Main causes of conflict between the Vijayanagara and Bahamni Kingdoms:
The two Kingdoms i.e. the Vijayanagara Kingdom (1336-1565) and the Bahamni Kingdom (1347-1527) (which was divided in due course in five states of Berar, Bijapur, Ahmednagar, Golkunda and Bidar) flourished side by side for about two hundred years.
However, for all these years, they-were engaged continually in conflict. Ultimately in 1565, four Muslim states barring Berar formed a confederacy, fought against Vijaynagara and gave a crushing defeat to it.
Following were the important causes of the conflict between these two kingdoms:
I. Economic reasons:
These were as under:
(i) Possession of Tungbhadra Doab:
The territory between the rivers Tungbhadra and Krishna known as Tungbhadra Doab was very fertile. Each kingdom wanted to possess it.
(ii) Control of Krishna-Godavri Delta:
This delta had two-fold significance. One, it was very fertile. Two, it had several important ports through which profitable trade was carried with several foreign countries like Ceylon, Indonesia, Malaya and Burma, etc. Both the powers wanted to have their supremacy over this territory.
(iii) Capture of Konkan or Western Coastal strip:
This was also a very fertile area and had important ports like Goa which were important outlets for foreign trade. Goa was especially important for the import of horses from Iran and Iraq. On account of these reasons, both the powers had their eyes on this area.
II. Political Conflict:
Both the powers desired to extend their kingdom. Each considered the other as a danger to its existence.
III. Religious jealousy:
Ever since the conquest of Deccan by Malik Kafur, the vanquished Hindu rulers had nursed a feeling of deep resentment against the Muslim oppressors. This had resulted in the emergence of a great Hindu empire of Vijayanagara in the Deccan. On the contrary, the Bahamni rulers were Muslims. So there was a religious rivalry between the two kingdoms.
IV. Possession of Diamond mines:
It is held by some, historians that diamond mines in the Golkunda region of the Bahamni empire tempted the rulers of Vijayanagara to establish their hold over this area.
V. Failure of diplomacy on the part of Rama Raya:
Sadasiva Raya (1542-70), the ruler of Vijayanagara was a very weak ruler and he played into the hands of his powerful minister Rama Raya. For a while, Rama Raya was able to make use of the rivalry of the five Muslim powers in the Deccan and weakened their power. But ultimately this policy failed and these states unified in the name of Islam.
VI. Growing power of Vijayanagara empire:
In due course, Vijayanagara had come to occupy a very important position in Southern India. It was able to suppress the power of the three Muslim Kingdoms of Ahmedabad, Golkunda and Bidar. The growing power of the Vijaynagara empire struck terror in the minds of Muslim Sultans of Deccan and forgetting their differences, four powers as already stated formed a confederacy and launched a struggle against Vijayanagara.
Battle of Talikota (1565):
The confederacy of the four states of Bijapur, Ahmednagar, Golkunda and Bidar i.e. the allied forces fought against the ruler of Vijayanagara on January 23, 1565 at Bannihathi near Talikota. According to some historians this is called the Battle of Rakshi-Tangadi – the battle site marked by these two villages.
Initially the armies of the confederation were defeated but later on Muslim artillery spelled ruin and dealt a severe blow to the army of Vijayanagara. It is also said that a few Muslim generals in the Vijayanagara army went over to their co-religionists along with their armies. Ram Rai was encircled and murdered. The victory of the allies was complete.
Results of the Talikota Battle:
1. General Slaughter:
According to Swell, the victors slaughtered the people of Vijayanagara mercilessly.
Dr. Ishwari Prasad states that about one lakh Hindus were put to death.
2. Loot and Plunder:
Burhan-i-Malasir writes, “The victors captured jewels, ornaments, maid servants, all sorts of articles in such quantity that the whole army was enriched.” Ferishta observes, “The plunder was so great that every man in the allied army became rich in gold, jewels, tents, arms, horses and slaves, the Sultans permitting every person to retain what he acquired, reserving elephants only for their own use.”
3. Ruin of temples and buildings:
According to Sewell, “Never perhaps in the history of the world so much havoc has been wrought and so suddenly on so splendid a city teaming with a wealthy and industrious population in the full plentitude of prosperity one day and next day, pillaged and reduced to ruins of savage massacre and horrors defying description… They broke down the temples and palaces.”
Political significance of the battle:
(i) Crushing blow to the Vijayanagara empire:
The battle of Talikota is one of the most momentous and decisive battles in the history of India. It sounded the death knell of the Hindu empire in the south.
(ii) Paved the way for the Mughal rule in the South:
With the weakening of the Vijaynagara empire and infighting of the Muslim Kingdoms with one another after their victory, they fell singly and severally before the Mughal invaders from the north.
Chief reason of the defeat of the Vijayanagara forces:
Sewell, the author of A Forgotten Empire has described the reason in these words “At Vijayanagara there was the utmost confidence. Remembering how often the Muslims had vainly attempted to injure their great capital, and how for about two centuries they have never succeeded in penetrating to the South, the inhabitants pursued their daily avocations with no shadow of dread or sense of danger”.
He further observed, “The king lived his profitless life in inglorious seclusion, and Rama Raya (Chief Minister) ‘King de facto’, never for a moment relaxed his haughty indifference to the movement of enemies.” This shows how complacent the rulers of the Vijayanagara empire were. They did not realise the seriousness of the situation and accordingly suffered a very humiliating defeat which almost wiped out the only most powerful Hindu state in the country.