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Sher Shah Suri

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Overview

Sher Shah Suri
Sketch work of Sher Shah Suri by Afghan artist Abdul Ghafoor Breshna
Sultan of the Suri Empire
Reign 17 May 1540 – 22 May 1545
Coronation 1540
Predecessor Humayun
Successor Islam Shah Suri
Malika Bibi
Issue Jalal Khan
House Sur dynasty
Father Mian Hassan Khan Sur
Born 1486
Sasaram, Rohtas district in India[1]
Died 22 May 1545
Kalinjar, Bundelkhand
Burial Sher Shah Suri Tomb, Sasaram
Religion Islam


Sher Shah Suri by Breshna - Sher Shah Suri
Sher Shah Suri by Breshna
"Farid Khan" redirects here. For other uses, see Farid Khan (disambiguation).

Sher Shah Suri (1486 – 22 May 1545) (Dari/Pashto: فريد خان شير شاہ سوري‎Farīd Xān Šer Šāh Sūrī, birth name Farid Khan, also known as Sher Khan, "The Lion King") was the founder of the Sur Empire in North India, with its capital at Delhi.[2] An ethnic Pashtun, Sher Shah took control of the Mughal Empire in 1540. After his accidental death in 1545, his son Islam Shah became his successor.[3][4][5][6][7] He first served as a private before rising to become a commander in the Mughal army under Babur and then as the governor of Bihar. In 1537, when Babur's son Humayun was elsewhere on an expedition, Sher Khan overran the state of Bengal and established the Sur dynasty.[8] A brilliant strategist, Sher Shah proved himself a gifted administrator as well as an able general. His reorganization of the empire laid the foundations for the later Mughal emperors, notably Akbar the Great, son of Humayun.[8]

During his five year rule from 1540 to 1545, he set up a new civic and military administration, issued the first Rupiya and re-organised the postal system of India.[9] He further developed Humayun's Dina-panah city and named it Shergarh and revived the historical city of Pataliputra as Patna which had been in decline since the 7th century CE.[10] He is also famously remembered for killing a fully grown tiger with his bare hands in a jungle of Bihar.[3][8] He extended the Grand Trunk Road from Chittagong in Bangladesh to Kabul in Afghanistan.

Early life and origin

Sher Shah was born as Farid Khan in the present day district of Mahendragarh in south Haryana, earlier part of Hisar district of combined Punjab in India. As his real name is Farid Khan but he was known as Sher Shah because he alone hunted a Lion in his early age.His surname 'Suri' was taken from his Hometown "Sur". His grand father Ibrahim Khan Suri was a land lord (Jagirdar) in Narnaul area and represented Delhi rulers of that period. Mazar of Ibrahim Khan Suri still stands as a monument in Narnaul. Tarikh-i Khan Jahan Lodi (MS. p. 151).[1] also confirm this fact. However, the online Encyclopædia Britannica states that he was born in Sasaram (Bihar), in the Rohtas district.[3] He was one of about eight sons of Mian Hassan Khan Suri, a prominent figure in the government of Bahlul Khan Lodi. Sher Khan belonged to the Pashtun Sur tribe (the Pashtuns are known as Afghans in historical Persian language sources).[11] His grandfather, Ibrahim Khan Suri, was a noble adventurer who was recruited much earlier by Sultan Bahlul Lodi of Delhi during his long contest with the Jaunpur Sultanate.

"It was at the time of this bounty of Sultán Bahlol, that the grandfather of Sher Sháh, by name Ibráhím Khán Súri,*[The Súr represent themselves as descendants of Muhammad Súri, one of the princes of the house of the Ghorian, who left his native country, and married a daughter of one of the Afghán chiefs of Roh.] with his son Hasan Khán, the father of Sher Sháh, came to Hindu-stán from Afghánistán, from a place which is called in the Afghán tongue “Shargarí,”* but in the Multán tongue “Rohrí.” It is a ridge, a spur of the Sulaimán Mountains, about six or seven kos in length, situated on the banks of the Gumal. They entered into the service of Muhabbat Khán Súr, Dáúd Sáhú-khail, to whom Sultán Bahlol had given in jágír the parganas of Hariána and Bahkála, etc., in the Panjáb, and they settled in the pargana of Bajwára."[1]

