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Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji

Ikhtiyar al-Din Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji
Born Garmsir, Afghanistan
Died 1206
Devkot, Bengal
Occupation Military general

Ikhtiyar al-Din Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji,[1] also known as Malik Ghazi Ikhtiyar 'l-Din Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khilji or Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khilji or simply Bakhtiyar Khilji (died 1206), a military general of Qutb al-Din Aibak, was responsible for the destruction of Nalanda university.[2][3][4][5]

Early life

Bakhtiyar Khilji, a member of the Khilji tribe,[6] a Turkic tribe long settled in what is now southern Afghanistan,[7][8] was head of the military force that conquered parts of eastern India at the end of the 12th century and at the beginning of the 13th century.[9]


Khilji came from the town of Garmsir in present-day southern Afghanistan. Tradition has it that Khilji's conquest of Bengal at the head of 18 horsemen was foretold.[10] He was of common birth,[11] had long arms extending below his knees,[10] a short physical stature, and an unfavorable countenance. He was first appointed as the Dewan-i-Ard at Ghor. Then he approached India in about the year 1193 and tried to enter in the army of Qutb-al-Din, but was refused rank. Then he went further eastward and took a job under Maklik Hizbar al-Din, then in command of a platoon at Badayun in northern India.[11] After a short period he went to Oudh where Malik Husam al-Din, recognised him for his worth.[11] Husam gave him a landed estate in the south-eastern corner of modern Mirzapur district. Khilji soon consolidated his position by recruiting some fiercely Muslim soldiers under his domain and carried out successful raids into neighbouring regions.[9]


The image, in the chapter on India in Hutchison's Story of the Nations edited by James Meston, depicts the Bakhtiyar Khilji's massacre of Buddhist monks in Bihar, India. Khaliji destroyed the Nalanda and Vikramshila universities during his raids across North Indian plains, massacring many Buddhist and Brahmin scholars.[12]

A certain reference in literature suggests that in 1193, the ancient college-city of Nalanda and the university of Vikramashila were burned by[13] Bakhtiyar Khilji.[14]

Ruins of ancient Nalanda

Khilji's career took a new turn when he subjugated Bihar in 1203.[9] This effort earned him political clout in the court at Delhi. In the same year he took his forces into Bengal. As he came upon the city of Nabadwip, it is said that he advanced so rapidly that only 18 horsemen from his army could keep up. He conquered Nabadwip from the old emperor Lakshmana Sena in 1203.[15] Subsequently, Khilji went on to capture the capital and the principal city, Gaur,[9] and intruded into much of Bengal.[16][17]

Death and aftermath

Ikhtiyar Khilji left the town of Devkot in 1206 to attack Tibet, leaving Ali Mardan Khilji in Ghoraghat Upazila to watch the eastern frontier from his headquarters at Barisal. Khilji forces suffered a disastrous defeat in Assam during Tibetan expedition. The entire army of Bakhtiyar Khilji was defeated by King Vishwasundar Dev alias King Prithu Dev the descendant of King Vaidya Dev who came from Bengal as a vassal king of Kamrup (Assam) of the Bengali Pala dynasty.[citation needed] Khilji then returned to Devkot with about one hundred surviving soldiers. Upon Ikhtiyar Khilji's return while he was lying ill at Devkot, he was assassinated by Ali Mardan.[18][19]

Loyal troops under Muhammad Shiran Khilji avenged Ikhtiyar's death, imprisoning Ali Mardan. Ghiyas-ud-din Iwaz Khilji became the successor. Ali Mardan escaped and was made Governor of Bengal by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, but was killed in 1212. Ghiyas-ud-din again assumed power and proclaimed his independence.[20]


Al Mahmud, a leading Bangladeshi poet, composed a book of poetry titled Bakhtiyarer Ghora (Horses of Bakhtiyar) in the early 1990s.[21] He depicted Khilji as the praiseworthy hero of Muslim conquest of Bengal. During Bakhtiyar Khilji's reign, Islam gained a large number of converts in India.[22] Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khilji had the Khutbah read and coins struck in his own name. Mosques, madrasas, and khanqahs arose in the new abode of Islam through Bakhtiyar's patronage, and his example was imitated by his Amirs.

