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A Handbook to Agra and the Taj by E. B. Havell

The Khans were completely defeated by Shaibani


at this apparition, I felt that God had just restored me to life. I called to them at once, 'Seize Yusuf the constable, and the wretched traitors who are with him, and bring them to me bound hand and foot,' Then, turning to my rescuers, I said, 'Whence come you? Who told you what was happening?' Kutluk Muhammad Barlas answered, 'After I found myself separated from you in the sudden flight from Akhsi, I reached Andijan at the very moment when the Khans themselves were making their entry. There I saw, in a dream, Khwaja 'Obaid-Allah, who said, "_Padishah Babar is at this instant in a village called Karman; fly thither and bring him back with you, for the throne is his of right_." Rejoicing at this dream, I related it to the big Khan and little Khan.... Three days have we been marching, and thanks be to God for bringing about this meeting.'" [1]

After this exciting adventure Babar rejoined his time-serving uncles, but was forced into exile again in 1503, when, at the battle of Akshi, the Khans were completely defeated by Shaibani. Then he resolved to depart out of Farghana and to give up the attempt to recover his kingdom. Characteristically, when foiled in one enterprise he entered upon another yet more ambitious. Joined by his two brothers, Jahangir and Nasir, and by a motley array of various wandering tribes, he swooped down upon Kabul and captured it.

The description of the new kingdom thus easily won, which

fills many pages of the Memoirs, reveals another side of Babar's character--his intense love of nature. He gives minute accounts of the climate, physical characteristics, the fruits, flowers, birds, and beasts, as well as of the human inhabitants. In the intervals between his battles, or between his rollicking drinking parties, which for some years of his life degenerated into drunken orgies, we often find Babar lost in admiration of some beautiful landscape, or collecting flowers and planting fruit trees. Wherever he came, Babar's first care was to dig wells and plant fruit and flower gardens. India owes much to the Great Moguls' love of horticulture.

When Babar had drilled his unruly Afghan subjects into something like order, he made, in 1506, one more unsuccessful attempt to crush Shaibani. However, in 1510, when that doughty warrior was defeated and slain by Ismail, Shah of Persia, Samarkand fell once more into Babar's hands, as a vassal of the Shah. Eight months afterwards he was driven out again. From that time Babar gave up all hopes of re-establishing the empire of his ancestor Timur, and turned his face towards India. In 1519 he gathered an army for his first expedition, which was, however, more of a reconnaissance than a conquest. Four more attempts he made, until at last, in 1526, with only 10,000 men, he defeated the hosts of Ibrahim Lodi, the last of the Afghan kings of Delhi, who, with 15,000 of his troops, were left dead on the field of Panipat.

Thus, after many struggles, Babar became "master and conqueror of the mighty empire of Hindustan," but he had to fight two more great battles before his sovereignty was undisputed--one in 1527 near Fatehpur Sikri, with the great chief of the Rajputs, Raja Sanga of Chitore, and another in 1529 near Buxar, with the Afghans who had settled in Bengal. The next year Babar died in his garden palace at Agra The nobility of his character was conspicuous in his death as it was in his life. He was devotedly attached to his eldest son, Humayun, who was seized with malarial fever while staying at his country estate at Sambhal. Babar had him removed by boat to Agra, but his physicians declared that the case was hopeless. Babar's own health had suffered much during his life in India, and he was terribly agitated by the news. When some one suggested that in such circumstances the Almighty sometimes deigned to accept the thing most valued by one friend 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. He would sacrifice his own life to save his son. His courtiers entreated him to give up instead the great diamond taken at Agra, said to be the most valuable on earth. Babar declared that no stone could compare in value with his own life, and after solemnly walking round Humayun's couch, as in a religious sacrifice, he retired to devote himself to prayer. Soon afterwards he was heard to exclaim, "I have borne it away! I have borne it away!" Humayun began to recover, and, as he improved, Babar gradually sank. Commending his son to the protection of his friends, and imploring Humayun to be kind and forgiving to his brothers, the first of the "Great Moguls" of India passed away. He was buried at Kabul, in one of his beloved gardens, which, according to Tartar custom, he had chosen for his tomb, in "the sweetest spot of the neighbourhood." [2]

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