|Source: Abu'l-Fazl 'Allami, A'IN-I AKBARI (3 vols.). Vol 1 trans. by H. Blochmann, 1927. Vol. 1, pp. 1-10. Ed. *ZDJ*|
It is proper for a man of true knowledge to praise God not only in words, but also in deeds, and to endeavor to obtain everlasting happiness, by putting the window of his heart opposite the slit of his pen, and describing some of the wondrous works of the Creator. Perhaps the luster of royalty may shine upon him, and its light enable him to gather a few drops from the ocean, and a few atoms from the endless field of God's works. He will thus obtain everlasting felicity and render fertile the dreary expanse of words and deeds.
I, Abu'l-Fazl, son of Mubarak, return thanksgiving to God by singing the praises of royalty, and by stringing its kingly pearls upon the thread of description; but it is not my intention to make mankind, for the first time, acquainted with the glorious deeds and excellent virtues of that remarkable man, who clothes our wonderful world in new colors, and is an ornament to God's noble creation. It would be absurd on my part to speak about that which is known; I should make myself the butt of the learned. It is only my personal knowledge of him, a priceless jewel, which I send to the market place of the world, and my heart feels proud of being engaged in such an undertaking. But it could not have been from self-laudation that I have taken upon myself to carry out so great a task—a work which even heavenly beings would find beset with difficulties; for such a motive would expose my inability and shortsightedness. My sole object in writing this work was, first, to impart to all that take an interest in this auspicious century, a knowledge of the wisdom, magnanimity, and energy of him who understands the minutest indications of all things, created and divine, striding as he does over the field of knowledge; and, secondly to leave future generations a noble legacy. The payment of a debt of gratitude is an ornament of life and a provision for man's last journey. There may be some in this world of ambitious strife, where natures are so different, desires so numerous, equity so rare, and guidance so scarce, who, by making use of this source of wisdom, will escape from the perplexities of the endless chaos of knowledge and deeds. It is with this aim that I describe some of the regulations of the great King, thus leaving for far and near, a standard work of wisdom. In doing so, I have, of course, to speak of the exalted position of a king, and also to describe the condition of those who are assistants in this great office.
No dignity is higher in the eyes of God than royalty; and those who are wise, drink from its auspicious fountain. A sufficient proof of this, for those who require one, is the fact that royalty is a remedy for the spirit of rebellion, and the reason why subjects obey. Even the meaning of the word padhishah shows this; for pad signifies stability and possession, and shah means origin, lord. A king is, therefore, the origin of stability and possession. If royalty did not exist, the storm of strife would never subside, nor selfish ambition disappear. Mankind, being under the burden of lawlessness and lust, would sink into the pit of destruction, the world, this great marketplace, would lose its prosperity, and the whole earth become a barren waste. But by the light of imperial justice, some follow with cheerfulness the road of obedience, whilst others abstain from violence through fear of punishment; and out of necessity make choice of the path of rectitude. Shah is also a name given to one who surpasses his fellows, as you may see from words like shah-suwar, shah-rah; it is also a term applied to a bridegroom—the world, as the bride, betroths herself to the King, and becomes his worshipper.
Silly and shortsighted men cannot distinguish a true king from a selfish ruler. Nor is this remarkable, as both have in common a large treasury, a numerous army, clever servants, obedient subjects, an abundance of wise men, a multitude of skilful workmen, and a superfluity of means of enjoyment. But men of deeper insight remark a difference. In the case of the former, the things just now enumerated, are lasting; but in that of the latter, of short duration. The former does not attach himself to these things, as his object is to remove oppression and provide for everything which is good. Security, health, chastity, justice, polite manners, faithfulness, truth, an increase of sincerity, etc., are the result. The latter is kept in bonds by the external forms of royal power, by vanity, the slavishness of men, and the desire of enjoyment; hence, everywhere there is insecurity, unsettledness, strife, oppression, faithlessness, robbery.
