A question has sometimes been raised as to who was the real founder of the Mughal Empire in India. It goes without saying that Babur laid the foundations of the Mughal Empire in India by defeating Ibrahim Lodi in 1526 at the first Battle of Panipat. According to Dr. Ishwari Prashad, “The Battle of Panipat placed the Empire of Delhi in Babur’s hands. The f wers of the Lodi Dynasty were shattered to pieces and the sovereignty of Hindustan pass:1 to the Chugtai Turks.”
Babur may be called the founder of the Mughal Empire because he destroyed the Lodi dynasty and laid the foundation of the Mughal Empire on its ruins. In 1527, he defeated the Rajput confederacy under Rana Sanga in the Battle of Kanwah. According to Professor Rushbrooke Williams, the Battle of Kanwah put the Mughal Empire of India on a firm footing.
In 1528, Babur subdued Medini Rao and captured the fort of Chanderi. In 1529, Babur defeated Mahmood Lodi, brother of Ibrahim Lodi, in the Battle of Ghagra. If Babur had lived longer, he would certainly have consolidated his Empire and there would have been no scope for the revival of the Afghans. The early death of Babur left the work incomplete and consequently the spadework done by him came to nothing.
Humayun succeeded to the throne in 1530 but he was defeated in the battle of Kanauj in 1540 by Sher Shah Suri and driven from Agra and Delhi. Thus, the Empire founded by Babur was destroyed. However, Humayun won back Kandhar, Kabul, the Punjab, Delhi and Agra before his death in 1556. In this case also, the sudden death of Humayun left the Mughal position in Indian insecure.
No wonder, Akbar succeeded to a shaky throne. Soon after his succession to the throne in 1556, he heard the news that Tardi Beg, the Mughal Governor of Agra and Delhi was turned out by Hemu. Akbar’s position in the Punjab, where he was at the time of his father’s death, was very insecure, Sikandar Sur was still at large in the Punjab. He was a potential foe. Thus it is evident that Akbar inherited nothing of the Mughal Empire founded by Babur. It has already been pointed out at the independent states and there was no paramount power in the country.
Akbar had to begin from a scratch. He won back Delhi and Agra after the second Battle of Panipat. Sikandar Sur was pursued and he ultimately surrendered and Akbar’s control was thereby established in the Punjab. Gwalior and Jaunpur were conquered in 1557. Malwa was conquered in 1560. Gondwana was conquered in 1564. Chittor was captured in 1568. Maharana Pratap was defeated in the Battle of Haldighati in 1576.
Gujarat was finally annexed in 1584 Bengal gave trouble for some time but was finally conquered in 1592. Kabul was annexed in 1585. Kashmir was conquered in 1586. Sind was conquered in 1591. Qandhar was annexed in 1595. Ahmednagar was conquered in 1600 and Asirgarh in 1601. It was this Empire created by the valour and statesmanship of Akbar that is the envy of the historians. No wonder Akbar is called the real founder of the Mughal Empire in India.
According to Hunter, “On his (Akbar’s) accession in 1556, he found India split into petty Hindu and Mohammadan kingdoms, and seething with discordant elements. On his death in 1605, he bequeathed it an almost united empire.” According to Tod, “Akbar was the real founder of the empire of the Mughals, the first successful conqueror of Rajput independence, to this end his virtues were powerful alliance as by his skill in the analysis of the mind and its readiest stimulation to action.
He was able to gird the chord with which he bound them. To these they became familiarised by habit especially when the throne exerted its power in acts gratifying to national vanity or even in ministering to the more ignoble passions. But generations of the martial races I were cut off by his sword and lustres rolled away ere his conquests were sufficiently confirmed to permit him to exercise the beneficence of his nature and obtain by the universal acclaim of the conquered the proud epithet of ‘Jagat Guru’ or Guardian of Mankind. He was long ranked with
Shahab-ud-Din, Alam Din and other instruments of instruction and every just claim; and like these he constructed a number of (Seil) Pulpit or reading desks for the Koran from the aitars of the Eklinga. Yet he finally succeeded in healing the wounds which his ambition had inflicted and received from millions that need of praise which not other of his race ever obtained.”
Michael Prawdin says that The Empire inherited by Jahangir was not an unrelated p.’ ‘chwork of incidental conquests dominated by the arms of foreign invaders. In the 50 years of . kbar’s reign, the empire had grown into a coherent land mass stretching from the frontier of Pe.sia to Assam and Burma and from the Hindukush and the Himalayas to the Godavari river.
More than that, this land mass had been welded into a coordinated state, ruled through its length and breadth by one system of administration with the same methods, the same officials holding the same titles, the same revenue regulations and the same coinage. The diverse lands had become so many different provinces, held together by a highly organised bureaucracy in which Mohammedans and Hindus were equally eligible to the highest posts, carrying equal honours and privileges.
No longer was an arbitrary rule of foreign chieftains imposed upon an alien population. The Hindus began to play a part in the building up of the Empire and were proud of it. The Rajputs became the supporters of the Mogul throne and helped to spread the Mogul rule in the country. Akbar also provided a unifying cultural basis. He made Persian compulsory for all state officials.
For the first time in Medieval India, the Hindus and Muslims received their education in common schools and read the same books on all subjects. The future of the Empire depended on the ability of its sovereign to use his power wisely and judiciously. All that Akbar’s successors had to do to achieve unprecedented splendour was to maintain the institutions and the administration which he had created in working order. In spite of the shortcomings of his successors, the Mughal Empire maintained its predominant position for a full century and enjoyed a cultural and artistic renaissance,