The Natural HR Theory by Dr IVNS Raju

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XII

SHAH MANSUR was a petty clerk who showed a remarkable aptitude for accounts and the details of finance. Akbar noticed his ability and raised him to high office. He became the Finance Minister of the empire. A genius for figures, a punctilious exactingness, and a heart of stone made him an ideal Treasury official: and his love of money added zest to his efficiency. The recently conquered provinces of Bengal and Bihar were in a state of irritation over certain unpopular orders, particularly that concerning the branding of horses for government service. Shah Mansur insisted on their strict enforcement; he also cut down, on his own responsibility, allowances of pay. Sore at these and other grievances, the Muhammadans in Bengal were now also alarmed by Akbar’s religious innovations and his growing alienation from Islam. Disaffection grew to open rebellion, which a daring theologian pronounced to be lawful against an heretical emperor. The chiefs of the insurrection turned their eyes to Kabul, where Akbar’s younger half-brother was governor. What matter that Muhammad Hakim was a drunken weakling? He was orthodox. It was planned to bring him into the conspiracy and place him on the throne. The rebellion had broken out at the beginning of 1580, and by 1581 was by no means crushed. Secret negotiations were being carried on with Muhammad Hakim at Kabul. It was hoped that he would lead an army into India, so that the imperial power might be attacked on two sides at once, and that then the country would rise in support of an orthodox prince. Influential men at court had been drawn into the conspiracy; and the chief of these was Shah Mansur. It was not long before Akbar gained full knowledge of the plot. Letters of Shah Mansur to Muhammad Hakim were intercepted, and he was suspended from his post But soon after, Akbar having meanwhile taken preventive measures against the conspirators, he was reinstated. Shah Mansur seized the opportunity to renew his treasonable correspondence, which again fell into the emperor’s hands. This time he was put in prison.

A tentative invasion of the Punjab by his brother, though unsuccessful, and the knowledge of so much secret disloyalty at his court, convinced Akbar that he had better make an end of this business. And he set about it with uncommon care. He felt his throne to be in serious danger, and he went about armed on all occasions.

Aquaviva and Monserrate were a good deal troubled in their minds. Knowing the great hostility they had provoked among the Muslims, and feeling that they had contributed to the emperor’s danger by winning such marked favour, they sought him out at the beginning of these troubles and asked if he wished to dismiss them. Akbar, on the contrary, reproached them for being homesick. As soon as the campaign was decided on, they asked to be allowed to join the expedition. He said No; they were men of peace, and divine meditation was more suitable for such than the hardshiups of war: they were to be lodged with his mother. But next day he came into the schoolroom where the young Murad was at lessons with his tutor, and Monserrate was told to prepare for a journey. ‘You are going with.’

Hence it was that a Jesuit priest accompanied a Mogul army into Afghanistan, though it is a wonder that he returned alive, for on the Khyber Pass he would certainly have been stoned to death for his denunciation of the Prophet before a crowd of angry Muslims, had not fear of Akbar restrained them. Happily he returned safely, with all his notes, and we have the good fortune of seeing Akbar conduct a campaign through the eyes of a trained and intelligent observer, who set down many details which the Persian chronicles assume to be familiar to a reader. An observer, too, who is keenly interested in practical and military affairs, nor wholly absorbed like the saintly and absent-minded Aquaviva in his religious mission.

Since in this brief sketch there can be no room for more than a brief summary of Akbar’s wars, let us take advantage of Monserrate’s notes on this campaign to describe it a little more fully.

When Muhammad Hakim took courage to invade the Punjab, Akbar took no notice. He thought as much of him, it appears, ‘as an eagle of a mosquito.’ He merely sent a friendly message to invite him to the capital. But Muhammad Hakim was too wary to put himself in his brother’s hands. His apprehensions rose to acute alarm when he heard that Akbar had given orders for a hunting expedition. For this was Akbar’s invariable first move in a campaign. When the order for a hunt was given, it was time for his enemies to tremble. And Muhammad Hakim took at once to flight helter-skelter, over the mountains, losing hundreds of his horsemen at the crossing of the great rivers. Akbar, however, was not content with this cheap triumph. He was determined to make an end of the trouble. There was not only Kabul to be reckoned with, but Bengal; and not only these but traitors at home.

Sending his foster-brother, Mirza Aziz Koka, to Bengal to put down the rebellion, he prepared for the march on Kabul with unusual care. But first he released Shah Mansur. He disguised the fact that he knew all about the conspiracy, and professed that the able Finance Minister had been imprisoned only on suspicion. Shah Mansur was to join the expedition.

