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Shahanshah-e-Hind (Emperor of India) Babur, the Babur Nama and Babri Masjid

Updated on January 12, 2018
Emperor Babur
Emperor Babur

Babar and Hindustan

Shahanshah e Hindustan- Babur or Babar is a great figure in Indian history. No history of India can be written without reference to Babur. Babur has left behind a mixed legacy. For many Muslims particularly in Pakistan, Babar is a great hero and they have named their latest missile "Babar." in contrast the non-Muslims, led by the Hindus generally consider Babar as a destroyer of temples but whichever way you look at Babar, it cannot be denied that Babar was a great soldier. His name is in the news in India because of a mosque which is alleged to have been constructed after destroying a Hindu temple in the city of Ayodhya,126 km from Lucknow.

Babar's life in Hindustan starts from the year 1526, when he invaded India and fought the famous First Battle of Panipat. He was opposed by Ibrahim Lodhi who ruled the Delhi Sultanate at that time. The battle has been well documented but Babar had a powerful weapon in the form of Canon. Ibrahim Lodhi, on the other hand, had a corps of elephants. The battle was unequal as the Canon's when fired emitted smoke and thunder and the elephants were frightened. They turned back on the soldiers of Ibrahim Lodi and Babar won the day. It is not understood how Babar got hold of cannons, while in India Ibrahim Lodi never had any.

Babar was a descendant of the great warrior Timur-Lang who is famous as a conqueror and sacked Delhi in 1398. An interesting anecdote about him is told. It appears that he went to sleep and deliberately left a naked sword by his side. When he got up he was surprised that nobody tried to kill him. This incensed him as he considered, no attempt on his life as a cowardly act. He ordered the sack of Delhi as he felt the residents had no chivalry or a bravery.

Babar had the same blood and he came from a lineage which believed in violence and the power of the sword but there is no denying the fact that he was a master general. Now it is known that along with his military qualities he was also a writer. He wrote his autobiography called the Babur Nama and if you read it you will find it gives a picture of a man who loved poetry and gardens and the beautiful things thrown up by nature. The Chronicle has great historical value. and gives a vivid account of his reign.

The Babur Nama reveals a dark patch that perhaps Babur was gay. Many historians have contended that Babar had a relationship with a man named Babari. They opine that the name of Babari was given to the Mosque built on the ruins of the temple at Ayodhya.

The battle of 1526 is very significant in Indian history as Babar established a dynasty that ruled India for 300 years till 1857 when the last emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was captured by the British, his sons shot dead and he himself exiled to Rangoon, where he died.

What was Babur's rule like ? what sort of man was he? For this information, the Babur Nama is a great source. Almost one-third of this book is devoted to India. A reading of the book reveals that Babur had no compunction of killing anybody, even those men who had surrendered to him. The Babur Nama records that he built pyramids of the skulls of his opponents. The Babur Nama also records that he built gardens and fountains as Babur was very fond of gardens.


Babur's Rule

Babur is alleged to have destroyed an ancient Hindu temple at Ayodhya but a reading of the Babur Nama is a surprise, as there is no mention in the book of any destruction of a Hindu Temple and erection of a Mosque on its ruins. It is possible that the Babur Nama has some passages missing but there is no direct reference to the destruction of the temple. It is well known that the Hindus rever Ayodhya as the birthplace of the God Ram. Historical evidence, does reveal the existence of an ancient temple at the site.

There is small engraving at the Babri Masjid site, which says that this Mosque was built by Mir Baqavi a general of the Army of Babur, after destroying a Hindu temple.This is the only proof that a General of Babur's Army destroyed the ancient temple which we may have been existence at this place. However, there are some very significant facts about the Babri Masjid. it does not appear to be a proper Masjid as there is no open place( courtyard) for prayers and there is no place to wash oneself before going for prayers.

The Mosque was thus never used for prayers and the situation continued for centuries. In 1947 some idols of Ram and Laxman were placed in the Mosque and the Muslims were tolerant of this. After 1947 when India became free the militant Hindu organizations led by the Hindu Mahasabha began to campaign for the restoration of the old temple.

The Situation Today

In 1992, Mobs led by some Hindu leaders surged to Ayodhya and the Mosque was razed to the earth. Hindus celebrated that as the liberation of the holy birthplace of Lord Rama. But the act had repercussions and the 31 million Muslims of Utterpradesh had a sense of great loss. This signaled mass scale rioting and hundreds were killed.

The matter has been referred to the Supreme court and the court is to give a decision. Whatever decision the court gives will satisfy neither the Hindus nor the Muslims and there is a chance that more trouble will follow. Recently an attempt was made for mediated solution by Sri Sri Shankar but it failed as hardliners on both sides refused to give ground.

Now 500 years after Babar built the Mosque it remains a bone of contention and Independent India will have to find a solution.

Last Word

The destruction of one mosque in India led to widespread anger among many people in the subcontinent. As a repercussion, in Pakistan over 100 Hindu temples were razed to the ground. This action was not condemned by anybody, yet the destruction of one mosque which also was not being used as a mosque has brought forth unprecedented condemnation.

This show the lopsided view of secularism in India. There was also large-scale rioting in India by the Muslim community leading to the terrible bomb blasts in Mumbai on 26/11.

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