Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 1)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



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X                                    PREFACE.

mathie Fersane, &c., par Ch. Schefer, Paris, 1883, i. p.
107 of the Persian text), there is a story of a practical
joke which Mahmud played on Alberuni as an astrolo¬
ger. Whether this be historic truth or a late invention,
anyhow the story does not throw much light on the
author's situation in a period of his life which is the
most interesting to us, that one, namely, when he
commenced to study India, Sanskrit and Sanskrit

Historic tradition failing us, we are reduced to a
single source of information—the author's work—and
must examine to what degree his personal relations are
indicated by his own words. When he wrote. King
Muhmud had been dead only a few weeks. Ze roi est
mort—but to whom was Vive le roi to be addressed ?

Two heirs claimed the throne, Muhammad and
Mas'lid, and were marching against each other to settle
their claims by the sword. Under these circumstances
it comes out as a characteristic fact that the book has
no dedication whatever, either to the memory of Mah-
mild, or to one of the rival princes, or to any of the
indifferent or non-political princes of the royal house.
As a cautious politician, he awaited the issue of the
contest; but when the dice had been thrown, and
Mas'ud was firmly established on the throne of his
father, he at once hastened to dedicate to him the
greatest work of his life, the Canon Masudicus. If he
had been affected by any feeling of sincere gratitude,
he might have erected in the 'IvSt^a a monument to
the memory of the dead king, under whose rule he had
made the necessary preparatory studies, and might have
praised him as the great propagator of Islam, without
probably incurring any risk. He has not done so, and
the terms in which he speaks of Mahmud throughout
his book are not such as a man would use when speak¬
ing of a deceased person who had been his benefactor.

He is called simply The Amir Mahvi'dd, ii. 13 (Arabic
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