Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Story of India

Walking on Water
Today, being a Saturday, I went to see the newly opened Mughal exhibition at the British Library. For what it is worth, Mughal India was instrumental in shaping the image of India. A concept so alien that like a continent it is difficult to conceptualise Hindustan as a nation state in the Westphalian sense. For India is the image created by those who try and conquer it, only to accept India as an epileptic vision so beloved of the ecstasy of Sufi saints.

Mughal India was conquered by a wandering central asian tribe, descendants of Genghis Khan, led by Babur in 1526, following the Battle of Panipat, whose location in the time of your author's childhood was a restive stop on the trek on the GT road renowned for its delicious Dhabas.

Through the tolerance of Akbar, the culture of Shah Jahan, and the plunder of Aurangzeb, Mughal India was a hotpot of modernity and ideas. She was for the first time since the Chola Empire as one, but under a period of significance when European powers were realising the limits of the seven seas.

India is a continent worthy of its place in humanity's evolution towards a more perfect and inward species; India pervades with cultural and spiritual harmony, providing the amalgamation of all sundry. Mughal India perfected it; in realising the limits of power, the artistry and wonders of Indo-Islamic art took hold of the empire; and that is the India, which at her height under the Mauryas, contemplated rather than conquered.

The India of today is the artificial creation of those who, like those of the past, seek to control and tame her. India is unique, infinitely so, for being an idea rather than a place that is trapped somewhere between the past and present.