The Mughal and the Persian- barbs back and forth!
India, for much of the 13th-18th century period was under the Slaves, Turks,Afghans and later on,the celebrated Mughals.
In 1526, Babur, a a descendant of Ghenghis Khan and Tamerlame or Timur, descended upon the Indian plains from his perch in Central Asia and fought a pitched battle with Ibrahim Lodi, the then king of Delhi at Panipat, India. Lodi was an Afghan king.
Panipat is located a few hundred kilometres from Delhi and has seen at least 3 major battles for the Delhi throne.Close to Panipat is located Kurukshetra, the site of the Great War or Mahabharat.
The Great War was fought amongst the two warring sets of cousins, the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
For some reason, this area is haunted and armies have fought among themselves, murdering in thousands, for that throne of Delhi.
So, after worsting Lodi and later killing him, Babur marched to Delhi and the unfaithful bride that Delhi is, wed him as her lord.
Babur was the founder of the Mughal empire in India and his descendants were Humayun, Akbar,Jehangir and later Shahjehan.
We will talk about Shahjehan, the king who is credited with building Taj Mahal in Agra though there are several controversies about this claim. He laso built the Delhi Red Fort and the old Delhi city.
While the Moghuls were cementing their kingdom in India, the Persians or the Iranians were watching the Mughal’s moves were great interest.Afghanistan was their area of interest and quite a number of times the two dynasties conflicted over the control of the Afghans.The bitterness was all evident.
The Persian ambassador to the Moghul court carried this bitterness and the attendant sense of superiority in his heart.After all, the Persians considered themselves to be of a more royal blood and carrying the strains of the ancient kings like Darius, Xerxes and Cyrus!
The Mughals considered matrimonial relations with the Persians a matter of honor and racially uplifting.Many princes had Persian wives and it was considered de rigor off springs of these ladies would later become the king of India.
The Mughal king, Shahjehan, on the other hand treated the ambassador with disdain and was determined to show the envoy his place in the court!
One day, the Mughal plotted to inflict embarrassment on the envoy by having a canopy erected in such a manner that the latter had to bow his head while entering the court of the Mughal. No way, the envoy said to himself and proceeded to enter the room with his back turned toward the king!
Shahjehan was incensed..O fool, he thundered, are you an ass that you are entering this august assembly in this manner?The ambassador answered coolly, O King, in our country, we enter the asses’ stables in this manner only!The entire assembly was stunned but the king could not do anything.Persia was much much militarily stronger than the Mughal empire.
The insults and barbs continued.
After Shahjehan completed the construction of Shajehanabad-now known as Old Delhi- he invited the envoy for a tour of the city and asked for his opinion.
After travelling together for a few miles in the Delhi streets and a boat ride together in the Yamuna, the king requested the envoy for his opinion.
The ambassador, without batting an eyelid remarked-O King, while Delhi is like a moon on the fourteenth night, my capital is like a new moon night!The king was mightily pleased with this remark.
But, a few discerning courtiers saw through this remark.The ambassador was really hinting that the Mughal empire was actually disintegrating while the Persian empire was still in its infancy and on path to glory!
The Mughal-Persian relations were not that pleasant during this phase of the Mughal rule.
There are other instances of the unpleasant exchange of barbs between the two personalities, but for brevity, I shall stop here.