Nasir-Ud-Din Muhammad Humayun, the eldest son of Babur was born at Kabul on 6 March 1508 A.D. He was the only son of his mother, Mahim Sultana. His younger brother Kamran and Askari were born of another wife of Babur, Gulrukh Begum while Hindal, the youngest one was the son of Dildar Begum. He was given proper education and had the experience of fighting and administration before his accession. He participated in the battles of Panipat and Khanwa and looked after the administration of Hisar Firuza, Badakhshan, and Sambhal during the life-time of his father. Babur nominated him as his successor before his death.
Nizamuddin, the wazir who had doubts about the capabilities of Humayun, tried to place on the throne Mahdi Khwaja, the brother-in-law of Babur. But realizing the futility of his plan afterward, he abandoned it and supported the cause of Humayun. Therefore, Humayun ascended the throne on 30 December 1530 A.D. without a contest four days after the death of Babur.
Early Difficulties of Humayun
Humayun had to face many difficulties right from his accession on the throne. His own character, his brothers and relatives, and the legacy from Babur created several problems for him. But his greatest enemies were again the Afghans who yet aspired to capture the throne of Delhi from the Mughals.
Babur could not get time to consolidate his conquests in India. He distributed money and treasures lavishly among his nobles and soldiers which created financial difficulties for the empire. Therefore, he has inherited an unstable and bankrupt empire from his father. Besides, the advice of Babur to treat his brothers well also created problems for an obedient son, Humayun.
Troublesome Brothers and Relatives
All the three brothers of Humayun proved not only incapable but disloyal as well to their elder brother. When the Mughul empire needed the cooperation of the brothers and, thereby, unity in the Mughal camp, the brothers of Humayun divided its resources by emphasizing on their selfish ends & ambitions. While Humayun needed help from his brothers, they either became indifferent towards him or raised the standard of revolt against him. Thus, each of his brothers created problems for him at one time or the other.
Babur had assigned large jagirs to his relatives. That made them quite powerful and enhanced their ambitions. One of them Mahdi Khwaja aspired for the throne just after the death of Babur. Another two relations of Humayun, viz., Muhammad Zaman Mirza, his brother-in-law, and Muhammad Sultan Mirza, his cousin revolted against him and helped his enemies.
Absence of a Unified Army
The Mughul army was not a national army. It was a heterogeneous body of adventurers—Chaghatais, Uzbegs, Mughals, Persians, Afghans, and Hindustanis. Such an army could be effective only under the leadership of a capable commander like Babur. Under a man of less caliber, it could turn out to be a congregation of adventurers.
Humayun was a brave and well-meaning person. But, as a king, he suffered from certain weaknesses. He was neither a capable commander nor a diplomat. He failed to understand the enormity of his problems and the necessity of providing strong leadership to his followers. He also lacked the capability of continuous hard labor. However, his greatest weakness was his extreme generosity which became one of the causes of his failure.
The Division of the Empire
Humayun gave the large territory to each of his brothers which virtually meant the division of the empire. He assigned Kandhar and Kabul to Kamran, Sambhal to Askari, and Mewat to Hindal. Afterward, he permitted Kamran to occupy Punjab and Hisar-Firuza as well.
The worst enemies of Humayun were, however, the Afghans. They were the masters of Delhi only some years back and they did not give up the ambition to capture it again. Mahmud Lodi had returned to Bihar and was getting active support from Nusrat Shah of Bengal to make a fresh attempt to capture Delhi.
Bahadur Shah, the ruler of Gujarat was also an Afghan. He was young and ambitious. He had conquered Malwa and was increasing his pressure on Rajasthan, particularly on Mewar. Many fugitive Afghan nobles had found shelter under him.
Another Afghan chief, Sher Khan, was shrewdly attempting to organize the Afghans against the Mughals. He was an insignificant rival of Humayun at that time but, later on, he proved himself to be the strongest enemy of Humayun and, finally, succeeded in turning out Humayun from India.
Attack on Kalinjar (1531 AD)
Only after some months of his accession on the throne, he engaged himself in the fighting. It began with his attack on Kalinjar. Its ruler Prataprudra Deo was supposed to be sympathetic towards the Afghans. He was putting pressure on Kalpi. If Kalpi had gone to him and he would have, then, gone to the side of Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, it would have proved dangerous for Humayun.
Therefore, it was primarily to check the growing influence of Bahadur Shah that Humayun decided to capture Kalinjar and therefore, attacked it in 1531 A.D. He besieged the fort but before he could capture it, news reached him that Sher Khan had captured the fort of Chunar and the Afghans under Mahmud Lodi were advancing towards Jaunpur. Humayun agreed to peace with Prataprudra Deo and returned after taking some money from him as compensation. Thus, the attack of Kalinjar proved futile.
