Babur (1526–30)


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Babur ascended the throne at Farghana, a small principality in Transoxiana, in 1494 at the age of twelve after the death of his father.

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Central Asia

The situation in Central Asia was not stable and Babur had to face a lot of resistance from the nobility itself. Although he was able to capture Samarqand but very soon he had to retreat because of desertion of some of his nobles. He also lost Farghana to the Uzbegs.

Thus, the early years of Babur’s rule in central Asia were tough. During this whole period he had plans of moving towards Hindustan. And finally from 1517 onwards he made decisive moves towards India. A few developments in India at that time also helped him to act on plans of invading India.

Timurids

Babur traced his lineage from Timur the great conqueror of Central Asia and to Chengiz Khan the distinguished conqueror. From mother’s side he was a descendant of Mongols and from father’s side the great commander Timur. Because of the lineage of Timur the Mughals are also referred as Timurids.

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Political Instability In India

The unstable political situation in India after Sikandar Lodi’s death convinced him of political discontentment and disorder in the Lodi Empire.

  • Meanwhile there was conflict between some Afghan chiefs with Ibrahim Lodi. Prominent among them was Daulat Khan Lodi, the Governor of a large part of Punjab.
  • The Rajput king of Mewar Rana Sanga was also asserting his authority against Ibrahim Lodi and was trying to increase his area of influence in north India.

Both of them sent word to Babur to invade India. Invitations from Rana Sanga and Daulat Khan Lodi might have encouraged Babur’s ambitions.

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Babur’s Expedition In India

Babur was successful in capturing Bhira (1519–1520), Sialkot (1520) and Lahore (1524) in Punjab.

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Finally, Ibrahim Lodi and Babur’s forces met at Panipat in 1526. Babur’s Soldiers were less in number but the organization of his army was superior. Ibrahim Lodi was defeated in the battle of Panipat.

Babur was thus able to take control of Delhi and Agra and got the rich treasure of Lodis. This money was distributed among Babur’s commanders and soldiers.

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Panipat’s Success Story

Success at the Battle of Panipat was a great achievement of Babur’s military tactics. Babur had an active army of only 12000 soldiers while Ibrahim’s army had an estimated strength of 100,000 soldiers. When face to face in the battle field Babur’s tactics were unique. He effectively applied the Rumi (Ottoman) method of warfare. He encircled Ibrahim’s army from two flanks. In the centre his cavalry mounted attack with arrows and gun fires by expert ottoman gunners. The trenches and barricades provided adequate defence against march of the enemy. The Afghan army of Ibrahim Lodi suffered heavy casualties. Ibrahim Lodi died in the battle field.

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Challenges/Problems Ahead

Victory at Panipat provided Babur a firm ground to consolidate his conquests. But now he was faced with a few problems:

  1. His nobles and commanders were eager to return to Central Asia because they did not like the climate of India. Culturally also, they felt very alienated.
  2. Rajputs were rallying around under the leadership of Rana Sanga the king of Mewar and wanted to expel the Mughal forces.
  3. The Afghans, though defeated at Panipat, were still a formidable force in eastern parts of UP, Bihar and Bengal. They were re-grouping to reclaim their lost powers.

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Overcoming The Challenges/Problems

To begin with Babur convinced his companions and nobles to stay back and help in consolidating the conquered territories.

After succeeding in this difficult task, he sent his son Humayun to face the eastern Afghans.

Rana Sanga of Mewar succeeded to muster support of a large number of Rajput chiefs.

  • Prominent among these were Jalor, Sirohi, Dungarpur, Amber, Merta etc.
  • Medini Rai of Chanderi, Hasan Khan of Mewat and Mahmud Lodi younger son of Sikander Lodi also joined Rana with their forces.

Possibly, Rana Sanga expected Babur to return to Kabul. Babur’s decision to stay back must have given a big jolt to Rana Sanga’s ambitions. Babur was also fully aware of the fact that it would be impossible for him to consolidate his position in India unless he shattered Rana’s power.

The forces of Babur and Rana Sanga met at Khanwa, a place near Fatehpur Sikri. Rana Sanga was defeated in 1527 and once again the superior military tactics of Babur succeeded. With the defeat of Rana the biggest challenge in north India was shattered.

Though the Mewar Rajputs received great shock at Khanwa, Medini Rai at Malwa was still threatening to challenge the authority of Babur. In spite of great valour with which the Rajputs fought in Chanderi (1528), Babur faced little difficulty in overcoming Medini Rai. With his defeat, resistance across Rajputana was completely shattered.

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Now Babur had to tackle the Afghans. The Afghans had surrendered Delhi, but they were still powerful in the east (Bihar and parts of Jaunpur).

The success against the Afghans and Rajputs at Panipat and Khanwa was very significant but the resistance was still present. However, these victories were a step forward in the direction of the establishment of Mughal empire.

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Babur died in 1530.

The rulers of Gujarat, Malwa and Bengal enjoyed substantial military power and were not suppressed. It was left to Humayun to face these regional powers.

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Bibliography : NIOS – Medieval India

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