Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya

Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya

Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya, also known as Hemachandra Bhargava or simply Hemu (Hindi: सम्राट हेम चंद्र विक्रमादित्य) (1501-1556) was a Hindu Emperor of India during the 1500s. He fought Afghan rebelsTripathi, Dr. Ram Prasad. "Bhartiya Itihas", Hindustani Book Depot, Lucknow, p.325] Fazal, Sheikh Abul (trans. by Dr. Mathura Lal Sharma) "Akbar Nama", Kailash Pustak Sadan, p.155] across North India from the Punjab to Bengal [Bhardwaj, K. K. "Hemu-Napoleon of Medieval India", Mittal Publications, New Delhi, pp.59-60] and the Mughal forces of Akbar and Humayun in Agra and Delhi,Smith, Vincent A. "Akbar: The Great Mogul", Oxford, (1926}, pp.36-37] winning 22 battles without a single setback.Bhardwaj, K. K. "Hemu-Napoleon of Medieval India", Mittal Publications, New Delhi, p.25] Marshman, John Clark. "The History of India from the Earliest Period to the Present Time", London (1873) p.50] Srivastva, A. L. "Akbar the Great, Vol.I", pp. 24-26] Sarkar, J. N. "Military History of India", p.67] He assumed the title of Vikramaditya after acceding to the throne of Delhi "Himu - A forgotten Hindu Hero", Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan, p.100] 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,Tripathi, R. P. "Rise and Fall of Mughal Empire", Allahabad (1960), p,.158] he rose to become Chief of Army and Prime MinisterDe Laet, "The Empire of the Great Mogul", pp.140-41] Ahmed, Nizamuddin. "Tahaqat-i-Akbari", Vol.II, p.114] under the command of Adil Shah Suri of the Suri Dynasty. He acceded to the throne of Delhi on October 7, 1556.Kar, L. Colonel H. C. "Military History of India", Calcutta (1980), p.283] His "Rajyabhishek" or coronation was at Purana Quila in Delhi, where he was bestowed the title of Samrat. Hemu re-established the Hindu Kingdom (albeit for a short duration) after over 350 years. Hemu struck coins, bearing his title."The Cambridge History of India, Volume IV: The Mughal Period", Delhi (1965), p.72]

Early life

Hemu was born at Machheri village of Alwar District in Rajasthan in the year 1501 Samrat Hemchander Vikramaditya By Samrat Hemchander Vikramaditya Dhusar (Bhargava) Memorial Charitable Trust (Regd.),Rekmo Press, NewDelhi page 5 ] . His father Rai Puran Das, a Brahmin Hemu Veer and Mahatma Naval Das By Sadhu Kishori Sharan of Jaipur, page 2, published by Naval Kishore Press, Lucknow; 1922 ] , was engaged in "Purohiti" Samrat Hemchander Vikramaditya By Samrat Hemchander Vikramaditya Dhusar (Bhargava) Memorial Trust (Regd.),Rekmo Press, NewDelhi page 5 ] , the performing of Hindu religious ceremonies as a profession. However Rai Puran Das could not make his ends meet as a "Purohit" therefore he gave up "Purohiti" and moved to Qutabpur (now Hemu Nagar) in Rewari in Mewat (present day Haryana). Hemu's father started trading (breaking the caste barrier) in salt in Qutabpur, and Hemu was brought up and educated there. Anokha Aarohi By Kranti Trivedi pages 1,3, published by Sulabh Prakashan,Lucknow ]

Apart from learning Sanskrit and Hindi, he was educated in Persian, Arabic and Arithmetic HEMU Life and Times of Hemchandra Vikramaditya By R.K.Bhardwaj,page 24, publishers Hope India Publications, Gurgaon] . During his childhood, he was fond of exercise and "Kushti" (Wrestling) and while crushing salt in an "Imam Dasta" (an iron pot and hammer), he would monitor his strength Anokha Aarohi, Sulabh Prakashan, Lucknow pages 1,2,3] . He trained in horse-riding at his friend Sehdev's village. His friend Sehdev was a RajputAnokha Aarohi, Sulabh Prakashan, Lucknow pages 41,42,43] and he participated in all the battles which Hemu fought later,Anokha Aarohi By Kranti Trivedi page 147 ] except the Second Battle of Panipat. Hemu was brought up in religious environment; his father was a member of "Vallabh Sampradai" of "Vrindavan" and visited various "Teerth" (religious sites) HEMU Life and Times of Hemchander Vikramaditya By K.K.Bhardwaj, published by Hope Publications, Gurgaon] as far as Sindh in present Pakistan.

