A Brief Introduction:
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:
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.
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Rise Of Hemu :
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.
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Hemu’s Army :
Famous Battles Of Hemu :
The Battle Of Chapparghat :
Capture Of Agra:
|Agra Fort won by Hemu before winning Delhi.|
Battle of Delhi:
|Purana Qila, Delhi, India|
|Tughlaqabad Fort, Delhi around which ‘Battle for Delhi 1556′ took place.|
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.
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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|
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|
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.
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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 :
|‘Beheaded Skulls Minaret built by Akbar of Hem Chandra’s relatives and supporters after battle at Panipat.|
|Statue Of Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya, at Panipat,India|