As we have reached the epoch at which the whole of India was formed into one empire, and a considerable alteration was made in the relations of different classes of the inhabitants, the time seems suitable for reviewing the preceding transactions of the separate communities, and ascertaining their actual condition at the commencement of the change.
The empire of Delhi, in the reign of Mohammed Toghlak, extended to the Hemalaya mountains on the north-east, and to the Indus on the north-west; on the east and west it reached the sea; and on the south it might be said to include the whole of the peninsula, except a long narrow tract on the south-west, the frontier of which would be imperfectly marked by a line drawn from Bombay to
Rameshwar. But within these limits, one large space was unsubdued and another unexplored.
This last was the kingdom of Orissa, a tract of forest which extended nearly from the mouth of the Ganges to that of the Godaveri, something less than 500 miles, and ran inland for a depth of from 300 to 400 miles. The imperfectly conquered part was the Rajput territory, a still more extensive tract in the north-west of India.
During the disorders produced by the misgovernment of Mohammed Toghlak, the rajas of Telingana and Carnata restored those territories to the Hindus. The former prince had not long before been driven from Warangal, and compelled to retire to the south; and he now returned to reoccupy his old possessions. The other was of a new family, who set themselves up in the place of the Belals, and fixed their capital at Bijayanagar, on the Tumbrada. These two rajas soon reduced the Mussulman frontier to the Kishna on the south, and the meridian of Heiderabad on the east. They also brought the more southern parts of the peninsula into dependence, and formed states capable of contending on equal terms with their Mahometan neighbours. The western state, that of Bijayanagar was the most considerable from the first. It was of much longer duration than the other, and before its fall had attained a pitch of power and splendour, not, perhaps, surpassed by any previous Hindu dynasty since the Mahometan invasion.
This re-conquest, which took place in 1344,
was preceded by the revolt of Bengal (about 1340); and succeeded (in 1347) by the grand rebellion of the Deckan, by which the power of Delhi was driven across the Nerbadda.
The death of Mohammed Toghlak (1351) for a time put a stop to further dismemberment; but towards the end of the century, during the minority of Mahmud (the last Toghlak king), Guzerat, Malwa, and Juanpur proclaimed their independence; the latter kingdom being formed of the country on the Ganges, from Bengal to the centre of Oud. The invasion of Tamerlane soon followed (1398): the remaining provinces threw off the yoke; and the territory of Delhi was reduced to a few miles near the capital.
The recovery of some parts of these lost dominions has already been related; and I shall now explain their progress during the intermediate period, and the position in which they stood at the accession of Akber84.
The first place is claimed by the kingdoms of the Deckan.
Hasan Gangu, who headed the successful revolt against Mohammed Toghlak, transmitted his crown to his descendants, who reigned for thirteen generations and for 171 years.
The Hindu rajas of Bijayanagar and Warangol were the allies of the new monarchy in its resistance to the emperor of Delhi; but when delivered from their common enemy, their natural antipathy revived. The struggle was of long duration, but the Mahometans were the gainers in the end. During the rule of the house of Bahmani, they conquered the country between the Kishna and Tumbadra from Bijayanagar, and entirely subverted the kingdom of Warangol; and immediately before their fall, they had gained a territory in Orissa, and had extended their conquests on the east coast as far as Masulipatam, and on the west as far as Goa.
These long wars on tolerably equal terms, together with occasional alliances against common enemies, seem to have had some effect in mitigating the overbearing conduct of the Mussulmans towards the Hindus. Men of both religions entered freely into each other’s service: the flower of the king of
Malwa’s army, during an invasion of the Bahmani territories, is said to have consisted of 12,000 Afghans and Rajputs, while Deo Raj, raja of Bijayanagar recruited Mahometans, assigned lands to their chiefs, and built a mosque at his capital expressly for their encouragement.
The domestic history of the Bahmani dynasty was much influenced by the rivalry between the foreign and native troops. In most Asiatic despotisms the king first trusts to the army against the people, and then to a body of foreign household troops, or Mamluks, against the rest of the army; and these Mamluks, in the end, usurp the government. In the Deckan the course was different; the army which placed the Bahmani dynasty on the throne was chiefly composed of foreigners, and there seems to have been no guard more trusted to than the rest. In time, the native troops increased in number, and so nicely balanced the foreigners, that neither party ever obtained a permanent influence over the government.
