(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit)
Born at Kabul in March 1508, Humayun, ‘the fortunate’, was the eldest of Babar. Mahim Begam was his mother. He had three brothers, viz., Kamran, Askari and Hindal. Babar made special arrangements for his education. Humayun learnt Turkish, Arabic and Persian languages. He studied mathematics, philosophy, astronomy and astrology.
At the age of 20, he was appointed the Governor of Badakshan. He participated in the Battle of Panipat and Kanwah. In 1526, Babar gave him the district of Hissar Firoza. He also got the land of Sambhal. He was sent again to Badakshan in 1527, but was brought to Agra in 1529, on account of his illness.
On December 26, 1530, Babar died. The Prime Minister Khalifa Nizam-ud-Din Ali placed Mahdi Khwaja on the throne of Agra. Mahdi Khwaja was the brother-in-law of Babar. There was confusion for four days. At last, Humayun became the King and seated himself on the throne of Agra on December 30, 1530.
When Humayun became the King, he found himself in very difficult situation. There were three main enemies. In East, the Afghans were a big problem, under the leadership of Sher Khan. In South, Bahadur Shah, the ruler of Gujrat, became powerful. In Northwest, his own brother Kamran was a danger.
Humayun gave Sambhal to Askari and Alwar to Hindal. He gave the provinces of Kabul and Kandhar to Kamran. But this was not enough for Kamran. Kamran brought the Punjab under his control by force. Humayun did not think it prudent to put up a fight with Kamran and consequently agreed to give the province of the Punjab to him. Humayun also gave Kamran the district of Hissar Firoza. It was a suicidal step, because this gave Kamran control over the high road between Delhi and the Punjab. Humayun was deprived of the territory, which had been under control of his father. Punjab and Kabul was the source from which he could have recruited his new army. Only a new conquered empire was under his control, over which his hold was not secure.
Expedition of Kalinjar (1531)
In 1531, Humayun marched towards Kalinjar in Bundelkhand and besieged the fort. He was informed that the Rajput ruler of Kalinjar was hobnobbing with the Afghans. The siege of the fort lasted for several months. Humayun could not defeat the King of Kalinjar. At last, Humayun made peace and accepted huge money from the ruler of Kalinjar, because he came to know that the Afghans created disturbance in the East.
Battle of Dauhria (1532)
The Afghans were marching on to the province of Jaunpur. They had advanced as far as the Barabanki District.
Now, Humayun advanced to Jaunpur. He defeated the Afghans in the Battle Dauhria, near Lacknow in August 1532.
The siege of Chunar (1532)
After defeating the Afghans, Humayun advanced to Chunar and besieged the fort. The fort of Chunar was under control of Sher Khan, a big enemy. The siege lasted from September to December 1532 and then Humayun accepted a purely unthinking submission.
It was a big mistake on the part of Humayun. It was clear that Sher Khan was trying to become the King of Delhi and Agra. So, Humayun ought to have crushed his power. Humayun paid a big price for this mistake later on.
He made another mistake, when he returned to Agra. He forgot about his enemies. He wasted a year and a half (1533-34) in feasts and festivities in Agra and Delhi. He distributed gifts to the nobles. He also spent money on building a big citadel at Delhi, which was called ‘Din Panah’.
When Humayun was busy in feasts, Bahadur Shah, the ruler of Gujrat, was increasing his power day by day.
The War Against Bahadur Shah (1535-36 A. D.)
Bahadur Shah was a very ambitious man. He wanted to become the King of King of Delhi and Agra. He attacked Malwa in 1531. He captured the fort of Raisina in 1532. In 1533, he defeated the Sisodia chief of Chittaur.
Bahadur Shah gave shelter to Mohammad Zamir Khan and Alam Khan Lodhi, who were the enemies of Humayun. Bahadur Shah refused to hand them over to Humayun, when he requested to do so.
Now, war with Bahadur Shah was inevitable. Humayun advanced to Gujrat against Bahadur Shah in 1534 A.D. At this time, Bahadur Shah was besieging the fort of Chittaur. Queen Karnawati of Chittaur appealed to Humayun for help. He marched towards Chittaur, but camped near Sarangpur and did not help the Queen.
Bahadur Shah succeeded to capture Chittaur. Now, Humayun advanced to Chittaur. The opposing armies collided near Mandsaur, about 60 miles far from Chittaur. Bahadur Shah was defeated. He ran away and took shelter in the Fort of Mandu.
When Humayun besieged the fort of Mandu and captured it, Bahadur Shah ran away to Champaner. Champaner was also besieged by Humayun, though he could not capture it. Now, Bahadur Shah took refuge in the island of Diu.
Humayun returned to Champaner and captured the fort. He got the treasure of Bahadur Shah, which was kept in a pond. By 1535, the conquest of Gujrat was completed.
Now, Humayun made another mistake. He made no arrangement to consolidate his position. He wasted a lot of time in merry making. He squandered away the treasure he got from Champaner.
Humayun appointed his brother Askari as Governor of Gujrat. Askari started to merry making and mismanaged the affairs of the state. Meanwhile Bahadur Shah increased his power. He got back a large number of towns. With the help of the local chiefs, he attacked on Askari. Askari ran away and Bahadur Shah got back all the Gujrat.
