Mughal Empire, First phase: Babur and Humayun- Part I
- Babur ascended the throne at Farghana (a small principality in Transoxiana) in 1494 at the age of twelve. However, it was not a smooth succession for Babur.
- Both the Mongol Khans as well as the Timurid princes, specially Sultan Ahmad Mina of Samarqand, an uncle of Babur, had interests in Farghana.
- Besides, Babur had to face the discontented nobility. selfstudyhistory.com
- Against all odds Babur struggled to strengthen his foothold in Central Asia and did succeed in taking Samarqand twice (1497, 1500). But he could hardly hold that for long.
- With Shaibani Khan‘s success over Khorasan (1507) the last of the four Timurid centres of power finally sealed Babur’s fate in Central Asia and he was left with no option but to look towards Kabul where the conditions were most favourable. Its ruler Ulugh Beg Mina had already died (1501).
- Babur occupied Kabul in 1504. Yet Babur could not completely leave the dream to rule over Central Asia.
- With the help of Shah Ismail Safavi, he was able to control over Samarqand (1511) but Shah Ismail’s defeat in 1512 and the resurgence of the Uzbegs left Babur with no alternative but to consolidate himself at Kabul.
- Thus, it was the Central Asian situation which pressed and convinced (after 1512) Babur to abandon the hopes of creating an Empire in Central Asia and look towards India.
- Other reasons:
- The rich resources of India and the meagre income of Afghanistan, as Abul Fazl comments, might have been another attraction for Babur.
- The unstable political situation after Sikandar Lodi’s death convinced him of political discontentment and disorder in the Lodi Empire.
- Invitations from Rana Sanga and Daulat Khan Lodi, the governor of Punjab, might have whetted Babur’s ambitions.
- Perhaps Timur’s legacy also provided some background for his invasion. (After the siege of Bhira in 1519, Babur asked Ibrahim Lodi to return western Punjab which belonged to his uncle Ulugh Beg Mizra.)
- Thus, Babur had both reasons and opportunity to look towards India.
Political condition of India on the eve of Babur’s invasion:
- The first half of the fifteenth century witnessed political instability with the
disintegration of the Tughluq dynasty. Both the Saiyyad (1414-1451) and the Lodi (1451-1526) rulers failed to cope with the disruptive forces.
- The nobles resented and rebelled at the earliest opportunity. The political chaos in the North-West provinces had weakened the centre.
- In Central India there were three kingdoms: Gujarat, Malwa and Mewar.
- The power of Sultan Mahmud Khalji II of Malwa was on the decline.
- Gujarat was ruled by Muzaffar Shah II.
- Mewar under the leadership of Sisodia ruler Rana Sanga was the most powerful kingdom.
- Rana Sanga had established his control over eastern Malwa, and was in competition with the Lodis for control over eastern Rajasthan and the rest of Malwa.
- Rulers of Malwa were under constant pressure of the Lodis, Mewar and Gujarat. This was because:
- It was the most fertile region and an important source for elephant supply.
- It provided an important trade route to Gujarat sea-ports.
- For both Gujarat and Mewar it could serve as a buffer against the Lodis.
- The Sultan of Malwa was an incompetent ruler, and his prime minister Medini Rai could hardly hold the kingdom intact for long in the wake of internal strifes.
- Finally, Rana Sanga, succeeded in extending his influence over Malwa and Gujarat.
- By the close of the 15th century, Rana Sanga’s sway over Rajputana became almost complete with the occupation of Ranthambhor and Chanderi.
- In south, there were powerful Vijaynagar and Bahmani kingdoms.
- Towards the east, Nusrat Shah ruled Bengal.
- Towards the closing years of Ibrahim Lodi’s reign, Afghan chieftains Nasir Khan Lohani, Ma’ruf Farmuli, etc. succeeded in carving out separate kingdom of Jaunpur under Sultan Muhammad Shah.
- Besides these major powers, there were numerous Afghan chieftaincies around Agra like Hasan Khan in Mewat, Nizam Khan in Bayana etc.
- While analysing the political set-up on the eve of Babur’s invasion it is generally said that there was confederacy of Rajput principalities which was ready to seize the control of Hindustan.
- It is held that had Babur not intervened, the Rajputs led by their illustrious leader Rana Sanga would have captured power in northern India.
