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Mughal Contribution to Indian Literature

The Mughals established a mighty empire that dominated India for more than two centuries. Their passion for literature and knowledge commissioned excellent literary works. They add luster and wealth to the literatures of India.

India is a rich mine of hidden literatures! The vast wealth of literature still in palm leaves has to be brought out for open studies which surely will have a great impact on history as well as the knowledge of so many sciences. Tamil, Sanskrit, Urdu and other languages have contributed unimaginable wealth to the Indian literatures. When the countries enjoyed a peaceful life, literature and arts were flourishing well. That we can see in the history of India, especially during the Sangam periods, the Guptas and the Mughals.

Printing in India

Most of the Indian literatures were in palm leaves till the arrival of the printing technology in the sixteenth century. Printing was a turning point in the Indian history. It came with the missionary movement of the Portuguese and others. Fifty-nine years after the landing of Vasco da Gama in India, the printing press opened its account at Goa, a few decades after the beginning of the 16th century. Within a hundred years of the printing of Gutenberg’s Bible in Germany, India initiated its groping towards fashioning of types for the many Indian languages.

Mughal Empire which was established in the north in the sixteenth century and the Vijayanagara Empire in the south witnessed the changes that were brought by the printing technology in India.

Mughal Contribution To Literature

There was tremendous literary activity during the Mughal period, because with the return of a stable and prosperous empire. There was once again patronage for the literary works. Languages like Persian, Sanskrit, Hindi and Urdu saw tremendous creative activity as did many vernacular languages. The Mughal Emperors, themselves interested in literature, encouraged literary contributions. Vast number of works were written during the period of the Mughals.

The Three Categories of Contributions

We can easily divide the contributions of the Mughals into three categories: historical works, translations ,poetry and novels. Our understanding of the Mughal period was greatly enhanced by these books, and most of the historical works of this period provide us with a fairly reliable source of information. The important historical works written in this time were Ain-I-Akbari , and Akbarnama by Abul Fazl, the Ta’rikh-I-’Alfi by Mulla Daud. Akbar, though was not educated in any formal educational institution, could contribute much to literature. Jehangir possessed a keen interest in literature, and his autobiography is one of the finest amongst the Mughal emperors. During his reign important historical works like Ma’asir-I-Jahangir , the Igbalnamah-I-Jahangiri and the Zubud-ut-Tawaikh were written.

Great Translations

Many important works in translation were also written during this period, with the translation of the epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana taking place. Many of the Vedas were also translated and several previous historical books were also translated. All this translation added to the wealth of Indian literature and spread ancient knowledge to a greater audience. This renewed interest in Indian literature would be an important tool used by the social reformers of the eighteenth century to educate the people about what the ancient texts really said as opposed to the distorted interpretations that were being followed.

New Contributions

The Mughal empire encouraged a large number of poets and writers and hence there were a lot of new contributions published in this era. During the reign of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan the literary people had tremendous patronage and many remarkable works were composed. Since the Mughal emperors had integrated themselves into Indian society, they patronized many Indian languages leading to some good quality literature being developed for these languages. The main themes of the period were essentially religious, covering most of the major religions of the period. One of the fine Hindu works composed during this time was Ramcharitmanasa (the life of Rama) by Tulsidasa, which was a simplified version of the Ramayana. In Bengal there was a lot of work being created in Vaishnava literature. Writers like Krishnada and Kaviraj were popular authors of the time. Many biographies were also written during this period.

Valuable Contributions

The Mughals established a mighty empire that dominated India for more than two centuries. Their passion for nature and literature contributed much for the Indian literature. Books were very precious to the Mughal kings. Expensive and laborious contributions were as marked the symbols of royal wealth, power and intelligence. At the height of the Mughal power, the imperial studios hummed with the activity of hundreds papermakers, printers and business people of books. Today we can see and enjoy the books and manuscripts illustrated with exquisite miniature paintings of the Mughal Emperors treasured by museums around the world. The Mughal contribution to the Indian literatures is really great.

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