Zaheer-ud din Muhammad Babur was the 1st Mughal emperor and the founder of the great Mughal Dynasty which ruled Indian Empire for almost one hundred and fifty years and won many laurels in various domains of life.
|Name:||Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur|
|In Urdu:||ظهیرالدین محمد بابر|
|Famous As:||Founder of Mughal empire in Indian Sub-continent|
|Reign:||20 April 1526 – 26 December 1530|
|Language:||Chaghatai language, Persian, and the lingua franca of the Timurid elite,|
|Date:||14 February 1483|
|Ethnicity:||Barlas tribe, Mongolian origin|
|Spouse:||Mubarika Yusufzai, Aisha Sultan Begum, Zaynab Sultān Begum, Masuma Sultān Begum, Maham Begum, Dildar Begum, Gulnar Aghacha, Gulrukh Begum, Nargul Agha Begum, Saliha Sultan Begum,|
|Children:||Humayun, Gulbadan Begum, Kamran Mirza, Altun Bishik, Gulchehra Begum, Hindal Mirza, Fakhr-Un-Nissa, Askari Mirza, Gulrang Begum,|
|Parents:||Umar Shaikh Mirza II|
|Mother:||Qutlugh Nigar Khanum|
|Maternal Grand Mother:||Daulat Begum|
|Date:||26 December 1530|
|Place of Death:||Agra|
|Rest Place:||Kabul, Bagh-e Babur|
Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, the ruler of Kabul and Qandahar was one of the greatest men of medieval Asia. He was born on 14th February, 1483 and his father Umar Shaikh Mirza-II was the ruler of Farghana. Babur’s father was a Timurid prince while his mother was a descendant of Changez Khan.
From his very boyhood, Babur was very brave, fearless, courageous, self-reliant and ambitious. His father died when Babur was a mere lad of eleven and from 1494 to 1504 A.D. he had to suffer a lot of opposition from the side of his maternal and paternal uncles and his own brothers. Young Babur received great help from his maternal grandmother, Aisan Daulat Begum in his quest to retain his kingdom.He had also to face the famous Uzbeg leader Shaibani Khan. Even then, he ever lost his nerve and besides maintaining his hold over Farghana twice occupied Samarqand as well and seated himself on the throne of his great ancestor, Amir Timur.
Babur’s first wife, Aisha Sultan Begum, was his paternal cousin, the daughter of Sultan Ahmad Mirza, his father’s brother. She was an infant when betrothed to Babur, who was himself five years old. They married eleven years later, c. 1498–99. The couple had one daughter, Fakhr-un-Nissa, who died within a year in 1500. Three years later, after Babur’s first defeat at Fergana, Aisha left him and returned to her father’s household.In 1504, Babur married Zaynab Sultan Begum, who died childless within two years. In the period 1506–08, Babur married four women, Maham Begum (in 1506), Masuma Sultan Begum, Gulrukh Begum and Dildar Begum. Babur had four children by Maham Begum, of whom only one survived infancy. This was his eldest son and heir, Humayun. Masuma Sultan Begum died during childbirth; the year of her death is disputed (either 1508 or 1519). Gulrukh bore Babur two sons, Kamran and Askari, and Dildar Begum was the mother of Babur’s youngest son, Hindal.Babur later married Mubaraka Yusufzai, a Pashtun woman of the Yusufzai tribe. Gulnar Aghacha and Nargul Aghacha were two Circassian slaves given to Babur as gifts by Tahmasp Shah Safavi, the Shah of Persia. They became “recognized ladies of the royal household.”
Accession and Reign
- His father Umar Sheikh Mirza died in a freak accident in 1494. Babur, just 11 years old at that time, succeeded his father as the ruler of Fergana. Because of his young age, two of his uncles from the neighboring kingdoms threatened his succession to the throne.
- Amidst the relentless attempts by his uncles to snatch away his throne, young Babur received great help from his maternal grandmother, Aisan Daulat Begum in his quest to retain his kingdom.
