Mughal Empire

Category : UPSC

 

MUGHAL EMPIRE

 

WHEN HUMAYUN was retreating from Bikaner, he was gallantly offered shelter and help by the Rana of Amarkot. It was at Amarkot, in 1542, that Akbar, the greatest of The Mughal rulers, was born. When Humayun died, Akbar was at Kalangaur in the Punjab, commanding operations against the Afghan rebels there. He was crowned at Kalanaur in 1556 at the young age of thirteen years and four months.

 

            Akbar succeeded to a difficult position. The Afghans were still strong beyond Agra, and were regrouping their forces under the leadership of Hemu for a final showdown. Kabul had been attacked and besieged. Sikandar Sur, the defeated Afghan ruler, was loitering in the Siwalik Hills, However, Bairam Khan, the turor of the prince and a loyal and favourite officer of Humayun, rose to the occasion. He became the wakil of the kingdom, with the title of Khan-i- Khanan and rallied the Mughal forces. The threat from the side of Hemu was considered the most serious. Adii Shah had appointed him the wazir with the title of Vikramajit, and entrusted him with the task of expelling the Mughals. Hemu captured Agra, and with an army of 50,000 cavalry, 500 elephants and a strong park of artillery marched upon Delhi.

 

            In a well-contested battle, Hemu defeated the Mughals near Delhi and November 1556). Although Hemu's artillery had been captured earlier by a Mughal detachment, the tide of battle was in favour of Hemu when an arrow hit him in the eye and he fainted, the leaderless Afghan army was defeated, Hemu was captured and executed.

 

Early Phase Contest with the Nobility (1556-67)

            Bairam Khan remained at the helm of affairs of the empire for almost four years. During the period, he kept the nobility fully under control. Meanwhile, Akbar was approaching the age of maturity. Bairam khan had offended many powerful persons while he held supreme power. There was friction on small points which made Akbar realise that he could not leave the affiars of the state in someone else's hands for any length of time.

 

            Akbar played his cards deftly. He left Agra on the pretext of hunting, and reached Delhi. From Delhi he issued a farman dismissing Bairam Khan from his office, and calling upon all the nobles to come and submit to him personally. Once Bairam Khan realised that Akbar wanted to take power in his own hands, he was prepared to submit, but his opponents were keen to ruin him. They heaped humiliation upon him till fie was goaded to rebel. Finally, Bairam Khan was forced to submit Akbar received him cordially, and gave him the option of serving at the court or anywhere outside it or retiring to Mecca.

 

            Bairam Khan chose to go to Mecca. However, on his way, he was assassinated at Patau near Ahmedabad by an Afghan who bore him a personal grudge. Bairam's wife and a young child were brought to Akbar at Agra. Akbar married Bairam Khan's widow who was his cousin, and brought up the child as his own son. This child later became famous as Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan and held some of the most important offices and commands in the empire. During Bairam Khan's rebellion, groups and individuals in the nobility had become politically active. They included Akbar's foster-mother, Maham Anaga, and her relations.

 

            Though Maham Anaga soon withdrew from politics, her son, Adham Khan was an impetuous young man who assumed independent airs when sent to command an expedition against Malwa. Removed from the command, he laid claim to the post of the wazir, and when this was not conceded, he stabbed the acting wazir in his office. Akbar was enraged and had him thrown down from the parapet of the fort so that he died (1561). Between 1561 and 1567 they broke out in rebellion several times, forcing Akbar to take the field against them. Each time Akbar was induced to pardon them. When they again rebelled in 1565, Akbar was so exasperated that he vowed to make Jaunpur his capital till he had rooted them out. Meanwhile, a rebellion by the Mirzas, who were Tim rids and were related to Akbar by marriage, there the areas west of modern Uttar Pradesh into confusion. Encouraged by these rebellions, Akbar's half-" brother, Mirza Hakim, who had seized control of Kabul, advanced into the Punjab, and besieged Lahore. The Uzbek rebels formally proclaimed him their ruler.

