Mughal state is one of the recorded splendid empires in Indian history and covered the majority of the subcontinent. The Empire and its splendid organization and influential leaders lasted between 1556 to 1707, during which it enjoyed vast wealth and glory. The Empire had a centralized government that was instrumental in ensuring efficient governance, and at the same time, the personnel and information were centrally managed to serve the emperor and the nobilities. Persia's commercial expansion and cultural contacts from other areas of the world significantly contributed to the growth of the Mughal Empire. However, the most crucial observation is that the Mughal Empire was able to blend both the person-Islamic and the Indian cultural elements, which is a unique representation of state-building in the premodern Indian subcontinent. This paper will assess Abul Fazl's 'Asiatic Society of Bengal' ability to represent religious beliefs and practices during the Mughal empire period, its strengths and weaknesses, and the strategies that can be used by a historian to capture the religious situation and events during the period.
Assessment of Different Point of Views
The application of point of view in analyzing a primary historical source is a critical approach that can be applied in Abul Fazl's historical coverage of the 'Asiatic Society of Bengal' which seeks to show the dynamics of the Mughal kingdom and his achievements. Analyzing the point of view presented in a text improves understanding of the context and interpretation of the historical facts that are shown in the text. Abul Fazl covers the nature of Mughal as the emperor of the state, the regulations of the court which was instrumental in making critical empire governance decisions and the regulations of Kornisii and the Taslim which depicts the spiritual and religious context of the kingdom and the elevation of the King to be a representative of God. The initial point of view of the presentation of the text by Abul Fazl seeks to illustrate how the Mughal empire leader spent most of his time, which provides a rich account of the Mughal King and his splendid leadership approach of India's most successful Empire in history. The author indicates that in the Mughal state, the function of the government was significantly dependent on how the King carried himself (Fazl 154). Abul denotes that the King is wise beyond any measure but at the same time, has the authenticity of listening to his subordinate's counsel, which was aimed at rekindling his wisdom. Mughal kings searched for superior men in knowledge and recognized them as an essential part of his kingdom to safeguard his Empire with wisdom, which was instrumental in its success and prosperity. This text denotes that the Mughal King appreciated wise counsel, which shows an essential attribute to his legacy and reign over the Mughal kingdom. Fazl (154) denotes that the Mughal empire kings had very high morality and the recognition of the existence of God, and they could often engage in self-examination. The author denotes that the King's authority emanates straight from God, and he illuminates the kingdom with proper guidance.
Fazl (155) depicts the King as a sage who finds no pleasure in cruel antics that cause sorrow to the others. Instead, the Mughal Empire king's primary objective as a leader was to ensure the happiness of the kingdom. This can be attributed to the success of the state at its height of civilization. Besides, the author depicts the Mughal King as a vegetarian by denying himself animal food, and in 24 hours, the King only settled for a single meal. At night, instead of engaging with worldly pleasures, the Mughal kings spent the evenings more profitably through the private audience, which was a time spent with eloquent and knowledgeable philosophers and Cufis who were able to present rational discourses to the King as a means of gaining more excellent knowledge of virtuous leadership. Fazl (156) cites unprejudiced historians who do not mutilate historical recordings and facts for their benefits. This account denotes that the Mughal state had virtuous and wise leaders who were able to take the counsel of the elders in making critical decisions in the kingdom. Fazl (156) covers an important cultural aspect during the Mughal empire splendor, which is the Kornish salutation, which was a show of submission and humbleness before the King and the nobilities at the time. This historical, cultural salutation is correct and depicts a unique cultural element that sets the Mughal state apart from the modern institutions. Abul Fazl in the 'Asiatic Society of Bengal' shows that the King handled the matter of religion in the morning session of the assembly. The author has gathered valuable information of the past to give a complete account of the Mughal state, which depicts the virtue of the leaders of the Empire as well as the regulations that governed the admission to the court.
