Rulers of India: Akbar
by George Bruce Malleson
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CHAP. PAGES I. THE ARGUMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5-11

II. THE FAMILY AND EARLY DAYS OF BABAR . . . . . . . . . . 12-16

III. BABAR CONQUERS KABUL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17-25

IV. BABAR'S INVASIONS OF INDIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26-34

V. THE POSITION OF BABAR IN HINDUSTAN . . . . . . . . . . 35-49

VI. HUMAYUN AND THE EARLY DAYS OF AKBAR . . . . . . . . . 50-59

VII. HUMAYUN INVADES INDIA. HIS DEATH . . . . . . . . . . . 60-64



X. THE TUTELAGE UNDER BAIRAM KHAN . . . . . . . . . . . . 81-90

XI. CHRONICLE OF THE REIGN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91-145


INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201-204


The orthography of proper names follows the system adopted by the Indian Government for the Imperial Gazetteer of India. That system, while adhering to the popular spelling of very well-known places, such as Punjab, Lucknow, etc., employs in all other cases the vowels with the following uniform sounds:—

a, as in woman: a, as in land: i, as in police: i, as in intrigue: o, as in cold: u, as in bull: u, as in sure.




I crave the indulgence of the reader whilst I explain as briefly as possible the plan upon which I have written this short life of the great sovereign who firmly established the Mughal dynasty in India.[1]

[Footnote 1: For the purposes of this sketch I have referred to the following authorities: Memoirs of Babar, written by himself, and translated by Leyden and Erskine; Erskine's Babar and Humayun; The Ain-i-Akbari (Blochmann's translation); The History of India, as told by its own Historians, edited from the posthumous papers of Sir H. M. Elliot, K.C.B., by Professor Dowson; Dow's Ferishta; Elphinstone's History of India; Tod's Annals of Rajast'han, and various other works.]

The original conception of such an empire was not Akbar's own. His grandfather, Babar, had conquered a great portion of India, but during the five years which elapsed between the conquest and his death, Babar enjoyed but few opportunities of donning the robe of the administrator. By the rivals whom he had overthrown and by the children of the soil, Babar was alike regarded as a conqueror, and as nothing more. A man of remarkable ability, who had spent all his life in arms, he was really an adventurer, though a brilliant adventurer, who, soaring above his contemporaries in genius, taught in the rough school of adversity, had beheld from his eyrie at Kabul the distracted condition {6} of fertile Hindustan, and had dashed down upon her plains with a force that was irresistible. Such was Babar, a man greatly in advance of his age, generous, affectionate, lofty in his views, yet, in his connection with Hindustan, but little more than a conqueror. He had no time to think of any other system of administration than the system with which he had been familiar all his life, and which had been the system introduced by his Afghan predecessors into India, the system of governing by means of large camps, each commanded by a general devoted to himself, and each occupying a central position in a province. It is a question whether the central idea of Babar's policy was not the creation of an empire in Central Asia rather than of an empire in India.

Into this system the welfare of the children of the soil did not enter. Possibly, if Babar had lived, and had lived in the enjoyment of his great abilities, he might have come to see, as his grandson saw, that such a system was practically unsound; that it was wanting in the great principle of cohesion, of uniting the interests of the conquering and the conquered; that it secured no attachment, and conciliated no prejudices; that it remained, without roots, exposed to all the storms of fortune. We, who know Babar by his memoirs, in which he unfolds the secrets of his heart, confesses all his faults, and details all his ambitions, may think that he might have done this if he had had the opportunity. But the opportunity was denied to him. The time between the first battle of Panipat, which gave him {7} the north-western provinces of India, and his death, was too short to allow him to think of much more than the securing of his conquests, and the adding to them of additional provinces. He entered India a conqueror. He remained a conqueror, and nothing more, during the five years he ruled at Agra.

His son, Humayun, was not qualified by nature to perform the task which Babar had been obliged to neglect. His character, flighty and unstable, and his abilities, wanting in the constructive faculty, alike unfitted him for the duty. He ruled eight years in India without contributing a single stone to the foundation of an empire that was to remain. When, at the end of that period, his empire fell, as had fallen the kingdoms of his Afghan predecessors, and from the same cause, the absence of any roots in the soil, the result of a single defeat in the field, he lost at one blow all that Babar had gained south of the Indus. India disappeared, apparently for ever, from the grasp of the Mughal.

The son of Babar had succumbed to an abler general, and that abler general had at once completely supplanted him. Fortunately for the Mughal, more fortunately still for the people of India, that abler general, though a man of great ability, had inherited views not differing in any one degree from those of the Afghan chiefs who had preceded him in the art of establishing a dynasty. The conciliation of the millions of Hindustan did not enter into his system. He, too, was content to govern by camps {8} located in the districts he had conquered. The consequence was that when he died other men rose to compete for the empire. The confusion rose in the course of a few years to such a height, that in 1554, just fourteen years after he had fled from the field of Kanauj, Humayun recrossed the Indus, and recovered Northern India. He was still young, but still as incapable of founding a stable empire as when he succeeded his father.

He left behind him writings which prove that, had his life been spared, he would still have tried to govern on the old plan which had broken in the hands of so many conquerors who had gone before him, and in his own. Just before his death he drew up a system for the administration of India. It was the old system of separate camps in a fixed centre, each independent of the other, but all supervised by the Emperor. It was an excellent plan, doubtless, for securing conquered provinces, but it was absolutely deficient in any scheme for welding the several provinces and their people into one harmonious whole.

The accident which deprived Humayun of his life before the second battle of Panipat had bestowed upon the young Akbar, then a boy of fourteen, the succession to the empire of Babar, was, then, in every sense, fortunate for Hindustan. Humayun, during his long absence, his many years of striving with fortune, had learnt nothing and had forgotten nothing. The boy who succeeded him, and who, although of {9} tender years, had already had as many adventures, had seen as many vicissitudes of fortune, as would fill the life of an ordinary man, was untried. He had indeed by his side a man who was esteemed the greatest general of that period, but whose mode of governing had been formed in the rough school of the father of his pupil. This boy, however, possessed, amid other great talents, the genius of construction. During the few years that he allowed his famous general to govern in his name, he pondered deeply over the causes which had rendered evanescent all the preceding dynasties, which had prevented them from taking root in the soil. When he had matured his plans, he took the government into his own hands, and founded a dynasty which flourished so long as it adhered to his system, and which began to decay only when it departed from one of its main principles, the principle of toleration and conciliation.

I trust that in the preceding summary I have made it clear to the reader that whilst, in a certain sense, Babar was the founder of the Mughal dynasty in India, he transmitted to his successor only the idea of the mere conqueror. Certainly Humayun inherited only that idea, and associating it with no other, lost what his father had won. It is true that he ultimately regained a portion of it, but still as a mere conqueror. It was the grandson who struck into the soil the roots which took a firm hold of it, sprung up, and bore rich and abundant fruit in the happiness and contentment of the conquered races.

{10} This is the argument to the development of which I have devoted the following pages. The book seems to me naturally to divide itself into three parts. To Babar, as the developer of the idea of the invasion and conquest of India, I have devoted the first part. He was a remarkable man, and he would have been remarkable in any age. When he died, at the early age of forty-eight, he left behind him a record which may be read with interest and profit even at the close of this nineteenth century. It has seemed to me the more necessary to devote a considerable space to him inasmuch as the reader will not fail to discern, in the actions of the grandson, the spirit and energy and innate nobility of character of the grandfather. Of Humayun, whose life properly belongs to the first part, I have written as much only as seemed to me necessary to illustrate the cause of his fall, and to describe the early days of the hero of the book, who was born in Sind, during the father's flight from India.

The remaining two-thirds of the book have been given to Akbar. But, here again, I have subdivided the subject. In the first of the two-thirds, I have narrated, from the pages and on the authority of contemporary Muhammadan historians, the political events of the reign. In the last chapter I have endeavoured to paint the man. From the basis of the records of the Ain-i-Akbari and other works I have tried to show what he was as an administrator, as an organiser, as the promulgator of a system which {11} we English have to a great extent inherited, as a conciliator of differences which had lasted through five hundred years, of prejudices which had lived for all time. I have described him as a husband, as a father, as a man, who, despite of a religious education abounding in the inculcation of hostility to all who differed from him, gave his intellect the freest course, and based his conduct on the teachings of his intellect. This chapter, I am free to confess, constitutes the most interesting portion of the book. For the sake of it, I must ask the reader to pardon me for inflicting upon him that which precedes it.



On the 9th of April, 1336, there was born to the chief of the Birbas, a tribe of the purest Mughal origin, at Shehr-Sebz, thirty miles to the north of Samarkand, a son, the eldest of his family. This boy, who was called Taimur, and who was descended in the female line from Chengiz Khan, was gifted by nature with the qualities which enable a man to control his fellow men. Fortune gave him the chance to employ those qualities to the best advantage. The successors of Chengiz Khan in the male line had gradually sunk into feebleness and sloth, and, in 1370, the family in that line had died out. Taimur, then thirty-four, seized the vacated seat, gained, after many vicissitudes of fortune, the complete upper hand, and established himself at Samarkand the undisputed ruler of all the country between the Oxus and the Jaxartes. Then he entered upon that career of conquest which terminated only with his life. He established his authority in Mughalistan, or the country between the Tibet mountains, the Indus and Mekran, to the north, and Siberia to the north; in Kipchak, the country lying north of the lower {13} course of the Jaxartes, the sea of Aral, and the Caspian, including the rich lands on the Don and Wolga, and part of those on the Euxine; he conquered India, and forced the people of territories between the Dardanelles and Delhi to acknowledge his supremacy. When he died, on the 18th February, 1405, he left behind him one of the greatest empires the world has ever seen.

After his death his empire rapidly broke up, and although it was partly reconstituted by his great-grandson, Abusaid, the death of this prince in 1469, when surprised in the defiles of the mountains near Ardebil, and the defeat of his army, precipitated a fresh division among his sons. To the third of these, Umershaikh Mirza, was assigned the province of Ferghana, known also, from the name of its capital, as Khokand.

