Iraq and Khorasan were required to pay four jitals for a pot of drinking water. Due to the paucity of rains only the coarse grains of the Kharif season could be grown as the wheat of rabi crop required more water than was available.^* To meet this he therefore ordered for the construction of five other canals : one from Sutlej to Jhajjar; the second, from Sirmur hills to Hansi, Arsan and Hisar-Firuzah (he constructed a large tank near the royal palace and filled it with water from this canal); the third, from Ghaggar via Sarsuti fort to Harni Khera (constructing a fort there which he called Firuzabad); the fourth from Yamuna at Budhai to Hisar-Firuzah and the fifth, joining the waters of Sarasvatl to those of Salima.


The whole canal system was probably based on the principal that construction of main canals was to be the function of the state while minor feeders that carried the waters to the fields, were to be maintained by the state officers. The cultivators had to bear the cost of construction and maintenance of canals. When the canal system was completed and put into working order it yielded to Firuz a personal income amounting to about two lakhs of tankas a year. It also shows the extent to which the system had helped the growth of kharif and Rabi crops. ‘No king of Delhi’, says Afif, ‘had so much personal property as Firoz Shah; ultimately a separate department with its own officers had to be established to take charge of his personal properties’.


Firuz traced two pillars of Asoka — the larger one from a village Nawira in the district of Salura, and the other from Khizrabad (at Topra in district Ambala) at the foot of the hills about 90 kms from Delhi. He did not know what they were, but decided to bring them to Delhi. Afif gives a detailed description how the larger stone pillar which Firuz called the ‘golden pillar’ was brought and installed in Delhi.


For hunting, his favourite past time, the Sultan chose the jungles of Hisar and other such places in Haryana. This had brought him to Thanesar and the adjacent area where an interesting event of his life took place. The incident has been described in details in Mirdi-i-Sikandori}


We are informed that one of Firuz’s waives, a Hindu lady belonged to ‘a village which was one of the dependencies of the town of Thanir (Thanesar). Her brothers Sadhu and Sadharan, men of local influence, became converts to Islam and served the Sultan. The younger Sadharan received the title of Wajh-ul-Malik from the Sultan, and one of his successors became the founder of the Muslim dynasty of rulers in Gujarat. At Sultan’s suggestion the two brothers became the disciples of Kutb-ul-Aktab Hazrat Makdum-i-Jahanian, a Sufi saint whose place of residence although not mentioned belonged to Uchcha originally. Sultan Firuz was known for his patronage to men of learning During his auspicious reign, Maulana Ahmad Thanesari (who belonged to Thanesar as his name would suggest) composed hymns in Arabic. Abdul Hakk Dehlavi, a noted poet of the times of Jahangir refers to his, ‘eminent talents and genius’.


Firuz’s reign, although witnessed various public welfare activities was marred by religious persecutions as is gathered from the Fatuhat-i-Firuzshdln. While referring to the Hindus who assembled for worship in the new temple at Kohana (Gohana) the Sultan records


The people were seized and brought before me. I ordered that the perverse conduct of the leaders of this wickedness should be publicly proclaimed, and that they should be put to death before the gate of the palace. 1 also ordered that the infidel books, the idols, and the vessels used in their worship, which had been taken with them, should all be publicly burnt. The orders were restricted by threats and punishments, as a warning to all men.


These oppressive measures led to popular revolts in Hisar and Safidon which, as gathered from Biha mad Khani were mercilessly put down by the Sultan. The people of Mewat along with their leader Sambar Pal, a chieftain ruling over Kotla area (who came to be known later on as Bahadur Nadir) were particularly subjected to forcible conversion to Islam. Despite this, the Mewatis continued to oppose various administrative and military measures of the Delhi Sultans.


Firuz died on September 21, 1388 and was succeeded by his grandson under the title of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq. This arrangement was not acceptable to his uncle Sultan Muhammad. Consequently a strong force under Malik Firoz Ali and Bahadur Nadir was sent to chase Muhammad in the Sirmur Hills (Sept-Oct, 1388) but without any result for Muhammad ultimately took refuge in the fort of Nagarkot. Ghiyasuddin was followed (in 1389) by Abu Bakr Shah who ruled for a very short period. Bahadur Nadir, the ruler of Kotla, on behalf of Abu Bakr also took up arms against Sultan Muhammad many a time but was defeated. After the death of Muhammad, the chaos which followed greatly suited Bahadur Nadir’s ambitious designs. Against Nasiruddin Mahmud, the next ruler, Nadir supported the cause of Muqarrab Khan, another claimant to the throne of Delhi and accordingly was placed in-charge-of the old fort of Delhi. But Taimur’s invasion which followed shortly compelled him to fall back upon his original territory at Kotla and keep a watch on the political happenings at Delhi. Taimur who valued Nadir’s friendship, sent his envoys Saiyyid Samsuddin and Alauddin Nayab Shaikh Kokari for negotiations and did not attack his territory.


In the reign of Nasiruddin Mahmud, Sarang Khan – the Governor of Dipalpur, marched on to Delhi but was checked by the Panipat governor, Tatar Khan. In this encounter the former was defeated and compelled to return to Multan. Indri and Karnal then formed single iqta and were put under Khawas Khan, while the administration of shiqs like Sonepat, Panipat, Jhajjar, Rohtak were under the control of Nasiruddin Nusrat Shah.


Thus, on the eve of Taimur’s invasion towards the close of the fourteenth century, Haryana presented a picture of complete chaos. The court intreagues of the Sultans and the selfish interests of their supporters substantially contributed towards this end. Consequently the extensive empire of the Tughlaqs was narrowed down to a few miles near about Delhi. A contemporary poet has very apty remaked Hukm Khuddhand Alam Aj Dehali td Pdlam


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