Madurai Sultanate ?? I have never heard of one, when did this exist? This was the first thought that crossed my mind when I saw the following tweet from Sai Swaroopa. I had the book in the next 10 minutes on my kindle and here is what I feel about the book.
Unknown to many, a sultanate existed in Madurai for a very brief period, probably 4 decades. It failed to make its impact on the canvas of the world as it was a victim of one palace coup after the other and saw as many as 8 rulers in the short span of 40 years. The rulers harbored such hatred towards the majority Hindus that they were impaled and killed en masse for no reason. These factors too contributed to the decline of the Sultanate.
The author Sandeep Balakrishna starts by giving us a glimpse of the situation in south India in the 13th and 14th Centuries and speaks about the conditions that prevailed during that time. He has done extensive research on this subject and speaks about Pandyans, Cholas, Cheras, the Kakatiyas and the Hoysalas of that day. The succession battles , the lack of unity in the Hindu Kingdoms and the way they failed in stopping the armies of Uluq Khan and Malik Kafur were very well portrayed.
Then the author speaks about the way the Sultans in Delhi squandered the wealth they got from the south and the way their dominions started declaring Independence. Madurai Sultanate was one such offshoot. The author then goes on describe the way the rulers ruled the kingdom and the way they behaved with the other kingdoms in the south. He speaks about the angst in the subjects, the frequent fights with the other kingdoms and the palace coups that plagued the sultanate. He then proceeds to tell as to how that small sultanate became history with the advent of the Vijayanagar empire.
While the core subject of the book is history, the author does not speak about history alone, he portrays the way the Hindu kings brought trouble upon themselves and failed to learn from the attacks that came from the Sultans of Delhi. The accounts of Vira Bhallala, Pratapadura and Kampilanayaka portray the way in which strong Hindu Kings made strategic mistakes and lost it all. I liked the message the author gave here.
When we look at it without any bias the Madurai Sultanate stands as an example as to how a state should not be governed. These guys pressed the self-destruction button a little quickly and rather unknowingly. You cannot torture your subjects and expect to rule for a long time. This was brought in a very good manner by the author.
My sincere thanks to Sandeep Balakrishna for bringing this book out.
Do pick the book, it is short and is good for a quick read. It has got a lot of facts about South Indian history and is a real eye opener. Do read it when you have time, happy reading.