Alamgirnama: A Mughal Timeline

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Madhav Deval, Aug 29, 2018.

  1. Threadmarks: 17. Court and Popular Culture in the late Second Century

    Madhav Deval Well-Known Member

    Jul 3, 2018
    The Co-evolution of Courtly Culture and Folklore in the Reigns of Jahanzeb Shah and Prithvi Narayan Shah.
    "The Mughals of India"
    Katsura Taro

    Mughal court culture in India had experienced two identifiable phases prior to the 18th Christian century- the first exhibited par excellence in Babur and Humayun featured the emperor as exalted and the centre of gravitas yes, but courtly etiquette was far more relaxed in those early days than it would later become in the days of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. Interestingly, as the nature of the emperor focused more and more on his nature as a muslim king, the list of royal prerogatives and measures that separated the emperor as divinely touched only grew, such as the ever present royal halo in pictures of Alamgir, Shah Jahan, Jahangir, Jahanzeb Shah and Prithvi Narayan Shah. These two phases are also reflected in the regnal names of emperors, with Babur, Humayun being one word nicknames, reflective of the turko mongol rumbustiousness that allowed them to drink very, very heavily with friends at parties they hosted, contrasting with the Persian and later Literary Hindustani regnal titles which acted as descriptors, all having meanings that conveyed the monarchs claim of universal sovereignty being divinely ordained eg. World Seizer, World King, Lord of the World, World Adorning King.

    The accessibility of the emperor also reflected these two phases, with the first three Indian gurkanis being very personally accessible to the common peoples and nobles alike. Babur fondly held drinking parties with his nobles and Akbar tried his hardest to make himself as personally accessible to anyone as possible, never thinking that any work was beneath him, leading to him quarrying stone with workmen and receiving diplomats while he laboured in his artisan studio.

    Throughout the history of the dynasty, the monarch had remained paterfamilias to the nation, through his paternal care of the land bringing harmony to its residents and legitimising the state, as articulated by Abu Fazl in the Ain-I Akbari. Indeed the Golden Family was the microcosm of the state, with honorary acceptance into this family being a symbol of the highest prestige in the status obsessed world of medieval India- many nobles eschewed wealth, yet crowed with pride if Jahangir or Shah Jahan were to address them as farzand, son. A result of this is that after Akbar, court chronicles immensely downplay interpersonal relations between the monarch and his sons, for whichever character fills that particular role, the image of the family they needed to convey was the same- the role remained eternal. The Badshah is always described in the most grandiose of terms; princes a little less so though still their behaviour is marked by equanimity, generosity and dignity. It is only when harmony is shattered all too visibly is it presented to the reader. Through presenting the monarch and his sons as the eternal archetype of the just king, the generous princes and devoted sons, the chroniclers added to the state’s legitimacy. It is only ever the informal works of history, such as personal diaries that this straitjacket is abandoned- but for those Abu Fazl’s format would remain unchallenged. It is almost as if Abu Fazl and those that followed sought to portray Akbar as the crowning glory of all history; before him comes all the variety of the world with the grand and the imperfect mingling, contrasted with the unchanging perfection of these stereotypes. After Akbar, eternity.

    This view presents certain obvious flaws- what to do when the personage of the emperor was inadequate to maintain this image? What to do if this image of unearthly perfection alienated the populace from their rulers and caused them to resent their ivory towers? Shah Jahan, with all the effort he took to maintain impeccable decorum was lampooned in the bazaars as arrogant and sheltered, a factor that led to many nobles choosing to side with Alamgir instead of Dara Shikoh, as the former was a humbler type who regularly belittled himself in comparison to his golden ideal of Islam. After the traumatic experience of Alamgir’s excessive piety which caused sectarian tensions to rise to a level unheard of since Akbar, a reaction to that emerged which tolerated the brief reign of Azam Shah as a return to the familiar haughty arrogance of Shah Jahan and the return to the throne of a personality in Jahanzeb Shah that seemed deserving of this apotheosis. By the time of Prithvi Narayan Shah, however, the public was once again growing tired of Mughal grandeur and his every attempt to prove his purity and right to claim global sovereignty fueled the fire of those accusing the throne of arrogance. Before moving forward, it is desirable to discuss what exactly was the court ritual of the age and the trends that characterised its evolution.

    The court was a site where every activity, exceptional or mundane would appear theatrical to an outsider, an element first noted by the Englishman sir Thomas Roe when he said “This sitting out hath so much affinitiye with a theatre”- indeed this was intended, as the court was a model of social order that it needed to make clear to the untrained observer was a universal and recognisable ideal. The Akhlaq literary genre, which concerned itself with etiquette, had evolved in Iran and Turan in the pretimurid era and had been the model of courtly relationships for centuries. For example, the Akhlaq I Nasiri goes into great detail about regulating the modes of eating, sleeping and talking that children should be socialised into. For daughters, the all too brief prescription is that they receive no education and be married off at the earliest possible age. Sons should produce no sounds when eating or drinking, only drink in moderation, sit at a place proper to their station, not speak unless spoken to and sleep on hard beds and eat rough food often in a distinctly Stoic fashion. They were also to be introduced to sexual experience with many women.

    Akhlaq I Jahangiri was the first such work compiled in the Mughal era and dwells upon virtue ethics. It emphasises justice as the primary principle of governance and declares that a just non muslim ruler is preferable to an unjust muslim. For others concerned with etiquette, maintaining strict hierarchies lay at the very centre of the issue. Abu Fazl gives a general outline on the position of various ranks in Akbar’s court.

    “When his majesty seats himself on the throne, all others of awakened fortune perform the kurnish (a gesture of obeisance) and stand at their places according to rank, with their arms crossed. The eldest prince does not place himself nearer than one yard or farther than four yards from the throne and when sitting, from two to eight yards. The second stands from a yard and a half to six yards and sits from three to twelve. The third stands at the same distance as the second. Then come the devotees of the highest rank who may stand three to fifteen yards and sit five to twenty yards from the throne. After this come the highest amirs and then the other nobles. All other men stand in the yasal”

    This outline is of a period when court rules were still evolving and became stricter and stricter as time went on. Notable demands of etiquette were prostration before the throne, kissing his feet, several forms of salutation by bowing, and the customs of the distribution of gifts, titles and offices on special occasions- all of these have long histories but can ultimately be traced to the Sassanians and were shared by states such as the Byzantines and the Arab Caliphates. There were several levels of observance of etiquette: within the court, where concessions could be granted by the king as a mark of favour but infractions were harshly punished, within the royal family where age gender and relationship were important factors and in the relationship between temporal and spiritual power, wherein the Emperor was obliged to replicate court rituals towards wandering saints.

    On entering the court, shoes had to be left at the main door, as if it was a masjid or mandir, for the court too was sacred. Its sanctity emanated from the personage of the emperor. The gradations of sanctity rose as one approached the throne and a certain distance was always to be maintained except on rare occasions when the emperor commanded someone to advance. Once prince Firuz Bakht, son of Jahanzeb Shah sought some information from him and not receiving a reply, walked towards the throne. Absentmindedly, he touched the throne with his foot, which angered Jahanzeb Shah enough that he adjourned court for the rest of the day. Again, like a place of worship, complete temperance and total silence was expected. Shah Jahan and later Jahanzeb and Prithvi Narayan Shah added to the solemnity of the affair by playing soft music in the background. All speech was to be conducted in subdued voices, with no gesticulation, and to be confined to brief statements made without flourish, in full humility. There were three physical subdivisions of the diwan I aam and the diwan I khas. The level nearest the throne had golden railings, the second had silver and the third had vermillion wood, with that particular shade of red being reserved for royal use in court under Shah Jahan and Jahangir, though it had filtered down into high fashion empire wide by the time of Jahanzeb Shah.

    A core part of court etiquette was the custom of giving gifts, much derided as bribery by Europeans both then and now and yet being an indispensable form of displaying hierarchy and loyalty that shared much with the patron client relationship of rome and mirrored the religious hierarchy at the core of sufism between the illuminated soul and his disciples that was also present in the Indic guru-shishya tradition. When Babur conquered Delhi he sent lavish gifts to his family in Kabul, more than that, he actively looked for times when he could distribute his possessions as he seemed to fancy himself a qalandar, a renouncer. Of all the gifts an emperor could distribute, the most coveted was the robe of honour, or khilat, which symbolised the extension to the recipient of a portion of the kings glory, prestige and authority. A robe taken from the emperor’s personal wardrobe, or even on rare occasions from his very body itself, multiplied the glory. Far from being an index of greed, gift giving was primarily about establishing ones place in court hierarchy, with presents of equal value being exchanged between equals and unequal exchanges reflecting a hierarchy. This explains the lavish gifts exchanged between Mughal and Safavid rulers, it was an attempt to prove sovereignty over the other by outdoing them, and why English monarchs failed to ever be seen as powers by the Badshahs of Hindustan despite frequent diplomatic overtures- they could present only petty trinkets and thus in the eyes of Delhi were just as insignificant as their gifts. As well as clothes, one of the most common gifts given by the emperor were of course Jagirs, shadows of the imperial sovereignty that took up a lot of time each day in the evaluation and reassignment of Jagirdars.

    As the microcosm of society, it is understandable that court etiquette evolved through interaction between the social and imperial layers. Certain rituals are cast in the general religious idiom of submission to God. The jharoka darshan, balcony viewing, that emperor’s from Akbar onwards barring Alamgir performed every morning served to present the emperor to the public, reassure them of his health, was an opportunity to hear complaints and derived ultimately from the darshan given to inner sanctums of mandirs or sufi khanqah and represented the master disciple relationship the emperor had with his subjects. Accordingly, a vaishnava sect called the Darshaniyas grew which considered the viewing the emperor’s face a spiritual act that they needed to do before eating each day. Though this sect had declined by Shah Jahans time and was non-existent during Aurangzebs reign, it made a rapid recovery after the latter’s death.

    If the virile masculinity demanded by Aqhlaq literature was dominant until Aurangzeb, after him it became impossible to maintain and Firuz Bakht and Kabir often left the palace in disguise to wander the city free of the daily rituals of court. Upon Firuz Bakht’s emigration to the Qing, Kabir surrendered himself to the image of prince, not without a good deal of bitterness at the isolation he would have to endure however much he thought it necessary. This personal sacrifice to ritual is perhaps why he was so reactionary in later life. From Aurangzeb’s death onwards, influenced by the culture predominant in south india, newly incorporated into the imperium, overt sensuality dominates popular culture as typified by paintings depicting emperors of old and young noblemen in dalliances with women, though these are commoners, for the chastity of noblewomen was too sacrosanct to violate on canvas. The masculinity of these figures is focused on sexual metaphors, that of a massive phallus, penetrating and thus conquering the feminine. Even the otherwise imperious and anachronistically haughty Prithvi Narayan Shah exemplifies this trend when to ensure fertility he and his new wife Jaipuri Mahal bathed naked in a tank for twenty days in Mehrauli, south of Delhi. Even as the event evoked the magical commingling of folk and imperial culture this was an ambience that scandalised many from an older age. For most however, there was little stigma attached to this denouement for there was at the time little counterposition between sexuality and morality.

    The court culture of decorum and absolute concentration of power in the person of the emperor was maintained in court itself, however with the creation of the Rajsangha by Jahanzeb Shah a space was created where none of those limitations were present. Though not banned, it was decided from the very outset that the monarch would not attend these meetings, as they were meant as a deliberative body that would decide issues amongst themselves and then advise the emperor at court as to their advice. Here, there were no considerations of status and all depended on how charismatic or popular one’s proposals were. The difference between the silence of court and the raucous shouting across benches and boorish behaviour allowed in the Rajsangha is hard to overstate. Members would often go after sessions to meet a tawaif or watch whatever licentious and bawdy play was being performed at the time. It was most definitely representative of the lessening distance between the nobles and the common man, as in general, they simply took themselves less seriously. The building of the Rajsangha was open to anyone at all who were dressed well enough to be classified as respectable, and it was often suspected that if not an imperial prince, the emperor had many spies in the audience watching the discussions to reward commendable behaviour with an increase in mansab. Additionally, the role of the monarch as paterfamilias of the land was much derided in the 1730’s and 40’s with the publication of Rajdharma, a text which melded Lockean social contractism with Dharmic ideas about the duty of a monarch, arguing that civil rights are gained by upholding your dharma and the fabric of society as a whole, and the Dharma of a ruler was to uphold the best interests of his people, failing which he lost the right to command them and it was their dharma to choose a better ruler. It also fundamentally rejected the notion of the dharma of parents being comparable to the dharma of rulers, due to the different relationships between a father and his children and a monarch and his subjects. It argued against the idea that monarchs were divinely empowered to legislate or that legislation should follow the doctrines of any particular religion, rather that it should be decided by the general will of the people. In doing this it interpreted the quran as a created text, resurrecting Mu’tazila theories that in creating the Quran, Ishwar had tailored it to the desert society of Muhammad and thus it was not universally applicable. It also called for the radical changing of caste, such that, like his interpretation of ancient Indian republics, anyone who passed a certain threshold of success in upholding dharma, as determined by their particular career and faith was eligible to become Rajanya and have an influence on legislation. He also is one of the first calls for federalism, although the concept hadn’t been given much thought as of yet, he demanded that the major Janapadas, by which he normally means Subahs but sometimes also prominent historical states deserved their own assemblies of Rajanya that legislated for them, and the only purpose of the monarch is ensuring harmony between these janapadas. This book later received many criticisms and refutations, but it made a lasting imprint on the political consciousness of the subcontinent, and was referred to numerous times as the Matsya Nyaya and Dharmrakshak ideologies were in their infancy.

