Beijing, the capital of China, is a proud city. It’s great attraction, we are told, is the Forbidden City complex – Imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the Qing dynasty. As Wikipedia tells us, “for almost 500 years”, Forbidden City “served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government.”
The above description suggests that the Forbidden City came into existence due to the Ming dynasty. That, we found out recently, is not true either of Forbidden City or of Beijing. So what is the true ancestry of Beijing and its Forbidden City? Who made it the capital of China and what was the purpose of the Forbidden City?
The answer is Khubilai Khan, the most famous grand-son of Genghis Khan or Chingiz Khan as the Mongolians prefer to call him. And the Forbidden City was called that because the native Chinese were forbidden to enter it. The quotes below are from the book Genghis Khan and the making of the Modern World.
- “Khubilai Khan’s genius derived from his recognition that he could not conquer all of China by mere force… As emperor and founder of a new dynasty, Khubilai sought to sinecize his image ..
- “While keeping Shangdu as a summer home and a hunting preserve, he commissioned the building of another city, a real Chinese-style imperial capital, farther south at a place better situated to exploit the agricultural wealth of the lands along the Yellow River.”
- “In 1272, Khubilai ordered the building of his new capital, and he connected it by canal to the Yellow River. The Mongols called the place Khanbalik, the City of the Khans. His Chinese subjects called it Dadu, the Great Capital, and it grew into the modern capital of Beijing.”
- “Ultimately, at the heart of the city, however, Khubilai created a Mongol haven where few foreigners, including Chinese, could enter. Behind high walls and guarded by Mongol warriors. the royal family and court continued to live as Mongols. This Forbidden City constituted a miniature steppe in the middle of the Mongol capital.”
- “While Khubilai and his successors maintained public lives as Chinese emperors, behind the high walls of their Forbidden City, they continued to live as steppe Mongols. … continued to act as Mongols in dress, speech, food, sports, and entertainment.”
Khubilai Khan not only built the city that is now called Beijing, he built China into a united nation.
- “Khubilai did not pursue a short-term strategy of winning transitory popular support;”
- “The Mongols portrayed themselves as the strong leaders favored by heaven to unite the Chinese, in contrast to the effete and detached Sung leaders who wallowed in decadent luxury and valued ostentatious displays of wealth more than martial power.”
- “The collapse of the Sung dynasty was not a sudden fall or conquest, but a slow erosion as it fell apart.”
As the Japanese scholar Hidehiro Okada wrote, “The greatest legacy of the Mongol Empire bequeathed to the Chinese is the Chinese nation itself.”
- “The Mongols united not only all of the areas speaking various Chinese dialects, but they combined with it the adjacent kingdoms of the Tibetans, Manchurians, Uighurs, and dozens of smaller kingdoms and tribal nations.”
- “The new country under their administration was about five times as large as the civilizations where people spoke the Chinese languages.”
Within a mere decade of winning the war for today’s China, Mao Zedong & Zhou Enlai won back Xinjiang & Tibet thus recreating the China that Khubilai Khan had built.
Khubilai Khan & his successors also had a long term impact on Indian influence in the Far East.:
- “… in Southeast Asia, which remained beyond direct Mongol administration, the Mongol forces forged together new nations that laid a basis for Vietnam and Thailand. Prior to the Mongol era, the area that today composes the countries of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia had been decisively Indian in culture and followed the architectural styles, religious practices, and cultural history of India. The Mongols and the Chinese immigrants whom they brought created a new hybrid culture that thereafter became known as Indo-Chinese“.
(Division of Mongol Empire around 1300 – pg 194 of the book Genghiz Khan)
Look the center of the above map – the area labelled Moghulistan. This region, in fact, a much smaller portion of Moghulistan in late 15th century became of paramount importance to today’s India.
If today’s China is the result of Khubilai Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan, then today’s North India is the result of a descendant of Chagatai Khan, the second son of Genghis Khan.
The last major Khan to rule all of Chagatai Khanate was Tughluq Timur, a direct descendant of Chagatai Khan. Before his time, Moghulistan or the eastern half of Chagatai Khanate, was mainly Buddhist & Shaminist. Tughluq Timur converted to Islam and with him the entire dynasty became Muslim.
Look at the map of Moghulistan in 1450 CE. Notice Farghana that lies between the area labelled “Moghuls” & the area labelled “Timurid (Samarkand)”. Born in Farghana from a marriage of a Timurid man and a Moghul woman was a man who came to be known as Babur. From his father’s side, Babur was a descendant of Timur the lame (Tamarlane) and from his mother’s side Babur was a descendant of Tughluq Timur and through him a direct descendant of Chagatai Khan.
After failing to conquer Samarkand, Babur fled to today’s Afghanistan where he raised an army and came down the Khyber Pass and conquered Delhi. After decisively defeating a much larger Rajput Hindu army led by the famed Rana Sanga, Babur became the founder of the Mughal Dynasty that ruled most of North India. The Mughals reshaped North India to the point that even today’s Hindu North Indians think of Muslim Mughals as their emperors.
It was Babur’s great-great-great-grandson Aurangzeb who initially extended the Moghul rule over much of South India. His ambition to destroy the emerging Maratha Kingdom led Aurangzeb to occupy the south-central state of Maharashtra with an army of exceeding 400,000. That war continued for about 25 years and ended with the complete defeat of Mughals and the death of Aurangzeb in Maharashtra.
The Marathi destroyers of Aurangzeb never considered him or the Mughals as Indians. The death of Aurangzeb was recorded in 1707 as the death of the “Chagatai Turk”. The Marathi regime would, over the next half century, extend its dominance all over North India with the weak effeminate Mughal descendants allowed to remain in Delhi and its surrounding areas as titular “shahs”.
