Previous Page [Digital South Asia Library] Next Page

Schwartzberg Atlas, v. , p. 208.

Switch to image view

one of Rāmprasād's more famous lines is "I like sugar; but I have no desire to become sugar."

Despite the growing tendency toward structure, some ex- cellent poetry stems from this later period. Noticeable in par- ticular are the lyrics of the Hindi-speaking Sūrdās, who wrote mostly on the child K&rtod;&stod;&ntod;a, and the work of Tulsīdās, whose version of the Rāma epic, which he called Rāmcarit-mānas ("The Holy Lake of the Acts of Rāma"), is most popular among readers of the language today.

The spread of Sufism in India (map (b)) was greatly ac- celerated concurrently with the disintegration of the Delhi Sul- tanate and the emergence of regional sultanates. During the century that preceded the founding of the Mughal Empire sev- eral important Sufi orders appeared in India for the first time. Thus the Shīah Ni'matullahī order, founded by Shāh Ni'matul- lah of Mahan (1330–1431), was introduced into the Bahmanī Sultanate of the Deccan at the invitation of Sultan Ahmad I Walī (1422–36), and the Qādiriya order was introduced into India by Muhammad Ghaus (d. 1517), who established a Qādirī hospice (khānqāh) in 1482 at Uch in the Punjab dur- ing the period of Lodī rule in Delhi. This order later enjoyed the patronage of the Mughal imperial family, attaining its greatest influence during the lifetime of Muhammad Mīr (1550–1635), popularly known as Miān Mīr, whose successor, Mullā Shāh Qādirī, was the spiritual preceptor of Shāh Jahān's son Dārā Shukoh. Another order to enjoy imperial favor was the Shattāriya. The Shattārī shaikh, Muhammad Ghaus (d. 1563), was much revered by Humāyūn (r. 1530–40 and 1555–56), and his mausoleum at Gwalior remains one of the finest examples of 16th-century Indo-Muslim architecture.

Abul Fazl, writing in the late 16th century, listed fourteen orders in the Ā'īn-i Akbarī, including the Chishtiya. The Chishtīs continued to hold their own down to that time, and Akbar (1556–1605) is recorded as having made frequent pil- grimages, sometimes on foot, to Shaikh Mu'in ud-dīn's shrine at Ajmer. Akbar also requested Shaikh Salīm Chishtī (d. 1571) of Sīkrī to pray for a male offspring for the emperor and later, to honor the saint, he built the capital city of Fathpur Sīkrī at the site, near Agra, where the shaikh resided (see plate VI.A.1, map (d), and photos on plate VI.A.5). It was not, however, unusual to ensure good fortune for a new settlement by asso- ciating a famous shaikh with its foundation, as with the found- ing of Ahmadabad by Ahmad Shāh I (1411–43), sultan of Gujarat, on a site selected by Shaikh Ahmad Khattu of Sarkhej.

During the 17th century, and especially during the reigns of Shāh Jahān (1628–57) and Aurangzīb (1657–1707), a reaction against syncretistic Sufism gained ground, partly as a result of the Muslim community's preoccupation with re- defining its communal identity after an extended period of cultural interaction between Indian Islam and Hinduism. The lead in this reaction was taken by the Naqshbandiya tarīqa, an orthodox Sufi order from Bukhara, which was introduced into India by Khwājā Bāqībillah (1563–1603). Under the leadership of his disciple Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindī (1564– 1624), it spearheaded the attack on heterodoxy, enlisting the support of members of the imperial court and the ruling elite in its efforts to bring Sufism into line with the requirements of the Sharī'a. Thereafter, concern for reform and redefinition continued to be a preoccupation of Indian Muslims through- out the 18th and 19th centuries, although it was no longer Sufi leaders like Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindī, but theologians like Shāh Walī-ullah of Delhi (1703–62) and his son Shāh 'Abdul 'Azīz (1746–1824) who contributed most substantially to this process.

Apart from the local importance of certain Sufi orders, Islam in Southern Asia was not characterized by significant elements of regionalism. Although certain ruling houses, most notably those of Ahmadnagar, Bijapur, and Golkonda, were at various times Shīah, and although small pockets of Shīahs were to be found in many primarily urban localities, especially in Gujurat, their numbers were seemingly too few to exert a major effect on the religious life of the subcontinent, whatever their polit- ical roles may have been.

