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Punjab History - Mogul Ascendency

After the departure of the Tartars, the empire became a prey to anarchy. The governors of provinces, or subahdars, renounced their dependence, and assumed royal titles. Lahore, the Punjab, and Multan, were seized by Khizr Khan, a Syud, who had been governor of Multan, but was expelled during the confusion that preceded the invasion of Timur. Khizr appealed to that conqueror, who gave him the government of the whole Punjab. Having now declared his independence, he, on the death of Shah Mahmud, in 1414, seized upon the throne of Delhi, affecting to recognize Timur as emperor of India, and to govern as his deputy.

The Punjab became thus reunited to the empire; but before long, the eastern portion, under Bheilol Khan Lodi, an Afghan, the governor of Sirhind, who made himself master of Lahore, and of the greater part of the Punjab, revolted, whilst the Gakkars continued to molest the whole country of the Five Rivers. Under Mobarik, the son and successor of Khizr, there was a constant struggle in the Punjab to reduce the eastern part to obedience, and to prevent the Gakkars from gaining possession of the other portion. Mahomed, Mobarik's successor, employed Bheilol, the king of Lahore, to expel the Gakkars, under Jisserit, from the northern part of the Punjab; but the king craftily made his own terms with the Gakkars, and his territory is stated by Ferishta to have included the whole of the Punjab, Debalpur, Sirhind, and as far as Paniput. In 1450, he obtained possession of Delhi, and, on the abdication of Ala-udDeen, assumed the sovereignty, founding the dynasty of Lodi.

The accession of Bheilol to the imperial throne re-annexed the Punjab to the empire (though Multan still preserved its independence), and that great province was placed under a viceroy, Ali Khan, an Afghan, whose successor, Doulut Khan, in the reign of Ibrahim Lodi, revolted. As the history of this personage is connected with that of the founder of the Sikh sect, it may be proper to give a less brief notice of his career than can be permitted in this summary of the political history of other chiefs who, in these troubled times, rose and fell in the Punjab country.

Doulut Khan Lodi was of an Afghan or a Patan family, related to the imperial house of Delhi. His father, Tatar Khan, was rewarded with the possession of Sirhind and all the country north of the Sutluj, yielding a revenue (according to the emperor Baber) of upwards of three crores. The Punjab westward of the Chenab was at this time governed by Syud Ali Khan, in the name of Bheilol; but he resigned the governorship to Doulut Khan, then Hakim or Soubahdar of Lahore, who placed his eldest son, Ali Khan, over Behreh, situated apparently in the Sind-sagur doab.

When Ibrahim Lodi began by his arrogance and cruelty to excite distrust and disaffection amongst the Afghan chiefs of India, whose ancestors had placed his family on the throne, Doulut Khan, dreading the fate of many who had been assassinated or imprisoned, revolted, and determined to call in the aid of the celebrated Baber, the accomplished king of Ferghana, who had previously invaded the Punjab [according to his own Memoirs, Baber crossed the Indus, in one of his raids, as early as the year 1505],* which he claimed as part of his inheritance from Timur, his ancestor. He tells us, in his Memoirs, that "he regarded the Punjab as his own domain, and had been determined to obtain possession of it, either in peace or by war."

In 1519, being intent upon the conquest of India, Baber had crossed the Indus at Attock, the infantry being floated over on rafts, levied contributions in Behreh, and, appointing a governor of the country he had subjected, returned to Cabul. Prior to this incursion, he had endeavored to open a communication with Doulut Khan; but Baber's envoy was not allowed to see him, and was detained some months at Lahore. "The Afghans of India," says the emperor in his Memoirs, "are a foolish and senseless race; they can neither remain in a state of amity, nor manfully persevere in war." In 1524, at the express invitation of Doulut Khan, he again crossed the Indus, marched through the country of the Gakkars, whom he subjected, and entered the territory of Lahore. Doulut Khan, however, had been meanwhile expelled by some Afghan chiefs in this quarter, who opposed Baber in the vicinity of the city of Lahore; but they were totally defeated; the city was sacked and reduced to ashes by the victors: Debalpur was taken by assault, and the garrison put to the sword. Baber was now joined by Doulut Khan, who, finding that the king was intent upon his own views, endeavoured to betray him.

