Muhammad bin Tughluq

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This article is about the Sultan of Delhi. For 1971 film of the same name, see Muhammad bin Tughluq (film). For 1968 play of the same title, see Muhammad bin Tughluq (play).
Tughra of Muhammad bin Tughluq.

Muhammad Salman Khan Tughluq (Arabic: محمد بن طغلق‎) (also Prince Fakhr Malik, Jauna Khan; died 20 March 1351) was the Turkic Sultan of Delhi through 1324 to 1351.[1] He was the eldest son of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq. He was born in Kotla Tolay Khan in Multan. His wife was the daughter of the raja of Dipalpur.[2] Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq sent the young Muhammad to the Deccan to campaign against king Prataparudra of the Kakatiya dynasty whose capital was at Warangal. Muhammad succeeded to the Delhi throne upon his father's death in 1325. Muhammad Tughlaq was a scholar of logic, philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, physical sciences and calligraphy. He was also interested in medicine and was skilled in several languages — Persian, Arabic, Turkish and Sanskrit. Ibn Battuta, the famous traveller from Morocco, was a guest at his court.[3] From his accession to the throne in 1325 until his death in 1351, Muḥammad contended with 22 rebellions, pursuing his policies consistently and ruthlessly.


As his reign began, Muḥammad attempted, without much success, to enlist the services of the ʿulamāʾ, the Muslim divines, and the Ṣūfīs, the ascetic mystics. Failing to win the ʿulamāʾ over, he tried to curtail their powers, as some of his predecessors had, by placing them on an equal footing with other citizens. The Sultan wanted to use the Ṣūfīs’ prestigious position to stabilize his authority as ruler. Yet they had always refused any association with government and would not accept any grants or offices except under duress. Muḥammad tried every measure, conciliatory or coercive, to yoke them to his political wagon. Although he humiliated them, he could not break their opposition and succeeded only in dispersing them from the towns of northern India. The transfer of the capital in 1327 to Devagiri (now Daulatabad) was intended to consolidate the conquests in southern India by large-scale—in some cases forced—migration of the people of Delhi to Deogir. As an administrative measure it failed, but it had far-reaching cultural effects. The spread of the Urdu language in the Deccan may be traced to this extensive influx of Musalmans.

Contemporary historians like Barani, Ibn Battuta and Isami left terrible accounts of the events surrounding the shifting of the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad. Through their writings they showed how the entire city was forced to move leaving a devastated city in its wake.

However, the sultan was known to have arranged for all the comforts of the people during their journey to Daulatabad. Shady trees were planted all along the route, free food and water was supplied to the people after every two miles during the journey, and all were provided with means of transport and compensated for the losses which they incurred in leaving their assets at Delhi and all were provided free residence at Daulatabad.

However, the plan became a failure and all the people finally returned to Delhi in 1335. Eventually, all the suffering and expenses involved in the transfer of the capital was for nothing and only served the purpose of assuaging the whims of the eccentric sultan.

The consequences for Delhi were very grave because not only had she lost her people but also her former prosperity and grandeur.

The sultan tried his best to make amends and invited many scholars and artistes to settle in the city. However the impact of this incident was far-reaching and when Ibn Battuta came to Delhi in 1334 he found certain parts of the city still deserted.

There was widespread resentment against the sultan and the bitterness stayed on for years to come. He earned the epithet of ‘pagla Tughlaq’. When he finally died in 1351, one very contemporary observer, Badauni observed, ‘…and so the king was freed from his people, and they from him.’[3]

Between 1328 and 1329 the Sultan increased the land tax in the Doab—the land between the Ganges (Ganga) and Yamuna rivers—but the taxpayers resisted it, especially because a severe drought coincided.

Muḥammad’s last expedition, against the rebel Ṭaghī, ended with his death at Sonda in Sindh in 1351.

Collapse of the empire[edit]

Tughluq died in 1351 on his way to Thatta, Sindh in order to intervene a war between members of the Gujjar tribe. He had lived to see his empire fall apart. During his reign new kingdoms broke away in south India and the Deccan. Several south Indian rulers like Prolaya Vema Reddy of the Reddy dynasty, Musunuri Kaapaaneedu and the Vijayanagara Empire liberated whole south India from the Delhi Sultanate and the Bahmani kingdom was founded by Hasan Gangu.[4] The unpopularity and failures of this person also led to the collapse of the empire.


