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Tellings and Texts

 | 
Francesca Orsini
, 
Katherine Butler Schofield

IV. Musical Knowledge and Aesthetics

15. Learning to Taste the Emotions: The Mughal Rasika1

Katherine Butler Schofield

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  • 1 Formerly known as Katherine Butler Brown. In addition to the participants at “Tellings and Texts” (...)

1In 1691, the North Indian vernacular poet Vrind eulogised his aristocratic patron in the following verses:

  • 2 Vrind, Śṛṅgārśikṣā, cited in Allison Busch, ‘Hidden in Plain View: Brajbhasha Poets at the Mugha (...)

He is handsome, steadfast, valiant, and skilled with a bow.
Generous, knowledgeable, an enjoyer, extremely generous in spirit,
Mirza Qadiri is the jewel of his family,
Clever with emotion, experiencing delight.
A connoisseur (rasika), he understands matters of sentiment (rasa),
And pursues love wholeheartedly.
He longs night and day for music and pleasure.2

  • 3 On the latter, see especially Christopher King, One Language, Two Scripts: The Movement in Ninetee (...)
  • 4 Busch (2010), 298-300
  • 5 For a comprehensive treatment of the Indic concepts of bhava, rasa, and rasika in the period of th (...)

2This poem sets out in fairly stereotypical fashion the two essential ingredients of elite manhood in seventeenth-century North India: skill in the arts of war, and connoisseurship of the arts of pleasure, here specifically love and music. What may be more unexpected about this poem to modern readers, inured as we are to “Hindu-Muslim” tensions and the Hindi-Urdu divide,3 is the object of Vrind’s praise. Vrind was a Hindu, working within the heavily Sanskritised courtly milieu of Brajbhasha riti poetry. But his patron, Mirza Qadiri, was a Muslim, a sufi, and a Mughal office-holder deeply invested in a Persianate cultural universe.4 Vrind extolls Mirza Qadiri as a rasika, translated here as “connoisseur”, but literally “one who, in experiencing the arts, can taste or savour the rasas”, the nine highly distilled sentiments of Sanskritic aesthetic theory.5 Unless this were mere flattery or convention, for Vrind to describe his Mughal patron as a rasika reflected something remarkable.

  • 6 Please note that I am not suggesting in any sense that the Mughals were “foreigners” to India, cer (...)
  • 7 Timothy Rice, May it Fill Your Soul: Experiencing Bulgarian Music (Chicago: University Press, 1994 (...)

3In this chapter I will address the question of what was required in Mughal India for a patron coming initially from outside the Indic aesthetic tradition to truly become a rasika of North Indian (or Hindustani) music:6 to learn to taste the rasas not merely intellectually, as might be possible with poetry, but also experientially, as is central to musical understanding. In other words, I wish to tackle for an historical period Timothy Rice’s ethnomusicological conundrum: whether it is ever possible to translate non-verbal experience from one cultural domain into another — in this case from Indic to Persianate — in order to re-experience it on a deeper level in the new domain.7 My suggestion is that it is possible, and that key to this translation is the notion of affinity: of the existence of experiential common ground between Persianate and Indic ontologies of music — that is to say, what music is and what it does — and particularly music’s central role in both traditions in mediating the various moods of love: ‘ishq in Persian, shringara rasa in Sanskritic terms.

  • 8 Music connoisseurship practices have been very undertheorised to date. For connoisseurship general (...)
  • 9 For a more detailed discussion, see Katherine Butler Schofield, ‘Reviving the Golden Age Again: “C (...)

4Connoisseurship practices are widespread cross-culturally, and the domain of connoisseurship practices — male, socially elite, and discursively exclusive — tends to remain constant across cultures.8 What differs are the specific codes of practice and aesthetic content that form the exclusive body of “knowledge” belonging to each culture of connoisseurship. The body of knowledge relevant to Mughal connoisseurs of North Indian music was set down in Persian-language treatises on Hindustani music theory, largely from the mid-seventeenth century onward, all of which were in dialogue with the authoritative Sanskritic theoretical tradition, and which connoisseurs themselves composed, commissioned, collected, and circulated.9 The knowledge of Hindustani music created and embodied in these treatises reflects the attempt of a Persianate male elite with predominantly sufi inclinations to appropriate into their own systems of logic and modes of connoisseurship a Sanskrit-based Indic musical system that, despite or perhaps because of its otherness, powerfully resonated with their emotional and spiritual sensibilities. The question I want to address here is this: were Mughal patrons able to use this body of knowledge in order to experience Hindustani music in its own Indic terms: as rasikas?