Umershaikh was the father of Babar. He was an ambitious man, bent on increasing his dominions. But the other members of his family were actuated by a like ambition, and when he died from the effects of an accident, in 1494, he was actually besieged in Akhsi, a fortress-castle which he had made his capital.

His eldest son, Babar, then just twelve years old, was at the time at Andijan, thirty-six miles from Akhsi. The enemy was advancing on Andijan. Babar, the day following his father's death (June 9), seized the citadel, and opened negotiations with the invader. His efforts would have availed him little, {14} if there had not existed jealousies and divisions in the hostile camp. These worked for him so as to secure to him all that remained of Ferghana. But he had lost the important towns of Khojend, Marghinan, and Uratiupe.

For two years after the retirement of the invader, the boy rested, consolidating his resources, and watching his opportunity. Then, troubles having arisen in Samarkand, he made a dash at that city, then the most important in Central Asia. He forced its surrender (November, 1497), but as he would not allow his troops to pillage, these deserted him by thousands. He held on, however, until the news that Ferghana was invaded compelled him to quit his hold. On the eve of his departure he was prostrated by a severe illness, and when at length he reached Ferghana it was to hear that his capital had surrendered to his enemies. He was, in fact, a king without a kingdom. 'To save Andijan,' he wrote, 'I had given up Samarkand: and now I found that I had lost the one without preserving the other.'

He persevered, however, recovered Ferghana, though a Ferghana somewhat shorn of its proportions, and once more made a dash at Samarkand. The Uzbeks, however, forced him to raise the siege, and, his own dominions having in the interval been overrun and conquered, he fell back in the direction of Kesh, his birthplace. After many adventures and strivings with fortune, he resolved with the aid of the very few adherents who remained to him, to return and {15} attempt the surprise of Samarkand. It was a very daring venture, for his entire following numbered but two hundred and forty men. He made the attempt, was foiled; renewed it, and succeeded. He was but just in time. For the last of the garrison had but just yielded, when the chief of the Uzbeks was seen riding hard for the place, at the head of the vanguard of his army. He had to retire, baffled.

But Babar could not keep his conquest. The following spring the Uzbeks returned in force. To foil them Babar took up a very strong position outside the city, on the Bokhara road, his right flank covered by the river Kohik. Had he been content to await his enemy in this position, he would probably have compelled him to retire, for it was too strong to be forced. But he was induced by the astrologers, against his own judgment, to advance beyond it to attack the Uzbek army. In the battle which followed, and which he almost won, he was eventually beaten, and retreated within the walls of the city. Here he maintained himself for five months, but had then to succumb to famine. He was allowed to quit the city with his following, and made his way, first to Uratiupe, ultimately to Dehkat, a village assigned to him by the reigning Khan of the former place. For three years that followed he lived the life of an adventurer: now an exile in the desert; now marching and gaining a throne; always joyous; always buoyed up by hope of ultimate success; always acting with energy and vigour. He attempted to win {16} back, and had been forced to abandon, Ferghana; then he resolved, with a motley band of two to three hundred men, to march on Khorasan. It seemed madness, but the madness had a method. How he marched, and what was the result of his march, will be told in the next chapter.



At this period the kingdom of Kabul comprehended solely the provinces of Kabul and Ghazni, the territory which we should call eastern Afghanistan. Herat was the capital of an independent empire, at this time the greatest in Central Asia; and Kandahar, Bajaur, Swat, and Peshawar, were ruled by chiefs who had no connection with Kabul. The tribes of the plains and outlying valleys alone acknowledged the authority of the King of that country. The clans of the mountains were as independent and refractory as their descendants were up to a recent period. Kabul at this time was in a state bordering upon anarchy. The late King, Abdul-rizak, a grandson of the Abusaid referred to in the preceding chapter, had been surprised in, and driven from, the city, by Muhammad Mokim, a son of the ruler of Kandahar, and that prince, taking no thought of the morrow, was reigning as though all the world were at peace, and he at least were free from danger.

Babar, I have said, tired of his wandering life, had resolved to march on Khorasan. He crossed the Oxus, therefore, and joined by Baki, the son of Sultan {18} Khusrou, ruler of the country, marched on Ajer, remained there a few days; then, hearing that the Mughals in Khusrou's service had revolted, he marched towards Talikan, so as to be able to take advantage of the situation. Between the two places he was joined by the Mughals in question, and learnt that Sultan Khusrou, with the remainder of his troops, was on his way to Kabul. The two armies were so close to one another, that an interview took place between the leaders, which resulted in the complete submission of Khusrou, whose troops came over in crowds to Babar. Thus strengthened, Babar marched upon Kabul, besieged it, and took it (October, 1504). By this sudden change of fortune, he found himself all at once King of Kabul and Ghazni, a kingdom far more powerful than the Ferghana which he had inherited and lost.

Babar had but just began to feel his seat in his new kingdom when he received an invitation to invade a district called Bhera, south of the river Jehlam, and therefore within the borders of India. The invitation was too agreeable to his wishes to be refused, and he accordingly set out for Jalalabad. The time was January, 1505. The Sultan—for so he was styled—records in his journals the impression produced upon him by the first sight of that favoured part of Asia, an impression shared, doubtless, by his successors in the path of invasion, and which may well account for their determination to push on. 'I had never before,' he wrote, 'seen warm countries nor the country of {19} Hindustan. On reaching them, I all at once saw a new world; the vegetables, the plants, the trees, the wild animals, all were different. I was struck with astonishment, and indeed there was room for wonder.' He then proceeded by the Khaibar Pass to Peshawar, and, not crossing the Indus, marched by Kohat, Bangash, Banu, and Desht Daman, to Multan. Thence he followed the course of the Indus for a few days, then turned westward, and returned to Kabul by way of Chotiali and Ghazni. The expedition has been called Babar's first invasion of India, but as he only touched the fringes of the country, it took rather the character of a reconnoitring movement. Such as it was, it filled him with an earnest desire to take an early opportunity to see more.

But, like every other conqueror who has been attracted by India, he deemed it of vital importance to secure himself in the first place of Kandahar. Internal troubles for a time delayed the expedition. Then, when these had been appeased, external events came to demand his attention. His old enemy, Shaibani, was once more ruling at Samarkand, and, after some lesser conquests, had come to lay siege to Balkh. Sultan Husen Mirza of Herat, alarmed at his progress, sent at once a messenger to Babar to aid him in an attack on the invader. Babar at once responded, and setting out from Kabul in June, 1506, reached Kahmerd, and halted there to collect and store supplies. He was engaged in this work when the information was brought him by a messenger that {20} Sultan Husen Mirza was dead. He at once pushed on, and after a march of eight hundred miles joined the sons of the late Sultan and their army on the river Murghab.

Two of the sons of the Sultan had succeeded him as joint-rulers. Babar found them elegant, accomplished, and intelligent, but effeminate, devoted to pleasure, and utterly incapable of making head against the hardy Shaibani. Whilst they were pleasuring in camp, the latter had taken Balkh. After some discussion, the two kings decided to break up their army and recommence in the spring. Winter was now coming on, and Babar was persuaded, against his better judgment, to visit his two hosts at Herat. His description of that royal city takes up pages of his autobiography.[1] For twenty days he visited every day fresh places; nor was it till the 24th of December that he decided to march homewards.

[Footnote 1: Memoirs of Babar, translated by Leyden and Erskine, pp. 203-208.]

Our countrymen who served in Afghanistan during the war of 1879-81 can realise what that march must have been; how trying, how difficult, how all but impossible. The distance was twenty days' journey in summer. The road across the mountains, though not very difficult in summer, was especially trying in the depth of winter, and it was at that season, the snow falling around him, that Babar undertook it. He himself showed the way, and with incredible exertion led the army, exhausted and reckless, to the foot of {21} the Zirin Pass. There the situation seemed hopeless. The storm was violent; the snow was deep; and the Pass was so narrow that but one person could pass at a time. Still Babar pushed on, and at nightfall reached a cave large enough to admit a few persons. With the generosity which was a marked feature of his character he made his men enter it, whilst, shovel in hand, he dug for himself a hole in the snow, near its mouth. Meanwhile those within the cave had discovered that its proportions increased as they went further in, and that it could give shelter to fifty or sixty persons. On this Babar entered, and shared with his men their scanty store of provisions. Next morning, the snow and tempest ceased, and the army pushed on. At length, towards the end of February, he approached Kabul, only, however, to learn that a revolt had taken place in the city, and that although his garrison was faithful, the situation was critical. Babar was equal to the occasion. Opening communication with his partisans, by a well-executed surprise he regained the place. His treatment of the rebels was merciful in the extreme.

During the spring of that year, 1507, Shaibani Khan, the Uzbek chief, who had formerly driven Babar from Samarkand, had attacked and taken Balkh; then invaded Khorasan and occupied Herat. Kandahar, which had been to a certain extent a dependency of the rulers of Herat, had been seized by the sons of Mir Zulnun Beg, who had been its Governor under Sultan Husen Mirza, and these had invoked the {22} assistance of Babar against Shaibani. Babar, accordingly, marched for Kandahar. On his way thither, he was joined by many of the flying adherents of the expelled House of Sultan Husen. But, before he could reach Kandahar, Shaibani Khan had put pressure on the sons of Zulnun, and these had accepted his sovereignty. They notified this act to Babar in a manner not to be mistaken. The latter, therefore, prepared to make good his claims by force of arms.

His army was not numerous, but he had confidence in it and in himself. From Kilat-i-Ghilzai, where he first scented the change of front at Kandahar, he had marched to the ford across the Tarnak. Thence, confirmed in his ideas, he moved in order of battle, along the course of the stream, to Baba Wali, five or six miles to the north of Kandahar, and had occupied the hill of Kalishad. Here he intended to rest, and sent out his foragers to collect supplies. But, soon after these had quitted the camp, he beheld the enemy's army, to the number of five thousand, move from the city towards him. He had but a thousand men under arms, the remainder being engaged in foraging, but he saw it was not a time to hesitate. Ranging his men in defensive order, he awaited the attack. That attack was led in person by the sons of Zulnun with great gallantry; but Babar not only repulsed it, and forced the assailants to flee, but, in his pursuit, he cut them off from the city, which surrendered to him with all its treasures. The spoils of the place were magnificently rich. Babar did not, however, remain in {23} Kandahar. Leaving his brother, Nasir Mirza, to defend it, he returned to Kabul, and arrived there at the end of July (1507), as he writes, 'with much plunder and great reputation.'