- It is argued that the political division of the regional states was religious in nature and that Rajput confederacy under Rana Sanga fired by religious zeal wanted to establish a Hindu Empire.
- This assumption is based on the famous passage of Baburnama where Babur says that Hindustan was governed by ‘five Musalman rulers’:
- the Lodis (at the centre), Gujarat, Malwa, Bahmani, and Bengal, and two ‘pagans’ (Rana Sanga of Mewar and Vijaynagar).
- Besides, the fathnama issued after the battle of Khanwa suggests that Rajput confederacy under Rana was inspired by religious zeal and organised with the intention to overthrow the “Islamic power”.
- However, such observations have been questioned by historians.
- Babur has nowhere suggested that these powers were antagonistic against each other on religious grounds.
- Instead, Babur himself admits that many rais and ranas were obedient to Islam.
- Moreover, in the composition of the confederacy, there were many Muslim chieftains like Hasan Khan Mewati, Mahumud Khan Lodi, etc. who side with Rana Sanga against Babur.
- In fact, it was not Rana Sanga, but Sultan Mahmud who proclaimed himself the king of Delhi.
- Though, the power of Rana was unquestionable, Babur was more anxious of Afghan menace: thus the theory of religious consideration does not seem to hold ground.
- In the period between 1517 and 1519, two apparently unconnected events took place which profoundly affected the history of India.
- The death of the Afghan ruler, Sikandar Lodi, at Agra towards the end of 1517 and the succession of Ibrahim Lodi.
- The conquest of Bajaur and Bhira, by Babur in the frontier tract of north-west Punjab in the beginning of 1519.
Foundation of Mughal rule in India
- Much before the final showdown at the battle of Panipat (1526), Babur had invaded India four times. These skirmishes were trials of strength of Mughal arms and Lodi forces.
- The first to fall was fort of Bhira (1519-1520), the gateway of Hindustan (situated on the river Jhelum),
- followed by Sialkot (1520) and Lahore (1524).
- He put forward a vague claim that the areas which had once belonged to Timur be surrendered to him, and despatched an envoy to Ibrahim Lodi for the purpose.
- The governor of Lahore at that time was Daulat Khan Lodi.
- He sent his son, Dilawar Khan, to Babur at Kabul in 1521-22. He invited Babur to invade India since, he said, the ruler, Ibrahim Lodi, was a tyrant. He asserted that he had been sent to Babur by many nobles who were ready to obey.
- Babur also received an envoy from Rana Sanga who, according to Babur, proposed that while Babur attacked Delhi, Sanga would attack Agra.
- Motives of invitation:
- They apparently expected Babur to withdraw, like Timur, after setting up a titular ruler at Delhi who would be weak and would depend on him.
- They hoped this would enable them to continue to rule as before, and extend their control over the areas they coveted.
- The arrival of these envoys convinced him that the situation was ripe for undertaking the conquest of India.
First Battle of Panipat (20 April,1526):
- In preparation of the conflict, Babur had consolidated his position in Afghanistan by capturing Balkh from the Uzbeks.
- He had also captured Qandahar. Thus, having secured his rear and flank, in November 1525, Babur marched from Kabul for the conquest of Hindustan.
- Marching by way of Sialkot which yielded to him without opposition, Babur reached Lahore which was being besieged by Daulat Khan Lodi and his son, Ghazi Khan. At Babur’s approach, their army melted away.
- Having conquered Punjab, Babur moved slowly towards Delhi.
- Ibrahim Lodi made no move to contest Babur’s position in Punjab.
- Babur learnt that Ibrahim was advancing leisurely, marching two or four miles, and stopping at each camp for two to three days.
- Ibrahim Lodi had not carefully studied Babur’s defensive formation even though the two armies stood face to face for almost a week, and daily skirmishes went on.
- Finally, Ibrahim Lodi and Babur’s forces met at the historic battlefield of Panipat. The battle lasted for just few hours in favour of Babur.
- The battle shows Babur’s skill in the art of warfare.
- His soldiers were less in number but the organisation was superior.
- Babur placed Ibrahim’s army at 100,000 and 1000 elephants. According to Afghan sources, the effective strength of Ibrahim Lodi at Panipat was 50,000. On the other hand Babur had only 12,000 horseman.
- The battle proved to be a triumph of generalship over numbers.
- Considering that Ibrahim Lodi’s army was much larger than his own, and in order to avoid being surrounded by it, Babur chose the ground carefully.
