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Delhi sultanate - Muhammad bin Tughlaq

He was a very attractive character in the history of medieval India owing to his ambitious schemes and novel experiments. His enterprises and novel experiments ended in miserable failures because they were all far ahead of their time.

Muhammad bin Tughlaq (1325-1351)

 

He was a very attractive character in the history of medieval India owing to his ambitious schemes and novel experiments. His enterprises and novel experiments ended in miserable failures because they were all far ahead of their time. He was very tolerant in religious matters. He maintained diplomatic relations with far off countries like Egypt, China and Iran. He also introduced many liberal and beneficial reforms. But all his reforms failed. Contemporary writers like Isami, Barani and Ibn Battutah were unable to give a correct picture about his personality. But, Muhammad bin Tughlaq was the only Delhi Sultan who had received a comprehensive literary, religious and philosophical education.

 

Transfer of Capital

 

Muhammad bin Tughlaq wanted to make Devagiri his second capital so that he might be able to control South India better. In 1327 he made extensive preparations for the transfer of royal household and the ulemas and Sufis from Delhi to Devagiri, which was renamed as Daulatabad. When they resisted the Sultan enforced his orders ruthlessly and caused great hardship of the population of Delhi. The distance between these two places was more than 1500 kilometres. Many people died during the rigorous journey in the summer. After two years, the Sultan abandoned Daulatabad and asked them to return to Delhi.


Token Currency

In 1329-30 Muhammad bin Tughlaq introduced a token currency. There was a shortage of silver through out the world in the fourteenth century. Kublai Khan issued paper money in China. In the same manner, Muhammad bin Tughlaq issued copper coins at par with the value of the silver tanka coins. But he was not able to prevent forging the new coins. The goldsmiths began to forge the token coins on a large scale. Soon the new coins were not accepted in the markets. Finally, Muhammad bin Tughlaq stopped the circulation of token currency and promised to exchange silver coins for the copper coins. Many people exchanged the new coins but the treasury became empty. According the Barani, the heap of copper coins remained lying on roadside in Tughlaqabad.


Taxation in Doab

 

The failure of these two experiments affected the prestige of the Sultan and enormous money was wasted. In order to overcome financial difficulties, Muhammad bin Tughlaq increased the land revenue on the farmers of Doab (land between Ganges and Yamuna rivers). It was an excessive and arbitrary step on the farmers. A severe famine was also ravaging that region at that time. It had resulted in a serious peasant revolts. They fled from the villages but Muhammad bin Tughlaq took harsh measures to capture and punish them. The revolts were crushed.

 

Agricultural Reforms

 

However, the Sultan realized later that adequate relief measures and the promotion of agriculture were the real solution to the problem. He launched a scheme by which takkavi loans (loans for cultivation) were given to the farmers to buy seed and to extend cultivation. A separate department for agriculture, Diwan- i- Kohi was established. Model farm under the state was created in an area of 64 square miles for which the government spent seventy lakh tankas. This experiment was further continued by Firoz Tughlaq.

 

Rebellions

 

The latter part of Muhammad bin Tughlaq's reign witnessed a spate of rebellions by the nobles and provincial governors. The rebellion of Hasan Shah resulted in the establishment of the Madurai Sultanate. In 1336 the Vijayanagar kingdom was founded. In 1347 Bhamini kingdom was established. The governors of Oudh, Multan and Sind revolted against the authority of Muhammad bin Tughlaq. In Gujarat Taghi rose in revolt against the Sultan who spent nearly three years in chasing him. Muhammad bin Tughlaq's health became worse and he died in 1351. According to Baduani, the Sultan was freed from his people and the people from the Sultan. According to Barani, Muhammad bin Tughlaq was a mixture of opposites. His reign marked the beginning of the process of its decline.


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