At the time of the separation from Delhi, many of the foreign troops were probably Mogul converts; in later times, according to Ferishta, they consisted of Persians and Turks, Georgians, Circassians, Calmucs, and other Tartars; the greater part of them were of the Shia sect; and the contest with the native troops was probably more between Shias and Sunnis than between parties arising from difference of race. The native party, or Deccanis as they were called, were always joined
by the Abyssinian mercenaries, who came in numbers by the sea ports on the western coast85, and who may be presumed to have been Sunnis.
These parties reached the highest pitch of animosity in the reign of Ala u din II., in 1437. They occasioned continual jealousy and distraction, and were as injurious to the government by their intrigues at court as by their want of co-operation on service. They were kept in control under vigorous administrations; but towards the end of the dynasty, Mahmud, a weak prince, was alternately the tool of the foreigners, whose chief was Eusof Adil Khan, a Turk, and of the Deccanis, then under Nizam ul Mulk Behri, the son of a converted Hindu.
The Deccanis having gained the ascendency, Eusof Adil retired to his government of Bijapur, where he subsequently took the title of king, and founded the dynasty of Adil Shah.
Nizam ul Mulk being afterwards assassinated by Kasim Barid, a Turk, his son Ahmed set up a separate dynasty called Nizam Shah, the capital of which was Ahmednagar.
Kasim Barid was now the master at the court of Mahmud; and two other great chiefs became independent, although they did not, for some time, take the title of king. These were, Kutb Kuli, a Turkman, from Persia, and Imad ul Mulk, descended from Hindu converts: the former founded
the dynasty of Kutb Shah, at Golconda, close to Heiderabad; and the latter that of Imad Shah, at Elichpur in Berar.
Amir Barid, the son of Kasim, governed for some time under a succession of pageants: at length he threw off the mask, and was first of the Barid kings of Bidr, the family of Bahmani being thenceforth no longer mentioned.
The internal strife between Shias and Sunnis which continued after the formation of these kingdoms, their wars and alliances among themselves and with the neighbouring Mahometan princes towards the North, give sufficient variety to their history during the period for which they lasted, but lose all their importance when the whole merged in the empire of the House of Teimur.
Their conquests from the Hindus had more permanent effects. The raja of Bijayanagar long maintained his place among the powers of the Deckan, taking part in the wars and confederacies of the Mahometan kings; but at length, in 1565, the Mussulmans became jealous of the power and presumption of the infidel ruler, and formed a league against Ram Raja the prince on the throne at the time.
A great battle took place on the Kishna near Talicot, which for the numbers engaged, the fierceness of the conflict, and the importance of the stake, resembled those of the early Mahometan invaders. The barbarous spirit of those days seemed also to be renewed in it; for, on the defeat of the Hindus, their old and brave raja, being taken prisoner, was put to death in cold
blood, and his head was kept till lately at Bijapur as a trophy.
This battle destroyed the monarchy of Bijayanagar, which, at that time, comprehended almost all the south of India. But it added little to the territories of the victors; their mutual jealousies prevented each from much extending his frontier; and the country fell into the hands of petty princes, or of those insurgent officers of the old government, since so well known as zemindars or poligars86.
The kings of Golconda were more fortunate in their separate conquests. They completely subdued all Warangol, which had made efforts at independence, and reduced other parts of Telingana and Carnata, as far as the river Penar. These acquisitions by no means extended to the recovery of the country lost by Mohammed Toghlak; but were all that were made by the Mussulmans until the time of Aurangzib.
Guzerat and Malwa became independent during the reign of Mahmud Toghlak, and probably assumed the name of kingdoms after that title was abolished in Delhi, on the invasion of Tamerlane. Candesh, which had not joined the rebellion in the Deckan, afterwards followed the example of its northern neighbours.
But although the revolt of the three provinces was simultaneous, it was not made in concert; and whatever connection afterwards subsisted between their histories arose out of their wars rather than their alliances.
