A Forgotten Empire Vijayanagar| by Robert Sewell Preface|Chapter 1|Chapter 2|Chapter 3|Chapter 4|Chapter 5|Chapter 6|Chapter 7|Chapter 8|Chapter 9|Chapter 10|Chapter 11|Chapter 12|Chapter 13|Chapter 14|Chapter 15|Chapter 16|Chapter 17
The Beginning of the End
Reign of Sadasiva ~~ The king a prisoner but acknowledged ~~ Rama Raya ~~ The Adil Shah again at Vijayanagar ~~ Bijapur in danger ~~ Saved by Asada Khan ~~ Rebellion of Prince Abdullah ~~ Royal gratitude ~~ Death of Asada at Belgaum ~~ The Portuguese support Abdullah ~~ Treaties ~~ Ain-ul-Mulkh ~~ Fights near Goa ~~ Rama Raya's threatened expedition to Mailapur ~~ He joins the Adil Shah and wastes the territories of Ahmadnagar ~~ Portuguese violence on the Malabar coast ~~ The Inquisition at Goa.
Sadasiva, then, began to reign in 1541 or 1542 A.D., but was only nominally king, the whole power of the state being in the hands of Rama Raya and his two brothers, Tirumala and Venkatadri. That Sadasiva was recognised by every one as the real sovereign is shown by a large number of inscriptions, ranging from 1542 to 1568; most of which, however, have not yet been properly examined. A careful study has been made by Dr. Hultzsch of one of these, dated in A.D. 1566 ~~ 67, a year or so after the great defeat of the Hindus at Talikota and the destruction of the capital; and this is especially interesting as it bears out my assertion that even the three brothers themselves recognised Sadasiva as king, though he had no power and was kept under constraint. In this document Rama Rajah's brother, Tirumala, is the important personage, but he submits to the minor title, MAHAMANDALESVARA, while Sadasiva is mentioned as sovereign. The inscription states that a certain person presented a petition to the "Mahamandalesvara Rama Raja Tirumala Raja," who, AFTER OBTAINING SANCTION AT THE FEET OF SADASIVA-DEVA MAHARAYA, granted a village to the great temple at Vellore. Rama Rajah and Venkatadri were both at that time dead, and Tirumala was king DE FACTO. Couto even goes so far as to say that the three brothers "went on one day every year and prostrated themselves before their lawful sovereign in token of his rights over them." But as to the read relationship of Achyuta to Krishna, and Sadasiva to both, we are still completely in doubt.
We saw that, according to Nuniz, Krishna Deva, immediately on his accession to the throne, imprisoned his three brothers and a nephew, then eight years old, son of the late king, "Busbalrao." This was in the year 1509 A.D., and Krishna was then over twenty years old. We hear of no king of the name of "Busbalrao," or anything like it, from other sources; nor are the names of Krishna's three brothers as given by Nuniz at all like those of the two half-brothers mentioned in some of the inscriptions.
More than one epigraphical record contains the following genealogy: ~~
Here we have two half-brothers of Krishna Deva named Ranga and Achyuta, the latter being chosen king; and a nephew, Sadasiva.
Two inscriptions noted in my "Sketch of the Dynasties of Southern India" state that Achyuta was the son of Krishna Deva; while a Telugu work, the MANUCHARITRAM, makes him son of the second Narasimha. Couto says that he was nephew of Krishna Raya.
As to Sadasiva, some authorities make him, as stated above, nephew of Krishna Deva and son of Ranga, while another says that he was the son of Achyuta.
An inscription at Conjeeveram states that Achyuta had a wife named Varada Devi who bore him a son, Venkata. Venkata was actually raised to the throne, but lived only a short time, and then young Sadasiva was crowned king.
If it is necessary to make any choice amid all this confusion, I recommend my readers to accept provisionally the pedigree given in the above table, leaving it for future research to finally settle the question.
