Going by the fact that Ramadeva defeated the Muslims in 1278, it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever for him being surprised by Ala-ud-din Khilji in Devagiri itself. And note that Devagiri in itself is an impregnable virgin fortress. As usual, as the adage “victors write history” goes, we are missing something. Well, the story, as told by Muslims is this. With a select band of 7000, Ala-ud-din Khilji raided Devagiri and took it in 1294. The main Yadava armies were fighting in the South and the king was left with no forces to defend his capital. Note the similarity of this story with Bhaktiyar Khilji’s capture of Bengal. A heavy tribute was extracted and Ramadeva agreed to pay an annual tribute. Was he forced to do it or did he do it to get additional forces against the Kakatiyas and Hoyasalas, no one can tell at this point of time.
It may be that Ramachandra felt this girdle a bit more tiresome and withheld the payment. Or, it may be that Ala-ud-din reneged his promse over mercenary services. An invasion was launched in 1306 to discipline him and was carted off as prisoner to Delhi. The question now is this. Did he put a fight or did he simply surrender, after losing the support of his nobles? Going by the fact that the Yadava armies were unmolested and the way Muslim armies were cut down at Upparapalli by the Kakatiyas, if Ramachandra fielded his main army, there is no way Muslims wouldn’t have stood their ground without getting their nose bloodied. Note that it took five major battles and an unprepared army to bring the Kakatiyas down – the unprepared army stood it’s ground for six long months with the Muslims getting regular reinforcements, ironically, from Devagiri.
This will give us three potential scenarios –
- Ramachandra was an indolent ruler uncaring for rule or may not be in good books of his nobles. That may give an indication why the Muslims were not able to find a replacement for his son as ruler.
- There was a major war in 1294 but the story is erased in an attempt to create an aura of invincibility for Ala-ud-din Khilji.
- No war happened in 1294. It was a mutual pact of agreement between Khilji and Ramachandra. And, the money in return for this – this is the tribute Firishta talks about(600 maunds of gold, 7 maunds of pearls, 2 maunds of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires and other precious stones, 1,000 maunds of silver and 4,000 pieces of silk and other sundry articles. The Raja also agreed to send the revenues of Ellichpur as annual tribute). Was there Ramachandra’s hand in Jalal-ud-din Khilji’s death, we have no answer. This means that the invasion of 1306 was the first time Ramachandra faced the Muslim armies in force. Was there a bloody war or he simply threw the towel, the Muslims will never tell. If told, the lies of 1294 will come to the front. And note that the forces of Delhi involving a royal army from Delhi under Malik Kafur and the provincial armies of Malwa and Gujarat is but a proof of the strength of the forces Khilji poured against Ramadeva.
On his death in 1311, his son Shankaradeva was made the ruler. He rebelled and was replaced by his brother-in-law Harapaladeva in 1313 on his death. Even Harapaladeva rebelled and the Sultan Qutb-ud-din Mubarak himself had to come down to Devagiri to crush the rebellion. Harapaladeva was captured and flayed alive in 1318. It makes one wonder what’s the difference between the Yadavas and Kakatiyas – the crown prince himself, on rebellion, is captured and killed in no time and so is another prominent member of his family in the case of Yadavas, while in the case of Kakatiyas, after the fall, we hear nothing about the royal family, but we see that the nobles banded together to neck out Delhi Sultanate in two years for good – is it an indication of the respect they held, is it an indication of the loyalties, is it an indication of their personal capabilities? Was it such easy to annex Yadava territories? Was there no resistance at all? Harapaladeva had to run into the hills along with his father-in-law’s Prime Minister Raghava and run the show from there while in the Kakatiya lands, the armies of the nobles were sitting outside the gates of Warangal itself breathing fire. And as the times progressed, we see that the Hindu kingdoms in the south were taken down one by one with the support of the Maratha armies, simple reason being they formed the core of Muslim kingdoms of Berar and Ahmednagar and with sufficient presence in Bijapur and Golconda. Are we saying that Hasan Gangu set up and maintained the complete edifice with solely Muslim forces? And then, there are names like Punji, the daughter of a Maratha Sirdar who married Yusuf Adil Shah, the Naik Nimbalkar who was killed in the position of a general in Muslim armies in Talikota of 1565, Murari Rao and his desecration of Ahobilam, Akkanna and Madanna, Maratha Brahmins from Warangal and the famous Shahaji Bhonsle, one of the main reasons why Vijayanagar Empire collapsed for good. Were they opportunists? Were they freebooters? Or, were they loyal to whomsover was lording over them? Let history judge them, not me.