Friday, September 26, 2014

Medieval Indian Culture(From News Papers)

Medieval Indian Culture(From News Papers)

Source:Khelo India

The 13th & 14th Centuries 
Persian / Arabic Literature
  1. Poetry was a popular form. Amir Khusrau and Amir Hassan were great poets. They also wrote qawwalis and created a new Indian style of poetry and is the originator of Hindustani music.
  2. History writing was another popular trend. Barni, Afif, Siraj etc.
  3. Books we written, specially dictionaries, with painted illustrations.
Persian vs Arabic Historiography2. analytical type. keep in mind that historiography is the study of how history is written. it is the study of all aspects of writing history. going by this definition.....volume wise arabic history works are less voluminous, persian more. reason, persian had been the court language of medieval rulers. what ever was written in arabic was by travelers before delhi sultanate, by religious scholars, arab immigrants to india. (list here famous examples)perspectives - arabic historians were not sympathetic to hindu traditions and culture. most of the works written by religious scholars, immigrants carry that tinge of fanaticism and superiority complex with respect to india in general and hindus in particular. persian - more sympathetic as they were written by those who settled here and non-religious historians. content and style - no differences that i know of. standard muslim style historical writing with plenty of allusions to religious terms. very few were objective. most of them were written to praise their patrons. eulogies and exaggerations.  political history, cultural history, economic history, military history etc were the genres.
methods of study - both relied on general observations, litterary sources written before them in their languages. very less or no importance was given to numismatics, inscriptions, archaeological sources, non-arabic and non-persian literature.

Al-Utbi's Kitab-i-Yamini
  1. He himself was Secretary to the Sultan Mahmud. He thus played an important role in the government at Gazni, and no doubt had first hand knowledge of many of the events he described, at least those that took place in the capital. His work covers the entire reign of the first sultan of Gazni Nasiru-d din Subuktgin, and of his son Mahmud up to the year 410 H. (1020 CE). As the founder of the Ghaznivite dynasty, Subuktigin played an extremely important role in the history of India and Central Asia.
  2. Despite his proximity to Sultan Mahmud, Al Utbi seems to have little or no direct knowledge of India. He seems to have little knowledge of Indian topography and his statements regarding localities and place names are unreliable. No Indian words appear in his text aside from Rai.
  3. His numerous incursions into India were largely raids designed to capture spoil in material wealth, slaves and livestock. He is portrayed as a zealous Muslim eager to destroy "idol temples", but this was probably justification for pillage, since these activities contravened the earlier Arab policy of granting Hindus and Buddhists protected dhimmi status.

Minhaj-us-Siraj's Tabakat-i-Nasiri
(a) Motivation behind writing
  1. Minhaj served in very high posts in his career. He was very close to the sultans. Thus his interests were completely aligned with the interests of the sultanate i.e. to preserve and establish strongly the Turkish rule. 
  2. Another motivation definitely would be to please the sultan and he worked under many sultans. But this was a minor motivation only as he didn't depend on writing to earn his livelihood.
  3. By glorifying the western connections of Islam he sought to inspire the muslims as well which was needed as they were facing a number of challenges in that age.
(b) Importance
  1. Due to his proximity to the sultans the value of his work goes up because it reflects the thoughts of a person whose interests were completely aligned with that of the Turkish rule and who was actively helping the sultans in preserving and establishing the rule.
  2. The sultanate was in a nascent and insecure stage then. The sultan was trying to establish his legitimacy and authority and for this he had even sought investiture from the Caliph. In his work Minhaj tries to establish the historical links of the Sultanate with Western Asian Islam and covers this in his initial chapters itself.
  3. By glorifying the western connections of Islam he sought to inspire the muslims as well which was needed as they were facing a number of challenges in that age.
  4. His interests were in the preservation and propagation of Turkish rule and his writings reflect the insecurity of the age. He didn't care who was the sultan so long as the rule was preserved. Thus he praised each and every sultan very highly despite the fact that he may have violently replaced the previous sultan. For the same reason he keeps a balance between all sultans. 
  5. Where he departs from the other writers of his age was he covered not just the history of his sultan but also the entire history of Islam.
  6. Because he was writing a history of a long period it was necessary for him to draw upon the works of other scholars. Wherever he finds 2 conflicting opinions he mentions both with sources along with the one he accepts and the reasons for doing so. For his own period he relies on his own experiences or those of witnesses.
  7. He gives an indiscriminate religious tone to his work. He almost absent minded uses terms like Islamic armies and devil's armies to describe wars even if they were between two muslim rulers only. By doing this he merely showed where his sympathy lay. This tells us about the educational system of the day because he was a product of an educational system which was highly religious and used only religious terms.
  8. His bias against Hindus can be seen only when he describes the conflicts. Otherwise he ignores it when they pose no threat to the sultanate. This clearly reflects the attitude of the sultanate rulers as well who used religion to achieve their goals in the conflict situations only and otherwise were indifferent in all practical purposes. In many instances Minhaj goes ignores the uncomfortable religious aspects of a problem as well if it ran counter to his objectives. This attitude was reflected in the sultans as well.
(c) Limitations
  1. He remained confined to the ruling and elite class only. But this tells us about the nature of state system in those days.
(d) Comparison with Barani
  1. Minhaj comes across as a scholar who lived in a turbulent phase - one where the rulers' concern was the preservation of their rule and for which they had to make many compromises and even shift goalposts i.e. be practical. We cannot expect him to be driven by any particular ideology or political leaning. Institutions were fluid and situation was dynamic and one had to be very careful. By Barani's time the institutions had stabilized, self preservation was no longer the overriding objective and one could stick to an ideology. Tensions were emerging between these institutions and this is reflected in Barani's writings as well.
  2. Minhaj writes in detail about different amirs in different areas and thus many of the events are repeated. Barani on the other hand focuses on the events of only one area and writes period wise. Thus there is no repetition in Barani.
  3. Minhaj mostly chronologically lists various events and doesn't analyzes the trends, elements of continuity / discontinuity and the reasons thereof. Barani tries to analyze some aspect or the other at the end of each chapter for instance how each sultan viewed punishment as.
  4. Minhaj doesn't tell us about the problems faced by the sultans. Barani tells us how Balban strengthened his position, how sultanate changed under Khaljis, how mongol threat changed the nature of sultanate under Ala-ud-din.
Zia-ud-din Barani (Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi & Fatwa-i-Jahandari)
(a) Motivations behind writing
  1. Barani himself writes that he hoped that his work will help others learn from past mistakes. He claims he was repentful for not criticizing MbT when it mattered. By this work, he hoped, people will learn and not commit the same mistakes. 
  2. But in reality he had fallen out of favor of the new sultan Firuz and was even imprisoned. Firuz had outlook which ran contrary to MbT in many ways and hence Barani was writing to please him and earn favor.
(b) Importance
  1. His work doesn't just reflect his own thinking but tells us about the views of the educational system and the particular section of maulvis. These maulvis relied on extremist form of Islam to preserve their existence in polity. They expected the sultan to consult them on even political matters and this kept their importance intact. But under MbT the dominance of maulvis had reduced drastically as he had to make many compromises to propagate and strengthen his rule in India which included appointment of even Hindus to high offices and not consulting the maulvis in political matters. They were thus fearful of losing power in the politics of the age. This is reflected in the work. 
  2. Thus he prescribes that the sultan must take steps to propagate Islam, punish non muslims, impose shariat and give more authority to men of (muslim) religion.
  3. By his time the sense of insecurity in the sultanate was over and the sultans were well established. There was no need to draw legitimacy form the western connections any more (in fact delhi was the sole surviving muslim sultanate). Sultanate had no connections left with the west. So Barani makes no attempt to draw origin from west and merely carries forward from Minhaj. He focuses only on India.
  4. Barani's work and views expressed reflect the insecurity of his class in that age. Being a Turk or a high born was no longer considered enough to qualify for a high post! This class was facing competition from the educated Indians. One had to have qualities also to succeed. Barani and his class obviously resented it and in his work he criticizes the low born, prescribes they shouldn't be given education neither employed in state service. In an ideal muslim world all higher born will have assured hereditary high offices.
  5. Barani represented a class of nobles who depended on land and the surplus extracted for their well being. Thus he was also very critical of merchants and traders and prescribed that the state should ensure they don't accumulate wealth.
  6. He obviously hated Hindus because of both his education and the fact that many of them were employed in higher posts and were richer than him (who was languishing in jail). So he is very critical of highly placed hindus and ignores the poor hindus as he ignores poor muslims.
  7. Barani tries to analyze some aspect or the other at the end of each chapter for instance how each sultan viewed punishment as. He tells us how Balban strengthened his position, how sultanate changed under Khaljis, how mongol threat changed the nature of sultanate under Ala-ud-din.
(c) Limitations
  1. His work Fatwa-i-Jahandari is not a historical work at all. Barani has presented his own views in form of Mahmud Gazni's lessons to his sons. Moreover the historical events presented (from Gazni's tongue) are of doubtful historic nature. The book is just a reflection of Barani's own thoughts on how things should be.
  2. Barani tries to mention many sources but fails to bring them out clearly. Moreover if any fact was convenient for him and supported his views he would claim it had come from a god fearing muslim and he could thus take it on its face value.
