Saturday, 10 August 2013

Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya (Hemu) - One Of The Greatest Hindu Warrior.

Born: 1501
Died: 5 November 1556

A Brief Introduction:

Hemu
Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya,popularly known as Hemu, was a Hindu emperor of north India during the sixteenth century AD, This was one of the crucial periods in Indian history, when the Mughals and Afghans were desperately vying each other for power to rule over India. He fought Afghan rebels across North India from the Punjab to Bengal and the Mughal forces of Akbar and Humayun in Agra and Delhi, winning 22 battles without a single setback.

In 1556, Hemu acceded the throne of Delhi, becoming the new King of Delhi for a short span of time. He was man who made the Hindus proud by liberating India from foreign invaders. Hemu re-established the native Hindu rule (Hindu Raj) in North India, after over 350 years of Muslim rule. Many writers refer to him as the Napoleon of India for his qualities of generalship. Hemu sacrificed his life fighting Mughals in the "Second Battle Of Panipat", which is also called as "The Last Stand Of The Hindus".

Birth and Early Life:


Hemu was born at Maccheri Devat village of Alwar District in Rajasthan in the year 1501. His father Rai Puran Das, a Brahmin, was a Purohit ( temple priest ), who performs marriage ceremonies as a profession. However, due to persecution of Hindus, who performed religious ceremonies, by Mughals, Rai Puran Das gave up as Purohit and moved to Qutabpur (now Hemu Nagar) in Rewari in Mewat,what is present day Haryana. Where Hemu was brought up and got educated.

After leaving Maccheri, Hemu's father started trading in salt in Qutabpur for their livelihood, and later he was beheaded by Akbar's forces on refusal to convert to Islam, at the age of 82, in the year 1556.

Hemu was brought up in a religious environment. Apart from learning Sanskrit and Hindi, Hemu was also educated in Persian, Arabic language. During his childhood, he was fond of exercise and wrestling and while crushing salt in an iron pot, he would monitor his strength. He was trained in horse-riding at his friend Sehdev's village. His friend Sehdev was a Rajput and he participated in all the battles that Hemu later fought except the Second Battle of Panipat.

Also read: Rani Lakshmibai - A Brave Queen Of Jhansi

Rise Of Hemu :

Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya
In 1530's, At a very young age, Hemu came in contact with the officers of Sher Shah Suri, where he started supplying food/cereals to Sher Shah Suri's army. Slowly he started supplying other important things to Suri's army like Saltpetre or Potassium Nitrate (Gunpowder). Hemu also laid the foundation of brass cannons casting and manufacturing industry in Rewari, which remains an important Brass/Copper manufacturing centre even today.

After Sher Shah Suri's death in 1545, his son Islam Shah became the new ruler of North India. Islam Shah recognised the calibre, and administrative skills of Hemu and made him his personal adviser. He consulted Hemu in a variety of matters like trade and commerce, statesmanship, diplomacy and general politics.

Islam Shah initially appointed Hemu as Shahang-i-Bazar, a Persian word, meaning ‘Market Superintendent', to manage commerce throughout the empire. This post gave Hem Chandra an opportunity to interact with the king frequently in order to apprise him of the trade and commercial situation of the kingdom.

After proving his abilities as 'Market Superintendent', Hemu rose to become Chief of Intelligence or Daroga-i-Chowki (Superintendent of Post). In 1552, Islam Shah's health started deteriorating and he shifted his base from Delhi to Gwalior, which was considered safer than Delhi. Hemu was then deputed as Governor to the Punjab to safeguard the region against the Mughal invasion. Hemu held this position until Islam Shah's death in October 30, 1553.

After Islam Shah's death, he was succedded by his 12 year old son Firoz Khan who was killed within three days by Adil Shah Suri, who was a nephew of Sher Shah Suri.Then Adil Shah ascended the throne as the last sultan of the united empire.The new king Adil was an indolent pleasure-seeker and a drunkard who faced revolts all around his kingdom. Adil Shah took Hemu as his Chief Advisor and entrusted all his work to him. Later, Adil Shah appointed Hemu as his Vazier (Wazir ). After some time, Adil Shah became insane and Hemu became the virtual king.

Many Afghan governors rebelled against the weak King Adil Shah and refused to pay the taxes, but Hemu quelled them. Ibrahim Khan, Sultan Muhhamad Khan, Rukh Khan Nurani, Taj Karrani and several other Afghan rebels were defeated one by one and killed by Hemu.

Since Hemu was a native Indian and at the time Afgans also considered themselves to be natives, Therefore, Hemu got support of both Hindus and Afghans against the Mughals, as Mughals were considered as foreigner at that time.

