Old NCERT Textbook (Satish Chandra): Struggle for Empire in North India - II Notes | Study History for UPSC CSE - UPSC

UPSC: Old NCERT Textbook (Satish Chandra): Struggle for Empire in North India - II Notes | Study History for UPSC CSE - UPSC

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 Page 1


TWELVE
Struggle for Empire in North India—II
Mughals and Afghans (1525–1555)
CENTRAL ASIA AND BABUR
Important changes took place in Central and West. Asia during the fifteenth
century. After the disintegration of the Mongol empire in the fourteenth
century, Timur united Iran and Turan under one rule once again. Timur’s
empire extended from the lower Volga to the river Indus, and included Asia
Minor (modern Turkey), Iran, Trans-Oxiana, Afghanistan and a part of the
Punjab. Timur died in 1405, but his grandson, Shahrukh Mirza (d. 1448), was
able to keep intact a large part of his empire. He gave patronage to arts and
letters, and in his time, Samarqand and Herat became the cultural centres of
West Asia. The ruler of Samarqand had great prestige in the entire Islamic
world.
The power of the Timurids declined rapidly during the second half of the
fifteenth century, largely owing to the Timurid tradition of partitioning the
empire. The various Timurid principalities which arose always fought and
wrangled among themselves. This provided an opportunity to two new
elements to come to the forefront. From the north, a Turko-Mongol tribe, the
Uzbeks, thrust into Trans-Oxiana. The Uzbeks had become Muslims, but-
were looked down upon by the Timurids who considered them to be
uncultured barbarians. Further to the west, a new dynasty, the Safavid
dynasty, began to dominate Iran. The Safavids were descended from an order
of saints who traced their ancestry to the Prophet. They supported the Shiite
sect among the Muslims, and persecuted those who were not prepared to
accept the Shiite tenets. The Uzbeks, on the other hand, were Sunnis. Thus,
political conflict between these two elements was embittered by sectarian
strife. Further to the west of Iran, the power of the Ottoman Turks was
Page 2


TWELVE
Struggle for Empire in North India—II
Mughals and Afghans (1525–1555)
CENTRAL ASIA AND BABUR
Important changes took place in Central and West. Asia during the fifteenth
century. After the disintegration of the Mongol empire in the fourteenth
century, Timur united Iran and Turan under one rule once again. Timur’s
empire extended from the lower Volga to the river Indus, and included Asia
Minor (modern Turkey), Iran, Trans-Oxiana, Afghanistan and a part of the
Punjab. Timur died in 1405, but his grandson, Shahrukh Mirza (d. 1448), was
able to keep intact a large part of his empire. He gave patronage to arts and
letters, and in his time, Samarqand and Herat became the cultural centres of
West Asia. The ruler of Samarqand had great prestige in the entire Islamic
world.
The power of the Timurids declined rapidly during the second half of the
fifteenth century, largely owing to the Timurid tradition of partitioning the
empire. The various Timurid principalities which arose always fought and
wrangled among themselves. This provided an opportunity to two new
elements to come to the forefront. From the north, a Turko-Mongol tribe, the
Uzbeks, thrust into Trans-Oxiana. The Uzbeks had become Muslims, but-
were looked down upon by the Timurids who considered them to be
uncultured barbarians. Further to the west, a new dynasty, the Safavid
dynasty, began to dominate Iran. The Safavids were descended from an order
of saints who traced their ancestry to the Prophet. They supported the Shiite
sect among the Muslims, and persecuted those who were not prepared to
accept the Shiite tenets. The Uzbeks, on the other hand, were Sunnis. Thus,
political conflict between these two elements was embittered by sectarian
strife. Further to the west of Iran, the power of the Ottoman Turks was
growing. They wanted to dominate eastern Europe as well as Iraq and Iran.
(See Map A, Appendix)
Thus the scene was set for the conflict of three mighty empires in Asia
during the sixteenth century.
In 1494, at the young age of twelve, Babur succeeded to Farghana, a small
state in Trans-Oxiana. Oblivious of the Uzbek danger, the Timurid princes
were busy fighting one another. Babur, too, made a bid to conquer
Samarqand from his uncle. He won the city twice but lost it in no time on
both the occasions. The second time the Uzbek chief, Shaibani Khan, was
called in to help oust Babur. Shaibani defeated Babur and conquered
Samarqand. Soon, he overran the rest of the Timurid kingdoms in the area.
