SOURCES OF MEDIEVAL INDIAN HISORY
I. IMPORTANT TRAVELLERS TO INDIA AND THEIR TRAVEL ACCOUNTS
Greek ambassador sent by Seleucus to the court of Chandragupta Maurya.
Periplus of the Erythraeam Sea(first century A.D.).
Written by an unkown Greek author who voyaged round the Indian coast A.D.80.
Source for the Sangam period
Gives a comprehensive account of the period of South India and their trade with the Roman empire in the first century.
Ptolemy(middle of the second century).
A Greek grographer, wrote about the geography of India.
A famous Chinese Buddhist monk, he spent about ten years in India during the reign of Chandragupta.
He was a Greek monk and merchant, popularly known as Indikopleustes, who sailed to India and traded as far as Sri Lanka.
His book Christian Topography provides much valuable information on Indian economy in the sixth century.
This famous Chinese Buddhist monk visited India during the reign of Harsha.
He is called the ‘Prince of Pilgrims’ He stayed in India for many years and studied at the university of Nalanda.
His account is rightly called the “Gazetterer”.
His work, Biographies of Eminent Monks, provides us useful information about the social, religious and cultural
life of the people of this country, at the time.
One of the sixteen great Arab geographers of the early medieval period, who wrote Kitabul Masaalik Wa’l Mamalik(Book of Routes and kingdom, 848-85), which provideds valuble information on intercommunication
of ninth century.
Compiled his travel account and geographical notes in his work Munujul Zahab.
His account is particularly relevant for Western India.
Alberuni, Muhammad Ibn Ahmed(1024-30).
One of the most celevrated Arab travelers to India, also called Abu Raitham, he visited India when Mahmud of Ghazni invaded Somnath of India, also called Abu Raithan.
Alberuni spent his years in India int the study of astronomy, astrology,natural sciences, mineralogy,medicine, chemistry etc..
Alberuni’s book Tahkik-i-Hind(Realty of Hindustan or Enquiry into India)is a mirror of the eleventh century India.
Alberuni’s book is a voluminous work divided into eighty chapters.
Chau Ju Kua(125-54).
Chinese merchant and traveller who wrote avery intresting account entitled Chu-fan-Chi, on the Chinese and
Arab trade in the twelth and thirteenth centuries.
His work thrown interesting light on commercial relations between South India and China.
A Venetian traveller, he has been called the ‘primce of medieval travellers’.
He visited South Indian in 1292-93 on his way from China to Persia as an escort to a princess of Kablai Khan’s family, a bride for the ruler of Persia.
He has much to tell about the states of the South and the manners, beliefs and practice of the people of south India and their maritime trade.
His travel account, The Book of ser Marco Polo, is an invaluable account on the economic history of India.
Ibn Batuta, Shaikh Fakah Abu Abdullah(1333-47).
He was an Arab and a native of Morocco.
He reached India in 1333 during the reign of Muhamad bin Tuglaq, who appointed him qazi of Delhi.
He held the post Quzi for eight years, but subsequently lost the favour of the Sultan and was dismissed.
In 1345 he stayed at the court of the Sultan of Madura.
On returning to Mocrocco in 1353, Ibn Batuta compiled his travel memoris and named it Rehla.
The Rehla thrown a flood of light on the reign of Muhammad bin Tughluq and the geographical, economic and social conditions of India.
He was an Italin and the earlist European visitor to Vijayanagar.
He reached the city in 1420-21 in the reign of Devaraya I.
His original travel account in Latin is lost.
Conti gives a vivid account of the city of Vijayanagar, its court, customs,currency, festivals and other matters.
He wasa Persian who was sent by Shah Rukhas ambassador to the Zamorin of Calicut.
In April 1443, Abdur Razzaq also visited vijayanagar during the reign of Devaraya II.
Abdur Razzaq was overaw with the size and grandeur of the city of Vijayanagar.
“The city”, he says, “is such that eyes has not seen nor ear heard of any place that it has seven fortified walls,
one within the other.”
Valuable information on the topography,administration and social life of Vijayanagar at that time.
He was a Russian horse merchant who spent some years in the Deccan and travelled in the Bahmani kingdom.
He resided in Bidar for a long time.
