South Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - A Cosmopolitan Chronicler and a Non-cosmopolitan King? Some Reflections on Musta’idd Khan’s Heroic Deeds of Aurangzeb Alamgir

Saturday, July 7
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Silveroak I, Ground Floor

Aurangzīb has generally been described as a Mughal 'despot’, who, through his intolerant religious policies, ushered in the empire’s later downfall. His image as a temple destroyer also stains Mustaʿidd Khan’s chronicle, the Maʾasir-i ʿAlamgiri (written between 1707-1710), which covers the entire reign of Aurangzīb. While compiling this work, the cosmopolitan chronicler and secretary (munši), Mustaʿidd Khan, sometimes critical of Aurangzīb’s decisions, had to collaborate with ʿInayat Allah Khan b. Mirza Šukr, the most influential adviser and confidant of Aurangzīb. In addition, significant historical templates, as well as works on Aurangzīb, were available for Mustaʿidd Khan to include into his text. For the first ten years of the Maʾasir-i ʿAlamgiri, he relied on Muhammad Kazim’s more than 1000-page long treatise, ʿAlamgir-nama (“The Book of the World-Conqueror“), and Muhammad Baḫtāvar Khan’s Mirʾat al-ʿalam ("The Mirror of the World").


Previous research largely focussed on Mustaʿidd Khan’s plagiarism, but completely overlooked the fact that he, in a highly skilled way, compiled his own text from these well-known templates and resources, and indeed also named them. In my presentation, I will discuss and demonstrate this process of compilation and will argue that Mustaʿidd Khan made immense revisionist efforts to construct a cosmopolitan ruler. By doing so, he designed a chronicle not only reporting about the past or glorifying a Mughal king; rather, he also created a future-oriented text that calls for new forms of Islamic constitutionality and political sensibility.

Tilmann Kulke

Ilia State University, Georgia

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1 - A Cosmopolitan Chronicler and a Non-cosmopolitan King? Some Reflections on Musta’idd Khan’s Heroic Deeds of Aurangzeb Alamgir



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