Jahangir: Emperor of India, and connoisseur of the arts and sciences

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Jahangir: Emperor of India, and connoisseur of the arts and sciences

Post by Rashmun on Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:12 pm

From Bamber Gascoigne's "The Great Moghuls":

Historians of a schoolmasterly disposition have tended to award Jahangir very low marks as being debauched, spineless, and susceptible to women, but he is among the most sympathetic of the Great Moghuls, and was--at least in cultural matters--one of the most talented. Certainly no other member of his family comes alive so vividly to a modern student. There are two reasons specifically for this, and both are the direct result of Jahangir's own talents and energies.

The first is that he has left a diary which is just as fresh and immediate as the autobiography of his great-grandfather Babur; and the second that under his direct guidance the court painters reached unrivalled heights, particularly in portraiture with the result that the personality of the emperor himself remains exposed to us in a wide range of subtly realistic studies.It is a most unjust accident of history that Babur's memoirs should be so famous and Jahangir's almost unknown. Admittedly Babur, writing in a period when other chronicles were scarce, has an extra value as a unique source for many facts and dates, but on any other score Jahangir is at least his equal.

Jahangir inherited his curiosity from his father...his distinction is his fierce emperical rationalism combined with an almost ecstatic response to simple facts of nature, as when he marvles at a tree in blossom and then, as he looks more closely, marvels equally at a single blossom on that tree. The Emperor would have found himself much in sympathy with the scientific gentleman who, many thousand miles away and some thirty years after his death, gathered together in London to form the Royal Society...It is typical of his rational skepticism that when he visits a tomb where miracles are said to occur, his first question to the attendant is 'What is the real state of affairs?'...a long tale about the philosopher's stone leads him to the instinctive conclusion 'My intelligence in no way accepts this story. It appears to me to be all delusion.'...

The memory of his father dominated Jahangir the Emperor as much as Akbar himself had dominated Salim the crown prince...He deliberately received with favor the disciples of Akbar's religion, recounted with approval in his diary the principles of the din-i-Ilahi and the need to 'follow the rule of universal peace with regard to religions' and continued Akbar's Thursday evening discussions. He encouraged the Jesuites at least as much as Akbar and his favourite holy man was a Hindu ascetic named Jadrup whom he loved to visit whenever possible for long discussions in the 'narrow and dark hole' cut into a hillside where the hermit lived without mat or fire and naked except for his loin cloth.

But Jahangir's religious attitudes were largely matters of impulse where Akbar's had been of policy. His tolerance of other religions derived from the receptive quality of his mind, but a shock of aesthetic disgust could well make him behave quite inconsistently--as when at the lake of Pushkar, a holy place to the Hindus, he was deeply offended by the sight of an idol, a 'form cut out of black stone, which from the neck above was in the shape of a pig's head, and the rest of the body was like that of a man'. [Varah avataar or boar avataar is one of the avataars of Vishnu-Rashmun]. So he ordered his followers to 'break that hideous form' and throw it into the water, and for good measure disposed too of the local belief that there is no bottom to the lake by establishing it to be 'nowhere deeper than 12 cubits'...It is interesting that Roe [Sir Thomas Roe--British Ambassador at Jahangir's court--Rashmun] describes him in words which read as if written about Akbar:"His religion is of his own invention; for he envies Mahomett, and wisely sees no reason why he should not be as great a prophet as he, and therefore proffesseth himself so...he hath found many disciples that flatter or follow him...all sorts of religions are welcome and free, for the King is of none....

Jahangir could be monstrously unpredictable and cruel--particularly under the influence of alcohol, as when he gave instructions one evening for his companions to drink with him, forgot the next morning that he had done so and punished the less powerful among them most brutally for indulging themselves--but for the most part he was unusually mild and he is described in European accounts as 'gentle, soft of disposition' or 'gentle and debonaire'. Roe was highly impressed by the courtesy which he always received from Jahangir; and the emperor's charm can be seen again and again in the ambassador's pages.

