Balban’s Theory Of Kingship Balban had to face many hardships after his accession to the throne in 1266. The affairs of the state had fallen into confusion on account of the incompetence of the successors of Iltutmish. The royal treasury was empty. The prestige of the stage had sunk low. The arrogance of the Turkish nobles had increased. To quote Burani, “The fear of the governing power, which is the basis for all good government and the source of glory and splendor to the state, had departed from the hearts of all men and the country had fallen into a wretched condition.
The Delhi Sultanate was also exposed to Mongol invasions”. To overcome the internal and external problems and to restore the glory of the kingship, Balban decided to act upon a comprehensive and long-term policy. Balban was right to find that the prestige of the king was the most important prerequisite for the success of monarchy. He introduced a concept of kingship generally known as “Kingship Theory of Balban”, a blend of Sasanid concept of kingship and the Abbasids concept of Caliphate in Baghdad.
He was determined to raise the status of kingship to the extent that people even could not think of rebellion against the king. Kingship Theory of Balban was similar to that of theory of Divine right of kings. He took up the title of Zilli Illahi, or shadow of God. In order to give his kingship a religious touch, he continued to inscribe the name of the deceased Khalifa on coins. He was of the view that he would be respected and feared more if the royal title was in line with the religious beliefs of the Muslims.
Balban explained his views on monarchy to his son Bughra Khan in these words, “The heart of the king is special repository of the God’s favour and in this he was no equal among mankind”. Prof. K. A. Nizami refers to certain elements of Balban theory of kingship. Balban thought that kingship was the vice regency of God on earth in its dignity and it was next to Prophethood. In the discharge of his kingship, he was at all times inspired and guided by God. The source of the power of the king lay not with the nobles or people but with God alone.
His actions could not be the subject of public scrutiny. He further writes that Balban wanted to impress his nobles that he got the throne because of Divine will and not by poisoned cup or the assassin’s Dagger. Balban believed in despotism. His conviction was that only a despot could extract obedience from his subject and ensure the security of the state. He claimed descent from the Turkish hero Afrasiab of Turan and always kept himself aloof from the people. He introduced Sajda and Paibos or kissing of the feat of the monarch in the court as the normal form of salvation for the king.
He also introduced the system of Nauroz to add to the dignity of his court. He appointed tall and fearsome guards who were to stand around the king with naked swords. Except nobles, he ordered remain standing in the court. The court dress was prescribed for the nobles. Wine was prohibited for them. Nobody could smile or laugh in the court. A complete legal dress was prescribed for the courtesans. He never laughed and gave smile. He never expressed unusual joy or sorrow to the public.
He was so strict in adherence of court etiquettes that when the news of the death of his beloved son was conveyed to him, he remained unmoved and carried on routine administration. Through in his private apartment, he wept bitterly. The royal cavalcade reflected great pomp and show. According to Barani while discussing about court narrates, “At the court there was such an atmosphere of awe, the ambassadors who came to present their credentials and Hindu Raja who came to pay tribute became nervous and stumbled on the steps. ” DESTRUCTION OF THE FORTY
Balban had been remained the member of the group of the forty. Turkish slave nobles had participated in the struggle to empower Sultan. According to L. P. Sharma, the power of Sultan and dignity of his family was possible only by breaking the power of the forty. As he assumed the throne, most of these nobles had either died or been deprived of their power and the rest were killed. He assigned junior officers to high ranks so that they could be loyal to him. He punished severely the members of the forty for minor offences with a view to destroy their mage.
Malik Barbaq, Haibat khan, Amin Khan, and Sher Khan (cousins of Balban) were example who met exemplary punishment. Balban brought about the destruction of the forty who have grasped the power of the state from the weak hands of the successors of Iltutmish. SYSTEM OF ESPOINAGE Balban owed his success largely due to an organized organization of his spy-system. He appointed spies (Barids) for inspecting the activities of his governors, military and civil officers and even that of his own son. Balban himself appointed them and they were well paid.
