Historical works in Persian began to appear in India in the era of the Delhi Sultanate. It was in Delhi itself most of the early Persian–language histories were written. However, it was particularly during the preceding Ghaznavid era (977-1186), when Muslim armies penetrated deep into the Indian heartland, that poets and scholars, writing in Persian, began settling in north-western India in significant numbers, founding the Persian-language tradition of scholarship in the subcontinent. This tradition then took root in India after the Ghurids conquered Ḡazni and established their capital at Delhi, to be succeeded by the sultans of Delhi (1206-1398). Persian-language scholarship stagnated after Timur destroyed the Delhi Sultanate in 1398, but revived and expanded exponentially during the years of the Timurid-Mughal dynasty (1526-1739). In this later period Indo-Persian historiography became a vibrant, multi-faceted tradition of scholarship, including autobiography, collections of poetry, ethical treatises, belles-lettres, and manuals of technical prose and administration, conversational discourses, and advice literature , literary and Sufi biographies and anthologies (taḏkeras), gazetteers, and innumerable political histories. These were produced at the Timurid-Mughal court in Agra and Delhi and at the independent courts of Persian-speaking rulers in Bengal, Gujarat, the Deccan (qq.v.) and elsewhere, including semi-autonomous Timurid-Mughal provinces as far south as Madras. Indo-Persian historical literature continued to be produced throughout the 18th century; but, as Muslim political power declined following the collapse of Timurid-Mughal rule, patronage decayed, and simultaneously Urdu displaced Persian, first in verse and then, by the mid-19th century, in prose as well.
The wealth of the subcontinent, and the proliferation of power centers there, led to the production of a vast corpus of Indo-Persian administrative, historical, religious, and poetical literature that can only be hinted at in this article. Still, it is worth noting that manuscripts written in Persian can be found throughout India in a variety of public and private institutions, including mosques and other religious institutions and private libraries. As an example of the wealth of Persian texts, the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library in Madras, well south of the centers of Indo-Muslim power, currently possesses 1,390 Persian manuscripts. Persian holdings are also especially rich in the libraries of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (seeBENGAL ii. ROYAL ASIATIC SOCIETY OF BENGAL) in Calcutta, the Khuda Bakhsh Library in Patna, and the Rampur Reza Library, to name but a few repositories of Indo-Persian texts.
The Ghaznavid background. The body of work produced at the Ghaznavid court represents the prolego-mena to Persian-language historiography in India. This includes prose works of narrative history such as the famous Tāriḵ-e Bayhaqi by Abu’l-Fażl Bayhaqi (q.v.) and Ādāb al-ḥarb wa’l-šajāʿa by Faḵr-e Modabber Mobārak-šāh (qq.v.), Ferdowsi’s epic poem, the Šāh-nāma, as well as a large body of Persian panegyric and lyrical verse by Farroḵi, Manučehri, Saʿd-e Salmān, and Sanāʾi, and several other court poets of the era. Such works comprised the immediate intellectual inheritance of Persian-speaking Muslims of the subcontinent. The principal exception to the use of Persian in historical or literary works during Ghaznavid times was Abu Rayḥān Biruni’s monumental study of North Indian Brahmanical culture and natural history Taḥqiq mā le’l-Hend men maqula maqbula fi’l-ʿaql aw marḏula, which Biruni conceived of as a philosophical or scientific work and therefore wrote in Arabic. Biruni’s work (see BIRUNI vi. WORKS ON INDOLOGY) was as unprecedented as it was unique. A Greco-Islamic scientific study intellectually akin to Ebn Ḵaldun’s Moqaddema, the work now generally known as Ketāb al-Hend had none of the panegyric or rhetorical characteristics of previous or subsequent Persian historical or literary works, whether written at the Ghaznavid court or at the courts of the Delhi Sultans or Timurid-Mughals. Nonetheless, Biruni’s treatise, which was based on his research in the Ghaznavids’ Indian province, the Punjab, represents the earliest major work produced by a Persian-speaking scholar in the Indian subcontinent. It was particularly in the Punjabi city of Lahore, the provincial Ghaznavid capital, that Persian-speaking Muslims initiated Persian scholarship in South Asia. In that city Hojviri (q.v.) wrote the first Persian-language treatise on Sufism, the Kašf al-maḥjub, and the poet Saʿd(-e) Salmān penned many of his verses. While these works were not histories per se, devotional literature and Persian verse comprise two of the most important historical sources for the study of the Delhi Sultanate and the Timurid-Mughal empire.
The Delhi Sultanate. An important historian of the early Delhi Sultanate is Juzjāni, otherwise known as Menhāj al-Serāj, whose work Ṭabaqāt-e nāṣeri is, unfortunately, confused in its organization and opaque in its style. Juzjāni, a refugee from the Mongols who fled from Ghur in 1227, later became a qāżi of the Delhi Sultans. Understandably anti-Mongol, Juzjāni wrote extensively of the Delhi rulers in the first half of the thirteenth century. While his history was widely used by later Indo-Persian authors, including ʿEṣāmi (q.v.), the Ṭabaqāt-e nāṣeri, like many other works of Sultanate-era historians described by Peter Hardy (see bibliography), may be valuable more for the attitudes it expresses than for the “facts” or interpretations it gives.
The impossibility of narrowly defining Indo-Persian historiography simply as prose narrative is reflected by the fact that two of the three most important writers who produced works with historical content under the Delhi sultans were poets. These three writers were: Żiāʾ-al-Din Barani, Amir Ḵosrow Dehlavi, and ʿAbd-al-Malek ʿEṣāmi (qq.v.). All three were direct heirs of Perso-Islamic religious, historical, and literary traditions; even more particularly, they were legatees of the cultural and political traditions of the Ghaznavid empire. Barani is the only one of the three whom modern scholars would identify as an historian. A member of the Delhi inner court circles, he wrote two important works, the Tāriḵ-e firuzšāhi (1357) and the undated Fatāwāʾ-ye jahāndāri. Barani, who characterized history as the twin brother of Hadith (q.v.) scholarship, explicitly describes the Tāriḵ-e firuzšāhi as an annalistic history, which served a greater moral purpose as a work of political ethics, a particularized, narrative form of a “mirror for princes.” The Fatāwāʾ-ye jahāndāri, on the other hand, is explicitly a book of political counsel (naṣiḥat), an example of a pre-Islamic and Perso-Islamic genre, a treatise on the duties and realities of kingship. It is couched in the form of a series of lessons offered by Sultan Maḥmud of Ḡazna to his sons, and in it Barani observes that religious and political goals are essentially incompatible. Monarchs cannot rule as religious ideologues, which Barani himself preferred, but only according to the practical policies of Ḵosrow Parviz and the pre-Islamic emperors of Iran.
