16 Jun 2014

Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya: A Forgotten King

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Not many people have heard of Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya popularly known as Hemu, who was the last Hindu ruler of Delhi (1556). Let's go through a brief history of Delhi: Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated in the Second Battle of Tarain (1192) by Muhammad Ghori and the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526) was established. Zahir ud-din Muhammad Babur defeated Sultan Ibrahim Lodi in the First Battle of Panipat and founded the Mughal Empire in India (1526). The Mughal Rule was interrupted briefly; when Sher Shah Suri defeated Babur's son Humayun and established the Second Afghan Empire in India, known as the Sur Dynasty (1540-1555). Humayun had to leave India and took refugee in Persia (Iran).

Hemu, the Grocer: Hemu was born in a Hindu Brahmin family at Rewari (in Haryana) in 1501. He was originally a shop keeper who supplied cereals and saltpeter to Sher Shah's army. Sher Shah Suri was succeeded by his second son Jalal Khan on 25 May, 1545, under the title of Salim Shah Suri (also known as Islam Shah). From Bengal to the Indus he built an intermediate Sarai between each of those which his father had erected. He shifted the capital from Delhi to Gwalior (in Madhya Pradesh), considering it to be a safer place. Salim Shah made Hemu Superintendent of the Markets. Salim Shah was succeeded by his twelve year old son son Firuz Shah Suri who was assassinated by Sher Shah's nephew Mubariz Khan. Mubariz Khan then ascended the throne under the title of Adil Shah Suri (1554-1555).

Hemu, the last Hindu ruler of Delhi

Rise of Hemu: Adil Shah was an indolent pleasure-seeker and a drunkard. He made Hemu his Vizier and entrusted the whole administration to him. After his victory over the rebel governor Junaid Khan, Hemu's power increased greatly. Due to Adil Shah's ill-treatment towards the nobles, many Afghan chiefs rebelled against him and the Sur Empire was broken up. Adil Shah shifted his capital to Chunar (in Uttar Pradesh) and sent Hemu to crush the rebellions. Ibrahim Suri, the governor of Agra, defeated Adil Shah and captured Agra and Delhi (1555). Thus only Agra to Malwa was left under Adil Shah. Sikandar Suri, the governor of Lahore, defeated Ibrahim and occupied both Delhi and Agra in addition to Punjab (1555). When Ibrahim marched to Kalpi against Adil Shah, he sent a large force under Hemu. Ibrahim was defeated twice. (Later, Ibrahim took refuge in Orissa, where he died in 1567) Hemu also defeated and killed Muhammad Suri, the governor of Bengal, in a battle at Chaparghatha in Dec 1555. It was during this time that Humayun returned to Hindustan and captured Delhi after defeating Sikandar Suri. Adil Shah was preparing more troops to carry on the war against Humayun, but then he received the news of the death of Humayun. (Adil was finally defeated and killed by Muhammad Suri's son, Khizr Khan, the ruler of Bengal, in 1557)

Humayun's Death: After wandering through the deserts of Rajputana and Sind, Humayun finally had to seek hospitality in Persia (1544). In Persia, Humayun was welcomed by Shah Tahmasp on a condition that he must accept Shia faith. Shah provided him financial aid and troops to regain his Empire. Humayun captured Kandahar and Kabul from his disloyal brothers (1545). Taking advantage of the civil war among the Suris, he marched towards India along with his trusted general Bairam Khan and captured Lahore (Feb 1555). After defeating Sikandar Suri, he regained control over Punjab, Delhi and Agra after a gap of 15 years (July 1555). His son Akbar was made the governor of Punjab. Humayun died on 24 Jan 1556, due to an accidental fall from the stairs of his library (Sher Mandal library at Purana Qila) in Delhi. At the time of Humayun's death, Akbar was in Punjab with his guardian Bairam Khan, where he was engaged in operations against Sikandar Suri. Akbar (1556-1605) was coronated in Kalanur (in Punjab) on Feb 14, 1556, at the age of thirteen and Bairam Khan became his Regent. Humayun's tomb, located in Delhi is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. It was built in 1565, by his widow Bega Begum.

Hemu Ascends the Throne of Delhi: Upon hearing the news of Humayun's death, Adil Shah sent Hemu with a large army to capture Delhi and Agra. After winning Agra, Hemu proceeded towards Delhi. Tardi Beg Khan, the governor of Delhi, was defeated after a day's battle and Hemu successfully occupied Delhi. (Tardi Beg was later put to death by Bairam Khan.) When he got possession of so much plunder of the Mughal army, he began to entertain ambitious ideas, "Adil Shah is helpless. Although he possessed a valiant army, he could do nothing when Ibrahim and Sikandar rebelled. Now all his elephants and soldiers are with me". He distributed all the spoil, with the exception of the elephants, among the Afghans who accompanied him and gained them over to his own side. Hemu ascended the throne of Delhi on 7 Oct 1556, assuming the title of Vikramaditya and re-established the Hindu rule after 350 years of Muslim rule. After that he sent word to Adil Shah, "Your slave, by the royal fortune, has routed the Mughal army, which was firm as an iron wall; but I hear that Humayun's son commands a numerous force, and is advancing against Dehli. For this reason I have kept the horses and elephants of the Mughals, in order that I may be able to face the valiant enemy, and not allow them to reach Dehli".

