ancient indian history

Ahmad Shah Abdali

Ahmad Shah Abdali

Ahmad Shah Durrani, commonly known as Ahmad Shah Abdali, was an Afghan military & political leader who lived from 1722 to 1772. He is best known for founding the modern state of Afghanistan and establishing the Durrani empire.
Ahmad Shah Abdali was born in Multan, now part of present-day Pakistan. He belonged to the Abdali tribe, which was part of the Pashtun ethnic group. In the early 18th century, he became a prominent military commander and later rose to become the chief of the Abdali tribes with the support of Pashtun tribes. Within a few years, he extended his control from Khorasan in the west to North India in the east, and from the Amu Darya in the north to the Arabian Sea in the south.
Soon after accession, Ahmad Shah adopted the epithet Shāh Durr-i-Durrān, “King, Pearl of Pearls”, and changed the name of his Abdali tribe to “Durrani” on his surname. The Tomb of Ahmad Shah Durrani is located in the center of Kandahar, adjacent to Kirka Sharif (Shrine of the Cloak), which contains a cloak believed to have been worn by the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Ahmad’s father, Mohammad Zaman Khan, was the Governor of Herat and chief of the Pashtun Abdali tribe, while his mother, Zarghona Anaa, was daughter of Khalu Khan Alakozai and belonged to the Alakozai tribe. Ahmad was born in Herat.
In 1762, Ahmad Shah crossed the passes from Afghanistan for the sixth time to crush the Sikhs of Punjab. He attacked Lahore and Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs, and massacred thousands of Sikh inhabitants, destroyed gurudwaras, kidnapped several hindu & sikh women. Within two years of this attack, the Sikhs rebelled again. He launched another campaign against them in December 1764.
However, he could not stand the fury of Sikh empire & had to flee westwards.
After the retreat of Ahmad Shah Durrani, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia attacked Sirhind and in the Battle of Sirhind (1764), the Afghan Governor Zain Khan Sirhindi was killed. Jassa Singh also paid a visit to Darbar Sahib at Amritsar, and restored it to its original shape after defilement by Durrani. Later the Sikhs under Hari Singh Nalwa Campaigned against the Afghans in the third phase of the Afghan – Sikh wars and they took even the Winter capital of the Afghans Peshawar, Decisively defeating Afghans in Battle of Nowshera, which led to their occupation of the Peshawar Valley.
Following their victory, the Sikhs destroyed the Afghan royal court and the fort of Bala Hissar, Peshawar. 
Ahmed Shah Abdali invaded India eight times from 1748 to 1767.  During his time, the Mughal empire had weakened. Ahmad Shah appointed Jalhe Khan of Kasur as the new governor of Lahore, with Mir Momin Khan as his deputy and Lakhpath Rai as his Diwan. Ahmad Shah stayed in the city of Lahore for 5 weeks and began his plans to advance towards Delhi.
Durrani attacked India in 1748. He had faced Mughal, Rajput and Sikh coalitions in Sirhind, Ahmad Shah’s Afghan troops swept aside the Mughal army’s left flank of Rajput stock and raided their baggage train, but a fire beginning in a captured rocket cart went on to ignite the Durrani artillery store, roasting thousands of soldiers alive and forcing Ahmad Shah Durrani’s retreat. After the retreat of Durrani, Sikh bands under Charat Singh continued to harass them as they retreated to Kabul.  He lost to the Rajputs and Sikhs of Patiala. Sardar Baghel Singh entered Delhi on January 18, 1774 during first invasion of Delhi. The Marathas, after their defeat by Abdali in the third battle of Panipat in 1761, were marginalised, and the Rohillas were a spent force. The English were in the process of finding their place at Delhi. It was easy for the Sikh army to cross the Yamuna and make forays towards Delhi and beyond. Misls were the twelve sovereign states of the Sikh Confederacy, which rose during the 18th century in the Punjab region. The misls did not owe any allegiance to each other, except when the Sarbat Khalsa, through a Gurmatta, resolved to attack a common target.