Amir Ḵosrow and ʿEṣāmi were, in contrast, poets who wrote verse with significant historical content. Amir Ḵosrow, known outside India as Amir Ḵosrow Dehlavi, was the most important Persian-language poet of the Sultanate period. A panegyrist by profession, he produced a huge corpus of verse that ranged from panegyric and lyrical poetry (qaṣidas and ḡazals) to historical epics and included one prose work. The important poetical works include the Qerān al-saʿdayn (The conjunction of Jupi-ter and Venus [the two beneficent planets]), the Toḡloq-nāma, and the Noh sepehr (The nine spheres), while the prose work is the Ḵazāʾen al-fotuhá, the only extant history of the Sultan ʿAlāʾ-al-Din Ḵalji. All of these works contain valuable information, but extracting it from Amir Ḵosrow’s dramatic, panegyric tableaus requires great patience and a critical, trained judgement. The second poet who wrote verse with a significant historical content was ʿEṣāmi, whose major work, theFotuḥ al-salāṭin, was completed in 1349-50. ʿEṣāmi consciously and explicitly modeled this massive work of over 11,000 couplets on Ferdowsi’s Šāh-nāma, to the extent of adopting its meter. As such, this history of Muslim India from Ghaznavid times to the mid-14th century naturally extolled the heroic deeds of the rulers of India, but as a Muslim writing about Islamic rulers. ʿEṣāmi offers omnipotent and inscrutable divine ordination as an ultimate explanation for events. Like Amir Ḵosrow, ʿEṣāmi was principally concerned with dramatic literary effect rather than historical accuracy, filling his narrative with stereotypical heroes and villains.
In addition to these histories, a number of important Sufi treatises were produced during the Sultanate period, all of which, while not written as histories, have great value for reconstructing the social and religious history of the era. Important examples of malfuẓāt or “discourse” literature from this period are two 14th-century texts, the Fawāʾed al-foʾād by Amir Ḥasan Sejzi Dehlavi and the Nafāʾes al-anfās wa laṭāʾef al-alfāẓ of Rokn-al-Din of Kašān. The first is a report of the teachings of Amir Ḵosrow’s Češti shaikh, Moḥammad b. Aḥmad b. ʿAli Badāʾuni (d. 1325) known as Neẓām-al-Din Awliyāʾ (see ČEŠTĪYA), in Delhi, whereas the second is a report of the Češti shaikh, Borhān-al-Din Ḡarib’s teachings in the Deccani city of Dawlatābād. These are but two examples of a proliferation of Sufi literature, which occurred in Indo-Muslim territories in the 13th and 14th centuries. This literature also included many biographical dictionaries, such as another 14th-century Češti work, the Siar al-awliyā, by Sayyed Moḥammad b. Mobārak ʿAlawi Ker-māni, known as Mir Ḵord.
The Timurid-Mughals: 1526-1739. Following Timur’s invasion and the sack of Delhi in 1398, Indo-Persian historical writing continued to be produced, even if patronage drastically declined. Yahyā b. Aḥmad Serhendi wrote his own history of a sultanate ruler during the post-Timur era. His Tāriḵ-e mobārakšāhi (ca. 1428) was written to gain the patronage of the Delhi monarch of his day. It was based on previous works, including Barani’s history of the same name and Amir Ḵosrow’sQerān al-saʿdayn, and it resembled in tone and content ʿEṣāmi’s Fotuḥ al-salāṭin, in the sense that Serhendi’s work is primarily a rhetorical or literary work designed to entertain rather than to critically investigate the past. As for the histories devoted to the Afghan Lodis (Lōdis), who ruled the Delhi and western Gangetic region between 1451 and 1526, and the Afghan Suris, who ruled north India briefly between 1540 and 1555, a few contemporary works exist, such as the well-known work by Aḥmad Yādgār, the Tāriḵ-e šāhi or salāṭin-e afāḡana, generally known as the Maḵzan-e afḡāna. This work covers the period from 1451 to 1558. Otherwise these years represent something of an interregnum for Indo-Persian historiography and Persian-language scholarship in general, perhaps because the Lodi Afghans in particular were much less closely tied to the Persian cultural world than were the scholars of the Sultanate era. Indeed, some prominent Lodi Afghans did not even know Persian, and Pashto, their native tongue, was not a literary language at this time. Most histories of the Afghans were written during the Timurid-Mughal period, the era in which India became a center of Persianate culture and Persian-language scholarship.
Ironically, the first major historical work associated with the Timurid-Mughal dynasty is not a history in the strict sense of the term, nor was it written in Persian. It is the autobiographical memoir of Ẓahir-al-Din Moḥammad Bābor (q.v.), which he wrote in Chaghatay Turki, the most commonly spoken language in Transoxiana (Mā warāʾ al-nahr) during the Timurid era. This Waqāʾeʿ, better known as theBābor-nāma, contains more than 600 printed pages in the modern collated text of Eiji Mano and is a major historical source for late-Timurid Transoxiana, Afghanistan, and north India in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. It is a complex text that operates at several different levels. Most obviously it is the political self-statement of an ambitious Timurid. Yet, it also functions as an idiosyncratic “mirror for princes” and as a gazetteer for the three regions it covers. More than all of these things it is a work that humanizes both its author and his civilization. However, it is also a work that shows Bābor to have been, culturally at least, a fully paid subscriber to Perso-Islamic society, something that is especially clear from his knowledge of the works of Persian-language poets, including Saʿdi, Hafez, Jāmi, and Amir Ḵosrow Dehlavi. Indeed, his own Turki poetry is largely a literary echo of these writers.