- Babur proved to be an ambitious young man and nurtured a desire to capture the city of Samarkand to the west. He besieged Samarkand in 1497 and eventually gained control over it. He was just 15 at the time of this conquest. However, due to continued rebellions and conflicts, he lost control over Samarkand after just 100 days and also lost Fergana.
- He laid siege on Samarkand again in 1501 but was defeated by his most formidable rival, Muhammad Shaybani, khan of the Uzbeks. Unable to attain Samarkand, he then attempted to reclaim Fergana but again met with failure. He somehow escaped with his life and took refuge with hill tribes, living in exile for some time.
- He spent the next few years building a strong army and in 1504, he marched into the snow-bound Hindu Kush mountains into Afghanistan. He successfully besieged and conquered Kabul—his first major victory. This helped him to establish a base for his new kingdom.
- By 1505 he had set his eyes upon conquering territories in India. However, it would take him several more years before he was able to build a formidable army and finally launch an attack on the Delhi Sultanate.
Babur was very ambitious even when he was merely a boy. He made a bid to conquer Samarkand, the ancient capital of Chinghiz. He won the city twice, but lost in no times on both occasions. He lost his paternal kingdom Farghana too. Then, for a period he lived the life of a wanderer along with a band of loyal and faithful followers. At last he occupied Kabul in 1504. In 1522 he seized Kandahar and thus rounded off the western boundary of his kingdom.
Having failed to extend his empire in Central Asia, Babur turned his eyes to India. Political conditions in India were favorable to his designs. The Delhi Sultanate had lost its past glory and was on the point of disintegration. In northern India there were several states under the Afghans and Rajputs which were practically independent. Ibrahim Lodi, the Sultan of Delhi, was not a capable ruler. The governor of Punjab was a disaffected noble named Daulat Khan. Ibrahim’s uncle Alam Khan, who was a serious claimant of the throne of Delhi, was in touch with Babur. They invited Babur to India. Thus, on the eve of Babur’s invasion there was no political stability in North India.
First battle of Panipat 1526
Babur in order to set out for the conquest of India, first of all, he had to deal with Daulat Khan who had turned out Ala-ud-Din from Lahore. After defeating him, Babur advanced to Delhi. Ibrahim Lodhi came out of Delhi to give battle to Babur. The opposing armies met on the historic plains of Pani Pat. Babur had certain advantages,he sent out 4 to 5 thousands of his men to make a mighty attack on the Afghan camp which failed in its object. When the Afghan army came near Babur and noticed Babur’s front line defense, they hesitated and thus lost the advantage of a shock charges. Babur took the advantage of the enemy’s hesitation and directed his men to take up the offensive. Thus the superior general ship and strategy of Babur won the day. Ibrahim Lodhi was killed fighting bravely.
Battle of Khanwa
The victory at Panipat, however, did not make Babur’s position secure. He had yet to defeat Rana Sangram Singh (or Rana Sanga) of Mewar, and the Afghan chiefs of Eastern India. Rana Sanga, who also had asked Babur to invade India, thought that after plundering Babur would go back to Kabul. But Babur’s decision to stay in India spurred the Rana to action. Some Afghan chiefs also joined him. When Babur was informed of the Rana’s war-like preparations, he adopted a policy of conciliation toward the petty Afghan Chiefs and declared war against Rana Sanga. The two armies met at Khanwa on March 17, 1527. The Rajputs fought with their traditional bravery, but they could not withstand the deadly artillery fire. In this hotly contested fight the Rajputs suffered disastrous defeat with heavy loss of life. Rana Sangha escaped and died broken-hearted. With his death the dream of a Rajputs empire received a serious setback. In celebration of this victory Babur assumed the title of Ghazi.
Battle of Ghagra
The Rajputs were thus disposed of, but Babur had still to deal with the Afghan rulers of Bihar and Bengal. In 1529 Babur defeated the combined Afghan forces at the Battle of Ghagra (May, 1529).
Administration of Babur
Mughal Emperor, Babur was successful as a soldier and conqueror. But the administration of Babur was less structured. Babur had created a system of administration that could function very well in the time of war only.
