Infobox Monarch
name = Babur
title = Mughal Emperor of India
al-ṣultānu 'l-ʿazam wa 'l-ḫāqān al-mukkarram
pādshāh-e ghāzī

caption = Portrait of Babur
reign = 30 April 152626 December 1530
coronation = Not formally crowned
othertitles = Founder of the Mughal dynasty
full name = Zāhir ud-Dīn Muḥammad bin ʿOmar Sheykh
native_lang1 = Chagatay/Persian
native_lang1_name1 = ﻇﻬﻴﺮ ﺍﻟﺪﻳﻦ محمد بابر
successor = Humāyūn
queen =
consort =
spouse 1 = ʿĀʾisha Ṣultān Begum
spouse 2 = Bībī Mubārika Yuṣufzay
spouse 3 = Dildār Begum
spouse 4 = Gulnār Āghācha
spouse 5 = Gulrukh Begum
spouse 6 = Maham Begum.
spouse 7 = Ma'suma Begum
spouse 8 = Nargul Āghācha
spouse 9 = Sayyida Afaq
spouse 10 = Zaynab Sultān Begum
issue = Humāyūn, son
Kāmrān Mirzā, son
Askarī Mirzā, son
Hindal Mirzā, son
Gulbadan Begum, daughter
Fakhru 'n-Nīsā, daughter
Altun Bishik, alleged son
royal house = Royal House of Timur
dynasty = Timurid
father = ʿOmar Sheykh Mirzā, ʿAmīr of Farghana
mother = Qutlaq Nigār Khānum
date of birth = February 14, 1483
place of birth = Andijan
date of death = 26 December, 1530 (age 47)
place of death = Agra
date of burial = 1531
place of burial = Bāgh-e Bābur
religion =Sunni Islam

Babur (February 14 1483- December 26 1530) was a Muslim conqueror from Central Asia who, following a series of setbacks, finally succeeded in laying the basis for the Mughal dynasty of India. He was a direct descendant of Timur through his father, and a descendant also of Genghis Khan through his mother. [ [ Mughal Dynasty] at Encyclopædia Britannica] Babur identified his lineage as Timurid and Chaghatay-Turkic, while his origin, milieu, training, and culture were steeped in Persian culture and so he was largely responsible for the fostering of this culture by his descendants, and for the expansion of Persian cultural influence in the Indian subcontinent, with brilliant literary, artistic, and historiographical results.cite encyclopedia |last=Lehmann |first=F. |url= |title= Memoirs of Zehīr-ed-Dīn Muhammed Bābur |encyclopedia=Encyclopaedia Iranica |accessdate=2008-04-02 |quote=His origin, milieu, training, and culture were steeped in Persian culture and so Babor was largely responsible for the fostering of this culture by his descendants, the Mughals of India, and for the expansion of Persian cultural influence in the Indian subcontinent, with brilliant literary, artistic, and historiographical results. ] [Robert L. Canfield, Robert L. (1991). "Turko-Persia in historical perspective", Cambridge University Press, p.20. "The Mughals-Persianized Turks who invaded from Central Asia and claimed descent from both Timur and Genghis - strengthened the Persianate culture of Muslim India".] He bequeathed to his successors, a legacy of toleration for non-Muslims, that would later characterize the character of the Mughal empire at its zenith."Babar the Conqueror." "Encyclopedia of World Biography". Vol. 1. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 405-407. 23 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale.]


Babur's name

Zāhir ud-Dīn Muḥammad bin ʿOmar Sheykh (Chaghatay/PerB|ﻇﻬﻴﺮ ﺍﻟﺪﻳﻦ محمد بابر - "Zāhir ud-Dīn Muḥammad Bābor"; also known by his royal titles as "al-ṣultānu 'l-ʿazam wa 'l-ḫāqān al-mukkarram pādshāh-e ghāzī"), is more commonly known by his nickname, "Bābur". Babur's cousin, Mirzā Muḥammad Haydar, wrote in this regard:quotation|At that time the Chaghatái were very rude and uncultured ("bázári"), and not refined ("buzurg") as they are now; thus they found Zahir-ud-Din Muhammad difficult to pronounce, and for this reason gave him the name of Bábar. In the public prayers (khutba) and in royal mandates he is always styled 'Zahir-ud-Din Bábar Muhammad,' but he is best known by the name of Bábar Pádisháh.cite book |title=Tarikh-i-Rashidi: A History of the Moghuls of Central Asia |others=Elias and Denison Ross (ed. and trans.) |year=1898, reprinted 1972 |isbn=0700700218 Google books|eikPAAAAYAAJ|Full text.]

The Chaghatai were Mongol tribes descended from Genghis Khan's second son, Chagatai Khan.

According to Stephen Frederic Dale, the name "Babur" is derived from the Persian word "babr", meaning "leopard" or "tiger", a word that repeatedly appears in Firdawsī's Shāhnāma [An example from the section where Houshang, the son of Siamak is described:ترا بود باید همی پیشروکه من رفتنی‌ام تو سالار نوپری و پلنگ انجمن کرد و شیرز درندگان گرگ و ببر دلیرShahnameh, the Moscow edition.] and had also been borrowed by the Turkic languages of Central Asia. [Chisholm, Hugh (1910), The Encyclopedia Britannica] It is ultimately derived from the Indo-Iranian Sanskrit word "vyagr". [Thumb, Albert, "Handbuch des Sanskrit, mit Texten und Glossar", German original, ed. C. Winter, 1953, [ Snippet, p.318] ] This theses is supported by the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, explaining that the Turko-Mongol name "Timur" underwent a similar evolution, from the Sanskrit word "cimara" ("iron") via a modified version "*čimr" to the final Turkicized version "timür", with "-ür" replacing "-r" due to the Turkish vocalic harmony (hence "babr" → "babür"). ["Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland", Cambridge University Press, 1972. [ Snippet, p.104] .]