Rise to fame

At a very young age, Hemu started supplying food/cereals to Sher Shah Suri's army. Slowly he started other supplies like Saltpetre or Potassium Nitrate (Gunpowder) to Sher Shah's army.Samrat Hemchander Vikramaditya By Samrat Hemchander Vikramaditya Dhusar Bhargava Memorial Charitable Trust,page 6, printed by Rakmo Printers,NewDelhi] Sher Shah had defeated Humayun in the year 1540 and had forced him to withdraw to Kabul. 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 the year 1548, his son Islam Shah became ruler of North India. Islam Shah recognised the calibre, and administrative skills of Hemu and therefore made him his personal adviser. HEMU Life and Times of Hemchandra Vikramaditya By R.K.Bhardwaj;Hope India Publications,Gurgaon,page30 ] He consulted Hemu in matters relating not only to trade and commerce, but also pertaining to statesmanship, diplomacy and general politics. Tabaqat-I-Akbari written by Nizamuddin Ahmed(trans.B.De),Vol.II,p198 ] Islam Shah initially appointed Hemu as "Shahang-i-Bazar", a Persian word meaning 'Market superintendent' who managed the mercantile system throughout the empire AKI Ahirwal Ka Itihas By Dr. K.C.Yadav pages 30 ] . This post gave Hemu an opportunity to interact with the king frequently in order to apprise him of the trade and commercial situation of the Kingdom. History of the Afghans in India, by Rahim, page 94 ] . Abul Fazal says that Islam Shah held Hemu in great esteem Muntkhab-ul-Tawarikh,By Badauni, Vol.I page 384,] In 1550, Hemu accompanied Islam Shah to the Punjab where he was deputed along with other high officers to receive Mirza Kamran in the fort of Rohtas.Islam Shah consulted Hemu on a variety of matters History of Afghans in India, by Rahim,page 94 ] . After serving as "Sahang-i-Bazar",for some time, Hemu rose to become Chief of Intelligence or "Daroga-i-Chowki" (Superintendent of Post) Sher Shah and his Times,By K.R.Quanungo,page 448 ] . Hemu held this position till October 30 1553, when Islam Shah died.

Islam Shah was succeeded by his 12 year old son Firoz Khan who was soon killed by Adil Shah Suri. The new king Adil was an indolent, pleasure-seeker, drunkard and debauch AkbarNama Vol.I By Abul Fazal page619 ] and faced revolts all around Ahirwal By Dr.K.C.Yadav, page35 ] . Adil Shah took Hemu as his Chief Advisor and entrusted all his work to him HEMU Life and Times of Hemchander Vikramaditya, page32 published by Hope Publications,Gurgaon ] . Hemu now became the prime minister and chief of the Afghan army.The Empire of the great Mogul By De Laet pp 140-41 ] Tahaqat-i-Akbari (tr.B.De)vol.II,p.114 ] . After some time, Adil Shah became insane and Hemu became the virtual king.HEMU Life and Times of Hem Chander Vikramaditya, page32, published by Hope Publications,Gurgaon ] The Empire of the great Mogul, By De Laet,page 140 ] AkbarNama By Abul Fazal, Vol.I, page 617-18 ] Akbar the Great, By A.L.Srivastva Vol.I, page 24, ] Akbar by Rahul Sankritayayan, page 6 ] Rise and fall of Mughal Empire, By Tripathi, page 158, ] Akbar the Great Mogul, By Vincent A. Smith, page 26 ]

Many Afghan governors rebelled against the weak King Adil Shah and refused to pay the taxes, Hemu went to various states in North India to crush rebellion. Ibrahim Khan, Sultan Muhhamad Khan, Taj Karrani, Rukh Khan Nurani and several other Afghan rebel officers were defeated and killed one by one by Hemu Samrat Hemchander Vikramaditya by SHVDBMC Trust,Rekmo Press NewDelhi, published 2001, page 9 ] . At the battle of Chhapparghatta in December 1555, Hemu routed the Bengal forces under Muhammad Shah, who was killed in the battle.

