The Mughal Dynasty: Babur

(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit)

Zahir-ud-Din Mohammad was born in 1483. Babur was his surname. The blood of two great conquerors of Asia, Mongols and Turks, Changiz khan Timur, mixed in Babur’s veins. He was the son of Umar Sheikh Mirza, who was the ruler of Farghana, in Turkistan.

Umar Sheikh Mirza, the father of Babur, did not have good relations with adjoining states. He made special arrangements for Babur’s education. Babur studied Persian, Arabic and Turkish languages. He also got special military training. He father himself taught him political education.

As a King of Farghana

Umar Sheikh Mirza died on June 8, 1494, when Babur was eleven years and four months old child. He succeeded his father and became the King of Farghana. His enemies surrounded him on all sides. Everyone wanted to take advantage of his childhood and inexperience.

His uncle Ahmad Mirza, the ruler of Samarkand, attacked him. Babur saved his kingdom successfully. When Ahmad Mirza died in 1495, Babur decided to have his revenge. He took full advantage of the confusion that prevailed in Samarkand after the death of Ahmad Mirza. He attacked on Samarkand and besieged it. The besiege of Samarkand lasted for seven months and in November, 1497 he captured it.

When Babur was celebrating his victory in Samarkand, he fell ill. His enemies in Farghana took advantage of his sickness. His ministers gave out that he was dead and put on the throne the younger brother of Babur, Jahangir.

When Babur recovered from his sickness; he marched from Samarkand to recover Farghana. He could not capture Farghana. When he returned to Samarkand, he came to know that even Samarkand was occupied in his absence by Ali, his cousin. Now, Babur was not the king of any place. It was the year of 1498.

Babur wandered for more than a year. In June 1499, he recaptured the capital of Farghana.

Now, Babur decided to capture Samarkand again. He conquered Samarkand for the second time, but he was forced by the Uzbek chief, Shaibani Khan to leave the same. He lost Farghana too for the second time in the same year. After these ups and downs of life, Babur was left with nothing in 1502. It was good to try luck somewhere else. So, he left his native land.

The Conquest of Kabul

There was political chaos in Kabul after 1501. Babur took advantage of it and occupied Kabul in 1504. As the King of Kabul, he ruled from 1504 to 1526. In 1520, Babur captured Badakshan and put it under the charge of Humayun, his son. He captured Kandhar in 1522 and gave it to Kamran, his son.

Samarkand Captured and Lost for the Third Time

Babur still wanted to capture Samarkand. Shaibani Khan, the ruler of Samarkand, had died. So, Babur again tried his luck to conquer Samarkand. He entered into an alliance with the Shah of Persia and captured Samarkand every easily.

However, he could not sit on the throne of Samarkand for long. Within less than a year, Ubaid Ullah Khan drove him out of Samarkand.

The Expeditions of India

After his failure in Samarkand, Babur paid his attention to the conquest of India. Actually, since he conquered Kabul, he had always been bent on subduing India, but for many reasons, he could not invade India before 1519.

The First Expedition (1519)

In 1519, Babur gathered an army and marched onto Bajour. He defeated the Yusufzais, an Afghan clan. He captured Bajour and Swat. Then he advanced to Bhera on the west of the Jhelum. River and captured it without any problem.

Babur reached as far as the Chenab. His ministers advised him to send an ambassador to Ibrahim Lodhi, the King of Delhi, demanding the restoration of the country, which belonged to the Turks. So, acting on the advice, he sent an ambassador to Ibrahim. His ambassador was detained at Lahore by Daulat Khan Lodhi and came back empty handed after many months.

Babur came to know about a revolt in his own kingdom, so he went back to Kabul.

The Second Expedition

In September 1519, Babur again attacked India. This time, he could reach Peshawar and then went back.

The Third Expedition

During his third expedition, Babur occupied Sialkot in Punjab. Then he had to go to Kandhar to suppress a revolt.

The Fourth Expedition

In 1524, Babur attacked India again. He was invited by Daulat Khan Lodhi, the Governor of Punjab. When Babur reached Lahore, he found that the Delhi army had already turned out Daulat Khan Lodhi. The Delhi army tried to stop Babur, but was defeated. Thus, Babur captured Lahore. Then he marched forward and occupied Jallundhar and Dipalpur. Daulat Khan Lodhi helped him. Babur gave Jallundhar and Sultanpur to Daulat Khan Lodhi and Lahore to Alam Khan. Daulat Khan Lodhi was not happy with this. He started to make plans against Babur. His own son, Dilawar Khan, told this to Babur. Now, Babur took away Sultanpur from Daulat Khan and gave to Dilawar Khan. After making all arrangements, Babur went back to Kabul.

