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Taju-l Ma’asir

Taju-l Ma’asir by Hazan Nizami.  A history of the Sultan of Delhi Kutbu-d din Aibak.

In The History of India as Told by its own HistoriansThe Posthumous Papers of the Late Sir H. M. Elliot. John Dowson, ed. 1st ed. 1867. 2nd ed., Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1956, vol. 12, pp. 56-99.

  1. Overview

The Taju-l Ma-asir, “The Crown of Exploits” is a detailed history of the reign of Qutb-ud-din Aibak, dealing also with his predecessors and successors to a lesser degree.  Qutb-ud-din came to power in Delhi in 1206 CE after serving for over a decade as Muhammad Ghûri’s deputy in India.  He died in 1210 CE, and was succeeded by his untalented son, Ârâm Shâh, who was deposed within a year by his brother-in-law, Îltutmish.

The author of this history was Hasan Nizami, who was also known as Sadru-d din Muhammad bin Hasan Nizami.  Born in Naishapur in Khurasan, he fled the turmoil brought about by the Mongol invasions and ended up in Delhi.  He began the work in 602 H., sometime before the death of Muhammad Ghûri, who died during the eighth month (Sha’ban) of the same year.  The history begins in 1191 CE with the First Battle of Tarâin

587 H. (1191 CE), and ends in 614 H., 1217 CE, presumably the time when the history was completed.

The excerpts below deal primarily with the military exploits of Muhammad Ghûri and his general in India, Qutb-ud-dîn. When the Ghûrids had gained control over all of the former Ghaznavid holdings in Khurasan, Afghanistan and Northwest India, control over the Indian portions of the sultanate was passed to Muhammad Ghûri.  Also known as Shihâb-ud-din and Muizz-ud-din, he began an aggressive policy of conquest in India.  First he conquered Sindh, attacking Multan and Uch in 1175-76 CE.  Next, in 1178 CE, he attacked Gujrat, but suffered a severe defeat at the hand of Râja Bhîmdev II.  Following this defeat he deposed Khusrû Shah, and secured his hold over the Punjab.

His hold over Northern India was secured by the two great Battles of Tarâin fought in 1191 and 1192 CE north of Delhi, in which the Ghûrid invaders faced off with Râja Prithvirâj and an assembled confederacy of Indian armies.  In both of these battles the Ghûrids were victorious.  Following these victories Muhammad Ghûri returned to Khurasan, leaving his holdings in India in the hands of Qutb-ud-din Aibak, a slave who had been promoted to the rank of a general.  Qutb-ud-din made Delhi his capital, and then made inroads into the Doab.  In 1193 CE he was joined by Sultan Muhammad Ghûri for an attack on Kanauj, which resulted in the overthrown of King Jai Chand.  The excerpt included herein narrates an attack on Benaras conducted in 1194 CE by Qutb-ud-din.

The excerpts included here narrate his conquest of Ajmer following the second Battle of Tarâin in 1192 CE; interesting, he made the son of the deposed Râja Pithaura the governor of the region.  His raids on Kol, Benares and Nahrwar are also described.  Also described is a joint venture with Muhammad Ghûri against the powerful Khokar tribe in the Punjab in 1205 CE.  Although he succeeded in decimating the Khokars, Muhammad Ghûri died en route to Ghazni in March 1206 CE.  The last excerpt deals with the Sultan Îltutmish’s (r. 1211-36 CE) capture of Jalor.

  1. Excerpts

1. Qutb-ud-din’s Conquest of Ajmer
2. The Conquest of Delhi
3. Conquest of Kol and Benares
4. Conquest of Nahrwar
5. The Return Of Muhammad Ghûri and his War Against the Gakkhurs
6. Îltutmish’s Capture of Jalor1.

[p. 68]

Conquest Of Ajmir

He accordingly prepared for an expedition again the Rai, and mounted his steed, of which there is a poetical description. “The Victorious army on the right and on the left departed towards Ajmir.” “When the Kola (natural son) of the Rai of Ajmir, the vaunts of whose courage had reached the ears of far and near, heard of the approach of the auspicious standards and the victorious armies, he advanced for the purpose of fighting, and having adjusted the robe of slaughter and the arms of battle, marched on over hills and deserts with a well-equipped army, the number of which cannot be conceived in the picture-gallery of the imagination.  “When the crow-faced Hindus began to sound their white shells on the backs of the elephants, you would have said that a river of pitch was flowing impetuously down the face of a mountain of blue.”

