Categories Medieval India



  • The coming of the Turks into India and the establishment of the Delhi sultanate during the 13th century was a period of both turmoil and development.Initial phase was one of death and destruction on a large scale, with many beautiful temples being destroyed and palaces and cities ravaged. This process continued in phases as the empire expanded. But once a territory had been conquered, or had submitted, a process of peace and development started. This process began slowly in northern India where large areas remained under direct sultanate rule for 200 years.
  • Coming from Central Asia during the 8th century, the Turks had, in course of time, accepted Islam. Thus, they inherited the Islamic culture of the area. These states shared the cultural and administrative norms and standards set up by the Abbasids, with minor adjustments. The Turks who came into India not only considered themselves to be champions of Islam, but were proud of being inheritors of its rich tradition, whether it was in the field of architecture, literature, forms of government or science and technology. They had also adopted Persian which had emerged as the language of government and culture in Central Asia.
  • The Hindus, too, were the inheritors of a religious and cultural tradition which had evolved during thousands of years. The 4th and 5th centuries have often been considered the period of cultural and scientific climax in north India. In the subsequent period, though India began to lag behind in the field of science, and creative thinking had gradually dried up, the cultural traditions were still alive.
  • Recent studies show that the period from the 8th century to the 12th century was by no means one of cultural decline, but one in which considerable building activity, specially in the field of temple architecture took place. Thus, magnificent temples were built at Khajuraho in Bundelkhand, in Orissa, and in various other places such as Mathura, Kashi, Dilwara, etc. These temples show a high level of skill in architectural forms and sculpture.
  • There were also important developments in the field of religion and philosophy. Thus, Sankara set a seal on the philosophy of Vedanta, and a movement based on love and devotion to a personal God began in South India.
  • Contact between Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam had started much before Islam came to India. The interaction quickened after Islam’s coming into India. However, it is necessary to separate the political aspect from the religio-philosophical aspects, even though they over-lapped. Some of the bigoted ulemas, such as Nuruddin Mubarak Ghazanavi at the court of Iltutmish, advocated a policy of inveterate hostility to the Hindus, especially the Brahmans, whom they considered the biggest enemies of the “true” faith. Among a section of the Hindus, too, there was loathing and revulsion against the Muslims, and they adopted a policy of maintaining minimum contact with them.(
  • However, despite these handicaps, and the seemingly irreconcilable nature of Islam and Hinduism, with Islam emphasizing strict monotheism, rejecting all Gods other than Allah, while Hinduism accepted unity in diversity with multifarious Gods, and image worship which the Muslims rejected, a slow process of mutual adjustment and rapproachement began. This process can be said to be seen at work in the fields of architecture, literature, music, the field of religion with the entry of sufism into the country, and bhakti movement in north India. The process continued apace during the fifteenth century and gathered force in the 16th and 17th centuries under the Mughals. But it would be wrong to assume that the elements of conflict had disappeared. Both conflict and the process of rapproachement continued side by side, with set backs under some rulers and in some regions, and faster development under some other rulers.
  • Thus, the elements of conflict and rapproachement have to be seen in perspective.
(A) Sultanate Architecture and new Structural Forms:
    • One of the first requirement of the new rulers was houses to live in, and places of worship for their followers. For places of worship, they at first converted temples and other existing buildings into mosques. Examples:
  1. Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque (Jain temple at first, which had then been converted into a temple dedicated to Vishnu.) near the Qutb Minar in Qutab Minar Complex, Delhi .The only new construction at Delhi was a facade of three elaborately carved arches in front of the deity room (garbha griha) which was demolished. The arcaded courtyard in front consisted entirely of pillars from thirty seven temples of the area which had been looted. The style of decoration used on these arches is very interesting: no human or animal figures were used since it was considered to be un -Islamic to do so. Instead, they used scrolls of flowers and verses of the Quran which were intertwined in a very artistic manner.
  2. The building at Ajmer called Arhai Din ka Jhonpara (preiously a  monastery).