Not only could Hemu muster the support of both Hindus and Afghans against the Mughal invaders, he was a dynamic leader and a brilliant tactician. At the time Afghans considered themselves to be natives,(and were considered to be natives by the Hindus); on the other hand Akbar,writes Vincent A. Smith Akbar the Great Mughal (Indian Reprint), Delhi, p.7 ] , was considered to be a foreigner. Hemu was a native ruler leading a native Afghan army to victory, battle after battle Hemu-Napoleon of medieval India, By K.K.Bhardwaj, Mittal Publication, NewDelhi, page4 ] , thus Hemu was very popular among Hindus as well as Afghans. It also indicates that the rule which Hemu established commanding Afghan army was secular and nationalistic Sher Shah and His Times,By K.R.Qanungo, Orient (1965) p 449 ] .

Victories against Mughals

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 all came under Hemu's dominion.

In the words of K.K.Bhardwaj in HEMU-Napoleon of Medieval India, if Vincent A Smith describes Samudragupt as Indian Napolean The History and Culture of Indian People-The Classical Age Ref. Quoted by R.C.Mazumdar (Fourth Edition) Bombay (1988), p14 ] we can certainly call Hemu "the Napolean of Medieval India" as the victor of 22 battles before dying fighting at Panipat due to sheer bad luck. His triumphant march from Bihar to Dilli (Delhi) can be equated to the Italian campaign of Napolean "He came, he saw, he conquered" Modern Europe, By C.D.Hazen, (Reprint),Delhi(1956),p.156 ] . Hemu never saw the defeat in a battle and romped from victory to victory throughout his life (he died in the only battle he lost). If Napoleon promised his soldiers a glorious future they fought bravely in his Italian campaign and instilled in them a new vigour and enthusiasm by an excellent address World History, By Albert E. McKinley,& others, Reprint(1994),page 210 ] leading to glorious victories, Hemu practiced The Mughal Empire By Ishwari Prasad,Allahabad (1974),page 197 ] it by his lavish distribution of the spoils of war among his soldiers. After winning Agra, Hemu moved towards final assault on Delhi.

Tardi Beg Khan who was Governor of Delhi, representing Akbar, sent a despatch to Akbar and Bairam Khan that Hemu had captured Agra and was intending to attack the capital Delhi which could not be defended without adequate reinforcements Hemu Napoleon of Medieval India,By K.K.Bhardwaj,Mittal Publications,NewDelhi,page 25 ] . Bairam Khan who visualised the gravity of the situation, sent his ablest lieutenant Pir Muhammad Sharwani with other brave commanders to Tardi Beg to hearten him advising to do his utmost for the time being. Tardi Beg Khan summoned all the Mughal commanders of the neighbourhood to the rescue of Delhi and a war council was held. It was decided to fight Hemu and plans were made accordingly.

Sir Jadunath Sarkar writes in detail about the battle of Tughlaqabad :"The Mughal army was thus drawn up. Abdullah Uzbeg commanded the Van,Haider Muhammad the right wing, Iskander Beg the left and Tardi Beg himself the centre. The choice Turki Cavalry in the Van and left wing attacked and drove back the enemy forces before them and followed far in pursuit. In this assault the Victors captured 400 elephants and slew 3000 men of the Afghan army. Imagining victory already gained, many of Tardi Beg followers dispersed to plunder the enemy camp and he was left in the field thinly guarded. All this time Hemu had been holding 300 choice elephants and a force of select horsemen as a reserve in the centre. He promptly seized the opportunity and made a sudden charge upon Tardi Beg with this reserve."

The result was confusion and defeat for the Mughals. Hemu was helped by reinforcements from Alwar with a contingent commanded by Hazi Khan and desertions of various Mughal Commanders along with Pir Muhhammad Khan who fled away from the battle field to the utmost chagrin and surprise of Tardi Beg who followed suit.

Hemu won Delhi after a day's battle on October 6, 1556. Some 3000 army men died in this battle. However, Mughal forces lead by Tardi Beg Khan vacated Delhi after a day's fight and Hemu entered Delhi victorious under a royal canopy.

Hemu's Rajyabhishek (Coronation)

Sir Wolsey Haig The Cambridge History of India, Volume IV,The Mughal Period, Delhi (1965),page 72 ] writes, "Hemu was so elated by the capture of Delhi as to believe that he had already reached the goal of his ambition."

