«‘The facts are as stated here . . . I have set down of good and bad whatever is known.’ The Babur Nama, a journal kept by Zahir Uddin Muhammad Babur (1483–1530), the founder of the Mughal Empire, is the earliest example of autobiographical writing in world literature, and one of the finest. Against the turbulent backdrop of medieval history, it paints a precise and vivid picture of life in Central Asia and Afghanistan—where Babur ruled in Samarkand and Kabul—and in the Indian subcontinent, where his dazzling military career culminated in the founding of a dynasty that lasted three centuries. Babur was far more than a skilled, often ruthless, warrior and master strategist. In this abridged and edited version of a 1921 English translation of his memoirs, he also emerges as a sensitive aesthete, naturalist, poet and lover. Writer, journalist and internationally acclaimed Middle eastern and Central asian expert, Dilip Hiro breathes new life into a unique historical document that is at once objective and intensely personal—for, in Babur’s words, ‘the truth should be reached in every matter’.«
BABURNAMA — THE MEMOIRS OF BABUR
Bāburnāma (Chagatai/Persian: بابر نامہ;´, literally: «Book of Babur» or «Letters of Babur»; alternatively known as Tuzuk-e Baburi) is the name given to the memoirs of Ẓahīr ud-Dīn Muḥammad Bābur (1483–1530), founder of the Mughal Empire and a great-great-great-grandson of Timur.
It is an autobiographical work, originally written in the Chagatai language, known to Babur as «Turki» (meaning Turkic), the spoken language of the Andijan-Timurids. Babur’s prose is highly Persianized in its sentence structure, morphology, and vocabulary, and also contains many phrases and smaller poems in Persian. During Emperor Akbar’s reign, the work was completely translated to Persian by a Mughal courtier, Abdul Rahīm, in AH 998 (1589–90).
Bābur was an educated Timurid and his observations and comments in his memoirs reflect an interest in nature, society, politics and economics. His vivid account of events covers not just his life, but the history and geography of the areas he lived in, and their flora and fauna, as well as the people with whom he came into contact.
The Bāburnāma begins with these plain words:“In the province of Fergana, in the year 1494, when I was twelve years old, I became king.”
After some background, Bābur describes his fluctuating fortunes as a minor ruler in Central Asia – in which he took and lost Samarkand twice – and his move to Kabul in 1504.
There is a break in the manuscript between 1508 and 1519. By the latter date Bābur is established in Kabul and from there launches an invasion into northwestern India. The final section of the Bāburnāma covers the years 1525 to 1529 and the establishment of the Mughal empire in India, which Bābur’s descendants would rule for three centuries.
Babur also writes about his homeland, Fergana:“ The Domain of Fergana has seven towns, five on the south and two on the north of the Syr river. Of those on the south, one is Andijan. It has a central position and is the capital of the Fergana Domain. ”
He also wrote:“ A man took aim at Ibrahim Beg. But then Ibrahim Beg yelled,»Hai! Hai!»; and he let him pass, and by mistake shot me in an armpit from as near as a man on guard at the Gate stands from another. Two plates of my armour cracked. I shot at a man running away along the ramparts, adjusting his cap against the battlements. He abandoned his cap, nailed to the wall and went off, gathering his turban sash together in his hand. ”
The Bāburnāma is widely translated and is part of text books in no less than 25 countries mostly in Central, Western, and Southern Asia. It was first translated into English by John Leyden and William Erskine as Memoirs of Zehir-Ed-Din Muhammed Baber: Emperor of Hindustan and later by the British orientalist scholar Annette Susannah Beveridge (née Akroyd, 1842–1929).