Royalty is a light emanating from God, and a ray from the sun, the illuminator of the universe, the argument of the book of perfection, the receptacle of all virtues. Modern language calls this light farr-i izidi (the divine light), and the tongue of antiquity called it kiyan khura (the sublime halo). It is communicated by God to kings without the intermediate assistance of any one, and men, in the presence of it, bend the forehead of praise towards the ground of submission. Again, many excellent qualities flow from the possession of this light. 1. A paternal love towards the subjects. Thousands find rest in the love of the King; and sectarian differences do not raise the dust of strife. In his wisdom, the King will understand the spirit of the age, and shape his plans accordingly. 2. A large heart. The sight of anything disagreeable does not unsettle him; nor is want of discrimination for him a source of disappointment. His courage steps in. His divine firmness gives him the power of requital, nor does the high position of an offender interfere with it. The wishes of great and small are attended to, and their claims meet with no delay at his hands. 3. A daily increasing trust in God. When he performs an action, he considers God, as the real doer of it (and himself as the medium), so that a conflict of motives can produce no disturbance. 4. Prayer and devotion. The success of his plans will not lead him to neglect, nor will adversity cause him to forget, God, and madly trust in man. He puts the reins of desire into the hands of reason; in the wide field of his desires he does not permit himself to be trodden down by restlessness, nor will he waste his precious time in seeking after that which is improper. He makes wrath, the tyrant, pay homage to wisdom, so that blind rage may not get the upper hand, and inconsiderateness overstep the proper limits. He sits on the eminence of propriety, so that those who have gone astray have a way left to return without exposing their bad deeds to the public gaze. When he sits in judgment, the petitioner seems to be the judge, and he himself, on account of his mildness, the suitor for justice. He does not permit petitioners to be delayed on the path of hope; he endeavors to promote the happiness of the creatures in obedience to the will of the Creator, and never seeks to please the people in contradiction to reason. He is forever searching after those who speak the truth, and is not displeased with words that seem bitter, but are in reality sweet. He considers the nature of the words and the rank of the speaker. He is not content with not committing violence, but he must see that no injustice is done within his realm.
He is continually attentive to the health of the body politic, and applies remedies to the several diseases thereof. And in the same manner that the equilibrium of the animal constitution depends upon an equal mixture of the elements, so also does the political constitution become well tempered by a proper division of ranks; and by means of the warmth of the ray of unanimity and concord, a multitude of people become fused into one body.
The people of the world may be divided into four classes.— 1. Warriors, who in the political body have the nature of fire. Their flames, directed by understanding, consume the straw and rubbish of rebellion and strife, but kindle also the lamp of rest in this world of disturbances. 2. Artificers and merchants, who hold the place of air. From their labors and travels, God's gifts become universal, and the breeze of contentment nourishes the rose-tree of life. 3. The learned, such as the philosopher, the physician, the arithmetician, the geometrician, the astronomer, who resemble water. From their pen and their wisdom, a river rises in the drought of the world, and the garden of the creation receives from their irrigating powers a peculiar freshness. 4. Husbandmen and laborers, who may be compared to earth. By their exertions, the staple of life is brought to perfection, and strength and happiness flow from their work.
It is therefore obligatory for a king to put each of these in its proper place, and by uniting personal ability with due respect for others, to cause the world to flourish.
And as the grand political body maintains its equilibrium by the above four ranks of men, so does royalty receive its final tint from a similar fourfold division.
1. The nobles of the state, who in reliance on their position lead everything to a happy issue. Illuminating the battlefield with the halo of devotedness, they make no account of their lives. These fortunate courtiers resemble fire, being ardent in devotion, and consuming in dealing with foes. At the head of this class is the Vakil, who from his having attained by his wisdom the four degrees of perfection, is the emperor's lieutenant in all matters connected with the realm and the household. He graces the Council by his wisdom, and settles with penetration the great affairs of the realm. Promotion and degradation, appointment and dismissal, depend on his insight. It requires, therefore an experienced man who possesses wisdom, nobility of mind, affability, firmness, magnanimity, a man able to be at peace with anyone, who is frank, single-minded towards relations and strangers, impartial to friends and enemies, who weighs his words, is skilful in business, well-bred, esteemed, known to be trustworthy, sharp and farsighted, acquainted with the ceremonies of the court, cognizant of the State secrets, prompt in transacting business, unaffected by the multiplicity of his duties. He should consider it his duty to promote the wishes of others, and base his actions on a due regard to the different ranks of men, treating even his inferiors with respect, from the desire of attaching to himself the hearts of all. He takes care not to commit improprieties in conversation, and guards himself from bad actions. Although the financial offices are not under his immediate superintendence, yet he received the returns from the heads of all financial offices, and wisely keeps abstracts of their returns.
