The Bahmani Kingdom (Sultanate), established in 1347, was a Muslim kingdom that emerged from the Delhi Sultanate in India. With its capital initially at Gulbarga and later shifting to Bidar, the Bahmani Sultanate played a significant role in the Deccan region’s history. It followed a feudal administrative system and encompassed multiple provinces governed by Tarafdars. The kingdom’s cultural and architectural influences were a blend of Indo-Islamic and Persian styles. The Bahmani Sultanate left a lasting impact on South India, shaping the spread of Islam, patronage of Sufi saints, and the development of regional languages.
Establishment of the Bahmani Kingdom (1347 AD)
The Bahmani kingdom was established in 1347 AD as a result of the rebellion led by the ‘Amiran-i-Sadah’ in the Deccan during the waning days of Muhammad bin Tughluq’s reign. The chieftains of the Deccan proclaimed ‘Ismail’ Afghan as the king of the Deccan, naming him ‘Nasiruddin Shah’ after capturing the fort of Daulatabad. However, Ismail proved unfit for the position due to his advanced age and lack of competence. Consequently, he was compelled to abdicate in favor of a more capable leader, Hasan Gangu, known as ‘Zafar Khan’.
Alauddin Bahmanshah – The Founding Sultan
On August 3, 1347, Zafar Khan was declared Sultan by the name of ‘Alauddin Bahmanshah’. While he claimed descent from ‘Bahmanshah’, the heroic son of ‘Isfandiyar’ from Iran, historical accounts, such as Firishta’s, indicate that he initially served Gangu, a Brahmin. To honor his former master, he adopted the title of Bahmanshah upon assuming the throne. Alauddin Hasan established Gulbarga as his capital, renaming it ‘Ahsanabad’. He divided the empire into four provinces: Gulbarga, Daulatabad, Berar, and Bidar. Alauddin Bahmanshah passed away on February 4, 1358.
Firoz Shah – Capable Ruler of the Bahmani Empire
Among the successors who ascended the throne after Alauddin Bahmanshah, Firoz Shah (1307-1422) proved to be the most capable ruler. He played a pivotal role in shaping the empire’s trajectory and governance during his reign.
The Rise and Conflicts with Vijayanagara Empire
During the period leading up to the rise of the Bahmani kingdom and the death of Devaraya II in 1446, the Bahmani Empire had a mixed history of conflicts with the Vijayanagara Empire. These conflicts had both positive and negative outcomes for the Bahmani kingdom.
Firoz Shah Bahmani: The Most Powerful Ruler
Among the rulers of the Bahmani kingdom, Firoz Shah Bahmani stood out as the most influential and capable leader. He possessed an extensive knowledge of theology, including Quranic interpretations and jurisprudence. Firoz Shah had a keen interest in various fields such as Botany, Natural Science, Linear Mathematics, and Logic. Additionally, he was a skilled scribe and poet, often composing poems during conversations.
Multilingual and Multicultural Influence
Firoz Shah’s linguistic abilities were remarkable. According to historical accounts, he was proficient not only in Persian, Arabic, and Turkish but also in regional languages such as Telugu, Kannada, and Marathi. He had a diverse range of wives, hailing from different religions and countries. Among them were numerous Hindu wives, and it is said that he conversed with each of them in their own language, demonstrating his inclusive and multilingual approach.
Firoz Shah Bahmani’s reign showcased his intellectual pursuits, linguistic prowess, and ability to foster a multicultural environment within the Bahmani kingdom.