The territory of the kings of Guzerat, though rich, was small, encroached on by hills and forests, filled with predatory tribes, and surrounded by powerful enemies. Yet they were the most conspicuous of all the minor kings after the extinction of the Bahmani dynasty.
They twice conquered Malwa, and finally annexed that kingdom to their own: they repeatedly defeated the Rajputs of Mewar, and took their famous capital of Chit&: they established a sort of supremacy over Candesh, and even received
the homage of the kings of Ahmednagar and Berar: on one occasion they carried their arms to the Indus; and they were more than once engaged in maritime wars with the Portuguese, which make a figure in the history of that nation.
Their territory was occupied, as has been related, by Humayun, but was recovered in the confusions which soon followed, and was independent at the accession of Akber.
Malwa was engaged in frequent wars with all its neighbours in Hindostan and the Deckan; but the most remarkable part of its history was the ascendency obtained by a Hint chief, who by his courage and abilities rescued the king from many difficulties, but at last engrossed all the powers of the state, filled all offices with Rajputs, and was only dispossessed by the march of the king of Guzerat to the assistance of his brother Mahometan.
Candesh, Bengal, Juanpur, Sind and Multan, were all independent at the accession of Akber; but their separate history is of little moment.
The states yet mentioned were all fragments of the empire of Mohammed Toghlak; but a portion of the original princes of India still remained unconquered, and are acknowledged as sovereign states even to the present day.
The Rajputs, who at the time of Sultan Mahmud’s invasion were in possession of all the governments of India, sunk into the mass of the population as those governments were overturned;
and no longer appeared as riders, except in places where the strength of the country afforded some protection against the Mussulman arms.
Those on the Jamna and Ganges, and in general in all the completely conquered tracts, became what they are now; and, though they still retained their high spirit and military figure, had adapted their habits to agriculture, and no longer aspired to a share in the government of the country.
The remains of Rajput independence were preserved on the table land in the centre of Hindustan, and in the sandy tract stretching west from it to the Indus. Their exemption from the encroachment of the Mussulmans was in proportion to the strength of the country. Mewat, Bundelcand, Baghelcand, &c. lie on the slope towards the Jamna, and, though close to the level country on that river, are rough and broken: it is there that we find the tributaries so often in insurrection, and there also are the forts of Rintimbor, Gwalior, Calinjer, &c., the taking and retaking of some of which seem to occur in almost every reign. The open part of the table land is partially protected by this tract: it is easier of access from the north about Jeipur, which principality has always been submissive. Ajmir and Malwa, on the open part of the table land, were early conquered and easily retained. The east part of the rana of Oudipur’s country (or Mewar) was equally defenceless, but he had an inexpugnable
retreat in the Aravali mountains, and in the hills and forests connected with them, which form the northern boundary of Guzerat. The raja of Jodpur (or Marwar), with his kinsman the raja of Bikaner, the raja of Jesalmer, and some smaller rajas, were protected by the desert, with which the fertile parts of their territories are interspersed or surrounded.
The government of the Rajputs, partly feudal and partly clannish, their high sense of honour, and their strong mutual attachment, have already been explained87, and had not degenerated in Akber’s time.
The state of the different governments, at the accession of that monarch, was as follows:–
The family and tribe of the rana of Oudipur (which were first called Ghelot, and afterwards Sesodia,) are said to be descended from Rama, and, consequently, to draw their origin from Oud. They were afterwards settled in the peninsula of Guzerat, from whence they moved to Idar, in the hills north of that province; and ultimately established themselves at Chitor, Colonel Tod thinks early in the eighth century of our aera. They make no figure in history until 1803, when Chitor was taken by Ala u din, and almost immediately after recovered by the rana. Hamir, by whom that exploit was performed, had a series of able successors, and by their means Mewar attained
the ascendency among the Rajputs, which enabled Sanga to bring them all into the field against Baber.
The great defeat sustained in that contest weakened the power of Sanga’s family, and at a later period it was so much reduced by the incapacity of his grandson, Bicarmajit, that Bahadur, king of Guzerat, was able to take Chitor, and would have turned his success to account, but for his defeat by Humayun, which immediately followed the capture of Clifton From that time till the accession of Akber, the rams remained in quiet possession of their territory, and retained their high rank among the Rajput princes, though they never recovered their political ascendency, and were compelled, in the reign of Shir Shah, to acknowledge the sovereignty of the king of Delhi.
