A Forgotten Empire Chapter 6

A Forgotten Empire Chapter 6

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

Deva Raya II. (A.D. 1419 to 1444 or (?) 1449)

A fresh war, 1419 ~~ Success of Vijayanagar ~~ Death of Firuz ~~ Sultan Ahmad attacks Deva Raya ~~ The latter's adventure and narrow escape ~~ Ahmad at the gates of the city ~~ He nearly loses his life ~~ Submission of Deva Raya ~~ Fall of Warangal ~~ Sultan Ala-ud-din ~~ Deva Raya's precautions ~~ His attempted assassination, 1433 ~~ The story as told by Abdur Razzak ~~ Expedition against Kulbarga ~~ Improvements at the capital ~~ Probable date of the kings death ~~ Was there a King Deva Raya III.?

There was war then with Kulbarga in 1419, Deva Raya II. being king of Vijayanagar. The Sultan had been unsuccessful in his attack on the Warangal fortress, Pangul, and the troops of Vijayanagar marched against him with horse, foot, and elephants. Firuz Shah gave battle forthwith, though he judged his forces to be inferior. Firishtah does not mention where the fight took place.

"Meer Fuzzul Oollah, who commanded the troops of Islaam, charged the infidels with heroic vigour, and, routing their center, proceeded to attack their right wing. He was on the point of gathering the flowers of victory, when one of his own attendants, bribed for the purpose by Dewul Roy, gave him a mortal wound on the head, and he instantly quaffed the sherbet of martyrdom. This fatal event changed the fortune of the day; the sultan was defeated, and with the utmost difficulty, by the most surprising and gallant efforts, made his escape from the field. The Hindoos made a general massacre of the mussulmauns, and erected a platform with their heads on the field of battle. They followed the sultan into his own country, which they wasted with fire and sword, took many places, broke down many mosques and holy places, slaughtered the people without mercy; by their actions seeming to discharge the treasured malice and resentment of ages. Sultan Firoze Shaw, in the exigence of distress, requested aid of the sultan of Guzarat, who, having but just acceded to the throne, could afford none. At last fortune took a turn favourable to his affairs, and the enemy, after repeated battles, were expelled from his dominions by the Sultan's brother, Khankhanan; but these misfortunes dwelt on the mind of Firoze Shaw, now old, and he fell into a lingering disorder and lowness of spirits."

The Sultan desired the throne for his son Hasan, husband of the beautiful Pertal, but on Ahmad Khankhanan taking up arms to support his intended usurpation and advancing, supported by most of the nobles, to the capital, Firuz gave way and nominated him Sultan in his stead.

Firuz died on September 24, A.D. 1422,[103] and Khankhanan became Sultan of Kulbarga under the title of Ahmad Shah I.

The first act of the new monarch, after "impressing the minds of his people with affection to his government" ~~ probably, that is, after an interval of a few months ~~ was to strengthen his army in order to take revenge for the invasions of the Raya; and having made all preparations he advanced to the attack. Deva Raya's generals collected their troops, sent for aid to Warangal, and marched to the Tungabhadra where they encamped. From this it appears that they had retired from the Doab after their successful raid. The Sultan arrived on the north bank of the river opposite the Hindu camp, and LAAGERED, if we may use the term now in fashion. Firishtah says that he "surrounded his camp with carriages (carts and waggons), after the usage of Room (Turkey in Europe), to prevent the enemy's foot from making night-attacks. Here he halted for forty days." We are now, therefore, probably in the dry season at the beginning of the year A.D. 1423, for if the river had been in flood there would have been no fear of the enemy's crossing it. In the early months of the Christian year that river is usually shallow in the open country east of the Hindu capital and away from the hills that surround it, having only thin streams running in its rocky bed. Indeed, Firishtah himself tells us that the river was at that time fordable.

Then ensued a dramatic episode. The Muhammadan cavalry had crossed the river and devastated the country of the Raya, who remained inactive, and the Sultan determined on a direct frontal attack. The troops of Warangal deserted the Raya and withdrew.

