Akbar’s Cook, His Residence and the Kitchen Establishment

The Palaces of Akbar survive at Fathpur Sikri almost in toto. Royal residences, courts, the haram, the offices, the workshops and the arsenal are all identifiable. But one thing which is not properly identified is the royal kitchen, which, if we go through the pages of Āīn-i Akbari, or the various Akbarnāma miniatures, a full-fledged mega-establishment with a large cooking staff headed by a Master Chef, supervisors and workers. It constituted of cooking areas, water storage areas, as well as sherbetkhānās. Where was this located? Who was the Master Chef? Such questions sometimes raise in our mind.

The Setting

Just to the north of the Diwān-i ām, situated between the so-called ‘Mint’ or the Kārkhāna, the Workshop, and a large massive water reservoir, nomenclated as hauz-i shīrīn, the Sweet Water Tank is located the Kitchen.

The Kārkhāna was the royal workshop where goods needed in the Court were prepared: wicker baskets, presentation items, medallions – and possibly also muhrs, the gold coins.

The Potable Water Store: The Hauz-i Shīrīn

At Sikri, the water is of two kinds, sweet drinkable and potable water, and, (mostly) the saline, brackish water, which was not potable, but used for irrigation and to run the fountains and ābshārs.

The Hauz-i Shīrīn, was named so for two reasons: a) that it was the water from this tank which was used for human consumption. It was sweet, drinkable and in which food was cooked; and b) It was mixed, on the orders of Akbar, with Gangājal before being consumed. Akbar strongly believed in the efficacy and sacrality of the water from the Holy Ganges!

This tank in itself is a marvel! Built on a sharp slope of the ridge, it rests on inverted arches. On the slope are raised a series of circular vaults held on broad piers. On them are then constructed inverted arches which hold the massive weight of the water stored above. The water itself was brought from the Northern Waterworks situated at some distance to the west of this tank, near the Hathipol.

From the Northern Waterworks, the potable sweet water was transported through a series of aqueducts raised atop masonry pillars.

The Matbakh

It was but natural that the matbakh – the kitchen was situated very near to this Sweet Water Tank. The dark coloured building and the area behind it in the picture below was the area of the kitchen complex.

It was a large enclosed quadrangular area comprising of a ‘kitchen’ with a series of masonry ovens (bhatti) and hearths (chūlhā). This cooking area was located on the north-eastern corner. A series of platforms and corridors lined the northern and southern sides of the quadrangle. A few chambers were built on the eastern side adjoining the Royal Kārkhāna.

From the south a staircase connected this Kitchen to the roof of the Dįwān-i ām from where the cooked food and beverages were taken to the Daulatkhāna and the ābdārkhāna (Beverage House) from where after being further tested it was laid before the Emperor or taken to the Royal Haram.

A triple layered platform is also constructed in the middle of the Kitchen courtyard. Was this the place from where the Royal Chef supervised?

Office-cum-residence of the Superintendent

To the west of the Kitchen quadrangle, just adjoining the ramp besides the Hauz-i Shįrīn, on the road leading from Hathipol to Diwān-i ām, are a group of buildings comprising a hammām and a multi-chambered structure.

Such structures are usually constructed near each and every workplace, a kārkhāna or a buyūtāt, even sarais. Our sources, both European (eg., Fr. Monserrate) and Persian sources (eg. Abu’l Fazl and Badauni) inform us that there used to be yātishkhānas (or yatashkhāna) [Fr. Monserrate mentions iataxqana] which were residential quarters built near workplaces for the dāroghā ( Superintendents). They were office-cum-residences of the Incharges: just as today a Hydel Engineer has his residence and office near the canal or project under his charge!

The term Yātishkhāna technically meant a place to quench one’s thirst. Such residential office abound in Fathpur Sikri: thus we have one attached to the Sarai, another to the Imperial Kārkhāna, yet another near the stables and animal pens!

During the 19th Century a scholar who wrote in Urdu noted an inscription adorning the external wall of the structure near Hauz-i Shīrīn which informed it to be the house of the Superintendent of Kitchen Establishment, a certain Muhammad Bāqir.

The inscription according to him ran as follows:

Yātishkhāna-i Dārogha-i Matbakh Banda-i Dargāh Muhammad Bāqir Sufrachi

The Office-cum-Residence of the Superintendent of Kitchen Establishment, the slave of the threshold, Muhammad Baqir, the Cook

By the time Professor Athar Abbas Rizvi started looking for it, it was lost and untraceable.

The present author rediscovered it in 1990’s. having fallen to the ground, it lay recognised until some enterprising villager on seeing a Persian writing over it, placed it on top of a platform adjoining the very building, which once adorned it and converted it into a “tomb”.

Today it is taken to be a grave, a mazār of a “Syed Bābā”, white washed with flowers and a green chador covering it. It is visited Manya gullible who believe in its miraculous powers!

What better tribute could have been given to the one who used to feed Akbar the Great three times a day for at least a decade! He as the Superintendent of Kitchen also had the daily duty of tasting the food being laid before his emperor to test it for poison!

Divine Capital of Hindu Sultans: Plan & Character of Vijayanagar (Hampi)

• Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi

The city of Vijayanagara was founded in 1336 AD on theTungabhadra River, about 120 Km west of Bellary near Mysore in Karnataka, South India.

As capital of a successful kingdom, the city flourished, dominating the political and cultural milieu of South India for 229 years.

The urban settlement of Vijayanagara covers an area of around 26 Km and is bound on the north by the Tungabhadra River and on the south by the Sandur hills, which are composed of two parallel ranges running southeast – northwest. The area between the two ranges is known as the ‘Valley of Sandur’. In the north of the site, a valley running southwest to northeast, and representing an earlier course of the Tungabhadra, cuts the settlement into two separate and geographically distinct zones. An

artificial irrigation canal, the Turtha Kalure, flows along the southern side of the valley. The zone to the north of the valley is characterized by a rocky and uneven landscape, whereas the southern zone is situated in a large plain, broken by occasional outcrops of igneous granite.

General Layout of the City

The Sacred Centre

The rocky zone to the north of the valley is traditionally imbued with ritual and mythical importance and contains numerous temples and shrines. Four temple complexes, the Virupaksa, Balkrishna, Achyut Raya and Vitthala are situated in prominent positions. This zone has been identified as the ‘sacred centre’.

The Urban Core

In the north, beyond the two parallel ridges, is the Urban Core of the city. This area incorporates the residential areas as well as a complex of enclosures which comprises the ‘royal centre’. This is clearly demarcated by a complete ring of massive fortifications having strongly defended gateways. This wall is in the shape of an elliptical area follows the granite outcrop of the site and is around 4 Km along its northeast-southwest axis. This area contained the bulk of the population.

Innumerable rubble remains and dense pottery fragments indicate extensive habitation. In between are interspersed Hindu and Jain temples and shrines, as well as a mosque and a cemetery in the Islamic quarter.

The alignment of structures and gateways indicate a radial system of roads with the main routes converging on the Royal centre. Rows of shops line the main streets. This zone is located at the southwestern end of the Urban Core, and is surrounded with another set of fortification

wall, fragments of which can still be seen. The structures in this area include the remains of ceremonial, military and residential buildings, as well as an elaborate hydraulic system for conducting and storing water.

The Royal Centre

This Royal Centre is divided by high walls into a number of

irregularly shaped and tightly interlocking enclosures which are entered through elaborate gateways and small doorways.

Beyond the Urban Core to the south and west, in the plain, are the outlying quarters of the capital, the remains of which are now incorporated into modern villages and towns such as Kamalapuram, Malpannagudi, Kadirampuram and Hospet.

The excavations by Nagaraja Rao in 1983 and 1985 in the

Royal Centre provide important evidence for courtly ceremonial and residential buildings. The plans of the excavated remains can be divided into two groups: In the first category are platforms with square and rectangular floor areas entirely divided into aisles by columns. The finest example of this type are at Enclosure IV where also is situated the multi-storeyed Mahanavmi platform.

In the second category are the palaces, the most characteristic feature of which is the symmetrical plans and the ascending sequences of floor levels which are arranged in U-shaped fashion around three sides of

an open courtyard.

Portions of a sort of water supply and drainage system have also been unearthed.

Cosmic City

In the words of John Fritz, Vijayanagara was a ‘cosmic city’. The concept was first propounded by P. Wheatley in 1979 and re-iterated by J.F. Meyer for Peking. According to this concept, the city was sacred when it reproduces in material form a pattern that exists in cosmic realm. The cosmic cities, thus, are characterised by three features:

(a) orientation, as aligned with cosmos;

(b) symbolism of centrality; and

(c) the throne of the sacred king.

We know that typical ‘Hindu’ cities were aligned according to cosmic patterns, the mandala defined and as laid down by the sacred texts, the sastras. Fritz tries to argue that even though the overall plan of the Vijayanagara does not appear to ‘conform to a shastric urban mandala’ [Fritz, “Is Vijaynagara a Cosmic city?”, Vijayanagara: City and

Empire, ed. S. Dallapiccola & S. Zingel-Ave Lallement, Heidelberg, 1985], certain aspects of the layout may be in concordance with theoretical prescriptions.

According to one of these prescriptions, the fortified capital was to consist of nine by nine squares, in the middle of which was the temple housing the king’s deity. The residence of the king was to be located to the west of this temple, while the audience hall and throne was to be to the east. Surveys by Fritz, Michell and Nagararajarao have shown the relation of the Ramachandra Temple and the royal areas was similar and conforms to this model.

The zone of Royal residence within the Royal centre had complex entries leading to large palaces surrounded by open courtyards and other structures. The palaces themselves were quite formal in layout and comprised of raised basements with U-shaped plans.

The zone of Royal Performance comprised of larger and more direct entries leading to large courts which faced the large ‘public’ buildings and the Mahanavmi Pavilion: it is a multi-tiered stone basement in the highest point in the royal centre.