- He protected his right by resting it on the city of Panipat, and on the left, dug a ditch with branches of felled trees so that the cavalry could not cross it.
- In front, he put together 700 carts. These carts were joined together by ropes of raw hide, and between every two carts short breastworks were put up behind which matchlockmen could stand and fire.
- Babur calls this method of stringing carts the Ottoman (Rumi) devise because, along with cannons it had been used by the Ottoman Sultan.
- This was a very strong defensive as well as offensive arrangement. Babur had a very poor opinion of Ibrahim Lodi as a strategist.
- He says, “he was an unproved brave; he provided nothing for his military operations, he perfected nothing, nor knew how to stand, nor move, nor fight.”
- Babur successfully applied the Rumi (Ottoman) method of warfare
- The Afghans, greater in number, were unable to move forward nor backward.
- Babur sent his two flanking parties (tulghuma) to wheel around in the Uzbek fashion, and attack Ibrahim’s army from the both sides and rear.
- From the front, Babur’s cavalrymen shot off arrows, and his matchlockmen poured a deadly fire on the huddled mass of Afghans.
- Babur had hired two Ottoman gunners, Ustad Ali and Mustafa, and appointed Ustad Ali as master of ordnance. Babur says that Ustad Ali and Mustafa made good discharge of field cannons from the centre.
- Afghan army was completely paralyzed.
- Surrounded from all sides, Ibrahim Lodi fought on bravely and died fighting. Babur paid a tribute to his bravery by burying him on the spot with honour.
- Afghan casualties reported by Babur were approximately 20,000.
- Vikramajit, the ruler of Gwaliyar, was among those who died fighting in the battle.
- In the battle it was not Babur’s artillery but his ‘superb tactics‘ and the ‘mounted archers‘ and cavalry played the decisive role, as acknowledged by Babur.
- Significance of the battle of Panipat:
- The battle of Panipat was undoubtedly one of the decisive battles of Indian history.
- It smashed the power of the Lodis, and opened up the entire territory upto Jaunpur to Babur’s control.
- The rich treasures stored by the Lodi Sultans at Agra relieved Babur of his financial difficulties.
- However, the battle of Panipat, though, formally established the Mughal rule in India, it was first among the series of battles in the years to come before he could consolidate his position.
- For example, to secure this triumph, it was equally important to overcome Rana Sanga of Mewar and the chieftains in and around Delhi and Agra.
- Another important opponent in the eastern India was the Afghans.
- To add to this, problems were mounting within his own nobility.
- Thus, politically the battle of Panipat was not as decisive as it was militarily.
- However, it marks a new phase in the struggle for the establishment of a hegemonic political power in north India.
Babur and the Rajput Kingdoms:
- Rana Sanga of Mewar was a power to reckon with.
- Babur, in his Memoir, has blamed Rana Sanga for breaking his promise by not siding with him in the battle of Panipat against Ibrahim Lodi.
- There was some understanding on both sides to join hands against Ibrahim Lodi in which the Rana faltered.
- Rana expected Babur to return to Kabul and leave him free to establish his hegemony.
- Babur’s decision to stay back must have given a big jolt to Rana’s ambitions.
- Babur was also fully aware of the fact that it would be impossible for him to consolidate his position in India unless he shattered the Rana’s power.
- Rana Sanga this time succeeded in establishing the confederacy against Babur with the help of Afghan nobles.
- The Rana was joined by almost all the leading Rajput Rajas from Rajasthan — such as Harauti, Jalor, Sirohi and Dungarpur from South and West Rajasthan, and Dhundhar and Amber from the east.
- Rao Medini Rao of Chanderi in Malwa also joined.
- Mahmud Lodi, the younger son of Sikandar Lodi, also joined whom the Afghans had proclaimed their Sultan.
- Hasan Khan Mewati of Mewat not only joined the Rana but also played a crucial role in forming the confederacy.
- Several other Afghans joined Rana.
- Husain Khan Nuhani occupied Rapri, Rustam Khan prevailed over Koil, while Qutub Khan captured Chandawar.
- Pressure of eastern Afghans was so much that Sultan Muhammad Duldai had to leave Qannauj and join Babur.
- To add to this, the defeat of Babur’s commander Abdul Aziz and Muhibb Ali at Bayana and their praise of the valour of the Rajput army completely demoralised Babur’s army.