As to Rama Raya, several inscriptions state that he and his two brothers were sons of one Ranga Raya, whose pedigree is given; and Professor Kielhorn considers it established that Rama married Krishna Deva's daughter. She was probably a child at her marriage. She had a brother eighteen months old at the time of Krishna Deva's death ~~ so Nuniz says ~~ but we hear nothing more about him, or what became of him. Another daughter of Krishna Deva Raya's is said to have been married to Rama Raya's brother, Tirumala. Some authorities state that Rama's wife was Sadasiva's sister.
That there were disturbances at the capital on the death of Achyuta in 1542 seems clear; and indeed it could hardly be otherwise, for he appears to have dislocated the whole empire, alienated the nobles, upon whom the defence of the country rested, and aroused in them a spirit of rebellion to the crown.
Gaspar Correa has left us an account of what took place at Vijayanagar at that time, and I repeat his story for what it is worth; though it certainly seems as if he had made a mistake and brought down to this year the affairs of 1535 ~~ 36, the story of which has already been told. For he alludes to a visit of the Adil Shah to Vijayanagar, and unless there were two such visits, Correa would seem to be in error, since Firishtah's date is confirmed by Nuniz, in whose time King Achyuta was alive.
Correa states that in 1542 Achyuta, king of Vijayanagar, died, leaving a young son in the power of his uncle, brother of the dead king, who had been king contrary to right. The nobles wished to keep the boy at liberty, nominating two ministers to carry on the government; but the uncle disagreed, since in this way he would lose all power, and he contrived to gain over some partisans to his side. The nobles in disgust separated, returned to their estates, and, in despair of good government, began to assume independence each in his own province. The queen, mother of the boy, begged the Adil Shah to come to her aid and secure the kingdom for her son, promising him, in return for this favour, immense riches. The Sultan set out for this purpose, intending to visit Vijayanagar, but on the road he was met by emissaries from the minister, and bought off with lavish gifts. The king by real right (probably the uncle, Ranga), who had been detained in a fortress, was then liberated, and he also sought aid from the Sultan of Bijapur. The Sultan took advantage of the opportunity to set out afresh, nominally to aid the true king, but really to acquire the kingdom for himself. The Hindus, in fear for their safety, placed on the throne the brother of the dead king, and succeeded in defeating the Adil Shah close to Vijayanagar. The new king, in order to strengthen his position for the future, caused the boy, his rival, to be assassinated, as also two of the latter's uncles and a nephew of the dead king (Achyuta). Then, in dread of the power of the principal nobles, he summoned them to court, and put out the eyes of those who arrived first; so that the rest returned in great anger to their homes and began to intrigue with the Sultan. They urged him to depose the tyrant, promising their aid, and offering him the kingdom for himself if only the country could be freed from this monster. The Adil Shah therefore advanced, entered the kingdom of Vijayanagar, and was received as sovereign by many; but he also assumed such intolerant and haughty airs that he aroused the hatred of all around him, and in the end was obliged, in fear for his own safety, to retire to Bijapur. "Meanwhile a new king had seized the throne of Vijayanagar, a great lord from Paleacate, married to a sister of the king that preceded the dead king, and in the end he secured the kingdom."
It seems impossible, as Senhor Lopes justly observes, to get at the truth of all this at present, and I think it best to abandon the subject and pass on to consider the events of the reign of Sadasiva, which lasted from 1542 to 1567. It is pretty evident that each chronicler acquired his knowledge "from stories transmitted from mouth to mouth and disfigured in the process."
In 1543 Burhan Nizam Shah made an alliance with Rama Rajah and Jamshid Qutb Shah, Sultan of Golkonda, and attacked the Adil Shah, whereupon Rama Rajah, taking advantage of the latter's troubles, sent Venkatadri to reduce Raichur and the Doab, "so that Beejapore, attacked at the same time by three powerful princes in three separate quarters, was full of danger and disorder." True to the traditions of his predecessors, the new Sultan of Bijapur "called Assud Khan from Balgoan to his presence and demanded his advice on the alarming state of affairs," with the result that he patched up a peace with Burhan, making over to him the rich districts surrounding Sholapur, and sent ambassadors to arrange terms with Vijayanagar. This done, and the allies having retired, Asada Khan marched against the Qutb Shah of Golkonda, defeated him under the walls of his capital, and in a personal encounter grievously wounded him in the face with his sabre.
