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while Babur would be attacking Delhi. However, while Babur did attack Sultan Ibrahim
Lodi, and took over Delhi and Agra, Sanga made no move, apparently having changed
his mind. Babur had resented this backsliding; in his autobiography, Babur accuses
Rana Sanga of breach of agreement The historian Satish Chandra speculates that
Sanga may have imagined a long drawn struggle taking place between Babur and
Sultan Ibrahim Lodi following which he would be able to take control over the regions he
coveted. Alternatively, writes Chandra, Sanga may have thought that in the event of a
Mughal victory, Babur would withdraw from Delhi and Agra, like Timur, once he had
seized the treasures of these cities. Once he realized that Babur intended to stay on in
India, Sanga proceeded to build a grand coalition which would either force Babur out of
India or else confine him to Punjab. In early 1527, Babur started receiving reports of
Sanga's advance towards Agra.
After the First Battle of Panipat, Babur had recognized that his biggest danger
came from two quarters: Rana Sanga, and the Afghans ruling in Eastern India at the
time. In a council that Babur called, it was decided that the Afghans represented the
bigger danger, and consequently Humayun was sent heading an army to fight the
Afghans in the east. However, upon hearing of Rana Sanga's advancement on Agra,
Humayun was hastily recalled. Military detachments were then sent by Babur for the
conquest of Dholpur, Gwaliyar, and Bayana. These were strong forts forming the outer
boundaries of Agra. The commanders of Dholpur and Gwaliyar surrendered their forts
to Babur accepting his generous terms. However, Nizam Khan, the commander of
Bayana opened negotiations with both Babur and Rana Sanga. Babur's initial military
detachment to Bayana was also defeated and dispersed by Rana Sanga's forces.
However, subsequently, Bayana surrendered to Babur.
Rana Sangha had succeeded in building a formidable military alliance against
Babur. He was joined by virtually all the leading Rajput kings from Rajasthan--including
those from Harauti, Jalor, Sirohi, Dungarpur, Dhundhar, and Amber. Rao Ganga of
Marwar did not join personally, but sent a contingent on his behalf. Rao Medini Rao of
Chanderi in Malwa also joined the alliance. Further, Mahmud Lodi, the younger son of
Sikandar Lodi, whom the Afghans had proclaimed their new Sultan also joined the
alliance with a force of 10,000 Afghans under him. Hasan Khan Mewat, the ruler of
Mewat, also joined the alliance with a force of 12,000. Babur denounced the Afghans
who joined the alliance against him as kafirs and murtads (i.e. those who had
apostatized from Islam). According to the historian Satish Chandra, Babur was using
these words in a political sense, and not a religious sense. Chandra also argues that the
alliance weaved together by Sanga represented a Rajput-Afghan alliance with the
proclaimed mission of expelling Babur, and restoring the Lodi empire. Hence, the Battle
of Khanwa can hardly be seen as a religious conflict between Hindus and Muslims, or
even as a Rajput attempt to establish hegemony over North India.
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According to Babur, Rana Sanga's army consisted of 200,000 soldiers--probably
a rough guess, according to Lane-Poole as the Mewar army along with the armies of
Marwar, Merta and Dungarpur numbered 40,000 when Rana Sanga invaded Gujarat.
Even if this figure is exaggerated, Chandra comments that it is indisputable that Sanga's
army greatly outnumbered Babur's forces. The greater numbers and reported courage
of the Rajputs served to instill fear in Babur's army. An astrologer added to the general
unease by his foolish predictions. To raise the flagging morale of his soldiers, Babur
proceeded to renounce future consumption of wine, broke his drinking cups, poured out
all the stores of liquor on the ground, and promulgated a pledge of total abstinence. He
also made his nobles and soldiers take an oath on the Koran that they would fight to the
death. In his autobiography, Babur writes that:
It was a really good plan, and it had a favorable propagandistic effect on friend
The Battle of Khanwa took place at Khanwa, near Fatehpur-Sikri, on 16 March,
1527. Before the battle, Babur had carefully inspected the battle site. Like in Panipat, he
strengthened his front by procuring carts which were fastened by iron chains (not
leather straps as at Panipat) in the Ottoman fashion. These were used for providing
shelter to horses and for storing artillery. Gaps between the carts were used for
horsemen to charge at the opponent at an opportune time. To lengthen the line, ropes
built of raw hide were placed over wheeled wooden tripods. Behind the tripods,
matchlockmen were placed who could fire and, if required, advance. The flanks were
given protection by digging ditches. In addition to the regular force, small contingents
were kept apart on the left flank and in front for the tulghuma (flanking) tactic. Thus, a
strong offensive-defensive formation had been prepared by Babur. Rana Sanga,
fighting in a traditional way, attacked the Mughal army's flanks. He was prevented from
breaking through by reinforcements dispatched by Babur. Once the advance of the
Rajputs and their Afghan allies had been contained, Babur's flanking tactic came into
play. The carts and matchlockmen were ordered to advance, hemming in the Rajputs
and their allies. Despite putting up a gallant fight, Rana Sanga and his allies suffered a
disastrous defeat. Following his victory, Babur ordered a tower of enemy skulls to be
erected, a practice formulated by Timur against his adversaries, irrespective of their
religious beliefs. According to Chandra, the objective of constructing a tower of skulls
was not just to record a great victory, but also to terrorize opponents. Earlier, the same
tactic had been used by Babur against the Afghans of Bajaur.
