A Forgotten Empire Chapter 3

A Forgotten Empire Chapter 3

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 First Kings (A.D. 1336 to 1379) Rapid acquisition of territory ~~ Reign of Harihara I. ~~ Check to Muhammadan aggression ~~ Reign of Bukka I. ~~ Kampa and Sangama? ~~ The Bahmani kingdom established, 1347 ~~ Death of Nagadeva of Warangal ~~ Vijayanagar's first great war ~~ Massacres by Muhammad Bahmani ~~ Battle at Adoni, 1366 ~~ Flight of Bukka ~~ Mujahid's war, 1375 ~~ He visits the Malabar coast ~~ Siege of Vijayanagar ~~ Extension of territory ~~ Death of Mujahid, 1378. The city of Vijayanagar, thus founded about the year 1335, speedily grew in importance and became the refuge of the outcasts, refugees, and fighting men of the Hindus, beaten and driven out of their old strongholds by the advancing Muhammadans.

The first rulers of Vijayanagar, however, did not dare to call themselves kings, nor did even the Brahmans do so who composed the text of their early inscriptions. It is for this reason that I have spoken of Harihara I. and Bukka I. as "Chiefs." The inscription referred to of Harihara in 1340 calls him "Hariyappa VODEYA," the former name being less honourable than "Harihara," and the latter definitely entitling him to rank only as a chieftain. Moreover, the Sanskrit title given him is MAHAMANDALESVARA, which may be translated "great lord" ~~ not king. And the same is the case with his successor, Bukka, in two inscriptions,[32] one of which is dated in 1353. Already in 1340 Harihara is said to have been possessed of very large territories, and he was the acknowledged overlord of villages as far north as the Kaladgi district, north of the Malprabha, a country that had been overrun by Muhammad Taghlaq. That this was not a mere empty boast is shown by the fact that a fort was built in that year at Badami by permission of Harihara.

And thus we see the first chief of Vijayanagar quietly, and perhaps peacefully, acquiring great influence and extensive possessions. These so rapidly increased that Bukka's successor, Harihara II., styles himself RAJADHIRAJA, "king of kings," or emperor.

But to revert to the first king Harihara, or, as Nuniz calls him, "Dehorao," for DEVA RAYA. He reigned, according to our chronicle, seven years, "and did nothing therein but pacify the kingdom, which he left in complete tranquillity." His death, if this be so, would have taken place about the year 1343. Nuniz relates that he founded a temple in honour of the Brahman hermit, his protector. This was the great temple at Hampe close to the river, which is still in full preservation and is the only one among the massive shrines erected at the capital in which worship is still carried on; the others were remorselessly wrecked and destroyed by the Muhammadans in 1565. As already stated, the traveller Ibn Batuta refers to this king under the name of "Haraib" or "Harib" in or about the year 1342. If the traditions collated by Nuniz, according to which Harihara I. lived at peace during the seven years of his reign, be true, his death must have occurred before 1344, because in that year, as we learn from other sources, Krishna, son of Pratapa Rudra of Warangal, took refuge at Vijayanagar, and, in concert with its king and with the surviving Ballala princes of Dvarasamudra, drove back the Muhammadans, rescued for a time part of the Southern Dakhan country, and prepared the way for the overthrow of the sovereignty of Delhi south of the Vindhyas. I take it, therefore, that Harihara died in or about the year A.D. 1343.

As to his having reigned quietly, I know of only one statement to the contrary. An inscription of Samgama II. recording a grant in 1356, and referred to below, states that Harihara I. "defeated the Sultan;" but perhaps this only alludes to the fact that Muhammad Taghlaq had to abandon his hold on the country.

The next king was Harihara's brother, Bukka I. ("Bucarao"), and according to Nuniz he reigned thirty-seven years, conquering in that time all the kingdoms of the south, even including Orissa (Orya). Without laying too much stress on conquests by force of arms, it seems certain that most if not all Southern India submitted to his rule, probably only too anxious to secure a continuance of Hindu domination in preference to the despotism of the hated followers of Islam.[33] According to the chronicle, therefore, the death of Bukka I., as we must call him, took place about the year A.D. 1380. As to inscriptions of his reign, Dr. Hultzsch[34] mentions that they cover the period from about 1354 to 1371, while the first inscription of his successor, Harihara II., is dated in 1379.[35] If, then, we assume that Bukka I. reigned till 1379, we find the chronicle so far accurate that Bukka I. did in fact reign thirty-six years, though not thirty-seven ~~ A.D. 1343 to 1379.