Arhai Din ka Jhonpara
    • Soon, the Turks started constructing their own buildings. For the purpose they mostly used the indigenous craftsmen, such as stone-cutters, masons, etc., who were famous for their skill. Later, some master architects came to India from West Asia. In their buildings, the Turks used the arch and the dome on a wide scale. Neither the arch nor the dome was a Turkish or Muslim invention. The Arabs borrowed them from Rome through the Byzantine empire, developed them and made them their own.
    • The use of the arch and the dome had a number of advantages.
  1. The dome provided a pleasing skyline and as the architects gained more experience and confidence, the dome rose higher. Many experiments were made in putting a round dome on a square building, and in raising the dome higher and higher. In this way, many lofty and impressive buildings were constructed.
  2. The arch and the dome dispensed with the need for a large number of pillars to support the roof and enabled the construction of large halls with a clear view. Such places of assembly were useful in mosques as well as in palaces.
    • However, the arch and the dome needed a strong cement, otherwise the stones could not be held in place. The Turks used fine quality lime mortar in their buildings. Thus, new architectural forms and mortar of a superior kind became widespread in north India with the arrival of the Turks.(
    • The arch and the dome were known to the Indians earlier, but they were not used on a large scale. Moreover, the correct scientific method of constructing the arch was rarely employed. The architectural device generally used by the Indians consisted of putting one stone over another, narrowing the gap till it could be covered by a coping-stone or by putting a beam over a slab of stones. The Turkish rulers used both the dome and arch method as well as slab and beam method in their buildings.
    • In the sphere of decoration, 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 such as the bel motif, swastika, lotus, etc. Like the Indians, the Turks were intensely fond of decoration. The skill of the Indian stone-cutters was fully used for the purpose.
    • The Turks also added colour to their buildings by using red sandstone. Yellow sandstone or marble was used in these buildings for decoration and to show off the colour of the red sandstone.
    • The most famous and the most magnificent building built by the Turks during the 13th century was the tower or minar adjacent to the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. It was called the mazana or place from where the call for prayer (azan) was called. It was much later that this minar began to be called the Qutb Minar, possibly because it was started by Qutbuddin Aibak, or because, where completed by Iltutmish, Quibuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, the famous sufi saint, was living at Delhi, and the minar began to be considered a token of his spiritual attainments. Some of the stones used at the base of the minar appear to be those belonging to some of the destroyed temples of the area. In an epigraph on the minar, the name of Fazl ibn Abul Maali is mentioned, but it is not clear from the damaged inscription whether he was the architect or merely one who supervised the work.

      From left top,Clockwise:(1)Qutab Minar(2)Decorative motifs on upper levels, showing both Hindu and Islamic elements(3)closer view of the calligraphy(4)closer view of the balcony(5)Inscription panels of Arabic calligraphy running around the ornate balcony
    • Although the tradition of building towers are to be found in India, West Asia and elsewhere, the Qutb Minar is unique in many ways. Its tremendous height of 71.4 metres becomes more effective by its tapering character. Originally, it was only four stories high, but the top of the minar was hit by lightening, and Firuz Tughlaq repaired it, and added a fifth storey. The main beauty of the minar lies in the skilful manner in which balconies have been projected, yet linked with the tower by a devise called “stalactite honey-combing” (A framework of hexagonal cells resembling the honeycomb built by bees). The skilful use of ribbed and angular projections in the body of the tower, the use of red and white sandstones in the panels and in the top stages add further to the effect.
    • The growth of the building activities of the Turks after the consolidation of the Delhi sultanat under Iltutmish is shown by the wide range of buildings belonging to this period. Thus, the mosque and group of buildings at Badaun (U.P), the lofty gate at Nagaur, and at Hansi and Palwal in Haryana are an index of the determination of the Turks to build their own buildings.
    • Iltutmish’s own tomb, built near the end of his reign, is an indication of the mixing of the Hindu and Muslim traditions of architecture. The tomb was a square building, but by putting pendantives and squinch arches (A small arch built across the interior angle of two walls) in the corners, it was made octagonal on which a dome was built. This devise was used in many quare buildings later on. Even more remarkable was the intricate carving on the walls, where calligraphy was combined with Indian floral motives.(
    • The second half of the 13th century saw the flocking into India of many scholars, including mathematicians and architects from West Asia, following the devastation caused there by the Mongols. Thus, we see the first true arch in the plain and simple tomb of Balban. That is to say, it was based on radiating voussoirs and a coping stone, not putting one stone over the other to cover the gap, and then put a stone or slab on top.

