ancient indian history

Nadir Shah

Nadir Shah, was a powerful Persian military leader and monarch, who reigned from 1736 to 1747.

He is considered one of the most cruel figures in Iranian history. Nader became increasingly cruel as a result of his mental illness and his desire to extort more and more tax money to pay for his military campaigns. Every time a new revolts broke out in his kingdom, Nader crushed it ruthlessly. He built towers from his victims’ skulls.
Born in 1688 in the northeastern province of Khorasan, Nadir Shah came from humble beginnings and worked as a shepherd during his early years. However, he eventually joined a band of bandits and became a prominent figure in the regional power struggles.
Nadir Shah’s military skills and strategic acumen led to his rise in power. He successfully defeated various rival factions and eventually overthrew the weakened Safavid dynasty, establishing himself as the ruler of Persia in 1736. His reign marked, the beginning of the short-lived Afsharid dynasty.
Nader Shah, the Shah of Iran (1736–1747) and the founder of the Afsharid dynasty, invaded Northern India, eventually attacking Delhi in March 1739. His army had easily defeated the Mughals at the Battle of Karnal and finally captured the Mughal capital in the aftermath of the battle.
Nader Shah’s victory against the weak and crumbling Mughal Empire in the far east meant that he could afford to turn back and resume war against Persia’s arch rival, the neighbouring Ottoman Empire, but also the further campaigns in the North Caucasus and Central Asia.
Nadir Shah’s military campaigns were characterized by their brutality. He launched several successful campaigns, expanding the Persian Empire’s territory and influence. One of his most significant military achievements was the conquest of the wealthy Mughal Empire in India. In 1739, he sacked the city of Delhi, looting its treasures and bringing immense wealth to Persia.
Despite his military successes, Nadir Shah’s rule was marked by instability and cruelty. He implemented oppressive policies and resorted to brutal methods to maintain control. His reign also witnessed the massacre of thousands of people in Delhi following the looting of the city.
Nadir Shah’s reign came to an end in 1747, when he was assassinated by his own officers. Following his death, the Afsharid dynasty quickly crumbled, and Persia descended into a period of political turmoil and instability.
Nadir Shah is often remembered as a ruthless and brutal ruler, who caused immense sufferings and instability during his reign. Nevertheless, his military campaigns and the vast treasures he acquired left a significant impact on Persian history.
After Nadir Shah was assassinated, the Kohinoor diamond fell into the hands of Ahmad Shah Abdali of Kabul. After Abdali, it was ceded by the Afghans to Sikh King Ranjit Singh of Punjab. On his death-bed in 1839, Ranjit Singh willed the Koh-i-Noor to the Jagannath Temple at Puri.
 Shah crossed Mughal territory at the Mukhur spring and halted at Qarabagh, south of Ghazni. A detachment was sent under Nader’s son, Nasrullah, to attack the Afghans of  Ghorband  and Bamian. When the governor of Ghazni fled upon hearing of Nader’s approach, the Qadi, Scholars, and rich men of Ghazni gave the invaders presents and submitted to Nader when he entered on 31 May. Meanwhile, the other detachment had defeated the Afghans, pardoning all who surrendered, and executing cruel punishment on those who resisted.

With his flank secure, Nader was free to march to Kabul. The chief men of the city tried to give in peacefully, but Sharza Khan decided to give resistance.
Consequent to occupying Afganistan and  Nader resumed marching towards Indis. They built a bridge over the Indus river by Attock and crossed the Chenab near Wazirabad on 8 January 1739. In the Battle of Karnal on 24 February 1739, Nader led his army to victory over the Mughals. Muhammad Shah surrendered and both entered Delhi together. The keys to the capital of Delhi were surrendered to Nader. He entered the city on 20 March 1739. The next day, the Shah held a durbar in Delhi.
The Afsharid occupation led to price increases in the city. The city administrator attempted to fix prices at a lower level and Afsharid troops were sent to the market at Paharganj, Delhi to enforce them. However, the local merchants refused to accept the lower prices and this resulted in violence during which some Afsharid troops were assaulted and killed.
When a rumour spread that Nader had been assassinated by a female guard at the Red Fort, local residents attacked and killed 3,000 Afsharid troops during the riots that broke out on the night of 21 March, 1739, Nader, furious at the killings, retaliated by ordering his soldiers to carry out the notorious cold blooded massacres of common public.
Fully armed Afsharid army of occupation turned their swords and guns on to the unarmed and defenceless civilians in the city.
  The Afsharid soldiers were given full licence to do as they pleased and promised a share of the wealth as the city was plundered.

Areas of Delhi such as Chandni Chowk and Dariba Kalan, Fatehpuri, Faiz Bazar, Hauz Kazi, Johri Bazar and the Lahori, Ajmeri and Kabuli gates, all of which were densely populated by both Hindus and Muslims, were soon covered with corpses. Muslims, like Hindus, resorted to killing their women, children and themselves rather than submit to the Afsharid soldiers.

Muhammad Shah was forced to beg for mercy. These horrific events were recorded in contemporary chronicles such as the Tarikh-e-Hindi of Rustam Ali, the Bayan-e-Waqai of Abdul Karim and the Tazkira of Anand Ram Mukhlis.

Finally, after many hours of desperate pleading by the Mughals for mercy, Nader Shah relented and signalled a halt to the bloodshed by sheathing his battle sword once again.
It has been estimated that during the course of six hours in one day, 22 March 1739, approximately 20,000 to 30,000 Indian men, women and children were slaughtered by the Afsharid troops during the massacre in the city.
Exact casualty figures are uncertain, as after the massacre, the bodies of the victims were simply buried in mass burial pits or cremated in grand funeral pyres without any proper record being made of the numbers cremated or buried. In addition, some 10,000 women and children were taken slaves, according to a representative of the Dutch East India Company in Delhi.]
The city was sacked for several days.
An enormous fine of 20 million rupees was levied on the people of Delhi. Muhammad Shah handed over the keys to the royal treasury, and lost the Peacock Throne, to Nader Shah, which thereafter served as a symbol of Persian imperial might. Amongst a treasure trove of other fabulous jewels, Nader also gained the Koh-i-Noor and Darya-i-Noor diamonds; they are now part of the British and Iranian Crown Jewels, respectively.
Nader and his Afsharid troops left Delhi in the beginning of May 1739, but before they left, he ceded back all territories to the east of the Indus, which he had overrun, to Muhammad Shah. The sack of the city and defeat of the Mughals was made easier since both parties were originally from Persian cultures.
On Nader’s return to Iran, Sikhs fell upon his army and seized a large amount of booty and freed the slaves in captivity and Nader’s army could not pursue them successfully as they were oppressed by the terrible heat of the month of May, and being overloaded with booty. But, still the plunder seized from Delhi was so much that Nader stopped taxation in Persia for a period of three years following his return. The governor of Sindh did not comply with Nader Shah’s demands. Nader Shah’s victory against the crumbling Mughal Empire in the East meant that he could afford to turn to the West and face the Ottomans. The Ottoman Sultan Mahmud I initiated the Ottoman–Persian War (1743–1746), in which Muhammad Shah closely cooperated with the Ottomans until his death in 1748.
According to Axworthy, Nader’s Indian campaign alerted the East India Company to the extreme weakness of the Mughal Empire and the possibility of expanding to fill the power vacuum. Axworthy claims that without Nader, eventual British rule in India would have come later and in a different form, perhaps never at all – with important global effects.

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