Sher Shah Suri (1472-1545), was the visionary ruler to whom Akbar
, the great Mughal, owes most of his reformatory ideas. Sher Shah was powerful enough to hound the forces of Akbar’s father Humayun
, out of Delhi
. It was only after Sher Shah's death that Humayun could regain his throne.
The hardships that Sher Shah endured in his childhood made him ruthless to offenders yet considerate to the needy. Born as Farid, the son of a local jagirdar (provincial head), he earned the title Sher (Tiger) Shah by killing a tiger single-handed. Sher Shah tactfully expanded his reach by clever alliances and bold military maneuvers. His ambitions soared with his rising strength. One who always led from the front, Sher Shah died in an explosion while besieging the fort at Kalinjar. His weak successors fought among themselves and fell easy victims to their enemies.
During his short reign, Sher Shah initiated many revolutionary reforms, later taken up by Akbar, who stole the limelight. The abolition of jessiya, the tax on non-muslims imposed by the Muslim rulers of Delhi, was one among them. His administrative, martial and social reforms were path-breaking. The priceless contributions of this ruler remain under-explored owing to the brevity of his reign.