Battle of Sumel 1544
The states of Mewar and Marwar came to dominate Western India after the dismemberment of the Delhi Sultanate in the 14th century. Mewar and Marwar had a rivalry
that was settled by a peace treaty in 1458, and they even developed friendly relations through matrimonial alliances. In 1527 the Marwar prince Maldeo Rathod, led his state's contingent to fight under Rana Sanga in the Battle of Khanua.
In 1532 he became the ruler of Marwar, as Rao Maldeo, and greatly expanded his kingdom up to Hissar and Jhajjhar, just 50 miles from Delhi. Meanwhile Sher Shah had consolidated his hold on the Indo-Gangetic plains, and found that the all-important trade routes to Gujarat and West Asia, were under the control of Rao Maldev. The Tarikh-i Daudi
states that Sher Shah's nobles actually wanted him to crush the Shia Sultanates in southern India:
"It seems expedient that the victorious standards should move towards the Deccan, for certain rebellious slaves have got the country out of the power of their master, and have revolted, and following the heresy of the people of dissent (Shía
'), abuse the holy posterity. It is incumbent on the powerful and fortunate to root out this innovating schism from the Deccan.
Sher Sháh replied: "What you have said is most right and proper, but it has come into my mind that the infidel zamindars have rendered the country of Islam full of unbelievers, and have thrown down the masjids and buildings of the believers, and placed idol-shrines in them, and they are in possession of the country of Delhi and Malwa. Until I have cleansed the country [North India] from the existing contamination of the unbelievers, I will not go into any other country. First, I will root out that accursed infidel Maldeo."
In his vigorous expansion Rao Maldeo had needlessly invaded fellow Hindu states and forced them to seek the aid of Sher Shah. In the winter of 1543 Sher Shah massed a huge army (80,000 cavalry as per the Muslim writers), bolstered with a considerable park of artillery, on the borders of Maldeo's dominions. His march was extremely slow and cautious, and on each halting ground earthworks were raised and artillery planted as a means of defence.
When the soil became more and more sandy the invaders used sandbags to raise these earthworks. Maldeo had advanced with his army (around 40,000), mostly cavalry and camels, and found the Afghans in this position. From his experience at Khanua he knew the futility of storming such a defensive position; his plan was to make the enemy's food and water supply fail. For a whole month the two armies remained entrenched and then the Rajput plan began to show fruit as the lack of supplies in Sher Shah's bloated army became unbearable.
Sher Shah then resorted to low treachery, writing forged letters implicating Maldeo's chieftains and ensuring that this letter was discovered by the King of Marwar. Although his chieftains denied any treachery, Rao Maldeo's confidence in them was shaken and he departed with his main army. When the jubilant Afghans saw the Hindu standards fluttering away, they came out of their entrenched position to plunder the enemy camp. But in a trice they were bundled back.
The Marwar chieftains, with a few thousand cavalry, had decided to stay back and fight in order to prove their loyalty. Their cavalry charge bundled the Afghans back into their main army, causing the death of many. In the words of the Tarikh-i Daudi
"Some of the chieftains, such as Jaya Chandel and Gohá, and others, came and attacked Sher Sháh, and displayed exceeding valour. Part of the army was routed, and a certain Afghán came to Sher Sháh, and abused him in his native tongue, saying, 'Mount, for the infidels are routing your army.' Sher Sháh ordered his horse, and mounted, when news of victory was brought, to the effect that Khawás Khán had slain Jaya and Gohá with all their forces. When Sher Sháh learnt the valour and gallantry of Jaya [Jaita] and Gohá [Kumpa], he said: 'I had nearly lost the kingdom of Delhi for a handful of bajra [millet].'
Just a year later Sher Shah was burned to death at the siege of Kalinjar in Bundelkhand, and Rao Maldev once again expelled the Afghans from Ajmer and Nagor. In the Battle of Sumel (also written as Sammel and Giri-Samel) no reference is made to the use of artillery, but it can be assumed that driving the Aghans pell-mell before them, the Rajputs avoided being hit by the enemy guns. They penetrated deep into the Afghan lines, creating much havoc and bloodshed, before they were all cut down.
The bigoted author Badauni gives a different account: "the infidels in a body dismounted from their horses, and renewing their vows of singleness of purpose and mutual assistance, binding their sashes together and joining hand to hand, attacked the army of the Afghans with their short spears, which they call Barchha
, and with their swords. Sher Shah had given orders saying that if any man ventured to fight with the sword with this swinish horde, his blood would be on his own head. He accordingly ordered the elephant troops to advance and trample them down."