The Portuguese at this period had been very active, and amongst other more or less successful enterprises the Governor, Affonso de Sousa, attacked the territory of the Rani of Bhatkal on the pretext that she had withheld tribute due to the king of Portugal, and wasted her country with fire and sword. Her city was burnt, the Hindus were slain in large numbers, and the Rani reduced to submission.
About the year 1544 ~~ the date is somewhat uncertain ~~ Sultan Burhan again attacked Ibrahim Adil at the instigation of Rama Rajah, but was completely defeated.
"The sultan (Ibrahim) after this victory growing haughty and imperious, treated the ambassadors of Nizam Shah in a contemptuous manner, and behaved tyrannically to his own subjects, putting to death many and severely punishing others of his principal nobility for slight offences, which occasioned disaffection to his government."
On Burhan again invading Bijapur territories, a party was formed to depose Ibrahim and raise to the throne his brother Abdullah. This prince, finding that the conspiracy had been discovered, fled for safety to Goa, where he was well received. But when Ibrahim promised certain provinces to the Portuguese if they would send Abdullah away to a place where he could no longer disturb the peace of the Bijapur territories, De Sousa accepted the conditions; receiving the gift of Salsette and Bardes for the crown of Portugal, and the whole of the vast treasures accumulated by Asada Khan at Belgaum as a personal present for himself. Having pocketed as much as he could of the bribe, however, he only took Abdullah as far as Cannanore and then brought him back to Goa; and when, at the end of the next year, De Castro succeeded De Sousa as Governor, the former refused to surrender the rebel prince. This duplicity placed the Sultan in great difficulty, and in February 1546 he executed a treaty of peace, one of the terms of which was that no person belonging either to the Dakhan, or to the territories of the Nizam Shah, or to those of the king of Vijayanagar, with certain others specially mentioned, should be permitted to have any communication with Abdullah or his family until the reply of the king of Portugal was received to an embassy which the Adil Shah proposed to send to him. There were other terms also, and these not being acted up to by the Portuguese, the Sultan in 1547 sent some troops into the provinces of Salsette and Bardes, which were driven out by the Viceroy after a stubborn fight.
De Castro then concluded treaties with Vijayanagar on the 19th September 1547, and with Ahmadnagar on the 6th October of the same year, by the former of which the Hindu king was secured in the monopoly of the Goa horse trade, and by the latter a defensive alliance was cemented between the Portuguese and the Nizam Shah. This constituted a tripartite league against Bijapur.
Shortly afterwards a still more determined attack was made by the Bijapur troops against the mainlands of Goa, and in the battle which ensued one of the Adil Shah's principal generals was slain.
In 1548 the Viceroy concluded a more favourable arrangement with Bijapur and also with the Rani of Bhatkal.
The Portuguese historians say that De Sousa and Asada Khan both joined the ranks of the supporters of Abdullah, and that Asada Khan promised to give the king of Portugal all the territories of the Konkan on the downfall of Ibrahim, but the Viceroy changed his mind and withdrew, while Asada Khans death put a stop to all intrigues in that quarter.
Firishtah's account, however, of the conduct of Asada at this period totally differs, as do his dates. He states that, although the Khan was much distressed at his master's neglect, his coldness towards him, and his attitude of suspicion, yet he himself was consistently loyal in his actions, and did his utmost to crush the conspiracy. As to the Portuguese, this historian avers that, so far from abjuring the cause of Abdullah, they actually marched with that prince from Goa towards Bijapur, supported by the Nizam Shah, and even reached the neighbourhood of Belgaum; but when it became evident that Asada could not be corrupted, the nobles of Bijapur returned to their allegiance to their sovereign, and the alliance broke up. Sultan Ibrahim advanced to Belgaum in February 1549, but on the road heard that Asada had died.
