Indian History Part 63: The Bridge Between Two Eras

Canberra, 16 February 2018

The geo-cultural axis, forged along the ancient trade routes that wound its way east through the Khyber and Bolan Passes, gradually became migratory corridors into North India. Subsequently they linked South Asia and the Iranian plateau by joining Lahore to Delhi. At Delhi the migratory route trifurcated—one led directly south to the Vindhya Ranges and beyond to the arid Deccan; a second continued the eastern journey towards Patna and Bengal; and the third took a tortuous way south-west through the deserts of Rajputana all the way to coastal Gujarat. This indelible axis that originated in Persia, or Iran, and traversed all the way to the Bay of Bengal and the Arakan mountain ranges carried with it Persian influence that, over a period of time, affected all aspects of Indian society. Persian influence spread into architecture, music, art, dress, technology, cuisine and all other areas of society. The Indo-Persian mingling of ideas spawned the hybrid language of Urdu, still in use in the sub-continent. It altered forever the socio-political organisation of the kingdoms of South Asia.

The three major kingdoms of Peninsular India, ruled by the Yadava, Kakatiya and Hoysala dynasties, were the last of the old order state system represented by the ‘regional Hindu kingdoms’. In the second half of the 13th century, the Deccan and South India were on the cusp of a radical change to a system of kingdoms and monarchies represented by a transregional sultanate. The first chapter of the Delhi-Deccan migratory axis was starting to be written by early 14th century. Of the three kingdoms of the Deccan, the demise of the Kakatiya kingdom epitomises the rapid shift that was taking place in the socio-political ethos of the region. The troubles and tribulations of the last sovereign of the Kakatiya dynasty, Pratapa Rudra, is illustrative of the decline and fall of powerful kingdoms of South India. The alteration of the political system also had religious overtones and contained all the confusion that a clash of religions brings with it. In the Deccan, the arrival of the Delhi Muslim army heralded a forced transition—from an entrenched Hindu system to an Indo-Persian system based on rigid Islamic tenets. The new system that took hold lasted until the arrival of the British and the imposition of their socio-political system in late 18th century. Pratapa Rudra and his monarchy, the Kakatiya kingdom, stands silent witness to the violence and mesmerising speed with which the transition from regional Hindu kingdom to transregional Muslim sultanate took place.

Language, Territory and Culture

An abiding image of pre-colonial India is one of a static, tradition-bound, caste-ridden social order dominated by Brahminical Hinduism. The literature of Hinduism, written in Sanskrit, more often than not mentioned and elaborated on matters and events as they should have been, seldom attempting to explain them as they actually were. This picture of India—prominently portrayed as ‘backward’ in all aspects—was developed by the British as they started to colonise the sub-continent, in order to project and extol their own dynamism and progressive impetuses. They consciously defined India as stagnant and Indians as stubborn, being led by Brahmin ideologues sponsoring and steeped in Sanskrit texts. This interpretation of the Indian-Hindu society was far from the truth.

The true picture of pre-colonial India, especially in the Deccan and South India, emerges from the vernacular stone inscriptions that recorded day-to-day events and transactions relevant to the region. From these authentic records emerge the picture of a society and religious activities completely at odds with the British narrative, and to the descriptions in the classical texts. Further, the vernacular records are much more voluminous than the Sanskrit texts and provide details of not just the elite in society but also of the common people of the kingdom. They indicate a dynamism in the society that is completely ignored in the Brahminical texts written in Sanskrit. India may have been stubborn, but India, especially the South, was anything but static and stagnant.

In the Deccan, detailed inscriptions indicate the emergence of Andhra as a distinct cultural entity. As early as 1053, Telugu was known as ‘Andhra Bhasa’, the language of Andhra. This is perhaps the first instance of a language being mapped to a delineated territory, attributing and combining both culture and language to a people. By the 13th century, similar processes had separated both Maratha and Kannada territories. In the Deccan, language and territory conceptually fused to create a new cultural identity for the people. The next step in this development was a natural progression from the norms of the times wherein rulers were expected to advance and increase their territorial holdings. Chiefs, kings and monarchs started to map their political territory towards the regions where their language was dominant. The Deccan was now divided into three vernacular linguistic kingdoms, speaking Marathi, Telugu and Kannada.