Apart from its own value, Bābor’s Waqāʾeʿ is also important for Timurid-Mughal historiography for two major reasons. Firstly, it reveals that Bābor personified in most respects the sophisticated culture known from Sultan Ḥosayn Bāyqara’s (q.v.) Herat, a variant of Persianate culture that had evolved since the Ghaznavid period. At the opening of the 16th century this culture displayed a well-established classical literary tradition, miniature painting, refined court music, and a sophisticated historiographical tradition represented by Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, Esfezāri (qq.v), Ḵᵛāndamir, and others. Early Timurid-Mughal court culture was essentially late-Timurid culture; in terms of historiography, its founding member was Ḵᵛāndamir, who arrived in India to serve Bābor and became an historian for Bābor’s son Homā-yun (q.v.). Secondly, the Waqāʾeʿ directly or indirectly influenced the writing of four other autobiographical accounts that provide unique information about the Timurid-Mughal dynasty. All of these were also written in Persian. They are: Ḥaydar Mirzā Doḡlāt’s Tāriḵ-e rašidi, Golbadan (Gulbadan) Begim’s Homāyun-nāma, Bāyazid Bayāt’s, Taḏkera-ye Homāyun va Akbar, and the Jahāngir-nāma of Bābor’s great-grandson.
Ḥaydar Mirzā was a younger maternal cousin of Bābor (i.e., from the Chingizid matrilineal side). He does not indicate that the Tāriḵ-e rašidi was inspired by Bābor’s example, but it is quite likely that his knowledge of the Waqāʾeʿ played some role in his decision to write his semi-autobiographical history of the Mongols. However, this work is very different from Bābor’s text. In it Ḥaydar Mirzā is consciously writing as an historian, albeit at times an unreliable one. Even though he also narrates much of his own personal history, the Tāriḵ-e rašidi has few of the engaging humanistic touches that enliven Bābor’s memoir. In fact, Ḥaydar Mirzā begins his work by quoting Yazdi’s introduction to his history of Timur, the Ẓafar-nāma, adding the touchingly personal note that he did so because he had not mastered the style that such historical writing required. That is, Haydar Mirzā admired the ornate Persian style of Timurid historians. Fortunately for the reader, when he falls back on his own prose he offers crucial information about Bābor’s last campaign in Transoxiana and Homāyun’s disastrous defeat at the hands of resurgent Afghan forces in 1539 and 1540.
The works of Golbadan Begim (see GOLBADAN BEGOM) and Bāyazid Bayāt were written at the behest of Bābor’s grandson, Akbar (q.v.), who wanted to preserve eyewitness accounts of his great ancestor, whose memoirs were translated into Persian at Akbar’s court. Golbadan Begim was a young girl when her father, Bābor, died. Her memoir is not so valuable for his life, most of which she based on theWaqāʾeʿ. Her Homāyun-nāma is instead invaluable for the insight that it offers into the life of Timurid-Mughal women. No other source for the dynasty enables readers to understand that these women led rich and complex lives of their own. This work, like Bābor’s Waqāʾeʿ, is also notable for its compelling emotional content. Bāyazid Bayāt’s own memoir was also written at Akbar’s command, but in contrast to the other first-hand accounts mentioned here, it is a dry, error-prone, political and military narrative by an old man in his declining years.
No such dryness detracts from the second Timurid-Mughal autobiographical memoir, that of Jahāngir (r. 1605-36), Bābor’s great-grandson. Jahāngir is likely to have written this because of his ancestor’s example; at least he mentions reverently reading the Waqāʾeʿ when visiting Bābor’s gravesite in Kabul. While intellectually far less ambitious than his ancestor’s multi-faceted text, the Jahāngir-nāma is still an extraordinary royal memoir, as exceptional in the 17th-century world as Bābor’s is for the 16th. In it Jahāngir plainly states that he is sending the text to other rulers, especially referring to Persia, and he partly sees the work as a “mirror for princes” text. Indeed, he expends an extraordinary amount of effort to demonstrate that he ruled as a prototypical “just sultan,” perhaps responding to aḵlāq (q.v.) literature well known in his father’s court. However, apart from that particular rhetorical purpose, the bulk of the text is a lively day-to-day account of his rule, which for him personally did not include any major battles but innumerable hunting expeditions and lavish entertainment. In describing the women who accompanied him, Jahāngir also contributes to the understanding of Timurid-Mughal women. However, more than anything else, the Jahāngir-nāma is a psychologically complex text that reveals the human frailty, emotional complexity, and engaging cultural preoccupations of its author.