 

Early Expansion of the Empire (1560-76)

            Following Bairam Khan's regency, the territories of the Mughal empire had been expanded rapidly. Apart from Ajmer, important conquests during this period captured earlier were that of Malwa and GharhKatanga. Malwa was being ruled, at that time, by a young prince, Baz Bahadur. The expedition against Malwa was led by Admam Khan, son of Akbar's foster-mother, Maham Anaga. Baz Bahadur was badly defeated (1561) and the Mughals took valuable sopils, including Rupmati. However, she preferred to commit suicide to being dragged to Adham Khan's karem. Due to the senseless cruelties of Adham Khan and his successor, there was a reaction against the Mughals which enabled Baz Bahadur to recover Malwa.

 

            After dealing with Bairam Khan's rebellion, akbar sent another expedition to Malwa. Baz Bahadur had to flee, and for some time he took shelter with the Rana of Mewar. After wandering about from one area to another, he finally repaired to Akbasr's court and was enrolled as a Mughal mansabdar. The extensive country of Malwa thus came under Mughal rule. At about the same time, mughal arms overran the kingdom of Gharh-Katanga. The kingdom of Garh-Katanga included the Naramada valley and the northern portions, of present Madhya Pradesh. It had been welded together by one Aman Das who flourished in the second half of the fifteenth century. Aman Das had helped Bahadur Shah of Gujarat in the conquest of Raisen and had received from him the title of Sangram Shah.

 

            The kingdom of Ghar-Kartanga included a number of Gond and Rajput Principalities. It was the most powerful kingdom set up by the Gonds. We do not know, however, to what extend these figures are dependable. Sangram Shah had further strengthened his position by marrying off his son to a princess of the famous Chandella rulers of Mahoba. This princess, who is famous as Durgavati, became a widow soon afterwards. But she installed her minor son on the throne and ruled the country with great vigour and courage. Meanwhile, the cupidity of Asaf Khan, the Mughal governor of Allahabad, was roused by the stories ofthe fabulous wealth and the beauty of the Rani. Asaf Khan advanced with 10,000 cavalry from the side of Bundelkhand. Some of these independent rulers of Garha found it aconvenient moment to throw off the Gond voke. The Rani was thus left with a small force. Though wounded, she fought on gallantly. Finding that the battle was lost and that she was in danger of being captured, she stabbed herself to death. Asaf Khan then stormed the capital, Chauragarh, near modern Jabalpur. Out of all the plunder Asaf Khan sent only two hundred elephants to the court, and retained all the rest for himself." Kamaladevi, the younger sister of Rani, was sent to the court.

 

            When Akbar had dealt with the rebellion of the Uzbek nobles he forced Asaf Khan to disgorge his illegal gains. He restored the kingdom of Garh-Katanga to Chandra Shah, the younger son of Sangram Shah, after taking ten forts to round off the kingdom of Malwa.

 

            During the next ten years, Akbar brought the major part of Rajasthan under his control and also conquered Gujarat and Bengal. A major step in his campaign against the Rajpur states was the siege of Chittor. Chittor fell (1568) after a gallant siege of six months. At the advice of his nobles, Rana Udai Singh had retired to the hills leaving the famous warriors, Jaimal and Patta, in charge of the fort. The rajput warriors died after extracting as much vengeance as possible. In honour of the gallant Jaimal and Patta, Akbar ordered that two stone statues of these warriors, seated on elephants, be erected outside the chief gate of the fort at Agra.

 

            The fall of Chittor was followed by the conquest of Ranthambhor reputed to be the most powerful fortress in Rajasthan. Jodhpur had been conquered earlier. As a result of these victories, most of the Rajpur rajas, including those of Bikaner and Jaisalmer, submitted to Akbar. Only Mewar continued to resist.