Contradicting these views, W.M. Thackston argues that the name cannot be taken from "babr" and instead must be derived from a word that has evolved out of the Indo-European word for "beaver", pointing to the fact that the name is pronounced "bāh-bor" in both Persian and Turkic (similar to the Russian word for beaver, "бобр", "bobr").

Turko-Mongolian and Persianate Societies

During Babur's lifetime, Turko-Mongolian and Persianate peoples in Transoxiana and Khurasan existed side by side. This bifurcated society had divided the responsibilities of government and rule into the military and civilian along ethnic lines. The military was almost exclusively Turko-Mongolian, and the civilian was almost exclusively Persian. The spoken language shared by all the Turko-Mongolians throughout the area was Chaghatay Turkic. The political organization hearkened back to the steppe-nomadic system of patronage introduced by Genghis Khan. The major language of the period, however, was Persian, the native language of the "Tājīk" (Persian) component of society and the language of learning acquired by all literate and/or urban Turks. Persian was the official state language of the Timurid Khanate [cite book |others=Robert Devereux (ed.) |title=Muhakamat Al-Lughatain (Judgment of Two Languages) |author=Mir 'Ali Shir Nawāi |location= Leiden |publisher=E.J. Brill |year=1966 |oclc=3615905 |id=LCC|PL55.J31 A43 |quote=Any linguist of today who reads the essay will inevitably conclude that Nawa'i argued his case poorly, for his principal argument is that the Turkic lexicon contained many words for which the Persian had no exact equivalents and that Persian-speakers had therefore to use the Turkic words. This is a weak reed on which to lean, for it is a rare language indeed that contains no loan words. In any case, the beauty of a language and its merits as a literary medium depend less on size of vocabulary and purity of etymology that on the euphony, expressiveness and malleability of those words its lexicon does include. Moreover, even if Nawā'ī's thesis were to be accepted as valid, he destroyed his own case by the lavish use, no doubt unknowingly, of non-Turkic words even while ridiculing the Persians for their need to borrow Turkic words. The present writer has not made a word count of Nawa'i's text, but he would estimate conservatively that at least one half the words used by Nawa'i in the essay are Arabic or Persian in origin. To support his claim of the superiority of the Turkic language, Nawa'i also employs the curious argument that most Turks also spoke Persian but only a few Persians ever achieved fluency in Turkic. It is difficult to understand why he was impressed by this phenomenon, since the most obvious explanation is that Turks found it necessary, or at least advisable, to learn Persian - it was, after all, the official state language - while Persians saw no reason to bother learning Turkic which was, in their eyes, merely the uncivilized tongue of uncivilized nomadic tribesmen.] cite encyclopedia |last=Spuler |first=Bertold |url= |title=Central Asia |encyclopedia=Encyclopaedia Iranica |accessdate=2008-04-02 |quote= [Part] v. In the Mongol and Timurid periods:... Like his father, Olōğ Beg was entirely integrated into the Persian Islamic cultural circles, and during his reign Persian predominated as the language of high culture, a status that it retained in the region of Samarqand until the Russian revolution 1917... Ḥoseyn Bāyqarā encouraged the development of Persian literature and literary talent in every way possible... ] and served as the language of administration, history, belles lettres, and poetry.cite encyclopedia |authors=B.F. Manz, W.M. Thackston, D.J. Roxburgh, L. Golombek, L. Komaroff, R.E. Darley-Doran |title=Timurids |encyclopedia=Encyclopaedia of Islam |publisher=Brill Publishers |edition=Online Edition |year=2007 |quote="During the Timurid period, three languages, Persian, Turkish, and Arabic were in use. The major language of the period was Persian, the native language of the Tajik (Persian) component of society and the language of learning acquired by all literate and/or urban Turks. Persian served as the language of administration, history, belles lettres, and poetry." ] The Chaghatay language was the native and "home language" of the Timurid family [cite encyclopedia |authors=B.F. Manz, W.M. Thackston, D.J. Roxburgh, L. Golombek, L. Komaroff, R.E. Darley-Doran |title=Timurids |encyclopedia=Encyclopaedia of Islam |publisher=Brill Publishers |edition=Online Edition |year=2007 |quote=What is now called Chaghatay Turkish, which was then called simply türki, was the native and 'home' language of the Timurids... ] while Arabic served as the language "par excellence" of science, philosophy, theology and the religious sciences.cite encyclopedia |authors=B.F. Manz, W.M. Thackston, D.J. Roxburgh, L. Golombek, L. Komaroff, R.E. Darley-Doran |title=Timurids |encyclopedia=Encyclopaedia of Islam |publisher=Brill Publishers |edition=Online Edition |year=2007 |quote="As it had been prior to the Timurids and continued to be after them, Arabic was the language par excellence of science, philosophy, theology and the religious sciences. Much of the astronomical work of Ulugh Beg and his co-workers... is in Arabic, although they also wrote in Persian. Theological works... are generally in Arabic. ]



