The Battle of Panipat

The name of the first Moghul Emperor was Babar, ‘the Tiger’. He was not as great as Akbar, who was the greatest of all the Moghul Emperors, but he still was a very great Emperor. Since he was the first to conquer India and remain as Emperor, he had to fight and fight and fight to establish his kingdom.

Babar seized Samarkand from his cousin in 1497, but was soon ousted. The young warrior took it again a few years later, but once again he was forced to abandon it. He then advanced to Kabul, which he conquered in 1504 at the age of twenty-one. He adopted the Persian title of ‘Padishah’, meaning ‘Emperor’. He soon set his sights on the conquest of India. India had been divided between two brothers: Ibrahim Lodi and Jaunpur. Jaunpur’s supporters requested Babar to help them defeat Ibrahim Lodi.

Babar was only too eager to help. He crossed into India several times to help his ally. Finally, he entered India on his own behalf to subjugate Ibrahim Lodi once and for all and seize Agra and Delhi for himself.

At this time, Babar’s son Humayun was sixteen years old. Humayun means ‘Fortunate’. Sad to say, a series of unfortunate events later took place in Babar’s and Humayun’s lives.

As they were about to embark on their campaign, Humayun said, “Father, you know our army is nothing in comparison to Ibrahim Lodi’s army. He has over 100,000 soldiers and 1,500 elephants, whereas we have only 12,000 soldiers. How can you dare to fight with him?”

But Babar replied, “No, my son, we shall conquer them. Let them have the number. We have the quality and the capacity.”

Humayun said, “Father, I shall always abide by your will. Let us go.”

Both father and son were great heroes, and with their small army they went to conquer Ibrahim Lodi’s army. There ensued a bloody battle known as the Battle of Panipat. Although Babar’s forces were outnumbered by those of Ibrahim Lodi, Babar had both guns and cannons in his weaponry. Cannons were previously unknown in India, and they brought destruction to Ibrahim Lodi’s soldiers and also caused his elephants to stampede. Finally, Babar’s army began to overpower the vast forces of Ibrahim Lodi.

One of the commanders in Ibrahim Lodi’s army said to him, “O King, do stay at the rear of the army. Do not remain in the thick of the battle. As a matter of fact, let us keep fighting to the bitter end while you make your escape from these Mongols. You can easily raise another army in the future. We want you to be safe.”

The King said, “How can I do that? If my army, my friends and my relatives are ready to give their lives for me, will I run away in order to save my own life? If they are willing to give their lives, can I not also be willing to give my life?”

The King fought very bravely, but eventually he was killed by Babar’s men. The commander who killed him was full of happiness that the enemy King was dead and he hurried to tell Babar the news. Babar immediately asked the commander to take him to the dead body.

When Babar got to the scene, he raised Ibrahim Lodi’s head from the ground and said, “I admire you. You fought very, very bravely. Now I will take full responsibility to see that you are honoured as a King should be when he dies. I will give you a grand funeral worthy of a King and I will have a King’s tomb erected. I will do everything for you. You are a real hero!”


from The Moghul Emperors
by Sri Chinmoy