But meanwhile we have another story from an inscription on copper-plates which is to be seen preserved in the Collector's office at Nellore.[36] It has been carefully edited by Mr. H. Krishna Sastri. According to this it would appear that Bukka I., who undoubtedly was a man of war, usurped the throne. It asserts that the father of Harihara I., who was named Samgama, had five sons. The eldest was Harihara himself, the second Kampa, and the third Bukka. We want to know who succeeded Harihara. There is extant an inscription of Bukka dated in 1354, and there is this Nellore inscription dated in 1356. The latter comes from a far-off country near the eastern coast, and it relates that Kampa succeeded Harihara, and that Samgama II., son of Kampa, succeeded his father, and granted a village in the Nellore district to the Brahmans on a date which corresponds to May 3, A.D. 1356. It implies that Samgama had succeeded his father Kampa exactly a year previous to the grant. Thus it claims that Kampa was king from 1343 to 1355. We know nothing more of this, and there is only one other document at present known to exist which was executed in the reign either of Kampa or of Samgama This is alluded to by Mr. Krishna Sastri, who refers us to the colophon of the MADHAVIYA DHATUVRITTI, according to which its author, Sayanacharya, uterine brother of the great Madhavacharya, was minister to king Samgama, son of Kampa. The only possible inference is that the succession to Harihara was disputed, and that somehow Bukka got the upper hand and at least as early as 1354 declared himself king, afterwards claiming to have immediately succeeded Harihara. It will be seen farther on that in almost every case the kingdom was racked with dissension on the demise of the sovereign, and that year after year the members of the reigning family were subjected to violence and murder in order that one or other of them might establish himself as head of the State.

On the assumption, therefore, that the reign of Bukka I. lasted from 1343 to 1379, we turn to Firishtah to learn what were this king's relations with the followers of Islam, now supreme on the north of the Krishna.

Just after his accession, as it would appear, occurred the successful campaign alluded to above, in which a combination of Hindus from different States drove back the invaders. Here is Firishtah's account of what took place.[37] He is speaking of the year A.H. 744, which lasted from May 26, A.D. 1343, to May 15, 1344, and he says that Krishna Naik, son of Rudra Deva of Warangal, went privately to Ballala Deva and urged him to join a combination of Hindus with the view of driving out the Muhammadans from the Dakhan. The Ballala prince consented, and Krishna Naik promised, when the preparations were complete, to raise all the Hindus of Telingana and place himself at their head.

Ballala Deva then built the city of Vijayanagar,[38] raised an army, and the war began. Warangal, then in the hands of the Muhammadans, was reduced, and its governor, Imad-ul-Mulkh, retreated to Daulatabad or Devagiri. The two chiefs then induced other Rajahs of the Malabar and Kanara countries to join them, and the joint forces seized the whole of the Dakhan and expelled the Muhammadans there, "so that within a few months Muhammad Taghlak had no possessions in that quarter except Daulatabad."

So far the Muhammadan historian. It is necessary to observe that this success of the Hindus was only temporary, for their enemies still swarmed in the Dakhan, and immediately after this contest the Hindus appear to have retired south of the Krishna, leaving the distracted country a prey to temporary anarchy. This, however, was of short duration, for though the domination of the Sultan of Delhi in that tract was completely destroyed, yet three years later, viz, on Friday the 24th Rabi-al-akhir A.H. 748, according to Firishtah, a date which corresponds to Friday, August 3, A.D. 1347, Ala-ud-din Bahmani was crowned sovereign of the Dakhan at Kulbarga, establishing a new dynasty which lasted for about 140 years.

A few years after this there was a successful invasion of the Carnatic country by Ala-ud-Din; but though the army returned with some booty Firishtah does not claim for him a decisive victory. He does, however, claim that the new Sultan extended his territory as far south as the river Tungabhadra, "the vicinity of the fortress of Adoni." Ala-ud-din died at the age of sixty-seven on Sunday, February 2, A.D. 1358,[39] and was succeeded by Muhammad Shah. The Raya of Vijayanagar had presented Ala-ud-din with a ruby of inestimable price, and this, set in a bird of paradise composed of precious stones, the Sultan placed in the canopy over his throne; but some say that this was done by Muhammad, and that the ruby was placed above his umbrella of State.