The old administrative machinery of the Sultanate of Delhi had crumbled as the result of the Mughal attack, but Babur could not give a good system of administration to the land. He divided the territory among his chiefs Military and officials and entrusted to them the work of administration. Military governorship were thus set up.
- Babur’s empire was rather a stack of little states under one price than one uniformly governed kingdom. Many of the hill and frontier districts yielded a little more than nominal submission. Each local governor had his own system of administration and enjoyed power of life and death over the people with his contingent of troops whenever he was summoned to do so, and to remit annual revenues to the central treasury. Otherwise he was independent.
- Babur did not take steps to establish a common revenue system for the empire. No attempt was made to survey the land and fix a uniform demand on the basis of the actual produce of the soil. Judicial administration was also haphazard. Thus, there was little uniformity in the political situation of the different parts of this vast empire.
- Financial Administration of Babur was also weak. He did not realize that the success of administration depended upon sound finance, and squandered away the immense wealth that he had the good luck to acquire in the treasuries of Delhi and Agra.
- Later on,when Babur realized that the day-to-day administration could not be carried on without money, he was obliged to impose additional taxes in order to obtain necessary equipment for the army and to pay the salaries of the troops and the civil establishment. Next, he was compelled to have the recourse to imposing a heavy fee on all office-holders. Every official was required to pay a certain fixed sum to the royal treasury. This produced disastrous results. Offices began to be purchased by money and merit ceased to be the criterion for government appointments. Notwithstanding these measure, financial stringency continued and his son and successor, Humayun had to suffer from the effects of financial breakdown.He bequeathed to his son a monarchy which could be held together only by the continuance of war conditions, which in times of peace was weak and structure less.
Cultural taste of Babur
As emperor Babur was hailed from Barlas tribe, which was of Mongol origin and had embraced Turkic and Persian culture. He introduced these cultures to the sub continent o India. so that he would be remembered generations after generations.
Cities and their markets become markedly cosmopolitan – bazaars begin to wear the colours of Herat and Samarkhand. Markets geared to supply his favourite Central Asian fruits, saffron, grapes and nuts brought in from over the mountains. Markets get bakeries turning out fresh bread. Relatively novel meats such as rabbit (Babur’s favourite) and fowl premier in markets. Techniques of grilling and roasting become prevalent. The Imperial Kitchen Brigade is raised in rank; there is more emphasis on food safety . The Imperial Kitchen, in keeping with tradition of the preceding Sultans, makes liberal use of local inputs: ghee, rice, turmeric and sugarcane. At Imperial meals, pickles are generally served first and the main meal liberally informed by brinjals, pumpkins, gourds and plantain – many of which the Central Asian are encountering for the very first time. Soups, stews and broths make their mark in cuisine. Babur encourages the cultivation of his favourite melons. Babur brings the Central Asian style of gardens (the charbagh) to Hindustan. Although not one for throwing lavish parties, Babur understands their importance. Such feasts project imperial power and impress visitors. The feast described sets the tone for the sophistication of Mughal feasts in successive generations. Since Hindustan lacked any tradition of garden-keeping that impressed him. Babur brought over the geometric Central Asian tradition. He also initiated the cultivation of melons and elevated the status of the imperial kitchen.
Memoirs of Babur
The “Memoirs of Babur” or Baburnama are the work of the great-great-great-grandson of Timur (Tamerlane), Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur (1483-1530).
The Baburnama tells the tale of the prince’s struggle first to assert and defend his claim to the throne of Samarkand and the region of the Fergana Valley. After being driven out of Samarkand in 1501 by the Uzbek Shaibanids, he ultimately sought greener pastures, first in Kabul and then in northern India, where his descendants were the Moghul (Mughal) dynasty ruling in Delhi until 1858.
The memoirs offer a highly educated Central Asian Muslim’s observations of the world in which he moved. There is much on the political and military struggles of his time but also extensive descriptive sections on the physical and human geography, the flora and fauna, nomads in their pastures and urban environments enriched by the architecture, music and Persian and Turkic literature patronized by the Timurids. The selections here–all taken from his material on Fergana, have been chosen to provide a range of such observations from the material he recorded at the end of the 1490s and in the first years of the sixteenth century. It should be of some interest to compare his description of Samarkand with that of the outsider, Clavijo, from a century earlier.
