Categories Medieval India

Q. ‘इल्तुतमिश के उत्तराधिकारियों के अन्तर्गत राजसत्ता का जो ह्रास हुआ, उसे शक्ति एवं प्रतिष्ठा देकर बलबन ने पुनः स्थापित किया। इस उद्देश्य की प्राप्ति के लिए उसने क्या उपय किया? “Balban restored the power and prestige of the monarchy after its decline under the successor of llltutmish. What were the measures he adopted to achieve this purpose ? [UPPSC-1996]

Q. ‘इल्तुतमिश के उत्तराधिकारियों के अन्तर्गत राजसत्ता का जो ह्रास हुआ, उसे शक्ति एवं प्रतिष्ठा देकर बलबन ने पुनः स्थापित किया।’ इस उद्देश्य की प्राप्ति के लिए उसने क्या उपय किया? ‘Balban restored the power and prestige of the monarchy after its decline under the successor of llltutmish’. What were the measures he adopted to achieve this purpose? [UPPSC-1996]


Iltutmish was the real founder of Delhi Sultanate. His steps like organisation of Iqta system, formation of loyal group of nobility (the forty), suppressing rebellions etc. led to formation of Delhi sultanate as a centralised state, sultan being the supreme authority.

However, during the successors of Iltutmish the authority of sultan received a setback. Most nobles didn’t approve Razia as successor of Iltutmish. Even the efforts of Nasiruddin Mahmud (1246-1266 A.D.) to break the vested power of ‘the forty’ by dismissing Balban from the court and replacing him by an Indian convert, Im’aduddin Raihan, did not meet with much success and influence of Turkish nobles continued.

But, during Balban’s reign (1266-87 AD), the influence of the turkan-ichihilgani was minimised, nobles were brought under control and the status of sultan was enhanced. ©

Measures adopted by Balban to restored the power and prestige of the monarchy:

  • Sultan as a representative of God on earth
    • Barani says that Balban stressed the special position of the Sultan as ‘shadow of God‘ (zill al Allah) on earth.
    • Balban followed the Iranian theory of kingship, according which, the king was divine in character, and answerable only to God, not to any set of intermediaries, i.e. religious figures. He believed that those who revolt against him are sinner before God.
  • King as a despot
    • He believed that Sultan was fountainhead of power. His word was the law. He said to his son Bughra Khan that “Kingship is the embodiment of despotism”. ©
    • He stood forth as the champion of Turkish nobility. At the same time he didn’t share power with other Nobles.
  • Nobility and Royal descent
    • Balban believed that persons born in low and ignoble families should not become nobles. He also believed that nobles are in no way equal to sultan but are dependent on the sultan’s favour.
      Balban realized that people at that time believed that it was only the prerogative of the ancient royal families to rule and exercise power, he therefore claimed to be a descendent of the Iranian hero, Afraisyab
  • Dignity of the Sultan
    • In order to enhance the dignity of the throne, he maintained a splendid court in which all the nobles had to stand in serried ranks, strict order being maintained by the Mir Hajib.
    • He began Sijda (prostration) and Paibos as a regular form of the king’s salutation.
    • The Court was richly decorated. People came from far away places to see Balban’s public processions. Balban himself maintained the utmost dignity in the Court. He would neither laugh out aloud himself nor allow anyone else to do so. He gave up drinking in his assemblies.
    • He also believed in severe exemplary punishments even to the nobles.
    • All these stepsconverted him into a symbol of awe.
  • Breaking the power of ‘the forty’:
    • Since he himself was a member of the “Forty before his accession, he was fully aware of the nobles’ rebellious activities. Therefore, he eased out the “tallest poppies amongst them through assassin’s dagger or poisoning, even including his cousin.
    • On the other hand, he formed a group of loyal and trusted nobles called “Balbani”.
  • System of espionage:
    • To keep himself well informed, Balban organized a spy-system. These spies (Barids) inspected the activities of his governors, military and civil officers and even that of his own son.
    • Balban’s spy-system proved quite effective and was responsible for his success in administration and breaking the power of the forty.
  • Organised a strong centralized army:
    • A strong, centralized state needed a strong army. He tried to reorganise and expand the central army which was directly under the control of the sultan.
    • Thus, brave and experienced maliks and sardars were appointed over the royal forces to which several thousand new sawars were added, care being taken to see that they were given adequate remuneration by assigning them fertile villages in iqta.
    • Balban re-organised the military department (diwan-i-arz).
  • Justice
    • Balban tempered his despotism by laying great emphasis on justice. According to historian Barani, his justice won the favour of his subjects and made them zealous supporters of his throne. In the administration of justice, he was inflexible, showing no favour to his brethren or children, or to his associates or attendants.
    • when he learned that Malik Bakbak who was governor of the iqta of Badaun, had flogged one of his servants to death in a drunken rage, and his widow appealed to the Sultan for justice, he ordered the malik to be flogged to death, and the barid who had not reported this matter to the Sultan to be publicly hanged.
  • Balban was convinced that both excess of wealth or poverty would make people rebellious. Hence, he advised his son, Bughra Khan, to be moderate in levying land tax (kharaj) on the peasants.
  • Consolidating Turkish power by putting down rebellions with determination and administrative procedures were streamlined. He focused on the consolidation of his rule and remained mostly in Delhi and also concentrated his energy mainly in keeping away the Mongols.
  • As sultan, whenever the army camped anywhere, he used to pay special attention to the poor, the helpless, women, children and the old, to ensure that none of them suffered any loss, or physical harm (from the soldiers).

Balban attempted to give a new shape to the concept of kingship to salvage the prestige of the office of the Sultan, but the struggle for power that started soon after Balban’s death confirms again that the ‘sword’ remained the main deciding factor. Kaiqubad was installed at the throne against the claims of Balban’s nominee. Kaikhusrau. Later, even he was slain by the Khalji Maliks (1290 A.D.) who laid the foundation of the Khalji rule. ©

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