During the Mughal Period forms of Hinduism other than Bhakti continued to be numerous and diverse. Broadly speak- ing, Vai&stod;&ntod;avism and Śaivism remained the dominant sectarian movements; but within each many subdivisions, often highly localized, were to be found. On the whole the period was not marked by major religious innovations or important advances in religious philosophy. Certain sects that arose were much in the nature of social reform movements, commonly aimed at removing or mitigating oppressive elements of the caste sys- tem, a hope, as we have seen, that was implicit in the Bhakti movement as well. Among the most important of these re- formist sects were the Satnāmis, who owe their origins to an Oudh Rajput, Jagjīvandās (included among the Hindu poet- saints on map (c)), who lived sometime in the 17th century. The Satnāmis were briefly involved in a revolt against Aurang- zīb in the Punjab in 1672 but were suppressed with great slaughter. The Satnāmi sect still has a sizable following but is today confined mainly to the Chhattisgarh region of Madhya Pradesh, where its adherents are overwhelmingly of low-caste origin (see plate VIII.C.1). Other groups, most notably the Sikhs, described above because of their Bhakti origins, went through periods of political activism, particularly in the latter portion of Aurangzīb's long reign. In a related vein, various military and political leaders, most conspicuously Shivājī, suc- cessfully utilized religion, sometimes drawing upon or promot- ing particular sectarian devices as a means of rallying a fol- lowing in wars against the Mughals and other Muslim powers of the day. In particular, Maratha nationalism drew heavily for its inspiration on Bhakti poetry, especially that of the re- nowned Tukārām and his predecessor, Eknāth.

Little need be said of Jainism or Buddhism during the Mu- ghal Period. The former continued to hold its own as a nu- merically insignificant minority in regions of western India from Rajasthan south to Karnataka. The latter was to all in- tents and purposes a dead religion in India long before the advent of Mughal rule. While it continued to be dominant in Ceylon, it languished under the growing colonial influence of the Portuguese. Lamaistic Buddhism also continued to be im- portant in Nepal and dominant in Tibet. The principal events affecting its development in Tibet were briefly noted in the text for plate V.5.

In closing, a few remarks are in order about developments affecting the growth of Christianity, of which the roots in India allegedly go back to the time of the Apostle Thomas and which has been continuously present in Kerala since early in the Christian era. Until the coming of the Portuguese, Christian communities were of negligible significance in the life of the subcontinent; but less than two years after Vasco da Gama's landfall in 1498 the first Franciscan missionaries arrived in India, and by 1534 a Catholic bishopric was established at Goa. In 1542 Saint Francis Xavier, the famous Jesuit "apostle to the Indies," himself reached Goa and launched his vigorous and successful proselytizing career in the East. We have plot- ted some of the principal sites of his activities on plate VI.B.1. Another renowned Jesuit, Father Robert de Nobili, also achieved notable success in missionary work in southern India. Establishing himself at Madurai in 1605, he learned both San- skrit and Tamil so he could converse easily with the people of the region and even debate religious matters with Brahman pandits. He was one of the few missionaries to gain many high- caste Hindu converts. The significant influence of the Jesuits in the affairs of the Mughal Empire, and on Akbar in particu- lar, is touched on in the text for plate VI.A.1. One of the most important events of the period was the convening of the Synod of Diamper, by which the greater part of the ancient Syrian Christian church of Kerala was brought into communion with the See of Rome, while retaining Syriac as a liturgical language and generally preserving the Eastern rites. Although the British and Dutch began trading in India as early as 1600, the first Protestant missionary work commenced only in 1705, with the founding, under Danish auspices, of the Tranquebar Mission by two German Lutherans, Bartholomew Ziegenbalg and Henry Plutschau. Plate X.A.9, map (d), shows some of the impor- tant sites associated with the history of Christianity in South Asia during the Mughal Period, among others.

Sources (in addition to those in the General Bibliography)

General References

Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (1928); Imperial Gazet- teer . . . (1907–9).

On Hinduism and Sikhism in General and Bhakti in Particular

J. E. Abbott (1926–41); P. D. Barthwal (1936); B. Behari (1970); R. G. Bhandarkar (1913); J. E. Carpenter (1921); P. Chaturvedi (1967); S. K. De (1961); W. T. De Bary (1964); E. C. Dimock and D. Levertov (1968); J. N. Far- quhar (1920); R. Gupta (1968); W. H. McLeod (1968); N. Macnicol (1919); B. Miśra (1969); Mohan Singh (1934); K. W. Morgan (1953); D. A. Pai (1928); A. K. Ramanujan (1972); H. Singh (1969); Khushwant Singh (1963–66); Tulasīdāsa (listed under Primary Sources); C. Vaudeville (1974).

On Islam in General and Sufism in Particular

S. 'Abdurra&htod;mān (1973); A. J. Arberry (1950); Aziz Ahmad (1964), (1969); T. Chand (1963); S. M. Ikram and P. Spear (1955); M. Mujeeb (1967); I. H. Qureshi (1962); C. Rice (1964); A. A. Rizvi (1965); A. L. Srivastava (1964b); J. A. Subhan (1970); J. S. Trimingham (1971).