Muhammad Tughlak orders his brass coins to pass for silver, A.D. 1330

Muhammad Bin Tughluq noticed that India had very few silver coins and a comparatively larger number of bronze and copper coins. He decided to promote bronze or copper coins by passing a royal order (firman) that bronze and copper coins are to be accorded the same value (i.e. same purchasing power) as silver coins. In other words, he wanted to markets to mentally consider bronze and copper as silver itself so that 1g coin of bronze can buy the same goods as 1g of silver. However, copper and bronze coins were very easy to forge. So this led to a tremendous increase in the circulation of bronze and copper in the market. Consequently, this led to a rise in the prices of essential commodities and lead to a hyper-inflation like scenario. Eventually, Tughlaq had to withdraw this order and bronze and copper returned to their nominal value (i.e. their value fixed by the free market).

The large influx of gold from his south Indian campaign led him to increase coinage weights (but decrease the percentage of gold in it. This is a form of dilution of the currency and leads to inflation). He enlarged the gold dinar from 172 grains to 202 grains. He introduced a silver coin, the adlis, which was discontinued after seven years due to lack of popularity and acceptance among his subjects.

All his coins reflect a staunch religiosity, with such inscriptions as "The warrior in the cause of God", "The trustier in support of the four Khalifs – Abu Bakr, Umar, Usman and Ali". The kalimah appeared in most of his coinage. Both at Delhi and at Daulatabad coins were minted in memory of his late father. There were also mints at Lakhnauti, Salgaun, Darul-I-Islam, Sultanpur (Warrangal), Tughlaqpur (Tirhut), and Mulk-I-Tilang. More than thirty varieties of bullion coins are known so far, and the types show his numismatic interests. Following the Chinese example, of using brass or copper tokens, backed by the silver and gold kept in the treasury, Tughluq had two scalable versions, issued in Delhi and Daulatabad. The currency was issued in the two different standards, undoubtedly to follow the local standards which preexisted in the North and in the South respectively. He engraved "He who obeys the Sultan obeys the compassionate" to fascinate people in accepting the new coinage. However, very few people exchanged their gold or silver coins for the new copper ones. Moreover, the tokens were easy to forge, which led to heavy losses, as Tughluq subsequently withdrew the forged currency by exchanging it for bullion coins. These coins could be easily duplicated. This drained the treasury because he had to compensate the losers. But it is said that after the plan failed, there were heaps of copper coins lying around the royal offices for years.

Forced token currency coin


Religious tolerance[edit]

Muhammad bin Tughluq was relatively liberal and permitted Hindus and Jains to settle in Delhi.[5] The policy was continued by his cousin Firuz Shah Tughluq, who patronized the Jain monk Mahendra Sūri, who composed the Yantra-rāja, the first Sanskrit text on the astrolabe.[6]

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ Tughlaq Shahi Kings of Delhi: Chart The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909, v. 2, p. 369..
  2. ^ Douie, James M. (1916) The Panjab North-West Frontier Province and Kashmir Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, page 171, OCLC 222226951
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ Verma, D. C. History of Bijapur (New Delhi: Kumar Brothers, 1974) p. 1
  5. ^ The Vividhatirthakalpa as historical source and coherent text,
  6. ^ Sarma, S.R. 2008. "Sultan, Suri, and the Astrolabe," in The Archaic and the Exotic: Studies in the History of Indian Astronomical Instruments. Delhi: Manohar
  7. ^ Ramnarayan, Gowri (7 June 2004). "Cho, what's up?". Interview. Kasturi and Sons Ltd for The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  8. ^ Warrier, Shobha (4 July 2005). "'This is the time for impohuyfeuiryeituo9t8rui9otsing Emergency'". Interview. Rediff. Retrieved 2009-02-24. I think it must have been some kind of a thrill because I was only a five-year-old journalist then. My journal was launched in 1970. 
  9. ^ Kannada edition: Karnad, Girish Raghunath (1964) Muhammada Tughalak eraḍu rājyagaḷa naḍuve; Muhammada Tughalakana caritreya hinneleyidda nāṭaka Manōhara Granthamālā, Dhāravāḍa, OCLC 13888466; first English edition: Karnad, Girish Raghunath (1972) Tughlaq: a play in thirteen scenes (translated from Kannada) Oxford University Press, Delhi, OCLC 1250554
  10. ^!/2013/05/mohammad-bin-tughlaq-1972.html
  11. ^


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq
Sultan of Delhi
Succeeded by
Firuz Shah Tughluq