Achievements of Bakhtyar Khalji in Bengal
Muhammad Bakhtyar Khalji inherited both the virtues and vices of the Turko Afghan and Mongol races of the time. He was not a typical nomad of central Asia but an adventurer with high ambition. His whole career reveals that like his fellow countrymen, he was not interested in plunders and loot only. He aspired for something high. He began his career as an adventurer without a horse and a suit of amour which was indispensable for a person to secure an employment in the army. Moreover, he had an ill-favored countenance On these grounds he was rejected by Muhammad of Ghore and Qutbuddin Aibak. It was the Sipah-Salar of Oudh who recognized the true worth of Bakhtyar Khalji and granted him two parganas as jagirs. Thi was a turning point in the career of Bakhtyar. Since then, slowly and steadily Bakhtyar rose to prominence by his successful military exploits.
His fame as an undaunted and successful commander soon attracted to his standard a large number of Turkish and Khalji adventurers wandering about in Northern India in search of food and shelter. Bakhtyar organized them into a fighting force and soon conquered a large portion of Bihar and Bengal. By virtue of his personal velour, sagacity and statesmanship, Bakhtyar laid the foundation of a Muslim kingdom in Bengal in the midst of numerous Hindu powers. His success in Bihar and Bengal was a glorious chapter in the history of Islam in India. He was never a slave in his early life unlike some of the illustrious Sultans of Delhi. Bakhtyar was born a free man and lived and died a free man. "No doubt, Muhammad Bakhtyar was above all a soldier excelling all his contemporaries in dash, resourcefulness and leadership. Though plebian by birth and deformed in body, he was a born leader of men, brave to recklessness and generous to a fabulous extent."
One of the personal achievement of Bakhtyar was conquest of Bengal
The conquest of Bengal was the personal achievement of Bakhtyar. He conquered Bengal neither with the consent of Qutbuddin Aibak nor with any assistance from the latter. It was his personal initiative. It is true that after plundering the Buddhist monasteries of Bihar Bakhtyar paid a visit to Qutbuddin with rich presents. This does not prove that he acknowledged Qutbuddin's over lordship. He simply acknowledged Qutbuddin's supremacy so far as the newly conquered Turkish territories are concerned. Bakhtyar knew well the limitations of his own power and resources in comparison with those of Qutbuddin Aibak. His visit to Qutbuddin with presents was just to keep the latter in good humor so that Qutbuddin might not disturb him in his peaceful enjoyment of his newly conquered territory.
It was on the whole a clever stroke of diplomacy on the part of Muhammad Bakhtyar to seek an amicable understanding with Malik Qutbuddin who might otherwise refuse to recognize him as the lawful ruler of Bihar and Bengal and cause him perpetual anxiety by instigating the governors of Oudh and Kainjar to attack his possession in Bihar and Mirzapur. In fact, Bakhtyar gave proof of his farsightedness and sound statesmanship by timely disarming the hostility of Qutbuddin and thereby securing a special status for his newly founded principality. Moreover, Qutbuddin's recognition to Bakhtyar as a conqueror of Bihar and Bengal strengthened Bakhtyar's hands in organizing his principality and extending his arms in other directions so rapidly. Had there been any conflict or animosity between Bakhtyar and Qutbuddin at that initial stage, the newly established Islamic power in the eastern provinces might have faced a total collapse.
Bakhtyar was re-appointed as governor of Bihar
Authorities differ as to the exact relationship between Bakhtyar and Qutbuddin. Ghulam Husain says that alter Bakhtyar's visit to Qutbuddin, he was re-appointed governor of Bihar with orders to extend his conquests over all the territories. Hasan Nizami writes that "He (Bakhtyar) was received (by Qutbuddin) with royal kindness and beneficence and he was exalted above the leaders of the time and when he took his audience of leave, the blessed commander (Aibak) invested him with authority and a tent, a naubat, a drum, a standard and magnificent robe of honor. were conferred upon him." According to Badauni, "Sultan Qutbuddin appointed him (Bakhtyar) governor of Lakhnauti." Thomas writes that Bakhtyar acknowledged the subordination of Qutbuddin. Nizamuddin says that Bakhtyar was one of the great amirs of Qutbuddin.
But our primary authority Minhaj is silent as to whether Bakhtyar was ever a servant of Qutbuddin or was assisted by the latter in any way excepting that Bakhtyar was honored by Qutbuddin after his exploits in Bihar. Hence it can be presumed that though Bakhtyar tacitly recognized the supremacy of Qutbuddin as Muhammad of Ghore's representative in India, was in no way subordinate to him. It may be noted that when Bakhtyar's Tibet expedition ended in disaster and was on his bed broken and dejected, his mind went back again to his master Muhammad of Ghore as he grieved thus "Perhaps some misfortune had befallen my master, Sultan Muizuddin, that fortune has deserted me'. In his distress, Bakhtyar "never referred to Aibak or even thought of him, simply because he did not stand in direct or indirect subordination to him. In fact, if Muhammad Bakhtyar had survived and consolidated the conquests of Bihar and Bengal, real challenge to Aibak's power would have appeared."
It cannot be said precisely whether Bakhtyar assumed regal title or struck coins in his own name. The Tabaqat-i Nasiri, Mutakhabul-Tawarikh and Riyz-us-Salatin assert that Bakhtyar issued coins in his own name indicating thereby that he recognized no external authority as his sazerain. Minhaj says that he brought the different parts of the conquered territory under his sway and "instituted therein, in every part, the reading of the Khutba and coins of money." But Raverty observes that there is not a word in the text about causing "his (Bakhtyar's) name to be read in the Khutba and struck on coins".
More articles: History of Bengal