    Folk culture had always in fact played a prominent role in Mughal rule and there had been from the very earliest days of the dynasty in India, an owning of them by the peoples inhabiting the subcontinent. Though there exists a notion that Persian was the native language of Akbar and his successors up to Aurangzeb propagated by certain terrorist groups that characterised the dynasty as alien, this flies in the face of all evidence that though obviously they were fluent in Farsi, they were raised speaking Hindavi. In the unfortunate episode where Akbar attacks his foster brother Adham Khan, he is written as having said “You catamite, why did you kill my ataka?”, with the word catamite being an English translation of its hindavi not Persian equivalent- in a moment of duress, familiarity and vulnerability, the emperor reverted to his native Hindavi to spit insults taken straight from the gutter. If the alien Persian language had made such fleeting effect on the highest of high society, it had most definitely not percolated to the masses, which is the source of many of the Mughal courts elements. Folklore here is defined as a phenomenon that predates and survives the formation of religious identities. It is not recognisable as Muslim, Hindu or Christian, although its regional subdivisions are more discernible although even here boundaries are porous. Some elements of folklore are indeed timeless and spaceless; there is a high degree of universality about them, that uses vocabulary common to all cultures such as stories of healers who heal when medicine fails, or just rulers that defeat tyrants, where it is often not the hardest of things to insert a different name and certain circumstances into the same basic story. One of the most common features of folklore is transferral- the movement of one attribute from one thing to another via a symbol. Babur walked around an ill Humayun thrice in an effort to transfer his life force, Akbar refused to kill Hemu because as a child he had chopped off the head of a doll he had named Hemu, and of course the ever present transferral of the monarchs glory and part of his sovereignty on the receiver of a robe or honour or jagir.

    It is no accident that the language of court and government by the reign of Jahanzeb Shah bore two names, Hindi, as it was the language of Hindustan and Urdu, the language of the soldiers camp (horde)- culture had from the very beginning been exchanged between the ruler and the ruled. Just as there were very few muslim communities left in the lands ruled by Delhi that did not celebrate the festival of Holi (even in areas where historically there had been little Hindu presence such as Sind or Kabul subahs), legends sprang up around the dynasty itself such as the historically unfounded legend of Babur setting an impossible task to find a Hindu minister he had unfairly dismissed, knowing that only he would be able to solve it, or the Akbar-Birbal mythos that had penetrated the heart of the subcontinent and was being transmitted to its very ends. Plays such as Jodhaa Akbar, given official government sponsorship were useful in installing the sense of awe and acknowledgment of virtue of the government and yet, far more popular were the more organic productions that translated the Akbar Birbal legends onto stage, which cast the emperor as a witty knave, a friend who can be teased, dismissive of repressive theologians like Mulla Do Pyaaz (Two Onion Mulla probably based on Badauni, the chronicler most vituperative at Akbar’s tolerance).

    There had long been in India a culture of wandering saints, singing praises of their chosen god in terms that attracted those of every sect and now they were joined by troops of wandering actors, given work by upper class patronage attempting to emulate the Emperor but also lower class masses, attracted by the witty humour and the humanisation of these historical figures. Further, as part of the campaigns to make knowledge of all texts more widely available, the Ain-I Akbari and Akbarnama of Abu Fazl were translated into a number of regional dialects beginning with Jahanzeb Shah’s accession- this had the unintended consequence of adding Akbar to the list of “deities” or holy men that the wandering saints praised using terms and ideas lifted straight from the biography that strongly resonated with theological and ideological vocabulary they already possessed- Fazl blends the philosophy of Farabi with the mystic ideologies of Ibn Arabi for justification of his ideal of Akbar as the Perfect Man. Like most saints had spoken of divinity before before, Fazl’s conception of Akbar was dominated by metaphors of light and the sun, “nursling of divine light” was one of the most common terms for him in Fazl’s works. There had already emerged a community in Rajasthan who believed Akbar was an incarnation of Ram or Arjun- or at least produced volumes of poetry where he is referred to as such, whether or not they actually believed it and they readily propagated these new articulations of their ideas or literary analogies depending on your favoured interpretation. The illumination of the soul through guidance from a master was a key part in sufi and bhakti theology, now Akbar straddled the line between guide and the light itself. Stories abounded of his ability to bring rain through prayer, to heal through his breath and stop bullets, made acceptable because while remarkable, the minds of almost every single inhabitant of the Mughal realms, regardless of caste or creed had a worldview where especially holy people were capable of superhuman feats- there was no attempt to challenge or replace the existing worldviews or theologies, as they all had similar mechanisms for assimilating imperial magic. The corpus of stories of his superhuman abilities, already well established in the Mughal heartland spread both west and south in this period among the peasantry, though the more well educated and the orthodox remained staunchly unconvinced. In Akbar as described in Fazl’s way, the peasantry also received an ideal model of a ruler by which they could compare modern rulers and achieve moral high ground by comparing the current ruler with his illustrious ancestor.

    Though Akbar was the Mughal par excellence who inhabited the most awe inspiring position among the members of the dynasty, he was by no means the only one. Beliefs that Babur had a talisman that could bring rain or that Aurangzeb could make himself invisible and go to mecca to speak to Muhammad whenever he chose were in vogue amongst groups in various parts of the empire.

    Pilgrimages to tombs of old Mughal emperors joined pilgrimages to tombs of Sufi saints or holy men of no particular denomination as ways of asking for divine intercession. Though the success of this romance and the many other legends that had cropped up around members of the Mughal pantheon should not be overstated, the fact remains that it was one factor among the many that influenced relations with the state in this period. In the late second and early third century, what is most notable about Indian culture both in the hidebound court and on the exuberant streets is that these two things were rapidly converging into one hyperactive space where even the poorest could attend mushairas to listen to poets speaking in Urdu previously restricted to farsi performed at the imperial court and obviously the great renaissance of Indian theatre that combined all of these strands and let the richest of amirs watch performances that cracked scandalous and licentious jokes.

    Considering how central the development of theatre was to culture overall in this period, it is important to see just how imperial patronage helped to mature it. Since the establishment of Persianate states in India, theatre had suffered from a lack of funding and become relegated to the domains of the peasantry for the most part. It depended on oral traditions and was only really performed in the regional vernaculars, characters became comparatively one dimensional so that they were easily identifiable to anyone, which came along with the exaggerated makeup specific to that stock character. Additionally, singing and especially poetry became more central to the art, as compared to visual components as in ages past- indeed most performances would have no set and only very few props owing to their poverty. The exceptions to this of course, were the grand affairs of the Ram leela that were popping up in various towns and villages, where everyone would automatically recognise the characters from myth. To prevent performances from being repetitive, a relatively high degree of audience participation was encouraged and scripts were distributed so that the audience could try their hand at playing a supporting role. It is from these that many of the great actors in the 18th century came. The most prestigious dramatic company, was however independent of Royal patronage and focused primarily on the Raslila, the story of Krishna, in whose performance it had a monopoly- this was the Mathura Dramatic Society, which performed throughout North India and sometimes went on tour to the south or even the island subahs.

    One of the most important and culturally enduring attempts to change elite disinterest in theatre began with Raja Bakht Singh of Jodhpur, who attempted to stage the Malati Madhava, an eighth century Sanskrit play in 1731, already after a number of new plays had been written and old ones remade, though the art form was still nascent and had not cemented itself as proper art. At first, the project met with very little success, as he insisted on having the play performed in its native Sanskrit, as it was originally written, making it hard to understand as Sanskrit was nobodies first language and even most Hindu nobles only had limited fluency. However, later on that year, he decided to let his wife rewrite the play into Hindi so that the common man would be able to understand it, and relax the stiff formality of the dialogue. Under the expert writing of Jodhabai, the play underwent numerous revisions, with her watching from behind the window so she would not have to leave purdah. She added influence from the Sufi poem Madhumalati that had been written in the sixteenth century to reflect her own Bhakti views. She also hired the help of a pandit, Acharya Balkrishna, who helped to bring the performance closer to what he knew the common people would enjoy. Iterations of the play were performed to different audiences around Marwar until the Rani was satisfied. Though at times the final product borrowed from the complicated prosody of the original, genuine effort was made to make it accessible to the public. This was the first play in centuries to showcase the characteristically Indian poetic measure, the dandaka or a verse of fifty four syllables and even at times, when the theme of love is being discussed, it merges the dandaka with the ghazal, a popular Persianate form of amatory poem that had always been a mainstay at courts and had recently begun to percolate down to the streets- this was an entirely new experiment in synthesis, and one that yielded great results. While essentially a play about love, there were also novel expressions of political and religious themes. As the play was set in a time when the purdah was unheard of, women in the story enjoy freedom that would have been unknown to Jodhabai herself, and she revels in displaying just how they interacted with the public sphere. Furthermore, one of characters is a Buddhist priestess, as Buddh dharm was a powerful force in classical India and Buddhist philosophy was being rediscovered amongst the literati of Jodhabai’s era as part of the mosaic that comprised Hindustan. Jodhabai’s version of the play realises many characters and scenes alluded to in the original, such as the final fight between Saudamini and Kapalakundala, which she transforms into an emotional argument full of grief and bitterness, and the court of the king, where she engages in the conceit of having the king use only vulgar language and be dressed in rags as compared to the elegance of the lover’s dialogue and costume, a jibe at the spiritual poverty of those in power, who seek to deny love. The play begins, as most Sanskrit plays began with the fourth wall already broken and the manager invoking the sun for blessings before discussing what type of play to put on with an actor. Though the set she could provide was by no means extravagant, it was far more effective than anything the actors had worked with before at alluding to changes of place.

    Upon its performance before the Imperial court in Delhi in 1735, it caused an immense commotion. All European visitors were struck by the overt similarities in places between Romeo and Madhava- in the first scene they are present, a friend looks for them, notes how sad they seem due to being “out of her favour where I am in love” and tries to cheer them up. The theme of fate and the divine also are common, though Malati Madhava adds the Indian bhakti form of loving the divine as an extra flavour of imagery. Madhava also represents the aforementioned move from the aqhlaq defined masculinity to the more sensitive compassionate masculinity that was growing more popular, as a young man who often refers to himself as a slave to the goddess of desire. It inspired a new model of male female relationships and from the performance of this play onwards there are numerous stories of young women, having spied a handsome man from behind the grated one way windows of the harem, sending him a painting of himself with their name on it as indication of their favour, as Malati does in the play- as many of the old guard looked on in horror, women began to initiate relationships out of their own desire, something everyone had been pretending wasn’t a thing. By the 1740’s Malati and Madhava had been cemented into the consciousness of society throughout the empire as a symbol of forbidden love victorious and women given a long list of examples of heroines who had rejected their fathers choice and married their own choices, though of course, it wasn’t too unacceptable as it turned out that the romance actually had parental assent all along, only he couldn’t act like he assented because of politics, and numerous times some characters restate a daughters loyalty to her father above all.

    By this point, a total of forty nine official theatres had sprung up across the empire and in Turan, in imitation of the one in Delhi, but they were generally places for Hindi poets to recite their poets, or even for wandering actors to perform traditional plays as they had done for centuries- up until this point scripted theatre in the Sanskrit form was a mere novelty, interesting enough if you like that sort of thing but most people didn’t give it much attention. The emergence of Malati Madhava a veritable cultural sensation that everybody was talking about and the boom in scriptwriting it established, made the theatre an essential part of modern life, a place to discuss politics and business that both the rich and poor thronged to as often as they could as they had been doing in Delhi for the past twenty years since the staging of Layla Majnun. Malati Madhava was also the first play to be performed in Iran and was received with rave reviews in its farsi translation, although the actors often found that it lacked the soul of the play that could only be achieved in Hindi, and even in Isfahan, Hindi language versions were performed a few times a year so that those who could understand it could see it in its original form.
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  2. LostInNewDelhi Anarcho-Shaivist

    Oct 30, 2014
    Very cool. I love that it's not just the Imperial Court trying to innovate, but that local rulers like this Raja of Jodhpur are playing their own significant role. I hope the provincial capitals and courts in India remain places of experimentation in art, and maybe even policy...
  3. BootOnFace Buoyant Armiger

    May 15, 2012
    Commune of Cascadia
    I really like cultural updates like this.
    Contrary likes this.
  4. Xianfeng Emperor Amateur Iran-o-phile

    Liking the passing references to Firuz Bakht, I do hope we get to check on India's cutest couple perhaps towards the end of their lives.