  3. In Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi he rarely mentions any chronology and wherever he does that it is of doubtful nature. Perhaps it was due to the fact he was writing from jail and thus had to rely mostly on his memory.
  4. His book is a bundle of exaggerations and he contaminates many characters.
Shams-i-Siraj Afif: Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi
(a) Motivations behind writing
  1. He was clearly not trying to please Firuz because Firuz had died by the time. He was writing in a time when sultanate had disintegrated, anarchy prevailed all over and Timur had plundered Delhi. So he was trying to recollect the old glorious days. He misses the past in light of his present and that is why he tries to paint a prosperous and peaceful picture of old days.
(b) Importance
  1. His writing reflects the anarchist state of affairs of his time and how he tried to justify each and every act of Firuz in order to portray a past that was glorious and sorely missed. 
  2. In his attempt to portray Firuz's reign as one of total peace and prosperity and under a great king, he tells unintentionally us about Firuz's weaknesses. On his part he merely focuses on positives and presents the weaknesses as if they appear his strength. He didn't try to hide facts because had this been the case he would have not even mentioned the weaknesses. Examples are the famous bribe case and the military defeats.
  3. He didn't come from a very well to do family like Barani. So he is free from his biases. He didn't have any strong ideological leanings Moreover he writes in a very simple language.
  4. He is also free from the anti-hindu biases of Barani and Minhaj (probably because he was free from the extremist atmosphere in his upbringing like them and also because the muslims of the age didn't face any threat from hindus - they were ravaged by mongols). Though he praises Firuz's act of burning a brahman and imposing jiziya but that is a part of his general attempt to portray Firuz as a great king and his reign as a golden age.
  5. Coming from a commoner background we find he moves beyond the sultan and his durbar in his work and talks about the problems faced by the commoners.
Ibn Batuta's Rehela
  1. It is not a reliable source at all. It is interesting only because it throws some light on the socio political events of the age. But the writer is completely biased against MbT.  
  2. Moreover his description of places and things doesn't have any depth and he simply briefly describes thins without doing any research.
Amir Khusrau
  1. Amir Khusrau took the literature from elites to the commoners. He wrote numerous popular puzzles in a form which is enjoyable to common people. This was perhaps because he was very close to sufis and hence influenced by them and also contributed to their cause. Thus his writings are a reflection of sufi movement.
  2. He was a poet and not a historian. Whatever history he wrote was either on instance of the sultans (who even told him the topics on which to write about) or to please them. Even while writing history his focus was on the poetic aspect and not historical truth.
  3. His first work was Kiran-us-Saden (1289) which was written to please Bugra Khan and his son Kaku-i-Bad. In this he tells us about delhi, its buildings, durbar, social life of amirs etc. and his hatred towards mongols. Naturally his focus was on the poetic aspect.
  4. His second work was Miftah-ul-Futuh (1291) in which he praised Jalal-ud-din and his military campaigns against Malik Chajju, against Ranthambore etc.
  5. Khwajain-ul-Futuh or Tarikh-i-Alahi was written in a highly ornate style and described the first 15 years of his reign. Although it is again more of a poetic work its historical significance comes from the fact that it is the only contemporary source we have. This book describes military campaigns of Ala-ud-din and Malik Kafur and presents a beautiful description of the physical and cultural geography of India.
  6. His next work is Ashika which talks of Ala-ud-din's son Khijr Khan's desire for princess of Gujarat Devalrani. Ge describes the campaigns launched to get her and also the geography of India.
  7. In his work Sipihar he praises Mubarak Khalji. 
  8. His strong point is that he has given a lot of dates and in general he is more trustworthy than Barani. His writings also highlights the social conditions prevailing in the age - something most historians of the age couldn't do. He tells us about the people, their dances, songs, settlements, professions etc. 
Al Berouni's Kitab-ul-Hind
(a) Motivation behind writing
  1. Some scholars believe that he sympathized with Indians because Mahmud had plundered his native place too like India. Hence he was so sympathetic to Indian cause.
  2. In reality he was motivated by pure scientific and intellectual curiosity. He wanted to understand Indian philosophical, religious and scientific thought. He analyzed everything that came across him in a critical and scientific manner and presented his analysis in an unbiased manner. 
(b) Importance
  1. In his quest he found that most of the information he came across about India is based on secondary sources only. He realized that second hand information is invariably corrupted as it passes from people to people. Hence he was driven to find the original sources and hence he began to learn Sanskrit and collect ancient Indian texts. He referred to works of Varahmihira, Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Patanjali as well as Bhagwad Gita, Vishnu Purana, Vaayu Purana. 
  2. For this he also consulted many brahmans of the age whenever he needed some help in proper interpretation.
  3. He had a completely scientific outlook and an unbiased opinion. So religious conventions couldn't corrupt him.
  4. Wherever he feels his understanding and knowledge is lacking he accepts it without hesitation. He mentions it clearly wherever he had to rely on sources without testing for their authenticity or secondary sources.
  5. He describes Indian society, culture, festivals, dress, food, entertainment, scientific thought, philosophical thought etc. in great detail. He describes the weights and measures used in India, distances, geographical features, alphabet etc. prevailing in India. Not only does he merely describe them but also critically analyzes them. He talks of the legal system as mentioned in the scriptures and highlights how the prevailing system differed from it. Weavers were low even among the outcastes who lived only outside the villages and towns. He tells us that Buddhism was not to be seen anywhere and he had only heard about it. He tells us about the influence of Bhakti by recognizing a firm monotheism in N India.
  6. He expresses regret that Indians had abandoned the scientific outlook of their ancestors and had relapsed into stagnation in mind and in thought. Instead of keeping their minds open and learning from others as their ancestors did they now relied only on traditions.
(c) Limitations
  1. His work is mostly limited to the intellectual class of the age which was obvious given his methodology. He holds ignorant people in very low esteem. 
Hindi Literature
  1. Parochial / feudal outlook: After the fall of the Gupta empire the political landscape had become increasingly fragmented and the land based feudal system which developed encouraged a local parochial outlook. We can see this clearly in the literature of the age. 
  2. Stagnation in the society: The society had shut its mind towards embracing new ideas and encouraging original thinking. We find a similar trend in the literature as it became void of fresh outlook and continued on established themes only.
  3. Phases of hindi literature: (a) ancient phase (adi kaal): reflects the feudal order of the day, (b) bhakti phase (bhakti kaal): reflects the impact of bhakti movements of the day, (c) reeti kaal: after the bhakti phase when the zamindari and jagirdari systems returned with new vigor along with the presence of romanticism.
Phase 1: Ancient phase / Adi Kaal / Veer Gatha Phase (8 - 14 cent AD)
(a) Raso Literature
  1. It was called veer gatha phase earlier because the first literature found comprised almost exclusively of the writings of the court poets glorifying the bravery of their ruling masters in order to praise them. They often were full of exaggerations. Examples are Prithviraj Raso, Parmal Raso (Alha and Udal), Beesaldev Raso (love affair of Ajmer ruler Beesaldev and Malwa princess Rajmati). In addition to glorifying their bravery the poets also glorified their love affairs with beautiful princesses of the age.
  2. Reflection of feudalistic order and parochial outlook: The literature was full of praise for the local rulers and how they fought other local rulers. They left no words unwritten in the praise of their local lords and ridiculing the other chiefs. Their aim was not to present historical facts but to glorify their masters. By glorifying wars and feuds they played an important role in promoting regional rivalry and disturbed national unity.
  3. Reflection of cherished ideals in the society: Bravery and love. Fighting wars was noble. These wars were fought solely for personal reasons of the rulers be it vengeance or to get a princess or simply to display one's bravery and never for the interests of the state. They consider a brave warrior to be the most noble person.
  4. Reflection of poor status of women in the society: The way they focus solely on the beauty of the princess while glorifying the love affairs of their masters tells us that women were treated merely as an object of consumption. Women were expected to perform jauhar and sati. They had no existence of their own.
  5. Reflection of lack of law and order and peace in the society: They glorify wars on the other chiefs. They glorify violence and mention the insecurity of common people specially if they had any valuables.
  6. Reflection of the state system: The rulers had no concern whatsoever with the welfare of their subjects. They merely collected taxes and fought wars and were concerned with their own glory and welfare only. 
  7. Reflection of growth of regional dialects: Many of these works use a mixed form of regional Rajasthani dialects - a style often called pingle style.
(b) Siddh Literature
  1. It reflects the contemporary religious and cultural life very well. It was written for the propagation of Vajrayan buddhist sect in eastern India in the local languages. This literature tells us about the changes which had occurred in the buddhist religion over the ages. 
  2. They criticize complex rituals, traditionalism, extremism and advocate a simple life. They show a dominance of mystic ideas in their thoughts. At the same time they also advocate continuation of grihasta life.
(c) Jain Literature
  1. It flourished in western India in the form of poetic literature in local languages. For the poetic form it is also called Raas literature. It comprises of the poems which were sung in the jain temples by the worshippers.
  2. They told us about the contemporary feuds etc. but their main aim remained to emphasize the principles of non violence enshrined in the Jain religion. Chandan Bala Raas is a famous work.