The Ramchandra Temple does not only stand at a point which separate the “inner” (or the private) from the “outer” (the public), but is also axially and visually aligned with the hills to the north and northeast.

All routes are directed towards or circulate around the royal centre, and within it, it passes through the open space where the temple is built. Thus movement inward is directed to the seat of king’s activity, and within this, to the temple of god. As they lead through the walls of the royal centre and approach the temple, the principal roads of the city (from the northeast and east) become sacred ways, lined with shrines. The royal centre and the temple also become the place of origin of roads leading outwards into the rest of the city and empire beyond.

It has also been shown that the movement within the capital circumambulated the royal centre in a clock-wise direction (as in the case of pradakshina). On a larger scale, a sequence of ring roads passed around the royal centre, linking residential areas of the urban core (east) to temples in the western half of the sacred centre.

Thus all these urban elements tried to link the terrestrial realm of the king with the celestial realm of the god. The paln of the royal centre together with the roads of the city, its walls and gates, its tanks and aquaducts, its temples and its rituals all embody the cosmic order. Both king and god were the focus of the city.

Jamal Muhammad Siddiqi (15 July 1945 – 26 February 2000)

Jamal Sahib is the author of a well researched work on Aligarh – the district, not the University.

He had started his academic career as an Assistant Archaeologist, a position which he gained in 1968. In 1974 he was appointed as a lecturer in the Department of History, AMU, a post which he ultimately vacated in 1984, when he joined as a Reader in the same department.

From 1968 to a few years before his death, he remained involved in a number of Archaeological Excavations which were carried out by the Department. He participated in important excavations such as those conducted at Atranji Khera, Lal Qila and Fathpur Sikri, conducted under the supervision of Professor RC Gaur. He was also a part of the team which carried out excavations at Jhakera under Dr MDN Sahi.

His book Aligarh District: A Survey from Ancient Times to 1803 was published by the CAS. The theme was suggested to him by Professor Nurul Hasan who launched a mega project on the history of Urban areas.

In view of the continued relevance and importance of the work, it has been reprinted by the Centre this very month. No other such work has ever been attempted on Aligarh District. From place names to epigraphs, from forts and tombs to indigo manufacturing, the book deals with a wide gamut of themes. Being a study based on a historical survey of Aligarh district, it shifts the focus of research from royal courts to villages and mufassil towns. It very exhaustively uses the primary sources and epigraphs along with up till then untapped local sources and oral records.

Jamal Sahib being well versed in Urdu, Persian and English also translated a number of books into Urdu. His Urdu translation of the Agrarian System of Mughal India by Irfan Habib is the most prominent amongst them. This translation came out in 1977. Two years later he translated RS Sharma’s famous monograph, Sudras in Ancient India. Moreland’s two books, viz., From Akbar to Aurangzeb, and Agrarian System of Moslem India were also translated into Urdu by him.

During my student age, I remember him teaching a course on Archaeological Theory and Practice, and another on Historical Archaeology. He had also been given the responsibility of making the time table for the BA and MA classes.

He also wrote a number of research papers. One paper, interestingly critiques the nomenclature ‘Medieval Archaeology’. If excavating a medieval site is medieval archaeology, then why can’t we have Khalji archaeology or Tughlaq Archaeology, he argued. Ironically today however, he is remembered as a Medieval Archaeologist!

Professor Saiyid Nurul Hasan (26 December 1921– 12 July 1993)

Nurul Hasan was one of the most well known scholars of Aligarh who had a major contribution of developing the Department of History, Aligarh. It was during his tenure as the Head that the Department in 1968 was upgraded as a Centre of Advanced Study.

Born at Lucknow, he got his basic education from Sultan ul Madaris, a well known Shi’i seminary. He then shifted to Kolkata where he got admitted at La Martiniere Boys College. He then enrolled at Allahabad in the Muir College and became a student of R P Tripathi. He also brushed up his Persian and Arabic under the tutelage of my father Syed Sibtul Hasan, who at that time was teaching at Ewing Christian College, Allahabad.

After having served for some time initially at School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS), London he joined Aligarh as a Professor. Those were the times when very few would be elevated to this prestigious position. It was under His headship that the department started making rapid progress and started emerging as a nodal point for research in Medieval Indian History. It was his endeavours which resulted in the Department being upgraded as a Centre of Advanced Study in Medieval History in 1958.

Under his able stewardship new vistas were opened and researches in myriad themes started in right earnest. Fields like Urban History were initiated, and later on, when he joined as the Union Education Minister, major projects like the National Project on Fathpur Sikri excavations was launched. Researches on Regional History, like Rajasthan were started. SP Gupta, AR Khan started researching various aspects of Rajasthan, S Shafiullah was assigned to explore Orrisa, Shaikh Abdul Latif was asked to work on Bengal. History of Technology, Maritime History, Urban History, History of Central Asia, Ghaznavids, History of Art and Paintings, Archaeology ….there was hardly any field which was left unexplored.

Nurul Hasan himself wrote very little. His best known work is on the Zamindars. Another is his pioneering paper on the morphology of Shahjahanabad. He had the vision to realise which scholar would contribute to which area!

The three storey building which houses the CAS in History was constructed under his able supervision. But unfortunately before the Department was shifted there, he had joined as the Education Minister.

He entered the building the first and last time when he came after the passing of a Bill by Indira government which allegedly took away its so-called Minority character.

He had barely entered when a mob of ungrateful hooligans surrounded the Department and threw tomatoes which shouting slogans “Go back! Go back!”

Nurul Hasan went back never to return. When his term as Education Minister ended, he was offered Professorship at Delhi University. Ultimately he became the Governor of West Bengal.

Though he never returned to the University, but he always remained concerned about its welfare and the welfare of anyone related with it, especially those related with the Department. He helped in every way anyone and everyone, even those who had bitterly opposed him.

He never forgot that for some time my father had taught him. Though he hardly knew me, but me being the son of his teacher, he would write a letter every year around December to enquire about my progress. I would write back my progress report and send him a copy of the paper I had written that year. He would never reply back, but next year there would be another letter from him asking me about my academic activities!

The last time we met was in Calcutta during a session of the Indian History Congress at the Governor Residence, where he called the Aligarh delegates over high tea!

Nurul Hasan, like Mohammad Habib was one of those who shaped and nurtured this Department: the CAS is a result of his vision!

Aurangzeb, Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Shivaji

After the recall of Shaista Khan as the Subadar of the Deccan and the sack of Surat by Shivaji in 1664, Aurangzeb selected one of the best generals, Mirza Raja Jai Singh. He was appointed as the viceroy of the Deccan. He was accompanied by such renowned generals as Daler Khan Rohilla, Dawar Khan Qureshi and others.

Mirza Raja Jai Singh

Mirza Raja Jai Singh, on reaching the Deccan, with the true eye of a general, established military outposts in different directions and ordered that the main land of Shivaji be attacked and devastated. Shivaji took shelter in the fort of Purandhar. Jai Singh ordered the fort to be besieged and Daler Khan was appointed to carry on the siege. Because of the repeated military success of Jai Singh and the complete devastation to the main land of Shivaji, all military efforts of Shivaji were paralysed. Shivaji was convinced that the

fort would be captured and he would be arrested. He thus sued for peace and wished to pay a visit to Jai Singh to negotiate the peace terms. Shivaji had also a reputation of attacking the enemy on the pretext of offering gestures, as with Afzal Khan, the general of Bijapur. Jai Singh granted an interview and all precautionary measures were taken. Shivaji came to the tent of Jai Singh and Jai Singh gave signal to Daler Khan to capture the Fort of Purandhara to show that the Mughals had sufficient force. Shivaji got demoralised and agreed to all the terms proposed by Mirza Raja Jai Singh and a treaty was signed in 1665 which is known as the Treaty of Purandhar.

Jai Singh greets Shivaji before Treaty

The Treaty of Purandhar and its Clauses

The conditions of the treaty were:

(a) Out of 32 forts, Shivaji would surrender 23 to the Mughals. Shivaji agreed.

(b) 2/3rd of the territory of Shivaji was seceded to the Mughal Empire.

(c) Shivaji agreed to accept the overlord ship of the Mughals and accept a mansab. His son, Sambhaji was given a rank of 5000/5000.

No Mughal general had succeeded in concluding such a treaty with Shivaji showing immense superiority of the Mughals.

Now the real problem started. The real problem now was that Jai Singh was convinced that with the help of Shivaji and his Maratha contingents, the states of Golkunda and Bijapur could be easily taken in the Mughal Empire. If these two were to be annexed and directly controlled by the Mughals, Jai Singh said, the Marathas could play a role as the Rajputs played in North India. So what Jai Singh visualised was that not only would it be easy to annex Golkunda and Bijapur but also to administer it.

Mirza Raja Jai Singh and his Plea

He wrote a number of letters to Aurangzeb [Haft Anjuman] in which he argued to adopt a forward policy towards the Deccan and pleaded that in the frame work of the Mughal Empire, the Marathas should have the same position as the Rajputs had in the North. In anticipation of the approval to be obtained, Jai Singh advanced his forces into the territory of Bijapur and occupied Kalyani, the first outpost. In these military preparations he spent around one crore of rupees from his own expenses. He also wrote that if Bijapur was annexed, ten times more would be got in addition to vast territories. Jai Singh emerged as the champion of the Forward policy in 1666; and repeatedly wrote to Aurangzeb for the annexation of Golkunda and Bijapur.

Changed Views of Aurangzeb and the Death of Mirza Raja Jai Singh

Aurangzeb on the other hand pleaded a cautious and moderate policy by a mere show of force and not by actual use of force. So within ten years Aurangzeb conveniently forgot his own arguments. Result was that a gulf was created between Jai Singh on the one hand and Aurangzeb on the other.

Aurangzeb ordered the withdrawal of the forces from Kalyani. Jai Singh resented this withdrawal and when he showed his resentment, Aurangzeb censored him. Jai Singh mad a pathetic appeal of having served the grandfather, father and now you, fighting in Balkh and Qandahar and now to be humiliated! He died of heart attack due to this humiliation.

