Balban was the first ruler of the Delhi Sultanate who expressed clear and firm opinion regarding the powers of the Sultan. Balban primarily emphasised on two points regarding the theory of kingship. One is that the monarchy is divinely ordained and secondly it is necessary for the Sultan to be a dictator. Balban brought these ideas into practice. He gave up drinking wine and pleasure parties, kept himself aloof, maintained dignified reserve and stopped meeting the people and nobles. He framed set rules for court behaviour and enforced them strictly. The court dress was fixed up for the nobles and drinking of wine was prohibited for them. The yearly festival of Naurauj was celebrated in his court with great pomp and show. Balban gave shelter to all foreign intellectuals and nobles and named their residences in the name of their country or family because of which he was looked upon as the guardian of Muslim culture.
Administration of Ghiyas-ud-din Balban
The administration of Balban was half military and half civil. All his officers were supposed to perform both administrative and military duties. Balban himself kept control over the entire administration. Balban himself supervised the appointments of all officers and ensured that only people of noble birth were appointed to higher posts. He succeeded in providing peace and justice to his subjects. Balban owed his success largely due to an efficient organisation of spy-system. He appointed spies to watch the activities of his governors, military and civil officers and even that of his own sons. Balban appointed them himself and they were well-paid. They were expected to provide vital information to the Sultan and those who failed were punished sternly. Every spy had direct access to the Sultan though no one met him in the court. Balban's spy system proved quite effectual and was responsible for his success in administration.
Balban took effective measures to provide security to the city of Delhi. The forests around Delhi were cleared, four forts were built on the four corners of Delhi and ferocious Afghan troops were placed in them. Within a year Delhi became free from all dangers and threats. Balban also suppressed the revolts in Doab and Oudh. He divided the area into a number of military commands, established military check-posts at several places, cleared the jungles and pursued the mutinous people from one place to another. He was successful in his measures and peace was restored in those areas. In Katehar, Balban adopted semi-barbaric measures to strike terror among the people. He ordered his soldiers to slay the entire male population, burn their fields and ages and take women and children to slavery. This policy also succeeded. Balban also constructed roads, cleared the jungles and took measures for the safety of the travellers. All these measures ensured peace within his kingdom. Within a few years of accession to the throne, Balban not only succeeded in suppressing the revolts but also in bringing about peace and security to his subjects.
Military Policy of Ghiyas-ud-din Balban
Balban felt the necessity for a strong army for a powerful monarchy. He realised its necessity to make his despotism effective, to safeguard his empire from the invasion of the Mongols and to suppress rebellions. He increased the number of officers and soldiers of his army, paid them good salaries and took personal interest in their training. He appointed Imad-ul-mulk as his diwan-i-ariz to look after the recruitment, salary and equipment of his troops and made him free from the control of the wazir so that he felt no shortage of funds. Imad-ul-mulk proved a competent and loyal officer and he certainly provided Balban useful services in organising an efficient and well-equipped army. Balban ordered to confiscate all those lands which were held by widows, old men and orphans who performed no service to the state. Even the lands and jagirs of those people who were serving the state were handed over to the care of state-officers and arrangements were made for cash payments to them. Balban did not attempt to centralise the army. The nobles and the governors were free to organise their own armies independently. Balban succeeded in increasing the strength and efficiency of the army.
Conquest of Bengal by Ghiyas-ud-din Balban
Conquest of Bengal was an important achievement of Balban. Bengal was lost to the Delhi Sultanate during the-reign of Sultan Nasir-ud-din when Arsalan Khan had declared himself independent. After the death of Tatar Khan, the son of Arsalan Khan, Balban appointed Tughril Khan as the governor of Bengal. But Tughril Khan revolted in 1279 A.D. and declared himself independent and assumed the title of Sultan Mughis-ud-din. The rebellion gave a rude shock to Balban's authority. Balban ordered Amin Khan, governor of Oudh to attack Bengal. But Amin Khan was defeated and Balban personally proceeded towards Bengal with a large army. He added his strength further by additional troops of Avadh. Balban was ultimately successful in killing Tughril Khan and appointed his son Bughra Khan as governor of Bengal and advised him to remain loyal to the Delhi Sultanate.
The threat of Mongol invasion from towards the north-west was always there before the Sultans of Delhi. Balban too was not free from this danger, and, therefore, had decided not to pursue a policy of conquest. The Mongols had occupied the north-west Punjab and were a constant danger to the provinces of Multan and Sindh. In the beginning of the reign of Balban, Sher Khan, who was Balban's cousin, looked after the protection of the north-west frontiers. In 1270 A.D. Balban went to Lahore and ordered the construction of strong forts in the frontier. A chain of strong forts were built up there and strong forces were kept therein. After a few years, the North West frontier was divided into two parts for the purpose of defense; Multan, Sindh and Lahore were placed in charge of prince Muhammad Khan, while the province of Sunam and Samana were handed over to prince Bughra Khan. The success of Balban against the Mongols remained limited. He did not allow the Mongols to cross the River Beas and he too could not extend his influence beyond Lahore and the territory west of the Beas River remained under occupation of the Mongols.