Short Essay on THE BAHMANI KINGDOM (1347-1526)

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The Bahmani kingdom was founded in 1347 by Hasan Gang-i who revolted and proclaimed his independence from the Sultanate. He assumed the title of Ala-ud-din Bahmani (also Bahman Shah). Gulbarga was his capital. He divided his kingdom into four tarafs or provinces and placed each one under a tarafdar or governor.

He was succeeded by Muhammad Shall I (1358-1373) whose reign was chiefly occupied in waging savage wars against Vijayanagar and Warangal. Some of the other no­table rulers of the dynasty were: Finiz Shah (1397- 1422) who twice defeated Vijayanagar but was ultimately defeated at Pangul; Ahmad Shah (1422- 1433) who conquered Warangal and shifted the capital to Bidar, and who was also known as Wali on account of his association with a sufi, Gesu Daraz; Humayun (1451-1461) famous for his minister, Khwaja Mahmud Gawan; Muhammad Shah III (1463-1482) whose reign saw Mahmud Gawan expand the kingdom as never before.

In his campaign against Vijayanagar in 1481 he even reached and plundered Kanchi. He overran Dahlol and Goa on the western coast. However, Gawan was a Persian by birth (or an afaqt) and hence disliked by the ‘Deccani’ (or Dakhni) chiefs who were native.

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As in the Delhi Sultanate, the Bahmani rulers also depended on the support of the nobles. From 1375 onwards, a new factor was introduced into the composition of the Bahmani kingdom nobility, the afaqis. The word meaning ‘universal’ represented people who were uprooted and did not belong to any region.

They were also called gliaribud diyar meaning “arranger”. In 1397, Sultan Ghiyasuddin appointed afaqis to higher posts. This caused resent­ments among Deccanis, comprising of the old nobility and Turkish factions. This rivalry continued over the years, and eventually Mahmud Gawan, fell victim to Deccani conspiracy.

Thereafter, the succes­sive kings who were rather weak became puppets in the hands of one group or the other. During the reign of Shahabuddin (1482-1518), the rivalry reached the climax since the king preferred the afaqis.

When Shahabuddin died (1518), the nobles in charge of the provinces got almost a free hand. Finally, Ibrahim Adil Shah in Bijapur was the first to claim his independence in 1537. That was the beginning of the physical disintegration of the Bahmani kingdom.

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