The Political Condition of Deccan before Mughals -i At the beginning of 16th century there were seven main states in Deccan. The name of these states was: Khandesh, Bara, Ahmednagar, Bijapur, Golkunda, Beedar and Vijayanagar. Among these states Vijayanagar was the strongest and most prosperous. But in the Battle of Talikota the Muslim States of Deccan collectively defeated Vijayanagar.
After this battle Vijayanagar could not regain her former power. After some time Ahmadnagar brought Barar under its control and Bijapur brought Bidar under it. These Deccan states were not on good terms with each other. Both Ahmadnagar and Bijapur claimed Sholapur which was a rich and fertile track. Bijapur and Golkunda clashed over the possession of Naldurg. In short we can say that all the Deccan States were expansionists.
Another feature of the situation the growing importance of Marathas in the affairs of Deccan. The Maratha Armies had always been employed as loose auxiliaries in the Bahmani Kingdom.
The Deccan and the Mughals
The Mughals were the imperialists. They want to acquire the whole of India. So the kingdom of Deccan had to bear the brunt of a slaught of the Mughals from Akbar to Aurangzeb. The brief description of the Deccan Policy of the Mughal’s is as under: Babur and Humayun. Babur lived a very short life in India. He could not consolidate his position even in North of India. He could not pay total attention to the Deccan Kingdoms.
It is said that when he was fighting against Ibrahim Lodhi in First Battle of Panipat at that time the last Ruler of Behmani Dynasty Karimulla Behmani requested Babur to give him military help against his own provincial administrators, who had revolted against him and had declared themselves as independent rulers. Babur who had still to face Rajputs and remaining Afghans could not pay complete attention towards his requests.
But we cannot say that Babur was totally indifferent towards the political condition of the South India. He made an account of them (the states of the Deccan) in his autobiography which proves that he studied the situation closely but could do nothing due to paucity of time.
Babur died in 1530 A.D. His son and successor Humayun inherited an unorganised empire. The problem of the state kept him totally busy. He could not even retain Northern Jndia and was soon expelled from India by Sher Shah Suri.
Akbar’s interest in the Deccan
Akbar was busy in conquering and consolidating his position in Northern India. The result was that no action was taken by him even when the Vijayanagar Empire fell in 1565. However, this does not mean that Akbar was not interested in the Deccan. After having established himself in Northern India, it was logical that he should extend his territory in the Deccan also. He would like to establish his total lordship over the whole of India and that necessitated an advance in the Deccan. There were other reasons also.
There was hostility between the Deccanis and the Foreigners who were also called Newcomers. Even among the Deccanis, the Habshis (Abyssinians or Africans) and Afghans formed separate groups. There were also strong sectarian conflicts and controversies. The Deccani States, particularly Golcunda, adopted Shiaism as state religion. The Shia Party was also strong in the courts of Bijapur and Ahmadnagar.
The Shah of Persia was the Head of the Shia Faith and Akbar did not approve of the relations of the Deccan States with the Ruler of Persia. Mahdawi ideas had spread in the Deccan but the orthodox people were bitterly opposed to them. Akbar was afraid that the bitter sectarian rivalries prevailing in the Deccan States may not spill over into the Mughal Empire.
He was also apprehensive of the growing power of the Portuguese who were constantly trying to extend their territory in India and even tried to capture Surat. They were also trying to convert the Indians to Christianity. Akbar wanted to check the Portuguese danger by coordinating and pooling the resources of the States of Deccan under Mughal supervision.
In the States of Ahmadnagar and Bijapur lay some of the most famous ports of the West Coast. Dabhol, Rajapur and Goa furnished splendid outlets for the Deccan. The Muslim States of the Deccan maintained strong communications with Persia, Arabia and Egypt. Akbar was particularly jealous of their connection with Persia as the Shahs of Persia were the hereditary rivals of the Mughals. That rivalry became very keen when the frontiers of the two Empires touched each other.
Akbar’s active contact with the Deccan States shortly after the conquest of Gujarat. In 1573, Akbar sent Mir Hasan to the Ruler of Ahmadnagar asking him to deliver up Muhammad Husain Mirza. However, his requests were not complied with.
Crisis over Berar
The annexation of Berar to the Kingdom of Ahmadnagar in 1574 caused alarm to the Rulers of Khandesh. Bijapur and Golcunda might have drawn the attention of Akbar to it. Mohammad Shah II, the Ruler of Khandesh, marched to help a claimant to the kingdom of Berar, but he was defeated. Burhanpur was plundered and Asirgarh was besieged.
The army of Murtaza Nizam Shah advanced as far as the Mughal Frontier. His movements could not have escaped the notice of Akbar. In 1577, Akbar encamped on the Bank of the Narbada while Nizam Shah’s troops were posted on the Frontier of Berar. As Akbar had other plans before him, he connived at the military demonstrations of the Deccan States, broke up his camp and returned to the North. The crisis was over for the time being.
Muhammad Shah II died in 1577. He was succeeded by Raja Ali Khan. Akbar sent a force to recover tributes from him. Murtaza Nizam pressed him to refuse the payment of any tribute and promised to give him full military support. However, Raja Ali Khan was fully aware of the policy of the Nizam towards smaller states like Berar and Bidar and looked at the future of his own kingdom with apprehension. He paid tribute to Akbar, handed over Muzaffar Husain Mirza and allied himself with him.
The Kingdom of Khandesh formed a sort of link between Gujarat and the Kingdoms of the Deccan and therefore its alliance with the Mughal Government was important not only for the defence to Gujarat and Malwa but, if necessary, could be utilised as a stepping stone for advance in the Deccan. Although Raja Ali Khan had natural sympathies with the Deccan yet he decided in favour of Akbar as he was afraid of the aggressive policies of Ahmadnagar and Bijapur.
In 1583, the civil strife between the Decanis and the Foreigners in Ahmadnagar led several of the latter to revolt and of those Mir Murtaza Khan and Khudawand Khan Came to the court of Akbar.