Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji

Ikhtiyār al-Dīn Muḥammad Bakhtiyār Khaljī[1] also known as Muḥammad Bakhtiyar Khalji[2][3] was a military general who led the Muslim conquests of the Eastern Indian regions of Bengal and Bihar and established himself as their ruler.[4][5][6][7] It is believed that his invasions caused severe damage to the Buddhist faith in East India.[8]

In Bengal, during his reign, the Islamic missionaries achieved their greatest success in terms of dawah and number of converts to Islam.[9][10] An admirable figure among Muslims,[11][9] Bakhtiyar conquests ushered Islamic rule in Bengal, most notably those of Bengal Sultanate and Mughal Bengal.[12]

Bakhtiyar also launched the Tibet campaign. He died in 1206 and was succeeded by Muhammad Shiran Khalji.

Bakhtiyar Khalji, a member of the Khalaj tribe,[13] a Turkic tribe long settled in what is now southern Afghanistan,[14][15] 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.[16]

Khalji came from the town of Garmsir in present-day southern Afghanistan. Tradition has it that Khalji's conquest of Bengal at the head of 18 horsemen was foretold.[17] He was of common birth,[18] had long arms extending below his knees,[17] 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 Aibak, but was refused rank. Then he went further eastward and took a job under Malik Hizbar al-Din, then in command of a platoon at Badayun in northern India.[18] After a short period he went to Oudh where Malik Husam al-Din, recognised him for his worth.[18] Husam gave him a landed estate in the south-eastern corner of modern Mirzapur district. Khalji soon established himself there and carried out successful raids into weakly-defended regions to the east.[19]

Khalji's career took a new turn when he subjugated Bihar in 1200.[21] 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.[22] Subsequently, Khalji went on to capture the capital and the principal city, Gaur,[23] and intruded into much of Bengal.[24][25]

Bakhtiyar Khalji's invasions are believed to have severely damaged the Buddhist establishments at Nalanda, Odantapuri, and Vikramashila.[8] Minhaj-i-Siraj's Tabaqat-i Nasiri suggests that Bakhtiyar Khalji destroyed a Buddhist monastery[8] which the author equates in his description with a city he calls "Bihar", from what the soldiers learn is called a vihara.[26] According to American scholar Hartmut Scharfe, the Tibetan sources suggest that this monastery was the one at Vikramashila;[8] historian André Wink believes that this monastery must have been Odantapuri.[26] According to the early 17th century Buddhist scholar Taranatha, the invaders massacred many monks at Odantapuri, and destroyed Vikramashila.[26] The Tibetan pilgrim Dharmasvamin, who visited the region in the 13th century, states that Vikramashila had been completely razed to the ground by the Turushka (Turkic) invaders, and Nalanda was the residence of a Turushka military commander. Around 80 small viharas remained at Nalanda, but most of them had been damaged by the Turushkas, and had been abandoned: only two were in "serviceable condition".[26]

Ikhtiyar al-Dīn Muḥammad Khalji left the town of Devkot in 1206 to attack Tibet, leaving Ali Mardan Khalji in Ghoraghat Upazila to watch the eastern frontier from his headquarters at Barisal. Khalji forces suffered a disastrous defeat in the hands of Assamese King Prithu in Assam during Tibetan expedition. The entire army of Bakhtiyar Khalji was defeated by Assamese forces, which forced him to retreat. Khalji then returned to Devkot with about one hundred surviving soldiers. Upon Ikhtiyar Khalji's return while he was lying ill at Devkot, he was assassinated by Ali Mardan.[27][28]

The Khalji noblemen then appointed Muhammad Shiran Khalji as Bakhtiyar's successor. Loyal troops under Shiran Khalji avenged Ikhtiyar's death, imprisoning Ali Mardan. Eventually Ali Mardan fled to Delhi and provoked the Sultan of Delhi Qutb al-Din Aibak to invade Bengal. Ali Mardan returned with the governor of Oudh, Kayemaz Rumi, and dethroned Shiran. Shiran fled to Dinajpur where he later died.[29] Ghiyas-ud-din Iwaz Khalji 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.[30]

Al Mahmud, a leading Bangladeshi poet, composed a book of poetry titled Bakhtiyarer Ghora (Horses of Bakhtiyar) in the early 1990s.[31] He depicted Khalji as the praiseworthy hero of Muslim conquest of Bengal. During Bakhtiyar Khalji's reign, Islam gained a large number of converts in India.[9] Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji 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. He burnt the seven story library of Nalanda which consisted of 10 lakh books. The library burnt continuously for more than 3 months. The thick black soot made black clouds in surrounding hills such was the havoc. [32][33][page needed]