  • 10 Ali (2004), p. 188. In the Nāṭyaśāstra, there were only eight rasas; the ninth, shanta, was a la (...)
  • 11 Martin Clayton, ‘Introduction: Towards a Theory of Musical Meaning (in India and Elsewhere)’, Ethn (...)
  • 12 Qazi Hasan, Miftāḥ al-sarūd [mistransliterated Miṣbāḥ al-sorūr], Asiatic Society Bengal, MS 1629 (...)

5In relation to North Indian cultural fields, I define connoisseurship as the cultivation of the emotions and senses through specific aesthetic practices that also engage the intellect, and in which the aim is experiential transcendence. In the person of the rasika, connoisseurship is overtly privileged in Indic aesthetic theory. The nine rasas, affective essences that are available to be “savoured” by the rasika in the visual and performing arts, are the erotic (shringara), comic (hasya), pathetic (karuna), furious (raudra), heroic (vira), terrible (bhayanaka), disgusting (bibhatsa), marvellous (adbhuta), and irenic (shanta).10 In Sanskrit and Brajbhasha literature of the sixteenth and seventeeth centuries, rasika was the generic term most often used to denote connoisseurs of poetry and music. Both arts, due to their high level of cultivation and abstraction, were considered exemplary in their capacity to concentrate and refract the many facets of the nine rasas and thereby to provoke the connoisseurs’ tasting. In the figure of the rasika, Indic aesthetic theory thus emphasises “the role of the perceiving subject” and privileges “experience and affect”. Artists and their works thereby succeed or fail not on their own terms, but “by [their] ability to evoke aesthetic response in the listener”.11 Critical to the Mughals’ extensively attested capacity to appreciate Indic forms of poetry and music was the fact that Persianate aesthetic theory also shared this emphasis on the audience. In particular, the Islamicate discourse on sama ‘or “audition”, the devotional use of music and poetry by sufi initiates from which much Persianate music aesthetics derive, focuses so heavily on the knowledgeability and emotional and spiritual preparedness of the audience, that comments on music itself or on musicians may be sidelined.12

  • 13 Sundar, Sundarśṛṅgār, cited in Busch (2010), 287. More widely on Mughal-era nayika-bheda and rasa(...)
  • 14 Abu’l Fazl “‘Allami”, Ā’īn-i Akbarī, trans. by H. Blochmann and Col. H. S. Jarrett (Calcutta: Asia (...)
  • 15 Busch (2010), 282-84. A matter for further contemplation concerns Persian of Sanskrit and Brajbhas (...)

6The theory of the rasas, and of how vernacular poetry and song lyrics brought them into being, was certainly known at the Mughal court by the late sixteenth century. Particularly important were the versified catalogues in Sanskrit and Brajbhasha called nayika-bheda, which categorised different kinds of heroines (nayika) and heroes (nayak) using traditional metaphors, and which constituted the lyrical repertory of much courtly song and poetry. Such lyrics were not merely to be read straightforwardly; rather, they exemplified the rasas, and the purpose of nayika-bheda textbooks was to make “the path of rasa […] understood by everybody”.13 Important Mughal patrons not only knew and commissioned nayika-bhedas in Indic languages, but they translated them into Persian, incorporated Persian-language nayikabhedas into treatises on Indian arts, and even used them to guide their own writing of vernacular poetry. Three canonical writers on music — Abu’l Fazl (1551-1602), Mirza Khan (fl. 1675), and Saif Khan Faqirullah (d. 1684)— incorporated Persian-language nayika-bhedas into their works.14 And a great Mughal office-holder like Abdurrahim Khan-i Khanan “Rahim” (1556-1626) was able to compose a set of nayika-bheda verses in Brajbhasha sufficiently accomplished to be praised by his contemporary critics.15 He at least must have qualified as a rasika in the literary sense.

  • 16 It is worth noting that in the Tuḥfat al-Hind, Mirza Khan inserted his section into the chapter on (...)
  • 17 On the nafs or “lower” soul as woman in Persian sufi poetry, particularly that Jalaluddin Rumi, se (...)

