Zafarnama (Yazdi biography)

The Zafarnama, which translates to "Book of Victories," is a panegyric book written by Sharif al-Din ‘Ali Yazdi approximately two decades after the death of its main subject, Timur, the Turco-Mongol conqueror. It was commissioned by Ibrahim Sultan, Timur's grandson between 1424–28, and remains one of the best-known sources of Timur's life.

Quotes edit

The history of India : as told by its own historians. The Muhammadan period edit

Zafarnama, in The history of India : as told by its own historians. The Muhammadan period, [1]
Zafar-nama by Maulana Sharafu-d din Ali Yazdi. In The History of India as Told by its own Historians. The Posthumous Papers of the Late Sir H. M. Elliot. John Dowson, ed. 1st ed. 1867. 2nd ed., Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1956, vol. 2, pp. 99-149.also in [2] [3] [4]
  • [p. 120] March to the east of Loni—Massacre of Hindu Prisoners.
    On the 3rd Rabi’u-s sani Timur marched from Jahan- numai, and pitched his camp to the eastward of Loni. All the princes and amirs who had been engaged in different expeditions assembled here under the royal banner (and Timur harangued them on the operations of war).
    On the same day Amir Jahan Shah and other amirs represented to Timur that from the time he crossed the Indus a hundred thousand Hindu prisoners, more or less, had been taken, and that these gabrs and idol-worshipers were kept in the camp. It was to be feared that in the day of battle with the forces of Delhi they might join the enemy. This opinion was confirmed by the joy which the prisoners had exhibited, when Mallu Khan marched against the imperial forces at Jahan- numai. Timur considered the point, and deeming the advice of his officers to be wise, he gave orders for all the Hindu prisoners to be put to death. Everyone who neglected to comply with this command was to be executed, and his wives, children, and goods were to become the property of the informer. In pursuance of this order 100,000 infidel Hindus were put to the sword. Maulana Nasiru-d din, a most distinguished ecclesiastic, had fifteen [p. 121] Hindus in his train, and he who had never caused a sheep to be slaughtered was obliged to have these fifteen Hindus killed. Timur also issued an order that one man out of every ten should be left in camp to guard the wives and children of the prisoners, and the captured cattle.
  • Battle with the Sultan of Hindustan.
    Although the army of Timur was weak compared with this Indian army, still his soldiers did not rate their enemy very highly. But although they had fought in many battle, and overthrown many an enemy, they had never before encountered elephants. They had heard by report that the bodies of these elephants were so hard that no weapon would pierce them; that they could tear up strong trees with the wind (bad) of their trunks; that they could knock down strong houses with the pressure of their sides; and that in battle they could lift horse and horseman from the ground with their dragon-like trunk and raise them in the air. Exaggerations like these had raised apprehensions in the hearts of the soldiers. When Timur proceeded to appoint the places for the various officers of the court, he in his princely kindness, asked the learned doctors of the Law who accompanied the army in this invasion where he should place them. They, terrified with the stories they had heard of the elephants, answered: “In the same place as the ladies and women.” ...
    The soldiers of India fought bravely for their lives, but the frail insect cannot contend with the raging wind, nor the feeble deer against the fierce lion, so they were compelled to take to flight. Sultan Mahmud Khan, and those who fled with them, entered the city and closed the gates. Prince Khalil Sultan, of the right wing, not withstanding his youth, attacked one of the monster elephants, cut down his driver, and led the animal, as a husbandman drives a buffalo in the plough, to Timur.
  • Flight of Sultan Mahmud and Mallu Khan: Capture of Delhi.
    On the 8’th Rabi’u-s sani, Timur hoisted his victorious flag on the walls of Dehli.... The standard of victory was raised and drums were beaten and music played to proclaim the conquest to the skies….
    Maulana Nasiru-d din was ordered to go with other learned doctors and great men into the mosque on the Sabbath, and proclaim the name of the Sahib-kiran Amir Timur Gurgan in the khutba in the same way as the name of Firoz Shah and other Sultans had been proclaimed….