    Also love the detailed descriptions of both courtly and popular culture. It gives the world an extra dimension. The femenist counterculture that's emerging in playwright circles is fascinating, and I hope it catches wind once the Mughal middle class starts to grow.
  5. EmperorBuaya Well-Known Member

    Dec 5, 2016
    Nusantara and Down Under
    I must say very awesome update, love the details of ITTL Mughal Court life. It feels like TTL Mughals are quite powerful as their famed wealth and splendours, rather than stagnated into a sad joke in OTL.

    It will be interesting to see how would Mughal/Hindustan would looked like in modern-day.
  6. Rajveer Naha Member

    Oct 8, 2018
    As the 19th century is now round the corner, what is the status of the industrial revolution in India and you previously mentioned that internal trade was stagnating, how are you going to remedy it. By the way are more colonial subas coming up. If you had map it would be great.

    Anyways it's one of the best and the most detailed timeline I have seen.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2019
    EmperorBuaya and ragescyther like this.
  7. Threadmarks: 18. Iran in the late second century

    Madhav Deval Well-Known Member

    Jul 3, 2018
    The Mughals of Iran

    The history of the Mughals had always been deeply entwined with Persia and by extension it’s mystic Shia traditions. When Badshah Babur’s ancestral territory in Turan was taken by the Uzbeks, he fled to the court of Ismail Safavi and accepted the Shi’I Taj, striking coins in the name of the Persian Shah. During this period, a major churning in the Shi‘i exegesis was taking place. It is true that this had actually started when the Buwaihids had ruled western Iran and Iraq from the middle of the eleventh to the middle of the twelfth century. But it got a new life with the establishment of Safavid rule in Iran during the sixteenth century. A group of ulemma, led by Nooru’d din al-Karaki (d. 1534) and Mīr Damad (d. 1631–32), developed the usūlī fiqh. Al-Karaki’s theology was a response to the needs of Safavid rulers to establish the Shi‘a faith on firm foundation. He emphasised the role of the ‘ālim as guardian of the Shari’a and as successor of the Imām and gave authority to the competent ‘ulemma to practise ijtihād (‘elaboration’). Al-Karaki claimed that the mujtahid (jurisconsult) was the deputy (nā’ib) of the Hidden Imām.

    The usūlīs partially trusted human intellect, and applied Greek philosophical tools to discover the will of the Hidden Imām. Since they insisted that laymen must follow their rulings, they gradually assumed the position of a clergy. The usulis considered the consensus of scholars a source of legal judgement and divided the believers into scholars and laymen with the laymen obliged to follow the rulings of the scholars. In the Safavid period the strength of the usuli fiqh grew greater under successive Shahs and even from Shah Tahmasps time, an usuli scholar was placed in each village to lead the villagers. When Humayun had his newfound lands snatched by Sher Khan Suri through his excessive generosity and trusting nature, he took refuge in the court of Shah Tahmasp Safavi and once more briefly accepted the Shah’s insistence that he take up the Shia faith. Upon his return from Iran, he brought with him a large number of Shia officials and soldiery and with them came the ulemma to minister to them and a more open attitude. From that point, Shias in Hindustan have rarely had to enter into taqqiya and hide their true faith, owing to the piety and peaceloving natures of the Mughal badshahs. Nevertheless there were many social movements and texts that demonised Shias and caused significant prejudice in society in the early period of Mughal rule. The first major shift came with the reign of the great seeker, Badshah Akbar, who having been raised amongst Shia cannot but have been influenced by Shia mysticism especially during the regency of Bairam Khan, himself an Irani. With the Mazhar decree, he had been declared the supreme authority on Islam in India by his own ulemma and in his wisdom and foresight, he invited those of all faiths to discuss the truth in his Ibaadat Khana. Distressed by the intolerance of the Safavid regime, he also invited to India many sufi Shias facing persecution, with many of those who didn’t emigrate being executed. He further berated Abbas I, and urged him to follow the doctrine of Sulh-I Kul, peace to all and warned of a complete reduction in the land of Iran of learned men. The influence of rationalist Shia thinkers in Akbars court led as well to the promotion of mathematics and the sciences at the expense of theology.

    Sikander Shah’s arrival on Iranian soil marked in more than one sense, the start of a new era in Iranian history. Familiar with the Shia beliefs through his father’s Shia sympathies, as he had ordered the inclusion of the epithet Wasi for Ali in the Khutbah in the Shia style, and his mothers beliefs, as she was of the ruling house of the Bijapur Sultanate, one of the Shia Deccan sultanates stamped out by Alamgir, he himself converted outright to the sect upon his fall from grace at the court of India. However, he was also deeply influenced by the beliefs of India and especially adored his most illustrious ancestor, Caliph Akbar. In 1712 at the age of 29, he translated into Hindi the chapters of the Dabistan I Mazaheb on Din-I Ilahi and together with the information from a number of different sources, wrote a treatise on this sufi brotherhood entitled Din I Jahan. He himself conversed with numerous Dakanis and the letters that have been preserved already show his attempts to bring Ilahian ideals into the Shia fold. His other ancestral role models, more than his Safavid heritage were his Deccan heritage. Though as a young man he had been taken with alcohol and hunting, by this point he had been seeking a purer way of life for a while- which is not to say that he was much more averse to alcohol or hunting just that he decided he wanted to become pure eventually. He was among the voices lobbying Azam Shah to intervene in the Irani chaos and restore Shah Abbas III to the takht of Isfahan especially in 1710 after staying with the Shah for a while. By all accounts the young prince was, though well read and incredibly cultured in no way suited to becoming a ruler.

    When in 1711, the rebellion in the south broke out the popular perception was that Sikander Shah spent more time writing poetry about the city of Bijapur than actually aiding in the military effort. He was of course impressed by the Gol Gumbaz, the mausoleum of his ancestor Mohammad Adil Shah of Bijapur which featured the largest pre modern dome outside of St. Peters in Rome. It is interesting that this building especially captured his imagination, as in a sense, it was built to answer Mughal power with a display of Deccan wealth- if Shah Jahan could make the Taj Mahal a jewel of the world, Muhammad Adil Shah at the same time could create his own wonders. This theme of answering Mughal power with his own would become a recurring theme in Sikander Shah’s later life, as well as his focus on his Deccan heritage. Deccan culture represented a unique mix of traditional Persian and indigenous influences with relatively small northern influence prior to its annexation to the Mughal imperium. Though the Safavid state had traditionally repressed many sufi orders, in the indian context such a thing was unimaginable and it was in the Bijapur Sultanate that the choice between believing in Shia Islam and being a sufi did not have to be made, for both were accepted by the court culture there and Sufi shrines had been the locations of many coronations and burials in the Adil Shahi dynasty. Due to the much smaller portion of Deccan society that identified as Muslim, the sultanates were forced to switch a form of proto-hindi known as Dakani before the Mughals of the north and this is representative of the different mingling of Indic and Islamicate traditions. One book written by his ancestor Ibrahim Adil Shah was a favourite of Sikander Shah- the Kitab-I Nauras, or book of nine rasas. Meaning mood or emotion, rasas have always been essential components of the indic poetic, musical and theatrical arts, and this book describes them as well as the ragas, or Indian musical scales by which they are achieved. Kitab-I Nauras opens with an invocation to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning, then the prophet Muhammad and then the Chishti saint Gesu Daraz.

    More an artiste than a conspirator, he was nevertheless accused of plotting to overthrow his father by his brother Bidar Bakht and along with the upper echelons of Iranian immigrants, was forced to flee India in 1716. Such was his fear of his older brother’s forces catching up to him and ordering his execution that when he boarded the boat to take him to Iran his travelling contingent was made out of just one servant, Shah Abbas, his two wives (one the daughter of the last ruler of the Golkonda Sultanate and the other the daughter of an Iranian immigrant) and three advisors formerly belonging to the Iranian Hastvazirat. One of his wives, Hyderabadi Mahal was greatly against leaving India and for a brief moment she prevailed upon him to seek his brothers mercy and stay in India but he changed his mind after a few hours and resumed the journey west.

    Through adopting the governmental structure of the post-Aurangzeb Mughals, and that the Ottoman state too were in the process of implementing, all three empires managed to halt the problems common to them owing to the similar bases on which the states had been founded. They previously relied on frequent successful military campaigns as ways to shuffle around the growing military aristocracy and keep them dependent on the imperial centre- the new mode of government created a situation where they were dependent on the imperial centre for their wealth and power, however the imperial centre only needed to buy ships and provide economic infrastructure as opposed to having to project military power in new conquests. All these states had had trouble transitioning to a European style infantry based army; in the Safavid case exacerbated due to the difficulty in procuring saltpetre for weapons manufacture, a problem that could not have been fixed by any other group than the Mughals who not only had an abundance of saltpetre but produced weapons in a coastal region of Gujarat exceedingly close to Iran. The innovations made by Shivaji in India were sorely needed in Iran and the Ottoman state as well, as they introduced a way of harnessing better quality musketry while also harnessing the cavalry that had founded the post Mongol empires and that remained the mainstay of their armies. By increasing the proportion of mounted musketeers, these could conduct lightening wheeled attacks on the enemies flanks and discharge volleys of devastating firepower which proved so effective in combating the Russians.

    Of the specific battles and campaigns that accompanied his rise to power, much has been said and it is not the point of this work to dwell on them. More useful to us, however is the way in which Sikander Shah managed to secure the internal politics of his new government. As soon as he arrived in Iran, he called over as many shia sufis as he knew of, sent a general call to Indian Shias to fight for him, requested aid from Delhi and gathered together a group of forty enlightened souls that would serve as legislators for all the lands under his rule. To emphasise his Shia credentials, the mausoleum he designed and commissioned for Abbas III, which in essence is a larger version of the Itimad-ud Daula mausoleum in India with blue tile highlights, though displaying significant influence from the Qutb Shahi tombs in Hyderabad, bears numerous overtly Shia inscriptions. The most significant step, of course, was his resurrection of the Din- I Ilahi sufi order to form a religious brotherhood that would ideally be loyal to him and him alone. Sikander Shah’s piety, humility and benevolence were emphasised above all; it is curious how, even when actively campaigning he was able to profess Akbars doctrine of peace to all- he was reconquering the old Safavid lands to re establish this peace thus justifying the less than peaceful methods he used. While he mainly presented himself as a return to the Safavid order that had prevailed in the centuries prior, providing order and stability after the chaos of afghan incursions as well as administrative reform in the style of India in order to ensure prosperity for peasants and wealth for military and civilian officials that would serve his government, another important aspect of his propaganda was that of a religious reformer, one who would cleanse the state of the corruption of ulemma that were unsuited for the authority they had been given. To this end, high ranking officials who joined his cause were, “unofficially” (but by the time Nader Quli Khan met him, it was understood to be required) required to be initiated into the ilahi sufi order by a ritual wherein the initiate performed zaminbos (touching his hat to the ground while facing) to his Murshid and wore a metal pin inscribed with the words Ya hu, which meant god. Then the murid would be greeted by his murshid with the greeting Allahu Akbar, to which the response was in this sect different to the at the time standard, but is now commonplace, Jalle Jalalhu. The ten virtues that all initiates swore to uphold as the only true good were:

    (1) Liberality and beneficence.

    (2) Forgiveness of the evil doer and repulsion of anger with mildness.

    (3) Abstinence from worldly desires.

    (4) Care of freedom from the bonds of the worldly existence and violence as well as accumulating precious stores for the future real and perpetual world.

    (5) Wisdom and devotion in the frequent meditation on the consequences of actions.

    (6) Strength of dexterous prudence in the desire of marvellous actions.

    (7) Soft voice, gentle words, pleasing speeches for every body.

    (8) Good treatment with brethren, so that their will may have the precedence to our own.

    (9) A perfect alienation from creatures and a perfect attachment to the Supreme Being.

    (10) Dedication of soul in the love of God and union with God the preserver of all.

    As in other sufi orders, there were four degrees of initiation-The fitness of the intending entrants was tested by his readiness to sacrifice Property, Life, Religion and Honour. It was not that each of the Ilahians would be in a position to sacrifice all those four treasures of life all at one time ; some might sacrifice one and some two and so on. The stage of the entrant was styled in a nomenclature peculiar to the order and was called " Degree." They were stated to have obtained ' ' One Degree " Two Degrees " according as they were in a position to offer one or more of those precious possessions. Before promulgating his own sufi order, Akbar had created these degrees as measures of loyalty to the throne and then co opted them into his order, as was now happening with Sikander Shah. The initiated were termed Chelas, an Indic term meaning disciple. One difference between a more conventional sufi order and the ilahi order was that a disciple would ordinarily be identified by the spiritual chain of teacher and disciple that linked him back to Muhammad, however an ilahian would introduce himself merely by his shast (pin with hu inscribed) to signify that his teacher was Akbar, the perfect man. Ilahians were advised that it was acceptable to pray a mere three times a day if they were unable to perform the orthodox five.

