Book Mughal Empire in India by S. R. Sharma
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BOOK NAME: Mughal Empire in India
AUTHOR: S. R. Sharma
PUBLISHER: Karnatak Publishing House – Bombay
DATE OF PUBLICATION: 1940
The following excerpt has been taken from Pages: 172 — 175
“Sher Shah was born in the reign of Sultan Bahlol (1450-88) and they named him Farid, writes Abbas Sarwani in his Tarikh-i Sher Shahi. It was in the ‘City of Victory’ Hissar-Firoza (Delhi District) founded by Firoz Shah Tughlak. The year, according to Qanungo, may have been 1486 A.D.
“‘The grandfather of Sher Shah by name Ibrahim Khan Sur with his son Hasan Khan, the father of Sher Shah came to Hindustan from Afghanistan. … They settled in the pargana of Bajwara’. Later, Jamal Khan Sarangkhani of Hissar-Firoza bestowed on Ibrahim ‘several villages in pargana Narnaul for the maintenance of forty horsemen’. Hassan Khan entered the service of Umar Khan, Khan-i-azam who was ‘counselor and courtier of Sultan Bahol’. Umar Khan gave ‘several villages in the pargana of Shahabad as a jagir to Hasan Khan’. After Ibrahim’s death Hasan Khan also received his father’s jagir ‘with several villages in addition to it’.
“When Jamal Khan was sent to the Subah of Jaunpur by Sikanar Lodi (who had succeeded Bahlol), he took with him Sher Shah’s father, being ‘much pleased with Hasan Khan’s good service’, and ‘gave him in jagir the paraganas of Sasaram, Hajipur and Tanda, near Benares, to maintain 500 horses.
“One day he went out hunting with Bahar Khan and a tiger (sher) having been started, Farid Khan slew it. On account of this gallant encounter Bahar Khan gave him the title of ‘Sher Khan the Tiger Chief’.
“Sher Khan after this, getting help from Sultan Junaid Barlas, the Governor of Jaunpur, sought preferment under Babur at Agra. There being admitted to the court, he remained for sometime among the Mughals, was present at the siege of Chanderi and ‘acquainted himself with their military arrangements, their modes of governing, and the character of their nobles’. ‘If luck aided me’, he is reported to have said among the Afghans, ‘and fortune stood my friend, I could easily oust the Mughals from Hindustan’. The Emperor Babar, with his keen insight into human character, observed to Khalifa, his minister, ‘Keep an eye on Sher Khan, he is a clever man, and the marks of royalty are visible on his forehead. I have seen many Afghan nobles, greater men than he, but they never made any impression on me; but as soon as I saw this man, it entered into my mind that he ought to be arrested, for I find in him the qualities of greatness and marks of mightiness.
“Sher Khan was too circumspect a man to miss the significance of this observation. So he quitted Babur’s camp at the earliest opportunity. ‘I have no longer any confidence in the Mughals, nor they in me,’ he declared, ‘I must go to Sultan Muhammad Khan’. When Sultan Muhammad died, Sher Khan became the Deputy to his son Jalal Khan, in the Government of Bihar and its dependencies, about October 1529.
“Sher Khan defeated Humayun at Chausa, in 1539 and assumed the title of Sher Shah; at the battle of Bilgram, in 1540, Humayun was finally routed and expelled out of the Empire.
“For the convenience in travelling of poor travelers on every road at a distance of two kos, he made a sarai: and one road with sarais he made from the fort which he built in the Punjab to the city of Sunargaon, which is situated in the kingdom of Bengal on the shore of the ocean. Another road he made from the city of Agra to Jodhpur and Chitor and one road with sarais from the city of Lahore to Multan. Altogether he built 1,700 sarais on various roads and in every sarai he built separate lodgings both for Hindus and for Musalmans and at the gate of every sarai he placed pots full of water, that anyone might drink and in every sarai he settled Brahmans for the entertainment of Hindus, to provide hot and cold water and beds and food and grain for all their horses and it was a rule in these sarais, that whoever entered them received provision suitable to his rank and food litter for his cattle, from Government.
“‘Villages were established all round the sarais. In the middle of every sarai was a well and a masjid of burnt brick and he placed an imam and muazzim in every masjid, together with a custodian (shahna) and several watchmen and all these were maintained from the land near the sarai.
“On both sides of the highway Sher Shah planted fruit-bearing trees, such as also gave much shade that in the hot wind travelers might go along under the trees and if they should stop by the way, might rest and take repose. If they put up at a sarai, they bound their horses under the trees.
“‘At every sarai were placed two horses for the news reporters. So there were 3,400 horses, in all the sarais together, always ready to bring intelligence every day from every quarter. For the enforcement of the regulations which he had established for the protection of the people. Sher Shah sent trusted spies with every force of his nobles, in order that inquiring and secretly ascertaining all circumstances relating to the nobles, their soldiers and the people, they might relate them to him, for the countries and ministers, for purposes of their own, do not report to the King the whole state of the kingdom, lest any disorder or deficiency which may have found its way into the courts of justice should be corrected.
“‘In the days of Sher Shah and of Islam Shah, the muqaddams used to protect the limits of their own villages lest any thief or robber or enemy might injure a traveler and so be the means of his destruction and death. And he directed his governors and amils to compel the people to treat merchants and travelers well in every way and not to injure them at all and if a merchant should die by the way, not to stretch out the hand of oppression and violence on his goods as if they were un-owned; for Sheikh Nizami (may God be merciful to him!) has said: ‘If a merchant should die in your country, it is perfidy to lay hands on his property’.
“He destroyed also the old city of Kanauj, the former capital of the kings of India and built a fort of burnt brick there and on the spot where he had gained his victory, he built a city and called it Sher Sur. I can find no satisfactory reason for the destruction of the old city and the act was very unpopular’, writes Abbas Sarwani.
“‘From the date that Sher Shah was established on the throne, no man dared to breathe in opposition to him: nor did any one raise the standard of contumacy or rebellion against him; nor was any heart-tormenting thorn produced in the garden of his kingdom, nor was there any of his nobles or soldiery, or a thief or a robber, who dared to direct the eye of dishonesty to the property of another; nor did any theft or robbery even occur within his dominions. Travelers and wayfarers during the time of Sher Shah’s reign were relieved from the trouble of keeping watch; nor did they fear to halt even in the midst of a desert and the zamindars for fear lest any mischief should occur to the travelers and that they should suffer or be arrested on account of it kept watch over them. And in the time of Sher Shah’s rule, a decrepit old woman might place a basketful of gold ornaments on her head and go on a journey and no thief or robber would come hear her, for fear of the punishment which Sher Shah inflicted. Such a shadow spread over the world that a decrepit person feared not a Rustom. During his time all quarrelling, disputing, fighting and turmoil, which is the nature of the Afghans was altogether quieted and put a stop to, throughout the countries of Roh and Of Hindustan. Sher Shah, in his wisdom and experience, was a second Haider. In a very short period, he gained the dominion of the country and provided for the safety of the highways, the administration of the Government and the happiness of the soldiery and people. God is a discerner of righteousness.