The main source for Babur's biography is a written account of his life, written by Babur himself. His memoirs are known as the "Bāburnāma" and are considered the first true autobiography in Islamic literature. [Wheeler M. Thackston, "The Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor", 2002,xxvii-xxix, The Modern Library] In the "Bāburnāma", he explains:

He wrote the "Bāburnāma" in Chaghatai Turkic, his mother-tongue, though his prose was highly Persianized in its sentence structure, morphology, and vocabulary.cite book |first=Stephen Frederic |last=Dale |title=The garden of the eight paradises: Bābur and the culture of Empire in Central Asia, Afghanistan and India (1483-1530) |publisher=Brill |year=2004 |pages=pp.15,150 |isbn=9004137076 ] The work gives a valuable impression of Babur's surrounding environment:cite book | title=The Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor |publisher=Modern Library |isbn=0-375-76137-3 |year=2002 |author=Babur, Emperor of Hindustan |others=translated, edited and annotated by W.M. Thackston]

History of the text and translations

The memoirs were originally much more extensive than they are now. The gaps in the text, particularly those between 1508 to 1519 and from 1520 to 1525, are likely the result of quires during a storm. A year before his death Babur was reworking parts of his memoirs in 1528-29. His son and successor Humāyūn knew Chaghatay well and read his father's memoirs. Babur corresponded with him in that language, correcting his spelling and commenting on his style. His grandson Akbar was enthroned at the age of fourteen when Humayun died in 1556. The young emperor was raised by the regent, Bayram Khān, an Iranian statesman of "Turcoman" Azerbaijani origin whose father and grandfather had joined Babur's service. Bayram Khān himself wrote poetry in Chaghatay and Persian. His son, Abdul-Rahim, was fluent in Chaghatay, Hindi, and Persian and composed in all three languages. Using Babur's own text, he translated the "Bāburnāma" into Persian. The Chaghatay original was last seen in the imperial library sometime between 1628 and 1638 during Shah Jahāngīr's reign.


Babur was born on February 14th, 1483 [cite web |url= |publisher=University of California Los Angeles |accessdate=2008-04-02 |work=Manas |title=Babar ] in the town of Andijan, in the Fergana Valley which is in modern Uzbekistan. He was the eldest son of ʿOmar Sheykh Mirzā, [cite web |quote=On the occasion of the birth of Babar Padishah (the son of Omar Shaikh) |url= |title=Mirza Muhammad Haidar |publisher=Walter Chapin Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington |work=Silk Road Seattle |accessdate=2006-11-07 ] ruler of the Fergana Valley, and his wife Qutluq Negār Khānum, daughter of Yonus Khān, the ruler of Moghulistan.

Although Babur hailed from the Barlas tribe which was of Mongol origin, his tribe had embraced Turkic [ [ Babur] at Encyclopædia Britannica] and Persian culture, [cite encyclopedia |encyclopedia=The Columbia Encyclopedia |title=Timurids |url= |edition=6th Ed. |publisher=Columbia University |location=New York |accessdate=2006-11-08] [For more information about the medieval Turko-Persian society of Central Asia and Iran, see Turko-Persian Tradition and Persianate society.] converted to Islam and resided in Turkestan and Khorasan. His mother tongue was the Chaghatai language (known to Babur as "Turkī", "Turkic") and he was equally at home in Persian, the "lingua franca" of the Timurid elite. [ [ Iran: The Timurids and Turkmen] at Encyclopædia Britannica.]

Hence Babur, though nominally a Mongol (or "Moghul" in Persian), drew much of his support from the Turkic and Iranian peoples of Central Asia, and his army was diverse in its ethnic makeup, including Persians ("Tajiks" or "Sarts", as they were called by Babur), Pashtuns, and Arabs as well as Barlas and Chaghatayid Turco-Mongols from Central Asia. [cite book |title=Central Asia in Historical Perspective |last=Manz |first=Beatrice Forbes |chapter=The Symbiosis of Turk and Tajik |publisher=Boulder, Colorado & Oxford |year=1994 |page=58 |accessdate=2006-11-10 |id=ISBN 0-8133-3638-4] Babur's army also included Qizilbāsh fighters, a militant religious order of Shi'a "Sufis" from Persia who later became one of the most influential groups in the Mughal court.

Babur is said to have been extremely strong and physically fit. He could allegedly carry two men, one on each of his shoulders, and then climb slopes on the run, just for exercise. Legend holds that Babur swam across every major river he encountered, including twice across the Ganges River in North India. [cite book |last=Elliot |first=Henry Miers |others=John Dowson (ed.) |title=The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians |chapter=The Muhammadan Period |chapterurl= |accessdate=2008-04-02 |date=1867–1877 |publisher=Trubner |location=London |quote=...and on the same journey, he swam twice across the Ganges, as he said he had done with every other river he had met with. ]

His passions could be equally strong. In his first marriage he was "bashful" towards ʿĀʾisha Ṣultān Begum, later losing his affection for her. [cite book
title=Memoirs of Zehīr-ed-Dīn Muhammed Bābur Emperor of Hindustan, Written by himself, in the Chaghatāi Tūrki
others=Translated by John Leyden and William Erskine, Annotated and Revised by Lucas King
publisher=Oxford University Press
chapter=The Memoirs of Babur, Volume 1, chpt. 71
quote=Āisha Sultan Begum, the daughter of Sultan Ahmed Mirza, to whom I had been betrothed in the lifetime of my father and uncle, having arrived in Khojand, I now married her, in the month of Shābān. In the first period of my being a married man, though I had no small affection for her, yet, from modesty and bashfulness, I went to her only once in ten, fifteen, or twenty days. My affection afterwards declined, and my shyness increased; insomuch, that my mother the Khanum, used to fall upon me and scold me with great fury, sending me off like a criminal to visit her once in a month or forty days.