    • The Khalji period saw a lot of building activity. Alauddin built his capital at Siri, a few kilometres away from the site around the Qutb. Alauddin planned a tower twice the height of the Qutb Minar but did not live to complete it (Alai Minar). However, he added an entrance door to the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. This door, which is called the Alai Darwaza. It was the first building in which the dome was built not on the principle of overlapping courses of masonary, gradully decreasing in size as they rose upwards, but on the basis of radiating voussoirs. (voussoir is a wedge-shaped element, typically a stone, used in building an arch or vault). The horse-shoe arch used for the first time in the building, is pleasing in appearance.
      All in Qutab Complex
    • The decorative devices— merlons in the inside of the arch, use of lotus on the spandrel of the arch, and use of white marble in the trellis work and the marble decorative bands to set off the red sandstone give to the building an appearance of grace and strength which is considered a special feature of Indian architectural tradition.
    • Mosque architecture was also developed during this period as shown by the Jamaat Khana mosque at the mausoleum of the sufi saint, Nizamuddin Auliya.
    • There was great building activity in the Tughlaq period which marked the climax of the Delhi sultanat as well as the beginning of its decline. (
    • Ghiyasuddin and Muhammad Tughlaq built the huge palace-fortress complex called Tughlaqabad. By blocking the passage of the Jamuna, a huge artificial lake was created around it.
    • The tomb of Ghiyasuddin marks a new trend in architecture. To have a good skyline, the building was put up on a high platform. Its beauty was heightened by a marble dome.
    • A striking feature of the Tughlaq architecture was the sloping walls, called “batter”, and gives the effect of strength and solidity to the building. However, the batter is used sparingly in the buildings of Firuz Tughlaq. A second feature of the Tughlaq architecture was the deliberate attempt to combine the principles of the arch, and. the lintel and beam. In the buildings of Firuz Tughlaq in the Hauz Khas, which was a pleasure resort and had a huge lake around it, alternate stories have arches and the lintel and beam. The same is to be found in some buildings of Firuz Shah’s new fort ,now called the Kotla.(
    • The Tughlaqs did not generally use the costly red sandstone in their buildings but the cheaper and more easily available greystone. In the buildings of Firuz, rubble is finished by a thick coat of lime plaster which was colour washed in white—a method used in buildings till recent times. Since it was not easy to carve this type of stone or lime paster, the Tughlaq buildings have a minimum of decoration. But the decorative device found in all the buildings of Firuz is the lotus. A devise used in the tomb of Firuz Tughlaq is a stone-railing in front which was Hindu design.
File:Feroze Sha's tomb with adjoining Madrasa.JPG
Tomb of Firuz Tughlaq with adjoining Madarsas in Hauz Khas Complex
    • Many mosques were also built during this period, such as the Kalan mosque, in Nizamuddin the Khirki mosque in South Delhi (By Firuz Tughlaq). They were of undressed stone and lime plaster, and hence not very elegant. The pillars were thick and heavy.
    • Also, the Indian builder had not yet developed the confidence of raising the dome high enough. Hence, the buildings appear squat.
    • Another architectural devise which was used for the first time in the tomb of Firuz’s wazir, Khan-i-Jahan Telangani, was the octagonal tomb. Many features were added to it: a verandah was built around it with long, sloping chajja or eaves as a protection against sun and rain. At each corner of the roof, chhatris or kiosks were built. Both these features were of Gujarati or Rajasthani origin. Both the arch and the lintel and beam are used in their buildings.
File:Malik Maqbool tomb Delhi.jpg
Tomb of Khan-i-Jahan Telangani
  • The Lodis continued the Tughlaq tradition of using rubble or undressed stone and lime plaster in their buildings. But by this time, the Indian architects and masons had gained full confidence in the new forms. Hence, their domes rose higher in the sky. A new devise which appeared in India for the first time was the double dome. Tried experimentally at first, it appears in a developed form in the tomb of Sikandar Lodi. It became necessary as the dome rose higher and higher. By putting an inner cover inside the dome, the height remained proportionate to the room inside. This devise was later on used in all buildings.(
  • Another device used by the Lodis was placing their buildings, especially tombs, on a high platform, thus giving the building a feeling of size as well as a better skyline. Some of the tombs were placed in the midst of gardens. The Lodi Garden in Delhi is a fine example of this. Many of these features were adopted by the Mughals later on, and their culmination is to be found in the Taj Mahal built by ShahJahan.
    From top left clockwise:(1)Bara Gumbad tomb and mosque, Lodhi Gardens, (2)The three domed mosque, adjacent to Bada Gumbad, Lodhi Gardens(3)Sheesh Gumbad, Lodhi Gardens(4)Sikander Lodi’s Tomb(5)Walled enclosure of the Sikander Lodi’s Tomb(6)Mohammed Shah’s Tomb, who was last of Saiyyid dynasty
  • By the time of the break-up of the Delhi Sultanat, individual styles of architecture had also developed in the various kingdoms in different parts of India. Many of these, again, were powerfully influenced by the local traditions of architecture. This, as we have seen, happened in Bengal, Gujarat, Malwa, the Deccan, etc.
  • Thus, we not only see an outburst of architectural activity but a coming together of the Muslim and Hindu traditions and forms of architecture. In the various regional kingdoms which arose during the fifteenth century, attempts were made to combine the style of architecture which had developed at Delhi with regional architectural traditions.

