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Tughluq: Major projects, agrarian measures, bureaucracy of Muhammad Tughluq: Part II

Tughluq: Major projects, agrarian measures, bureaucracy of Muhammad Tughluq: Part II

Bureaucracy of Muhammad Tughluq

  • To implement his progressive ideas, he needed a progressive administrative machinery. His approach towards the nobility was not based on racial, or on narrow religious considerations.
  • He welcomed not only those families which had been settled in India for long, and had served previous rulers but also admitted to the service persons from the artisan or other classes/castes despised by the Turks, such as gardeners, barbers, cooks, weavers, wine-distillers, musicians, etc.
  • Composition of Mohammad Bin Tughlaq’s bureaucracy –
    • Turks were the ruling elites from the beginning of the Delhi Sultanate and they continued to be part of Tughlaq’s bureaucracy.
    • Foreign elements – Tughlaq gave great patronage to foreigners and called them aziz (friend) and gave them lavish gifts. Foreigners included Khurasanis, Afghans, Mongols etc. For ex – Malik Makh, Malik Shahu were Afghan nobles.
    • Indian converts – like Aziz-ud-din Khammar, a distiller, was made Governor of Malwa.
    • Hindus – Bhiran Rai, Sai Raj Dhara, Barani mentions Kishan Bazran Indri who was made governor of Sehwan (Sindh).
    • Religious classes – Muhammad bin Tughlaq also tried to induct into the administration members of the religious classes, especially the sufis.
    • Artisans or other classes despised by the Turks, such as gardeners, barbers, cooks, weavers, wine-distillers, musicians Artisans and other classes -Najba, a singer, was given charge of Badaun, then Gujarat and Multan, Aziz- ud-din Khammar, a wine- distiller, was made incharge of Malwa, Peera Mali, a gardener, rose to be Diwan-i-Wizarat.
  • Barani severely criticises Muhammad bin Tughlaq for appointing these low, ignoble people and pours scorn on “the clerks and grain-merchants (bania) who could not distinguish the front of a horse from its tail.”
  • Mohammad Bin Tughlaq tried to take the first faltering steps towards a composite ruling class consisting of Hindus and Muslims.
  • Even more importantly, he tried to rise above the narrow limitations of class and caste, inducting into service not only people of land-owning classes, but men belonging to low, or artisan classes.
  • The heterogeneous bureaucracy might have proved more effective but lack of cohesion among them, hasty and hot temperament of Sultan and vast expanse of the empire ensured that all his schemes met the same end i.e. failed to produce the desired results.
    • Even though the low -caste appointees, and many Turkish and Hindustani nobles, remained loyal, the Mongol and Afghan sadah amirs behaved differently.
  • Problems of having heterogeneous nobility:
    • The elevations of common people like artisans to high posts was deeply resented by the old nobles.
    • These people were not incompetent rather they had risen on the basis of merit. But they were not soldiers. Hence, they failed whenever they had to deal with rebellions.
    • Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s nobility was very heterogeneous in character. So, there developed neither cohesion nor any sense of loyalty and could not be an instrument on which the sultan could lean in times of difficulty.

Rebellions during Mohammad Bin Tughlaq

To assess the true extent of Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s successes and failures, we may divide his reign into three unequal parts.