The Battle of Dauhria (Dadrah) and the First Siege of Chunar (1532 AD)
The Afghans, under Mahmud Lodi, had forced the Mughul governor of Jaunpur to retreat and were consolidating their position in Avadh (Oudh) by the time Humayun reached in the east to subdue them. Humayun defeated the Afghans at Dauhria. Mahmud Lodi could flee away from the battle but lost all his prestige among the Afghans.
Humayun, then, besieged the fort of Chunar which was in the hands of Sher Khan. Humayun failed to capture the fort even after a siege of four months. By that time, Bahadur Shah of Gujarat increased his pressure on Rajasthan which was against the interest of Humayun. Humayun, therefore, asked Sher Khan to accept his suzerainty and send a contingent of Afghan troops to serve him. Sher Khan agreed and sent his son Qutb Khah to serve the Mughul emperor Humayun, then, returned to Agra.
Humayun wasted nearly one and a half years at Agra and spent his money on the construction of a new city in Delhi called Din Panah. In 1534 A.D. Muhammad Zaman Mirza and Muhammad Sultan Mirza revolted in Bihar but they were defeated and imprisoned though they escaped from the prison soon after.
Contest with Bahadur Shah (1535-36 AD)
Bahadur Shah, the ruler of Gujarat had entered into treaties with some states of south India, conquered Malwa in 1531 A.D., captured the fort of Raisen in 1532 A.D., and forced the ruler of Mewar to accept a treaty. He was in correspondence with Sher Khan and Nusrat Shah of Bengal against Humayun.
He had strengthened his forces and built up strong artillery by securing the services of a Turkish gunner, Rumi Khan. He provided shelter to Muhammad Zaman Mirza and refused to return him to Humayun. He desired to capture Delhi itself and, thus, was posing a threat to the Mughals. Humayun decided to settle his score with Bahadur Shah and entered Malwa with this view. At that time, Bahadur Shah had besieged the fort of Chittor. Karanwati, the Rajamata of Mewar sent a rakhi to Humayun and sought his assistance as a brother. Humayun proceeded towards Chittor but stopped at Sarangpur on the way.
He did not desire to attack Bahadur Shah until he was engaged in jihad against the infidels of Mewar. Desired to consolidate his army, win over those peoples of Malwa who were against Bahadur Shah and arrange for the stoppage of help coming to Bahadur Shah either from Mandu or Ahmadabad.
He was suspicious of the activities of the friendly states of Bahadur Shah in the South and desired to take all precautions against their activities as well as those of Alam Khan Lodi who had gone towards Kalinjar and could attack Humayun from behind. After ten days, Chittor was captured by Bahadur Shah and freely looted for three days.
He then proceeded forward and reached Mandasor, 60 miles from Chittor, and checked the route of return of Bahadur Shah. Bahadur Shah also reached Mandasor and instead of attacking Humayun took defensive postures. Humayun kept his army out of reach of the artillery of Bahadur Shah and stopped his supplies.
Bahadur Shah felt short of supplies and his army lost its morale. He fled away without fighting during the night of 25 April 1535 A.D. and took shelter in the fort of Mandu. Humayun pursued the fugitive. From Mandu, Bahadur Shah fled away to Champaner, then to Combay and afterward to Diu. Humayun pursued Bahadur Shah up to Combay but then, leaving the task of pursuing Bahadur Shah to his nobles, returned to besiege the fort of Champaner. It was captured by him and he got a large booty from there which he lavishly distributed among his followers.
By that time, entire Malwa and Gujarat had surrendered to the Mughals. It was a grand success and so was the capture of the forts of Mandu and Champaner. Humayun appointed his brother Askari as the governor of Gujarat, left Hindu Beg for his assistance, and came back to Mandu.
Askari, however, failed to manage the affairs of Gujarat which resulted in a revolt by the people under Imad-ul-Mulk, one of the trusted officers of Bahadur Shah. Bahadur Shah himself arrived in Gujarat after some time. After a minor battle against the forces of Bahadur Shah, Askari decided to retire to the fort of Champaner. Tardi Beg, the governor of the fort, however, refused to hand over the fort and its treasure to Askari as he grew suspicious of the design of Askari. Askari, then, proceeded towards Agra. Bahadur Shah captured Champaner very soon and Tardi Beg retreated to Mandu.
Thus, the whole of Gujarat was lost by Humayun to Bahadur Shah. Fearing that Askari might capture Agra for himself, Humayun also left Mandu and proceeded towards Agra. The two brothers met in the way and Humayun was assured of the loyalty of his brother. He gracefully pardoned him and all other officers and reached Agra. Mandu was occupied by Mallu Khan in the name of Bahadur Shah.
Therefore, Malwa was also lost by the Mughals. Thus, within a year, both Malwa and Gujarat were lost by the Mughals. The incompetence of Askari and the neglect of personal attention towards the affairs of Gujarat and Malwa by Humayun were the primary reasons for this loss of the Mughals.