Medieval India

Delhi Sultanate

The real founder of the Muslim Empire in India was Shihabuddin Muhmmad Ghori or Muhammad of Ghur. It is the true that Muhammad Bin Qasim was the first Muslim invader of India but he failed to carve out a Muslim empire in India on account of his premature death. Mahmud of Ghazni also failed to set up a Muslim Empire in India and the only permanent effect of his invasion was the annexation of the Punjab. It was left to Muhammad Ghori to build up a Muslim empire in India on a secure footing.

After battle of Tarain Ghori returned to Ghazni leaving the affairs of India in the hands of his trusted slave Qutubuddin Aibak. In order to strengthen his own position Qutub-uddin Aibak entered into matrimonial alliances with important personalities. He himself married the daughter of Tajuddin Yildoz.He married his sister to Nasiruddin Qabacha.To Illtutmish he married his daughter. During his governorship Aibak had to face a serious rebellion in Rajasthan that was suppressed. In 1197 AD he punished Bhinder of Gujarat, plundered his capital and came back to Delhi by way of Hansi.He also conquered Badaun, Benares and Chandawar and consolidated the conquest of Kannauj.In 1202 AD he besieged the fortress of Kalinga in Bundelkhand and captured the same. He marched to the city of Mahoba and took possession of it.

Thus before his accession to the throne in 1206 AD Qutub-uddin Aibak was already in possession of almost whole of Northern India as a lieutenant of his master and his representative in India. The dynasty that ruled Delhi between the periods 1206-1290 is popularly known as Slave dynasty, the Ilbari dynasty, the Mameluq. It is wrong to call the dynasty as slave because out of the nine rulers of this dynasty only three Qutubuddin Aibak, Iltutmish and Balban had governed long before assuming sovereign powers. The term Mameluq signifies a slave born of free parents but the connotation of slavery, nevertheless persists. They all belonged to except Qutubuddin Aibak belonged to the Ibari tribe of Turks.

The establishment of the Delhi Sultanate marked a new phase in the cultural development of the country. When the Turks came to India they not only had a well-defined faith in Islam to which they were deeply attached, they also had definite ideas of government, art, architecture etc. The interaction of the Turks with the Indians who had strong religious beliefs, well-defined ideas of arts, architecture and literature resulted in the long run in a rich development. The Turks eschewed representation of human and animal figures in the buildings. Instead they used geometrical and floral designs combining them with panels of inscriptions containing verses from the Quran. Thus the Arabic script itself became a work of art. The combination of these decorative devices was called Arabesque. They also freely borrowed Hindu motifs etc. The skills of the Indian stonecutters were fully used. They also added color to their buildings by using red sand stone, yellow sand stone and marble. The most notable Persian writer of the period was Amir Khusrau.He took pride in being an Indian. He wrote a large number of poetical works including historical romances. He experimented with all the poetical forms and created a new style of Persian that came to be called Sabaq-i-Hind or style of India. He praised the Indian languages including Hindi.

Apart from the poetry a strong school of history writing in Persian developed in India during this period. The most famous historians of the period were Zia-uddin Barani, Shams-i-Shiraz Afif and Isami.Zia Nakshabi was the first to translate Sanskrit works into Persian. His book Tuti Namah written on the time of Muhammad Tughluq was a Persian translation of Sanskrit stories that were related by a parrot to a woman whose husband had gone on a journey. Sultan Zain-ul- Abidin of Kashmir had the famous historical work Rajatarangini and the Mahabharata translated into Persian.

    • The Slave Dynasty

    • Khalji Dynasty

    • Tughlaq Dynasty

    • The Saiyyid Dynasty

    • Lodhi Dynasty

    • Administration of the Sultanate

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