Early in the reign of Muhammad it was discovered that the gold and silver coins of the Bahrami Sultans were being melted down in large quantities by the Hindus of Vijayanagar and Warangal, and numbers of the merchants were put to death. At the same time Bukka I., supported by his friend at Warangal, demanded the restoration of certain territories,[40] and as the Sultan was not ready for war, he "during a year and a half kept the ambassadors of the Raies at his court, and sent his own to Beejanugger to amuse his enemies." Finally he resolved on war, and made extravagant counter-demands on the Hindus. Bukka joined forces with Warangal, and Muhammad waged war on the latter state, plundering the country up to the capital, and retiring only on receipt of a large indemnity. Firishtah does not relate that any further campaign was at that time initiated, and we are therefore free to suppose that the Muhammadans were unable to press their advantage. Warangal was not long left in peace, and it may be well to glance at its subsequent history before returning to the events of the reign of Bukka at Vijayanagar.

After an interval, enraged at an insult offered or supposed to have been offered by the Rajah of Warangal, Muhammad made a rapid advance to the former's city of "Vellunputtun," as it is spelt by Firishtah, or "Filampatan," according to the author of the BURHAN-I-MAASIR. He seized it, slaughtered the inhabitants without mercy, and captured the unfortunate prince Vinayaka Deva.[41] The Sultan "commanded a pile of wood to be lighted before the citadel, and putting Nagdeo in an engine (catapult), had him shot from the walls into the flames, in which he was consumed." After a few days' rest the Sultan retired, but was followed and harassed by large bodies of Hindus and completely routed. Only 1500 men returned to Kulbarga, and the Sultan himself received a severe wound in his arm.

This was followed by a joint embassy from Bukka of Vijayanagar and the prince of Warangal to the Sultan of Delhi, in which they offered to act in conjunction with him should an army be sent southwards by that monarch in order to regain his lost power in the Dakhan; "but Feroze Shah, being too much employed with domestic commotions to assist them, did not attend to their representations." Thus encouraged, Muhammad assembled fresh forces and despatched them in two divisions against Warangal and Golkonda. The expedition was successful and the Rajah submitted, the Sultan receiving Golkonda, an immense treasure, and a magnificent throne as the price of peace. The throne was set with precious stones of great value, and being still further enriched by subsequent sovereigns was at one time valued at four millions sterling.[42] Warangal finally fell in A.D. 1424, and was annexed to the Bahmani kingdom, thus bringing the Muhammadans down to the River Krishna all along its length except in the neighbourhood of the east coast.

Now for the principal events of Bukka's reign and the affairs of Vijayanagar. The story deepens in interest from about the year 1365, and for two centuries we can follow the fortunes of the Hindu kingdom without much difficulty.

Early in A.D. 1366[43] the Sultan opened his first regular campaign against Vijayanagar. Originating in an after-dinner jest, it ended only after such slaughter that Firishtah computes the victims on the Hindu side alone as numbering no less than half a million. The story is told us by an eye-witness, one Mullah Daud of Bidar, who was seal-bearer to Sultan Muhammad.[44]

"One evening, when the spring of the garden of mirth had infused the cheek of Mahummud Shaw with the rosy tinge of delight, a band of musicians sung two verses of Ameer Khoossroo in praise of kings, festivity, and music. The Sultan was delighted beyond measure, and commanded Mallek Syef ad Dien Ghoree to give the three hundred performers a draft for a gratuity on the treasury of the roy of Beejanuggur. The minister, though he judged the order the effect of wine, in compliance with the humour of the Sultan wrote it, but did not despatch it. However, Mahummud Shaw penetrated his thoughts. The next day he inquired if the draft had been sent to the roy, and being answered, not, exclaimed, 'Think you a word without meaning could escape my lips? I did not give the order in intoxication, but serious design.' Mallek Syef ad Dien upon this, affixed the royal seal to the draft, and despatched it by express messenger to the roy of Beejanuggur. The roy, haughty and proud of his independence, placed the presenter of the draft on an ass's back, and, parading him through all the quarters of Beejanuggur, sent him back with every mark of contempt and derision. He also gave immediate orders for assembling his troops, and prepared to attack the dominions of the house of Bhamenee. With this intent he marched with thirty thousand horse, three thousand elephants, and one hundred thousand foot to the vicinity of the fortress of Oodnee;[45] from whence he sent detachments to destroy and lay waste the country of the faithful."