So the most brilliant career came to an end abruptly. Now the most pertinent question is: why Aurangzeb forgot his own arguments within 10 years? When there was no substantial change in the geo-political structure during this phase.

As viceroy of the Deccan, Aurangzeb or Jai Singh, their horizon was limited only to the affairs of the Deccan and they were only interested in the problems with which the Mughal administration was faced in the Deccan and were as such trying to solve them as Viceroys of the Deccan unmindful of serious repercussions which that will have on the administrative efficiency of the Mughal Empire as a whole.

But for Shahjahan or Aurangzeb, as an emperor, Deccan was one of the 22 provinces of the empire and not the only one. Any policy to be formulated regarding Deccan, the repercussions had to be closely examined. Both Shahjahan and Aurangzeb as emperor were convinced that expansion meant bulk of military and adverse effects on the Mughal Empire.

This explains the reluctance of Aurangzeb to get involved in the Deccan: a point which he could see as an emperor, and could not understand as the subahdar. Any action adversely affecting other provinces was not worth taking.

Reasons for Shivaji’s break with the Mughals

Unlike the Rajput society, the Maratha society was not a clan based society. In the Maratha society, individual was the basic unit of the society as against the clan or the tribe. So the difficulty which the Mughals faced in the Deccan vis-à-vis the Marathas was that if they win over a powerful leader to their side, there were ten other persons to take his place in the society. So under the Marathas it was quite different from the Rajputs, where if the leader accepted the overlordship, the entire clan followed. Thus if Bharamal joined the Mughals, the entire Kachhawaha clan followed suite; and when Amar Singh accepted the Mughal suzerainty, all the Sisodias followed him.

So for the Rajputs, appointing the leader of the clan to the mansab meant that the entire clan would follow him in fealty. This situation was not possible as far as the Marathas were concerned: here each individual was free to accept or reject on his own. There was no leader of the clan. And the Mughals were not in a position to satisfy each and every individual Maratha. So there was a social impediment.

Secondly the Mughals befriended the Rajputs during the reign of Akbar when the emperor wanted to annex the whole of North India to the Mughal Empire. And to achieve this consolidation, the services of the Rajputs were of immense use. Thus concessions were extended by the emperor towards them.

Aurangzeb had not decided by 1666 to annex the Deccan to the Mughal Empire. When Aurangzeb had not yet decided, the importance of the Marathas could not be equated with that of the Rajputs. So the Marathas had no political importance to the extent as the Rajputs had during Akbar’s reign during the 16th Century. So the entire correspondence of Mirza Raja Jai Singh was from a different point of view. Jai Singh presumed that the whole Deccan would be annexed to the Mughal Empire. If Aurangzeb had also decided on this policy, he would have seen the point of view of giving concessions as demanded.

So Aurangzeb was not prepared to give at that stage all those concessions to Shivaji and the Marathas which were demanded by Mirza Raja Jai Singh.

Thirdly, Shivaji had a burning desire to carve out a separate kingdom for himself and to maintain a separate political identity. It was because of this ambition to have a political identity and status which acted as the most attractive slogan for the Marathas to follow Shivaji. It was because of this slogan that Shivaji succeeded in ralying around his banner the Marathas. So whether he would be given the rank of 5000 or even 7000, he could not be satisfied; and even if Shivaji was satisfied and accepted the overlordship and mansab of the Mughals, he was bound to loose his following in Maharashtra. Perhaps Aurangzeb knew the weakness that even if Shivaji recanted, it would have no serious consequence. Shivaji was only a leader of the Marathas so long as he gave the slogan of separate political identity in the south.

That is why the indecision. Unfortunate result was that Shivaji was neither crushed nor conciliated. These were the basic reasons for the break of Shivaji with the Mughals. In addition to that it was also an assertion of regionalism and the regional elite which created a problem in the process of reconciliation of the Marathas. The movement of Shivaji can also be defined as a regional movement for regional independence. That was the period of rise of nationalities as has been pointed out by Reisner. But then the basic weakness of Reisner’s argument is that in the 17th Century India was not a nation.

In addition to this there were certain immediate reasons for the break of Shivaji with the Mughals.

After the Treaty of Purandhara, when Shivaji was humiliated by Mirza Raja Jai Singh, and the terms were dictated, Shivaji accepted the terms favourable to the Mughals and extremely humiliating to him. Jai Singh persuaded Shivaji to pay a visit to Agra. He gave the solemn assurance of his safety at Agra.

When Shivaji came near Agra, Kunwar Ram Singh son of Jai Singh was directed by the emperor to go out to receive Shivaji at the outskirts of the city. It was just an accident that Ram Singh went to receive by one gate, while Shivaji entered by another. So they missed each other, a fact which Shivaji resented as being a deliberate humiliation. When ultimately Shivaji reached the darbar, he was immediately presented before the emperor. He was ordered to stand in the row of the panj hazari as per the court etiquette of the nobles being organized as per their ranks in the royal presence.

Shivaji enquired who was standing before him in the second row. He was given the reply: ‘Maharaja Jaswant Singh’. To this Shivaji protested that ‘His back has been seen by my soldiers (in company of Shaista Khan). And he is standing in the front!’ on hearing this Jaswant Singh retorted that if every petty baniya was given the status of 5000 it will be an insult.

One should remember that in 1665 his son had been given the rank of 5000. Shivaji now sharply protested to this so-called humiliation of being made to stand in the rank of the panjhazaris.

On hearing the commotion, the emperor enquired the matter. It was reported to him that Shivaji was not used to the heat of Agra, and as such was not feeling well. Aurangzeb ordered him to be taken to the Haveli to take rest. But subsequently the position became clear to him of Shivaji’s annoyance.

Two parties developed at the court: One in favour of Shivaji and the other against him. The party in favour consisted of Kunwar Ram Singh, his father Jai Singh, Muhammad Amin Khan, the son of Mir Jumla of the Deccan (probably due to regionalism), and Murtuza Khan. They pleaded for Shivaji and impressed upon the emperor that Shivaji should be pacified and all demands of mansab etc. should be conceded to him.

The other group, which was more powerful, consisted of Princess Jahanara Begum, Maharaja Jaswant Singh and Ja’afar Khan. They were opposed to Shivaji and pressured Aurangzeb to take stern action against him. Jahanara was hostile to Shivaji as Surat was under her jagir and it had been plundered by Shivaji.

Jaswant Singh was hostile because he knew if the issue of Shivaji was solved, his own prestige would take a beating. Jafar Khan was the son in law of Shaista Khan who had been attacked by Shivaji and whose prestige had been broken like his fingers by Shivaji.

Aurangzeb could not decide the proper action against Shivaji. He was in the meanwhile imprisoned in a house and the custody was given to Faulad Khan, the kotwal of Agra. Then Kunwar Ram Singh was made the in charge of the custody of Shivaji. And it was from his custody that Shivaji made his escape from Agra in 1666 and Aurangzeb was deprived of the fruits of the Treaty of 1665.

In the meantime, Mirza Raja Jai Singh died and a new chapter was opened in the Deccan politics. No Mughal general could replace Mirza Raja Jai Singh, either in qualities of a general or that of a diplomat or a statesman, with the result that no Mughal general succeeded against Shivaji to the extent that Jai Singh did.

In 1672 the Afghans revolted in the North-West, and Aurangzeb had to leave for Hasan Abdal and stay for two years. The bulk of the Mughal forces were during this time withdrawn to be posted against the Afghans. Result was that an opportunity was provided to Shivaji due this absence of the emperor and the Mughal forces from the Deccan. The result was the coronation of Shivaji in 1674. the significance of the coronation of Shivaji is that after this he became an independent king, having all the apparatus of monarchy, the prestige of a king and as such, he could now talk to the rulers of Golcunda and Bijapur on equal terms. As a result of this coronation, the moral prestige of Shivaji was enhanced. He was no longer dependent of recognition of his authority either from the Mughals or the recognition by Adil Shah or Qutb Shah. He became a sovereign in his own right.

He had succeeded in carving out an independent rule. The theoretical framework which was lacking in the movement so far, i.e., the moral and legal hitch was now removed. He established the ‘Hindu pad padisahi’.

A Note on the Development of Urdu / Hindavi During 17th & 18th Centuries

Rekhta (Urdu: ریختہ, Hindi: रेख़्ता rekhtā, Persian: ریخته “poured” or “molded”, symbolizing the mixture of Hindi, Persian, and Arabic) was the Persianized form of the Khariboli dialect of Hindi now known by the names “Hindustani”, “Hindi”, and “Urdu”. From the late 17th century till the closing decades of the 18th century, the term was used for the Hindustani language. It was largely supplanted by the name Hindwi / Hindavi and later Hindustani and Urdu, though it continued to be used sporadically until the late 19th century.

The Name ‘Urdu’:

An important question is how the word ‘Urdu’ came to be applied to a language. We have seen that the soldiers in Delhi at a very early date gave up the use of Persian among themselves and began to speak a modified form of the vernacular. In Delhi this form of speech, to distinguish it from the usual Khari Boli (and probably also from Persian), was called Zaban i Urdu, the language of the Army, or Zaban i Urdu e Mualla, the language of the Exalted or Royal Army. As the soldiers and the people intermixed and intermarried, the language spread over the city into the suburbs and even into the surrounding district. It was natural to keep up the separate name to distinguish it not only from the unmixed vernacular of the people, but also from the Persian of the court. This double distinction is not unimportant. It is possible, too, that in time the name served to mark still another distinction, viz. between the speech of Delhi and that of Lucknow. It is supposed that gradually the word ‘zaban‘ was dropped, and ‘Urdu’ came to be used alone.

