In the short span of her 49 years Chand Bibi had proved herself as one of the bravest statesman, an outstanding  woman of world history

The Tea Party is a four year old American obsession which had rocked the political world by ousting several prominent Republican leaders in US Congress. Addiction to Drinking Tea is a British Phenomenon. It was imposed upon Indians like Chinese were forcefully enslaved to Opium by colonial rulers. Tea was made commercially popular in India by British companies Lipton and Brookbond.  As the narrative goes, in 19 th century, an Englishman noticed that the people of Asam drank a dark liquid which was brewed from a wild plant. In 1823, a Singhpo King offered the tea as medical drink to a British Army officer. Today Narendra Modi is engaged at ‘Chaiye pa Cahrcha’ in Ahmedabad to show his concerns about women – One half of mankind.  I am not even going to discuss about Snoopgate  as much has already been written and would continue to be a subject of discussion regardless of whether Modi wins or loses in coming election. Today is the Women’s Day and I would like to transport this discussion from Ahmedabad to Ahmednagar.

The prima donna of this story is Chand Bibi. She was a chivalrous, noble and highly talented queen of Bijapur and her official designations included Regent of  Bijapur and Regent of Ahmednagar. She was also known as Chand Sultana or Chand Khatun. Her defensive fight for Ahmednagar against Mughal Emperor Akbar was the most important event of her life. In the short span of her 49 years (1550 – 1599 CE) she had proved herself as one of the bravest statesman, an outstanding  woman of world history. She is also a glittering example of tolerant and enlightened atmosphere that prevailed in South India in those days. Chand Bibi was a patron of arts and culture; she was an expert hunter and a courageous war strategist who lead her army to victory against one of the most powerful rulers of her time. She had twisted the arm of mighty Shehenshah Akbar-e-Azam.

Her father Hussain Nizam Shah I of Ahemdnagar had provided her the superior military training and she was an avid learner. She had mastered Arabic, Persian and Turkish languages. She was well posted in Marathi and Kannada as the state languages of her subjects. She had her deep interests in music and painting also. Under her stewardship Bijapur had prospered as a world trade center. She was also the sister of Burhan-ul-Mulk, the Sultan of Ahmednagar.

The early history of Ahmednagar starts from 240B.C. The Andhrabrityas dynasty ruled this region from B.C. 90 to A.D. 300. Then Rashtrakuta Dynasty took over till about 400 A.D. Later the Chalukya  kings held sway over the region to 1190 A.D. After the Western Chalukyas , Ahmednagar passed on to the Deogiri Yadavs who ruled from 1170 to 1310. Deogiri was modern Daulatabad, the capital city of Yadavs. Hemandri was the most notable minister and statesman of this time. He had invented the Modi script. The famous king of  the Yadav’s was Ramdeorao.  He was defeated by Alladin Khilaji, the commander-in-chief of the Moghal king of Delhi, Jallalnddin Khilaji at Devgiri in 1294. This was the first Islamic invasion of South India. Mohommed Tughlak, in 1338, the emperor of Delhi, made Deogiri his capital and changed its name to Daulatabad. Tughalk left and after him the departure, his deputies failed to rule honestly and efficiently. In 1337, Alladin Hasan Gangu, an Afghan soldier, rebelled against the Delhi Sultanate and established a new Muslim kingdom naming after his Brahmin preceptor Gangu Brahmin at Gulbarga. This kingdom is known in history as Bahamani or ‘Brahmin kingdom.’ The Bahamani rulers were at loggerheads with the Vijayanagara Empire of the south. In 1518 the Bahmani Sultanate broke up into five states. These were Adilshahi of Bijapur, Nizamshahi of Ahmadnagar, Quthshahi of Golkonda,  Barid Shahi of Bidar and Imadshahi of Berar. Initially they fought among themselves but soon realized that their strength lay in unity. They established a rapport among themselves and détente became the order of the day. As their common enemy was Vijayanagara Empire, they decided to come closer and developed strong ties. The four united Islamic kingdoms of South ultimately defeated Vijayanagar in 1565.

Chand Bibi, the daughter of Hussain Nizam Shah I of Ahemdnagar was married to Ali Adil Shah 1 of Bijapur. Ali Adil Shah’s father, Ibrahim Adil Shah was closer to Sunni nobles while Ali Adil Shah favored the Shias. After the death of Adil in 1580, the Shi’a nobles proclaimed his nine-year old nephew Ibrahem Adil Shah II as the ruler. General Kamal Khan rebelled against and declared himself as ‘Regent’. Chand Bibi strategically turned the tables against her rebellious commander and Kamal Khan was captured while fleeing. He was beheaded in the fort.

Chand Bibi’s sister was married to the Prince of Golkonda.  Her sister-in-law was married to Prince Murtuza of Ahmednagar.

Ali Adil Shah was a devoted husband and he had built a huge well in Chand Bibi’s name –Chand Bavadie. It was a big reservoir of water that supplied water round the year. It is still in use even today. The royal couple had no children and King Ali Adil named Ibrahim, his brother’s son as his successor. Adil was assassinated when he was away from the capital. Chand Bibi ruled as regent for 10 years, from 1580-1590, as the heir of the throne was growing. It was a peaceful time.  As the history later witnessed, the kingdom of Ahemdnagar was on fire after the death of Chand Bibi’s brother Burhan Ul-Mulk. It all happened as he had nominated his son Ibrahim as his successor. Army opposed the move and civil war followed. Chand Bibi reached Ahmadnagar in time and helped her nephew to ascend to the throne. But Ibrahim died in a battle.

Chand bibi Celebrating Chand Bibi on Womans Day

The shrewd ruler of Delhi was waiting for this eventuality. Emperor Akbar dispatched a large well equipped army under the leadership of his son Murad.  He laid siege to Ahmadnagar. That was time when the brave lady Chand Bibi, donning armour and shield herself led the army to battlefield.  Murad was forced to make a retreat. A golden chapter in the history of WOMANHOOD was written. The brilliant strategist and heroine Gen Chand Bibi won the war in the battlefield.

Unfortunately, it was short lived.  The time of bravery was over. Prince Daniyal and his father Emperor Akbar concocted the false news that Chand Bibi was handing over the kingdom on platter to the Mughal Emperor. The infuriated nobles assassinated Chand Bibi and Mughals marched to victory into the city of Ahmadnagar. A glorious chapter of Woman’s Glory was closed for ever.


By Naim Naqvi

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