The Raya, in spite of the season being that of the rains, pressed forward to Mudkal, an important city in the Raichur Doab, or the large triangle of country lying west of the junction of the Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers, a territory which was ever a debatable ground between the Hindus and Mussulmans, and the scene of constant warfare for the next 200 years. Mudkal was captured, and all the inhabitants, men, women, and children, put to the sword. One man only escaped and carried the news to Kulbarga.

"Mahummud Shaw, on hearing it, was seized with a transport of grief and rage, in which he commanded the unfortunate messenger to be instantly put to death; exclaiming that he could never bear in his presence a wretch who could survive the sight of the slaughter of so many brave companions."

The same day ~~ I.E. on a day in A.H. 767, in the month of Jamad-ul-awwal, which lasted from January to February 13, A.D. 1366 ~~ the Sultan marched southwards taking a solemn oath ~~

"that till he should have put to death one hundred thousand infidels, as an expiation for the massacre of the faithful, he would never sheathe the sword of holy war nor refrain from slaughter. When he reached the banks of the Kistna, he swore by the power who had created and exalted him to dominion, that eating or sleep should be unlawful for him till he had crossed that river in face of the enemy, by the blessing of heaven routed their army, and gladdened the souls of the martyrs of Mudkul with the blood of their murderers. He then appointed his son Mujahid Shaw to succeed him, and Mallek Syef ad Dien regent of his kingdom. He resigned all his elephants, except twenty, to the prince, gave him his advice, and sent him back to Kulbarga. He then crossed the river with nine thousand chosen horse without delay. The roy of Beejanuggur, notwithstanding his vast army, was so alarmed[46] that he sent off all his treasure, valuable baggage, and elephants towards his capital, intending to engage the next morning, or retreat, as he should find it adviseable. The night being stormy and heavy rain falling, the elephants and other beasts of burden stuck frequently in the mud,[47] and were not able to advance above four miles from the camp. Mahummud Shaw heard of the enemy's movement during the night, and immediately marched towards them, leaving his encampment standing. Towards the dawn he arrived at the roy's camp, and the alarm being given, so great was the confusion, that the infidels fled with the utmost precipitation towards the fortress of Oodnee, leaving everything behind them. Mahummud Shaw entered the camp of their market and baggage, putting all to death without any distinction; and it is said that the slaughter amounted to seventy thousand men, women, and children."

Muhammad passed the hot weather and the season of the early rains that year near Mudkal, and after being reinforced marched against Adoni ~~ "in the plains of which, on the banks of the Tummedra (Tungabhadra), the roy of Beejanuggur had taken up his station in his own territories, having given the command of Oodnee to his sister's son. Here he had collected a great army, and brought elephants and all the splendid insignia of empire from Beejanuggur."[48]

The Sultan had with him a train of artillery[49] and in a short time crossed the Tungabhadra, "and entered the domains of Beejanuggur, which were now for the first time invaded by a Muhammadan sovereign in person." This remark of Firishtah's is historically correct, for the Delhi Sultan's attack on Anegundi took place on the north bank of that river.

Before continuing the story I must note that Firishtah calls the king of Vijayanagar "Kishen Roy," otherwise Krishna Raya; but there can be no doubt that his real name was Bukka. The historian collected his information more than two hundred years after these events, and often misnamed the Hindu kings of whom he writes.

Muhammad, then, crossed the Tungabhadra, and only about twenty-five miles intervened between him and the great fortress of Adoni, which is situated on a precipitous range of hills about that distance from the river. The Tungabhadra at this portion of its course may be considered as forming the arc, west to north, of a quarter circle having Adoni for its centre, the radius roughly measuring about twenty-five miles. The river is fordable at most seasons of the year, lying as it does in a shallow rocky bed with low banks. It is difficult to locate with any certainty the scenes of this campaign, but I gather generally that, finding the Muhammadans aiming at the reduction of Adoni, Bukka marched out with a very large force to intercept this move, and placed himself on the south bank of the Tungabhadra, In the neighbourhood of the threatened fortress. The Sultan crossed somewhere near the present town of Siruguppa, and the great battle that ensued took place in the open cotton-plains, perhaps near Kavutal ("Kowtall" on the Ordnance Map).