In this explanation there is a difficulty. Though the royal camp was established in Delhi during the time of Qutb ud Din Aibak in 1206, the earliest known example of the employment of the word ‘ Urdû,’ standing by itself and meaning the Urdu language, is in the poems of Mushafï, 1750-1824, which are unfortunately undated, and in any case hâve only in part been printed. Gilchrist uses it in his Grammar (1796). The earliest examples of the phrase, Zabân i Urdu, the language of the Camp or the Urdu language, are in Tazkira e Gulzâr i Ibrahim by ‘Alï Ibrahim Khân (1783) and in Mushafï’s Tazkira e Shu ara e Hindi (1794). In this title we must note the word ‘Hindi’ (meaning ‘Urdû’). The expression Zabân i Urdû e mu alla (e Shâhjahânâbâd Dihli), the language of the Royal Camp, or the Exalted Urdu language (of Shâhjahànàbâd, Delhi) occurs in the anthology Nikât ush Shuarâ by Mïr Taqï (1752). In Qiyâm ud Dïn Qâim’s anthology Makhzan i Nikât (1754) we find muhâvira e Urdû e mu alla, the idiom of the Royal Camp. ‘Arsh, the son of Mïr Taqï, speaks of himself as Urdu e mu alla kâ zabândân, one well acquainted with the Urdû e Mu’allâ language. His date is unknown, but he seems to hâve been born in Mïr’s old âge.

Now the earliest of thèse is five and a half centuries af ter the foreign army had settled in Delhi ; and we naturally ask why during all this long period the language never received the name ‘Urdu/ and why people suddenly thought of that name after the lapse of so long a time, when it had ceased to hâve any particular meaning. This period of 550 years could perhaps be reduced; it has been claimed, but not proved, that the royal camp in Delhi was not known as the Urdu till the time of Bâbur, who came direct from Turkistan with a Turki force in 1526, It is a doubtful point. We may admit that before his time the foreign recruits had nearly all been Persian speakers or descendants of Persian speakers. But on the other hand the word ‘Urdû’ for army had been in Persian since 1150, for it is found more than once in the Jahânkushâ of Javainï with that meaning.

The first example of it in India is said to be in the Tuzuk i Bâburi, compiled by the Emperor Bâbur himself in 1529. But even if we accept these later dates for the first occurrence in India of the word ‘ Urdû ‘ with the mean-ing of army, we still have to account for the fact that for 226 years, from 1526 to 1752 no one seems to have thought of calling the language by that name, and that it was only after 1752 that this was done. It is almost incredible that none of the historians of the Mughal period ever used the name; yet such seems to have been the case. The language as spoken was generally called Hindi / Hindavi; when employed for literary, that is poetical, purposes it was known as Rekhta (see p. 3) or Hindi. Amir Khusrau and Shekh Bajan (d. 1506) speak of Zaban i Dihlavi, the speech of Delhi; while Vajhi in Sab Ras (1634) calls it Zaban i Hindostan, the language of Hindustan. But no one in the early days spoke of ‘Urdu’. Even in the end of the eighteenth century it was an uncommon word. People continued to talk of Hindi and Rekhta. As late as 1790 ‘Abd ul Qadir in the preface to his Urdu translation of the Qur’an said he was translating not into Rekhta but into Hindi.

One interesting detail is still sub judice. It has been asserted that the Persian dictionary, Muayyid ul Fuzala (1519) uses the phrase, ‘in the language of the people of the Urdu.’ But it is claimed on the other hand that the words are not found in good MSS. of the Dictionary; and the MS. in the British Museum does not appear to contain them. Even if it did, ‘urdu’ would not here be the name of a language. It is a fact worth noting that the word ‘Urdu’ is not given in this Dictionary at all with any meaning, either ‘army’ or any other. Possibly the explanation of the problem is that Zaban i Urdu, the speech of the Camp, or some equivalent phrase, was in conversational use from the earliest times, and that gradually, centuries later, it was admitted to books, while the use of the word ‘Urdu’ alone, without zaban, was still later. But the subject requires further investigation.

The origin of the Urdu language is obscure. Various theories have been given to explain it. Muhammad Husain Azad maintains that Brij Bhasha, a dialect of Western Hindi, is the basic language. After the conquest of Delhi by the Muslims, the Persian element was grafted which resulted to the existence of Urdu language.

Mahmud Sherani, on the contrary, holds that the Urdu language originated in the first contact of the Muslims and Hindus after the conquest and incorporation of the Punjab and Sind In the Empire of Mahmud of Ghazni. In his book Punjab men Urdu, he has discussed the structure and morphology of the Urdu language and has shown grammatical affinity which it has with the Punjabi language. After the occupation of Delhi by the Ghoris, the Punjabi Muslims and Hindus, who had already become familiar with the Persian language, migrated to Delhi in order to run the administration of the new government. This exodus of people on a large scale from Lahore to Delhi influenced the Khari Bholi or the Hindi spoken in Delhi and its neighbourhood. In course of time the Punjabi words and idioms became interwoven in the Hindi of Delhi and thus a new language came into being.

The third theory has been recently propounded by Dr. Masud Husain of the Aligarh Muslim University. He said that the basic language spoken in Delhi at the time of Muslim conquest was Hariyani. When Persian was grafted on Hariyani, it resulted in the creation of the Urdu language. He has discussed the grammatical structures of Hariani and Urdu and has based his conclusion on a comparative study of the two languages.

It seems fairly clear that after the Ghori conquest of Delhi, Persian and Punjabi words got interwoven with the language which was spoken there, which was a mixture of Khari Bholi, Brij, Rajasthani, and Hariani. Languages do not originate overnight. It must have taken at least a century to give shape to the new common language of Delhi which has been called “Hindawi” or “Dahlavi” by Amir Khusrau. Later Abul Fazl also called it the Dahlavi language. Amir Khusrau used “Dahlavi” or “Hindavi” medium in his compositions which he has mentioned in the introduction of his Ghurratu Kamal.

From the very beginning when Delhi became a great centre of the Sufis, they employed the Hindavi language for preaching their message. They found Hindavi to be the most suitable medium for conveying their messages to the masses. Baba Farid freely used Hindavi words in his conversation with his disciples. Some Hindavi utterances have been preserved by Mir Khurd in the Siyarul Auliya. In Fawaidul Fuad, Shaikh Nizamuddin also used Hindavi language in his conversation with his disciple.

In the development of early Urdu or Hindavi, the Bhagat poets have also played an important role. The language used by Namdeo, Kabir, Pipa and Ravidas is hardly different from the one used by the Sufis. As both the Bhagats and the sufis aimed atreaching the people, they employed the all-India medium available, the Hindavi, which have been familiar all over the country.

After the advent of the Mughals on the stage of Indian history, the Hindavi language acquired greater flexibility and range. Persian words and phrases came into vogue freely. The Hindavi of this period was known as the Rekhta, or the Hindustani and later as Urdu. Perfect amity and tolerance between Hindus and Muslims tended to foster the Rekhta or Urdu, which represented the principle of unity in diversity, so marked a feature of Indian life at its best.

During Akbar’s reign, translations were made from Sanskrit into Persian and Hindus and Muslims came very close to each other. Akbar’s intimate relation with the Rajputs indirectly helped the development of Urdu. Raja Todar Mal ordered all government officials to acquire proficiency in Persian as a condition for promotion. This indirectly led to the propagation of Urdu all over the country and finally to its standardization in the time of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, when the synthetic character of Urdu (Rekhta) acquired a complete form and greater content and power.

The famous poets of this period who wrote in Urdu were Chandar Bhan Brahman, Mu’izzuddin, Ja’far, Mirza Kashmir and Mirza Bedil. Shamsuddin Wali is regarded as the founder of modern Urdu poetry. He freely used the Persian izafat and tarkib. Wali was followed by Abru, Arzu, Hatim and others at Delhi who standardized Urdu prosody.

The Urdu language was enriched from generation to generation, mainly through accumulated wisdom, techniques and cultural traditions. Through its medium the different sections of Indian society found the way to perfect comprehension of one another.


It is convenient to divide this period into three parts, the first two running parallel: (1) Literature in Golkunda or Haidarabad, connected with the Qutb Shahi court (1590-1687); (2) Literature in Bijapur, connected with the ‘Adil Shahi Court (1590-1686); (3) Literature in the Deccan during the time of Aurangzeb and his successors (1687-1730).

The greatest poets of this period were the following:

GOLKUNDA : Muhammad Quli Qujb Shah, King of Golkunda (1580-1611); Vajhi (flor. 1600-40); Gavva’i (1639); Ibn i Nishati (1655); Tab ‘i(1670).

BIJAPUR: Rustami (1649); Nusrati (1650-70); Mirza (1660).

1687-1730: Vali and Siraj, both of Aurangabad.

The greatest of these was Vali.


Two men bearing the name, ‘Ajiz, viz. Muhammad ‘Ali ‘Ajiz and ‘Arif ud Din ‘Ajiz have sometimes been confused.

MUHAMMAD ‘Aii ‘AJIZ was the earlier writer; his style is simple, direct and forceful. He is author of a romance called Qissa e Firoz Shah or Qissa e Malika i Misr (1688 or earlier), 800 lines long, which deals with the story of the wife of Firoz Shah, King of Egypt. It is not known to what part of the country ‘Ajiz belonged, but he was alive when Aurangzeb conquered the country in 1686 or 1687.

VALI ULLAH QADRI, at the suggestion of his father, translated Marifat i Suluk from the Persian original. The date is 1688.

SHEKH DAUD ZA’IFI was a learned Sufi who left two poems; one, a romance in the India Office Library, is without date or title (720 lines long); it tells the story of a woman who burnt herself alive because of her love for Muhammad. Hindi words abound in it. The other is Hidayat i Hindi (1689), a long work on the beliefs of the Hanafi sect.

BECHARA flourished during Aurangzeb’s time. We know only that he was a servant of the emperor and visited Delhi.