Babur was an orthodox Sunni Muslim and occasionally voiced distaste at the "deviations" of Shia Muslims. Though religion had a central place in his life, Babur and his fellow princes wore their Islam lightly. He approvingly quotes a line of poetry by one of his contemporaries: "I am drunk, officer. Punish me when I am sober." They imbibed wine copiously, fell in love with young boys and could be violent and tyrannical. Babur related that one of his uncles "was addicted to vice and debauchery. He kept a lot of catamites. In his realm, wherever there was a comely, beardless youth, he did everything he could to turn him into one. During his time this vice was so widespread, that to keep catamites was considered a virtue."

He gave up drinking alcohol two years before his death, and demanded that his court do the same. But he did not stop chewing narcotic preparations, and did not lose his sense of irony. He wrote: [Pope, Hugh (2005). "Sons of the Conquerors", Overlook Duckworth, pp.234-235.]

Military career

In 1494, at only twelve years of age, Babur obtained his first power position, succeeding his father as ruler of Fergana, in present-day Uzbekistan. [cite book|title=Other Routes: 1500 Years of African and Asian Travel Writing |pages=162 |last=Khair |first=Tabish |isbn=ISBN 1-904955-11-8 |publisher=Signal Books |year=2006 |date=2006-01-06 |accessdate=2006-11-07] His uncles were relentless in their attempts to dislodge him from this position as well as many of his other territorial possessions to come. [cite book|title=Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World |last=Lal |first=Ruby |id=ISBN 0-521-85022-3 |year=2005 |date=2005-09-25 |accessdate=2006-11-08 |pages=69 |quote=It was over these possessions, provinces controlled by uncles, or cousins of varying degrees, that Babur fought with close and distant relatives for much of his life.] Thus, Babur spent a large portion of his life shelterless and in exile, aided only by friends and peasants. In 1497, Babur attacked the Uzbek city of Samarkand and after seven months succeeded in capturing the city.cite book |title= Afghanistan: A Short History of Its People and Politics |last=Ewans |first=Martin |id=ISBN 0-06-050508-7 |publisher=HarperCollins |month=September | year=2002 |pages=26-7] Meanwhile, a rebellion amongst nobles back home approximately 350 kilometers (200 miles) away robbed him of Fergana. As he was marching to recover it, Babur's troops deserted in Samarkand, leaving him with neither Samarkand nor Fergana.

By 1501, he was ready again to regain control of Samarkand, but was shortly thereafter defeated by his most formidable enemy, Muhammad Shaybani, khan of the Uzbeks. [cite web|url= |quote=After being driven out of Samarkand in 1501 by the Uzbek Shaibanids... |title=The Memoirs of Babur |accessdate=2006-11-08 |publisher=Walter Chapin Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington |work=Silk Road Seattle] Samarkand, his lifelong obsession, was lost again. Escaping with a small band of followers from Fergana, for three years Babur concentrated on building up a strong army, recruiting widely amongst the Tajiks of Badakhshan in particular. In 1504, he was able to cross the snowy Hindu Kush mountains and capture Kabul from the Arghunids, who were forced to retreat to Kandahar. With this move, he gained a wealthy new kingdom and re-established his fortunes and assumed the title of "Badshah". In the following year, Babur united with Husayn Bayqarah of Herat, a fellow Timurid and distant relative, against the usurper Muhammad Shaybani.cite book |title=Perspectives on Persian Painting: Illustrations to Amir Khusrau's Khamsah |last=Brend |first=Barbara |year=2002 |date=2002-12-20 |id=ISBN 0-7007-1467-7 |publisher=Routledge (UK) |pages=188 |accessdate=2006-11-08] However, the death of Husayn Bayqarah in 1506 delayed that venture. Babur instead occupied his allies' city of Herat, spending just two months there before being forced to leave due to diminishing resources. Nevertheless, he marvelled at the intellectual abundance in Herat, which he stated was "filled with learned and matched men." [cite book |title=The Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan |last=Lamb |first=Christina |pages=153 |id=ISBN 0-06-050527-3 |publisher=HarperCollins |month=February | year=2004 |accessdate=2006-11-08] , and became acquainted with the work of the Uzbek poet Mir Ali Shir Nava'i, who encouraged the use of Chagatai as a literary language. Nava'i's profiency with the language, which he is credited with founding, [cite book |title=Mehmed the Conqueror and His Time |last=Hickmann |first=William C. |year=1992 |date=1992-10-19 |id=ISBN 0-691-01078-1 |pages=473 |quote=Eastern Turk Mir Ali Shir Neva'i (1441-1501), founder of the Chagatai literary language] may have influenced Babur in his decision to use it for his memoirs, "Baburnama".