Here is Firishtah's account:[50] ~~

"Roy Kishen Roy (I.E. Bukka), on receiving the intelligence (that Muhammad had crossed), called together all the first nobles of his court, and consulted on the best mode of opposing the mussulmauns. It was agreed that Hoje Mul,[51] a maternal relation to the roy and commander of his armies, should have the conduct of the war. Hoje Mul, vain to excess, on receiving his command, asked the roy if he should bring the prince of the mussulmauns alive a prisoner into his presence, or present him only his head upon a spear. Kishen Roy replied, that a living enemy, in any situation, was not agreeable, therefore he had better put him to death as soon as he should take him. Hoje Mul, having received his dismission marched to oppose Mahummud Shaw with forty thousand horse and five hundred thousand foot. He commanded the Bramins to deliver every day to the troops discourses on the meritoriousness of slaughtering the mahummedans, in order to excite zeal for expelling them. He ordered them to describe the butchery of cows,[52] the insults to sacred images, and destroying of temples, practised by the true believers.

"Mahummud Shaw, when the enemy arrived within fifteen coss[53] of his camp, commanded his general, Khan Mahummud, to muster the troops, who were found to be fifteen thousand horse and fifty thousand foot. Ten thousand horse and thirty thousand foot, with all the artillery, he advanced under Khan Mahummud Khan.

"On the 14th of Zeekaud (A.H. 767, or Thursday, July 23, A.D. 1366), the armies of light and darkness met. From the dawn till four in the afternoon, like the waves of the ocean, they continued in warm conflict with each other, and great numbers were slain on both sides. Mooseh Khan and Eeseh Khan, who commanded the right and left wings of Khan Mahummud's line, drank the sherbet of martyrdom, and their troops broke; which misfortune had nearly given a blow to the army of Islaam. At this instant Mahummud Shaw appeared with three thousand fresh horse. This restored the spirits of Khan Mahummud as also of the disordered troops, who rallied and joined him. Mukkrib Khan, advancing with the artillery, was not wanting in execution, greatly disordering the enemy's horse and foot. He asked leave to charge and complete the rout. Khan Mahummud upon this, detached a number of the nobility to support him, and permitted him to advance; which he did with such rapidity that the infidels had not time to use fireworks (I.E. cannon), but cane to short weapons such as swords and daggers. At this time an elephant, named Sheer Shikar,[54] belonging to Khan Mahummud, refused the guidance of his driver, and rushed into the center of the enemy's line, where he was stopped by the elephants of Hoje Mul Roy, and his driver was killed. Khan Mahummud with five hundred horse followed, and the elephant becoming unruly, turned upon the enemy, throwing their ranks into confusion. Hoje Mul Roy, after receiving a mortal wound, fled, and his followers no longer made resistance. The infidels, seeing their center broke, fled on all sides. The scymetars of the faithful were not yet sheathed from slaughter when the royal umbrella appeared. The sultan gave orders to renew the massacre of the unbelievers. They were executed with such strictness that pregnant women, and even children at the breast, did not escape the sword.

"Mahummud Shaw halted a week on the field, and dispatched accounts of his victory to his own dominions. In performance of his vow of massacre he next marched towards the camp of Kishen Roy, who, thinking himself unable to oppose notwithstanding his numerous force, fled to the woods and mountains for shelter. The sultan followed him from place to place for three months, putting to death all who came in his way, without distinction. At length Kishen Roy took the road of Beejanuggur, his capital. The sultan, pursuing, soon arrived with his army near the city."

To make a long story short, the Sultan besieged Vijayanagar in vain for a month, and then retreated across the Tungabhadra, harassed at every step by masses of the Hindus from the city. He halted at last in an open plain, and the king also pitched his camp at no great distance. Muhammad's retreat had been deliberately carried out in order to draw on his enemy, and cause him by over-confidence to neglect proper precautions. The ruse was successful. The Muhammadans made a sudden and unexpected night-attack. Bukka (called, as before, "Kishen") was off his guard, having indulged in wine and the amusements provided by a band of dancing-women. The slaughter was terrible, and the Raya fled to Vijayanagar, ten thousand of his troops being slain; ~~ "But this did not satisfy the rage of the sultan, who commanded the inhabitants of every place round Beejanuggur to be massacred without mercy."