(B) Literature

(1) Sanskrit Literature

  • Sanskrit continued to be a vehicle for higher thought and a medium for literature during the period under review. In fact, the production of works in Sanskrit in different branches was immense and perhaps greater than in the preceding period.
  • Following the great Sankara, works in the field of Advaita philosophy by Ramanuja, Madhava, Vallabha, etc., continued to be written in Sanskrit. The speed with which their ideas were widely disseminated and discussed in different parts of the country showed the important role which Sanskrita continued to play during the period.
  • Ramanuja wrote his commentaries on the Brahma Sutras. In this book he explained his conception of Bhakti. Parthasarthi Misra was the Author of Sastra Dipika. Many books on Yoga, Nyaya and Vaisesika systems of Philosophy were written during this period. Deva Suri was a great Jain Logician of the 12th century. The Gita-Govinda of Jayadeva is an excellent specimen of typical poetry.
  • There was a network of specialised schools and academies in different parts of the country, including areas under Muslim domination.These schools and academies were not interfered with and they continued to flourish. In fact, many of them took advantage of the introduction of paper to reproduce and disseminate the older texts. Thus, some of the oldest available texts of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata belong to the period from the eleventh or twelfth century onwards.
  • The Hindu rulers, particularly those of Warangal and the Vijayanagara Empire provided encouragement to Sanskrit literature. Different types of works such as poetry, drama etc. were produced in Sanskrit and good works on philosophy and religious commentaries were written by various scholars. Hammir Deva, Kumbha Karna, Prataprudra Deva, Basantraja, Vemabhubhala, Katya Vem, Virupakaya, Narsingh, Krisnadevaraya, Bhupal, and many other alike rulers patronised Sanskrit scholars and encouraged their writings and a few of them were themselves scholars.
  • Besides philosophy, works in the field of kavya (poetical narrative), drama, fiction, medicine, astronomy, music, etc., continued to be written. A large number of commentaries and digests on the Hindu law (Dharmashastras) were prepared between the twelfth and the sixteenth century. The great Mitakshara of Vijnaneshwar, (a commentary on Yajnavalkya) which forms one of the two principal Hindu schools of law, in about twelfth century.This commentary of Hindu law was the law of this country for many centuries. Jimuta Vahan was the author of Dayabhaga. That work formed the basis of the law of inheritance and partition in Bengal for many centuries. The Smriti literature “flourished in Mithila so luxuriantly that the writers came to be regarded as forming a separate school.”
  • Another famous commentator on the Dharmashastras was Chandeshwar of Bihar who lived in the fourteenth century. Most of the works were produced in the south, followed by Bengal, Mithila and western India under the patronage of Hindu rulers.
  • The Jains, too, contributed to the growth of Sanskrit. Naga Chandra, also known as Abhinava Pampa, was the author of Pampa Ramayana. In addition to Naga Chandra, the other Jain writers were Hema Chandra, Prabha Chandra, Asadhara and Sakalakriti. Hemchandra Suri was the most eminent among these.
  • A large number of dramas were written during this period. Harkeli Nataka and Lalitavigraharaja Nataka were written in the 12th century. During this period, Prasanna Raghava was written by Jayadeva, Hammir-mada-mardana by Jaya Singh Suri. Pradyumnabhydaya by Ravivarman, Pratap Rudra Kalyan by Vidyanath, Parvati Parinaya by Vamana Bhatta Bana. Jiva Goswami wrote as many as 25 books in Sanskrit.
  • The study of astronomy was promoted by Bhaskaracharya who was born in 1114 A.D. Kalhana wrote the famous Rajatarangini which deals with the history of Kashmir. The other important writers were Padma Bhatta, Vidyapati Thakur and Vachaspati Misra. Sayana wrote his famous commentaries on the Vedas. Madhava was responsible for the composition of Siva-Gama Stotra.
  • Little attempt was made to translate Islamic works or Persian literature into Sanskrit. Possibly the only exception was the translation of the love story of Yusuf and Zulaikha, written by the famous Persian poet, Jami. This might be taken to be as another example of the insularity of outlook of the Hindus which had been mentioned by Albiruni earlier.
  • After the conquest of Nagarkot, a Sanskrit manuscript fell into the hands of Firuz Tughlaq and he got it translated into Persian and gave it the name of Dalayal Firuz Shahi.
  • Refusal to face the existing reality may be one reason why much of the writing of the period is repetitive, and lacks fresh insight or originality. (
(2) Arabic and Persian Literature
  • Although the greatest amount of literature produced by the Muslims was in Arabic which was the language of the Prophet, and was used as the language of literature and philosophy from Spain to Baghdad, the Turks who came to India were deeply influenced by the Persian language which had become the literary and administrative language of Central Asia and Iran from the tenth century onwards.
  • In India, the use of Arabic remained largely confined to a narrow circle of Islamic scholars and philosophers. In course of time, digests of the Islamic law were prepared in Persian also with the help of Indian scholars. The most well-known of these Fiqh-i-Firuzshahi which was prepared in the reign of Firuz Tughlaq. But Arabic digests continued to be prepared, the most famous of these being the Fatawa-i-Alamgiri, or the Digest of Laws prepared by a group of jurists in the reign of Aurangzeb.
