Last few posts have been of Mughal emperors,who ruled India for close two centuries.However, we need to remember that all this might have started somewhere.Therefore, tracing the roots became extremely important.So, the buck stops or you can started from Babur.
Babur,who was the father of Humanyun and Akbar’s grandfather,was born in a ruling family based out of central Asia region called Samarkand.His region comprised of the tough terrain from where Timur had come to India.The environment and the time he was born in very extremely fragile and there was constant war in that region.Cities and regions were being lost and won every season and I would say there were a lot of small rulers governing those small territories.
Having read Babur Nama, his own memoirs, I realize that he was always fighting for his survival.And many a occasions he was thrown out/lost wars of his own territories.So, it was only when he came to Kabul,he was able to relax and establish himself a little.His warriors were tougher than Afgan tribesmen and were more disciplined and offcourse, had better techniques for fighting.It was his third invasion of Hindustan that they were able to capture Delhi & Agra.And defeat Abraham lodi in the first battle of Panipat.Babur was a seasoned campaigner,while Lodhi, was foolishly brutal. Babar had in total 12000 troops,Matchlock while Ibrahim Lodhi’s army comprised of more than a 100000 soldiers and close to a 1000 war elephants.After the defeat,where Lodhi was killed in the battle field,Humanyu was able to get hold of Koh-i-Noor diamond,which presumably was brought from South India, by Alauddin Khilji.
Read babur,was a heavy drinker of his times.According to one statement of his,only 4 days are allowed for him to drink,so during those days Babur wold drink at night,while in rest of the days,since it was not allowed Babur and his group would drink in the mornings.
Recently came across from Bharat Ek Khoj, episode on Babur,where they say that it was Rana Sanga,who too invited Babur to invade India.But then, further in the serial,that invitation did not have much impact since Rana Sanga fought with Babur,but was defeated.by admin with No Comments
I remember Amar Chitra Katha comic books,which my Father will buy for me,from railway stations and his other travels,when we lived in Bhopal.Every six months, journey to our Fatherland(New Delhi & Western UP) would provide an opportunity for me to lay my hands on some amazing comic story books.I read about some great warriors of our past,one of them was off course the Great Maratha, “Shivaji”.
Shivaji’s life consisted of many adventurous military campaigns which lasted through out his life.I think most of us might remember his use of Tiger Claws against Afzal Khan,Commander from Bijapur.Let me share one of his audacious night attack on Mughal Viceroy of Deccan,Shaista Khan.
Shivaji, wounded the Viceroy in his bed chamber,while his guards were still around.The story goes like this,Shaista Khan was living in Lal Mahal in Pune,where Shivaji had spent his youth.Across the road from Mahal,a Mughal contingent of 10000, men under Jai Singh was camping.On April 5th,1663, Shivaji with 400 men(disguised as Mughal soldiers),entered Pune, telling Mughal forces that they were reinforcements from the other province.It was the day of Ramzan,most of the people had fallen asleep,after having heavy meal. Shivaji,since he knew in and out of the palace,entered the Kitchen,killed few cooks and broke through the wall(wall was newly made) to enter into the Harem of Shaista Khan. 200 Hundred of Shivaji men,who were outside the Harem,entered the band room and ordered the Band members to play. The rest 200 along with Shivaji, entered the bedroom of Shaista Khan, and before Shaista Khan could move,Shivaji jumped on him,and cut off his thumb,fortunately a smart slave girl,quickly put the lights off the Chamber,what followed after that was Mayhem.In the attack,Marathas lost only six men,while they slew a son and a captain of Shaista Khan, forty attendants,six wives and slave girls,wounding Shiasta Khan himself.This daring attack greatly increased the prestige of Marathas.
Those were the times,when nobody was saint.As practice,plundering and looting rival villages and forts was a way to earn quick money for further battles and wars.On one such expedition Shivaji, attacked and his forces ransacked Surat(richest port in Mughal Empire) for days.During those days Surat probably had the richest merchants in the world.Merchant Baharaji Borah’s house was attacked, he had property worth 80 lakh.Surat was a town spread across 7 sq km with a population of 2 lakh,but was not well defended.It’s Mughal commander was corrupt and coward.It was the English merchants who with its small contingent could protect their factory,from the onslaught.Plunder of Surat was an audacious attack and yielded more than one crore to Shivaji and directly challenged the might of Mughals.
