In this article, we will cover the story of the battle of Sammel or Sumel Giri in which 8000 Rajputs collided against an army of 80,000 Afghans of Sher Shah Suri. However, the battle resulted in the victory of Sher Shah but at a great cost. It is believed that a huge portion of his army was slain by the handful force of the Rajputs.
Rise of Sher Shah Suri
Farid, also known as Sher Shah Suri, was a powerful Afghan warlord responsible for Afghans’ resurrection in northern India in the middle of the 16th century. Initially, his grandfather was involved in horse dealing but later took refuge in India when another Afghan dynasty (Lodhi Dynasty) ruled northern India.
Sher Shah was born in 1486 CE however the exact date of his birth is highly debatable. Like his date of birth, his place of birth is also a subject of debate. Some historians suggest that he was born in Narnaul Pargana while some believe that he was born at Bajwara or at Hissar.
His father i.e. Hasan had four wives and due to this, the childhood of the former became miserable.
Note: After his father’s death he became the permanent incharge of his father’s Jagir.
Later Sher Shah joined the kingdom of Sultan Muhammad. Sher Shah won the confidence of his master due to his leadership and it was Sultan Muhammad who gave Sher Shah his tile after killing a tiger single-handedly.
Later with the arrival of the Mughals, the Afghan power was overwhelmed and Sher Shah assisted Mughal emperor Babur in his eastern campaigns. In the year 1528 CE Sultan Muhammad died and his wife became the regent of the state which had become the vassal of the Mughals. But Dudu,the wife of Sultan Muhammad couldn’t manage the state and due to this Sher Shah was appointed as the Deputy Naib of her state in 1529 CE.
After the death of Dudu Sher Shah decided to lead the charge of the politics in Northern India. He subjugated the fort and pargana of Chunar and became an imminent personality. Later he defeated the sultan of Bengal (Surajgarh) in 1534. After this Sher fought several battles in Bengal and became a powerful warlord by 1538 CE later in the same year he did his coronation at Gaur in 1538 CE.
The Mughals were alarmed by this threat of Sher Shah and in the year 1539 CE the Mughals crossed swords with Sher Shah in the battle of Chausa. But battle resulted in a complete disaster for the Mughals and their leader i.e. Humayun retreated from the field towards Agra to fight for another day.
Later in 1540 CE the Mughals again fought a major battle against Sher Shah this time at Kanauj. Afghans were less than 15000 while Mughals were 40000. But due to the military leadership of Sher Shah, the Afghans again inflicted a crushing defeat on the Mughals.
This marked the end of the Mughal rule in northern India as after this battle Humayun took refuge in Persia and Sher Shah Suri laid the foundation of the Sur dynasty.
Sher Shah then invaded Gakkhars which was located between the river Indus and Jhelum for strategic purposes. Later he invaded Malwa in 1542 CE, Chanderi in 1542 CE, and after it, he conquered Raisen, although treacherously.
Sher shah divided his empire into many Sarkars and their leader look various on various administrations like enforcing law and order under chief Shiqdar managing revenue system under chief Munsfi. His army strength was about 150,000 cavalry, 25,000 infantry, and 5,000 war elephants.
Invasion of Marwar
Next, he decided to subjugate the Rajput territories and the strongest Rajput state at that time was Marwar under Maldev Rathore. The charismatic Rajput king i.e. Maldev Rathore was an audacious leader who made the kingdom of Marwar the strongest hold of the Rajputs during his reign.
Maldev Rathore annexed several territories of his neighboring kingdoms which were namely Jaitran, Merta, Siwan, Jalor, Nagaur, Tonk, and even the precious city of Ajmer.
An important point that has to be noted is that the territories of Nagaur and Ajmer were under the sultans and the emperor of Delhi and Maldev Rathore took it from them which posed a great threat to the leaders like Sher Shah.
Note: It is also believed that some Rajput’s chiefs who were furious from their defeat at the hands of Maldev Rathore decided to join Sher Shah’s alliance.
Sher Shah was aware of the threat from this Rajput and in the year 1543 CE, he decided to invade Marwar with a strong force of 80,000 Afghans supported by heavy artillery too.
To counter this threat Maldev Rathore gathered an army of around 50,000 Rajput. But there was a problem for the Hindu army. As mentioned above the territories of Ajmer and Bikaner were annexed by Maldev Rathore and due to this, its defeated fellow Rajputs formed an alliance with the Sher Shah.
These were Viramdev (of Ajmer) and Rao Kalyanmal (Bikaner).
Battle of Sammel (Sumel Giri)
According to Muhnot Nainsi, Maldev Rathore used the geography of his kingdom and concentrated his army on the Pargana of Jaitaran which was a smart move.
Both armies stood face to face and on the field of Sumel. However, neither of them initiated their assault as both were aware of each other’s arsenal. Soon, the condition of the invading forces of Sher Shah became critical because the food supply and forage for his horses and elephant went out.
The Rajputs were now at an advantage as their enemy soon be out of supply. At this critical juncture, Sher Shah did the same what his predecessor Sultan of Delhi had done, i.e., deception against Hindu kings.
Like Mohammad bin Kassim, Alauddin Khilji, or even Babur use deception to attain victory, Sher Shah followed their path.
He (Sher Shah) drop letters outside the camp of Maldev Rathore. The letter falsely mentioned that Maldev’s general namely Jaita and Kumpa sided with Sher Shah for a sum of 20,000 each. This moved worked and when the letter reaches Maldev he lost heart.
Now a big misconception among people here is that Maldev made a huge mistake by trusting these false letters. But as mentioned above the Rajput’s of Ajmer and Bikaner had already joined Sher Shah and now these letter confirmed Maldev that his commanders are also with Sher Shah.
Soon after seeing these letters Maldev decided to retreat from the battlefield and moved towards Jodhpur to defend his capital city. Almost whole withdrew from the battlefield.
Maldev’s general i.e. Rao Jaita and Rao Kumpa decided to put a heroic last stand to prove their loyalty towards the land of Rajputana. From an army of 50,000 Rajputs only 8000-10,000 remained in the battlefield.
A complete bloodbath ensued in the fields of Sumel where a handful army of 8,000 Rajputs charged against the 80,000 Afghans and ferocious artillery of Sher Shah Suri.
It is unbelievably true that the gallant men like Rao Jaita and Rao Kumpa inflicted heavy casualties on the Afghans. It is believed that almost half on the Afghan army was killed by the Rajputs and the artillery of Sher Shah proved worthless in front of the swords of Rajputs.
The two heroes of this battle fought till their last breath to prove their innocence and loyalty. Later in the numbers of the afghan army and probably their cannons saved the day. The battle resulted in a victory for the Afghans but at a great cost.
After the battle Sher Shah exclaimed to his men that “He had nearly lost the empire of Hindustan for a handful of Bajra (crop grown in Marwar region).
The Afghans gained a useless, pyrrhic victory that day. His army had suffered heavy casualties and most of Sher Shah’s generals were dead .After the battle Jodhpur was annexed by the Afghans and its king i.e. Maldev Rathore retreated from his kingdom. However Maldev recapture his lost kingdom after the death of Sher Shah Suri in 1545 CE.
We have a tradition of glorifying those who had won wars by deception and forgot those heroes like Jaita and Kumpa who laid down their lives for this country. We Salute the bravery of Rao Jaita and Rao Kumpa.
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