The Sharqis:

  • The Jaunpur kingdom had been set up by Malik Sarwar, a noble of the time of Firuz Tughlaq. Malik Sarwar had been the wazir for some time, and then had been nominated to the eastern areas with the title Malik-us-Sharq (Lord of the east). His successors came to be called the Sharqis after the title.
  • The Sharqi sultans fixed their capital at Jaunpur (in eastern Uttar Pradesh) which they beautified with magnificent palaces, mosques and mausoleums.
    • Sharqi sultan did not just copy the Delhi style of architecture. They created style of their own, marked by lofty gates and huge arches.
  • The Sharqi sultans were great patrons of learning and culture. In course of time, Jaunpur came to be known as the “Shiraz of the East”.
    • Malik Muhammad Jaisi, the author of Hindi work, Padmavat, lived at Jaunpur.
  • The Sharqi sultanat lasted for less than a century.
    • At its height, it extended from Aligarh in western Uttar Pradesh to Darbhanga in north Bihar, and from the boundary of Nepal in the north to Bundelkhand in the south.
  • The Sharqi rulers were eager to conquer Delhi but they were not successful in doing so.
    • With the establishment of the Lodis in Delhi towards the middle of the fifteenth century, the Sharqi rulers were gradually put on the defensive.
    • They lost most of the areas in western Uttar Pradesh, and exhausted themselves in a series of futile assaults on Delhi.
  • Significance of Sharqi:
    • The Sharqi rulers maintained law and order over a large tract following the collapse of the government in Delhi.
    • They successfully prevented the rulers of Bengal in extending their control over eastern Uttar Pradesh.
    • They established a cultural tradition which continued long after the downfall of the Sharqis.
  • In 1484Bahlul Lodi, the ruler of Delhi, occupied Jaunpur and annexed the Sharqi kingdom.

The Lodi (1451-1526):

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  • Background:
    • The Lodi dynasty was an Afghan dynasty that ruled parts of northern India and Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of modern-day Pakistan, from 1451 to 1526. It was founded by Bahlul Khan Lodi when he replaced the Sayyid dynasty.
    • Threatened by the rulers of Jaunpur, Malwa, the Saiyids (who had rises in Delhi after Tughluq) had sought the help of the Afghan leader, Bahlul Lodi, who had established himself in Punjab.
    • Called in to help the ruler of Delhi Bahlul stayed on, took control over Delhi and formally crowned himself in 1451.
  • The Lodis dominated the upper Ganga Valley and the Punjab from the middle of the fifteenth century.
  • As distinct from the earlier Delhi rulers who were Turks, the Lodis were Afghans.
    • Although the Afghans formed a large group in the army of the Delhi Sultanat, very few Afghan nobles had been accorded important positions. That is why Bakhtiyar Khalji had to seek his fortune in Bihar and Bengal.
    • The growing importance of the Afghans in north India was shown by the rise of the Afghan rule in Malwa. In the south, they held important positions in the Bahmani kingdom.

Bahlul Khan Lodi (1451–89):