7It is particularly important to note that in this poetic tradition, one rasa above all others was celebrated and explored: shringara rasa, the erotic sentiment, known as the king of rasas. Written from the feminine perspective of the nayika, Brajbhasha poetry characteristically explores the travails of a heroine waiting for the return of an absent, neglectful, or teasing beloved; this can also be read ambiguously as referring to a human or a divine beloved.16 The Indic tradition therefore had significant affinities with the Persian poetry central to Mughal cultural traditions. This likewise took as its principal theme ‘ishq, or love, and firaq, longing for the absent beloved, and could similarly be read in either a courtly or devotional manner. In sufi readings of such poetry, the soul — the interlocutor — was frequently construed as feminine,17 even though the interlocutor of Persian poetry is usually construed as masculine.

  • 18 Ibid., esp. 118-38; see also e. g. Shantanu Phukan, ‘‘Through Throats Where Rivers Meet’: The Ecol (...)
  • 19 Phukan (2001), 34-36. Phukan’s article, with its reflections on the confluence of “varying emotion (...)
  • 20 See e. g. the lyrics of the dhrupad and other song compositions in the Sahasras for Shah Jahan, an (...)

8The peculiar affection of Indian sufis for the female voice of Indian vernacular poetry and song lyrics, particularly in the guise of the virahini seeking reunion with her male beloved, is well known.18 Through nayika-bheda descriptions of different kinds of romantic heroines in verse and song, a vast proliferation of emotions and scenarios, all of them revealing different aspects of shringara rasa, were made available to the Mughal connoisseur for exploration in the person of the Indian nayika. Shantanu Phukan makes clear that in seventeenth-century Mughal readings of vernacular poetry, shringara rasa as enacted through the romances of heroes and heroines resonated profoundly with ‘ishq.19 Mughal aficionados of songs may therefore have seized on the nayika, the principal embodiment of shringara rasa, as a means to enhance and enlarge the emotional experiences of their own exploration of ‘ishq through the shared Indic and Persianate metaphor of the lover yearning for the beloved.20

  • 21 Ibid., 36; Phukan, ‘” None Mad as a Hindu Woman”: Contesting Communal Readings of Padmavat ’, Comp (...)
  • 22 Aditya Behl, ‘Presence and Absence in Bhakti: An Afterword’, International Journal of Hindu Studie (...)
  • 23 Katherine Butler Schofield, ‘Sense and Sensibility: The Domain of Pleasure and the Place of Music (...)

9It is the affinity between shringara rasa and ‘ishq that most obviously connects the Mughal connoisseur of music to the Indic rasika. This affinity goes back at least to the pre-Mughal sufi romances, magical narratives in which sufi vernacular authors used poetical imagery from the Indic tradition as complex allegories, and which when revisited by Mughal noblemen became a renewed source of pleasure and moral and spiritual instruction.21 Aditya Behl pointed out that the principal object of the hero’s quest in the sufi romance, which is a metaphor for the journey of the human soul towards the Divine, is shringara rasa. However, along the way, all nine of the rasas are explored, savoured, tasted, and transformed for the purposes of teaching the sufi how to control and sublimate his baser emotions22 — a notion that has clear links with Islamicate understandings of cultivating the emotions through artistic means in order to balance mental and physical health.23 There thus appears to be a long tradition within Indian sufism of the sufi as true rasika, an idea that is at least obliquely manifested in the treatises on music written at the seventeenth-century Mughal court.

  • 24 For a potted biography see Charles Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museu (...)
  • 25 We derive the title Tarjuma-yi Pārijātak (a) from colonial-era catalogues like Hermann Ethé’s Ca (...)
  • 26 Busch (2010), 296-97.
  • 27 Ziauddin, ff. 57b-58a.

10Several Mughal holders of high office and patrons of music were undoubtedly rasikas, going by the depth of their musical writings. The most interesting was Mirza Raushan Zamir (d. 1669).24 The author of the 1666 Tarjuma-yi Pārijātak,25 a Persian commentary on Ahobala’s contemporary Sanskrit music treatise, the Saṅgītapārijāta, he was by far the most sophisticated and knowledgable scholar of Hindustani music and Sanskrit music theory of the Indo-Persian corpus. He is better known to Indian literary history, however, as the Brajbhasha poet “Nehi”, and Allison Busch argues that his poems, including several on the nayika, “attest to [his] remarkable command of Braj literary style”.26 Zamir demonstrably possessed fluent command of Sanskrit and Brajbhasha, and an expert’s understanding of traditional Indic aesthetics and Hindustani music. The author of the late eighteenth-century Hòayy al-arwāḥ memorialised him as possessing “genius (mahārat) in both the knowledge and practice (‘ilm o ‘amal) of music”, and of composing (guftan) “many dohras and kavitts in the bhākhā language, which is the idiom for [exploring] shringāra rasa, shringāra rasa being the beauty and love (ḥusn o ‘ishq) of women and men”.27 Zamir was by anyone’s estimation a rasika.