- The Rana was joined by almost all the leading Rajput Rajas from Rajasthan — such as Harauti, Jalor, Sirohi and Dungarpur from South and West Rajasthan, and Dhundhar and Amber from the east.
- Ferishta and Badauni (Akbar’s contemporary) comment that “the sense of defeatism was so strong that it was proposed by a majority at a council of war that the Padshah should withdraw to Punjab.
- The Baburnama does not say anything about such a proposal, but this shows the general feeling of despair and frustration.
- However, Babur prevailed over the situation with his fiery speech touching the religious sentiments of his men.
- He declared the war against the Rana to be a jihad or holy war.
- Babur also renounced wine, breaking flasks of choice Ghazni wine. He also promised to remit the tamgha (toll) on all Muslims if he gained a victory over the Rana.
- Babur denounces the Afghans who opposed him as kafirs and mulhids. This shows that these words were often used in a political as well as a religious sense.
- After the battle of Khanwa, Babur assumed the title of ghazi.
- Sanga represented a Rajput-Afghan alliance, the proclaimed objective of which was to expel Babur, and to restore the Lodi empire.
- Hence, the battle at Khanua can hardly be seen as a religious conflict between Hindus and Muslims, or even as a Rajput bid to establish a Rajput hegemony over North India.
- Battle of Khanwa (16 March, 1527):
- Babur fortified his position near Sikri at the village Khanwa. Here also he planned and organised his army on the ‘Ottoman’ lines.
- This time he took the support of a tank on his left, front side again was defended by carts but ropes were replaced by iron chains.
- However, this time he used the strong wooden tripods connected with each other by ropes. They offered not only protection and rest to the guns but also they could move them forward and backward on the wheels.
- It took around 20-25 days to complete the strategy under Ustad Mustafa and Ustad Ali.
- In the battle (17th March, 1527) Babur made use of his artillery well.
- Rana Sanga got severely wounded and was carried to Baswa near Amber. Hasan Khan Mewati was killed. The Rajputs suffered a big loss.
- It was irrational for Rana to remain inactive for over three weeks. This provided an opportunity to Babur to strengthen himself and prepare for war.
- Babur’s disciplined army, mobile cavalry and his artillery played most decisive role in the battle.
- Khanua completed to battle of Panipat, and Babur’s position in the Gangetic doab was made largely secure.
- Battle of Chanderi:
- Though the Mewar Rajputs received a great shock at Khanwa, Medini Rai at Malwa was still a power to reckon with.
- In 1520 Rana Sanga had bestowed Malwa on Medini Rai, the chief noble of Mahmud II of Malwa. In spite of great vaisur with which the Rajputs fought at Chanderi (1528), Babur faced little difficulty in overcoming Medini Rai.
- With his defeat, resistance across Rajputana was shattered. But Babur had to tackle the Afghans.
Babur and the Afghan Chieftains:
- The Afghans had surrendered Delhi, but they were still powerful in the east (Bihar and parts of Jaunpur) where the Nuhani Afghans were dominant led by Sultan Muhammad Nuhani.
- The Afghans of Chunar, Jaunpur and Awadh were not ready to cooperate with the Nuhanis in a bid to give a united opposition against the Mughals. Instead, they surrendered meekly to Humayun (1527).
- In the meantime Sultan Muhammad Nuhani died (1528) and left the Nuhanis disjointed as his son Jalal Khan was still a minor.
- But the vacuum was soon filled by the appearance of Prince Mahmud Lodi, son of Sikandar Lodi and brother of Ibrahim.
- The Afghans, including the non-Nuhanis, who were a little hesitant earlier to side with the Nuhanis, now readily accepted Mahmud’s leadership.
- Besides, several Nuhani Afghans who felt leaderless with the desertion of Jalal to Bengal, welcomed Mahmud.
- Nusrat Shah of Bengal also, though apparently advocated friendship with Babur, secretly adopted hostile measures against him.
- He considered the existence of the Nuhani kingdom in Bihar as buffer between the Mughals and his own possessions in parts of Bihar.
- Babur could hardly afford to ignore these developments.
- He mobilized his forces at Ghagra and inflicted a crushing defeat upon Nusrat Shah’s army (1529).
- Thus ended the Afghan-Nusrat coalition and Nusrat Shah had to surrender large number of Afghan rebels who had taken asylum in his territory.
