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Zahir-ud-Din Babur (February 14, 1483 – December 26, 1530) whose name means - The Manifester of the Religion (of Islam), better known by his nick name - Babur (Lion, in Turkic) was a great military strategist who was also a gifted poet and a lover of nature who constructed gardens wherever he went. The founder of the Mughal Empire he was a descendant of the Mongol, Turkic, Persian, and Afghan invaders of south-west Asia who invaded India in the early 16th century.

Babur was the great-grandson of Timur Lenk (Timur the Lame, from which the Western name Tamerlane is derived), who had invaded India and plundered Delhi in 1398 and then ruled over a short-lived empire based in Fergana or Samarkand (in modern-day Uzbekistan) that united Persian-based Mongols (Babur's maternal ancestors) and other West Asian peoples. His paternal ancestor was Genghis Khan.

Babur was driven from Samarkand and initially established his rule in Kabul in 1504. Having grow up with stories of the easy riches to be gained in India he made several raids into the Punjab and India. Now with a firm base close to the passes into India he became determined to expand his kingdom eastward into the Punjab. But as fate would have it before he invaded, an invitation from an opportunistic Afghan chief in Punjab, who wished his help in overthrowing Ibrahim Lodi, the ruler of the Delhi Sultinate (1517-26), brought him to the very heart of Delhi fulfilling his desire to build a mighty kingdom.

A Seasoned Military Commander

Babur, a seasoned military commander, entered India in 1526 with his well-trained veteran army of 12,000 to meet the sultan's huge but unwieldy and disunited force of more than 100,000 men. Babur defeated the Lodi sultan decisively at Panipat (in modern-day Haryana, about ninety kilometers north of Delhi where several decisive battles have been won and lost.

Employing something never seen before in India—gun carts, moveable artillery, and superior cavalry tactics, Babur achieved a resounding victory. A year later, he decisively defeated a Rajput confederacy led by Rana Sangha.

Bagh-e-Babur, Only one of the Splendid gardens built by Babur

In 1529 Babur routed the joint forces of Afghans and the sultan of Bengal but died in 1530 before he could consolidate his military gains. He left behind as legacies his memoirs (Babur Namah), several beautiful gardens in Kabul, Lahore, and Agra, and destroyed many more Hindu Mandirs from the mountains of Jammu and Kashmir to the East across India. The 'Babri Masjid incident' is still unsoved.

The Koh-i-noor

His son Humayun, the first to gain from a Rajput Raja the famed diamond—later to be called the Koh-i-noor, would soon be forced to leave India only to return to build an even greater kingdom. His son Akbar and his descendants would fulfil Babur's dream of establishing a Mughal empire in Hindustan.

Leaving behind, in the end, as had their ancestor, a splendid history of beautiful arts and Architecture along with an equally brutal history of destruction and death.

Babar in Gurbani

ਤਿਲੰਗ ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ॥ तिलंग महला १ ॥ Ŧilang mėhlĝ 1. Tilang, First Mehl:

ਜੈਸੀ ਮੈ ਆਵੈ ਖਸਮ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਤੈਸੜਾ ਕਰੀ ਗਿਆਨ੝ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥ जैसी मै आवै खसम की बाणी तैसड़ा करी गिआनढ़ वे लालो ॥ Jaisī mai ĝvai kẖasam kī baṇī ṯaisṛĝ karī gi▫ĝn ve lĝlo. As the Word of the Forgiving Lord comes to me, so do I express it, O Lalo.

ਪਾਪ ਕੀ ਜੰਞ ਲੈ ਕਾਬਲਹ੝ ਧਾਇਆ ਜੋਰੀ ਮੰਗੈ ਦਾਨ੝ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥ पाप की जंञ लै काबलहढ़ धाइआ जोरी मंगै दानढ़ वे लालो ॥ Pĝp kī jañ lai kĝblahu ḝẖĝ▫i▫ĝ jorī mangai ḝĝn ve lĝlo. Bringing the marriage party of sin, Babar has invaded from Kaabul, demanding our land as his wedding gift, O Lalo.

ਸਰਮ੝ ਧਰਮ੝ ਦ੝ਇ ਛਪਿ ਖਲੋਝ ਕੂੜ੝ ਫਿਰੈ ਪਰਧਾਨ੝ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥ सरमढ़ धरमढ़ दढ़इ छपि खलोझ कूड़ढ़ फिरै परधानढ़ वे लालो ॥ Saram ḝẖaram ḝu▫e cẖẖap kẖalo▫e kūṛ firai parḝẖĝn ve lĝlo. Modesty and righteousness both have vanished, and falsehood struts around like a leader, O Lalo.

ਕਾਜੀਆ ਬਾਮਣਾ ਕੀ ਗਲ ਥਕੀ ਅਗਦ੝ ਪੜੈ ਸੈਤਾਨ੝ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥ काजीआ बामणा की गल थकी अगदढ़ पड़ै सैतानढ़ वे लालो ॥ Kĝjī▫ĝ bĝmṇĝ kī gal thakī agaḝ paṛai saiṯĝn ve lĝlo. The Qazis and the Brahmins have lost their roles, and Satan now conducts the marriage rites, O Lalo.

