Author Topic: Delhi Sultanate, Ghiyath al-Din Balban (AH 664–686; 1266–1287 AD), Paika, D167  (Read 4551 times)

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Offline Overlord

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Delhi Sultanate, Ghiyath al-Din Balban (AH 664–686; 1266–1287 AD), Paika (40 Ratti Standard), Goron/Goenka D167


A despicable, ill-looking boy is walking through the crowded streets of Bukhara. A fakir scornfully calls out to him "Come here, you little Turk!". The reply is gentle and sweet, "I am here, good Sir". A little surprised, the fakir tells him, "Go and bring me one of those pomegranates, pointing to some being sold in the street corner.". "Yes sir!", replies the boy as he pulls out all his money without hesitation and proceeds to buy the fruit. Upon receiving it, the fakir tells him, "I give you the kingdom of Hindustan.". The boy kisses his own hand and replies, "I have accepted of it, and am quite satisfied.".

A few days later, the boy, captured by the Mongols and sold to a slave trader at Basra, finds himself being carried, along with many other men, to Delhi. The slave-trader brings them to the sultan, Shams al-Din Ilutumish, who inspects and buys all of them except the boy, who is rejected on account of his despicable appearance. The boy cries out to the Sultan, "Lord of the world! Why have you bought all these slaves?". "For my own sake; no doubt.", replies the Sultan, smiling. "Buy me then for God's sake.", says the boy.

The sultan did so.

The boy, Balban, started out as a cup bearer and soon became the head of cup bearers. After this he was placed in the army, and soon became a general officer. Iltutmish enrolled him as a member of the famous corps of "the Forty Slaves". Under Raddiya, he was promoted to be Amir-i-Shikar (Lord of the hunt). He later assisted the nobles in deposing the queen. The new king, Bahram, granted him the fiefs of Rewari and Hansi. Balban's wise administration of the district seems to have improved the material condition of the people in his charge. In 1256, he organized an expedition against the Mongols and compeled them to raise the seige of Uch. He later helped in deposing Masud and raising Nasir Al-Din Mahmud to the throne, who married Balban's daughter. Balban was now given the title of Ulugh Khan and made Naib-i-Mamlikat. He was now the most important man in the sultanate of Delhi. Upon the death of Nasir Al-Din Mahmud in 1265, Balban, who was already in possession of power, carried out his enthronement and assumed the title of Ghiyas Al-Din Balban.

Balban's first care was to execute the survivors of "the Forty", in order to relieve himself of the dangers of rivalry. He was indeed a "ruthless king". "Fear and awe of him took possession of all men's hearts", and he maintained such pomp and dignity at his court that all beholders were impressed with respect for his person. He never laughed. His justice, executed without respect of persons, was stern and bloody. He secured his authority in the provinces by an organized system of espionage, and spies who failed to report incidents of importance were hanged.

In the early years of his reign, Balban had again to clear the Delhi approaches of Meos, and to hold them down he built a fort and line of police posts. The Doab, which remained rebellious, was distributed in fiefs to nobles who would clear the jungles and root out the brigands. New forts were built and Afghan garrisons were settled on the land to guard communications with Bengal. The threat of the Mongols, now in Ghazni, was checked by the refortification of Lahore in 1270, and by the prowess of Balban's cousin, Sunqar. With Sunqar's death, the way for new raids was opened, until Balban appointed his eldest son Muhammad to guard the frontier from Multan. The prince utterly routed the invaders in 1279.

The three years from 1279 onwards were spent in suppressing the rebellion in Bengal of a Turkish noble named Tughril who had dared to assume royal state. The rebel's family was exterminated. The countryside was terrified at the sight of rows of gibbets set up in the streets of the provincial capital.

Balban's magnificent court was honoured by the presence of fifteen kings and princes who had fled to Delhi for refuge from the horrors of the Mongol devastations. Many eminent literary men, the most notable being Amir Khusrow the poet, were associated with the refugee princes. The Sultan's main anxiety was caused by the fear of a Mongol invasion on a large scale, which prevented him from undertaking conquests of new territory. His eldest and best-loved son was killed in a fight with the heathens in March 1285. On receipt of the news, Balban continued discharging his kingly duties without apparent concern; but during the night, in the seclusion of his private apartments, he cried bitterly. That sorrow shook the strong constitution of Balban, the wary old wolf, who had held possession of Delhi for sixty years. He died in 1286 at an advanced age.

However horrible the cruelty of Balban may appear, it served the purpose of maintaining a certain degree of order in rough times. When he died "all security of life and property was lost, and no one had any confidence in the stability of the kingdom".

Mass=4.5 g

Obverse Al Sultan Al Azim (The Sultan, The Magnificent)

Reverse Ghiyas Al-Duniya Wa Al-Deen [Aid/Relief (of) the World and (of) the Faith]

Note: Copper coins with the same legend were also struck by Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad Damghan Shah of Madurai Sultanate. These can be distinguished by the way the letter Shin in "Sultan" in written and the form of the word "Azim".

Selections from the Travels of Ibn Batuta translated by Rev. Samuel Lee
The Oxford History of India by Vincent A. Smith
The Sultanate of Delhi by A.L Srivastava
« Last Edit: September 11, 2013, 08:51:20 PM by capnbirdseye »

Offline Rangnath

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I loved the story Overlord. Thanks for including it.
I guess the Mongol story is a much more complicated one. Why didn't a Mongol army successfully invade North India in the 13th Century?  To keep it simple, I guess they had their hands full with other problems:  problems of succession and civil war, absorbing the vast empire, subduing China, dealing with the Mamluks and the Western “front”.  The size of the Mongol Empire is staggering.  Am I missing anything?

Offline asm

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This is fantastic. Buy one - get many free. Knowing the History associated with a King or kingdom along with the coin increases ones interest manyfold. And I love History. It was, in fact, History which brought me to collect coins.
"It Is Better To Light A Candle Than To Curse The Darkness"


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Once again as usual excellent piece of information.