           

            In 1572, Akbar advanced on Ahmedabad via Ajmer. Ahmedabad surrendered without a fight. Akbar then turned his attention to the Mirzas who held Broach, Baroda and Surat. At Cambay, Akbar saw the sea for the first time and rode on it in boat. A group of Portuguese merchants also came and met him for the first time. The Portuguese dominated the Indian seas by this time, and had ambition of establishing an empire in India. Akbar's conquest of Gujarat frustrated these designs.

 

            While Akhtar’s armies were besieging Surat, Akbar crossed the river Mahi and assaulted the Mirzas with a small body of 200 men which included Man Singh and Bhagwan Das of Amber. For some time, Akbar's life was in danger. But the impetuosity of his charge routed the Mirzas. Thus/ Gujarat came under Mughal control. However, as soon as Akbar had turned his back, rebellions broke out all over Gujarat. Hearing the news, Akbar marched out of Agra aride traversed across Rajasthan in nine days by means of camels, horses and carts. On the eleventh day, he reached Ahmedabad. In this journey, which normally took six weeks, only 3000 soldiers were able to keep up with Akbar. With these he defeated an enemy force of 20,000 (1573).

 

            After this, Akbar turned his attention to Bengal. The Afghans had continued to dominate Bengal and Bihar. Internal fights among the Afhans, and the declaration of independence by the new ruler, Daud Khan, gave Akbar the opportunity he was seeking. In a stiff battle in Bihar in 1576, Daud Khan was defeated and executed on the spot.

 

            Thus ended the last Afghan kingdom in northern India. It also brought to an end the first phase of Akbar's expansion of the empire.

 

Administration

            During the decade following the conquest of Gujarat, Akbar found time to look at the administrative problems of the empire.

           

            One of the most important problems facing Akbar was the system of land revenue administration. Sher Shah had instituted a system by which the cultivated area was measured and a crop rate (ray) was drawn up, fixing the dues of the peasant crop-wise on the basis of the productivity of land. Akbar adopted Sher Shah's system. But it was soon found that the fixing of central schedule of prices often led to considerable delyas, and resulted in great hardships to the peasantry.

 

            Akbar, therefore, reverted to a system of Annual assessment. The quangos, who were hereditary holders of land as well as local officials conversant with local conditions, were ordered to report on the actual produce, state of cultivation, local prices, etc. After returning from Gujarat (1573), Akbar paid-personal attention to the land revenue system, Officials called karoris were appointed all over north India. They were responsible for the collection of a crore of dams (Rs2, 50,000), and also checked the facts and figures supplied by the quangos. On the basis of the information provided by theist regarding the actual produce, local prices, productivity, etc., in 1580, Akbar instituted a new system called the dahsala. Under this system, the average produce of different crops as well as the average prices prevailing over the last ten year were calculated. One third of the average produce was the state share. The slate demand was, however, stated in cash. This was done by converting the state share into money on the basis of a schedule of average prices over the past ten years. Thus, the produce of a bigha of land under share was given in manunds. But on the basis of average prices, the state demand was fixed in rupees per bigha.

 

            There were number of advantages of this system. As soon as the area sown by the peasant had been measured by means of the bamboos linked with iron rings, the peasants as well as the state knew what the dues were. The peasant was given remission in the land revenue if crops failed on account of drought, rioods, etc. The system of measurement and the assessment based upon it is called the zabti system. Akbar introduced this system in the area from Lahore to Allahabad, and in Malwa 3nd Gujarat. The dahsala wsystem was a further development of the zabti system.

            A number of other systems of assessment were also followed under Akbar. The most common and, perhaps, the oldest was called batai or ghalla-bakhshi. In this system, the produce was divided between the peasants and the state in fixed proportion. The crop was divided after it had been thrashed, or when it had been cut and tied in stacks, or while it was standing in the field.

 

            A third system which was widely used in Akbar's time was nasaq. It seems that it meant a rough calculation of the amount payable by the peasant on the basis of what he had been paying in the past. It is also called kankut.