SHAH HUSAIN ZAUQI‘ wrote in 1697 a poetical version of_ Vajhi’s Sab Ras, which he called Visal ul ‘Ashiqin or Husn o Dil, but it is much inferior to the prose original. He left also a number of other poems which have been lost, but MSS. of three works, a eulogy of ‘Abd ul Qadir Jilani, Mabap Nama, and an account of the well-known Sufi, Mansur, have been preserved.

AMIN in 1697 composed a long poem which was a retelling of the ever popular Yusuf-Zulekha mistakenly dated 1600-1 by Garcin de Tassy. He is not the same as Muhammad Amin or Amin.

QAZI MAHMUD BAHRI was a prolific writer of Sufi views, who flourished c. 1680-1700. He belonged to a village, Gogi, near Nusratabad, but went to Bijapur in 1684 and to Haidarabad two years later. On one of his journeys he was attacked by robbers who destroyed all his writings. In 1700 however he wrote a romance called Man Lagan which has been printed. It contained so many difficult words that a glossary was prepared shortly after the work itself. It is now out of print. He left also fourteen love poems, four elegies, two odes, and a mystical ode called Bange Noma.

MUHAMMAD FAYYAZ VALI of Velur (Vellore) is to be distinguished from his more famous contemporary and namesake of Aurangabad

His time of activity is 1690-1707. He was the author of a romance, Qissa e Ratn o Padm, 8,000 lines long, based on Muhammad Jaisi’s Padmavat, which has been attributed to the other Vali, and of a collection of elegies, about 10,000 lines in all, called Rauzat ush Shuhada, 1707. His authorship of a short poem of 100 lines known as Munajat is doubtful.

MAHMUD BEG of Bijapur, and FAKHRI, a pupil of the Vali just mentioned, were friends who wrote in the end of the seventeenth century.

AHMAD GUJRATI was a learned elegy writer in Aurangzeb’s time. He knew Hindi, Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit.

ARIF UD DIN ‘AJIZ, a much more artificial writer than his namesake, was the author of a romance named Qissa e Lal Gauhar and of other extant poems. The poem written by the other ‘Ajiz has been attributed to him, but the straightforward style in which it is written is a strong argument for believing that the earlier author wrote it. ‘ Arif ud Din was born in north India. His father came from Balkh in the time of Aurangzeb, 1659-1707. He soon died, and the future poet was brought up by the second son of Asaf Jan, the first Nigam of Ijjaidarabad, whose dynasty is still on the throne. He went with his benefactor to Aurangabad and was given a salary sufficient for his simple wants.

ABU TALIB TALIB was a Haidarabad poet who visited Delhi and lived there for some time. His date is the last decade of the seventeenth century.

SABAI of Ahmadabad (flor. c. 1695) has been compared in style with Nazir of Agra.

SHAH BIR ULLAH MUJRIMI in 1702 told poetically the story of Vajhi’s Sab Ras, entitling it Gulshan i Husn i Dil: as a poem it is mediocre, but it has the merit of brevity and simplicity.

‘IRAQI was another poet of that time.

FAQIR ULLAH AZAD, a contemporary of Vali Aurangabad, wrote with much pathos. This was the result of a disappointment in love which led to his wandering restlessly till he reached Delhi. Little is known of his writings.

MAHBUB ‘ALAM, known as Shekh Jivan (flor. circ 1720) wrote several poems, the chief of which are Dard Nama, 5,500 lines in length, and an elegy on the death of Muhammad. In the latter the speakers are ‘Aisha and Fajima. Others doubtfully attributed to him are Mahshar Noma, Khvab Noma and Dahez Noma. He was a religious writer, probably a Dakhni.

VAJDI (about 1710) wrote a long romance, Tuhfa e ‘Ashiqin, based on, or adapted from, Farid ud Din ‘Attar’s Persian work Khusrau Nama. The romance is extant, but owing to some confusion between this Vajdi and another who lived a century earlier, the authorship is not beyond doubt.

Vali. SHAMS UD DIN VALI ULLAH (1667-68-1741-42) is one of the greatest names in Urdu literature. He was born and brought up in the Deccan. His actual birthplace was Aurangabad and he is often referred to as Vali Aurangabadi, a name which distinguishes him from Vali Veluri or Dakhni . Little or nothing is known of his family, but he is supposed by some to have been descended from Gujrat ancestors, and possibly connected with the famous saint Vajih ud Din. When he was about 20 he went to Gujrat to complete his education, and he always retained a warm affection for the country, particularly for Surat, as his poem in praise of that town shows. While he was studying in Gujrat he became very much attached to a Sayyid called Abu’l Ma’ali, with whom he travelled to Delhi, perhaps in 1700. There he placed himself under the spiritual direction of Sa’d Ullah Gulshan to whom he showed his verses. He must already have written a considerable amount Of Dakhni verse, for he lived among Dakhni poets with a long line of nearly a hundred Dakhni poets behind him, whose works must have been familiar to him, but now probably his teacher, seeing how excellent his Dakhni verses were, advised him to give up Persian altogether.

We are not quite sure of the sequence of events or of individual dates. He no doubt recited his Urdu poems before the poets of Delhi. These men whose vernacular was Urdu were writing poetry solely in Persian, unaware of the fact that for nearly 400 years prose and verse had been written in Urdu; but they were immensely impressed by the facility with which Vali expressed his thoughts in that language. His verses became so popular that people began to sing them in the bazaar and he was everywhere received with honour. Vall’s visit to Delhi created a revolution in the poetry of north India. After a time he revisited his native land, but returned again in 1722 to Delhi, a city of which he was very fond. This time he took with him all his poems and his triumph was complete. He died in Ahmadabad in 1741. Vali’s writings may be divided linguistically into three sections, viz. pure Dakhni, about a third of the whole; ordinary Urdu but with many Dakhni words; pure Urdu. His lyrics number 422 and take up about three quarters of his collection; he wrote six odes dealing with religious subjects or eulogising saints; two masnavis, one being in praise of Surat; and a number of poems in other styles. He wrote no long poems, and he never wrote encomiums on earthly rank or greatness. One poem traditionally attributed to him, Dah Majlis or Rauzat ush Shuhada, is by the other Vali .

His style was simple and dignified, sometimes rising to real eloquence; he was essentially a religious man of a mystical cast of thought, and his writings present a vivid picture of the life of the time. He ranks probably in the first half-dozen Urdu poets, and his importance as being the man who induced the Delhi poets to write in their native language can hardly be over-rated. In the days when the wealth of early Dakhni poetry was not known, he received the title of Baba e Rekhta, Father of Urdu; and so far as his relationship to Delhi is concerned he almost deserves it.

Mir Muhammad Ja’far, who gave to himself the unlikely and self-mocking pen name of Zatalli (“babbler of nonsense”) was a phenomenon in many ways. Besides being the first Urdu writer with an uninhibited love for words, he was the first Urdu satirist, the first Urdu humourist, the first social and political satirist in Urdu, the first and the greatest Urdu writer of obscene and bawdy prose and verse, and the first Urdu prose writer in North India. He did all this almost entirely on his own. Doubtless, Persian with its great treasure house of the bawdy, the erotic, the pornographic, and the obscene, provided precedents of sorts. But there was no Persian writer who devoted himself exclusively to these modes.

Almost nothing is known of Zatalli’s life, except that he came from a good family in Narnaul, a small town not far from Delhi in modern day Haryana. A person called Sayyid Atal Narnauli may have been his elder brother. His date of birth is not known, but can be determined tentatively as 1658. He put together his poetry and prose in perhaps 1685-6. Whatever he wrote later might not have been collected in his lifetime. The earliest known manuscript of his works dates from 1791/92.

At some time or the other, perhaps in his middle life, he was employed at the court of Kam Bakhsh, fourth son of Aurangzeb. He seems to have been dismissed some time later when he composed a satire on the prince. Before this, he was employed at the court of Muhammad A’zam, Aurangzeb’s eldest son.

According to Mir in his Tazkira Nikat ush-Shu’ara, when Zatalli was presented before Muhammad A’zam, he composed the following verse in praise of the prince:

This very great Name, A’zam

Was engraved on the brilliant seal

Of Solomon.

The point in the she’r is that a secret and most potent name of Allah is called isme a’zam, (The Greatest Name); traditionally, the Prophet Solomon possessed the ism-e a’zam. According to Mir, the prince suitably rewarded Zatalli, but if personal references in his “Unedited Court Journal” are to be believed, he was a thriftless person and would have been soon parted from the prince’s bounty.

Zatalli died in 1713, most probably executed at the order of Farrukh Siyar (r. 1712-1719), the ruling Mughal king for whose coronation Zatalli had composed a scurrilous sikkah.1 It went as follows:

Sikka Zad Bar Gandum-Wa-Moth-Wa-Matar

Badshah Dazakasha Farrukh Siyar

Struck coin on Wheat and Lentils and Peas

The Grain-Gatherer Emperor, Farrukh Siyar

He struck his coin on grains of wheat

And on coarse pulses, and peas:

Farrukh Siyar, that garrotter of a king.

This was a parody of a couplet written on a coin of Farrukh Siyar:

Sikka Zad Az Fazl-e-Haq Bar Sim Wa Zar

Badshah Bahr-Wa-Barr Farrukh Siyar

[Struck coin by the Grace of Truth, On Silver and Gold

Emperor or Sea and Land, Farrukh Siyar]

It must be remembered that the bulk of Zatalli’s admittedly small output is in Persian, or in Rekhta. Rekhta began as macaronic verse in which Hindi/Hindavi (or Urdu, to give its modern name) and Persian were freely mixed in various proportions. Hence the name rekhta, which means, among other things, “mixed, poured.” Very soon the poems written in the rekhtah mode came to be themselves called rekhtah, which thus became the name of a genre instead of a form. Later, when Hindi/Hindavi poetry became popular, the name rekhtah was used for compositions in Urdu as well, and the language Hindi/Hindvi itself began to be called Rekhta. There was no poetry or prose in main-line Hindi/Hindavi in Delhi before Ja’far Zatalli, and Zatalli also favoured the rekhta mode oftener than the Hindi/Hindavi mode. It is clear that in Zatalli’s time Rekhta had not been adopted as a language name. The language name “Urdu” occurs much later still.