As soon as Babur went back, Daulat Khan Lodhi captured Sultanpur and Lahore.

The Battle of Panipat (1526)

Babur set out for the conquest of India. In Punjab, Daulat Khan Lodhi opposed him with 40,000 soldiers. Babur defeated Daulat Khan Lodhi and made him a prisoner. Thus, he captured Lahore. He stayed in Lahore for sometime and then advanced to Delhi via Sirhind. He had 12,000 soldiers and powerful artillery.

Ibrahim Lodhi, the King of Delhi, came out of Delhi with 100,000 soldiers and many elephants to give battle to Babur. The Delhi army came straight on, at a quick march, without a halt from the start.

Both of the armies met on the historic plains of Panipat.

Babur had put seven hundreds carts in front of his army. This was a very wise step to save his soldiers from arrows of enemy. Between the carts, there had been installed cannons. He had famous gunners, like Mustafa and Ustad Ali. He put the right wing of his army near the city of Panipat. His army dug ditches in front of left wing of his army and covered these ditches with leaves etc. He kept his horsemen on both sides of his army. Thus, Babur was perfectly ready for the battle.

For eight days, no one attacked. At last, on April 21, 1526 A.D. they came to a clash.

Ibrahim’s war elephants were more a source of weakness than a source of strength against Babur’s scientific combination of cavalry and artillery.

Just like a mad crowd, the Delhi army attacked on Babur’s army. When Babur’s artillery started to fire, the Delhi soldiers took to their heels. Ibrahim’s war elephants crushed their own soldiers.

When Ibrahim’s war elephants were crushing its own army, Babur’s horsemen attacked on the Delhi army.

In a half-day, 15,000 soldiers were killed in the battlefield. Ibrahim Lodhi was one of them. The battlefield became an uncanny spot, which no man dared pass after dark.

In spite of the superior numerical strength of Ibrahim’s armies, he was defeated. The result was that the Kingdom of Delhi and Agra fell into the hands of Babur.

After the battle of Panipat, Babur captured Delhi and Agra immediately.

The Battle of Kanwah (1527 A.D.)

The victory of Panipat made Babur the ruler of Delhi. It was necessary to defeat Rana Sanga of Mewar, if Babur wanted to become the ruler of India. Rana Sanga himself had the ambition to occupy the throne of Delhi itself.

Actually, Rana Sanga was one of the people, who sent invitation to Babur to invade India. Rana Sanga thought that Babur would went back to Kabul after destroying the Delhi Kingdom. Rana Sanga promised to attack Delhi in order to help Babur, when the later would be fighting against Ibrahim Lodhi. Rana Sanga broke the agreement with Babur and did not help him. Even without the help of Rana Sanga, Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodhi and now he was settled in India. This saddened Rana Sanga. He wanted to reestablish the Hindu rule. It was possible only after defeating Babur. So, the battle between Babur and Rana Sanga was unavoidable.

In 1527, Rana Sanga advanced with about 90,000 soldiers and 500 elephants to Biana. On the other hand, Babur also marched towards Fatehpur Sikri. Rana Sanga’s army defeated the Advance-guard of Babur.

On March 16, 1527, Babur attacked Rana Sanga with heavy artillery fire, near Kanwah (also known as Khanua), about 10 miles far from Sikri. There were about 40,000 soldiers in Babur’s army.

After an obstinate battle, Rana Sanga was defeated and Babur became the Victor of Kanwah. Rana Sanga ran away. He died in January 1528.

The Battle of Chanderi (1528)

From Kanwah, Babur advanced to Chanderi, which was a stronghold of the Rajputs under a powerful chief Medini Rai. Babur reached Chanderi on January 20, 1528 and besieged the fort, where Medini Rai had taken shelter with his 5,000 followers. The Rajputs were determined to fight to the finish. Their women burnt themselves. Almost all the Rajputs lost their lives in the battlefield.

On January 29, 1528, Babur captured the Fort of Chanderi.

The Battle of Ghagra (1529)

The Afghans were still to be subdued. Mahmud Lodhi, a brother of Ibarahim Lodhi, had fled and taken refuge in Bihar. Then he went to Banaras and from there to Chunar. At last, he took refuge in Bengal. Babur decided to put an end to the Afghan menace and marched towards Bengal. On May 6, 1529, the battle of Ghagra was fought and the Afghans were defeated.

Babur’s Death (1530)

Babur died on December 26, 1530. He was buried in Kabul. It was his last desire. At the time of his death, Babur was hardly 48 years of age.

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