           

            Land which remained under cultivation almost every year was called polaj. When it remained uncultivated it was called parati (Fellow). Parati land paid at the full (polaj) rate when it was cultivated. Land which had been fallow for two to three years was called chachar, and if longer than that, banjar.

 

            The dahsala was not a ten-year settlement. Nor was it a permanent one, the state retaining the right to modify it. However, with some changes, Akbar's settlement remained the basis of the land revenue system of the Mughal Empire till the end of the seventeenth century. The zabti system is associated with Raja Todar Mal and is sometimes called Todar mall’s banduras. Today Mal was a brilliant revenue officer who had first served under Sher Shah. But he was only one of a team of brilliant revenue officials who came to the forefront under Akbar.

 

Organisation of Government

            Hardly any changes were made by Akbar in the organization of local government the pargana and the sarkar continued as before. The chief officers of the sarkar were the faujdar and the amalguzar, the former being in charge of law and order, and the latter responsible for the assessment and collection of the land revenue. The territories of the empire were divided into jagir, khalisa and inam. Income from khalisa villages went directly to the royal exchequer. The inam lands were those which were allotted to learned and religious men. The amalguzar was required to exercise a general supervision over all types of holdings so that the imperial rules and regulations for the assessment and collection of land revenue were followed uniformly. Even there, Akbar encouraged them to follow the imperial system.

 

            Akbar paid great attention to the organization of the central and provincial governments. His system of central government was based on the structure of government which had eveolved under the Delhi Sultanat, but the functions of the various departments were carefully reorganized, and meticulous rules and regulations were laid down for the conduct of affairs. Thus, he gave a new shape to the system and breathed new life into it.

 

            The Central Asian and Timurid tradition was of having an all-powerful wazir under whom various heads of departments confections. He was the principal link between the ruler and the administration. In course of time, a separate department, the military department, had come into being. The judiciary had always been separate. Thus, in practice, the concept of an all-powerful wazir had been given up. However, in his capacity as wakil, Bairam khan had exercised the power of an all-powerful wazir.

 

            Akbar reorganized the central machinery of administration on the basis of the division of power between various departments, and of checks and balances. While the post of wakil was not abolished, it was stripped of all power and became largely decorative. The head of the revenue department continued to be the wazir. He was not generally a person who held a high position in the nobility. Many nobles held mansabs which were higher than his. Thus, he was no longer the principal adviser to the ruler, but an expert in revenue affairs. To emphasize this point, Akbar generally used the title of diwan or divan-i-ale in preference to the word wazir. Sometimes, several persons were asked to discharge the duties of diwan jointly. The diwan was responsible for all income and expenditure, and held control over kahlisa, jagir and inam lands.

 

            The head of the military department was called the mir bakhshi. It was the mir bakhshi and not the diwan who was considered the head of the nobility. Therefore, only the leading grandees were appointed to this post. Recommendations for appointment to man sabs or for promotions, etc. were made to the emperor through the mir bakhshi. Once the emperor had accepted a recommendation, it was sent to the diwan for confirmation and for assigning a jagir to the appointee. The same procedure was followed in case of promotions.

 

            The mir bakhshi was also the head of the intelligence and information agencies of the empire. Intelligence officers (barids) and news reporters (waqia-navis) were posted to all parts of the empire. There reports were presented to the emperor at the court through the mir bakhshi.

 

            It will thus be seen that the diwan and the mir bakhshi were almost on a par with, and supported and checked, each other.

 

            The third important officer was the mir saman. He was in charge of the imperial household, including the supply of all the provisions and articles for the use of the inmates of the harem or the female apartments. The maintenance of etiquette at the court, the control of the royal bodyguard, etc., were all under the overall supervision of this officer.

 

            The fourth important department was the judicial department headed by the chief qazi. It fell into bad odoour due to the corruption and venality of Akbar's chief qazi, Abdun Nabi.