Hardly had he arrived when he learned that Shaibani Khan had arrived before Kandahar and was besieging his brother there. He was puzzled how to act, for he was not strong enough to meet Shaibani in the field. A strategist by nature, he recognised at the moment that the most effective mode open to him would be to make an offensive demonstration. He doubted only whether such a demonstration should be directed against Badakshan, whence he could threaten Samarkand, or against India. Finally he decided in favour of the latter course, and, as prompt in action as he was quick in decision, he set out for the Indus, marching down the Kabul river. When, however, he had been a few days at Jalalabad, he heard that Kandahar had surrendered to Shaibani. Upon this, the object of the expedition having vanished, he returned to Kabul.

I must pass lightly over the proceedings of the next seven years, eventful though they were. In those years, from 1507 to 1514, Babar marching northwards, recovered Ferghana, defeated the Uzbeks, and took Bokhara and Samarkand. But the Uzbeks, returning, defeated Babar at Kulmalik, and forced him to abandon those two cities. Attempting to recover them, he was defeated again at Ghajdewan and driven {24} back to Hisar.[2] Finding, after a time, his chances there desperate, he returned to Kabul. This happened in the early months of 1514.

[Footnote 2: There are two other Hisars famous in Eastern history: the one in India about a hundred miles north of Delhi: the other in the province of Azarbijan, in Persia, thirty-two miles from the Takht-i-Sulaiman. The Hisar referred to in the text is a city on an affluent of the Oxus, a hundred and thirty miles north-east of Balkh.]

Again there was an interval of eight years, also to be passed lightly over. During that period Babar chastised the Afghans of the mountains, took Swat, and finally acquired Kandahar by right of treaty (1522). He took possession of, and incorporated in his dominions, that city and its dependencies, including parts of the lowlands lying chiefly along the lower course of the Helmand.

Meanwhile Shah Beg, the eldest son of the Zulnun, who had formerly ruled in Kandahar, had marched upon and had conquered Sind, and had made Bukkur the capital. He died in June, 1524. As soon as this intelligence reached the Governor of Narsapur, Shah Hasan, that nobleman, a devoted adherent of the family of Taimur, proclaimed Babar ruler of the country, and caused the Khatba, or prayer for the sovereign, to be read in his name throughout Sind. There was considerable opposition, but Shah Hasan conquered the whole province, and governed it, acknowledging Babar as his suzerain. At length, in 1525, was invited to Multan. He marched against the fortress, and, after a protracted siege, took it by storm (August or September, 1526). Meanwhile, great {25} events had happened in India. On the 29th of April, of the same year, the battle of Panipat had delivered India into the hands of Babar. Before proceeding to narrate his invasion of that country it is necessary that I should describe, very briefly, the condition of its actual rulers at the time.



Into the first period of Indian history, that extending from the earliest times to the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni, in the beginning of the eleventh century, I do not propose to enter. The world, indeed, possesses little detailed knowledge of that period. It is known that from the Indus to Cape Comorin the country was peopled by several distinct races, speaking a variety of languages; that the prevailing religions were those of the Brahman, the Buddhist, and the Jain; and that the wars periodically occurring between the several kings of the several provinces or divisions were mostly religious wars.

The invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni came first, in the year 1001, to disturb the existing system. But although Mahmud, and his successors of the Ghazni dynasty, penetrated to Delhi, to Rajputana, and to the furthest extremities of Gujarat, they did not practically extend their permanent rule beyond the Punjab. The territories to the south-east of the Sutlej still remained subject to Hindu sovereigns. But in 1186, the dynasty of the Ghaznivis was destroyed by the dynasty of Ghor or Ghur, founded by an Afghan of Ghur, a {27} district in Western Afghanistan, a hundred and twenty miles to the south-east of the city of Herat, on the road to Kabul. The Ghuri dynasty was, in its turn, supplanted, in 1288, by that of the Khilji or Ghilji. The princes of this House, after reigning with great renown for thirty-three years over Delhi and a portion of the territories now known as the North-west Provinces, and, pushing their conquests beyond the Narbada and the Deccan, made way, in 1321, for the Tughlak dynasty, descended from Turki slaves. The Tughlaks did not possess the art of consolidation. During the ninety-one years of their rule the provinces ruled by their predecessors gradually separated from the central authority at Delhi. The invasion of Taimur (1388-9) dealt a fatal blow to an authority already crumbling. The chief authority lingered indeed for twelve years in the hands of the then representative, Sultan Mahmud. It then passed for a time into the hands of a family which did not claim the royal title. This family, known in history as the Saiyid dynasty, ruled nominally in Northern India for about thirty-three years, but the rule had no coherence, and a powerful Afghan of the Lodi family took the opportunity to endeavour to concentrate power in his own hands.

The Muhammadan rule in India had indeed become by this time the rule of several disjointed chiefs over several disjointed provinces, subject in point of fact to no common head. Thus, in 1450, Delhi, with a small territory around it, was held by the {28} representative of the Saiyid family. Within fourteen miles of the capital, Ahmad Khan ruled independently in Mewat. Sambhal, or the province now known as Rohilkhand, extending to the very walls of Delhi, was occupied by Darya Khan Lodi. Jalesar, now the Itah district, by Isa Khan Turk: the district now known as Farukhabad by Raja Partab Singh: Biana by Daud Khan Lodi: and Lahore, Dipalpur, and Sirhind, as far south as Panipat, by Behlul Lodi. Multan, Jaunpur, Bengal, Malwa, and Gujarat, each had its separate king.

Over most of these districts, and as far eastward as the country immediately to the north of Western Bihar, Behlul Lodi, known as Sultan Behlul, succeeded on the disappearance of the Saiyids in asserting his sole authority, 1450-88. His son and successor, Sultan Sikandar Lodi, subdued Behar, invaded Bengal, which, however, he subsequently agreed to yield to Allah-u-din, its sovereign, and not to invade it again; and overran a great portion of Central India. On his death, in 1518, he had concentrated under his own rule the territories now known as the Punjab; the North-western Provinces, including Jaunpur; a great part of Central India; and Western Bihar. But, in point of fact, the concentration was little more than nominal. The Afghan nobles, to whom from necessity the Lodi Sultan committed the charge of the several districts, were indeed bound to their sovereign by a kind of feudal tenure, but within the circle of his own charge each of them made his own will {29} absolute, and insisted on obedience to his decrees alone.

The result of this arrangement was that when Sultan Sikandar died the several important nobles, impatient even of nominal obedience, resolved, acting in concert, to assign to his son, Ibrahim, the kingdom of Delhi only, and to divide the rest of the deceased Sultan's dominions amongst themselves, Jaunpur alone excepted. This province was to be assigned to the younger brother of Ibrahim, as a separate kingdom, in subordination to Delhi. It would appear that when the proposal was first made to him, Ibrahim, probably seeing no remedy, assented. Upon the remonstrances of his kinsmen, Khan Jahan Lodi, however, he withdrew his assent and recalled his brother, who had already set out for Jaunpur. The brother refused to return. A civil war ensued in which Ibrahim was victorious. On the death of his brother, in 1518, Ibrahim endeavoured to assert his authority over his ambitious nobles. They rebelled. He quelled the rebellion. But the cruel use he made of his victory, far from quenching the discontent, caused fresh revolts. The nobles of Behar, of Oudh, of Jaunpur, flew to arms: the Punjab followed the example. The civil war was conducted with great fury and with varying fortunes on both sides. It was when the crisis was extreme that Allah-u-din, uncle of Sultan Ibrahim, fled to the camp of Babar, then engaged in the pacification of the Kandahar districts, and implored him to place him on the throne of Delhi. Almost {30} simultaneously there came to the King of Kabul a still more tempting offer from Daolat Khan, Governor of Lahore, and who was hard pressed by Ibrahim's general, begging for assistance, and offering in return to acknowledge him as his sovereign. Babar agreed, and marched at once in the direction of Lahore.

* * * * * * *

The foregoing sketch of the internal condition of India during the five centuries which had elapsed since the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni will explain, I hope sufficiently clearly, how it was that none of the successive dynasties had taken root in the soil. Whether that dynasty were Ghaznivi, or Ghuri, or Tughlak, or Saiyid, or Lodi, the representative had fought merely for his own hand and his own advantage. The nobles of the ruling sovereign had in this respect followed the example of their master. Hindustan had thus been overrun and partly occupied by the feudal followers of chiefs, who in turn owed feudal allegiance which they would or would not render, according to the power and capacity of the supreme lord. There had been no welding of the interest of the conquerors and the conquered such as took place in England after the Conquest. The Muhammadans sat as despotic rulers of an alien people, who obeyed him because they could not resist. There was no thought of attaching those people to the ruling dynasty either by sympathy or by closer union. The conquerors had come as aliens, and as aliens they remained. Their hold on the country was thus superficial: it had {31} no root in the affections of the people, and it could be maintained only by the sword. It was in this respect that it differed so widely from the Mughal dynasty, as represented by Akbar, that was to succeed it.

The first invasion of India by Babar, not reckoning the hasty visit spoken of in Chapter III, occurred in 1519. Some historians assert that there was a second invasion the same year. But Ferishta is probably correct when he says that this so-called invasion amounted simply to an expedition against the Yusufzais, in the course of which Babar advanced as far as Peshawar, but did not cross the Indus. There is no doubt, however, that he made an expedition, called the third, in 1520. On this occasion he crossed the Indus, marched into the part known now as the Rawal Pindi division, crossed the Jehlam, reached Sialkot, which he spared, and then marched on Saiyidpur, which he plundered. He was called from this place to Kabul to meet a threatened attack upon that capital.

