Second Battle of Panipat

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The Second Battle of Panipat was fought between the forces of Samrat Hem Chander Vikramaditya, popularly called Hemu, and the army of Mughal emperor Akbar, on November 5, 1556.

Background


On January 24, 1556, Mughal ruler Humayun died and was succeeded by his son, Akbar who was only thirteen years old. On February 14, 1556, in a garden at Kalanaur in Punjab, Akbar was enthroned as the Emperor. At the time of his accession to the throne, Mughal rule was confined to Kabul, Kandahar, parts of Punjab and Delhi. Akbar had been campaigning in Kabul with his guardian, Bairam Khan at the time of his father.s death, which was not announced until Akbar returned to India.

Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya (Hindi: समढ़राट हेम चंदढ़र विकढ़रमादितढ़य) (1501-1556), also known as Hemachandra Bhargava or simply Hemu was a Hindu Emperor of India during the 1500s. He fought Afghan rebels[1][2] across North India from the Punjab to Bengal[3] and the Mughal forces of Akbar and Humayun in Agra and Delhi,[4] winning 22 battles without a single setback.[5][6][7][8] He assumed the title of Vikramaditya after acceding to the throne of Delhi[9] 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,[10] he rose to become Chief of Army and Prime Minister[11][12] under the command of Adil Shah Suri of the Suri Dynasty, who ruled over a region east of Delhi established at Chunar and was seeking to expel the Mughals from Delhi. He acceded to the throne of Delhi on October 7, 1556.[13] His Rajyabhishek (coronation) was at the Purana Quila (Old Fort) in Delhi, where he was bestowed the title of Samrat.[9] Hemu re-established the Hindu Kingdom (albeit for a short duration) after over 350 years.[13] Hemu struck coins, bearing his title.[14]

Battle of Panipat


Developments in Delhi and Agra disturbed the Mughals at Kalanaur. Many Mughal Generals advised Akbar and Bairam Khan to retreat to Kabul as the Mughal forces would not be able to face Hemu's might, but Bairam Khan decided in favour of war. Akbar's army marched towards Delhi. On November 5, both armies met at the historic battlefield of Panipat, a pass where, thirty years earlier, Akbar's grandfather Babur had defeated Ibrahim Lodi in what is now known as the First Battle of Panipat.

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 Dr Vincent Arthur Smith[15], was considered to be a foreigner. Hemu was a native ruler leading a native Afghan army to victory, battle after battle,[5] thus Hemu was very popular among Hindus as well as Afghans. (this secular rule was also an important policy in the Sikh Raj of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It also indicates that the rule which Hemu established commanding the Afghan army was secular and nationalistic.[16] (secular rule was also an important policy in the Sikh Raj of Maharaja Ranjit Singh).

Hemu, whose army was twice the size of Akbar's, showed heroic courage during the battle. The Mughal forces were charged by elephants to break their lines. General Hemu was commanding his forces, out in front, from atop an elephant. Bairam Khan devised an ingenious plan to attack Hemu by sending his archers, protected by a circle of swordsmen, forward to allow them to get close enough to Hemu to send an arrow into his unprotected eyes, the only part of his body not covered by armor. Seeing him fall from his elephant, Hemu’s army quickly became disarrayed and was defeated in the ensuing confusion. Hemu was captured by Sher Afghan Quli Khan and brought to Akbar’s tent. General Bairam Khan was desirous that Akbar should slay General Hemu himself establishing his right to the title of “Ghazi” (slayer of a mushrikūn (an idolater or enemy of Islam). But Akbar, the spirited 13 year old that he was, refused to strike a defeated and wounded enemy. Bairam Khan, irritated by Akbar’s scruples, beheaded Hemu himself, [17] disgracing the young emperor in the eyes of his warriors who witnessed the scene. (Akbar would later send Khan into exile). Hemu's head was sent to Kabul, where it was hung outside the Delhi Darwaza, while his body was placed, to rot, in a gibbet outside Purana Qila in Delhi.

Aftermath


Akbar, after the Battle of Panipat, took Agra and Delhi without much resistance. But soon, after he took possession of his capital, he had to return to Punjab when intelligence informed him of Sikandar Shah Suri’s (Adil Shah Suri’s brother) advancing campaign in Punjab. Suri was defeated and taken captive after the siege of Fort Mankot by Mughal forces and exiled to Bengal. The victory of Akbar at the Battle of Panipat in 1556 was the real restoration of the Mughal Dynasty to Power in India. It marked the fulfillment of the destiny of the House of Timur in India as rulers.

References

1. Tripathi, Dr. Ram Prasad. "Bhartiya Itihas", Hindustani Book Depot, Lucknow, p.325
2. Fazal, Sheikh Abul (trans. by Dr. Mathura Lal Sharma) "Akbar Nama", Kailash Pustak Sadan, p.155
3. Bhardwaj, K. K. "Hemu-Napoleon of Medieval India", Mittal Publications, New Delhi, pp.59-60
4. Smith, Vincent A. "Akbar: The Great Mogul", Oxford, (1926}, pp.36-37
5. Bhardwaj, K. K. "Hemu-Napoleon of Medieval India", Mittal Publications, New Delhi, p.25
6. Marshman, John Clark. "The History of India from the Earliest Period to the Present Time", London (1873) p.50
7. Srivastva, A. L. "Akbar the Great, Vol.I", pp. 24-26
8. Sarkar, J. N. "Military History of India", p.67
9. "Himu - A forgotten Hindu Hero", Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan, p.100
10. Tripathi, R. P. "Rise and Fall of Mughal Empire", Allahabad (1960), p,.158
11. De Laet, "The Empire of the Great Mogul", pp.140-41
12. Ahmed, Nizamuddin. "Tahaqat-i-Akbari", Vol.II, p.114
13. Kar, L. Colonel H. C. "Military History of India", Calcutta (1980), p.283
14. "The Cambridge History of India, Volume IV: The Mughal Period", Delhi (1965), p.72
15. Samrat Hemchander Vikramaditya By Samrat Hemchander Vikramaditya Dhusar (Bhargava) Memorial Charitable Trust (Regd.),Rekmo Press, NewDelhi page 5
16. Hemu Veer and Mahatma Naval Das By Sadhu Kishori Sharan of Jaipur, page 2, published by Naval Kishore Press, Lucknow; 1922
17. The film, Jodhaa Akbaar depicts the scene as described [1] A fan of the film has posted the film on youtube.
18. Wikipedia and others.