VI.A.5. Monuments of South Asia, c. 1550–1700

An imperial ethos dominates the arts and architecture of the Mughal Period. Not only are the portable arts—jades, textiles, and precious books—far more abundant and luxurious than under sultanate rulers, they are produced under lavish imperial patronage. Whereas royal patronage under the Delhi sultans appears to have been extended principally toward architecture, the Mughals directed both enormous funds and intense per- sonal interest toward the portable arts as well as toward archi- tecture. The mosques, tombs, palaces, and gardens so abun- dantly created during the period include many of India's most splendid monuments. In each of these areas patronage is marked by a high degree of personal taste: artistic and archi- tectural developments under Akbar, Jahāngīr, Shāh Jahān, and Aurangzīb are dependent to a large degree upon the aesthetic of the emperor himself, and provincial and subimperial styles are dependent upon the innovations of the emperor's artists.

This highly personal patronage is connected with what ap- pears to have been a veritable imperial cult. Beginning with Akbar and barely abating through the reigns of Jahāngīr and Shāh Jahān, the chief focus of both painting and architecture is the person of the emperor himself. Imperial portraiture as- sumes a dominant position in the productions of the active and extensive imperial ateliers of painting and provides us with a constant series of portraits of the emperors at various times in their lives. This fascination with the person of the emperor par- allels the imperial penchant for personal histories written either by the emperors themselves or by persons they appointed.

It is this dominance of the imperial patron and person that is partially responsible for the proliferation of imperial tombs of the emperors themselves and of their families and retainers. The imperial tomb is the dominant architectural type of the Mughal period, both in terms of the funds expended on it and in terms of its innovative and imaginative styles.

The Mughal period is also marked by the conscious attempt to provide a viable synthesis of the varied cultures of India. Although notable synthetic tendencies were evident during the Sultanate Period, it was under the Mughals that imperial policy was directed toward creating understanding between India's dif- ferent faiths and peoples and forging, at least on the court level, a composite culture. The architecture of the Diwān-i Khāss in Fatehpur Sikri (fig. (c)) is a vivid example of the use of Hindu cosmological concepts to emphasize the central role of the emperor in the Mughal order.

Internationalism is also a characteristic of the Mughal Pe- riod, and the attempt at synthesis of India's cultures under Akbar, Jahāngīr, and Shāh Jahān is served by an eclectic gath- ering of styles from Hindu and Jain India, Iran, and Europe.

Photo Credits

(a), photo by Stuart G. Welch, private collection; (b), (d), (e), (f), and (i), photos by Anthony Welch; (c), photo by Catherine Asher; (g), photo by Catherine Glynn, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; (h), photo by Elie Charlier, courtesy of Ames Library of South Asia.



What has been said of the Europeans in the Introduction to section VI as a whole obviates the need for a detailed addi- tional statement at this point. Of the five map plates in sub- section VI.B, the first focuses mainly on the principal voyages of discovery and exploration in search of routes to India, be- ginning with Diaz's voyage in 1486 past the Cape of Good Hope. Overland trade routes and areas of European territorial control or commercial interest as of c. 1700 are among the other types of information presented. Plate VI.B.2 portrays the location and length of occupation of more than one hun- dred trading posts maintained by Europeans in India and Cey- lon from 1500 to 1830, by which date only England remained a significant colonial power. Additional information is pro- vided on the location of centers of manufacturing, centers of commerce other than the aforementioned trading posts, and the specific articles of manufacture and trade. Plates VI.B.3 and 4 show the growth of European knowledge of South Asia through facsimile excerpts of eleven contemporary maps rang- ing in date from 1502 to 1726. Finally, plate VI.B.5 provides a variety of plans and pictorial views of early European estab- lishments in India derived from works published in the 17th and 18th centuries.

VI.B.1. Discovery, Exploration, Trade, and Colonization, 1486–1700; The Behaim Globe of 1492 and Its Sources

The quest for new routes to India was the mainspring for many of the epic voyages and important discoveries by West- ern European sailors from the late 15th to the early 17th cen- tury. Plate VI.B.1 depicts, among other things, the routes, dates, and navigators of the principal voyages involved in that quest; classifies those voyages according to the nations that sponsored them; and indicates some of their consequences in terms of the spread of European territorial control or com- mercial influence to the year 1700. The significance of the voyages shown, individually or by groups, and of the early political and mercantile contacts in different areas is indicated by notes on the map itself. Also shown are the major forts built for Portugal from 1509 to 1515 by Afonso de Albuquer- que, architect of the first great thalassic empire of the Age of Discovery and the locales of missionary activity of the great Jesuit apostle to the Indies, Saint Francis Xavier, over the pe- riod 1541–52. Finally, to correct the impression that the mer- cantile activity of the period was carried on solely by Euro-

Previous Page To Table of Contents Next Page

Back to Schwartzberg Atlas | Back to the DSAL Page

This page was last generated on Monday 18 February 2013 at 16:26 by
The URL of this page is: