Sharqis of Jaunpur

Sharqis of Jaunpur

The efforts of rulers of the Delhi Sultanate to assert their rule over the conquered territories became unsuccessful. As a result several provincial dynasties came into being and wielded substantial sovereign power and contributed to the growth of art , architecture and literature. One such dynasty was the Sharqi dynasty of Jaunpur, north of Varanasi in the present Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Sharqi dynasty of Jaunpur was founded by Malik Sarwar, a eunuch belonging to Sultan Firuz Tughluq. Malik Sarwar’s astonishingly fast rise to power can be attributed to the chaos that ruled supreme after the death of Firuz in 1388. Malik Sarwar was made wazir of the Delhi sultanate by Firuz’s younger son, Muhammad Shah (1390-93) who conferred on him the title of Sultanus-Sharq (Ruler of the Eastern Kingdom).

Malik Sarwar’s rise continued and in 1394 was appointed governor of Jaunpur, where he successfully repulsed the uprisings by the Hindu chiefs of Bihar and Avadh. The chiefs of Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Champaran and Tirhut were forced to accept his suzerainty. When Timur, great Mongol leader of Central Asia, left Delhi in 1399 after his invasion of India, Sarwar proclaimed himself the independent ruler of Jaunpur. When Sarwar died in 1399, his kingdom extended to Kol (modern Aligarh), Rapri (Mainpuri district) and Sambhal (Muradabad). The eastern boundaries of Sharqi kingdom ran along Tirhut and Bihar.

Malik Sarwar was succeeded to the throne by his adopted son Malik Mubarak Qaranfal (1399-1401). His reign was not eventful. After him, Ibrahim Shah Sharqi (1401-40), the younger brother of Malik Sarwar, became the ruler of Jaunpur and was the greatest of the Sharqi rulers. He entered into an alliance with Kirti Singh of Tirhut. He sent his forces to help the ruler of Tirhut when the latter was invaded by a Muslim army. Another military expedition of Ibrahim Shah Sharqi was the invasion of Bengal to remove the Hindu ruler Ganesha from the throne. The small independent sultanate of Kalpi was also annexed to his kingdom. His military ambition did not stop. He invaded the Delhi sultanate which was being ruled by the Saiyid ruler Muhammad Shah (1435-46). The Siyid ruler was forced to make an alliance which was sealed with a marriage between Ibrahim’s son and the Sultan’s daughter.

Ibrahim was succeeded by his son, Muhmud Shah Sharqi (1440-57), who was also an ambitious ruler. After Mahmud’s death, Muhmmad became the next Sharqi ruler, who was deposed after a few months because of his excessive cruelty. Muhmmad was succeeded by Husain Shah Sharqi, who concluded peace with Behlul Lodi, the founder of the Lodi dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate. He is credited to have strengthening his army, and compelled Gwalior and Orissa to submit to his rule. The Lodi rulers of Delhi Sultanate were keen to extend their rule and as result invaded the Sharqi kingdom of Jaunpur. Husain Shah Sharqi was unable to withstand the forces of Delhi Sultanate and as a result the Sharqi kingdom of Jaunpur was annexed into the Delhi Sultanate. Husain Shah died in 1505.

Kashmir – Sultan Sikander and Sultan Zainnul Abidin

Sultan sikandar

Sikandar Shah Miri better known as Sikandar Butshikan (“Sikandar the Iconoclast”), was the sixth sultan of the Shah Miri dynasty of Kashmir. He ruled the kingdom from 1389 to 1413 and is remembered for his strenuous efforts to convert the Hindus of Kashmir to Islam. These efforts included the destruction of numerous old temples, prohibition of Hindu rites, rituals and festivals and even the wearing of clothes in the Hindu style. He is known as “Butcher of Kashmir” and among the most hated figures among Kashmiri Hindus.

Sultan Sikandar was a Muslim who ruled over a kingdom where the vast majority of people were Hindu or Buddhist. He was an extremely bigoted ruler who perpetrated untold tyranny upon his hapless non-Muslim subjects in a bid to make them convert to Islam. It was under the influence of the Sufi saint, Mir Mohammad Hamadani, that he committed atrocities against non-Muslims in his lands. Large numbers of Hindus converted, fled, or were killed for refusal to convert during his reign.

Sikandar won the sobriquet of but-shikan or idol-breaker, due to his actions related to the desecration and destruction of numerous temples, chaityas, viharas, shrines, hermitages, and other holy places of the Hindus and Buddhists. He banned dance, drama, music, iconography and such other religious, cultural or aesthetic activities of the Hindus and Buddhists and classified them as heretical and un-Islamic. He forbade the Hindus to apply a tilak mark on their foreheads. He did not permit them to pray and worship, blow a conch shell or even to toll a bell. Eventually, he went on burning temples and all Kashmiri texts to eliminate Shirk. So unspeakable was Sikandar’s tyranny that he even stopped Hindus and Buddhists from cremating their dead and compelled them to bury the bodies using Muslim rituals. He imposed the Jizya, a poll-tax to be paid by non-Muslims living as subjects in a Muslim state, and the levy was a heavy one: each non-Muslim was required to pay an annual tax of four tolas of silver. Notice the strange irony: every single custom of the Hindus, from blowing a conch-shell in the temple to cremating their dead, was forbidden by law, and yet the Hindus were compelled to pay four tolas of silver per head per year for the privilege of living like despicable slaves in the land which was the native land of their own forefathers.

Sultan Zainnul Abidin

Shahi Khan, the son of Sultan Sikandar was left with the charge of the kingdom by his elder brother Sultan Ali Shah, when he went for pilgrimage to Mecca. But Ali Shah’s father-in-law, the king of Jammu induced him to return from Thatta to Kashmir with a contingent of the army of Jammu. Shahi Khan became angry and went to Jasrath, the chief of the Khokkars after handing over the kingdom to Ali Shah and refused to come back. Ali Shah led an expedition against Jasrath and was defeated. According to late accounts, Ali Shah was captured by Khokkars and died at Chadura. Shahi Khan ascended the throne under the title of Zain-ul-Abidin. Zain-ul-Abidin is also known for his great rule and thus called as the greatest of the kings (Badshah).

The period of his reign up to the 35th regnal year is described by Jonaraja in the Rajatarangini Dvitiya, while the rest of it is described by his pupil Srivara in the Rajatarangini Tritiya. According to these texts, he extended his suzerainty over Gandhara, Madra (Punjab), Sindhu and Rajapuri (Rajouri). He defeated the king of Udabhandapura (Ohind) several times. He carried his victorious arms to Gogga in Bhotta-Desha (Guge in Ladakh). Jasrath the Khokkar chief defeated Maladeva, the king of Madra with his help. During the last days of his reign, his three sons, Adam Khan, Haji Khan and Bahram Khan rebelled against him but he took energetic measures to crush them. He was succeeded by his Haji Khan, who took the title of Haidar Khan.

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