On April 18, 1316, Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shah, the son of Ala-ud-din Khilji, ascended to the throne of Delhi. In a previous post, we learned about Qutb-ud-din's rise to power.
Hasan, a handsome young man, was originally a Hindu of the Baradu tribe. Amir Khusro described the Baradu tribe as known for their unwavering loyalty and courage, often serving as trusted bodyguards for kings.
During the reign of Ala-ud-din Khilji, when Ain-ul-Mulk Multani conquered Malwa in 1305, both Hasan and his brother Hisam fell into his hands. Subsequently, they were converted to Islam and given the names Hasan and Hisam, respectively. The brothers were then taken to Delhi as slaves and entrusted to the care of Malik Shadi, the Naib-Hajib of Ala-ud-din.
Mubarak, captivated by Hasan's charm, showered him with numerous special favors, all within the first year of his reign. Mubarak bestowed upon him the title of Khusru Khan and appointed him as the commander-in-chief and vizier of the kingdom.
Mubarak developed an unhealthy and unnatural obsession with Khusru, openly displaying his affection for him in public. Mubarak would rarely make decisions without consulting Khusru first, granting him unrestricted access to the royal palace day and night, where they would share intimate moments together. Amir Khusro mentioned that when Khusru Khan was unavailable, his brother Hisam-ud-din would take his place.
Khusru Khan's Military Victories:
Following the conquest of Devagiri, Mubarak directed Khusru Khan to proceed towards the Kakatiya capital of Warangal in Telangana, since Rai Pratapa Rudra Deva had failed to send his tribute for several years. In 1318, Khusru Khan laid a successful siege on the Warangal fort. Pratapa Rudra Deva was compelled to negotiate for peace, submitting an offering to Khusru that included more than hundred elephants, 12,000 horses, and a vast amount of gold, jewels, and gems. Furthermore, he ceded the district of Badarkot and promised an annual tribute of 40 gold bricks.
Later on, when Yaklakhi, the governor of Devagiri, rebelled, the officers of the city seized him and handed him over to Khusru Khan, who sent him bound to Delhi. During this period, Mubarak commanded Khusru to march against Ma'bar.
Upon arriving in Ma'bar, Khusru Khan found that the Rai and other officials had fled, deserting several elephants which Khusru managed to seize. He then marched to Maithili (Motupalli) and acquired more than 20 elephants and a sizable diamond. He further increased his wealth by pillaging a rich merchant, Siraj Taqi, at Patan. According to Isami, Khusru Khan marred Taqi's daughter.
When his wealth increased, Khusru made plans to free himself from the clutches of Mubarak. Unfortunately, the only way to achieve this was by assassinating the Sultan. Some of Mubarak's esteemed officers, such as Malik Talbagha Yaghda and Malik Tamar, who accompanied Khusru on his Deccan expedition, grew suspicious of Khusru's intentions and reported him to Mubarak, accusing him of treason. Mubarak ordered them to capture Khusru and bring him to Delhi.
In Delhi, Mubarak anxiously awaited Khusru's return. Khusru poisoned Mubarak's mind against his accusers. Mubarak became furious with his officers although they brought charges against Khusru and produced witnesses to prove their charges. Malik Tamar was forbidden from attending court, and his iqta of Chanderi was transferred to Khusru. Malik Talbagha Yaghda was physically assaulted, stripped of his position, estates, and army, and thrown into prison. The witnesses also faced severe punishments. Other officers, witnessing the destruction of Khusru's enemies, were left speechless and felt compelled to seek his protection.
With his enemies crushed, Khusru continued his schemes with renewed vigor. One day, he approached Mubarak and expressed his concern regarding his fellow amirs who, due to their larger followings from their own tribes, held more influence. Khusru felt compelled to bow down to their authority. He pointed out that there were numerous Baradus from his clan in Gujarat and suggested that, with Mubarak's permission, he could gather them together and establish himself as a person of significance.
Mubarak granted his request. Consequently, Khusru assembled a significant number of Baradus and brought them to Delhi. As Ferishta recounts, Khusru ensured that every lucrative and trusted position was bestowed upon these individuals, effectively binding them to his own interests.
