Seated on the throne, a God amongst men,
Thou, the Emperor of Delhi.
Blessed was the hour, the minute, the second,
When thou ascended the throne,
O God amongst men,
Thou, the Lord of Delhi.
Long live thy crown, thy sceptre, thy throne,
O God amongst men,
Thou, Emperor of Delhi.
Live long, and remain awakened always,
O son of Humayun,
Joy of the sun, God amongst men,
Thou, the Emperor of Delhi
This song by Tansen, the poet laureate of Emperor Akbar, illustrates the glory of the Mughal rulers. Mughals, who ruled India from 1526-1858 are one of the history’s most phenomenal monarchs. Inheriting the power and qualities of leadership from their predecessors such as the Mongols and Timurids, Mughals proved themselves worthy of ruling a land which was then considered as “the land of riches”- India.
Mughals arrived in India with a dream to settle and rule it, unlike the Afghans or the Turks who were solely attentive to India’s abundant wealth. Mughals had a very distinct approach to administration which distinguished them from their forefathers. Mongols who lived on the philosophy that violence can get the greatest power contrasted with that of the Mughals’ attributes of tolerance and tranquility.
Babur was the founder of the Mughal rule in India. Ferista, a writer from Babur’s court iterated, “He was a prince of great humanity”. While this was true, Babur was also a warrior. He captured Samarqand, his patrimonial city when he was only 15. He won the battle of Panipat against Ibrahim Lodi after which he took control over Delhi. His insightful war tactics in the Panipat battle helped him defeat 100,000 Afghans soldiers guarded by 1000 elephants using his army of only 12,000 soldiers.
The tactics used by Babur in battle were quite similar to those used by the Ottoman empire, where the enemies were forced in the centre of the battlefield and then bombarded by projectiles until they surrendered. Babur developed the techniques by adding gun powdered light canons which had a devastating effect on Lodi’s army.
Babur was also a patron of literature, and especially loved poetry. He versified whatever came to his mind, no matter how lascivious or imprudent it was. He was always fascinated by books, after every conquest he even visited the libraries in the conquered city and seized all that he found Interesting. His respect for women was beyond cap. Babur’s mother was a key figure in administration and he respected her calibre and decisions. In his autobiography, “Baburnama”, he records the death of her mother as a shattering and unbearable grief.
Babur was also known to indulge himself in inebriation almost all his life. Until his early 20’s he avoided alcohol, however by the time he reached his mid 20’s, his indulgence exceeded the apogee. The “Baburnama” is filled with regrets of deeds he committed under the influence of alcohol. After facing the armies of Lodi and Rana Sanga of Mewar he made a formal vow to God to give up drinking, where he had all his gold and silver goblets smashed and the pieces distributed to public. Nevertheless, it didn’t take him long to forget the vow and he returned to his drunken avatar.
Babur’s love for nature is palpable in the “Baburnama”, even as he encouraged the creation of several gardens throughout India, including a special one for his tomb. His gardens have the Iranian Chahar Bagh design in which four small water beds are designed at a ninety- degree angle intersecting in the centre with flowers laid parallel to each one them.The small water beds are engineered to maintain a particular rate of flow in particular areas of the garden. Apart from providing aesthetic pleasure, his gardens also served as a temporary court constructed using overlay tents. Bagh-i-Wafa, located in Kabul was his most cherished garden.
As per the legend, this loquacious and gracious Emperor had a strange ending to his life. It’s reported that according to Gulbadan, daughter of Babur, Humayun once fell ill and his mother, Maham, went to see him in Agra. Babur himself was in despair since Humayun was his most beloved son. After seeking advice from the council for Humayun, Babur was told that Humayun must give away his most valuable possession, to which Babur replied, “I am the most valuable thing that Humayun possesses, I will endure all his pain”, after which Babur prayed to God and walked three times around Humayun’s bed. It’s said that his prayers were heard, and he started feeling strange and cried out, “We have borne it away, we have borne it away”. Soon afterwards, Babur became seriously ill, and Humayun gradually recovered. After a few months Babur passed away, and was laid in his favourite garden in Kabul.
A man who never skipped his daily prayers
A man who wrote his own autobiography in Turki language with eloquence and truth
A man who respected his mother and sacrificed himself for his son
A man of great knowledge yet with a hundred short comings.
This was the great founder of the Mughal reign in India
Emperor Zahir al-Din Muhammad Babur
Long live thy legend.