Bābor and Homāyun. In terms of the historiography of the Timurid-Mughal era (ca. 1526-1739), the reigns of Bābor and Homāyun constitute something of a transition period between the Timurid history of Transoxiana and Iran and the truly imperial period of Akbar (r. 1556-1605; q.v.) and his successors. The lives of both men are covered in later general histories of the dynasty, but these have little value beyond the perspective or interpretation they might offer. Bābor’s memoirs and his poetry remain the best sources for his life, as is illustrated by the fact that Ḵᵛāndamir, in his monumental history, based his own account of Bābor’s life on these memoirs. One minor but intriguing source relevant to Bābor’s life—or to his sickness and death—is a poem on hygiene written in 1530, the year of Bābor’s death, by a physician from Herat, Yusof b. Moḥammad Herāti Yusofi, titled Qaṣida dar ḥefẓ-e ṣeḥḥat, and pointedly dedicated to Bābor. In the Qānun-e homāyuni, Ḵᵛāndamir also wrote a brief account of some of Homāyun’s regulations and buildings. Homāyun left no memoirs, but Bābor himself frequently mentions his son, often doing so critically. Homāyun acceded to his father’s throne in 1530, was expelled from India by resurgent Afghan forces in 1540, and regained India only in 1555, a year before his death. Several contemporaries documented Homāyun’s life. Their accounts lack the intimate details found in Bābor’s and Jahāngir’s memoirs, but offer a detailed account of his tumultuous military and political history. The two most important works are the memoirs of his personal attendant, Mehtar Jauhar Āftābči, written or begun in 1586, known variously as the Taḏkerat al-wāqeʿāt or Jawāher-e šāhi, and a second, written by his companion Bāyazid, completed in 1591-92, entitled the Tāriḵ-e Homāyun. Otherwise there are a number of Safavid histories that describe Homāyun’s exile in Persia and his reception by Shah Ṭahmāsp. The earliest of these accounts is Amir Maḥmud’s Tāriḵ-e Amir Maḥmud, compiled in 1550, just five years after Homāyun left Persia to begin the decade-long process of reclaiming his throne. A second major work on Homāyun’s exile is Ḵuršāh b. Qobād al-Ḥosayni’s Tāriḵ-e ilči-e Neẓāmšāh by the Neẓāmšāhi ambassador of Aḥmadnagar (q.v.) in India’s Deccan region, who arrived at Shah Ṭahmāsp’s court in Qazvin in 1545. The ancillary sources for Homāyun’s reign and its court culture include his own Persian poetry, as well as the terse divinatory notes that he, like other Timurid-Mughal emperors, penned in the margins of his copy of Hafiz which he used as an augury (see HAFEZ vi. PRINTED EDITIONS), and the poetry of contemporaries, such as Darviš Bahrām Boḵāri’s Divān-e saqqāand an interesting treatise on music, Ḥaydar Tuniāni’s Davāzdah maqām, which is dedicated to Homāyun.
Akbar. Bābor and Homāyun are scarcely mentioned in the modern Indian and Western historiography of the Timurid-Mughal empire, because Bābor is usually seen as a Central Asian conqueror who died before he was able to firmly establish the Timurid-Mughal state, while Homāyun is regarded by many as a failure who squandered his father’s inheritance and had no meaningful role in constructing the empire. Homāyun’s son, Akbar, on the other hand, is almost universally regarded as the true founder of the empire, qua empire. Due to his pivotal role, the sheer length of his reign, his concern to document the early history of the dynasty, his devotion to Sufism and interest in comparative religions and patronage of literary and artistic culture, he was both the subject and the patron of many Persian-language texts as well as a major concern of modern historiography. First of all it was at Akbar’s instigation that Bābor’s memoirs were translated from Turki into Persian and Golbadan Begim wrote her autobiographical memoir the Homāyun-nāma. Many other works, including those in Sanskrit, were also written at his urging and under his patronage. These include the Persian translation of the Indian epic, theMahābhārata, prepared by ʿAbd-al-Qāder Badāʾuni (q.v.) with Brahmanical assistance in 1584.
Akbar’s reign is known above all for the two monumental historical and statistical works produced by his amanuensis and boon companion Abu’l-Fażl ʿAllāmi (q.v.). These works, the Akbar-nāma (q.v.) and the Āʾin-e akbari, form the basis for evaluating the person of Akbar and beyond that, for understanding the basic structure of the Timurid-Mughal empire. The Akbar-nāma is very much a traditional, panegyric, narrative history, done on a massive scale, and while it is much less commonly read than the Āʾin-e akbari, it contains a wealth of valuable information on Akbar’s life and the military and political affairs of the Empire. Both it and the Āʾin-e akbari draw on Abu’l-Fażl’s intimate knowledge of Timurid-Mughal affairs and his access to administrative records. The Āʾin-e akbari, an elaborate gazetteer, is fundamental for all studies on the administration of the Timurid-Mughal empire in Akbar’s reign and the basic structure of the empire in subsequent generations. Many of the histories of the formative period of the empire represent what are in essence commentaries on this text. Apart from Abu’l-Fażl’s works, the single most important primary source for this period is ʿAbd-al-Qāder Badāʾuni’sMontaḵab al-tawāriḵ, an Indo-Muslim history from the Ghaznavids to 1596, nine years before Akbar’s death. Badāʾuni, a polymath and a religious scholar and translator of Arabic and Sanskrit works, was a rival of Abu’l-Fażl and a strong critic of Akbar’s religious experiments and his creation of an imperial religious cult. His work therefore supplements and acts a valuable corrective to Abu’l-Fażl’s fulsome praise of his patron. Other important Indo-Persian histories of Akbar’s reign are Neẓām-al-Din Aḥmad of Herat’s Ṭabaqāt-e akbari, the first general history entirely devoted to Indo-Muslim history, and the fragmentary Tāriḵ-e akbari by Moḥammad ʿĀref of Qandahār, a steward to Akbar’s tutor Bayram Khan (q.v.). Two other important works written in the 18th century, but covering the entire Timurid-Mughal era including Akbar’s reign, are the two biographical dictionaries of nobles: Šāhnavāz Awrangābādi’s Maʾāṯer al-omarāʾ and the less complete Taḏkera al-omarāʾ by Rāy Kēwal Rām. As is true for the early Timurid-Mughal rulers and those of the sultanate era, the Persian texts relevant for an understanding of the era also include regional histories, Sufi treatises and biographical accounts of poets, religious scholars, and Sufis.
Jahāngir (r. 1605-36): The historical works devoted to Akbar’s reign also cover the early history of his son, Ja-hāngir, especially Jahāngir’s rebellion against his father’s authority. Such rebellions are a legacy of the Turco-Mongol appanage system and constitute a theme of their succession politics in the 17th and 18th centuries. A near-contemporary work that contains additional valuable information on Jahāngir’s princely years is Ḡayrat Khan Kāmgār Ḥosayni’s Maʾāṯer-e jahāngiri. The principal source for the reign is, however, Jahāngir’s autobiographical memoir, discussed above. Apart from these works that concern Jahāngir’s early years, there is a wealth of contemporary or near-contemporary sources for his reign. Only Persian works will be identified here, but it is important to know that there are numerous other sources in Hindi, Pashto, Sanskrit, and European languages directly or indirectly touching on the history of this period.