(d) Nath Literature
  1. It emerged in eastern India as a reaction to Siddh literature. While the Siddh literature believed in continuation of normal married life the Nath sect opposed consummation. It was advocated by Gorakhnath and Matsyendranath. 
  2. They believed in austerities and self control. They idealized a man who doesn't get deviated from his path despite being surrounded by all temptations. It has elements of mysticism in it.
(e) Material Literature (Laukik Literature)
  1. Romantic literature: Its main works are Jaichandra Prakash, Jai Mayank Chandrika and Vasant Vilas. Their main emphasis was on expressing the feelings of heart, description of women etc. 
  2. Literature for commoners: Amir Khusrau took the literature from elites to the commoners. He wrote numerous popular puzzles in a form which is enjoyable to common people.
Phase 2: Bhakti Phase (14 - 16 cent AD)
  1. Different provincial rulers began to patronize music. Due to the fusion of Indo-Islamic music, khyal style emerged. Texts were written on this music which formed a part of the bhakti literature.
  2. This period was a period of growing regionalism and declining central authority. This was reflected in the rapid growth of regional languages as well which became fully developed in this period. Similarly new styles of literature emerged in different parts and attained maturity. This trend is reflected in the bhakti period literature.
  3. Bhakti movement sought to involve more people with it and to awaken them. This led to the development of literature for people instead of the literature for the elites as in the previous raso literature.
  4. Bhakti and sufi movement led to spread of communal harmony. This effort can be seen in the literature as well.
  5. Bhakti movement drew from the basic tenants of upanishads and vedas but was progressive in its outlook and humanist in character. This can be directly seen in its literature as well.
  6. The nirgun literature can be divided into two - one emphasizing knowledge (like kabir, nanak, dudu dayal) emphasized on the greatness of the teacher. It was more radical, egalitarian, assimilatory, vocal in their criticism of traditional rituals and closer to the masses. The other type of nirgun literature emphasized on love (sufis, chandayan, mrigavati, padmavat) which preached monotheism and tried to bring hindus and muslims closer. It was romantic in nature with God as the love object. They believed by loving God we can eliminate all differences. They portray God as a woman and soul as a man.
  7. The sagun literature can be divided into two - one devoted to Rama (tulsidas, ramanand) and other devoted to Krishna (mira, surdas). They use a highly poetic literature which could be sung in the temples.
Phase 3: Traditional Phase / Riti Phase (Mughals)
  1. Under the Mughals we saw the emergence of a truly composite ruling class which included Hindus as well. We can see the impact in the literature of the time as it came closer to the Islamic literature. We can see the descriptions of the dresses, attitude and practices, subjects etc. all in a way which indicated that both communities had come closer to each other. Thus the protagonists of hindi literature now freely wore dresses made of fine silk and muslin, used arabic perfumes, engaged in entertainment like the mughal rulers, their durbars, various practices became more like mughals. Even the religious subjects like Krishna and Radha are portrayed in an intensely romantic and playful manner and wearing muslim costumes. There is a clear departure from the traditional focus on spiritualism and devotion towards worldly pleasures. There is increased focus on wealth, wine and women.
  2. Under Akbar we find many muslim writers like Rahim, Ras-khan composing in Hindi while many Hindi works being translated into Persian. A new upanishad called Allah-o-upanishad was even composed. We see that the writers who tried to preach communalism could not find any popularity in this age.
  3. With respect to women, the literature clearly shows them as an object of to be enjoyed as against their depiction as goddesses, mothers etc. earlier. Even characters like Sita and Radha were no longer objects of worship but the focus was on their body and makeup and they were treated as objects of consummation. 
  4. Thus we can see a clear decline of bhakti spirit in the literature of this age and instead being replaced by consumption which was also the social undercurrent as the ruling class (who were the audience of such literature) believed in consumption only. Thus this literature can also be called as class literature. In opposition to this there was a minor strand of mass literature specially coming from sufi saints of the age like Mira etc. which opposed worldly consumption. We can also see a strand of literature emphasizing on morals in the form of dohas of Rahim etc.
  5. Just like the ruling class was separate from and unmindful of the problems of the masses the class literature also ignores the masses and focuses only on the lifestyle of the rulers. We can also see a clear movement towards attributing divine association to the emperors and kings as was emphasized by the Mughals. 
Sanskrit Literature
Kalhana's Rajtarangini
(a) Why was such a work written only in Kashmir?
  1. Some scholars believe that Kashmir because of being cutoff from rest of India and its distinct geographical setup was able to maintain a separate cultural identity. Thus regional loyalty was very strong in Kashmir. Moreover it had constant interaction with the Buddhists in Tibet and China as well as with Central Asia. Such places had a strong tradition of historiography and hence the work was written in Kashmir.
  2. But it must be recognized that in that period entire India was fragmented into numerous localities and under feudal system. Regional outlook was strong everywhere. Such attempts to write on regional histories came up everywhere but what make Kalhana's work unique was its sense of history.
  3. Kalhana was different from other raso writers in the sense that he probably didn't have the patronage of any ruler. Thats why his work could rise above the petty nature of his contemporaries.
(b) Motivations for writing
  1. He writes in the kavya style in order to make it interesting to the reader. Though he ensures creativity in his writing yet he never loses sight of his main goal vis to write historical truths as seen by him. Thus he maintained his objectivity in most matters. 
  2. He was writing in a very turbulent period. Harsha's reign had ended and there were lots of wars and struggles around. He wanted to write impartially so as to present facts before people and make them learn from their mistakes.
(c) Importance
  1. He mentions his sources in detail. He mentions the 11 scholars who gave him the family tree of Kashmir rulers. He mentions the legends, myths, folklore etc. wherever he had to rely on it. But his strongest point is he relies on inscriptions in the temples, land grant inscriptions etc. and mentions them clearly.
  2. His work is divided into 8 parts. First 3 cover history of more than 3000 years which mainly rely on Puranas and legends. His real historiography begins from 4th part and in 4 - 6 he covers the Karkota and Utpal rulers. For these parts he relies on inscriptions as well as buddhist texts. In 7 and 8th part he covers the Lohara dynasty. 
  3. In the beginning he comes across as a mere presenter of various folklore. There was no attempt of any analysis. But as we come closer to his period we can clearly see the critical analysis done by him. This expresses his views clearly on matters as well as contemporary realities. For instance Kashmir went through a very turbulent phase post Harsha. Local feudal elements had become very strong and there was anarchy. So he says that a king should be strong so that he can control the affairs of the kingdom efficiently. He should make sure that no one in even the remotest village has sufficient wealth left with him so that he could even think of posing a challenge to the king. He writes that the feudal elements derive their strength from the vast amount of land they hold. He criticizes kayasthas and bureaucrats and accuses them of harboring treacherous intentions against the kings. He never paints anybody in full white or black and impartially tells us about his strengths as well as weaknesses. 
  4. It tells us about other realities of the social life as well. He mentions very proudly that he belonged to a brahman family. The society had rich who fed on fried meat and drank perfumed cool wine. While the poor had to live on wild vegetables. It says Harsha introduced a general dress in Kashmir of long coats. He gives us a whole lot of other information like geography, family trees of important people, economic activities like coin moulding etc.
  5. It contains a striking description of the engineering works supervised a minister of Avantivarman. Landslides and soil degradation led to a great amount of rubble and stone being deposited in the Jhelum river which impeded the flow of water. This was cleared, embankments were constructed to prevent the landslides, dams were built and lakes were drained. The minister even managed to divert the course of the Jhelum and the Indus rivers slightly which led to reclamation of land for cultivation. This has been supported by archaeological evidences and subsequent economic prosperity of Kashmir and it led to withdrawal of Kashmir from the plains politics since the need to move there was lessened.
(d) Limitations
  1. His analysis is not entirely free from his biases. Thus while he criticizes bureaucracy (because it was made of mostly kayasthas) and says the bureaucracy had corrupted the kings and persuaded them to follow anti - people policies, he says that the king should consult brahmans instead. This perhaps reflects his personal grudge.
  1. Before the advent of Turks, Rajput architecture belonged to the trabeate style and had flat roofs, false arches and stone / mud based. But Turks brought with them the Islamic style vis true arches, domes and used lime mortar and brick based. 
  2. Turkish architecture was technologically superior as it used true arches, domes, lime mortar, headers and stretchers brick outlay, was massive.
  3. It also left enough space for the circulation of air. 
How the architecture reflects contemporary socio-politico-economic realities?
  1. Urbanization: Turks were urban dwellers. Their monuments are in urban areas and promote urbanism.
  2. Concentration of wealth: The turkish rulers extracted all the agriculture surplus in their hands. This surplus had to be put to use and it happened in the form of grand monuments.
  3. Reflects the distance between the rulers and the ruled, the despotism of the sultans: Each monument reflects the tastes of the sultan as because of their scale each sultan tried to build according to his likes to expand his glory. Ala-ud-din built Alai Darwaza which was majestic in scale. This reflects the despotism of the sultan and his ability to extract surplus from the peasants.
  4. Communal composition: Most of the monuments were Islamic which showed the distribution of power in the urban society. Islam doesn't permit images of birds and animals so floral designs, geometric designs and calligraphy came up.    