  • 28 Nawwab Samsam-ud-daula Shah Nawaz Khan and ‘Abdul Hayy, The Ma‘āthir-ul-Umarā, trans. by H. Beve (...)

11Saif Khan Faqirullah, a very high-ranking Mughal officer, was likewise famed long after his death for having been a rasika of Hindustani music.28

  • 29 Schofield (2010), 495-98.
  • 30 Faqirullah (1996), e. g. pp. 78-81, 94-95,
  • 31 Though for key discussions of the artificiality of correlations between the rasas individual swara (...)
  • 32 Qazi Hasan, ff. 8a-b; Zamir, f. 1b; Faqirullah (1996), pp. 78-81; and Muhammad Karam Imam Khan, Ma (...)

12And he aspired through his writings to induce similar levels of mastery in his fellow Mughal patrons.29 His technical knowledge of Hindustani raga theory was less virtuosic than Zamir’s, but it is evident throughout his 1666 Rāg darpan that, far more importantly, Faqirullah tasted the rasas of Hindustani music performance. For Faqirullah, music was about the momentary transcendent experience, the experience primarily of ‘ishq.30 This is important: I would suggest that even a deep understanding of how the rasas were embodied in poetry, and a command of Indic musictechnical knowledge, did not necessarily make a Mughal patron a musical rasika. This was because Hindustani music itself embodied the rasas, and could do so entirely independently of language. Musical sound was a primary vehicle of rasa in traditional Indic aesthetics, as exemplified in the ragamala tradition of painting the character of each musical mode of the Indian melodic system as a nayak or nayika. Even down to the present day, each raga of the Indian modal system is said to embody one of the nine rasas.31 Music had power in its own right to move the emotions independently of any visual or verbal aid; musical sound was considered to be efficacious (pur as̱ar/ bā tā‘s̱ir).32 Combined with textual evocations of shringara rasa it was twice as powerful as either on their own. To be a true rasika of music, one thus needed to experience the rasa in the sound of the raga alone.

  • 33 Charles Seeger, ‘Speech, Music, and Speech About Music’, in Studies in Musicology, 1935-1975 (Berk (...)
  • 34 Sher ‘Ali Khan Lodi, Taẕkira-yi mir’āt al-khayāl, ed. by Hamid Hasani and Safarzadah (Tehran: Ra (...)
  • 35 Ibid. I translate the word tā‘s̱ir as “efficacy” here (less often as “effect”) in order to highli (...)
  • 36 Abu’l Fazl (1873-1907), Vol. 3, p. 239; Mirza Khan (1968), p. 71 and elsewhere; (1996), pp. 14-19, (...)
  • 37 Ras Baras Khan, Shams al-aṣvāt, ed. and trans. by Mehrdad Fallahzadeh (Uppsala: Acta Universitati (...)

13This presents us with problems in ascertaining the extent to which the Mughal connoisseur of music qualified as a true taster of the rasas, as opposed to someone whose head was merely stuffed with textual theory. The most basic is Charles Seeger’s “linguocentric predicament”— that it is exceptionally difficult to describe the experience of music in words.33 As Sher Khan Lodi put it in 1691, “it is simply not possible to capture the essence of music in pen and ink on the surface of a page”.34 The Mughals, like the rest of us, were hamstrung by their difficulty in expressing through the “sibilant scratches of a broken pen” the full emotional, physiological, and often spiritual efficacy of the sound of the raga for the listener.35 More problematically, the musical treatises gloss over the rasas rather briefly. Abu’l Fazl and Mirza Khan listed and described the rasas, but in relation to literature. Faqirullah named the rasas of several ragas and provided a definition, but did not otherwise explain them. Zamir briefly identified the rasas associated with each of the notes of the scale.36 Perhaps most inexplicably, Ras Baras Khan, the Emperor Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir’s chief musician and our most authoritative source, whose own name is indicative of the centrality of rasa to the hereditary tradition, did not discuss rasa theory in his 1698 Shams al-aṣwāt.37

14Nonetheless, I am going to suggest that the Mughal treatise writers’ obvious grasp of the rasas within the literary domain, the ways in which they attempted to describe musical experience, and their major stated reason for writing — their concern to explain the unique efficacy of each raga for the listener — demonstrate that they did possess an accurate sense of the rasas in Hindustani music, and especially shringara rasa.

