Shah Rukh Shahi Khan (25 November 1395 – 5 April 1470), popularly known as Ghiyas-ud-Din Zainu'l-Abidin (Persian: غیاث الدین زین العابدین) or simply Zainu'l-Abidin (Persian: زین العابدین, lit. Pride of the Worshipers),[1] was the ninth and eleventh Sultan of Kashmir, who reigned first from 1418 to 1419 and then from 1420 to 1470. He was famously called Budshah (Great King) by his subjects.[2]

Shah Miri-Style Silver Sasnu coins minted in Kashmir
Sultan of Kashmir
Reign1418 – 1419
Coronation20 February 1418
PredecessorAli Shah
SuccessorAli Shah
Reign1420 – 1470
Coronation7 July 1420
SuccessorHaider Shah
Born25 November 1395
Srinagar, Kashmir Sultanate (present-day Jammu and Kashmir, India)
Died5 April 1470
Srinagar, Kashmir Sultanate (present-day Jammu and Kashmir, India)
Burial12 April 1470
ConsortTaj Khatun
IssueAdham Khan
Haji Khan
Hasan Khan
Bahram Khan
Jasrat Khan
two daughters
Shahi Khan bin Sikandar
شاہی خان بن سکندر
Regnal name
  • Ghiyasu'd-Din Zainu'l-Abidin
  • غیاث الدین زین العابدین
Posthumous name
Akbar-i-Kashmir (Akbar of Kashmir)
HouseShah Mir dynasty
FatherSikandar Shah Miri
ReligionSunni Islam

The first 35 years of his reign are described by Jonaraja in the Rajatarangini Dvitiya, while the subsequent years are described by his pupil, Srivara, in the Rajatarangini Tritiya.[2]

Rise to power edit

Shahi Khan, a son of Sultan Sikander the ruler of Kashmir, was charged with the rule of the kingdom of Kashmir when his elder brother, Ali Shah, left the kingdom on a pilgrimage to Mecca. It was at this time that Ali Shah gave Shahi Khan the title of Zain-ul-Abidin. Although a religious man, Ali Shah was weak-willed and his desire to attain Mecca buckled under descriptions of the arduous journey ahead. He abandoned his pilgrimage when he arrived at the court of his father-in-law, the king of Jammu, and raised an army consisting of soldiers from Jammu and Rajauri in order to regain his throne. The ancient texts vary regarding why it was that Zain-ul-Abidin relinquished his recently acquired status without a fight but there is no disagreement that this is in fact what happened.[3]

Retiring to Sialkot, Zain-ul-Abidin sought the support of its chief, Jasrat Khokhar. Ali Shah became angered when this support was forthcoming and he rashly set out with his army to challenge Khokhar. The forces met at Thanna and Khokhar defeated the challenger, who had ignored the advice of his father-in-law to hold back until the Jammu army could join him. Zain-ul-Abidin was then able to return to the capital city of Srinagar, where he was welcomed by his subjects. The fate of Ali Shah is uncertain: he may have died in captivity or have been put to death by Khokhar.[3]

Reign edit

Bud Shah Tomb

Although fundamentally a peaceful man, Zain-ul-Abidin was protective of his territory. He raised and led an army to stabilise the fractious areas of Ladakh and Baltistan which had originally been conquered by his grandfather, Shihabu'd-Din, and then had become independent on his death until Sikander reasserted control. With the arrival of Ali Shah on the throne, the territories had once again begun to assert their independence and Zain-ul-Abidin recognised that they had an economic and strategic significance which entailed that they could not be allowed to secede. Similarly, he regained control of Ohind, the chief of which had been overcome by Sikander but had then announced independence during the period of rule by Ali Shah.[4]

He was on friendly terms with regard to the rulers of territories over which he inherited no historic control. The ancient records indicate that he gave and received presents to, and also exchanged embassies with, those who governed over Egypt, Gwalior, Mecca, Bengal, Sindh, Gujarat and elsewhere. Many of the gifts demonstrated the cultured nature of Zain-ul-Abidin; they included works about music, manuscripts and people who were scholars, the latter being sent to him when he commented that an original gift of precious stones was of less interest to him than a gift of a learned nature would have been.[5]

During the last days of his reign, his three sons, Adam Khan, Haji Khan and Bahram Khan rebelled against him but he took energetic measures to crush them. He was succeeded by his son Haji Khan, who took the title of Haidar Khan.[6]

Administrative policies edit

Zain-ul-Abidin enforced the system of responsibility of the village communities for local crimes. He regulated the price of the commodities. He stabilized the currency which had been debased during the reign of his predecessors. He was responsible for a large number of public works.[7] He founded several new cities, built many bridges and dug many irrigation canals. He also prevented the local governors from exacting illegal taxes and gave the peasants much needed tax relief.[8]

Religious policies edit

Zain-ul-Abidin earned a name for himself for his policy of religious toleration and public welfare activities. He abolished Jaziya on the Hindus of Kashmir. Although he was a Muslim ruler, he banned the slaughter of cows. He extended liberal patronage to Sanskrit language and literature.[9] He knew Persian, Sanskrit, and Tibetan. The Mahabharata and Kalhana's Rajatarangini were translated into Persian by his order. He was known for his religious tolerance. He called back the Hindus who left Kashmir during his father's reign.[7][10] He allowed the Hindus to build their temples and follow the personal law according to the Dharmashastras. He stopped the killing of cows by means of poison and passed some regulations about eating beef. He re-introduced the grant of stipends to the learned Brahmans.[8]

Legacy edit

Zain‐ul-Abidin is acknowledged by scholars as a great ruler of Kashmir. Historian Mohibbul Hassan calls him the greatest of all the sultans of Kashmir, who provided half a century of "peace, prosperity and benevolent rule" to the people of Kashmir.[11]

References edit

  1. ^ Walter Slaje, Three Bhaṭṭas, Two Sulṭāns, and the Kashmirian Atharvaveda. In: The Atharvaveda and its Paippalādaśākhā. Historical and Philological Papers on a Vedic Tradition. Ed. by ARLO GRIFFITHS and ANNETTE SCHMIEDCHEN. [Geisteskultur Indiens. Texte und Studien.11. = Studia Indologica Univer-sitatis Halensis.] Aachen 2007: 329–353.
  2. ^ a b Sharma, Tej Ram (2005). Historiography: A History of Historical Writing. Concept Publishing Company. ISBN 978-81-8069-155-3.
  3. ^ a b Hasan, Kashmir Under the Sultans (2005), p. 70
  4. ^ Hasan, Kashmir Under the Sultans (2005), p. 78.
  5. ^ Hasan, Kashmir Under the Sultans (2005), p. 80.
  6. ^ Majumdar 1967, p. 383.
  7. ^ a b Mahajan, V.D. (1991, reprint 2007). History of Medieval India, Part I, New Delhi: S. Chand, ISBN 81-219-0364-5, p.277
  8. ^ a b Majumdar 1967, p. 382.
  9. ^ Mehta, Jl, Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India, Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd, pp. 86–, ISBN 978-81-207-1015-3
  10. ^ Hasan, Kashmir Under the Sultans (2005), p. 87.
  11. ^ Hasan, Kashmir Under the Sultans (2005), p. 71.

Bibliography edit