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The Baburnama

The Baburnama

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Published by oakster510

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Published by: oakster510 on Jun 16, 2011
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Dharma: Babur’s Conquest for Self  Throughout his conquest across the Indian sub-continent, Zahir ud-dinMuhammad Babur (1483-1531) found an inherent entitlement to rule. Reflectingin his memoir,
The Baburnama
Babur alludes to his dharma by defining his roleas the leader of Mughal empire. “Since we had always had in mind to takeHindustan, we regarded as our own territory the several areas [...] which had long been in the hands of the Turk,” writes Babur, “We were determined to gaincontrol ourselves - be it by force or peaceful means” (Thackston 271). Here,Babur’s dharma was to acquire territory preemptively understood as his. Dharma,however, would come in conflict with kama - a reality Babur uniquely accountsin his memoir.
The Baburnama
provides an intimate portrait of a leader contemplating on his pleasures and fears, in pursuit of dharma. “I do not intend by what I have written to compliment myself,” Babur describes, “I have simplyset down exactly what happened” (Thackston xviii). Babur’s stated intentionsmodestly match the efforts that he made to both justify and ruminate his path inlife, in writing a memoir.Babur’s belief of his “entitlement” to rule sources from lineage, onethat merges the Mughals and the Khans. His maternal side had ties to theMughals, who were nomads that preferred not to settle. This lifestyle of constantrelocation made the Mughals exemplary on the battlefield. Babur’s paternal side,on the other had, came from the Timurid background - one which settled into
agricultural practices. Both the Timurid and Mughal ancestry would come toinfluence Babur’s style of leadership. As a conqueror, his thirst for the empire’sexpansion can be undoubtedly traced to the Mughal culture. “I had cravedHindustan” (Thackston 329) illustrates the desire for territorial expansion.Babur’s distinguishing appreciation for gardens reveals his dual regard for civilisation, perhaps a product of his Tumurid side. Writing extensively on eachfruit and flower found in Hindustan, Babur notes: “When the mango is good itis really good [...] In fact, the mango is the best fruit in Hindustan. The tree iselegantly tall, but the trunk of the tree is ugly and ill shaped” (Thackston 344).The precarious detail in describing the region’s fruits suggest an attachment toagriculture, despite the nomadic aspects of his military expeditions.
The Baburnama
offers a rare glimpse into the personal thoughts of a pre-modern leader. Although Babur had optimistic prospects, such as hisdetermination to rule Hindustan, he additionally questioned his ability tolead. In one particular instance, Babur reconsiders his army’s loyalty as theyendured meager conditions in Agra. The army came to a disappointment after finding that all the villages had been already looted, with the fields previouslyharvested. It was also an unusually hot year, causing many to fall ill, if not die.The failure of entering the region brought the army to doubt Babur’s decision-making abilities. “I expected that if I went into fire or water and emerged, theywould come in with me and emerge along with me at my side wherever I went,”lamented Babur, “not that they would speak out in opposition of my purpose”(Thackston 357). With recognition of his failure, Babur pleaded his men to
endure the temporary hardships: “For some years we have struggled, experienceddifficulties, traversed long distances, led the army, and cast ourselves and our soldiers into the dangers of war [...] What now compels us to throw away for nor reason at all the realms we have taken at such cost?” (Thackston 358).One could only assume that a conqueror waging war fears their own death,to some degree. Babur recounts this fear various times, including a moment inhiding from capture: “I felt that I could endure no more. I rose and went to acorner of the orchard. I thought to myself that whether one lived to a hundred of athousand, in the end one had to die” (Thackston 137). Babur ponders the thoughtthat death was inevitable in one’s life, yet fear would ensue. Experiences closeto death, however, renewed a perspective on the value of life. After an attemptto food poison Babur, the emperor remarks: “Thank goodness now everythingis all right. I never knew how precious life was” (Thackston 374). This makesreference to a poem he wrote earlier in his life , where he mentions: “From fear and hardship we found release - new life, a new world we found” (Thackston111). The component of fear admits a humanistic tone to
The Baburnama
by beginning to illustrate the significance of an indefinite life.Throughout his memoir, Babur recognized that he over-indulged inwine - reintroducing the kama path of life. “The next morning, at a wine partyin this same garden, we drank until night, and had a morning draught,” Babur recalls, “While touring the harvest my companions who were inclined to wine began to agitate for some. [...] We sat down under the colorful trees and drank.The party continued there until late that night” (Thackston 299). Babur did

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