This forced Babur to move towards Kabul which he conquered in 1504. For
the next fourteen years, Babur kept biding his time for the re-conquest of his
homeland from the Uzbeks. He tried to enlist the help of his uncle, the ruler
of Herat, in the enterprise but to no avail. Ultimately, Herat, too, was overrun
by Shaibani Khan. This led to a direct conflict between the Uzbeks and the
Safavids since the latter also laid claim to Herat and the surrounding area
which is called Khurasan by contemporary writers. In a famous battle in 1510,
near Merv, Shah Ismail, the shah of Iran, defeated and killed Shaibani Khan.
Babur now made another attempt to recover Samarqand, this time with the
help of the Iranian forces. He was duly installed at Samarqand, but chafed
under the control of the Iranian generals who wanted to treat Babur as the
governor of an Iranian province rather than as an independent prince.
Meanwhile, the Uzbeks recovered rapidly from their defeat. Once again
Babur was ousted from Samarqand and had to return to Kabul. Finally, Shah
Ismail himself was defeated by the Ottoman sultan in 1514, thus leaving the
Uzbeks masters of Trans-Oxiana.
These developments finally forced Babur to look towards India.
CONQUEST OF INDIA
Babur says that from the time he obtained Kabul (1504), to his victory at
Panipat, ‘I had never ceased to think of the conquest of Hindus tan.’ But he
had never found a suitable opportunity for undertaking it, ‘hindered as I was
Page 3


TWELVE
Struggle for Empire in North India—II
Mughals and Afghans (1525–1555)
CENTRAL ASIA AND BABUR
Important changes took place in Central and West. Asia during the fifteenth
century. After the disintegration of the Mongol empire in the fourteenth
century, Timur united Iran and Turan under one rule once again. Timur’s
empire extended from the lower Volga to the river Indus, and included Asia
Minor (modern Turkey), Iran, Trans-Oxiana, Afghanistan and a part of the
Punjab. Timur died in 1405, but his grandson, Shahrukh Mirza (d. 1448), was
able to keep intact a large part of his empire. He gave patronage to arts and
letters, and in his time, Samarqand and Herat became the cultural centres of
West Asia. The ruler of Samarqand had great prestige in the entire Islamic
world.
The power of the Timurids declined rapidly during the second half of the
fifteenth century, largely owing to the Timurid tradition of partitioning the
empire. The various Timurid principalities which arose always fought and
wrangled among themselves. This provided an opportunity to two new
elements to come to the forefront. From the north, a Turko-Mongol tribe, the
Uzbeks, thrust into Trans-Oxiana. The Uzbeks had become Muslims, but-
were looked down upon by the Timurids who considered them to be
uncultured barbarians. Further to the west, a new dynasty, the Safavid
dynasty, began to dominate Iran. The Safavids were descended from an order
of saints who traced their ancestry to the Prophet. They supported the Shiite
sect among the Muslims, and persecuted those who were not prepared to
accept the Shiite tenets. The Uzbeks, on the other hand, were Sunnis. Thus,
political conflict between these two elements was embittered by sectarian
strife. Further to the west of Iran, the power of the Ottoman Turks was
growing. They wanted to dominate eastern Europe as well as Iraq and Iran.
(See Map A, Appendix)
Thus the scene was set for the conflict of three mighty empires in Asia
during the sixteenth century.
In 1494, at the young age of twelve, Babur succeeded to Farghana, a small
state in Trans-Oxiana. Oblivious of the Uzbek danger, the Timurid princes
were busy fighting one another. Babur, too, made a bid to conquer
Samarqand from his uncle. He won the city twice but lost it in no time on
both the occasions. The second time the Uzbek chief, Shaibani Khan, was
called in to help oust Babur. Shaibani defeated Babur and conquered
Samarqand. Soon, he overran the rest of the Timurid kingdoms in the area.