In 1163, the chiefs of the Telugu-speaking Kakatiya clan declared independence from their imperial Chalukya overlords and created a kingdom with its capital in Warrangal. They initiated a new style of creating inscriptions in Telugu and gradually brought almost three-quarters of the undivided Andhra Pradesh of independent India under their banner. The kingdom was linguistic in its definition and rapidly transformed into a separate cultural territory. Across the Deccan similar processes were being enacted with warrior groups forming petty states throughout the 12th and 13th centuries. The championing of the local vernacular by all kinds of rulers, both powerful and of lesser capabilities, was a visible revolt against the pan-Indian superiority that Sanskrit had by then assumed.

In early 13th century, the Kakatiya kings annexed the rich Telugu-speaking coastal region between the Rivers Krishna and Godavari, thereby bringing all Telugu lands under their control. Around the same time, the Yadavas consolidated their authority over the Marathi-speaking population and the territories that they occupied. In Karnataka, the Hoysalas followed suit by expanding their hold over all Kannada speakers and their territorial holdings.

The rulers of these ‘linguistic’ kingdoms, the first of their kind in the sub-continent, connected the language to a distinct culture. They went on to legitimise the vernacular as the official language of the state, as opposed to the use of Sanskrit that had been so far prevalent. The results of this move were palpable. It crystallised local identity and assisted in community building where each individual had a sense of belonging to the whole. Perhaps more importantly, it established a direct connection between the ruling dynasty and the people through the shared linguistic identity. From here on it was easy to inculcate the sense of ‘we and them’ into the people, especially in times of danger to the state. Pride in their linguistically derived cultural identity is clearly evident in the inscriptions of the time.

The Kakatiya Kingdom

The Telugu kingdom ruled by the Kakatiya dynasty epitomises the character, psyche and ethos of the linguistic kingdoms of the Deccan. It also involuntarily became the bridge between the old and the on-coming new socio-political systems and is therefore studied in greater detail here. The inscriptions of the time provide a salutary indication of the dynamism of the Kakatiya kingdom.

The Deccan Plateau is semi-arid and extremely dry. As a result the interiors were sparsely populated. The landscape of Telangana, the Kakatiya heartland, is undulating with a large number of rain-fed streams that make it ideal territory to create reservoirs by building mud embankments to dam the streams. The Kakatiyas created hundreds of such reservoirs, called ‘tanks’, establishing a basic irrigation system and thereby opening the interior of the Deccan to wet and dry farming. The current estimate is that the Kakatiya kings, along with their vassal warrior chiefs, built nearly 5000 such tanks, a majority of which are still in use. The tanks gradually formed the basis of an economy that converted traditional nomadic herders into an established agrarian society.

Economy and the Temples

With an established irrigation system and the steady evolution towards a stable agricultural base, the economy became dynamic and the society started to change. As mentioned earlier, around 1230, the ruling king Ganapati (grandfather of Pratapa Rudra) had annexed the adjacent coastal region to the kingdom. This region already boasted a number of large temples, having been prosperous through agriculture for generations. Having become part of a much larger empire, these temples started to receive endowments from sources even far away—from merchants who wanted to ensure the extension of their network and from peasants wanting to establish their territorial right to cultivation and herding.

The temples started to play an important role in the development of the Kakatiya economy and society. Distinct from the great temples of the coast, numerous smaller temples were built in the interior of the Deccan, a trend that started only after the Kakatiya rule was established. Even though each of these temples were geographically limited in their influence, they became extremely vibrant stimuluses in expanding the agrarian society into the interior of the kingdom. Endowments from the local chiefs invariably came in the guise of building a tank in association with a temple that in turn turned arid land into cultivable fields. The intent of the king and the subordinate chiefs was two-fold—stabilising the economy through agriculture and ensuring the loyalty of the local population by controlling the tanks associated with the temple and their use in irrigation.