- The Afghans were now totally demoralized.
- Thus, within four years Babur succeeded in crushing the hostile powers and now could think of consolidating himself at Delhi. But he could hardly get the opportunity to rule as he died soon after (29 December, 1530).
- The establishment of the Mughal Empire under the aegis of Babur was significant. Though the Afghans and Rajputs could not be crushed completely, a task left to his successors, his two major blows at Panipat and Khanwa were certainly decisive and destroyed the balance of power in the region and perhaps was a step towards the establishment of an all-India empire.
Significance of Babur’s advent into India
- Babur died at Agra on 30 December 1530 after a short illness.
- Babur’s health had been failing for the past several years due to hard campaigning, and the hot climate of India to which he was not accustomed.
- Although Babur greatly missed Afghanistan, and found many aspects of India to be distasteful, he considered India his home. All those of his begs who thought otherwise, were given leave to depart.
- Inclusion of Afghanistan in an empire based on India:
- It was a development of importance.
- Although Afghanistan was considered an integral part of India in antiquity, and was often called “Little India” even in medieval times, politically it had not been a part of India after the downfall of the Kushan empire.
- Since ancient times, Afghanistan had been the staging place for an onslaught on India.
- By keeping control of Afghanistan, and its two doors to India, Kabul and Qandahar, Babur and his successors safeguarded India from foreign invasion for 200 years.
- India became participant in Central Asian politics:
- The control of Babur and his successors over Afghanistan made India a player in Central Asian politics.
- Powerful rulers of the area — Turan, Iran, Ottoman Turkey, and others kept close diplomatic contact with India, and also sought its support on occasions.
- On their part, Babur and the succeeding Mughal rulers kept a close watch on political developments in Central and West Asia by means of a constant exchange of envoys.
- Thus, with the arrival of Babur, a new phase begins in India’s foreign policy and strategic perception.
- Economic significance:
- Control over Kabul and Qandahar strengthened India’s foreign trade.
- As Babur says in his Memoirs, “There are two trade-marts on the land-route between Hindustan and Khurasan; one is Kabul, the other, Qandahar.”
- To Kabul came caravans from Kashgar which was the trade mart to China, Transoxiana, Turkistan etc., and to Qandahar from Khurasan, i.e. Iran and West Asia.
- He goes on to say, “In Kabul can be had the products of Khurasan, Turkey, Iraq and China, while it is Hindustan’s own market.“
- Thus, the inclusion of Kabul and Qandahar in the empire created a favourable opportunity for the increase of India’s share in the great trans-Asian trade.
- Emergence of new Indian Empire:
- By his victories over Ibrahim Lodi and Rana Sanga, Babur paved the way for the emergence of a new Indian empire, sweeping away the balance of power which had gradually emerged in the country during the 15th century.
- Introduction of cannon and muskets in India:
- The introduction of cannon and muskets in India has generally been ascribed to Babur.
- Although gunpowder which is of Chinese origin was introduced into India from China, and was used for mining under the walls of the forts from the middle of the 13th century, its use for cannons and muskets was of European origin.
- Their use in Iran and Central Asia is generally dated back to the Ottomans at the battle of Chaldiran in 1514 against Shah Ismail.
- Babur quickly look it up by employing two Ottoman mastergunners in 1516, and mentions their first use at Bajaur in 1519.
- It was then used in the battles of Panipat and Khanua, and other battles fought by Babur.
- The use of artillery further strengthened the position of large states or empires against local petty rulers and zamindars who did not have the financial resources and means to employ them in a meaningful manner.
- It strengthened the process of centralization to that extent.
- But it made battle between states more destructive.
- New military tactics:
- Babur also introduced new military tactics in India, borrowing them from the Ottomans and the Uzbeks.
- These were the carts lashed together by iron-chains and protected by ditches, and the flanking parties (tulghuma).
- However, Babur’s victories cannot be ascribed only to the new weapons and tactics he employed, but equally to his skillful generalship, organization, care in choosing the battle ground, and deploying his men in the best manner.
- Re-establish the prestige of the Crown:
- The arrival of the Mughals helped to re-establish the prestige of the Crown in India.
- Although Sikandar Lodi and Ibrahim Lodi had tried to strengthen the position of the Crown, they had only limited success because of the strong Afghan tribal traditions of independence and equality.