Strengths of the Source
The primary strength of the source is that Fazl was the Grand Vizier of the Mughal State king, which gives him significant credit in writing the primary source. The author uses simple English, which is easy to understand concerning the historical context at the time. The author takes a case approach in revealing a deep understanding of the historical events, political and religious events, which is an essential aspect of the credibility of the information due to the originality. The information provided is complete and does not have gaps, which helps the reader to understand what happened during the Mughal Empire and the reasons behind the overall success of the kingdom and acknowledgment of the Mughal virtuous and wise kings who governed for the good of the people. The author adds interpretation and inference in the discussion of the Mughal state, which creates a picture of the Empire from minimal information background. The authors' inference on the key concepts helps to broaden the readers' perception and ability to compare life and leadership during the Mughal State and contemporary leadership and government's dynamics in South Asia. Fazl in the 'Asiatic Society of Bengal' presents a vivid picture of the different leadership elements and traditions that set the Mughal State apart from the previous and the contemporary modern state arrangements. The centralization of the state matters, and the use of wise and knowledgeable advisers was instrumental in the success of Mughal State due to the King's reliance on wise elders and delegation of duties. Lastly, the author uses an holistic approach in the historical account of Mughal State by evaluating the economic and social state, political practices at the time and also the vital cultural aspects such as the Kornish and the taslim which sets the historical account apart and elevates the Mughal State as a unique and glorious kingdom in early modern South Asia. The holistic approach helps to create a consistent picture of the Mughal State and helps to answer the reader questions through the author's interpretation and inference.
Weaknesses of the Primary Source
The primary weakness of the source, which can be a source of bias, is that the author had an official position in the Mughal State, and there is a high chance that the information that was provided favored the state which Fazl represented. The second sensitive weakness is that the source does not provide a clear objective in which information is rather holistic than specific. Lastly, the author died a long time ago and cannot be consulted for any consultation on the same, which is detrimental in assessing the credibility of the historical document.
Essential Precautions When Using the Historical Source
When using historical sources, it is essential to take extreme caution by assessing the context and the type of the source in question. A historical text can be biased if it is secondary work, which means that there is potential that the reference is biased when it was adopted from the primary source to the secondary source. Considering the author and their purpose in creating the historical source is instrumental in assessing the overall reliability and credibility of the information in the historical source (Milligan 178). In this context, Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak was Mughal emperor Akbar Grand Vizier and an instrumental official during the reign of Akbar. As such, Fazl had a deep understanding of the Mughal Empire leadership and religious elements of the Empire. Besides, Fazl hailed from Yemen, and this background gives him a significant credibility due to lack of conflict of interest. Considered that the author had an authoritative role in the Empire, the primary source also has the potential bias due to the links with the Mughal authorities. As such, even though the information does not have any recall and the cause-effect bias, there is potential that Fazl could have succumbed to survivorship bias due to pressure from the leadership or potential omitted bias in preference of one's best interest and perception of the historical context and events (McCullagh 46). To prevent historical bias in Fazl's 'Asiatic Society of Bengal,' it is essential to read the primary source concerning the prevailing context, which is instrumental in understanding the author's purpose, goal, and intentions in writing the source. Besides, to prevent harmful bias when using a historical account, it is essential to ensure that all the assumptions that the author used are put into consideration.
Typical of the Source
The source is only reflective of Fazl's perceptions of faith in the Mughal Empire, and it is not based on people's ideas about faith. Fazl, as the Grand Vizier of the Mughal Empire, presents his conception on Akbar's position as a religious figure in the Empire and the ability to deliberate all the instrumental aspects of faith in the Mughal Empire.
Abul Fazl, The Ain-i Akbari, Vol. 1, trans. And ed. by H. Blochman, (Lahore: Qausian, 1975; reprint of 1927 original), p. 153-167.
McCullagh, C. Behan. "Bias in historical description, interpretation, and explanation." History and Theory 39.1 (2000): 39-66.
Milligan, John D. "The treatment of a historical source." History and Theory 18.2 (1979): 177-196.
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Mughal Empire: Splendour, Wealth and Glory of India's Greatest Empire - Essay Sample. (2023, Feb 26). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/mughal-empire-splendour-wealth-and-glory-of-indias-greatest-empire-essay-sample
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