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Re: Jahangir: Emperor of India, and connoisseur of the arts and sciences

Post by Rashmun on Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:13 pm

Following from the book 'Jahangir and the Jesuits' by Father Guerriro and translated by C.H. Payne (pg 51-56).

Note: By 'moors' the Fathers are referring to muslims, by 'gentiles' to hindus.



"The King[Jahangir] spoke next, asking the Fathers to enlighten him on various points. Though it cannot be said that he spoke with kingly gravity, his questions deserve to be recorded, seeing that they were asked by so great a monarch...Moreover, they serve to show his genuine interest in religious matters, and also the good which resulted from these disputes.
'What do the Christians say of Mohammad?' was his first question.

'They say,' was the reply, 'that he was a man who took upon himself the role of a prophet.'
'Then he was not a prophet?'
'That is true, Sire.'

'In other words, he was a false prophet?'
'Yes, Sire.'

At this, the King laughed.
....

whereon the King... beckoned to his Reader, who had kept himself at a distance, saying:

'Come here, Nagibuscao(for such was his name). Do you hear what the Fathers say, that Mohammad is a false prophet?
'Such men,' said the Moor, 'ought to be put to death than listened to.'...
This greatly diverted the King, who laughed and slapped his thighs at merriment, at the same time calling his Reader to come back.
'Sire', said the Father, 'this question is one to be settled by discussion and sound reasoning, not by the threats and calumnies of Nagibuscao.'

'The Father speaks truly,' said the King.'So now, Nagibuscao, prove to us that Mohammad was a prophet.'

Thus called upon, the Reader proceeded to narrate a number of stories from the Al Koran, and after he had spoken for some time, the King stopped him and told the Father to answer him. The latter replied that all these stories were false and was proceeding to support his words by argument when a Moorish Captain interposed and said 'We cannot prove anything by these stories, because the Christians do not hold our stories to be true.'...


At last, one of the Captains said, 'Our difficulty is that the Fathers are not to believe in our books, but we are to believe in theirs. How is it possible for us to dispute with them?'...There was also a Gentile Captain present, to whom the King now turned, asking him if he regarded Mohammad as a prophet.
'Sir,' was the reply, 'how can i know anything of Mohammad?'

'Do you regard him as a false prophet?' asked the King.

The Gentile replied 'Yes sire! He is a false prophet,' at which the King laughed exceedingly.

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Re: Jahangir: Emperor of India, and connoisseur of the arts and sciences

Post by Rashmun on Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:17 pm

Jahangir ruled India from 1605 until his death in 1627. Thanks to his father Akbar’s great military and political achievements, Jahangir’s realm was immensely prosperous and largely peaceful. As his nama abundantly illustrates, Jahangir spent his reign enjoying it as an irresistibly curious traveler, huntsman, naturalist and connoisseur of poetry, gems and architecture. Despite his predilection for wine and opium, he generally ruled with insight and tolerance, particularly in religious matters, always willing to hear opinions expressed. As he noted, “On Friday evenings, I converse with the learned, the dervishes, and with hermits.” He legislated against the castration of boys, prohibited much bureaucratic fee- and gift-gouging and outlawed tobacco and beer (bhang and buza). Jahangir was a genuine expert on painting, and the nama’s many illustrations confirm the delicacy, detail and distinction that Mughal portraiture achieved. Similarly, his zodiac-imaged gold coinage is superb.

As a comprehensive chronicle of the reign, the Jahangirnama contains extensive detail on government, provincial affairs, revenues and rewards and punishments, all of value to the specialist. But throughout, Jahangir’s insightful analyses of natural phenomena and people, places and events engage the nonspecialist, as do his comments on home and harem and his many citations from Firdawsi, Sa?di and other poets. The freshness of the text’s Persian language and the immediacy of idiomatic usages are striking. Who will not be moved by “mountainous, lightning-paced elephants,” “an order for non-existence,” “the Divine Effector,” or “Be awake, for there is a wonderful sleep ahead.”

https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/the-jahangirnama/

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Re: Jahangir: Emperor of India, and connoisseur of the arts and sciences

Post by Rashmun on Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:22 pm

Pragmatic and a firm believer in reason, Jahangir had not the slightest trace of gullibility. "This is so strange, it is recorded here," he is fond of commenting, or, "It does not accord with reason, and my mind does not accept it."