  5. They can be divided into 3 phases - (a) During and immediately after Turkish conquest when many hindu temples were destroyed and new islamic monuments were sought to be created in their place quickly. (b) Exchange of skills and traditions between Indian and Islamic architecture forms but at the same time also shows lack of mastery of Indian craftsmen over the new Islamic form, (c) evolution of a special Indo - Islamic form.
  6. During and immediately after Turkish conquest: Turkish rulers had not yet established themselves. They needed to create an awe among the ruled. Thus Iltutmish created many monuments in Delhi so that the public could be awed. Qutub Minar was built as a symbol of Turkish victory. Further the monuments of the age can't be divided exclusively into secular and religious monuments. This is because the rulers needed monuments which could be used for huge public gatherings of the nascent Muslim society in India. Thus they were often located in the middle of the town and had large open garden in them, pillared verandahs on 3 sides and the praying site facing west. There was a raised platform where imams and sultans could address the public. First such monument of the kind was Kuwwat - ul - Islam in Qila Pithora. They had come to India as conquerors. So they didn't bring along any masons. So the initial monuments have a deep influence of Indian architecture. The buildings of this phase were built by demolishing parts of existing hindu temples and converting them according to muslim needs by destroying the images, putting a wall in garbhgriha and inscribing Quranic verses. Also the flat roof had to be converted into a dome and flat windows into arch. The Indian craftsmen were used to their traditional style only. One of the earliest monuments is Adhai Din Ka Jhopda which was built by Qutub-ud-din which has false arches. 
  7. Expanding muslim population in India and subsequent rise of Indian muslim class: A mosque's area is often proportional to the Muslim population living in the area. Thus Quwwat - ul - Islam mosque was expanded by Iltutmish and Ala -ud -din. As Indian muslim class grew stronger it also got its fair share in the ruling class in the form of Khaljis. So the expansion of the mosque also symbolizes rising power of Indian muslim class.
  8. Exchange of skills and traditions between Indian and Islamic architectural forms: Gradually we see pure form of Islamic architecture coming as Indian craftsmen began to master the new form. Balban's tomb had the first True arch. Jamat-i-khana mosque of Alauddin is the first true Islamic monument. Alai Darwaza can be construed to be the first monument which symbolizes the end of the initial phase of insecurity and the Indo-Islamic architectural form.
  9. Tughluq age: The monuments built were inferior in grandeur and beauty compared to the Khalji phase. Perhaps they represented a reaction to the excessive ways of the Khaljis or the economic problems facing the sultan. Under Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq we can see the continuation of the fusion of Indo-Islamic forms. Thus in his mausoleum we can see a kalash kept on top of the dome. The construction work in Tughluqabad may also reflect the haste and commotion in the face of impending Mongol threat. Firuz constructed many monuments but none matched the grandeur of earlier sultans. Specially under Firuz, sloping walls called salami were prevalent to give an impression of solidity to the monument. True domes were constructed but they were somewhat small. Pentagonal designs came up.  
  10. Lodi age: Lodis believed in the kingship theory of being first among the equals. This is also reflected in the architecture as we find that the monuments built by many Amirs were equal in scale and grandeur to those built by the sultans. By their time, the octagonal designs, double domes and headers and stretchers brick layering styles came up. Char-bagh style also came up.  
  1. These paintings also show many musical instruments like various forms of veena.
Evidences of Growth of Paintings Under Sultans
  1. It was generally considered that the sultans didn't favor paintings. But recent evidences firmly establish that paintings flourished under the sultans, under the provincial rulers of the age as well as under the elite elements of the society.
  2. Contemporary writer Taj-ud-din Raja says that paintings were quite popular under Iltutmish's reign. He explicitly talks of paintings involving human and animal figures while the Caliph's envoy was welcomed at the port. Other contemporary writers confirm what he says. 
  3. We find both direct and indirect evidences of paintings being used as illustrations in books during Ala-ud-din's rule. Amir Khusrau writes in detail how these designs were prepared.
  4. Shams-i-Siraj Afif in his Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi writes clearly that Firuz banned the living portraits of humans in the palace galleries and bedrooms of the sultan. This tells us that such a practice was followed right in the heart of sultanate.
  5. Similarly Barani writes in Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi that Jalal-ud-din finished the work of construction of a palace started by Sultan Kaku-i-bad and decorated it with paintings.
Regional Paintings
  1. Jaunpur paintings: Various plays and other literary works in the Avadhi language make liberal use of illustrations and/or talk explicitly about paintings. Prominent are the romantic works of Chandayan and Mrigavati. The subjects of such works were often derived from Ramayan and Mahabharat. Another Persian manuscript has been found which is heavily influenced by Persian painting style.
  2. Paintings under Jain merchants: Since 9 - 10 cent AD we find miniature illustrations in religious works of Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism under the Palas. In the 13 - 15 cent AD such a tradition emerged very strongly under the patronage of rich Jain merchants and spread to central and northern India as well. In Ahemdabad many secular as well as religious Jain works were created which had illustrations in them.
  3. Mandu paintings: We have found 4 major manuscripts here which give evidence of flourishing painting art here. A manuscript found here (Niyamatnama) has many miniature portraits of Sultan Nasir-ud-din Khalji. These paintings show clear fusion of Indian and Persian art. They use bright and lively colors and reflect the liveliness of the durbar of Mandu. Another manuscript is Miftah-ul-Fuzala which is a dictionary. The manuscript Vostan shows heavy influence of Persian art. The 4th one is Ujaib-ul-Sannati.
  4. Bengal paintings: A manuscript Sharafnama has 9 paintings. Sikandarnama has beautiful paintings on its opening page itself. They show clear fusion of Indo-Islamic forms.
Composite Culture
  1. The fusion of Indo Islamic culture began with the Turks in 13th century. Before that Arab merchants were residing in India in the Malabar and Rashtrakuta empire and Arabs had also conquered Sind. But still not much exchange happened. This fusion reached greater heights under the Mughals.
  1. Despite the opposition of religious extremists, music flourished under the Sultans. Amir Khusrau developed a new Indian style of poetry. MbT and Zain-ul-Abedin were big patrons of music. Then under Mughals it reached its zenith. Abul Fazl tells us about the prominent musicians in Akbar's court which included both Hindus and Muslims. Under Bijapur's sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah many texts were written in poetry. He himself was a poet. Bahadur Shah and Muhammad Shah also encouraged music.
Language and Literature
  1. One of the major steps which promoted the fusion was the complete Persianization of the administrative work. This encouraged Hindus to take up Persian learning and they also began to contribute to the Persian literature. 
  2. Regional languages also began to liberally exchange with Persian due to this move. Though they kept their basic grammar and syntax but incorporated many words from Persian (specially Marathi for instance Peshwa, Avadhi, Bengali). We can see the influence of Persian in Nanak's work as well as Tulsi's Ramcharitmanas. Regional languages also developed as the Muslim rulers in provinces also patronized them (for instance Zain-ul-Abedin encouraged compilation of Rajtarangini, he also encouraged Kashmiri literature. Sanskrit works came up in Muhammed Begara's reign, Gujarati works were encouraged by Ahmedshah. Similarly Bengali, Telugu etc. were encouraged by the local rulers). Many works were translated from Persian and Sanskrit into these regional languages. 
  3. Akbar was very fond of literary works and had a big library of works in many languages. He also got many works translated into Persian.
Urdu Language
  1. The Turkish invaders came here and settled here. With time their links with Central Asia  broke (specifically due to Mongol invasions) and hence they had to recruit for their armed forces from among Indians. Naturally there was a barrier in communication between the Persian speaking central asians and hindi speaking Indians. Thus urdu came up as the camp language. Amir Khusrau was one of the first prominent writers to also take up Urdu. 
  2. When the sufi saints and subsequently the sultans went to deccan they faced the same language barrier again. So the language which subsequently came up after exchanges with the regional languages is called Deccani language which evolved into the more formal / classical form of Urdu. With the expansion of Mughal empire in 17th century in Deccan the spread of Deccani increased.
  3. In 18th century Urdu emerged as the leading language of the gentry and symbolized the revolt against the Persian dominance.
Provincial Architecture 
  1. Gujarati style represents the clearest influence of Hindu style of architecture. We can see this in the Jama Masjid @ Ahemdabad, Khambat and Badi Masjid @ Champaner etc. where they resemble Hindu and Jaina temples closely.  The dome was supported by slender minarets. Influence seen in Fatehpur Sikri. 
  2. In Golconda fort we can see that the arches were ornamented with Hindu motifs like cranes, parrots, lions, peacocks etc. Similarly in Bijapur's Jama Masjid we can see sculptures of Pipal trees on the walls which is a sacred tree for Hindus.
  3. Under the Bundelas @ Orchha and Datia we can see arches along with Hindu style. Under Marathas we can see Islamic features lime minarets, domes etc. which are even used in the construction of temples. Marathas also had gardens constructed in their palaces along with fountains, canals etc.
Religion and Philosophy
  1. Bhakti and Sufi movements influenced each other and the popular thought. Din-i-ilahi was a manifestation of the fusion. Dara Shikoh was also a great assimilatory character and influenced by sufism. 