  • First phase (1324-1335):
    • In this phase, Muhammad bin Tughlaq was engaged in consolidating the vast kingdom he had inherited.
    • The only expansion was the conquest of Kampil in south Karnataka following Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s march to crush the rebellion of his cousin, Gurshasp.
    • There were rebellions in Multan, Lakhanauti and Sindh which were crushed.
    • Despite the failure of his schemes of exodus to Deogiri, Khurasan and Karchil expeditions, and the token currency experiment, the Sultan’s prestige remained high, as Ibn Battutah testifies.
      • According to him, the ruler of Delhi was one of the four most powerful rulers of the world at that time, the other three being China, Iraq and the king of Uzbeks.
  • The second phase (1236-45):
    • The second phase began badly with a rebellion in Mabar, and famine in the doab.
      • The failure of the Mabar campaign where epidemic played a role, led to the loss of all the other southern states.
      • Bengal was also lost.
      • The Sultan made little effort to recover these distant areas, either because he lacked the resources in men and money, or because he felt that the control and direct administration of these areas from Delhi was an impossible task in the given circumstances.
      • The only area which he considered important, and to which he held on to was Daultabad.
    • During the period, there were a series of rebellions in north India, and also in the Daultabad region which can be linked either to the discontent of the old nobles, or grasping revenue policies.
      • Perhaps, the most important rebellion of the old nobles was by Ainul Mulk, who had been a close friend and associate of the Sultan, and been made governor of Awadh.
        • He had provided the sultan with provisions while at Swarga-Dwar and had suppressed a rebellion at Kara (near Allahabad). Muhammad Tughlaq became suspicious of the growing popularity of Ainul Mulk who had also given shelter to some revenue defaulters.
        • Hence, he issued orders for his transfer to Daultabad, which was the occasion of the rebellion.
    • Although Muhammad bin Tughlaq ultimately pardoned Ainul Mulk, the conflict showed the deep division between the Indian and foreign elements.
        • Ainul Mulk was an Indian, and the bulk of the forces of the wazir who was an enemy of Ainul Mulk were foreigner—Persians, Turks and Khurasan’s.
        • These divisions were aggravated further because Muhammad bin Tughlaq gave great patronage to foreigners whom he called “aziz” or friend, and to whom he gave lavish gifts.
    • Muhammad bin Tughlaq also tried to induct into the administration members of the religious classes, especially the sufis. Towards this end, he even entered into matrimonial relations with some of them.
      • However, most of the sufis wanted to keep aloof from the state, and did not welcome this. In anger, Muhammad bin Tughlaq gave drastic punishments and executed some of them.
      • Barani says that he put many theologians (ulema), shaikhs, saiyyads, sufis and qalandars (wandering saints) to death.
      • In retaliation, and for his association with the yogis etc., the qazis issued a fatwa making it legal for anyone to rebel against the Sultan.
      • In order to counter this propaganda, Muhammad bin Tughlaq decided to seek a formal rescript from the Caliph, making his rule legal in the eyes of the orthodox.
        • He went so far as to substitute the name of the Abbasid caliph in his coins.
        • Later, he also received a formal rescript (manshur) from the Caliph. But all this could hardly change the attitude of the orthodox elements towards him.
    • Some of the rebellions which took place during this period, such as the one at Kara, and another at Bidar, was because the Sultan had given the area on contract (muqata) to some persons on the basis of their promising large sums of money which, however, they failed to collect from the peasants. In the process, they tried to squeeze the local officials or the sadah.
      • Rebellions in Malwa and Gujarat later on were also connected to this phenomenon.
    • Despite the Sultan’s concern with these repeated rebellions, they were contained. The Sultan remained at Delhi during this period. That his prestige remained high is shown by the embassies he received during this period from leading countries, such as China, Egypt, Khurasana, Iraq, Transaoxiana, and even some African countries.
  • The third phase (1346-51):
    • In this phase, a series of rebellions broke out at Kulbarga and Malwa.
    • A more serious rebellion broke out later at Gujarat, and at Bidar by Hasan Gangu.
    • Muhammad bin Tughlaq decided to lead in personal the campaign against Gujarat because of its economic and strategic importance, although the rebellion was led by low grade sadah amirs. In his absence, Daultabad was lost and the Bahmani kingdom born.
    • Muhammad bin Tughlaq remained in Gujarat for two-and-a-half years, spending the later years campaigning in Saurashtra and then moving to Thatta (lower Sindh) in pursuit of the rebel.
      • Muhammad bin Tughlaq died before reaching Thatta.
    • Meanwhile, a council of regency set up by him functioned at Delhi. There were no rebellions in the north during the Sultan’s prolonged absence.

Assessment of Muhammad bin Tughlaq

  • Despite his many limitations, Muhammad bin Tughlaq bequeathed a large empire with a functioning administration to his successor.
    • While his rash and hasty temperament, his suspicious nature, and giving excessive punishments added to his difficulties, his main problems arose from an empire which had become too large, and in which he tried to impose a uniform and highly centralized system of administration.
  • Some of his experiments and reforms also had a long term significance.
    • His experiment with a token currency was a bold step, but one which was much beyond his time.
    • He did, however, indicate a direction for agricultural expansion and growth.
    • Finally, he tried to take the first faltering steps towards a composite ruling class consisting of Hindus and Muslims.
    • Even more importantly, he tried to rise above the narrow limitations of caste, inducting into service not only people of land-owning classes, but men belonging to low, or artisan classes.
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