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The Battle of Khanwa demonstrated that Rajput bravery was not enough to
counter Babur's superior generalship and organizational skills. Babur himself
Swordsmen though some Hindustanis may be, most of them are ignorant and
unskilled in military move and stand, in soldierly counsel and procedure.
This statement, made in the context of the Afghans, was equally applicable to the
Rajputs according to Chandra. Rana Sanga managed to evade capture and escape to
Chittor, but the grand alliance he had built collapsed. Quoting Rushbrook Williams,
The powerful confederacy which depended so largely for its unity upon the
strength and reputation of Mewar, was shattered by a single defeat and ceased
henceforth to be a dominant factor in the politics of Hindustan.
On 30th January, 1528, Rana Sanga died in Chittor, apparently poisoned by his
own chiefs who held his plans of renewing the fight with Babur to be suicidal.
It is suggested that had it not been for the cannon of Babur, Rana Sanga might
have achieved victory. Pradeep Barua notes that Babur's cannon put an end to
outdated trends in Indian warfare.
Personal life and relationships
There are no descriptions about Babur's physical appearance, except from the
paintings in the translation of the Baburnama prepared during the reign of Akbar. In
his autobiography, Babur claimed to be strong and physically fit, and claimed to have
swum across every major river he encountered, including twice across the Ganges
River in North India. Unlike his father, he had ascetic tendencies and did not have any
great interest in women. In his first marriage, he was "bashful" towards Aisha Sultan
Begum. later losing his affection for her. However, he acquired several more wives and
concubines over the years, and as required for a prince, he was able to ensure the
continuity of his line; Babur treated them and his other women relatives well. In his
memoirs, there is a mention of his infatuation for a younger boy when Babur was 16
years old. According to the historian Abraham Eraly, bisexuality was common and
pederasty high fashion among the central Asian aristocrats of the time.
Babur's first wife, Aisha Sultan Begum, was his cousin, the daughter of Sultan
Ahmad Mirza, his father's brother. She was an infant when betrothed to Babur, who was
himself five years old. They married eleven years later, c. 1498
-99 AD. The couple had
one daughter by her, Fakhr-un-Nissa, who died within a year in 1500. Three years later,
after Babur's first defeat at Fergana, Aisha left him and returned to her father's
household. In 1504, Babur married Zaynab Sultan Begum, who died childless within two
years. In the period 1506-08, Babur married four women, being Maham Begum (in
1506), Masuma Sultan Begum, Gulrukh Begum and Dildar Begum. Babur had four
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children by Maham Begum, of whom only one survived infancy. This was his eldest son
and heir, Humayun. Masuma Sultan Begum died during childbirth; the year of her death
is disputed (either 1508 or 1519). Gulrukh bore Babur two sons, Kamran and Askari,
and Dildar Begum was the mother of Babur's youngest son, Hindal. Babur later
married Mubaraka Yusufzai, a Pashtun woman of the Yusufzai tribe. Gulnar Aghacha
and Nargul Aghacha were two Circassian slaves given to Babur as gifts by Tahmasp
Shah Safavi, the Shah of Persia. They became "recognized ladies of the royal
During his rule in Kabul, when there was a relative time of peace, Babur pursued
his interests in literature, art, music and gardening. Previously, he never drank alcohol
and avoided it when he was in Herat. In Kabul, he first tasted it at the age of thirty. He
then began to drink regularly, host wine parties and consume preparations made from
opium. Though religion had a central place in his life, Babur also approvingly quoted a
line of poetry by one of his contemporaries: "I am drunk, officer. Punish me when I am
sober". He quit drinking for health reasons before the Battle of Khanwa, just 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, "Everyone
regrets drinking and swears an oath (of abstinence); I swore the oath and regret that."
