Babur 14 February 1483 – 26 December 1530, born Zahīr ud-Dīn Muhammad, was the founder and first Emperor of the Mughal dynasty in the Indian subcontinent. He was a direct descendant of Emperor Timur the Great (Tamurlane) from what is now Uzbekistan.
Babur was the eldest son of Umar Sheikh Mirza, governor of Farghana and great grandson of Timur the Great. He ascended the throne of Fergana in its capital Akhsikent in 1494 at the age of twelve and faced rebellion. He conquered Samarkand two years later, only to lose the vilayat of Fergana soon after. In his attempt to reconquer Fergana, he lost control of Samarkand. In 1501, his attempt to recapture both vilayats went in vain as he was defeated by Muhammad Shaybani Khan. In 1504, he conquered Kabul, which was under the rule of the infant heir of Ulugh Begh. Babur formed a partnership with Safavid ruler Ismail I and reconquered parts of Turkistan, including Samarkand, only to again lose it and the other newly conquered lands to the Sheybanids.
Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur founded the Mughal Empire in India after defeating Ibrahim Lodhi in the Battle of Panipat in 1526.
At the age of 14, Babur ascended the throne of the Central Asian kingdom of Farghana. His greatest ambition was to rule Samarkand. He fought many battles in the pursuit of this goal, winning and losing his kingdom many times in the process. In 1504, he ventured into what is now Afghanistan and conquered Kabul.
His position in Central Asia was precarious at best. In order to consolidate his rule, he invaded India five times, crossing the River Indus each time. The fifth expedition resulted in his encounter with Ibrahim Lodhi in the first battle of Panipat in April 1526. Babur’s army was better equipped than Lodhi’s; he had guns while the sultan relied on elephants. The most successful of Babur’s innovations was the introduction of gunpowder, which had never been used before in the Sub-continent. This combined with Babur’s newer tactics gave him a greater advantage. Babur’s strategy won the war and Ibrahim Lodhi died fighting.
Panipat was merely the beginning of the Mughal rule. Akbar laid its real foundation in 1556. At the time of the battle of Panipat, the political power in India was shared by the Afghans and the Rajputs. After Panipat, the Hindu princes united under Rana Sanga, the Raja of Mewar, resulting in a sizable force. Babur’s army showed signs of panic at the size of the huge opposing army. To prevent his forces retreat, Babur tried to instill confidence in his soldiers by breaking all his drinking cups and vessels, and vowed never to drink again if he won. His soldiers took heart, and when the armies met in the battle at Kanwaha, near Agra on March 16, 1527, Babur was able to win decisively. Kanwaha confirmed and completed Babur’s victory at Panipat. Babur thus became the king of Central India.
In 1528, he captured Chanderi from the Rajput chief Medini Rao, and a year later he defeated the Afghan chiefs under Mahmud Lodhi in the battle of Ghagra at Bihar. These conquests made Babur the “Master of Hindustan”. He was not destined to enjoy the fruits of his conquests as he died shortly afterwards in Agra on December 26, 1530. He was buried at Kabul in accordance with his wish.
The Mughal age is famous for its many-faceted cultural developments. The Timurids had a great cultural tradition behind them. Their ancestral kingdom at Samarkand was the meeting ground of the cultural traditions of Central and West Asia. The Mughals brought with them Muslim cultural traditions from Turko-Iranian areas, which inspired the growth of the Indo-Muslim culture.
Babur died at the age of 47 on 5 January [O.S. 26 December 1530] 1531 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Humayun.
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.
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 idealising 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 issued in the country to commemorate his 525th birth anniversary. Many of Babur’s poems have become popular Uzbek folk songs, especially by Sherali Jo’rayev. Some sources claim that Babur is a national hero in Kyrgyzstan too. In October 2005, Pakistan developed the Babur Cruise Missile, named in his honour.
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 Lane-Poole writes: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 second time.”Agency.