A brewing rebellion finally induced him to return to Kabul from Herat. He prevailed on that occasion, but two years later a revolt among some of his leading generals drove him out of Kabul. Escaping with very few companions, Babur soon returned to the city, capturing Kabul again and regaining the allegiance of the rebels. Muhammad Shaybani was defeated and killed by Ismail I, Safavid ruler of Persia, in 1510, [cite book |title=Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions |last=Doniger |first=Wendy |id=ISBN 0-87779-044-2 |month=September | year=1999 |pages=539 |publisher=Merriam-Webster |accessdate=2006-11-10] and Babur used this opportunity to attempt to reconquer his ancestral Timurid territories. Over the following few years, Babur and Shah Ismail I would form a partnership in an attempt to take over parts of Central Asia. In return for Ismail's assistance, Babur permitted the Safavids to act as a suzerain over him and his followers. [cite book |title=The Islamic World in Ascendancy: From the Arab Conquests to the Siege in Vienna |last=Sicker |first=Martin |id=ISBN 0-275-96892-8 |month=August | year=2000 |pages=189 |accessdate=2006-11-10 |quote=Ismail was quite prepared to lend his support to the displaced Timurid prince, Zahir ad-Din Babur, who offered to accept Safavid suzerainty in return for help in regaining control of Transoxiana.] Conversely, Shah Ismail reunited Babur with his sister Khānzāda, who had been imprisoned by and forced to marry the recently-deceased Shaybani. [cite book |title=History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India Till the Year A. D. 1612 |last=Briggs |first=John |year=1829 |accessdate=2006-11-10 |quote=Shah Ismael at this time sent Khanzada Begum (Babur's sister) to him. This princess had been made prisoner at the capture of Samarkand by Sheebany Khan, who afterwards married her.] Ismail also provided Babur with a large wealth of luxury goods and military assistance, for which Babur reciprocated by adopting the dress and outward customs of the Shi'a Muslims.Fact|date=February 2007 The Shah's Persia had become the bastion of Shia Islam, and he claimed descent from Imam Musa al-kazim, the seventh Shia Imam. Coins were to be struck in Ismail's name, and the Khutba at the Mosque was also to be read in his name. In effect, Babur was supposed to be holding Samarkand as a vassal territory for the Persian Shah, though in Kabul, coins and the Khutba would remain in Babur's name.

With this assistance, Babur marched on Bukhara, where his army were apparently treated as liberators, Babur having greater legitimacy as a Timurid, unlike the Uzbegs. Towns and villages are said to have emptied in order to greet him, and aid and feed his army. At this point Babur dismissed his Persian aide, believing them no longer needed. In October 1511 Babur made a triumphant re-entry into Samarkand, ending a ten year absence. Bazaars were draped in gold, and again villages and towns emptied to greet the liberator. Dressed as a Shia, Babur stood out starkly amongst the masses of Sunnis who had thronged to greet him.The original belief was that this show of Shi'ism was a ploy to garner Persian help which would soon be dropped. While it was indeed a ploy, Babur did not think it wise to drop the charade. His cousin, Haidar, wrote that Babur was still too fearful of the Uzbegs to dismiss the Persian aid. Though Babur did not persecute the Sunni community, to please the Persian Shah, he did not drop the show of collaboration with the Shia either, resulting in popular disapproval and the re-conquering of the city by the Uzbegs eight months later.

Conquest of Northern India

Writing in retrospect, Babur suggested his failure in attaining Samarkand was the greatest gift Allah bestowed him. Babur had now resigned all hopes of recovering Fergana, and although he dreaded an invasion from the Uzbeks to his West, his attention increasingly turned towards India and its lands in the east, especially the Ayuthhia empire and Peninsular Malaya.

Babur claimed to be the true and rightful Monarch of the lands of the Sayyid dynasty. He believed himself the rightful heir to the throne of Timur, and it was Timur who had originally left Khizr Khan in charge of his vassal in the Punjab, who became the leader, or Sultan, of the Delhi Sultanate, founding the Sayyid dynasty. The Sayyid dynasty, however, had been ousted by Ibrahim Lodhi, a Ghilzai Afghan, and Babur wanted it returned to the Timurids. Indeed, while actively building up the troop numbers for an invasion of the Punjab he sent a request to Ibrahim; "I sent him a goshawk and asked for the countries which from old had depended on the Turk," the 'countries' referred to were the lands of the Delhi Sultanate.

Following the unsurprising reluctance of Ibrahim to accept the terms of this "offer," and though in no hurry to launch an actual invasion, Babur made several preliminary incursions and also seized Kandahar — a strategic city if he was to fight off attacks on Kabul from the west while he was occupied in India - from the Arghunids. The siege of Kandahar, however, lasted far longer than anticipated, and it was only almost three years later that Kandahar, and its Citadel (backed by enormous natural features) were taken, and that minor assaults in India recommenced. During this series of skirmishes and battles an opportunity for a more extended expedition presented itself.

Upon entering the Punjab plains, Babur's chief allies, namely "Langar Khan Niazi" advised Babur to engage the powerful Janjua Rajputs to join his conquest. The tribe's rebellious stance to the throne of Delhi was well known. Upon meeting their chiefs, "Malik Hast (Asad)" and "Raja Sanghar Khan", Babur made mention of the Janjua's popularity as traditional rulers of their kingdom and their ancestral support for his patriarch Amir Timur during his conquest of Hind. Babur aided them in defeating their enemies, the Gakhars in 1521, thus cementing their alliance. Babur employed them as Generals in his campaign for Delhi, the conquer of "Rana Sanga" and the conquest of India.

The section of Babur's memoirs covering the period between 1508 and 1519 is missing. During these years Shah Ismail I suffered a large defeat when his large cavalry-based army was obliterated at the Battle of Chaldiran by the Ottoman Empire's new weapon, the matchlock musket. Both Shah Ismail and Babur, it appears, were swift in acquiring this new technology for themselves. Somewhere during these years Babur introduced matchlocks into his army, and allowed an Ottoman, Ustad Ali, to train his troops, who were then known as Matchlockmen, in their use. Babur's memoirs give accounts of battles where the opposition forces mocked his troops, never having seen a gun before, because of the noise they made and the way no arrows, spears, etc. appeared to come from the weapon when fired.

