The Sultanate of Delhi had to face a number of political and administrative obstacles which created a crisis and then a decline. The Sultans did not find it smooth sailing to conquer, expand and consolidate their power.
The Sultans had to face opposition from the indigenous Hindu rulers, conflict between the nobility and the Sultan and threat from Mongols besides the rise of regional kingdoms.
In course of time, the Sultanate had to decline because as long as the Sultan could contain opposition, suppress rebellion and keep his flock together the kingdom survived, but when weak rulers ascended the throne, then came decline of the Sultanate.
This is apparent since the success of monarchical system depends on the king’s personality and individual qualities of leadership and ability to grasp the needs and requirements of the moment.
No clear and well-defined law of succession prevailed in the age of the Sultanate. Though the hereditary principle was accepted, no strict adherence was observed. Consequently, in a way, anyone with the sharpest sword and the strongest desire could claim the throne by offering bribes or by treachery. As and when a ruler died, intrigues and strife became very common which shook the foundations of royalty.
The nobles always tried to manipulate the situation to obtain economic and political gains. This led to uncertainty and a sort of anarchical situation as there were divisions supporting and opposing the claimant to the throne.
Further, the rise of regional states under the Bahmanis in AD 1347 and the rise of the kingdoms like Jaunapur, Malwa and Gujarat respectively under Khwaja Jahan in 1394, Dilawar Khan in 1401 and Zabar Khan in 1407, weakened the Sultanate as the Sultans lost the fertile regions of Bengal, Malwa, Jaunapur and Gujarat and their revenue to the State.
By the first decade of the 16th century the effective control of the Sultanate became nominal and the Sultanate came on the verge of collapse in the hands of a determined aggressor with minimum effort.
The assaults of the Mongols at regular intervals further sapped the vitality of the Sultanate, but it appears that the Mongol forays did not affect the Sultan’s political and economical fortunes.
The Mongols were cruel tribe of Central Asia. They were the natives of Mongolia; a brave, fearless and uncivilized people who took pleasures in plundering, burning and killing of people. They invaded India during the reign of deferent Sultans of Delhi.
When the Mongols invaded India and different rulers of India treated them, an elaborate picture in this respect is given as under:
In 1221, they arrived at the borders of India for the first time under the famous leader Changiz khan. He defeated the king of Khuarzim near the Indus River. The king requested Iltutmish to provide him refuge for sometime in India but the latter acted wisely and cleverly. In this way, he saved his country from Mongols’ invasion. Changiz Khan and his soldiers could not bear the heat of Indian’s summer and returned towards the western parts of the river.
A number of Mongol families settled across the Indus River region, and this became a permanent source of trouble for the Sultanate. They invaded whenever Delhi was weak or confusion and disorder prevailed in kingdom.
In 1241 A.D., after twenty years of Changiz Khan’s invasion, the Mongols swooped upon the Punjab and destroyed the beautiful city of Lahore.
In 1245 AD, the Mongols under Mangu, the grandson of Changiz Khan, during the reign of Masud once agian marched against India. They invaded Sindh and beseeched the fort of “Uch”.
The Sultan Ala-ud-Din Masud Shah sent troops under the command of Balban to resist them. The Mongols suffered a disastrous defeat and fell from the battlefield with heavy losses.
In 1257 AD, they again fell upon India under their leader Nuyin Sari in the reign of Nasir-ud-Din. The Sultan sent Balban who was now the Prime Minister to check their advance. He checked the Mongols invasions by filling these forts with armed soldiers.
Halaku, the other grandson of Changiz Khan, sent his representatives to the court of Nasir-ud-Din in 1259 A.D, who accorded him a cordial welcome. This gesture of friendship proved to be very useful because no more Mongols invasion occurred in his reign.
When Balban himself became the Sultan, the Mongols once again invaded India in 1279 and 1285 A.D. In order to check their invasion, Balban organized a strong and mighty army. Old and weak soldiers were replaced by young and strong soldiers. The Sultan vowed that he would not move out of Delhi for further conquest. And Multan, Diapur, Samana etc.cwere declared as frontier provinces. . Special arrangements were made for the manufacture of war arms and weapons. The provinces were put under the charge of Sher Khan Sunkar, a younger brother of the Sultan.
Due to this systematic policy, the country enjoyed peace and order for a considerably long time.
The continuous Mongols invasions in India created troubles not only for the Sultan but also for the people of India. What were the causes of so many invasions on India; the historians could not satisfactory answer the question. The immediate cause of these attacks might be that the Mongol were warriors and war-some was in their instinct.