Also read: Ashoka The Great (Recommended)

Hemu's Army :


It is stated that Hem Chandra had a large army and his army was five times superior than the Akbar's army. However, recruitment of Hindus considerably increased during his rule. His army consisted of infantry, cavalry, artillery and large elephants.General Ram Chandra (Rammaya) and Shadi Khan Kakkar, the Afghan governor from Sambhal, were two of his most noted generals who commanded large forces in the Second Battle of Panipat.

Famous Battles Of Hemu :


Hemu faught various battles in his lifetime and won every single battle except the "Battle of Panipat", where fate didn't favour him.

The Battle Of Chapparghat :


In 1555, Hemu was sent to quell Ibrahim Shah Suri, who was brother in law of Adil Shah and a rebel. He was defeated by Hemu twice, once near Kalpi and again near Khanua. In the meantime, Adil Shah was attacked by Mohammed Shah of Bengal. The ruler of Bengal had conquered up to Jaunpur; intending to occupy Kalpi in order to proceed to Delhi.  Under such circumstances, Adil had to recall Hemu to Kalpi. Hemu led the army brilliantly, again showing his qualities of generalship. Muhammad Shah was defeated and killed at Chhapparghatta near Kalpi. Adil captured Bengal and appointed Shahbaz Khan as the Governor.

Capture Of Agra:

Agra Fort
Agra Fort won by Hemu before winning Delhi.
After the victory of the Mughal ruler Humayun over Adil Shah's brother Sikander Suri, Mughals regained Punjab, Delhi and Agra after a gap of 15 years on July 23, 1555. Hemu was in Bengal when Humayun died on January 26, 1556. Humayun's death gave Hemu an ideal opportunity to defeat Mughals. He started a winning march from Bengal through present day Bihar, Eastern UP and Madhya Pradesh. The Mughal fauzdars evacuated their positions and fled in panic. In Agra, an important Mughal stronghold, the commander of Mughal forces Iskander Khan Uzbeg ran away from Agra hearing about Hemu's invasion, without a fight. Ettawah, Kalpi, Bayana,the present day central and western UP, all came under Hemu's dominion.

Battle of Delhi:

Purana Qila Delhi
Purana Qila, Delhi, India
After Capturing Agra, Hemu served notice for a march on Delhi. Sensing the threat of being attacked by Hemu, the Moghul Governor of Delhi Tardi Beg Khan, wrote to Akbar that, "Hemu had captured Agra and intended to attack the capital Delhi, which could not be defended without reinforcements". Realising the gravity of the situation, Bairam Khan,who was Akbar's guardian and chief strategist, sent his ablest lieutenant, Pir Muhammad Sharwani, to helpTardi Beg Khan. A war council was held at Delhi and plans were made to face Hemu. The Moghul army decided to face Hemu at Tughlaqabad.
Tughlaqabad Fort
Tughlaqabad Fort, Delhi around which 'Battle for Delhi 1556' took place.
In1556, as per the plan made by Mughals,Tardi Beg Khan and the Mughal Army battled Hem Chandra’s forces inTughlaqabad. In this battle, Hemu adopted the tactics of reserve and thrust, Hemu arranged 300 choice elephants and a force of selected horsemen as a reserve in the center with loosely guarded front and flanks. As the battle began, Mughal forces overcame the front and even attacked Hem Chandra’s flanks. At one point it looked like Mughals were easily going to win the battle, as Mughals had captured 400 elephants and slew 3000 Afghan men already. Sensing victory, Mughal armies dispersed to plunder the enemy camp and Tardi Beg was left in the field thinly guarded.

At that point Hem Chandra charged on Tardi Beg’s camp with his reserved forces in the center. Seeing a force marching directly towards them and without any armies to stop them, the Mughal commanders fled from the battle field. The result was chaos in the Mughal forces and it resulted in their total defeat.
In this battle,Hemu was helped by reinforcements from Alwar with a contingent commanded by Hazi Khan.
Also read: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.


Coronation Of Hemu : 

Coronation of Hemu
After winning the battle of Delhi, Hemu triumphantly entered Delhi and His Rajyabhishek (coronation) as Samrat ( Samrat is a Hindi word, meaning an unchallengeable warrior - one who has won all the battles fought ) was held at Purana Qila in Delhi on 7 October 1556 in the presence of all the Afghan Sardars and Hindu Senapatis (military commanders), assuming the title of "Vikramaditya", (King whose Effulgence is equal to the Sun's) that had been adopted by many Hindu kings since Vedic times.