Vincent A. Smith who puts Hemu as the third claimant to the sovereignty of Hindustan at the time, the other two being the Suris and Akbar, affirms that Hemu after his occupation The Emperor Akbar (Vol.1),Patna (1973), page 72, ] of Delhi came to the conclusion that he had better claim of the throne for himself rather than on behalf of Adil Shah and ventured to assume the royal state under the style of Raja Vikramaditya or Vikramaditya, a title borne by several renowned Hindu Kings in ancient times. Hemu assumed the royal robes and declared himself the Emperor of India under the glorious title of Vikramaditya.

His Afghan officers were reconciled to the ascendancy of an infidel by a liberal distribution of plunder.Akbar,By Dr. Qureshi,(Delhi,1978),p51 ] Hemu Napoleon of Medieval India,Mittal Publications,NewDelhi, page 27 ] (and probably,also by the fact that Hemu had proved to be an invincible General)

Hemu had his formal "Rajyabhishek" or coronation following all Hindu religious ceremonies in Delhi and became the ruler under the title 'Raja Vikramaditya'. Hemu was crowned at Purana Qila, on 7th October 1556, in the presence of all Afghan Sardars and Hindu Senapatis (military commanders). The picture above shows a painting of the occasion of Hemu's coronation, where he is flanked by his Afghan and Hindu military commanders. K.K.Bhardwaj writes Hemu-Napolean of Medieval India,Mittal Publications, Delhi,Page 27 ] , thousands of guests would have been invited, along with various Rajput chiefs and Afghan governors along with various scholars and Pandits and the festivities continued for three or four days. "Essential parts of a Hindu King's coronation are" writes, Sir Jadunath Sarkar, Shivaji and His Times, Calcutta (1929),page 216-17, ] "washing him ("abbhishake") and holding the royal umbrella over his head ("Chhatra-Dharam")" and Hemu must have followed these ancient traditions, accompanied by costly gifts and robes to priests. He made various Hemu and His Times, M.L.Bhargava, NewDelhi,(1991),p.91,] appointments on the occasion, appointing his brother Jujharu Rai as governor of Ajmer and his nephew Rammayya as a general in his army. He also appointed his various supporters as "Chhaudhuris" and "Muqqudams" based on their merit so that they continued to maintain their respective positions in the reign of Akbar.

Thus Hemu was the last Hindu Emperor (albeit for a short duration)in North India,after over three centuries of rule by various Islamic invaders and rulers.

Administration under Hemu

Hemu revitalised the administrative set-up which had lagged after the demise of Sher Shah Suri. With his thorough knowledge of trade and commerce, he injected fresh blood into the arteries of the mercantile system throughout the length and breadth of the country. He spared none indulging in black-marketing, hoarding, overcharging and less-weighing. Akbarnama Vol II,By Abul Fazl, page 619 ] After his victory over Agra and Delhi, he dismissed all the corrupt officers and replaced them.Tarikh-i-Salatin-i-Afghana,page 62 ]

Second Battle of Panipat

On hearing about Hemu's continuous victories and fall of large terrories like Agra and Delhi from Akbar's control, the Mughal army at Kalanaur lost heart and many commanders refused to fight Hemu.Akbarnama Vol I by Abul Fazl page 619 ] Most of the commanders advised Akbar to retreat to Kabul as he would be safer there. However, Bairam Khan, the guardian of Akbar and chief strategist for army matters, insisted on fighting Hemu in an effort to gain control of Delhi.

On November 5, 1556, the Mughal army met Hemu's army at the historic battle field of Panipat.Bairam Khan motivated his army by a religious speech and ordered them to move for battle; Akbar and Bairam Khan were not present stayed back eight miles away from the battle ground. However, Hemu lead his large army himself sitting atop an elephant and was poised to achieve victory, when he was wounded in the eye by an arrow, and collapsed unconscious. Assuming him to be dead, his troops fled, thus a sure victory was converted by a stroke of chance into defeat.

Unconscious, the almost dead Hemu was captured by Shah Qulin Khan and carried to the camp of Akbar and Bairam Khan, smitten first by Akbar to earn the title of "Ghazi", then beheaded by Bairam Khan.Fact|date=May 2008 His head was sent to Kabul, where it was hanged outside Delhi Darwaza, while his body was placed in a gibbet outside Purana Quila in Delhi.

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 to create terror among Hindus and 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.Fact|date=May 2008


ee also

*List of Indian warriors
*Battle of Panipat (1556)

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