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In 1192 a vast army of #turkish mounted archers descended upon India and defeated the #rajput Confederacy led by Ajmer’s ruler #prithvirajchauhan Chauhan. Their general Muhammad of #Ghor is credited with laying the foundations of Muslim rule in India. His appointed military slaves eventually proclaimed themselves #Sultans and founded a new political order with its base in Delhi. Over the subsequent three centuries the #delhisultanate would expand to almost all of India and transform the subcontinent forever.

This first dynasty were the Mamluks whose visible legacy in the form of #qutubminar still defines Delhi. After almost a century they gave way to #Khaljis , who were followed by #tughlaqdynasty , Sayyids and #Lodhi.

In 1526 when Central Asian warlord #babar killed the last of Lodhi Sultans in the momentous #battleofpanipat , it ended the era and marked the inception of the #mughalempire

Traditionally these two phases of Delhi-centred Islamic Rule by Persianised dynasties tracing their roots in Central Asia are treated as entirely distinct periods of Indian history. The popular perception of these periods are well captured by the titles of two of the books of Indian writer Abraham Eraly. While his history of the Delhi Sultanate is assigned the epithet “Age of Wrath”, his book on the Mughal period is titled “Life in India’s Last Golden Age”.

Today we at Argumentative Indians would like to question the basis of the bifurcation of India’s medieval history. Why do Historians not classify the Mughal dynasty simply as the 6th Delhi Sultanate? What marked this break? And to what extent is the common view of the former as a “Dark” period and the latter a “Glorious” period historically accurate? To address this we have with us Prof Harbans Mukhia.


Harbans Mukhia, formerly Professor of Medieval History, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Teaching a course on Feudalism at JNU in the 70s and 80s led to research on its theoretical and empirical premises in a comparative perspective. ‘Was there Feudalism in Indian History?’ published in The Journal of Peasant Studies, 1981, became the centre of an international debate from 1985 to 93, published as the journal’s special issue and then as a book, Feudalism and Non-European Societies, Frank Cass, London, 1985 (co-edited with T J Byres).

His The Mughals of India, was published by Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, in 2004. A volume, History of Technology in Medieval India edited by him is in press to be published by the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi. A select collection of his newspaper articles and some book reviews has appeared in a volume: Issues in Indian History, Politics and Society, Aakar Books, New Delhi, 2009. His latest publication is Exploring India’s Medieval Centuries: Essays in History, Society, Culture and Technology, Aakar Books, New Delhi, 2010.

He is the founder-editor, The Medieval History Journal, published by SAGE from New Delhi, London, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Singapore.


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