The abortive result of this third expedition more than ever convinced Babar that no invasion of Hindustan could with certainty succeed unless he could secure his base at Kandahar. He spent, therefore, the next two or three years in securing that stronghold and the territory between Ghazni and Khorasan. He had just succeeded in settling these districts on an efficient basis when he received the messages from Allah-u-din Lodi and Daolat Khan of Lahore, the latter of which decided him to undertake his fourth expedition to India. Once more did he cross the Indus, the {32} Jehlam, and the Chenab, and advanced within ten miles of Lahore. There he was met by, and there he defeated, the army of the adherents of the House of Lodi. Lahore fell a prize to his troops. But he halted there but four days; then pushing on, reached and stormed Dipalpur.[1] Here he was joined by Daolat Khan and his sons. These, however, dissatisfied with the rewards meted out to them, began to intrigue against their new master. Babar was approaching Sirhind, on his way to Delhi, when he discovered their machinations. He determined, then, to renounce for the moment his forward movement, and to return to Kabul. This he did after having parcelled out the Punjab among chiefs upon whom he hoped he could depend.

[Footnote 1: Dipalpur is a town in the Montgomery district to the south-west of Lahore and forty miles from it. In Babar's time it was a place of great importance.]

Scarcely had he crossed the Indus when the Punjab became the scene of a renewed struggle. Allah-u-din Lodi, to whom the district of Dipalpur had been consigned, fled in despair to Kabul, hoping that Babar would himself undertake the invasion of India. At the moment Babar could not comply, for the Uzbeks were laying siege to Balkh. However he supplied Allah-u-din with troops and ordered his generals in the Punjab to support him. But again did the expedition of this prince fail, and he fled from Delhi in confusion to the Punjab. At the time that he entered it, a fugitive, Babar was preparing for his fifth and last invasion of India.

{33} Of that invasion I must be content to give the barest outline. Accompanied by his son, Humayun, Babar descended the Khaibar Pass to Peshawar, halted there two days, crossed the Indus the 16th of December, and pushed on rapidly to Sialkot. On his arrival there, December 29th, he heard of the defeat and flight of Allah-u-din.[2] Undismayed, he marched the following morning to Parsaror, midway between Sialkot and Kalanaur on the Ravi; thence to Kalanaur, where he crossed the Ravi; thence to the Bias, which he crossed, and thence to the strong fortress of Milwat, in which his former adherent Daolat Khan, had taken refuge. Milwat soon fell. Babar then marched through the Jalandhar Duab to the Sutlej, placing, as he writes, 'his foot in the stirrup of resolution, and his hand on the reins of confidence-in-God,' crossed it near Rupar, then by way of Ambala, to the Jumna, opposite Sirsawa.[3] Thence he held down the river for two marches. Two more brought him to Panipat, fifty-three miles to the north-west of Delhi. There he halted and fortified his camp. The date was April 12, 1526.

[Footnote 2: Of this march there is a detailed and most interesting account given by Babar in his Memoirs, page 290, and the pages following.]

[Footnote 3: Sirsawa lies on the south bank of the Jumna, ten miles west-north-west of Saharanpur.]

Nine days later Ibrahim Lodi, at the head of an army computed by Babar to have been a hundred thousand strong, attacked the invader in his intrenched camp. 'The sun had mounted spear-high,' {34} writes Babar, 'when the onset of the battle began, and the combat lasted till midday, when the enemy were completely broken and routed.' The victory was in all respects decisive. Ibrahim Lodi was killed, bravely fighting, and Hindustan lay at the feet of the victor. That very day Babar despatched troops to occupy Delhi and Agra. These results were accomplished on the 24th of April and 4th of May respectively.[4]

[Footnote 4: In his Memoirs, Babar, after recounting how, from comparatively small beginnings, he had become conqueror 'of the noble country of Hindustan,' adds: 'This success I do not ascribe to my own strength, nor did this good fortune flow from my own efforts, but from the fountain of the favour and mercy of God.']



Master of the two great centres of power in the north-west, Babar, with the foresight of a statesman, 'took stock' of the actual situation of Hindustan. He realised at once that he was master of Northern India, and that was all. The important provinces of Oudh, Jaunpur, and Western Behar, had revolted against Ibrahim, and though that prince had sent an army against the revolters, it seemed but too certain that the two parties would make common cause against the new invader. Then, Bengal, under its King, Nasrat Shah; Gujarat, under Sikandar Shah; and Malwa, under Sultan Mahmud, were three powerful and independent kingdoms. A portion of Malwa, indeed, that represented by the fortresses, Ranthambor, at the angle formed by the confluence of the Chambal and the Banas; Sarangpur, on the Kali Sind; Bhilsa, on the Betwa; Chanderi; and Chitor, very famous in those days, had been re-conquered by the renowned Hindu prince, Rana Sanga. In the south of India, too, the Bahmanis had established a kingdom, and the Raja of Vijayanagar exercised independent authority. There were, moreover, he found, a considerable number {36} of Rais and Rajas who had never submitted to Muhammadan kings.

But the independence of these several princes did not, he soon recognised, constitute his greatest difficulty. That difficulty arose from the fact that the Hindu population, never conciliated by the families which had preceded his own, were hostile to the invader. 'The north of India,' writes Erskine, 'still retained much of its Hindu organisation; its system of village and district administration and government; its division into numerous little chieftainships, or petty local governments; and, in political revolutions, the people looked much more to their own immediate rulers than to the prince who governed in the capital.' In a word, never having realised the working of a well-ordered system, emanating from one all-powerful centre, they regarded the latest conqueror as an intruder whom it might be their interest to oppose.

The dread thus engendered by the arrival of a new invader, whose character and whose dispositions were alike unknown, was increased by the machinations of the Muhammadan adherents of the old families. These men argued that the success of the Mughal invader meant ruin to them. They spared no pains, then, to impress upon the Hindu population that neither their temples nor their wives and daughters would be safe from the rapine and lust of the barbarians of Central Asia. Under the influence of a terror produced by these warnings the Hindus fled from before the merciful and generous invader as he approached Agra, {37} preferring the misery of the jungle to the apparent certainty of outrage.

To add to Babar's troubles, there arose at this period discontent in his army. The men composing it were to a great extent mountaineers from the lofty ranges in Eastern Afghanistan. These men had followed their King with delight so long as there was a prospect of fighting. But Panipat had given them Northern India. The march from Delhi to Agra was a march through a deserted country, at a season always hot, but the intense heat of which, in 1526, exceeded the heat of normal years. Like the Highlanders of our own Prince Charlie in '45, these highlanders murmured. They, too, longed to return to their mountain homes. The disaffection was not confined to the men. Even the chiefs complained; and their complaints became so loud that they at last reached the ears of Babar.

Babar had been greatly pleased with his conquest. Neither the heat nor the disaffection of the inhabitants had been able to conceal from him the fact that he had conquered the finest, the most fertile, the most valuable part of Asia. In his wonderful memoirs[1] he devotes more than twenty large printed pages to describe it. 'It is a remarkably fine country,' he begins. 'It is quite a different world compared with our countries.' He saw almost at a glance that all his work was cut out to complete the conquest in the sense he attributed to that word. Henceforth the title of King of Kabul {38} was to be subjected to the higher title of Emperor of Hindustan. For him there was no turning back.

[Footnote 1: Babar's Memoirs, pp. 312 to 335.]

He had noted all the difficulties, and he had resolved how to meet them. A thoroughly practical man, he proceeded first to take up that which he rightly regarded as the greatest—the discontent in the army. Assembling a council of his nobles, he laid before them the actual position: told them how, after many toilsome marches and bloody fights, they had won numerous rich and extensive provinces. To abandon these and to return to Kabul would be shame indeed. 'Let not anyone who calls himself my friend,' he concluded, 'henceforward make such a proposal. But if there is any among you who cannot bring himself to stay, or to give up his purpose of returning back, let him depart.' The address produced the desired effect, and when the words were followed by action, by new encounters and by new successes, enthusiasm succeeded discontent.[2]

[Footnote 2: To one of his friends, who found the heat unsupportable, and whom he therefore made Governor of Ghazni, Babar, when he was firm in the saddle, sent the distich, of which the following is the translation:

'Return a hundred thanks, O Babar, for the bounty of the merciful God Has given you Sind, Hind, and numerous kingdoms; If, unable to stand the heat, you long for cold, You have only to recollect the frost and cold of Ghazni.']

The firmness of the conqueror was soon rewarded in a different manner. No sooner did the inhabitants, Muhammadan settlers and Hindu landowners and traders, recognise that Babar intended his occupancy to {39} be permanent, than their fears subsided. Many proofs, meanwhile, of his generous and noble nature had affected public opinion regarding him. Every day then brought accessions to his standard. Villagers and shopkeepers returned to their homes, and abundance soon reigned in camp. A little later, and the army which had been employed by Ibrahim Lodi to put down rebellion in Jaunpur and Oudh, acknowledged Babar as their sovereign. In the interval, judiciously employing his troops, he conquered a great part of Rohilkhand; occupied the important post of Raberi, on the Jumna; and laid siege to Itawa and Dholpur. But troubles were preparing for him in Central India, from a quarter which it would not do for him to neglect.

These troubles were caused by Rana Sanga, Rana of Chitor. I have related already how this great prince—for great in every sense of the term he was—had won back from the earlier Muhammadan invaders a great portion of his hereditary dominions. He had even done more. He had defeated Ibrahim Lodi in two pitched battles, those of Bakraul and Chatauli, and had gained from other generals sixteen in addition. Before the arrival in India of Babar he had taken the then famous fort of Ranthambor. But he had continued, and was continuing, his career of conquest, and the news which troubled Babar was to the effect that the great Rajput chief had just taken the strong hill-fort of Kandar, a few miles to the eastward of Ranthambor.

Towards the end of the rainy season Babar held a council to meet these and other difficulties. At this {40} council it was arranged that, whilst his eldest son, Humayun,[3] then eighteen years old, should march eastward, to complete the subjection of the Duab, Oudh, and Jaunpur, Babar should remain at Agra to superintend there the general direction of affairs. As for Rana Sanga, it was resolved to march against him only when the enemy nearer home should have been subdued.

