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Baburnama – Translations from the original book

I got a hint from Alex Rutherford’s first book of “The empire of the Moghuls”. A nice read. However, I wanted to know more about the initial accounts of babur when he entered India. Seems the saving mentality of India was there from right before Babur’s time. And with the Moghul dynasty comes symmetry and water ways to India. Surprisingly for me at least, Babur was the first to use cannons and muskets against Indian soldiers and destroyed the mighty war elephants of that time. Thus the age of war elephants came to an end in India and warfare went to the gunpowder.

Babur on the Flora of Hindustan

“When the mango is good it is really good. . . . In fact, the mango is the best fruit of Hindustan. . . . Some people praise the mango to such an extent that they prefer it to all fruit except the melon, but it is not so good as to warrant such praise.” [343]

Babur on Hindustan Overall

“Hindustan is a place of little charm.  There is no beauty in its people, no graceful social intercourse, no poetic talent or understanding, no etiquette, nobility, or manliness.  The arts and crafts have no harmony or symmetry.  There are no good horses, meat, grapes, melons, or other fruit.  There is no ice, cold water, good food or bread in the markets.  There are no baths and no madrasas [Islamic schools].

Aside from the streams and still waters that flow in ravines and hollows, there is no running water in their gardens or palaces, and in their buildings no pleasing harmony or regularity.

The peasantry and common people parade around stark naked with something like a loin cloth tied around themselves and hanging down two spans below their navels.  Under this rag is another piece of cloth, which they pass between their legs and fasten to the loincloth string.  Women fasten around themselves one long piece of cloth, half of which they tie to their waists and the other half of which they throw over their heads.

The one nice aspect of Hindustan is that it is a large country with lots of gold and money. . . .

Another nice thing is the unlimited numbers of craftsmen and practitioners of every trade. . . . In Agra alone there were 680 Agra stonemasons at work on my building every day.  Aside from that, in Agra, Sikri, Bayana, Dholpur, Gwalior, and Koil, 1,491 stonemasons were laboring on my buildings.  There are similar vast numbers of every type of craftsman and laborers of every description in Hindustan.” [350-352]

Babur Plans a Garden

“I always thought one of the chief faults of Hindustan was that there was no running water.  Everywhere that it was habitable it should be possible to construct waterwheels, create running water, and make planned, geometrical spaces. . . . Although there was really no suitable place near Agra, there was nothing to do but work with the space we had.  The foundation was the large well from which the water for the bathhouse came.  Next, the patch of ground with tamarind trees and octagonal pond became the great pool and courtyard.  Then came the pool in front of the stone building and the hall.  After that came the private garden and its outbuildings, and after that the bathhouse.  Thus, in unpleasant and inharmonious India, marvelously regular and geometric gardens were introduced.  In every corner were beautiful plots, and in every plot were regularly laid out arrangements of roses and narcissus.” [359-360]