He was a Portuguese official in India, who served the Portuguese government in India from 1500 to 1516.
He was a Portuguese factor in Cannanore in 1502 and subsequently also worked as an interprect of Francisco Albuquerque, the Portuguese governor in India.
Barbosa returned to Portugal in 1517-18 and then gave final touches to his account which included a full description of Vijayanagar.
The work of Duart Barbosa in two volumes under the title The Book of Duarte Barbosa is of great importance of the history of the medieval South India.
Ludovico di Varthema(1502-8):
He was a soldier and a great traveller who was knighted by the Portuguese.
He travelled in India between in 1532 and 1508 and left a vivid record of his experiences.
His voluminous travel account, The Itinerary of Ludovico di Varthema,provides a detailed account of Goa and Calicut and other ports on the west coast.
His description of the city and the empire of Vijayanagar contains very interestion and valuble information.
A great Portuguese traveller who visited vijayanagar during the reign of Krishnadeva Raya.
Narrative of Domingo Paes provides an eyewitness account to the reign of the greatest Vijayanagar king. Krishnadeva Raya, Paes found the city of Vijayanagar “as large as Rome, and very beautiful to sight”.
This is the best provided city in the world…”
Fernaas or Fernao Nuniz(1535-37).
He was a Portuguese horse dealer who spent three years in the empire of Vijayanagar and wrote the Charonicle of Fenaas(also Farnao)Nuniz-the earliest known history of the empire of Vijayanagar-from its foundation to the closing years of the reign of Achyutadeva Raya.
Robert Sewell has translated, compiled and edited the accounts of Paes and Nuniz in his famous work A Forgotten Empire.
Was a Portuguese who visited the empire of Vijayanagar after the battle of Tailkota(1565) and comments on the ruined splendour of the imperial city.
First English merchant to reach Fatehpur Sikri and Agra.
Valuable information on the trade and urban centres of the late sixteenth century.
Jhon Hughen von Linschotten(1583).
He was a Dutch traveller.
His travel diary, The Voyage of Jhon Hughen von Linschotten to the East Indies.
An English ambassador of the British king James I to the court of Jahangi and was the first Englishman to appear in the Mughal court during the regin of Jahangir.
Stayed at the imperial court till 1613.
Hawkins had come to India to secure the trading rights for the English in India.
The account of Hawkins provides much valuble information on the reign of Jahangir.
Sir Thomas Roe(1615-19).
The leader of the second English embassy to the court of Jahangir.
Sir Thomas Roe and his Chaplain Terry stayed in India for about three years and followed Jahangir during his
tour to Mandu and Ahmedabad.
His travel account, A Voyage to East India, is a very useful source of information.
Pietro Della Valle(1623-26).
Italian traveller who reached Surat in 1623 and extensively travelled the coastal regions of India.
He was one of the most objectives and unbiased European travelers to India,who testifies to religious tolerance , the custom of satietc, in a most objective manner.
Italian traveller to the Mughal empire in the reign of shsh Jahan.
Very interesting and valuable information on the conditions of the common people in Mughal India.
Jean Baptiste Tavernier(1638-63).
He was a Frenchman who made six voyages to India between 1638 and 1663.
His travel account, entitled Travel in India, first appeared in 1676.
His account covers the reigns of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb.
We specially owe to him information on the oceanic and trunk routes, coins, weights,exporttrade, the method of transport, etc.
Tavernier being a dealer in diamonds, his detailed description of the diamond trade and mines in unique.
Was an Italian, who ran away from his hometown Venice at the age of 14 and after long travel Asia Minor and Persia, reached India and secured empolument as an artilleryman in the Army of prince Dara Shikoh.
After the defeat and death of Dara Shikoh in 1659, he adopted the profession of a medical practitioner.
His long stay in India from 1653to1708placed him in a position to appreciate things better than any other European could do.
His long memoris entitled Storio Dor Mogor,which run into four large volumes are full of his personal observations.
He has also recorded valuable information on the industial markets of South India and Hindustan.
On seventeenth-century India, Manucci is one of the best possible sources and has rightly been called a “mirror of seventeenth-century India”.
He was a Frenchman and physician by profession.
He was attached to the court of Shsh Jahan and was witness to the war of succession between Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb.
