The Natural HR Theory by Dr IVNS Raju

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IV

ONE morning, late in November 1542, Humayun, encamped on the shores of a small lake with a force of some two thousand horsemen lent him by a friendly chief, saw the dust of a group of riders approaching at speed over the desert. The homeless emperor had need to be wary. For two years, driven from his kingdom by the victories of Sher Shah, he had been wandering in the sandy wilderness of Sind, to the west of India, with a handful of followers. He could settle on no plan. He knew not whom he could trust. His own brothers, Kamran and Askari, were his rivals : doubtful friends, probable enemies. Swift riders were only too likely to be bearers of bad news. But on this day Humayun could hope. The riders came from the direction of Umarkot, a little fortified town some twenty miles distant from his camp : and at Umarkot he had left his young wife expecting shortly to be a mother.

Babar, Humayun, Akbar andJahangirThe messenger rode into the camp with joyful signs. Hamida had been delivered of a boy. Humayun had an heir. Here at last was something of good augury : and Humayun rejoiced in the thought of his beloved girl-wife (she was only fifteen when she gave birth to her first-born). She had not been over-willing to marry a fugitive king without a crown; but she had charmed his heart, he had wooed her with ardour, and now she had given him an heir and hope.

Such an occasion should have been celebrated with pomp and ceremony and the giving of many presents. What was the proud father to do in his poverty? His servant Jauhar, who was there, has recorded the scene : how Jauhar was ordered to bring a bag of silver coins and a silver bracelet and a pod of must; and how Humayun ordered the silver to be given back to the owners from whom it had been taken (a convenient mode of largesse), and taking the pod of musk broke it on a porcelain dish and distributed it among the chief of his followers, and said, ‘This is all the present I can afford to make you on the birth of my son, whose fame will, I trust, be one day expanded over all the world, as the perfume of the musk now fills this tent.’ The child was given the name of Akbar. He was born on the twenty-third day of November 1542.

But Humayun could not at once have the joy of embracing wife and son. He was on the march, and did not rest till he had taken possession of the town of Jun and made his encampment secure against surprise. At last, on 28th December, Hamida and her baby arrived, and Humayun for the first time set eyes on his son. Till July of the following year he stayed at Jun, planning what he should to next. The birth of his son strengthened, no doubt, the resolution, which he had never given up, to recover by some means of other his lost kingdom. For though he had many weaknesses, and was no master of war like his father, he had a certain tenacity of purpose even in circumstances the most desperate. He could not for ever roam the deserts of Sind. Should he try for Kandahar? Once there, he might get help from the Persian Shah. It was on Kandahar that he decided to march. But there were his two brothers, Kamran and Askari, to be reckoned with. Kamran was ruler of Kabul, and Askari, the younger brother, held the province of Kandahar under Kamran. Their attitude was doubtful : but the hazard must be run. Humayun had a long and difficult march before him. He had to cross the Indus and then find a way over the mountain-barriers of Baluchistan. Arrived at the frontier of Kandahar province, Humayun received sudden and dismaying news. Askari, his brother, was in motion to attack him with a force far outnumbering his own. There was nothing for it but to flee, and not a moment to be lost. There was a hurried consultation. The child Akbar had been brought so far in his mother’s arms : but in the mountains of Afghanistan the extremes of heat and cold would be fatal to a one-year-old baby, now that they must travel on horseback and at forced speed. The child was left behind in the care of Jauhar. They were even short of horses, and Hamida must ride on Humayun’s horse with him. The fugitives dashed away to the mountains, and were hardly gone when Askari swooped downon the camp and captured his infant nephew.

If Askari was tempted to forestall fortune and (after a favourite practice of ambitious members of Asian royal houses) to ‘make sure’ by getting rid of a future rival, he resisted the temptation : or it may be that he was taken by the sturdy child. He carried it off to Kandahar, the faithful Jauhar in attendance; and there it was treated well.

Meanwhile, Humayun and his girl-wife and forty men continued their desperate course. Humayun had now resolved to flee to Persia and seek assistance from the Shah. Having received friendly messages in answer to his overtures, he made the long journey over Persia to Kazvin, where Shah Tahmasp then held his court, in the far north-west. Shah Tahmasp received Humayun cordially. But he soon tired of playing host to a fugitive who gave no signs of going. For about a year Humayun lingered at the Persian court. This sojourn in a luxurious and cultured centre, after years of precarious wanderings and hardships in desert plains and mountains, made a deep impression on the Mogul prince, just as Babur before him had been impressed with the brilliant culture of Heart when Persian art was producing its finest masterpieces. He was naturally fond of books and learning, and a lover of art : and at Kazvin he saw what he hoped one day to have round him at Delhi – a gathering of poets, wits, scholars, and artists. What is called the Mogul School of Indian painting, so ardently fostered by Akbar when he came to the throne, had its origin in Humayun’s visit to Persia. Shah Tahmasp, though not a very estimable monarch, was a great patron of the arts, and some of the most famous painters of Persia were working at Tabriz.

