Karrani Sultans of Bengal belonged to which part of Afghanistan?

From 1564 to 1576 Bengal was ruled by a family of Pashtuns who were known as Karranis. The founder of that dynasty was Taj Khan Karrani who was one of the chief officers of Sher Shah Sur and Islam Shah Sur. After the fall of Sur dynasty in 1555, Taj Khan and his brothers ruled South Bihar independently. In 1564 Taj Khan supplanted Surs in Bengal and established the Karrani rule there. 

The proper spelling of Karrani is actually Karlanri (کرلاڼي). In 16th and 17th century Persian sources it is written as Karrani or Kararani because there is no alphabet in Farsi which sound like Pashto’s ڼ alphabet.

Taj Khan Karrani was succeeded by his brother Sulaiman Khan Karrani who was governor of South Bihar during the reign of Islam Shah Sur. During the reign of Sulaiman Khan Karrani the Karrani sultanate was at its peak and was comprised of present-day Bangladesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and western Assam. His army consisted of 140,000 infantry, 40,000 cavalry, 3600 elephants and 200 cannons. Sulaiman Khan Karrani was a veteran general of Sher Shah’s times and all the Pashtuns in eastern India were united under his banners. Therefore, Mughal emperor Akbar would not dare to invade Karrani sultanate as long as Sulaiman Khan Karrani was alive. But when the latter died in 1572, discord arose among Karranis and Mughals started invading their territories. Due to disunity, bad leadership and betrayals, Karrani kingdom fell to Mughals in 1576. It was the last dynasty of Pashtuns which ruled India as Sultans.

In Wikipedia’s article on Karrani dynasty, the Karrani Sultans are mentioned to be hailing from ‘Bangash district’ and belonging to Bangash tribe of Kurram valley.


A secondary source “History of Bengal Mughal Period (1526-1765 A.D.)” by Atul Roy Chandra (page 12) is cited as source.


When I checked the above-mentioned source, it was citing another secondary source “History of Bengal” Vol-2, published by Dacca University (Vol-2, page-181). 


I also checked it and found that there is no reference from a primary source. In fact, it does not say anywhere that Karrani sultans were from Bangash district or that they were Bangash. It simply says that Bangash district was a home of Karlanries. It is drawing information from Dorn’s History of Afghans and and “A glossary of the tribes and castes of the Punjab and North-West frontier province” by H.A.Rose. The two cited sources do not mention the tribe or the place of origin of Karrani sultans of Bengal.

Karrani Bengal

History is completely silent on the sub-tribe of Karrani Sultans among Karlanris. It is because Karranis ruled briefly and have no official histories. The information about them provided by 16th and 17th century authors in western and southern India, is very scanty. 

The Karlanri tribes are Wazirs, Mahusds, Dawars, Bannuchi, Khattak, Afridi, Orakzai, Bangash, Dalazak, Turi, Khugiani, Zazai, Zadran, Tani, Mangal, Wardak, Utman Khel and few others. Karrani Sultans could be from any of the mentioned tribes. But in my opinion, they were most likely belonging to those Karlanri tribes which lived nearer to river Indus and had greater trend of migration towards India e.g. Bangash, Orakzai, Dilazak, Afridi, Khattak etc. Some Karlanri tribes like Wazir, Mahsud, Bannuchi, Zadran etc. had no trend of migration towards India. 

Karrani sultanate
Map of Karrani empire, 1572

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