Persian sources include many regional histories, which will be discussed separately below, and works which directly concern military and political events, such as the valuable autobiographical memoirs of one of the many imperial officers of Persian descent, ʿAlāʾ-al-Din of Isfahan, usually known as Mirzā Nat’han, titled Bahārestān-e ḡaybi, a work devoted to events in Bengal and Orissa. Another and lesser-known source is the collection of official letters compiled by ʿAbd-al-Laṭif b. ʿAbd-Allāh ʿAbbāsi of Gujarat during the reign of Jahāngir’s son, Shah Jahān, titled Roqaʿāt-e ʿAbd-al-Laṭif. Apart from these works, there is a category of sources dealing with Sufi doctrine or organization and Jahāngir’s religious policies or inclinations. Many of these are typical biographical accounts (taḏkeras) concerned with the Češti order (selsela), revered by both Akbar and Jahāngir. Others concern the Naqšbandi order, which in Timurid-Mughal India began as an aristocratic religious order linked with Central Asian Timurids and then, in the early 16th century, was revived as a dynamic devotional order by Moḥammad Bāqi be-’llāh and his student, Shaikh Aḥmad Fāruqi Serhendi. Moḥammad Bāqi be-’llāh left a Kolliyāt, a collection of his verse; and Serhendi, who is mentioned by Jahāngir, left a collection of letters known as the Maktubāt-e Aḥmad-e Fāruqi. Equally important for the history of Sufism in India is Moḥammad Ḡawṯi’s Golzār-e abrār, a detailed, precisely dated work on non-Češti Sufis in Gujarat, dedicated to Jahāngir. Beyond such material there is another class of religious literature translated at Jahāngir’s request that reflects his own interests and imperial policies. These include, for example, a new Persian translation of the famous heresiographer Abu’l-Fatḥ Moḥammad Šahrestāni’s Ketāb al-melal wa’l-neḥal from Arabic to Persian by Moṣṭafā Ḵaleqdād Hāšemi in 1612.
Shah Jahān (r. 1636-58). As is true of Jahāngir, the history of Shah Jahān’s early political life is partly known from his father’s account of his rebellion, although early in his memoir Jahāngir also includes many proud, caring accounts of his son. Supplementing these references are two works: one that contains Jahāngir’s letters, composed in verse, to the future Shah Jahān when he was in rebellion, theGoldasta-ye farāmin-e jahāngiri, and a second, a collection of letters from the future Shah Jahān to Shah ʿAbbās I (q.v.) requesting aid in his rebellion against Jahāngir, the Monšaʾāt, compiled by one Nāṣer-al-Din Ṭusi. Jahāngir’s frequent comments on his son are also, unfortunately, our only source for specifically personal details and traits about a man who left no autobiography of his own and in the Persian texts of the period is presented largely as an imperial archetype or, as he is sometimes styled, the “Second Timur.” This is true of the major histories of the era, which echo the panegyric tone of Abu’l-Fażl’s earlier encomiums for Akbar. Nonetheless, they contain basic and important information about the conduct of the empire. The most important of the “court” histories is the three-volume work of ʿAbd-al-Ḥamid Lāhuri and Moḥammad Wāreṯ, the Pādšāh-nāma. The other general histories of the reign, such as the Šāh Jahān-nāma by Ḥasan Qazvini and another work of the same title by Moḥammad Ṭāher Āšnā or ʿEnāyat Khan, add little to Lāhuri’s work. Other interesting sources that supplement these histories are: two collections of diplomatic letters. One, the Aḥkām-e Šāh Jahān by Bhagwān-das, contains letters from Shah Jahān; and a second, by Moḥammad Ṭāher Qazvini Waḥid, is the Enšāʾ-e Ṭāher Waḥid, a Safavid source that contains letters of the Safavid shahs to Shah Jahān and his sons. An intriguing description of court festivals and Shah Jahān’s daily routine is entitled the Čahār čaman by Chandarbhan Barahman, a munshi (monši) of Shah Jahān. The Tāriḵ-e rawża-ye Momtāz Maḥal, an account of the death of Momtāz Maḥal, contains verses by Shah Jahān describing her tomb, the Tāj Maḥal. In addition to these sources there are a variety of works, similar to those relating to the court culture of earlier emperors, which reflect Shah Jahān’s interest in Indian music, classical Persian verse, Sufism, and monumental architecture. Regarding architecture in particular there is a matònawi by Hāji Moḥammad Jān Qodsi, originally of Mašhad, titled the Ẓafar-nāma-ye šāh-jahāni, in which Qodsi describes the great Delhi mosque and other buildings ordered built by Shah Jahān.
In addition to works focused on Shah Jahān himself, there is a category of texts and documents connected with his favorite son and presumptive heir, Dārā Šokōh (q.v.) and the civil war for succession that broke out between Dārā Šokōh and his three brothers when Shah Jahān fell ill in 1657. This war resulted in the triumph of Awrangzēb (q.v.) and the death of Dārā Šokōh, his sons and brothers. Dārā Šokōh and the war of succession are major topics in Indian historiography of the nationalist period, because Dārā Šokōh, a Sufi who believed in the essential identity of Islam and Hinduism, is seen by many South Asians as an Akbar-like figure who might have renewed the syncretistic policies of his ancestor and thereby, as historians sometimes argue or imply, eliminated the communal tensions that led to the creation of Pakistan. As Awrangzēb was a relatively austere Sunnite legalist, the succession struggle is sometimes represented as a Manichean conflict between the two brothers in which religion and not simply sibling rivalry typical of the Turco-Mongol appanage system was the defining issue. However one interprets the outcome of this succession struggle, there is no doubt about the contrasting religious outlook of the two men. Dārā Šokōh himself was the author or patron of a number of works that reflect his religious convictions. These include: the Majmaʿ al-baḥrayn, a work on the similarity of Hindu and Sufi doctrine, various texts on Sufism, and Persian translations of Hindu philosophical and religious texts such as the Upaniṣads and the Bhagavadgītā. Other works relevant for a study of Dārā Šokōh and his intriguing religious and cultural outlook include his collected poems (divān), in which he used “Qāderi” as his taḵalloṣ or pen name, a copy of the Qur’ān in his own calligraphy, an art he learned from his Persian teacher, Āqā Rašid Deylāmi, and a series of religious questions addressed to a Hindu ascetic, the Soʾāl o jawāb-e Dārā Šokōh va Bābā Lāl.