Firishtah's account of the Bijapur Sultan's conduct when he arrived at Belgaum is too suggestive to be omitted. The king, he says, "COMFORTED HIS (ASADA KHAN'S) MOURNING FAMILY WITH KHELAUTS AND ASSURANCES OF ROYAL FAVOUR, BUT ALL HIS ESTATES AND TREASURES HE TOOK FOR HIS OWN USE" ~~ though these treasures were the accumulated property of a man whom the historian declares to have been, during the whole of his long life, the most faithful, courageous, and devoted adherent of his royal master, whom on many occasions he had personally rescued from difficulties which appeared almost insurmountable! The Portuguese account as to the fate of the treasures accumulated by Asada Khan is given by Mr. Danvers, who, treating the Khan as an unprincipled rebel, writes: ~~
"In addition to making over Salsette and Bardes to the Crown of Portugal, the Adil Khan had also given Martim Affonso (De Sousa, the viceroy) the vast treasure which Acede Khan had collected for the purpose of carrying out his rebellion, and which is said to have amounted to ten millions of ducats, OF WHICH, HOWEVER, ONLY ONE MILLION CAME INTO THE HANDS OF MARTIM AFFONSO. Some accounts state that he sent about half of this amount to Portugal for his own use, but others aver that he employed a great part of it in the public service in India, besides sending some home for the king's use in Portugal." 
It will be seen that the two accounts differ widely in details.
At this time Ibrahim Qutb Shah, younger brother of Jamshid and heir presumptive to the throne of Golkonda, was at Vijayanagar, whither he had fled in fear of Jamshid's despotic and violent temper. Firishtah relates a story of him which is worth repeating here, partly because the event occurred in the Hindu capital, partly because it illustrates the practice of duelling which, as Nuniz tells us, largely obtained at that time. and partly because it confirms the assertions of Nuniz that the king of Vijayanagar was in the habit of disposing at will with the revenues of his provinces.
Rama Raya had despotically turned out of his estate an Abyssinian officer in his employ named Ambur Khan, and conferred the same on Prince Ibrahim for his support.
"Ambur Khan, enraged at the alienation of his estate, and meeting Ibrahim Kootb Shah in the streets of Beejanuggur, accused him of depriving him of it. The latter replied that monarchs were at liberty to dispose of their own property, and that the king of Beejanuggur had chosen to give him the estate. Ibrahim Kootb Shah proceeded on his way; but the Abyssinian called him coward in refusing to dispute his title with the sword. Ibrahim warned him of his imprudence; but the Prince's mildness only added fury to the Abyssinian's anger, who proceeded to abuse him in grosser language. On this the Prince dismounted and drew. The Abyssinian rushed upon him, but the Prince's temper giving him the advantage, he killed his antagonist, whose brother, standing by, insisted on taking up the cause, and he also fell a victim to his temerity."
Prince Ibrahim succeeded to the throne of Golkonda In A.D. 1550. In the previous year, says Firishtah, an alliance was cemented between Sultan Ibrahim of Bijapur and the new sovereign of Bidar, Ali Barid, son of Amir Barid.
Rama Rajah having at this period accepted the presents and professions of regard sent to him by the Nizam Shah with an embassy, Sultan Ibrahim, roused to indignation, treated the Vijayanagar ambassadors at Bijapur with such indignity that they fled in fear of their lives, and Rama Rajah, offended in his turn, induced Burhan Nizam to attack Ibrahim. He did so successfully, and captured the fortress of Kallian; and on Ibrahim's retaliating by seizing one of the Ahmadnagar forts, an open alliance was entered into between Burhan and Rama. The two kings met near Raichur in 1551, laid siege to the place and took it. Mudkul also capitulated, and the Doab was thus once more restored to the Hindu sovereign.
About this time, so we are told by a Muhammadan historian, Rama Raya's two brothers rebelled against his authority during his absence from the capital, and seized the fortress of Adoni; upon which Rama begged aid from the Qutb Shah Ibrahim, and this being granted, Rama besieged Adoni for six months. The place eventually capitulated, and the brothers were then pardoned.
