Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Khan Gaju خان ګجو

In 1535 AD,  Malik Ahmed Khan, the chief of Khashi tribes, died... Khan Gaju Mandanr , a wise honest and efficient administrator, succeeded him. During his time, the Yousufzai gained more power and prosperity. Khan Gaju formed a great confederation of Khashi tribes and defeated the Ghoria Khel, headed by the Khahils, at Shiekh Tapur. The date of the battle is uncertain but Raverty assigned it 1549 or 1550 AD. (956 or 957 H). The Battle of Sheikh Tapur was second in importance only to the Battle of Malakand Pass in terms of the Yusufza'i conquests of the sixteenth century.

At the battle of Katlang (1515-1518), fought between Khashis , their allied tribes and Dilazaks, Khan Gaju whose father was the chief of Mandanrs, was in his early manhood, was also present with his tribe, and with a body of them perused the retreating Dilazaks as far as Abaseen. He had sought in marriage the daughter of the chiefs of Dilazaks, but the latter declined to accede to the alliance. The chief and his family were on the river's bank, endeavoring to get across, when the Mandanrs came upon them. Seeing Khan Khaju, he implored him to keep back his men, that the females might be sent across, otherwise they would all throw themselves into it and perish rather than be made captives. His appeal to the youth was not without effect.; and taking pity on the Dilazak chief, he cried out to his clansmen : "Give over, Kinsmen, let them alone ! Do not harm them , for , after all, they are Afghans like ourselves." The chief was thus enabled to get across safely with his family. Not long after the Dilazak damsel became the bride of Khan Gaju. [1]

Events leading up to the battle of Shaikh Tapoor

In 1550, Ghoria Khels i.e Khalil, Mohmands and Daudzais had occupied Peshawer with the active help of Mughal Humayun son of Emperor Babur, after defeating Dilazaks. The Khalils had occupied areas from Peshawar to Dakka, Karrapa, Jehangira, Nilab, Nowshera and Shaikh Tapoor and up to Doaba. Their chief Malik Bayazid was the head of the Ghoria Khel tribe. Because of Humayun's pampering, the Ghoria Khels had become headstrong. The Khalil raiders had killed two sons of a famous Yusufzai Malik, Umar Akozai. The incident infuriated Khan Gaju. However, he was at first hesitant in attacking them as he was not certain whether the Gigianis and Muhammadzais would join him in doing so. But soon after a Malik of Gigianis was killed in a Khalil mosque while saying prayers.The supreme chief of Gigianis, Malik Sheku, sought help from Khan Gaju. Khan Gaju raised a combined force of Yousufzai, Muhammadzai, Tarklanris and Gigianis.

The Ghoria Khels also prepared themselves for the battle. Malik Bayazid Khalil commanded the Ghoria Khel lashkar. They camped at Shaikh Tapoor, about the site of the present Dak Bungalow at Nowshera. [2]

Battle of Shaikh Tapoor 

Khan Gaju had a big contingents of musicians and drummers who acted as morale boosters for his lashkar. Seeing the big tent of Khan Gaju they sang :-

"O Qura's son Khan Gaju ; you have erected a big tent. Now, in what ever way it is possible , you have to go to Shaikh Tapoor otherwise this big tent would become a taunt for you."

The Khashis were encamped on the opposite side of the bank of  river Kabul. Khan Gaju offered to retire his army some distance away or the Ghoria Khels should retire a short distance from the river and enable his lashkar to cross over to the Ghoria side to start the fight. The Ghoria Khels chose the latter alternative. Malik Bayazid moved away his lashkar allowing the Kashis to cross over to Shaikh Tapoor unmolested. After a fierce battle the Ghorai Khels were defeated. Many of them were captured and sold for two pies. [3]

Siege of fortress of Bigram

About three years after the great battle at Shaikh Tapur, when Khan Gaju's influence was supreme, he marched an army to Peshawar on the north side of River Kabul. He besieged Sikander Khan Uzbek, the Qiladar of Emperor Humayun, in the fortress of Bigram or Bagram (Peshawar). Khan Gaju had neither artillery nor firearms. In fact, such weapons appear to have been unknown to his followers although Babar Badshah had a few guns at Panipat, and Sher Shah, the Afghan sovereign of Hindustan, had used them.