This forced Babur to move towards Kabul which he conquered in 1504. For
the next fourteen years, Babur kept biding his time for the re-conquest of his
homeland from the Uzbeks. He tried to enlist the help of his uncle, the ruler
of Herat, in the enterprise but to no avail. Ultimately, Herat, too, was overrun
by Shaibani Khan. This led to a direct conflict between the Uzbeks and the
Safavids since the latter also laid claim to Herat and the surrounding area
which is called Khurasan by contemporary writers. In a famous battle in 1510,
near Merv, Shah Ismail, the shah of Iran, defeated and killed Shaibani Khan.
Babur now made another attempt to recover Samarqand, this time with the
help of the Iranian forces. He was duly installed at Samarqand, but chafed
under the control of the Iranian generals who wanted to treat Babur as the
governor of an Iranian province rather than as an independent prince.
Meanwhile, the Uzbeks recovered rapidly from their defeat. Once again
Babur was ousted from Samarqand and had to return to Kabul. Finally, Shah
Ismail himself was defeated by the Ottoman sultan in 1514, thus leaving the
Uzbeks masters of Trans-Oxiana.
These developments finally forced Babur to look towards India.
CONQUEST OF INDIA
Babur says that from the time he obtained Kabul (1504), to his victory at
Panipat, ‘I had never ceased to think of the conquest of Hindus tan.’ But he
had never found a suitable opportunity for undertaking it, ‘hindered as I was
sometimes by the apprehensions of my begs, sometimes by the disagreement
between my brothers and myself.’ Like countless earlier invaders from
Central Asia, Babur was drawn to India by the lure 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 who helped him to
consolidate his Asian empire and beautify his capital, but also annexed some
areas in the Punjab. These areas remained in the possession of Timur’s
successors for several generations. When Babur conquered Afghanistan, he
felt that he had a legitimate right to these areas.
Another reason why Babur coveted the Punjab parganas was the meagre
income of Kabul. The historian Abul Fazl remarks: ‘He (Babur) ruled over
Badakhshan, Qandhar and Kabul which did not yield sufficient income for
the requirements of the army; in fact, in some of the border territories the
expense on controlling the armies and administration was greater than the
income.’ With these meagre resources Babur could not provide well for his
begs and kinsmen. 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.
The political situation in northwest India was suitable for Babur’s entry
into India. Sikandar Lodi had died in 1517, and Ibrahim Lodi had succeeded
him. Ibrahim’s efforts to create a strong, centralised empire had alarmed the
Afghan chiefs as well as the Rajputs. One of the most powerful of the Afghan
chiefs was Daulat Khan Lodi, the governor of the Punjab, who was almost an
independent ruler. Daulat Khan attempted to conciliate Ibrahim Lodi by
sending his son to his court to pay homage. At the same time, he wanted to
strengthen his position by annexing the frontier tracts of Bhira, etc.
In 1518—19, Babur conquered the powerful fort of Bhira. He then sent
letters and verbal messages to Daulat Khan and Ibrahim Lodi, asking for the
cession of the areas which had belonged to the Turks. But Daulat Khan
detained Babur’s envoy at Lahore, neither granting him audience nor
allowing him to go to Ibrahim Lodi. When Babur returned to Kabul, Daulat
Khan occupied Bhira, and expelled Babur’s agents posted there.
In 1520—21, Babur once again crossed the Indus, and easily captured Bhira
and Sialkot, the twin gateways to Hindustan. Lahore also capitulated to him.
Page 4


TWELVE
Struggle for Empire in North India—II
Mughals and Afghans (1525–1555)
CENTRAL ASIA AND BABUR
Important changes took place in Central and West. Asia during the fifteenth
century. After the disintegration of the Mongol empire in the fourteenth
century, Timur united Iran and Turan under one rule once again. Timur’s
empire extended from the lower Volga to the river Indus, and included Asia
Minor (modern Turkey), Iran, Trans-Oxiana, Afghanistan and a part of the
Punjab. Timur died in 1405, but his grandson, Shahrukh Mirza (d. 1448), was
able to keep intact a large part of his empire. He gave patronage to arts and
letters, and in his time, Samarqand and Herat became the cultural centres of
West Asia. The ruler of Samarqand had great prestige in the entire Islamic
world.
