Friday, March 28, 2014

Muhammad Adil and Fall of Suri empire

Islam Shah was succeeded by his son Firuz, who was put to death by Mubariz Khan, the son of Sher Shah's brother Nizam and the brother of Firuz's mother. Islam Shah had suspected Mubariz Khan in his life-time but no action was taken against him. Mubariz Khan was ignorant and dissolute.

He did not possess those qualities which ought to be in a ruler. He took up the title of Muhammad Adil but he was called by his old nickname of Andhali (blind). He was hopelessly debauched and indifferent to public affairs.

He was childishly extravagant. He was popular with the vulgar and unpopular with the higher strata of society. He was not competent to save the Afghan Empire from ruin. The people were not prepared to forget his murder of his nephew. According to Elphinstone, "His character was not such as to efface the memory of his crime; he was grossly ignorant, fond of coarse debauchery and low society, and as despicable from his incapacity as he was odious for his vices."

Reference may be made to the rise of Hemu who was appointed his Chief Minister by Muhammad Adil.

Hemu was the son of Ramiya of Rewari. He was born at Qutbpur in the Dhusar caste of the Vaishyas or Baniyas. He is said to have been at first a saltpetre-seller, later on a Baqqal or weighman in the market and thereafter a Sahana ur Superintendent of the market of Delhi under Isiam Shah. Hemu seems to have held the office of Chief of Intelligence and Daroga-i-Dak-Choki or Superintendent of Posts. The Dak-Choki brought him every day one seer of Suna-Mung or the best variety of pulses, and one maund of fresh rice from Bengal even if he happened to be on the bank of the Indus.

He was unique among those characters of medieval history who were to prove equally adept at weighing atta and in wielding the sword better than the Rajputs and Turks and possessing much more intelligence than the average administrators of the martial races. Islam Shah discovered soldierly qualities in him and raised him to a very high position. In conformity with his policy of always placing a Hindu in command alongside an Afghan officer to spy on one another, Islam Shah sent the contingent of Hemu along with others to watch the movements of Kamran Mirza who was coming to his court in the neighbourhood of Mankot.

About the position of Hemu in the court of Adil Shah, Abul Fazl says: "Hemu undertook all appointments and dismissals and the distribution of justice. In his foresight he got possession of the treasures of Sher Khan and Salim Khan and their elephant stud. For some days, he took the title of Rai and then he fastened on the title of Raja on himself and assumed the style of Raja Bikramjit. Thus did he apply great names to himself. From foresight he preserved the nominal sovereignty for Adil and waged great wars against his opponents. By his valour and daring, he was victorious and performed great deeds. He became famous for courage and capability."

The chronicles have distorted the character of Hemu and even deformed his physique to hold him up to ridicule as a petty Baniya who was not able even to ride on a horse and yet have the ambition to rule the Afghans. Abul Fazl says, "Outwardly he had neither rank (hasab) nor race (nasab), nor beauty of form (Surat), nor noble qualities (Sairat) .... He (God) sent one worse than themselves to chastise the wicked of the age. In short, that evil-looking one of puny form.............................. by means of astuteness (and).... masterpieces of feline trickery.... made himself known to Salim Khan by evil-speaking and business capacity.

Apparently, he was behaving loyally towards his master; in reality he was seeking his own ends, and decking his household with the goods of the oppressed ...." Professor Kalikaranjan Qanungo points out that "The defeat of Hemu in the second battle of Panipat was a mere accident of war, namely, the capture of his artillery a few days before by Ali Quli Khan Zaman and the loss of his own eyes in the battle. No Hindi had ever been covered with so many glorious wounds on the field of battle except Maharana Sanga and no Rajput wielded the sword so bravely against foreign invaders as Hemu did on the field of Panipat.'"

There was a lot of discontentment in the country and it showed itself in open sedition. When the king in open Darbar passed orders for the transfer of the Jagir of Muhammad Farmali to Sarmast Khan Sarwani, the son of the former killed the latter there and then. He might have killed the king as well if he had not escaped. It is true that both the father and Son were killed in the Darbar itself but this incident gave a setback to the authority of the king.

Taj Khan Karsani who was at Gwalior took the road to Bengal with the object of creating trouble in that province. He was joined by many others. However, all of them were pursued and defeated by Hemu.

There were fresh rebellions everywhere and it became difficult to suppress them. Sikander Khan Sur, the cousin of the king, captured Delhi and Agra. Malwa, Punjab and Bengal declared their independence. The control of the king was effective only in the provinces East of the Ganges.

There were five Afghan kings struggling for power. Muhammad Shah Adali had Bihar, Jaunpur and the neighbouring districts under his control. Ibrahim Sur held Delhi and the whole of the Doab. Ahmed Khan Sur declared himself independent in the Punjab and took up the title of Sikander Shah. Muhammad Khan became independent in Bengal and took up the title of Sultan Muhammad. Daulat Khan, son of Shujaat Khan, declared himself independent in Malwa.

The Ruler of the Punjab was the first to move. He defeated Ibrahim and occupied Delhi and Agra. He became the master of the whole of .the territory between the Indus and the Ganges. The condition in 1555 was that Ibrahim was planning to get back his dominion from Sikandar. Adali was preparing to turn out Ibrahim. Muhammad Shah was on the point of crossing his border and attacking Adali in Bihar. It was under these circumstances that Humayun defeated Sikandar Sur and occupied Delhi and Agra in the same year. Thus, the second Afghan Empire fell.