Top positive review
Inside the head of a conundrum.....
Reviewed in India on 14 May 2019
Tughlaq - the name has become synonymous with bumbling cruelty, the Sultan who moved his capital from Delhi to the Deccan on a mere whim, and caused untold hardship to his people. Why ? In her latest book, Anuja Chandramouli attempts to get into the mind of one of history's enigmas, one to whom that unforgettable Maniratnam question "Neenga nallavara, kettavara ? sollunga" would be most apt....
As one can expect from Anuja's pen, her story of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq (Jaunna in his younger days) is told with verve and wit. We are given a background of Jaunna's world, to the violence, intrigue and darkness which was part of the Delhi sultanate. Jaunna is portrayed as an idealistic brave youth, but with moral paradoxes at an early age. He loathes his erstwhile rulers for their barbaric excesses, and resolves to abstain from such pursuits, but has a streak of cruelty, reserved for those who he deems as 'traitors' which included his soldiers, nobles and citizens. Anuja writes of a king who longed to change the world, but seldom had his feet on the ground, and descended into the same paroxysm of violence, intrigue and fear which he swore he would never be part of.
The book is well researched, and littered with historical anecdotes from Barani, the court historian and Ibn Batutta, interestingly enough who was part of Tughlaq's court. Much of the information was new to me, who knew Tughlaq only as the force behind that ill-fated capital shift. The Sultan's court is full of interesting characters, the Khwaja, Najib, Barani, his mother, and his unwilling wife Saira. I never knew that Tughlaq was a man fascinated by modern technology and progress, and undertook steps to help the general populace of his empire. That they ended in failure, due to administrative corruption and hubris, is a lesson for leaders everywhere.
We come away with a little more understanding of a man who lived on the knife's edge in treacherous times, and may have been full of contradictions in an attempt to control an unstable and dangerous world. Heartily recommend this book, you will be inspired to dig a little deeper into our rich history. Happy reading !