Mahmud Gawan was a powerful minister in the Kingdom of Bahmani. Mahmud Gawan was a native of Gawan village in Persia, but later on he came to India and settled here.
He got employment with the Bahmani rulers, and because of his great qualities of head and heart he became a minister of the Bahmani ruler Humayun (1457-61).
He served his masters Humayun and Nizam Shah (1461-63) so faithfully that the next ruler Muhammad Shah III (1463-82) appointed him as his Chief Minister. He remained at this exalted position for about 14 years until his death in 1481 A.D.
Administration of Mahmud Gawan
Mahmud Gawan was a great administrator who brought about many reforms in every department of administration. When the Bahmani rulers were busy in their pleasure pursuits and offensive and defensive wars he was busy organizing the administrative machinery on scientific lines.
- Mahmud Gawan organized the army on systematic lines. Their salaries were raised and every other facility was provided to them but at the same time strict discipline was enforced on them. The military power that had been assigned to the Jagirdars by the former rulers was taken away from them and centralised in the hands of the Sultan. These measures led to efficiency and infused a new life in the army.
- He successfully curbed the mutual jealousies of the nobles who were divided into hostile groups of the Dakhani and the Iranian Amirs. Though he himself was a Persian, he did not favour the members of his own group. He did not patronize any group, and kept both of them under his strict control.
- With a view to improving agriculture various irrigation projects were undertaken and several vexations taxes which hung heavy on the peasants were abolished.
- He organized the finances on sound lines because he fully knew their importance for the better running of the state. He saved a good deal of money by effecting economy and stopping useless expenditure. In this way he set right the whole state machinery and established complete peace and order in the country.
Mahmud Gawan’s Conquests
Mahmud Gawan was not only a great administrator but also a brave general. It was because of him that the Bahmani Kingdom saw its extension of territories even when there were weak and incompetent rulers like Humayun, Nizam Shah and Muhammad Shah III at the helm of affairs. He waged successful wars against the rulers of Sangameshwar, Vijayanagar, Konkan, and Orissa and wrested many important places from them. From the Vijayanagar rulers he snatched the important port of Goa.
Mahmud Gawan’s Madrasa
Mahmud Gawan was also a great patron of art, literature and education. He established various schools and colleges for the promotion of education among the illiterate. One of the colleges that he got built in Bidar, the new capital of the Bahmani kingdom, had three storied building. This college, later on, came to be known after his name as ‘Mahmud Gawan’s Madrasa’.
Mahmud Gawan was fond of the company of the learned and after day’s toil he used to sit with them and enjoy their company. He had attained great heights in such varied subjects as Mathematics, Science of medicine and literature.
Character and Achievements of Mahmud Gawan
Mahmud Gawan occupies the first place in the history of the Bahmani kingdom. He was not only a great conqueror but also a good administrator, a far-sighted statesman and a great patron of art, literature and education. There were many attractive things in his character.
- In an age in which he lived, drinking and pursuits of pleasure were ordinary things, but he was above all these things. He was a man of high character and never indulged in low pursuits.
- He was a great lover of justice and treated both the poor and the rich alike. Though he himself belonged to the Irani group, he showed no leniency to them.
- But the most important quality in his character was his devotion to his masters.
- He was a great lover of the poor and was always ready to help them. He used to distribute a major portion of his income among the poor and the destitute.
- He led a very simple life and hated pomp and show like anything. He used to take his meals in earthen-wares and slept on ordinary matters.
Downfall and death of Mahmud Gawan
Mahmud Gawan’s end was, however, very tragic. He belonged to the Iranian group and so his opponents (i. e. the Dakhani Amirs), formed a conspiracy against him. They forged a letter in which they showed him guilty of a treasonable act. The king when he was in a fit of drunkenness was forced to order for his execution. Thus was gone one of the most innocent characters of his age and with him passed away the glory of the Bahmani Kingdom.