Friday, March 28, 2008

The Last Samrat of Bhaarath

"Akbar defeated Hemu in the second battle of Panipat in 1556 AD."

This was the only sentence which had any reference to Hemu or to the battle itself in the social studies text book that we had to study in school.

Years later, that name, "Hemu", has got a little more respect from this wiki article:

Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya or Hemu (1501-1556) was an Indian Hindu Emperor during the 1500s. He had won 22 battles against Afghan rebels spanning entire North India from Bengal to Punjab and Akbar's forces in Agra division and Delhi. He was bestowed the title of Vikramaditya after acceding to the throne of Delhi. This was one of the crucial periods in Indian history, when the Mughals and Afghans were desperately vying for power. The son of a food seller, and himself a vendor of saltpetre at Rewari in his youth, he rose to become Chief of Army and Prime Minister, under the command of Adil Shah Suri of the Suri Dynasty and won 22 battles for him spanning the entire North India from Bengal to Punjab. He was the only Hindu Warrior who could defeat the Mughal forces of Akbar/Humayun in Delhi and Agra and acceded to the throne of Delhi in the medieval period. He had his Rajyabhishek or coronation on 7th October 1556 at Purana Quila in Delhi and was bestowed with the honour of 'Samrat' Hem Chander Vikramaditya. He re-established the Hindu Kingdom and Vikramaditya Dynasty in North India after centuries of foreign rule.


Early life

Hemu was born at Machheri village of Alwar District in Rajasthan in the year 1501. His father Rai Puran Das was engaged in 'Purohiti', the performing of Hindu religious ceremonies as a profession. Due to the Mughal Rule in India, and persecution of Hindu religious ceremonies by Mughals, 'Purohiti' could not earn much. Under these circumstances, Rai Puran Das decided to move, to Qutabpur in Tehsil and District of Rewari in present day Haryana (then called Mewat). Hemu's father started trading in Salt in Qutabpur, and Hemu had his education there.
Apart from learning Sanskrit and Hindi, he was educated in Persian and Arabic too. During his childhood, he was fond of body-building, and Kushti (Wrestling) and while crushing salt in an Imam Dasta (an iron pot and hammer), he would monitor his muscle development. He had training in horse-riding at his friend's village. His friend Sehdev was a Rajput, and he participated in all the battles which Hemu fought,except the Second Battle of Panipat. Hemu was brought up in religious and Sanskritik environment. His father was a member of Vallabh Sampradai and visited various religious sites frequently. Hemu had good knowledge of political environment of that period still as a child.

Rise to Generalship and earning title of Samrat (Emperor)

At a very young age Hemu started supplying food/cereals to Sher Shah Suri's army. Slowly he started other supplies like Saltpetre (Gunpowder) to Sher Shah's army, who had defeated Babur's son Humanyun in the year 1540 and had forced him to withdraw to Kabul. Sher Shah Suri was a progressive Afghan ruler and considered himself a native Indian.He also considered Mughals as invaders. Hemu also laid the foundation of brass cannons casting and manufacturing industry in Rewari. After Sher Shah Suri's death in the year 1548, his son Islam Shah became ruler of North India. He recognised the calibre, dynamism, administrative skills and sincerity of Hemu and placed him in important government positions including Shahangaye Bazara Persian word meaning 'Bazar superintendent' and 'Chungi Adhikshak', and wazir later on. After Islam Shah's death in October 1553, Adil Shah Suri took command of most of North India. Adil Shah, not a good administrator, depended entirely on Hemu and placed him chief of army and prime minister. Hemu was sent to various states in North India to crush rebellion. Hemu fought, in all, twenty two battles from Punjab to Bengal, winning all of them. At the battle of Chhapparghatta in December 1555, Hemu routed Bengal forces under Muhammad Shah, who was killed in the battle. These continuous victories in entire North India, and victories over Akbar's strong holds like Agra and Delhi in Sept.- Oct. 1556 earned him the title of 'Samrat' and at his coronation at Delhi all his army commanders, Afghans as well as Rajputs bestowed him the title [['Samrat Hem chander Vikramaditya']]. Samrat is a Hindi word meaning unchallengeable warrior - one who has won all the battles fought. On the basis of being a Samrat, he re-established Hindu Kingdom and Vikramaditya Dynasty, in North India with all the authority and command.

Reason for Hemu's success was that, Hemu could muster the support of both Hindus and Afghans against the Mughal invaders. He was very popular among Hindus as well as Afghans. Afghans considered themselves to be Indians, and Hemu also considered Afghans as Indians. Unity of Hindus and Afghans had created a formidable force to take on the Mughals. This shows that Nationalism and Secularism was the common cause.

