Many faces of a medieval kingJun 8th, 2009 | By editor | Category: City Culture, Heritage
R.V. Smith digs out some interesting facts about Qutubuddin Aibak’s life
As the 800th death anniversary of Qutubuddin Aibak approaches, one’s thoughts turn to the establishment of Delhi Sultanate and this Tajdar-e-Hind who was the first crown-bearer of the Slave dynasty.
The title was an exalted one and those who followed Qutubuddin numbered 34, not counting the ones who ruled for a day, a few weeks or months. The Mauryas, Imperial Guptas, Harsha Vardhan and those who followed them, ruling from Pataliputra, Ujjain or Ajmer were outstanding long before the sultans came on the scene.
Tajdar-e-Hind is an interesting subject of research which starts with Qutubuddin and ends with George VIth who ruled from England and not India. Before the first Tajdar installed himself there were five centuries which was the incubation period of this institution that had Akbar as the most powerful monarch, Shah Jahan as the most magnificent, Aurangzeb as the craftiest and Mohammad Shah as the most colourful. The story begins in the early part of the eighth century and it’s worthwhile to trace it initially up to AD 1210.
It was in 1192 that Mohammad Ghori advanced to the plains of Hindustan but was defeated in the first Battle of Tarain by Prithviraj Chauhan. The defeat rankled Ghori and back home he punished his officers by making them eat like horses, with their hands tied and baskets suspended from their necks.
Next year he invaded Hindustan again and this time Rai Pithora lost the second battle of Tarain, perishing after a gallant fight. There is the story about him being captured and taken as a prisoner to Ghazni where, though blinded, he eventually killed the sultan and committed suicide.Mohammad Ghauri came again in 1194 to defeat Jaichand, the Raja of Kannauj but after that his slave Qutubuddin Aibak continued to consolidate his master’s conquests. In 1206 Ghauri was assassinated by member of the fanatical Mulhaida sect and Qutubuddin became the ruler of Hindustan.
Mohammad bin-Bakhtiar, second-in command to Qutubuddin, captured Bengal in 1197 and made Gaur or Lucknauti his capital In 1202 Qutubuddin captured the fort of Kalanjar where he defeated Raja Parmal of the Chandela clan. Four years later after being crowned sultan, he entered into matrimonial alliances with other generals of Ghauri , marrying Tajuddin’s daughter. He got his sister married to Nasiruddin Qubaicha and gave his daughter in marriage to Iltutmish whom he had bought as a slave boy.
A generous man (lakhbakhsha), Qutubuddin proved to be a good administrator but his career was cut short when he died in 1210 after falling from his horse while playing a game of chowgan. His son Aram Shah succeeded him, but was displaced after a year by Iltutmish, who was both his brother-in law and governor of Badaon. The crowning glory of Qutubuddin’s reign was the construction of the Qutub Minar, named not after him but after the saint, Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, whom he held in high esteem.
A brilliant general and a faithful assistant to Mohammad Ghori, Qutubuddin was not a fanatic. Autocratic he was and though he destroyed several temples, he was not entirely intolerant towards the local population. Compared to Ghori , his approach was definitely milder and this helped him consolidate his gains.
Paintings show him as a man of moderate stature with a shorter beard than Ghauri and a helmet, instead of the turban worn by the latter even in the battlefield. He had a number of wives, one of whom he wedded at about the same time as his daughter and sister got married. This was not in accordance with any religious dictate or love of the fair sex, but a marriage of convenience which gave him a handle to control his rivals, Jeldoz , Qubaicha and Iltutmish (who eventually succeeded him).