  • Sultan Bahlul Lodi, the founder of the Lodi dynasty had a humble beginning. He belonged to the Shahu Khel clan of the Lodis which formed an important branch of the Afghans.
  • His father Malik Kala was killed by his enemies and orphaned Bahlul, known by the pet name of Ballu in his childhood was brought up by his uncle Islam Khan who had taken up service under the first Sayyid ruler, Khizr Khan and had risen to the position of Khan.
  • Bahlul grew up to be a brilliant youth, possessed of ambition and fine qualities of martial leadership. Islam Khan married his daughter with Bahlul and nominated him his successor. After the death of Islam Khan, therefore, Bahlul became the governor of Sirhind.
  • His power and influence went on increasing and, for the timely help which he gave to Sultan Muhammad Shah against the ruler of Malwa, was awarded the title of Khan-i- Jahan and also possession over Punjab. Afterwards, Bahlul, tried to capture Delhi twice but failed.
  • But when all powerful wazir Hamid Khan called him to Delhi, he got his opportunity. Sultan Alauddin Alam Shah had already left for Badaun while Hamid Khan was an imprudent man. Bahlul easily imprisoned Hamid Khan by a strategy and got him killed afterwards.
  • He, then, ascended the throne on April 19, 1451 CE with an apparent consent of Alauddin Alam Shah and assumed the title of Sultan Abul Muzaffar Bahlul Shah Ghazi and had his name proclaimed in the Khutba.
  • The conquest of the state of Jaunpur was one of the remarkable successes of Bahlul Lodi. Mahmud Shah Sharqi, the ruler of Jaunpur, had married a daughter of the Sayyid Sultan, Alauddin
    Alam Shah.
    • This lady constantly instigated her husband to attack Delhi in for avenging the disgrace of her father. Mahmud Shah regarded himself as the rightful claimant of the throne of Delhi which earlier belonged to his father-in-law.
    • Therefore, he attacked Delhi. At that time Bahlul had gone on an expedition towards Multan. He returned quickly to his capital and then proceeded to face the enemy. Dariya Khan Lodi, the commander of the Sharqi king, left the side of his master before the battle which reduced the strength of the Sharqi army.
    • Therefore, Bahlul succeeded in defeating Mahmud Shah at Narela near Delhi. Mahmud Shah did not forget this humiliation and attacked Etawah after some time. He again failed to achieve any success and both parties agreed for peace.
  • But no party fulfilled the terms of the treaty and there was a quarrel on the possession of Shamsabad. It also brought no result and the peace was signed again. After some time, Bahlul attacked Jaunpur but without any result.
  • In 1457 CE, Mahmud Shah died. However, his son, Muhammad Shah continued to fight against Bahlul. But Muhammad Shah was soon killed by his brother Husain Shah who now occupied the throne of Jaunpur.
  • Husain Shah also continued the struggle against Bahlul Lodi for many years. Bahlul succeeded twice in capturing Malka-i-Jahan, wife of Husain Shah though sent her back to Jaunpur with honor both times.
  • Ultimately, Husain Shah was defeated and compelled to take refuge in Bihar.
  • Thus, Jaunpur was conquered but Bahlul did not annex it to Delhi; instead he placed his eldest son Barbak Shah on the throne of Jaunpur in 1486 and retained the separate identity of the kingdom in close association with Delhi, thus creating a fraternity of the two Afghan kingdoms.
  • The conquest of Jaunpur which was more powerful and prosperous as compared to the kingdom of Delhi was the greatest achievement of Bahlul. It proved his military abilities. It added to his resources and raised his prestige among other rulers.
  • The success of Bahlul’s enterprise against Jaunpur frightened the chieftains of Dholpur, Kalpi, Bari and Alipur to acknowledge the suzerainty of Delhi.
  • Bahlul spent most of his time in fighting against the Sharqi dynasty and ultimately annexed it.
  • Finding himself in a weak position against Sharqi rulers, Bahlul had invited the Afghans of Roh to come to India so that “they will get rid of the ignominy of poverty and I shall gain ascendancy.”
    • The Afghan historian, Abbas Sarwani, says: “On receipt of these farmans, the Afghans of Roh came like locusts to join the service of Sultan Bahlul.”
  • The incursion of the Afghans not only enabled Bahlul to defeat the Sharqis, it changed the complexion of the Muslim society in India, making the Afghans a very numerous and important element in it, both in south and north India.
  • Bahlul led a successful expedition against Gwalior during the last year of his reign. Its ruler Raja Man Singh gave a present of 80 lakhs of tankas and Bahlul returned back. In the way, he was taken ill and died en route to Delhi in the middle of July 1489 CE. He was known as a just monarch who ruled over his subjects with moderation.