    On the 16th of the month a number of soldiers collected at the gate of Delhi and derided the inhabitants. When Timur heard of this he directed some of the amirsto put a stop to it. But it was the divine pleasure to ruin the city and to punish the inhabitants, and that was brought about in this way. The wife of Jahan Malik Agha and other ladies went into the city to see the palace of the Thousand Columns (Hazar-sutun), which Malik Jauna had built in the Jahan-panah. The officers of the Treasury had also gone there to collect the ransom money. Several thousand soldiers, with orders for grain and sugar, had proceeded to the city. An order had been issued for the officers to arrest every nobleman who had fought against Timur and had fled to the city, and in execution of this order they were scattered about the city. When parties and bands of soldiers were going [p. 127] about the city, numbers of Hindus and gabrs in the cities of Dehli, Siri, Jahan-panah, and Old Dehli, seeing the violence of the soldiers,2 took up arms and assaulted them. Many of the infidels set fire to their goods and effects, and threw themselves, their wives and children, into the flames. The soldiers grew more eager for plunder and destruction. Notwithstanding the boldness and the struggles of the Hindus, the officers in charge kept the gates closed, and would not allow any more soldiers to enter the city, lest it should be sacked. But on that Friday night there were about 15,000 men in the city who were engaged from early eve till morning in plundering and burning the houses. In many places the impure infidel gabrs made resistance.
    • page 501 ff [7]
  • In the morning the soldiers who were outside, being unable to control themselves, went to the city and raised a great disturbance. On that Sunday, the 17th of the month, the whole place was pillaged, and several palaces in Jahan-panah and Siri were destroyed. On the 18th the like plundering went on. Every soldier obtained more than twenty persons as slaves, and some brought as many as fifty or a hundred men, women and children as slaves out of the city. The other plunder and spoils were immense, gems and jewels of all sorts, rubies, diamonds, stuffs and fabrics of all kinds, vases and vessels of gold and silver, sums of money in ‘ala’i tankas, and other beyond all computation. Most of the women who were made prisoners wore bracelets of gold or silver on their wrists and legs and valuable rings upon their toes. Medicines and perfumes and unguents, and the like, of these no one took any notice.
    On the 19th of the month Old Dehli was thought of, for many infidel Hindus had fled thither and taken refuge in the great mosque, where they prepared to defend themselves. Amir Shah Malik and Ali Sultan Tawachi, with 500 [p. 128] trusty men, proceeded against them, and failing upon them with the sword despatched them to hell. High towers were built with the heads of the Hindus, and their bodies became the food of ravenous beasts and birds. On the same day all Old Delhi was plundered. Such of the inhabitants as had escaped alive were made prisoners. For several days in succession the prisoners were brought out of the city and every amir of a tumam or kushun took a part of them under his command. Several thousand craftsmen and mechanics were brought out of the city, and under the command of Timur some were divided among the princes, amirs, and aghast who had assisted in the conquest, and some were reserved for those who were maintaining the royal authority in other parts. Timur had formed the design of building a Masjid-i jami in Samarkand, his capital, and he now gave orders that all the stonemasons should be reserved for that pious work….
    • page 501 ff [8]
  • Capture of the Fort of Mirat.
    The fort of Mirat was one of the most famous in India. ... On the same day, after mid-day prayer, he mounted his horse, and, taking with him 10,000 men, he marched rapidly to Mirat. That night he halted midway, and on the following day, the 29th, in the afternoon, he arrived at Mirat. .... They soon took Iyas Aghani and his son Thanesari, the commander of the fort, and, putting ropes round their necks, brought them to Timur. Safi, the gabr, one of the chiefs of the fort, was killed in the engagement, and was punished by the fire he in error adored. Next day, the remaining gabrs were brought out and put to the sword. Their wives and children were made slaves. By the imperial order fire was then placed in the mines and the bastions, and the walls were thrown down and leveled with the ground….
  • [p. 137] Destruction of the Gabrs in the Valley of Kupila—Account of a Stone Cow Worshipped by the Gabrs.