During his early age, Farid was given a village in Fargana, Delhi(comprising present day districts of Bhojpur, Buxar, Bhabhua of Bihar) by Omar Khan, the counselor and courtier of Bahlul Khan Lodi. Farid Khan and his father, who had several wives, did not get along for a while so he decided to run away from home. When his father discovered that he fled to serve Jamal Khan, the governor of Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, he wrote Jamal Khan a letter that stated:

"Faríd Khán, being an­noyed with me, has gone to you without sufficient cause. I trust in your kindness to appease him, and send him back; but if refusing to listen to you, he will not return, I trust you will keep him with you, for I wish him to be instructed in religious and polite learning."[12]

Jamal Khan had advised Farid to return home but he refused. Farid replied in a letter:

"If my father wants me back to instruct me in learning, there are in this city many learned men: I will study here."[12]

Conquering Bihar and Bengal

Farid Khan started his service under Bahar Khan Lohani, the Mughal Governor of Bihar.[3][13] Because of his valor, Bahar Khan rewarded him the title Sher Khan (Tiger Lord). After the death of Bahar Khan, Sher Khan became the regent ruler of the minor Sultan, Jalal Khan. Later sensing the growth Sher Shah's power in Bihar, Jalal sought assistance of Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah, the independent Sultan of Bengal. Ghiyasuddin sent an army under General Ibrahim Khan. But, Sher Khan defeated the force at the battle of Surajgarh in 1534. Thus he achieved complete control of Bihar.[13]

In 1538, Sher Khan attacked Bengal and defeated Ghiyashuddin Shah.[13] But he could not capture the kingdom because of sudden expedition of Emperor Humayun.[13] In 1539, Sher Khan faced Humayun in the battle of Chausa. He forced Humayun out of India. Assuming the title Sher Shah, he ascended the throne of Delhi.[3]

Battle of Sammel

In 1543, Sher Shah Suri set out against Rajputana with a huge force of 80,000 cavalry. With an army of 50,000 cavalry, Maldeo Rathore advanced to face Sher Shah's army. Instead of marching to the enemy's capital Sher Shah halted in the village of Sammel in the pargana of Jaitaran, ninety kilometers east of Jodhpur. After one month, Sher Shah's position became critical owing to the difficulties of food supplies for his huge army. To resolve this situation, Sher Shah resorted to a cunning ploy. One evening, he dropped forged letters near the Maldeo's camp in such a way that they were sure to be intercepted. These letters indicated, falsely, that some of Maldeo's army commanders were promising assistance to Sher Shah. This caused great consternation to Maldeo, who immediately (and wrongly) suspected his commanders of disloyalty. Maldeo left for Jodhpur with his own men, abandoning his commanders to their fate.

After that Maldeo's innocent generals Jaita and Kunpa fought with the just 20,000 men against an enemy force of 80,000 men. In the ensuing battle of Sammel (also known as battle of Giri Sumel), Sher Shah emerged victorious, but several of his generals lost their lives and his army suffered heavy losses. Sher Shah is said to have commented that "for a few grains of bajra (millet, which is the main crop of barren Marwar) I almost lost the entire kingdom of Hindustan."

After this victory, Sher Shah's general Khawas Khan Marwat[14] took possession of Jodhpur and occupied the territory of Marwar from Ajmer to Mount Abu in 1544. But by July, Maldeo reoccupied his lost territories.

Government and administration

Rupiya released by Sher Shah Suri, 1540–1545 CE, was the first Rupee - Sher Shah Suri
Rupiya released by Sher Shah Suri, 1540–1545 CE, was the first Rupee

Specially Sher Khan was not an angel (malak) but a king (malik). In six years he gave such stability to the structure (of the empire) that its foundations still survive. He had made India flourish in such a way that the king of Persia and Turan appreciate it, and have a desire to look at it. Hazrat Arsh Ashiyani (Akbar the great) followed his administrative manual (zawabit) for fifty years and did not discontinue them. In the same India due to able administration of the well wishers of the court, nothing is left except rabble and jungles...

