Babur: Founder of the Mughal Dynasty

Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur was the founder of the Mughal Empire in India. He was born on 14th February A.D. 1483 in Ferghana. His father Umar Shaikh Mirza was the ruler of Ferghana. He descended from two Central Asian warriors; Timur, The Turkish hero from his father’s side, and Chengiz Khan, the great Mongol hero from his mother’s side.

Coin of babur as ruler of Kabul
Coin of Babur as ruler of Kabul

Therefore the blood of two great Hero’s of Central Asia was flowing in his veins. He had the proud feeling of being the successor of his two great ancestors. Hence he had the ferocity of a Mongol and the courage and ability of a Turk. His family belonged to the Chagatai section of the Turkish race, but he was commonly known as “Mughal”.

Ferghana was a small state in Transoxiana (now a part of Turkistan). There was a constant danger to Ferghana as his father was not on good terms with his brother Ahmad Mirza, the ruler of Samarkand and Bukhara, and his brothers-in-law, Mahmud Khan and Ahmed, the rulers of Tashkent Sairemns Shahrukh. In 1494, his father died in an accident & Babur at the young age of 11 years succeeded in Ferghana. This was in-fact a critical situation for him as the Timurid Princes were busy fighting one another.

Meeting between Babur and Sultan Ali Mirza at Samarkand
Meeting between Babur and Sultan Ali Mirza at Samarkand

He also had adequate military training and acquired experience in administration, war, and diplomacy. Between 1494 and 1504 he had to struggle hard to strengthen his position in Central Asia. He, too, made a bid to conquer Samarkand from his uncle. He won the city twice but lost it in no time on both occasions.

The second time the Uzbek Chief; Sahabani Khan defeated Babur and conquered Samarkand. This forced Babur to move towards Kabul which he conquered in 1504. For the next 14 years, he kept himself busy for the conquest of the homeland from the Uzbeks. In 1511 he won Samarkand third time by defeating Sahabani khan. But within a year Shahabani’s nephew Ubaidullah Khan defeated Babur and forced him to leave Samarkand. He returned to Kabul leaving all hopes on Central Asia. These developments finally forced Babur to look towards India.

Babur’s Conquest of India

Babur marches from Kabul to Hindustan
Babur marches from Kabul to Hindustan

Babur said from the time he Captured Kabul (1504) to his victory at Panipat, “I had never ceased to think of the conquest of Hindustan”. But he had never found a suitable opportunity for undertaking it. Like other earlier invaders of Central Asia, Babur was attracted to India by the force of its fabulous wealth. India was the land of gold and riches. Babur’s ancestor, Timur had not only carried away a vast treasure and many skillful artisans but also annexed some areas of Punjab. These areas remained in the possession of Timur’s successors for several generations. When he conquered Afghanistan, he felt that he had a legitimate right to these areas.

Another reason for Babur’s conquest of India was the insufficient income of Kabul. According to the Historian Abul Fazl, Babur ruled over Badakhshah, Kandhar, and Kabul which did not yield sufficient income for the requirements of the army. In-fact the expenses on controlling the armies and administration were greater than the income. With these measures resources, Babur could not provide well for his Kingdom and Kingsmen. He was also apprehensive of an Uzbek attack on Kabul and considered India to be a good place of refuge, and a suitable base for operations against the Uzbeks.

Further, the Political situation in the north-west Kingdoms of India was suitable for Babur. Their relation was so bitter that they could not be united against any foreign aggression. His own Afghan Chiefs and nobles did not like Ibrahim Lodi, the Sultan of Delhi. Further, his efforts to establish a large centralized empire had alarmed not only the Afghan Chiefs but also the Rajputs. Daulat Khan Lodi, a powerful Afghan Chief and the Governor of Punjab, was an ardent enemy of Ibrahim Lodi.

He was ruling Punjab like an independent ruler. Other important enemies of Ibrahim Lodi were Alam Khan Lodi and Rana Sangram Singh, the king of Mewar and head of the Rajput confederacy. It is said that all of them most probably invited Babur against Ibrahim Lodi. However, before the battle of Panipat, Babur had conducted five expeditions to India between 1519 and 1525 A.D. In 1519 Babur established his control over Bhera.

In his first expedition, Babur tried to avoid war against Ibrahim Lodi of Delhi and Daulat Khan Lodi of Punjab and asked them to surrender but he failed in this mission. In 1520 Babur proceeded to Sialkot and established his authority thereby suppressing the rebellious Afghan tribes.

In 1524, he made the fourth expedition against India. On the initiation of Daulat Khan Lodi, the Governor of Punjab who wanted to dethrone Ibrahim Lodi in favor of his uncle Alam Khan. He took this opportunity and proceeded to India. In the meanwhile, Ibrahim Lodi had summoned Daulat Khan Lodi to Delhi but he did not go there in person and sent his son Dilawar Khan.

Therefore the relations between the two had become quite tense. Ibrahim defeated Daulat Khan and expelled him from Punjab. By the time Babur realized and captured Lahore. Daulat Khan helped Babur to occupy Dipalpur which was given to Alam Khan. Daulat Khan has expected that Babur would return Punjab to him. But he gave him Jalandhar and Sultanpur.

It disappointed Daulat Khan. He tried to play treachery with Babur but was caught by his ambitious son Dilwar Khan. Babur rewarded Dilwar by offering him Sultanpur and imprisoned Daulat Khan for his treachery. Later he released Daulat Khan and gave him Jalandhar only. He did not accept the charge of Jalandhar and fled to the hills.

Then he left for Kabul after keeping a small contingent at Lahore and Sialkot. After Babur’s departure, Daulat Khan Lodi came back from the hills and conquered Sultanpur, Sialkot, and Dipalpur. Alam Khan Lodi fled away to Kabul and Dilawar Khan apologized before his father. On hearing this news Babur made his fifth expedition in 1525 and defeated Daulat Khan and his son Dilwar Khan who beg apology for their misconduct.

Daulat Khan was sent to Bwerea for imprisonment but he breathed his last on the way. Babur established his full control over Punjab. The army and officials of Daulat Khan also extended their wholehearted co-operation to him. Alam continued his support to Babur till the battle of Panipat. Now after destroying the powers of Afghans and establishing his control over Punjab, Babur decided to move against his greatest enemy Ibrahim Lodi, the Sultan of Delhi.