    The valley of Kupila is situated at the foot of a mountain by which the river Ganges passes. Fifteen kos higher up there is a stone in the form of a cow, and the water of the river flows out of the mouth of that cow. The infidels of India worship this cow, and come hither from all quarters, from distances even of a year’s journey, to visit it. They bring here and cast into the river the ashes of their dead, whose corpses have been burned, believing this to be the means of salvation. They throw gold and silver into the river; they go down alive into the river, bathe their feet, sprinkle water on their heads, and have their heads and beards shaved. This they consider to be an act of devotion, just as the Muhammadans consider the pilgrimage to Mecca a pious work.
    In this valley there was a large concourse of Hindus, having great riches in cattle and movables, so Timur resolved to attack them. On the 5th Jumada-l awwal he set his army in motion towards Kupila. It was the will of Heaven that these infidels should perish, so in the pride of their numbers and strength they awaited his approach, and had the temerity to resolve upon resistance. At the rising of the sun our army reached the valley. The right wing was under the command of Prince Pir Muhammad and Amir Sulaiman Shah, and the left under some renowned leaders. Amir Shah Malik and other officers with the centre began the attack. When the cries of our men and the noise of our drums reached them, the courage of the infidels failed. In their terror they fled for refuge to [p. 138] the mountains, but they were pursued and many were slain. A few who, half-dead, escaped the slaughter were scattered abroad. All their property and goods became the spoil of the victors.
    The country having thus been cleansed from the pollution of infidels, the army returned back on the same day and recrossed the Ganges. Then Timur returned thanks for his victories, after which he mounted his horse and marched five kos down the river and there encamped.
    • page 511 ff [9]
  • Timur’s resolution to retire from Hindustan.
    When Delhi and its territories had been purged from the foul pollution of gabrs and idolaters, Timur formed the resolve of returning home. On the 6th jumada-l awwal, 801 H., he departed from the banks of the Ganges. Orders were issued for the march and for the tawachis to bring up the heavy baggage. On the 6th a march of six kos was made, and then a halt was called; the baggage in this march being four kos in the rear. At this stage Timur learned that in the valleys of the Siwalik mountains there was collected a large number of Hindus ready for battle. Timur then gave orders, that the troops in charge of the baggage should march to these mountains. He himself having marched rapidly thither, encamped in the hills of Siwalik. In this march, Prince Khalil Sultan and Amir Shaikh Nuru-d din came up from the baggage and joined Timur…. On the same day an order was issued that Amir Jahan Shah, one of the officers of the left wing, who had been absent for a week in a raid upon the upper parts of the Jumna, should come in and take part in the operations against the infidels. In compliance with this order he hastened to the royal camp.
  • Raid into the Siwalik hills.
    On the 10th jumada-l awwal Timur marched to attack the Siwalik hills. In that mountain valley there was a [p. 139] rai named Bahruz. He had collected a great number of people around him, and had formed a numerous army. Relying besides upon the strength of the position which he occupied, he was bold and resolved upon resistance. Timur appointed Prince Pir Muhammad and several amirs of the right wing, and Prince Sultan Husain and sundry officers of the left wing, to march and attack the infidels. Amir Shaikh Nuru-d din led the advance-guard of the centre. Thus they marched against the enemy, while Timur halted at the mouth of the valley. The soldiers fought most valiantly and made dreadful slaughter of the enemy. They obtained a decisive victory, and acquired a great booty in valuables, slaves and. cattle. With the desire of doing justice, Timur ordered that the strong men of the force, who had secured as their share of the spoil three or four hundred head of cattle each, should give up part of them to the weaker men, so that all might obtain a share in the fruits of the victory, and no man remain empty-handed. This decision gave great satisfaction.
  • Raid into other parts of the Siwalik hills
    On the 14th Jumada-l awwal Timur passed the Jumna and proceeded to another part of the Siwalik hills. There he heard that one of the rais of Hind, called Ratan, had assembled a great number of Hindus, and [p. 140] had taken post on the lofty heights in the thick forests. The hills were so high that no eye could see from the bottom to the top, and the trees so dense that the rays of the sun and moon could not reach the ground. It was impossible to make a passage without cutting down the trees. But for all this Timur did not hesitate, and without even waiting for the night to pass, he, on the 15th,8 gave his order for the advance. The troops accordingly marched on by the light of torches, and employed themselves in cutting down the trees and clearing a way. In that night they made a progress of twelve kos and in the morning of the 15th they penetrated between the Siwalik mountain and the Kuka mountain. Here Rai Ratan had taken up his position with his forces drawn up in regular battle array, with light wing and left wing, and centre and supports.9 But when the noise of our music and the cries of our soldiers reached the ears of the Hindus, they wavered and fled, without waiting for the attack. Our officers and men pursued them, and put many of them to the sword. All their property in movables and cattle fell into the hands of the victors. Every soldier obtained a hundred to two hundred head of cattle and from ten to twenty slaves.