Khusru also managed to befriend Baha-ud-din, Mubarak's former secretary who had been dismissed and expelled. He also formed alliances with other officers from Mubarak's court. These chiefs, along with the Baradus, discussed the best way to eliminate Mubarak. Eventually, they decided to carry out the deed in the Hazar Sutun palace. Taking advantage of the summer season, when Mubarak would sleep on the palace roof with only a few eunuchs as company, they saw the perfect moment to strike.
Khusru's next objective was to secure the keys of the palace gates and obtain Mubarak's permission to bring the Baradus inside.
Khusru expressed to Mubarak that the palace gatekeepers were preventing entrance to his friends from Gujarat, who had come to meet him. He requested that if the palace gate keys were entrusted to a few of his men, he would be able to invite his companions into the lower chambers to interact and entertain.
As per Ibn Battuta's account, Khusru told Mubarak that some members of his tribe desire to embrace Islam. The prevailing tradition was that a Hindu aspiring for conversion would be presented to the Sultan, who appropriately dressed him in exquisite attire and embellished him with gold necklaces and bracelets, according to his rank. Mubarak replied, "Bring them to me." Khusru explained that they were reluctant to meet the Sultan during the day due to their family and coreligionists. Mubarak directed to bring them at night and ordered that Khusru should be given the palace gate keys.
The Baradus thus seized control of the entire palace. Khusru assembled them in Malik Kafur's chambers on the ground floor, which had been assigned to him, and patiently awaited the opportune moment. The palace guards noticed armed men entering every night, arousing their suspicions. However, their fear of Mubarak's temper prevented them from speaking out against Khusru.
Qazi Zia-ud-din, who had been Mubarak's tutor and was in charge of the palace at night, risked his life to inform Mubarak of Khusru's evil designs, but Mubarak dismissed him with harsh replies. Just then, Khusru Khan happened to enter the room. Mubarak shared with him all that the Qazi had said.
Khusru began to weep and said, "Your majesty, you have shown me great favor and kindness, but the high officials of the court are consumed with jealousy and are plotting against me." Mubarak embraced him, weeping in sympathy. He gave Khusru a few kisses on his lips and cheeks and said, "Even if the whole world speaks ill of you, I will not listen. My love for you has made me independent of the world, and without you, the world means nothing to me."
Last Moments of the Sultan:
On the night of July 9, 1320, the Qazi, suspecting treason, ventured out around midnight to oversee the palace guards. At this time, Randhol, Khusru's uncle, entered the palace accompanied by a group of Baradus, concealing weapons beneath their garments. Among them was Jaharya, who had been hired to carry out the heinous act of murdering the Sultan.
Randhol approached the Qazi and engaged him in conversation, offering him a betel-leaf. Meanwhile, Jahariya struck the Qazi down with a single stroke of his sword. This caused a significant uproar, the sound of the tumult reaching Mubarak, who was on the open roof of the first floor. Sensing trouble, he called upon Khusru to investigate. Khusru pretended to look over the wall and claimed that the Sultan's horses had broken loose, and the uproar was due to attempts to catch them in the courtyard.
Meanwhile, the conspirators made their way up the stairs, heading towards the royal sleeping quarters. Jahariya and his fellow Baradus put to sword Ibrahim and Ishaq, the door-keepers.
The clash of arms and the agonizing groans of the dying men echoed through the corridors, alerting Mubarak to the imminent danger. He quickly put on his slippers and ran towards the staircase that led to the harem on the second floor. Khusru rushed after him, grabbing hold of his flowing locks, engaging in a fierce struggle. Although Mubarak was successful in knocking Khusru down, he was unable to free himself due to Khusru's tight grasp on his hair. In this pivotal moment, Jahariya entered the scene. "Protect me!" Khusru cried out. Jahariya swiftly swung his axe, striking the Sultan's chest, lifting him up by his hair, and then, after throwing him to the ground, cut off his head. The headless body of the Sultan was thrown to the courtyard below.
After the assassination of Sultan Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Khilji, Khusru Khan ascended the throne of Delhi, assuming the title of Sultan Nasir-ud-din Khusru Shah.