Tamerlane was the subject of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “Timurlane”. He is also the name given to their son by the Muslim star Saif Ali Khan and his Hindu wife Kareena Kapoor. One may ask, what’s in a name? Yes, there is nothing much in it except for the fact that Timur or Taimur was one of the most bloodthirsty characters in world history.
Parents generally choose any name they like but when a star couple chose the name of a man who devastated the world then it certainly raises eyebrows. In particular, his conquest of Delhi and subsequent bloodbath that is still talked off in awe and fear. This was in 1398 when Timur, with an army of 90000, crossed the country and like tidal wave advanced towards Delhi. The sultanate at Delhi was in disarray as Mohammed bin Tughlak had died and the distant provinces had broken away.
The army of Timur consisted only of horse soldiers armed with bows and arrows and curved swords that made for good aerodynamics as they had a low drag coefficient. No one could resist the invading force which swept across the plains of Punjab. Timur entered Delhi and was appalled at the lack of resistance. He was angry and ordered a summary killing of all residents.
This act of the warrior defies explanation. Yet he ordered a massacre of the citizens of Delhi. As per some chronicles, Timur had stated that he would only be happy in case blood flowed up to the shoulder of the legs of a horse. This could be an extrapolation later on, but historians have concluded that Taimur did launch a blood bath. Thousands were killed in the streets as the Mongols, on orders of Timur ran berserk.
History tells us that Taimur did not stay long in Delhi and soon left. He was 62 years old at that time, having been born in 1336. He looted the city and took 90 elephants and 200 of the most beautiful girls for his harem. The sack of Delhi has no parallel in Indian history
Taimur devastated not only Delhi but vast regions wherever he set foot. One must, however, admire his leadership qualities that led him to conduct military campaigns from Russia to Turkey and Iran in one breath. His was a classic case of the application of principles of war with reference to mobility and offensive action. His campaigns are worth studying by students of military history.
Despite this Timur at a conservative estimate executed 17 million men and women. This is only an estimate and it’s possible the figure could be inflated but there is no doubt that he carried out mass massacres. In defense of Taimur, one can say that what he did during this age was not confined to him as the law of the land at that time was either to kill or be killed.
Saif and Kareena have chosen a name, but one wonders whether politics is behind this choice because many Muslim stars from Shahrukh to Amir have voiced their opposition to the present dispensation in Delhi led by Narendra Modi. if this is indeed true then it will be a sad day for India.