Mirza Aziz Koka, son of Ataga Khan, in a letter to Emperor Jahangir

The system of tri-metalism which came to characterize Mughal coinage was introduced by Sher Shah. While the term rūpya had previously been used as a generic term for any silver coin, during his rule the term rūpiya came to be used as the name for a silver coin of a standard weight of 178 grains, which was the precursor of the modern rupee.[9] Rupee is today used as the national currency in India, Indonesia, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka among other countries. Gold coins called the Mohur weighing 169 grains and copper coins called Dam were also minted by his government.[9][15]

Sher Shah built monuments including Rohtas Fort (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Pakistan), many structures in the Rohtasgarh Fort in Bihar, Sher Shah Suri Masjid, in Patna, built in 1540–1545 to commemorate his reign.

Qila-i-Kuhna mosque, built by Sher Shah in 1541, at Purana Qila, Delhi, a Humayun citadel started in 1533, and later extended by him, along with the construction of Sher Mandal, an octagonal building inside the Purana Qila complex, which later served as the library of Humayun.

Tarikh-i-Sher Shahi (History of Sher Shah), written by Abbas Khan Sarwani, a waqia-navis under later Mughal Emperor, Akbar around 1580, provides a detailed documentation about Sher Shah's administration.

Death and succession

Further information: Sher Shah Suri Tomb

Sher Shah is believed to have died from a gunpowder explosion during the siege of Kalinjar fort on 13 May 1545, while fighting against the Chandel Rajputs. His death has also been claimed to have been caused by a fire in his store room.

Sher Shah Suri was succeeded by his son, Jalal Khan who took the title of Islam Shah Suri. His mausoleum, the Sher Shah Suri Tomb (122 ft high) stands in the middle of an artificial lake at Sasaram, a town that stands on the Grand Trunk Road.[16]

Legacy

Grand Trunk Road

For centuries, the Grand Trunk Road has served as the main artery from travel across northern India. A scene from the Ambala cantonment during the British Raj. - Sher Shah Suri
For centuries, the Grand Trunk Road has served as the main artery from travel across northern India. A scene from the Ambala cantonment during the British Raj.

Mughals extended Grand Trunk Road westwards: at one time, it extended to Kabul in Afghanistan, crossing the Khyber Pass. The road was later improved by the British rulers of colonial India. It was extended to run from Calcutta to Peshawar (present-day Pakistan). Over the centuries, the road acted as a major trade routes in the region and facilitated both travel and postal communication. Since the era of Sher Shah, the road was dotted with caravansarais (highway inns) at regular intervals, and trees were planted on both sides of the road to give shade to the travellers and merchants. Sher Shah made many roads for tax free trade.The Grand Trunk Road is still used for transportation in present day India & Pakistan.

Shersabadia community

Some soldiers were left behind by Sher Shah Suri as he escaped from Bengal, avoiding the Humayun invasion. These people are known as Shersabadia. They made a colony named Shershahabad which is no more due to a course change of Ganges. Today the people of this community are found in parts of Malda, Murshidabad, Chapai Nawabganj and a few other parts of Bengal.

Karachi

Sher Shah neighbourhood and Sher Shah Bridge in Kiamari Town of Karachi and Sher Shah Park in Wah Cantt, Pakistan, are named in the honour of Sher Shah Suri.