His History of theLate Rebllion in the States of the Great Mughal,describing the wars of succession, was published in 1670.
After the battle of Samugarh, he successively joined the service of Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Amber, the
Portuguese at Goa and Sultan Abul Hassam Qutb Shah of Golcunda.
He later moved to Madras, where he died in 1717.
His book,Travel in the Mughal Empire,is one of the most valuable sources of the history of the Mughal empire.
II.HISTORIANS AND HISTORIOGRAPHY OF MEDIEVAL INDIA
Kalhana and his Rajatarangini.
Kalhana composed a chronicle of the kings of Kashmir in Sanskrit.
It is known as Rajataragini.
It is a history of Kashmir up to the twelth century.
Kalhana was the son of Kalpaka, a minister of king Harsha of Kashmir who was deposed and killed in 1101.
Kalhana composed the Rajatarngini,when Jayasinha was ruling in Kashmir.
The Rajataringini, a poetic work, consists of eight books of unequal strength.
It has approximately 8,000 highly polished Sanskrit verses.
Alberuni and his Tahkik-i-Hind.
Muhammad Ibn Ahmed Alberuni, or as his compatriots called him, Abu Rahim, was born in 973 in the territory of Khawariz,now called Khiva,in Central Asia.
Alberuni was with Sultan Mahmud and his army when he later invaded Somnath in India.
Alberuni’s book Tahkik-i-Hind(Reality of Hindustan or Hindus)gives a graphic description of India as he had seen it.
Alberuni describes in this work the religious, literary, and scientific traditions of India.
He descrbes roads,rivers and their courses, weights and measures, currency etc..
The book has eight chapters.
Minhar Siraj and his Tabaqat-i-Nasiri.
Minhaj Siraj had written a political history called Tabaqat-i-Nasiri.
It was written a few years before and after the Khalji period.
The book is divided into twenty-three tabaqat or collections of biographical notes and historical events arranged dynasty-wise.
Ziauddin Barani and his Books.
Maulana Barani was born in 1286 in the reign of Sultan Balban.
Barani had a high position under the Khaljis and flourished well under Muhammand bin Tughluq.
Barani’s two well-known works of history are Tarikh-i-Firozshahi, and Fatwa-i-Jahandari.
The fist was completed in 1357.
The book beigns with the reign of Sultan Balban and concludes with the sixth year of the reign of Firozshab.
The second book describes certain principles of aministration and significant ideals of government.
Amir Khusrau and his Works.
Born in 1252 in a Turkish family at Patiyali in the Etah district of Uttar Pradesh.
His full name was Abu’s Hassan Yaminddin Khusrau.
He is popularly known by his pseudonym of Amir Khusrau.
Khusrau was adisciple of the famous Sufi Nizamuddin Auliya, Khusrau also died in 1325.
Amir Khusrau was a prolific writer and it is said that he had composed about half a million verses.
Some of the important books ara:
Qiran-us-sadin, composed in 1289.
It is in verse and describes the memorable meeting between Bughra Khan, the governor of Bengal and his son Mu’izzuddin Kaikubad, the Sultan of Delhi.
Miftah-ul-Futuh enumerates the military comapigns and victories of Sultan Jalauddin Khalji,which he achieved in the first year after his accession.
Ahiqa, composed in 1316, describes the passionate love and marriage of Alauddin’s eldest son prince Khijra
Khan and prince Dewal Rani, daughter of Raja Karan of Gujarat.
Nuh Sipehr gives a very interesting and authentic sketch of the social and cultural conditions of the period.
The Tughlaqnama is the last historical masnavi of Amir Khusrau and was composed in the closing years of his life.
Ain-ul-Mulk-Multani and his Insha-i-Mahru or Munshat-i-Mahru.
Ain –ul-Mulk-Multani was born and brought up in the province of Multan.
He joined the service of the Delhi Sultane under Khaljis.
Sultan Alauddin Muhammaed Shah Khalji (1295-1315)promoted him to the post of governor of Dhar and Ujjain in Malwa.
Sultan Muhammad bin Tugluq bestowed on him many favours and he was made officer-in-charge of the iqta of Multan.