The power of the Timurids declined rapidly during the second half of the
fifteenth century, largely owing to the Timurid tradition of partitioning the
empire. The various Timurid principalities which arose always fought and
wrangled among themselves. This provided an opportunity to two new
elements to come to the forefront. From the north, a Turko-Mongol tribe, the
Uzbeks, thrust into Trans-Oxiana. The Uzbeks had become Muslims, but-
were looked down upon by the Timurids who considered them to be
uncultured barbarians. Further to the west, a new dynasty, the Safavid
dynasty, began to dominate Iran. The Safavids were descended from an order
of saints who traced their ancestry to the Prophet. They supported the Shiite
sect among the Muslims, and persecuted those who were not prepared to
accept the Shiite tenets. The Uzbeks, on the other hand, were Sunnis. Thus,
political conflict between these two elements was embittered by sectarian
strife. Further to the west of Iran, the power of the Ottoman Turks was
growing. They wanted to dominate eastern Europe as well as Iraq and Iran.
(See Map A, Appendix)
Thus the scene was set for the conflict of three mighty empires in Asia
during the sixteenth century.
In 1494, at the young age of twelve, Babur succeeded to Farghana, a small
state in Trans-Oxiana. Oblivious of the Uzbek danger, the Timurid princes
were busy fighting one another. Babur, too, made a bid to conquer
Samarqand from his uncle. He won the city twice but lost it in no time on
both the occasions. The second time the Uzbek chief, Shaibani Khan, was
called in to help oust Babur. Shaibani defeated Babur and conquered
Samarqand. Soon, he overran the rest of the Timurid kingdoms in the area.
This forced Babur to move towards Kabul which he conquered in 1504. For
the next fourteen years, Babur kept biding his time for the re-conquest of his
homeland from the Uzbeks. He tried to enlist the help of his uncle, the ruler
of Herat, in the enterprise but to no avail. Ultimately, Herat, too, was overrun
by Shaibani Khan. This led to a direct conflict between the Uzbeks and the
Safavids since the latter also laid claim to Herat and the surrounding area
which is called Khurasan by contemporary writers. In a famous battle in 1510,
near Merv, Shah Ismail, the shah of Iran, defeated and killed Shaibani Khan.
Babur now made another attempt to recover Samarqand, this time with the
help of the Iranian forces. He was duly installed at Samarqand, but chafed
under the control of the Iranian generals who wanted to treat Babur as the
governor of an Iranian province rather than as an independent prince.
Meanwhile, the Uzbeks recovered rapidly from their defeat. Once again
Babur was ousted from Samarqand and had to return to Kabul. Finally, Shah
Ismail himself was defeated by the Ottoman sultan in 1514, thus leaving the
Uzbeks masters of Trans-Oxiana.
These developments finally forced Babur to look towards India.
CONQUEST OF INDIA
Babur says that from the time he obtained Kabul (1504), to his victory at
Panipat, ‘I had never ceased to think of the conquest of Hindus tan.’ But he
had never found a suitable opportunity for undertaking it, ‘hindered as I was
sometimes by the apprehensions of my begs, sometimes by the disagreement
between my brothers and myself.’ Like countless earlier invaders from
Central Asia, Babur was drawn to India by the lure 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 who helped him to
consolidate his Asian empire and beautify his capital, but also annexed some
areas in the Punjab. These areas remained in the possession of Timur’s
successors for several generations. When Babur conquered Afghanistan, he
felt that he had a legitimate right to these areas.
Another reason why Babur coveted the Punjab parganas was the meagre
income of Kabul. The historian Abul Fazl remarks: ‘He (Babur) ruled over
Badakhshan, Qandhar and Kabul which did not yield sufficient income for
the requirements of the army; in fact, in some of the border territories the
expense on controlling the armies and administration was greater than the
income.’ With these meagre resources Babur could not provide well for his
begs and kinsmen. 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.
The political situation in northwest India was suitable for Babur’s entry
into India. Sikandar Lodi had died in 1517, and Ibrahim Lodi had succeeded
him. Ibrahim’s efforts to create a strong, centralised empire had alarmed the
Afghan chiefs as well as the Rajputs. One of the most powerful of the Afghan
chiefs was Daulat Khan Lodi, the governor of the Punjab, who was almost an
independent ruler. Daulat Khan attempted to conciliate Ibrahim Lodi by
sending his son to his court to pay homage. At the same time, he wanted to
strengthen his position by annexing the frontier tracts of Bhira, etc.