Once when in Agra court of Aurangzeb,Shivaji was not only humiliated but was also arrested and put in a gaurded house.But Shivaji made an escape plan.He feigned illness and everyday began to send out sweetmeat and other stuff to be distributed to Brahmans and other religious people.These were carried in huge baskets slung from pole managed by two people.
Soon the guards stopped checking those baskets everyday, On 9th August,Shivaji orderd his half brother to lay instead of him on the bed while he and his son Shambhoji sat in the basket. Shivaji gave his gold bracelet to Hiraji Farzand(his half brother)while he moved out in the baskets.So,whenever the guard saw his hand on the cot(rest of the body was covered), they thought it was Shivaji. By the time Mughal guards realised, Shivaji was 14 hrs ahead of them,and on the run.
Inspiration to write this small note on Shivaji has come from book written by Jadunath Sarkar, ”A Short History of Aurangzeb”.
by admin with 1 Comment
Most of us relate to Genghis Khan as a Muslim ruler,who was brutal, barbaric and apparently, whose genes are found in 16 million men living today.But he wasn’t a Muslim.He prayed in the mountains to sky God and Khan title has Mongol origin,given to warrior or head of all tribes.Genghis is said to have believed in Shamaism.Can be co-related to Arab word for buddhists-Samani,which was derived from the Sanskrit Shravana.
How Genghis Khan,a warrior and one of History’s Immortals decides to take revenge from the Muslim world beyond Altai mountains and conquer territories is stuff history is made of.It is surprising to read that an all conquering religious force and a civilization so advanced,could be crushed with such ruthlessness.
To give a background of Genghis Khan or Temujin(his original name)initial years,he was born in an extremely inhospitable environment,in an area which was South of Siberia(close to Lake Baikal and North of Mongolia).
As a thirteen year old he had his half-brother brother killed,by shooting him with an arrow,all planned,in cold blood over a piece of meat.
Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan,Kyrgyztan, Kazakhstan were divided among smaller kingdoms and most of the cities( Samarkand ,Bukhara,urgench,nishapur,Otrar,Merv etc between Amurdarya or Oxus valley(Tansoxania/Jaxartes) and Syr darya lay within the Dominion of Khwarezm Shah,Mohammed.This region was supplied well from Pamirs,and was a fertile land and part of the silk route.
Genghis by now ruling Mongolia & parts of Northern China ( Beijing,Manchuria),had sent a delegation of 450 merchants along with his ambassador to the court of Khwarezm Shah, to build trade and commerce relations.He was a haughty,unscrupulous ruler who did not see what was coming.
This ruler not only refused the offer of trade,he also initially imprisoned those merchants and later got them, all killed(apparently most of those merchants were Muslims).Knowing this,Genghis got furious and decided to march to the Islamic world.(We need to remember that by this time he had the expertise of defeated Chinese army and its vast resources at his disposal)
The march started in 1219, led his army west,with close to one hundred and fifty soldiers and each soldier with atleast 2-3 horses,with its ability to cover 100 kms in a day.They also had the best of Seige machinery .Catapults(modern day artillery) with capability to fire 3 arrows in one go ,naphta bombs and other Chinese inventions,accompanied by finest battle hardened nomadic cavalry.
Mongols used Composite bow,which was lighter and easy to manage than your English longbow.
So,what rolled for 2700 kms from Mongolia to Kharwzem was a Juggernaut.Mongols could cover 800kms in 60 days,Compare this with mechanised army on the move at speed.In Aug 1944, after D day landings of June,Americans under General Patton rolled along at 30 kms a day for 3 days,with virtually no opposition,over the long straight paved roads.. Invasion_of_Khwarezmia
Mongols,initally attacked a city by the name of Otrar,whose commander had killed their merchants and ambassador.After having defeated the city and pouring molten gold down the throat of its commander,Genghis, ordered all the rich people of the city to gather in courtyard,and announced to them, that he is the curse of God!
Now he attacked the confederation of four cities, Samarkand,Bukara,Merv &Gurganj.
These four cities,all located on rivers running from Pamirs.All were trade Emporia linking East and West.
Juvaini(a traveller and author) says 7 thousand soldiers killed 1.2 million citizens of Merv- this city was pearl of central Asia.More than 3 million people were massacred in a span of a year,while the remaining population turned into slaves.
For a Mongol,an unresisting prisonar was easier to kill,than a sheep.You can cut a small hole in the chest,reach inside,grab the heart and stop it.To kill a man, was not more than a second’s job.Its possible for 7000 men to slaughter of a million would have been hard day’s work. Khwarezmian massacres can be easily equated to Nazi Holocaust,as there were similarities in the attitude of Mongol generals and the final solution.