The temples also played a political role in the kingdom. The great coastal temples became agents for the integration of diverse people of the kingdom, although all of them spoke some variant dialect of Telugu. These temples became the focal points of the larger society, thereby inducing a sense of unity within the people. Similarly the smaller interior temples became the basis for forming vertical alliances between the local chief and the people. The temples and their associated tanks were normally built by the local chief, who was also the regional military leader subordinate to the Kakatiya king. They became central to the process of creating the pyramidal power base of the kingdom. The temple records of the time indicate the Telugu country to be a robust frontier society, expanding outwards, mainly based on increasing agrarian activities. This was achieved through maintaining and strengthening a clearly visible and extremely strong power hierarchy with the Kakatiya king at the apex and all power emanating from that single source.

There exists a dichotomy in explaining the connection between the kings and the temples, especially in South India. Accepted South Asian scholarship associates the temples of South India to the concept of kingship, kingdom and their connection to a divine and harmonious cosmos. This concept could have been derived from the extraordinary influence that temples had on the politico-economic development of the society. In a simpler manner, it has been explained away as a requirement for the king to be seen, and believed, to be directly associated with God. However, the concept of the ‘divine right to rule’ and claiming descent from celestial beings is a universal phenomenon and not restricted to either South India or the Deccan. Inexplicably, the South Indian kings have been singled out to be connected to their grandiose temples as catering to the need to establish and proclaim this divine connection to their subjects in order to establish their legitimacy.

The Kakatiya inscriptions provide a contrary view of having to proclaim the king’s direct connection to the Gods. In these inscriptions, both temple and other general ones, the king is very seldom mentioned. When a king is mentioned in these records, it is almost never exalting his piety or connection to God but exuberant declarations of resounding battlefield victories that he brought to the kingdom. The theory of the connection of the king to the temple for divine legitimacy will have to be discarded, at least in the case of the kingdoms of the Deccan.

The Society

The Kakatiya society was typically imbued with the frontier ethos inculcating rapid change, in comparison to the more relaxed manner in which societies evolve. Therefore, it was more egalitarian and flexible, especially in the interior parts where the conversion from herders to cultivators was still taking place. The warrior-chiefs, controlling small territories, were called ‘Nayaka’ (a title that could be very broadly translated to ‘leader’). This title could be obtained by anyone of adequate ability, regardless of his origin. Normally they were very generous in their donations to the temples, which indirectly benefitted the people at large. The egalitarianism of the society is further reinforced by the fact that no vernacular inscription mentions a birth-ascribed caste to any person mentioned in them.

The Kakatiya socio-religious environment was such that it was completely unaffected by Brahminical notions that governed traditional Hindu/Indian society. The warrior groups and their leadership did not claim to be Kshatriyas, the warrior ‘caste’ in normal Hindu society; they were content, in fact proud, to claim Sudra origin, which was placed one step lower than the Kshatriyas in traditional reckoning. Even the Kakatiya kings did not claim exalted status, happily embracing Sudra origins. It is therefore not surprising that jati and varna, the two defining birth-qualifications of a person in Brahminical Hinduism, does not find any mention in any of the Kakatiya inscriptions. The inscriptions only specify the occupation of individuals, such as Vedic Brahmin, Secular Brahmin, warrior-peasant, herdsman, Chief, military leader and so on. A large number of Kakatiya inscriptions that mention both father and son show different occupations for each, cementing the present-day understanding that in the medieval Telugu society, the practice of following the hereditary status was non-existent.

