CHAPTER X
Babur and the Mughals

With our arrival at the Mughal period we enter a more spacious field and breathe a fresher air. Instead of the general obscurity lit by occasional shafts of light, such as the Asokan inscriptions or Fa-Hien's travels, an obscurity only partly dissipated by the chroniclers of the Muslim centuries, India is bathed in a flood of light from a variety of sources. Instead of the occasional personality like Muhammad bin Tughluq which the earlier chroniclers revealed, we have a whole gallery of portraits of both men and women. Instead of the fissiparious tendencies of the preceding centuries, with their monotonous wars and often sickening tales of murders, massacre, and perfidy, we have a stable centripetal force steadily extending its influences throughout the subcontinent. Rulers become affable as well as capable; altogether the vagrant political and cultural winds of Hindustan blow with a more genial air.

The Mughal period in Indian history has certain distinguishing marks which had not been present in the same degree and in combination since the age of Harsha nearly a thousand years before. The first mark was its personalities. By coincidence or the working of some yet unfathomed historic law the sixteenth century was an age of greatness and creative endeavor nearly everywhere. Europe had its Renaissance and Reformation, its age of discovery, and its literary glories. France with its Francis I and Calvin, Germany with its Luther, Italy with its galaxy of artists and divines, Spain with its empire builders and t Ignatius Loyola, England with its Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare make an impressive array. In Russia there was the impressive if grim figure of Ivan the Terrible. In the Near East the Turkish Ottoman dynasty with Selim and Suleiman the Magnificent was in its heyday. Persia under Shah Abbas was renewing its political and artistic glories, while in the Far East the Chings in replacing the Mings were renewing the strength of China, and Japan had launched on a century of brilliance. In this galaxy the Indian constellationtion

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