The Invader whose Empire Ruled India for 300 Years.
The rise of the Mughal Empire in 1526, embarked the end of the Medieval Period in India and beginning of what is referred in history as the ‘Early Modern Period’ or mostly ‘The Mughal Era’.
Mughals continued the tradition of Indo-Islamic Civilization, which began in 1206 A.D. when Qutb-ud-din Aibak became the first Sultan of Delhi.
The late Medieval period which spanned over 320 years, was put to the end in the First Battle of Panipat in 1526, when Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur, dethroned the Lodhi Dynasty and laid stones of the Mughal Empire which would rule for over two centuries which makes his empire, the longest India has ever seen.
Childhood and Early Accessions
Babur (Means tiger In Persian) was the direct descendant of Timur, who was a Turko-Mongol leader who conquered most parts of Central Asia. He was the eldest son of Umar Sheikh Mirza. Her mother was a direct descendant of Genghis Khan.
Babur ascended to the throne of a small territory of Fergana in 1495, after a freakish incident which led to his father’s death. Babur mentioned the demise of his father, in his own words as:
‘Umar Shaikh Mirza flew, with his pigeons and their house, and became a falcon’.
He was just 12 when he succeeded his father and faced the rebellion of his own blood. Babur was a valiant warrior since his childhood and he soon figured out he had to rely on Military campaigns to expand as well as defend his own territory.
He lost control of Fergana to his step brother Jahangir and lost Samarkand to Shaibani Khan. Babur was landless, ‘A King without a Throne’.
Babur, in 1504, established himself in Kabul. Kabul was seeking a descendant of Timur to sit on the throne after their King died with no successors.
Babur soon realised he couldn’t move west as he would face strong resistance with the rise of a new empire. The rich lands of India attracted invaders with its limitless possibilities of wealth and power, which Babur knew, was more lucrative than the arid Central Asia.
The Battle of Panipat (1526)
Babur began his march towards India which saw him capture Lahore in 1525. The Battle of Panipat in 1926, against Ibrahim Lodhi announced his arrival as Babur, The Barbarian and saw the emergence of the Mughals. Babur was one of the first emperor to use gunpowder in war.
His army was equipped with guns and cannons which proved decisive in his victory against Ibrahim Lodhi as Lodhi lacked artillery to match Babur’s and his strong fleet of elephants created havoc onto his own army when the canons went loose.
History records this win as how Artillery helped Babur and his 12,000 men defeated the Lodhi’s army of 100,000 men. Ruler of Gwalior, Vikramjit was also killed in the First Battle of Panipat. This marked the end of the Lodhi Dynasty from Indian Turf and Mughals seized Delhi!
With no unified power stopping him, Babur captured Agra. Gwalior, Kanauj and Jaunpur, the other centre of power in North India were also captured by him after this Battle.
The Battle of Khandwa (1527)
History has it that Babur was invited in India by Rana Sanga of Mewar to dethrone the Lodhi Dynasty and assume the power of Delhi equally. There are no records of any such offers made. Battle of Khandwa was a direct consequence of both the rulers accusing one another of breach in faith.
Rana Sanga was more efficient commander and a better leader than the Mughal Sultan but it lacked the discipline and more efficient tactics and artillery which paved Mughal Empire’s way in India. Rana Sanga was defeated and so was the last Rajput against the invading foreigners. The Rajput became ally of Mughals after this war.
Influence of Babur and Mughal Empire
Babur is considered to be the oldest ruler to have used Gunpowder in warfare. Babur introduced the use of canons and other supreme artillery. He introduced Tulghuma and Araba, two warfare technique which catapult him as the supreme leader of the North India.
Babur himself had love for art and he brought with himself, descendants of poets, musicians and philosophers from the court of Samarkand and appointed them in Lahore, Delhi and Agra. Persian Culture began to mix well with and blended in to produce many unique arts.
He built important monuments such as Panipat Mosque & Jama Masjid. The infamous Babri Mosque, which is believed to be the Ram Temple of Ayodhya which Babar demolished and constructed Babri Mosque at the very place.
Religious Harmony was preached during the rule of Babur. He himself announced no conversion to Islam for the war captives and lands. He forbid the killings of cows as it hurt the sentiments of the Hindus. This religious Harmony was well practiced under rule of Akbar, who is considered to be the greatest Mughal Emperor.
Babur and the empire which flourished under him provided stability. Mughals ruled for over 300 years without any further foreign invasion or siege of Indian subcontinent.
The tenure of late medieval period from 1200 till fall of Ibrahim Lodhi saw as many as 5 dynasties ruling Delhi. He created strong relationship with other Afghan counterparts which ensured no more invasions. After the Battle of Khandwa, Rajputana too turned friends.
The political stability also ensured the economy to rise. Mughal Empire was one of the richest empires of this world, though sometimes accused of manipulation of the masses. They ruled the country which the world called ‘The Golden Bird’.
Babur had extra ordinary literary skills. He wrote his autobiography, The Baburnama. This book is candid honest and at times poetic. It consists of not only his life, but the history and geography of the kingdoms he ruled as well the people who touched his life. Akbar later translated this book into Persian.
Babur is considered as a national hero in Uzbekistan & Kyrgyzstan. Many of his poems have become popular Uzbek folk songs.
Babur didn’t live long enough to see his empire expand to extreme east and touch the south. The distant dream of capturing and controlling the south was passed down the Mughal Dynasty, but no one could realize it to perfection.
He died of ill health in December 1530, at the age of 57. He was succeeded by Humayun.