Vraja Bihari Das

“But that determination by which one holds fast to selfish results in religion, economic development and egoistic gratification is of the nature of passion” – Bhagavad Gita (18.34) Although human history reveals men and women of great character, these pages also contain names of people who teach us what not to do in life. Men with strong determination, yet misdirected ambitions, have wreaked havoc on civilizations. One such case is the invader Babur, the founder of Mughal Empire in India. At the age of eleven, Babur became the king of Fergana valley (in present day Uzbekistan) but his interests lay in poetry, art, music and gardening. However being a descendant of the dreadful Timur from his father’s side and the terrible Genghis Khan from his mother’s lineage, he chose to follow their footsteps, even if he wasn’t cut out for it. Both these conquerors had legendary, cult status in the medieval Muslim world for their brutality and wholesale massacres of civilian populations. It was then natural for Babur, a young impressionable boy at that time to nurture similar ambitions. Desires swelled in his heart; he first sought to conquer Samarkand in honor of Timur who was born there. As a young teenager, Babur began his march to seek power. At the age of fifteen after a great struggle, Babur managed to gain control of Samarkand, but lost it in a few months. Meanwhile in his absence his brother usurped his native Fergana valley. Babur was thus left with no kingdom. He repeatedly tried to get Samarkand, and was obsessed, but faced constant failures. Finally, frustrated, he came back to retain Fergana, but even here he lost terribly. He escaped with a small band of followers, and wandered in the mountains of Central Asia and took shelter of tribes in these hilly regions. He endured poverty and humiliation and lost all hopes of regaining his country. Babur writes in his memoirs that he had ascetic-spiritual tendencies, which was unnatural amongst his war mongering clan. And this was a good time for him to pursue his inner calling. Yet he chose to seek pederasty, a high fashion of the central Asian aristocrats of that time. He developed strong infatuation for a young sixteen year old boy, and also got several wives.  In a life enveloped by bisexual relationships and ambitions to seek power, his asceticism and humanness was buried for good. Slowly he focused on building a strong army and sought luck elsewhere. He captured Afghanistan but continued to abhor the vices and luxuries of Herat and Kabul; he found liquor and intoxicants disgusting. To be continued…  ]]>

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