Mighty Mughal Empire Established

CENTRAL ASIAN CONQUEROR BABUR established the beginnings of the mighty Mughal Empire 492 years ago in India by defeating Sultan Ibrahim Lodi in the Battle of Panipat on April 21, 1526.

Born Zahīr ud-Dīn Muhammad (Persian: ظهیرالدین محمد‎), Babur was the founder and first Emperor of the Mughal dynasty in the Indian subcontinent and was thus the last of the Timurid and Chagatid rulers who weren’t slaughtered or defeated by Uzbeks, the descendants of Jochi. He was a direct descendant of the Emperor Timur the Great (Tamurlane) from Transoxiana (in modern-day Uzbekistan).

Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur
ظهیرالدین محمد بابُر

Babur was the eldest son of Umar Sheikh Mirza, governor of Ferghana and great grandson of Timur the Great. He ascended the throne of Ferghana in its capital Akhsikent in 1494 at the age of twelve and faced rebellion. He conquered Samarkand two years later, only to lose the vilayat of Ferghana soon after. In his attempt to reconquer Ferghana, he lost control of Samarkand. In 1501, his attempt to recapture both vilayats went in vain as he was defeated by Muhammad Shaybani Khan. In 1504, he conquered Kabul, which was under the rule of the infant heir of Ulugh Begh. Babur formed a partnership with Safavid ruler Ismail I and reconquered parts of Turkistan, including Samarkand, only to again lose it and the other newly conquered lands to the Sheybanids.

After losing Samarkand for the third time, Babur turned his attention to creating his empire in the north. At that time, the Indo-Gangetic Plain of the northern Indian Subcontinent was ruled by Ibrahim Lodi of the Afghan Lodi dynasty, whereas Rajputana was ruled by a Hindu Rajput Confederacy, led by Rana Sanga of Mewar. According to historical records and Baburnama (autobiography written by Babur himself) Daulat Khan Lodi invited him to attack Delhi where Ibrahim Lodi was ruling at that time. He sent his ambassador to him to support him in his attack on Delhi. Also in 1524, Daulat Khan Lodi, a rebel of the Lodhi dynasty, invited Babur to overthrow Ibrahim and become ruler. Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi at the First Battle of Panipat in 1526 and founded the Mughal empire. However, he again faced opposition, this time from Rana Sanga of Mewar and Medini Rai,another Rajput ruler in the battle of Chanderi who considered Babur a foreigner. The Rana was defeated in the Battle of Khanwa.

Babur married several times. Notable among his sons are Humayun (alongside)Kamran Mirza and Hindal Mirza. Babur died in 1530 and was succeeded by Humayun. According to Babur’s wishes, he was buried in Bagh-e-Babur in Kabul, Afghanistan. Being a patrilineal descendant of Timur, Babur considered himself a Timurid and Chagatai Turkic. He is considered a national hero in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Many of his poems also have become popular folk songs. He wrote his autobiography, Baburnama, in Chaghatai Turkic and this was translated into Persian during Akbar’s reign.

The historian Bamber Gascoigne comments fulsomely on Baburnama as follows:

Babur was occupied at this time in linking in narrative form the jottings which he had made throughout his life as a rough diary, but he also found time for a magnificent and very detailed forty page account of his new acquisition—Hindustan. In it he explains the social structure and the caste system, the geographical outlines and the recent history; he marvels at such details as the Indian method of counting and time-keeping, the inadequacy of the lighting arrangements, the profusion of Indian craftsmen, or the want of good manners, decent trousers and cool streams; but his main emphasis is on the flora and fauna of the country, which he notes with the care of a born naturalist and describes with the eye of a painter...He separates and describes, for example, five types of parrots; he explains how plantain produces banana; and with astonishing scientific observation he announces that the rhinoceros 'resembles the horse more than any other animal' (according to modern zoologists, the order Perisodactyla has only two surviving sub-orders; one includes the rhinoceros, the other the horse). In other parts of the book too he goes into raptures over such images as the changing colors of a flock of geese on the horizon, or of some beautiful leaves on an apple tree.His progression with all its ups and downs from tiny Ferghana to Hindustan would in itself ensure him a minor place in the league of his great ancestors, Timur and Genghiz Khan; but the sensitivity and integrity with which he recorded this personal odyssey, from buccaneer with royal blood in his veins reveling in each adventure to emperor eyeing in fascinated amazement every detail of his prize, gives him an added distinction which very few men of action achieve.

References: Wikipedia; The Great Moghuls by Bamber Gascoigne

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