Of course, he had his prejudices and blind spots too. Although he was religiously tolerant, his tolerance did not extend to religious chicanery of any stripe: he dealt summarily with a self-styled guru whose actions had displeased him (page 59), he drove a yogi away and had his idol smashed (page 153), and he imprisoned a famous Muslim divine who thought too highly of himself (page 304).

At the same time, however, he was devoted to and believed implicitly in saints' tombs and the efficacy of holy men's prayers, particularly those he thought had brought about his birth. A child of his age, he also believed in astrology and was careful to give alms to ward off the inauspiciousness that could be occasioned by an infelicitous conjunction of planets (page 111).

There are few instances in the memoirs of the sort of fickle "oriental despotism" popular imagination might have one expect, and the one occasion on which he had one of his grooms killed for a relatively minor offense (page 106) will strike the reader as astonishingly uncharacteristic, for another time, when his servants, terrified by a lion, knocked him down and ran right over him — "in the rush I was knocked back one or two paces. I know for certain that two or three of them stepped on my chest getting over me" (page 117) — his reaction was quite restrained.

Although he was an avid hunter and took great pride in maintaining an accurate count of the vast numbers of animals he bagged,he also extended his father's injunction against the slaughter of animals and encouragement of meatless days to two days a week and to a period of days equal to the number of his years at every birthday.

Jahangir was fond of "scientific" experiments of his own devising. He debunked the accepted reason for the mountain sheep's pugnacity (page 65),- he tested the reported efficacy of bitumen for broken bones on a chicken and found that it had none (page 143f),- he tested the relative salubrity of the air in Ahmadabad and Mahmudabad by banging sheep carcasses in each city to see which carcass would putrefy sooner (page 274f); he took an active interest in animal husbandry and goat breeding (page 302),- he determined the gestation periods for elephants with nearly correct results (page 160),- and he examined a lion's and wolf's livers to see whether their gall bladders were inside or outside the liver as a measure of courage (pages 207 and 213)....

The Venetian traveler Niccola Manucci records the following anecdote about Jahangir he picked up in India at least half a century after the emperor's death:

One day he was passing through Labor city when he saw a number of little children playing in the street. He descended from his elephant, sat himself down on the ground in their midst, and distributed sweets, flowers, clothes, gold and silver coin. After embracing and kissing them, he said tearfully:

'Better were it for me to die or to be a little one like you, not to be as I am to-day, with my conscience entangled in the affairs of this weaiy world.' At these words he took his departure with a salutation, the tears streaming from
his eyes. From these and other like acts the people judged that this king feared God, and desired to live without causing harm to his vassals.

https://archive.org/stream/jahangirnamamemo00jaha/jahangirnamamemo00jaha_djvu.txt

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Re: Jahangir: Emperor of India, and connoisseur of the arts and sciences

Post by Rashmun on Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:23 pm

In his memoirs the British ambassador to Jahangir's court, Sir Thomas Roe, writes the following about Jahangir's kingdom: "All kinds of religions are welcome and free for the king is of none".

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Re: Jahangir: Emperor of India, and connoisseur of the arts and sciences

Post by Rashmun on Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:50 pm

Rashmun wrote:Pragmatic and a firm believer in reason, Jahangir had not the slightest trace of gullibility. "This is so strange, it is recorded here," he is fond of commenting, or, "It does not accord with reason, and my mind does not accept it."

Of course, he had his prejudices and blind spots too. Although he was religiously tolerant, his tolerance did not extend to religious chicanery of any stripe: he dealt summarily with a self-styled guru whose actions had displeased him (page 59), he drove a yogi away and had his idol smashed (page 153), and he imprisoned a famous Muslim divine who thought too highly of himself (page 304).

