The period between 1540 and 1556 A.D. was like a break in Medieval History in which Surs showed their role. Surs were those Afghans who came India at the time of Delhi – Sultans. They got Jagirs due to their bravery. They were administrating their Jagirs as Jagirdars. Miyan Hassan was one of those Jagirdars. Sher Shah, whose childhood name was Farid, was the Son of Hassan’s first Afghan wife.
According to Dr. R. P. Tripathi, “Sher Shah is one of those great men of history who blossomed out of dust into glory and rose to the highest pinnacle of distinction by dint of their courage, ability and resourcefulness as also by the strength of their sword. He was neither born in purple nor could he boast of his origin from any high family of religious or military leaders.'”
Sher Shah was the grandson of Ibrahim Sur and the son Hussain. His grandfather had come to India in search of employment in the time of Bahol Lodhi and joined service in the Punjab. Farid is said to have been born in the Punjab in 1472. After Farid’s birth, both his grandfather and father entered in service of Jamal Khan in the Punjab. When Jamal Khan was transferred to Jaunpur in the time of Sikandar Lodi, he granted the Jagir of Sahsaram, Khawaspur and Tanda to Hassan in Bihar.
Hassan married four wives and had 8 sons. He loved his youngest wife not the eldest, whose son Farid was. Under the circumstances Farid and his mother had a very unhappy time. Things came to such a pass that in 1494, Farid left Sahsaram and went to Jaunpur. He worked so hard that he mastered many Arabic and Persian books such as “Gulistan”, “Bostan” and “Sikandar Nama.” As Farid was a brilliant boy, he caught the eye of Jamal Khan, the patron of his father.
As a result of the intervention of Jamal Khan, Farid was appointed by Hassan to manage his Jagir and this he did successfully for full 21 years. During this period, Farid acquired so much of knowledge of land and its management that he was able later on to utilize all this as Emperor of India. Farid’s successful management aroused the jealousy of his step-mother and consequently he was driven away once again in 1518.
Farid went straight to Ibrahim Lodi and requested him to grant the Jagir of his father to him. The Sultan refused to do so. However, as Hassan died soon after, Ibrahim Lodi gave the Jagir of Sahsaram, Khawaspur and Tanda to Farid. Farid settle down at Sahsaram.
This did not end the difficulties of Farid. His step-brother challenged his right to the whole of the Jagir and sought the intervention of Mohammad Khan Sur of Chaund in Bihar. Farid refused to share the Jagir with his brother and took up service under Bahar Khan Lohani, ruler of South Bihar, with a view to strengthen his hands. He endeared himself so much to Bahar Khan that the latter gave him the title of Sher Khan. Sher Khan was appointed as Tutor of Jallal Khan, the son of Bahar Khan. Later, he was made the Deputy Governor of South Bihar.
The rise of Sher Khan was not liked by the Lohani Nobles and other Afghan chiefs and consequently they all started poisoning the ears of Bahar Khan. It was given out that Sher Khan was planning to join Mahmood Lodi who was trying to revive the Afghan Empire in India. Bahar Khan asked Sher Khan to divide this Jagir and on his refusal, took forcible possession of the same and turned out Sher Khan.
When he was in this helpless condition, Sher Khan joined the Mughal service in April, 1527. When Babur attacked Bihar, Sher Khan rendered him very useful service. As a reward of his services, his Jagir was restored to him. Sher Khan spent his time in Mughal Service usefully. He studied the defects in Mughal Administration and Mughal Military Organization. He also particularly noted the vanity of the Mughals. He left their service towards the end of 1528 as he found it difficult to pull on.
Sher Khan once again went to South Bihar arid was reappointed tutor and guardian of Jalal Khan. The Ruler of South Bihar died in 1528 and Sher Khan was appointed the Deputy Governor of Vakil. In his new capacity, Sher Khan tried to overhaul whole of the system of administration of South Bihar. He was also able to gather together a large number of followers who were prepared to risk their all for Sher Khan.
Another difficulty faced Sher Khan in 1529. Mahmood Lodi came to Bihar in 1529 on the invitation of some Afghan Nobles. All the Afghans came under his banner and he took into his own hands the Government of South Bihar. Sher Khan did not show enthusiasm for Mahmood Lodi. He was not willing to annoy Babur.
On the insistence and persuasion of Mahmood Lodi, Sher Khan also joined after some hesitation at the beginning. To begin with, the Afghans were successful, but as the fighting became bitter, Mahmood Lodi ran away from the battle-field. South Bihar was restored to Jalal Khan, and he was to pay an annual tribute as a Mughal Vassal.
Sher Khan was invited once again and made the Deputy Governor of Bihar under Jalal Khan. The mother of Jalal Khan died and Jalal was still a minor at that time. The result was that all the power in South Bihar fell into Sher Khan’s hands.
The relations between Bengal and South Bihar were never good on account of their conflicting interests. Nasrat Shah, Ruler of Bengal, had an eye on South Bihar. Sher Khan cultivated friendly relations with the brother-in-law of Nasrat Shah and tried to use him against Nasrat Shah. Nasrat Shah had invaded South Bihar but was defeated by Sher Khan in 1529. The victory raised the prestige of Sher Khan and also aroused the jealousy of many others.
Although Sher Khan was the virtual ruler of that part of the country, he did not make any formal declaration to that effect. He took up the Title of Hazrat-i-Ala. He also got the Fort of Chunar by means of a marriage with a widow.