Genghis believed Man’s greatest fortune is to chase and defeat his enemy,seize all his possessions,leave his married women weeping and wailing,use the body of women as night shirts and supports,gazing upon and kissing there rosy breasts,such their lips which are as sweet as the berries of the breasts.
Genghis Khan, while chasing the son of Shah Mohammed arrived till the banks of Indus,however did not cross the river, he saw a Rhinoceros,was told is a bad omen,and he turned back !
Mongol Empire was twice as large as the Roman Empire, Empire of Alexander(probably Alexander did was to defeat just one big ruler) and they conquered Russia in winters which neither Napoleon nor Hitler could do.(Russian story would be told sometime later in future).
The inspiration to write this blogpost has come from John Man.
by admin with 6 Comments
India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition.(Mark Twain).
I haven’t been able to write since last one week, the reason,pre-occuppied with reading and analysing the read with reference to river Saraswati.
The river was evoked as an auspicious river as well as the deity of knowledge.Our parents and grandparents have always referred to it as goddess and a spiritual river on the banks of which Rig Vedas was written.As a kid though I was fascinated by the mythological tales, however would always trust my text books for information.
Unfortunately the time I completed my school education, could not find any reference of Saraswati in the NCERT syllabus nor was there much to read on Harappa. So, here I was believing firmly in the early British Raj discoverer’s of the Ancient India times.We need to thank those archaeologists ,like Max Muller to have helped us give a window to our past,but as was the times, the way those discoveries were presented it gave us a totally different picture of how our past was. It did help us come out from a thousand year slumber, but with that also came British raj’s own interpretations and the way those things needed to be taught to the public.(Maculley education system).
Saraswati river was once only talked about in our mythology stories and in Rig Veda,but now it is apparent from Satelllite images that there was a river flowing in the region which is now Rajasthan/Bikaner all the way to runn of Katch.
One section of study stays, that Harappan culture was formed initially within the Sarswati region as per the excavated sites of Kalibangan and Dholavira and couple of them in Haryana.Slowly it expanded towards Indus, with sites like Mohenjodaro, developing on its own.
We were told about Harappan civilization, but then it was highlighted as one of little consequence to modern India.When the excavations were done, though ideally we should have marveled at our ancestors achievements, but then we were left with more questions than answers.
When I read about this civilization,I have to admit that Harrapan was the most advanced civilization of its time.More advanced and mature than the ones in Egypt and Mesopotamia.
Couple of points would like to highlight:
Harappans traded with Sumerians(Mesopotamians) and countries like modern day Oman,Harappan porcelean beads and other forms of pottery are found with them,however there is no evidence of Harappans getting anything back from Mesopotamians, Egyptians,central Asian people or people from Oxus valley.( Harrapans -Saraswati valley people were great exporters).
Harappans originated the decimal system, geometry,pythagoras theorem(Pythagoras was Greek).
Remember that song from Mr.Bharat Movie
Harappans were non violent people,archaeologists could not find any weapons or swords,apart from couple of spears which probably were used by gate keepers of the town.
Harappans did not have any King,there was equality, though there were rich people but all in all state took good care of every one.Rich people were living next to modest homes.
Harappans-Saraswati people did not build monuments like Pyramids for ruling class,but built great cities, with amazing buildings, they had made bath rooms on the first floor of a 3 floor structure.
Rigveda was written during Saraswati- Harappan times,with Yoga, Shiva as the symbols found from the excavations of Harappan sites.
Harappan were perfect in calculations, the streets and dimensions of lanes which Harappans took, similar ratios were taken a thousand year later in the early half of BC.(This shows that Harappans were very advanced and also that their system of measurement was in practice even during the so called Aryan times).
The dancing girl statue recovered from Harappa has similar kind of ornaments being worn by Rajasthani women even today.
The measurements used by Kautilya(Chanakya) in Arthashastra are described exactly similar to Harappan times and so was the weight system.
While reading, I also realised that Aryan Invasion theory is seriously in question now,with arrival of Aryans being proved by nothing.Disappearance of Harappan cities cannot be attributed to an invasion.We haven’t found any dead bodies no armour,absolutely no evidence of mass destruction or killing,In fact according to Michel Danino there has been no invasion.It is because of the drying up of Saraswati river that civilization moved eastwards towards Gangetic plain!