  2. Still the exchange couldn't take place beyond some popular practices and beliefs. At the philosophical level the fusion was not visible except for the above mentioned instances. There were some sufi saints who incorporated some practices of hindu saints like yoga etc. A particular sect of Muslims believed Prophet to be an avatar, Muin-ud-din Chisti to be a demigod. We can see people of both community celebrating many festivals together. This communal harmony was encouraged by the provincial sultans as well. 
Evolution of a Composite Ruling Class
  1. With time the domination of Turks ended and we can see Indian Muslims rising in the rank of the ruling class. Then there were many Hindus who were exploited in the Hindu society, they sought to take advantage of the new situation for their advance. Slowly even the better off hindus aligned themselves with the sultans and even though they didn't get a share directly in the upper echelons of power they were quite important for the sultanate. 
  2. When Sikandar Lodi ordered for the adoption of Persian as the official language many learned Hindu classes like Kayastha, Kashmiri brahmans etc. learnt Persian and took advantage. The ruling class at the village and local level still comprised predominantly of hindus. Yet before Mughals a truly composite ruling class couldn't emerge.
Amir Khusrau in Music
  1. He was very much influenced by Indian music and gave many new ragas (like tilak, sarpada, saajgiri) and taals by fusing Indian and Islamic music. He is said to have popularized Qawwalis and invented tabla and sitar.
Sufis in Music
  1. They contributed in the form of gazals and qawwalis. Gazal is a romantic form of music where the object of love is a person in this world only. Qawwali is the romantic music where the object is God. As such gazals became very popular in the durbars of sultans.
Culture in Mughal Empire
Persian History Writing
Nature and Character
  1. In N India land records were kept in Persian only. In S India however, both local and Persian languages were used. This gave a great boost to the spread of Persian.
  2. The histories were written within the confinement of Islam i.e. criticism of Kuran, Hadi, Sunna etc. is not possible and it must remain within the confines of the religion. 
  3. The rising might of the emperor had an influence on the historiography as well and now the history of the age became the history of the emperor. The completed works now came to be dedicated to the emperor. The earlier  Arabic tradition of giving sources was also discontinued here. Divine association of the kings was emphasized upon to establish their sovereignty. We find the tradition of history writing spreading to the provinces as well. 
  4. We find extensive use of religious terminology in the texts which might appear to the extent of outright communal at the first glance. But it must be kept in mind that in those days religion and education were intricately linked. The scholars were invariably men of religion and they knew no terminology other than religious. Thus they make indiscriminate use of such terms. For instance using such terms lashkar-i-kufra and lashkar-i-islam even when both sides fighting each other were Muslims. 
  5. We must also keep in mind that the interest of much of the history writing section differed from those of the sultans. The history writing section mainly came from the religious ulemmas class and wanted sultan to be bound by the shariat and kuran so that he would have to consult them on all matters and their importance in the politics grows. Sultans on the other hand were not willing to accept any sovereignty above them. So to please the ulemmas and to show their complete loyalty towards shariat whenever it was possible they tried to give religious color to actions otherwise necessitated by politico-economic considerations. The historians naturally used to give lot of importance and communal color to such events.
  6. The political stability and economic prosperity of the age can also be seen in such works.
Differences from Sultanate Era History Writing
  1. The completed works now came to be dedicated to the emperor. 
  2. The earlier  Arabic tradition of giving sources was also discontinued here.
  3. The emperors used to pay a lot of attention to history writings themselves as is evident from the tradition of autobiographies in the mughal age. When they couldn't they appointed highest scholars for the task and gave them full access to all government records (including the classified ones) and gave them other privileges as well. But as usual this means these writings were often biased.
  4. In the mughal works we can see events presented chronologically year after year along with all the dates. But in Barani's work we see lack of such chronology.
  5. The techniques of paper making and binding showed marked improvement over the sultanate era and so we have larger amount of sources of mughal era with us.
Zahir-ud-din Muhammed Babur and Tuzuk-i-Babri
(a) Importance
  1. Its importance is that its an autobiography and this is where Mughals differed from sultans. The work is from someone who was shaping the India of the age and brought a revolution. He divides his work in 3 parts - first part runs from his accession to the throne of Fargana and ends with leaving Samarkand for the final time, second part tells us about his struggles and wars in India and the third part tells us about the state of affairs in India.
  2. He describes the political situation of the country in great detail. He talks about different provincial rulers like Gujarat, Malwa, Bijapur, Golconda etc., Vijaynagar, Bengal, Rajputana. He talks about the difficulties faced in keeping the conquered areas firmly under his control. He talks about the difficulties faced in collecting land revenue.
  3. Being a foreigner he tells us in detail about all things which struck to him and which may have been ordinary to a resident here. He was a keen observer and describes people and geography in great detail. He writes about their clothes, food, habits, behavior, profession, social structure, festivals, art forms, architecture, technologies etc. in great detail. Thus he produces a rich account.
  4. He also writes very frankly about his own mistakes. It also gives a good account of the conditions prevailing in Humayun's initial years and tells us about his strengths and weaknesses as well.
(b) Limitations
  1. He can be accused of distortion of facts also specially while highlighting his military victories.
  2. He forms a negative stereotype of Indians based on his observations of certain backward sections of the society. 
  3. He also leaves out certain provinces like Sind, Kashmir, Odisha, Khandesh. He neglects Portuguese as well.
  4. His is also a broken account - sometimes it had long breaks.
Humayun's Historiography
  1. Tarikh-i-Rashidi by Hussain Mirza: He was a senior commander in Babur's and then Humayun's army and hence the importance. He talks in detail about Humayun's period. He writes about character and habits of Humayun. He gives a different and detailed account of circumstances leading to the battle @ Kannauj and Kamran's role in it. He said that some revolts had emerged in Punjab and Qandhar so Kamran had to return immediately but he left 5000 sawars with Humayun.
  2. Kanun-i-Humayuni by Khond-Mir: The writer was a senior official under Humayun and thus gives us a good account of the events and conventions of the durbar.
  3. Humayunnama by Gulbadan: She was a step sister to Humayun and tells us in detail about the life of royal ladies and Humayun's exile and conquering Kabul.
Akbar's Historiography
  1. It had 3 strands - (a) the official version i.e. Akbarnama written by Abul Fazl and which was sponsored by Akbar, (b) neutral version i.e. Tabakat-i-Akbari written by Nizam-ud-din Ahmad, and (c) anti-Akbar version Muntakbh-ut-Tarikh written by Badayuni. 
(a) Akbarnama by Abul Fazl
  1. Abul Fazl was a liberal person like Akbar and consequently had come very close to him. In 1590 he was entrusted with the task of writing history of Akbar. The first part starts with Akbar's birth and ends in 1572 where he talks about creation of the universe, other religions and their prophets, Akbar's ancestors etc. In the second one he covers the period till 1588. The third part is Ain-i-Akbari. The 4th part talks about the geography, people, climate, indian saints, sufi saints etc. of India. In the final part he gives his brief autobiography.
  2. He studied all relevant Arabic and Persian history books, he used all relevant official records, farmaans etc., he interviewed a lot of people including the amirs and Akbar himself, he knew intricate details of many things being a high amir himself and whenever there was a dispute regarding anything he used to take opinion of maximum possible number of people conversant with the matter and if there was still any dispute left then Akbar used to take a decision.
  3. Abul Fazl was a great supporter of Akbar's liberal religious ideas and he wanted to strengthen his position further. So he highlighted the divine aspect of Akbar's kingship and also praised sulh-i-kul policy of Akbar. He supported his claim to mustajir. Various religions generally associate births of prophets or great men with some divine signs. Abu Fazl tries to link Akbar's birth with some divine signs as well. If he was not given formal education during his childhood, Abu Fazl links it to such a tradition among the prophets. He wanted people to believe that Akbar had an element of divinity in him so that they follow his orders without any issues.
  4. He rejects the highly ornamental style of Persian writing of previous historians and instead writes in a very simple  and yet lovable language. Unlike other Persian historians he doesn't use any such language which can even hint at religious intolerance. This was a big break from the history writing tradition of the age.
  5. Ain--i-Akbari reflects the liberal religious views and sulh-i-kul thoughts of Akbar. It tries to give a harmonious portrayal of hindus and hindu philosophy and presents them as being tolerant, liberal and assimilatory. Although it must be noted that he didn't know Sanskrit like Berouni and thus suffered from this handicap. He tries to portray the apparent differences between various religions as a result of different languages, ignorance of the religious heads and interpreters, their traditional and fanatical outlook, use of religion by them and the rulers to serve their personal ambitions etc. In reality there is no difference between any religion. He rejects the claim of old historians that in India there is an inherent conflict between the muslims and hindus. He also rejects any fanaticism be it in hindus or in muslims. Thus he praises Todarmal for his qualities but criticizes him for his lack of tolerance.
(b) Tabakat-i-Akbari by Nizam-ud-din Ahmad
  1. Nizam-ud-din was a high ranking officer under Akbar yet wrote in a neutral way. His book covers the history of sultanate and Akbar and other provinces like Bengal, Malwa, Jaunpur, Kashmir, Sind etc. He didn't write to gain favors from the emperor and was a man of high integrity. 