 

 

CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS DEVELOPMENTS

           

THERE WAS an outburst of many-sided cultural activity in India under the Mughal rule. The traditions in the field of architecture, painting, literature and music created during this period set a norm and deeply influenced   the   succeeding generations. It his sense, the Mughal period can be called a second classical age following the Gupta age in northern India. In this cultural development, Indian traditions were amalgamated with the Turko-Iranian culture brought to the country by the Mughals. The Timurid court at Samarqand had developed as the cultural center of West and Central Asia. Babur was conscious of this cultural heritage. He was critical of many of the cultural forms existing in India and was determined to set proper standards. The development of art and culture in various regions of India during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries had led to a rich and varied development from which it was possible to draw upon. But for this, the cultural efflorescence of the Mughal age would hardly have been possible. Peoples from different areas of India, as well as peoples belonging to different faiths and races contributed to this cultural development in various ways. In this sense, he culture developed during the period was tending towards a truly national culture.

 

Architecture

            The Mughals built magnificent forts, palaces, gates, public buildings, mosques, baolis (water tank or well), etc. They also laid out many formal gardens with running water. In facts, use of running water even in their palaces and pleasure resorts was a special feature of the Mughals. Babur was very fond of gardens and laid out a few in the neighbourhood of agra and Lahore. Some of the Mughal gardens, such as the Nishat Bagh in Kashmir, the Shalimar at Lahore, the Pinjor garden in the Punjab foothilas, tec. Have survived to this day. A new impetus to architecture was given by Sher Shah. His famous mauoleum at Sasaram (Bihar) and his mosque in the old fort at Delhi are considered architecture marvels. They form the climax of the pre-Mughal style of architecture, and the starting point for the new.

 

            Akbar was the first Mughal ruler who had t-he time and means to undertake construction on a large scale. He built a series of forts, the most famous of which is the fort at Agra. Built in red sandstone, this massive fort had many magnificent gates. The climax of fort building was reached at Delhi where Shah Jahan built his famous Red Fort.

 

            In 1572, Akbar commenced a palacecumfort complex at Fatehpur Sikri, 36 kilometers from Agra, which he completed in eight years. Built atop a hill, along with a large artificial lake, it included many buildings in the style of Gujarat and Bengal. These included deep eaves, balconies, and fanciful kiosks. In the Panch Mahal built for taking the air, all the types of pillars used in various temples were employed to support flat roofs. The Gujarat style of architecture is used most widely in the palace built probably his Rajput wife of own wives. Buildings of a similar type were also built in the fort at Agra, though only a few of them have survived. Akbar took a close personal interest in the work of construction both at Agra and Fatehpur Sikri. Persian or Central Asian influence can be seen in the glazed blue tiles used for decoration in the walls or for tiling the roofs. But the most magnificent building was the mosque and the gateway to it called the Buland Darwaza or the Lofty Gate, built to commemorate Akbar's victory in Gujarat. The gage is in the style of what is called a half-dome portal. What was done was to slice a dome into hald. The sliced portion provided the massive outward facade of the gate, while smaller doors could be made in the rear wall where the dome and the floor meet. This devise, borrowed from Iran, became feature in Mughal buildings later.

 

            With the consolidation of the empire, the Mughal architecture reached its climax. Towards the end of Jahangir's reign began the practice of putting up buildings, entirely of marble and decorating the walls with floral designs made of semi-precious stones. This method of decoration, called pietradura became even more popular under Shah Jahjan who used it on a large scale in the Taj Mahal, justly regarded as a jewel of the builder's art. The Taj Mahal brought together in a pleasing manner all the architectural forms developed by the Mughals. Humauyun's tomb built at Delhi towards the beginning of Akbar's reign, and which had a massive dome of marble, may be considered a precursor of the Taj. The double dome was another feature of this building. This devise enabled a bigger dome to be built with a smaller one inside. The chief glory of the Taj is the massive dome and the four slender minarets linking the platform to the main building. The decorations are kept to a minimum, delicate marble screens, pietra dura inlay work and kiosks (chahatris) adding to the effect. The building gains by being placed in the minds of a formal garden.

