The Natural HR Theory by Dr IVNS Raju

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III

BUT what of his more immediate ancestry?

Once, returning from a campaign, Akbar questioned Monserrate about Sebastian, king of Portugal, who had fallen fighting against the Moors in 1578. When he had heard the story, he burst out, ‘I can never sufficiently praise the heroism of those who fight hand to hand and in deadly earnest. But I shall never cease to condemn the cowardice of those who prefer the safety of their bodies to the eternal glory of War!’

The joy of danger, the eternal glory of war! It might be the voice of Babur. From the June day when his father – short, stout, careless, hasty – visiting his pigeons in a pigeon-house on the top of a precipice was suddenly hurled to the bottom, pigeons and all, by a landslip and transferred to another world, Babut, then a boy of eleven, had to fight for his crown or his life or his ambition; and he loved it. The moment that he heard that his father was dead he sprang on horseback. Three invasions menaced his capital. He had to meet and quell them all. Three years later, he seized Samarcand, the city of his forefather Timur, the city of his dreams. After a hundred days of possession, he lost it. Twice later he was to hold it for a brief time : then he lost it for ever. His Usbeg enemies were too strong for him. And he had lost his little kingdom of Ferghana too. His great ambition had been to sit on Timur’s throne in Samarcand. He renounced that cherished dream, but a throne he was determined to have, while he tramped the hills an exile among the shepherds. He had undying confidence in his star. His thoughts turned south-ward. Kabul was in a state of anarchy, following the death of its king, who was Babur’s uncle. He decided to march on Kabul. He took it and became king. At Kabul he was on the road to India : and according to his own account, the thought of subduing Hindostan was already in his mind as soon as he had become master of Kabul. Long before, a very old woman had told him tales of Timur’s invasion of India : and he had never forgotten. If he could not have Timur’s throne in Samarcand, he might follow in his ancestor’s footsteps southward. But it was twenty-two years after the conquest of Kabul before he entered Delhi in triumpth and founded the empire that Akbar was to rule.

In temperament and in certain outstanding traits of character Akbar resembled his grandfather. But we shall note the differences.

Babur in his perfectly frank and delightful Memoirs, one of the most remarkable books of its kind ever written, gives us a vivid self-portrait. He has the Mongol restlessness in his blood : but he is much more a Turk, and has no words strong enough for his hatred and contempt of the Mongols he knew. With enormous energy and absolutely fearless courage, he is rapid in his decisions, often succeeding by his swift action but often betrayed into disaster by his reckless confidence. But he could profit by experience. He trained his army to a high pitch of efficiency : he became a master of the art of war. Severe in discipline, he could at times be savagely cruel (the Mongol strain perhaps coming out), yet in general he was chivalrous, loyal, generous, and forgiving. He hated falseness above all.

Babur might appear to be nothing more than a splendid adventurer of exceptional ability, but that he seems, all through the amazing vicissitudes of his career, to have nourished the dream of founding an empire, and to have succeeded, not by the mere luck of a soldier of fortune but by a singular pertinacity and belief in his destiny. And even as an adventurer he is remarkable. This hardy soldier, this marvelous fighter, who swims every river he comes across, astonishes us by his singular sensibility. A man could win his heart by his love of poetry as surely as by his swordsmanship. Was he flying from his enemies in bitter weather with a handful of followers? He would compose a few couplets as he rode, and his spirits revived as by magic. But it was his intense delight in the beauty of the world which made so large a part of his unquenchable zest in life. Was ever such a lover of flowers? His first thought in a newly acquired territory was to make a garden, himself superintending the disposition of the beds and the leading of fresh runnels of water among them. In the year before his death in 1530, amid the heat and dust of India, he writes : “The other day they brought me a musk-melon : as I cut it up I felt a deep home-sickness and sense of exile from my native land, and I could not help weeping.’

For Babur never felt at home in the plains of India. He pined for his native hills : for Ferghana, that delectable province set among the mountains in the midst of Asia, with its cool air, its leaping brooks, its fertile fields, its grapes and melons and pomegranates. Ferghana was a favoured land : was it not the marvelous horses of Ferghana which were coveted from afar by the emperors of China? Kabul, with its mountain climate, though less adorable than Ferghana, was congenial to Babur’s nature. India he found ugly and unattractive. It is true he meant to stay there, not merely to invade and plunder as other raiders from the North had done before him, but he meant to rule as a foreign conqueror over the Indians. His policy did not go beyond the policy of Timur : it was that of giving his lieutenants the government of apportioned districts : and an empire founded on these lines was bound to dissolve among the quarrels and ambitions of these deputy-rulers, as the vast empire of Timur had dissolved so swiftly. That it did not crumble away, that it endured till the nineteenth century, is due solely to Akbar’s larger policy and constructive foresight. It is the measure of Akbar’s greatness. To a temperament akin to that of his grandfather, there was added in Akbar a more masculine intellect. Babur’s poetry and sensibility to beauty become in him a voracious curiosity and an ardent interest in religious problems. Where Babur was romantic, Akbar was a realist.

The story of Babur’s death is a fit close to his romantic career. His son Humayun was dangerously ill, and his life was despaired of. Babur vowed he would give his life for his son’s. He prayed earnestly, pacing round his son’s sick-bed, that his vow might be accepted : and it was so. Humayun recovered; Babur died.

Humayun recovered, to find himself emperor. But though Hindostan had been conquered, it needed a strong hand to hold it : and Humayun had not the strength required. He was now a young man of twenty-two. With his narrow shoulders, slight stoop, long face and pointed beard, he had an aspect of fragility. He was addicted to opium. Thought not a weakling, there was a childish side to his character. He was naturally inclined to be more interested in the different colours of his dresses than in statecraft and command. But he was forced into action. He was obliged to make over the government of the Punjab and Afghanistan to his brother Kamran. Even the throne of Bihar, She Shah, a very able ruler, saw his opportunity and attacked. Humayun, was disast5rously defeated, and fled with a few followers into the deserts of Sind.

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