The next Rajput state in importance was that of the Rahtors in Marwar, the capital of which was Jodpur. The Rahtors were in possession of Canouj when that kingdom was subverted by Shahab u din in 1104. After the conquest, part of the Rahtors remained on the Ganges, and occasionally revolted against the Mussulmans, until they became reconciled to the yoke; but another portion, under two grandsons of the last king, preferred their liberty to their country, and retired to the desert between the table land and the Indus. They there subdued the old inhabitants of the race of Jats, dispossessed some small tribes of Rajputs, who had preceded them as colonists, and soon
formed an extensive and powerful principality.
A younger branch of the royal family at a later period (1459) founded the separate state of Bikanir, and occupied an additional portion of the desert. The Rahtors do not seem to have been molested by the Mussulmans until the expedition of Shir Shah against Maldeo, and probably recovered their independence after that storm was blown over. Maldeo was still alive in the beginning of Akber’s reign.
In the western part of the desert were the Bhattis, under the raja of Jesalmer. The Bhattis claim to be of the tribe of Yadu, and consequently derived from Mattra on the Jamna. They were part of Crishna’s colony in Guzerat, and were expelled after the death of that hero. They then retired towards the Indus, and are lost in an un-usually thick cloud of Rajput fable, until they appear at Minot, north of Jesalmer, and within fifty miles of the Indus. From this period (which Colonel Tod thinks was in 731) their annals assume a historical character, but are marked by no important event, except the removal of their capital, in 1156, to Jesalmer. They came very little in contact with the Mussulmans till after Akber’s time.
The rajas of Amber, or Jeipur, of the tribe of Cachwaha, have, in modern times, stood on an equality with the rana of Oudipur and the raja of Jodpur; but their rise into distinction is since the accession of Akber. They were ancient feudatories
of Ajmir, and probably remained in submission to the Mahometans after the conquest of that kingdom. They may have increased their consequence during the weakness of the neighbouring governments in the fifteenth century, for they must have been held in consideration when Akber married the raja’s daughter.
The rajas of the tribe of Hara, who give their name to Harauti, claim descent from the family that ruled in Ajmir before the Mahometans; and settled in their present possessions, of which Bundi was then the capital, in 1342. They were in some degree of feudal dependence on Oudipur. They are not noticed in Mahometan history till just before Akber, when the reigning raja obtained the famous fort of Rintimbor from the governor who had held it for the Afghan kings.
Besides these greater states, there were several petty principalities, as the Chouhans of Parker, the Sodas of Amercot, &c., which, being in the extreme west of the desert, were beyond the reach of Mussulman invaders; and those of Sirohi Jhalor, &c., which, lying in the fertile tract beneath the Aravalli mountains, and on one road from Ajmir to Guzerat, were liable to constant invasion and exaction of tribute.
On the eastern slope of the table land, Mewat, Gwalior, Narwar, Panna, Orcha, Chanderi, and other places in Bundelcand, had been repeatedly attacked by Baber and Shir Shah, and were all
tributary at the time of Akber’s accession. They were mostly held by old Rajput families.
The petty states under the Hemalaya mountains, from Cashmir inclusive to the Bay of Bengal, were independent under sovereigns of their own.
Many mountain and forest tribes throughout India were unsubdued, though they could scarcely be called independent: they were left out of the pale of society, which they sometimes disturbed by their depredations.
84. As the particular transactions of these separate kingdoms are not essential to the general history of India, I have thrown them into an Appendix, and confined the text to an outline and the results.
85. The Persian or Mogul party also chiefly received their recruits by sea. It is difficult to account for the little influx of Arabs.
86. Briggs’s Ferishta, vol. iii. pp. 127. and 414. Wilson, Mackenzie Collection, vol. i. p. cli. Wilkes’s Mysore, vol. i. p. 18. The brother of the late raja removed his residence further east, and finally settled at Chandragiri, about seventy miles north-west of Madras, at which last place his descendant first granted a settlement to the English, in 1640. Rennell’s Hindostan, p. 291.
87. See Vol. I. p. 606.
This collection transcribed by Chris Gage