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Court Culture-Music, Dance

Like Babur, Akbar was devoted to music.  Akbar paid much attention to music and was the patron of all who practiced it. The Ain-i-Akbari, written by Abu’l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, suggests that there were 36 musicians of high grate in the Mughal court of Akbar. Akbar himself was a learned musician. He further studied Hindu vocalization under Lal Kalawant who taught him “every breathing and sound that appertains to the Hindi language.”

Tansen (also Mian Tansen) was a great musician of Hindustani Classical music . He held a position of great importance in the court of Akbar. Mian Tansen is also regarded as one of the best musician in the history of India. Tansen is said to have invented some new ragas. He is even credited with the power of stopping the flow of the Yamuna with his music.

Another equally, perhaps more famous singer was Baba Hari Das who, though not mentioned in Abul Fazl’s list, was certainly a contemporary of Tansen and Akbar. Akbar is said to have paid a visit to him incognito at his hermitage in Vrindaban. Legend and folk tale have preserved the memory of this great saint and musician.

Sur Das, son of the celebrated singer Ram Das and one of the greatest Hindi poets of all times, was also a musician of Akbar’s court.

The emperor’s interest in and patronage of music led to great progress in the instrumental as well as the vocal art. At his court Hindu and Muslim music mingled and became one. The Mughals are credited for bringing about a fusion of two diverse systems of music and giving birth to the national Indian music.

Development of Literature during the Mughal Period


There were several factors responsible for the development of literature during the Mughal period. The foremost factor was the background provided by Sufi and Bhakti saints who preached in the local languages. The next important factor was the patronage provided by the Mughal rulers to the various literatures like Persian, and Hindi.

Both original works and translations were produced in large numbers in Persian. Hindi also saw important developments and so did Punjabi, Urdu. Moreover, many other regional languages also found a period of growth during this period.

The greatest growth was witnessed in the Persian literature because it was the official language of the Mughals. All Mughal rulers patronized Persian literary figures and activities. Thus, Babur wrote poems in both Persian and Turkish. Persian prose and poetry reached a climax during Akbar’s reign. Many biographies and historical works were composed during his reign. Some of the important historical works included the Ain-I-Akbari by Abul Fazl. Muntakhab-ul-Tawarikh by Badaun, Tabaqat-I- Akbari by Nizamuddin Ahmed.

Besides original works, works in other languages were translated into Persian during Akbar’s time. In this regard, the important translations were the translation of Mahabharat into Persian under the tile of Raim Namah is the most important. Similarly, Ramayana was translated by Baduni.

Abul Fazl, a great scholar and stylist, was the leading historian and set a style of prose-writing. The leading Persian poets during Akbar’s reign were Faizi, Urfi and Naziri.

During the reign of Jahangir, was composed works as Tuzuki-i-Jahangiri, Iqbal Nama-i-Jahangir. During Shah Jahan’s reign, works o f history like Padshahnama, Turkish-i-Shah Jahani and Shah Jahan Namah were composed. Waqyat-i-Alamgiri, Khulasat- ul-Tawarikh, Muntakhah-ul-Lubab, Nushkha-i- Dilkhusa etc were works that were composed during the reign of Aurangzeb. As far Sanskrit, although not much significant and original work was done during the period, the number of Sanskrit works produced during the period is quite impressive. Most of the works were produced in South and east India under the patronage of local rulers. ‘

In the reign of Shah Jahan, Kavindra Acharya Saraswati and Jagatnath Pandit enjoyed royal patronage. Pandit Jagannath composed Ras- Gangadhar and Ganga Lahiri.

As far as Hindi literature is concerned, Akbar whole heartedly patronized it. The important Hindi poets associated with the Mughal court were Raja Birbal, Man Singh, Bhagwan Das, Narhari etc.

Urdu language and literature also made progress during the period especially of later Mughals. Urdu beginning its career during the period of Delhi Sultanate acquired the status of literary language in Deccan. Urdu gradually became the medium of social intercourse in northern India.

Regional languages acquired stability and maturity and some of the finest lyrical poetry was produced during this period. The dalliance of Krishna with Radha and stories from Bhagwat figured largely in the lyrical poetry in Bengali, Oriya, Rajasthani and Gujarati. Many devotional hymns of Ramayana and Mahabharata were translated into regional languages. Punjabi literature was enriched by composition of Adi Granth by Guru Arjun and Vachitra Natak by Guru Govind Singh.

Thus, the Mughal period saw the efflorescence of the rich literate tradition in the history of medieval India. Such high efflorescence made Urdu, Hindi and the regional languages the vehicle of though in the subsequent times.

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