Awrangzēb. The long reign of the last great Timurid-Mughal emperor Awrangzēb (ʿĀlamgir; r. 1658-1707) began with a protracted and bloody succession struggle with his three brothers and, following his victory, the imprisonment of his father, who had recovered his health after his sons had begun, prematurely, contesting the throne. There is an extant eyewitness account of the wars, a poetical version by Behešti of Shiraz, a court poet of one of the princes, Morād-baḵš, entitled Āšub-nāma-ye Hendustān. Otherwise the history of these events was written under the patronage of the victor, Awrangzēb. These include a brief history of the wars of succession by Shaikh Abu’l-Fatḥ (Qābel Khan), a munshi of Awrangzēb, titled theĀdāb-e ʿālamgiri, and several court histories: the ʿĀlamgir-nāma by another munshi of the emperor, Moḥammad Kāẓem Amin, a son of Ḥasan Qazvini, cited above; the Merʾāt al-ʿālam by Moḥammad Baḵtāvar Khan, a boon-companion of Awrangzēb; and a monumental history by Awrangzēb’s amir, Kᵛāfi Khan, titled theMontaḵab al-lobāb. The first two histories cover only the first ten years of Awrangzēb’s reign, while the third encompasses the entire half-century period.
Apart from traditional narrative histories, a number of other extant works also shed light on both the man and his reign. These include collections of letters to and from Awrangzēb, such as the collection compiled by Ašraf Khan, Raqāʾem-e karāʾem, containing letters Awrangzēb wrote to one of his amirs, and another set, the Maktu-bāt-e Moḥammad Maʿṣum, letters from his Naqšbandi shaikh, Moḥammad Maʿṣum, the son of Aḥmad Serhendi (q.v.). There are also divāns by Češti and Naqšbandi Sufis dedicated to Awrangzēb that illustrate his own intimate engagement with devotional and mystical Islam that characterized all members of the Timurid-Mughal dynasty. Other works commissioned by Awrangzēb reflect his well-known commitment to the Sunnite faith and practice. The most important of these texts is the monumental compendium of Islamic law and legal practiceFatāwāʾ-eʿ ālamgiri, first written in Arabic by Neẓām Shaikh and a number of other religious scholars and later translated into Persian at the request of Awrangzēb’s well-educated and influential daughter, Zib-al-Nesāʾ. The Persian translation is important for what it suggests of the education, religious interests, and intellectual sophistication of Timurid-Mughal women and in particular Zib-al-Nesāʾ, who also studied Arabic grammar through a personalized Persian translation of Ebn Ḥājeb’s Šāfia by one Ḡolām Moḥammad. Details about the life of Zib-al-Nesāʾs tutor, Ašraf of Māzandarān, the well-educated Persian religious scholar (ʿālem) and poet who had married into the famous Majlesi family of Isfahan, are found in the Divān-e ašʿār-e Ašraf Māzandarāni. Information about his life offers additional insight into the quality of Zib-al-Nesāʾ’s education, the intimate connection between the Iranian and Indian zones of the Perso-Islamic world, and, more generally, evidence of the high cultural standards of the Timurid-Mughal court. More famous but not necessarily the best-educated Timurid-Mughal princess during this period was Awrangzēb’s influential sister, Jahānārā Begam, who, as well as being, like her brother Dārā Šokōh, a member of the Qāderi, was also a devotee of the Češti order. She herself wrote a biography of Moʾin-al-Din Češti, the Munes al-arwāḥ.
Bahādor Shah and the later Timurid-Mughals: 1707-48. Indo-Persian scholarship continues throughout the 18th century and even into the British period. However, the Timurid-Mughal empire began to unravel following Awrangzēb’s death in 1707 and ceased to exist as an empire after Nāder Shah Afšār invaded India and seized the treasury in 1739. One especially important work written in an unusually simple style covers not only these years, but also the reigns of the last seven Timurid-Mughal emperors. This is the Siar al-motaʾaḵḵerin, whose author, Ḡolām Ḥosayn Khan Ṭabāṭabāʾi, personifies the transitional nature of 18th century India, as he served both the emperor Shah ʿĀlam and the British and indeed critically analyzes British policy in Bengal in the late 18th century. Many of the prose and verse works devoted to the emperors are simply continuations of the narrative and panegyric conventions of earlier periods, except that the events they describe reflect the precipitate deterioration of the empire during the first four decades of the 18th century. Typically, many court officers wrote annalistic accounts of this era. A few concern the brief reign of Awrangzēb’s immediate successor, Bahādor Shah (1707-12). Others recount the civil wars among Bahādor Shah’s sons, leading to the one-year enthronement of Jahāndār Shah (1712-13) before he was deposed by his nephew Farroḵsiar (1713-19). As in the case of the histories of the earlier reigns, eyewitnesses wrote many of these later narratives. This is true for example of theBahādor Šāh-nāma by ʿAli Mirzā Nur-al-Din Moḥammad, which covers the succession struggle that followed Awrangzēb’s death, the Tāriḵ-e šāhanšāhi, by Moḥammad Ḵalil Ḵʷāja, who describes events between 1707 and 1713, and the longer ʿEbrat-nāma of Sayyed Moḥammad-Qāsem Ḥosayni ʿEbrat, who narrates the reigns of both Bahādor Shah and Farroḵsiar.
