Advertisement
Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com

Gauls And Romans In Agra

Piety and prurience, medicine and court intrigue crowd Kakar’s richly-felt tapestry set in Shah Jahan’s India

Gauls And Romans In Agra
Gauls And Romans In Agra
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

High up on my must-read list of a handful of Indian authors is Sudhir Kakar. He is India’s best-known psychoanalyst. His prose is lucid and his range of topics very wide. He makes one think. His latest novel, The Crimson Throne, though ostensibly about the battles for succession between Emperor Shah Jahan’s four sons, tells you about India in the 17th century as portrayed by two European adventurers, an Italian, Niccolai Manucci, in his Storia Do Mogor, and a Frenchman, Francois Bernier, in his Travels in the Mughal Empire AD 1656-1665. Manucci worked his way as a deck-hand and made his way to Goa. He was hospitably accomodated by Jesuit priests and found lodgings on top of a hill with a Hindu vaidraj practicing ayurveda. He found a mistress to cater to his other needs. Soon after, Bernier landed in Surat; he also enjoyed the hospitality of the Jesuits. Both men travelled in bullock cart caravans to Delhi, staying in serais and noting conditions prevailing in the countryside. They arrived in the capital about the same time and took an instant dislike to each other.

Shah Jahan had already named his eldest son Dara Shikoh as heir apparent, and posted his other sons as viceroys in distant provinces. But his decisions carried little weight, as it was widely known that he was a very sick man. He was also known to be grossly oversexed. His favourite queen was Mumtaz Mahal, who bore 12 children in as many years. Unani hakeems believed that a man could not have sex with a pregnant woman as the hard knocks of the penis would damage the foetus. So, the emperor had to get other women to cater to his needs. The ulema condoned his liaisons with his own daughters as a man’s right to taste the fruit of his own labours.

Both Manucci and Bernier noted the sharp Hindu-Muslim divide of...

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

Aryan Khan Drug Case: Hearing Adjourned, Will Resume Tomorrow Afternoon

Aryan Khan Drug Case: Hearing Adjourned, Will Resume Tomorrow Afternoon

The Mumbai High Court is hearing Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan’s bail petition following his arrest by the Narcotics Control Bureau on Oct 3.

Explainer | Why A Lawyer Is Seeking FIR Against NCB's Wankhede For 'Extortion' In Aryan Khan Drugs Case

Explainer | Why A Lawyer Is Seeking FIR Against NCB's Wankhede For 'Extortion' In Aryan Khan Drugs Case

On Monday, a lawyer approached the Mumbai police with a complaint seeking registration of an FIR against Sameer Wankhede and five others for extortion in the drugs-on-cruise case.

IPL Controversy: CVC Capital Under BCCI Scanner

IPL Controversy: CVC Capital Under BCCI Scanner

The BCCI on Monday named RPSG Ventures Limited and Irelia Company Pte Ltd. (CVC Capital Partners) as owners of the new IPL teams from 2022.

'TMC & AAP On A Mission To Split Congress Votes And Help BJP In Goa': State Congress Chief

'TMC & AAP On A Mission To Split Congress Votes And Help BJP In Goa': State Congress Chief

Goa Congress president Girish Chodankar strongly asserted that the voters cannot be wooed with false promises and money as people are deeply rooted in the Congress.

Advertisement