[Footnote 3: In the famous Memoirs, pp. 302-3, is to be found the following note, inserted by Humayun: 'At this same station,' the station of Shahabad, on the left bank of the Sarsuti, reached on the march to Panipat, 'and this same day,' March 6, 1526, 'the razor or scissors were first applied to Humayun's beard. As my honoured father mentioned in these commentaries the time of his first using the razor, in humble emulation of him I have commemorated the same circumstance regarding myself. I was then eighteen years of age. Now that I am forty-six, I, Muhammad Humayun, am transcribing a copy of these Memoirs from the copy in his late Majesty's own handwriting.']

The expedition of Humayun was completely successful. He conquered the country as far as the frontiers of Bihar. On his return, January 6th, 1527, Babar subdued Biana and Dholpur, took by stratagem the fortress of Gwalior, received information of the surrender of Multan. Then, master of the country from the Indus to the frontiers of Western Bihar, and from Kalpi and Gwalior to the Himalayas, he turned his attention to the famous Rana of Chitor, Rana Sanga. On February 11 he marched from Agra to encounter the army of this prince, who, joined by Muhammadan auxiliaries of the Lodi party, had advanced too, and had encamped at Bisawar, some {41} twelve miles from Biana and some sixty-two, by that place, from Agra. Babar advanced to Sikri, now Fatehpur-Sikri, and halted. In some skirmishes which followed the Rajputs had all the advantage, and a great discouragement fell on the soldiers of Babar. He contented himself for the moment with making his camp as defensible as possible, and by sending a party to ravage Mewat.

Cooped up in camp, discouraged by the aspect of affairs, Babar, uneasy at the forced inaction, passed in review the events of his life, and recognised with humility and penitence that throughout it he had habitually violated one of the strictest injunctions of the Kuran, that which forbids the drinking of wine. He resolved at once to amend. Sending then for his golden wine-cups and his silver goblets he had them destroyed in his presence, and gave the proceeds of the sale of the precious metal to the poor. All the wine in the camp was rendered undrinkable or poured on the ground. Three hundred of his nobles followed his example.

Sensible at length that the situation could not be prolonged, Babar, on March 12th, advanced two miles towards the enemy, halted, and again advanced the day following to a position he had selected as favourable to an engagement. Here he ranged his troops in order of battle. On the 16th the Rajputs and their allies advanced, and the battle joined. Of it Babar has written in his memoirs a picturesque and, doubtless, a faithful account. It must suffice here to say {42} that he gained a victory so decisive,[4] that on the morrow of it Rajputana lay at his feet. He at once pushed on to Biana, thence into Mewat, and reduced the entire province to obedience. But the effects of his victory were not limited to conquests achieved by himself. Towns in the Duab which had revolted, returned to their allegiance or were recovered. When the Duab had been completely pacified Babar turned his arms, first, against the Hindu chiefs of Central India, the leader of whom was at the time the Raja of Chanderi. He had reached the town and fortress of that name when information came to him that his generals in the east had been unfortunate, and had been compelled to fall back from Lucknow upon Kanauj. Unshaken by this intelligence, the importance of which he admitted, he persevered in the siege of Chanderi, and in a few days stormed the fortress. Having secured the submission of the country he marched rapidly eastward, joined his defeated generals near Kanauj, threw a bridge across the Ganges near that place, drove the enemy—the remnant of the Lodi party—before him, re-occupied Lucknow, crossed the Gumti and the Gogra, and forced the dispirited foe to disperse. He then returned to Agra to resume the threads of the administration he was arranging.

[Footnote 4: Rana Sanga was severely wounded, and the choicest chieftains of his army were slain. The Rana died the same year at Baswa on the frontiers of Mewat.]

But he was not allowed time to remain quiet. The {43} old Muhammadan party in Jaunpur had never been effectively subdued. The rich kingdom of Behar, adjoining that of Jaunpur, had, up to this time, been unassailed. And now the Muhammadan nobles of both districts combined to place in the hands of a prince of the house of Lodi—the same who had aided Sanga Rana against Babar—the chief authority in the united kingdom. The conspiracy had been conducted with so much secrecy that the result of it only reached Babar on the 1st of February, 1529. He was then at Dholpur, a place which he greatly affected, engaged with his nobles in laying out gardens, and otherwise improving and beautifying the place. That very day he returned to Agra, and taking with him such troops as he had at hand, marched the day following to join his son Askari's army, then at Dakdaki, a village near Karra,[5] on the right bank of the Ganges. He reached that place on the 27th, and found Askari's army on the opposite bank of the river. He at once directed that prince to conform his movements on the left bank to those of his own on the right.

[Footnote 5: Karra is now in ruins. It is in the tahsil or district of the same name in the Allahabad division. In the times of Babar and Akbar it was very prosperous.]

The news which reached Babar here was not of a nature to console. The enemy, to the number of a hundred thousand, had rallied round the standard of Mahmud Lodi; whilst one of his own generals, Sher Khan, whom he had distinguished by marks of his favour, had joined the insurgents and had {44} occupied Benares with his division. Mahmud Lodi was besieging Chanar, twenty-six miles from the sacred city.

Babar immediately advanced, compelled Mahmud Lodi to raise the siege of Chanar, forced Sher Khan to evacuate Benares and re-cross the Ganges, and, crossing the Karamnasa, encamped beyond Chausa, at the confluence of that river and the Ganges, and Baksar. Marching thence, he drove his enemy before him until he reached Arrah. There he assumed the sovereignty of Behar, and there he learned that Mahmud Lodi, attended by but a few followers, had taken refuge with the King of Bengal.

Nasrat Shah, King of Bengal, had married a niece of Mahmud Lodi. He had entered into a kind of convention with Babar that neither prince was to invade the territories of the other, but, despite this convention, he had occupied the province of Saran or Chapra, and had taken up with his army a position near the junction of the Gogra with the Ganges, very strong for defensive purposes. Babar resolved to compel the Bengal army to abandon that position. There was, he soon found, but one way to accomplish that end, and that was by the use of force. Ranging then his army in six divisions, he directed that four, under his son Askari, then on the left bank of the Ganges, should cross the Gogra, march upon the enemy, and attempt to draw them from their camp, and follow them up the Gogra; whilst the two others, under his own personal direction, should cross the Ganges, then {45} the Gogra, and attack the enemy's camp, cutting him off from his base. The combination, carried out on the 6th of May, entirely succeeded. The Bengal army was completely defeated, and the victory was, in every sense of the word, decisive. Peace was concluded with Bengal on the conditions that the province, now known as Western Behar, should be ceded to Babar; that neither prince should support the enemies of the other, and that neither should molest the dominions of the other.

Thus far I have been guided mainly by the memoirs of the illustrious man whose achievements I have briefly recorded. There is but little more to tell. Shortly after his return from his victorious campaign in Behar his health began to decline. The fact could not be concealed, and an account of it reached his eldest son, Humayun, then Governor of Badakshan. That prince, making over his government to his brother, Hindal, hastened to Agra. He arrived there early in 1530, was most affectionately received, and by his sprightly wit and genial manners, made many friends. He had been there but six months when he was attacked by a serious illness. When the illness was at its height, and the life of the young prince was despaired of, an incident occurred which shows, in a manner not to be mistaken, the unselfishness and affection of Babar. It is thus related in the supplemental chapter to the Memoirs.[6]

[Footnote 6: This chapter was added by the translators. The same circumstance is related also by Mr. Erskine in his Babar and Humayun.]

{46} 'When all hopes from medicine were over, and whilst several men of skill were talking to the Emperor of the melancholy situation of his son, Abul Baka, a personage highly venerated for his knowledge and piety, remarked to Babar that in such a case the Almighty had sometimes vouchsafed to receive the most valuable thing possessed by one friend, as an offering in exchange for the life of another. Babar exclaimed that, of all things, his life was dearest to Humayun, as Humayun's was to him; that his life, therefore, he most cheerfully devoted as a sacrifice for that of his son; and prayed the Most High to vouchsafe to accept it.' Vainly did his courtiers remonstrate. He persisted, we are told, in his resolution; walked thrice round the dying prince, a solemnity similar to that used by the Muhammadans in sacrifices, and, retiring, prayed earnestly. After a time he was heard to exclaim: 'I have borne it away! I have borne it away!' The Musalman historians relate that almost from that moment Humayun began to recover and the strength of Babar began proportionately to decay. He lingered on to the end of the year 1530. On the 26th December he restored his soul to his Maker, in his palace of the Charbagh, near Agra, in the forty-ninth year of his age. His remains were, in accordance with his dying request, conveyed to Kabul, where they were interred in a lovely spot, about a mile from the city.

Amongst the famous conquerors of the world Babar will always occupy a very high place. His character {47} created his career. Inheriting but the shadow of a small kingdom in Central Asia, he died master of the territories lying between the Karamnasa and the Oxus, and those between the Narbada and the Himalayas. His nature was a joyous nature. Generous, confiding, always hopeful, he managed to attract the affection of all with whom he came in contact. He was keenly sensitive to all that was beautiful in nature; had cultivated his own remarkable talents to a degree quite unusual in the age in which he lived; and was gifted with strong affections and a very vivid imagination. He loved war and glory, but he did not neglect the arts of peace. He made it a duty to inquire into the condition of the races whom he subdued and to devise for them ameliorating measures. He was fond of gardening, of architecture, of music, and he was no mean poet. But the greatest glory of his character was that attributed to him by one who knew him well, and who thus recorded his opinion in Tarikhi Reshidi. 'Of all his qualities,' wrote Haidar Mirza, 'his generosity and humanity took the lead.' Though he lived long enough only to conquer and not long enough to consolidate, the task of conquering could hardly have been committed to hands more pure.

Babar left four sons: Muhammad Humayun Mirza, who succeeded him, born April 5, 1508: Kamran Mirza, Hindal Mirza, and Askari Mirza. Before his death he had introduced Humayun to a specially convened council of ministers as his successor, and had given him his dying injunctions. The points upon which he {48} had specially laid stress were: the conscientious discharge of duties to God and man; the honest and assiduous administration of justice; the seasoning of punishment to the guilty with the extension of tenderness and mercy to the ignorant and penitent, with protection to the poor and defenceless; he besought Humayun, moreover, to deal kindly and affectionately towards his brothers.