Hemu had fought twenty two battles with the opponents of Adil Shah and was victorious in all of them. At that time the Afghans considered themselves natives of the country while the Mughals were considered as foreigners. Hemu's army composed of Afghans as well as Hindus. He had a large army with 1,500 war elephants which no ruler of Hindustan had at that time. Bairam Khan insisted on fighting with Hemu in order to regain control of Delhi. He sent the Khan Zaman towards Delhi and himself followed with the young Akbar.

Historic Battles of Panipat: The Second Battle—Between Hemu and Akbar (5th Nov 1556):

The Second Battle of Panipat was fought between Hemu and the Mughal forces of Akbar lead by the Khan Zaman Ali Quli Khan on 5 Nov 1556. Hemu himself commanded his army. The warriors of that time wore amour that covered their entire body, except their eyes. Hemu was sitting in a howda on his elephant 'Hawai'. Initially his forces were winning, but suddenly an arrow hit Hemu in the eye and he fell unconscious. According to Ferishta, "Raising himself again, Hemu drew the arrow and with it the eye out of the socket, which he wrapped in his handkerchief, and in spite of his painful situation, he continued to fight with unabated courage, endeavouring, with the few men who remained about his person, to force his retreat through the enemy's line". At that time Shah Quli Khan attacked Hemu's elephant driver. The elephant driver in order to save his own life, pointed to his master. Hemu was captured and brought before Akbar. Bairam Khan requested Akbar to behead Hemu to earn the title of Ghazi (Warrior of the Faith) but since Akbar refused to kill a dying enemy, Bairam Khan beheaded Hemu at a single blow. After Hemu's death, a massacre of Hemu's followers was ordered by Bairam Khan. On his refusal to convert to Islam, Hemu's father was executed. Thus the Second Battle of Panipat resulted in the re-establishment of Mughals under Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar.

Further Reading:

Prithviraj Chauhan: The Great Warrior of India

Rise of Delhi Sultanate

7 comments:

  1. Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya is indeed a forgotten Hindu emperor in present times. One rarely comes to know or read about him in media or Govt. publications. History of India needs to be written afresh as it was written by invaders who were partial. A nationalist warrior who won 22 battles spanning entire north India remains ignored in history. History needs to be corrected.

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  2. Anonymous24 May, 2015

    Humayun tomb was not built by his begum or his political successor or anyone for that matter in the time of Mughal reign. It was a Rajputi Palace that Humayun's forefathers attacked and blatantly occupied and lived and died in it. The color of the so called tomb is "Geruya" or Red. If you've known enough distorted medieval history of this country... You'd know rajputs are known for having red forts and palaces. And many more claims yo prove that it is not a Mughal creation at all.

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    1. Actualy Rajputs are living in sudo proud and trying to distorting the history by claiming ridiculously on construction of muslim kings. Rajput have maintain their small Jagirs by offering their daughter and sisters to Muslims

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    2. Colour of maximum construction of mughals in Delhi is red. See Red fort Lal Masjid in Purana kila built by shershah. Colour is red not saffron and any construction having red or saffron colour is build by Hindu king is rediculous After all Rajputs are like shekhi khor lomdi

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  3. Thank you Anjana, for update the same. But you updated some wrong information about the caste of Shri Hemchander ji. We have all original records. He was not from Poor Family. He was "Dass" called cast "Sadhu/Baragi" his uncle was Shri Mohan Dass, his temple is in Bhadawas, Near Rewari. And his family was living in some villages Haryana only. I am also from Shri Hemu's family and living in Village Turkapur, Near Pataudi, Haryana. His father's name was Shri Puran Dass and he was businessman in Rewari. If any one need any clarification, he/she can call me 09873416622. Thx again Anjana.

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  4. आज सम्राट हेमचंद्र विक्रमादित्य का बलिदान दिवस है जो आम आदमी से सम्राट बना,पृथ्वीराज चौहान के ३५० साल बाद दिल्ली की गद्दी पर बैठा ये महान योद्धा अन्तिम हिन्दू सम्राट था व प्रथम स्वतंत्रता सेनानी आम आदमी था इसलिए हम सब भूल गये
    Desh ke liye pran samrpit karane vale baladaniyo ko sat sat naman, ore Bhagawan in ki atma ko shanti pradan kare , evam inke pariwar ko dukha sahane sakati de v apani kripa deve ye hi prathana , Salute to Indian Armed forces
    जय हिन्द, जय हिन्द की सेना

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