Women of the Tughlaq Dynasty: Khudawandzada

Khudawandzada was the daughter of Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq and the sister of Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq. Muhammad Tughlaq had no sons. So when he died, Khudawandzada wanted to raise her son Dawar Malik (who was the son of Khudawandzada by her first husband Qazi Sadr-ud-din Arif.) to the throne of Delhi. But the nobles placed the reigns of government in the hands of Muhammad's cousin Firoz Shah.

When Khudawandzada heard this, she sent a message to the nobles, stating that it was not right to prefer Firoz to her son as she was daughter of Sultan Tughlaq, and sister of Sultan Muhammad. She asked, "While my son is alive, how could any stranger sit upon the throne?". Some historians add that she used indecorous language upon the matter. Afif says that when her message reached the nobles, they all winced as if snake-bitten. They send one Malik Saifu-d din Khoju, who was a man of dignity, to talk to her on the matter. The Malik addressed her in polite language and said, "Woman, if your son had been chosen instead of Firoz Shah, you would have no home to look upon, nor should we have wives or children to gladden our eyes, because your son is an incompetent person, incapable of governing. We have come into this foreign country, and a large Mongol army confronts us; if you wish to save yourself from that army, do you acquiesce in what we all have determined, and the office and title of Naib Barbak shall be conferred upon your son". Khudawandzada remained silent. Firoz Shah met Khudawandzada at the female apartments and threw himself at her feet. She embraced him, and with her own hands placed upon his head a crown, valued at a lac of tankas, which had belonged to her father and brother.

Khudawandzada, sister of Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq

Thereafter, Firoz Shah used to go every Friday to pay a visit to Khudawandzada and always treated her with great respect. She also showed every mark of respect to him. They used to sit down on the same carpet. Khusru Malik, who was the second husband of Khudawandzada, used to stand; and Dawar Malik sit behind her. When their conversation was over, the princess presents pan, and the Sultan departed.

The story does not end here. Khusru Malik and Khudawandzada mad a plot to murder Firoz Shah treacherously in the palace where he used to visit Khudawandzada on Fridays.

Plot to Murder Firoz Shah:

In the palace there was a long room, which has two lateral chambers. Khusru Malik concealed a number of armed men in these rooms; he gave them instructions that when Khudawandzada adjusted her head garment, they have to rush forth and cut off the Sultan's head. Khusru Malik also concealed some more armed men under the floor of the outer gateway, who were directed to fall upon the Sultan and dispatch him in case if he would succeed in escaping from the inside of the palace.

Khusru Malik, husband of Khudawandzada

When Friday came, Firoz Shah paid his accustomed visit, and sat down on the carpet with her to converse as usual. Dawar Malik, who was aware of this plot [but didn't take part in it], made signs to Firoz that he should depart quickly. Firoz took the hint and rose to depart. Khudawandzada pressed him to wait until the pan was served, but Firoz said that Fath Khan [his son] was sick, and he must hasten away. The armed men in concealment were not informed of what passed, and so the Sultan escaped from the room. The men who were hidden in the gateway were also unaware of his having come out, and so the Sultan got away safe from the palace of Khudawandzada.

As soon as he got outside the house, Firoz called out his followers, but as it was Friday most of the nobles had gone back; only Rai Bhiru Bhatti remained in attendance. When the Sultan came forth very excited, he cried out in a fierce tone, "Rai Bhiru, give me your sword!" The Rai perceived that he was in a state of great excitement, and replied, "I will draw my sword and will follow your Majesty; will you not proceed home?" Without heeding what was said, the Sultan snatched the sword from the hands of the Rai, and drew it; then getting safely away from the buildings of Sultan Muhammad's harem, he mounted to the top of the kushk (palace). The nobles were instantly summoned, and they surrounded the dwelling of Khusru Malik and Khudawandzada. The armed men were brought forth, and, on being questioned, told all the truth of the matter. The Sultan asked if they were not aware of what had passed. They replied that they were aware of the Sultan's coming into the house, but did not know of his going out.

The Fate of Khudawandzada:

Still Firoz Shah didn't punish Khudawandzada; he had great regard for Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq and his relations. He ordered her to retire and settled an allowance upon her. All her wealth was brought into the public treasury. Khusru Malik was banished, and Dawar Malik was directed to pay a visit to the Sultan at the beginning of every month, wearing an overcoat and slippers on his feet.