Monday, February 23, 2015

Sultan Ibrahim Lodi

Ibrahim Lodi was intelligent and able and was inspired by a sound principle of introducing an efficient administration in the kingdom. He felt that the kingdom neither could be made stable or be efficiently governed , if the Afghan chiefs were allowed to have unchecked power. The ideas of Ibrahim Lodi naturally brought him into conflict with the ideas of the chiefs, who would not readily consent to part with their power and privileges. His ideas made him their bitter enemies. Ibrahim Lodi, however, was not daunted ; he proceeded boldly to crush the opposition. He nearly succeeded. The defeated and humiliated chiefs, on the other hand , in their rage, forgot their common interests as Afghans and, by inviting Babur to India , they caused the destruction of the Afghan monarchy at the battle of Panipat in 1526. [M.A.Rahim]

What the Sultan wanted was that his nobles should act like his faithful servants. The only draw-back with the sultan was that he lacked in the tact which Sultan Sikandar possessed. His measures to control the nobility were hasty and lacked statesmanship. Its result was unrest among the nobles. ["Some Aspects of Afghan despotism", Iqtidar Husain Sidiqui, p-47]

Abundance and low prices during the reign of  Ibrahim Lodi

According to Tarikh-i-Daudi, "One of the most extraordinary phenomena of Sultan Ibrahim's time was that corn, clothes, and every kind of merchandize were cheaper than they had ever been known to be in any other reign, except perhaps in the time of Sultan 'Alau-d din Khilji; but even that is doubtful. Moreover, in the time of the latter, the cheapness was occasioned by every kind of disgusting interference and oppression, and by a hundred thousand enforcements and punishments; whereas the cheapness of this reign was occasioned by abundant harvests. In the time of Sikandar, also, the markets were very cheap, but still not so much so as in the time of Ibrahim. Ten mans of corn could be purchased for one babloli; five sirs of clarified butter, and ten yards of cloth, could be purchased for the same coin. Everything else was in the same exuberance; the reason of all which was, that rain fell in the exact quantity which was needed, and the crops were consequently luxuriant, and produce increased ten-fold beyond the usual proportion. The Sultan had likewise issued an edict that his chiefs and nobles of every degree should take nothing but corn in payment of rent, and no money was to be taken from the cultivators on any account. The consequence was, that countless quantities of grain accumulated in the several jagirs, and as ready money only was necessary for maintaining the personal expenses of the nobles, they were eager to sell their grain at any price which was procurable. The abundance of God's blessings reached such a height, that ten mans of corn would sell for a bahloli. Gold and silver were only procurable with the greatest difficulty. A respectable man with a family dependent on him might obtain wages at the rate of five tankas a month. A horseman received from twenty to thirty as his monthly pay. If a traveller wished to proceed from Delhi to Agra, one bahloli would, with the greatest ease, suffice for the expenses of himself, his horse, and escort" [Extract of Tarikh-i-Daudi in Elliot's history of India, Vol-4, p-476]


When the battle of Panipat (1526) was about to lost, Mahmud Khan, an officer came to Sultan Ibrahim and requested him to leave the battle field. He said, " Your Majesty, I think it is better in the interest of the State that you should escape from the battle-field, by whatever means possible; afterwards, you might devise some means of success". But Sultan Ibrahim replied that it is a disgrace for kings to fly from the battle field. He added, "Do you not see that the Kings raise the red tents? It is an emblem of sovereignty, and we have dyed it red with our blood. Where should we go? Having donned the red dress of honour, why should we make it yellow". On saying this he rushed into fight with 5000 bravest horsemen and killed many Mughals and obtained martyrdom towards the close of the day. [Tarikh-i-Shahi]

Ibrahim Lodi was the only ruler of Delhi ever to fall in battle. His body was recovered shortly after the battle by one of Babur's officers, who cut off the head and brought it to his sovereign. Babur raised the head of Ibrahim from the ground and exclaimed, " Honour to your bravery ". The Afghan emperor was buried on the spot where he fell by command of Babur. Sher Shah Sur regretted on his death-bed in 1545 A.D that he had a mind to raise a tomb on Ibrahim Lodi's grave at Panipat but his wish was never fulfilled.

Babur killed an infant son of Ibrahim Lodi

'Afsana-i-Shahan' records Babur's Timurid instinct of shedding innocent blood , he killed Sultan Ibrahim Lodi's seven year old son.

'When Babur was slain , his son, who was seven years old, was taken prisoner. As he was brought before Babur Badshah, the king asked for an ewer. He gave it into his hand (and said) , Help me in performing ablutions. He was the son of a king (and) had never observed how it was done. He could not help him in performing ablutions. The king flew into a rage , struck the same ewer on his head and the child died on the spot. [Hikayat thirty-eight]

Babur mentions the prince as his captive in his memoirs. But his curious silence about the prince's name and his fate , lends veracity to Muhammad Kabir's account. ["Afsana-i-Shahan, a critique", Hussain Khan]

Ibrahim Lodi. Illustrations from the Manuscript of Baburnama of late 16th century