Sikandar Lodi (1489-1517):

  • Bahlul had nominated his third son Nizam Khan as his successor. But, after his death, the Afghan nobles pushed forward the claim of his second son, Barbak Shah who was the ruler of Jaunpur at that time or that of Azam Humayun, son of his eldest but deceased son, Khwaja Bayezid.
  • The claim of Nizam Khan was challenged on the ground that his mother was the daughter of a Hindu goldsmith. But eventually, the majority of them favored Nizam Khan who ascended the throne on July 17, 1489 CE with the title of Sikandar Shah.
  • A contemporary of Mahmud Begarha of Gujarat and Rana Sanga of Mewar, Sikandar Lodi geared the kingdom of Delhi for the coming struggle for power with these states.
  • Controlling nobles:
    • He tried to subdue the Afghan sardars who had a sturdy sense of tribal independence, and were not ready to look upon the sultan as more than a first among equals.
    • Sikandar made the nobles stand before him in order to impress them with his superior status.
      • When a royal farman was sent, all the nobles had to come out of the town to receive it with due honour.
      • Thus Sikandar re-affirmed the supremacy of the sultan over his nobles.
      • All those who held jagirs had to submit accounts regularly. Drastic punishments were given to those who embezzled money or were corrupt.
      • He set up an efficient espionage system to keep himself abreast of all the developments within his dominions which helped him much in keeping his nobles under his control.
      • He posted spies and informers at every important place including the houses of his nobles.
    • His system proved very much efficient and he was so well-informed about everybody and everything significant in the state so that the people believed that the Sultan was aided by supernatural powers.
    • All these measures succeeded and Sikandar Shah was successful in controlling the nobles. However, he was not cruel or discourteous in his treatment towards his nobles.
    • Sikandar Lodi had only limited success in his efforts to control the nobles.
      • At his death, Bahlul Lodi had divided the kingdom among his sons and relations.
      • Though Sikandar had been able to undo this after a hard struggle, the idea of a partition of the empire among sons of the ruler persisted among Afghans.
  • Administration:
    • Sikandar Shah was hard working, generous, just and well-intentioned Sultan. He worked hard from morning till midnight to supervise the administration.
    • Sikandar Lodi laid great emphasis on justice, and all the highways of the empire were made safe from robbers and bandits.
    • The prices of all essential commodities were remarkably cheap.
    • He took keen interest in agriculture.
      • He abolished the octroi duty on grains, and established a new measurement of a yard, called the gazz-i-sikandari of 32 inch, which continued to prevail till the Mughal times.
      • The rent-rolls (jama) prepared in his time formed the basis of the rent-rolls prepared in the time of Sher Shah later on.
    • He maintained peace and order within his kingdom. All this helped in the economic prosperity of the state.
    • Thus, the reign of Sikandar Shah was that of peace, order, prosperity and progress. The disorder which had prevailed in the Delhi Sultanate after the death of Sultan Firuz Shah was removed by Sikandar Shah.
  • Orthodox religious policies:
    • He sternly forbade the Muslims from following practices which were against the shara, such as women visiting the graves of saints or processions being taken out in their memory.
    • He re-imposed the jizyah on the Hindus, and executed a brahmans for holding that the Hindu and Muslim scriptures were equally sacred.
    • He demolished a few well known Hindu temples, such as the temples at Nagarkot and raised mosques in their places.
    • He prohibited the Hindus to shave their hairs and take bath in the river Yamuna at Mathura. He encouraged the Hindus for conversion to Islam.
    • He ordered the destruction of the mosques at Jaunpur built up by Sharqi rulers though withdrew his orders afterwards on the advice of the Ulema.
  • Some liberal policies:
    • He gave grants to scholars, philosophers and men of letters so that cultured people of all climes and countries, including Arabia and Iran, flocked to his court.
    • Due to the Sultan’s efforts, a number of Sanskrit works were translated into Persian.
    • He was also interested in music and had a number of rare Sanskrit works on music translated into Persian.
    • During the time, a large number of Hindus took to learning Persian and were recruited to various administrative posts. 
  • Sikandar Lodi also extended his dominion by conquering Dholpur and Gwaliar.
  • During these operations after careful survey and deliberations, Sikandar Lodi selected the site for the city of Agra (1506).
    • The town was meant to command the area of eastern Rajasthan and the route to Malwa and Gujarat.
    • It was also meant to control the rebellious nobles and rulers of the doab.
    • In course of time, Agra became a large town and the second capital of the Lodis.
  • The growing interest of Sikandar Lodi in eastern Rajasthan and Malwa was shown by his taking the Khan of Nagaur under his protection, and by trying to make Ranthambhor transfer its allegiance from Malwa to Delhi.
    • His successor, Ibrahim Lodi, even led a campaign against Mewar which was repulsed.
  • However, Sikandar Shah was a successful ruler. In his last days, he went to Bayana and, while returning from there, he was taken ill. He reached Delhi but, then, died on November 21, 1517 CE.