After the death of Sultan Muhjammad bin Tuglaq, Ain-ul-Mulk continued to enjoy high position and favour during the reign of Sultan Firuz Tuglaq,
Insha-i-Mahru or Munshat-i-Mahru contains 133 letters on different subjects addressed to the leading and significant personalities of the age.
It is a collection of several official documents, petitions, letters etc.
As these letters are written to officials and distinguished persons, they discuss solutions for most of the economic, social, religious and administrative problems of the period.
The book is an extremely valuable source for the history of the Tgulaq dynasty.
It provides much needed information about the reign of Sultan Muhammad bin Tugluq and Sultan Firuz Shah.
Shaik Fakah Abu Addullah Muhammad Ibn Batuta and his Rehla.
Ibn Batuta was born on January 24, 1304 at Tangier and was a native of Morocco in Africa.
He stayed in India for fourteen years(1334-47)of which about eight years were spent in Delhi.
Ibn Batuta in his book Rehla gives a short history of the Sultans of Delhi prior to Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq.
The Rehla contains good sketches of Sufi, saints of the age, Indian trade, industries,agriculture products, roads.
Traffic, transport ,towns, harbours, sea-coast,shipping, weight and measures, etc..
Sultan Firuz Shah Tughluq and his Futuhat-i-Firozshahi.
Small brochure of thirty-two pages composed by Sultan Firuz Shah himself.
The title of the book literally means “Victories of Firuz Shah”.
The importance of the book is that it gives us a reliable picture of the mind and attitude of Firuz Shah.
It was a political pamphlet written by Firuz to win the sympathy and co-operation of his co-religionists.
Khwaja Abd Malik Isami and his Futuh-us-Sultan.
He was born in about 1311, and settled-down at Daultabad.
The Futuh-us-Sultin was written in the form of an epic by Isami.
It is a poetical history of the Sultans of Indian from the rise of the Ghazanvi dynsty up to the reign of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq.
He wrote his work on the lines of the Shahnama of Firdausi.
Yahaya bin Ahmed bin Abduallah Sarhindi and his Tarikh-i-Mubarakhashahi.
Comtemporary of the Saiyid Sultans of Delhi.
Mubarak Shah and Muhammad Shah.
Collected historical information from various other sources for his book Tarikh-i-Mubarakshahi after the death of Saiyid Sultan Mubarak Shah about the middle of the fifteenth century.
Yahya begins his book from the reign of Muizzuddin Muhammad Ghori and ends it at 1434 with the accession of Sultan dynasty.
He begins around the point where Barani ends and supplements the information of Afif from about 1380 onwords.
Diwan Ali Muhammad Khan and his Mirat-i-Ahmadi.
The Mirat-i-Ahmadi is an important source material for the history of Gujarat from the mad khan covers the period from 1756 to 1760.
Though the book was written at a later date, it supplied good information about Gujarat and the Sultans of Delhi.
The Mirat-i-Ahmadi is described as a very extensive and rare history of Gujarat because of the statistical information it supplies.
Sikander bin Muhammad Manzu and his Mirat-i-Sikanderi.
Sikander bin Muhammad Manzu was in the army of Aziz Koka, subedar of Gujarat. He composed his work
Mirat-i-Sikanderi in 111.
This book gives the history of Gujarat from its Muslim conquest by Jafar Khan(Muzaffar Shah I) to the death of
Muzaffar Shah III(1591)and subsequent events up to 1611.
In addition to the political enents in Gujarat, Sikanderi has described the social and cultural life of Gujarat.
Sayyid Ali Tabataba and his Burhan-i-Ma’asir.
Sayyid Ali Tabataba came to India in 1580, and entered first the service of the Sultan of Golcunda and later that of Burhan Nizam Shah II, from whom the present history derives its title.
It throws light on the bahmani Sultans of Gulbarga and Bidar and the Nizamshaho dynasty of Ahmednagar.
Rafuddin Shirazi and his Tazkirat-ul-Muluk.
The Tazirat-ul-Muluk is a history of the Adilshahi Sultans of Bijapur from their origin to 1611-12.
It is also a history of the contemporary dynasties in the Deccan, Hindustan and Persia.
The work is divided into nine books and an appendix.