In 1553 Burhan died, and once more the two leading Muhammadan states became friendly for a short time; but the air was too full of intrigue and jealousy for this to last long. Sultan Ibrahim negotiated an understanding with Vijayanagar, and this led to a renewal of the war, in the course of which a battle took place at Sholapur, where Ibrahim was worsted.
But the most serious reverse which he suffered was at the hands of a chief named Ain-ul-Mulkh, whom by ingratitude and ill-treatment he had driven into open rebellion. At the end of a short campaign against this person the royal troops were completely beaten, and the Sultan was driven to take refuge at Bijapur. In a state of desperation he called on the Raya of Vijayanagar for aid, and Rama, as usual representing the puppet sovereign, sent his brother, Venkatadri, with a large force to expel the enemy from the Sultan's dominions. The story of the rebel "Ein-al-Moolk's" discomfiture at the hands of Venkatadri is thus told by Firishtah: ~~
"Syef Ein al Moolkh, imitating Assud Khan, resolved to surprize the infidels; but Venkatadry, having intelligence of his designs, ordered his troops to be on their guard; and having procured long faggots, with cloth steeped in oil bound round one end of each, commanded his followers upon the alarm being given to light them, and holding them up as high as possible, give the troops a full sight of the enemy. Ein al Moolk, agreeably to his intentions, having one night chosen two thousand men for the purpose, marched with Sullabut Khan to the enemy's camp, which he was allowed to enter unmolested; but upon a signal given, all the brands were instantly lighted up, and Venkatadry, who was prepared with his troops, rushed upon the surprizers, who expected no resistance, with such success that above five hundred of them were killed before the detachment could clear the camp. Ein al Moolk and Sullabut with the greatest difficulty made their escape; but, losing, the road through the darkness of the night, a report spread in his camp on the return of some of the fugitives, that he was killed; and his troops being immediately struck with a panic, separated and fled to different quarters. Ein al Moolkh and Sullabut Khan, with two hundred horse, about daylight arriving at their ground, and seeing it deserted, fled in confusion by the route of Maan to the dominions of Nizam Shaw, where they sought protection, but were basely assassinated by his treachery."
In 1555 an attempt was made by the Portuguese under their new Viceroy, Pedro de Mascarenhas, to place Prince Abdullah on the throne of Bijapur, the foreigners being dazzled by the magnificent offers made to them, should the joint efforts of the conspirators be crowned with success. Abdullah was established at Ponda, and proclamation made of his accession to the throne. On the death of De Mascarenhas in 1555, Francisco Barreto succeeded him with the title of governor, and having installed the prince at Ponda he proceeded to collect the revenues of the country. He was, however, opposed by an officer of Ibrahim Adil who was backed by seven thousand troops, and several fights took place.
Meanwhile Ibrahim himself had not been idle, and aided by fifteen thousand of Sadasiva's troops from Vijayanagar he dethroned and captured the ambitious prince, following this up by several attacks on the Portuguese forces. The war lasted during the whole winter of 1556, but with no very decisive results. Next year a fresh relay of troops from Bijapur attacked Salsette and Bardes, but were beaten by a small force of Portuguese near Ponda, and hostilities were suspended for a time.
Shortly after this, viz., in 1557, Sultan Ibrahim died. "During his illness he put to death several physicians who had failed in cure, beheading some, and causing others to be trodden to death by elephants, so that all the surviving medical practitioners, alarmed, fled from his dominions." He was succeeded by his eldest son, Ali Adil.
The new Sultan, immediately on his accession, cemented his father's alliance with Sadasiva and Rama Rajah by the execution of a new treaty, and sent ambassadors on a similar errand to Husain Nizam Shah, the successor of Burhan at Ahmadnagar. These, however, were badly received, and Sultan Ali, whose envoys at the Hindu capital had been warmly welcomed and hospitably treated, determined to establish, if possible, a real and lasting friendship with Vijayanagar. To this end he adopted a most unusual course, the account of which will be best given in Firishtah's own words.