    Practices of an llahian were:

    (a) Not to feast after death,

    (b) to feast of life during life,

    (c) to avoid meat as far as possible,

    (d) not to take anything slain by one's ownself,

    (e) not to eat with butchers, fishers and bird catchers,

    (f) not to cohabit with pregnant, old and barren women nor with women under the age of puberty.

    Though this was all that was expected of an ilahian, the great reverence shown towards Akbar by Sikander Shah necessitated an implicit acceptance that Akbars own unorthodox practices were acceptable, which often proved a hindrance considering their Zoroastrian, Jain and Hindu influences. This was grossly exaggerated by certain ulemma who were caught up in his corruption purges, asserting that he wanted to make Akbar equal to the prophet and enforce his paganism upon everyone. They also voiced objection to his banning of the cursing of the first three caliphs as part of Sulh I Kul. These voices of course, were greatly discredited by the pilgrimage made by Sikander Shah to Karbala and Najaf following the Najaf affair and the great piety that he displayed there. Upon his settling into his palace in Isfahan, Sikander Shah brought in from India what he imagined as the proper paraphernalia of royal rule, including that which came from Hindu thought such as the weighing of the royal person against gold and distributing the alms amongst fakirs and pirs. The strand of Shia thought that had been dominant in India since the arrival of the first Shias was the akhbari fiqh, which resonated more with sufi themes of the mystical light and divinity of Muhammad and Ali (Ma'rifat Nooraniya), while Usulis believed it is just a verbal meaning. Also, Akhbaris believed salvation is only through deep love and affection for Imam Ali and through gaining knowledge of his divinity and not by external practices. At around the time that Sikander Shah arrived in Iran, the most prominent voice in the revival of Akhbari thought was Yusuf al- Shirazi, a scholar at Karbala who despaired of the usuli response to the Afghan challenge and decried the use of itjihad, or independent reasoning to interpret divine law. Upon Sikander Shahs request, al-Shirazi met him in 1720 and at first Sikander Shah vigorously promoted the orthodox Akhbari view towards itjihad and the role of ulemma in state. However, as his holdings grew, he found it necessary to incorporate certain usuli principles owing to their being firmly established in the state and also beneficial to the state. By the late 1730’s he was holding discussions in his own ibaadat khana to attempt to resolve the differences between Akhbari and Usuli philosophies however like Akbar, he soon found the constant arguing with little flexibility on both sides incredibly discouraging. Thus, in 1737, he opened a new chapter in the history of the Iranian state by declaring that the guiding principle of the state was the use of the path of reason to increase the public good. He also decreed a slight change to the mansabdari system wherein the rank at court would determine how much space was allocated for them on the merchant fleet and this would be determined by public works carried out by a mansabdar that are seen to make the lives of the peasantry easier. This prefigured the emergence of groups in India such as the neo-Raushaniah, the Arjuniah and the Lokayatas who drew some inspiration from this idea.

    In the history of Indo-Iranian relationships a very clear pattern had emerged, whereby Iranian literati looking for opportunity in the Mughal and Deccan governments would migrate to India- it was most emphatically one way traffic. Those settling in Iran from India however, came due to business opportunities and to trade their goods. Culturally, the sabk I hindi, a style of poetry developed in Mughal courts had been the major import into Iran. With Sikander Shah’s accession though, things started to change. First of all, in his campaigns to secure his authority, he invited numerous Indian mansabdars to fund his campaign in return for jagirs when he had one and many Indian adventurers too arrived in Iran to see what life they could make for themselves. It is estimated that by 1730, when he had established his authority over most of Iran, of his 900 mansabdars, around 150 were of ethnic Indian origin, around 75 were Shia, we know that 43 were sunni and 32 were Hindu. As he spread the system of awarding commercial jagirs instead of taxation rights in the Indian fashion, a problem many Iranian mansabdars came into was that they had little idea of the economic landscape of India, where to buy from and sell to, and how to spot the best investment opportunities. As such, he sent out a request to his brother and the Indian merchant community in Isfahan for investment brokers who could advise his mansabdars on the best investment opportunities. With the coming of these immigrants, a cultural shift in Iran too began, just as how irani immigrants with Humayun had led Akbar to adopt many Persian festivals. Sikander Shah himself never stopped celebrating Holi and Divali and these practices were too gradually adopted by mainstream Persian culture. Though farsi was never challenged by him as a language of day to day communication and government, he always felt he could more ably express his sentiments in Hindi and for poetry, he both used Hindi and patronised Hindi poets. He never stopped epistolary correspondence with leading cultural figures in Delhi and commissioned Amartya Sen, a leading playwright in Pataliputra who wrote a full farsi scripted tazieh play in the Sanskrit style of playwriting. Farsi poets under his direction composed a script for the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran which could be performed anywhere and for any audience. Zaman Khan Abdali also brought over Florentine artists to help with the pietra dura and add more realism to the paintings he had commissioned as a gift for the Shah of scenes from the Shahnameh, Ramayana and Mahabharata- the greatest pieces of literature then known. The Hindus he brought over were nevertheless subject to intense scrutiny and mistrust by large segments of the population, however their evident usefulness in providing their employers with wealth as well as their in many cases more enthusiastic participations in Muharram mourning than Sunnis and greater willingness to agree with the Shia position on the first three caliphs endeared them to others. This is not to mention the flooding in of investment into Iran after the reign of Prithvi Narayan Shah began due to his massively restrictive bureaucracy making mansabdars look to make their profits in other places. Although he never lived to see it the popularity of the Farsi regional variants of the Ramanama and later Baratnama were undoubtedly part of Sikander Shah’s legacy. These works are also notable in that they, while of course being the same essential story, draw from Valmiki’s account and Jain accounts to create a humanised picture of Rama and in the case of the analogue to the Gita, while maintaining the same arguments between Krishna and Arjun come to the opposite conclusion to mainstream Hinduism, which would later become influential, that Krishna lost the argument and though Arjun was awed by his divine form, he should still have listened to his heart, and avoided the bloodshed of war even if it meant he had to sacrifice his honour and commitment to duty, with this version portraying the Pandavas retreat from the kingdom they had won into the wilderness as bitterness, regret and self hatred. These reflect the rationalism of Iranian thought that had so attracted Akbar two centuries ago and which was about to explode in India.

    Now that he felt his reign was secure, Sikander Shah ordered the expansion of the city of Isfahan to create a new district named Nauraspur, after the now ravaged city of the same name designed by his ancestor Ibrahim Adil Shah. As in the original, in the middle of the geometric plan of the new district was a royal centre consisting of a large audience hall consisting of a nine sided wall- a visual reference to the nine rasas. Rather than solely celebrating the institution of Kingship as Indian Mughal architecture tended to do until after the reign of Prithvi Narayan Shah, this palace was meant to celebrate everything associated with the nine Rasas, that is, moods. He also resurrected the holiday invented by the aforementioned ancestor entitled Nauras, which entailed day long festivities featuring music and poetry. Also following the Bijapuri model, Sikander Shah went against Quranic injunctions against graven images and in 1742 ordered the addition of a series of magnificent frescoes on the walls of his new palace that featured human subjects such as children playing near a stream, a sufi pir sitting in the mist and a congregation of Sikander Shah’s most illustrious royal ancestors attending a darbar with him on the throne. These frescoes weren’t painted but were created by large pietra dura inlays, a technique that had long been popular in Mughal architecture although rarely used for the human form. The symbolism in these frescoes is also part of what makes them remarkable and though the realism is typically Mughal, the motifs such as woman on a swing must be directly linked back to the hindu imagery that Sikander Shah had grown up around. Additionally, the use of pietra dura necessitates the use of bold, vibrant almost blockish colours as in Indian art, as contrasted to the subtle shading associated with the Persian school. Unlike Jahanzeb Shah’s portraiture which following the Mughal post Akbar model of deified and exalted kingship, portraiture of Sikander Shah shows him with the beads of a sufi and emerging from mists indicating his intense spirituality. He also wrote treatises on music and noting the versatility of European style musical notation, was the first in the Mughal realms to use this in his own compositions.

    As regards to his relationship with Sikander Quli, it can be observed that following the latters enthusiastic profession of the Ilahian creed and, moreover demonstrating both personal loyalty and extreme capability, Sikander Shah trusted him enough to make him his right hand man, leaving him in charge of all military endeavours while he himself wrestled with ensuring good governance and subduing the various court factions. It is odd that the two should have trusted each other as much as they did, coming from radically different backgrounds and with radically different approaches but together, they made a formidable team. They shared common attitudes for the most part on religious issues, with both advocating tolerance and peace to all, reflected in Sikander Shah’s 1734 abolishment of jizya and declaration that in his state as long as they were devoted to God, sunnis, Christians, Zoroastrians and others would be treated equally by the government. Reza Qoli Mirza, his son in law and heir personally visited the Zoroastrians and Armenian Christians to assure them of their rights and the friendship the shah professed with them. Though he ended the jizya, he still maintained the practice of making Ghulam soldiers from Christian peoples and the majority of these converted to the shia faith. In 1743, impressed by the tolerance and benevolence of the Shah came an emissary of the Yazidi tribes complaining of increased violence towards his people by their Ottoman neighbours (part of the Ottoman attempts to deal with the Arab backlash against the loss of Iraq) and he was assured that any Yazidi peoples who wished to were free to enter the Mughal realms where they were guaranteed peaceful existences. Thus the first three hundred and fifty seven Yazidi immigrants arrived in Isfahan in 1744. However, stories had also spread that the Shah was allowing devil worshippers to forcibly convert Iranians to their religion and this threatened to be the thing that broke the trust the Shah had gained amongst his officials, with incidents like the disappearance of a child being blamed on them and resulting in the deaths of two yazidis. Luckily however, Karim Beg Zand, a soldier who had been granted a mansab and jagir in the Shahs trade fleet had been speaking to a sailor from Mataram Subah and had seen a map produced by the captain of a ship that was investigating the dutch claims of there being a large island to the south east of Mataram Subah. After finding said captain, and hearing of the tales of virgin land bursting with resources that could make a man rich, Karim Beg had himself hired a crew to circumnavigate this island and describe what resources could be sold from it and where was the best place to form a settlement. As this appeared a profitable solution Sikander Shah found the support of a few Indian investors and paid for the transportation of the Yazidis to Bengal subah while they waited for news of the navigators. Though Sikander Shah himself died before the colony was established, in 1751, the Yazidis, together with another five hundred and twelve Bengalis of different backgrounds, livestock and eight peacocks boarded a boat from Dhaka to take them to their new home.

    Following the Najaf incident, and Sikander Qoli’s execution, Sikander Shah was placed in a difficult situation. He had obviously been humiliated by his former right hand man’s constant demands for new recruits and a larger army leading to such a catastrophic failure of inexperienced soldiers to use their heads. Though he no longer felt able to trust Reza Qoli Mirza, the man was his son-in-law and heir. In the last years of his life, he tried as hard as possible to create a situation where his dynasty would remain secure. Firstly, upon their marriage, he had created a law requiring the consent of a woman for her husband to take another wife. Though he could dress that up in a rational declaration that a woman should be able to love her husband and have an influence on who is a part of her family, it was obviously intended to prevent Reza Qoli Mirza from taking another wife and introducing the possibility of someone who wasn’t a Mughal ascending to the throne a generation later. Starting in 1744, he began allowing his daughter Aurangabadi Mahal to attend the durbar behind a silk screen and conduct audiences with nobles through this screen. As he felt himself weaken he accelerated the process and in 1745, he removed the silk screen and she attended court just as her husband did, although in a separate section. In 1746, he declared his will, fearing death was near which announced his intention that his daughter be allowed to serve as mother to the realm and co-ruler with her husband in that her assent would be required whenever he wished to release a farmaan, coins would bear both their names as had Nur Jahan and Jahangir’s and she would be allowed to carry out all functions of state. Before he could ensure this would be respected, on September 9th 1747, he committed himself to the grace of god. His daughters subsequent attempts to secure her dignity and fraught relationship with her husband as he at times afforded her the role her father intended and at others very noticeably did not. As for the monarch himself, in a cruel twist of fate, Reza Shah announced that there wasn’t the money to complete a tomb and Aurangabadi Mahal had to write letters to her Indian cousins asking for money. At least some of this money we know was appropriated by her husband for himself. In the end, the Tomb of Sikander Shah in Isfahan is known as an enchanting if somewhat modest structure, being roughly based on the Gur-I Amir mausoleum of Timur in Samarqand in terms of colour and structure though featuring a number of classical Mughal motifs taken directly from the tomb of Akbar in Fatehpur Sikri, such as the minarets topped with chhatris.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
  8. Contrary Well-Known Member

    Jun 24, 2017
    Interesting update! What was the island the Yazidis and Bengalis went to?
  9. Rajveer Naha Member

    Oct 8, 2018
    So, the Bengalis and the Yazidis are emigrating to Australia decades before Captain Cook but what is their reason for colonizing it,colonization costs a lot of money and why would a wealthy India be inclined to colonize it which was a half barren land with ancient tribes, too weak to trade and would probably be wiped out by the new diseases that would be introduced.
  10. Madhav Deval Well-Known Member

    Jul 3, 2018
    A)Australia isn’t the only southern island
    B) Trade might not be the prime consideration- there are doubtless a number of cheap resources
    C) those considerations existed otl for the English as well, they still went ahead with it
    D) India’s turning into a bit of a license raj and colonies are far from the eyes of Delhi
    Nurhaci and KidCabralista like this.
  11. Srihari14 Banned

    May 30, 2018
    I am really liking this Timeline, But could you please Include a Map ?
    Rajveer Naha and Nurhaci like this.
  12. Threadmarks: 19.Religious Developments in an Expanding World

    Madhav Deval Well-Known Member

    Jul 3, 2018
    Indian Religious and Philosophical movements in the turn of the third century

    Indian religious and philosophical thought has always been characterised by a glorious and bewildering heterodoxy- in the very foundation of the Indic literary tradition, the Rig Veda, there exists a portion of the Nasadiya Sukta meaning:

    But, after all, who knows, and who can say

    Whence it all came, and how creation happened?

    the gods themselves are later than creation,

    so who knows truly whence it has arisen?