"Early in the morning Lodi Khan, Aulum Khan, and Dillawer Khan, who had marched during the night and forded the river at distance, reached the environs of the enemy's camp. It happened that the roy was sleeping, attended by only a few persons, in a garden, close to which was a thick plantation of sugar-cane.[104] A body of the mussulmauns entered the garden for plunder, and Dewul Roy, being alarmed, fled almost naked into the sugar-cane plantation. Here he was found by the soldiers, who thought him only a common person, and ~~ having loaded him with a bundle of canes, obliged him to run with it before them. Dewul Roy, rejoiced at his being undiscovered, held his peace, and took up the burden readily, hoping that he should be discharged as a poor person or be able to make his escape.

"They had not gone far when the alarm of Sultan Ahmed Shaw's having crossed the river, and the loss of the roy, filled the camp, and the Hindoos began to disperse. The sultan entered the camp, and Dewul Roy's masters, hoping now for more valuable plunder than sugar-cane, hastened to join their own fronds, leaving him to shift for himself. Dewul Roy ran with his own troops, and about noon came up with some of his nobles, by whom he was recognised and received with great joy. His safety being made known, his army rallied into some order; but as he regarded the late accident as an ill omen, he laid aside all thoughts of engaging in the field, and fled to Beejanuggur.[105]

"Ahmad Shaw not stopping to besiege the city, overran the open country, and wherever he came, put to death men; women, and children, without mercy, contrary to the compact made by his ancestor Mahummud Shaw with the roies of Beejanuggur. Laying aside all humanity, whenever the number of the slain amounted to twenty thousand, he halted three days, and made a festival in celebration of the bloody work. He broke down the idol temples, and destroyed the colleges of the Bramins. During these operations a body of five thousand Hindoos, enraged to desperation at the destruction of their country and the insults of their gods, united in taking an oath to sacrifice their lives in attempting to kill the sultan, as the grand author of all their sufferings. For this purpose they employed spies to observe his motions, that they might seize the first opportunity of action.

"It happened, that the sultan going to hunt, in the eagerness of chase separated from the body of his attendants, and advanced near twelve miles from his camp.[106] The devoted infidels, informed of the circumstance, immediately hastened to intercept him, and arrived in sight when even his personal attendants, about two hundred Moguls, were at some distance from him. The sultan alarmed, galloped on in hopes of gaining a small mud enclosure which stood on the plain as a fold for cattle, but was so hotly pursued, that some broken ground falling in his way, he was not able to cross it before his pursuers came up. Luckily some archers at this instant arrived to his aid, so that the enemy were delayed sufficiently to give the sultan time to reach the enclosure with his friends. The infidels attempted to enter, and a sharp conflict took place; all the faithful repeating the creed of testimony, and swearing to die, rather than submit…. Their little troop being mostly killed and wounded, the assailants advanced close to the wall, which they began to throw down with pickaxes and hatchets, so that the sultan was reduced to the extremity of distress. At this critical juncture arrived Abd-al-Kadir, first armour-bearer to the sultan, and a body of troops, with whom, fearful of some accident having happened to occasion his absence, he had left the camp in search of his master. The infidels had completed a wide breach, and were preparing to enter, when they found their rear suddenly attacked The sultan with his remaining friends joined Abd-al-Kadir in attacking the enemy, who after a long struggle were driven off the field, with a loss of a thousand men, and about five hundred of the mussulmauns attained martyrdom. Thus the sultan, by the almost inspired caution of Abd-al-Kadir, acceded, as it were, a second time, from the depths of danger to the enjoyment of empire.[107] It deserves place among the records of time, as a remarkable event, that two sovereigns at the head of armies, should fall into such danger for want of numbers, and both escape uninjured….