His Victories like Napoleon

After the victory of the Mughal ruler Humayun over Adil Shah's brother Sikander, Mughal rule was reestablished in Punjab,Delhi and Agra. Humayun's sudden death in 1556, however, gave Hemu an opportunity to claim power for himself. By then he had won several battles spanning the entire North India. He was in Bengal at that time. He made known his decision to his Afgan and Hindu commanders that he would capture power for himself in Delhi. He started a winning march from Bengal through present day Bihar& Eastern UPand Madhya Pradesh. Hemu marched to Agra, an important Mughal stronghold. But the commander of Mughal forces,representative of Akbar ran away from Agra hearing about Hemu's invasion leaving Hemu winner without a fight. Itawa,Kalpi,Bayana all came under Hemu's rule. Then he moved towards final assault on Delhi. This was Hemu's 22nd Battle. Hemu won Delhi after a day's battle on 6th October 1556. Some 3000 army men died in this battle.However,Mugal forces lead by Tardi Beg Khan vacated Delhi after a day's fight and Hemu entered Delhi under a royal canopy.

Starting of Vikramaditya Dynasty

He had his formal 'Rajyabhishake' or 'coronation' following all Hindu religious ceremonies in Delhi and became the ruler under the title 'Raja Vikramaditya'. Hemu was crowned at Purana Qila in Delhi on 7th Oct. 1556 in the presence of all Afghan Sardars and Hindu Senapatis (Military Commanders). Thus Hemu re-established a Hindu kingdom and restarted Vikramaditya dynasty in North India, after centuries of foreign rule. He reorganized his Army but did not remove a single Afghan from any position. He started coins in his name.


On hearing about Hemu's victories,the Mughal army at Kalanaur lost heart and many commanders refused to fight Hemu. Most of the commanders advised Akbar and Bairam Khan to retreat to Kabul as Akbar as a young boy would be safer there. However, Bairam Khan' the guardian of Akbar and chief strategist for army matters,insisted on taking Hemu in a war and make an effort to gain control of Delhi. Akbar and Bairam Khan were not present in the war at Panipat. They stayed back eight miles away from the war-zone.However' Bairam Khan incited his army by a religious speech and ordered them to move for battle. Hemu lead his Army himself. Hemu's larger army was poised to achieve victory, when Hemu was wounded in the eye by an arrow, and collapsed unconscious. Taking him to be dead, his troops started fleeing.

The unconscious Hemu was captured and beheaded first by Akbar then by Bairam Khan. His head was sent to Kabul, while his body was placed in a gibbet out side Purana Quila in Delhi. His army was chased down and destroyed by Iskander Khan.

After Hemu's death, a genocide was ordered by Bairam Khan of the community of Hemu and his main Afghan supporters. Thousands of persons were killed and to create terror among Hindus, minarets were built of the skulls of the dead. 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.


Hemu rauniyar said...

Birth Place of Hemu ??

One learned historian claim that Hemu was born at Machheri Village of Alwar in 1501 and spent his youth in Reewari ( Haryana) ????

(The learned historians fail to establish the exact relations between Adil Shah, Hemu &Alwar/ Rewari. It is a matter of common sense that only closed friend trusted since childhood would be appointed as Prime Minister cum Military chief of any Ruler especially Mugal ones. Since Adil Shah was born & bought up in Sasaram so Hemu must have belonged to Sasaram only. However Hemu’s wife might have got refuge/shelter in Reewari after an escape from Delhi)

Caste of Hemu ?

The son of a food seller, and himself a vendor of saltpeter , he was Brahmin he rose to become the Prime Minister cum Military chief of Adil Shah .

It is commonly known fact that 560 years ago only Vanik/Bania were engaged in small trading not Brahmins.The many learned Historians confirm in their historical disclosure that Hemu belongs to a lower/backward class vanik and supported by the history of Backward class Hindu Warriorsso. the Rauniyar’s claims of their various generations that Hemu was their legends seems to be bonafide.

Gandaragolaka said...

thanks foe that clarification. As you can see, I just copy-pasted the article from wiki.

Thiagarajan M said...

I thought u did a gut job by bringing this articale in ur blog. But now i feel the comment is more better. the fact that u did not defend, means the chances for the comment to be valid is more. why?

Kumpal Madrasi said...

nevertheless, good work for bringing forward something which commons like me would never have known.


Gandaragolaka said...


the fact that u did not defend, means the chances for the comment to be valid is more. why?

Well, I didnt choose to defend it because--
firstly, it is not my area of specialisation,
secondly, it is not his birth-place or caste, but his skills as a warrior and a patriot that interest me,
thirdly, considering how many lies are being spread around regd. Indian Midieval History, we can easily accomodate our own bit of masala here and there to add to the enigma of such great people, without loss to the overall truth or correct moral.

thanks for your generosity. I would feel happy if u can continue the good work and post a few articles of forgotten heroes that you know, from your own place.

Niranjan said...

We need to know more about Hemu and understand the fact that Akbar whoom we call greatest emperor of India had actually defeated Our very own king and then got the Indian throne...
Hemu was even greater!!
if u knw any book about him in english the kindly main me the details

Name of the book:-
Aprox price:-