Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ancestral village of Sher Shah Sur in Roh (medieval Afghanistan)

By Khan Barmazid



Sher Shah's father name was Hasan and they belonged to the Shera Khel sept of the Sur tribe. Sher Shah's grandfather, Ibrahim, was a horse-dealer. His ancestral home stood on the rugged hillside of zejzey (Rohri in Seraiki) in Dera Ismail Khan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a detached ridge of Takht-i-Sulieman mountains, on the southern ridge of the upper course of Gomal river. Tarikh-i-SherShahi of Abbas Sawani (written in 1586) records;
"It was during the period of the rule of Sultan Bahlul, Sher Khan's grandfather, Ibrahim by name, came along with his son Mian Hasan, father of Sher Khan Sur, (to Hindustan) from Afghanistan , viz., from a place which is called Zhaghri in the Afghan tongue and Rohri in the Multani dialect. It is a ridge which has emerged from the Suleiman mountains and stretched for six or seven kuroh on the banks of the Gomal (river)". [Persian text, p-8, and English trans., pp- 5-6]
Survey of the Suleiman mountains supports the location of Rohri settlement in Dera Ismail Khan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Sheet.no.38 L/8 published under the Direction of Brigadier E.O.Wheeler, MC, Surveyor General of India, Edition, 1941), . The geographical location of the Rohri place in Dera Ismail Khan agrees fully with the geographical description of Rohri as given by Abbas Khan Sarwani. According to the survey , Rohri is a village , situated on an off-shoot of the Suleiman mountains which is roughly 15 miles long , that is the six or seven kuroh of Abbas Khan Sarwani. This branch of Suleiman mountains is known locally as "Miyan Nur ridge". The river Gomal runs close by Rohri village.["Transition of power from the early Mughals to Sher Shah Suri", by Hussain Khan, pp-80-81]

This tract is hard, harsh, and as unpromising as can well be seen, with scarcely a stunted tree, shrub, or sign of vegetation. Such land in Pashto is called zejzey, meaning "hard", "rough", "stiff', "rigid" etc, which is called "Rurhi" in the Seraiki or Multani dialect, by which name it is still known. There is another similar tract between Sakhi Sarwar and the Indus, also called by this name. This tract on the Gumul was in former times inhabited by the descendants of Sur, son of Ismail, grandson of Ibrahim, surnamed Lo-e daey. It was from this Ruhri, otherwise the Zezjaey, that Mian Hasan, of the Sher Khel, came into Hindustan. Khan-i-Zaman of the Daulat Khel Nuharnis , gave this rough tract of the country to the homeless Gandapur Ushtaranis , in which to dwell, and there they still reside.  [Raverty, "Notes on Afghanistan and part of Baluchistan", p-326-27]

Dr.K.R.Qanungo's identification of Zhaghri or Rohri with Surgurgai near Aab-i Istadeh in Afghanistan does not appear to be correct. The geography of Sargari in Afghanistan does not tally with that of Rohri of Abbas Khan Sarwani. Moreover the phrase , بزبان ملتان روهری می گویند explicitly supports the conclusion that Hasan Khan Sur's birthplace was situated in Dera Ismail Khan district as there is no evidence that the country comprising modern Afghanistan ever came under the influence of Multani/Seraiki tongue. For this reason there is little likelihood that any village or town which exists in modern Afghanistan could have been given a name in the Multani/Seraiki dialect during medieval times. Dr.Ishwari Prasad is also misinformed when he places the original home of Sher Shah Sur's father and grandfather near Peshawar, without quoting any evidence to support his statement.["Transition of power from the early Mughals to Sher Shah Suri", by Hussain Khan, pp-82-83]

Rohri village, where Hasan Khan Sur was born, is located in the Kulachi Tehsil of Dera Ismail Khan. It is located 11 miles north west of the Kulachi city in the Gandapur area. ["Tarikh-i-Sarzameen-i-Gomal", by Aminullah Khan Gandapur, p-39]

Early in the 13th century, about the time of Shahab-ud-din Ghori, the Prangi and Sur tribes of the Lodi branch, with their kinsmen the Sarwani, settled in the northern part of the (Dera Ismail Khan) district immediately under the Sulaimans, the Prangi and Sur holding Tank and Rohri, while the Sarwani settled south of Luni in Draban and Chaudwan. The Prangi and Sur were expelled from these places by the Luhani or Nuhani (themselves a Lodi tribe) about the end of the 16th century. ["A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province", Vol-III, p-241]

Khan Zaman Katti Khel , the chief of Daulat Khel Lohanis, thinking to strengthen his hands against his enemies, the Marwats, proposed to pastoral Gandapurs to come and occupy permanently the plain of Daman....Most of the Gandapurs, abandoning their former,  settled down as cultivators in Rohri. ["Afghanistan and Its Inhabitants", Muhamad Hayat Khan, p-286]

According to Kabir Bhittani of 16th century, who wrote Afsana-i-Shahan, there was a large market at Gomal in medieval times;
"And in the beginning in the ancient times in Roh on the banks of the stream Gomal.....there was a market. It yielded one lakh rupees or more than that as profit . And it [the market] still exists" [Hikayat one, Afsana-i-Shahan]
Sur tribe dwelling in the region had monopolized the caravan trade between Ghazni and Multan. Ibrahim Khan Sur had excellent advantages for his profession but as luck would have it, he didnt prosper in trade. So Ibrahim Sur, with his young son Hasan, started for Hindustan in search for employment as a soldier during the latter part of the Bahlol Lodi's reign. [K.Qanungo, "Sher Shah: a critical study", p-2]