The army of Islam was completely victorious, and an hundred thousand grovelling Hindus swiftly departed to the fire of hell. The Rai of Ajmir was taken prisoner during the action, but his life was spared.  After this great victory, the army of Islam marched forward to Ajmir, where it arrived at a fortunate moment and under an auspicious bird, and obtained so [p. 69] much booty and wealth, that you might have said that the secret depositories of the seas and hills had been revealed.

While the Sultan remained at Ajmir, he destroyed the pillars and foundations of the idol temples, and built in their stead mosques and colleges, and the precepts of Islam, and the customs of the law were divulged and established.

The Government Of Ajmir Conferred On The Son Of Rai Pithaura

The son of Rai Pithaura, in whose qualities and habits the proof of courage and the indexes of wisdom were apparent, and who, both abroad and at home, exhibited familiarity with rectitude, and prognostications of goodness, was appointed to the government of Ajmir.

2.The Conquest Of Delhi

After settling the affairs of Ajmir, the conqueror marched towards Dehli (may God perserve its prosperity and [p. 70] perpetuate its splendour!) which is among the chief (mother) cities of Hind.  When he arrived at Delhi, he saw a fortress which in height and strength had not its equal nor second throughout the length and breadth of the seven climes.  The army encamped around the fort.  A torrent of blood flowed on the field of battle, and it became evident to the chiefs that if they did not seek for safety from the sword of the king of the earth, and if they should deliver into the hands of Satan the time of option and the reins of good counsel, the condition of Delhi would be like that of Ajmir; so from the dread of kingly punishment, the Rai and mukaddams of that country placed their heads upon the line of slavery, and their feet within the circle of obedience. and made firm the conditions of tribute (malguzari) and the usages of service.

The Sultan then returned towards the capital of Ghazna (may God preserve it in prosperity!) but the army remained encamped within the boundary of Delhi, at the mauza of Indarpat (Indraprastha).

The Government Of Kohram And Samana

The Government of the fort of Kohram and of Samana were made over by the Sultan to ‘Kutbu-d din, on whose fortunate forehead the light of world-conquest shone conspicuously, and who by his lofty courage and pure faith without doubt was worthy of the kingdom and suitable for the throne of sovereignty; and by the aid of his sword of Yemen and dagger of India became established in independent power over the countries of Hind and Sind.  He purged by his sword the land of Hind from the filth of infidelity and vice and freed the whole of that country from the thorn of God-plurality, and the impurity of idol-worship, and by his royal vigour and intrepidity, left not one temple standing. He extinguished the flame of discord by the splendour [p. 71] of the light of justice, and the smoke of the darkness of oppression vanished from the face of the earth.

The chiefs of the country around Kohram came to pay their respects and acknowledge fealty, and he was so just and generous that the name of Naushirwan and the tale of Hatim Tai were in course of oblivion.


[p. 76]

Kutbu-d Din Advances To Kol

After staying sometime at Delhi, he marched in the year 590 H. (1194 A.D.) towards Kol and Benares, passing the Jun (Jumna) which, from its exceeding purity, resembled a mirror.  He took Kol, which is one of the most celebrated fortresses of Hind.  Those of the garrison who were wise and acute were converted to Islam, but those who stood by their ancient faith were slain with the sword. The nobles and chiefs of the State entered the fort, and carried off much treasure and countless plunder including one thousand horses.

There intelligence was received of the march of Muhammad Ghori from Ghazna; Kutbu-d din advanced to meet him, and had the honour of kissing hands, which is the highest of glories, and the essence of miracles, and presented an elephant laden with white silver [p. 77] and red gold and an hundred horses, and sundry kinds of perfumes.

Fight With The Rai Of Benares And Capture Of Asni

When the army was mustered, it was found to amount to fifty thousand mounted men clad in armour and coats of mail, with which they advanced to fight against the Rai of Benares.  The king ordered Kutbu-d din to proceed with the vanguard, consisting of one thousand cavalry, which fell upon the army of the enemies of religion, and completely defeated it.  On its return to the king, the officers were presented with robes of honour.