Babur and his Babumama or Tuzuk-i-Baburi.
Autobiography of Babur, written in his mother-tongue Chaghatai Turki and style das Tuzuk-i-Baburi or Baburnama.
His recollections are broadly divided into three parts.
The lats part gives a detailed account of India.
A2 an estimate Babumama is “One of those priceless records which are for all times;
It is fit to rank with the confessions of St. Augustine and Rousseau and the memoris of Gibbon and Newton In Asia it stands alone.”
Gulbadan Bengum and her Humayun-nama.
Gulbadan Begum was a daughter of Babur and half-sister of Humayun.
She was highly educated and cultured.
From 1557 to 1603 she stayed with Akbar at Agra and recorded her reminiscences in the form of a book entitled Humayun-nama on the request of Akbar.
She records a brief account of her father Babur and a detailed account of her brother Humayun.
Khwand Mir and his Qunun-i-Humayuni.
Ghiyasuddin Muhammad, whose title was Khwand Mir or Khwand Amir, was born in 1474 or 1475.
Humayun-nama or Qanun-i-Humayuni is an account of rules and ordinances established by Emperor or Humayun and of some buildings erected by him.
Abdas Khan Sarwani and his Tarikh-i-Sher Shahi.
Descendant of an Afghan nobler, in the service of Sultan Sher Shah.
Abbas Khan Sarwani himself was in the service of Emperor Akbar.
He wrote Tarikh-i-Sher Shahi or Tuhfa-i-Akbar shahi by order of Emperor Akbar.
The Tarikh-i-Sher Shahi appears to have been composed around 1579.
It is a history of the life and reign of Sher Suri(1539-45)and his immediate successors.
Abul Fazi and his Akbarnama.
Abul Fazi, a court historian of Akbar.
He was introduced to Akbar towards the close of 1574 and was enlisted as a mansabdar.
In 1589, at the instance of Akbar, Abul Fazi started the writing of Akbar-nama.
Akbarnama was initially completed in 1596, but its account was later continued up to 1601.
Akbarnama is in three volumes.
The first volume deals with the history of the house of Timur down to the death of Humayun.
The second volume,deals with the reign of Akbar from 1556 to 1601.
The third volume is the Ain-i-Akbari,which is a statistical and administrative survey of the Mughal empire under Akbar.
Ain-i-Akbari is a mine of information about the rules, regulartions,topography, revernue system, social habits and custom of the reign of Akbar.
Abul Fazi was murdered by the Bundela chief Bir Singh in 1602.
Abdul Qadir Badauni and his Muntakhab-ul-Tawarikh.
Born on August 21, 1540 at Toda or Tadabhim, and studied with Abdul Fazi and Faizi.
As his father died in 1562 at Agra, he went to Bandaon or Badayun in Uttar Pradesh.
In 1589,he was given extensive land of one thousand bighas at Badayun.
He was a very learned man and well versed in music, history and astonomy.
Has composed many works .
Some of them are:
(a)kitab-ul-Ahadish, a work about the traditions of the Arabian Prophet on the merit of wagig war of jehad;
(b)Tarikh-i-Alfi, a general history compiled at the order of Emperor Akbar by Abdul Qadir Baduni and others;
© Muntakhab-ul-Tawarikh also called Tarikh-i-Badauni, his most celebrated work.
It is a general history of India, from the time Akbar’s reign.
The first of its three parts comprises the history of India,from the time of the Ghaznavis down to the fortieth year of prises the history of India from Subktagin(977-98)to Humayun’s death, the second contains an account of the first forty years of Akbar’s reign.
Third is devoted to the biographies of saints,poets and men of learning who adorned the court of Akbar.
Khwaja Nizammuddin Ahmed Harawi and his Tabaqat-i-Akbari.
Khwaja Nizammuddin Ahmad supported Humayun’s claim to the throne, and was an official of Akbar at Agra in 1568.
He wrote his well-known historical work Tabaqat-i-Akbari in the reign of Akbar.
It was completed in 1593.
It is a history in nine parts from the first appearance of Islam in India up to the date of its composition in 1593-94.
Tabaqat-i-Akbari is a very important source for the history of the Saiyid and Lodi Sultans.