  • 38 Powers (1980), p. 482.

15The key lies in the affinities between what music is and does in Persianate and Sanskritic ontologies. In the Sanskritic framework, different ragas evoke and provoke the nine rasas, with a special emphasis on the facets of shringara rasa.38 What music is and does on the most basic level in the Persianate framework comes from sufi discourse. According to al-Ghazzali, music is the manifestation of ‘ishq, love, as it pertains to the sense of hearing:

  • 39 Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali, The Alchemy of Happiness [Kimīyā-yi sa‘ādāt], trans. by Field (London: J (...)

We come now to treat of love in its essential nature. Love may be defined as an inclination to that which is pleasant. This is apparent in the case of the five senses, each of which may be said to love that which gives it delight; thus the eye loves beautiful forms, the ear music, etc… But there is a sixth sense, or faculty of perception, implanted in the heart… through which we become aware of spiritual beauty and excellence. Thus, a man who is only acquainted with sensuous delights cannot understand what the Prophet meant when he said he loved prayer more than perfume or women, though the last two were also pleasant to him.39

16Music is therefore a synecdoche — albeit a lesser one — for the sublimities of love, with direct and immediate access to the soul of the listener, and the power to transform the listener’s emotional state. In the words of Abu’l Fazl:

  • 40 Abu’l Fazl (1873-1907), Vol. 1, p. 611; and Abu’l Fazl “‘Allami”, Ā’īn-i Akbarī, ed. Blochmann (Ca (...)

I cannot sufficiently describe the wonderful power [nairangī, magic] of this talisman [ṭilism] of knowledge [music]. It sometimes causes the beautiful creatures of the harem of the heart to shine forth on the tongue… The melodies then enter through the window of the ear and return to their former seat, the heart, bringing with them thousands of presents. The hearers, according to their insight, are moved to sorrow or to joy. Music is thus of use to those who have renounced the world and to such as still cling to it.40

  • 41 Faqirullah (1996), pp. 152-3. For one of the earliest detailed elaborations of the efficacious pur (...)

17In other words, what music is, its essence, is the direct aural manifestation of sentiment and especially love, and what music does, its purpose, is to move the listener’s emotions. As Faqirullah put it, “ranjakatāyī — to arouse tender sympathy [riqqat] in the heart [of the listener]— is music’s entire essence [lazzat] and its result [mā-ḥaṣal]”.41

  • 42 e. g. Qazi Hasan, ff. 8a-b; Zamir, f. 1b; Faqirullah (1996), pp. 78-81; Karam Imam (1925), pp. 109 (...)
  • 43 Behl (2012b), p. 22.
  • 44ẕauq o maza [taste]”; Mirza Khan (1968), Vol. 1, p. 71.
  • 45 Faqirullah (1996), pp.

18Music’s tangible emotional and physiological results are a prominent subject of reflection in the treatises. Several authors foreground the efficacy of music, its asar or ta’sir,42 and a large number of words for pleasureable effect are used in conjunction with Hindustani music in this corpus, particularly zauq and lazzat. Notably, these two words also mean taste, flavour, savour, or “feel”, and zauq also has a specifically sufi usage, meaning a “[cultivated] taste for things spiritual”.43 That words like zauq and lazzat, which mean both pleasurable effect and taste or flavour, were used so frequently in Indo-Persian treatises to describe the ragas ’effects is, I would argue, because they had the semantic depth to evoke the Sanskritic concept of rasa, centrally embodied in the performance and listening experience of raga. Indeed, Mirza Khan translated the word rasa as zauq.44 Faqirullah’s definition of rasa —“which means inflaming the passion and pleasing the heart [through] listening”— maps very closely onto his understanding (above) of the lazzat, essence, of music.45 Elsewhere, a strong link is made, through the use of this language of affect and effect, between music and a deeper aesthetic listening experience verging on sublimity that is capable of being translated, discursively and experientially, from Indic into Persianate terms, even where rasa is not invoked explicitly.

