Zahir - ud - din Mohammad Babur

Zahir - ud - din Mohammad Babur

Zahir - ud - din Mohammad Babur, Zahiriddin Muhammad Bobur (February 14, 1483 - December 26, 1530) (also spelled Baber or Babar), emperor (1526 - 30) and founder of the Mughal dynasty of India, a descendant of the Mongol conqueror Timur (Tamerlane). In 1526 he founded the Mughal Empire and the Mughal dynasty. Zahir - ud - din Mohammad was better known by the sobriquet "Babur" (derived from Persian "Babr" meaning "leopard".)

Babur was born on February 14, 1483, in the city of Andijan in present-day Uzbekistan. He was the eldest son of Omar Sheikh, ruler of the Fergana Valley, and a descendant of the famous Turkic warlord, Timur (Tamarlane). Although Babur hailed from the Barlas tribe which was of Mongol origin, the tribe had embraced Turkish culture in a big way since converting to Islam and due to long residence in Turkish regions. Hence Babur, though nominally a Mongol (Mughal in Persian), drew much of his support from the Turks, and his army was eclectic in its ethnic makeup.

Babur is known to have been incredibly strong and physically fit. Allegedly, he would carry two men, one on each of his shoulders, and then climb slopes on the run, just for the exercise this afforded. Local legend holds that Babur made a point of swimming across every major river in India, again for exercise.


Babur - military career.

When only twelve years of age, Babur succeeded his father as ruler of Fargana. His uncles were relentless in their attempts to dislodge him from this position; Babur spent a major portion of his life shelterless and in exile, as detailed below. In 1497, Babur attacked and gained possession of the Uzbek city of Samarkand. While he was winning that city, a rebellion among Uzbek nobles back home robbed him of Ferghana. While he was marching to recover it, his troops deserted him; he lost Samarkand as well as Ferghana. Babur did manage to regain both places within a relatively brief period. However, in 1501, he was again defeated, this time by his most formidable enemy, Muhammad Shaybani, Khan of the Uzbeks; Samarkhand, his lifelong obsession, was lost again.

For three years, Babur concentrated on building up a strong army. In 1504, he was able to cross the snowy Hindu Kush mountains and capture Kabul. With this move, he gained a wealthy new kingdom and re - established his fortunes.

In the following year, Babur united with Husayn Bayqarah of Herat against Muhammad Shaybani. The death of Husayn Bayqarah in 1506 put paid to that venture, but Babur occupied his ally's city of Herat and spent a year there, enjoying the pleasures of that city. 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; he was compelled to escape with very few companions. Babur however soon returned; he again captured Kabul and compelled the allegiance of the rebels. Muhammad Shaybani died in 1510. Babur used this opportunity to regain his ancestral Timurid territories. He received considerable aid from Shah Ismail I, Safavid ruler of Persia, and made a triumphant entry into Samarkand in 1511. However, he was again defeated by the Uzbeks in 1514 and returned to Kabul with great difficulty.

Babur - conquest of north India.

Babur now resigned all hopes of recovering Fergana. Although he dreaded an invasion from the Uzbeks to his West, his attention increasingly turned towards India. He had made several preliminary incursions, including an attack on the Gakhar stronghold of Pharwala, when an opportunity for a more extended expedition presented itself in 1521. Ibrahim Lodi, ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, was widely detested; several of his Afghan nobles invited Babur's intervention. Babur assembled a 12,000 - man army, complete with artillery, which was then a great novelty, and marched into India. This number actually increased as Babur advanced as members of the local population joined the invading armies. Ibrahim Lodi advanced against him with 100,000 soldiers and 100 elephants. Their main engagement, the First battle of Panipat, was fought on April 21, 1526. Ibrahim Lodi was slain and his army was routed; Babur quickly took possession of both Delhi and Agra.

Now Babur was having sleepless nights because of Rana Sanga, the rajput ruler of Mewar. Babur sent about 1500 choice cavalry to attack Sanga. These were butchered by Sanga's rajputs. Babur wanted to discuss peace terms. For discussions Sanga sent his general Silhadi (Shiladitya). Babur won this general by promising him independent kingdom. Silhadi came back and reported that Babur did not want peace and he wanted to fight. Battle of Khanwa started on March 17, 1527 and Babur's army was being knocked out of the field and victory was certain for Sanga. At this juncture Silhadi and his army left the field and this tilted the war in favor of Babur and he won. On May 6, 1529, Babur defeated Mahmud Lodi, brother of Ibrahim Lodi, at the Battle of Ghagra, thus crushing the last remnant of resistance in north India.

Babur - last days.

Babur spent the later years of his life arranging the affairs and husbanding the revenues of his new empire. He wrote his memoirs, the Baburnama, in the Turkish dialect known as Chaghatai. Towards the end of Babur's life, his son, Humayun, became deathly ill, and was declared by the physicians to have little chance of survival. Babur was devastated and began to constantly pray for his son. In these prayers, which he recited while circumambulating his son, Babur said that he wanted to take the disease away from Humayun, and die in his place. Strangely enough, Babur's prayers were answered; Humayun recovered while Babur grew ill. He died at the age of 48, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Humayun. As per his wishes, Babur was buried at Kabul, Afghanistan.