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Sher Shah Suri

From Academic Kids

Sher Khan Suri is considered to be the hero of Indo-Muslim revival by many historians. He was born in 1472 with the name of Farid Khan. Farid's father Hasan Khan was the jagirdar or landlord of Sasaram in Bihar. Farid left home at the age of 22 and went to Jaunpur. This turn made him pass through many adventures and struggle. In Jaunpur, he devoted some time to study and very soon became proficient in Arabic as well as Persian literature.

Being an exceptionally brilliant person, he drew the attention Jamal Khan, the then governor of Jaunpur. He then returned to Sasaram and administered his father's jagirs for 21 years. Then he decided to move to Agra.

In 1522, Farid served for Bahar Khan, the governor of Bihar. His master was impressed by his service and devotion. Bahar Khan conferred on him the title of Sher Khan for having shown gallantry in killing a tiger single-handed. Later, Sher Khan was appointed Vakil (deputy governor) and also a tutor of Bahar Khan's son Jalal Khan.

Jealous of Sher Khan's success, his enemies poisoned his master's mind and he was thus deprived of his father's jagir. He joined the Babur camp where he served from April 1527 to June 1528. But soon, he left the Mughals and returned back to Bihar and took over his old job as a guardian of Jalal Khan. Jalal Khan being a minor, Sher Khan became the virtual ruler of Bihar.

In 1531, Sher Khan asserted his independence when Humayun was the emperor in India. The unexpected rise of Sher Khan made the Lohani Afghans and Jalal Khan impatient. They even entered into an alliance with Muhamud Shah, the king of Bengal. Sher Khan defeated the Bengal king on the Kiul river in 1534. Later, he invaded Bengal and Muhamud Shah handed over him a large sum and territory to make amends. He then became the independent ruler of Bihar and Bengal.

In October 1537, Sher Khan again invaded Bengal and besieged the city of Gaur. Humayun realising the strength of the Afghan marched to oppose Sher Khan in December 1537 and besieged Chunar. However the brave army of Sher Khan baffled all the attempts of the assailants for six months which gave all the time to Sher Khan for reduction of Gaur by April 1538.

In 1539 when Humayun marched towards Bengal, Sher Khan cleverly went and occupied the Mughal territories in Bihar and Jaunpur. And finally in 1539, Sher Khan was able to defeat Humayun in battle of Chausa (situated near the boundary of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh). And again in 1540, he defeated Humayun in battle of Kanauj, and went on to capture Delhi and Agra. Thus Sher Khan re-established the Afghans rule in Delhi. Later he subjugated the areas of Bengal, Malwa, Raisina, Sindh and Multan easily. He, however, faced strong resistance against Rajput ruler of Marwar.

In a very short time, Sher Khan extended his kingdom from Bengal in the east to the river Sindhu (Indus) in the west. He then besieged the strong fort of Kalinjar where he died in an accidental explosion of gunpowder on May 22, 1545. However his brief reign of five years brought about considerable changes in the administration of the kingdom which are still reflected in Indian constitution in many ways.

Sher Khan divided his empire into 47 units called sarkars, each of which was again sub-divided into several smaller units called Parganas. Each Pargana had one Amin, one Shiqdar, one treasurer, and one Hindi and Persian writer. Sher Khan also devised the system of transferring government officers after every 2-3 years to prevent undue influence of the officers in one place.

Sher Khan paid special attention to the infrastructure. He is credited with building many highways connecting the capital of his kingdom to the other parts. The most famous road he constructed was the Grand Trunk road which ran from Sonargaon in Bengal to Peshawar in the North-Western Frontier Province (now in Pakistan) which is still in use. Sher Khan also introduced the coin rupayya or rupee. He also introduced custom duties which are still followed up to this day.

Important Dates

  • 1472 Sher Khan born
  • 1522 Sher Khan took the service of Bahar Khan
  • 1527 - 1528 Sher Khan served the Babur camp
  • 1534 Sher Khan defeated the Bengal king on the Kiul river
  • Oct 1537 Sher Khan invaded Bengal and besieged the city of Gaur
  • 1539 Sher Khan defeated Humayun at Chausa
  • 1540 Sher Khan defeated Humayun at Kanauj
  • May 1545 Death of Sher Khan
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