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The Bahmani Kingdom: Impacts on the Indian Subcontinent

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  • Last Updated : 01 Dec, 2022
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The Bahmani Kingdom was a Muslim dynasty in southern India during the medieval period in Indian history. The founder of the Bahmani kingdom was Alauddin Hassan Gangu Bahaman Shah. He rebelled against Muhammad Bin Tughlaq in 1347. Bahmani Kingdom’s capital city was Gulbarga in present-day Karnataka. This Bahmani kingdom was ruled by 14 sultans. Among them, Alauddin Bahman Shah, Muhammad Shah I, and Firoz Shah were important rulers. The power of the Bahmani kingdom reached its peak during the reign of Muhammad Shah III. The borders of the Bahmani kingdom extend from Goa to Bombay in the west and from Krishna to Kakinada in the east.

Impact on the Indian Subcontinent 

The Bahmani dynasty was the first to unite the Deccan part of the Indian subcontinent with their kingdom. The Bahmani kingdom served as a cultural bridge between the northern and southern regions of the Indian subcontinent. Dakhini Urdu was a popular language widely propagated from the Bahmani kingdom and Dakhini poetry also flourished during that time and is still performed in Hyderabad today.

When the Bahmani kingdom was established in the Deccan, soon followed by a large number of Arabs, Africans, Iranians, Turks; And Persians, in particular, began migrating to the Deccan at the invitation of Sultan Muhammad Shah-I, who exerted a strong influence on the development of Muslim culture in subsequent generations in the Deccan part of the Indian subcontinent. Feroz Shah Bahmani gave several higher positions to Hindus, especially to brahmans and he even married the Hindu woman, the daughter of Vijayanagar. All this confirmed that Hindus got more significance at the time rather than religious conversion and enmity between Hindus and Muslims, which resulted in the rise of indigenous Muslims in the Indian subcontinent in subsequent generations.

Firoz Shah Bahmani established a new capital called Firuzabad on the banks of the Bhima River, as the Delhi Sultanate was rapidly dissolving, Firuzabad became the greatest center of Muslim culture in the Indian subcontinent and continued for many generations, even today as a popular holy place for indigenous Muslims. After the rule of the Bahmani dynasty in the Indian subcontinent, various regional dynasties began to establish and expand their patronage of art, culture, and literature, which had their own vibrant Political Culture and influenced each other in the regional states.

Bahmani rulers were influenced by the “Iqtadari System” for administration from the Delhi Sultanate, which helped develop a new culture in the Indian subcontinent as a synthesis effect between Islamic and local Indian traditions. During the Bahmani rule, some of the scholars do not accept the tradition of their conversion to Islam, they called them self’s as “Nayaks” and still today they exist in the Karnataka region which rebelled against the “Turki’s traditional conversion to Islam”.

In the early decades of the foundation of the Bahmani Kingdom, feuds arose among the nobility and the nobles were divided into “Deccanies” and “Afaqis” This created a major change in the later generations of Indians in the Islamic culture of the Indian subcontinent. Bahmani Dynasty as a consequence of the multi-faith and caste composition of the society, which included Hindus, Indigenous Muslims, Foreign Muslims, and the Portuguese we can observe many multi-languages ​​such as Persian, Kannada, Marathi, Telugu, and Dakhini Urdu being spoken by different social groups which continue still in the Indian subcontinent.

Art cities and architectural historians note the influence of Europe’s military architecture and the civil architecture of Persia brought a new style of architecture to the Deccan part of the Indian subcontinent. The first king of the Bahmani kingdom, Alauddin Bahman Shah, first established schools for princes, some of which offered educational opportunities to poor students with scholarships, and we note here an important part of these changes in providing free education to all citizens in his kingdom, and this practice continues in the Indian subcontinent.

These schools focus on science, mathematics, and the language person Arabic. Later these were extended to military studies and related strategies. Some of the important institutions are “Madrasa” which facilitates education to students across the empire and “Dar-ul-Ulum” in Berar province is another major center of education, all these have brought great results in Telugu and Arabic literature.

The interests of the Vijayanagara rulers and the Bahmani rulers clashed in these three distinct regions that had the greatest influence on the Deccan part of the Indian subcontinent.

  • The Tungabhadra Doab was a key source of conflict between the Yadavas and the Hoysalas in the later period.
  • The Krishna – Godavari delta was very fertile for many ports and controlled much of the foreign trade in the Deccan region of the Indian subcontinent.
  • In the Maratha region, the main dispute is over control of the “Konkan” and access to it. The Konkan is a narrow strip of land between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, an important outlet for the produce of the Deccan region products and for importing horses from Iran and Iraq.
  • Importation of horses from Goa was very important to the southern region of the Indian subcontinent as there is a historical notice that in earlier times, there was no breeding of good quality horses in India.
  • Afanasy Nikitin notes that horses, pepper, cloth, and salt were the main commodities, and Mustafabad – Dabul was an important center of trade activity with foreign investors. Here horses are imported from Arabia, Turkistan, and musk and fur from China.
  • Another observation that civil culture in the trade business of that the Bahmani kingdom’s trade and commerce were mostly in hands of Hindu merchants and on other hand, the Vijayanagara kingdom’s coastal trade and commerce were in the hands of indigenous Muslims which impacted a lot in the Deccan part of the Indian subcontinent coastal and long-distance trade business.

Decline of Bahmani Kingdom

  • The nobles of the Bahmani kingdom were divided into two classifications: Afaqis and Deccan.
  • Deccan is local nobles while Afaqis are foreign nobles.
  • Some of the nobles executed Mahmud Gawan’s death sentence resulting in Bahmani’s kingdom.
  • Another reason is that Muhammad Shah had weak successors. At this point, the representative governors declared their autonomy.
  • In the year 1526, the Bahmani kingdom had divided into five free sultanates.
  • They were Ahmadnagar, Bijapur, Berar, Golkonda, and Bidar and were known as Deccan Sultanates.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: What are administrative reforms introduced by Mahmud Gawan?

Answer:

  • He divided the Bahmani Kingdom into different regions known as “Tarafs”
  • These areas are reserved for central government control
  • Tarafdar/Amir was the representative Governor to control the Taraf.
  • The powers of the nobles were reformed.

Question 2: Mention a list of some of the Architecture in the Bahmani kingdom?

Answer:

  • The Golconda Fort
  • The Madrasas of Muhammad Gawan
  • The Jama Masjid at Gulbarga
  • The Golgumbaz at Bijapur

Question 3: Explain briefly about “Firoz Shah Bahmani”?

Answer:

  • He ruled from 1397 to 1422 A.D.
  • He defeated the Vijayanagar ruler Deva Raya I, the King of the Vijayanagara Empire, and wedded his daughter.
  • He Founded the city of Firozabad on the banks of river Bhima.
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