The openness of the Kakatiya society is clearly seen in the rise of officers of humble origin to higher ranks and posts, almost always at the expense of the traditional cadre culled from the established landed nobility. At the time that the dynasty was establishing itself, more than half the nobles and royal officers were from the hereditary, older and powerful families and only about 25 percent were from non-aristocratic background. When the dynasty was coming to an end, nearly three centuries later, the contribution towards the royal officialdom from the traditional nobility had been reduced to a mere 10 percent and the commoner-officers filled 50 percent of the positions. While this change in the distribution pattern demonstrates the move towards social equality, it also indicates another development – it showed the increasing autocratic power of the Kakatiya kings. They were able to break the entrenched power of the landed nobility without fear of rebellion. Similarly, the king was able to promote men of his own choice to positions of leadership with no concern regarding adverse consequences.

A Defensive Capital

The capital of the Kakatiya kingdom was Warrangal, today a provincial town that is not on the mainstream of modern India. In its heydays, it was a highly developed city with elaborate defensive structures. Its fortifications consisted of several concentric walls, still visible in a well-preserved manner today, interspersed with deep moats. The inner wall protected the primary citadel and was made of huge blocks of granite that stand around 20 feet in height. The blocks are irregular in shape, but fit together perfectly without the aid of any mortar. This wall is surrounded by a moat. The moat is then encircled with another earthen wall, once again surrounded by a moat.

The structure of the capital is such that it evokes a sense of a defensive crouch rather than the openness that would have indicated an offensive foreign policy and belief in the strength of the empire. This is paradoxical since the Kakatiya Empire suffered external attack only during the reign of the last king Pratapa Rudra. His predecessors had been left alone to rule. In fact, the earlier Kakatiya kings expanded the kingdom steadily till the entire Telugu-speaking Deccan territories were under their control. Warrangal was established in 1195 and successive kings built it into a perfectly defensible stronghold even though direct threats to the empire did not exist.

The Islamic Invasions and the Demise of the Kakatiyas

Although he was not the founder, the Kakatiya dynasty was firmly put on the map and consolidated by Ganapati. He was responsible for greatly expanding the territorial holdings. Ganapati regulated and increased commercial activities to take Kakatiya trade even beyond the sub-continent, across the seas. Ganapati had no sons and therefore placed his daughter, Rudrama Devi, on the throne. Unfortunately Rudrama also did not have any sons and on the advice of Ganapati, adopted one of her grandsons as her own son, who was anointed the heir apparent. This boy was Pratapa Rudra who ascended the throne in 1289. He ruled graciously for 20 years in a period that later historians have called the ‘Golden Age’ of the Kakatiyas.

Then came the storm that initially shook the foundations of the Kakatiya Empire, which subsequently brought it to its knees and then extinguished it. At this time the Delhi Sultanate had been in existence only for a relatively short period, but had already conquered the entire Gangetic plains. The Khilji Sultanate was without doubt the most powerful kingdom seen in the sub-continent till then. Ala ud-Din Khilji was a formidable general and an avaricious Sultan. He ordered his favourite slave general, Malik Kafur, to go south and invade the stable, peaceful and prosperous Kakatiya kingdom. In ordering the invasion, Ala ud-Din was not intent on annexation. He carefully instructed Kafur not to destroy the kingdom but to defeat the king and bring him, and his kingdom, into the growing fold of tributaries and vassal kingdoms that the Khilji Sultan was creating. This was based on an ancient Indian strategy of expanding the influence of the kingdom without assuming the direct responsibility of administering what could prove to be a rebellious new annexation.

In mid-February 1310, after two months of Warrangal being besieged, when the inner stone wall protecting the citadel was being invested by the Delhi forces, Pratapa Rudra sued for peace. Malik Kafur accepted the surrender and send a rich robe (khil’at) and subsequently a parasol (chatr) to Pratapa Rudra. These vestments symbolised Rudra’s incorporation into the fold of Delhi’s expanding circle of vassal kings. The parasol indicated that the Kakatiya king was now under the shadow of the Delhi Sultan. Pratapa Rudra was also required to don the robe and bow in the direction of Delhi from within his palace as a formal acceptance of Khilji supremacy. Even though all these actions—presentation of the robe and parasol, bowing towards Delhi—were ceremonial in nature it had an inherent effect of curtailing the freedom and independence that the vassal king had so far enjoyed. An annual tribute was imposed on Pratapa Rudra, which was paid for several years thereafter. Kafur returned to Delhi with immense wealth, there to be extravagantly feted by the Sultan.

