VIII. My experiences in Hindustan.
In Multan I only visited the graves of the Sheikhs Baha-ed-din Zekeria, Rukneddin, and Sadreddin. I received a blessing from Sheikh Mohammed Radjva, and, after receiving permission to continue my journey from Sultan Mirmiram Mirza Hasan, we proceeded toward Lahore. In Sadkere I visited Sheikh Hamid, received his blessing, and in the first days of the Month Shawwal we came to Lahore. The political state of the country was as follows: After the death of Selim Shah, a son of Shir Khan the former Sovereign of Hindustan, Iskender Khan, had come to the throne. When the Padishah Humayun heard this he immediately left Kabul and marched his army to India, took Lahore, and fought Iskender Khan near Sahrand. He won the battle and took 400 elephants, besides several cannon and 400 chariots. Iskender Khan escaped to the fortress of Mankut, and Humayun sent Shah Abul-Maali with a detachment of soldiers after him.
Humayun himself proceeded to his residence at Delhi, and dispatched his officers to different places. The Ozbeg, Iskender Khan, he sent to Agra, and others to Firuz-shah Senbel/1/, Bayana, and Karwitch. War raged on all sides, and when I arrived at Lahore the Governor, Mirza Shah, would not let me continue my journey until I had seen the Padishah (Humayun). After sending the latter word of my arrival, he received orders to send me forthwith to Delhi. Meanwhile a whole month had been wasted, but finally we were sent off with an escort. The river Sultanpoor was crossed in boats, and after a journey of 20 days we arrived, toward the end of Dulkaada, by the route of Firuzshah/2/, in the capital of India, called Delhi.
As soon as Humayun heard of our arrival he sent the Khanikhanan/3/ and other superior officers with 400 elephants and some thousand men to meet us; and out of respect and regard for our glorious Padishah, we were accorded a brilliant reception. That same day the Khanikhanan prepared a great banquet in our honour; and as it is the custom in India to give audience in the evening, I was that night introduced with much pomp and ceremony into the Imperial hall. After my presentation I offered the Emperor a small gift, and a Chronogram upon the conquest of India, also two Ghazels, all of which pleased the Padishah greatly.
Forthwith I begged for permission to continue my journey, but this was not granted. Instead of that I was offered a Kulur/4/ and the governorship over the district of Kharcha. I refused, and again begged to be allowed to go, but for only answer I was told that I must at least remain for one year, to which I replied: "By special command of my glorious Padishah I went by sea to fight the miserable unbelievers. Caught in a terrible hurricane, I was wrecked off the coast of India; but it is now my plain duty to return to render an account to my Padishah, and it is to be hoped that Gujarat will soon be delivered out of the hands of the unbelievers." Upon this Humayun suggested the sending of an envoy to Constantinople, to save my going, but this I could not agree to, for it would give the impression that I had purposely arranged it so. I persisted in my entreaties, and he finally consented, adding, however: "We are now close upon the three months of continuous Birshegal (i.e., the rainy season). The roads are flooded and impassable; remain therefore till the weather improves. Meanwhile calculate solar and lunar eclipses, their degree of latitude, and their exact date in the calendar. Assist our astrologers in studying the course of the sun, and instruct us concerning the points of the Equator. When all this is done, and the weather should improve before the three months are over, then thou shalt go hence."
All this was said solemnly and decisively. I had no alternative, but must submit to my fate. I took no rest, however, but labored on night and day. At last I had accomplished the astronomical observations, and about the same time Agra fell into the hands of the Padishah. I immediately wrote a Chronogram for the occasion, which found much favor. One day, during an audience, the conversation turned upon Sultan Mahmud of Bukkur, and I suggested that some official contract (Ahdnameh = "agreement") should be made with him, to which Humayun agreed. The document was drawn up, and the Emperor, dipping his fist in saffron, pressed it upon the paper, this being the Tughra, or Imperial signature. Thereupon the document was sent to Sultan Mahmud.
The Sultan was much pleased, and both he and his Vizier Molla Yari expressed their thanks for my intervention in a private letter, which I showed to his Majesty, who had entrusted me with the transaction.