After coronation Hemachandra Vikramaditya consolidated his position. He raised an army of 30,000 Hindu soldiers. He also won the loyality of Pathans by liberal treatment and distribution of cash awards which he gave to them from time to time. Due to this a large part of their artillery and nearly 500 elephants became part of his formidable force. With this army he prepared himself to drive the Mughals out.

Administration Under Hemu :

Coins minted by Hemu
Coins minted by Hemu
Because of long association with the Sur administration since the 1540s, first as a supplier of various items to Sher Shah Suri, then as Superintendent of Markets, Minister of Internal security and Governor of Punjab with Islam Shah, Prime Minister-cum-Chief of Army with Adil Shah, Hemu had great experience of administration and sound knowledge of how system works.

Although he did not have much time to rule, Hemu revitalized the administrative set-up that had flagged after the demise of Sher Shah Suri. With his thorough knowledge of trade and commerce he gave fresh impetus to commerce throughout the country. He spared no-one, indulging in black-marketing, hoarding, overcharging and under-weighing of goods. After his conquest of Agra and Delhi, he replaced all corrupt officers.He also introduced coinage bearing his image.

Second Battle Of Panipat : 

Second Battle Of Panipat
Second Battle Of Panipat
On hearing of Hemu's serial victories and the fall of large territories like Agra and Delhi, the Mughal army at Kalanaur lost heart and many commanders refused to fight Hemu. Most of his commanders advised Akbar to retreat to Kabul, which would serve better as a strong-hold. However, Bairam Khan, Akbar's guardian and chief strategist, insisted on fighting Hemu in an effort to gain control of Delhi.

On 5 November 1556, the Mughal army met Hemu's army at the historic battlefield of Panipat. Bairam Khan exhorted his army in a speech with religious overtones and ordered them to move for the battle. Akbar and Bairam Khan stayed in the rear, eight miles from the battleground, with the instructions to leave India in case of defeat. The Mughal army was led by Ali Kuli Khan, Sikandar Khan and Abdulla Khan Uzbeg. 

On the other hand Hemu led his army himself into battle, atop an elephant. His left was led by his sister's son General Ramiya and the right by Shadi Khan Kakkar. He was on the cusp of victory, but then providence took a hand and a stray arrow hit the eye of Hemu. Inspite of that, Hem Chandra pulled the arrow by his hands and exhorted his forces to charge ahead. Unfortunately, he soon collapsed unconscious due to severe bleeding. This led to confusion amongst the soldiers, with no supreme commander to coordinate decisions. Thus a sure victory was converted by a stroke of chance into defeat. According to Abul Fazl, 5000 soldiers of Hemu were slain.

Also read: Prithviraj Chauhan.

Death :

Unconscious and at death's door, Hemu was captured by Shah Qulin Khan (a follower and distant relative of Bairam) and carried to the Mughal camp for execution. According to Badayuni Bairam Khan asked Akbar to behead Hemu so that he could earn the title of Ghazi (warrior).

Akbar replied: "He is now no better than a dead man; how can I strike him ? If he had sense and strength I would try my sword (that is I would fight him)."

However, on the insistence of Bairam Khan, Hemu was first struck by Akbar, to earn the title of "Ghazi", then he was beheaded by Bairam Khan. Hemu's head was sent to Kabul in Afghanistan, where it was hanged outside the Delhi Darwaza,to bo shown to Afghans to prove that the great Hindu warrior is dead, while his body was placed in a gibbet outside Purana Quila in Delhi to terrorise the Hindus.

Aftermath Of War :

Skulls Minaret build by Akbar
'Beheaded Skulls Minaret built by Akbar of Hem Chandra's relatives and supporters after battle at Panipat.
After Hemu's death, a genocide was ordered by Bairam Khan of the community of Hemu (Hindus) and his main Afghan supporters. Thousands of persons were killed to create terror among Hindus and minarets were built of the skulls of the dead. At least one painting of such minaretts is displayed in "Panipat Wars Museum" at Panipat in Haryana. Such minarets were still in existence about 60 years later as described by Petre Mundy, a British traveler who visited India during the time of Jahangir.

Memorials:

Statue of Hem Chandra Vikramaditya at Panipat, India
Statue Of Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya, at Panipat,India
Also read: Maharana Udai Singh II - The founder of Udaipur.

2 comments:

  1. Very Good Info.. Nice, and short.. Thanks..

    ReplyDelete
  2. good to see that there is still hinduism alive in indians and someone really things our history matters to shape our future.

    ReplyDelete