With this one defeat, the political landscape of the Deccan changed forever. The Kakatiyas were no longer the dominant force they used to be and their southern Andhra vassals started to rebel, with some chiefs even declaring independence. The general perception in the Telugu country changed to the belief that Pratapa Rudra was now a lackey of Delhi. The perception was reinforced when the Kakatiya army assisted the Khilji invasion of the southern Pandya kingdom a year later. However, Pratapa Rudra shrewdly used the opportunity of the Khilji invasion of the far south to subdue the rebellions in the southern Andhra country. He personally led the Kakatiya army into the Tamil lands of the deep-south.

This military campaign must have created a belief in Pratapa Rudra’s mind that he was now an ‘ally’ of Delhi rather than a vassal. He therefore stopped paying the annual tribute to Delhi in 1318. Obviously the Sultan in Delhi did not consider the Kakatiya an ally but a vassal, and therefore he send down General Khusrau Khan to chastise the errant king and to collect the overdue tribute. It is not an exaggeration to state that the Delhi army of the time was scientifically the most advanced, anywhere in the world. It was battle hardened, flexible and innovative in the application of its tactics. Once again Pratapa Rudra sued for peace, which was accepted with a huge increase in the annual tribute to be delivered to Delhi.

Once again the political ritual of accepting Delhi’s suzerainty was enacted, but with one difference. This time, Pratapa Rudra was made to bow towards Delhi from the top of the ramparts of the Warrangal fort, while wearing the robe and carrying the parasol, in full view of the Kakatiya people. With this one act of subservience, Pratapa Rudra altered the socio-political situation of his kingdom. The Kakatiya king was perhaps unaware of this momentous change at that time.

In 1320, the Khiljis were replaced by the Tughluq dynasty in Delhi. There was obviously a period of confusion and uncertainty during this change over. Pratapa Rudra took advantage of this state of affairs in Delhi and once again stopped paying the annual tribute. A year later Ulugh Khan, the crown prince who was later to become Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq, was send by his father to collect the tribute from the Kakatiya kingdom. He laid siege to Warrangal for six months and then withdrew to Devagiri when in-fighting broke out within his army. Devagiri was by this time fully conquered and annexed to the Delhi Sultanate, the rule of the Yadavas having been terminated by the Khiljis.

Ulugh Khan re-formed his army and returned to Kakatiya country within a year, now with a much strengthened army. This time, the third invasion, the Kakatiyas were given no quarter, the defences of Warrangal were breached and the city plundered and destroyed. By now the Delhi Sultanate had perfected the art of annexing the territory of Hindu kings by employing laid-down process. The process involved defeating the Hindu army in the battlefield; then desecrating the ‘state temple’, the temple that was important to the ruling king and dynasty since they derived legitimacy from the deity that was purported to protect the king; and then destroying this deity, which ensured that the Sultanate army visibly completed the annihilation of a dynasty. Ulugh Khan now enforced the same process. After Warrangal was put to the sword, plundered and raped, the Svayambhusive Temple of the Kakatiyas was destroyed and an enormous mosque built to the side of the temple’s original location. [In later years, the mosques would be built on the same spot, using the stones from the destroyed temple. At this time, Ulugh Khan may not have had the confidence to build on the site of the destroyed temple, fearing a rebellion and backlash from the people.] He appointed a Muslim governor to rule and renamed Warrangal ‘Sultanpur’. The Kakatiya kingdom came to an inglorious end, fully annexed and absorbed into the vast Delhi Sultanate.

Pratapa Rudra was captured and send to Delhi as a prisoner. On the journey north, pride and a sense of honour overtook the Kakatiya king and he opted to commit ritual suicide on the banks of the River Narmada, than be taken to Delhi as a prisoner.

