Vernacular and alternative narrations of Alamgir
Heidi Pauwels (University of Washington)
Monika Boehm-Tettelbach (South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University)
Start time:
25 July, 2014 at 11:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Alamgir is often cast a bigot who antagonized his Shia, Sikh and Hindu subjects This view is mainly based on travel accounts and Persian sources. This panel invites explorations of alternative sources, especially from vernacular literature

Long abstract:

The Mughal emperor Alamgir (r. 1658-1707 ) is often cast as a tyrant who antagonized his Shi'a, Sikh and Hindu subjects through his "bigotry." Some see this as the root cause for the decline of the Mughal Empire. This negative view goes back to Sarkar's seminal work (5 vols. 1912-24). Increasingly, scholars are calling for a more nuanced understanding (Chandra, Alvi, Eaton, Kinra, Butler-Brown, Faruqui). Moreover, there were other interesting developments going on during Alamgir's reign, which was a period of transition, with the rise of vernacular literature. As it turns out, the commonplace view of Alamgir is based on European travel accounts and some Persian sources that reflect contemporary politics (written by disgruntled elements). The state-centered accounts of Alamgir's rule emphasize positive aspects, but are often disregarded as propaganda. Do the vernacular literatures of the period confirm this or bring other aspects to light? We invite explorations of the less-commonly referenced vernacular literatures of the period, towards a fuller and less state-centric view of the emperor.