To provide some measure of context: at the time, Bengal was significantly under Muslim (and, indeed, Afghan – Pathan) domination, in the form of the Bengal Sultanate. Tripura had been a vassal-state – although not long afore this incident had occurred, Tripura had begun to throw off the foreign yoke in earnest (and more upon that in another post).
The religious situation of Tripura at this point is intriguing, as here we see some very overt Shakta – Shaivite saliency. Not merely in terms of the idle notion of ‘preferred Gods’, but active interventions by, say, Kali in a pivotal battle in securing Tripura’s freedom in response to propitiation.
Or, as we can see here … well, very large scale human sacrifice taking place even in the 16th century, per the Rajmala (‘Chronicle (or Lineage) of Kings’).
The Fourteen Gods (Chaturdasa Devata) mentioned are the pantheon of the traditional patrons of Tripura – Lord Shiva (Hara) and His Wife Durga (Uma – Shankari), Vishnu (Hari) and Lakshmi (Ma), Saraswati (Bani (Vani) – Bagdevi), Kartikeya (Kumara), Ganesha (Ganapa -Siddhidata), Chandra (Biddhu), Brahma (Ka), Abdhi (Ocean), Ganga, Agni (Sekhi), Kama, and Himadri (the Himalayas).
[One list has Prithvi rather than Chandra, I should note]
I must say, the notion of sacrificing captured foemen to the God of Love (in amidst the rest of this Pantheon, of course), is a rather intriguing one.
The engagement at Catigram that is alluded to in the cap [from Omesh Saigal’s ‘Tripura’] features the King’s general in the field, Kala Nazir – a man described as effectively an adoptive son to him – being ‘headhunted’, surrounded and going down fighting against the Pathans.
The stratagem had been mounted in a bid to break the Tripuran force – however it seems instead to have galvanized a most innovative and spirited resistance. Something unregistered by the Pathan force, who retired to their fort assuming victory had just become attained.
Per the Rajmala, the theoretically ‘decapitated’ Manikyan army held a council-of-war to debate what they ought do next given the field seemed to have been lost and their commander dead along with it.
One soldier by the name of Gajbhim is said to have spoken up and asked the assembly of his comrades, if they retreated now and with the King’s favoured son dead, how they intended to explain themselves to their King. [per the Dr N.C. Nath translation of the Sri Rajmala]
This lead to a resolution to keep fighting – and an audaciously daring plan.
Tripuran troops then proceeded to tunnel by hand right the way into the heart of the Pathan-occupied fort, storming forth from the darkness of both underground and nightfall to take the stronghold.
To quote the Rev. James Long as to what happened next:
“Mohammad [Mamarak] Khan the general of the king of Gaur was however taken prisoner confined in an iron cage and at the instigation of the head Brahman priest, was sacrificed to the fourteen gods.”