But you know, there are divergent views depending on the school of thought.I hope we all get to read about the common agreed thought sometime soon and the language used by Harappans gets deciphered as well.
But what we see today, of the country, we find it difficult to say that our land had the most advanced civilization of its times.Our modern day civic sense absolutely gives away,the so called cultural heritage.
by admin with 5 Comments
Aurangzeb, presided over an empire ranging from Ghazni in Afganistan to Chatgaon(Bangladesh) and from Kashmir to the Karnataka.Aurangzeb’s empire was vast than that of Ashoka, or Samudragupta or Harhvardhan.
As a child Aurangzeb was brave & brash.He made a name for himself as Bahadur,by fighting off two elephants.One day his father set a fight between two elephants.Aurangzeb too pushed himself in front to watch the fight.However,after sometime one of the Elephants turned over towards him and charged.He initially threw his spear at the elephant but the elephant continued to confront him and Aurangzeb was thrown from his horse, but he got up and drew his sword to confront the charging beast.Aurangzeb did not budge his ground.
When,he was six year old, his father who has lost the battle against his own father Jahangir,had to give his two sons in custody to Jahangir,as ransom.So,probably as a child this event might have had a lasting impression on Aurangzeb, and made him become,what he became.(Even Dara Shikoh could have become like that,but he had different teachers)
Another interesting story,which I would love to share is of Aurangzeb’s campaign in Balkh and Badakshan,which lay beyond Hindukush mountains and were in the way to Samarkand.It goes like this, initially Aurangzeb’s brother Murad was sent in that region, but failed to make any dent as he was loathe to hardships. Shan Jahan,then sent Aurangzeb to conquer the old territories of Babur.
Aurangzeb like an able general managed his troops under an extremely hostile terrain and against fierce Uzbeg hordes.He was fighting against Abdul Aziz Khan.His firmness and skills helped him manage Mughal troops.One day during the evening prayer when the battle was at its hottest,Aurangzeb coolly spread his carpet and said his prayers in the amid the din and strife around him.He was during that time,without armour and shield.His opponents were in awe with him and eventually decided to make peace with him.
It was during his reign that Mughal empire reached its zenith in terms of territories occupied,but by the time he was dying, decline had already started.
Aurangzeb was unpopular as he imposed Jazia(tax on non muslims)and practiced a policy of humiliating and physiologically breaking the Hindu and other communites by desecrating their places of worship(Taliban and Bamiyan Statues,Infact many more destroyed by religious zealots in Swat valley of Pakistan,which was once the cradle of Buddhist expansion).He even got the name of Mathura changed to Islamabad.One day when his way was being blocked by people opposing Jazia, he asked them to move aside, when the crowd did not, he had his Elephants trampled those people.(Guys remember Tiananmen Square(Elephants were working as tanks, during those days)
Shivaji,rose during his reign.It is said that Aurangzeb spent a lot time and money in Deccan,which eventually made his Northern territories weak.Ultimately,one could not rule for long by alienating the majority of population !!
(Reference from : A short history of Aurangzeb by Jadunath Sarkar)by admin with 2 Comments
As a child we might have heard stories of King Soloman mines.I too, was fascinated by the character Solomon, and the treasure hunts related to him.King Solomon who ruled Jerusalem was the son of David.(remember David and Goliath)Their rule extended from Egypt to Babylon till Yemen.
Having read an interesting chapter on Jerusalem,realized that King Solomon did indeed have mines of his own.(albeit, copper mines).So if you were a treasure seeker or hunter, you would now know that there would be no gold, silver or rubies but copper.
Another startling fact relating to King David(considered to be the most respected of all Jewish Kings).One evening David was relaxing on the roof of his palace and saw a beautiful woman washing herself.(Bathsheba)
He summoned her to his palace and made love with her.When she became pregnant he asked her husband to own the child,who at that time was in David’s army.But when the husband refused to obey him, David got him killed by his own men,making it look like a warrior killed in the battle.(So even during those days,we had extra judicial killings, but with no human rights activists)
King Solomon was the son of King David and his wife Bathsheba.by admin with No Comments
Pocket dynamo guys that’s how we can describe this conqueror/mass murderer or thief from Samarkand.He started as a small time thief and continued it for long(1370-1405).
His war cry was “Give me Blood and I will get you Booty”.
Of what I have read of him(Justin Marozzi, Sword of Islam,Conqueror of the world) he was the bravest general, and would lead from front.Would never back down.