- As a descendant of the two greatest warriors of Asia, Chingiz and Timur, Babur not only had high personal prestige, but he was a beneficiary of the Mongol-Persian tradition that the begs were merely the servants of the Great Khan who had a divine mandate to rule.
- Thus, none of his begs could challenge his position or aspire to rule.
- Babur was surprised when he learnt that in Bengal hereditary succession was rare, and that if any person kills the padshah and seats himself on the throne, armies, wazirs, soldiers submit to him at once and recognize him as the rightful ruler.
- The difference between the Timurids and their begs was emphasized by the rigid etiquette followed in their courts. Thus, all the begs, irrespective of status or age, had to stand.
- Although the differences in status and position between the ruler and his begs were clearly defined, Babur treated his begs well.
- Babur consulted his leading begs whenever any important decision was taken, and adviced Humayun to do likewise.
- He was liberal in his grant of stipends and gifts to his begs.
- They were invited to share Babur’s wine parties where music and dance, witticism and recital of poetry were common.
- The begs were invited to parties where opium was eaten. He even indulged in horse-play with his begs.
- Babur was prepared to share hardships with his begs and soldiers.
- Babur was also a stern disciplinarian.
- Begs who did not show their mettle in battle could lose their ranks and positions, their parganas taken away, and disgraced publicly.
- Mostly liberal religious policy:
- As a pious Muslim, Babur was regular in his prayers, and observed the fast of Ramzan without fail.
- He was also a devotee of Shaikh Ubaidullah Ahrar, the Naqshbandi saint, who was considered the patron saint of the Timurids, and placed emphasis on the strict observance of the sharia.
- However, Babur was not concerned with narrow sectarian differences.
- The atmosphere in Transoxiana was not one of narrow orthodoxy but of considerable freedom to individuals in religious matters.
- Wine-bibbling was common, even women indulging in it on occasions.
- Babur mentions Baba Quli who was made Babur’s guardian but “he prayed not; he kept no fasts; he was like a heathen..”
- Regarding the Hindus, it is true that Babur declared the war against Sanga a “jihad‘, and assumed the title of “ghazi” after the victory, forbade wine, and broke the wine-jars.
- The campaign against Medini Rao of Chanderi, a close associate of the Rana, was also declared a “jihad” .
- These were probably politically motivated actions.
- Regarding the erecting of pagan skulls at Khanua:
- It was meant not only to record a great victory, but to strike terror among the opponents.
- There are no references to Babur having destroyed temples in large scale.
- Babur visited the royal buildings and the temples in the fort of Gwaliyar, and notes the images there, but no effort was made to damage or destroy them.
- But the Jain deities in the Urwa valley were ordered to be destroyed because they were completely naked.
- Both at Sambhal and at Ayodhya, which were provincial head -quarters, mosques were built by destroying Hindu temples at the instance of Babur.
- The inscriptions at both these places give the credit of building the mosques to the local governors, Mir Hindu Beg at Sambhal and Mir Baqi at Ayodhya, mentioning that this was done at the instructions’ of Babur.
- Babur was probably moderate in religious affairs is also borne out by his attitude towards the autonomous Hindu rajas.
- In the Punjab, Hati Gakkhar, the chief of the Gakkhars, was allowed to rule over his ancestral lands after he accepted Babur’s suzerainty. Gakkhar troops fought for him at Khanua.
- Babur was even prepared to strike a political deal with the successors of Rana Sanga.
- Rani Padmavati, the widow of Rana Sanga, sought Babur’s support for her son, Vikramajit, who was being harassed by his brother. Babur received the Rani’s envoy with honour.
- Babur’s liberalism in matters of religion is also attested to by his fondness of painting, music and dance, and poetry.
- Babur praises Bihazad, the master painter at the court of Baisanqar Mirza at Herat.
- In addition to the verses interspersed in his Memoirs, he wrote a Diwan in Turkish.
- He prepared a versified version of the famous work Waladiyah Risala of Shaikh Ubaidullah Ahrar.
- He was also in touch with famous poets of the time, such as Ali Sher Navai.
- Babur’s Tuzuk-i Baburi or Memoirs of Babur is classified as a classic of world literature.
- Babur wrote his memoirs and these form the main source for details of his life.
- Written in Chaghtai Turkish, his chaste style made him the founder of modern Uzbeki Turkish.
- They were written in Chaghatai Turkic, his mother-tongue, though his prose was highly Persianized in its sentence structure, morphology and vocabulary.