  2. He uses other works like Tuzuk-i-Babri, Akbarnama and numerous other historical texts of his age.
(c) Muntakbh-ut-Tarikh by Al Badayuni
  1. Badayuni represented the traditional fanatical ulemma class. He had grown up and received education in a very orthodox and fanatical environment. He hated Akbar for his religious tolerance which he believed had led to the ignorance of learned scholars like him. He believed that all the high posts and influence should be exclusively reserved for muslims and that too for learned scholars like him. This was his biggest limitation but at the same time also lets us know the impact of Akbar's policies on this section.
  2. Badayuni had been invited to ibadatkhana affairs of Akbar. But he soon found out that his orthodox views would have no impact on the emperor. He was also jealous of Abul Fazl (who not only influenced Akbar's policies but also was involved in implementing them) whom he accused of poisoning the emperor's mind and this hatred shows in his work. He believes himself to be a soldier of Islam and brands both Akbar and Abul Fazl as enemies of Islam. He was also dissatisfied from Akbar for his regulations imposed on madad-i-mash (the tax free land grants made to muslim ulemmas). 
  3. His work has 3 parts - first one begins from Subuktgin and lasts till Humayun's death (this can be considered as a summary of Tabakat-i-Akbar), second relates to Akbar and third relates to some sufi saints, poets and muslim scholars. 
  4. His work is full of religious intolerance and hatred for hindus. But it must be kept in mind that he was jealous of rich hindus as they were richer than him and focuses his venom on them. At the same time he ignores poor hindus just like he ignores poor muslims as this reflects the typical mindset of the privileged class of the age.
  5. His research and analysis was shallow as he was not really interested in describing any event of the age. He merely wanted to pour venom on both Akbar and Abul Fazl.
Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri by Jahangir
  1.  This is an autobiography and describes in detail his campaigns including failures, factionalism emerging in the high noblery, transfers of mansabdars and how he himself turned away from his responsibilities. The work reflects his desires, his efforts, successes, failures everything. He describes how he wanted to be like his father. He writes in detail about his daily life, his thoughts very honestly. 
  2. He doesn't stay limited to his life only. He also describes his officers, his perception about their thoughts and factional fights etc. This makes it a very good source. He also describes the geographical details of his journey to Kashmir, Malwa, Ajmer, Gujarat and Punjab.
  3. First 15 years of his reign were very good but from the 16th year onwards problems begin and he starts to retire from active life. This is reflected in the form of irregular entries in the book. In the alter years he delegated the responsibility of history writing to Motmid Khan who writes in the name of Jahangir till the 19th year. From then on he writes Ikbalnama-i-Jahangiri in his own name which again is a very reliable source.
Padshahnama (for Shahjahan)
  1. This has 3 versions. First was written by Kazwini which covers the first 10 years of his reign. Next was written by Abdul Hamid Lahori and covers first 20 years of the reign. The third version was written by Muhammad Waris which covers the last 10 years of his reign. This work covers in detail the princes, amirs, scholars, sufis, poets, campaigns, political events, transfers etc.
Aurangzeb's Historiography
(a) Alamgirnama by Kasem Shiraji
  1. He covers the first 10 years of his reign. Like other official historians, he too had access to all the governmental records. Where he needed more information he could investigate anyone and was also free to consult the emperor. He liberally praises Aurangzeb and criticizes his brothers and even Shahjahan. He praises those amirs who sided with Aurangzeb in his succession war.
(b) Muntakbh-ul-Lubab by Khafi Khan
  1. This is a critical work of Aurangzeb's reign and he writes how the peasantry was oppressed by the mughals and always lived in fear. He also criticizes the handling of deccani affairs and his work contains the elements pointing towards the decline of mughal empire.
(c) Futuhat-i-Alamgiri by Isardas Nagar
  1. This covers his reign up to 34 years and talks in detail about his relations with rajputs. He writes how by 1691 Aurangzeb's policies had failed and his noblery had hatched ambitions to carve out independent principalities.
European Sources: Jean Taverner
  1. He was a merchant and hence was interested mostly in economic activities of the country. But a difference between him and other writers is that he didn't remain confined to the court activities. He travelled across India and also wrote about the people, social life (whatever he could understand) and economic life. Thus he becomes an important source albeit one which should be interpreted with proper caution. He thus writes about the production activities in India, the merchants, the sarafs, the involvement of amirs in trade, various temples etc. 
  2. One limitation is that he travelled through forests so he could have written about the tribals there but he didn't. Then his writings on religious and cultural lives are at best shallow.
European Sources: Francis Bernier
  1. He had stayed in India for a long period. So he came to understand the circumstances here in a better way. He had access to the royal courts and hence writes about the lives of the ruling class including the princesses. He writes about the rajputs as well. 
  2. He also throws sufficient light on the economic life. He writes about the craftsmen, the peasants etc. But he incorrectly asserts that the emperor was the owner of all land here.
  3. On amirs he writes that they lived a very consuming life. Despite large incomes they were always indebted. He talks about the transportation means, the mughal army, the brahmans and their narrow mindset and superstitions, the sati system, devadasi system and craft production processes in India.

Mughal Architecture
  1. Change & Continuity: Double dome, char-bagh style were elements of continuity. Influence of provincial architecture, kalash, petra dura style were elements of change.
  2. Due to the central asian origin of the emperors the architecture was characterized by fusion of Hindu-Islamic architecture specially under Akbar. One such influence is the kalash placed on top of the domes which was borrowed from Hindu temple architecture. In SJ's time, greater emphasis was placed on Islamic character of buildings. Thus during Akbar's period we can see a fusion of regional styles into Mughal buildings. In Red Fort we can see distinct Gujarati and Malwa influence. The use of domes was avoided and instead replaced by chatris. Domes were used only in the mosque. We can see the use of colorful and glazed tiles on the external walls in Sikri which resemble Persian style. On the other hand the internal walls and chatris were ornamented with motifs of different animals and human beings in the Rajput style. Fatehpur Sikri too saw huge influence of Gujarat and Rajput styles. Rajput influence is witnessed in the doors and windows and in Jodhabai's and Birbal's palaces while Kashmiri influence is visible in Mariam's palace. In Birbal's palace we can see the arches were decorated with motifs of lotus, rose and other flowers. In the Diwan-i-Khas we can see the influence of Jain, Buddhist as well as Hindu styles.
  3. It used the char-bagh style. Initially the monument was constructed in the middle of the garden on a raised plinth and flowing water. Humayun's tomb is the first example. Shahjahan changed it to placing the monument in one corner of the garden. 
  4. Many beautiful gardens with flowing canals were created. It began with Babur who got a garden created in Agra when he began to live there. Example are Shalimar @ Lahore, Nishat Bagh in Kashmir. 
  5. Double dome was another feature. Humayun's tomb is the first example. 
  6. Red sandstone from Dhaulpur was extensively used by Mughals. Examples are Shahjahanabad and Fatehpur Sikri. Marble was also used. From Jahangir's time a visible shift was made towards use of marble.
  7. Some new cities like Din Panah by Humayun and Shergarh by SSS were built.
  8. Pietra dura style was used for ornamentation. Floral designs were carved in walls and semi-precious stones were fitted in these engravings for entire design. 
  9. Last example of Mughal architecture is Safdarjung tomb.
  10. The architecture was suited to the climatic conditions of the land. The rooms were large and airy. There were big gardens around the building and many fountains as well. The roofs had the khus-khus grass to keep them cool.
Mughal Architecture as a Reflection of Contemporary Life
  1. It symbolizes the great power of the ruling class and the great divide between the rulers and the ruled. Mughals brought a vast area of the country under their administration. They had elaborate machinery to extract the agriculture surplus and this surplus was concentrated in few hands only. This gave them the ability to provide for best of the resources from all over the country in their monuments. This shows in the superiority of their architecture. The elite and privileged class used burnt bricks, mortar and stones (because stone cutting and polishing was costly) and arches, domes and vaulted roofs in their constructions. They also made use of glasses for their windows and Jahangir even used colored glasses which were very expensive. Commoners used mud bricks or kuccha houses.
  2. They reflect the increasing power of the emperor even in respect of his amirs. Thus while in the Lodi rule we find that the monuments of his amirs were as good as those of the sultan, in mughal age monuments of the emperors were way above anybody else's. While the emperors had the resources and capacity to obtain best of material and labor from any part of the country his nobles and provincial rulers / governors clearly couldn't do so.
  3. We can see the impact of Akbar's desire to be the religious leader of Indian muslims as well. In Diwan-i-Aam @ Sikri we can see that the emperor's throne was placed in the western direction which gave him religious supremacy as well. The use of many provincial styles in the buildings can be seen to reflect Akbar's desire to be the emperor of whole India and not just a part of it. But this innovative and assimilative character was replaced by a traditional character in Shahjahan's monuments.