"after this event Ahmed Shaw, having laid waste the whole country, marched to Beejanuggur, which he kept so closely blocked up, that the inhabitants were reduced to the greatest distress; when Dewul Roy, to spare his people, sent ambassadors to the sultan entreating peace, to which he consented, on condition that he would send the tribute of as many years as he had neglected to pay,[108] laden on his best elephants, and conducted by his son, with his drums, trumpets, and all the other insignia of state, to his camp. Dewul Roy, unable to refuse compliance, agreed to the demands, and sent his son with thirty favourite elephants, loaded with treasure and valuable effects. The sultan sent some noblemen to meet him; and after being led in ceremony through the market and great streets of the camp, he was brought to the presence.[109] The sultan, after embracing, permitted him to sit at the foot of his throne, and putting on his shoulders a magnificent robe, and girding him with a sabre set with jewels, gave him twenty beautiful horses of various countries, a male elephant, dogs for the chase, and three hawks, which the Carnatickehs were till then strangers to the use of. He then marched from the environs of Beejanuggur, and on his arrival on the bank of the Kistnah dismissed the roy's son and returned to Koolburga."

To form some idea of the date of this cessation of hostilities we must see what follows in Firishtah's narrative. The historian states that during the year of the Sultan's return to Kulbarga there was a grievous famine in the Dakhan, and "the next year also, no rain appearing, the people became seditious." These two years were probably A.H. 826, 827, extending from 15th December A.D. 1422 to 23rd November 1424. He continues, "In the year 828" the Sultan marched against Warangal. The last campaign began about December A.D. 1422; and since we must allow some months for Ahmad's blockade of Vijayanagar, which resulted in his reducing the inhabitants to a state of starvation so that the Raya was compelled to capitulate, the date for the end of the war cannot be safely placed earlier than the winter of the year A.D. 1423. During these twelve months, however, there was a famine and failure of rain, so that the Sultan may have been able to traverse the cotton plains lying between Vijayanagar and Kulbarga, plains quite impassable for troops in wet weather, somewhat earlier than would otherwise have been the case.

The Sultan's next war took place in A.H. 828, when he advanced against Warangal over the undulating plains of the Dakhan, then rich in crop, and was completely successful. The Hindu kingdom was completely and for ever destroyed. The English date usually given for this event is A.D. 1424, but it is quite possible that a mistake has been made owing to the use of imperfect chronological tables by those who have written on the subject, and that Ahmad Shah's capture of Warangal may have taken place in A.D. 1425. Briggs, for instance, calls A.H. 828 "A.D. 1424," but the year only began on November 23, 1424. The campaign, however, was very short, and may have been concluded before the end of December of that year.

We hear nothing more from Firishtah regarding the affairs of Vijayanagar till the early part of the reign of Ahmad's son and successor, Ala-ud-din II., which began on Sunday, February 27, A.D. 1435,[110] the day of Sultan Ahmad's death.

Ala-ud-din's first act was to despatch his brother Muhammad Khan with a powerful army against Deva Raya of Vijayanagar ~~

"who had withheld his tribute for five years and refused to pay the arrears. They laid waste the country in such a manner that the Roy in a short time was glad to procure peace by giving twenty elephants, a great sum of money, and two hundred female slaves skilled in music and dancing, besides a valuable present to Mahummud Khan."

Flushed with this victory, and in command of a large force, Prince Muhammad rebelled against his brother, and Firishtah states that in doing so he obtained aid from Deva Raya. The prince took Mudkal, Raichur, Sholapur, Bijapur, and Naldirak from the Sultan's governors, but in a pitched battle with the royal forces was completely defeated and fled. Shortly afterwards, however, he was forgiven by his generous sovereign, and the fortress and territories of Raichur were conferred on him.

About the year 1442 Deva Raya began to consider more seriously his situation in relation to his powerful neighbour at Kulbarga.

"He called[111] a general council of his nobility and principal bramins, observing to them that as his country of Carnatic in extent, population, and revenue far exceeded the territories of the house of Bahmenee; land in like manner his army was far more numerous, wished therefore to explore the cause of the mussulmauns' successes, and his being reduced to pay them tribute. Some said … that the superiority of the mussulmauns arose from two circumstances: one, all their horses being strong, and able to bear more fatigue than the weak, lean animals of Carnatic; the other, a great body of excellent archers always kept up by the sultans of the house of Bahmenee, of whom the roy had but few in his army.