Babur constructed several mosques around India, mostly taken from the desecrated Hindu temples. He constructed a series of buildings which mixed the pre-existing Hindu particulars with the influence of traditional Muslim designs which was practiced in Turks and Persian culture. The Jama Masjid at Sambhal, and Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, built by Babur, still bears the testimony of the development of architecture during Babur. The style represents the creativity of Islamic architecture and was the founding base of Mughal architecture with the amalgamation of Persian culture with Hindu culture.
The mosque that Babur himself provided is located in Panipat, presently placed in Karnal Districtof Haryana State. Inscriptions indicate that the mosque was well set into motion, if not finished, by the end of 1527 and its gate, well and garden were completed by 1528. But the location of the mosque is known as the garden eventually eroded. However, the building’s colossal size suggests that the mosque, rather than the garden, dominated the complex.
One of the mosques constructed by nobles under Babur’s orders is at Sambhal, approximately 140 km east of Delhi. It was constructed in 1526 by Mir Hindu Beg, a key noble in the court of both Babur and Humayun. Built a year before Babur’s Kabuli Bagh mosque in Panipat, the Sambhal mosque is the first surviving Mughal building in India. The complex is entered through a gate on the east that opens to a huge walled courtyard. The prayer chamber, resembling the one of the Panipat mosque, is rectangular with a large square central bay. Its entrance is set into a high Pishtaq. The chamber is flanked on both sides by three-bayed double-aisled side wings. A single dome surmounts the central bay and a small flat dome surmounts each bay of the side wings. The mosque’s Pishtaq and other features resembling 15th century Sharqi structures, intimates a potential dependence on local artisans and designers.
A second mosque possibly built in response to Babur’s general orders, stands at Ayodhya, today in Faizabad district, on the banks of the Ghaghara River. This very Mughal architecture during Babur is however the most arresting of the illustrations present in India in contemporary times, acknowledged as the Babri Masjid. Unlike the other mosques built under Babur’s aegis, this one at Ayodhya is a single-aisled three-bayed kind. It is also however considerably smaller than the other two. The central bay’s Pishtaq is much higher than the flanking side bays, but all three bays incorporate arched entrances. Most of the Babri Mosque is stucco-covered, over a rubble or brick core, but carved black stone columns from a pre-12th century temple are embedded onto both sides of the central entrance porch. The mosque is surmounted by three prominent domes. Babri Mosque, amidst its colossal existence, breathes the sighs of history, whilst reflecting the development of Mughal architecture during Babur’s regime.
It was constructed in an enclosed courtyard in the traditional Western Asia hypostyle plan and was an amalgamation of the Hindu architecture with that of Western Asian style. Central courtyard of the mosque is surrounded by lavishly arched columns overlaid to increase the height of the ceilings. The amazing architecture of their craftsmanship is noticeable in the design of vegetal scrolls and lotus patterns.
Ilness of prince Humayon
Humayun, who had been sent as governor of Badkhshan after the battle of Khanua, left his charge and returned to Agra without his father’s permission. He was instructed to go to his jagir at Sambhal, where he fell ill. He was, consequently, brought to Agra by water. Notwithstanding all possible medical assistance he showed no sign of improvement.
Babur consulted the well-known saint, Abu Baqa, who advised Humayun to seek remedy from God and give away in charity the most valuable thing in his possession.
Babur intervened and said that the most valuable possession of Humayun is Babur himself. And then prayed to the god to transfer the illness of Humayun to him. It is said that after this dramatic incident Babur was taken ill and Humayun began to get well.
While on his death bed, he nominated Humayun his successor and entrusted his other sons and family to his care. Babur died on 26th December, 1530. After the death of Babur, his body was laid to rest at Arambagh in Agra, whence it was subsequently carried to Kabul and buried at a beautiful spot which had been selected by Babur himself for the purpose.