- It was translated as Baburnama into Persian during the rule of Babur’s grandson Akbar.
- As a pious Muslim, Babur was regular in his prayers, and observed the fast of Ramzan without fail.
- Cultural significance:
- He was greatly influenced by the Persian culture and this affected both his own actions and those of his successors, giving rise to a significant expansion of the Persianate ethos in the Indian subcontinent.
- Not only do the Memoirs throw light on contemporary affairs, but they show Babur as one who was keenly interested in nature.
- He depicts in detail the fruits, flowers, animals and products of India, and comments on its social life and customs.
- He provides similar information about the other countries he spent time in — Farghana, Samarqand, Kabul etc.
- He draws skilful, thumbnail sketches of contemporaries, including their good and bad points. He does not spare himself in the process.
- He depicts his father, Umar Shaikh Mirza, as “short and stout rounded bearded and fleshy-faced” with a tunic so tight it was ready to burst.
- Another was Shaikh Mirza Beg, Babur’s first guardian. There was no greedier Shaikh than him in Umar Mirza’s presence, but “he was a vicious person and kept catamites (gay).” He says that this vicious practice was very common in his times. Babur was free from it, but he admits that when he was in Samarqand in 1499, he was maddened and afflicted for a boy in the camp bazar.
- Babur also freely recounts how on occasions he returned to camp dead drunk. But Babur always took the task of rulership very seriously. As he wrote to Humayun towards the end of his life, “No bondage equals that of sovereignty; retirement matches not with rule.“
- Thus, Babur introduced a new concept of the state which, resting on the Turko-Mongol theory of suzerainty, based itself on the strength and prestige of the Crown, absence of religious and sectarian bigotry, and the fostering of fine arts and the promotion of culture in a abroad perspective. This included the hamams (public and private baths), and gardens with running water.
Q. How does Tuzuk-i-Babri testify that Babar had been a cultured man?
- Tuzuk-i-Baburi is the autobiography of Babur, the founder of the Mughal empire in India. Babur wrote it in Turkish language. On the instruction of Akbar, Tuzuk-i Baburi was translated into Persian named, ‘Baburnamah’ in 1589 by one of his nobles, Mirza Abdur-Rahim.
- The Tuzuk-i-Baburi is a faithful description of the world the author had lived in, and of the people he had come into contact.
- Following facts in Tazuk-i Babri testifies Babar as a cultured man:
(1) Literary Taste
- Babar had a fine literary test. He was a great writer and poet. He made beautiful verses. Tuzuk-i Babri is written in beautiful and chaste language and is a delightful reading.
(2) Interest in architecture
- He had built many buildings in Samarqand and also tried the same in India but he did not have much time due to unconsolidated nature of Empire. He disliked non-symmetrical buildings of India.
(3) Interest in music, dance and painting
- Babur wrote books on music and had deept interest in it. In his wine parties, music and dance, witticism and recital of poetry were common. He had interest in painting.
(4) Love for nature
- Babur was a passionate lover of nature who found pleasure in streams, meadows and pasture lands of his own country; springs, lakes, plants, flowers, and fruits all had charm for him. This love of nature gave him the poetic genius.
- About India, he mentions about mountains, rivers, jungles, and streams and about various kinds of foodstuffs, fruits and vegetables. He gives a minute account of the flora and fauna of Hindustan.
- He writes about his own success and failure or about his shortcomings with candor, which greatly impresses the reader. With great regard for truth, Babur recorded historical events exactly as they had occurred. There was no hypocrisy.
- It is said: “If ever there were a case when the testimony of a single historical document, unsupported by other evidence, should be accepted as sufficient proof, it is the case with Babur’s Memoirs. No reader of this prince of autobiographers can doubt his honesty or his competence as witness and chronicler.”
(6) Liberal nature
- There was less sectarianism in him and less religious bigotry. Though he did show ruthlessness and destroyed temples in several occasions. ©selfstudyhistory.com
Administration under Babur:
- Babur had little inclination and no time to plan and set up a new system of administration in India.
- Both in Afghanistan and India he tried to continue the established system of administration.
- This implied leaving the task of day to day administration largely in the hands of his begs who were given large tracts in assignment (wajh).
- In these tracts, the task of administration and collection of land revenue, and maintenance of troops for the service of the state was left largely in the hands of the begs.