This is the story of the rise of the Mughal Empire.
The Mughal empire was one of Asia’s largest and most influential empires of modern history. The rise and decline of the Mughals have a hidden lesson for future generations. The 200-year-long era of the Mughals ended up circling its ideology. It ended exactly how it started. But at its peak, under the reign of Akbar, the Mughal dynasty left its extreme ideology and hence flourished the most.
Mughals or Moguls were a tribe that was converted to Islam under the reign of Mohammad Ghori. Ghori had brought different nomadic tribes of the Middle East under one Umbrella of Islam. After his death, these tribes broke again and remained as separate entities, fighting amongst each other for control of the region. The Moguls had their base in present-day Uzbekistan.
The Moguls and mainland India were separated by the rough terrain of Afghanistan. It was known as the graveyard of armies. In India, Ibrahim Lodhi had succeeded his father’s throne. But he had not inherited his diplomatic skills. Dissatisfied with his rule, his senior commanders in Afghanistan, invited the Moguls to invade India. The Moguls, led by Babur, were given a safe passage through Afghanistan. He had also brought with him advanced canons given to them by the Ottomans.
Babur and Ibrahim locked horns in the first battle of Panipat. Babur was experienced and well-supported by his men. Ibrahim was young, naive, and uninspiring as a leader. Babur easily won the battle of Panipat, and the Mughals officially entered India.
Even in the coming years, their military advancements were the key to their expansion over India. Babur and his son Humayun were ruthless chieftains. They rarely left their enemies alive. As good as they were with the military, they were equally bad in politics and administration. Because of this, Humayun faced internal rebellion. He was overthrown by Sher Shah Suri and exiled to Persia for 15 years.
But during his years of exile, he created good bonding with the Persians. The Persians later helped him recover his kingdom. A year later after becoming the king again, Humayun fell down the stairs of his library and died. This left his 15-year-old child Akbar in charge of things.
Akbar would go down as the greatest of the Mughal emperor. He demolished orthodox religious extremism. He famously appointed Hindu ministers in his court including the likes of Birbal and Tansen. His son Jahangir and Shah Jahan continued on Akbar’s well-built system. It was during Shah Jahan that the famous Taj Mahal was built.
But it all came crashing down with Aurangzeb. After three generations of peace, Aurangzeb brought back the time of religious extremism. This led to the unification of the Sikhs and the Hindus.
At its peak, the Mughal empire was one of the biggest modern-day Empires in the world. But at the core of any governance lies ideology and principles. And the idea of religious extremism worked like a termite. Slowly and over time it rotted the very base of the Mughals. It kept reducing in size and influence. And the Battle of Buxar, against the East India Company, proved to be the final blow to the empire.