The Rai of Benares, Jai Chand, the chief of idolatry and perdition, advanced to oppose the royal troops with an army, countless as the particles of sand, and the noise of the war-drum proclaimed to the ears of the worshippers of one God, aid comes from the Almighty, and the sound of the silver kettle-drum and the blast of the brazen trumpets resounded to heaven.  Rai of Benares, who prided himself on the number of his forces and war elephants, seated on a lofty howdah, received a deadly wound from an arrow, and fell from his exalted seat to the earth.  His head was carried on the point of a spear to the commander, and his body was thrown to the dust of contempt.  The impurities of idolatry were purged by the water of the sword from that land, and the country of Hind was freed from vice and superstition.

“Immense booty was obtained, such as the eye of the beholder would be weary to look at, “including one (some copies say three) hundred elephants. The royal army then took possession’ ‘of the fort of Asni where the treasure of the Rai was deposited,” and there much more precious spoil of all kinds rewarded the victors.

[p. 78]

The Capture Of Benares

From that place the royal army proceeded towards Benares, which is the centre of the country of Hind, and here they destroyed nearly one thousand temples, and raised mosques on their foundations; and the knowledge of the law became promulgated, and the foundations of religion were established; and the face of the dinar and the diram was adorned with the name and blessed titles of the king.  The Rais and chiefs of Hind came forward to proffer their allegiance.  The government of that country was then bestowed on one of the most celebrated and exalted servants of the State, in order that he might distribute justice and repress idolatry.

When the king had settled all the affairs of the city and its vicinity, and the record of his celebrated holy wars had been written in histories and circulated throughout the breadth of the fourth inhabited quarter of the world, he returned to Ghazna.  The standards of the Khusru,1 victorious in battle, were planted for some days on the fort of Asni, and the chiefs and elders all around hastened to his service with various kinds of rarities and presents, and his noble Court became the scene where the princess and generals of the world came to bow their heads in reverence.


[p. 83]

The Conquest Of Nahrwala And The Flight Of The Rai

In the year 591 H. (1195 A.D.), when Kutbu-d din was again at Ajmir, intelligence was brought him that a party of seditius Mhers, who were always shooting the arrow of deceit from the bow of refractoriness, had sent spies and messengers towards Nahrwala, representing that a detachment of the army of the Turks had arrived at Ajmir, of no great strength and numbers, and that if from that quarter a force could be immediately sent to join them, before the enemy could find the opportunity of putting themselves in a state of preparation, they could make a sudden night attack upon them, and might rid the country of them and if anyone of the Turkish army were to escape from the talons of the eagle of death, he must necessarily take the road of flight, and with his two horses would make three stages [p. 84] into one, until he reached Dehli in a state of distraction.

When this treacherous plan was revealed, Kutbu-d din determined to anticipate it, and during the height of the hot season before the sun arose, fell upon the advance guard of the black, infidels, and like lions attacked them right and left.  The action lasted during the whole day, and next morning that immense army of Nahrwala came to the assistance of the vanguard, slew many of the Musulmans, wounded their commander pursued them to Ajmir, and encamped within one parasang of that place.

In this predicament, a confidential messenger was sent to Ghazna to explain before the sublime throne the position of the army of the infidels, and to ask for orders as to future proceedings.  A royal edict was issued conferring all kinds of honours and kindnesses upon the Khusru, and leaving to his entire discretion the subjection and extirpation of the turbulent.  A very large army was despatched to reinforce him, under the command of Jahan Pahlawan, Asadu-d din ArsJan Kalij, Nasiru-d din Husain, ‘Izzu-d din son of Muwaiyidu-d din Balkh, and Sharfu-d din Muhammad Jarah.  These reinforcements arrived at the beginning of the cold season, when the vanguard of the army of winter began to draw its sword from the scabbard, and the season of collecting armies and the time of making raids had returned.