These guns allowed small armies to make large gains on enemy territory. Small parties of skirmishers who had been dispatched simply to test enemy positions and tactics, were making inroads into India. Babur, however, had survived two revolts, one in Kandahar and another in Kabul, and was careful to pacify the local population after victories, following local traditions and aiding widows and orphans.

The battle with Ibrahim Lodhi

However, while the Timurids were united, the Lodhi armies were far from unified.

Ibrahim was widely detested, even amongst his nobles, and it was several of his Afghan nobles who were to invite Babur's intervention. Babur assembled a 12,000-man army, and advanced into India. This number actually increased as Babur advanced, as members of the local population joined the invading army. The first major clash between the two sides was fought in late February 1526. Babur's son, Humayun (then aged 17), led the Timurid army into battle against the first of Ibrahim's advance parties. Humayun's victory was harder fought than the previous skirmishes, but it was still a decisive victory. Over one hundred prisoners of war were captured along with around eight war elephants. However, unlike after previous battles, these prisoners were not bonded or freed; by decree from Humayun, they were shot. In his memoirs, Babur recorded that "Ustad Ali-quli and the matchlockmen were ordered to shoot all the prisoners, by way of example; this had been Humayun's first affair, his first experience of battle; it was an excellent omen!" This is perhaps the earliest example of execution by firing squad.

Ibrahim Lodhi advanced against him with 100,000 soldiers and 100 elephants; and though Babur's army had grown, it was still less than half the size of his opponents, possibly as few as 25,000 men. This was to be their main engagement, the First battle of Panipat, and was fought on April 21, 1526. Ibrahim Lodhi was slain and his army was routed; Babur quickly took possession of both Delhi and Agra. That very day Babur ordered Humayun to ride to Agra (Ibrahim's former capital) and secure its national treasures and resources from looting. Humayun found the family of the Raja of Gwalior there — the Raja himself having died at Panipat — sheltering from the invaders, fearing the dreadful nature of the 'Mongols' from the stories that preceded their arrival. After their safety was guaranteed they gave Humayun their family's most valuable jewel, a very large diamond, which some believe to be the diamond which came to be called the "Koh-i-Noor" or "Mountain of Light'. It is thought that they did this to retain their Kingdom. Whether it was because of the gift or not, the family remained the rulers of Gwalior, though now under their new rulers the Timurids.

Babur, meanwhile, marched onward to Delhi reaching it three days after the battle. He celebrated his arrival with a festival on the river Jumna, and remained there at least until Friday (Jum'ah), when Muslim congregational prayers were said and he heard the Khutba, (sermon), read in his name in the "Jama Masjid", a sign of the assumption of sovereignty. He then marched to Agra to join Humayun. Upon arrival Babur was presented with the fabulous diamond, and Babur reports that "I just gave it back to him", adding, "an expert in jewels said its value would provide two and a half days food for the whole world." For the next 200 years the stone was known as 'Babur's Diamond'.

Battles with the Rajputs

Although master of Delhi and Agra, Babur records in his memoirs that he had sleepless nights because of continuing worries over Rana Sanga, the Rajput ruler of Mewar. The Rajput lords had, prior to Babur's intervention, succeeded in conquering some of the Sultanate's territory. They ruled an area directly to the southwest of Babur's new dominions, commonly known as Rajputana as well as fortified dominions in other parts of northern India. It was not a unified kingdom, but rather a confederacy of principalities, under the informal suzerainty of Rana Sanga, head of the senior Rajput dynasty. According to Babur's own writing; "Rana Sanga the Pagan... Satan-like he threw back his head and collected an army of accursed heretics" - "Ten powerful chiefs, each the leader of a pagan host, uprose in rebellion, as smoke rises, and linked themselves, as though enchained, to that perverse one".

The Rajputs had possibly heard word of the heavy casualties inflicted by Lodhi on Babur's forces, and believed that they could capture Delhi, and possibly all Hindustan. They hoped to bring it back into Hindu Rajput hands for the first time in almost three hundred and fifty years since Sultan Shah-al Din Muhammad of Ghor defeated the Rajput Chauhan King Prithviraj III in 1192.

Furthermore, the Rajputs were well aware that there was dissent within the ranks of Babur's army. The hot Indian summer was upon them, and many troops wanted to return home to the cooler climes of Central Asia. The Rajputs' reputation for valour preceded them, and their superior numbers no doubt further contributed to the desire of Babur's army to retreat.According to Babur's own calculations the potential strength of the Rajput army was much larger than that deployed by the Lodis at Panipat. Babur resolved to make this an extended battle, and decided to push further into India, into lands never previously claimed by the Timurids. He needed his troops to defeat the Rajputs.

Despite the unwillingness of his troops to engage in further warfare, Babur was convinced he could overcome the Rajputs and gain complete control over Hindustan. He made great propaganda of the fact that for the first time he was to battle non-Muslims, the "Kafir", to the extent of taking a vow to abstain from drinking (a common fraction among his people) for the rest of his life to win divine favour, and declared the war against, Rana Sanga as a Jihad. To unleash the martial fury of his men, he had them line up and swear on the Qur'an that none would "think of turning his face from his foe, or withdraw from this deadly encounter so long as life is not rent from his body." He also began to refer to himself as a "Ghazi," or "Holy Warrior," a title used by Timur when he fought in India.

