HUMĀYŪṄ, NASĪR UD-DĪN MUHAMMAD (1508-1556), Mughal emperor of India, was born at Kābul on 6 March 1508, the eldest of the four sons of Zahīr ud-Dīn Muhammad Bābar. Humāyūṅ succeeded Bābar to the throne of Delhi in December 1530 at the age of 23, but his reign was beset with difficulties. Bābar had left an empire barely held by force of arms and lacking any consolidated civil administration. Though earlier Humāyūṅ had served an apprenticeship as governor of Badakhshāṅ, he did not have the sustained energy of his versatile father. Sher Khān Sūr, an Afghān chief, who had been consolidating his power in south Bihār, defeated him in a battle at Chausā on the Ganges, in 1540. Sher Khān again defeated Humāyūṅ still more decisively opposite Kanauj, and then pursued the fleeing Mughals to Lahore. Humāyūṅ became a homeless wanderer, first in Sindh, then in Mārvāṛ, and then in Sindh again. In 1544, he reached Persia and was granted asylum by Shāh Tahmāsp. In 1555, with Persian help, Humāyūṅ invaded India where four Sūr claimants were struggling for power. He occupied Delhi and Āgrā in July 1555, thus regaining his father's capital cities. But he was not destined to rule for long. An accidental fall from the staircase of his library at Delhi ended his troubled life in January 1556. His second reign lasted barely six months.

         The story of Humāyūṅ's visit to the second Sikh Gurū, Aṅgad, after having been defeated by Sher Khān Sūr, is referred to in Sikh chronicles. It is recorded that Humāyūṅ went to Khaḍūr to seek the Gurū's blessing. At the time of his visit, the Gurū was in meditation and Humāyūṅ, impatiently waiting for the Gurū to attend to him, was in a rage. As the tradition goes, he attempted to draw his sword to attack the Gurū. However, the sword would not come out of the scabbard. Meanwhile, the Gurū came out of the trance and remarked that he should have drawn his sword against his enemies. Humāyūṅ was repentant and craved forgiveness.


  1. Smith Vincent, The Oxford History of India. Oxford, 1958
  2. Beveridge, H., tr., The Akbar Nama. Delhi, 1989
  3. Sharma, Sri Ram, Religious Policy of the Mughal Emperors. Bombay, 1962

Srī Rām Sharma