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Old Tuesday, February 03, 2009
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Default Army Organisation Of Delhi Sultanate


The contingents stationed at Delhi was called Hasham-i-qalb and included among others
royal slaves and guards. Provincial contingents were called hasham-i-atraf. Garisons
are mentioned in the time of Qutbuddin Aibak which were placed under Kotwals. Cavalry
was composed of murattab, sawar and do-aspah (men with 2 horses, single horse and
no horses of their own respectively) (The Administration of the Sultanate of Delhi,
I.H. Qureshi, p. 250-253). Elephant establishment at Delhi was supervised by the
Shahnah-i-fil. The infantry or foot soldiers were referred to as paiks (generally Hindus,
slaves or persons of low origin). The decimal system (multiples of 10) was the basis of
army organisation under the Ghaznavids and Mongols. Sultans of Delhi followed a similar
system. Barani in his Tarikh-I-Firoz Shahi discusses the army organisation, “A sarkhail
commands 10 chosen horsemen; a sipah-salar 10 sarkhails; an amir 10 sipha-salars;
a malik 10 amirs, a khan 10 maliks, and a king should have at least 10 khans under his
command”, (Medievial India Quarterly, M. Habib, p 228.) Barani also refers to amiran-
i-sada (centurians) and amiran-i-hajara (commanders of one thousand). The hierarchy
comprised of Sarkhail at the bottom (with 10 horse men subordinate to him), a sipah-salar
(had 10 sarkhail under him), amir (10 sipah-salars below him), malik (had power over 10
amirs), Khan’s troops (were equal to troops under 10 maliks).

(Barani in Tarikh-I-Firoz Shahi says that Muhammad Tughlaq told the governor of
Dhar (Malwa) ‘ I hear that everyone who rebels does so owing to the support of
the amiran-i-sadah (Sadah amirs: commanders of one hundred) and the amiran-
i-sadah support him owing to their anger (at the imperial policy) and love of
plunder.’ Medieval India Quarterly, Prof. M. Habib, p.288.)

The masalik-ul-absar (An Arabic source of the 14th
century) gives an estimate of the
salaries of officers: Khan: 1 lakh tankhas, malik: 50 to 60 thousand tankhas, etc. Soldiers
were directly paid in cash by the central government during the time of Khaljis and
Tughlaqs. The nobles were given assignments of revenue in lieu of salary. The standing
army comprised of regular troops called wajhis and irregular called ghair wajhis.
Sometimes soldiers were also paid through itlaq (drafts).
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