Babur’s reign (1525-1530)

Zahiruddin Babur was not only a king but also an adventurer and intellectual. He succeeded his father to the throne of Farghana, a small kingdom in Central Asia, which was soon lost as a result of a civil war. He then tried to occupy Samarkand, the capital of Amir Timur but could not be successful.

Finally he conquered Kabul and turned his attention to India which was famous for its wealth. He defeated Ibrahim Lodhi (1517-1526) in the battle of Panipat and replaced him as the ruler of India. Interestingly, Babur recorded his adventures and all the events that led him to attain the Indian throne. Baburnama It is also known as Tuzuk-i-Baburi and Waqa-i-Babar. The book is in the Turkish language, which was Babur’s mother tongue. The first part was compiled by Babur himself, however, he could not work on the later parts because of his hectic life. The events from 1503 to 1504, from 1508 to 1519 and from 1525 to 1529 are missing. Babur’s writing is simple and straightforward, and all events are described as they happened without any exaggeration.

He beautifully portrays the character of the people he met. There is also an interesting account of some cities such as Fargana, Samarkand, Kabul and some Indian cities. Babur keenly observed the natural beauty in India, such as the birds, animals, trees, flowers, fruits, rivers, mountains and towns, and artistically portrays it in Baburnama. During Akbar’s rule, it was translated into Persian by Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan. In view of its historical significance, Baburnama has been translated in all major languages of the world.

Babur’s conquest of India

Apparently, the motive of Babur and his nobles was just to invade India and to loot its wealth and then to leave for Kabul but in reality Babur had something else in his mind! After the battle of Panipat, the royal treasury of the Lodhi dynasty was plundered by Babur but he generously distributed the war booty among his nobles, soldiers and relatives as his motive was to persuade them to stay in India.

Once the nobles and soldiers got the wealth, they wanted to go back to their homes as many of them could not bear the hot climate of India. Babur, on the other hand, had fully realised that after the conquest of India — a land which was rich in resources — it was not advisable to leave it. He wanted to stay and establish his power and to convince his nobles for this purpose; he assembled them and delivered a passionate speech.

An extract from Babur’s speech:

“When I knew of this unsteadiness amongst my people, I summoned all the Begs and took counsel. Said I, ‘There is no supremacy and grip on the world without means and resources; without lands and retainers, sovereignty and command are impossible. By the labours of several years, by encountering hardships, by long travel, by flinging myself and the army into battle, and by deadly slaughter, we, through God’s Grace, beat these masses of enemies, in order that we might take their broad lands. And now what force compels us, what necessity has arisen that we should, without cause, abandon countries taken at such risk of life? Was it for us to remain in Kabul the sport of harsh poverty? Henceforth, let no well-wisher of mine speak of such things! But let not those turn back from going, who, weak in strong persistence, have set their faces to depart!’”

On hearing the plea, the nobles decided to stay except Khwaja Kalan, one of his nobles. He left for Kabul and on his departure, he wrote this verse on the wall of his residence in Delhi:

“If safe and sound I cross the Sind,

Blacken my face ere I wish to for Hind.”

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