Sunday, January 17, 2021




Emperor  Akbar spent a fortune in translating sacred texts of various religions into Persian. These texts were lavishly illuminated. For this, he created a translation department in his Darbaar that had many translators. Abdul Qadir Badayuni (1540–1615), historian and  the first Grand Mufti of India during Akbar’s rule,  was made overall in-charge of the translation section. Abdus Samad and Mir Syed Ali , artists from Shiraz were also engaged in the workshop that was set up at Fatehpur Sikri. More than hundred artists ( mostly Hindus)  were also brought from Gwalior ,Gujrat and Kashmir for completion of the task. 

  Ramayana and Mahabharta were also translated into Persian during this period. Mahabharata was translated by Naqib Khan. Many artists were also engaged for illuminating  Ramayana and Mahabharata. The prominent names in this category are Dharam Das  , Makara, Daud, Mahesh, Ahmed Kashmiri, Bhawani, Mohana, Narayan Khurd, Bhagwan and Lohanga.
This painting is a page from Mahabharata  ( Razmnama ) illuminated and translated during Akbar's rule.  Ahmed Kashmiri, the artist who did this painting has shown Arjuna attempting to quench the fire that Agni created to help his father-in-law, Niladhvaja, in his battle against Arjuna. This painting is held by the British Library (UK ).
Some paintings from Ramayana and Mahabharata in Persian translation are also lying with the Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York, Museum Rietberg, Christies and Asian Art Museum (San Francisco ).

Ain I Akbari informs us that Akbar would personally see the progress of artists on weekly basis. He would either increase the emoluments or give gifts to good artists. Abul Fazal writes that Basawan, Dasvanth, Nanha and Bishen Das were Akbar's favourite court  artists. Other artists  who were engaged included Kesu, Lal, Madhu ,Jagan and Mukund.

Ain-i Akbari also deals with Akbar’s administration, household, army, the revenues and geography of his empire. It provides rich details about the traditions and culture of the people living in India. It also gives statistical details about crops, yields, prices, wages, and revenues.

Akbar's  Darbaar had some the greatest artists, scholars, poets, and singers of the period . Akbar's  love for  art ,poetry, music  and knowledge made him collect  his “Nine Jewels or Naurattans” who excelled in their respective  fields . These nine jewels were :-

1. Birbal (Mahesh Das) the court Jester.
2. Miyan Tansen(Tanna Mishra) the court singer.
3. Abul  Fazl  (The chronologist) who wrote Ain I Akbari.
4. Faizi ( The court Poet)
5. Maharaja Man Singh (Army Consultant)
6. Fakir Aziz ud Din (Sufi Singer)
7. Mulla Do Piyaza (depicted as Birbal's Muslim counterpart)
8. RajaTodar Mal (Finance Consultant)
9. Abdul Rahim Khan e Khana (Writer of Hindi Couplets).

( Avtar Mota )


Badayuni wrote history of Akbar's rule in India wherein he criticized  the king for his practices ,which according to him,  were not in conformity with Islam. He also didn't like Akbar's liberal approach , reforms and elevation of non-muslims to key posts . This book on Akbar's rule remained concealed and was brought out only during the rule of Jahangir. Badayuni has also been critical of Abul Fazal .Abul Fazal,a  Vizir  in Akbar's court,  wrote Akbarnama in three volumes. Ain I Akbari  is the third volume of Akbarnama. He also translated the Bible into Persian . His details in Akbarnama are considered as realistic and have become the  major source of history with regard to Akbar's rule in India.

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