As I have explained in the introduction, Khusrau avoids all reference to events that were not to ‘Alauddin’s credit. Thus he simply ignores the two invasions in which the Mughals invested Delhi and ‘Alauddin’s position became precarious. They were, probably, omitted by the Fath-i Namah also. Barni, however, describes them in greater detail than is his habit, for the great historian had little love for military men and their ways. I give below some extracts about the three Mughal invasions Khusrau has ignored.


‘Towards the end of the same year (i.e. in the fourth year of ‘Alauddin’s reign), Kutlugh Khwaja, son of the accursed Zaidu, invaded Hindustan with twenty tumans of Mughals. They started from Mawaraun Nahr equipped and ready for a great war, crossed the Sind (Indus) and by stages reached the neighbourhood of Delhi. Since they intended to capture Delhi, they refrained from attacking the forts on their way and did not plunder the country through which they passed. The coming of these wretches with an army numerous as ants and locusts spread consternation through the City. Young and old were equally dismayed, for they had never been through such a crisis before. All the inhabitants of the neighbouring towns fled for refuge to the old fort Delhi, which had not been repaired. The City was fearfully over-crowded; the mosques, streets and lanes could hardly hold the people. The price of commodities in the City rose very high for the caravan-routes had been blocked.

‘The Sultan marched out of Delhi with great pomp. The royal camp was pitched at Siri, and the maliks, amirs and soldiers were summoned to Delhi from all quarters. My uncle, ‘Alaul Mulk, Kotwal of Delhi, was one of the Sultan’s confidential advisers, and when the Sultan left Delhi, he assigned the harem, the City and the Treasury to my uncle’s care.

‘Alaul Mulk, who had gone to Siri to bid the Sultan farewell, represented to him: “Kings and ministers, who have governed the world in the past, have shunned great battles in which it is not possible to foresee on which side victory will lean or what any moment will bring forth. They have advised that wars between equals should be avoided, for such wars are dangerous both to the king and to his subjects. War, it is written in the wills of kings, is like the scales of a balance; the weight of a few coins will raise one scale and depress the other; and everything may in a moment be ruined beyond repair. Though a defeat is not ruinous to monarchs in ordinary warfare and matters can be patched up again, yet kings have been very nervous about a war between equals, in which the whole country is played for at a single stroke; and they have, so far as possible, averted by diplomacy and the formation of strong leagues the mortal danger, which they were unable to face. This is why kings send ambassadors and envoys to each other without hesitation.

‘“Your Majesty should send in front, in order to block the Mongol advance, the camel-riders, who are as strong as a hundred thousand horse, while you yourself stop here with your army and postpone for a few days an engagement with the enemy, who is swarming like ants and locusts. Beguile them for a while, so that we may see what they are at and how the situation develops. We can give them battle, if there is no other alternative left. But they are not stretching their hands in plunder; they have collected their men together and crept into the forts. How will their immense army, from which they do not allow ten men to be separated, find fodder? How will they live? If a few days are spent in the coming and going of ambassadors, we will be able to discover their intention. It is possible that they might become tired, take to plunder and withdraw; and then Your Majesty can pursue them for a few stages.

‘“I am an old and tried servant,” Alaul Mulk continued, “I have always placed before Your Majesty my views concerning the management of affairs and Your Majesty has rewarded me for doing so. But the wisest course is that which Your Majesty prefers. The judgment of the great king is superior to the judgment of other men. I have also thought out some schemes for putting a stop to the invasions of the Mughals and shall place them before Your Majesty at a moment of leisure. But this time the wretches have come with an immense multitude, and though God has given us a large and well-equipped army, yet most of our soldiers are Hindustanis, whose lives have been passed in fighting the Hindus; they have not encountered the Mughals before and are ignorant of their tactics and their deceitful retreats and ambushes. If the Mughals, by some wise measure, could be induced to retreat on this occasion, it will be possible for us to organize the army of Delhi so efficiently that our troops will be only too glad to meet them in future.”

‘The Sultan commended ‘Alaul Mulk’s well-meant advice for its loyalty. Then he summoned the great Khans and Maliks to his presence and addressed them as follows: “You know that ‘Alaul Mulk is a wazir and a wazir-zada. He is a well-wisher of mine and has been my counsellor from the time when I was a malik. He deserves the wizarat (ministership) by right, though owing to his corpulence I have only given him the Kotwalship. At this moment he has expressed some strong views and brought forward lucid arguments to dissuade me from joining battle with the Mughals. I wish to give him my answer in the presence of you all, for you are the pillars of my Government.”