Ibrahim Khan Lodi (1517–1526):

  • Ibrahim Khan Lodi the youngest son of Sikandar, was the last Lodi Sultan of Delhi.
  • He faced numerous rebellions and kept out the opposition for almost a decade. He was engaged in warfare with the Afghans and the Mughals for most of his reign.
  • Unlike his father, Sultan lbrahim Lodi (1517-1526) had to face the hostility of the Afghan nobility soon after his accession to the throne in 1517.
    • He found himself surrounded by powerful nobles bent upon weakening the centre to gain an upper hand for themselves.
    • Upon the death of Sultan Sikandar, the nobles decided to divide the Empire between Sultan lbrahim Lodi and his younger brother Prince Jalal Khan Lodi, the governor of Kalpi.
    • Sultan lbrahim was forced by them to accept the division which naturally weakened the centre.
  • Some time later, some of the senior nobles criticised the supporters of division, calling their action detrimental to the Empire. They also persuaded the Sultan to rescind the agreement.
    • On their advice, Sultan lbrahim sent high nobles to Prince Jalal Khan to persuade him to withdraw his claim and acknowledge Ibrahim as the Sultan.
    • The efforts went in vain. The old nobles rallied around Ibrahim.
    • The Sultan deputed Azam Humayun Sarwani against Raja Bikrarnajit of Gwaliar because Prince Jalal Khan had taken shelter there. From Gwaliar, Jalal Khan fled towards Malwa but was captured by the Gonds and sent as prisoner to the Sultan in Agra.
    • His escape from Gwaliar made the Sultan suspicious of the loyalty of the old nobles to him. Some nobles were imprisoned.
    • The imprisonment of the old nobles sparked off wide-spread rebellion in the eastern region.
  • The Sultan raised his favourites to key positions at the court and sent others to the provinces as governors.
    • As a result, the old nobles became apprehensive of their future and began to build up their power in the provinces.
  • Darya Khan Nuhani, a powerful governor of Bihar, became a rallying point for the dissatisfied nobles in the east.
  • About the same time, Babur occupied the sarkar of Bhera and Daulat Khan Lodi, the governor of the trans-Sultej Punjab, failed to liberate it.
    • When summoned to the court, Daulat Khan did not come and revolted against the Sultan also invited the uncle of Sultan Ibrahim, Alam Khan Lodi (son of in Bahlul Lodi), and declared him as the new Sultan under the title of Sultan Alauddin.
    • Both formed an alliance with Babur, the ruler of Kabul, against Sultan lbrahim.
  • Rana Sangram Singh and Babur also seems to have reached to an understanding against lbrahim Lodi.
  • The growing power of the Rana in Malwa, and the extension of his powers towards Agra and Bayana, presaged a conflict between Mewar and the Lodis.
    • Rana Sanga defeated the Lodhis several times, which weakened his kingdom.
    • It is difficult to say what the outcome of this conflict would have been if Babur had not intervened.
  • In November 1525 CE, Babur again started on his Indian campaign from Kabul. Daulat Khan, Dilawar Khan and Alam Khan joined him and he easily conquered Punjab.
    • Babur reached the plain of Panipat.
    • Ibrahim also reached there to give him a battle. But, by then, Ibrahim Lodi had reduced much of his strength.
    • The historic (first) battle of Panipat took occurred on April 21, 1526 CE. Ibrahim fought bravely but was defeated and killed on the battlefield.
    • It was the end of the rule of the Lodi dynasty and it was also the end of the history of the Delhi Sultanate. This battle laid the foundation of the Mughal Dynasty in India.

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