Thus died, in the flower of his manhood, the illustrious chief who introduced the Mughal dynasty into India; who, conquering the provinces of the North-west and some districts in the centre of the peninsula, acquired for that dynasty the prescriptive right to claim them as its own. He had many great qualities. But, in Hindustan, he had had neither the time nor the opportunity to introduce into the provinces he had conquered such a system of administration as would weld the parts theretofore separate into one homogeneous whole. It may be doubted whether, great as he was, he possessed to a high degree the genius of constructive legislation. Nowhere had he given any signs of it. In Kabul and in Hindustan alike, he had pursued the policy of the conquerors who had preceded him, that of bestowing conquered provinces and districts on adherents, to be governed by them in direct responsibility to himself, each according to his own plan. Thus it happened that when he died the provinces in India which acknowledged him as master were bound together by that tie alone. Agra had nothing in common with Lucknow; Delhi with {49} Jaunpur. Heavy tolls marked the divisions of territories, inhabited by races of different origin, who were only bound together by the sovereignty of Babar over all. He bequeathed to his son, Humayun, then, a congeries of territories uncemented by any bond of union or of common interest, except that which had been concentrated in his life. In a word, when he died, the Mughal dynasty, like the Muhammadan dynasties which had preceded it, had shot down no roots into the soil of Hindustan.



Brave, genial, witty, a charming companion, highly educated, generous, and merciful, Humayun was even less qualified than his father to found a dynasty on principles which should endure. Allied to his many virtues were many compromising defects. He was volatile, thoughtless, and unsteady. He was swayed by no strong sense of duty. His generosity was apt to degenerate into prodigality; his attachments into weakness. He was unable to concentrate his energies for a time in any serious direction, whilst for comprehensive legislation he had neither the genius nor the inclination. He was thus eminently unfitted to consolidate the conquest his father had bequeathed to him.

It is unnecessary to relate in detail a history of the eight years which followed his accession. So unskilful was his management, and so little did he acquire the confidence and esteem of the races under his sway, that when, in April, 1540, he was defeated at Kanauj, by Sher Khan Sur, a nobleman who had submitted to Babar, but who had risen against his son—whom he succeeded under the title of Sher Shah—the {51} entire edifice crumbled in his hand. After some adventures, Humayun found himself, January, 1541, a fugitive with a mere handful of followers, at Rohri opposite the island of Bukkur on the Indus, in Sind. He had lost the inheritance bequeathed him by his father.

Humayun spent altogether two and a half years in Sind, engaged in a vain attempt to establish himself in that province. The most memorable event of his sojourn there was the birth, on the 15th of October, 1542, of a son, called by him Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar. I propose to relate now the incidents which led to a result so important in the history of India.

In 1541, Humayun, whose troops were engaged in besieging Bukkur, distrusting the designs of his brother Hindal, whom he had commissioned to attack and occupy the rich province of Sehwan, appointed a meeting with the latter at the town of Patar, some twenty miles to the west of the Indus. There he found Hindal, surrounded by his nobles, prepared to receive him right royally. During the festivities which followed, the mother of Hindal—who, it may be remarked, was not the mother of Humayun—gave a grand entertainment, to which she invited all the ladies of the court. Amongst these Humayun especially noted a girl called Hamida, the daughter of a nobleman who had been preceptor to Hindal. So struck was he that he inquired on the spot whether the girl were betrothed. He was told in reply that, although she had been promised, no {52} ceremony of betrothal had as yet taken place. 'In that case,' said Humayun, 'I will marry her.' Hindal protested against the suddenly formed resolution, and threatened, if it were persisted in, to quit his brother's service. A quarrel, which had almost ended in a rupture, then ensued between the brothers. But the pleadings of Hindal's mother, who favoured the match, brought Hindal to acquiescence, and, the next day, Hamida, who had just completed her fourteenth year, was married to Humayun. A few days later, the happy pair repaired to the camp before Bukkur.

The times, however, were unfavourable to the schemes of Humayun. All his plans miscarried, and, in the spring of 1542, he and his young wife had to flee for safety to the barren deserts of Marwar. In August they reached Jaisalmer, but, repulsed by its Raja, they had to cross the great desert, suffering terribly during the journey from want of water. Struggling bravely, however, they reached, on August 22nd, the fort of Amarkot, on the edge of the desert. The Rana of the fort received them hospitably, and there, on Sunday October the 15th, Hamida Begam gave birth to Akbar. Humayun had quitted Amarkot four days previously, to invade the district of Jun. His words, when the news was brought to him, deserve to be recorded. 'As soon,' wrote one who attended him, 'as the Emperor had finished his thanksgivings to God, the Amirs were introduced, and offered their congratulations. He then called Jouher (the historian, author of the Tezkereh al {53} Vakiat) and asked what he had committed to his charge. Jouher answered: "Two hundred Shah-rukhis" (Khorasani gold coins), a silver wristlet and a musk-bag; adding, that the two former had been returned to their owners. On this Humayun ordered the musk-bag to be brought, and, having broken it on a china plate, he called his nobles, and divided it among them, as the royal present in honour of his son's birth.... This event,' adds Jouher, 'diffused its fragrance over the whole habitable world.'

The birth of the son brought no immediate good fortune to the father. In July, 1543, Humayun was compelled to quit Sind, and, accompanied by his wife and son and a small following, set out with the intention of reaching Kandahar. He had arrived at Shal, when he learnt that his brother, Askari, with a considerable force, was close at hand, and that immediate flight was necessary. He and his wife were ready, but what were they to do with the child, then only a year old, quite unfit to make a rapid journey on horseback, in the boisterous weather then prevailing? Reckoning, not without reason, that the uncle would not make war against a baby, they decided to leave him, with the whole of their camp-equipage and baggage, and the ladies who attended him. They then set out, and riding hard, reached the Persian frontier in safety. Scarcely had they gone when Askari Mirza arrived. Veiling his disappointment at the escape of his brother with some {54} soft words, he treated the young prince with affection, had him conveyed to Kandahar, of which place he was Governor, and placed there under the supreme charge of his own wife, the ladies who had been his nurses still remaining in attendance.

In this careful custody the young prince remained during the whole of the year 1544. But soon after the dawn of the following year a change in his condition occurred. His father, with the aid of troops supplied him by Shah Tahmasp, invaded Western Afghanistan, making straight across the desert for Kandahar. Alarmed at this movement, and dreading lest Humayun should recover his child, Kamran sent peremptory orders that the boy should be transferred to Kabul. When the confidential officers whom Kamran had instructed on this subject reached Kandahar, the ministers of Askari Mirza held a council to consider whether or not the demand should be complied with. Some, believing the star of Humayun to be in the ascendant, advised that the boy should be sent, under honourable escort, to his father. Others maintained that Prince Askari had acted so treacherously towards his eldest brother that no act of penitence would now avail, and that it was better to continue to deserve the favour of Kamran. The arguments of the latter prevailed, and though the winter was unusually severe, the infant prince and his sister, Bakhshi Banu Begam, were despatched with their attendants to Kabul. After some adventures, which made the {55} escort apprehend an attempt at rescue, the party reached Kabul in safety, and there Kamran confided his nephew to the care of his great-aunt, Khanzada Begam, the whilom favourite sister of the Emperor Babar. This illustrious lady maintained in their duties the nurses and attendants who had watched over the early days of the young prince, and during the short time of her superintendence she bestowed upon him the tenderest care. Unhappily that superintendence lasted only a few months. The capture of Kandahar by Humayun in the month of September following (1545) threw Kamran into a state of great perplexity. A suspicious and jealous man, and regarding the possession of Akbar as a talisman he could use against Humayun, he removed the boy from the care of his grand-aunt, and confided him to a trusted adherent, Kuch Kilan by name. But events marched very quickly in those days. Humayun, having established a firm base at Kandahar, set out with an army for Kabul, appeared before that city the first week in November, and compelled it to surrender to him on the 15th. Kamran had escaped to Ghazni: but the happy father had the gratification of finding the son from whom he had been so long separated. The boy's mother, Hamida Begam, did not arrive till the spring of the following year, but, meanwhile, Kuch Kilan was removed, and the prince's former governor, known as Atka Khan,[1] was restored to his post.

[Footnote 1: His real name was Shams-ud-din Muhammad of Ghazni. He had saved the life of Humayun in 1540, at the battle of Kanauj, fought against Sher Shah.]

{56} For the moment splendour and prosperity surrounded the boy. But when winter came, Humayun, who meanwhile had recovered Badakshan, resolved to pass the coldest months of the year at Kila Zafar, in that province. But on his way thither he was seized with an illness so dangerous that his life was despaired of. He recovered indeed after two months' strict confinement to his bed, but, in the interval, many of his nobles, believing his end was assured, had repaired to the courts of his brothers, and Kamran, aided by troops supplied by his father-in-law, had regained Kabul, and, with Kabul, possession of the person of Akbar. One of the first acts of the conqueror was to remove Atka Khan from the person of the prince, and to replace him by one of his own servants.

But Humayun had no sooner regained his strength than he marched to recover his capital. Defeating, in the suburbs, a detachment of the best troops of Kamran, he established his head-quarters on the Koh-Akabain which commands the town, and commenced to cannonade it. The fire after some days became so severe and caused so much damage that, to stop it, Kamran sent to his brother to declare that unless the fire should cease, he would expose the young Akbar on the walls at the point where it was hottest.[2] {57} Humayun ordered the firing to cease. He continued the siege, however, and on the 28th of April (1547) entered the city a conqueror. Kamran had escaped the previous night.

[Footnote 2: Abulfazl relates in the Akbarnana that the prince actually was exposed, and Haidar Mirza, Badauni, Ferishta, and others follow him; but Bayazid, who was present, though he minutely describes other atrocities in his memoirs, does not mention this; whilst Jouher, in his private memoirs of Humayun, a translation of which by Major Charles Stewart appeared in 1832, states the story as I have given it in the text.]

Kamran had fled to Badakshan. Thither Humayun followed him. But, in the winter that followed, some of his most powerful nobles revolted, and deserted to Kamran. Humayun, after some marches and countermarches, determined in the summer of 1548 to make a decisive effort to settle his northern dominions. He marched, then, in June from Kabul, taking with him Akbar and Akbar's mother. On reaching Gulbahan he sent back to Kabul Akbar and his mother, and marching on Talikan, forced Kamran to surrender. Having settled his northern territories the Emperor, as he was still styled, returned to Kabul.