This incident furnished the material for a Ghazel, with which the Sovereign was so delighted that he called me a second Mir Ali Shir/5/. I modestly declined the epithet, saying that it would be presumption on my part to accept such praise, that on the contrary, I should consider myself fully rewarded to be allowed to gather up the gleanings after him. Whereupon the Sovereign remarked: "If for one more year thou perfectest thyself in this kind of poetry, thou wilt altogether supplant Mir Ali Shir in the affections of the people of the Djagatais." In a word, Humayun loaded me with marks of his favour.
One day I was talking to Khoshhal, the Imperial archer, and the Sovereign's special confidant; a superb youth. He used to take part in the poetical discussions, and provided me with material for two Ghazels, which soon became popular all over India and were in everybody's mouth. The same good fortune attended my acquaintance with the Afetabedji/6/, Abdurrahman Bey, a courtier who also rejoiced in the confidence and affection of the Monarch, and was his constant companion in private life. He also entered the poetical contest, and I composed two Ghazels upon him.
In a word, poetical discussions were the order of the day, and I was constantly in the presence of the Emperor. One day he asked me whether Turkey was larger than India, and I said: "If by Turkey your Majesty means Rum proper, i.e., the province of Siwas/7/, then India is decidedly the larger; but if by Turkey you mean all the lands subject to the ruler of Rum, India is not by a tenth part as large." "I mean the entire Empire," replied Humayun." "Then," I said, "it appears to me, your Majesty, that the seven regions over which Iskender (i.e., Alexander the Great) had dominion, were identical with the present Empire of the Padishah of Turkey. History records the life and the reign of Iskender, but it is not reasonable to suppose that he actually visited and personally ruled these seven regions, for the inhabited world (the fourth part of the present inhabited world) is 180 degrees longitude, and from the equator about 60 degrees latitude. Its area, according to astronomical calculations, covers 1,668,670 fersakhes. It is therefore an utter impossibility for any man to visit and govern all these lands in person. Perhaps he only owned a portion of each of these regions (Iklim), in the same way as the Padishah of Turkey does."
"But has the ruler of Turkey possessions in all these regions?" asked Humayun. "Yes, certainly," I replied, "the first is Yemen, the second Mecca, the third Egypt, the fourth Aleppo, the fifth Constantinople, the sixth Kaffa, and the seventh Ofen and Vienna/8/. In each of these regions the Padishah of Turkey appoints his Beglerbeg and Qadi, who rule and govern in his name. Moreover, I was told in Gujarat by the merchants Khodja Bashi and Kara Hasan (God alone knows whether their story is true), that when the Turkish merchants in China desired to insert the name of their Sovereign in the Bairam prayers on Bairamday, they brought the request before the Khakan of China, stating that their Sovereign was Padishah of Mecca, Medina, and the Kibla (Direction of the prayer), and therefore entitled to have his name inserted in the Bairam prayers. The Khakan, although an unbeliever, had insight enough to see the justice of their request, which he granted forthwith; he even went so far as to clothe the Khatib/9/ in a robe of honour and to make him ride on an elephant through the city. Ever since that time the name of the Padishah of Turkey has been included in the Bairam prayers, and to whom, I ask, has such honour ever before been vouchsafed?" The Sovereign (Humayun), turning to his nobles, said: "Surely the only man worthy to bear the title of Padishah is the ruler of Turkey, he alone and no one else in all the world."
Another time we were talking about the Khan of the Crimea, and I remarked that he also held his office under the Padishah of Turkey. "But," said Humayun, "if that be so, how, then, has he the right of the Khutbe?" "It is a well-known fact," I replied, "that my Padishah alone has the power to grant the right of Khutbe and of coinage." This statement seemed to satisfy everybody, and we prayed together for the welfare of my Sovereign.