  • With the arrival of the Turks in India during the tenth century, a new language, Persian, was introduced in the country. There was a resurgence of the Persian language in Iran and Central Asia from the tenth century onwards and some of the greatest poets of the Persian language, such as Firdausi and Sadi, and the great poets of mystic love, Sinai, Iraqi, Jami, Hafiz etc. lived and composed their works between the tenth and fourteenth centuries. From the beginning, the Turks adopted Persian as the language of literature and administration in the country. Thus, Lahore emerged as the first centre for the cultivation of the Persian language. Early Persian writer such as Masud Sad Salman, a sense of attachment and love for Lahore.
  • Al-beruni, who visited India in the company of Mahmud of Ghazni, was a great scholar.
  • Most Sultans of Delhi led protection to scholars of Persian at their court which help the growth of Persian literature. Khwaja Abu Nasr, poetically called Naisiri, Abu Bakar bin Muhammad Ruhani, Taj-ud-din and Nur-ud-din Muhammad Awfi were famous scholars in the court of Sultan Iltutmish.
  • Many Muslim scholars from Persia and Central Asia fled away from there because of the Mongols and found shelter at the courts of Sultan Balban and Ala-ud-din Khilji. Prince Muhammad the eldest son of Sultan Balban was a patron of scholars and provided protection to two greatest scholars of his times, that is, Amir Khusrau and Amir Hasan.
  • Amir Hasan Dehlwi was a poet of considerable eminence. He is described as “musical and most pleasing.” He was in the court of Muhammad Tughlaq. He composed a Diwan and wrote the memoirs of Shaikh Nizam-ud-Din Aulia.
  • Badr-ud-Din was a native of Taskhand. He was in the court of Muhammad Tughlaq and composed odes in his praise. His poetry is difficult and loaded with imagery.
  • The most notable Persian writer of the period was Amir Khusrau. Born in 1252 at Patiali (near Badaun in western Uttar Pradesh), Amir Khusrau took pride in being an Indian. He says, “I have praised India for two reasons. First, because India is the land of my birth and our country. Love of the country is an important obligation…. Hindustan is like heaven. Its climate is better than that of Khurasan…it is green and full of flowers all the year round. The brahmans here are as learned as Aristotle and there are many scholars in various fields....”
  • Khusrau’s love for India shows that the Turkish ruling class was no longer prepared to behave as a foreign ruling class, and that the ground had been prepared for a cultural rapprochement between them and the Indians.
  • Khusrau wrote a large number of poetical works, including historical romances. He experimented with all the poetical forms, and created a new style of Persian which came to be called the sabaq-i-hindi or the style of India.
  • Khusrau has praised the Indian languages, including Hindi (which he calls Hindavi). Some of his scattered Hindi verses are found in his writings though the Hindi work, Khaliq Bari, often attributed to Khusrau, was in all probability the work of a later poet of the same name.
  • He was also an accomplished musician and took part in religious musical gatherings (sama) organised by the famous Sufi saint, Nizamuddin Auliya. Khusrau, it is said, gave up his life the day after he learnt of the death of his pir, Nizamuddin Auliya (1325). He was buried in the same compound.
  • Apart from poetry, a strong school of history writing in Persian developed in India during the period. The most famous historians of this period were Minhaj Siraj, Ziauddin Barani, Afif and Isami.
  • Minhaj-us-Siraj was the Author of Tabqat-i-Naisiri. There is brevity, boldness and vigour in his style.
  • Zia-ud-din Barani was the Author of Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi. He took a lot of trouble in writing his book and made it a compendium of all kinds of useful knowledge. Barani was patronized by both Muhammad Tughlaq and Firuz Tughlaq.
  • Shams-i-Siraj Afif continued the Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi of Barani. He was more methodical and careful in his treatment of the subject than Barani. However, there is a lot of unnecessary repetition in his work. It is also full of praise for his master.
  • Ain-ul-Mulk Multani held important offices under Ala-ud-Din Khalji, Muhammad Tughlaq and Firuz Tughlaq. He was a clever and accomplished man of highest ability. He wrote some excellent books such as Ain-ul-MuIki, and Munshat-i-Mahru, also called Inshai-i-Mahru. His writings give useful information regarding the political, social and religious condition of India in his time.
  • Ghulam Yahya bin Ahmad was the author of Tarikh-i-Mubarak Shahi. This book is valuable for the period during which the author lived. In many respects, it corrects and supplements Minhaj-us-Siraj, Zia-ud-Din Barani and Shams-i-Siraj Afif
  • Through the Persian language, India was able to develop close cultural relations with Central Asia and Iran. In course of time, Persian became not only the language of administration and diplomacy, but also the language of the upper classes and their dependants, at first in north India and later, with the expansion of the Delhi Sultanat to the south and with the establishment of Muslim kingdoms in different parts of the country, in almost the entire country.
  • Some literature was produced under the patronage of the rulers of the various provinces. Jaunpur was a famous seat of learning and many learned men were attracted to the court of Ibrahim. (