Literature in the rekhta mode is regarded as Urdu literature because its impulse came from Hindi/Hindavi and it was written in the Perso-Arabic script and the conventions that it followed were largely Indo-Iranian.

There is not much to choose between Zatalli’s Persian, Rekhta, and Urdu. He is equally inventive and equally vituperative and enthusiastically “wicked” in all the three.

Writing Fathpur Sikri Revisited

It was while doing my M Phil under the Supervision of Professor Irfan Habib, the job of accompanying official tours of the Department of History came to be assigned to me. Probably I was chosen as none else was ever ready to leave Aligarh on trivial pretexts, and not that I knew something on Architecture or Monuments! In fact I had never ever offered architecture as a course of study in my graduate or post graduate days. In school I have had science, so that what to talk about monuments, I did not ever had even studied History.

But then, old monuments and structures had always interested me, outstation trips excited me, and sitting for long hours in libraries and reading rooms bored me stiff! These outings provided me escapades from the usual uninteresting dreary life chores!

Thus whenever the then Chairman and my research Supervisor, Irfan Habib asked me to accompany the participants of workshops or Seminars to Agra and Fathpur Sikri, I would readily agree. One additional factor in my agreeing was that I had been visiting the Taj, and the palaces at Sikri since my childhood days!

Since birth we had been a regular to the annual congregations (jalsa) at the Mazār of Qāzi Nurullah Shustari at Agra, whose mutawalli was my revered father. Each time, I would hop in a bus with someone or the other for a day trip to palaces at Sikri, or an afternoon trip to the Taj Mahal. Both places fascinated me as well as intrigued my young mind! What was this room? Or what was the purpose of that structure?

When as a researcher I went with “delegates”, more and more questions were disturbing my mind. Sometimes even very trivial queries of those whom I accompanied, eluded answers. I would reply to them but my heart would know that I was merely bluffing a reply!

One of our close family friends was Athar Chacha, the famous Professor S Athar Abbas Rizvi, a frequent visitor to my father from Canberra. Athar Chacha was the author of two books on Sikri: one a guide book for ASI and another a major work which he wrote with his Australian student, AJ Flynn. But, neither the discussions with him, nor reading the two books, were able to provide me answers to my questions.

On some occasions I was exposed to some other experts on Sikri. Once I accompanied a team of foreign delegates of a UNESCO Conference organised by Irfan Sahib. We first went to the Taj and then to Sikri. An old gentleman, whom I had mistaken to be an American, who had been silently listening to my nonsense at Taj, suddenly came to me at a Palace at Sikri and with a twinkle in his eyes, enquired: “And what is this? Explain!” As I was replying, I saw his eyes moisten, and then he exclaimed: “Do you know lad, I was the in charge of these monuments before Independence?”

Shocked, I just barely managed to ask for his name. “I am Dani, Ahmad Hasan Dani!” And then from that point to the end of the trip, Professor Dani, the celebrated Archaeologist of Pakistan was explaining to us his views on Sikri!

At another time, I was summoned by Irfan Sahib to accompany a European visitor to Sikri. Neither Irfan Sahib cared to divulge his name, nor did I ask! At Sikri he kept on asking me questions about structures and excavated sites, and I kept on answering. At lunch time, we went to the then newly opened ITDC hotel at Sikri, Hotel Gulistan. There, as we dined, I asked him from which country he was. And then he replied “Oh so sorry, I haven’t introduced myself to you: I am Attilio Petruccioli from Italy”. I sat there stunned and in shock! I had been with THE EXPERT since morning without realising it!

More sweet amazement awaited me when next day in the lectures which he delivered, he cited my interpretations with much appreciation!

In fact a couple of years before this trip, I had taken up Exploratory trips to Agra and Sikri. The first in 1989 on my own to record the mason’s marks: something which had been on my mind since long; and then 1992 to survey the noble’s excavated houses at Sikri. Both the time I had gone with vengeance as a retaliation against a caustic remark of Professor Iqtidar Alam Khan that such work was beyond my “capacity”.

By the time I started collecting material on the Mughal Architects, on whom I had a chapter in my PhD, I got more interested in their work. I left my PhD midway and started exploring Fathpur Sikri instead.

Irfan Habib supported me to the hilt and kept on giving me yearly grants to carry on my surveys. And when after Irfan Sahib, Departmental financial support dried up, with chairmen mean enough not to give me a penny, Professor Shireen Moosvi started providing funds from Aligarh Historians Society, an NGO of secular Aligarh historians.

By 2006 my draft for the book was ready!

Ultimately it was in 2013 that Oxford University Press came out with Fathpur Sikri Revisited.

It was released during the Indian History Congress Mumbai session.

In 2015, the Indian History Congress awarded it the Mohammad Habib Best Book in Medieval Indian History for the period 2012-14. The panel of experts included historians like Satish Chandra, DN Jha and Harbans Mukhia.

Even otherwise the book was received well.

It comprises of 11 chapters, apart from an Introduction and two Appendix.

It’s one of the first works which tries to combine literary sources, archaeological explorations & surveys, Archaeological finds and Visual records. The Mughal miniatures are used as a source for interpreting the structures.

Apart from reinterpretation of various structures, it also tries to clear many myths: for example, was it ever “abandoned” or that was there a “paucity” of water? It demonstrates that when in 1585 Akbar left it for political reasons, never to return, it continued as a commercial hub, instead of an “Imperial” capital. And that it emerged as a Centre for indigo production and carpet weaving. Some of the waterworks constructed by Akbar are not only still functional but till date meet the daily needs of the modern town! Briefly grappling with architecture, it instead deals in detail the Mughal town planning with Fathpur as an example.

Further, for the first time the step-well and garden of Babur which he constructed after his victory over Rana Sanga, which he named Bāgh-i Fath are recorded and identified. Also identified is the location of Akbar’s Ibådatkhāna.

Without doubt this book is a must read by not only students but also all serious scholars of History. I unabashedly say so not because I am the author, but because the book demands so!

Hiran Minār of Fathpur Sikri: It’s Purpose & Use

One of the iconic images related with Fathpur Sikri is the Hiran Minar, which in popular legend is a tower embedded with elephant tusks. According to some legends Akbar would sit on its top as elephant fights would take place below. According to another version, the emperor would watch the polo matches being played in the Chaughāngāh (Polo-Ground) stretching besides the lake.

At the present moment this tower stands forlorn between the Hāthīpol (the Elephant Gate) and the dry bed of the lake which had now turned to fields.

To understand this tower and its purpose, one would have to understand the layout plan of the city and it’s inspirations, the sources of urban design.

Mughal Encampment

One of the major sources of Mughal urban design was the mobile Mughal Encampment which has been described not only by Abu’l Fazl but a number of European travellers accounts as well. The Mughals, the other Timurids before them were peripatetic by nature: they would be constantly on the move and would seldom stay for long at a place. For instance, Amīr Timur, who created the magnificent palaces at Samarkand, whenever in the city, would never stay in his creations, but would live mostly in tents fixed in the gardens laid out outside the city. At other times, he would be travelling with his entourage from one corner of his empire to another. This same practice was followed by Babur and his successors in India.

Camp on the move was no small entourage but a whole city on the move: along with the Emperor were his nobles, bureaucrats and retainers. Each had their own personal service men. Then there were those who came to meet the king or the nobles. All these people had their daily needs: the tanner, the barber, the grain seller, the cloth merchant, the pan seller, the physician, the veterinary, the fodder seller … the list was unending resulting in great multitudes of people moving along with the emperor. Some would be on foot, some on camels, others on horses. Some would move faster with the emperor, others would lag behind. And all had to be settled in the evening for the night. Each was assigned a place as per his status or rank. Each knew his place where to go when the emperor would stop for the night: the first tent enclosure was for the emperor. It would have two sections, one a public space for him to give audience; another where he would stay himself. Somewhere around would be tents for private meetings and war councils. Beyond his enclosure would be a large cordoned off area for the women. Tents of princes would surround them. Then all round would be a cordon of camps of high commanders, Superintendents and other high bureaucrats. Beyond this layer would be the military commanders, security guards and army men. Petty nobles would fix their tents in the next zone, followed by the tents of other followers and retainers. Farthest would be the service classes. The merchants along with their merchandise would occupy all the corners so that every one could approach them easily. And this arrangement would remain till the emperor would decide to commence his journey again. Similar settings would then be there at the next site of camp.


To guide every one to his rightful place and to ensure that the late comers reach the camping site even after dark and then know where they had to go to pitch their tent, a large bamboo pole with fire lit on its top would be fixed in front of the tents of Imperial authority. The fire lit on the top of the pole would be beacon to which showed them where the tent of the emperor was! This was known as the ākāsh (sky) dīyā (lamp), virtually a Light House.

The ākāshdiyā would guide the night traveller to the camp, as well as mark the exact location of the sovereign: the petitioners would know where they had to go!

The Kos Mīnārs

Structures marking distances were constructed in India since ancient times. The Greek ambassador Megasthenes, as referred to by Strabo, mentions that there were milestones on the Mauryan roads recording distances, erected at a regular predetermined distances. However, no reference to the structures of this nature is known from the Sultanate period.

Babur, in 1528, ordered one of his Central Asian nobles, a certain Chiqmaq Beg, that he, with the assistance of the royal clerk, should measure the road between his new capital Agra and Kabul. The emperor ordered that at every ninth kos, the noble should erect a 12 qaris (24ft or 36ft) high tower, topped with a superstructure having four openings. These were the kos minārs. As actually measured between some sets of these minars near Delhi, 1 kos measures about 4.17 kilometres.