Nothing was left to chance. The new governors of Bengal and of Gujerat were provided with adequate armies; garrisons were left in the principal cities. The emperor took with him his two eldest sons, Salim and Murad, and Murad’s tutor, Monserrate; some of his principal wives, and a quantity of gold and silver and other stores carried on elephants and camels. Then the usual orders for a hunting expedition were announced, and the immense white pavilion of the emperor was set up four miles from the capital. The tents of the great nobles and of the troops were disposed about it in the traditional manner of Mongols, no doubt in the order first thought out by Jinghiz Khan. No Roman camp was more orderly or planned with more regular routine. Markets were attached to each division of the army. At night a cresset blazed from the top of a high mast, to guide stragglers and to be a rallying point in case of disturbance.

On 8th February 1581, the advance began. Two days had been given to hunting with cheetahs; the hunt being used as a sort of rehearsal, to familiarise all the units of the army with their proper functions and relative positions.

The distance of each day’s march was carefully measured, for these measurements were found to be very useful in computing the areas of provinces and calculating the time of journeys. To the rhythm of a single drum, beaten at short intervals, the army, with all its elaborate appointments, moved forward like a stately procession – elephants, mounted archers, pike-men and light cavalry; for Akbar dispensed with all but a small force of infantry on this campaign. In any case, it was always the mounted forces that he relied on in his battles. There was much to arouse the Jesuit’s astonishment. For one thing, the army seemed at first remarkably small; but soon it increased so rapidly that it seemed to cover the earth. Then, with so great a host to feed, there was the cheapness of the grain: but this was the result of Akbar’s foresight. Agents had been sent on beforehand to bring in provisions from all sides, and the merchants, if they sold cheaply, were promised exemption from taxes.

The frontier once passed, a different order was observed. Heralds were sent on in advance to the petty rajahs of the country to be traversed with conciliating messages and warnings against resistance. Provisions would be paid for. And the army continued to be well fed. Water, however was a necessity to be considered: and avoiding the plains, Akbar led his troops among the mountains, where the streams were abundant. Sappers and gangs of workmen were sent ahead to make a road. Akbar’s chief military engineer, Muhammad Qasim Kham, was in-charge of these. He had been, as a matter of fact, one of the conspirators, and Akbar knew it: but Akbar knew how to treat men, and the engineer came to think that he did better to be on the emperor’s side. Bridges of boats were also made across the rivers, and officers stationed on the banks to see that they were not endangered by overcrowding. Outposts and scouts preceded and flanked the advance. Severe discipline was enforced throughout the army.

Near Sonpet a letter from Muhammad Hakim to Shan Mansur arrived and was intercepted. It was the third time that treasonable letters had been seized. There is some doubt whether these last letters were not forged: there is little or no doubt about the treason. Shah Mansur was again put under arrest. A few days later he was taken out by a guard, accompanied by the emperor and his generals. A halt was called. Abul Fazl was ordered to recite before those assembled all the benefits conferred on Shah Mansur since the obscure clerkship of his boyhood. He was then confronted with his own correspondence, and the proofs of his treason, and hanged upon a tree. The emperor returned to the camp with a sad countenance; whether because severity was distasteful to him or because he had lost so able a financier, no one knew. The army received the news with acclamation. The conspiracy, they felt, was cut off at the root. Muhammad Hakim, when he heard the news, knew that all was over, and began to think how he should make peace.

Violent storms now rendered the roads impassable and compelled a halt. As soon as the weather cleared the one European with the army saw for the first time the distant snows of the Himalayas. Though well occupied in observing and making notes of the countries passed through and their inhabitants, the Jesuit did not neglect his duty to his Order, and often engaged in religious discussions with both Muslims and Hindus; as it seemed to himself, with some success. Nor did he lose sight of the main object of the Jesuit mission, to convert the emperor: and judging it to be a propitious moment when news came that Muhammad Hakim had finally retired to Kabul, Monserrate, anxious that the emperor should not forget what he had been taught already, drew up an account of the Passion of Christ and handed it to him. The expedition had now reached the banks of the Indus, which, being impassable at that seasons except by boat, held up the advance for fifty days till sufficient boats could be collected; and Akbar had leisure for the discussions in which he delighted, as well as for his usual amusements of hunting and games. He showed a lively interest, as before, in the Gospel story, but, as before, showed no signs of real conversion. Then he asked the priest whether he should pursue Muhammad Hakim. Monserrate replied: ‘Stay where you are, and do not pursue; for he is your Highness’s brother. The glory of mercy is greater than the glory of vengeance.’ Akbar applauded this answer: none the less, policy determined him to teach his brother a lesson, though he felt no vindictiveness towards him. He now sent the young Price Murad forward in advance with several thousand cavalry and five hundred elephants. On this and on other occasions Monserrate was disconcerted by Akbar’s superstitions and apparent respect for the soothsayers’ predictions and choice of lucky days. But two days after his young pupil’s departure, the emperor sent for the Father and spent many hours of the night questioning him not only on religious matters but on the geography of Europe. From the relative positions on the globe of Portugal and of India, they passed suddenly to a long discussion on celibacy and marriage and a spiritual offspring; and so to the Last Judgment, and thence to the Koran, when Abul Fazl broke in with questions on the Law and the Gospel; and thought the emperor confused the Second and Third Persons of the Trinity, Monserrate forbore to correct him, since the night was already nearing dawn.