  4. The monuments clearly show the state of the empire in those days. For instance the majestic fusion and smooth construction of Sikri shows the stability and the strength of the empire. By Shahjahan's time a stagnation had occurred which we can see in the lack of variety in the construction. The freshness and cultural fusion of the buildings gave way to artificial grandeur. The innovative and assimilative character of Akbar's time was replaced by a traditional character in Shahjahan's monuments. It appears that this was an attempt to hide the growing problems of the empire. By Aurangzeb's time the architecture declined due to his personal indifference as well as economic condition of the state. Whatever monuments are there show traditional style only and lack of creativity. Instead the monuments of the regional principalities began to grow in their attraction. This shows the decline of the empire.
  5. These majestic projects reflected the cultural currents and tastes of the age in the ruling class. The emperors often personally paid attention to the plans and construction of the monuments. Thus we have paintings of Akbar observing the construction of Fatehpur Sikri personally.
  6. After 300 years of liberal exchanges and changes, Indian architecture style had stabilized. The craftsmen had become masters of their art and this shows in the buildings which show a style that is more mature and uniform than its predecessors. Architecture during sultanate period was heterogenous and more like a collection of different styles.
  7. The construction made use of labor intensive technologies which indicate the abundance of unskilled and skilled labor of the age and that it had become an important industry. Large amount of labor was employed. For instance Akbarnama tells us 4000 workers were employed everyday for the construction of Agra fort. Jama Masjid of Delhi employed 8000 workers and Taj Mahal employed 20000 workers working everyday. 
  8. The architecture was suited to the climatic conditions of the land. The rooms were large and airy. There were big gardens around the building and many fountains as well. The roofs had the khus-khus grass to keep them cool.
  9. The architecture clearly shows a fusion of Indo-Islamic styles and shows the prevailing undercurrents of communal harmony and liberal exchange in the society.
  10. The mughal amirs used to construct their buildings close to the buildings constructed by their ancestors.
  11. The foundation of any major project was laid only after consulting the astrological charts.
Mughal Painting
How they reflect the contemporary life?
  1. Painters were both Hindu-Muslims as well as lower caste hindus.
  2. Court patronized. Book illustrations played an important role. Karkhanas were established for painting. Painters were paid monthly salaries + bonuses.
  3. It was un-islamic yet liberal interpretation of islam allows it.
  4. Painted portraits of Akbar showing despotism.
  5. Specialization absent.
  6. Mughal paintings show the construction scenes of the big monuments and also tell us about the used technologies. For instance some paintings show us how stones were cut and polished to be used in Fatehpur Sikri.
  7. Court scenes, hunting scenes, wars were painted. Indian colors were developed. 
Mughal Paintings under Akbar
  1. In the initial phase during Akbar, paintings used to draw heavily from persian style though we could see some influences of Indian style occasionally. One of the first important paintings was the miniature style Dastan-i-Amir-Hamza or Hamzanama. It had 1200 paintings and used bright colors. Amir Hamza was a Persian mythological hero and Akbar used to enjoy his stories. Hamzanama depicts foreign plants and flowers. We can also see influence of Hindus style in the painting of women in it. In Anwar-i-Suhaili we can see that the birds and animals are painted in a very natural style whereas in persian style animals are painted in a very artificial way (they appear more like masks than alive animals). It shows Indian trees and flowers but paints hills and clouds in persian style. These painters were mostly Persians.
  2. In the next phase Akbar's policies had become much more assimilatory and the resulting fusion culture had become mature. Akbar was becoming more interested in analysis of different religions. So he wanted many books of different religions to be translated into Persian. Such translations would also include miniatures. This gave a big boost to the fusion process. We can see the same impact in the paintings as they now included various provincial styles like Gwalior, Gujarat, Rajputana, Lahore, Kashmir etc. This was possible as their painters were now drawn from all over India and not just Persia. Tootinama is an important painting from this phase and we can see Indian influence in both subjects as well as style. The most famous painting of this age was Razmnama which worked as a milestone for other paintings. 
  3. With time we can also see the European influence in the paintings. It began when in 1580 Akbar invited a missionary to his durbar. They brought many paintings with them. The mughal princes were impressed and the painters tried to incorporate its features in their own paintings. In the beginning they just copied the outlines and filled it in their own colors and style. Later on we can see the european influence both in the subjects and style. A popular feature now was that the front objects were put in a perspective by changing their size.
  4. During the final years Akbar was besieged with many problems including the revolt of prince Salim and death of princes Murad and Daniyal. We can see the corresponding decline in the paintings as well specially miniatures. This decline was evident not only in quantity but also quality as they now lacked creativity.
Mughal Paintings under Jahangir
  1. During Akbar's reign the painting was bound by the subject of the manuscript of which it formed a part. Jahangir freed it from this limitation and encouraged free paintings (on subjects dictated by him) including portraits. Initially  he got some of the paintings redone from the royal library. Then he turned towards life size portraits and other scenes from royal life. It must be kept in mind even Akbar got portraits done but under Jahangir they became the dominating theme. Jahangir was eager to have important events of his life and reign recorded and asked the painters to paint his durbar scenes, festival celebrations, flowers and animals which interested him etc. There is one painting which shows Jahangir aiming for a lioness's eye and a Rajput prince is pointing towards it.
  2. The paintings of the age elevated Jahangir's aura and showed him in a majestic form. Maybe they are an attempt to take his mind away from the dissonance of his failures to tackle some of the problems he faced or some of the desires he could never fulfill. They were just an attempt to show him as a great, all conquering, merciful and just ruler. For instance we can see him greeting the persian ruler on equal terms though he never met him. The one painting shows him presiding over (as a great great emperor) a meeting of many kings and princes from far off lands. In another he is seen as kicking Malik Ambar's head.
  3. Thus gradually in his reign we can see miniatures declining and getting replaced by free style paintings including the portraits.
  4. The paintings also show the animals and birds in a very natural way and focus on their bodily features with a preciseness which is amazing. We can see signs of scientific study of such subjects before the paintings.
Mughal Paintings after Jahangir
  1. For some years Shahjahan let them work as they were working under Jahangir. But later on he began to have himself painted in association with some divine powers like for instance the angels themselves are descending on earth to keep the crown on his head, or they are standing holding flags in their hands and praying for his victory and long life. He also had himself painted in most imposing forms. In one painting we can see Akbar, Jahangir and Shahjahan with Akbar directly giving the crown to Shahjahan. 
  2. Perhaps all this was an attempt to hide the decline in the fortunes of the empire. That is why there is too much of glorifying the emperor. The decline in mughal painting had clearly set in and creativity had given way to traditionalism.
  3. European influence can be clearly seen in these paintings as there is generally an illuminated circle behind his head radiating light as in the european paintings of Jesus. Further we can see that the background is generally painted blur in light colors.
Rajputana School of Painting
  1. Rajputana paintings can be broadly divided into - (a) court paintings which depict as usual the lifestyle of the feudal lords. We can see clear mughal influence here in the form of dresses, symbols, background, scenery etc. The influence grew as the painters returned from the delhi court due to the decline of the empire. (b) literary paintings which typically draw their subject matter from hindu religion. They also show less influence of islamic art and more of rajput traditional art only because the interaction with mughals was more in the ruling class. (c) folk paintings which typically show festivals, celebrations, daily life events etc.
Mewar School
  1. It mainly flourished in Chittor, Udaipur, Nathdwara, Deogarh, Sirohi, Saawar under Sisodias. It shows comparatively lesser influence of mughal style due to distant political relations with the mughals.
  2. Under Rana Amar Singh we can see that the men clothing is triangular in the bottom part of the body which indicates mild mughal influence only. Under his successor Rana Jagat Singh we can see an increase in the religious paintings as well as court paintings. These paintings depicted men and women in a mix of mughal and traditional wear, birds, flowers etc. all in their natural state but the hills were painted in mughal style. 
  3. In the first half of 18th century the court paintings flourished further as lot of painters came back, but after that we can see a decline under the £ influence.
Amber School
  1. It flourished under Kachwahas in Amber, Jaipur, Alwar.
  2. Here the folk painting and literature related religious painting flourished more. It flourished under Man Singh, Sawai Jai Singh and his successors. But by 19th century it lost its appeal.
Marwar School
  1. It flourished under Rathores in Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Pali. With time we can see growing mughal influence in the Jodhpur school as the traditional rajput elements were replaced by refinement and adornment. It portrays men and women in stocky bodies and men with mustaches.
  2. Bikaner school was the one most closely affiliated with the mughal style as it had very close political relations with mughals. Instead of bright colors or beautiful scenery work like other rajput schools it uses soft lines and color assortment like the mughals. It appears that when mughal painters were neglected under Shahjahan they came to Bikaner. Apart from the mughal influence we can also see deccani influence here because Rana Anup Singh stayed in deccan for long under Aurangzeb. They too focus on the bodily beauty of women who are light and slim.  
Bundi School
  1. It flourished under the Hadas in Bundi and Jhalawar. Bundi was located between Amber in north, Mewar in south and Kota in west. So Bundi used to attract painters from all these schools and hence developed its distinct style.
  2. It typically used bright lively colors, focused on the bodily beauty of women and added to their beauty by using sceneries including hills, rivers, forests, trees, fruits, flowers etc. in very natural sense. It used a special mixture of colors to show the sky in background.