"Deo Roy upon this gave orders for the entertainment of mussulmauns in his service, allotted them jaghires,[112] erected a mosque for their use in the city of Beejanuggur, and commanded that no one should molest them in the exercise of their religion. He also ordered a koraun to be placed before his throne, on a rich desk, that the mussulmauns might perform the ceremony of obeisance in his presence, without sinning against their laws. He also made all the Hindoo soldiers learn the discipline of the bow; in which he and his officers used such exertions, that he had at length two thousand mussulmauns and sixty thousand Hindoos, well skilled in archery, besides eighty thousand horse and two hundred thousand foot, armed in the usual manner with pikes and lances."

On a day which must have been between November 1442 and April 1443 a desperate attempt was made on the life of King Deva Raya by one of his closest relatives ~~ a brother, according to Abdur Razzak, a nephew, according to Nuniz. Abdur Razzak's story is without doubt the more reliable of the two, since he is a contemporary witness. The story as told by Nuniz is given in the chronicle at the end of this volume.[113] Abdur Razzak was ambassador from Persia to Calicut and Vijayanagar, and his account is particularly important as it definitely fixes the date.

"During the time that the author of this narrative was still sojourning at Calicut (November 1442 to April 1443) there happened in the city of Bidjanagar an extraordinary and most singular occurrence….

"The king's brother, who had had a new house built for himself, invited thither the monarch and the principal personages of the empire. Now it is an established usage of the infidels never to eat in presence of each other. The men who were invited were assembled together in one grand hall. At short intervals the prince either came in person or sent some messenger to say that such or such great personage should come and eat his part of the banquet. Care had been taken to bring together all the drums, kettledrums, trumpets, and flutes that could be found in the city, and these instruments playing all at the same time, made a tremendous uproar. As soon as the individual who had been sent for entered the above-mentioned house, two assassins, placed in ambush, sprang out upon him, pierced him with a poignard, and cut him in pieces. After having removed his limbs, or rather the fragments of his body, they sent for another guest, who, once having entered this place of carnage, disappeared…. In consequence of the noise of the drums, the clamour, and the tumult, no one was aware of what was going on. In this manner all those who had any name or rank in the state were slaughtered. The prince leaving his house all reeking with the blood of his victims, betook himself to the king's palace, and addressing himself to the guards who were stationed in that royal residence, invited them with flattering words to go to his house, and caused them to follow the steps of the other-victims. So that the palace was thus deprived of all its defenders. This villain then entered into the king's presence, holding in his hand a dish covered with betel-nut, under which was concealed a brilliant poignard. He said to the monarch, 'The hall is ready and they only wait your august presence.'

"The king, following the maxim which declares that eminent men receive an inspiration from heaven, said to him, 'I am not in good health to-day.'

"This unnatural brother, thus losing the hope of enticing the king to his house, drew his poignard, and struck him therewith several violent blows, so that the prince fell at the back of his throne. The traitor, thus believing that the king was dead, left there one of his confidants to cut off the monarch's head; then going out of the hall he ascended the portico of the palace, and thus addressed the people: 'I have slain the king, his brothers, and such and such emirs, Brahmins, and viziers; now I am king.'

"Meanwhile his emissary had approached the throne with the intention of cutting off the king's head, but that prince, seizing the seat behind which he had fallen, struck the wretch with it with so much violence on the chest that he fell upon his back. The king then, with the help of one of his guards, who at the sight of this horrible transaction had hidden himself in a corner, slew this assassin, and went out of the palace by way of the harem.

"His brother, still standing on the steps of the hall of council, invited the multitude to recognise him as their king. At that moment the monarch cried out, 'I am alive. I am well and safe. Seize that wretch.'

"The whole crowd assembled together threw themselves upon the guilty prince and put him to death.

"The only one who escaped was Danaik, the vizier, who previously to this sad event had gone on a voyage to the frontier of Ceylon. The king sent a courier to him to invite him to return, and informed him of what had just occurred. All those who had in any way aided in the conspiracy were put to death. Men in great numbers were slain, flayed, burnt alive, and their families entirely exterminated. The man who had brought the letters of invitation was put to the last degree of torture…."