In 1518—19, Babur conquered the powerful fort of Bhira. He then sent
letters and verbal messages to Daulat Khan and Ibrahim Lodi, asking for the
cession of the areas which had belonged to the Turks. But Daulat Khan
detained Babur’s envoy at Lahore, neither granting him audience nor
allowing him to go to Ibrahim Lodi. When Babur returned to Kabul, Daulat
Khan occupied Bhira, and expelled Babur’s agents posted there.
In 1520—21, Babur once again crossed the Indus, and easily captured Bhira
and Sialkot, the twin gateways to Hindustan. Lahore also capitulated to him.
He might have proceeded further but for the news of a revolt at Qandhar. He
retraced his steps, and after a siege of a year and a half recaptured Qandhar.
Thus reassured, Bahur was once again able to turn his attention towards
India.
It was about this time that Babur received an embassy from Daulat Khan
Lodi, led by his son, Dilawar Khan. They invited Babur to India, and
suggested that he should displace Ibrahim Lodi since he was a tyrant and
enjoyed no support from his nobles. It is probable that a messenger from
Rana Sanga arrived at the same time, inviting Babur to invade India. These
embassies convinced Babur that the time was ripe for his conquest of the
whole of the Punjab if not of India itself.
In 1525, while Babur was at Peshawar, he received the news that Daulat
Khan Lodi had changed sides again. He had collected an army of 30,000—
40,000 men, ousted Babur’s men from Sialkot and was marching to Lahore.
At Babur’s approach, the army of Daulat Khan melted away. Daulat Khan
submitted and was pardoned. Thus, within three weeks of crossing the Indus,
Babur became the master of the Punjab.
THE BATTELE OF PANIPAT (20 APRIL 1526)
A conflict with Ibrahim Lodi, the ruler of Delhi, was inevitable, and Babur
prepared for it by marching towards Delhi. Ibrahim Lodi met Babur at
Panipat with a force estimated at 100,000 men and 1000 elephants. Since the
Indian armies generally contained large hordes of servants, the fighting men
on Ibrahim Lodi’s side must have been far less than this figure. Babur had
crossed the Indus with a force of 12,000, but this had been swelled by his
army in India, and the large number of Hindustani nobles and soldiers who
joined Babur in the Punjab. Even then, Babur’s army was numerically
inferior. Babur strengthened his position by resting one wing of his army on
the city of Panipat which had a large number of houses, and protected the
other by means of a ditch filled with branches of trees. In front, he lashed
together a large number of carts, to act as a defending wall. Between two carts,
breastworks were erected on which soldiers could rest their guns and fire.
Babur calls his device an Ottoman (Rumi) device, for it had been used by the
Page 5


TWELVE
Struggle for Empire in North India—II
Mughals and Afghans (1525–1555)
CENTRAL ASIA AND BABUR
Important changes took place in Central and West. Asia during the fifteenth
century. After the disintegration of the Mongol empire in the fourteenth
century, Timur united Iran and Turan under one rule once again. Timur’s
empire extended from the lower Volga to the river Indus, and included Asia
Minor (modern Turkey), Iran, Trans-Oxiana, Afghanistan and a part of the
Punjab. Timur died in 1405, but his grandson, Shahrukh Mirza (d. 1448), was
able to keep intact a large part of his empire. He gave patronage to arts and
letters, and in his time, Samarqand and Herat became the cultural centres of
West Asia. The ruler of Samarqand had great prestige in the entire Islamic
world.
The power of the Timurids declined rapidly during the second half of the
fifteenth century, largely owing to the Timurid tradition of partitioning the
empire. The various Timurid principalities which arose always fought and
wrangled among themselves. This provided an opportunity to two new
elements to come to the forefront. From the north, a Turko-Mongol tribe, the
Uzbeks, thrust into Trans-Oxiana. The Uzbeks had become Muslims, but-
were looked down upon by the Timurids who considered them to be
uncultured barbarians. Further to the west, a new dynasty, the Safavid
dynasty, began to dominate Iran. The Safavids were descended from an order
of saints who traced their ancestry to the Prophet. They supported the Shiite
sect among the Muslims, and persecuted those who were not prepared to
accept the Shiite tenets. The Uzbeks, on the other hand, were Sunnis. Thus,
political conflict between these two elements was embittered by sectarian
strife. Further to the west of Iran, the power of the Ottoman Turks was
growing. They wanted to dominate eastern Europe as well as Iraq and Iran.