The two armies fought each other forty miles west of Agra at Khanwa. In a possibly apocryphal tale referred to in Tod's "Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan", Babur is supposed to have sent about 1,500 choice cavalry as an advance guard to attack Sanga. These were heavily defeated by Sanga's Rajputs. Babur then wanted to discuss peace terms. Sanga sent his general Silhadi (Shiladitya) to the parley. Babur is said to have won over this general by promising him an independent kingdom. Silhadi came back and reported that Babur did not want peace and preferred to fight. The Battle of Khanwa began on March 17, 1527 and, as Tod puts it, "While the issue was still doubtful" Silhadi and his army left the field. Whatever the truth of this tale, it seems plausible that a treacherous Tomara who led the vanguard of Sanga's army at Khanwa went over to Babur, causing Sanga to retreat and costing him a likely victory. Within a year he was dead, probably poisoned by one of his own ministers, and a major rival to Babur had been removed [James Tod "Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan" (3rd Ed., Oxford) 1920, Vol. I pp355-7] .


With the exception of Rajputana which would only be pacified in the reign of his grandson, Akbar, Babur was now the undisputed ruler of Hindustan (a term which at that time referred to northwestern India and the Gangetic Plain), and he began a period of further expansion. Each of the nobles or "Umarah" he appointed was granted leave to set up his own army. And, to facilitate Babur's expansionist aims, many were granted lands yet to be conquered as jaghirs, freeing Babur from many of the problems involved in raising troops. Meanwhile he granted his own sons the provinces furthest away from his new centre of operations: Kamran was given control over Kandahar, Askari was to control Bengal and Humayun was to govern Badakhshan, perhaps the most remote province of Babur's expanding empire.

Babur, with the aide of Ustad Ali continuously used new technology to improve his army. In addition to guns, Babur and Ali tested new types of Siege weaponry, such as cannons, which Babur recalls as being capable of firing a large rock almost a mile (although, he records, its initial test did leave eight innocent bystanders dead). Alongside this, they developed Shells which exploded on impact. The army's organisation was also maintained with great discipline, and according to Babur it received regular inspections.

Lavish lifestyle and final major battle

Late in 1528 Babur celebrated a great festival, or "tamasha". All nobles from the different regions of his empire were gathered, along with any noble who claimed descent from Timur or Genghis Khan. This was a celebration of his Khanal, Chingissid lineage, and when guests were sat in a semi-circle the farthest from Babur (who was, naturally, at the centre) was seated over 100 metres from him. The huge banquet involved giving presents and watching animal fights, wrestling, dancing and acrobatics. Guests presented Babur with tribute of gold and silverFact|date=August 2008, and were in turn presented with sword-belts and cloaks of honour ("khalats"). The guests even included Uzbegs (who under Shaybani Khan had ousted the Timurids from Central Asia and were now the occupiers of Samarkand) and a group of peasants from Transoxiana who were now being rewarded for befriending and aiding Babur before he was a leader.

After the festival, many of the other gifts given to Babur were sent to Kabul, "to adorn the ladies" of his family. Babur was far too generous concerning wealth, and by the time of his death the empire's coffers were almost empty; troops were even ordered to return a third of their income back to the treasury. He was known to cough up blood, had numerous boils on his person, suffered from Sciatica and also bled fluid from his ears. He was a heavy drinkerFact|date=August 2008 and took hashishFact|date=August 2008, perhaps as a means of alleviating the various illnesses he suffered from. These substances were strictly forbidden by the orthodox doctrines of Islam, although in the "Baburnama" Babur does write without censure of relatives in Ferghana who indulged in strong liquorFact|date=August 2008. Nevertheless, Babur, who had fought as a warrior for Islam, was now indulgingFact|date=August 2008 in the forbidden ("Haraam"). The evening before the battle of Khanwua, he smashed his drinking cupsFact|date=August 2008 vowing never to drink again - a vow he kept.

On May 6, 1529, Babur defeated Mahmud Lodhi, Ibrahim's brother, who led an army of those disaffected with his rule, at the Battle of Ghaghra, thus crushing the last remnant of Lodhi resistance in North India.

Last days

After Babur fell seriously ill, Humayun was told of a plot by the senior nobles of Babur's court to bypass the leader's sons and appoint Mahdi Khwaja, Babur's sister's husband, as his successor. He rushed to Agra and arrived there to see his father was well enough again, although Mahdi Khwaja had lost all hope of becoming ruler after arrogantly exceeding his authority during Babur's illness. Upon his arrival in Agra it was Humayun himself who fell ill, and was close to dying.

Babur is said to have circled the sick-bed, crying to God to take his life and not his son's. The traditions that follow this tell that Babur soon fell ill with a fever and Humayun began to get better again. This is not accurate, as there are months separating the recovery of Humayun and the death of Babur, and Babur's final illness was rather sudden. His last words apparently being to his son, Humayun, "Do nothing against your brothers, even though they may deserve it."

