Amir Timur: Scourge of God
Naming of newly born son of Mr. Saif Ali Khan, the well known bollywood star, as Timur (Taimur) Ali Khan has aroused interest of the common man to know a little about the invasion of India by Amir Timur nick-named Scourge of God. Sir Stanley Lane Pool; British historian, has recorded the following about this Turkish invader:
On the 17th December, 1398, the decisive battle was fought. Timur crossed the Jumna and carefully surveyed the ground. He took unusual precautions to allay the terrors of his troopers, who were extravagantly nervous about the invincible elephants of the enemy. He issued calthrops (‘claws of iron’) to the troops to throw before these alarming beasts, and defended the camp with a strong abates of brushwood and trees, behind which he placed the women, stores, and cattle, as well as ‘the good and learned men of the army’ who, on being consulted where they would wish to be stationed during the battle, modestly expressed a wish to be ‘placed with the ladies.’ The immense number of Hindu prisoners, reckoned at 100,000, could not safely be left in the camp, and Timur ordered them all to be slain in cold blood. Then taking an augury from the Koran, and scouting the warnings of the astrologers, he set out his forces for battle.
The Sultan and Ikbal Khan escaped with difficulty to the city, trampling their own men under the elephants in the crush, and that night they fled to the mountains, basely leaving their wives and children behind. The victory was complete, and Timur, pitching his camp by the tomb of Firoz, gave thanks to God with tears. The leading men came out and surrendered the city on the following day, and in deference to the pleading of the ulama and other wise and pious Muslims the conqueror accepted a ransom for the lives of the people. There was to be no sack and no massacre. Unfortunately the collection of the ransom led to brawls on the 26th, and Timur's humane intentions were frustrated. It was no doubt difficult to restrain a great army of Turks, who had been accustomed for years to slaughter and pillage wherever they went. For three days the unhappy city was turned into a shambles. ‘All my army, no longer under control, rushed to the city and thought of nothing but killing, plundering, and making prisoners.’ Every man got from twenty to hundred captives, many of whom Timur sent to Samarkand to teach the famous handicrafts of India to his own people. There were immense spoils of rubies, diamonds, pearls, gold and silver ornaments and vessels, silks and brocades. Only the quarter inhabited by the sayyids and ulama-the heads of the Muslim religion-escaped the general sack. Siri, Jahanpanah, and old Delhi had been completely gutted. ‘Although I was wishful to spare them, I could not succeed, for it was the will of God that this calamity should fall upon the city.’
After a fortnight of state functions, feasts and leaves, it occurred to Timur that he had come to Hindustan to wage a Holy War upon the infidels, and that he ought to be stirring (Jan.1, 1399). After entering the fort of Firozabad on the Jumna, and praying in its mosque, he took Mirat by storm, massacred the men, took the women and children prisoners, and razed the town to the earth. He then pushed north to Hardwar, where he had heard of the image of the sacred cow from whose mouth the Ganges was supposed to flow and whither the Hindus made pilgrimage to the mysterious source of the Holyriver. Such superstition roused the zealot’s passion, and the wretched Indians were made to pay dearly for the legend. Crossing the Ganges, after a veritable orgy of slaughter, the soldier of the faith prostrated himself in gratitude of God, and felt that he had accomplished his mission in Hindustan. He had come, he said, for two purposes: to war with infidels for the sake of the rewards of the next world, and to seize this world's riches, since ‘plunder in war for the faith is as lawful to Muslims as their mother's milk, and the consumption of that which is lawful is a means of grace.’ Lacs of infidels had been dispatched ‘to the fires of hell,’ and the zealous warriors of Islam were laden with spoils. Enough had been done, and it was time to turn homewards and see what was going on at the other end of Asia. Fighting his way through the Siwalik hills, beneath Mussooree, driving the heathen into the Himalaya valleys, plundering and burning villages as he proceeded, seizing Nagarkot and Jammu, and detaching a force to take Lahore, Timur and his invincible host marched beneath the sloping eaves of India, and, after a final rhinoceros hunt, disappeared up the Afghan valleys. In March the fearful visitation was over.