Baghel Singh’s Karor Singhia Misl was operating in south-east Punjab. He was a very able leader of men, a good political negotiator, and was able to win over many adversaries to his side. The Mughals, the Marathas, the Rohillas, the Jutts and the British sought his friendship, and, above all, he was a devout Sikh.
Karor Singhia was one of the strongest misls with 12,000 well-trained horsemen. The combined strength under Baghel Singh, including soldiers of a few sardars who joined him, was well over 40,000. He captured territories much beyond Delhi to include Meerut, Khurja, Aligarh, Tundla, Shikhohabad, Farrukhabad, Agra and many other rich townships around Delhi, and collected tribute and rakhi from nawabs and rajas. He captured Saharanpur and overran the Rohilla territory in April 1775.
Earlier in June 1729, the Abdali forces under Zulfiqar had surrendered to Nader Shah Afshar, the rising new ruler of Persia. However, they soon began a rebellion and took over Herat as well as Mashad. In July 1730, he defeated Ibrahim Khan, a military commander and brother of Nader Shah. This prompted Nader Shah to retake Mashad and also intervene in the power struggle of Harat. By July 1731, Zulfiqar returned to his capital Farah where he had been serving as the governor since 1726. A year later Nadir’s brother Ibrahim Khan took control of Farah. During this time Zulfiqar and the young Durrani fled to Kandahar, where they took refuge with the Ghiljis. They were later made political prisoners by Hussain Hotak, the Ghilji ruler of the Kandahar region.
Nader Shah had been enlisting the Abdalis in his army, since around 1729. After conquering Kandahar in 1738, Durrani and his brother Zulfiqar were freed and provided with leading careers in Nader Shah’s administration. Zulfiqar was made Governor of Mazandaran while Durrani remained working as Nader Shah’s personal attendant. The Ghiljis, who are originally from the territories east of the Kandahar region, were expelled from Kandahar in order to resettle the Abdalis along with some Qizilbash and other Persians.
Indian invasions
Peshawar served as a convenient point for Ahmad Shah for his military conquests. From 1748 to 1767, he invaded India eight times. He first crossed the Indus River in 1748, the year after his ascension, his forces sacked and absorbed Lahore. In 1749, Ahmad Shah captured the area of Punjab around Lahore. In the same year, the Mughal ruler was induced to cede Sindh and all of the Punjab including the vital trans-Indus River to him. Having thus gained substantial territories to the east without a fight, Ahmad Shah and his forces turned westward to take possession of Iran, Herat, Nishapur and Mashhad
In 1751–52, the Ahamdiya treaty was signed between the Marathas and Mughals, when Balaji Bajirao was the Peshwa of the Maratha Empire. Through this treaty, the Marathas controlled large parts of India from their capital at Pune and Mughal rule was restricted only to Delhi. Mughals remained the nominal heads of Delhi. Marathas were now straining to expand their area of control towards the Northwest of India. Durrani sacked the Mughal capital and withdrew with the booty he coveted. To counter the Afghans, Peshwa Balaji Bajirao sent Raghunathrao. He succeeded in ousting Timur Shah and his court from India and brought northwest of India up to Peshawar under Maratha rule. Thus, upon his return to Kandahar in 1757, Durrani chose to return to India and confront the Maratha forces to regain northwestern part of the subcontinent.
In 1761, Durrani set out on his campaign to win back lost territories. The early skirmishes ended in victory for the Afghans against the Maratha garrisons in northwest India. By 1759, Durrani and his army had reached Lahore and were poised to confront the Marathas. By 1760, the Maratha groups had coalesced into a big enough army under the command of Sadashivrao Bhau. Once again, Panipat was the scene of a battle for control of northern India. The Third battle of Panipat was fought between Durrani’s Afghan forces and the Maratha forces in January 1761, and resulted in a decisive victory for Ahmad Shah Abdali.
