Reportedly, a son of the slave of Ghias-ud-Din Balban, Ghazi Malik (Sultan Ghias-ud-Din Tughlaq) came to power after eliminating the Khilji Dynasty by killing Khusrau Shah, the last weak ruler of Khiljis who hastened a plain sailing for Tughlaq. His father had married a woman of Jat clan and Ghias-ud-Din was born.
According to Ibn Batoota, the word Tughlaq came from Qatlagh which transformed into Qatloo and later into Tughlaq. Ghias-ud-Din was assigned the task of graving horses of a trader in Sindh in his childhood and was picked up by Alagh Khan, the ruler of Sindh and the younger brother of Ala-ud-Din Khilji, as pedestrian and then elevated to the rank of rider in his army. Soon he was ranked as Mir Akhor and his discretions encouraged him to take actions against the unable and lavish Khusrau Shah. After coming into power, Sultan Ghias-ud-Din showered his companions and kinship with jagirs, riches and other royal blessings. His sons were titled as Alagh Khan (Fakhr-ud-Din Mohammad Jona Khan) whereas other sons were named as Zafar Khan, Mehmud Khan, Behram Khan, and Nusrat Khan and Malik Shadi Khan was ranked as Dewan-e- Wazarat (Minister). Being a noble person at heart, he regarded the ladies of the royal pedigree of Ala-ud-Din Khilji and wedded the daughters of Sultan Ala-ud-Din while all the nobles, who tilted to him in his rebellion against Khusrau Shah, were killed.
Sultan Ghias-ud-Din Tughlaq inherited an empty treasure due to the extravagance of the previous rulers especially Mubarak Shah and Khusrau Shah. Following the lines of actions by Ala-ud-Din Khilji, he had to take emergency steps to fill the treasure. He raised the salaries of the officials to reduce the bribery and corruption in the state and advised the jagirdars and Amirs to receive Malia (taxes of riches, land etc.) between 1/15 – 1/20 of the total produce. Avoiding the unnecessary expenditures, Sultan saved the royal cache and spent it on urgent lieu such as drought and starvation in the empire. Malia was revised in case of any catastrophe and it was raised gradually in case of any increase required.
Adventures of Warangal
Sitting on the throne, Sultan Ghias-ud-Din Tughlaq turned his face to Deccan and sent Jona Khan, his son to curb the upheaval of its Raja. Raja confined himself to the Fort of Warangal and siege by the Jona Khan’s army prolonged. An epidemic broke out in the royal army in the rainy season to down the morale. All the passages to Delhi were blocked and someone floated the hiding of the death of Sultan which provoked Malik Kafoor who rebelled against Jona Khan and deserted him along with other generals. Another rumor broke out in Delhi was of the uprising of Alagh Khan, the son of Sultan Ghias-ud-Din Tughlaq who was reported to capture the throne transmitting the news of his father’s death. Jona Khan lifted up the siege and went back to delhi but the rumors proved to be wrong. Consequently, the royal wrath fell on Malik Kafoor who, along with his family, was perished as a penalty. Sultan sent Jona Khan again to Deccan and conquered Warangal in 1332 AD. Raja submitted to Jona Khan and pledged the homage to the Sultan. Jona Khan conquered Jaj Nagar and Baider and returned to Delhi.
The conquest of Bengal
Sultan turned towards Bengal where Nair-ud-Din and Bahadur had a bad blood between them on the possession of throne. He left Jona Khan in Delhi and went to Bengal. As soon as he reached Bengal, Nair-ud-Din bowed to him and Sultan responded him by making him the governor of Bengal whereas Bahadur was dismissed by the Sultan. On his return, Sultan invaded Tarhat and compelled its raja to flee to the forest and Sultan reached Delhi in 1333 AD after appointing a Muslim governor in Tarhat.
Revenue administration of Sultan Ghias-ud-Din Tughlaq
Sultan did not altogether discontinue the revenue policies of the previous regime and rectified it gradually as per his requirement. Sultan accommodated the percentage of tax on the produce according to its condition. If the produce was below average on account of any natural calamity, Sultan reduced the percentage of tax on it otherwise the farmer had to pay it in full which was determined by the government. This lenient policy facilitated the farmer without burdening him beyond his muscle. The rate of tax was not more than 10% on Iqta and 9% on Bilad whereas some historians narrate this rate of revenue as high as 15% which looks closer to the facts and the tendency of Sultan. He ordered his personnel to receive Malia to maintain the financial condition of the farmer along with increasing it every year with a bearable percentage. To limit the Hindus, he ordered to tax them as much as they could not pose any threat to the crown and as low as they could earn their living easily and were not forced to leave the cultivation of land.