They were expected to provide very important information to the Sultan and those who failed, were severely punished. Every spy had direct access to the Sultan though none met him in the court. Balban’s spy-system proved quite effective and was responsible for his success in administration and breaking the power of the forty. STRONG ARMY A strong army was a necessity for a powerful monarch. Balban realized this necessity to make his despotism effective to safeguard his empire from the invasions of the Mangols and to suppress the rebellion. He increased the number of officers and soldiers of his army.
He paid them good salaries and took personal interest in their training. Balban succeeded in increasing the strength and efficiency of the army. With the help of his strong and efficient army, he ruthlessly suppressed the Hindus uprisings at Doab, Badyun, Ketehar, Amroha, etc by crushing anti-social and anti-government elements. Balban brought about security and peace to his subjects. PERSONAL CHARATER To enhance the prestige of the king, Balban himself maintained a high character. He believed that personal character of the king should be beyond suspicion.
As soon as he came to the throne, he gave up wine and jovial company. He upheld the high power of justice and gave exemplary punishment to his nobles on their misdeeds. Balban made serious distinction between high born and lowborn. He never assigned any office of the state to a lowborn person. He even refused to meet the lowborn persons. Balban was very meticulous about royal dignity in his court and private life. He was especially careful in his private life. He imposed a vigorous discipline on himself. He was never seen without wearing a cap or socks or shoes.
According to Balban, a ruler who did not safeguard his status would fail to perform his functions properly. AN ASSESSMENT Discussing the short-term aftermath, it is stated that Balban’s Theory of Kingship and measures taken under this proved fruitful in the short run and fatal to the long run. Balban’s Theory of Kingship and measures under this theory restored the prestige of Sultan. With this policy, he ensured internal peace and external security to his state. Although, his ruthlessness is subject to criticism but it was the need of time.
The strict policies of Balban were necessary to check the internal and external threats. The threatening elements could be subdued only by oppressive measures. Historians have also pointed out some important faults in Balban’s system. Pro. Habibullah although appreciated Balban’s Theory but he also pointed out that, “He considered himself more the custodian of the Turkish sovereign than a king of Muslamans”. It is fact that the Indian Muslims were newly converted to Islam and might be unreliable but this complete exclusion from government was not in the interest of the Muslim empire.
Another important point arose that Balban did not introduce any important reform in administration. According to Dr. K. A. Nizami, “Though performing a policeman’s duty of maintaining law and order, there is no legislation by which Balban be remembered”. The suppression of Turkish nobility also proved fatal for Turkish rule in India. But in spite of all this, Balban is appreciated by historians for his effective steps to restore law and order and prestige of the Sultan. He also could withstand the menace of the Mongols. Prof. Habibullah calls him as the forerunner of the state system of the Khiljis.
But the enemy raised their heads after his demise in the absence of a strong successor who could stand for his theory which was mainly based on force. He failed to realize the repeatedly proven universal fact of history that the doctrine of force is bound to collapse sooner or later. According to Dr. A. L. Srivastava, “His place among the so called slave kings is next only to that of Iltutmish”. CONCLUSION In a classical medieval terminology, he can be regarded as the best paragon embodiment of “Divine right kingship theory”.
This is more accurate to his own idealism although actually and practically, he preferred ‘might is right’. The conduct of his state business bears much resemblance to Bismarck. Like Bismarck, he applied a blood and iron policy to crush the anarchists and future challenging forces. Like Bismarck, he was a legendary racist. Here arises the paradox on the one hand, he claimed to be the divine kingship, the ruler of all Muslims but on the other hand he was lamentably racist. This is a paralogism in him, which no historian has satisfactorily answered.
But in spite of all this, he has been applauded by the historians for his effective steps to restore law and order and prestige of the Sultan along with his success against the menace of the Mongols. That is why Prof. Habibullah called the forerunner of the state system of Khilijis. Balban – the slave, water-carrier, huntsman, general, statesman and Sultan is one of the most striking figures among many notable men in the long line of the king of Delhi. According to Dr. Srivastvas, “His place among the so called slave kings is next only to that of Iltutmish