Before the Battle of Panipat
- Much before the final showdown at the battle of Panipat (1526), Babur had invaded India four times.
- These skirmishes were trials of strength of Mughal arms and Lodi forces.
- The first to fall was Bhira (1519-1520), the gateway of Hindustan, followed by Sialkot (1520) and Lahore (1524).
Battle of Panipat
- In 1524, Daulat Khan Lodi, a rebel of the Lodhi dynasty, invited Babur to overthrow Ibrahim and become ruler.
- At that time, the Indo-Gangetic Plain of the northern Indian Subcontinent was ruled by Ibrahim Lodi of the Afghan Lodi dynasty, whereas Rajputana was ruled by a Hindu Rajput Confederacy, led by Rana Sanga of Mewar.
- Finally, Ibrahim Lodi and Babur’s forces met at the historic battlefield of Panipat.
- The battle lasted for just few hours in favour of Babur.
- The battle shows Babur’s skill in the art of warfare.
- His soldiers were less in number but the organisation was superior.
- Ibrahim’s forces though many times greater in number (approximately 1,00,000 soldiers and 1000-500 elephants as compared to Babur’s 12,000 horseman) faired badly.
- Babur successfully applied the Rumi (Ottoman) method of warfare.
- Afghan casualties reported by Babur were approximately 20,000 including the Sultan Ibrahim Lodi.
- In the battle it was not Babur’s artillery but his ‘superb tactics’ and the ‘mounted archers’ played the decisive role, a fact which Babur himself
After the Battle of Panipat
- The battle of Panipat, though, formally established the Mughal rule in India, it was first among the series of battles in the years to come.
- For example, to secure this triumph, it was equally important to overcome Rana Sanga of Mewar and the chieftains in and around Delhi and Agra.
- Another important opponent in the eastern
India was the Afghans.
- To add to this, problems were mounting within his own nobility.
Babur and the Rajput Kingdoms
- Among the Rajputs Rana Sanga of Mewar was a power to reckon with.
- Babur, in his Memoirs, has blamed Rana Sanga for breaking his promise by not siding with him in the battle of Panipat against Ibrahim Lodi.
- Rana expected Babur to return to Kabul and leave him free to establish his hegemony, if not over whole of Hindustan, at least over Rajputana.
- Babur’s decision to stay back must have given a big jolt to Rana’s ambitions.
- Babur was also fully aware of the fact that it would be impossible for him to consolidate his position in India unless he shattered the Rana’s power.
- Rana Sanga this time succeeded in establishing the confederacy against Babur with the help of Afghan
nobles. Hasan Khan Mewati not only joined the Rana but also played a crucial role in forming the confederacy.
- However, Babur prevailed over the situation with his fiery speech touching the religious sentiments of his men.
- Babur fortified his position near Sikri at the village Khanwa. In the battle (17th March, 1527) Babur made use of his artillery well. Rana Sanga got severely wounded and was carried to Baswa near Amber. Among his other associates, Mahmud Khan Lodi escaped but Hasan Khan Mewati was killed. The Rajputs suffered a big loss.
- Though the Mewar Rajputs received a great shock at Khanwa, Medini Rai at Malwa was still a power to reckon with.
- In spite of great valour with which the Rajputs fought at Chanderi (1528), Babur faced little difficulty in overcoming Medini Rai.
- With his defeat, resistance across Rajputana was completely shattered.
- But Babur had to tackle the Afghans. Mahmud Khan Lodi who had already escaped towards the east could create problems if left unchecked.
Babur and the Afghan Chieftains
- The Afghans had surrendered Delhi, but they were still powerful in the east (Bihar and parts of Jaunpur) where the Nuhani Afghans were dominant led by Sultan Muhammad Nuhani.
- The Afghans of Chunar, Jaunpur and Awadh were not ready to cooperate with the Nuhanis in a bid to give a united opposition against the Mughals.
- Instead, they surrendered meekly to Humayun (1527).
- In the meantime Sultan Muhammad Nuhani died (1528) and left the Nuhanis disjointed as his son Jalal Khan was still a minor.
- But the vacuum was soon filled by the appearance of Prince Mahmud Lodi, son of Sikandar Lodi and brother of Ibrahim. The Afghans, including the non-Nuhanis, who were a little hesitant earlier to side with the Nuhanis, now readily accepted Mahmud’s leadership.
- Nusrat Shah of Bengal also, though apparently advocated friendship with Babur, secretly adopted hostile measures against him. He considered the existence of the Nuhani kingdom in Bihar as buffer
between the Mughals and his own possessions in parts of Bihar.
- Babur could hardly afford to ignore these developments. He mobilized his forces at Ghagra and inflicted a crushing defeat upon Nusrat Shah’s army (1529).
- Thus, within four years Babur succeeded in
crushing the hostile powers and now could think of consolidating himself at Delhi.
- But he could hardly get the opportunity to rule as he died soon after (29 December,1530).
The establishment of the Mughal Empire under the aegis of Babur was significant.Though the Afghans and Rajputs could not be crushed completely, a task left to his successors, his two major blows at Panipat and Khanwa were certainly decisive and destroyed the balance of power in the region and perhaps was a step towards the establishment of an all-India empire.