Excerpts from Doniger – Part 1

(Find below a random extract from the Book The Hindus – An Alternative History By Wendy Doniger. The Book is available for download from this link. Remember when you *Ban* this book in India but is not only available freely worldwide but is also included as Suggested Reading in most Curriculum then you are blind to what the World thinks of you. No one cares that in 1500 A.D. India was a much advanced civilization while Europe was just waking up.  All the negative publicity that our own media gives to the *Ban* but does not address the misinterpretations and irrelevant passages like below would only make India look like the Land of Snake Charmers it was till recently. Will try and extract a few passages that might offend say a Cat Devotee [Thenkalai Vaishnavite] and a Monkey Devotee [Vadakalai Vaishnavite]. Incidentally I am a Monkey Devotee and it has nothing to do with Lord Hanuman.) 

From Page 349 of the PDF Version of the Book:

Babur was such a great horseman that he could even ride when he was totally stoned: “We drank on the boat until late that night, left the boat roaring drunk, and got on our horses. I took a torch in my hand and, reeling to one side and then the other, let the horse  gallop free-reined along the riverbank all the way to camp. I must have been really drunk.” This image is also captured by a fine painting entitled A Drunken Babur Returns to Camp at Night, from an illustrated copy of the Babur-nama. These parties were usually bachelor affairs, royal frat parties, though occasionally women were present. A sure clue that we are dealing here not just with people of privilege having a very good long-running party but with genuine addiction is Babur’s frequent (almost always futile) attempts to rein in his drunkenness.69 Before one great battle, he went on the wagon, and to make sure he would not backslide, he had a quantity of the latest vintage from Ghazni salted for vinegar. When he took the pledge not to drink wine, some of the court copied him and renounced with him, for, he noted, “People follow their kings’ religion.” But he hated being on the wagon and wrote a charming poem about it, which ended: “People repent, then they give up wine—I gave it up, and now I am repenting!” 

There were also excuses to get stoned other than simply wanting to get stoned, another telltale sign of substance abuse: “That night I took some opium for the pain in my ear—the moonlight also induced me to take it. The next morning I really suffered from an opium hangover and vomited a lot. Nevertheless, I went out on a tour of all Man Singh’s and Bikramajit’s buildings.” And: “The weather was so bad that some of us had ma’jun even though we had had some the day before.” E. M. Forster wrote a wicked satire on the depiction of constant drunkenness, and constant travel, in Babur’s memoir: “Was this where the man with the melon fell overboard? Or is it the raft where half of us took spirits and the rest bhang,jl and quarreled in consequence? We can’t be sure. Is that an elephant? If so, we must have left Afghanistan. No: we must be in Ferghana again; it’s a yak.” Here, as so often, you only know where you are by seeing what animals are with you. 

None of Babur’s successors wrote nearly so vividly about their drinking problems, though as a group they did manage to run up quite a tab. Humayun was an opium addict, particularly fond of ma’jun; it is quite possible that his fatal fall down the stairs of his observatory may have been aided and abetted by opium. Akbar drank very rarely, but his first three sons were alcoholics. Murad (Akbar’s second son) died of alcoholism, and when Akbar forbade Danyal (his third son, aged thirty-three) to drink wine, Danyal tried to smuggle some in inside a musket; the alcohol dissolved the rust and gunpowder in the musket and killed him. 

Jahangir’s excessive use of alcohol and opium was thought to have exacerbated his cruelty and vicious temper; his Rajput wife committed suicide by overdosing on opium. He sometimes forced his son Shah Jahan to drink, against his will. Jahangir recorded in detail his own addiction to alcohol, and later opium, and “his apparently half-hearted battle to moderate his consumption.” Jahangir was also fascinated by the opium addiction of his friend Inayat Khan and had his portrait painted as he was dying. Jahangir wrote: “Since he was an opium addict and also extremely fond of drinking wine whenever he had the chance, his mind was gradually destroyed.”

The vices of the Mughals were not limited to drugs; there was also the vice of hunting, as well as more complicated problems involving animals. There are conflicting strains in the Mughal attitude toward animals. On the one hand, they had a great fascination with and love of animals; the Sufi saints, in particular, were often depicted in the company of tame lions or bears; a tame lion accompanies Akbar’s confessor, Shaikh Salim Chishti, in one painting. On the other hand, Muslims often sacrificed animals, including cows, at the end of pilgrimages, and this was a recurrent source of conflict, for many Hindus were, by this time, deeply offended by the sacrifice of cows.

Babur showed no compassion for dogs when he vomited and suspected that someone was trying to poison him: “I never vomited after meals, not even when drinking. A cloud of suspicion came over my mind. I ordered the cook to be held while the vomit was given to a dog that was watched.” But he also tortured the cook and had him skinned alive, ordered the taster to be hacked to pieces, and had a woman suspected of complicity thrown under an elephant’s feet. So at least the dog was not singled out for mistreatment (and may not even have died; indeed, compared with the cook and taster, the dog got off easy). Akbar, on the other hand, was fond of dogs. He imported them from many countries and admired their courage in attacking all sorts of animals, even tigers. In contradiction of the teachings of Islam, he regarded neither pigs nor dogs as unclean and kept them in the harem; he also insisted that dogs had ten virtues, any one of which, in a man, would make him a saint. At Akbar’s table, some of his friends and courtiers would put dogs on the tablecloth, and some of them went so far as to let the dogs put their tongues into their (the courtiers’) mouths, to the horror of Abu’l Fazl. An album published during Akbar’s reign shows a Kanphata yogi (a devotee of Shiva) and his dog, with a text that says, “Your dog is better than anything in the world of fidelity.”

One story about Akbar and dogs is also a great story about Akbar’s religious tolerance. It was told by an Englishman named Thomas Coryat, who traveled to India between 1612 and 1617:

Ecbar Shaugh [Akbar the Shah] . . . never denyed [his mother] any thing but this, that shee demanded of him, that our Bible might be hanged about an asses necke and beaten about the town of Agra, for that the Portugals [Portuguese] tyed [the Qu’ran] about the necke of a dogge and beat the same dogge about the towne of Ormuz. But hee denyed her request, saying that, if it were ill in the Portugals to doe so to the Alcoran, being it became not a King to requite ill with ill, for that the contempt of any religion was the contempt of God. Akbar grants, implicitly, that the dogs insulted the Qu’ran, but he differs from his mother (as he rarely did) in refusing to take revenge, thus short-circuiting the karmic chain of religious intolerance.


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