But nothing seemed to weary Akbar: the next morning he would be up betimes, hunting, working in the carpenters’ shops, giving innumerable orders, overseeing everything.

Meanwhile Muhammad Hakim, thoroughly alarmed, was pining to make terms of peace. But his uncle Faridun Khan, who hated Akbar, and whose superior force of character and ability intimidated him, derided the Mogul army as a scanty herd of infidels and idolaters, and stiffened him into some sort of resistance. Akbar therefore pursued his march. But the crossing of the Indus was only compassed with great difficulty and consumed a long time. Not only was the supply of boats inadequate, but the crossing was twice countermanded, to Monserrate’s disgust, because of unfavourable omens. However, at last the army was got across. Akbar halted on the further side till the passage was completed, spending his time in the workshops and in religious debates. Soon Peshawar was reached: and here news was brought of an attack on Price Murad’s force, in which the enemy had been repulsed but not before the Mogul ranks had been severely shaken. It was only the personal courage of the twelve-year old commander and the arrival of reinforcements that prevented a check from becoming a defeat. Murad had employed the traditional Mogul tactics, and the cavalry was drawn up in three divisions, right, centre and left, and in crescent formation; behind the cavalry were the infantry, and behind the infantry the elephants. We learn from Monserrate that the elephants were ticklish beasts to their own side. They terrified at first, but hand no terrors for horses when accustomed to the sight of them: and when hurt they made no distinction between friend and foe.

Akbar hastened on to Kabul by forced marches on hearing the news, but left a strong force to guard the passage of the Indus. Prince Salim followed him with the rear-guard. The army crossed the Khyber Pass, not without great difficulty in spite of the labours of the sappers and workmen. When on 9th August Akbar entered Kabul, the capital of his grandfather Babur, it was found that Muhammad Hakim had fled to the loftiest and most inaccessible mountain he could find.

Seven days only were spent at Kabul. Akbar issued a proclamation assuring the safety of the inhabitants: he did not war on civilians. He was elated at sitting on the throne of his father and grandfather, and happy in the success of his campaign. To him now came his sister, interceding for her brother and imploring that he might be restored to his kingdom now that he repented of his folly. Akbar’s answer was to give the province into her charge, being assured of her loyalty and tact, and because he loved her. As for Muhammad Hakim, he wished never to hear his name again; he card not a straw whether he lived at Kabul or elsewhere. Only he advised his sister to warn him not to resume his intrigues. Otherwise he would find the emperor not so inclined to clemency. Akbar could easily starve him into surrender; but he forbore to do so. Matters being thus arranged, he prepared to depart. On the first day of December Akbar en-entered Fatehpur-Sikri.

Monserrate was impressed on this campaign by Akbar’s prudence and foresight, his statesmanship and his clemency. These qualities apparent; but from a military poit of view one is also struck by the elaborate and unwieldy paraphernalia with which the army was encumbered. However, Akbar knew his business, and adapted his methods of warfare to the enemy he was to encounter. The second Gujerat campaign shows that, when need called, he could strike with unexampled swiftness. Then, speed and surprise were essential. In the Kabul campaign the enemy to be attacked seemed in himself hardly worthy of the immense care with which the expedition was prepared and the scale on which it was launched. But the circumstances were such that failure would have been fatal, not only to Akbar’s army but to his throne and dynasty. Hence the great precautions taken; which, moreover, were indispensable for an army advancing into mountainous country, so advantageous to the defence. Akbar could apparently afford to advance in a leisurely manner with his imposing host, though an active and able antagonist might well have brought him to a disaster.

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