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The Mughal’s Move: Sanskrit as a political tool

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Sanskrit
Audrey Truschke's book, Culture of Encounters. Image source: news.stanford.edu

New Delhi: In Audrey Truschke’s recent book, Culture of Encounters, the author discusses the course of the rise and the fall of the Sanskrit language during the era of Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahana and Aurangzeb. While during the rule of the first three emperors, the ancient language substantially blossomed into their courts, but the start of the reign of Aurangzeb ushered in the downfall of the Sanskrit.

Truschke writes in her book that the decimation of the language was mainly due to two reasons. First, that Sanskrit in the 17th century was now slowly giving away to the evolution of Hindi and the second was that the political motivations of Aurangzeb curtailed the stimulation of the language.

To explain the political aspect of Aurangzeb further we need to know that, in order to demarcate his own ‘idiom of rule’ and cut up the ties entirely with that of his elder brother, Dara Shikoh, he steers clear from any associations with the Sanskrit world.

Truschke eased the context further by adding that “Let me clarify that while Akbar inaugurated Mughal engagements with Sanskrit, he did so for slightly different reasons than many people think… Akbar was interested in Sanskrit for its political valence in his empire, not as some personal religious quest.” This act was mainly an attempt by them to get acclimatized as the new rulers of India.

Akbar in order to gain the trust of the Indians tied up with the Rajput chiefs, Brahmin and Jains and took the strategic move of abolishing the pilgrimage tax in 1562 and the Jizya Law in 1564. This was mainly due to the fact that his rule was in the threat of continuous rebellions from the non-Muslims.

Though, the tactic was quite successful as we can find in Badauni’s work who claims that Brahmins had to testify that Akbar was another form of Lord Vishnu like Ram and Krishna, who has descended to earth as a human being.

Though the façade was over once the protest was over. It is discovered that Akbar re-implemented both the discriminatory decrees on the non-Muslims again. He massacred over 30,000 peasants in the Chittor fort, which may have resulted in the suppression of the initial rebellion.

Still, there is a catch that a bigger rebellion rose up again and Akbar was forced to abandon the Jizya Act again and instill the new ideology of Sulh-i-Kul, which basically means Peace with All in Persian.

The ultimate finding that should be known and incorporated into the mainstream discourse by the scholars is the fact that, “Hindi was on the ascent as a literary language in the 17th century and the Mughals increasingly looked to Hindi texts for classical Indian knowledge as opposed to seeking out Sanskrit works.”

Something that will dig out probably bigger further hidden secrets from the annals of unknown history. (Inputs from intoday.in)

Prepared by Annesha DasGupta for NewsGram

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Neanderthals And Sapiens Both Faced Risks

But the new study is not the final word on Neanderthal trauma

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Neanderthal
A 3D-printed model of a Neanderthal man stands at the stand of FIT AG during a media presentation at the international fairs FabCon 3.D and Rapid.Tech, Germany. VOA

Life as a Neanderthal was no picnic, but a new analysis says it was no more dangerous than what our own species faced in ancient times.

That challenges what the authors call the prevailing view of our evolutionary cousins, that they lived risky, stressful lives. Some studies have suggested they had high injury rates, which have been blamed on things like social violence, attacks by carnivores, a hunting style that required getting close to large prey, and the hazards of extensive travel in environments full of snow and ice.

While it’s true that their lives were probably riskier than those of people in today’s industrial societies, the vastly different living conditions of those two groups mean comparing them isn’t really appropriate, said Katerina Harvati of the University of Tuebingen in Germany.

Neanderthal model
Neanderthal model. Reconstruction of a Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) based on the La Chapelle-aux-Saints fossils. Neanderthals inhabited Europe and western Asia between 230,000 and 29,000 years ago. They did not use complex tools but had mastery of fire and built shelters. It is thought that they had language and a complex social structure, living in small family groups and hunting for food. It is not known why Neanderthals became extinct, but one theory is that they were outcompeted by modern humans (Homo sapiens). Reconstruction by Elisabeth Daynes of the Daynes Studio, Paris, France.

A better question is whether Neanderthals faced more danger than our species did when we shared similar environments and comparable lifestyles of mobile hunter-gatherers, she and study co-authors say in a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature.

To study that, they focused on skull injuries. They reviewed prior studies of fossils from western Eurasia that ranged from about 80,000 to 20,000 years old. In all they assessed data on 295 skull samples from 114 individual Neanderthals, and 541 skull samples from 90 individuals of our own species, Homo sapiens.

Injury rates turned out to be about the same in both species.

Also Read: Neanderthal Genes Helped Early Humans Beings to Fight Flu, Hepatits

That questions the idea that the behavior of Neanderthals created particularly high levels of danger, Marta Mirazon Lahr of Cambridge University wrote in an accompanying commentary.

But the new study is not the final word on Neanderthal trauma, she wrote. It didn’t include injuries other than to the skull. And scientists still have plenty of work to do in seeking the likely cause of injuries and evidence of care for the injured, which could give insights into the behavior of both Neanderthals and ancient members of our species, she wrote. (VOA)