Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni: Heroic Ruler and Literature Fan

Mahmud of Ghazni
Unknown Author | Public Domain

Very few rulers in the world have a combined passion for state conquest and literature. But there was such a ruler named Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. One after another, he conquered new territories. At the same time, he supported many writers in the development of literature.

This great ruler was born in Ghazni, Afghanistan, in November 961. In 977, his father founded the Ghaznavi dynasty. Following his father’s instance, Sultan Mahmoud Ghaznavi, the oldest son of the family, grew up. Her mother was the daughter of an aristocratic Iranian family. His love for Persian literature and culture was implanted in him by his mother. Historians didn’t find much detail about his childhood. Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni had been married in his childhood. His wife, Kawsari Jahan, was the daughter of a prominent family too.

He started learning politics from his father. He showed bravery at the age of just 23 by taking part along with his father in the battle. His half-brother ascended the throne, after his father’s death. However, Mahmud didn’t let him sit on the throne for long.  He removed his half-brother within a few days and placed himself on the throne.

For the next 33 years, Mahmud governed successfully. He made Ghazni as a booming capital of his vast empire. His exceptional efforts and strategies have been behind such success.

Sultan Mahmud was filled with outstanding military talent. As the first ruler to hold the Sultan’s title, he was loyal to the Abbasid caliphate. For this one decision, more than three decades, he successfully ruled the Kingdom. This legendary revolutionary hero has invaded 17 times in India. But the funny thing is that he never ruled India. Though not the ruler of India, he is a prominent political figure in the Indian subcontinent’s history.

The main objective of his invasion of India was to capture jewels in a temple called Somnath, not to rule the country. The attack on the Somnath Temple was one of Sultan Mahmud’s seventeen missions. In 1026, he carried out this expedition. Many historians claim that Sultan Mahmud attacked the Somnath Temple and captured eight thousand kg gold and ornaments. The Hindu Brahmins of that time could not believe that Sultan Mahmud would ever be able to conquer the Somnath Temple.

He received from his father the blood of a warrior and his mother’s intimacy for literature. His passion for literature, poetry, and art were unparalleled. Scholars such as Ferdowsi and Al Biruni had also received his patronage. The great poet Ferdowsi dedicated his Shahnameh to Sultan Mahmud. He had a fascination for river research as well as literature. Encouraged by him, Al Biruni wrote his book, Tarikh Al-Hind, focusing on Indian society and culture.

From 996 to 1030, he conquered the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent and Iran. Even after he died in 1030, he was considered the most important and great ruler of the Ghaznavids dynasty. Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni became immortal in the hearts of all for his outstanding heroism. The people of Afghanistan still remember him as a heroic ruler and a unique conqueror.