‘“‘Alaul Mulk!” continued the Sultan, turning towards the Kotwal, “You are an old and faithful servant. You lay claim to the wizarat of the state and to wisdom. Now hear from me, your patron and your king, the judgment that is wise and true. There is a well-known saying: ‘One cannot steal a camel and escape in darkness.’ Neither can one retain the Empire of Delhi by following such advice as yours—by shunning war and seeking refuge behind the camel’s backs. It would be unbecoming for me to avoid battle by deceit or fraud. Contemporaries as well as posterity will laugh at my beard if I act on your advice, specially when my enemies have marched two thousand Karohs from their own country and challenged me to a combat beneath the Delhi Tower. On an occasion like this you ask me to act like a coward, to send my camels in front, while I sit, like a hen or a duck on her eggs, hatching schemes by which my enemy may be subdued. To whom will I be able to show my face, if I acted thus? With what manliness will I be able to go into my harem again? Of what account will I remain to the people of my country? How will my bravery and courage keep my turbulent people in obedience? Happen what may, to-morrow I will move from here (Siri) to the plain of Kili and fight Kutlugh Khwaja and his men till it is clear to which of us two God grants victory and success.

‘“‘Alaul Mulk! I have given you the Kotwalship of Delhi and entrusted the City, the harem and the Treasury to your care. It is your duty to kiss the keys of the Treasury and the gates and lay them before the victor, whoever he may be, and serve him faithfully. But do you not, with all your wisdom and experience, see that war could only have been avoided by diplomacy before the enemy had surrounded us. But when he comes before me with such an army, I have no other alternative, no other plan, but straightway to knock him down, and, at the risk of my own life, to take the breath out of his body with the blows of my axe and sword and spear. The household tales you tell me are of no use in the market-place. Subtle things, which may be nicely told on the four yards of a clean carpet at home, are inappropriate on the field of battle, where a stream of blood has to flow from both sides. As to the plans you have thought of for stopping the Mughal invasions, I will hear them the day after the battle is over and I have discharged its duties. You are a learned man and the son of a learned man. By all means tell me everything that comes to your mind concerning this problem.”

‘“I am an old servant,” ‘Alaul Mulk replied, “and I have never hesitated in placing my views before Your Majesty.”

‘“You are a faithful man,” the Sultan assured him, “and I have taken your well-meant advice in proper spirit. But the situation before us is one in which discretion has to be thrown to the wind, and there is no course for us but to risk our lives and offer battle, to draw our swords and fall upon the enemy.”

‘‘Alaul Mulk kissed the Sultan’s hands in farewell. He then returned to Delhi and closed all entrances except the Badaun Gate. Young and old in the City were seized with dismay and lifted up their hands in prayer.

‘Sultan ‘Alauddin marched with the army of Islam from Siri to Kili and encamped there. Kutlugh Khwaja also came forward and encamped opposite. People were struck with amazement and wonder, for in no previous generation or age had armies so large opposed each other in battle. Both armies were arrayed in order and stood waiting for the engagement to commence. Zafar Khan, the commander of the right wing, and his amirs drew their swords, rushed forward and fell upon the enemy. The Mughals were unable to withstand the onslaught; they broke and fled and the army of Islam followed in pursuit. Zafar Khan, the Rustam of his generation, continued the chase; with the blows of his sword he made them fly before him, while he cut off their heads. He pursued them for eighteen karohs. The Mughals were so frightened that they could not distinguish their bridles from the crupper of their saddles and had not the courage to turn back. But Ulugh Khan, who commanded the left wing and had many amirs and a large army, did not stir from his place. He hated Zafar Khan and would not move forward to help him.

‘Now the accursed Targhi with his tuman had been placed in ambush as a reserve. His Mughals climbed the trees and discovered that no horsemen (from the army of Delhi) were moving forward to support Zafar Khan. As soon as he found this out, Targhi attacked Zafar Khan from behind and surrounded him on all sides with a ring of Mughal forces. Zafar Khan was hailed with a shower of arrows and unhorsed. But the brave hero, though on foot, continued to fight; he took out his arrows from his quiver and brought down a Mughal at every shot. At that moment Kutlugh Khwaja sent him a message: “Come to me. I will take you to my father, who will raise you to a higher dignity than the king of Delhi has done.” But Zafar paid no attention to his offer. Kutlugh Khwaja tried to capture him alive, but as this proved impossible, the Mughals attacked him from all sides and he was martyred. Then they slew his amirs, wounded his elephants and killed the elephant-drivers.