Then Bukka tried to make peace, but the Sultan refused.

"At this time a favourite remarked to the sultan that he had only sworn to slaughter one hundred thousand Hindoos, and not totally to destroy their race The sultan replied that though twice the number of his vow might have been slain, yet till the roy should submit, and satisfy the musicians, he would not pardon him or spare the lives of his subjects. To this the ambassadors, who had full powers, agreed, and the money was paid at the instant. Mahummud Shaw then said, 'Praise be to God that what I ordered has been performed. I would not let a light word be recorded of me in the pages of time!' "

The ambassadors then pleaded that no religion ordained that the innocent, and particularly helpless women and children, should suffer for the guilty: ~~

"If Kishen Roy had been faulty, the poor and wretched had not been partakers in his crimes. Mahummud Shaw replied that the decrees of providence had so ordered, and that he had no power to alter them."

The ambassadors finally urged that as the two nations were neighbours, it were surely best to avoid unnecessary cruelty, which would only embitter their relations with one another; and this argument had effect.

"Mahummud Shaw was struck by their remarks, and took an oath that he would not in future put to death a single enemy after victory, and would bind his successors to observe the same lenity."

For some years, no doubt, the promise was fulfilled, but we read of wholesale massacres perpetrated by sovereigns of later date. As to Muhammad, Firishtah glories in the statement that he had slaughtered 500,000 Hindus, and so wasted the districts of the Carnatic that for several decades they did not recover their natural population.

Thus ended the war, and for some years there was peace between Vijayanagar and Kulbarga.

Muhammad Shah died on 21st April A.D. 1375,[55] and was succeeded by his son Mujahid, then nineteen years old. Shortly after his accession Mujahid wrote to Bukka Raya (still called "Kishen Roy" by Firishtah[56]), "that as some forts and districts between the Kistnah and Tummedra (Tungabhadra) rivers were held by them in participation, which occasioned constant disagreements, he must for the future limit his confines to the Tummedra, and give up all on the eastern side to him, with the fort of Beekapore and some other places." This "Beekapore" is the important fortress of Bankapur, south of Dharwar. The Dakhani sovereigns always looked on it with covetous eyes, as it lay on the direct route from Vijayanagar to the sea, and its possession would paralyse Hindu trade.

The Raya replied by a counter-demand that the Sultan should evacuate the whole of the Doab, since Raichur and Mudkal had always belonged to the Anegundi family. Bukka declared the Krishna river to be the true boundary, and asked that the elephants taken by Sultan Muhammad should be restored.

The Sultan's answer was a declaration of war. He advanced in person, crossed both the rivers, and arrived before Adoni. On hearing that the Raya was encamped on the bank of the Tungabhadra, he left one force to besiege the fortress, sent another to advance towards Vijayanagar, and himself marched, probably in a north-westerly direction, towards the river, "by slow marches and with great caution." The Hindu prince at first prepared to receive his attack, but for some reason[57] lost heart and retired to the forests on the hills of Sandur, south of his capital.

Firishtah here pays a tribute to the interest felt by the inhabitants of this part of India in the new city, then only forty years old, but evidently growing in grandeur year by year.

"Mujahid Shaw, having heard great praises of the beauty of the city, advanced to Beejanuggur; but thinking it too strong to besiege at present, he moved in pursuit of the enemy in the field."

Now follows a passage on which it is difficult to place full reliance, but which only echoes common tradition. It runs to the effect that, on the advance of the Sultan, the Raya

"fled through the woods and hills towards Seet Bunder Ramessar followed by the sultan, who cut passages for his cavalry; through forests before inaccessible. In this manner the roy fled from place to place for six months, but never dared to appear without the woods. It was in vain that the favourites of the sultan represented the pursuit as fruitless and destructive to the troops. He would not desist. At last his good fortune prevailed. The health of Kishen Roy and his family became affected by the noxious air of the woods, and they were warned to quit them by the physicians…. Driven by necessity, he retired by secret paths to his capital of Beejanuggur. The sultan despatched an army after him, while he himself, with the ameer al amra Bahadur Khan and five thousand men, went to amuse himself with the sight of Seet Bunda Ramessar.