Buddhist sources hold him responsible for the destruction of Nalanda.[23][24]

See also


  1. ^ Britannica
  2. ^
  3. ^ History of Ancient India: Earliest Times to 1000 A. D.; Radhey Shyam Chaurasia, Atlantic, 2009 [p191]
  4. ^ The Buddha and the Shahibs, Charles Allen, Hodder & Stoughton, 2002
  5. ^ Tabak-at-i-n-asir-i: a general history of the Muhammadan dynasties of Asia, including Hind-ust-an, from A.H. 194 (810 A.D.),to A.H. 658 (1260 A.D.), and the irruption of the infidel Mughals into Isl-am / by the Maul-an-a, Minh-aj-ud-D-in, Ab-u-'Umar-i-Usm-an; tr. from original Persian manuscripts by Major H.G. Raverty.
  6. ^ The Turkish Khilji must not be confused with the Pastun Ghalzi tribe. Minhāju-s Sirāj (1881). Tabaḳāt-i-nāsiri: a general history of the Muhammadan dynastics of Asia, including Hindustān, from A.H. 194 (810 A.D.) to A.H. 658 (1260 A.D.) and the irruption of the infidel Mughals into Islām. Bibliotheca Indica #78. 1. Calcutta, India: Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal (printed by Gilbert & Rivington). p. 548.  (translated from the Persian by Henry George Raverty)
  7. ^ the Khiljī tribe had long been settled in what is now Afghanistan ... Khalji Dynasty. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 23 August 2010.
  8. ^ Satish Chandra (2004). Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals-Delhi Sultanat (1206-1526) - Part One. Har-Anand. p. 41. ISBN 978-81-241-1064-5. The Khaljis were a Turkish tribe from southwest Ghur. However, Bakhtiyar was ungainly in appearance... 
  9. ^ a b c d Sarkar, Jadunath (2003). The History of Bengal (Volume II): Muslim Period. Delhi: B.R. Publishing. ISBN 81-7646-239-X. 
  10. ^ a b (Minhāju-s Sirāj 1881:556–557)
  11. ^ a b c (Minhāju-s Sirāj 1881:549)
  12. ^ Sanyal, Sanjeev (15 November 2012). Land of seven rivers: History of India's Geography. Penguin Books Limited. pp. 130–1. ISBN 978-81-8475-671-5. 
  13. ^ "The Buddha and the Sahibs" by Charles Allen
  14. ^ Scott, David (May 1995). "Buddhism and Islam: Past to Present Encounters and Interfaith Lessons". Numen. 42 (2): 141. doi:10.1163/1568527952598657. JSTOR 3270172. 
  15. ^ "District Website of Nadia". Government of West Bengal. Retrieved: 11 January 2014
  16. ^ Sen, Amulyachandra (1954). Rajagriha and Nalanda. Institute of Indology, volume 4. Calcutta: Calcutta Institute of Indology, Indian Publicity Society. p. 52. OCLC 28533779. 
  17. ^ "Far East Kingdoms". [self-published source]
  18. ^ Nitish K. Sengupta (1 January 2011). Land of Two Rivers: A History of Bengal from the Mahabharata to Mujib. Penguin Books India. pp. 63–64. ISBN 978-0-14-341678-4. 
  19. ^ William John Gill; Henry Yule (9 September 2010). The River of Golden Sand: The Narrative of a Journey Through China and Eastern Tibet to Burmah. Cambridge University Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-108-01953-8. 
  20. ^ Chandra, Satish (2004). Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals-Delhi Sultanat (1206–1526) – Part One. Har-Anand Publications. pp. 41–43. ISBN 9788124110645. 
  21. ^ "Al Mahmud". Truly Bangladesh. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  22. ^ Arnold, Sir Thomas Walker (1896). The Preaching of Islam: A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith. pp. 227–228. 
  23. ^ Ichimura, Shōhei (2001). Buddhist Critical Spirituality: Prajñā and Śūnyatā. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 65 n87. 
  24. ^ Sen, Gertrude Emerson (1964). The Story of Early Indian Civilization. Orient Longmans. OCLC 610346317. 

External links

Preceded by
Sena dynasty
King Lakshman Sen
Khilji Dynasty of Bengal
Succeeded by
Muhammad Shiran Khilji