This tradition was later followed by Sher Shah Sur who orders such milestones to be built along the network of roads he laid out. Along these kos minārs were his sarais and dāk chaukīs. This tradition was further carried forward during the next reign. Akbar is recorded to have built kos minars along the road from Agra to Ajmer.

Later on in 1619, Jahangir ordered Baqir Khan, the faujdar of Multan, to erect kos minars from Agra to Lahore. A large number of these milestones are extant to date, Thirty-four of these, in varying states of preservation, still survive in Punjab.

Although these surviving kos minars broadly follow the same design, still some of these have graceful proportions whereas others are somewhat clumsy.

A number of them have wedge shaped stones studded on them: a few now just carry the hole where these stones were fixed. These kos minars never carry any tnscnption on their body.

The Hiran Mīnār of Fathpur Sikri is an ākāshdiya as well as the Zero-Mile Stone of Fathpur Sikri.

It stands (as an akashdiya) just in front of the main entrance of the fort. A miniature from the manuscript of the Akbarnama preserved at Victoria and Albert Museum [“Akbar’s victorious return to Fatehpur Sikri”, outline by Kesav the Elder, painting Nar Singh, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95, IS.2:110-1896] testifies that this indeed was the entrance gate the palace beyond which the Hiran Minar can be seen!

A one kos road leads to it if one enters through the Bharatpur Gate of the city. And then from the Minar to just outside the Ajmeri Gate is another kos where stands another kos mīnār. It’s horn-shaped stone have long since disappeared and only the holes where they were once fixed remain.

Jahangir had given general orders to fix these deer-like horns on his Kos Minars erected on his road from Delhi to Lahore: he was possibly only duplicating what he had seen as a child in his father’s zero-mile stone which stood at the gate of the palace and near the grand polo grounds on the banks of the lake!

If one tries to draw a circle with Hiran Minār as the centre, the whole town with its lake fits into this circle. It was not only the central focal point around which the town was planned but also an architectural feature which marked the “face” of the capital city of Akbar!

Analysing Abdul Qādir Badāuni And his Muntakhab ut Tawārīkh

The Centre of Advanced Study Department of History has recently reprinted the Persian text of Muntakhab ut Tawārīkh which had earlier been published during late 19th Century from Calcutta. Since more than a century it is not available to the public being out of print since long. No publisher was ready to take up it’s reprint as, according to them, it had no “market”! It wouldn’t sell! Thus we took up the challenge. All the three volumes have been printed afresh in collaboration with the Publications Division, AMU. I am really thankful to the former Director Sir Syed Academy and Incharge Publications, Professor Tariq Ahmad, and his Deputy, Dr Husain Haider for facilitating the publication of all the three volumes. I am also thankful to the present Director & Incharge Maulana Ali Muhammad Naqavi.

Thanks are also due to Professor Emeritus Irfan Habib for agreeing to write a fairly detailed and thoroughly researched Introduction to the text. It adds to the value of this edition of the Muntakhab ut Tawārīkh.

Here I present to you my analysis of Badauni and his history.


Mulla Abdul Qadir Badauni’s work is a history of the Muslim rule in India from the Ghorian invasion down to the end of Akbar’s reign written from a religious bias. Thus in this work, the history of Akbar’s reign is written from the orthodox Sunni point of view. Naturally it tends to become a critic of Akbar’s policies based on principles of Sulh i kul. This kind of version with such bias is important and useful in our study of the political history of the reign as it serves as a balancing narrative to the account furnished by Abul Fazl in the Akbarnama, which as we know, is an account written with a bias to justify Akbar’s policies that were framed in the light of the policy of Sulh i kul. It is also written from the point of view of projecting Akbar as an insan-i kamil whose mission was to establish peace amongst people, unity of purpose in the state, and extend state patronage to a large group of people.

This view forwarded by Abul Fazl stands corrected by the sharp criticism which Badauni offers for the policies of Akbar.

We know from the notings which Badauni had made in volume III that he completed the book in 1004 AH / 1596. But the work could come out in the public only around 1616. For about twenty years after its completion, the book was not released for circulation. It is understandable why Badauni was hesitant to have it circulated during his lifetime. He knew if the book went into circulation, it would attract hostility of the Mughal authorities. We may assume, it was not in circulation till 1614, at least on the basis of the fact that in the list of different sources available, say that of Abdul Baqi Nahawandi (Ma’asir-i Rahimi), the name of Muntakhab ut Tawarikh is missing – a significant negative piece of evidence pointing towards the fact that till 1614-16 this was not in circulation. Subsequently, when the book did come in circulation, Jahangir made enquiries about the hostile remarks against his father.

Thus it was not for the perusal of the King. His style as a result, is not constrained by any fear of punishment or reprisal.

So far as the structure of the book is concerned, it is divided into three volumes. The first volume deals with the history of the Muslim rule in North India from the Ghorian invasion down to the end of Humayun’s reign, i.e., 1556.

An internal examination of the book reveals that Badauni derived information from two sources: the Tarikh-i Mubarakshahi (Yahya bin Ahmad Sirhindi) and the Tabaqat-i Akbar. For the later Sur period, Badauni bases on personal information and partly on information available to him through other sources.

Badauni’s account of the Sur Empire, for the period between 1553-56 is very significant and original. This is the only detailed account we have which gives the political developments under Adil Shah Sur and others who put forward their claims to the Sur throne.

The second volume of the Muntakhab deals with the history of Akbar’s reign down to the 40th RY (1595). The last event which Badauni records in this volume is Faizi’s death which took place in 1595. He adds a cruel note to this event.

The third volume comprises a large number of biographies of the mashaikh, ulema, physicians and poets: he gives biographic details of 38 important mashaikh, 49 leading ulema, 15 reknowned physicians and 167 well known poets of his own time. For this he borrowed much material from the Tazkiras of the poets that were compiled by Alauddaulah Qazwini as part of his Nafais ul Ma’asir.

Badauni, as against what his name suggests, did not hail from Badaun: he hailed from Kota Bhim in Rajasthan, which at that time was included in the Kachhwaha principality of Amber. He was born in 1541. His father, Muluk Shah, shifted to Agra in early 1550’s and stayed there down to 1561. It was after 1561 that the family shifted to Badaun and settled there.

Abdul Qadir Badauni received his early education at Agra under Shaikh Mubarak, who was at that time, known for his learnings towards Mahdavism. For some time, he also studied with Miya Hatim Sambhali, an orthodox teacher of early ‘60’s.

Badauni had become accomplished in a number of arts and sciences. In a letter written by Faizi to Akbar regarding Badauni, it is stated that he was proficient in history, astronomy, art of qir’at, music – especially Indian music and was a player of bīn. He also had expertise in chess. So Badauni was not only an ālim but otherwise also he was an accomplished person. Badauni himself does not refer to his proficiency in chess and music while writing his book.

So far as the history of his service career is concerned, he took up service under Husain Khan Tukriya in 1564, in which he continued down to 1574. In 1574 Badauni entered the Imperial service as the imam of the army for one of the days of the week. He was appointed to this minor position simultaneously with the appointment of Abul Fazl who took up the same position.

In fact Badauni laments that while Abul Fazl used flattery and readiness to agree with superiors to rise to the position of a high noble – a position which Badauni did not, as he did not worry about worldly gains. His bitterness is obvious in this statement. It is obvious even in vol. III when he writes about Abul Fazl and Faizi.

So far as the significance of the Muntakhab ut Tawarikh as a source is concerned, the problem has been discussed in at least three modern writings:

a. Elliot’s Introduction on Badauni with his translation.

b. Prof Muhammad Mujib’s paper in the edited work of Prof Muhibbul Hasan published from Jamia.

c. Discussion of Badauni’s approach to interpret history of Akbar’s reign by S Athar Abbas Rizvi in two of his works, viz., Muslim Revivalist Movements and the Intellectual Life under Akbar.

Still, here one would like to highlight some aspects of Badauni’s approach in interpreting Akbar’s reign missed in the above mentioned works.

A serious contradiction seems to have run through the entire narrative of Badauni in volume II & III of his work. This contradiction is that he gives conflicting assessments of Akbar as well as his policies and the role played by persons close to Akbar. Such contradictions are found within different parts of volume II itself as well.

We find that while at most places in volume III – and in certain places in volume II – Badauni refers to Akbar with great respect. He calls him khalifat uz zamān. But then on the other hand, in the major part of volume II, from 1575 onwards, he seems to be so annoyed with Akbar that he does not refer to him with name. He is found levelling charges in this part and he seems to have forgotten his respectful attitude depicted elsewhere. He charges Akbar of prohibiting namaz of the Muslims – a charge which on face appears to be unsubstantiated. He also accuses Akbar of forcing ulema to shave their beards; of enslaving ulema and mashaikh in large numbers nd exchanging them with horses and donkeys in the markets of Qandahar and Bhakkar. He also alleges that Akbar tried to impose ban on the learning of Arabic language. In general, in this part, he shows his disrespectful attitude towards Akbar. So one can very well see that the author had described the same person as a khalifat uz Zaman and, as a heretic.

Then there are other specific cases of contradiction: for example, the manner in which he assesses the role of Shaikh Salim Chishti in volume II and then in volume III. In volume III, when he gives a biographical sketch of the Chishti saint, Badauni gives a positive assessment of Salim Chishti’s character from the Islamic point of view.

But then in volume II, Badauni says:

And such was the disposition of that paragon of excellence, His Grace, the Shaikh, that he allowed the emperor entry to all his most private apartments, and however much his sons and nephews kept saying ‘Our wives are becoming estranged from us’, the Shaikh would answer, ‘There is no dearth of women in this world, since I have made you Amirs, seek other wives, what does it matter?’

(verse) Either make no friendship with an elephant driver,

Or make a house fit for an elephant.

The assessment of Shaikh Mubarak and his beliefs is given in volume III and II.

In volume II Badauni says that at one occasion Shaikh Mubarak told Birbal:

‘Just as there are interpolations in your Holy Books, so there are in ours. Hence it is impossible to trust either’.