An interesting development of the period is that some poets in the early 18th century address panegyric poems to the Timurid-Mughals in Urdu, a language that first flowered in the Deccan sultanates of Bijāpur and Golconda (see DECCAN) and was, by the late 17th century, beginning to be adopted by North Indian writers as well. One example is the work of the Urdu poet Shaikh Ebrāhim Khan Ḏawq, a contemporary of Bahādor Shah. The 18th century was a transitional period for both historical and verse composition, as was personified by the career of Mir Moḥammad Taqi Mir (1723-1810), who wrote famous ḡazals in Urdu, and in a 1753 work, the Nekāt al-šoʿarā, defined this language, first described pejoratively asriḵta. However, he still composed his autobiography, Ḏekr-e Mir, in Persian. In fact, Persian remained the preferred language for prose composition; well after many North Indian Muslim literati had begun writing poetry in Urdu.
Moḥammad Shah (1719-48) is the last Timurid-Mughal emperor who can be considered to have been an independent ruler, at least until Nāder Shah’s invasion of 1739. There are noticeably fewer histories and Persian works on poetry and court culture extant from this period, a reign comparable in length to that of Jahāngir. One of the most noticeable lacunae is literature that reflects the dynasty’s longstanding attachment to the Češti and Naqš-bandi orders. General explanations for this decline may be found in the disturbed conditions in both Iran and India, with the Safavid collapse in Persia followed closely by Nāder Shah’s destructive invasion of India. That is, patronage seems to have declined drastically as the empire contracted and provincial governors became local rulers. Historians produced several general histories of the Timurid-Mughals that covered Moḥammad Shah’s reign, but the single most important history specifically dedicated to his rule and containing an account of Nāder Shah’s invasion is Moḥammad Baḵš Āšub’s Tāriḵ-e Mo-ḥammad Šāh Pādešāh (1782), This text also includes a useful list of earlier Persian sources for the Timurid-Mughal dynasty. Nāder Shah’s invasion is also the subject of several eyewitness accounts such as ʿAbd-al-Karim b.ʿĀqebat-Maḥmud Kašmiri’s Nāder-nāma (or Bayān-e wāqeʿ); as well as Badāʾeʿ-e waqāʾeʿ, the valuable account by the historian, poet, and lexicographer, Ānand Rām Moḵles (q.v.), a Hindu of the important Khatri caste and one of the many examples of Hindu participation in Indo-Persian historiography during the Timurid-Mughal period. Apart from other Persian manuscripts dedicated to the typical aspects of court culture, especially poetry and calligraphy, a new genre produced in Persian during Moḥammad Shah’s reign is represented by the astronomical tables prepared at the order of the Rajput officer of Awrangzēb and the later Timurid-Mughals, Jai Singh of Jaipur, known as the Zij-e jadid-e Moḥammad Šāh. These tables were derived from Timurid texts, that is, from Ulugh Beg’s work in Samarqand, and European scientific sources. The builder of the observatories in which they were used, Ḵayr-Allāh b. Loṭf-Allāh Mohandes, also wrote works on astronomy and translated Euclid’s elements and Naṣir-al-Din Ṭusi’s version of Ptolemy’s Almagest from Arabic into Persian.
Many important Persian-language histories and texts on Timurid-Mughal administration were written in the latter half of the 18th century, even as the dynasty itself declined into pathetic impotence. These include some of the works already mentioned, such as the biographical compendiums of nobility, the general history of the 18th century, and even the history of Moḥammad Shah. Biographical anthologies (taḏkeras) of Persian-language poets continued to be written, and Iranian literati continued to emigrate to India, even as patronage for their verse declined. Sometimes, however, they found refuge at provincial courts that arose as the empire disintegrated. Some of these provincial courts had, of course, been important centers of patronage throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. The two most important were the independent sultanates of Bijapur and Golconda located in the region of central India known as the Deccan. Bijapur, a small kingdom with a Shiʿite dynasty later conquered by Awrangzēb, was, after the Timurid-Mughal empire itself, the state that was most closely connected with Persia. Even if it did not command the lavish resources available to Shah Jahān, it attracted Persian-speaking émigrés; and its ruling dynasty, the ʿĀdelšāhis (q.v.), had a number of histories in Persian devoted to it. Two examples are the Taḏkerat al-moluk (ca. 1612) by Rafiʿ-al-Din Ebrāhim of Shiraz and Fozuni of Astarābād’s Fotuḥāt-e ʿādelšāhi (ca. 1645). An example of the interesting literature that illustrates the Persian-Bijāpur connection is the collection of stories by Moḥammad Mahdi Wāṣef, titled Maẓhar al-eʿjāz (ca. 1686), that describes everyday life in Persia and India in the late 17th century. The Qoṭbšāhi dynasty of Golconda was also the subject of Persian-language histories such as the anonymous Tāriḵ-e solṭān Moḥammad Qoṭbšāhi (ca. 1616). The rulers of this dynasty were especially known for their literary interests and patronage, and ʿAbd-Allāh Qoṭbšāhi (1625-73) wrote divāns in both Persian and in Deccani Urdu. During his reign Persian remained an important historical and literary language, but he and other Qoṭb-šāhi rulers were, in fact, directly responsible for the development of high literary Urdu during the 17th century, which only later became popular as a court language in Agra and Delhi.