He quitted it again, in the late spring of 1549, to attempt Balkh, in the western Kunduz territory. The Uzbeks, however, repulsed him, and he returned to Kabul for the winter of 1550. Then ensued a very curious scene. Kamran, whose failure to join Humayun in the expedition against Balkh had been the main cause of his retreat, and who had subsequently gone into open rebellion, had, after Humayun's defeat, made a disastrous campaign on the Oxus, and had sent his submission to Humayun. That prince, consigning the government of Kabul to Akbar, then {58} eight years old, with Muhammad Kasim Khan Birlas as his tutor, marched from the capital to gain possession of the person of his brother. So careless, however, were his movements that Kamran, who had planned the manoeuvre, surprised him at the upper end of the defile of Kipchak, and forced him to take refuge in flight. During the flight Humayun was badly wounded, but nevertheless managed to reach the top of the Sirtan Pass in safety. There he was in comparative security. Meanwhile Kamran had marched upon and captured Kabul, and, for the third time, Akbar found himself a prisoner in the hands of his uncle. Humayun did not submit tamely to this loss. Rallying his adherents, he recrossed the mountains, and marched on the city. Arriving at Shutargardan he saw the army of Kamran drawn up to oppose him. After some days of fruitless negotiation for a compromise Humayun ordered the attack. It resulted in a complete victory and the flight of Kamran. For a moment Humayun feared lest Kamran should have carried his son with him in his flight. But, before he could enter the city, he was intensely relieved by the arrival in camp of Akbar, accompanied by Hasan Akhta, to whose care he had been entrusted. The next day he entered the city.

This time the conquest was decisive and lasting. In the distribution of awards which followed Humayun did not omit his son. He bestowed upon Akbar as a jaghir the district of Chirkh, and nominated Haji Muhammad Khan of Sistan as his minister, {59} with the care of his education. During the year that followed the causes of the troubles of Humayun disappeared one by one. Kamran indeed once more appeared in arms, but only to be hunted down so vigorously that he was forced to surrender (August, 1553). He was exiled to Mekka, where he died four years later. Hindal Mirza, another brother, had been slain some eighteen months before, during the pursuit of Kamran. Askari Mirza, the other brother, in whose nature treachery seemed ingrained, had been exiled to Mekka in 1551,[3] and though he still survived he was harmless. Relieved thus of his brothers, Humayun contemplated the conquest of Kashmir, but his nobles and their followers were so averse to the expedition that he was forced, unwillingly, to renounce it. He consoled himself by crossing the Indus. Whilst encamped in the districts between that river and the Jehlam he ordered the repair, tantamount to a reconstruction on an enlarged plan, of the fort at Peshawar. He was contemplating even then the invasion of India, and he was particularly anxious that he should possess a point d'appui beyond the passes on which his army could concentrate. He pushed the works so vigorously that the fort was ready by the end of the year (1554). He then returned to Kabul. During the winter and early spring that followed, there came to a head in Hindustan the crisis which gave him the opportunity of carrying his plans into effect.

[Footnote 3: He died there in 1558.]



Sher Khan Sur, who had defeated Humayun at Kanauj in 1540, had used his victory to possess himself of the territories which Babar had conquered, and to add somewhat to them. He was an able man, but neither did he, more than the prince whom he supplanted, possess the genius of consolidation and union. He governed on the system of detached camps, each province and district being separately administered. He died in 1545 from injuries received at the siege of Kalinjar, just as that strong fort surrendered to his arms.

His second son, Salim Shah Sur, known also as Sultan Islam, succeeded him, and reigned for between seven and eight years. He must have been dimly conscious of the weakness of the system he had inherited, for the greater part of his reign was spent in combating the intrigues of the noblemen who held the several provinces under him. On his death, leaving a child of tender years to succeed him, the nobles took the upper hand. The immediate result was the murder of the young prince, after a nominal rule of three days, and the seizure of the throne by {61} his maternal uncle, who proclaimed himself as Sultan under the title of Muhammad Shah Adel. He was ignorant, cruel, unprincipled, and a sensualist of a very pronounced type. He had, however, the good fortune to attach to his throne a Hindu, named Hemu, who, originally a shopkeeper of Rewari, a town of Mewat, showed talents so considerable, that he was eventually allowed to concentrate in his own hands all the power of the State. The abilities of Hemu did not, however, prevent the break-up of the territories which Sher Shah had bequeathed to his son. Ibrahim Khan revolted at Biana, and occupying Agra and Delhi, proclaimed himself Sultan. Ahmad Khan, Governor of the country north-west of the Sutlej, seized the Punjab, and proclaimed himself king under the title of Sikandar Shah. Shuja Khan seized the kingdom of Malwa, whilst two rival claimants disputed the eastern provinces. In the contests which followed Sikandar Shah for the moment obtained the upper hand. He defeated Ibrahim Khan at Farah, twenty miles from Agra, then marched on and occupied Delhi. He was preparing to head an expedition to recover Jaunpur and Behar, when he heard of danger threatening him from Kabul.

The events that followed were important only in their results. Humayun marched from Kabul for the Indus in November, 1554, at the head of a small army, which, however, gathered strength as he advanced. Akbar accompanied him. Crossing the Indus the 2nd of January, 1555, Humayun made for {62} Rawal Pindi, then pushed on for Kalanaur, on the further side of the Ravi. There he divided his forces, sending his best general, Bairam Khan, into Jalandhar, whilst he marched on Lahore, and despatched thence his special favourite, Abul Ma'ali, to occupy Dipalpur, then an important centre, commanding the country between the capital and Multan.

Events developed themselves very rapidly. Bairam Khan defeated the generals of Sikandar Shah at Machhiwara on the Sutlej, and then marched on the town of Sirhind. Sikandar, hoping to crush him there, hurried to that place with a vastly superior force. Bairam intrenched himself, and wrote to Humayun for aid. Humayun despatched the young Akbar, and followed a few days later. Before they could come, Sikandar had arrived but had hesitated to attack. The hesitation lost him. As soon as Humayun arrived, he precipitated a general engagement. The victory was decisive. Sikandar Shah fled to the Siwaliks, and Humayun, with his victorious army, marched on Delhi. Occupying it the 23rd of July, he despatched one division of it to overrun Rohilkhand, another to occupy Agra. He had previously sent Abul Ma'ali to secure the Punjab.

But his troubles were not yet over. Hemu, the general and chief minister of Muhammad Shah Adel, had defeated the pretender to the throne of Bengal, who had invaded the North-west Provinces, near Kalpi on the Jumna, and that capable leader was preparing to march on Delhi. Sikandar Shah, too, who had {63} been defeated at Sirhind, was beginning to show signs of life in the Punjab. In the face of these difficulties Humayun decided to remain at Delhi himself, whilst he despatched Akbar with Bairam Khan as his 'Atalik,' or adviser, to settle matters in the Punjab.

We must first follow Akbar. That prince reached Sirhind early in January, 1556. Joined there by many of the nobles whom Abul Ma'ali, the favourite of his father, had disgusted by his haughtiness, he crossed the Sutlej at Phillaur, marched on Sultanpur in the Kangra district, and thence, in pursuit of Sikandar Shah, to Hariana. The morning of his arrival there, information reached him of a serious accident which had happened to Humayun. He at once suspended the forward movement, and marched on Kalanaur, there to await further intelligence. As he approached that place, a despatch was placed in his hands, drafted by order of Humayun, giving hopes of speedy recovery. But, a little later, another courier arrived, bearing the news of the Emperor's death. Akbar was at once proclaimed.

The situation was a trying one for a boy who had lived but thirteen years and four months. He occupied, indeed, the Punjab. His servants held Sirhind, Delhi, and possibly Agra. But he was aware that Hemu, flushed with two victories, for he had obtained a second over another pretender, was marching towards the last-named city with an army of fifty thousand men and five hundred elephants, with the avowed intention of restoring the rule of Muhammad {64} Shah Adel. To add to his difficulties he heard a few days later that the viceroy placed by his father at Kabul had revolted.

Humayun had met his death by a fall from the top of the staircase leading to the terraced roof of his library in the palace of Delhi. He lingered four days, the greater part of the time in a state of insensibility, and expired the evening of the 24th of January, in the forty-eighth year of his age. Tardi Beg Khan, the most eminent of all the nobles at the capital, and actually Governor of the city, assumed on the spot the general direction of affairs. His first care was to conceal the incident from the public until he could arrange to make the succession secure for the young Akbar, to whom he sent expresses conveying details. By an ingenious stratagem he managed to conceal the death of the Emperor for seventeen days. Then, on the 10th of February, he repaired with the nobles to the great Mosque, and caused the prayer for the Emperor to be recited in the name of Akbar. His next act was to despatch the insignia of the empire with the Crown jewels, accompanied by the officers of the household, the Imperial Guards, and a possible rival to the throne in the person of a son of Humayun's brother, Kamran, to the head-quarters of the new Emperor in the Punjab. He then proceeded to take measures to secure the capital against the threatened attack of Hemu.



The news of his father's death, I have said, reached Akbar as he was entering the town of Kalanaur at the head of his army. At the moment he had not heard of the revolt at Kabul, nor had his adviser, Bairam Khan, dwelt in his mind on the probability of a movement by Hemu against Delhi. In the first few days, then, it seemed as though there were but one enemy in the field, and that enemy the Sikandar Shah, to suppress whom his father had sent him to the Punjab. That prince was still in arms, slowly retreating in the direction of Kashmir. It appeared, then, to the young Emperor and his adviser that their first business should be to secure the Punjab; that to effect that object they must follow up Sikandar Shah. The army accordingly broke up from Kalanaur, pushed after Sikandar, and drove him to take refuge in the fort of Mankot, in the lower ranges of the Siwaliks. As Mankot was very strong, and tidings of untoward events alike in Hindustan and Kabul reached them, the leaders {66} contented themselves with leaving a force to blockade that fortress, and returned to Jalandhar.