Could this be said even by a ‘bad’ Muslim?

But then in volume III, Badauni contrarily noted:

He (Sh. Mubarak) was one of the great sages of the age and was distinguished amongst men of his time for his piety, devotion and trust in God. In early life he observed many austerities and strove much in the way of holiness and was zealous in enforcing commands and prohibitions of the Holy Law that if any body present was wearing a gold ring, or silk clothing, or red hose or red or yellow garments, he at once made him remove them, and if anyone appeared with long breeches, descending below the hell, he immediately had them torn to proper length.

Badauni accuses him of joining heretics, but does not charge him of being an apostate. Thus he says:

…and the pity is that his love of the world with its pomps, concealed under the garment of hiding poverty, left no room for the love of faith of Islam. [III, 120]

Similar contradictions are there about Shaikh Faizi: In volume III he has abuses reserved for him. At one place he acknowledges that favours were done to him by Faizi by giving him letters favouring him and introducing him. But then at other places, he makes fantastic accusations against Faizi: says Faizi’s poetry was not appreciated by contemporaries and his books were not considered as worthy by literary people.

Lastly, let us quote one observation about Faizi which he made while giving the biography of Shaikh Abdul Haq Muhadis Dehlavi and his great affection for Faizi:

Glory be to God! Shaikh Faizi has passed away and become a by-word; and as far these, the mention of whom is still among us for a few days, or rather for a few hours, who are they that we waste time in addressing them where preparation is even now being made for our departure hence? All that remains to them is the wind of speech. How long shall we waste our time in measuring it?

From these examples, it becomes evident that

(1) Badauni had more unbalanced views and assessments of contemporaries when writing volume II.

(2) The nature of criticism in volume III is sometimes qualitatively different from the kind of accusations in volume II.

(3) In the volume II the views are more balanced.

This goes to suggest that most probably Badauni compiled volume III at a time when he had not yet developed that kind of imbalanced view of the situation reflected in volume II.

At the end of volume III, treated by us as the final volume, Badauni says, it was compled in 1595. In the light of inferences drawn from the internal evidence, we would be justified in making the bold suggestion that the volume treated as volume II was compiled by Badauni after 1595 (that is, after volume III).

It is significant to note that at the end of volume I, Badauni actually has given an epilogue in which he states clearly that it was his plan to write the next volume comprising the biographies of contemporary poets:

Should this inconsistent and transitory life give (the author) a few days respite, and should the days in opposition to the usual habit afford assistance and should fate give its help, he (i.e., Badauni, the author) will make mention of poets of former times and of the contemporary poets of Hindustan, especially of those whom he had seen or heard or appreciated in his own lifetime together with extracts from their poems included in the tazkiras.

What, through these internal evidences we are trying to suggest and establish is that most probably, the volume which is now considered as volume II, containing the history of Akbar’s reign, was written sometime after the completion of History of Muslim Rule from earliest time in Humayun’s reign, and also after the penning of the biographical sketches of the contemporaries in volume III.

Perhaps Badauni compiled this second volume at a time when his assessment of the situation had undergone a considerable shift since the time he had completed the other two volumes.

This is borne out by the contradictory assessments that he gives of Akbar’s policies, Akbar’s character and the role of contemporaries in the two places ~ the second volume and the first and third volumes. It seems that by the time he started finalising vol II, his views had become rather extremist. By that he had come to the conclusion that the position of Islam in India had become untenable due to many factors including Akbar’s policy, and he was trying to put it straight by apportioning the blame of the catastrophe.

But then, in vol II as well, we find that in the first portion, he is not having an alarmist position which he has in the second half. In the portion relating to the post 1574-75 period, his views are most extremist.

In the first part of Vol II, he is calling Akbar as Khalifat al zaman, while in the second half, he charges him of heresy. This gives an impression that the account presented in Vol II is based on some journal which he maintained reflecting his changing assessment of the situation when he is becoming extremely critical.

His unbalanced attitude and state of mind is reflected in vol III also when he tries to revise and appends additional paras in individual biographies. To give an example: in the biography of Shaikh Mubarak, when he is beginning, he is praising and is not critical, as in the last paragraph which seems to have been added afterwards when his views had radically changed.

Then he also gives a number of chronograms giving dates of important events.

Thus in 1562, Pir Muhammad Khan Sherwani died during a campaign in Malwa by drowing in Narbada. Badauni writes:

“ba rāh-i āb ba jahannum raft”

When Muzaffar Kahn Turbati (a Khurasani) was appointed as the wakil in 971 AH, the fact is given by Badauni by the chronogram “zālim” (971) [oppressor]. Similarly on the death of Shaikh Gadai Kanboh, the sadr: murda khūk-i kalān [You are dead you great hog!]

When in 971 Ah, a certain Qazi of Baran was given capital punishment, Badauni found the chronogram of this event as “qāzi lāl”. And when Shaikh Ibrahim Chishti of Fathpur Sikri died in 999 AH, Badauni wrote that “since he was noted and notorious for avarice and vice, and was accursed”, his chronogram found was ‘Shaikh laīm’ [ “Base of disposition” or “Vile Shaikh”].

On the death of Urfi Shirazi, the famous poet the same year, he uses the term dushman-i Khuda.

Similarly on the execution of Ali Quli Khan Uzbek Khan-i Zaman and Bahadur Khan, after their rebellion in 1567 (974 AH), one of the chronograms found was “qatl-i du namak harām be dīn”

Incidentally all these persons were Shias.

One can see that all these chronograms have a common quality of being cruel, pungent and in bad taste. Badauni doesn’t say that they were compiled by him but it is obvious that they are of him only, having the dame pungent effect as in his prose. Probably he composed them when he was preparing the journal which ultimately was used to draft vol II.

An additional indication of this journal being maintained by Badauni is supported by other evidences as well.

He is becoming more and more hysterical in denouncing Akbar. If he would have been such in the earlier period as well, it would have reflected in the earlier period as well.

It is true that Badauni was very orthodox, but what he had to say regarding the role played by the Mahdavi leaders during Islam Khan’s reign, shows that he not only had very great respect and admiration for them, but he also shared the harsh cricism which Mahdavi leaders were making of the orthodox Ulema. So far as his admiration for Mahdavi saints is concerned, it is borne out by the chronogram he gives of Shaikh Alai’s death in 978 AH: zikr Allah.

Regarding Shaikh Alai, he says:

“Shaikh Alai who was the most orthodox of the sons of Shaikh Hasan, the tablet of whose forehead was from early boyhood distinguished by marks of nobility and uprightness and evidences of a youth to be spent in the worship of God and in following the ordinances of the Prophet of God.”

Badauni also praises Shaikh Alai’s piety, his indifference to worldliness and goes on to reproduce with much gusto and glee the denunciation of Makhdum ul Mulk Abdullah Sultanpuri by Sh. Alai at Islam Shah’s court. He puts the following words in Sh. Alai’s mouth in his vol I:

“You are one of the learned men of the world, a thief of religion, and you are engaged in so many illegal practices that you have put yourself outside the pale of equity so that even to this time the sound of pipe (nafiri: music) and tambur may be plainly heard issueing from your house, and in accordance with the true traditions of the Prophet, Upon Whom Be Peace and Blessing, a fly which settles upon filth is by degrees better than learned men who have made kings and emperors the object of their ambition and go from door to door.

Verse: Learning which exists for the sake of palace & garden

Is like a lamp to the loving thief.

This point is important from two angles: Badauni is not that sort of an orthodox as is generally conceived. He is espousing the cause of an Islamic sect regarded as heretic by majority ulema. This also helps us to see as to what was the source which influenced him in forming a very hotile and critical view of the contemporary ulema reflected in vol II where he says for the decline of Islam during his time, hypocrisy of orthodox ulema was as much responsible as the heretical views of Akbar and his advisors. In vol III he denounces ulema for the persecution of Mahdavis and writes about all types of discrepancies of the ulema.

It is much propagated that Badauni was a very intolerant person. At the same time, it is significant that when it comes to relating the role of Kachhwahas – Bhar Mal, Man Singh etc, he never uses that kind of hostile language which he employs for other nobles. He never uses an obscene language towards them. He also goes out of his way in condoning many of Akbar’s actions giving concessions to non-Muslims, especially those in which these actions and concessions are meted out to the Kachhwahas.

In 1576, when Man Singh was appointed as the commander of the expedition which was proceeding against Rana Pratap, Badauni decided to join it to fulfil obligations of jihad. Before he set out for Ajmer, one friend raised a question: ‘If you are really going from a purely religious angle, then how can you justify fighting under the command of a Hindu?’ Badauni was puzzled. Then he said that he had been appointed by a Muslim king, so it would remain a jihad! Shoot whatever side you want, all are non-Muslims.

Regarding Salim’s marriage to the daughter of Bhagwandas, he reports that the marriage ceremony was solemnised twice, first through Muslim, and then the Hindu rites: but he never makes any adverse comment, which is significant. Reason lies in the fact that Badauni had great respect for both Bhagwandas and Man Singh due to the fact that they refused to compromise their religion and accept the new creed that Akbar was trying to project. This is borne out by the approving manner in which he quotes two conversations, one between Akbar and Bhagwandas, and the other between Akbar and Man Singh.

When Akbar proposed to Bhagwandas to enrol as a member of Tauhid-i Ilahi, Badauni reports that Bhagwandas retorted:

‘I would willingly believe that Hindus and Muslims each have a bad religion. But only tell us what this new sect is and what opinion they (its members) hold, so that I may believe!’

Badauni then goes on to add: ‘His Majesty reflected a little and ceased to urge the raja!’

According to Badauni, the real culprits were those who sided with Akbar’s new religion based on principles of Sulh-i Kul, who were compromising their religion.

From this it is clear, his grouse was against those who thus compromised their faith and became a threat for the existence of Islam in India. He appreciated any one who was not impressed by the principles of the new belief.