At the same time, however, he was devoted to and believed implicitly in saints' tombs and the efficacy of holy men's prayers, particularly those he thought had brought about his birth. A child of his age, he also believed in astrology and was careful to give alms to ward off the inauspiciousness that could be occasioned by an infelicitous conjunction of planets (page 111).

There are few instances in the memoirs of the sort of fickle "oriental despotism" popular imagination might have one expect, and the one occasion on which he had one of his grooms killed for a relatively minor offense (page 106) will strike the reader as astonishingly uncharacteristic, for another time, when his servants, terrified by a lion, knocked him down and ran right over him — "in the rush I was knocked back one or two paces. I know for certain that two or three of them stepped on my chest getting over me" (page 117) — his reaction was quite restrained.

Although he was an avid hunter and took great pride in maintaining an accurate count of the vast numbers of animals he bagged,he also extended his father's injunction against the slaughter of animals and encouragement of meatless days to two days a week and to a period of days equal to the number of his years at every birthday.

Jahangir was fond of "scientific" experiments of his own devising. He debunked the accepted reason for the mountain sheep's pugnacity (page 65),- he tested the reported efficacy of bitumen for broken bones on a chicken and found that it had none (page 143f),- he tested the relative salubrity of the air in Ahmadabad and Mahmudabad by banging sheep carcasses in each city to see which carcass would putrefy sooner (page 274f); he took an active interest in animal husbandry and goat breeding (page 302),- he determined the gestation periods for elephants with nearly correct results (page 160),- and he examined a lion's and wolf's livers to see whether their gall bladders were inside or outside the liver as a measure of courage (pages 207 and 213)....

The Venetian traveler Niccola Manucci records the following anecdote about Jahangir he picked up in India at least half a century after the emperor's death:

One day he was passing through Labor Lahore city when he saw a number of little children playing in the street. He descended from his elephant, sat himself down on the ground in their midst, and distributed sweets, flowers, clothes, gold and silver coin. After embracing and kissing them, he said tearfully:

'Better were it for me to die or to be a little one like you, not to be as I am to-day, with my conscience entangled in the affairs of this weaiy weary world.' At these words he took his departure with a salutation, the tears streaming from
his eyes. From these and other like acts the people judged that this king feared God, and desired to live without causing harm to his vassals.

https://archive.org/stream/jahangirnamamemo00jaha/jahangirnamamemo00jaha_djvu.txt

*Corrected*

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Re: Jahangir: Emperor of India, and connoisseur of the arts and sciences

Post by Rashmun on Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:38 pm

From the Jahangirnama: Mughal Emperor Jahangir on his fight with alcoholism

The Twelve Decrees

Fifth: No wine, spirits, or any sort of intoxicant or forbidden liquor is to be manu-
factured or sold. This despite the fact that I myself commit the sin of drinking wine and
have constantly persisted in doing so from the age of eighteen until my present age of
thirty-eight. In my youth, when I was an avid drinker, I sometimes consumed twenty
phials of double-distilled spirits. Because little by little it was having a severe effect
upon me, I began to decrease my intake. Within seven years I had reduced it from
fifteen phials to five or six. I also drank at various times: sometimes I began to drink
three or four hours before the end of the day, sometimes I drank at night, and occasion-
ally I drank during the day. Until the age of thirty this is how it was. After that I decided
that I would drink only at night. These days I drink solely to promote digestion.

https://archive.org/stream/jahangirnamamemo00jaha/jahangirnamamemo00jaha_djvu.txt

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Re: Jahangir: Emperor of India, and connoisseur of the arts and sciences

Post by Rashmun on Wed Jul 19, 2017 12:39 pm

'Jahangir's scientific contributions have been ignored by mainstream academia'

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/interviews/-jahangir-s-scientific-contributions-have-been-ignored-by-mainstream-academia--52898

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Re: Jahangir: Emperor of India, and connoisseur of the arts and sciences

Post by silvermani on Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:05 pm

Is jhangiri named after Jahangir? I vaguely remember seeing a "naan-e-akbari" on some menu a while ago. I wonder if any other Mughals have food items named after them.

