The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Biography - Life of Timur Beg

Timur- Early Life

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When the man child was born to the chief of the tribe of Berlas, he took it, with its mother, to pay their respects to the holy Sheik Shems-ud-Deen {Teragay was devoted to the society of this worthy, who was a famous peer or religious man}; who was reading the 67th chapter of the Koran, and repeating this verse,-'Are you sure that he who dwelleth in Heaven, will not cause the earth to swallow you up ? and behold it shall shake' {Tamuru}. The Sheikh then stopped, and said, 'we have named your son Timur.' {Timur's titles, in the height of his power, were Sultan Kamran Amir Kutb-ud-Deen Timur Kurkhan Sahib Keraun. Sultan means 'lord;' Kamran, 'successful;' Amir, 'commander;' Kutb-ud-Deen, 'pole star of the faith;' Timur, 'it shall shake;' Kurkhan, 'of the lineage of sovereign princes;' and Sahib Keraun, 'master of the grand conjunctions.'-D'Herbelot}. In his seventh year Timur's father took him by the hand, and led him to school, where he was placed in charge of the Mollah Ali Beg. The Mollah, having written the Arabic alphabet on a plank, placed it before the child, who was much delighted, and considered the study as an amusement. In his ninth year he was taught the daily service of the mosque, and always read the ninety-first chapter of the Koran, called the Sun. The child very early began to entertain an innate feeling of superiority, and a sort of presentiment of his future greatness. He himself afterwards described his recollection of this feeling, in quaint terms. 'At twelve years of age,'' he says, 'I fancied I perceived in myself all the signs of greatness and wisdom, and whoever came to visit me, I received with great hauteur and dignity. At eighteen I became vain of my abilities, and was very fond of riding and hunting. I passed much of my time in reading the Koran, and playing at chess, and was also very fond of horsemanship.' {Timur's Memoirs. I believe there is no doubt as to their authenticity. The manuscript, brought from India by Major Davy, is an octavo volume of four hundred and fifty-seven pages, in the Persian hand. It begins with Timur's birth, and ends in his forty-first year, omitting the last thirty years of his life. The manuscript was found in the library of Jafir, Hakim of Yemen, by Abu Taleb ul Husseini, in the Turkish language, and was translated into Persian; and into English by Major C. Stewart in 1830} At about this time a change came over his habits of thought; he repented of his past life, left off playing at chess, and made a vow never to injure any living creature. The future destroyer of thousands of his fellow men, was seized with a feeling of tender regard for the most insignificant of God's creatures, and when the kind-hearted youth once unintentionally trod upon an ant, he was so deeply grieved, that he felt as if his foot had lost all its power. Such was this young man's character when, in 1355, at the age of twenty, his father, Teragay, made over to him a number of tents, sheep, camels, and servants, and, in short, gave him a separate establishment. Then it was that his energetic mind found other work than meditations on Budhistic vows; he began to long for some wider field of action, and to form plans of rebellion against what he considered the tyranny of the Chagatai Sultan. He could not then find anyone to join him; but another turbulent spirit, named Amir Kurgan, one of the greatest chiefs of the tribe of Chagatai, defeated and killed the tyrant, and ruled the kingdom for ten years, in the name of another puppet named Danishmundche Khan {He was not of the house of Chagatai, but was descended from Octai, another son of Genghis Khan. In this year (1356) Timur's mother died. He says, 'I was for some time very melancholy, and gave up my ambitious intentions.'}. Timur was deputed by his father to wait upon Amir Kurgan, on business connected with the tribe of Berlas; and the new ruler took a liking for the young chief, and gave him his grand-daughter in marriage. This lady proved a faithful and loving companion, following her lord in all his wild adventures, and sharing his dangers and misfortunes {Her name was Aljaz Turkhan Aga, daughter of Amir Mashlah, grand-daughter of Amir Kurgan, and sister of Amir Hosein}. Timur now began to experience all the realities of a Turkish chieftain's life, in the chase and in the battlefield, and his restless spirit ever thirsted for the excitement of action. He has himself recorded some of his adventures. On one occasion he lost his way, out hunting, in a heavy snow storm. After wandering about for many hours, he reached the hut of some wandering shepherds, half dead with cold, fatigue, and hunger; and was revived by the kindly Turks with a large supply of hot soup, of which he ate plentifully. On another day he was sent against a band of invaders from Iraq, charged them at a gallop, and, after a few cuts, put them to flight, and took possession of their plunder.