A Mughal munšī at work : conflicts and emotions in Mustaʿidd Ḫān's Maʾāsir-i ʿĀlamgīrī : a narratological investigation
Title: A Mughal munšī at work : conflicts and emotions in Mustaʿidd Ḫān's Maʾāsir-i ʿĀlamgīrī : a narratological investigation
Author: KULKE, Tilmann
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2016
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
Aurangzīb has generally been described as a Mughal villain, who, through his intolerant religious policy and temple destructions, ushered in the empire’s later downfall. This negative image also stains Mustaʿidd Ḫān (died 1724) and his chronicle, the Maʾāsir-i ʿĀlamgīrī (written between 1707-1710), which covers the whole reign of the once mighty emperor. However, many important aspects have been overlooked in this classic narrative. First, Mustaʿidd Ḫān, as a munšī, was a long-term member of the cosmopolitan Indo-Persian intelligentsia. In order to write this important chronicle, he had to collaborate with the text’s patron ʿInāyat Allāh Ḫān (died 1726), a blind admirer of Aurangzīb’s most controversial decisions. As will be shown, these two opposing characters are an important reason for the dichotomies in the text. Equally, as Mustaʿidd Ḫān wrote the chronicle, the empire was thrown into one of its worst crises in decades: it thus was obvious that Aurangzīb had made mistakes during his reign. Aurangzīb’s successor Šāh ʿAlam Bahādur (gov. 1707-1212), the text’s main recipient, distinguished himself from his father in many points, and he now had to pay for Aurangzīb’s errors. Our author had to react to all of these issues. It will be shown that the Maʾāsir-i ʿĀlamgīrī is a very complex narrative and much more multifarious than previously thought. It is not only a chronicle about the past and a glorification of an emperor who destroyed temples; rather, I argue, it is also a future-oriented text that called for new forms of government. It should therefore be described as an agenda 1710 for the new Šāh. Through a detailed narratological analysis of the Maʾāsir-i ʿĀlamgīrī, we come to understand how the author wrote history in a time of crisis and how he understood the notion of a just Muslim government in the years following Aurangzīb’s death.
Defence date: 17 May 2016; Examining Board: Professor Flores, Jorge, European University Institute, Florence (EUI); Professor Molà, Luca, European University Institute, Florence (EUI); Professor Conermann, Stephan, University of Bonn (External Supervisor); Professor Gommans, Jos, Leiden University (External Supervisor).
Type of Access: openAccess