[PDF Notes] Biography of Sultan Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud

Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud owed his throne to the Turkish aristocracy and the latter was bound to have tremendous influence in the administration the new Sultan also knew the fate of those who opposed the powerful aristocracy.

It is contended that Nasir-ud-Din resigned all powers into the hands of Turkish aristocracy, particularly Balban and merely continued to reign only in name for about twenty years. It is also pointed out that he lived a very simple life, spending most of his time in copying the Holy Quran. He was so simple that he did not allow his wife to have a maid-servant.

On one occasion the fingers of his wife were burnt while cooking and while cooking and she requested the Sultan to provide a maid she requested the Sultan to provide a maid-servant for her. The reply of the Sultan was that as he was merely a trustee of the State, he could not spend money on his personal comforts.

This story is obviously incorrect as the wife of the Sultan was the daughter of Balban and it was too much to expect from such a lady that she would cook food herself. Moreover, it is also known that Nasir-ud-Din had more than one wife and very many slaves.

Dr. P. Saran differs from the views of other writers with regard to the character of Nasir- ud-Din Mahmud. He points out that the young Sultan began his reign with great enthusiasm but that was not palatable to Balban who wanted to keep all the powers in his own hands. The young Sultan was far-sighted and waited for an appropriate opportunity to challenge Balban.

A time came when Balban became unpopular with the Turkish nobility, including his relatives and the Sultan took advantage of this opportunity and expelled Balban and brought in Imad-ud-Din Raihan. During the brief period of the supremacy of Raihan, the young Sultan was actually the ruler.

When Balban became strong once again and Raihan was ousted, the Sultan had no hesitation in doing what he was ordered to do by Balban. On the bidding of Balban, Nasir-ud-Din banished Malika-i-Jahan his own mother. The Sultan cared more for his own safety than for the life of his mother. Dr. P. Saran also points out that when Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud became king, he was only a lad of seventeen and could not be expected to become a recluse at that age.

There is nothing to show that the Sultan has no interest in worldly affairs. On the other hand, the Sultan positively showed great energy and skill in waging holy wars against the infields. Mahmud is said to have led seven campaigns into the neighbouring territories. It is pointed out that despite his much proclaimed religiosity, the Sultan was as ambitious to enjoy worldly power and comforts as any virulent and materialist monarch. The way he took part in the conspiracy to depose Masud Shah also shows his true character.

Prof. K. A. Nizami says that the view that Sultan Nasiruddin was a man of saintly deposition, who had little interest in political or administrative affairs as he was all the time busy in prayers and religious observances, is not correct.

A deeper analysis of the pulls and pressure of the time leads us to the conclusion that if the turned to religious devotions and rites, it was to escape from the terror of political life. He was essentially political in his outlook and that he could keep his head on his shoulders for twenty years under this circumstance, was no mean compliment to his political tact and adroitness.

The Mongols created trouble during the reign of Nasir-ud-Din. They made several raids upon Multan and Lahore and extorted a lot of booty in gold, silk and other valuables from the citizens. They also carried away a large number of people as captives from those cities.

In November 1246, the Sultan crossed the river Ravi and advanced to the bank of the Chenab. He sent Balban to the Jud hills and the Salt Range to punish the Khokhars. Balban dealt with them effectively. When Balban was encamped on the banks of the river Jhelum, a Mongol force made its appearance. However, it retired when they found that Balban was ready to meet them. It was in this way that the danger from the Mongols was met during the reign of Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud.

Kishlu Khan was the brother of Balban. He had been appointed the Governor of Multan and Uch by Raihan. When Balban was restored, Kishlu Khan revolted and accepted the suzerainty of Hulagu Khan of Khorasan. Thus, Multan became a part of the Mongol dominions. In 1256, Qutlugh Khan, Amir of Bayana, moved into the Punjab up to the bank of the Beas and joined the army of Kishlu Khan. The combined forces marched upon the fort of Samanah.

It is true that the rebels were defeated by Balban but that led to an increase in bitterness. After a few months, the Mongol army under Nuyin Salin invaded the southern frontier and it was joined by Kishlu Khan from Uch. They destroyed teh defences of Multan. There was a lot of terror among the people. Balban made prepartations against the Mongols but as they had come merely to plunder, they retired from the country.

It is not known with certainly how the reign of Mahmud ended. The reason is that Minhaj died before the event and the account of Barani opens with the accession of Balban. The accounts of Ibn Batuta and Isami hold Balban guilty of poisoning his master. However, it is difficult to believe that story. The reason is that Balban had very close relations with the royal family.

Both Masud and Mahmud were his sons-in-law. His son Bughra Khan was married to the only daughter of Mahmud by a second wife. The line of Iltutmish was thus almost merged in his person. Mahmud is not known to have left any male issue. Even as the Naib, Balban used to have the insignia of royalty. There was no opposition to his accession to the throne and it is too much to believe that he poisoned his master.

Dr. Habibullah says: “For nearly twenty years Mahmud reigned but he never ruled. His piety and simplicity may have been overstressed but of his unassertive nature and weak resolution there can be little doubt.

His excessive modesty ill-served the king of a conquerring race, for a strong will was an essential pre-requisite for Iltutmish’s representative. The king’s lack of vigour threatened to destroy respect for the crown. A change on the throne became necessary even in his own lifetime but Mahmud escaped his brother’s fate because of the loyal and devoted service of the Naib, Bahauddin Balban, and the Ulugh Khan.’”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *