Saturday, May 3, 2014

Firuz Shah Bahmani; The multi-faceted Bahmani ruler

In 1397 Taj-ud-din Firuz Shah, popularly known as Firuz Shah Bahmani, usurped the throne of the Bhamani kingdom which came into existence in 1347 in the Deccan as a revolt against the rule of the Tughlaq Sultan Muhammad Bin Tughlaq of the Delhi Sultanate.

The most famous ruler of the Bahmani kingdom, Firuz Shah was a grandson Alauddin Hasan Bahmani, the founder of the dynasty. The author of Burhan-i-Ma'asir, describes him as ' a good, just, and generous king, who supported himself by copying the Quran’. According to him, Firuz "was an impetuous and a mighty monarch, and expended all his ability and energy in eradicating and destroying tyranny and heresy, and he took much pleasure in the society of the Shekhs, learned men and hermits".
An interesting personality in the history of Deccan, Firuz Shah is counted among the most learned rulers of his time. Endowed with a prodigious memory and keen intellect, he was a linguist and could converse freely with his wives of varied nationalities in their own tongues. He has fond of music.

Firuz Shah Bahmani was not immune from vices. Addicted to hard drinking, he like many other medieval rulers, was a blood thirsty tyrant. He won two battles against the Hindu Vijayanagar kingdom in 1398 and 1406. After these victories, he took delight in massacre of the populace and left “the roads littered with the bodies of the slaughtered Hindus”. Firuz Bahmani entered into a new relationship with Vijayanagar ruler Deva Raya by marrying his daughter. The wedding ceremony was celebrated in the capital of Vijayanagar with great pomp and show.

However, when Firuz was defeated in his third expedition against the Hindu Kingdom in 1420 at Pangul, to the north of the Krishna, he fled from the battlefield when his commander-in-chief, Mir Fazl-ullah Inju, was killed. The Vijayanagar army mercilessly put hordes of the Muslim subjects of the Bahmani kingdom into sword and demolished several mosques in vengeance.  

This defeat took a heavy toll on Firuz’s mind and body and he lost interest in the affairs of the state which he left in the hands of his slaves, Hushyar 'Ain-ul-mulk and Nizam Bidar-ul-mulk. He was succeeded by his brother Ahmad who forced him to abdicate the throne in his favour. According to Burhan-i-Ma'asir, Firuz was murdered by Ahmad, while Ferishta says his death was natural.

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