  3. In 18th century the subjects were mostly hunting scenes, durbars, portraits of the feudal lords and their entertainment (examples of mughal influence). It too declined in the later half of 18th century.
Kota School
  1. Although it is close to Bundi, it still developed a unique style. Bundi passed through a turbulent phase in the 18th century. So many painters from there came to Kota and worked here. Thus it came closer to Bundi.
  2. The subjects were mostly hunting scenes, portraits of the feudal lords and their entertainment (examples of mughal influence). It too declined in the later half of 18th century.
Kishangarh School
  1. The Rana here was very interested in art forms and was influenced by sagun bhakti. The famous Bani Thani painting is from Kishangarh. The paintings here depict Radha and Krishna in gardens or celebrating festivals etc. It was very much influenced by bhakti and the focus is on the bodily beauty of Radha.
Pahadi Schools of Painting
Kangra School of Painting
  1. This school reflects the closeness to nature and uses natural scenes to express human emotions. For example dry trees to symbolize separation, bright flowers to symbolize meeting etc. 
  2. It has many regional variations which can be seen in Bilaspur, Jammu, Mandi, Garhwal, Chamba, Nurpur etc.
Basauli School of Painting
  1. We can see a clear fusion of folk art of Kashmir, Mughal school and Rajput school here. Its chief centers were Jasrota, Mankot, Bandharlata, Jammu, Nurpur, Chamba.
  2. Initially we can see the traditional art forms clearly with people wearing traditional dresses and ornaments etc. After the turbulence in Delhi due to invasions and throne games, many painters came here and we see the influence of mughal style growing. This we can see in the form of changes in dresses, expressions of women, ornamentation etc. 
Guler or East Kangra School of Painting
  1. One of the reasons for its development was that due to disorder the route between Delhi and NWFP and Kashmir changed from passing via Lahore to via Jammu. So with time this came under mughal influence.
Differences with Mughal and Rajput Schools
  1. While mughal school has focused on the splendor of the emperor and his court, pahadi school expresses the emotions, nature, religious sentiments etc. Thus pahadi school could focus on life outside the royal sphere as well.
  2. Pahadi school tries to portray common life style and clothing style through krishna as it happened in European renaissance. Thus krishna is depicted as wearing pahadi dresses and among pahadi women wearing traditional dresses. The scenes are depicted in the original state of nature. 
  3. Apart from krishna, pahadi paintings also depict common girls playing the common games of the day or playing music or depicts animals and birds in their natural settings. Women are shown as well like mughal paintings. the paintings of the princes and their families are very much mughal styled. The difference here though is that while such mughal paintings focused on some political events like battles, surrender by the enemy, receiving an ambassador etc. pahadi paintings on such events are few.
Provincial Architecture & Painting
Lucknow School of Painting
Deccani School of Painting
  1. It flourished in Bijapur, Golconda and Ahmadnagar. There was a lot of exchange between the three centers due to the upheavals of the age so it is often difficult to distinguish which painting belonged to which place. There were exchanges with Rajputs as well as Mughals. Nizamshahi sultans also welcomed the painters from Vijaynagar empire. Thus the paintings show a good fusion with hindu style as well.
  2. These paintings show openness as against the traditionalism which crept into mughal paintings during Shahjahan. The most famous painting is that of a yogini (or princess) from Bijapur. Adil Shah I and Ibrahim Adil Shah of Bijapur were great patrons of art including paintings. Their paintings are clearly influenced by western romantic school.
Patna School of Painting
Lucknow School of Architecture
Rajputana School of Architecture 
Classical Music    
  1. Originally there was only one system of music but in medieval age, north India came under the influence of Persian music leading to formation of 2 schools - Hindustani (north) and Karnataka (south). They have common basic features like raga, taal, performance includes a soloist (either vocal or on instrument), a drummer and a tanpura.
  2. Initially Dhrupad style was popular which used veena as the instrument. Another music style which was popular among people in those days was Dhamar style which focused on describing krishna along with the country girls, krishna playing holi in Braj, celebration of festivals etc. Mughal court couldn't remain uninfluenced by Holi and Tansen et al composed many Dhamars as well and thus this folk music style found its way in the mughal courts. Apart from these two there was the bhakti music specially from Kabir, Mira etc. which was sung. Then Akbar also gave patronage to musicians from southern india as well as north west. Thus an all encompassing music evolved in his period. Jahangir was a patron of music as well specially gazals. This continued under Shahjahan but declined under Aurangzeb.
  3. In the 18th century under Muhammed Shah (court musicians Adarang and Sadarang) and under ruler of Jaunpur, the khyal style emerged dominant. It differed from dhrupad in the sense it allowed for more freedom of the musician as well as was was light and full of life. It has only two parts (sthayi and antara) as against the 4 in dhrupad. It is more suited to the female voice and this helped in its spread. In khyal style as well there were two types - chota khyal and bada khyal. Bada khyal has slow tempo while chota khyal has medium and high and hence became more popular among the two. Khyal was difficult to play on the traditional veena and hence new instruments like sitar and tabla came up. 
Carnatic Music
  1. In contrast to Hindustani music, the main emphasis in Carnatic music is on vocal music; most compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in gayaki (singing) style. 
  2. It peaked under Vijaynagar empire @ Tanjavur in 16 - 17 century. Purandar Das is known as the father of Carnatic Music. Bhakti movement and folk music traditions contributed a lot to the development of Carnatic music.
  1. It refers to musical pitch, the note from which all the others are derived. It is also used in the sense of graded pitches in an octave. While there are an infinite number of sounds falling within a raga in Carnatic music, the number that can be distinguished by auditory perception is twenty-two.
  1. It consist of seven notes, "sa-ri-ga-ma-pa-da-ni". Every member of the swara has 3 variants (like ra, ri, ru) except for sa, pa, ma. It refers to a type of musical sound that is a single note, which defines a relative (higher or lower) position of a note, rather than a defined frequency.  
  1. In Carnatic music, it prescribes a set of rules for building a melody. It specifies rules for movements up (aarohanam) and down (avarohanam), the scale of which notes should figure more and which notes should be used more sparingly, which notes may be sung with gamaka (ornamentation), which phrases should be used or avoided, and so on. In effect, it is a series of obligatory musical events which must be observed, either absolutely or with a particular frequency.
  1. Taals are the repeating succession of beats or claps like on a dholak (dhik-dha-dhik-dhak-dhin). They have cycles of a defined number of beats and rarely change within a song. 
Hindustani Music
  1. Fusion of Vedic and Persian music as well as sufi tradition. Names like Amir Khusrau and Tansen are associated with this school. Sufi tradition brought religious assimilation in the music as Muslim singers sung praising Hindu deities and vice versa.
  2. It is traditional for performers who have reached a distinguished level of achievement to be awarded titles of respect; Hindus are usually referred to as pandit and Muslims as ustad
Dhrupad Style
  1. Its name is derived from the words "dhruva" (fixed) and "pada" (words). This tradition can be traced back to Vedas. But it saw a decline from 18 century onwards. A newer genre, khyal, gained popularity at dhrupad's expense as it placed less constraints on the singers and also the new instruments being developed – the sitar and the sarod – were not suited to dhrupad. 
  2. Dhrupad as we know it today is performed by a solo singer or a small number of singers in unison to the beat of the pakhavaj or mridang rather than the tabla. The vocalist is usually accompanied by two tanpuras
  3. Dhrupad styles have long elaborate alaps and gradually accelerates. The alap is derived from a mantra, in a recurrent, set pattern: a re ne na, té te re ne na, ri re re ne na, te ne to ne.  In most styles of dhrupad singing can easily last an hour. It is broadly subdivided into the alap proper (unmetered), the jor (with steady rhythm) and the jhala (accelerating strumming) or nomtom, when syllables are sung at a very rapid pace. Then the composition is sung to the rhythmic accompaniment: the four lines, in serial order, are termed sthayiantarasanchari and aabhog.
Khyal Style 
  1. Khyal bases itself on a collection of short songs of two to eight lines each called a bandish. Khyal bandishes are typically composed in a variant of Urdu / Hindi, and sometimes in Persian, Marathi or Punjabi, and these compositions cover diverse topics, such as romantic or divine love, praise of kings or gods, the seasons, dawn and dusk and they can have symbolism and imagery. The bandish is divided into two parts — the sthayi and the antara. The sthayi often uses notes in the lower octave, while the antara uses in upper octave. 
  2. Every singer generally renders the same bandish differently, with only the text and the raga remaining the same. A typical khyal performance uses two songs — the bada khyal in slow tempo comprising most of the performance, while the chota khyal in fast tempo used as a finale. The songs are sometimes preceded by improvised alap.
  3. The singer uses the bandish as raw material for improvisation, accompanied by a harmonium or sarangi, tabla and a tanpura in the background. 
Tarana Style
  1. It is a type of composition in Hindustani classical vocal music in which certain words and syllables are used in a medium tempo and fast tempo. It was invented by Amir Khusrau.
Tappa Style
  1. Tappa originated from the folk songs of the camel riders of Punjab and developed as a form of classical music by Mian Ghulam Nabi Shori @ Oudh. 
Thumri Style
  1. It is a semi-classical Indian music. It developed @ Oudh and deals mainly with Krishna.

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