"Ali Adil Shaw, who was intent on extricating his dominions from the losses of his father by alliance with Ramraaje, on the death of a son of that monarch, with uncommon prudence and resolution went, attended by one hundred horse, to Beejanuggur, to offer his condolence on the melancholy occasion. Ramraaje received him with the greatest respect, and the sultan with the kindest persuasions prevailed upon him to lay aside his mourning. The wife of Ramraaje adopted the sultan as her son, and at the end of three days, which were spent in interchanges of friendly professions, he took his leave; but as Ramraaje did not attend him out of the city, he was disgusted, and treasured up the affront in his mind, though too prudent to show any signs of displeasure for the present."
The incident thus entirely failed in its intended effect. It produced a lasting irritation in the mind of the Sultan, and a haughty arrogance on the part of Rama Raya, who conceived that the fortunes of his hereditary enemy must be at a very low ebb when he could condescend so far to humble himself.
In the next year, 1558, according to Couto, Rama Raya made an expedition to "Meliapor," or Mailapur, near Madras, where was an important establishment of Roman Catholic monks and the Church of St. Thomas. I quote the passage from the summary given by Senhor Lopes in his introduction to the CHRONICA DOS REIS DE BISNAGA (p. lxvi.). "The poor fathers of the glorious Order of St. Francis having seized all the coast from Negapatam to San Thome, they being the first who had begun to preach there the light of the Holy Gospel, and having throughout that tract thrown down many temples and destroyed many pagodas, a thing which grieved excessively all the Brahmans, these latter reported the facts to Rama Raya, king of Bisnaga, whose vassals they were, and begged him that he would hasten to their assistance for the honour of their gods."
They succeeded in persuading him that the newcomers were possessed of enormous riches, and he proceeded against the place, but afterwards finding that this was not true, and that the inhabitants were loyal to him, he spared them and left them in peace.
On his return to Bijapur, Ali Adil peremptorily demanded from Hussain Nizam Shah the restoration of the fortresses of Kallian and Sholapur; and on the latter's contemptuous refusal (he "sent back a reply so indecent in expression as to be unfit to relate." says Firishtah) another war broke out.
"In the year 966 (October 14, A.D. 1558 to October 3, 1559), Ali Adil Shaw having called Ramraaje to his assistance, they in concert divided the dominions of Houssein Nizam Shaw, and laid them waste in such a manner that from Porundeh to Khiber, and from Ahmednuggur to Dowlutabad, not a mark of population was to be seen. The infidels of Beejanuggur, who for many years had been wishing for such an event, left no cruelty unpractised. They insulted the honour of the mussulmaun women, destroyed the mosques, and did not even respect the sacred koraun."
This behaviour on the part of the Hindus so incensed the followers of Islam, not only the hostile subjects of Golkonda but even the allied troops and inhabitants of the Bijapur territories, that it laid the foundation for the final downfall and destruction of Vijayanagar.
In 1558 Dom Constantine de Braganza became Viceroy of Goa, and his period of government was signalised by every kind of violence and aggression. In 1559 Luiz de Mello carried fire and sword into the towns along the Malabar coast. He attacked Mangalore, set fire to the town, and put all the inhabitants to death. Later in the year he destroyed in similar manner a number of towns and villages on the same coast, and desolated the whole seaboard.
In 1560 the See of Goa was elevated into an arch-bishopric, and the Inquisition, the horrors of which even excelled that of Spain, was established. The inhabitants of Goa and its dependencies were now forced to embrace Christianity, and on refusal or contumacy were imprisoned and tortured. In this year also, and those following, the predatory excursions of the Portuguese were continued. In 1564 the Viceroy sent Mesquita with three ships to destroy a number of ships belonging to the Malabarese. Mesquita captured twenty-four of these, by twos and threes at a time, sunk them, beheaded a large number of the sailors, and in the case of hundreds of others, sewed them up in sails and threw them overboard. In these ways he massacred 2000 men.
This resulted in a serious war in Malabar, as the wretched inhabitants of the country; driven to desperation, determined at all hazards to destroy the ruthless invaders of their land. The Portuguese were attacked at Cannanore, and a series of desperate struggles took place, in the course of which Noronha, the commandant, desolated the country and ruined many people by cutting down forty thousand palm trees. At last, however, peace was made.