Nuniz states that the king died six months later and was succeeded by his son, but Abdur Razzak declares that he was presented in person to Deva Raya about the month of December 1443. The name of Deva Raya's son is not given by Nuniz, nor yet the length of his reign; he only states that he did nothing worth relating except to give enormous charities to temples. This king again was succeeded by a son called "Verupaca Rao," who must be identical with Virupaksha, and Nuniz dates from his reign the commencement of the troubles that led to the usurpation of Narasimha and the downfall of the first dynasty.

But before putting together the confusing records of this period I must revert to the events of the year A.D. 1443.

"At this period," says Abdur Razzak, referring to the second half of the year 1443, "Danaik[114] the vizier set out on an expedition into the kingdom of Kalbarga." The reasons which had led to this invasion were as follows: Sultan Ala-ud-din had heard of the treacherous attempt to kill the king of Vijayanagar and the murder of the nobles and Principal people, and he had sent a message to the king demanding payment of "seven lakhs of varahas," as he thought the moment auspicious for an attempt to crush the kingdom. "Diou-rai, the king of Bidjanagar, was equally troubled and irritated by the receipt of such a message," but he sent a brave answer and prepared for war.

"Troops were sent out on both sides, which made great ravages on the frontiers of the two kingdoms…. Danaik, after having nit de an invasion upon the frontiers of the country of Kalbarga, and taken several unfortunate prisoners, had retraced his steps…."

Firishtah also describes this war of A.D. 1443. He states that Deva Raya wantonly attacked the Bahmani princes ~~

"crossed the Tummedra suddenly, took the fortress of Mudkul, sent his sons to besiege Roijore and Beekapore, encamped himself along the bank of the Kistnan, and sent out detachments, who plundered the country as far as Saugher and Beejapore, laying waste by fire and sword.

"Sultan Alla ud Dien, upon intelligence of this invasion, prepared to repel it, and commanded all his forces from Telingana, Dowlutabad, and Berar to repair to the capital of Ahmedabad without delay. Upon their arrival he reviewed the whole, and found his army composed of fifty thousand horse, sixty thousand foot, and a considerable train of artillery. With this force he began to march against the enemy; and Deo Roy, upon his approach, shifted his ground, and encamped under the walls of the fortress of Mudkul, detaching a large body to harass the sultan.

"The sultan halted at the distance of twelve miles from Mudkul, and despatched Mallek al Tijar with the troops of Dowlutabad against the sons of Deo Roy;[115] also Khan Zummaun, governor of Beejapore, and Khan Azim, commander of the forces of Berar and Telingana, against the main body of the enemy. Mallek-al-Tijar, going first to Roijore, gave battle to the eldest son of Deo Roy, who was wounded in the action, and fled towards Beekapore, from whence he was joined by his younger brother, who quitted the siege of that fortress.

"In the space of two months, three actions happened near Mudkul between the two grand armies; in the first of which multitudes were slain on both sides, and the Hindoos having the advantage, the mussulmauns experienced great difficulties.[116] The sultan was successful in the others; and in the last, the eldest son of Deo Roy was killed by a spear thrown at him by Khan Zummaun, which event struck the Hindoos with a panic, and they fled with the greatest precipitation into the fortress of Mudkul."

Two chief Muhammadan officers, in the ardour of pursuit, entered the city with the fugitives, and were captured by the Hindus.

Deo Roy then sent a message to the Sultan that if he would promise never again to molest his territories he would pay the stipulated tribute annually, and return the two prisoners. This was accepted, a treaty was executed, and the prisoners returned with the tribute and added presents; and till the end of Deva Raya's reign both parties observed their agreement.

From the terms of the agreement we gather that, though Firishtah does not expressly mention it, tribute had been demanded by the Sultan, and this confirms the account given by Abdur Razzak. It also shows why the "Danaik" in Abdur Razzak's narrative had not returned covered with glory, but merely, having "taken several unfortunate prisoners, had retraced his steps."