The War Against Sher Khan (1537-39)
Humayun returned to Agra. He wasted about one year (from August 1536 to July 1537) in merry making. Sher Khan was strengthening his position in Bengal and Bihar. In 1536, Sher Khan defeated the King of Bengal.
In 1537, Humayun decided to do something against Sher Khan. He proceeded to the East and besieged the Fort of Chunar, which belonged to Sher Khan. His old and wise advisor Khan Khana Yousaf Khail advised him to capture Gaur, the capital of Bengal, but Humayun was not agree to his advice. The siege lasted for six months (from October 1537 to March 1538).
After capturing the Fort of Chunar in March 1538, he advanced to Banaras. He stayed there for sometime. Then, he decided to conquer Bengal and reached Teliagarhi in May 1538. In August 1538, Humayun reached Gaur. Here, he again wasted his time (about 8 months) in merry making.
When Humayun was busy in merry making; his brother Hindal left Bihar and reached Agra. It was a dangerous situation of Humayun. So, he decided to return to Agra immediately. In March 1539, he started his return journey.
The Battle of Chausa (June 1539)
In March 1539, Humayun started his return journey, from Gaur to Agra. Sher Khan was watching him very carefully. He collected his army near Chausa, so that he could block the road to Agra.
When Humayun reached Chausa with army, he found that only a decisive victory over Sher Khan could have helped him to reach Agra. Both the armies faced each other for three months. No one started the fighting.
After three months, the rains started. The Mughal army’s encampment was flooded. It created great confusion in the armies of Humayun.
Sher Khan was aware of it. He already selected a high land for his army’s encampment. When the Mughal army’s encampment was flooded, Sher Khan found the opportunity he was waiting for. On June 26, 1539, he attacked on Humayun.
This attack resulted in stampede in Humayun’s army. His army men started to run all round. Hundreds of his men were killed by Sher Khan’s army and hundreds were drowned in the river, which was flooded badly.
Humayun lost two of his wives and a daughter. About 8,000 Mughal soldiers were killed. Humayun himself saved his life with help of Nizam, a water-carrier. It was a big defeat for Humayun.
Now, Sher Khan became the ruler of Bengal and Bihar. He took up the title of ‘Sher Shah’.
The Battle of Kannauj (May 17, 1540)
After his defeat at Chausa, Humayun reached Agra. He called his brothers and asked for help. Kamran offered to fight, but he was not reliable man. So, Humayun wanted Kamran to lend him only his troops. When the differences between Humayun and Kamran could not be composed, Kamran left with 20,000 troops to Lahore. Humayun wasted about six months in looking for help. Somehow, he managed to raise an army.
When Sher Shah came to know that Humayun did not get help from Kamran; he marched towards Agra with a powerful army. Humayun decided to face Sher Shah and reached near Kannauj. Sher Khan stopped him. Both the armies faced each other for one month.
It was heavy rain on May 15, 1540. The Mughal army’s encampment was flooded. When the Mughals were carrying their material to a safe place, Sher Shah attacked them.
The Mughal artillery did not play any part, as it could not be taken to the front, when Sher Shah started the attack.
Humayun fought for sometime. Most of his men ran away. At last, Humayun became fugitive and Sher Shah became the King of Delhi and Agra.
The Expulsion of Humayun (1541 to 1555 A.D.)
After his defeat at Kannauj, Humayun returned to Agra, but Sher Shah chased him. Now, Humayun went to Punjab. His brother Kamran did not help him. Ultimately, he decided to go to Sindh.
After facing so many problems, he reached Amarkot. He got shelter from the King of Amarkot. In 1542, his son Akbar was born there.
Humayun went to Persia, where the King Shah Tahmasp welcomed him. The Shah promised to help Humayun, and in return Humayun became Shia. The Shah agreed to give 14,000 men to Humayun on the condition that Kandhar was to be given to him. With this help, Humayun captured Kandhar and handed over it to the Shah.
After the death of Shah Tahmasp, Humayun put Kandhar under his control. In November 1544, he captured Kabul and Kamran ran away to Sindh. In 1546, Kamran recaptured Kabul. In 1547, Humayun recaptured Kabul after a siege. In 1549, Kamran occupied Kandhar. Humayun defeated him and made him prisoner. Kamran’s eyes were taken out and he was sent on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Kamran died in Mecca in 1557. Hindal was killed in a battlefield. Askari was also sent on a pilgrimage, but he died in his way to Mecca.
The Restoration of Humayun (July 1555)
Sher Shah, the King of Delhi, died in 1545. After his death, his son Islam Shah became the King. He ruled up to 1553. Mohammad Adil Shah succeeded him. He was very weak ruler. Ibrahim Shah and Sikandar Shah challenged his authority. Many battles were fought among the various rivals.
It was a big opportunity for Humayun. He advanced towards India and reached Peshawar in December 1554. In February 1555, he captured Lahore. Dipalpur was occupied in March 1555. In June 1555, he defeated Sikandar Sur near Sarhind.
Humayun entered Delhi in July 1555, after an interval of about 15 years, though he was not destined to rule for long.
On January 24, 1556, Humayun slipped from the famous building know as ‘Din Panah’. After two days, he died on January 26, 1556. His body was buried at Delhi.