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Humayun’s Retreat and Afghan Revival (1530-1540)

Humayun succeeded Babur in 1530, while his half-brother Kamran, who became a bitter rival, obtained the sovereignty of Kabul and Lahore. Humayun proved somewhat inexperienced when he came to power.

He lost his Indian territories to the Afghan Sultan, Sher Shah Suri, and regained them with Persian aid, ten years later. Humayun’s return from Persia, accompanied by a large retinue of Persian noblemen, signaled an important change in Mughal Court culture. Subsequently, in a relatively short time, Humayun expanded the Empire further, leaving a substantial legacy for his son, Akbar the Great (Akbar-e-Azam).

Babur’s decision to divide the territories of his empire between two of his sons marked a departure from the usual practice in India, but it had been a common Central Asian practice since the time of Genghis Khan. The Timurids, following Genghis Khan’s example, refused to leave an entire kingdom to the eldest son. Any male within a given sub-branch (such as the Timurids) had an equal right to the throne.

While Genghis Khan’s Empire had been peacefully divided between his sons upon his death, almost every Chinggisid succession since had resulted in fratricide.

Upon his succession to the throne, Humayun had two major rivals interested in acquiring his lands—Sultan Bahadur of Gujarat to the south west and Sher Shah Suri, settled along the river Ganges in Bihar to the east. During the first five years of Humayun’s reign, those two rulers quietly extended their rule, although Sultan Bahadur faced pressure in the east from sporadic conflicts with the Portuguese.

Humayun became aware that the Sultan of Gujarat planned an assault on Mughal territories with Portuguese aid. Showing an unusual resolve, Humayun gathered an army and marched on Bahadur. His assault proved spectacular and within a month he had captured the forts of the enemy. Instead of pressing his attack and going after the enemy, Humayun ceased the campaign and began to enjoy life in his new forts. Bahadur, meanwhile, escaped and took up refuge with the Portuguese.

However he was defeated by Sher Shah Suri and forced to flee. He fled to the refuge of the Safavid Empire in Iran, marching with forty men and his wife companion through mountains and valleys.

Second Afghan Empire

The victory of Babur at Panipath and Ghagra did not result in complete submission of the Afghan chiefs. They were seething with discontent against the newly founded Mughal rule and needed only a strong leadership to unite their isolated efforts into an organized national resistance against it.

This was provided by Sher Shah Suri, who effected the revival of the Afghan power and established a glorious though short- lived regime in the form of Second Afghan empire in India by ousting the newly established Mughal authority.

Sher Shah re-established the Afghan empire which he ruled for five years, from 1540 to 1545. During this short period he conquered Malwa and Punjab in 1542; Raisin, Multan and Sindh in 1543; Marwar and Mewar in 1544 and Kalinjar in 1545. But during the Kalinjar campaign he lost his life due to a grievous injury caused by a blast. He was a great soldier and a statesman.

The Second Afghan Empire or the Sur empire founded by Sher Shah whoSuri did not last long as his successors were inefficient rulers. Sher Shah was succeeded by his second son Jalal Khan who ruled from 1545 to1553. He was very suspicious in nature and hastened the process of liquidation of the empire. After his death, his cousin Nizam ascended the throne under the title of Muhammad Adil Shah. He ruled for only for four years from 1553 to1557.

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