The campaign must have been of short duration, since, while it began in A.H. 847 (May 1, A.D. 1443, to April 19, 1444) according to Firishtah, it was over before December 1443 when Abdur Razzak left Vijayanagar.

The narrative being thus brought down to the close of the year 1443, let us, before passing on, turn to other records and see what they tell us about the reign of Deva Raya II. I have already stated that he appears to have been very young at his accession in A.D. 1419. In 1443 he had already reigned twenty-four years. Now the Hakluyt translation of Abdur Razzak's chronicle states that Razzak saw King Deva Raya II. in 1443, and the India Office copy contains the additional information that the king was then "exceedingly young." I am not aware which version is the more accurate. But even if these added words be accepted as part of the original, the difficulty is capable of being explained away by the supposition that perhaps the ambassador was presented to one of the princes and not to the king himself. The king appears to have been in doubt as to whether the traveller was not an impostor in representing himself as an envoy from Persia, and may have refrained from granting a personal interview.

Several inscriptions of the reign are extant. One records a proclamation made in the king's name in A.D. 1426.[117] According to another bearing a date corresponding to Wednesday, October 16, in the same year,[118] he caused a Jain temple to be erected in the capital, in a street called the "Pan Supari Bazaar." This temple is situated south-west of the temple marked as No. 35 on the Government map. It is within the enclosure of the royal palace, and close to the rear of the elephant stables still standing. The king is honoured in this inscription with the full imperial title of MAHARAJADHIRAJA RAJAPARAMESVARA. The site of this bazaar is thus definitely established. It lay on either side of the road which ran along the level dry ground direct from the palace gate, near the temple of HAZARA RAMASVAMI, in a north-easterly direction, to join the road which now runs to the Tungabhadra ferry through the fortified gate on the south side of the river immediately opposite Anegundi. It passed along the north side of the Kallamma and Rangasvami temples, leaving the imperial office enclosure with its lofty walls and watch-towers, and the elephant stables, on the left, skirted the Jain temple and the temple numbered "35" on the plan, and passed along under the rocky hills that bound this plain on the north till it debouched on the main road above mentioned. This street would be the direct approach from the old city of Anegundi to the king's palace.

In A.D. 1430 the king made a grant to a temple far in the south in the Tanjore district.[119] There are two inscriptions of his reign dated respectively in 1433 ~~ 34 and 1434 ~~ 35 A.D. at Padavedu in North Arcot.[120] If, as stated by Nuniz, King Deva Raya II. died a few months after his attempted assassination, and if Abdur Razzak saw him in December 1443, we are led to the belief that he died early in 1444. Definite proof is, however, wanting. Other inscriptions must be carefully examined before we can arrive at any certain conclusion. Thus an inscription at Sravana Belgola, of date corresponding to Tuesday, May 24 A.D. 1446, published by Professor Kielhorn,[121] relates to the death on that day of "Pratapa Deva Raya;" and as it is couched in very curious and interesting terms, I give the translation in full ~~

"In the evil year Kshaya, in the wretched (month) second Vaisakha, on a miserable Tuesday, in a fortnight which was the reverse of bright,[122] on the fourteenth day, the unequalled store of valour (PRATAPA) Deva Raya, alas! met with death."

But since royal titles are not given to the deceased, he may have been only a prince of the blood. An inscription at Tanjore, also dated in A.D. 1446, mentions the name Deva Raya, but gives no further royal titles than the BIRUDA ~~ "Lord of the four oceans."[123] An inscription bearing date corresponding to Saturday, August 2 A.D. 1449, at Conjeeveram,[124] records a grant by a king called Vira Pratapa Praudha-Immadi-Deva Raya, to whom full royal titles are given.

It is provoking that Nuniz omits the name of the successor of Deva Raya II., as known to tradition in the sixteenth century, for this might have helped us to a decision. At present it looks as though there had been a Deva Raya III. reigning from A.D. 1444 to 1449; but this point cannot as yet be settled.

Mr. Rice has shown that one of the ministers of Deva Raya II. was named Naganna; he had the title "Dhannayaka," implying command of the army.

wA Forgotten Empire Chapter 6  

A Forgotten Empire Vijayanagar


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