Baber discovered his treachery, and threw him and his son Ghazi Khan into prison; but soon after he released them, and bestowed Sultanpur and its dependencies upon Doulut Khan. He, however, again revolted and fled to the eastern hills, and his possessions were given byBaber to Dilawur Khan, one of Doulut's sons, who had remained faithful to him. Upon Baber's return to Cabul, Doulut Khan overran the Punjab; but in 1525, Baber recrossed the Indus, and on the left bank of the Beas, blockaded Doulut Khan in the fort of Milwat. "He proposed to surrender the place," the king says in his Memoirs, "if I would forgive his offences. To expose his rudeness, I required that he should come out with the same two swords about his neck which he had hung by his side to meet me in battle. After making some frivolous pretexts for delay, he was at length brought to me, and I ordered the two swords to be taken from his neck. When he came into the presence he seemed reluctant to bow, and I directed the men to push his leg and make him bow. Then he was placed by my side, and I thus addressed him: 'I called you Father; I shewed you more reverence than you expected. I delivered you and your sons from the insolence of the Baluches. I rescued your tribe, your family, and women from subjection to Ibrahim. I bestowed upon you the countries held by Tatar Khan, your father, to the amount of three crores of revenue (150,000/.). What evil have I ever done, that you should come in this style against me, with two swords V He was stupified, and stammered out a few words quite beside the purpose. It was settled that he and his family should retain their authority only over their own tribe, and give up all their property except their villages. Doulut Khan soon after died at Sultanpur."

After the surrender of the fort, Baber marched to Roopur, on the Sutluj, and from thence direct upon Delhi, of which, as well as Agra, he took possession in 1526, and was "the founder of a line of kings under whom India rose to the highest pitch of prosperity, and out of the ruins of whose empire all the existing states in that country are composed.'"

Baber left his son Humayun in possession of the throne of Delhi, which he was soon called to defend against his own family. Kamran, Baber's second son, who had the government of Cabul and Candahar, determined to seize upon the Punjab, and Humayun thought it prudent to yield with a good grace what he would have found it difficult to retain by force, and conferred upon his brother the government of the country of the Five Rivers, as far as the Indus, and northward from that river to Persia, on condition that he held this territory as a dependency. Humayun was a few years later attacked and defeated by Sher Khan, the governor of Bahar, and fled to his brother Kamran, at Lahore; but this prince was glad to make peace with the victor, by ceding to him the Punjab, retiring to his government of Cabul. The Doabs were for some time a place of refuge for Humayun, who appears to have experienced much suffering, and his son, the illustrious Akbar, was born during this period, in the fortress of Amerkot, October 14th, 1542. The emperor was eventually compelled to retire to Candahar, and afterwards to Persia, leaving Sher Shah in possession of the throne of India, whose sons contended for the empire, the Punjab being the scene of the conflict.

The Sur family continued long in a state of mutual hostilities, and in 1554, Secander Sur, nephew of Sher Shah, proclaimed himself king in the Punjab. In the midst of these rebellions, Humayun re-crossed the Indus from Cabul; the governors in the Punjab fled before him: he continued his progress towards the Sutluj, occupied Lahore, and recovered his throne, with a small portion, however, of his former dominions, His son, the celebrated Akbar, was employed to reduce the Punjab, which, with much difficulty, he wrested from Secander Sur. Upon the death of his father, in 1555, Akbar's territory as Shah was confined to the Punjab and the country around Delhi and Agra. The provinces within the Five Rivers were soon the theater of a fierce contest, brought on by the attempt of prince Hakim to wrest it from his brother, in which he failed, and was driven across the Indus, upon which occasion Akbar built the fort of Attock. The Punjab was now securely annexed to the imperial territory, and the prince made that country his residence for fourteen years, usually dwelling at Lahore.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2012 19:16:03 ZULU