  • Sanskrit and Persian, in the main, functioned as link languages in the country, in politics, religion and philosophy, and were also means of literary productions. At first, there was little interchange between the two. Zia Nakhshabi (d. 1350) was the first to translate into Persian Sanskrit stories which were related by a parrot to a woman whose husband had gone on a journey. The book Tuti Nama (Book of the Parrot), written in the time of Muhammad Tughlaq, proved very popular and was translated from Persian into Turkish, and later into many European languages as well. He also translated the old Indian treatise on sexology, the Kok Shastra, into Persian.
  • Later, in the time of Firuz Shah, Sanskrit books on medicine and music were translated into Persian.
  • Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin of Kashmir had the famous historical work Rajatarangini, and the Mahabharata translated into Persian. Sanskrit works on medicine and music were also translated into Persian at his instance.
(3) Regional Languages:
  • During the period, literary works of high quality were produced in many of the regional languages as well. Many of these languages, such as Hindi, Bengali and Marathi trace their origin back to the eighth century or so. Some others, such as Tamil, were much older.
  • Buddhists and Jains, and the Nath Panthi siddhas had used the “corrupt languages” (apabhramsha), as also local languages for their works in preference to Sanskrit.
  • The Khariboli and Brajbhasa mostly spoken in western Uttar Pradesh provided the base for the growth of Hindi literature.
  • Chand Bardai composed the Prithviraj Raso, an epic poem in Hindi about the life of Prithviraj.
  • Jagnayak was the author of Alha-khanda in Hindi. In that book, the deeds of love and war of Alha and Udal, two brave warriors of Parmala of Mahoba, are described.
  • Sarangdhara was the Author of Hammir Rasau and Hammir Kavya. These books contain an account of the glories of Raja Hammir of Ranthambor.
  • Vidyapati Thakur who wrote works in Sanskrit, Hindi and Maithili encouraged the foundation of Maithili literature towards the end of the fourteenth century.
  • Amir Khusrau was regarded as a Persian poet and writer who wrote in Hindi and Urdu also. His view was that the Hindi language was not inferior to the Persian language. He also compared the grammar and syntax in Arabic to that in Hindi. Writing in the beginning of the fourteenth century, Amir Khusrau had noted the existence of regional languages and remarked: “There is at this time in every province a language peculiar to itself, and not borrowed from any other—Sindhi, Lahori, Kashmiri, Kubari (Dogri of the Jammu region), Dhur Samundari (Kannada of Karnataka), Tilangi (Telugu), Gujar (Gujarati), Mabari (Tamil), Gauri (North Bengal), Bengali, Awadh, and Delhi and its environs (Hindavi)”. He adds, “These languages have from ancient times applied in every way to the common purposes of life.” Some modern regional languages, such as Assamese, Oriya, Malayalam have not been noted. However, Khusrau points to a significant development, viz the emergence of the modern regional languages of India.
  • The rise to maturity of many of these languages and their use as means for literary works may be considered a striking feature of the medieval period. There were many reasons for this. Perhaps, with the loss of prestige by the brahmans, Sanskrit also lost some of its prestige. The use of the common languages by the bhakti saints was, undoubtedly, an important factor in the rise of these languages. In fact, in many parts of the country, it was the saints who fashioned these languages for literary purposes.
  • Namadeva wrote in Marathi but some of the Hindi songs are to be found in the Grantha. Some hymns were composed by Ramananda. Some of the sayings of Kabir are to be found in the Sakhis and Raminis. Hindi literature owes a lot to Kabir. Guru Nanak also composed some hymns which are a mixture of Hindi and Punjabi. The songs of Mirabai in Hindi are very famous.
  • It seems that in many regional kingdoms of the pre-Turkish period, regional languages, such as Tamil, Kannada, Marathi, etc., were used for administrative purposes, in addition to Sanskrit. This must have been continued under the Turkish rule, for we hear of Hindi-knowing revenue accountants appointed in the Delhi Sultanat.(
  • Later, when the Delhi Sultanat broke up, local languages, in addition to Persian, continued to be used for administrative purpose in many of the regional kingdoms. Thus, literature in Telugu developed in south India under the patronage of the Vijayanagara rulers. Marathi was one of the administrative languages in the Bahmini kingdom, and later, at the court of Bijapur.
  • In course of time, when these languages had reached a certain stage of development, some of the Muslim kings gave them patronage for literary purposes also. For example, Nusrat Shah of Bengal had the Mahabharata and the Ramayana translated into Bengali. Maladhar Basu also translated the Bhagavata into Bengali under his patronage. He gave patronage to Bengali poets.
  • Narsi Mehta was a poet of Gujarat and he wrote beautiful short religious songs.
  • Krittivasa prepared a Bengali translation of the Ramayana from Sanskrit. The Mahabharata was also translated into Bengali.
  • Krishnadevaraya himself wrote a poem called Amuktamalyada. His poet-laureate was Allasani Peddana. He was a writer of original merit. His famous work was Svarochisa Mancharitra.
  • The use of bhakti poems in Hindi by the Sufi saints in their musical gatherings has been common. In east U.P. sufi saints, such as Mulla Daud, the author of Chandayan, Malik Muhammad Jaisi, etc. wrote in Hindi and put forward sufi concepts in a form which could be easily understood by the common man. They popularised many Persian forms, such as the masnavi.