The Yousafzai lashkar consequently , could achieve nothing against Bigram, and Khan Gaju lifted the siege. After few areas he crossed the Indus and occupied Chahch and some areas in Attock district and extended his sway east as far as Margallah pass , Pindi-Gheb and the Ghakkar territory. [4]

Khan Gaju' sway

H.G.Raverty in his book "Notes on Afghanistan and part of Baluchistan" writes about Khan Khaju in the following manner,

"If there was ever one, who, from the extent of his territory, the number of his troops, and extent of his power, without taking his talents into account, was entitled to be styled a King unto this period,  It was Khan Kaju (Gaju)  "of the hundred thousands spearmen”. On one occasion , 150,000 men assembled under his banner, consisting of men of most of  the Afghan tribes now inhabiting eastern Afghanistan, beside other tribes of the parts which owned his sway. It was recognized from Nangarhar to the Margalah pass. And from the Lowarai Kotel and upper Swat to to Pindi Gahep; and Adam, the chief of Gakhars, acknowledged his sway in one direction , while the Kafirs acknowledged it in the other, and from Pakhli and Dhamtaur to Kalabagh. The times were favorable to him , and for it was not until many years after his accession to the chieftainship that Akbar Badshah was able to pay attention to the state of affairs in this quarter, and by that time Khan Kaju had disappeared from the scene , and the confederated tribes and territories , which his talent had welded into one , again fell under the independent rule of their respective chiefs , or under the sovereignty of Akbar Badshah.” 

The Pakhli acknowledged superiority of Khan Gaju and, at that time, the ruler of Pakhli was Sultan Ghiyas-ud-Din, the Karlugh Turk. Sultan Adam, the Gakhar, also found it convenient , at that period, to pay allegiance to Khan Gaju, until he thought Humayun Emperor was now becoming strong enough to protect him and so delivered Kamran Mirza to him. [5]

Military strength

Khan Gaju was able to bring into the field over 140,000 men, which included the Yousufzai, Mandanrs, Gigianis and Tarklanri Khashis, their Muhammadzai, Gadoon and Utman Khel allies and of other tribes, the Mahyars, Manduri, Wardaks, Khattaks, Rahwarnis, Kansis, Mashwanis, Pannis, Roganis, Sarkarnis, Kakars. Lunis, Tarins, Dasyarzai and even some of the Abdali tribes. Beside these Afghan tribes and others of Syed descent , there were Kashars, Gibaris, Mutrawis, Mumialis, Dehgans, Gujars and Awans. Also, beside these, the Dilazak Afghans of the Hazara territory and Mangarao, Tarbela and Hasan Abdal and other parts would have joined his standard on being summoned . The names of Afridis and Orakzais do not occur. [6]

Khan Gaju and Sher Shah Suri

Khan Gaju was contemporary of Sher Shah Suri. According to Makhzan-i-Afghani, Khan Khaju son of Kara, is said to have met Khwaja Khizr ; and to have joined in the rebellion of Emperor Sher Shah Suri in Hindustan[7]. According to Muhammad Hayat Khan, the author of Hayat-i-Afghani, Gaju Khan refused allegiance to Sher Shah Sur.

Literary work of  Khan Gaju

According to H.G.Raverty, a book in Pashto was written by Khan Gaju in the year 1494 A.D. It is not known whether Major Raverty did have a copy of the book or he had just heard of it . However the book is not available now. (Raverty writes: "I have in my possession Pashto works which were composed very many years before and during Akbar's reign")


1- H.G.Raverty, "Notes on Afghanistan"
2- Haroon Rashid, "History of the Pathans
7- Naimatullah, "Makhzan-i-Afghani", translation by Dorn,
4- Olaf Careo. "The Pathans"
5-  Allah Bakhsh Yusfi, "Yousafzay"