Additional reading

See also

References

The Empire of the Great Mughals: History, Art and Culture
Annemarie Schimmel (2004)
The Mughal Empire was the most powerful Islamic empire in the history of India, and it has lived for centuries in the Western imagination as a wonderland of unimaginable treasures, symbolized most clearly by the breathtaking beauty of the Taj Mahal. This richly illustrated cultural history dispels the air of exoticism and mystery with which Westerners have often viewed the Mughals, but in doing so The Empire of the Great Mughals reveals that the cultural and artistic achievements of the Mughal Empire are no less astonishing when viewed in the cold light of historical fact.Ranging from the founding of the empire in 1526 through its absorption into the British Empire in 1857, The Empire of the Great Mughals explores all aspects of the culture of this mighty civilization. Annemarie Schimmel paints a detailed picture of life at court, particularly for women, and the fine gradations of rank and status in the strictly hierarchical Mughal society. She details the interplay of the various religions, languages, and literatures of the era and the role played by imperial patronage in the creation of Mughal artwork, especially the creation of the Taj Mahal, built as a mausoleum for the wife of the emperor Shah Jahan. Throughout, Schimmel shows how a clear aesthetic sensibility permeated every aspect of Mughal court culture through which the Mughals attempted to bring all facets of life into harmony.Infused with illustrations depicting the greatest works of Mughal art and architecture, The Empire of the Great Mughals is an incomparable portrait of a refined society whose achievements still inspire awe and admiration today.
Lonely Planet Pakistan & the Karakoram Highway (Country Travel Guide)
Sarina Singh:::Lindsay Brown:::Paul Clammer:::Rodney Cocks:::John Mock (2008)
Discover Pakistan & the Karakoram HighwayTravel the Karakoram Highway along the route of the fabled Silk RoadCome face to face with ancient Indus Valley civilizations at MoenjodaroAnswer the call of a million-dollar mosque with rocketing minarets and tent-like designWind along narrow roads from Peshawar to the legendary Khyber PassIn This Guide:Six authors beating every possible path for over 70 weeks of researchPacked with detail, including history and culture analysis, safety advice and the best Himalayan treksComprehensive coverage of the entire country and beyond, from Karachi into China's KashgarContent updated daily: visit lonelyplanet.com for up-to-the-minute reviews, updates and traveler suggestions
  1. ^ a b c Abbas Khan Sarwani (1580). "Táríkh-i Sher Sháhí; or, Tuhfat-i Akbar Sháhí, of 'Abbás Khán Sarwání. CHAPTER I. Account of the reign of Sher Sháh Súr.". Sir H. M. Elliot. London: Packard Humanities Institute. p. 78. Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  2. ^ "Sher Shah – The Lion King". 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Shēr Shah of Sūr". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 23 August 2010. 
  4. ^ Chaurasia, Radhey Shyam (2002). History of medieval India: from 1000 A.D. to 1707 A.D.. Crabtree Publishing Company. p. 179. ISBN 81-269-0123-3. Retrieved 23 August 2010. 
  5. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie; Burzine K. Waghmar (2004). The empire of the great Mughals: history, art and culture. Reaktion Books. p. 28. ISBN 1-86189-185-7. Retrieved 23 August 2010. 
  6. ^ Singh, Sarina; Lindsay Brown; Paul Clammer; Rodney Cocks; John Mock (2008). Pakistan & the Karakoram Highway. 7, illustrated. Lonely Planet. p. 137. ISBN 1-74104-542-8. Retrieved 23 August 2010. 
  7. ^ Greenberger, Robert (2003). A Historical Atlas of Pakistan. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 28. ISBN 0-8239-3866-2. Retrieved 23 August 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c "Sher Khan". Columbia Encyclopedia. 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c "Mughal Coinage". Reserve Bank of India RBI Monetary Museum. Retrieved 24 August 2010. 
  10. ^ Patna encyclopedia.com.
  11. ^ Weiner, Myron; Ali Banuazizi (1994). The Politics of social transformation in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. Syracuse University Press. p. 488. ISBN 9780815626084. Retrieved 7 June 2006. 
  12. ^ a b Abbas Khan Sarwani (1580). "Táríkh-i Sher Sháhí; or, Tuhfat-i Akbar Sháhí, of 'Abbás Khán Sarwání. CHAPTER I. Account of the reign of Sher Sháh Súr.". Sir H. M. Elliot. London: Packard Humanities Institute. p. 79. Retrieved 4 September 2010. 
  13. ^ a b c d Muhammad Ansar Ali , Sher Shah, Banglapedia: The National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Retrieved: 17 March 2012
  14. ^ The Marwat were settled in Daman during the Lodi period but many Marwats also participated in military conquests of the Sur Empire in India. Khawas Khan Marwat was a famous Marwat general from the Sur period.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marwat
  15. ^ Rupee Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. .
  16. ^ Catherine B. Asher (1977). "The mausoleum of Sher Shah Suri". Artibus Asiae (Artibus Asiae Publishers) 39 (3/4): 273–298. doi:10.2307/3250169. 
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