The Mir-mal [officer in charge of the Emperor’s private purse], the Keeper of the Seal, the Mir-bakhshi [Paymaster of the Court], the Bar-begi [an officer who presents individuals at Court], the Qurbegi [bearer of the Imperial insignia], the Mir-tozak [Master of Ceremonies], the Mir-bahri [Harbor-master General and Admiral], the Mirr-barr [Superintendent of the Imperial Forests], the Mir-Manzil [Quarter-master General of the Court], the Khwansalar [Superintendent of the Imperial Kitchen], the Munshi [Private Secretary], the Qush-begi [Superintendent of the Aviaries], the Akhtabegi [Superintendent of the Stud], belong to this class. Every one of them ought to be sufficiently acquainted with the work of the others.
2. The assistants of victory, the collectors and those entrusted with income and expenditure, who in the administration resemble wind, at times a heart-rejoicing breeze, at other times a hot, pestilential blast. The head of this division is the Vizier, also called Diwan. He is the lieutenant of the Emperor in financial matters, superintends the imperial treasuries, and checks all accounts. He is the banker of the cash of the revenue, the cultivator of the wilderness of the world. He must be a member of the Divine Faith, a skilful arithmetician, free from avarice, circumspect, warm-hearted abstinent, active in business, pleasing in his style, clear in his writings, truthful, a man of integrity, condescending, zealous in his work. He is in reality a bookkeeper. He explains all matters which appear too intricate for the Mustawf [Deputy Diwan (revenue collector)]; and whatever is beyond his own ability he refers to the Vakil. The Mustawf, the Sahib-i Fawji [Accountant of the Army], the Awarja Nawis [Accountant of the daily expenditure at Court], the Mir-Saman [officer in charge of the Court furniture, stores, etc.], the Nazir-i Buyutat, [Superintendent of the Imperial workshops], the Diwan-i Buyutat [Accountant of the Imperial workshops], the Mushrif [Clerk] of the Treasury; the Waqi’a Nawis [Recorder], the Amil [Collector] of the domains, are under his orders, and act by the force of his wisdom.
Some princes consider the office of the Vizier as a part of that of the Vakil, and are anxious to find in their realm a man who possesses the excellent qualities of these two pillars of the edifice of the State. But as they are not always able to find a person qualified for the office of a Vakil, they make choice of a man who has some of his qualities, and appoint him as Mushrif-i Diwan, which office is higher in rank than that of the Diwan, but lower than that of the Vakil.
3. The companions of the king, who are the ornaments of the court by the light of their wisdom, the ray of their sharp-sightedness, their knowledge of the times, their intimate acquaintance with human nature, their frankness and polite address. Through the excellence of their religious faith and good will, thousands open in the market place of the world the stores of virtue. Wisely fettering ambition on the battle-field of the world, they extinguish the sparks of wrath by the rain of their wisdom; whence they resemble water in the affairs of the body political. When they are of a mild temperament, they remove the dust of affliction from the hearts of men, and bestow freshness upon the meadow of the nation; but if they depart from moderation, they inundate the world with a deluge of calamity, so that numbers are driven by the flood of misfortunes into the current of utter extinction.
At the head of this class stands the philosopher, who with the assistance of his wisdom and example purifies the morals of the nation, and girds himself with the noble aim of putting the welfare of mankind upon a sound basis. The Sadr [Chief Justice and Administrator General of the empire] the Mir-Adl [Officer who passes sentence of a court case], the Qazi [Judge], the physician, the astronomer, the poet, the soothsayer, belong to this class.
4. The servants who at court perform the duties about the king. They occupy in the system of the State the position of earth. As such, they lie on the high road of submission, and in dust before the majesty of the king. If free from chaff and dross, they are like an elixir for the body; otherwise they are dust and dirt upon the face of success. The table servant, the armor bearer, the servants in charge of the sharbat and the water, the servant in charge of the mattresses and the wardrobe, belong to this class.
If the king be waited on by servants to whom good fortune has given excellent qualities, there arises sometimes a harmony, which is like a nosegay from the flower-bed of auspiciousness.
Just as the welfare of the whole world depends upon the successful working of the above-mentioned four classes, as settled by kings, so does the body politic depend upon the proper formation of the latter four divisions.