Redefining Political Deccan

By the time the Kakatiya kingdom was obliterated by the Tughluqs, the Yadavas of Devagiri had long since become part of history. Therefore, what was different about the Kakatiya extinction? After the two defeats earlier, Pratapa Rudra had been presented ceremonial robes and had openly accepted Delhi suzerainty. Unlike in the case of the Yadavas, these were only the first two of a series of events that created a complete upheaval in the political structure of the Deccan. 13th century Deccan was home to kingdoms that were uniformly arranged to coincide with the linguistic territorial borders, which in turn brought about an unprecedented level of peace and stability to the region. In early 14th century, within a span of a few decades, the Islamic invasion shattered the tranquillity of the past few centuries and shape of the region without creating an alternative model. It was inevitable that successor kingdoms would emerge, particularly considering the waxing and waning of the power of the Delhi Sultanate. The Maratha and Telugu kingdoms and dynasties – the Yadavas and the Kakatiyas – were replaced by two emerging kingdoms, both multi-ethnic and transregional in character and ruled by self-proclaimed kings—the Bahmani kingdom and the Vijayanagar Empire. It would take another six centuries and the formation of an independent democratic India before the concept of linguistic territorial divisions would be attempted again.

Both the successor states in the Deccan clearly managed to severe all links to the Delhi Sultanate. However both derived a cultural system—political economy, dress, administration, organisation of military forces—from the one that had flowed from Iran/Persia into North India through the Turks who established the Delhi Sultanate in the sub-continent and subsequently invaded the Deccan and South India. Even though complete independence was assumed by both the successor kingdoms, institutional and ideological structures that were instrumental in the building of the Delhi Sultanate was a primary influence in establishing them. Other than these two major kingdoms, many other ‘sultanates’ of varying stature also sprang up in the Deccan and further south.

The Concept of the Sultanate

In the eastern Islamic world—meaning east of Baghdad and the Arab region—the Sultanate system took shape by the 10th century, deriving its cultural base from pre-Islamic Persia. By early 13th century, sultanates across the entire Islamic world were associated with the concept of mobile wealth, military slavery, and long-distance trade. These activities were built on a rigid hierarchy of royal officers and a court system that dispensed immediate and ruthless justice, both of which were loyal to the person of the sultan as practised in the earlier Persian Empire.

The practice of military slavery, with slaves normally purchased in Central Asia, created the unintended effect of gradually diluting the importance of hereditary rank, replacing it with individual ability as the primary qualification for assured advance in the official hierarchy. The creation of the Slave dynasties in India and Egypt are astounding examples of this trend.

Although religion played a convenient part in initiating military expeditions, it was detached from statecraft. Further, the culture, language and/or ethnicity of the people of a region were not considered limiting factors in advancing the political frontiers of the sultanate. By the time the Delhi Sultanate was established, the concept of the sultanate as an entity did not know any natural boundaries. The limit was defined only be the geographical extent to which revenue could be collected profitably.

The sultanate armies were extremely mobile and technologically some of the most advanced that had so far been fielded in battle. They were well-versed in both rapid manoeuvre and siege warfare, equipped with the latest weapons and drilled in versatile techniques. The army provided the sultanate with the ability to mount trans-regional expeditions of plunder and conquest.

The Sultanate concept was propelled by two ideas, that of mobile wealth, most of which originated from plunder, and the practice of military slavery. In North India, a combination of the two ideas established a self-perpetuating cycle—wealth was plundered from non-believers and their temples as part of spreading the word of Islam; this wealth was then used to purchase/recruit more slaves from Central Asia who were in turn employed to perpetuate further plunder and conduct military expeditions against the wealthy, non-believing Hindus. The development and entrenchment of this cyclical process, it must be admitted, must have been the work of a devious genius.