ਮ੝ਸਲਮਾਨੀਆ ਪੜਹਿ ਕਤੇਬਾ ਕਸਟ ਮਹਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਖ੝ਦਾਇ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥ मढ़सलमानीआ पड़हि कतेबा कसट महि करहि खढ़दाइ वे लालो ॥ Musalmĝnī▫ĝ paṛėh kaṯebĝ kasat mėh karahi kẖuḝĝ▫e ve lĝlo. The Muslim women read the Koran, and in their misery, they call upon God, O Lalo.

ਜਾਤਿ ਸਨਾਤੀ ਹੋਰਿ ਹਿਦਵਾਣੀਆ ਝਹਿ ਭੀ ਲੇਖੈ ਲਾਇ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥ जाति सनाती होरि हिदवाणीआ झहि भी लेखै लाइ वे लालो ॥ Jĝṯ sanĝṯī hor hiḝvĝṇī▫ĝ ehi bẖī lekẖai lĝ▫e ve lĝlo. The Hindu women of high social status, and others of lowly status as well, are put into the same category, O Lalo.

ਖੂਨ ਕੇ ਸੋਹਿਲੇ ਗਾਵੀਅਹਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਤ੝ ਕਾ ਕ੝ੰਗੂ ਪਾਇ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥੧॥ खून के सोहिले गावीअहि नानक रतढ़ का कढ़ंगू पाइ वे लालो ॥१॥ Kẖūn ke sohile gavī▫ah Nĝnak raṯ kĝ kungū pĝ▫e ve lĝlo. ||1|| The wedding songs of murder are sung, O Nanak, and blood is sprinkled instead of saffron, O Lalo. ||1||

ਸਾਹਿਬ ਕੇ ਗ੝ਣ ਨਾਨਕ੝ ਗਾਵੈ ਮਾਸ ਪ੝ਰੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਆਖ੝ ਮਸੋਲਾ ॥ साहिब के गढ़ण नानकढ़ गावै मास पढ़री विचि आखढ़ मसोला ॥ Sĝhib ke guṇ Nĝnak gĝvai mĝs purī vicẖ ĝkẖ masolĝ. Nanak sings the Glorious Praises of the Lord and Master in the city of corpses, and voices this account.

ਜਿਨਿ ਉਪਾਈ ਰੰਗਿ ਰਵਾਈ ਬੈਠਾ ਵੇਖੈ ਵਖਿ ਇਕੇਲਾ ॥ जिनि उपाई रंगि रवाई बैठा वेखै वखि इकेला ॥ Jin upĝ▫ī rang ravĝ▫ī baiṯẖĝ vekẖai vakẖ ikelĝ. The One who created, and attached the mortals to pleasures, sits alone, and watches this.

ਸਚਾ ਸੋ ਸਾਹਿਬ੝ ਸਚ੝ ਤਪਾਵਸ੝ ਸਚੜਾ ਨਿਆਉ ਕਰੇਗ੝ ਮਸੋਲਾ ॥ सचा सो साहिबढ़ सचढ़ तपावसढ़ सचड़ा निआउ करेगढ़ मसोला ॥ Sacẖĝ so sĝhib sacẖ ṯapĝvas sacẖṛĝ ni▫ĝ▫o kareg masolĝ. The Lord and Master is True, and True is His justice. He issues His Commands according to His judgment.

ਕਾਇਆ ਕਪੜ੝ ਟ੝ਕ੝ ਟ੝ਕ੝ ਹੋਸੀ ਹਿਦ੝ਸਤਾਨ੝ ਸਮਾਲਸੀ ਬੋਲਾ ॥ काइआ कपड़ढ़ टढ़कढ़ टढ़कढ़ होसी हिदढ़सतानढ़ समालसी बोला ॥ Kĝ▫i▫ĝ kapaṛ tuk tuk hosī hinḝusaṯĝn samĝlsī bolĝ. The body-fabric will be torn apart into shreds, and then India will remember these words.

ਆਵਨਿ ਅਠਤਰੈ ਜਾਨਿ ਸਤਾਨਵੈ ਹੋਰ੝ ਭੀ ਉਠਸੀ ਮਰਦ ਕਾ ਚੇਲਾ ॥ आवनि अठतरै जानि सतानवै होरढ़ भी उठसी मरद का चेला ॥ Āvan aṯẖ▫ṯarai jĝn saṯĝnvai hor bẖī uṯẖsī maraḝ kĝ cẖelĝ. Coming in seventy-eight (1521 A.D.), they will depart in ninety-seven (1540 A.D.), and then another disciple of man will rise up.

ਸਚ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਨਾਨਕ੝ ਆਖੈ ਸਚ੝ ਸ੝ਣਾਇਸੀ ਸਚ ਕੀ ਬੇਲਾ ॥੨॥੩॥੫॥ सच की बाणी नानकढ़ आखै सचढ़ सढ़णाइसी सच की बेला ॥२॥३॥५॥ Sacẖ kī baṇī Nĝnak ĝkẖai sacẖ suṇĝ▫isī sacẖ kī belĝ. ||2||3||5|| Nanak speaks the Word of Truth; he proclaims the Truth at this, the right time. ||2||3||5||

Guru Nanak Dev ji - Guru Granth Sahib ANG 722-723

Guru Nanak and Babar

Among those who were held captive in Babur's campaigns was Guru Nanak whom the Emperor released.

See also

These articles deal with Mughal Empire

Babur (1526-30) -|- Humayun (1530-56) -|- Akbar (1556-1605) -|- Jahangir (1605-27) -|- Shah Jahan (1627-58) -|- Aurangzeb (1658-1707)