After the assassination of Nadir Shah, Ahmad Shah Durrani succeeded the throne of Afghanistan and started plundering wealth from nearby regions. His repeated incursions brought the Mughal empire to the brink of collapse and further dealt a major blow to Maratha dominions in the North at Panipat, creating a power vacuum.
Second Invasion
Ahmad Shah Durrani marched on India the next year to avenge his defeat. This invasion resulted in the Afghans achieving victory and taking control of the territory to the west of Indus. He made an alliance with Nawab Muzaffar Khan of Multan and Ahmed Khan Sial of Jhang. This paved the way for his invasion of Punjab
Third Invasion
In the winter of 1751, he invaded India for the third time on the pretext that Mir Mannu, the Mughal governor of the province of Punjab, had refused to pay him tax which he had promised to give on a monthly basis. Abdali started the battle by successfully besieging Mannu in the Lahore Fort. Though Mannu wrote to the Mughal emperor Ahmad Shah Bahadur for help, he received no reinforcements from Delhi. Failing to put up a fight, he surrendered to Abdali on 6 March 1752. After signing the instrument of surrender, Abdali’s forces looted and plundered the city. On his orders, nine hundred Sikhs who were trapped in the fort of Ram Rauni were killed.
Fourth Invasion
Ahmed Shah Durrani invaded again along with his son Timur Shah Durrani in 1756 on the invitation of Mughlani Begum, the wife of Mir Mannu, late subedar of Punjab under Mughal Empire. They conquered the Mughal cities of Lahore, Sirhind, Delhi, Mathura, Vrindavan. And they were able to take women slaves including daughters of late emperor Muhammad Shah and Alamgir II along with of other Hindu women from towns of Mathura, Vrindavan and Agra.
Further the troops of Adina Beg fought together against Afghans at Hoshiarpur known as the Battle of Mahilpur.Later troops of 20,000 horsemen of Timur Shah Durrani were defeated and captured by Sikhs. This resulted in insecurity in the mind of Adina Beg, who invited the Marathas, who had taken Delhi to come to Punjab and recapture Lahore resulting in the Maratha conquest of North-west India. Marathas rout Afghans from Lahore by March 1758. Adina became subedar of Punjab, by promising 75 lakh rupees, a year to be paid to Marathas. The Chief Qazi of Lahore fearing Hindu domination by Marathas invited Ahmed Shah Abdali to Punjab, causing his sixth invasion.
Battle of Bharatpur
Battle of Bharatpur  was fought between Jats and Abdali’s forces during the year 1757. Maharaja Surajmal’s troops fought furiously against him in Ballabgarh, Chaumunha, Gokul, Kumher and in Bharatpur. At last Abdali had to leave the war and retreat. During this, he ruined and looted the holy places of Mathura and Vrindavan.
Battle of Amritsar.
The battle was fought between the Nihang Sikhs of the Shaheedan Misl and the Afghans during the year 1757. The Afghans killed the Sikh leader, Baba Deep Singh and the outcome of the battle is disputed, but it is evident that Abdali’s army could not stand before nihangs and flee the battle field.
Fifth Invasion
The Fifth Invasion was the most crucial of the invasions. In this invasion, the Marathas lost the battle of Panipat and lost Delhi, Punjab, Lahore, Multan and Attock. They lost many civilians and soldiers and Ahmed Shah Durrani freely plundered them. Later, in all his next invasions, he fought against the Sikhs on every occasion, where he was less successful and the Sikhs became stronger. In the end the Sikhs drove him away from India all the way back to the Indus. The Sikhs secured a decisive victory at Harnaulgarh by driving away the Afghans and the defeated governor of Sirhind, Zain Khan Sirhindi, was forced to pay tribute of Rs. 50,000 to the Sikhs as a penalty for the war losses.
Sixth invasion
After the Battle of Kup, the Sikhs made up their minds to wash away the defeat. Ahmad Shah Abdali had returned to Lahore. He sent a representative to the Sikh leaders to negotiate peace with them and prevent that effusion of blood which their desperate determination threatened to produce. However, when this ambassador arrived at the Sikh camps, instead of listening to his proposals, the Sikhs plundered him and his followers and drove them away.
