Sher Shah Suri

Sher Shah Suri

Sher Shah Suri, also known as Sher Khan, ruled for five years only (1540-45 AD), but within this short period he proved his organizing capabilities and administrative genius.

He was the founder of Suri Dynasty in Delhi. He is remembered in history as a unique administrator.

The rise of Sher Shah Suri from the position of a humble jagirdar’s son to the ruler of one of the biggest empires of North India is a tale of courage and determination. After becoming the emperor, he annexed Malwa, Gwalior, Ranathambore, Marwar, Sind Punjab and Multan.

Central Administration:

Sher Shah Suri, as all great rulers of his times, concentrated military powers in his hand. He followed the administrative model of the Sultanate period and appointed four ministers viz.

  • Minister in charge finance
  • Minister in charge of army
  • Minister in charge of religious matter
  • Prime Minister.

Besides, there were ministers in charge of intelligence department. Spies were posted in towns, markets and all important locations. Arrangements were made to carry royal postages. However, ministers only carried out the ruler’s order.

Provincial Administration:

The provincial administration of Sher Shah Suri however, shows signs of de-centralization. In Bengal, the highest administrative division was Sarkar. It was looked after by administrative officers. Above all administrative officers were officers who had a small military force to look after the working of the administration and to preserve peace.

Sarkars, Parganas and Village:

Sher Shah’s empire from Delhi to Bihar was divided into 47 sarkars, which were further sub-divided into parganas. Each pargana consisted of some villages.

The village administration was generally in the hands of hereditary officers. Panchayats (assembly) officers employed in the sarkars and parganas were transferred on regular basis.

Financial Administration:

Sher Shah Suri had divided the sources of revenue of the state into central and local revenue.

Sher Shah was the first ruler who made an accurate survey of land within the empire. One third of the produce was fixed as the state share either in cash or in kind. Sher Shah believed in developing a direct relation with peasants and gave them Pattas. The Pattas were title deeds issued by the state specifying the state demand of revenue.

Dr. Srivastava has rightly pointed out that no other medieval ruler safeguarded in the interest of the peasants as Sher Shah.

Trade and Commerce:

A great deal of commercial prosperity was seen in trade and commerce as Sher Shah abolished all internal tariffs. Only entry tax and market duty were collected at fourteen posts. He constructed roads connecting important parts of his empire with the capital city.

Army:

Sher Shah adopted the system of maintaining a large army of soldiers and horses. The army consisted of both the Muslims and Hindus. There was no police system and soldiers, known locally as sepoys, maintained law and order.

Justice:

While delivering justice, Sher Shah did not discriminate between the rich and the poor. He was at the helm of judiciary and his court functioned primarily as an appellate court.

Religious Policy:

Though Sher Shah Suri was a Sunni Musalman in his personal life, he was tolerant towards subjects comprised of the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains and others.

Death and Conclusion:

Sher Shah Suri died on 22nd day of May, 1545. He is still remembered in Indian History as a successful emperor who was tolerant towards all religion.

Dr. Tripathy had entitled Sher Shah as the precursor of Akbar in matters of administration and Rajput and religious policies.

External Readings

1. Sher Shah Suri in Wikipedia

-Rahul Chopra.