In the middle of the month of Safar, 593 H. (Jan. 1197), the world-conquering Khusru departed from Ajmir, and with every description of force turned his face towards the annihilation of the Rai of Nahrwala.  When he reached the lofty forts of Pali and Nandul,2 he [p. 85] found them abandoned, and the abode of owls, for the had fled at the approach of the Musulmans, and collected under their leaders Rai Karan and Dara in great numbers, at the foot of Mount Abu, and the mouth of a pass Stood ready for fight and slaughter.  The Musulmans did not dare to attack them in that strong position, especially as in that very place Muhammad Sam Ghori had been wounded, and it was considered of bad omen to bring on another action there, lest a similar accident might occur to the commander.  The Hindus seeing this hesitation, and misconstruing it into cowardice and alarm, abandoning the pass, turned their faces towards the field of battle and the plain of honour and renown; for they were persuaded that fear had established itself in the hearts of the protectors of the sacred enclosure of religion.  The two armies stood face to face for some time, engaged in preparations for fight, and on the night preceeding Sunday, the 13th of Rabi’u-l awwal, in a fortunate moment the army of Islam advanced from its camp, and at morn reached the position of the infidels.  A severe action ensued from dawn to mid-day, when the army of idolatry and damnation turned its back in flight from the line of battle.  Most of their leaders were taken prisoners, and nearly fifty thousand infidels were despatched to hell by the sword, and from the heaps of the slain, the hills and the plains became of one level.  Rai Karan effected his escape from the field.  More than twenty thousand slaves, and twenty elephants, and cattle and arms beyond all calculation, [p. 86] fell into the hands of the victors.  You would have thought that the treasures of the kings of all the inhabitants of the world had come into their possession.


[p. 88]

The Return Of Muhammad Ghori From Khwarizm And His War Against The Gakkhurs

When the sublime standards were returning in the year 600 H. (1203 A.D.) from the capital of Khwarizm, the army of Khita (God’s curse on it!) made an attack upon them, while on their march within the borders of Andkhud, in numbers exceeding the stars of heaven and the particles of the earth, and the great king, wounded and defeated, fled from the field of hatred towards Ghazna.

Aibak Bak, one of the most confidential servants of the State, an officer of high rank in the army, who had been brought up in the royal court, fled from the field of battle, and carried away the impression that by heavenly visitation, the blessed person of the king had met with a misfortune and been slain.  He fled with the speed of the wind to Multan, and, on his arrival, went immediately to Amir Dad Hasan, the lord of a standard, and deceitfully persuaded him that he had come for the purpose of imparting to him a royal command, which could only be communicated to him in private, and should not be publicly divulged. When the private conference was accorded to him, he took the opportunity of assassinating the governor, and so got possession of the fort of Multan. For a long time the truth of the matter was not revealed, and a report was spread to the [p. 89] effect that the governor had been imprisoned by the royal commands. After some delay, the various servants and officers of the Province became aware of what had really happened, and the intelligence of the true circumstances was spread throughout the far and near countries of Hind and Sind.  Upon this, the tribe of Kokars (Gakkhurs) (God annihilate them!) said that from anyone who had the least knowledge and sense, it could not be concealed that if the sacred person of the Sultan had been alive, the like of these transactions could never have been done by Aibak Bak, and that therefore the great king had exchanged his throne of empire for one of dust, and had departed from the house of mortality to the world of holiness.  In consequence of these impressions, seditious thoughts entered the brains of the Hindus, and the madness of independence and dominion affected the heads of Bakan and Sarki, the chiefs of the Kokars, who thrust their heads out of the collar of obedience, and opened their hands for the destruction of villages and the plunder of cattle, and kindled the flames of turbulence and sedition between the waters of the Sodra3 and the Jelam, by the aid of a crowd of the dependents of Satan.  When their ravages had exceeded all bounds, Bahau-d din Muhammad, governor of Sangwan, with his brothers, who held lands (akta’) within the borders of Multan, accompanied by many of the chief people of the city, marched out against them, determined to repress the violence of those accursed rebels and enemies of the State and religion; but many of them were captured or slain by the exertions of the army of the infidels, in number like the [p. 90] drops of rain or leaves of the forest.  Their power consequently increased day by day and a general named Sulaiman was obliged to fly before the superior numbers of the enemy.  When these circumstances were reported to Muhammad Ghori, he determined on proceeding to the scene of action, and sent on the Amir Hajib, Siraju-d din Abu Bakr, one of his confidential servants, to inform Kutbu-d din of his intentions.  In consequence of which, Kutbu-d din advanced to meet his Majesty at the opening of the cold season.  At every stage intelligence reached him from the royal camp urging his advance and informing him that the blood-thirsty sword would be sheathed and the camp would halt, and that no measures would be taken to exterminate the infidels until he had passed the river, (Chinab) which intervened between his and the royal camp.