"The sultan at this place repaired a mosque which had been built by the officers of Sultan Alla ad Dien Khiljee. He broke down many temples of the idolaters, and laid waste their country after which he hastened with all expedition to Beejanuggur."

It is a fact that a mosque is declared to have been erected by Malik Kafur on the sea-coast in 1310, but apparently not at Ramesvaram, which lies in the extreme south of India, on the eastern coast opposite the island of Ceylon. Moreover, it is extremely improbable that a Muhammadan sovereign could, in the fourteenth century A.D., have penetrated so far south with such a handful of men. They would have been harassed at every step by myriads of Hindus, who, though doubtless trembling at the sight of a Muhammadan, would, we may be sure, never have permitted 5000 men to traverse in peace 1000 miles of forest and mountain; for Ramesvaram is fully 500 miles from Vijayanagar. Malik Kafur's expedition is said to have taken place after the conquest by him of the Ballala Rajah of Dvarasamudra in Maisur, when he erected a mosque on the SEA-COAST OF MALABAR, and therefore nowhere near Ramesvaram. Colonel Briggs has observed this difficulty,[58] and thinks that the place alluded to must be Sadasivaghur, on the western coast,) south of Goa, adding, "The spot … is called Cape Ramas on our maps."[59] He believes, however, that the remains of an old mosque do exist at Ramesvaram, and its date should be settled. Leaving it to others better informed to throw light on this point, I return to Bukka Raya and his doings.

Firishtah says that there were two roads to Vijayanagar:

"one fit for the passage of armies, the other narrow and difficult. As the former was lined with ambushes, he chose the latter, through which he marched with a select-body of troops, and appeared suddenly in the suburbs of the city."

If Mujahid came up from the Malabar coast, the former of these two roads would perhaps be the usual route adopted by travellers, which leads through open undulating plains. Avoiding this route, the Sultan may have turned the Sandur hills by a flank movement to his right, and approached either along the valley of Sandur or along the valley which now carries the main road from Bellary to Vijayanagar, between the Sandur hills and the hills that surround the latter city.

"Kishen Roy was astonished at his boldness, and sent myriads of his people to defend the streets. The sultan drove them before him and gained the bank of a piece of water which alone now divided him from the citadel, in which Kishen Roy resided. Near this was an eminence, upon which stood a temple covered with plates of gold and silver set with jewels, much venerated by the Hindoos, and called in the language of the country Puttuk. The sultan, esteeming the destruction of it as a religious obligation, ascended the hill, and having razed the temple, possessed himself of the precious metals and jewels."

The piece of water alluded to may have been the picturesque lake at Kamalapuram; but which was the temple that Mujahid destroyed? It seems useless to speculate, considering that the historian only wrote from tradition after a lapse of two centuries. There are many temples on hills to choose from, and several pieces of water. But the strangest part of the story is that we are not told how the Sultan succeeded in penetrating the outer lines of works, and in reaching a spot which divided him only from the inner citadel or palace enclosure. It must, however, be remembered that though in A.D. 1443 Abdur Razzak saw seven lines of walls, we are not certain how many there were in the days of Bukka Raya.

At this point Mujahid was attacked and nearly lost his life.

"The idolaters, upon seeing their object of veneration destroyed, raised their shrieks and lamentations to the sky. They obliged Kishen Roy to head them and advanced resolutely in astonishing numbers. Upon which the sultan formed his disposition. He laid aside his umbrella, and with one of his arms-bearers, an Afghaun named Mhamood, crossed a small rivulet to observe the numbers and motions of the infidels. A Hindoo, who knew the sultan from the horse he rode, resolved, by revenging the destruction of his gods and country, to gain immortal reputation for himself. He moved unperceived through the hollows and broken ground along the bank of the rivulet, had gained the plain, and was charging towards the sultan at full speed, when Mujahid Shaw, at a lucky instant, perceiving him, made a sign to Mhamood Afghaun, who without delay charged the Hindoo. Mhamood's horse rearing, he fell to the ground. His antagonist, having every advantage, was on the point of putting him to death, when sultan Mujahid Shaw advanced with the quickness of lightning. The Hindoo, changing his object, aimed a heavy stroke at the sultan, giving at the same instant a shout of triumph, which made the spectators believe his blow was effectual. Luckily, a helmet of iron saved the head of the sultan, who now inflicted such a wound on his enemy that he was divided from the shoulder to the navel and fell dead from his horse,[60] upon which the sultan remounted Mhamood and joined his army on the other side of the rivulet."