(C) Music:

  • Trends towards mutual understanding and integration are to be found not only in the fields of religious beliefs and rituals, architecture and literature, but also in the fields of fine arts, particularly music.
  • When the Turks came to India, they inherited the rich Arab tradition of music which had been further developed in Iran and Central Asia. They brought with them a number of new musical instruments, such as the rabab and sarangi, and new musical modes and regulations. Indian music and Indian musicians at the court of the Caliphs at Baghdad had possibly influenced the development of music there. However, systematic contact between the two began in India under the Sultanat.
  • Balban encouraged the setting up of a society of dancers and musicians. Ala-ud-din Khalji patronised musicians such as Gopal Nayak and Amir Khusrau.
  • Amir Khusrau who was given the title of nayak or master of both the theory and practice of music, introduced many Perso-Arabic airs (ragas), such as aiman, gora, sanam, etc. The qawwali is supposed to originate with him. He is credited with having invented the sitar, though we have no evidence of it. The tabla which is also attributed to him seems, however, to have developed during the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century.
  • Though music was banned in Ghiyas-ud-din’s time, it was encouraged by Muhammad Tughlaq.
  • The process of integration in the field of music continued under Firuz Tughlaq. The Indian classical work Ragadarpan was translated into Persian during his reign.
  • Musical gatherings spread from the abodes of the sufis to the palaces of the nobles. Sultan Husain Sharqi, the ruler of Jaunpur, was a great patron of music. The sufi saint, Pir Bodhan, is supposed to have been the second great musician of the age after Khusrau.
  • Another regional kingdom where music was highly cultivated was the kingdom of Gwaliyar. Raja Man Singh of Gwaliyar was a great music lover. The work Man Kautuhal in which all the new musical modes introduced by the Muslims were included was prepared under his aegis.
  • The musical modes in north India began to differ from those in the south largely due to the incorporation of Perso-Arabic modes, airs and scales.
  • A distinctive style of music, influenced in considerable measure by Persian music, developed in the kingdom of Kashmir.(
  • After the conquest of Jaunpur, Sikandar Lodi followed its tradition of patronising music on a lavish scale—a tradition which was further developed by the Afghan rulers. Thus, Adali, a successor of Sher Shah, was a great master of music. But music came into its own under the Mughals.

Write is the contribution of Amir Khurow in  history, poetry, music, literature, language.

  • Amir Khusrau was a Sufi musician, poet and scholar. He was an iconic figure in the cultural history of the Indian subcontinent. Khusrau was born near Etah in Uttar Pradesh.His father Amir Saifuddin came from Balkh. He was a mystic and a spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi. Amir Khusrau is called the “Parrot of India
  • After Khusrau’s grandfather’s demise, he joined as a soldier in the Army of Malik Chajju, a nephew of Sultan Balban. This brought his poetry to the attention of the Assembly of the Royal Court where he was honored.
  • Bughra Khan, son of Balban was invited to listen to Amir Khusrau. He was impressed and became Khusrau’s patron. In 1277 A.D. Bughra Khan was then appointed ruler of Bengal but Amir Khusrau decided to return to Delhi.
  • The eldest son of Balban, Khan Muhammad (who was in Multan) came to Delhi. When he heard about Amir Khusrau he invited him to his court. Finally Khusrau accompanied him to Multan in 1279 A.D. Multan at that period was the gateway to India and a center place of knowledge and learning. The caravans of scholars, tradesmen and emissaries transited from Baghdad, Arabia, Iran to Delhi via Multan.
  • In 1283 A.D Jinar Khan, a Mongol, invaded India. Khusrau participated as a soldier in the war against the invading Mongols. He was taken prisoner, but escaped. Khan Muhammad was killed in battle. Khusrau wrote the two elegies in grief of his death.
  • 1287 Khusrau went to Awadh with Amir Ali Hatim (another patron).
  • After the death of Kaikubad (Son of Balban), a Turk soldier Jalaluddin Firuz Khilji took power and became the King. He appreciated poetry and invited many poets to his court. Khusrau was honoured and respected in his court and was given the title “Amir”. He was given the job. Court life made Amir Khusrau focus more on his literary works. Khusrau’s ghazals which he composed in quick succession were set to music and were sung by singing girls every night before the king.
  • After Jalaluddin, Alauddin Khilji ascended to the throne of Delhi in 1295 A.D., Amir Khusrau wrote the “Khazain ul-Futuh” (The treasures of victory) recording Alauddin’s construction works, wars, administrative services.
  • Then he composed a quintet (khamsa) with five masnavis. The first was “Matla-ul-Anwar” (Rising place of lights) with ethical and Sufi themes. The second masnavi, “Khusrau and Shirin“. The third masnavi “Laila Majnun” was a romance. The fourth voluminous masnavi was “Aina-e-Sikandari” narrating the heroic deeds of Alexander the Great. The fifth masnavi was “Hasht Bihisht” related to the events of King Bahram Gur. All these works made Amir Khusrau a leading luminary in the world of poetry. Alauddin Khilji was highly pleased by his works and rewarded him handsomely. In1301 Khilji attacked Ranthambhor, Chittor, Malwa and other places, and Khusrau remained with the king in order to write chronicles.
  • In 1310 Khusrau became close to Nizamuddin Auliya, and completed Khazain-ul-Futuh.In 1315 Alauddin Khilji died. Khusrau completed the romantic masnavi “Duval Rani-Khizr Khan”.
  • After Alauddin Khilji’s death, his son Qutubuddin Mubarak Shah became the king. Amir Khusrau wrote a masnavi on Mubarak Shah as “Nuh Sipihr” (Nine Skies), relating the events of Mubarak Shah’s reign. He classified his poetry in nine chapters, each part is considered as a sky. In the third chapter he wrote a vivid account of India and its environment, seasons, flora and fauna, cultures, scholars, etc.
  • He wrote another book in the period of Qutubuddin Mubarak Shah by name “Ijaz-e Khusravi” consisting of five volumes. When Qutubuddin Mubarak Shah son was born, he prepared the horoscope of child where certain predictions, were made. This horoscope is included in the masnavi “Saqiana”.
  • After Mubarak Shah, Ghiyasuddin Tughluq came to the throne. Amir Khusrau wrote a historic masnavi “Tughlaq Nama” about his reign and that of other Tughlaq rulers.
  • On 3 April 1325 Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya died, and after six months Khusrow himself. Khusrau’s tomb is next to that of his spiritual master in the Nizamuddin Dargah of Delhi.