Nizammuddin Ahmad has not included in his work those absurd and marvelous stories about the Afghan rulers which are found in abundance in the Waqi-at-i-Mushtaqi and other works on the Lodi and Sur rulers.
Jahangir and his Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri.
Ascended the throne in 1605 and died in 1627.
Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri are the memoirs of Jahangir himself.
It is also called Turikh-i-Sailm Shahi, Karmatama-i-Jahangiri, Waqiat-i-Jahangiri, Dayaz-i-Jahangiri, Iqbalnama, Jahangirinama and Muqalat-i-Jahangiri.
Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah Astarabadi and his Tarikh-i- Firishtah.
Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah Astarbadi, better known as Firishta, joined the service of Sultan Murtaza Nizam
Shah of Ahmadnagar (1565-88).
But he left it and went over to the Sultan of Bijapur on December 28,1589.
Firishta composed his work Gulshan-i-Ibrahimi,known as Tarikh-i-Naurasanama.
Tarikh-i-Firishta, is a general history of India from the earlist times to 1607.
His book is most authentic for the history of the Sultana of the Deccan.
Abdul Hamid Lahori and his Padshahnama.
Abdul Hamid Lahori, the most reputed historian of the reign of Shah Jahan,wrote the detailed account of the reign of Shah Jahan in two volumes under the title of Padshahnama is a first-rate authority on the reign of Shah Jahan.
Two other historians of the reign of Shah Jahan wrote two other historical accounts of his reign, which are also entitled Padshahnama.
One such Padshnama was written by Muhammad Amir Khan Qazyini who prepared an exhaustive history of the first ten years of Shah Jahan’s reign.
Inayat Khan and his Shahjahan-nama: Inayat Khan alias Muhammad Tahir Ashna was a high official of Shah Jahan, who compiled a biography of the emperor up to the thirteenth year of his reign.
Another Shahjahan-nama was written by Muhammad Sadiq Khan, who was a waqia-navis at the Mughal court.
Sadiq was a selfless freelance writer who undertook the work just for the love of it and recorded the events of
Shah Jahan’s reign from the death of Jahangir to the accession of Aurangazeb in an intelligent and impartial manner.
Muhammad Saki Mustaid Khan and his Ma’asir-i-Alamgiri. Muhammad Saki Mustaid Khan was in the service of Aurangazeb for forty years. He was an eyewitness to many of the events record by him.
Ma’asir-i-Alamgiri was written after Aurangazeb’s death, but it is based on state papers. It is comparatively very brief as it deals with the history of fifty-one years in only 541 pages.
Mirza Muhammad qazim and his Alamgirnama. Muhammad Qazim was appointed munshi by Aurangazeb in the first year of his reign and was later on commissioned by the emperor to complete the annals of his reign.
After the eleventh year, upto which point Muhammad Qazim recorded his history, Aurangazeb forbade its continuation. On the manuscript being shown to Aurangazeb, he withdrew his permission for the preparation of his official history. Alamgirnama is a good detailed history of the first ten years of Aurangazeb’s reign from 1658 to 1668.
Muhammad Hashim Khafi Khan and his Muntakhab-ul-Lubab Muhammad Shahi. Muhammad Hashim, also called Hashim Ali Khafi Khan, is better known by designation Khafi Khan. Muntakhab-ul-Lubab or Tarikh-i-Khafi Khan is a voluminous history from the Muhammadan conquests of India to the fourteenth year of the reign of Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah. The first of its three volumes is from the Muhammadan conquest to the end of Lodi dynasty, the second provides a full account of the Mughals in India from the conquest of Babur to the reign of Muhammad Shah and the third contains an entire account of the reign of Aurangazeb.
Khafi Khan’s history is more valuable for the reign of Shah Jahan as it is the work of a contemporary who was waqia-nawis at Agra and himself took part in the battle of Samugarh.
Isar Das Nagar and his Futuhat-i-Alamgiri. Isar Das Nagar was a Mughal officer who held the charge of the Sarkar of Jodhpur for many years during the reign of Aurangazeb. His chronicle called Futuhat-i-Alamgiri describes important events of Aurangazeb’s reign upto 1698 and is a first-hand authority for much of what happened in Rajputana and Malwa between 1657 and 1698.