  • 46 Zamir, f. 1b.
  • 47 ‘Ivaz Muhammad Kamilkhani, Risāla dar ‘amal-i bīn o thātha-yi rāg-hā-yi Hindī, Bodleian Librar (...)

19That the Mughal treatise writers did understand specific affective essences to be key to understanding Hindustani music is made explicit in the stated concern of several authors with explaining its agreed effects on the listener, largely through highly technical discussions of raga and the seven notes (swara) of the scale. Zamir’s first purpose in writing was musicological, but in order to fulfil a second central purpose: “to describe to a certain degree [the ragas’] effect on the listener; how it is that the gentle singing of the beautiful voice causes dusk to fall, that vengeful snakes are tamed by melancholy harmonies, and that deer pass away from listening to heart-stealing music”.46 The purpose of Kamilkhani’s 1668 treatise on raga was to explain the theory behind why each raga must be played at a specific time of day or season of the year in order to produce a specific, designated effect that “pleases and ravishes the heart”.47

20The Indo-Persian writers knew well which rasas were traditionally associated with each raga in the Sanskritic tradition. The three authors who particularly took up the topic of attempting to explain the ragas’effects on the listener insisted, however, that they inhered not in the overall mode, but in the movements and relationships of its constituent notes, and in particular its strongest and second strongest notes (vadi and samvadi). Designated effects were caused by the fact that each note was dominated by one of the four elements from Persianate medicinal discourse — fire, earth, air, and water. In this way, each note had specific power over one of the four humours of the body, thus explaining the raga’s efficaciousness for the connoisseur in Unani medicinal terms. Shaikh ‘Abdul Karim explained that:

  • 48 Shaikh ‘Abdul Karim bin Shaikh Farid Ansari al-Qadiri, Jawāhir al-mūsīqāt-i Muḥammadī, British Li (...)

The ragas are of four types: one [type of] raga is of airy essence, one fiery, one watery, and one earthy […] From listening to those ragas that possess the airy essence one’s heart will be buffeted by the grief of separation (firaq). From listening to those ragas that possess the fiery essence, the stations of the heart will be inflamed with passionate love (‘ishq). From listening to those ragas that possess the watery essence the stations of the heart will be annihilated through proximate union (wisal) with Divine Truth within the essence of the Glorious and Great Existence. From listening to those ragas that possess the earthy essence the stations of the heart will attain an excess of mystical knowledge (‘irfan) of their true selves.48

  • 49 Ras Baras Khan (2012
  • 50 Zamir, ff. 11b-12a; this is a literal translation of and commentary on the original; cf. Ahobala P (...)

21According to Ras Baras Khan, the first and fifth notes corresponded with water, the second and fourth with fire, the third and sixth with earth, and the seventh with wind.49 Zamir/Ahobala’s allocation of effect to note was identical to Ras Baras Khan’s, but, strikingly, expressed in terms of rasa: the seventh note invoked karuna rasa, which was indeed the mood of longing caused by separation, and the same two notes that inflamed the fire of ‘ishq were likewise those that provoked shringara rasa.50 Thus the Mughal writers made sense of the rasas by reference to Persianate explanations of music’s efficacies as medicinal preparations. In this way, Mughal connoisseurs synthesised the rasas, through the ragas, into their bodily practice and experience of the healing powers of music. Through physiological understanding, they became rasikas.

  • 51 Faqirullah (1996), pp. 94-99; Abu’l Fazl (1873-1907), Vol. 3, pp. 251-52. Faqirullah’s description (...)
  • 52 Ibid., pp. 133-49.
  • 53 For detailed discussion see Françoise “Nalini” Delvoye, ‘The Verbal Content of Dhrupad Songs from (...)