    Whence all creation had its origin,

    the creator, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,

    the creator, who surveys it all from highest heaven,

    he knows — or maybe even he does not know.

    A remarkably agnostic statement for a culture where religion has often played such a large role- it prefigured the efflorescence of philosophical ideas unrivalled anywhere in the world. It is after all, Sanskrit that holds the distinction of the classical language with the largest corpus of atheist and agnostic texts. With such diversity in faiths, it has always been a maxim of Indian government that celebrated rulers must be secular- a term interpreted differently from the view indigenous in the west. Instead of an iconoclastic denouncing of all beliefs, Indian secularism is based on the state being equidistant from all religious communities, though participating in all as well. The country with the largest tradition of rational discussion via argument, it is noteworthy that even when the blind belief and irrational devotion to an impersonal unknowable God was dominant, all conflicting points of view were given free reign to voice their own objections- the prime example being of course, the Ibaadat Khana of the illuminated soul, Akbar. His maxim of rahi aql, the path of reason over tradition has always been faced with challenges in the Indian religious landscape, however it has also always been an influence and in the third century this influence became larger than ever. The greatest religious text of India, the Bhagavad Gita is itself presented as a rational argument, with both sides presenting convincing points of view, and in the Ramayana an atheist priest attempts to give Rama a lesson on morality from an atheist standpoint- where else are such unorthodox views given such opportunity to shine.

    We are of course indebted to the akhbarat of the period for much of our information on the multitude of sects and theologies that gained and lost credence in this period, as society struggled with a rising middle class, a perceived decaying of morals, an exuberant artistic scene and the beginnings of the industrial revolution, and the history of the genre of akhbarat itself deserves some mention. As in so many other traditions, this begins with Padshah Akbar, who established a specific formula, the court diary, that lasted with no change in its popularity for more than three centuries and even today manages to capture the public eye from time to time. The salient feature of the siyaha I huzur (account of the Presence) was of course the centrality of the Imperial person, where almost every action would be written down by multiple sources, compiled into an authoritative account, approved by the emperor and then stored. They were drawn upon to fill the official histories, however though the latter often omitted events with unforeseen negative consequences, the court diary was virtually simultaneous with events and did not undergo later rectification. There were also at court, a number of akhbar nawis, or newswriters, hired by an individual patron or several subscribers and their reports formed two broad styles. The first, the Persian style, followed the model of the official court diary to the letter, written in Persian and using the appropriate phraseology to refer to all individuals. These tend to be formulaic and repetitive, however a lapse in the repetitive rituals of state often betrayed weakness of the state and so each day they were duly corresponded once more. Accounts of this style, entitled Akhbar I Durbar I Mu’Alla (News of the Exalted Court) survive, with some noticeable gaps in times of civil strife, from the mid sixteenth century to the present day. The second type of Akhbar tended to be more commentarial and less frequent, perhaps weekly instead of daily- like the reports of Wakils (representatives) they characteristically included more advice and rumour than the descriptive akhbarat. Originally, akhbar nawis worked mainly exclusively for one individual, however with the increasing participation of trader classes in government in the reigns of Prithvi Narayan Shah and Jahanzeb Shah, they too formed companies that published to the public weekly akhbars.

    News of the provinces flowed to the centre and was read by diligent emperors from nine to midnight most nights. By the third century, newswriters were also including in their reports descriptions of the stock market, and the prices and availabilities of different commodities in different provinces. Like other parts of the Mughal administration, the news system had decayed under Jahangir and Shah Jahan, eventually resulting in the Aurangzebi and Jahanzebi reforms where as well as the extensive use of spies, and hiring of various Akhbarat companies to provide reports, they instituted incredibly harsh punishments on corrupt auditors who falsified reports and intervened in the market to maintain a high price for good information, to reduce the possibility of newswriters taking bribes. Another innovation starting in the late second century had been the increasing prominence of the courts of regional rulers as commercial rivals aspired to find out each others intentions, to increase their own chance of profit. Outside observers were often struck by the idea that to prevent this happening, rulers should simply make business dealings in private, however as managing their jagirs had been subsumed as a part and parcel of nobility, the usual attitudes towards kingship had been transplanted over, with an essential part of that theatre being the ruler dictating his orders to a scribe while holding court, for all to hear.

    Though this aped the imperial court, court diaries of regional rulers never presumed to usurp the title siyaha I huzur (Account of the Presence), owing to the prestige of the monarchy. Even so, for the Persian style daily reports, they all used islamicate dating and literary conventions and for the Hindavi style, often monthly for the regional courts they were freer in expressing partisanship. Following Sawai Maharaja Jai Singhs commandment to compile a history of their local areas, the genre of hindavi travel literature came into its own, and newswriters wrote of the history and glory of their local areas seeking out old records for information and sending it to the chatuspathi in Delhi to be analysed- these were always of the Hindavi style of charming frankness, filled with anecdotes and personal commentary. By the turn of the third century, the younger generation of jagirdars were growing more and more aware of the shortcomings of conducting business in public and were resorting to private dealings, fuelling the perceived lack of morals that came with lack of transparency, that many were convinced the country was slipping into.

    Which brings us back to the religious-philosophical scene. Akhbar nawis kept detailed record, of both styles of the new philosophies that were gaining credence in their area and on the established religious background of their area, and as news of these spread, the ideas themselves often spread too. With the spread of mass printed books, such as the Dabistan-I Mazaheb of the seventeenth century that explained the various sects of India to an international audience, Indian philosophy was analysing itself and adapting as never before. A role in the spread of this was also played by the mansabdar class- since Aurangzeb’s reforms an undefined policy had existed, which was solidified by the reign of Jahanzeb Shah that to increase the size of one’s jagir, a mansabdar should be able to show that through their own efforts, they had improved the quality of life, and productivity of a certain region. The fact that Aurangzeb’s reforms allowed producers to keep much greater amount of disposable income meant that there was also a rapidly growing consumer class who could afford to buy better agricultural tools, books to help improve their technique and diversify the plants they were growing, with turns towards cash crops and more productive crops such as potatoes. For the majority of peasants, the standard of living was going up in Jahanzeb Shah’s reign, mansabdars were competing to invest in increasing their productivity and constructing numerous public works. Average GDP per capita, while declining from $782 1990 dollars in 1600 to $731 in 1680, was hitting record highs of $1,164 in 1750, with specific areas being significantly higher, with the most commonly accepted estimate for Thirananthapur and the areas in the Kingdom of Travancore being $1,476. Further, the population surged forwards as well, going from 158,000,000 in 1650 to 241,000,000 in 1750.

    Additionally from the 1730’s onwards, as the Islamic Enlightenment spread, mansabdars adopted the Ottoman practices of funding large libraries in every moderately prosperous town that were free to use, along with teachers to help the illiterate population access the knowledge. The institutions of caste were weakened as mansabdars attempted to optimise labour productivity, recruiting those of lower castes who were confined to an occupation where there was a labour surplus (caused by the increasing population) for their massive artisanal workshops- for the export market especially, with lacquerware industry booming from the 1700s due to the import of Japanese techniques that used lacquer trees and the fact that Europeans loved them so much but trade with Japan was so limited-and labour corvees to construct their massive building projects. One long lost art that was resurrected was the Mauryan Polish, where sandstone is polished to such a high degree that it looks like glass, and this was incredibly sought after for the palaces and statues of the powers that be. The final conquest of the Ahoms was achieved in 1739 not by military campaigns commanded by Delhi, but by the demand for tea in Europe causing mansabdars to flood the region with settlers in tea plantations starting in 1721 and then only after conflicts between native assamese farmers and the new tea planters spilled into outright civil war was the state incorporated into Mughal imperium.

    Massive population movement on this scale tends to lead to novel ideologies as people strain to make sense of their new lives. Furthermore mansabdars often founded their own schools to train people in particular arts or styles that they could then sell on for their own profit, leading to the reawakening of the Indian sculpture industry in 1729 for the first time since the Islamic invasions, in Bengal, with two major rival styles, one that owed much to Pala art of the 10th century but also one that was based primarily on Greco roman statuary and depicting Hindu figures, with the immigration of the Italian artist Matteo Bogliari. It must not however be assumed that all mansabdars sought profit above all, as the betterment of society was interpreted ideologically as an integral part of kingship and one that their predecessors had neglected, a mistake to be rectified by all kings with the power to maintain dharma. Kings competed for power and prestige by starting workshops and public works in as wide a territory as possible, with many mansabdars encroaching on anothers traditional territory to display their own power- in contrast to earlier eras where military force was the only way such prestige could be obtained, the imperial infrastructure meant that productive activity was rewarded by an increase in status and jagir size. Thus, the traditional Indian concept of Digvijaya, where a ruler upon his accession to the throne would expand his territory in all four directions as far as possible was resurrected, but this time with a rulers “territory” being merely the area where public works were predominantly funded by him and where he owned a number of businesses. The ultimate symbol of prestige for these men and women ( in 1734, the mansabdar class was composed of about 3% women, although out of 74,271 that was still over two thousand ultra rich women who exercised complete authority over their own finances, and had the same level of political influence on the country as a whole as Rajas and Nayaks), was the foundation of a school that trained sought after artists,architects poets and philosophers, and the proliferation of schools of all sorts is key to understanding the cultural flourishing of the 1700s.

    The defining feature of all Persianate societies has always been love of poetry and this period saw the proliferation of ornately decorated Mushaira halls where poets of all religions and backgrounds could show off their talents and compete for patronage- what with the moving populations, poetry provided a quick way for any illiterate to advance to riches (the strength of the poetry cult was so strong that even illiterate farmers in Afghanistan could be expected to quote pages and pages of Hafiz and Rumi), and the poetry of the age reflects the preoccupations of these poets, as they made sense of their new environments and struggled to escape poverty, advancing ideologies and poems that seemed to help bring their problems to imperial attention. Most new political and religious movements began in a mushaira and spread through them as well.

    It is said that the history of Islam in India has witnessed since its inception a move to pure monotheism, unrestricted by Hindu or Muslim theology or ritual. Even an impeccably orthodox theologian like Abdul Haqq of Delhi in Shah Jahan’s reign had been compelled to admit that apart from the infidels and the Muslims, a third class existed, who were monotheists on whom no judgement could be passed. While syncretism did happen, largely in an informal artistic but also sometimes in a formal ritualistic sense, there were also communities that prided themselves on their purity and maintained derision of everyone else. Use of Islamic terms and imagery were most common in Vaishnava, Shaivite and Vedantic circles, between which there was a certain amount of overlap. While such syncretism is far less common in the religion of the Smartas, brahminical fundamentalists who placed great importance on the rituals and stories of the Vedas and Upanishads, with all the casteist and sexist baggage that entailed, not to mention the interpretation of Puranic cosmology as literal and comparatively allegorical interpretation of Vishnus avatars, there were nevertheless a small subset which first grew to a noticeable size in the 1740s who took the Allah Upanishad as a divinely revealed text and afforded Muhammad and Ali the same respect as Krishna and Ram, while maintaining they weren’t idolaters as they gave offering to the fire, not idols. The greatest amount of syncretism happened in the sect of the Vedantas, impossibly removed from popular religion and rather more attractive to rich, cultured philosopher elites, which advocated absolute monism, spurning the ritual of the Smartas and the loving devotion of the Vaishnava bhaktis. The vast majority of Sufis can be classified as Vedantists, as well as sizable portions of the cosmopolitan elite. When Prithvi Narayan Shah formed his opinions on religion, this was all that he was exposed to in terms of Hinduism, making him think most people were significantly more monotheistic than in reality. In any case, his patronage of Sanskrit culture was always predisposed primarily on Shu’ubiya or, respect in the Ummah, to counter the lack of respect given to native Indian muslims as opposed to Iranian and Turanian immigrants- while he drew inspiration from the stories of India and patronised artistic motifs immersed in Hindu imagery and mythology, there is little question of him actually being Hindu, just as there is little question of him actually being Zoroastrian despite knowing and commissioning paintings based on the Shah nameh.