Khusrau as poet:

  • Khusrau was a prolific classical poet associated with the royal courts of more than seven rulers of the Delhi Sultanate. Khusrau wrote many playful riddles, songs and legends which have become a part of popular culture in South Asia. Through his literary output, Khusrau represents one of the first recorded Indian personages with a true pluralistic identity.
  • Khusrau was an expert in many styles of Persian poetry which were developed in medieval Persia, from Khaqani’s qasidas to Nizami’s khamsa.(
  • He has written in many verse forms including ghazal, masnavi, qata, rubai, do-baiti and tarkib-band. His contribution to the development of the g͟hazal, is significant.
  • Amir Khusrau was the author of a Khamsa which emulated that of the earlier poet of Persian epics Nizami Ganjavi. His work was considered to be one of the great classics of Persian poetry during later centuries. He wrote primarily in Persian and Hindustani (Hindavi). He contributed in development of Hindavi.
  • He also wrote a war ballad in Punjabi. In addition, he spoke Arabic and Sanskrit. His poetry is still sung today at Sufi shrines throughout Pakistan and India.
  • A vocabulary in verse, the Khaliq Bari, containing Arabic, Persian, and Hindavi terms is often attributed to him.

Contributions to Music:

  • Khusrau is credited for the invention of the musical instruments tabla, sitar. The term tabla is derived from an Arabic word, tabl, which means “drum”.The development of the Tabla originated from the need to have a drum that could be played from the top in the sitting position to enable more complex rhythm structure’s that were required for the new Indian Sufi vocal style of singing/chanting and Zikr.The Tabla uses a “complex finger tip and hand percussive” technique played from the top, unlike the Pakhawaj and mridangam which mainly use the full palm and are sideways in motion and are more limited in terms of sound complexity.
  • He is regarded as the “father of Qawwali” (a devotional music form of the Sufis in the Indian subcontinent), and introduced the ghazal style of song into India, both of which still exist widely in India and Pakistan. He is also credited with introducing Persian, Arabic and Turkish elements into Indian classical music and was the originator of the khayal and tarana styles of music.
  • On Kashmir: The verse supposedly uttered by Khusrau about Kashmir is not found in any of his written works. “If there is a paradise on earth, It is this, it is this, it is this

(D) Painting:

  • There are hardly any examples of court painting during the Sultanate. There is, however, no doubt that the new culture which the Sultanate rulers brought with them had already started influencing the classical Indian style in this period.
  • The Sultanate painting shows an attempt to arrive at a fusion of the newly-introduced Persian and Indian traditional styles.
  • This is evident in the few scattered works of the age. These manuscripts range from the historical poems of Amir Khasrau Dihlavi and the epic of Firdausi to folk tales glorifying an early Muslim hero filled with missionary spirit. In these illustrations scenes have been portrayed in a simple way but the colour scheme is bold and attractive.(
  • One of the earliest known examples date from the 15th century, including a copy of the Shahnama or Book of Kings, created under Lodi rule, which bears a close relationship to contemporary Jain paintings.
  • Features of Delhi Sultanate paintings that are based on Indian traditions include groups of people standing in rows and identical poses, narrow bands of decoration running across the width of the painting, and bright and unusual colors that replace the muted hues found in earlier Timurid painting .
  • The illustrated manuscript of Niamat Namat of the early 16th century, for instance, shows the fusion of Persian and Jaina styles. Many of the illus­trated manuscripts show the influence of Jain and Rajasthani painting styles.


Q.  Write brief essay – “Amir Khusro was an eminent poet not a historian”.

Q. Write a brief essay on Indo – islamic architecture during the Khalji ad Tughluq period.



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