The sages of antiquity mention the following four persons as the chief supports of the State:— 1. An upright collector, who protects the Husbandman, watches over the subjects, develops the country, and improves the revenues. 2. A conscientious commander of the army, active and strict. 3. A chief justice, free from avarice and selfishness, who sits on the eminence of circumspection and insight, and obtains his ends by putting various questions, without exclusively relying on witnesses and oaths. 4. An intelligencer, who transmits the events of the time without addition or diminution, always keeping to the thread of truth and penetration.
It is moreover incumbent on a just king to make himself acquainted with the characters of the following five kinds of men of whom the world is composed, and act accordingly. 1. The most commendable person is the sagacious man who prudently does that which is proper and absolutely necessary. The fountain of his virtues does not only run along his channel, but renders verdant the fields of other men. Such a one is the fittest person for a king to consult in State affairs. After him comes, secondly, the man of good intentions. The river of his virtues does not flow over its bed, and does not therefore become an irrigating source for others. Although it may be proper to show him kindness and respect, yet he does not merit so high a degree of confidence. Inferior to him is, thirdly, the simple man, who does not wear the badge of excellence upon the sleeve of his action, yet keeps the hem of his garment free from the dust of wicked deeds. He does not deserve any distinction; but ought to be allowed to live at his ease. Worse than he is, fourthly, the inconsiderate man, who fills his house with furniture for his own mischief, without, however, doing harm to others. Him the king should keep in the hot place of disappointment, and bring him into the road of virtue by good advice and severe reprehension. The last of all is the vicious man, whose black deeds alarm others and throw, on account of their viciousness, a whole world into grief. If the remedies employed in the case of men of the preceding class, do not amend him, the king should consider him as a leper, and confine him separate from mankind; and provided this harsh treatment does not awaken him from his sleep of error, he should feel the torture of grief, and be banished from his dwelling; and if this remedy produce no effect either, he should be driven out of the kingdom to wander in the wilderness of disappointment; and if even this should not improve his vicious nature, he should be deprived of the instruments of his wickedness, and lose his sight, or his hand, or his foot. But the king ought not to go so far as to cut the thread of his existence; for inquiring sages consider the human form as an edifice made by God, and do not permit its destruction.
It is therefore necessary for just kings, to make themselves first acquainted with the rank and character of men, by the light of insight and penetration, and then to regulate business accordingly. And hence it is that the sages of ancient times have said that princes who wear the jewel of wisdom do not appoint every low man to their service; that they do not consider every one who has been appointed, to be deserving of daily admittance; that those who are thus favored, are not therefore deemed worthy to sit with them on the carpet of intercourse; that those who are worthy of this station, are not necessarily admitted to the pavilion of familiar address; that those who have this privilege, are not therefore allowed to sit in the august assembly; that those upon whom the ray of good fortune falls, are not therefore let into their secrets; and that those who enjoy the happiness of this station, are not therefore fit for admission into the Cabinet Council.
Praise be to God, the Giver of every good gift! The exalted monarch of our time is so endowed with these laudable dispositions, that it is no exaggeration to call him their exordium. From the light of his wisdom, he discerns the worth of men, and kindles the lamp of their energy; whilst ever clear to himself, and without an effort, he adorns his wisdom with the beauty of practice. Who can measure, by the rules of speech, his power as a spiritual leader, and his works in the wide field of holiness; and even if it were possible to give a description of it, who would be able to hear and comprehend it? The best thing I can do is to abstain from such an attempt, and to confine myself to the description of such of his wonderful doings as illustrate the worldly side of his nature, and his greatness as a king. I shall speak:—
First, of his regulations concerning the household; secondly, of the regulations concerning the army; thirdly, of the regulations concerning the empire; as these three contain the whole duty of a king. In doing so, I shall leave practical inquirers a present, which may seem difficult to understand, but which is easy; or rather, which may seem easy, but is in reality difficult.
Experienced men who are acquainted with the art of governing, and versed in the history of the past, cannot comprehend how monarchs have hitherto governed, without these wise regulations and how the garden of royalty could have been fresh and verdant, without being irrigated by this fountain of wisdom.
This sublime volume then, is arranged under three heads; it enables me, in some measure, to express my feelings of gratitude for favors received.
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