Bairam Khan

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Bairam Khan
بيرام خان
Bairam Khan
Prince Akbar and Noblemen Hawking, Probably Accompanied by His Guardian Bairam Khan
Regent of the Mughal Emperor
In office
Monarch Akbar
Personal details
Born c. 1501
Died 31 January 1561
Sahastralinga Tank, Anhilwad Patan, Gujarat under Mughal Empire
Children Rahim
Profession Chief advisor of Akbar, Military commander and commander-in-chief of Mughal army and Mughal Statesman
Religion Shia Islam
Military service
Allegiance Mughal Empire
Years of service c. 1517-1561
Rank 45
Commands Mughal Army
Battles/wars Battle of Khanwa
Battle of Ghaghra
Siege of Sambhal
Second Battle of Panipat

Bairam Khan also Bayram Khan (Persian: بيرام خان‎‎) (died 1561) was an important military commander, later commander-in-chief of the Mughal army, a powerful statesman and regent at the court of the Mughal emperors Humayun and Akbar. He was also guardian, chief mentor, advisor, teacher and the most trusted ally of Humayun. Humayun honored him as Khan Khanan, which means king of kings. Bairam was originally called Bairam "Beg" but later became honored as 'Kha' or Khan.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Bairam Khan was born in the region of Badakhshan in Central Asia, and belonged to the Baharlu clan of an Oghuz Turkic, Kara Koyunlu tribe. The Kara Koyunlu had ruled Western Persia for decades before being overthrown by their Ak Koyunlu rivals. Bairam Khan's father and grandfather had been part of Babur's service.[1]

Military service[edit]

Bairam entered Babur's service at the age of 16 and played an active role in the early Mughal conquests of India.[3] Bairam Khan later contributed greatly to the establishment of the Mughal empire under Humayun when he was entrusted with the position of muhardar (keeper of the seals) and took part in military campaigns in Benares, Bengal and Gujarat.[3] He accompanied Humayun during his exile in Persia and helped conquer Kandahar before serving as its governor for nine years. In 1556, he played a leading role as a commander in Humayun's reconquest of Hindustan.[4]

Following Humayun's death in 1556, Bairam Khan was appointed Regent over the young monarch Akbar. As regent, he consolidated Mughal authority in northern India and most notably led the Mughal forces at the Second Battle of Panipat, which was fought between Akbar and Hemu in November 1556.

Later years[edit]

Bairam Khan is assassinated by an Afghan at Patan, 1561, Akbarnama

Bairam Khan was a Shia Muslim and was disliked by the Sunni Turkic nobles.[5] He subsequently chose to leave India to perform the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.[6]

While travelling through Gujarat,[7] he was assassinated by Haji Khan Mewati of Alwar, who was the General and close confidante of Emperor Hemu (who had been defeated and killed by Akbar).

Marriage with Khanzada Jamal Khan's Daughter[edit]

Gazetteer of Ulwur states:

Soon after Babar's death, his successor, Humayun, was supplemented by Sher Shah in 1540 A.D., later followed by Islam Shah in 1545 A.D. During the reign of the latter, a battle was fought and lost by the Emperor's troops at Firozpur Jhirka in Mewat, on which, however, Islam Shah did not lose his hold. Adil Shah, the third of the Pathan interlopers, who succeeded in A.D. 1552, had to contend for the Empire with the returned Humayun.[8]

In these struggles for the restoration of Babar's dynasty Khanzadas apparently do not figure at all. Humayun seems to have conciliated them by marrying the elder daughter of Jamal Khan, the nephew of Babar's opponent Hasan Khan, and having his minister, Bairam Khan, marry Hasan's younger daughter Mewatti.[9] Bairam's other wife was Salima Sultan Begum, who married Akbar after his death.


Due to a difference in opinion with Bairam Khan, Akbar told him that he could either retire and stay in the palace or go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Bairam chose the latter. While travelling through Gujarat,[7] he was assassinated by Haji Khan Mewati of Alwar, who had been the General of Hemu, and had been staying at Patan after Akbar's forces captured Alwar Sarkar in 1559.

When Bairam Khan was at Sahastralinga Tank, a religious site near Anhilwad Patan, he was recognised by Lohani Pashtun, an associate of Haji Khan Mewati. Haji Khan attacked and killed Bairam Khan in order to take revenge for Hemu's death. Bairam Khan died on January 31, 1561. However, his son and wife were allowed to go free and sent to north India. Bairam Khan's wife, who was also the cousin of Akbar, married Akbar after Bairam Khan's death. Bairam's son, Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, became an important part of Akbar's administration and was one of the 'Nav-ratans' (Nine Gems) of Akbar's court.


  1. ^ a b Thackston, Wheeler M. (2002) The Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor The Modern Library, New York, p.xix, ISBN 0-375-76137-3
  2. ^ Ahmed,Humayun,(2011) Badsha Namdar, National Library, Dhaka, pp.200-233. ISBN 978-984-502-017-6
  3. ^ a b Ray, Sukumar & Beg, M.H.A. (1992) Bairam Khan, Mirza Beg, 1992, page 11, ISBN 969-8120-01-7
  4. ^ Ray, Sukumar & Beg, M.H.A. (1992) Bairam Khan, Mirza Beg, 1992, page 27, ISBN 969-8120-01-7
  5. ^
  6. ^ Rahim-Abdul Rahim Khankhanan at Indiagrid
  7. ^ a b Bose, Mandakranta. Faces of the Feminine in Ancient, Medieval, and Modern India, 2000.
  8. ^ Full text of "The Imperial Gazetteer of India, Volume- XXI. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  9. ^ (pages 7 + 8)

Further reading[edit]


  • Singh, Damodar (2003) Khan-i-Khanan Bairam Khan: a political biography Janaki Prakashan, Patna, India, OCLC 54054058
  • Shashi, Shyam Singh (1999) Bairam Khan : soldier and administrator (Series Encyclopaedia Indica volume 58) Anmol Publishing, New Delhi, India, OCLC 247186335
  • Pandey, Ram Kishore (1998) Life and achievements of Muhammad Bairam Khan Turkoman Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, India, OCLC 5007653.
  • Ray, Sukumar (1992) Bairam Khan Institute of Central and West Asian Studies, University of Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan, OCLC 29564939.


  • Agravāla, Sushamā Devī (1994) Bairamakhām̐ aura usake vaṃśaja kā Mugala sāmrājya meṃ yogadāna Rāmānanda Vidyā Bhavana, New Delhi, India, OCLC 34118191, in Hindi. (Contribution of Bairam Khan, 1524?-1561, Mogul nobleman, to the Mogul Empire.)
  • Devīprasāda, Munśī (2001) Khānakhānā nāmā Pratibhā Pratishṭhāna, New Delhi, India, ISBN 81-85827-89-3, in Hindi. (On the life and achievements of Bairam Khan, 1524?-1561, ruler in the Mogul Empire and Khane Khana Abdul Rahim Khan, 1556–1627, Braj poet.)