A battle ensued in which the Hindus were defeated; but while the invading force had hardly recovered from their fatigue, the Raya's brother[61] "arrived at the city from his government with a reinforcement of twenty thousand horse and a vast army of foot"[62] The fighting then became furious. In the middle of the battle the Sultan's uncle, Daud Khan,[63] fearful for the safety of his sovereign, quitted his post at "Dhunna Sodra"[64] and joined in the engagement with distinguished gallantry. The Muhammadans were again victorious; but the enemy, having taken advantage of Daud Khan's movement, had captured the abandoned position, and thus seriously threatened the Sultan's retreat. He therefore left the field, and by skilful manoeuvring enabled the whole of his force to extricate themselves in safety from the hills. With between sixty and seventy thousand prisoners, mostly women, he retreated from Vijayanagar and sat down before Adoni; but after a siege lasting nine months the attempt was abandoned, and the Sultan retired to his own territories. Thus ended the campaign.

Firishtah gives a short account of the kingdom of Vijayanagar at this period (about 1378 A.D.), from which the following extracts are taken.

"The princes of the house of Bahmanee maintained themselves by superior valour only, for in power, wealth, and extent of country the roles of Beejanuggur were greatly their superiors;" and he implies that at this time, as certainly in after years, all Southern India had submitted to the sway of the Raya.

"The seaport of Goa,[65] the fortress of Malgaon,[66] … belonged to the roy of Beejanuggur, and many districts of Tulghaut[67] were in his possession. His country was well peopled, and his subjects submissive to his authority. The roles of Malabar, Ceylon, and other islands and other countries kept ambassadors at his court, and sent annually rich presents."[68]

We must revert for a moment to the Sultan's uncle and his behaviour before Vijayanagar. It will be remembered that, filled with the best intentions, he had quitted his post to defend his king.

"The sultan, on seeing the standard of Daood Khan, was enraged, but stifled his displeasure till the gale of victory had waved over the standards of the faithful. He then called Daood Khan before him, and gave him a harsh reprimand for quitting a station so important that, should the enemy gain possession, not a mussulmaun could make his escape from the city."

Daud treasured up his resentment at this treatment, and, being joined by other disaffected nobles, secretly plotted the assassination of the Sultan. The conspirators waited till Mujahid was on his way from Adoni towards Kulbarga, and then one night, that of Friday, April 16, A.D. 1378,[69] while the Sultan was asleep in his tent, Daud, accompanied by three other men, rushed in and stabbed him. There was a struggle, and the unfortunate monarch was despatched by the blow of a sabre.[70] Daud at once proclaimed himself Sultan as nearest of kin ~~ Mujahid having no children ~~ and being acknowledged, proceeded to Kulbarga, where he was proclaimed.

The assassination of his nephew availed Daud but little, as the country was at once divided into two opposing factions, and on May 21, A.D. 1378,[71] after a reign of only one month, the murderer was himself assassinated while at prayer in the great mosque of the capital. Meanwhile Bukka Raya overrun the Doab, advanced as far as the river Krishna, and invested the fortress of Raichur.

Daud was succeeded by Ala-ud-din's youngest son Mahmud I,[72] Mujahid's sister Ruh Parvar Agah having blinded Daud's son, then a boy of eight years, in order to prevent dissension. Mahmud was apparently welcome to all parties, for even the Raya raised the siege of Raichur and agreed to pay him the tribute exacted by Muhammad Shah; so at least says Firishtah. And during the whole of his reign of nearly twenty years there was peace and tranquillity at home and abroad. He died on the 20th April A.D. 1397.[73]

The decease of Bukka I. of Vijayanagar must apparently, for reasons shown, be placed at about A.D. 1379.

wA Forgotten Empire Chapter 3  

A Forgotten Empire Vijayanagar


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