    Though Buddhist tenets had been vaguely known to certain groups of intellectuals since the fall of Buddhism in India it was given little attention, especially as the literate peoples often depended on people believing their particular creed. However as Sri Lanka was introduced into the empire, and Mughal lords began to take an interest in the resources of the kingdoms on the other side of the bay of Bengal, a steady stream of knowledge about Buddhism filtered in from Bengal, becoming the topic of discussion as far away as Jaipur and Lahore. Perhaps because the regions this knowledge was coming from were of the Theravada inclination, but also due to the fact that Vajrayana and Mahayana had grown to be almost identical in practice to Hinduism in the years before it died out, it was the Theravada sect that had the most impact in the beginning of the Buddhist resurgence, though Tibetan buddhism would prove influential later with the intensification of contact between the Oirat Mughals and the Hindi Mughals. One of the reasons that it was so well received was a desire for social revival amongst those disillusioned by the excesses of the Mansabdari class. Many, especially the poor, were attracted to the extreme monastic discipline of the Theravada, as opposed to the renunciation aspects of the mainstream religions which they felt were tainted by being the way that the various rajas and umras legitimised their own right to possess these privileges. By 1750, it is recorded that there were 7,000,000 Indians who had converted to Buddhism and an unknown but surely considerably larger number attracted by the ideals or unofficial converts . The majority of the early converts were city dwellers in the emerging middle class across the empire, as this was the group that both had access to the new ideas and resented those more wealthy. With Brahmins seeking Sanskrit texts in Tibet, Buddhist missionaries began to arrive at the court of various local rulers, with some of the earliest visiting Jai Singh in 1745- Khair-ud Din, a noble from the Carnatic converted in 1749, exchanging his jagir and noble position for the life of a monk. He visited the court in Delhi from 1752-54 and made a great impression on Delhi society, partly because Mughal culture had always been fiercely proud of its central Asian heritage, justifying customs and practices merely because that is how it was in the time of Genghis and Chagatai. The conversion of the Mongols to Tibetan Buddhism in the sixteenth century had previously escaped notice, however now Hindus especially were laying ground to their own central Asian credentials as a Hindu sect had prevailed amongst Khans with almost as impeccable Genghisid descent as the Imperial family itself. One of the most interesting developments was the adoption as a title by some of the Hindu parvenu of Khanta ji, a corruption of the Mongolic Khong Taiji and by extension the Chinese Huang di. The first monument in India to bear the Clear Script devised for equal use of Mongolian and Sanskrit in 1624 is dated to 1744, with the building of the Tibetan Buddhist Monastery near the Grand Stupa of Sanchi.

    Around 3,000 families in Haryana converted to the Sikh sect in 1763, as these were previously Satnami Bairagis who almost a century prior had led a militant revolt against Aurangzeb based on radical egalitarianism and after the revolt had been crushed had been demilitarised while maintaining their egalitarian attitudes. They joined a community that was at this time rapidly growing due to the prevalence of Sikh langars feeding the urban poor gathered by the mansabdars- it is estimated that by this time the Sikh faith counted 5,000,000 among its number and had established communities from Afghanistan to Colombo to Beijing.

    With the rise of commercial power displacing genealogy and strength of character as roads to power as in the romanticised view of the past, existentialism became a common theme in Indo-Persian poetry, first articulated by the hugely influential Turani poet Bedil, who popularised discussion on the ultimate purpose of humanity and the world in Persian up to his death near the accession of Jahanzeb Shah. After him, poets and playwrights continued to ape his style for almost a century, with a new philosophical question or idea spawning popular poetry every once in a while. Voltaire once remarked “In France, the attention of men can be obtained with a quick aphorism; the Orient requires something more sophisticated”. Nevertheless as the existentialism and philosophical daring spread, poets often adopted the quick witty style of French aphorisms over the elegant and restrictive Sabk-I Hindi of Persianate poetry. In Persia itself, a reaction against fears of Hindi dominance led to a revival of the old medieval style of Hafiz, uncorrupted by Indian influence, however this was quickly adopted in India as well in the Divan-I Nizam and other such works. Furthermore, the erotic nature of Hafiz’s poetry and his focus on the religion of Love, before which all sects were worthless found a large audience in the growing middle class of Pataliputra, especially those of a Hindu background, which had previously in the tantric movements seen similar deifications of sexuality.

    After the conquest of Kathmandu subah in 1739 to secure access to its Lacquer trees, the Masjid-I Kama (mosque of love) was founded, a building that continues to act scandal and has been lucky to escape destruction that restorations couldn’t fix. The name is a misnomer, as it is in fact a Mushaira hall specialising in the Divan-I Hafiz but featuring poetry from all who espoused the religion of love. Whats truly shocking of course is the visual aspect. The central wall features a fresco of Hafiz writing poetry about a scantily clad woman in front of him as Kamadeva, hindu god of love, identifiable by his flowery bow watches on. The interior walls are all covered in books and the interior is like most mushaira halls, designed like a medium sized amphitheatre. There is a buddhist style stupa dome covering the hall, painted with frankly pornographic images (the unique style of the painter mixes the traditional Mughal style with the focus on elegance of form at the expense of realism that displays clear influences of Botticelli) on the interior apart from a central Shikhara, while the exterior is reminiscent of Khajurao in that it features statues of couples, some having sex and some just enjoying each others company, some reading, some eating, some praying, and in the gardens there is a collection of statues made in the incredibly realistic western style depicting the Ras-leela of Krishna with a central Radha Krishna statue surrounded by statues of Krishna and the Gopis dancing.

    The garden design as well is remarkable- it pioneered the incredibly popular geometric gardens of Prithvi Narayan Shah’s reign, which replaced the traditional Mughal Charbagh of simply four squares with intricately radiating geometric patterns that had always been a feature of Islamic art, with bursts of vibrant colour carefully curated by the nascent Mughal botanical science. Shah Jahan’s reign had seen a Mughal floral movement take hold, depicting flowers in extreme realism, and from Aurangzebs reign, mansabdars had travelled far and wide to bring back as many beautiful flowers to be painted as possible. Then with increasing contact with the Ottoman empire and the kingdom of France, garden culture received a massive boost in prestige as people attempted to configure these flowers into arrangements of ever greater intricacy and complexity, with massive tomes being compiled on the properties, similarities and differences between these different types of plants; this only became more popular as Mughal control spread into Nepal with all the floral variety of the Himalayas on display. Speaking of Turan, a major change here, as it was in India was the new life injected into the Naqshbandi sufi order by followers of Ahmad Sirhindi, who argued for a return to a society founded and run by Sharia principles and taking a harder stance on Shiism and Hinduism than was mainstream in India. Opponents of the Mughal-Safavid backed Turanian government in Transoxiana flocked to this movement, which meant that what was originally the Mughal’s patron order became a rallying cry against them in the 18th century.

    Perhaps drawing an influence from certain European texts newly translated, though more properly attributable to the general increase in knowledge and appreciation of past traditions, the sect of the Charvak experienced a brilliant resurgence. “This sect call rupa skandhas whatever is perceived and understood by the senses. What is ascertained by the perception of the senses is named vidya skandha. Personality, consciousness, egotism have the denomination jnana skandhas. The knowledge of animal nature is termed jnapti skandhas. Whatever enters the mind is called samskara skandhas. They say, out of these five skandhas just mentioned, there is no other living principle neither in man nor brute. The Vedas are riddled with logical inconsistencies and there is no creator to be found. The Vedas and the Quran reveal that the depraved and criminal ill be punished and the virtuous and holy associated to quietness and satiated with prosperity- the both are lies for the pious is bound to the hardship and suffering of piety while the vicious is exempt; further the wise ought to take his share of all pleasures and cultivate happiness because once reunited with the earth, he will be no more. However it is wise to do no harm to another as in doing so one is liable to be harmed. When these sectaries behold the sacred thread of the brahmin, they say a cow will not be without a rope. When they spy a hermit upon a mountain, they remark he strives to outdo a bear. Moreover when the smarta adherents relate that their three great divinities are the creator, preserver and destroyer of the world, these sectaries reply that all they signify is the sexual organs.” That is the description given in the Dabistan I Mazaheb of this ancient nastika sect, dating back to the time of the Buddha. This was articulated more fully by one Mirza Haider, of Ilahabad, who began to talk of such things to his friends, all of them recently awarded Jagirs owing to some particular great service to different magnates- Mirza Haider was himself particularly favoured by Farrukhsiyar, the son of Nikusiyar the cousin of Jahanzeb Shah, and there were rumours that he was the catamite of the Farrukhsiyar, which he fought to supress- the consensus is that people just really hated him and would defame him in any way possible.
    This group had spread by the 1740’s began to attract the ire of the authorities for their derision of various religions- in 1748, Mirza Haider himself was arrested on charges of defaming the prophet Muhammad, a mere month after nearly causing a riot on Divali when he mocked the unthinking devotion of Hindus and together with a group of five associates was exiled to the Johor Sultanate where he continued to write books, and impressed Sri Sultan Sulaiman Badrul Alam Shah with his knowledge of Persian, wit and ability to influence factions at the Johor Court even while under nominal house arrest. The majority of those who accepted this sect were the well to do philosophes that were corresponding, primarily in Sanskrit due to the detail of Sanskrit philosophical terms but often in French and Persian with the wider international community of those in Europe and the Persian oikumene. They were incredibly important in establishing the radical scepticism that paved the way for modern Indian science, although the ferocity with which they attacked the sacred alienated many- of the six methods of pramana accepted as valid sources of knowledge, the Charvaki only accepted perception.

    One of the most well known early charvaks was Chandragupta Patel (1724-1791). Born in Surat in relative obscurity, he conducted the famous pea plant experiment that has been mentioned in textbooks ever since. As he developed his theory, and expanded his research, his expenses grew greater and greater as he sent people to describe and classify various species of animals starting in 1749. By this time, we are sure he had read a Sanskrit translation of Carl Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae, and endeavoured to expand that work on his own. To secure the funding of nobles, and perhaps mostly because of his own supremacy complex, he set up a meeting with Mubariz-ul Mulk, subahdar of Gujarat and announced that he was going to make lions as tame as housecats and find a way for cheetahs to breed in captivity, which common knowledge stated was simply impossible. This latter was of especial interest to the subahdar, who as were many mansabdars of the day, was fond of hunting- an expensive sport because the not only was the cost of maintaining a cheetah for hunting very high, but excessive trapping of wild cheetahs for hunting since before the time of Akbar had created a scarcity in the market and now cheetahs were being sold for literal kings ransoms ( the Raja of Mewar literally had to sell a palace one of his ancestors had built to secure the funds to buy one- the sale to new money, a delhi born poet turned mansabdar shows somewhat the increasing social mobility of the era). Thus, Mubariz ul Mulk became convinced that were he able to secure a technique to breed cheetahs, he would become phenomenally wealthy.
    In 1754, Patels infamous experiment began when he managed to be given as wakf an area of forest in Gujarat. Here he worked with local trappers to find the point when lion cubs would have been born and hired ten mercenaries to go with muskets into the forest and secure every cub of the prides local to that area in May, when most of the cubs would have been born but when they were too young to be problematic. A total of fourteen cubs were brought in that year, and Chandragupta Patel sold a total of thirty eight lionskin rugs soon after. They were slowly introduced to a dog whose puppies had died (in unknown circumstances) and she became their foster mother. The details of this specific project were kept secret to the general public, even as his work on classification and theories on speciation drew wide acclaim and attention. Now, of course, we know that he was an amoral sociopath and the statue of him in Surat was, for some reason controversially, taken down after activism at the turn of the last century- the original research complex was only abandoned after it was destroyed in the 1930s. As well as advancing our knowledge of biology, Patel advanced our knowledge on the amorality of the mansabdari class of this era- Mubariz ul Mulk showed off his new pets when Patel deemed enough generations of selecting for tameness had passed to render them domesticated in 1769- of course they remained semi feral, and at least seven servants families had to be compensated after the animals were startled and attacked someone, however, they luckily never actually ate anyone- at least, the ones deemed tame enough to leave Patel’s research complex in the forest, of which records were destroyed in the 1820s. There are still stories however. Nevertheless, upon concluding failure in the cheetah project, it was Patel who started Indian conservationism, successfully lobbying the government to enforce stricter rules on hunters, both upperclass and bushmeat hunters with the creation of a poaching taskforce in 1774.


    Excerpts from the Dabistan-I Mazaheb 1756 edition.