(See Map A, Appendix)
Thus the scene was set for the conflict of three mighty empires in Asia
during the sixteenth century.
In 1494, at the young age of twelve, Babur succeeded to Farghana, a small
state in Trans-Oxiana. Oblivious of the Uzbek danger, the Timurid princes
were busy fighting one another. Babur, too, made a bid to conquer
Samarqand from his uncle. He won the city twice but lost it in no time on
both the occasions. The second time the Uzbek chief, Shaibani Khan, was
called in to help oust Babur. Shaibani defeated Babur and conquered
Samarqand. Soon, he overran the rest of the Timurid kingdoms in the area.
This forced Babur to move towards Kabul which he conquered in 1504. For
the next fourteen years, Babur kept biding his time for the re-conquest of his
homeland from the Uzbeks. He tried to enlist the help of his uncle, the ruler
of Herat, in the enterprise but to no avail. Ultimately, Herat, too, was overrun
by Shaibani Khan. This led to a direct conflict between the Uzbeks and the
Safavids since the latter also laid claim to Herat and the surrounding area
which is called Khurasan by contemporary writers. In a famous battle in 1510,
near Merv, Shah Ismail, the shah of Iran, defeated and killed Shaibani Khan.
Babur now made another attempt to recover Samarqand, this time with the
help of the Iranian forces. He was duly installed at Samarqand, but chafed
under the control of the Iranian generals who wanted to treat Babur as the
governor of an Iranian province rather than as an independent prince.
Meanwhile, the Uzbeks recovered rapidly from their defeat. Once again
Babur was ousted from Samarqand and had to return to Kabul. Finally, Shah
Ismail himself was defeated by the Ottoman sultan in 1514, thus leaving the
Uzbeks masters of Trans-Oxiana.
These developments finally forced Babur to look towards India.
CONQUEST OF INDIA
Babur says that from the time he obtained Kabul (1504), to his victory at
Panipat, ‘I had never ceased to think of the conquest of Hindus tan.’ But he
had never found a suitable opportunity for undertaking it, ‘hindered as I was
sometimes by the apprehensions of my begs, sometimes by the disagreement
between my brothers and myself.’ Like countless earlier invaders from
Central Asia, Babur was drawn to India by the lure 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 who helped him to
consolidate his Asian empire and beautify his capital, but also annexed some
areas in the Punjab. These areas remained in the possession of Timur’s
successors for several generations. When Babur conquered Afghanistan, he
felt that he had a legitimate right to these areas.
Another reason why Babur coveted the Punjab parganas was the meagre
income of Kabul. The historian Abul Fazl remarks: ‘He (Babur) ruled over
Badakhshan, Qandhar and Kabul which did not yield sufficient income for
the requirements of the army; in fact, in some of the border territories the
expense on controlling the armies and administration was greater than the
income.’ With these meagre resources Babur could not provide well for his
begs and kinsmen. 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.
The political situation in northwest India was suitable for Babur’s entry
into India. Sikandar Lodi had died in 1517, and Ibrahim Lodi had succeeded
him. Ibrahim’s efforts to create a strong, centralised empire had alarmed the
Afghan chiefs as well as the Rajputs. One of the most powerful of the Afghan
chiefs was Daulat Khan Lodi, the governor of the Punjab, who was almost an
independent ruler. Daulat Khan attempted to conciliate Ibrahim Lodi by
sending his son to his court to pay homage. At the same time, he wanted to
strengthen his position by annexing the frontier tracts of Bhira, etc.
In 1518—19, Babur conquered the powerful fort of Bhira. He then sent
letters and verbal messages to Daulat Khan and Ibrahim Lodi, asking for the
cession of the areas which had belonged to the Turks. But Daulat Khan
detained Babur’s envoy at Lahore, neither granting him audience nor
allowing him to go to Ibrahim Lodi. When Babur returned to Kabul, Daulat
Khan occupied Bhira, and expelled Babur’s agents posted there.
In 1520—21, Babur once again crossed the Indus, and easily captured Bhira
and Sialkot, the twin gateways to Hindustan. Lahore also capitulated to him.
