Sultan Mahmud (971-1030), ruler of the Ghaznavid empire whose territory was expanded to include much of modern-day Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Northern India. History knows him as the greatest general and ruler, and during his reign, he managed to gather several titles. Most notable of these were Yamin-Al-Dawla (Right Hand of The State), which he earned for his Islamic conquests, and the services he rendered to the Abbasid Caliphate. Another title is ‘Budh Shikan’ (The Idol Breaker). This is also the title of Innayatullah’s book on Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi and his campaign.
Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi’s Complex Currency System
Amongst his notable achievements is the complex currency system that he pioneered. Coins as currency acknowledge the power of the state. It is a symbol of authority and sovereignty – an instrument of governance. Mahmud who introduced a very complex design of coins in his kingdom is evidence of his intelligent personality. He was among the first rulers in history who introduced bilingual coins in Arabic and Sanskrit. S. Jabir Shah highlights the thorough complexity in his research article titled ‘Coinage and Metallurgy Under the Ghaznavid Sultan Mahmud’.
Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni’s Early History
Born on Nov. 2, 971 in Ghazni, Zabulistan, Samanid Empire, to Commander Sebuktegin. Sebuktigin later became the founder of the Ghaznavid Empire and Mahmud was his heir and successor.
Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi’s bravado and intelligence helped him lead successful military campaigns. He fought against Hindu states, as well as rebel Muslim states. it is as the law of kingship dictates, to preserve the sovereignty and peace of his territory his campaigns were against invaders or rebels to protect the peace of his territory. On receiving intel, he would vigilantly devise strategies and maneuvers. His art of war is still studied by military personnel and research scholars for the sake of wisdom.
The campaign of India was not new for him. Sultan Subektgin was already at war with the ruler of Lahore, Raja Jaipal. He would defend the lands of Afghanistan from Jaipal’s attacks.
When Raja Jaipal attacked after Sultan Mahmud came to power, Mahmud stood his ground. He defended himself and took the war to the Hindu Dynasty. According to historians of that time, it was then that he decided to invade northern India as deep as he can.
Sultan Mahmud’s Seventeen Invasions of India
This campaign is famous for its greatest seventeen invasions of India. In this campaign it is without any conflict of historians he was the conqueror of all. It was during this campaign that he took Lahore and included it in his empire.
Economic Prosperity and Peace
Furthermore, his reign was one of the most prosperous eras in history. This was due to, flourishing trade, teeming bazaars (markets), and infrastructural constructions (like dams, bridges, hospitals, etc.) which improved the accessibility of markets. Moreover, Education, agriculture, geography, and other disciplines also flourished. Furthermore, his reign also saw the strengthening of religious institutions and the construction of madrassas and mosques.
His passion for knowledge and his wisdom, allowed him to benefit his kingdom through all means. Moreover, he utilized the knowledge and information, as a general and commander for his campaigns on both fronts Hindus and Rebel Muslim states. He introduced the modernization of intelligence, mobilization, logistics, and other fields in the military. Additionally, the training of his army enshrined Islamic Ideology. He has shown pluralism in his army as well as in his empire by adopting Hindus and Muslims under his reign.
Furthermore, Sultan Mahmud is also known for his diversification among nobles. He used to value hard work, competence, and diligence in his court. A famous example is of ‘Ayaz’ who was a slave but also a noble at court. Modern history differs from the history written by old historians. Rulers as great as Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi, live forever in the collective memories of nations.
These facts are mentioned in the book ‘The Imperial Policy of the Early Ghaznavids’ by C. E. Bosworth as he discusses the empire and dynasty in Afghanistan and Northern India. This has also been quoted by the writer Peter Jackson in his book ‘The Delhi Sultanate; A Political and Military History.’