The dispensations to the landlords
Sultan Ghias-ud-Din Tughlaq distributed the Jagirs (even in the areas where Ala-ud-Din enacted his rule and jagir were prohibited to be conferred upon) among the nobles and chiefs to win their sympathies and favors. Especially the revenue officers were the apples of his eyes and he restored their positions, high salaries, and rewards turning rich and influential but Sultan ensured the check on the unfair dealings of these officers.
Death of Sultan
Sultan Ghias-ud-Din Tughlaq left for Afghan Pur, a few miles away from Delhi to see Jona Khan, his son. Jona Khan decided to offer a splendid reception to father and built a palace within three days to please him. Sultan spent a night with his youngest son Mehmud Khan in the palace appreciating it and intended to return the next day after the meals. As soon as Jona Khan came out of the room to supervise the elephants and horses offered to the Sultan, the roof of the room fell down due to the lightening from the sky crushing the Sultan to death along with his five cohorts including Mehmud Khan. When Sultan’s dead body was taken out, he was leaning on his son Mehmud Khan as if he had tried to escape Mehmud from death. The sad demise of the roof and Sultan’s subsequent death has been differently interpreted by different historians. To some, it was merely an accident and co-incident that after Jona Khan left the room; it fell down because Jona Khan was dining with his father and who predicted the moment of death? On the contrary, some chroniclers are of the opinion that Jona Khan plotted against his father. He had a magic in the palace due to which it fell down as soon as came out of the room. According to Ibn Batoota, Mohammad Khan (Alagh Khan) was a devotee of Hazrat Sheikh Nizam-ud-Din Aulia, a famous Sufi saint of Delhi who was famous for his state of reverie and anything he said in that condition proved to be true. Alagh Khan assigned his men the task of informing him whenever Hazrat Sheikh had gone to the state of ecstasy. He was reported about the condition of Sheikh and he rushed to Sheikh. Seeing him, Hazrat Nizam-ud-Din said to him, “We have conferred the throne upon you”. His rule over India is believed to be the upshot of the prayer of Hazrat Nizam-ud-Din Aulia.
Doctor Eshwari Parashad is of the view that Sultan’s death was due to the conspiracy of Alagh Khan and Hazrat Nizam-ud-Din Aulia. He quotes Sir Wellesley Haig:
“Sir Wellesley Haig put a special construction on Baroni’s words and concluded that he did not speak the truth for fear of incurring the displeasure of Sultan referring to Baroni’s phrase, ‘a thunderbolt of a calamity from heaven’ he contends that it should have been ‘the calamity of thunderbolt from the sky’ if Baroni really meant to express thereby the stroke of lightening. But the changed order of words is, in fact, immaterial. The meaning remains the same in either case. The phrase Bala-i-Asmani and not Saiqa-i-Asmani is idiomatic, as is borne out by Minhaj Siraj. The words Saiqa and Bala are quite clear and significant”.
Sadar Jahan Gujrati exposes the fact of the death of Sultan Ghias-ud-Din Tughlaq in a very strange way where he calls it an act of magic. He believes that the palace was built with a magic in it and it fell down crushing the Sultan along with his companions when Alagh Khan was out of the room. No other writer confirms his views. Ibn Batoota also relates it to the Sufi saint of Delhi who prophesied the kingdom of Alagh Khan. While Sir Wellesley Haig penned down another event of Sultan’s enquiry from Hazrat Sheikh Nizam-ud-Din Aulia on the question of Sma’a (hearing music on religious lyrics). Sheikh took it as affront and cursed the Sultan which brought about the death of the later with lightening sparing his son, the next Sultan. Facts and figures tell another tale which runs that the palace was built in three days and it was wet in the roots while the Sultan ordered the elephants’ parade in it which shook its roots and it fell down.
What may be the story; the pages of history are replete with truths and lies amalgamated at the same times. The writers in history are either Muslims or Hindus having their gross differences of religions, cultures, rites, heroes, and foes. The third source of history is written by the adventives writers who mainly rely on the local writers of the same two communities. No one can rotate the wheel of time and bring the days and nights of the bygone ages back to dig the realities out. Consequently, the truth remains veiled in the dungeon of the past covered by the dust of time and ages.