In October 1762, The Sikhs had gathered Amritsar to celebrate Diwali. The Sikhs attacked the Afghans, so vehemently and didn’t care about their own lives at all. The battle raged furiously from early morning till late night. They both decided to stop for the night and fight the next day. During the night Ahmad Shah Abdali and his forces  retreated to Lahore.
The Sikhs finally got their revenge from the Ghalaghura. The Shah left Lahore on December 12, 1762, and Kabuli Mal was appointed governor of Lahore. As for the Sikhs, they had left Amritsar, crossed the Sutlej River and slipped into the Lakhi Jungle.
Seventh Invasion
In 1765, Ahmad Shah Durrani invaded India for seventh time in the winter of 1764–1765, During this campaign he was constantly harassed by Sikhs, Qazi Nur Muhammad who was present in the Afghan army describes the numbers of engagements between Sikhs and Afghans, a battle was fought on the western bank of the Satluj opposite Rupar, it was morning and the Afghan army was hardly gone 3 km from the western bank of the Satluj, when they were attacked by the Sikhs, The Afghans immediately stopped marching and got into regular formation of battle, Ahmad Shah Durrani was in the center with 6,000 choice soldiers, Shah Vali Khan, Jahan Khan, Shah Pasand Khan, Anzala Khan and others at the head of 12,000 troops were on the right, Nasir Khan with 12,000 Baluchis was on the left. The Dal Khalsa also organised themselves in regular battle army Jassa Singh Ahluwalia fearlessly stood like a mountain in the center close by him was Jassa Singh Thokah, looking like a lion in stature, the Qazi says that Ramgarhia has his own flag and war drum. During the seventh invasion, the Sikhs kept away from the main routes and camped in the Lakhi Jungle as a hideout. Abdali himself travelled to Chak Guru Amritsar, to punish the Sikhs only to find they had deserted the city aside from 30 Sikhs who were left in-charge of the Akal Takht. All of these outnumbered Sikhs were martyred defending the site from the Afghan forces.
Eighth Invasion (1766-1767)
In 1767, Ahmad Shah Durrani Invaded India for the eight time, while Ahamed Shah was crossing the river Beas, his passage was obstructed by Sikhs, On January 1767, Ahmad Shah Durrani wrote letters to the Sardars, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Khushal Singh, Jhanda Singh Dhillon to the effect that if they were desirous of entering his service they should come and join him, but if they had any hostile intentions they should meet him in the field and fight him.
On 17 January 1767, Jahan Khan who had already faced many setbacks because of the Sikhs, marched towards Amritsar with 15,000 Afghans soldiers, where he was met by the Sikhs who were alerted of his movements. Battle took place where the Sikhs fell upon Jahan Khan and his forces. When Jahan Khan and his soldiers came across the Sikhs, a battle took place for 3 hours which resulted in Jahan Khan’s retreat and 5000 to 6000 Afghan soldiers killed and wounded. Upon hearing reports of Jahan Khan’s defeat by the Sikhs, Ahmed Shah Abdali left with his baggage on the bank of the Beas at Jalalabad and rushed to assist Jahan Khan, but the Sikhs ended up carrying most of Ahmad Shah’s goods. The British were pleased and relieved with the news of Sikh victory as they suspected that Ahmad Shah Abdali’s aim for this latest campaign into India, was to assist Mir Qasim against the British. Lord Clive stated that if the Sikhs kept the ongoing of plunder of Abdali’s baggage and cutting of his supplies, then Abdali would be ruined and return to his country.
Death of Abdali
Abdali died at Toba Mar (or Toba Maruf; present-day Maruf, Afghanistan) in the Suleiman Mountains on 16 October 1772 as a result of the injury, he had sustained in one of the battles when he tried to demolishing the Sikh holy Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Abdali was succeeded by his son, Timur Shah Durrani.

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