  • On the same day Prince Pir Muhammad and Amir Shah Malik, in command of the right wing, went to another valley, where he destroyed many Hindus and obtained great spoil. The left wing, also under Prince .Tahan Shah, attacked and destroyed a body of Hindus in another direction, but they did not obtain so large a booty. On the night of the 16th both wings came up and joined the main body. In the morning Timur left [p. 141] the val1ey between the two mountains and returned to the Siwalik mountain. From this encampment to the country of Nagarkot there was a distance of fifteen parasangs. In this valley there are many dense jungles, and the mountains are high and difficult of ascent. Timur heard that there were great numbers of infidels in the mountains, and he determined to disperse and destroy them. The men of the left wing under Amir Jahan Shah, and the army of Khurasan, had acquired but little spoil, so he sent them out to make a raid and collect plunder. Early on that day Sain Tamur,10 commander of the advance-guard, came in to report that the number of Hindus in front exceeded all calculation. Timur therefore held his ground while the left wing was absent engaged in its work of plunder. The men of this force put a great many infidels to death, and acquired great spoil in wealth and cattle.
    On the same day at noon, news came from the regiment of Amir Shaikh Nuru-d din and Ali Sultan Tawachi that there was upon the left, a valley in which many Hindus had gathered, having with them much wealth and cattle. Timur immediately proceeded thither, and ordered the two officers who had made the report to attack the infidels. They accordingly fell upon the enemy and put many to the sword, and while they did so Timur stood upon the summit of a hill watching them and encouraging them with his presence. Many of the infidels were killed and wounded, and those who were able fled, leaving a great booty behind, which the victors brought into the presence of Timur, who warmly praised their bravery. Vast quantities of cattle were taken, and Timur stayed upon the mountain until evening, in order that the booty might be fairly distributed, and each man get his share. Every man got as much as he could take [p. 142] care of.
  • That night they encamped in the valley. In the jungles there were many monkeys, and when night came on they entered the camp and carried off the things of the soldiers. In the course of one month, from the 16th of Jumada-l awwal, when Timur was between the mountains Siwalik and Kuka. to the 16th of Jumada-s sani, when he arrived at Jammu, he had twenty conflicts with the infidels and took seven fortresses, each of them a Khaibar in strength. These forts were situated one or two parasangs apart, and their occupants were all at war with each other. In the days of the old Sultans they had paid the jizya, but they had broken away from their allegiance to the sovereigns of Islam, and would not now pay the tax, so the slaughter and plunder of them was lawful and laudable.
  • One of these fortresses belonged to Shaikhu, a relation of Malik Shaikh Kukar,11 and he by means of a few Musulmans who dwelt there, had induced the inhabitants to make submission to Timur, and outwardly to admit their subjection. But proofs of their aversion and hatred soon become apparent, for when the ransom money was assessed upon them, they made all sorts of excuses and evasions. One of Timur’s officers thereupon resorted to a clever stratagem. He gave orders that cast-off clothes and old bows should be accepted in payment of the ransom, and as he offered a good price for these things of little value, they brought forth their damaged weapons of all descriptions and sold them for a high price. By this sharp device they were led to strip themselves of their arms, so that they had no weapons left. After this an imperial order was issued that forty persons should be sent in to be the servants (Khudam) of Hindu Shah, the treasurer, one of his majesty’s courtiers. The infidels resisted this order, and killed some Musulmans. It thus became necessary for the soldiers of the Faith to [p. 143] exact vengeance. They assaulted the fort and took it. 2,000 infidels were put to the sword, and the smoke of their consuming goods rose from their roofs to the sky.

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