The Sultans of the so-called slave dynasty ruled over Delhi from 1206 to 1290 A.D.Thus within a century, this dynasty came to an end and a new dynasty called Khajis flourished.
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The following circumstances contributed to the downfall of the slave dynasty.
Sultans Being Foreigners:
The people of India did not cooperate with the Sultans of slave dynasty as they considered them as foreigners. The feeling of harmony between the Hindus and Muslims had not yet emerged and the Hindus revolted against the Muslim rulers off and on.
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It created chaos and confusion in the Sultanate. As the Muslim rule was based on the Quran and its principles were brought from Ghazni, Ghor and Baghdad, they could not be applicable in India and gave rise to revolts.
Autocratic Military Rule:
The chief reason of – the downfall of the so-called slave dynasty was autocratic military rule of the Sultans in which the greatest significance was given to the centre. The provincial governors had no rights.
They had to act according to the directions of the Sultan failing which their promotions were affected or they could be removed from their office. As divine right theory was recognized, the kings were considered to be the representatives of God on earth. The theory was not accepted by all, hence a tension prevailed which ultimately led to the downfall of the so-called slave dynasty.
Absence of Law of Succession:
There was no definite law of succession governing Muslim Sultans. Any powerful prince or governor could be a Sultan, provided he wished and had resources to become the Sultan. It caused rapid dynastic changes in the Sultanate period; hence no system could be executed completely.
Sword remained the decisive factor to attain the throne and might was right. Out of ten Sultans, seven had to sacrifice their lives in the attempt at getting the throne. Hence the eighty-four year history of the so-called slave dynasty remained bloody and it harmed the power of the slave Sultans.
Lack of Organized Central Power:
Military power was the fundamental basis of the newly established Turkish Sultanate and strong central power but it could not be permanent. During this period, the sword was considered to be the fundamental basis of the Sultanate and only those Sultans succeeded who could establish their sway over the army.
Dr. Ishwari Prasad remarks, “Personal factors counted much in medieval politics. Whenever weak and pleasure loving Sultans ascended the throne- they not only failed to control the affairs of the Sultanate but also lost their supremacy and led the empire on the downslide.
Sultans like Iltutmish and Balban terrified the provincial governors and kept them under the control of Delhi Sultanate. They were awarded severe punishments in case of revolt but during the regime of unsuccessful Sultans, the centre became weak and the power of provincial governors increased. It also resulted in the downfall of the slave dynasty.
Lack of Public Sympathy and Internal Revolts:
Undoubtedly, the rulers of the slave dynasty reigned for about a century but they failed to acquire the sympathy of the people of Delhi Sultanate which was necessary for the establishment of a permanent kingdom.
Although Balban adopted the ‘Blood and Iron’ policy and crushed the opposition of the Indian public, the nationalistic feelings of the people of India continued to prevail and they continued to oppose the Sultans of Delhi in spite of their repeated defeats.
At that time India was divided into many small principalities. No proper attention was being paid to the defence of the country and the Hindu chiefs always remained on the lookout for any opportunity to cast away the yoke of slavery.
They often raised the standard of revolt against weak Sultans; hence the problem of internal revolts remained acute before every successor. Some of the historians have named this period an ‘Age of Resistance’. “During this period the public did not obey the orders of the Sultans according to their sweet will. Thus owing to lack of homogeneous atmosphere it was not possible for the slave Sultans to be strong enough to save their kingdom.
Rise of the Power of Amirs:
The Sultans being the foreigners in India mostly depended on their beloved Muslim Amirs. They were awarded high posts by the Sultans and they expected from them financial and military help at the time of need. They were given big fiefs and had great power. The organization of ‘The Forty’ enhanced the power of the Amir very much.
These Amirs exercised their power and acted as kingmakers whenever a weak person had been enthroned. They neglected the will of Iltutmish and made Ruknuddin sit on the throne in place of Raziya.
In the same way Kaiqubad was enthroned and the claims of Kai Khusrau were neglected at the death of Balban. The Khalji nobles and Amirs murdered the last slave ruler and established their own supremacy. It proves that the increasing power of the Amirs was also an important reason of the downfall of the slave dynasty.
Out of the eleven Sultans of Delhi only three, viz., Qutbuddin, Iltutmish and Balban were worthy rulers. Their successors prove unworthy, weak, lazy and luxury-loving. Although Raziya was worthy daughter of a worthy father, her only weakness was her sex that bedimmed her future.
The thirteenth century was a period military disturbances and political upheavals and only a person o extraordinary military calibre could be a Sultan under such circums tances As the successors of these reputed Sultans were un worth; and weak, the downfall of the Slave dynasty was inevitable.