He married a girl with Changez Khan’s lineage to get legitimacy of his conquests.His basic strategy to engage his people would always be to ask his fellow men to be with him on new conquests every season(like Siberian cranes travelling different parts of globe every season) and come back to Samarkand, with all the war booty and riches.He made Samarkand the most envious of all capitals and in modern language , invested heavily in the city.
He was one Muslim ruler Timur the Lame whose rule spread from Turkey-Jerusalem-India-Samarkand and parts of Russia(Moscow).He was lame and always fought bravely.He came to India, and massacred citizens of Delhi.( more than 10 million, were put to death during his India campaign, from Punjab-Sindh-Delhi-all the way to Jammu).
Imagine yourself, sitting at home,admiring your hard work and lush green fields, looking forward for a great harvest, suddenly this mass murderer comes with his troops comprising of hungry serial killers & rapists.What trauma would have unfolded on the subcontinent.
So we mean to say that in India( Ruler of Delhi and northern India, including Punjab and the rest were defeated by a King who was five foot and 5 inches tall, was crippled from one leg, did not have two fingers and if fallen from a horse,could not even run for his cover( off course why would he need to run for it when he remained undefeated).
Well, a lot can be said about our capital,Delhi.It has always been owner’s pride and neighbor’s envy.Had Invaders from Muhammad Ghori to Nader Shah ( for the time being only including Muslim invaders and not Huns etc) desire for it.(Am I being partial, may be)
Conquering Delhi would catapult a warrior into Great. In fact we too from Meerut always thought of Delhi to be an aspirational city,a city which could make our materialistic dreams come true, hehe).No matter how many times Delhi was destroyed,it always came back more bigger,stronger and rich every time it was plundered.(Rocky Balbao of cities)by admin with 1 Comment
History is full of surprises(if you haven’t followed it).Sometime back ,I stumbled upon an interesting chapter on Akbar’s personal life while reading a book about him.
What I have read recently says that Akbar’s(Great Mughal emperor) first wife was Hira bai and not Jodha bai. Infact, Jodha was wife of Salim( Akbar’s son).
To me it does seem to be logical, since a lady from Jodhpur has to be Jodha bai, and Akbar married the sister of Raja of Jaipur.One can read the link fromWikipedia
It seems marriages happened because Akbar was doing philanthropy work(sarcasm), and believed in having wives from all religions.He found in Rajputs as perfect forced conduits for it
My family members have taken to liking Jodha-Akbar movie from Ashutosh Gowaritkar. Unfortunately for most of us Indians, the only source of History is either via watching TV serials or a period film(which is still a rarity in current times). And even if we make a period film we tend to weave the story around a boy and a girl concept and rest of the events in the movie only cater to complete their story.I wonder who watches these kind of films.(boys and girls from schools and colleges or entertainment hungry viewers).
Hopefully all this will change as country’s men & women will evolve and develop the habit of reading,investigating and finding the other side of story,which will force movie makers to come up with more logical( they will put more research in their work) and less distorted versions of history.I think there are infinite number of stories from India’s past waiting to come alive on India Cinema. .
Please note:Information has been picked up from the book Empire of the world written by Alexrutherford(Diana and Preston)by admin with No Comments
Writing about Anarkali,I remember Madhubala, and the song Pyar kiya to Darna kya from Movie Mughal-e -Azam,which was a love story with Jahangir getting the limelight and portrayed as the victim of powerful and mighty Father.All my life I could not imagine but feel for both Anarkali and Salim(Jahangir),two love stuck birds.
Anarkali was the beautiful daughter of an Italian merchant,who was beheaded by Sea pirates(modern day Somali pirates) and then bought by a brothel owner .After mastering the art of love making ,Anarkali was presented to the Sultan of Turkey . Sultan further gifted her to Akbar(Great Mughal ruler of India).
Akbar was very fond of Anarkali, and somehow Salim(Jahangir, Akbar’s son) went on to woo Anarkali as well. Hence,this young and beautiful girl,which so fondly was given the name of Anarkali by Akbar ,got entangled with both father and son.
When Akbar came to know of this association, he got Anarkali killed and sent Salim away to the fringes of the empire.
Here, it is important to note, that the relationship between Akbar and Salim was always edgy, as Akbar thought that Salim was not capable of managing the empire.Unfortunately, Akbar did not have many choices, as his other two sons were worse than Salim.Infact one of them had a fountain of wine installed in his courtyard and died because of excessive drinking.(Apparently Babur too,had fallen from his horse number of times,after getting drunk while in Kabul)by admin with 1 Comment