Brief notes on Humayun’s Early Difficulties and his Wars against Sher Shah

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After Babur’s death in A.D. 1530, his eldest son Nasiruddin Humayun succeeded to the throne of Agra, the capital city of Babur. But the throne he inherited was not a bed of roses. He was engulfed from all sides with difficulties.

Humayun’s Early Difficulties:

The new Mughal emperor’s difficulties, both internal and external, were:

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1. Humayun’s own brothers, Kamran, Askari and Hindal created problems for him. On his deathbed, Babur had advised his eldest son Humayun to treat his brothers well even through they did not deserve it. Babur’s empire was divided into four parts. The major part of course went to Humayun. Kabul and Kandahar were given to Kamran, Sambhal was put under the charge of Askari and Alwar and Mewar went to Hindal. But they were constantly hatching plots and conspiracies against Humayun.

2. Babur had won many territories, but he did not find much time to consolidate his empire. The more conquest of territories is never enough to establish a stable empire. Thus, when Humayun came to the throne, he had to contend with political instability.

3. The Afghans, through crushed by Babur, were trying to raise their heads and regain their lost territories. Sher Shah Suri was already becoming powerful in Bihar and Bengal.

4. Bahadur Shah of Gujarat was also turning into a formidable enemy and had his eyes on the throne of Delhi.

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5. The Mughal army consisted of soldiers of different nationalities-the Turks, Uzbeks and the Mughals, and thus had no common bond to unite them.

6. The Rajputs too had not forgotten their defeat at the hands of the Mughals and were waiting for an opportunity to strike back.

Wars against Sher Shah (A.D. 1537-40):

Sher Shah had become very active in the east and cherished the dream of driving the Mughals out of India. Sher Shah had captured the fort of Rohtas. Alarmed by the rising power of Sher Shah, Humayun marched against him and reached Chunar. As Sher Shah realized the might of the Mughal of the Mughal army, he avoided any immediate confrontation and let Humayun capture the fort of Gaur. Instead of pursuing Sher Shah, Humayun wasted many months in admiring this fertile province and indulged in pleasure seeking.

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In the meantime, Sher Shah cut off all supplies to the Mughals from Delhi. Meanwhile Humayun’s own brother Hindal assumed the crown at Agra. Thus, Humayun was forced to leave Gaur and proceed to Agra. For a while, Sher Shah did not attempt to stop the Mughals, but when they reached Chausa near Buxar, the Afghan leader blocked their way. The two armies faced each other for some time. Then one day Sher Shah crossed the Ganga and launched a sudden attack on the Mughal forces. They were completely routed. Humayun himself barely managed to escape. This victory made Sher Shah the undisputed master Bengal and Bihar.

After his escape from Buxar, Humayun managed to reach Agra and began to make preparations to avenge his defeat. Sher Shah advanced up to Kanauj and encamped on the banks of the Ganga. A fierce battle was fought in A.D. 1540 in which the Mughal army was defeated. The Mughal emperor had to flee for his life, while Sher Shah became the master Delhi and Agra and thus the ruler of India.

After his defeat at Kanauj, Humayun wandered in the desert Rajputana. It was during his exile that he met Hamida Bano, whom he married and who later gave birth to Akbar at Amarkot. At Amarkot, Humayun also met Bairam Khan who became his trusted friend and later the guardian of Akbar. Leaving Akbar under the charge of Bairam, Humayun proceeded to Persia to seek the help of the Shah of Persia. The Shah of Persia promised to help, Humayun if he agreed to hand over the fort of Kandhar. With the help Persian troops, Humayun was able to conquer Kandhar. By this time, Sher Shah was dead and his successors were weak and incompetent. Humayun was able to defeat Sikander Suri and occupy the thrones of both Delhi and Agra.

But Humayun was not destinated to rule for long. He barely ruled for six months when one day he slipped on the staircase of the library of the Old Fort at Delhi and died in A.D. 1556. His tomb still stands in Delhi.

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