History Optional Paper-1 Solution – 2010: Q.7 (a)
7.(a) Comment on the Turko-Mongol theory of sovereignty. To what extent was it adopted by Babur and Humayun?
Turko-Mongol theory of sovereignty
Turko-Mongol theory of sovereignty was based on divine theory of sovereignty with absolute power to the leader, strength and prestige of the Crown, and absence of religious and sectarian bigotry.
Turks and Mongols considered position of the sovereign as something more than just a leader. In an era marked by clan and feudal disintegration and when leader had to deal with demands of clergy for special privileges and claim to determine right & wrong, it was felt that only a leader imbued with absolute authority and a sense of love for their people would be able to provide justice and stability. The position of the leader was sought to be buttresed by ascribing superanatural qualities in leader. Thus Mongol leader Changez Khan was considered as Son of Light”.
Timur, a Turk ruler, believed that since God is one and had no partner, therefore representative of God on the earth i.e. king, must be one. So, the king should have absolute sovereignty and must not be under the influence of anyone. This did not mean unrestrained use of power as Timur himself showed respect to nobles and clergy. But the final decision would always lay with the King.
One important aspect of the Mongol theory of sovereignty in later time was division of empire which started much after the death of Chingez Khan when Mongol polity started losing its centralizing and absolution character.
Though Turko-Mongol Theory of Sovereignty evolved as a common idea of kingship, there were some differences:
(1) While Timur’s idea of kingship was sometimes influenced by religious consideration, Chingez’s idea of kingship did not contain any religious element.
(2) Although in theory Timur believed in Islamic political ideas, priding himself as promoter and renovator (mujaddid) of Islam, arrogating to himself the position of Khalifah, without assuming that title and even going to the extent of reading khutba in his name, but in practice he recognised the political supremacy of Mongol Khan. He was content with the title of Amir and Mirza.
Chingez Khan, on the other hand, never allowed any restrain, political or religious. He gloried in the unbrindled enjoyment of absolute sovereignty.
Theory of sovereignty adopted by Babur
Babur was descendent of Timur from his father side and Mongol ruler Chingez Khan from his mother side. So, Babur’s idea of kingship was influenced by Turko-Mongol Theory of Sovereignty:
(1) Babur firmly believed in the hereditary monarchy – a fact which ran counter to the elective office of the ruler of the Islamic world. It implied that the state was a family property of the ruler.
(2) Babur proclaimed the position of supremacy by taking the title of Padshah and never considered himself subordinate to the Khalifah. He considered his authority neither subject to the universal control of Khalifah nor to the restraining power of an overlord. He rejected any idea of sharing sovereignty with Begs.
(3) Babur’s idea of kingship did not have religious and sectarian bigotry.
But, Babur did not follow the division of empire which had become the cardinal principle of Mongol theory of kingship in later time.
Theory of sovereignty adopted by Humayun
Humayun believed himself to be the recipoent of the divine inspiration in ruling the state. He claimed divinity and held that he was centre of the world of human beings even as sun was the centre of the universe. He was extolled by his court historian as a personification of spiritual and temporal sovereignty, thus signifying that he too like Babur, was free from any political or religious control. He considered himself as radiance of justice.
Humayun’s decision to shift soverignity to a water carrier for a day that had saved his life shows that Mughals considered sovereignty as personal property.
The Mongol principle of division of empire was revived after death of Babur. Humayun divided his empire among his brothers.