He might have proceeded further but for the news of a revolt at Qandhar. He
retraced his steps, and after a siege of a year and a half recaptured Qandhar.
Thus reassured, Bahur was once again able to turn his attention towards
India.
It was about this time that Babur received an embassy from Daulat Khan
Lodi, led by his son, Dilawar Khan. They invited Babur to India, and
suggested that he should displace Ibrahim Lodi since he was a tyrant and
enjoyed no support from his nobles. It is probable that a messenger from
Rana Sanga arrived at the same time, inviting Babur to invade India. These
embassies convinced Babur that the time was ripe for his conquest of the
whole of the Punjab if not of India itself.
In 1525, while Babur was at Peshawar, he received the news that Daulat
Khan Lodi had changed sides again. He had collected an army of 30,000—
40,000 men, ousted Babur’s men from Sialkot and was marching to Lahore.
At Babur’s approach, the army of Daulat Khan melted away. Daulat Khan
submitted and was pardoned. Thus, within three weeks of crossing the Indus,
Babur became the master of the Punjab.
THE BATTELE OF PANIPAT (20 APRIL 1526)
A conflict with Ibrahim Lodi, the ruler of Delhi, was inevitable, and Babur
prepared for it by marching towards Delhi. Ibrahim Lodi met Babur at
Panipat with a force estimated at 100,000 men and 1000 elephants. Since the
Indian armies generally contained large hordes of servants, the fighting men
on Ibrahim Lodi’s side must have been far less than this figure. Babur had
crossed the Indus with a force of 12,000, but this had been swelled by his
army in India, and the large number of Hindustani nobles and soldiers who
joined Babur in the Punjab. Even then, Babur’s army was numerically
inferior. Babur strengthened his position by resting one wing of his army on
the city of Panipat which had a large number of houses, and protected the
other by means of a ditch filled with branches of trees. In front, he lashed
together a large number of carts, to act as a defending wall. Between two carts,
breastworks were erected on which soldiers could rest their guns and fire.
Babur calls his device an Ottoman (Rumi) device, for it had been used by the
Ottomans in their famous battle against Shah Ismail of Iran. Babur had also
secured the services of two Ottoman master-gunners, Ustad Ali and Mustafa.
The use of gunpowder had been gradually developing in India. Babur says
that he used it for the first time in his attacks on the fortress of Bhira.
Apparently, gunpowder was known in India but its use for artillery became
common in north India with the advent of Babur.
Ibrahim Lodi had no idea of the strongly defended position of Babur. He
had apparently expected Babur to fight a mobile mode of warfare which was
usual with the Central Asians, making rapid advance or retreat as the need
arose. After skirmishing for seven or eight days, Ibrahim Lodi’s forces came
out for the fateful battle. Seeing the strength of Babur’s position, they
hesitated. While Ibrahim was still reorganising his forces, the two extreme
wings of Babur’s army wheeled round and attacked Ibrahim’s forces from the
side and rear. Babur’s gunners used their guns with good effect from the
front. But Babur gives a large part of the credit of his victory to his bowmen.
Curiously, he makes little reference to Ibrahim’s elephants. Apparently,
Ibrahim had little time to use them.
Despite these early setbacks, Ibrahim Lodi’s army fought valiantly. The
battle raged for two or three hours. Ibrahim Lodi fought to the last, with a
group of 5000—6000 people around him. It is estimated that besides him,
more than 15,000 of his men were killed in the battle.
The battle of Panipat is regarded as one of the decisive battles of Indian
history. It broke the back of Lodi power, and brought under Babur’s control
the entire area upto Delhi and Agra. The treasures stored up by Ibrahim Lodi
at Agra relieved Babur from his financial difficulties. The rich territory up to
Jaunpur also lay open to Babur. However, Babur had to wage two hard-fought
battles, one against Rana Sanga of Mewar, and the other against the eastern
Afghans, before he could consolidate his hold on this area. Viewed from this
angle, the tattle of Panipat was not as decisive in the political field as has been
made out. Its real importance lies in the fact that it opened a new phase in the
struggle for domination in north India.
The difficulties of Babur after his victory at Panipat were manifold. Many
of his begs were not prepared for a long campaign in India. With the onset of
the hot weather, their misgivings had increased. They were far away from
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