Babur died at the age of 47 on 5 January [O.S. 26 December 1530] 1531, and
was succeeded by his eldest son, Humayun. After death, his body was moved to Kabul,
Afghanistan where it lies in Bagh-e Babur (Babur Gardens).
It is generally agreed that, as a Timurid, Babur was not only significantly
influenced by the Persian culture, but that his empire also gave rise to the expansion of
the Persianate ethos in the Indian subcontinent.
For example, F. Lehmann states in the Encyclopædia Iranica:
His origin, milieu, training, and culture were steeped in Persian culture and so
Babur 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.
Although all applications of modern Central Asian ethnicities to people of Babur's
time are anachronistic, Soviet and Uzbek sources regard Babur as an ethnic Uzbek. At
the same time, during the Soviet Union Uzbek scholars were censored for idealizing
and praising Babur and other historical figures such as Ali-Shir Nava'i.
Babur is considered a national hero in Uzbekistan. On 14 February 2008, stamps
in his name were published in the country to commemorate his 525th birth anniversary.
Many of Babur's poems have become popular Uzbek folk songs, especially by Sherali
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. Some sources claim that Babur is a national hero in Kyrgyzstan too. In
October 2005, Pakistan developed the Babur Cruise Missile, named in his honor.
One of the enduring features of Babur's life was that he left behind the lively and
well-written autobiography known as Baburnama. Quoting Henry Beveridge, Stanley
His autobiography is one of those priceless records which are for all time, and is
fit to rank with the confessions of St. Augustine and Rousseau, and the memoirs of
Gibbon and Newton. In Asia it stands almost alone.
In his own words, "The cream of my testimony is this, do nothing against your
brothers even though they may deserve it." Also, "The new year, the spring, the wine
and the beloved are joyful. Babur make merry, for the world will not be there for you a
Babur is popularly believed to have demolished the Rama Temple at Ayodhya,
India, and built Babri Masjid there. However, three inscriptions which
once adorned the surface of the mosque indicate that it was constructed on the orders
of Mir Baqi, not Babur. Baqi was one of Babur's generals who led forces sent to the
region during his reign. In 2003, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was asked to
conduct a more detailed study and an excavation to ascertain the type of structure that
was beneath the rubble of Babri Masjid. According to a news report in The Week,
the ASI report indicated "no mention of a temple, only of evidence of a massive
structure, fragments of which speak about their association with temple architecture of
the Saivite style."
Aurangzeb was born on 4 November 1618, in Dahod, Gujarat. He was the third
son and sixth child of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. His father was a governor of
Gujarat at that time. In June 1626, after an unsuccessful rebellion by his father,
Aurangzeb and his brother Dara Shikoh were kept as hostages under their
grandparents' (Nur Jahan and Jahangir) Lahore court. On 26 February 1628, Shah
Jahan was officially declared the Mughal Emperor, and Aurangzeb returned to live with
his parents at Agra Fort, where Aurangzeb received his formal education in Arabic and
Persian. His daily allowance was fixed at Rs. 500 which he spent on religious education
and the study of history. He also accused his brothers of alcoholism and womanising.
On 28 May 1633 Aurangzeb escaped death when a powerful war elephant
stampeded through the Mughal Imperial encampment. He rode against the elephant
and struck its trunk with a lance, and successfully defended himself from being crushed.
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Aurangzeb's valour was appreciated by his father who conferred him the title of Bahadur
(Brave) and had him weighed in gold and presented gifts worth Rs. 200,000. This event
was celebrated in Persian and Urdu verses and Aurangzeb said
If the (elephant) fight had ended fatally for me, it would not have been a matter of
shame. Death drops the curtain even on Emperors; it is no dishonor. The shame lay in
what my brothers did!
On 15 December 1634, Aurangzeb was given his first command, comprising
10,000 horse and 4000 troopers. He was allowed to use the red tent, which was an
Subsequently, Aurangzeb was nominally in charge of the force sent to
Bundelkhand with the intent of subduing the rebellious ruler of Orchha, Jhujhar Singh,
who had attacked another territory in defiance of Shah Jahan's policy and was refusing
to atone for his actions. By arrangement, Aurangzeb stayed in the rear, away from the
fighting, and took the advice of his generals as the Mughal Army gathered and
commenced the Siege of Orchha in 1635. The campaign was
successful and Singh was removed from power.