One day the Emperor planned a little excursion on horseback to visit the graves of the holy Sheikhs of Delhi [[=correcting V's "Lahore"]], and I accompanied him. We visited the graves of Shah Kutbeddin, the Pir of Delhi, of Sheikh Nizam Weli, Sheikh Ferid Shekr-Ghendj, Mir Khosru Dehlevi, and Mir Husein Dehlevi. When the conversation turned upon the poetical works of Mir Khosru I quoted some of his best poems, and under their influence I conceived a most telling distich. I turned to the Emperor, saying, "It would be presumption on my part to measure my powers against those of Mir Khosru/10/, but he has inspired me, and I would fain recite my couplet before your Majesty." "Let us hear it," said Humayun, and I recited the following:
"Truly great is only he who can be content with his daily bread."By God," cried the monarch, "this is truly sublime!"
For happier is he than all the kings of the earth."
It is not so much my object here to make mention of my poetic effusions, but rather to show up Humayun's appreciation of poetry.
On another occasion I called upon Shahin Bey, the keeper of the Imperial Seal, and asked him to use his influence to obtain permission for me to depart. In order not to come empty-handed I brought him two Ghazels, and begged him urgently to intercede for me. Shahin Bey promised to do his best, and one day he actually brought me the glad news that my petition had been granted, but that I was expected to offer my request formally in verse. The rainy season was now at an end, I wrote to the monarch, enclosing two Ghazels, which had the desired effect, for I received not only permission to leave, but also presents and letters of safe conduct.
All was ready for the start. Humayun had given audience on Friday evening, when, upon leaving his castle of pleasure, the Muezzin announced the Ezan just as he was descending the staircase. It was his wont, wherever he heard the summons, to bow the knee in holy reverence. He did so now, but unfortunately fell down several steps, and received great injuries to his head and arm. Truly the proverb rightly says, "There is no guarding against fate."
Everything was confusion in the palace, but for two days they kept the matter secret. It was announced to the outer world that the Sovereign was in good health, and alms were distributed amongst the poor. On the third day, however, that was on the Monday, he died of his wounds/11/. Well may the Koran say, "We come from God and to him do we return."
His son Djelaleddin Ekber was at the time away on a journey to visit Shah Ebul Maali, accompanied by the Khanikhanan/12/. He was immediately informed of the sad event. Meanwhile the Khans and Sultans were in the greatest consternation; they did not know how to act. I tried to encourage them and told them how at the death of Sultan Selim the situation was saved by the wisdom of Piri Pasha, who managed to prevent the news of his death from being noised abroad. I suggested that by taking similar measures, they might keep the Sovereign's death a secret until the Prince should return.
This advice was followed. The divan (council of state) met as usual, the nobles were summoned, and a public announcement was made that the Emperor intended to visit his country-seat, and would go there on horseback. Soon after, however, it was announced that on account of the unfavorable weather the trip had to be abandoned. On the next day a public audience was announced, but as the astrologers did not prophesy favorably for it, this also had to be given up. All this, however, somewhat alarmed the army, and on the Tuesday it was thought advisable to give them a sight of their monarch. A man called Molla Bi, who bore a striking resemblance to the late Emperor, only somewhat slighter of stature, was arrayed in the imperial robes and placed on a throne specially erected for the purpose in the large entrance hall. His face and eyes were veiled. The Chamberlain Khoshhal Bey stood behind, and the first Secretary in front of him, while many officers and dignitaries, as well as the people from the riverside, on seeing their Sovereign, made joyful obeisance to the sound of festive music. The physicians were handsomely rewarded, and the recovery of the monarch was universally credited.
I took leave of all the grandees, and with the news of the Emperor's recovery I reached Lahore about the middle of the month Rebiul Evvel. This was on a Thursday. Traveling by the way of Sani-Pata, Pani-Pata, Kirnat, and Tani Sera, I came to Samani/13/, where I communicated the news to the Governor that the Padishah (Humayun) was giving audiences, and that he was in good health/14/. From there I went by the road of Sahrandi to Matchuvara/15/ and Bachuvara/16/, and crossing the Sultanpoor by boat I returned to Lahore by a forced march. Meanwhile Prince Djelaleddin Ekber had ascended the throne, and in Lahore and many other places his name was inserted in the Friday prayers. Mirza Shah, the Governor of Lahore, however, would not permit me to leave, for he professed to have received orders from the new Emperor that no one was to be allowed to go to Kabul and Kandahar. The only way therefore was to go back to the Emperor (Ekber), and accordingly I went as far as Kelnor, where I met Djelaleddin Ekber and the Khanikhanan just opposite the fortress of Mankit/17/.