           

            Mosque-building also reached its climax under Shah Jahan, the two most noteworthy ones being "the Moti Masjid in the Agra fort built like the Taj entirely in marble, and the other the Jama Masjid at Delhi build tin red sandstone. A lofty gate tall, slender minarets, and a series of domes are a feature of the Jama Masjid.

           

            Although not many buildings were build up by Aurangzeb who was economy- minded, the Mughal architectural traditions based on a combination of Hindu and Turko- Iranian forms and decorative designs, con          tinued without a break into the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Thus, Mughal traditions influenced the palaces and torts of many provincial and local kingdoms. Even the Harmandir of the Sikhs, called the Golden, Temple at Amritsar which was rebuilt several times during the period was built on the arch and dome principle and incorporated many features of the Mughal traditions of architecture.

 

Painting

            The Mughals made distinctive contribution in the field of painting. They introduced new themes depicting the court, battle scenes and the chase, and added new colours and new forms. They created a living tradition of painting which continued to work in different parts of the country long after the glory of the Mughals had disappeared. The richness of the style, again, was due to the fact that India had an old tradition of painting. The wall-paintings of Ajanta are an eloquent indication of its vigour. After the eighth century, the tradition seems to have decayed, but palm-leaf manuscripts and illustrated Jain texts from the thirteenth century onwards show that the tradition had not died.

 

            Aprt from the Jains, some of the provincial kingdoms, such as Malwa and Gujarat extended their patronage to painting during the fifteenth century. But a vigorous revival began only under Akbar. While at the court the court of the Shah of Iran, Humayun had taken into his service two master painters who accompanied him to India. Under their leadership, during the reign of Akbar, painting was organized in one of the imperial establishments (karkhanas). A large number of painters from different parts of the country were invited, many of them form lowly castes. From the beginning, both Hindus and Muslims joined in the work. Thus Daswant and Basawan were two of the famous painters of Akbars court, the Scholl developed rapidly, and soon became a celebrated centre of production. Apart from illustrating Persian books of fables, the painters were soon assigned the task of illustrating the Persian text of the Mahabharata, the historical work Akbar ama, and others Indian themes and Indian 'canes and landscapes, thus, came in vogue and helped to free the school from Persian influence. Indian colours, such as peacock blue, the Indian red, etc. began to be used. Above all, the somewhat flat effect of the Persian style began to be replaced by the foundedness of the Indian brush, giving the pictures a three-dimensional effect.

 

            Mughal painting hunting, battle and court scenes, under Jahangir, special progress was made in portrait painting and painting of animals. Mansur was the great name in this field. Portrait painting also became fashionable.

 

            Under Akbar, European painting was introduced at the court by the Portuguese priests. Under their influence, the principles of foreshortening, whereby near and distant people and things could be placed in perspective was quietly adopted.

           

            While the tradition continued under Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb's lack of interest in painting led to a dispersal of the artists to different places of the country. This helped in the development of painting in the states of Rajasthan and the Punjab hills. The Rajasthan style of painting combined the themes and earlier traditions of western India or Jain school of painting with Mughal forms and styles. Thus, in addition to hunting and court scenes, it had paintings on mythological themes, such as the dalliance of Krishna with Radha, or the Barahmasa, that is, the seasons Ragas (melodies). The Pahari School continued these traditions.

 

Language, Literature and Music

            The important rule of Persian and Sanskrit as vehicles of thought and government at the all India level, and the development of regional languages, largely as a result of the growth of the Bhakti Movement, have already been mentioned. Regional languages also developed due to the patronage extended to them by local and regional rulers.

 

            These trends continued during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By the time of Akbar, knowledge of Persian had become so widespread in north India that he dispensed with the tradition of keeping revenue records in the local language (Hindawi) in addition to Persian. However, the tradition of keeping revenue records in the local language continued in the Deccani states till their extinction in the last quarter of the seventeenth century.