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Re: Jahangir: Emperor of India, and connoisseur of the arts and sciences

Post by Rashmun on Thu Jul 20, 2017 6:48 pm

silvermani wrote:Is jhangiri named after Jahangir? I vaguely remember seeing a "naan-e-akbari" on some menu a while ago. I wonder if any other Mughals have food items named after them.


there are some mughal dishes named after the emperors (see Shahjahani pulao for instance) but this is not something that piques my interest.

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Re: Jahangir: Emperor of India, and connoisseur of the arts and sciences

Post by Rashmun on Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:01 pm

1. There are several references in Jahangir's narrative to artists and to his interest in
their work... Early in the seventh regnal year (1612), for example, he describes the return of the courtier Muqarrab Khan from an embassy to Goa. "He had brought several very strange and unusual animals I had not seen before. . . . I . . . ordered the artists to draw their likenesses in the Jahangirnama so that the astonishment one has at hearing of them would increase by seeing them."


https://archive.org/stream/jahangirnamamemo00jaha/jahangirnamamemo00jaha_djvu.txt

2. Has history and science been able to discern as to whether the model for Ustad Mansur’s famous dodo was a live or a dead specimen?

Jahangir’s representation was the most accurate till date. It seems to have been drawn from a living model...But he had an agent sitting in Goa, named Muqarrab Khan, who was tasked with sending exotic birds and animals to Agra. He sent a North American turkey and monkey once and Ustad Mansur drew the turkey, the painting of which survives till today.





http://www.downtoearth.org.in/interviews/-jahangir-s-scientific-contributions-have-been-ignored-by-mainstream-academia--52898

3. The dodo (Raphus cucullatus) is an extinct flightless bird that was endemic to the island of Mauritius, east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean....

The last widely accepted record of a dodo sighting is the 1662 report by shipwrecked mariner Volkert Evertsz of the Dutch ship Arnhem, who described birds caught on a small islet off Mauritius, now suggested to be Amber Island...

Even though the rareness of the dodo was reported already in the 17th century, its extinction was not recognised until the 19th century. This was partly because, for religious reasons, extinction was not believed possible until later proved so by Georges Cuvier, and partly because many scientists doubted that the dodo had ever existed. It seemed altogether too strange a creature, and many believed it a myth. The bird was first used as an example of human-induced extinction in Penny Magazine in 1833, and have since been referred to as an "icon" of extinction.[99]


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodo#Extinction

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Re: Jahangir: Emperor of India, and connoisseur of the arts and sciences

Post by Rashmun on Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:11 pm



http://www.vam.ac.uk/blog/factory-presents/happy-thanksgiving-from-the-factory

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Re: Jahangir: Emperor of India, and connoisseur of the arts and sciences

Post by Rashmun on Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:15 pm



Ustad Mansur (flourished 1590-1624) was a seventeenth-century Mughal painter and court artist. He grew in acclaim during the reign of Jahangir (r. 1605 - 1627) during which period he excelled at depicting plants and animals. He was the earliest artist to depict the dodo in colour, apart from being the first to illustrate the Siberian crane. Towards the end of Akbar's reign, he gained the title of ustad (=master) and during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir his masterpieces earned him the title of Nãdir-al-’Asr ("Unequalled of the age").

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ustad_Mansur

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Re: Jahangir: Emperor of India, and connoisseur of the arts and sciences

Post by Rashmun on Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:17 pm

The most significant paintings, in terms of zoology, are those of the Siberian crane and the dodo. The Siberian crane painting was made well before it was formally described and given a binomial name by Peter Simon Pallas in 1773. The painting of the dodo is among the rare few that were depicted in colour and is a very important source for zoologists. It is thought that the dodo was brought to Jehangir's court via Portuguese-controlled Goa and the painting of it was discovered in the Hermitage at St. Petersburg and although unsigned has been thought to be the work of Mansur or a close contemporary.[12][13][14] The Siberian crane painted on paper is extremely detailed showing the wrinkles on the bare skin, the legs and a small feather stuck to the claw...

A crater on the planet Mercury is named in honour of Mansur.[19]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ustad_Mansur

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