    “There exists among the Hindus a class who give themselves the term of Muselman-sufis, and really agree in several tenets and opinions with the Sufis. Thus in the first place, they devote themselves to celibacy. As they have heard that there are ten classes of Sannyasins and twelve of yogis, they too are divided into fourteen classes; when they meet together, the questions they ask are “Who are the four rishis and which are the fourteen noble families?” and they impose on their disciples many years of service before they reveal to them the four sages and fourteen noble families; they say the sage of sages is Muhammad, after him devoted to godliness is Ali, from him the khalifate devolved to Imam Hossain, then Khaja Hossen of Basora, these four persons are the four rishis. Besides Khaja Hossen, they say, sprang two branches: the first was that of the khalif Hossen Basori Habib Ajemi from whom nine noble families proceeded. From the second Khalifat of Hossen Basori, which was that of Shaikh Abdul Wahid Zaid, came forth five noble families. It is said that there exists a congregation of pious sectaries who do not adhere to the prophet Muhammad, although they acknowledge him to be blessed gatherer of virtuous perfection; they relate that one day the prophet was out for a walk and came to a place where a great tumult was heard. Jibril said “This is the threshold of pleasure- enter the house”. The prophet consented and saw forty naked people and a band serving them, but whatever service the Prophet commanded them to do, they would not comply, until the moment to grind the bhang (opium) arrived. When they had ground it, they had no cloth through which to strain and purify it, upon which the prophet offered his turban which remained green, thus the colour of Banu Hashem became green. When the prophet rendered them this service, they were glad and said among themselves “Let us give to this messenger of God, who is always running to the door of the ignorant, a little of the bhang, that he might obtain the secrets of the Almighty”. When he had drunk it he became possessed of the secrets of the angel of destiny and whatever men heard from him came through the means of this bounty.

    There is a great many of these sectaries in Hindustan, and among the most celebrated of them are in the first line, the Madariyya, who like the Sanyasin Avadhuts, wear their hair entangled and the ashes which both groups rub on their bodies are called Bhasma; besides they carry iron chains on their heads and necks and have black flags and black turbans; they know neither prayers or fasts; they are always sitting at a fire; they drink much bhang; and the most perfect of them go about without any dress, in severe cold in Kabul and Kashmir and such places. To the praise of one of their sect they say he consumes two or three seers of bhang.

    Another sect, the Jelaliyya, are disciples of Said Jelal of Bukhara who has a shrine in Sindh- these are Shiah, on which account they revile the Madariyya. They too take a great a great deal bhang and used to eat snakes and scorpions, calling them fish and prawn of Ali. They too go naked and sit before fire, but they do not wear their hair matted.

    The sect of Vishnavas follow the doctrine of Gosain Jani. They call their master Jahan, and his followers, comprised of Hindus and Mussalmans adopted the creed of Vishnavi. They hurt no living being, they avoid fellowship with men of another creed among the hindus and mussalmans, they pray five times a day facing the east; they have the names of God, of the divinities, of the prophet on their lips such as Allah, Mikhail, Jzrail, Jibril, Muhammad and others and they bury their dead. Further to be noticed is the sect of Surya Makhan, that is sun worshippers … when the sun rises they stand opposite and recite Sanskrit prayers, the meaning of which is as follows….

    The Manushya Bhakta, or man worshippers, recognise the being of God in mankind, they know no being more perfect than man and think it contains nothing of an inherently bad nature. There are among these sectaries some which reside in Firangistan however they live as do the Christians….

    A particular form of this sect is to be found in the mountains around Kashmir. When one of them dies, for several days it is treated as a living being and receives food in the society of neighbours. If the dead person has no sons, they marry his wife with a column of the house and whoever comes with a visit of condolence has intercourse with the woman until a son is produced to inherit the land. This sect has no regard for the life of animals……

    Another sect exists in the mountains of Kashmir with the name of the Durds. Among them it is customary for brothers to share one wife; occasionally they sell the house, wife, children and land, whoever buys the house owns all these. Many of them keep up this practice even when they become Mussalmans.

    The Nanak Panthis, who are known as the nation of the Sikhs have neither idols nor temples. Nanaks reputation rose at the time of Zahir ud Din Babur Padshah, who glorifies Heaven by his presence. He professed the unity of God, the law of Muhammad and transmigration of souls. Having prohibited his disciples to drink wine and eat pork, he abstained from flesh and ordered the protection of all living beings. After him, this precept was ignored by his followers, until Guru Arjun, however under Guru Hargovind, who hunted and ate meat, his followers began to imitate him. Of Nanak, his disciples report more than can be recorded here, though a report of high import is that Nanak, dissatisfied with the Afghans, sent forth supplications to Zaher ud Din Babur Padshah, inviting him into Hindustan and preparing the ground for the brilliance of his illustrious dynasty. These sectaries have in consequence often been held in high esteem by the takht of Delhi and in the reigns of Jahanzeb Shah and Azam Shah, they enjoyed especial confidence of the monarch, with the greatest of their number honoured with jagirs and finance to feed the poor, as is one of their most admirable doctrines. Upon the especial friendship of Firuz Bakht and Fateh Singh, the son of the Sikh guru, a number of Sikhs had their Jagirs revoked, owing to the displeasure with which Jahanzeb Shah (who adorns the court of Heaven) beheld his sons relationship. With the ascension of Prithvi Narayan Shah to the throne, these jagirs were restored owing to the beneficial effect of the Sikhs on Hindustan, pursuant to the condition that they supress those among them who were defaming his brother by calling him a catamite, though in truth, they aimed at justifying this alleged practice. At the time of writing, no such attempts have been made in the past few years, and the Padshah successfully has guarded the public from this folly. The poems of Nanak were perfumed with wisdom and devotion, still more can this be said of his speeches on the glory and sanctity of God. During the life of Guru Arjun, his followers grew great in number and began to say he was a reincarnation of Raja Janak, or else a god, and that at death, his spirit became incarnate in Guru Angad, and from him to Guru Amar Das, and from him to Guru Ram Das, and from him to Guru Arjun Dev, and from him to Guru Hargobind, and from him to Guru Har Rai, and from him to Guru Har Krishan, and from him to Guru Tegh Bahadur, and from him to Guru Gobind Singh, and from him to Guru Ajit Singh and from him to the current Guru, his son Guru Harjeet Singh, and the nephew of the aforementioned Fateh Singh. These sectaries believe every member to be equal and as such the men all take the name Singh (lion) while the women all take the name Kaur (princess). These sectaries also believe their Gurus to be a sovereign, and each Guru sits on a throne, with his sons taking the name Sahibzada, or prince. Except the zealots among the Sikhs, no man else believes Nanak a god.”
  13. Threadmarks: 20. Brave New World

    Madhav Deval Well-Known Member

    Jul 3, 2018
    The Early 18th Century in North America

    In North America, a new actor entered the colonies game. After the Great Northern War, Sweden had acquired the former New England Colonies from the British government- the earlier historiography of the Hanoverian dynasty being so attached to their homeland that when occupied by Sweden they were willing to sign away land with five times the population was revised in the mid 19th century to recognise that the entire British political establishment was shaken by the invasion of the more populated and more strategic Scotland and were willing to give almost anything to secure their northern border. On the American side, the New England colonies were fresh from the autocratic experience of the Dominion of New England under James II and even after the Glorious Revolution the Royal Governors appointed by London were constantly perceived by the colonists as reducing the power of their own elected officials. When signed away to Sweden their reactions were on the whole fearful- on the one hand they got rid of the hated English governors, but on the other there was a chance they would now receive even more autocratic Swedish governors. There was on the other hand a deep resentment of London, which would remain for generations due to how easily they had signed away New England, and independence was a distinctly unattractive option considering the vulnerability of the still relatively underdeveloped colonies to French and Indian forces. It was the 1726 visit of Charles Frederick to New York (renamed New Gotburg/Niw Goteborg in 1727) that solidified their support of the Swedish monarchy, with each colony being given the privilege of sending a delegation to the Riksdag, a new colonial peerage created out of the oldest families, and the colonial local government keeping the same rights they had in the British era apart from that.

    Meanwhile, in New France, the Mississippi Company of France was desperate to attract settlers to Louisiana. The Banque Royale of the Kingdom, where all notes were guaranteed by the crown, by its charter depended solely on revenues from the Mississippi valley. The venture was tied up with other ventures of Law, the Company of the West and the Company of the Indies, the Company of China and the Company of the East Indies. and all together were known as the Mississippi Company. On paper the company was booming, given its royal monopolies, with the Scottish financier and director of the company, John Law, whose work was widely read and influenced economists in Western Europe and India a decade later, being given the title Duke of Arkansas, and appointed as controller general of French finances. His reforms in France included the breaking up of large landholdings to benefit peasants, abolishing internal road and canal tolls, the starting of new industries and the revival of overseas commerce, with French exports increasing by 60% in two years. In 1719, Law’s company lent the French state 1.5 billion livres at 3% to pay off the national debt, a transaction funded by selling a further 300,000 shares, with the price of a share rising from 500 to 1000 livres, investors attracted by Law’s promise of 4% dividends. Under rapidly emerging price inflation, Law sought to hold the share price at 9,000 livres in March 1720 and then in May 1721 to engineer a controlled reduction in the value of notes and shares. As the public rushed to convert banknotes into coin, Law was forced to close the Banque Royale for 10 days and then limit the transaction size once it reopened. But the queues grew longer, share prices plunged and food prices rose by as much as 60%. With the shares of the Mississippi company worthless and his creditors occupying all his substantial property, Law sold all he owned to Krishnaraja Wodeyar of Mysore, who was dominated in affairs of business by his cousin Dalvoy Nanjaraja who worked in the Divan of Mysore. Nanjaraja had been influential in popularising Law’s theories in Delhi in 1716 and was part of the reason the Khazana-I Hind was so successful. He sent his own son Aliraja to France to represent him there and spin a further web of lies- he had been able to purchase the Mississippi company with minimal third-party backers due to the almost worthless nature of its shares, however now he needed to restore trust in its creditors in France, making expeditious use of the ideas of the fabled riches of the Orient. Aliraja settled into the Place Vendome in Paris, finding himself the new Duke of Arkansas and owner of twenty one chateaux across France, as well as a royal monopoly on trade with America. Nanjaraja realised that to become profitable, the colony needed settlers above all else, and that they could not afford to be selective with who they chose. While the French government was loath to part with Frenchmen, they agreed that Catholic Indians could be settled in Louisiana. With this permission, the Banque Royale now subsidised passage for Indians to New France, and while they were told they would all be Christian, Nanjaraja’s recruiters often convinced non Catholics to pretend to be Christian with the promise of land. While being much slower to loan any capital to anyone else, and much more transparent about its finances, by 1740, the Mississippi Company was showing a sizable profit, through monopoly on Frances exports to the world and New France had been settled by 20,000 Indians, about 8,000 of whom were Catholics from Goa and Lanka. In the War of Austrian Succession, the Banque was able to finance a significant portion of the French war effort.

    On the other side of the continent, something radically was on the verge of occurring. Following the exploratory voyages that mapped the Pacific coast of America by Dalpat Dan Kaviya on the orders of Maharana Amar Singh II Sisodia in 1701 that established contact with most tribes, mansabdars were awakened to the possibility for a lively fur trade from the Americas to China and India, a possibility realised in the next decade or two as trading outposts sprung up along the west coast- Amarpur in 1706, Fatehnagar in 1707, Kalifabad in 1709 and Chinookabad in 1726. The total population of these outposts stabilised at around a thousand people by 1730, who traded with the Indians for furs in return for guns, horses, buffalo, rice and potatoes. The long route to the Americas involved a stop off at the Japanese port of Wakayama, where Mughal traders had been allowed to trade since the 1680’s and the Spanish phillipines. Along with these traders came their priests, doctors and farmers, to make the settlements self-sufficient. The most remarkable thing, of course, was the interaction between the religio-political systems of the Indians and the Indios, which requires separate discussion for each major culture in the Americas and in some ways mirrored and in others contrasted with the Indianisation of South east Asia more than a millennium earlier. To begin with, despite the efforts of a number of sufi wanderers, mass conversions to Islam never lasted on the west coast of the Americas, if they ever happened at all. The reasons for this have been widely debated but the main schools of thought are the greater ability of Hindu religions in serving the socio-political needs of the elite and in adapting to previously existing worldviews as well as the greater proportion of Hindus in the trading outposts. The effects of smallpox on the populations of west coast Indians was much smaller than those suffered by the majority of native americans due to their greater ability to use variolation techniques imported by the traders- from a pre-contact estimated high of around 450,000, the native population of the west coast never fell beyond 350,000 before it began to explode.

    In the area named California by the Spanish, which had remained unexplored until this point, the settlement of Kalifabad rose. Around this area, fertile land and biodiversity made the native population one of the densest in North America, with its peoples being considerably more politically stable, sedentary and peaceful. Elaborate systems of barter existed and in general, the tribes of Jannatdvipa had levels of material and cultural complexity rarely seen in hunter gatherer societies. Post contact, a period of rapid and vibrant state formation emerged.