I was informed through Molla Pir Mehemmed/18/ the Khodja of Bairam Khan, that during the interregnum I should remain where I was, and that in a short time he would appoint me to some post either in Hind or Sind, whichever I preferred. I hastened to produce my ferman given to me by the late Padishah, presenting him at the same time with a Chronogram on the death of his father. My verses pleased the Mirza and, after examining the ferman of his father, he gave me leave to continue my journey, stipulating, however, that I should travel in company with the four Begs which he was about to send with troops to Kabul.
Ebul Maali/19/, who meanwhile had been taken prisoner, was confined in the castle of Lahore. In return for my Chronogram I received a Lakh [[=100,000 rupees]] for traveling expenses, and began to prepare for my journey with the four Begs. Amongst the many strange and wonderful things I saw in India I must make mention of a few. The unbelievers are called in Gujarat "Banian," and in India "Hindu." They do not belong to the Ehl-i-Kitab/20/, and believe in fate (kadem-i-alem). When a man dies his body is burnt by the riverside. If the deceased leaves a wife past child-bearing she is not burnt; if, however, she is not past that age she is unconditionally burnt. If a wife of her own free will offers herself to be burnt, the relations celebrate the occasion with great rejoicings. Should the Mahommedans interfere and forcibly prevent the self-sacrifice, fate decrees that their king must die(?), and no other be raised. For this reason, officers of the Padishah are always present on such occasions, to prevent any act of violence/21/.
Another curious custom is the use of tame gazelles in hunting A noose is lightly thrown over their antlers, and then they are driven to mix with the wild gazelles. Like seeks like, and the latter soon make up to their tame companions, bringing their heads in close proximity to those of the others. The noose which is round the antlers of the tame animal falls over the head of the other and pulls it down. The more it struggles the more it gets entangled, and cannot possibly escape. This method is in use all over India.
Buffaloes are very plentiful in the steppes. They are hunted with elephants. Turrets are placed on the elephant's back, in which several men are hidden. Thus they traverse the plain, and as soon as the elephant comes up with the buffalo he attacks him with his teeth and holds him till the hunters get off his back and capture him. Wild oxen (Gaukutas)/22/ are hunted in a similar manner, but they are much stronger than other animals of their kind, and their tongue is supposed to have such force that they can kill a man with it. The Emperor Humayun once told me a story to the effect that one of these wild oxen, having overtaken a man, flayed him with his tongue from head to foot. The Emperor vouched for the truth of this story with an oath. The best kutas are found in the land of Bahr-itch; perhaps that accounts for their being called Bahri-Kutas (which means sea-kutas), although they belong unquestionably to the terrestrial animals. I might go on enumerating many more interesting and curious things to be seen in India, but it would keep me too long.
About the middle of Rebiul Evvel we left for Kabul. We crossed the River Lahore in ships, and came presently to another large stream, which had to be crossed. Finding no ships at hand, we built a raft of barrels and chairs, and so managed to reach the other side. Next we came to Bahara, where another river had to be crossed, this time in ships. When I told the Governor (Khodja) of this place what Ekber had commanded, he exclaimed, "God be merciful! As the Padishah was dead, we have not collected the taxes; the people still owe them. I will send round, collect the moneys, and hand them over to you." The Mir Babu's and the other Begs who were of the company consulted together and decided that as Shah Abul Maali had escaped from his prison in Lahore, and might possibly have taken refuge with his brother Kihmerd Bey in Kabul, it would not be safe for them to delay, but they suggested that I should wait till the tribute-money was collected, and follow them as soon as I could.
But I argued that the roads were unsafe and dangerous, and that it would be much better to keep all together. I acted on the principle that "The contented mind shall be satisfied and the covetous man shall be humbled." So I relinquished my claim upon the tribute-money and continued my journey with the others. After crossing the rivers Khoshab/23/ and Nilab/24/ in ships, I set foot upon the shore of Bakhtar/25/.