Finally in 1857, the British ended this “Mughal” charade by imprisoning Bahadur Shah, the last Mughal, and banishing him to a prison in today’s Burma. But much of today’s Delhi remains a Mughal city and pays homage to Mughals, the invaders from Genghis Khan’s Moghulistan, as rulers of North India.
3. Post-Mongol period in China & India
For two countries that shared little physical contact through out history, it is amazing that one Mongol named Genghis Khan can be considered the genetic ancestor of both today China & India, and especially of their capitals Beijing and Delhi.
But these two countries behaved very differently when the Mongol rule ended.
- After the overthrow of Mongol rule, the triumphant Ming rulers issued edicts forbidding Mongol dress, giving their children Mongol names, and following other foreign habits.
What about Beijing and the Forbidden City?
- The Ming sought to remake the city, remove the Mongol appearance, and build a new Forbidden City in their own style.
- With short exceptions, the capital has remained there with changing names, and Beijing still serves as capital for China, which occupies roughly the same national borders that it did under the Mongols.
(Forbidden City – src Wikipedia)
China & its capital were won back and occupied by the native majority Han Chinese and they wiped out all traces of the Mongols from the Forbidden City, from Beijing and from China itself. When you visit today’s Beijing, you see a completely Chinese city full of Chinese pride.
The story of North India & Delhi is very different. Delhi was never won and reoccupied by native majority Indians. Instead, Delhi continued to live under Mongol or Mughal occupation for 150 years even after the Mughals rulers were reduced to being mere puppets. The Mughal rule ended when Delhi was occupied by yet another foreign invader, the British.
So India’s capital Delhi and its surrounding region never became independent or never enjoyed freedom under native Indian majority rule. Their new colonial rulers wanted to keep Delhi & India in their state of mental subjugation and so the British never touched any Mughal monument in Delhi or in North India. They simply added their own monuments on Delhi. Today, every major seat of Indian Government is British-built.
Unlike Beijing which is today purely Chinese and Chinese alone, today’s Delhi remains a prostitute city of sorts, with Mughal and British monuments all over its body and spirit. Even after 1947, the new “Indian” government did not have the intelligence that the Ming period Chinese of late 14th century had. So when you visit Delhi, all you see are monuments of her many colonial masters, the British from Britain, the Mughals from Moghulistan or the Afghans from Afghanistan.
(Tomb of Humayunm, son of Babur – demonstration of “Indian” history to President Obama)
So, unlike the Chinese people of Beijing or China, the Indian people of Delhi & India have nothing to be proud of in their own capital. They can point to nothing that is Indian in their capital. But every people need some evidence of glory to make themselves proud. So today’s Indians desperately try to claim the Mughal rule as India’s own and take foreign visitors like President Obama to visit a Mughal invader’s tomb as a monument to Indian history.
Then they wonder why the world looks at them with contempt, hidden contempt when the world wants to sell to them and overt contempt like now when the Indians have again become too poor to buy much thanks to the plummeting currency.
4. Difference between China and India? And with NPak?
Do the history of Beijing and Delhi tell the real story of China and India? Did the Chinese destruction of Mongol monuments create a spirit of self pride and conquest that survives today? Is India’s lack of intelligence and lack of courage to do the same in Delhi reflected in India’s timid and pathetic posture in the world?
We think so. There is no major capital in the world that demonstrates its shameful past as Delhi does. Unlike Delhi, every major capital in the world proudly displays monuments of its glorious past. All Delhi exhibits is her loser past. That has to weigh on Indian spirit or any part of spirit that is still left.
5. India & NonPakistan
The people of Delhi, the real native poor or lower middle class people of Delhi, hate what is all around them. They recall, we can state from personal conversations, that the area of Delhi was the site of Indra-Prastha, that glori
ous city founded by the Paandav in the Maha-Bharat period. They talk about the palace that was built by Maya (a silent), the architect of Bhagvan Shri Krishna ( “a” silent). They still tell you the story of the embarrassing visit of Kaurav princes to the Maya-built palace.
But today’s Delhi has no trace of Indra-Prastha or of any other period from India’s glorious past, except one iron pillar of Emperor Vikram-Aditya of 4th century CE, the height of India’s “golden age”. And this solitary Indian monument still features the descriptive British plaque.
Why didn’t or why doesn’t Indian Government resurrect the glorious past that made Dehli the capital of North India? Why didn’t they have the intelligence that the break-away state of NPak had? The NPak capital would have been Rawalpindi, the city of Rawal dynasty of India which routed invading Arab armies.
The new breakaway state of “pak” or spiritually pure Muslims could not tolerate a capital that was once the city of victorious Indians. So their new regime built a new city and called it Islamabad. When you visit Islamabad, you don’t see any trace of Indian history, you see the new spirit that its leaders want you to recognize, the spirit of Muslim conquerors of India, (even though all these conquerors were Afghans or Mongols & not NPakis).
Is this attitude, is this decision to build a new capital that reflects the conquering spirit (weirdly of Afghans & Mughals), demonstrate the determined, purposeful & singleminded nature of NPak’s resolve? And does Delhi’s meek acceptance of its colonial shame and its refusal to even consider building its own monuments demonstrate the cautious, cowardly and pusillanimous nature of India’s foreign policy?
We think so and the USA keeps demonstrating so. Why else would USA continue to equate a much larger, much stronger, and much more prosperous India with a much smaller, much weaker, and much poorer NPak?
Editor’s Note: We are aware that books about Asia, especially books written by European-American writers, can be biased and not very accurate. So we would be deeply appreciative of feedback from readers, especially readers of Chinese origin, who disagree with the above quotes & descriptions from the book Genghis Khan.
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