June 04, 2010

Turkish Women and India: A Suggestive Topic

The idea of this title came to my mind when I was reading the Mughal as well as the Delhi Sultanate history.

I am unable to understand that how had India remained under subjugation. When it is said that India as a nation a concept, did not exist, I am not able to adjust to this observation. I am also not able to refute this observation also because the facts and evidences prove that had India be a nation, it could not have remained under such a long subjugation. Even the countries like Italy and Germany which are of recent origin, they existed in a thought and that was why they came up. The divisive forces were strong. The foreign intervention was there. Some times it was the Guals and on the other hand there was the Austrain empire. But, somewhere, there was a sense of belongingness there all through their non-existence. In case of India also, there was sense of belongingness. The regions might have been under the control of different political powers, but people moved across. People bought from people across their boarders. People exchanged even cultural things across the boarder. The Raja ji was there but one could move from one side to the other. No doubt, during the Mughal period, we have on record that those people who had escaped from their villages, they were brought back to their villages. So there was sense of belongingness. The Turks came. But this sense of belongingness did not developed into a sense of preservation. There had been resistances. But there are no accounts which could bring out the feature of India as a nation.

Well, the above idea is different from what I am suppose to write here. While reading the history of the period of Mughals and the Turks, I have found that again and again there were references to the women of these people playing the role in political arena. Babur was guided by his dominating maternal grandmother. He was assisted by the Mongols when he himself had written dereogatory remarks against the Mongols. Similarly, in case of Akbar also, it was for a long time, it was the women who influenced the political acitivities of the court. The role played by this gender had made one historian, V. A. Smith to call it even a petticot government. During the period of Jahangir, the Nurjahan was dominating the whole show. The foriegn visitors had clearly recorded that how she dominated the court activities. It was other thing that she was not of Turkish lot. She was a Persian. But Jahangir was very proud to declare that he was from the Turkish blood even if he was born of a Rajput lady. On the other hand, the mother of Prince Kusrau, committed suicide when she found that her son had revolted against the father. Man Bai, the mother was a Rajput lady. Similarly in case of Shamsuddin Iltutmish, there was the dominance of women during his time as well as after his death. He had even tried to give throne to his daughter. In case of Alauddin Khilji, it was his wife and mother in law who had played a major role in making of the events as they turned up. Hence, there are enough clues to suggest that there is need to study the role of the women of Turkish clans in making of the history of India. Now comes the same proverbiale problem of sources on women. There are no specific histories written for the women. In case of Minhas, there are some pages on the character of Razia. Gulbadan Banu had written Humanyun Nama. But they are very scarce sources. However, even then, we find references here and there. There are enough references wherein there are clear cut verdict that the Turkish women had played and changed the course of history of Muslim period. There should be study on this angle. 

Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern DebateWomen in IslamBound By a Mighty Vow: Sisterhood and Women's Fraternities, 1870-1920Infidels, Turks, and Women: The South Slavs in the German Mind, Ca. 1400-1600

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