Rise of Sher Shah Suri: Farid Becomes Sher Khan

Farid was born around 1480 during the reign of Sultan Bahlol Lodi (r: 1451-1489). His grandfather, Ibrahim Sur, and father, Hasan, migrated to India when Bahlol Lodi issued a farman inviting Afghan tribes to assist him against his rival, Sultan Mahmud Sharqi of Jaunpur.

After the fall of the Sharqis, Bahlol Lodi appointed his son, Babrak as the governor of Jaunpur. The Afghans who remained in the royal service were granted nobility status and jagirs to their satisfaction.

Hasan initially served under Masnad-i-ali Umar Khan, the governor of Lahore, who granted Hasan several villages in the pargana of Shahabad (now Rohtas in Bihar) as a jagir. Umar Khan also gifted Balhu, a village in Shahabad, to the young Farid.

Sultan Sikandar Lodi (r: 1489-1517), the son of Bahlol Lodi, defeating his brother Babrak, annexed Jaunpur to Delhi and appointed Jamal Khan as its governor. Jamal Khan then assigned Hasan as the administrator of the parganas of Sasaram (in Bihar) and Khwaspur Tanda (near Benaras).


However, Hasan did not allocate any jagirs to Farid as he had hoped. Displeased with his father's decision, Farid left home and sought refuge with his father's patron, Jamal Khan, in Jaunpur. It was in Jaunpur that Farid pursued his education.

After about three years, Hasan also arrived in Jaunpur, where his relatives praised Farid's abilities and qualities. They advised Hasan to entrust the administration of the two parganas with Farid and helped reconcile the differences between father and son.

Under Farid's management, the territories flourished and became more populated. Hasan was overjoyed upon hearing this news and frequently praised his son's achievements during his social gatherings.

Unfortunately, Hasan's youngest wife influenced him to transfer the parganas to her sons, Suleiman and Ahmad. Disgusted, Farid went to Agra in search of a new livelihood. There, he found employment with Daulat Khan Lodi, a favored amir of Sultan Ibrahim Lodi (r: 1517-1526), the son of Sikandar Lodi.

Hasan could never have imagined that his son would become the founder of a dynasty. On Hasan Sur's death around 1524, Daulat Khan obtained a royal decree in Farid's favor, granting him control of the parganas. Upon Farid's return to his territories, all his kinsmen adhered to the farman.

However, Farid's joy was short-lived as his step-brother, Suleiman, sought protection from Muhammad Sur, the governor of Chaund. Muhammad Sur took advantage of the situation and proposed a division of Hasan's jagirs between Farid and Suleiman, which Farid refused.

During this time, preparations for war were underway between Sultan Ibrahim Lodi and the Mughals. Muhammad Sur advised Suleiman that if the Mughals emerged victorious, he would forcibly take the parganas from Farid and give them to Suleiman.

Farid in the Service of Sultan Muhammad Nuhani

Fearing the consequences, Farid chose to align himself with someone who could potentially challenge Muhammad Sur in the event that Sultan Ibrahim was overthrown by the Mughals. Ultimately, Babur's victory over Ibrahim Lodi in the battle of Panipat on April 20, 1526, marked the establishment of the Mughal Empire and the end of the Lodi dynasty, the first Afghan empire in India.

During Ibrahim Lodi's reign, following the death of Darya Khan Nuhani, the Afghan governor of South Bihar, his son Bahar Khan Nuhani declared independence and assumed the title of Sultan Muhammad Nuhani. The fall of Ibrahim Lodi prompted many Afghans to seek refuge in South Bihar, greatly strengthening the military power of Muhammad Nuhani's army. Farid also joined the service of the Nuhani Sultan.

Farid Becomes Sher Khan: According to Tarikh-i-Sher Shahi, in recognition of his bravery in killing a tiger single-handed during a hunting expedition, Muhammad Nuhani bestowed upon Farid the title of Sher Khan. However, Waqiat-i Mushtaqi presents a different account. Farid agreed to lead a military expedition against Muhammad Sur, a task that other nobles were reluctant to undertake. Farid emerged victorious, forcing Muhammad Sur to form an alliance with Sultan Muhammad Nuhani. Impressed by Farid's courage, Sultan Muhammad Nuhani honored him with the title of Sher Khan.

Sher Khan was subsequently appointed as the deputy and guardian to Nuhani's young son, Jalal Khan.

After some time, Sher Khan, sought permission from the Sultan to visit his parganas. However, he was delayed as he was assembling a force. Muhammad Sur poisoned the Sultan's mind that Sher Khan was planning to join Mahmud Lodi, the brother of the late Ibrahim Lodi, whom the Afghans were supporting against both the Mughals and Sultan Muhammad. Muhammad Sur advised the Sultan to seize Sher Khan's lands and grant them to his step-brother Suleiman.

Sultan Muhammad Nuhani allowed Muhammad Sur to mediate the dispute between the step-brothers. Sher Khan once again refused to partition the lands. In the ensuing conflict, Muhammad Sur's forces defeated Sher Khan's army and captured Khwaspur Tanda and Balhu.

Sher Khan in the Service of Babur:

With no other options, Sher Khan turned to the Mughals for help. He sought assistance from Junaid Birlas, the Mughal governor of Kara-Manikpur, and was eventually introduced to Emperor Babur in Agra. Sher Khan joined the Mughal army, biding his time for an opportunity to reclaim his lost territories.

During Babur's campaign against the Afghans of Bihar, Sher Khan proved to be a valuable asset. With the support of the Mughal army, he successfully regained control of his parganas. Babur acknowledged Sher Khan's loyalty in his Memoirs, granting him several parganas as a reward.

When faced with the Mughal forces, both Muhammad Sur and Suleiman fled, leaving Sher Khan to reclaim his lands, including Chaund and several other parganas of the crown land. Sher Khan later reconciled with Muhammad Sur, returning the possession of Chaund to him.

Meanwhile, Sultan Muhammad Nuhani likely passed away, leading to his son Jalal Khan ascending the throne as Jalal-ud-din Nuhani, with his mother Dudu serving as Regent. The Nuhanis' rule became chaotic and disorganized.
(To be continued)