Near the river of Sodra Kutbu-d din killed four fierce tigers at the roaring of which the heart was appalled, and on the day after crossing that river, he joined the camp of the king on the bank of the Jelam, and was received with royal kindness.  They mounted their horses and swam them like fish across the Jelam, and on the bank of the river entered on their plans for the approaching action, and arranged all the preparations for fight after joining together in consultation.   Kutbu-d din suggested that it was not right for the king to expose his person against such enemies and suggested that the command of the Musulman army should be entrusted to himself alone; but the persuasion of his general seemed to have had no effect upon the resolution of the Sultan.   [There was] battle near the ford of the Jelam, the waves of which were filled with blood, and in which the armies of infidelity and true faith commingled together like waves of the sea, and contended with each other like night and day or light and darkness.  Shamsu-d din was also engaged in this fight.

[p. 91]

The Kokars were completely defeated, and, in that country there remained not an inhabitant to light a fire.  Much spoil in slaves and weapons, beyond all enumeration, fell into the possession of the victors.  One of the sons of the Kokar Rai, the chief instigator these hostilities, rushed into the river with a detachment of his Satanical followers, and fled with one horse from the field of battle to a fort on the hill of Jud, and

escaped the sword, threw into it the last breathings of a dying man.  The next day, Muhammad Sam advanced towards the hill of Jud, where the action was renewed, which ended in the capture of the fortress, and the Hindus like a torrent descended from the top of the hill to the bottom.  The Rai of the hill of Jud, putting on the robes of a Brahman, presented himself like a slave, and kissed the face of the earth before the Sultan, by whom he was admitted to pardon.  Immense booty was taken in the fort.

The Sultan then advanced to Lahore, accompanied by Kutbu-d din and the chief officers of State, and on Kutbu-d din’s taking his audience of leave, before his return to Delhi, he received a dress of honour and an affectionate farewell.


[p. 93 Îltutmish’s reign]

Capture of Jalor

After some time, they represented to his Majesty that the inhabitants of the fort of Jalewar (Jalor) had [p. 94] determined to revenge the blood which had been shed, and once or twice mention of the evil deeds and improprieties of that people was made before the sublime throne.  Shamsu-d din accordingly assembled a large army, and headed by a number of the pillars of State, such as Ruknu-d din Hamza, ‘Izzu-d din Bakhtiyar, Nasiru-d din Mardan Shah, Nasiru-d din ‘Ali and Badru-d din Saukartigin, valiant men and skilfull archers, who could in a dark night hit with their arrows the mirror on the forehead of an elephant.  The king took his way towards Jalewar by the aid of God, and by reason of this scantiness of water and food it was a matter of danger to traverse that desert, where one might have thought that nothing but the face demons and spirits could be seen, and the mean of escape from it were not even written on the tablet of providential design.

‘Udi Shah, the accursed, took to the four wall of Jalewar, an exceedingly strong fortress, the gates of which had never been opened by any conqueror.  When the place was invested by Shamsu-d din, Udi Shah requested some of the chiefs of the royal army to intercede for his forgiveness.  While the terms of his surrender were under consideration, two or three of the bastions of his fort were demolished.  He came with his head and feet naked, and placed his forehead on the earth and was received with favour.  The Sultan granted him his life, and restored his fortress, and in return the Rai presented respectfully an hundred camels and twenty horses, in the name of tribute and after the custom of service.  The Sultan then returned to Delhi, which is the capital of prosperity and the palace of glory, and after his arrival, [p. 95] not a vestige or name remained of the idol temples which had reared their heads on high; and the light of faith shone out from the darkness of infidelity, like the sun from a curtain of sorrow, or after its emerging from an eclipse4 and threw its shade over the provinces of Hind and Sind, the far and near countries of idolatry; and the moon of religion and the State became resplendent from the heaven of prosperity and glory.


  1. Kutbu-d din is usually styled throughout theKhusrau parviz jang.
  2. Hammer, (Gemald.iv, 184), following Briggs (FerishtaI, 196) reads “Bali and Nadole.”  They assume various forms in different manuscripts – “Rahi and Bartaki, Nadul and Nazul.”  There are places between Ajmir and Mt. Abu, which correspond to the names given in the text.  The lithographed edition of Ferishta (I. 108) reads “Dhutali and Bazul.”
  3. Hammer (Gemald. iv. 183) says) “the river of Sodra, which, flowing by Sialkot, Sodra, and Wazirabad, discharges itself into the Chinab.”  But there is no such stream.  The Sodra is the Chinab itself, so called from the old town of that name on its eastern bank.
  4. This implies a temporary revival of the Hindu power, which may have occurred under the unconverted Turks who are represented as having shed the blood of Musulmans.