It was time indeed. Not only had Kabul revolted, but Hemu, his army increasing with every step, had taken Agra without striking a blow, and was pursuing the retreating garrison towards Delhi. A day later came the information that he had defeated the Mughal army close to Delhi, and had occupied that capital. Tardi Beg, with the remnants of the defeated force, had fled towards Sirhind.

In the multitude of counsellors there is not always wisdom. When Akbar heard of the success of Hemu, he assembled his warrior-nobles and asked their advice. With one exception they all urged him to fall back on Kabul. That he could recover his mountain-capital they felt certain, and there he could remain until events should be propitious for a fresh invasion of India. Against this recommendation Bairam Khan raised his powerful voice. He urged a prompt march across the Sutlej, a junction with Tardi Beg in Sirhind, and an immediate attempt thence against Hemu. Delhi, he said, twice gained and twice lost, must at all hazards be won back. Delhi was the decisive point, not Kabul. Master of the former, one could easily recover the latter. The instincts of Akbar coincided with the advice of his Atalik, and an immediate march across the Sutlej was directed.

Akbar and Bairam saw in fact that their choice lay between empire in Hindustan and a small kingdom in Kabul. For they knew from their adherents in {67} India that Hemu was preparing to supplement the occupation of Delhi by the conquest of the Punjab. To be beforehand with him, to transfer the initiative to themselves, always a great matter with Asiatics, was almost a necessity to secure success. Akbar marched then from Jalandhar in October, and crossing the Sutlej, gained the town of Sirhind. There he was joined by Tardi Beg and the nobles who had been defeated by Hemu under the walls of Delhi. The circumstances which followed their arrival sowed in the heart of Akbar the first seeds of revolt against the licence of power assumed by his Atalik. Tardi Beg was a Turki nobleman, who, in the contest between Humayun and his brothers, had more than once shifted his allegiance, but he had finally enrolled himself as a partisan of the father of Akbar. When Humayun died, it was Tardi Beg who by his tact and loyalty succeeded in arranging for the bloodless succession of Akbar, though a son of Kamran was in Delhi at the time. After his defeat by Hemu, he had, it is true, in the opinion of some of the other nobles, too hastily evacuated Delhi; but an error in tactics is not a crime, and he had at least brought a powerful reinforcement to Akbar in Sirhind. But there had ever been jealousy between Bairam Khan and Tardi Beg. This jealousy was increased in the heart of Bairam by religious differences, for Bairam belonged to the Shi'ah division of the Muhammadan creed, and Tardi Beg was a Sunni. On the arrival of the latter at Sirhind, then, Bairam summoned him to his tent {68} and had him assassinated.[1] Akbar was greatly displeased at this act of violence, and Bairam did not succeed in justifying himself. It may be inferred that he excused himself on the ground that such an act was necessary, in the interests of discipline, to secure the proper subordination of the nobles.

[Footnote 1: Vide Dowson's Sir Henry Elliot's History of India as told by its own Historians, vol. v. page 251 and note. The only historian who states that Akbar gave a 'kind of permission' to this atrocious deed is Badauni. He is practically contradicted by Abulfazl and Ferishta. In Blochmann's admirable edition of the Ain-i-Akbari, p. 315, the story is repeated as told by Badauni, but the translator adds the words: 'Akbar was displeased. Bairam's hasty act was one of the chief causes of the distrust with which the Chagatai nobles looked upon him.']

Meanwhile Hemu remained at Delhi, amusing himself with the new title of Raja which he had assumed, and engaged in collecting troops. When, however, he heard that Akbar had reached Sirhind, he despatched his artillery to Panipat, fifty-three miles to the north of Delhi, intending to follow himself with the infantry and cavalry. But, on his side, Akbar was moving from Sirhind towards the same place. More than that, he had taken the precaution to despatch in advance a force of ten thousand horsemen, under the command of Ali Kuli Khan-i-Shaibani, the general who had fought with Tardi Beg against Hemu at Delhi, and who had condemned his too hasty retirement.[2] Ali Kuli rode as far as Panipat, and noting there the guns of Hemu's army, unsupported, he dashed upon them and captured them all. {69} For this brilliant feat of arms he was created a Khan Zaman, by which he is henceforth known in history. This misfortune greatly depressed Hemu, for, it is recorded, the guns had been obtained from Turkey, and were regarded with great reverence. However, without further delay, he pressed on to Panipat.

[Footnote 2: Blochmann's Ain-i-Akbari, p. 319.]

Akbar and Bairam were marching on to the plains of Panipat on the morning of the 5th of November, 1556, when they sighted the army of Hemu moving towards them. The thought must, I should think, have been present in the mind of the young prince that just thirty years before his grandfather, Babar, had, on the same plain, struck down the house of Lodi, and won the empire of Hindustan. He was confronted now by the army of the usurper, connected by marriage with that House of Sur which had expelled his own father. The battle, he knew, would be the decisive battle of the century. But, prescient as he was, he could not foresee that it would prove the starting-point for the establishment in India of a dynasty which would last for more than two hundred years, and would then require another invasion from the north, and another battle of Panipat to strike it down; the advent of another race of foreigners from an island in the Atlantic to efface it.

Hemu had divided his army into three divisions. In front marched the five hundred elephants, each bestridden by an officer of rank, and led by Hemu, on his own favourite animal, in person. He dashed first against the advancing left wing of the Mughals and {70} threw it into disorder, but as his lieutenants failed to support the attack with infantry, he drew off, and threw himself on the centre, commanded by Bairam in person. That astute general had directed his archers, in anticipation of such an attack, to direct their arrows at the faces of the riders. One of these arrows pierced the eye of Hemu, who fell back in his howdah, for the moment insensible. The fall of their leader spread consternation among the followers. The attack slackened, then ceased. The soldiers of Bairam soon converted the cessation into a rout. The elephant on which Hemu rode, without a driver—for the driver had been killed[3]—made off instinctively towards the jungle. A nobleman, a follower and distant relative of Bairam, Shah Kuli Mahram-i-Baharlu, followed the elephant, not knowing who it was who rode it. Coming up with it and catching hold of the rope on its neck, he discovered that it was the wounded Hemu who had become his captive.[4] He led him to Bairam. Bairam took him to the youthful prince, who throughout the day had shown courage and conduct, but who had left the ordering of the battle to his Atalik. The scene that followed is thus told by contemporary writers. Bairam said to his master, as he presented to him the wounded general: 'This is your first war: prove your sword on this infidel, for it will be a meritorious deed.' {71} Akbar replied: 'He is now no better than a dead man; how can I strike him? If he had sense and strength I would try my sword (that is I would fight him).' On Akbar's refusal, Bairam himself cut down the prisoner.

[Footnote 3: This is the generally received story, though Abulfazl states that the driver, to save his own life, betrayed his master. Elliot, vol. v. p. 253, note.]

[Footnote 4: Compare Elliot, vol. v. p. 253, and Blochmann's Ain-i-Akbari, p. 359.]

Bairam sent his cavalry to pursue the enemy to Delhi, giving them no respite, and the next day, marching the fifty-three miles without a halt, the Mughal army entered the city. Thenceforward Akbar was without a formidable rival in India. He occupied the position his grandfather had occupied thirty years before. It remained to be seen whether the boy would use the opportunity which his father and grandfather had alike failed to grasp. To show the exact nature of the task awaiting him, I propose to devote the next chapter to a brief survey of the condition of India at the time of his accession, and in that following to inquire how the boy of fourteen was likely to benefit by the tutelage of Bairam Khan.



The empire conquered south of the Sutlej by the Afghan predecessors of the Mughal had no claim to be regarded as the empire of Hindustan. It was rather the empire of Delhi, that is, of the provinces called up to the year 1857 the North-western Provinces, including that part of the Bengal Presidency which we know as Western Behar, and some districts in the Central Provinces and Rajputana. It included, likewise, the Punjab. For a moment, indeed, the princes of the House of Tughlak could claim supremacy over Bengal and almost the whole of Southern India, but the first invasion from the north gave the opportunity which the Hindu princes of the south seized to shake off the uncongenial yoke, and it had not been re-imposed. The important kingdom of Orissa, extending from the mouth of the Ganges to that of the Godavari, had always maintained its independence. Western India, too, had for some time ceased to acknowledge the sway of the foreign invader, and its several states had become kingdoms.

{73} Thus, at the accession of Akbar, the westernmost portion of India, the kingdom of Gujarat, ruled over by a Muhammadan prince of Afghan blood, was independent. It had been overrun, indeed, by Humayun, but on his flight from India it had re-asserted itself, and had not since been molested. Indeed it had carried on a not unsuccessful war with its nearest neighbour, Malwa. That state, embracing the greater part of what we know as Central India, was thus independent at the accession of Akbar. So likewise was Khandesh: so also were the states of Rajputana. These latter deserve a more detailed notice.

The exploits of the great Sanga Rana have been incidentally referred to in the first chapter. The defeat of that prince by Babar had greatly affected the power of Mewar, and when Sher Shah drove Humayun from India its chiefs had been compelled eventually to acknowledge the overlordship of the conqueror. But, during the disturbances which followed the death of Sher Shah, they had recovered their independence, and at the accession of Akbar they still held their high place among the states of Rajputana. Of the other states it may briefly be stated that the rulers of Jaipur had paid homage to the Mughal in the time of Babar. The then Raja, Baharma, had assisted that prince with his forces, and had received from Humayun, prior to his defeat by Sher Shah, a high imperial title as ruler of Ambar. The son of Baharma, Bhagwan Das, occupied the throne when Akbar won {74} Panipat. Jodhpur, in those days, occupied a far higher position than did Jaipur. Its Raja, Maldeo Singh, had given to the great Sher Shah more trouble in the field than had any of his opponents. He had, however, refused an asylum to Humayun when Humayun was a fugitive. He was alive, independent, and the most powerful of all the princes of Rajputana when Akbar ascended the throne of Delhi. Jaisalmer, Bikaner, and the states on the borders of the desert were also independent. So likewise were the minor states of Rajputana; so also was Sind; so also Multan. Mewat and Baghelkhand owned no foreign master; but Gwalior, Orchha, Chanderi, Narwar, and Pannao suffered from their vicinity to Agra, and were more or less tributary, according to the leisure accruing to the conqueror to assert his authority.

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