Short essay on the Successors of Mahmud


The successors of Mahmud were not quite compe­tent and their reign between 1030 and 1186 was a period of dissension, chaos and decay.

Among the successors of Mahmud, Masud (1030-1040) is the only one who, following his father’s example, led an expedition in India and added the fort of Hansi and the principality of Sonepat to his domain, but before that he had to fight and imprison his brother, Muhammed to establish his supremacy. Throughout his reign, Masud was helped by quite a few capable ministers. Khwaja Ahmad Maimandi was given wide-ranging powers by Masud and there was some improvement in the administration. With regard to the Indian part of the empire, Ariyarak was put in charge. He was an arrogant, ambitious man who did not care much for the sultan. Mahmud’s iron control kept him in his place, but with Masud on the throne, he became reckless. Khwaja Ahmad got rid of him by inviting him to Ghazni and imprisoning and poisoning him once he was there.

Ahmad Niyaltgin was the next man to look after Indian matters. He had to leave his son at Ghazni as a hostage for correct behaviour, but that was of no help. Baihaki says he also “turned away from the path of rectitude and took a crooked course”. On top of it, he picked up a quarrel with Qazi Shiraz, another emissary from Ghazni. So Khwaja des­patched Tilak, a Hindu advisor of Masud, to restore order. Tilak defeated Niyaltgin who fled from the battlefield. A price of five lakhs of dirham was put on his head and the jats of Hansi killed him when they caught hold of Niyaltgin.

Tilak’s success spurred Masud to fulfil his vow of capturing the fort of Hansi, although Khwaja advised him against it. Leaving Ghazni in October 1037, he reached Hansi and laid a siege on its supposedly impregnable fort. Anyway, the defence crumbled and the fort was stormed. All important people were killed and their women and children enslaved. From Hansi, Masud went to Sonepat whose ruler submitted to him without a fight and plundering the place Masud left for Ghazni.


Meanwhile, in Ghazni, proving Khwaja’s appre­hensions correct, the Saljuq Turks started raids on the people. Their leader Teghril Beg captured Nishapur and Khorasan and destroyed a part of the Ghazni town. In 1040, they overpowered Masud at a place near Mero when he decided to leave for India, again not heeding the advice of Khwaja. At the Marigalah mountain pass near Attock, his Hindu and Turkish slaves rebelled and put his younger brother, Muhammad, on the throne. Masud was held captive and was killed in 1041.

Muhammad, however, was ousted by Maudud, Masud’s son and after him followed a number of weak rulers who were unable to resist the Saljuq Turks. In 1059, Ibrahim came to the throne and restored some order. The Saljuq Turks continued their raids driving the last independent ruler of Ghazni, Arslan, to India in 1117. They put up Bahram Ghaznavid on the throne. Unfortunately, Bahram killed a Ghuri prince whose brother, Alauddin Hussain, took revenge by defeating Bahram, who fled to India. Alauddin razed Ghazni and slaughtered the men and enslaved their women and children. Excepting the grave of Mahmud, they dug up the graves and scattered the bones. The tomb of Mahmud and the minaret bearing the legend “God’s mercy for the great Amir Mahmud” can still be seen near modern Ghazni. Alauddin earned the titleJahan-Soz (the world burner) for his feat of sacking Ghazni.

Bahram came back to reclaim his power after some time and his son Khusru Shah ascended the throne on his death. A pleasure loving, incompetent person, Khusru could not control the amirs and the empire degenerated. In 1163, Alauddin Jahan Soz died and his nephew, Ghiasuddin, came to the throne of Ghur. He captured Ghazni and gave it to his brother Muizuddin Muhammad Ghuri to rule. In 1181, he appeared at Lahore and compelled Khusru to make peace with him and took away Khusru’s son as a hostage. In 1186, he besieged Lahore and imprisoned Khusru when he came out to receive his son. Khusru was sent to Ghazni and was killed after some years. With his death, the Ghaznavid dynasty came to an end.


The decline of Ghazni rule in India may be attributed to:

(i) Little or no attention was paid to internal strengthening and organisation of the empire.

(ii) Excess use was made of military power in external security.

(iii) Mahmud Ghazni had incompetent succes­sors.


(iv) Lack of definite and universal law relating to succession to throne resulted in constant fight among the successors of Mahmud.

(v) There was a lack of control over the army.

(vi) There was no new source of income.

Mahmud Ghazni’s invasion had some significance for Indian history.


(i) It exposed India’s military weakness.

(ii) It exposed the political disunity of India.

(iii) It weakened the economic condition of India because Mahmud carried huge wealth out of India.

(iv) It caused a great setback to Indian art and sculpture due to destruction of idols, temples and beautiful palaces.


(v) It opened India to foreign attacks.

(vi) It provided Islam a foothold in India.

(vii) Mahmud’s attack upon Hindu temples brought a feeling of hatred and fear among the Hindus towards the Muslims.

(viii) Arrival of Muslim saints, called the Sufis, provided impetus to greater Hindu Muslim interaction.

(ix) The accounts of Al-Beruni, who accompa­nied Mahmud to India, provide very useful infor­mation about contemporary Indian life.

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