It is said that when someone is destined to
succeed, all the forces of nature conspire to usher them to their
success. The Mughals (Moghuls, or Moguls) were destined to succeed
in establishing their rule over India, and a series of events led
them to their destiny.
Prior to the advent of the Mughals, India
was a sprinkling of independent kingdoms governed by Muslim and
Hindu rulers alike. There were the Afghan kings ruling Delhi,
Gujarat, and Bengal, the Bahamani kingdom of the Deccan, and further
south was the formidable Hindu kingdom of Vijaynagar ruling Andhra,
Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and parts of Kerala. Even further was the
Hindu zamorin of Kerala. Standing face to face against the Delhi
sultanate was the loose confederacy of the Hindu Rajput clans, led
by Rana Sangha of Mewar.
The Mughals belonged to a Turko-Mongoloid race,
offspring of inter-tribal wars and an intermixing of the various
Central Asian tribes. They had a Turkish physiognomy, and very
distinct mongoloid features. They were a belligerent lot, but
excellent horse riders.
The Mughal emperors in India
Their descent was said to be from Timur the Great (Tamerlane,
founder of the eastern Persian Timurid dynasty), and Chagatai khan,
son of Genghis Khan. Babar was the first Mughal to invade India,
somewhere in the region of 1519. With some remarkable military
conquests he succeeded in defeating more powerful foes such as the
Afghan Lodhis of Delhi and the valorous Rajputs of Rajputana. By
1530, Babar had succeeded in capturing half of northern India.
His son, Humayun, continued his battle against the
Afghans. His most formidable foe was the Afghan, Sher Shah Suri
(1540-1545), founder of the resurgent Suri dynasty in Delhi. Humayun
had mixed luck in his life. He was to lose his lands, only to regain
them later. He even lost Delhi to his foe, Sher Shah Suri, and only
after the Afghan's death he could regain it back. Humayun didn't
enjoy his renewed rule for long, though. He died in an accident in
1556 and was succeeded by his son Akbar.
Akbar the Great, as he is popularly known, proved
to be the most competent ruler in Mughal history. He expanded his
rule to many corners of India. His most valuable contribution was
the symbiosis that he established between the Hindus and the Muslims
of the country. Akbar was considered to be a son of the soil, in
comparison to his predecessors who were viewed more as foreigners.
He married many Hindu princesses, forging alliances between
kingdoms. Overall, he was considerably more tolerant to other faiths
in comparison with his predecessors and descendents.