A painting from Padshahnama depicts Prince Aurangzeb facing a maddened war
elephant named Sudhakar.
Aurangzeb was appointed Viceroy of the Deccan in 1636. After Shah Jahan's
vassals had been devastated by the alarming expansion of Ahmednagar during the
reign of the Nizam Shahi boy-prince Murtaza Shah III, the emperor dispatched
Aurangzeb, who in 1636 brought the Nizam Shahi dynasty to an end. In 1637,
Aurangzeb married the Safavid princess, Dilras Banu Begum, also known as Rabia-ud-
Daurani. She was his first wife and chief consort. He also had an infatuation with a slave
girl, Hira Bai, whose death at a young age greatly affected him. In his old age, he was
under the charms of his concubine, Udaipuri Bai. The latter had formerly been a
companion to Dara Shikoh. In the same year, 1637, Aurangzeb was placed in charge of
annexing the small Rajput kingdom of Baglana, which he did with ease.
In 1644, Aurangzeb's sister, Jahanara, was burned when the chemicals in her
perfume were ignited by a nearby lamp while in Agra. This event precipitated a family
crisis with political consequences. Aurangzeb suffered his father's displeasure by not
returning to Agra immediately but rather three weeks later. Shah Jahan had been
nursing Jahanara back to health in that time and thousands of vassals had arrived in
Agra to pay their respects. Shah Jahan was outraged to see Aurangzeb enter the
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interior palace compound in military attire and immediately dismissed him from his
position of Viceroy of the Deccan; Aurangzeb was also no longer allowed to use red
tents or to associate himself with the official military standard of the Mughal emperor.
In 1645, he was barred from the court for seven months and mentioned his grief
to fellow Mughal commanders. Thereafter, Shah Jahan appointed him governor of
Gujarat where he served well and was rewarded for bringing stability.
In 1647, Shah Jahan moved Aurangzeb from Gujarat to be governor of Balkh,
replacing a younger son, Murad Baksh, who had proved ineffective there. The area was
under attack from Uzbek and Turkoman tribes. Whilst the Mughal artillery and muskets
were a formidable force, so too were the skirmishing skills of their opponents. The two
sides were in stalemate and Aurangzeb discovered that his army could not live off the
land, which was devastated by war. With the onset of winter, he and his father had to
make a largely unsatisfactory deal with the Uzbeks, giving away territory in exchange
for nominal recognition of Mughal sovereignty. The Mughal force suffered still further
with attacks by Uzbeks and other tribesmen as it retreated through snow to Kabul. By
the end of this two-year campaign, into which Aurangzeb had been plunged at a late
stage, a vast sum of money had been expended for little gain.
Further inauspicious military involvements followed, as Aurangzeb was appointed
governor of Multan and Sindh. His efforts in 1649 and 1652 to dislodge the Safavids at
Kandahar, which they had recently retaken after a decade of Mughal control, both
ended in failure as winter approached. The logistical problems of supplying an army at
the extremity of the empire, combined with the poor quality of armaments and the
intransigence of the opposition have been cited by John Richards as the reasons for
failure, and a third attempt in 1653, led by Dara Shikoh, met with the same outcome.
Dara Shikoh's appointment followed the removal of Aurangzeb, who once again
became Viceroy in the Deccan. He regretted this and harboured feelings that Shikoh
had manipulated the situation to serve his own ends. Aurangbad's two jagirs (land
grants) were moved there as a consequence of his return and, because the Deccan
was a relatively impoverished area, this caused him to lose out financially. So poor was
the area that grants were required from Malwa and Gujarat in order to maintain the
administration and the situation caused ill-feeling between father and son. Shah Jahan
insisted that things could be improved if Aurangzeb made efforts to develop cultivation,
but the efforts that were made proved too slow in producing results to satisfy the
Aurangzeb proposed to resolve the situation by attacking the dynastic occupants
of Golconda (the Qutb Shahis) and Bijapur (the Adil Shahis). As an adjunct to resolving
the financial difficulties, the proposal would also extend Mughal influence by accruing
more lands. Again, he was to feel that Dara had exerted influence on his father:
believing that he was on the verge of victory in both instances, Aurangzeb was
frustrated that Shah Jahan chose then to settle for negotiations with the opposing forces
rather than pushing for complete victory.
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