 

            Persian prose and poetry reached a climax under Akbar's reign. Abul Fazi who was a great scholar and a stylist, as well as the leading historian of the age, set a style of prose-writing which was memulated for many generations. The leading poet of the age was his brother Faizi who also helped in Akbar's translation department. The translation of the Mahabharata was carried out under his supervision. Utbi and Naziri were the two other leading Persian poets. Though born in Persia, they were among the many poets and scholars who migrated from Iran to India during the period and made the Mughal court one of the cultural centers of the Islamic world. Hindus also contributed to the growth of Persian literature. Apart from literary and historical works a number of famous dictionaries of the Persian language were also compiled during the period.

 

            Although not much significant and original work was done in Sanskrit during the period, the number of Sanskrit works produced during the period is quite impressive. As before, most of the works were produced in south and east India under the patronage of local rulers, though a few were produced by Brahman as employed in the translation department of the emperors.

 

            Regional languages acquired stability and maturity and some of the finest lyrical poetry was produced during this period. The dalliance of Krishna with Radha and the milkmaids, pranks of the child Krishna and stories from Bhagawat figure largely in lyrical poetry in Bengali" Oriya, Hindi, Rajasthani and Gujarat! During this period. Many devotional hymns to Rama were also composed and the Mahabharata translated into the regional languages, especially if they had not been translated earlier. A few translations and adaptations from Persian were also made Both Hindus and Muslims contributed in this. Thus, also composed in Bengal and also translated from Persian. In Hindi the Padmavat, the story written by the Sufi saint, Malik Muhammad Jaisi, used the attack of Alauddin Khaiji on Chittor as an allegory to expound Sufi ideas on the relations of soul with God, along with Hidu ideas about maya.

 

            Medieval Hindi in the Brij form, mat is the diaalect spoken in the neighbourhood of Agra, was also patronized by the Mughal emperors and Hindu rulers. From the time of Akbar, Hindi poets began to be attached to the Mughal court. A leading Mughal noble, Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, produced a fine blend of Bhakti poetry with Persian ideas of life and human relations. Thus, the Persian and the Hindi literary traditional began to influence each other. But the most influential Hindi poet was Tulsidas whose hero was Rama and who used a dialect of Hindi spoken in the eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh. Pleading for a modified caste system based not on birth but on individual qualities, Tuisi was essentially humanistic poet who upheld family ideals and complete devotion to Rama as a way of salvation open to all, irrespective of caste.

 

            In south India, Malyalam started its literary career as a separate language in its own right. Marathi reached its apogee at the hands of Eknath and Tukaram. Asserting the importance of Marath, Eknath exclaims. "If Sanskrit was made by God, was Prakrit bom of thieves and knaves? Let these erring’s of vanity along. God is no partisan of tongues. To Him Prakrit and Sanskrit are alike. My language Marathi is worthy of expressing the highest sentiments and is rich laden with the fruits of divine knowledge.

 

            This undoubtedly expresses the sentiments of all those writing in local language. It also shows the confidence and the status acquired by these languages. Due to the writings of the Sikh Gurus, Punjabi received a new life.

 

Music

            Another branch of cultural life in which Hindus and Muslims cooperated was music. Akbar patronize Tansen of Gwalior who is credited with composing many new melodies (ragas). Jahangir and Shah Jahan as well as many Mughal nobles followed this example. There are many apocryphal stories about the burial of music by the orthodox Aurangzeb. Recent research shows the Aurangzeb banished singing from his court, but not playing of musical instruments. In fact, Aurangzeb himself was an accomplished veena player. Music in all forms continued to be patronized by Aurangzeb's queens in the harem and by the noble. That is why the largest number of books on classical Indian music in Persian were written during Aurangzeb's reign. But some of the most important development in the field of music Took place later on in the eighteenth century during the reign of Muhammad Shah (1719-48).



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