The Iqta System

The Iqta was a unique system established by the Islamic rulers. The system was bedded on the concept of a military officer, considered to be of some calibre, being given a unit of land over which he had temporary right to collect revenue. The holder of an Iqta was called an Iqtadar (holder of an Iqta). In return for the temporary grant of the land, the Iqtadar was required to convert the revenue to cash, remit a laid down part to the central treasury and use the balance to raise, train and sustain a group of cavalry. The number of troops to be maintained depended on the decision of the Sultan and normally was based on the size of the land that was allocated.

The system had three inherent advantages. First, it provided the sultan with a fairly reliable army at short notice. Second, it provided the exchequer with funds and permitted the free movement of wealth; and third, it acted as tentacles that strengthened the political authority of the sultan even into faraway territories on the fringes of the sultanate. Further, some of the Iqtadars were hostile chiefs who had been subdued and then brought into the fold through the Iqta system. This ensured that they did not continue their hostile activities against the sultan once the central army had moved on after the initial subjugation. The Iqta system played a critical role in integrating the Deccan into the Delhi Sultanate, politically and economically.


Northern Deccan was annexed into the Delhi Sultanate in the span of a century through a series of calculated steps enforced in a gradual manner. The first step was the military defeat of the ruling monarchs after which they were made into subordinate or vassal rulers. This was accomplished by incorporating them into the Delhi ‘circle’ of tributaries through elaborate and pompous rituals and ceremonies. In the case of the Deccan kingdoms, they were merely brought into the ‘shadow’ of Delhi. The gift of the parasol to the defeated king testifies to this, a kind of hand-off approach. The second step was to again invade the kingdom based on some real or trumped up charges. After a second military defeat the kingdom was normally broken up and annexed to the territorial holdings of the Sultanate. The annexation was invariably accompanied by plunder and destruction, especially of the temples of the land, and then by the extinction of the ruling dynasty. This process may at times have taken more than two invasions as in the case of the Kakatiyas.

The third step was instituted after plunder and destruction of the capital and associated temples were accomplished. This was invariably followed by the construction of imposing mosques in the place where the ‘state-temple’ had existed, clearly indicating the end of a ruling dynasty and the entrenchment of another. If the kingdom was sufficiently large, it was parcelled into smaller provinces and Muslim governors appointed. The name of the Delhi Sultan was read out on every Friday during prayers at the mosque. In addition, at the grass root level the Iqta system subsumed the sovereignty of the defeated kingdom. The Kakatiyas, and earlier the Yadavas, were destroyed by this three-step system. Assimilation was comprehensive and complete when this system was applied.

The Kakatiya kingdom is the prime example of being the bridge between two eras in the Deccan. First, the stable regional kingdoms defined by linguistic territory, going through their ‘golden ages’ of prosperity. The Kakatiya kingdom, ruled by a dynasty that did not claim Kshatriya lineage and a society devoid of hereditary claims to nobility, greatness and power, epitomised this era. Early in the 14th century, another radically different polity—the trans-regional sultanate—with a completely different socio-political vision, challenged the status quo and overwhelmed the concept of linguistically defined regional kingdoms. Its unique three-step process of creating subordinate kings and then incorporating them into Delhi’s imperial system was far too dynamic for the regional kingdoms to withstand. The Kakatiya kingdom and dynasty stand out as exemplar entities that fell to the more dynamic and unstoppable development of the socio-political and economic systems in the Indian sub-continent.

© [Sanu Kainikara] [2018]
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About Sanu Kainikara

Sainik School Kazhakuttam (Kerala), National Defence Academy 39/A, 108 Pilot's Course IAF, fighter pilot, QFI, FCL, psc, HACC, Voluntary Retirement as Wing Commander. Canberra-based Political and Defence Analyst specialising in military strategy, national security, and international politics. PhD in International Politics from University of Adelaide Executive Masters in Public Adminsitration (ANZSOG) Adjunct Professor, University of New South Wales, Distinguished Fellow Institute For Regional Security (IFRS) Distinguished Fellow Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS)

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