He died at the age of 47 on 26 December 1530, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Humayun. Though he wished to be buried in his favourite garden in Kabul, a city he had always loved, he was first buried in a Mausoleum in the capital city of Agra. Roughly nine years later his wishes were fulfilled by Sher Shah Suri and Babur was buried in a beautiful garden Bagh-e Babur in Kabul, now in Afghanistan. The inscription on his tomb reads (in Persian):

Babur's legacy was a mixed one. He is considered a national hero in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. [Dust in the Wind: Retracing Dharma Master Xuanzang's Western Pilgrimage By 經典雜誌編著, Zhihong Wang, pg. 121] However, the Sikh Guru, Nanak, wrote a series of complaints against Babur in the Guru Granth Sahib, claiming Babur "terrified Hindustan" and was a "messenger of death." He also claimed that women with braided hair "were shaved with scissors, and their throats were choked with dust" and that "the order was given to the soldiers, who dishonored them, and carried them away." However, by contemporary standards he was particularly liberal, allowing freedom of religion and not interfering with local customs. [Gascoigne, B: "The Great Moghuls" (1987 Edition) p24.] Indeed some further Sikh texts mention that Babur was blessed by Guru Nanak. [ [ The Sikh Encyclopedia] ] . His conciliation of enemies instead of outright destruction may have allowed them to regroup and re-attack, but it was far-sighted and allowed him to rule a large empire without too much social upheaval. He also wrote or dictated his extraordinary memoirs, one of the great monuments of Chaghatai literature, and oversaw the beginnings of an artistic and architectural legacy which fused indigenous traditions with those from Iran and Central Asia (such as the domed tomb, the original model for which was the Gur-e Amir in Samarkand). Ultimately this would result in the Mughal empire leaving India with some of the most breathtaking architecture in the world, including Humayun's Tomb, the Taj Mahal and the Pearl Mosque.

Impact on Architecture

Babur travelled the country, taking in much of the land and its scenery, and began building a series of structures which mixed the pre-existing Hindu intricacies of carved detail with the traditional Muslim designs used by Persians and Turks. He described with awe the buildings in Chanderi, a village carved from rock, and the palace of Raja Man Singh in Gwalior describing them as "wonderful buildings, entirely hewn from stoneCitequote|date=August 2008." He, was, however, disgusted by the Jain "idols" carved into the rock face below the fortress at Gwalior. "These idols are shown quite naked without even covering for the privities... I ordered them to be destroyed.Citequote|date=August 2008" Fortunately, the statues were not destroyed entirely, rather the faces and genitalia of the offending pieces were removed. (Modern sculptors have restored the faces).

To remind himself of the lands he had left behind, Babur began a process of creating exquisite gardens in every palace and province, where he would often sit shaded from the fierce Indian sun. He tried to recreate the gardens of Kabul, which he believed were the most beautiful in the world, and in one of which he would eventually be buried. "In that charmless and disorderly Hindustan, plots of garden were laid out with order and symmetry.Citequote|date=August 2008" Almost thirty pages of Babur's memoirs are taken up describing the fauna and flora of his Hindustan.

Babri Masjid

Babur is also famous for his commission of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. Like many of the Mughals, Babur constructed many mosques around India, many of them from the stones retrieved from desecrated Hindu temples.


Additional references

*"The Babur-nama. Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor". Translated, Edited and annotated by Wheeler M. Thackston (New York) 2002
*Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat "Ta'rikh-e Rashidi" Trans. & Ed. Elias & Denison Ross (London) 1898.
*"Cambridge History of India", Vol. III & IV, "Turks and Afghan" and "The Mughal Period". (Cambridge) 1928
*Muzaffar Alam & Sanjay Subrahmanyan (Eds.) "The Mughal State 1526-1750" (Delhi) 1998
*William Irvine "The army of the Indian Moghuls". (London) 1902. ("Last revised 1985")
*Bamber Gasgoigne "The Great Moghuls" (London) 1971. ("Last revised 1987")
*Jos Gommans "Mughal Warfare" (London) 2002
*Peter Jackson "The Delhi Sultanate. A Political and Military History" (Cambridge) 1999
*John F. Richards "The Mughal Empire" (Cambridge) 1993
*James Tod "Annals & Antiquities of Rajasthan" (Oxford) 1920 Ed. Wm Crooke (3rd Edition)
*"Babur Nama: Journal of Emperor Babur", Zahir Uddin Muhammad Babur, Translated from Chaghatay Turkic by Annette Susannah Beveridge, Abridged, edited and introduced by Dilip Hiro. ISBN 978-0-14-400149-1 or ISBN 0-14-400149-7. - [ Complete Baburnama online version]
* Eraly, Abraham. "Emperors of the Peacock throne", Penguin, 2000. ISBN 0141001437.
*Elliot, Sir H. M., Edited by Dowson, John. The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period; published by London Trubner Company 1867–1877. (Online Copy: [ The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period; by Sir H. M. Elliot; Edited by John Dowson; London Trubner Company 1867–1877] - This online Copy has been posted by: [ The Packard Humanities Institute; Persian Texts in Translation; Also find other historical books: Author List and Title List] )
* Gordon, Stewart. "When Asia was the World: Traveling Merchants, Scholars, Warriors, and Monks who created the "Riches of the East" Da Capo Press, Perseus Books, 2008. ISBN 0-306-81556-7.

External links

* [ Old photos of the tomb of the emperor Babur in Kabul]
* [ Uzbek Literature-Zahiriddin Muhammad Bobur]
* [ The Mughals - Babur]
* [ The Memoirs of Babur]
* [ Mughal Miniatures about Babur's reign, accompanied by illustrations from his auto-biography, Baburnamah.]
* [ Babur in the Guru Granth Sahib] - Political Protest by Guru Nanak Dev
* [ Babur]
* [ Baburnama, translated into English]

SHORT DESCRIPTION= Mughal Emperor from Central Asia
DATE OF BIRTH= February 23, 1483
DATE OF DEATH= January 5, 1531

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