As was indicated in the introduction to this section, Persian-language sources can be found for virtually every region of India to which Persian-speaking Muslims from north India extended their control from the first years of the Ghaznavid era through the 18th century. Two regions of particular importance due to their wealth and strategic location were Bengal and Gujarat. Both were brought under Timurid-Mughal control in the late 16th century, and both had long histories of independent Muslim rule during the Sultanate period and Persianate cultural and historical traditions. During the Sultanate period the independent sultans of Bengal, one of the wealthiest provinces in India, patronized a typical variety of Muslim religious institutions and Persianate literary and historical works, partly to demonstrate their continuing ties to the distant but still prestigious Perso-Islamic world. The same is true of Gujarat, whose coastline, after all, puts it in immediate contact with the Persian Gulf and Iran. Two categories of texts that represent important historical sources for both regions are those of malfuẓāt and taḏkera literature, the records of sayings and admonitions or biographical notices of Sufi masters (moršeds), who played such an important role in the Islamization of both regions. Such sources are particularly plentiful from Bengal for the Češti order, such as ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān Češti’s Merāt al-asrār. One such text from Gujarat written during Jahāngir’s reign is cited above. In Gujarat there are many others from members of the Češti, Sohravardi, Qāderi and Šaṭṭāri orders. A useful example of Indo-Persian historiography from Gujarat is the Merāt-e Sekandari by Sekandar b. Moḥammad ʿOrf Manjhu b. Akbar written in 161l. The author, whom Jahāngir praises in his memoirs, usefully cites six earlier Persian works on Gujarat that he studied in writing his history of the Muslim kings of Gujarat from 1411 to 1591/92. An important history written by a Gujarati Sayyed who encouraged Akbar’s conquest of the region is Abu Torāb Wāli’s, Tāriḵ-e Gojarāt. During the Timurid-Mughal period the histories of Bengal and Gujarat and other previously independent regions were usually incorporated into the general histories of the empire, such as those commissioned by Akbar, the Akbar-nāma, Aḥmad Tattawi’s Tāriḵ-e alfi(1591), and Neẓām-al-Din Aḥmad Heravi’s Ṭabaqāt-e akbari (1594). Nonetheless, there are also specialized works relating to these provinces, and they are particularly numerous for Bengal, such as Mirzā Nat’han’s memoir, the Bahārestān-e ḡaybi, cited above, and the biography of a governor of Bengal during Shah Jahān’s time, the Tāriḵ-e aḥwāl-e Eslām Ḵān Mašhadi by Ḥaydar Ḥosayn Khan Šāh-jahānābādi.
Didactic literature and belles-lettres. As has been suggested by the references in this article, Muslim India, and especially Timurid-Mughal India, was a full participant in Persianate culture. Bibliographical resources are, however, far richer for the Timurid-Mughal era than for the Sultanate period. This partly reflects the extraordinary volume of Indo-Persian artistic, historical, literary, and religious texts that were written from the 16th through the 18th centuries, but it has also meant that citations of Persian-language works for the Sultanate period do not give an adequate idea of the works available. There is not, for example, a bibliographical work on the sultanate period equivalent to Dara Nusserwanji Marshall’s Mughals in India, A Bibliographical Survey, without which this article could not have been written. The lack of a comprehensive bibliographic survey for the Sultanate period is felt even more acutely when it comes to identifying and discussing such specialized literary genres as aḵlāqenšāʾ, and naṣiḥat literature, many specimens of which are known for the Timurid-Mughal period.
In the case of aḵlāq literature, for example, at least three major examples are known, all of which seem to derive from Naṣir-al-Din Ṭusi’s Aḵlāq-e nāṣeri (q.v.). One, the Aḵlāq-e homāyuni, originally compiled in Herat by the chief qāżi of Herat, Eḵtiār Ḥosayni, was eventually dedicated by the author to Bābor in Kabul following the collapse of Timurid rule in Herat. A second was dedicated to Jahāngir in 1622 by Nur-al-Din Moḥammad Qāżi; and a third, the Aḵlāq-e moḥammad-šāhi by Ahmad ʿAli Khan Ajmiri, was written at Moḥammad Shah’s request in 1729.
Enšāʾ literature, that is, collections of sample chancellery or personal correspondence intended as manuals of instruction, was as highly developed a genre in Muslim India as in most other highly literate states of the medieval and early modern Islamic world. Only three examples are known to be extant from the Sultanate period. Two are from the Sultanate itself: the Eʿjāz-e ḵosravi of the poet Amir Ḵosrow, which emphasizes ornate prose composition at the expense of clarity, and the more simply styled Enšāʾ-e māhru of ʿAyn-al-Molk Māhru. The third is from the Deccan, the rhetorically elaborate Riāż al-enšāʾ by Maḥmud Gāvān (Gāwān; see BAHMANID DYNASTY). Literally dozens of enšāʾ collections are extant from the Timurid-Mughal period, ranging from those of Abu’l Fazl, Akbar’s historian and amanuensis, to the political letters of Shah Wali-Allāh, the 18th century ʿālem and intellectual and son of one of the authors of the Fatāwā-ye ʿālamgiri. Among these are collections compiled by Persian-speaking Hindu servants of the empire, such as Māḏurām’s Monšaʿāt-e Māḏurām (1708) giving samples of official correspondence from the end of Awrangzēb’s reign.
Indo-Persian naṣiḥat or advice literature is also extant, although harder to detect without familiarity with each and every historical or literary text, because the wordnaṣiḥat often does not appear in the titles of such works. Bābor’s autobiography, for example, is, at least in part, a piece of advice literature for his son and heir, Homāyun. The Fatāwā-ye jahāndāri of the Sultanate-era historian, Żiāʾ-al-Din Barani, might be put in the same category, which is sometimes indistinguishable from the “mirror for princes” genre. A particularly interesting example from the late Timurid-Mughal period at its furthermost geographic extent is ʿAbd-al-Hādi Karnātaki’s work, conveniently titled Naṣiḥat-nāma, a text that describes the chaos in the Madras region in the mid-18th century and urges large landholders and officials to take action before foreigners succeed in conquering the area. Few other extant Indo-Persian texts explicitly express this sense of a foreign—that is, European—threat, and also try to rally both Hindus and Muslims in a joint defense of Indian territory.
Conclusion. This article has primarily cited Indo-Persian historical and cultural texts. It has only alluded to Persian-language works on astronomy and calligraphy, while ignoring altogether science, mathematics, and philosophy, all of which are relevant for studying the history of the Sultanate and Timurid-Mughal eras. Calligraphy, for example, deserves a separate discussion, as it was an art that Timurid-Mughals cultivated and taught to their children, often employing well-known Persian calligraphers for the task. Other topics such as astrology and geography have also been omitted here, and only the briefest allusion has been made to the copious literature in Persian on music, another important art at the Timurid-Mughal court. Given the extraordinary number of Indo-Persian sources, it is unfortunately (and ironically) impossible to be encyclopedic. Nonetheless, the references here at least hint at the range and variety of Persian-language materials pertaining to South Asia during the Sultanate and Timurid-Mughal eras, which scholars of Persianate societies have only just begin to exploit.

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