Late in 1544, Humayun was dismissed with a promise of Persian troops to help him win back his patrimony. Before a year was over Kandahar had surrendered, and Askari was pardoned by his brother. Humayun advanced on Kabul. His other brother, Kamran, abandoned the city, and Humayun established himself in his place. The little Akbar was already at Kabul; his mother, left behind at Kandahar, was sent for, and the three were united once more. Not that their troubles were over; for Humayun’s position was still insecure, and Kamran alternated insincere submissions and reconciliations with open and ferocious hostility or secret intrigues. But Humayun during the nine years of his stay at Kabul had time to gather his forces for the long-cherished attempt to recover India, and to educate the son who was to inherit his recovered throne.

To educate? But iwas one thing to provide instructors, and another to persuade the pupil to learn. And never was a boy more refractory. Four tutors in turn did their utmost : the boy refused even to learn his letters. Humayun, with his scholarly tastes, was annoyed; he reproved his much-loved son for his idleness, and gave him fond and fatherly advice. It was of little avail. Akbar was a cheerful and accomplished truant. From the very day of his birth he had been in the midst of danger, adventure, and desperate enterprise; he was enamoured of outdoor life, and threw his whole heart into masculine sports and exercises. He liked being with animals – horses, dogs, and camels – and became expert in pigeon-flying, a sport of which he remained excessively fond. In riding, polo, and sword-play he was highly trained as well as efficient by nature. He became an excellent shot. And his reluctance to learn to read was not combined with that aversion from things of the mind so often found in the English school-boy devoted to games. On the contrary, he delighted in being read to by others, and, with his amazing memory, soon had by heart whole poems of the Persian poets, especially those of the Sufi mystics.

Humayun would also have his son taught something of the art of painting. In 1550 he invited to Kabul two young Persian artists of great distinction, Mir Sayyid Ali and Abdus Samad, and these two became his principal court painters, and afterwards went to Delhi. Both Humayun and the boy Akbar took lessons in the Persian style of drawing.  In the Gulistan Library at Teheran there is a miniature by Abdus Samad, in which we see the little prince among his craftsmen, and in another part of the picture he presents a drawing commemorating the scene to the emperor. At this time, too, Humayun, his throne and by his pride of ancestry, had himself painted with the Timurid princes, and Timur himself around him. The Persian artist produced a dazzling picture. The setting was among the hills in spring, with pomegranates in flower by an iris-bordered stream, and a rustling plane tree overhead against a golden sky. Slim red pillars supported a pavilion in which sat Humayun facing his terrible ancestor Timur, and in a semi-circle below sat the descendants of Timur who were Humayun’s ancestors. At a later date the figure of Timur was effaced, and portraits of Akbar, with his son and grandson, substituted by an Indian painter. The picture is now in the British Museum.

So in peaceful pursuits, variegated by frequent alarms and excursions, these years at Kabul passed, until the favourable moment came when the long-planned descent on India might be carried with good hope of success.

In November 1554, Humayun started. Akbar was now twelve years old. After crossing the Indus father and son had a solemn audience together, and the blessing of Heaven was invoked on their enterprise. There was a new ruler on the throne of Delhi, a far weaker man than his predecessor Salim Shah Sur, who had died this year. Hindostan too was in a disunited and chaotic state, disaffected to the Afghan rulers. The time therefore was propitious. And Humayun, no great captain himself, relied on a young man, Bairam Khan, an able soldier of high character, who was put in command of the army.

The campaign was successful. Early in 1555 Humayun occupied Lahore, and in June a great victory, with which the young Akbar was officially credited, gained him Delhi. The lost throne was at last recovered.

But not for long was it to be enjoyed. Akbar was sent in charge of Bairam Khan, now appointed his guardian, to the Punjab, while Humayun remained in the capital. Much was to be done if the Moguls were to make their hold secure. Humayun planned to garrison the chief cities with his troops, and was busy with the task of organization when, on a Friday evening in January 1556, as the sunset call to prayers was heard, he tripped and fell down the steep steps leading from the roof of a tower, used as a library, and broke his skull1. Three days later he was dead.

Akbar received the news of his father’s death at Kalanaur, and in a garden at that place was formally enthroned, on a throne which still exists.

1 Mr. Payne, the editor of Du Jarric, suggests that possibly Humayun was an epileptic and that a fit caused his fall.

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