‘The increasing darkness saved the Mughals that night. But Zafar Khan’s attack had filled their hearts with terror; they fled from the battle-field in the early hours of the morning and did not pitch their tents again till they had marched thirty karohs from Delhi. Then by marches of twenty karohs, and without resting at any stage, they reached their own frontier. But they remembered Zafar Khan’s attack for years. “It must have seen Zafar Khan,” they would say whenever their cattle refused to drink water. An army so large never came again to give battle in the suburbs of Delhi.’*

Ferishta does not add anything substantial to Barni’s narrative: ‘Towards the end of the same year, Kutlugh Khwaja, son of Dawa Khan, came from Mawaraun Nahr with twenty tumans of Mughals, i.e., 200,000 horsemen, resolved upon the conquest of Hindustan. After crossing the river Sind (Indus), he considered the towns and villages on his route as belonging to himself and consequently refrained from injuring them. On reaching the bank of the Jumna, he laid siege to Delhi. Innumerable people had fled to Delhi from the “New City” (Kailu­garhi) and the surrounding towns and villages from fear of the Mughals; the crowd was such that in the mosques, markets, streets and quarters of the City there was no place either to sit or stand. Men were sick of the overcrowding; the prices of all things rose exorbitantly as the roads for bringing corn and provisions were closed. Sultan ‘Alauddin summoned his maliks and amirs and began to get his army ready. Some of the amirs, however, were against giving battle; they urged that the army of Hindustan was weak and hinted that war was a doubtful business, which may have either of two results. The Emperor refused to accept their advice. “It does not become famous kings to shun war and battle,” he replied.

‘Consequently, entrusting the safety of the City, the harem and the Treasury to the Kotwal, ‘Alaul Mulk, and closing all entrances except the Badaun Gate, ‘Alauddin marched out of Delhi with imperial pomp. He had, according to the correct narrative, 300,000 horse and 2,700 elephants. The two armies beat their drums and arranged their ranks on the plain of Kili. Never since the elevation of the Muslim standard in India, had armies so large met each other in battle; nor have they since then till now, A.H. 1015. In short, the Second Alexander placed his army in order of battle. The right wing was entrusted to Hizhabrud­din Zafar Khan, one of the greatest generals of the day, who held the territories of the Punjab, Samana and Multan. The left wing was assigned to the Sultan’s brothers, Ulugh Khan and Rukn Khan, while the Emperor, with Nusrat Khan, took charge of the centre with 12,000 young and brave horsemen and many fierce elephants. All the imperial officers were placed in suitable positions. Zafar Khan first attacked the enemy lines in front of him and overthrew them with the onslaught of his elephants and the blows of his sharp sword; then he fell on the lines that confronted his colleagues and broke them also. The Mughals fell dead in heaps in the forest and plain and reduced to helplessness, they took to flight. Zafar Khan pursued them for eighteen karohs. But Ulugh Khan, who com­manded the left wing, was jealous of Zafar Khan and did not advance to support him. Seeing that Zafar Khan had gone forward alone and that no troops were advancing to his help, the Turkish leader of the Mughal left, who had formed an ambush in the way, suddenly came behind Zafar Khan and surrounded him on all sides. They wounded his horse, but Zafar Khan, though on foot, placed the arrows from his quiver on the ground and shot down a large number of the enemy. Kutlugh Khwaja sent him a message: “Come to me and I will raise you to a position greater than you enjoy.” But Zafar Khan did not heed it and kept on shooting his arrows. Kutlugh Khwaja tried to capture him alive, but that having proved impossible, he ordered arrows to be showered on Zafar Khan till he was martyred. The amirs of Zafar Khan’s army were also slain. Kutlugh Khwaja was so frightened by the Hindi attack that he did not draw his bridle till he had marched thirty karohs on that very day; then by continuous marches he moved on to his own country. Zafar Khan’s courage and generalship became proverbial among the Mughals, and if one horse refused to drink, they would remark that it had seen Zafar Khan. The Emperor, who was afraid of Zafar Khan, considered his martyrdom a second victory, and returned from Kili to the City, where he gave himself up to rejoicings and pleasures. Those who had behaved bravely in the battle were rewarded with robes of honour and promoted in the service, but an amir, who had fled to Delhi from the camp, was paraded through the streets of the City on an ass.’