If Babur sowed the seed of the Mughal empire, it was Humayun who watered, cared for it, and helped it grow. Babur passed away a year after successfully taking control of Northern India. Humayun was left with a strong military. But he has also inherited a poor governance structure.

Nasir-Ud-Din-Muhammad was the firstborn of the Mughal emperor Babur. He was just 22 years old when his father passed away making him the next ruler of the Mughal dynasty. Fortunately, Humayun was interested in politics. He had accompanied his father on diplomatic tours to the Ottoman empire. He was a bibliophile and hence was extremely knowledgeable. He commanded respect whenever he talked in courtrooms.

But as Humayun would soon learn, books don’t make good war generals, only experience does. In his initial years, he faced rebels at different places in his kingdom. These small rebellion movements were easy to suppress with such a large army. But soon the rebel force found one man to unite them all. Sher Shah Shuri, an ex-general of the Mughal army, overthrew Humayun in Bihar. His leadership was more acceptable as he had led his men in actual wars. Humayun started losing more men to him. Soon he was left with no option but to flee.

Humayun’s brother Kamran Mirza was the ruler of Kabul. He provided Humayun with a safe passage to Persia. Humayun left his first wife and son Akbar in Kandahar and started the journey to Persia. The journey to Persia was a nightmare. He started the journey with 400 men and women and was left with just 40 when he reached Persia. He accounts for killing their camels and eating them as a last effort. But when Humayun was through this nightmare, he was a different person. Upon reaching Persia, he lost interest in the luxury of a royal palace. Instead, he started planning to take back his kingdom from Sher Shah Shuri.

During his exile, Humayun networked well with Persian. He was given an army, well-equipped with advanced cannons. The biggest contributor to this army was the Safavid dynasty of Iran. He waited on the outskirts of Afghanistan to strike back.

Meanwhile in India, Shershah Suri and his son, both perished in a span of just four years. This has left Delhi in turmoil with many contenders for the throne. This was when Humayun decided it was the right time to attack. During his exile, he also learned that he was not a great military leader. Hence he chose Bairam Khan to lead his forces.

In the Battle of Sirhind, Humayun’s army defeated the forces of Sikandar Shah Shuri. Humayun’s regaining the throne suppressed the dog fight over the Delhi throne. He moved his capital to the city of Agra for a more central authority.

A year later, Humayun fell to his death in his royal library. He was carrying a large pile of books downstairs when habitually his knees bent on the call of Azaan. His death in a library is a great metaphor for the king who was first a scholar. And like a scholar, his success lies in understanding and learning from his failure. Every historian would depict the fifteen years in Persia as an exile, but for him, it was a period for preparation and self-examination.

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