    The Chumash state emerged in 1715, when the Chief of Mikiw adopted the devaraja cult of himself as an avatar of Great Eagle, identified with the Hindu Garuda, servant of Vishnu. As in official correspondence the attempts to deify him were emphasised, the only name for him that has survived is Chumashpala but he certainly had a different name originally. Up until that point, the inhabitants of Kalifabad had been attempting to understand the various native groups and their cosmologies and find out how they fit into the Puranic cosmology. There probably was a native tradition pertaining to a great flood that transformed their spirits into mundane counterparts and this became associated with the Puranic Matsya Avatar, where in the Chumash version, a great flood causes many of the gods to drown and leave behind their soulless remnants in the mortal world which then became animals and plants, while they themselves were reincarnated in Indraloka. They believed that to the west lay the land of the dead, and these new arrivals from the west were originally identified as returned spirits. The figure of Kuta-Vamana represents a melding of a prior native coyote deity and Vamana avatar of Vishnu, both being tricksters and Hindu stories of Vamana tricking the demon king Mahabali became adapted into the story of Vishnu incarnating into Kuta, tricking and thus humbling the haughty Great Eagle-Garuda and added onto the mythos of other Kuta- Great Eagle stories. Momoy maa represents a native goddess incorporated into the grand hindu tradition of goddess worship, with Chumash cave paintings of her clearly displaying Indic influence in divine imagery, most notably in the multiple arms and art style. Nevertheless, she retained her own methods of worship- somehow originally associated with a narcotic plant, the plant was renamed Soma, though the name toloache is still commonly known by adherents and she became its goddess, granting devotees glimpses of the future if they partake of the water she uses to wash her hands. Garudapala performed the Ashvamedha yajna which ritualised his conquest of neighbouring groups and the rajsuya to anoint him as divine king. Another clear Indian influence is the addition of a different form of Momoy maa, the raudra roop, or terrifying form which she was said to assume if the drug proved harmful or the vision negative, as opposed the saumya roop or peaceful form that she was originally worshipped in. The third gender of the chumash, the aqi, could also be identified by the Indian traders and was legitimised by the divine example of Bahuchara Mata, with the aqi coming to fulfil many of the same societal roles as hijre in India.

    Garudapala was the first in the area to engage in trade with the Indians and after acquiring horses and guns and ordering a mass variolation of his subjects in a quasi-rite of passage that cemented their loyalty to him and accepted him as Great Eagle on Earth, took control of the bead industry of the Chumash Islands. The adoption of this rite of passage by almost every major group is a massive part of why the west coast Indians proved so resilient, as well as all the Indian groups they then had contact with. With this wealth at his disposal, he adopted a conquest oriented mindset and by 1724 became king of a comparatively massive state that stretched up the, as it was known at the time, Jannadvipa river basin and comprised of around 100,000 people. Militarily, he required all conquered tribes and villages to add to his army and generated a state similar to the Inca monarchy of centuries earlier in that the conquered populace sent labour and fighters for his army in return for a guaranteed food source, that came in the form of rice, potatoes and on a smaller scale other agricultural products that he ordered many of his able bodied subjects to grow as well as the herds of buffalo that he managed to buy from the Indians. Of course, certain disparate groups had adopted more settled agricultural lifestyles in the decades between contact with Indians and conquest by the Chumash monarchy but without the imperial orders it would likely have taken much longer to become as widespread. It would also be a mistake to overestimate the proportion of the population who turned to settled agriculture in this early stage- by the end of his reign, after just twenty years of trying to make them grow food, about 40,000 people had actually begun farming. Additionally, his motivation for forcing such a drastic lifestyle change was emphatically not some foresighted prophecy on the value of agriculture in increasing population, but an appreciation of the fact that settled peoples are easier to control and police. With fewer people needed to hunt and gather, there were now people freed up to ensure the continuation of the Indian trade that had formed the basis of his trade- the privileged few of the conquered populace were now sent to gather furs and develop commerce in that respect. The great wooden Garuda temple of Mikiw dates from just after the death of Garudapala in 1729 and was constructed by his successor, Queen Somadevi, an example of the monumental architecture that the new state enabled.

    Further north along the coast, states were taking a different turn. At the northern edges of Alta California, a mosaic of tribelets formed leagues with executive councils, resembling the city states of Greece or the early Mahajanapadas of India. The source of much of the wood needed for the monumental architecture of their southern neighbours. The lack of central authority made these areas slightly slower to adopt agriculture, yet as it took on a religio-cultural significance as well as economic one, they took to it more enthusiastically and more productively than their southern neighbours as well. Across the Jannadvipa coast, the Kshatriya- Brahman relationship was adapted to fit the local roles of Chief and Shaman. While the Soma-Toloache cult dominated the south, in the north Kuksu was more prominent. Here too, the eagle imagery led to the prominence of Garuda imagery. For the Pomo, Guksu was a red beaked supernatural being that lived in a sweathouse at the southern end of the world. Healing was considered his speciality, and so while after contact with Indians, they would isolate the sick in rooms guarded by a Garuda statue, before, the medicine men wearing Guksu head dresses would probably visit them more frequently. Like the Patwin, Maidu and Wintun, where the Kuksu cult was also strong, there were secret societies of priests that were responsible for maintaining the rituals that generated social cohesion. Here too, much of the Puranic cosmology was readily accepted, as well the Krishna cult that was so important in promoting cattle herding, with its Ras-leela dances being incorporated and ritualised into the ceremonial pre-contact dances.

    In the northwestern part of the culture area, by the 1740’s the rituals concerning world renewal had been added to the vedic rituals for the same, importing Toloache-Soma rituals from the south, and beginning the American practice of fire rituals such as the Agnicayana, which also includes a bird shaped altar, making it that much more palatable to the native worldview. Here too, variolation was ritualised into the purushamedha sacrifice designed for world renewal- those that survived were reborn.

    Further north along the coast, economies were traditionally orientated primarily towards aquatic resources. The establishment of Chinookabad and the Mughal contact occurred during a period where there were four major groups between Alta California and the Arctic- the northern province included speakers of Tlingit, Haida, Tsimishian and Haisla. The Wakashan province included the Kwakiutl, Bella Coola and Nuu-chah-nulth. The Chinook province extended south to the central coast of modern Makkastan, while the northwestern Jannadvipa province included the Tututni-Tolowa, as well as the Karok, Yurok, Wiyot and Hupa. Despite the hunter gatherer lifestyle, the Northwest coast was already highly socially stratified due to food surpluses. The regions traditional cultures typically had a ruling elite that controlled use rights for communal property, with a lineage based form of social organisation comparable to the noble houses of medieval Europe, China or Japan. Within a house group, each member was valued according to degree of relatedness to a founding ancestor. Apart from the chiefly elites, there were also commoners and slaves. Here, the chief was usually a man and determined the patterns of daily life. A chief had many prerogatives and sumptuary privileges and in turn was expected to administer efficiently and tend to the social and ritual affairs that ensured the general welfare of the group. Chiefs quickly assumed vast authoritarian powers on contact with Indians and to fuel expansion into marginal hunting lands through agriculture they needed to capture slaves- a bloody period of wars began that solidified control of the four provinces into seven major states with each having one supreme leader in 1773. Slaves were chattel, taken far from their original homeland. The institution of a potlatch, originally merely to acknowledge higher status by giving splendid gifts was transformed into a feudal arrangement where tribute is given to those one rank above you who then give tribute to one rank above them and so on and so forth until the level of independent kings is reached. Apart from the replacement of berry picking with the more reliable agriculture, which was finally adopted by most groups by the 1770’s the cultures of the Pacific Northwest remained relatively unchanged. Of the Puranic and Vedic religions reworking culture farther south, the only aspect adopted in this period was the story of the Matsya Purana, which had in common to their own worldview, a supernatural fish sacrificing to save humanity. The first totem pole displaying clearly the Matsya Avatar was erected in 1763. It was only in 1730, when contact with the south intensified did variolation become widely adopted in the north by Shamans- if they could heal they could also make sick, and now the additional ritual was healing by making sick.

    To penetrate deeper into the continent and ideally be able to trade with people on the Atlantic coast, 1,000 Dzunghar nomads were employed in 1720 to transport Indian textiles to New England by Raja Marthanda Varma of Thiruvithamkoor, an incredibly energetic king who bought out the jagirs of many of the Naik nobility and had previously made some very risky and profitable investments trading with Japan. This however was not his best investment. Despite the fact that the Dzungars paid themselves for their own transport, through raids in China, he had overestimated the disposable income of the markets in North America and the incredibly high overhead costs meant it would likely take decades to recoup the startup capital. This bad investment, however, revolutionised Plains Indian society, already in the transformative throes caused by acquiring horses for the first time. The Dzunghars exported a socio-economic model of nomadic pastoralism that allowed the Plains Indians to directly participate in colonial economies in more than just furs. From 1736, the Comanche and other tribes started raiding Spanish settlements for sheep, cattle and goats to start raising them and by the 1760’s vast herds of hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep were being grazed on lands throughout the great plains. Desperate to make something out of his investment, Marthanda Varma made a new deal with the Dzungars, that he would supply them with guns and ammunition if they allowed him a share of the profits of the steppe empire he had promised they would be able to make.

    I really wanted a Native American state to survive, so on the American West Coast, I've allowed some Native Californian and Pacific Northwest Peoples an inlet into the modern world, while allowing them to maintain much of their culture, for now at least. At the moment (1740), the population of the west coast is just over half the population of the 13 colonies. Meanwhile, the Swedish knew that given the cultural differences, they'd need to be more accommodating than the English, and the French realised they don't really care where the money is coming from or who lives in New France, as long as it doesn't help their rivals and theyre helped expanding European influence. I'm really sorry, I just didn't like how id left things in Europe, and you didn't either apparently, so I made some changes- then got a bit carried away. You may want to have a re read of Russo-Turkish Wars and Downfall of the Habsburgs as the world is pretty different now. I didn't want to post any of the new stuff I was writing until I sorted europe out, but now that I have, Ive just posted everything, a post on the americas and a post on various indian religions. Im currently trying to figure out how to import a map, but you'll be getting one of those for 1750 very soon.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019 at 12:17 PM
  14. Timeline Junkie Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2018
    The Citadel, Oldtown

    I am always impressed with the level of detail involved in this timeline. Really enjoying it. Also, despite being familiar with Indian philosophy and religion, I am consistently amazed by the sheer diversity of thought that one subcontinent produced. In addition, I'm really enjoying the fact that Hindu, Mughal, and European artistic styles are being synthesized into a completely new style. Ultimately, I like the fact there seems to be greater cultural exchange between the Hindus and Muslims of the era.

    Wow! Mughal colonization and Native Americans adopting Indian culture and identifying with their own religion. That's very interesting. But also, Hanoverians losing the 13 Colonies to Sweden. The Present-day has now been thoroughly butterflied. I'm curious as to what the relationship between the Raja of Thiruvithamkoor and the Dzunghars will be like after their plains empire is established?

    The confluence on so many peoples from all over the world in North America will make it incredibly culturally diverse. Also, it seems like for now there won't be a dominant power in North America.

    Will Persian/Arabic - Sanskrit compounds continue to be popular, e.g Jannatdvipa , Jahanguru. It's very interesting linguistically.

    I don't know if this was mentioned, but is the name Prithvi Narayan Shah for the Mughal Emperor a nod/homage to OTL's Prithvi Narayan Shah, first King of Nepal.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  15. Madhav Deval Well-Known Member

    Jul 3, 2018
    They haven’t actually lost the 13 colonies- what they have lost is New England and the area around former New Sweden- Delaware, Pennsylvania. The Hanoverians still have the southern five colonies.
  16. Madhav Deval Well-Known Member

    Jul 3, 2018
    I decided not to get too technical on the various schools of Buddhist thought that are being revisited- suffice it to say for now, Buddhist thought in India featured some schools very interested in classifying observed phenomena and finding out the links between the way things worked.
    Nurhaci and Timeline Junkie like this.
  17. Vikayak Devagiri Member

    May 20, 2019
    What is the Religious Demographics in terms of Percentage in India ?
  18. Threadmarks: 1750 Map

    Madhav Deval Well-Known Member

    Jul 3, 2018
    Hopefully this works- obviously working with this base map, its always going to be a bit of an approximation, but this is for the most part a world map of 1750

    Attached Files:

  19. Koprulu Mustafa Pasha Sadrazam of the Roman Empire

    Oct 24, 2017
    The map looks good...
  20. BootOnFace Buoyant Armiger

    May 15, 2012
    Commune of Cascadia
    I'm honestly very surprised by the Mughal Californian colony. But it makes sense. I'm pretty sure India is closer to California by sea than Europe. At least until the Panama Canal is finished.

    I'm also surprised by the conversion of so many to Buddhism, but pleased. I think the egalitarian and practice-focused nature of Theravada will be a nice counterbalance to the caste system of the Hindus and the mysticism of Sufi-led Islam in India. It also should appeal to the dalits when it really spreads around.