/1/ A place in the District of Muradabad, in the Northeast of India.
/2/ Also called Firuzpoor, in Penjab.
/3/ i.e., Khan of the Khans, like the Mirimiran of the Persians, and the Beglerbeghi of the Turks.
/4/ Kurur = 10,000,000 Rupies = one Million Pounds Sterling.
/5/ Mir Ali Shir, the greatest poet of the Turks in Central Asia, born, according to Khondemir, in the year 844 (1440) and died in H.906 (1500). He wrote under the name of Newai. His compositions, which are unquestionably superior to any other East Turkish productions, enjoy to this day great popularity amongst the Turks of the interior of Asia.
/6/ Afetabe = water-basin, and Afetabedji = he who holds the water-basin; a high court dignity in Central Asia, and later on also among the Moguls in India.
/7/ Our author means by Siwas the old seat of the Ottomans, but in India and in Central Asia, Rum is generally understood to stand for the West, and more particularly for the Ottoman Empire.
/8/ As the Turks never conquered Vienna, this is a mere boast on the part of the Turkish Admiral. Possibly, in the far East the news of the conquest of Vienna may have found credence, for the campaigns of Suleiman against Vienna fall about this time.
/9/ Khatib is the name of the Mollah who on Fridays says the Khutbe or Friday prayer in which the names of the Khalifa and of the local ruler are inserted.
/10/ Mir Khosru Dehlevi (i.e., from Delhi), one of the greatest poets of India, born 651 (1253), died 725 (1324). He wrote in Persian, which language had been introduced into India with the spread of Islam.
/11/ Elphinstone in the 'History of India' (P. 472) relates his death as follows: "He had been walking on the terrace of his library, and was descending the stairs (which in such situations are narrow steps on the outside of the building and only guarded by an ornamental parapet about a foot high). Hearing the call to prayers from the minarets, he stopped, as is usual on such occasions, repeated the creed, and sat down on the steps till the crier had done. He then endeavoured to rise, supporting himself on his staff; the staff slipped on the polished marble of the steps, and the king fell headlong over the parapet. He was stunned at the time and although he soon recovered his senses, the injury he had received was beyond care."
/12/ This is meant for Bairam Khan, the faithful follower of Humayun and later on the Atabek (tutor) of Ekber.
/13/ On modern English Maps of India, these names are given as Sonpat, Panipat, Karnal, Tanesar, and Samani, in the same order, on the way from Delhi to Lahore.
/14/ Very striking is the want of reserve wherewith this lie is spread to serve a political purpose.
/15/ Matchivara, a town in Panjab in Ludhiana.
/16/ Perhaps Bachrewan, a town in the province of Oudh?
/17/ A stronghold built by Selim Shah on the boundary mountains of Sewalik, against the Sakkars (Elphinstone p. 496).
/18/ Elphinstone, 'History of India', page 498, calls this man Pir Mohamed, the teacher or tutor of Ekber, while our author calls him Khodja Bairam Khan.
/19/ Ebul Maali, a Said from Kashgar who had entered the service of Humayun in 1551. He had rebelled against Ekber and had taken possession of Kabul, where he was afterwards defeated and imprisoned in Lahore. He died in 1563. (Elphinstone p. 563).
/20/ Literally: Believers in the Book; these, therefore, have none of the four Sacred Books, viz. Koran, Tevrat, Gospels, and Psalms. Consequently they are Heathen.
/21/ The burning of widows (Suttee) has in recent times been put a stop to by the English, and it is very characteristic that the Moghls had, long before that time, endeavoured to check the custom.
/22/ Also called Khutaz and Kudaz, a kind of horned cattle. Their tail is used as an ornament to hang round the horse's neck.
/23/Khoshab, the name of a town in Penjab, situated on the river Djehlam, and not the name of the river itself, as our author states.
/24/ Nilab, blue water, cannot possibly be the river Kabul.
/25/ Bakhtar-Zemin = Bakhtar-land, i.e., Bactria.
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