22The most important sentiments music provoked in Persianate ontologies were love, ‘ishq; and the pain or grief of separation, hazin, dard, and firaq. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Hindustani art music genres that were most popular amongst Mughal patrons similarly took the many facets of shringara rasa as their subject matter. The most important of these, dhrupad, composed in Brajbhasha and performed by the top musicians of the day, was according to Faqirullah capable of evoking all nine rasas. Primarily, though, dhrupad dealt with “the fascinations of love and its wondrous effects upon the heart”.51 Faqirullah inserted a Persian nayika-bheda into his musical treatise, in between sections on musical instruments and different vocal types.52 The obvious reason why Faqirullah thought a catalogue of heroines was necessary to understanding Hindustani music was to guide connoisseurs who might be less familiar with Brajbhasha with regard to the usual emotional range of dhrupad. According to Nalini Delvoye, the 1,004 dhrupad texts preserved in the Sahasras, a 1637-1646 compilation for the Emperor Shah Jahan, demonstrate that their primary subject matter was indeed love. And with few exceptions Mughal-period dhrupad texts drew on two kinds of female lover from the nayika-bheda tradition: the khandita nayika, the heroine whose lover is unfaithful and absent in the arms of another; and the patur, the courtesan, whose life is full of dance, music, and romantic intrigue. The romantic hero, the nayak, is described as the ideal rasika.53

  • 54 Orsini (2014a), p. 234
  • 55 Behl (2012b).

23But what is most interesting about all the traditional nayika-bheda imagery in extant Mughal dhrupad texts is that it maps closely onto the dhrupad imagery that ‘ Abdul Wahid Bilgrami interpreted allegorically as sufi concepts in his 1566 Hòaqā’iq-i Hindī. His purpose was to reveal the deeper meanings sufis read into Brajbhasha terminology, most importantly the patur, who is really the seeker after Truth (Schimmel’s woman soul); and the nayak, the perfect rasika, who is really the pir or spiritual guide, “the guide to true reality (murshid-i ḥaqīqat) or anyone who has been a full recipient of the bounty of God’s presence”.54 In other words, it seems that from at least the mid-sixteenth century onwards, Mughal-era adherents to sufism, like their Delhi Sultanate predecessors,55 had appropriated the language, imagery, and themes of Indian aesthetics, and particularly those that embodied shringara rasa, into their hearing of dhrupad in devotional settings. How much more likely is it that this absorption would have extended to Mughal appreciation of the emotional resonances of dhrupad texts — their evocation of rasa — within the aesthetic realm of courtly connnoisseurship?

  • 56 Orsini (2014a), p. 234
  • 57 Abu’l Fazl (1873-1907), Vol. 3, p. 257-58; Katherine Butler Brown [Schofield], ‘If Music be the Fo (...)
  • 58 Muhammd Akram Ghanimat, Nairang-i ‘ishq, ed. by Ghulam Rabbani ‘Aziz (Lahore: Panjabi Adabi Akadem (...)

24Of particular resonance to Mughal aficionados of dhrupad would have been the figure of the bahurupi, who symbolises in Bilgrami’s analysis “the real beauty of God [... since] by virtue of being a beloved [he] possesses a special beauty (ḥusn o jamāl), and by the quality of being the lover has a special desire and yearning… Since his face had a hundred thousand faces […] every speck revealed anew a different countenance”.56 As with so many Indic and Persianate song lyrics, the bahurupi can be interpreted in many ways. The bahurupiya were one of several communities of male street performers who employed beautiful young men who danced, sang, and dressed in thousands of different costumes to trick and tease their spectators. Such beautiful youths were often objects of erotic attention and could be taken by Mughal men as beloveds; but they could also be metaphorically transformed into shahids, witnesses of God’s beauty, who could be present in the sufi assembly entirely unproblematically as a visible reminder of the beauty of God.57 The famous Persian masnavi of Muhammad Akram Ghanimat of 1685, the Nairang-i ‘ ishq, concerns the story of just such a love, which is really quite homoerotic in places, but which is overtly to be read as an allegory for the soul’s quest for the divine.58 Of course, the human lovers of the nayak-nayika tradition were also frequently interpreted in devotional terms, and superimposed particularly on the love of Radha and Krishna.

  • 59 Rice (1994), pp. 6-8.
  • 60 On the term suficate, see Shackle (1999), pp. 436-37.

25When dhrupad songs travelled from the court to the sufi assembly and back into the courtly setting and out again, they had to be capable of being interpreted in a multiplicity of ways — whether sufi, Hindu bhakti, aesthetic, devotional, or any combination of these — depending on the listener’s history of emotional and cultural experiences.59 But by the seventeenth century the Mughal patron had long appropriated and reappropriated, through repeated listenings in different contexts and on different occasions, the imagery and the sounds associated originally with shringara rasa into his own deeply felt aesthetic experience of Hindustani music, through the powerful affinity he felt between shringara rasa and ‘ishq, cultivated in the particular suficate environment of Mughal Hindustan.60 In this way, some Mughal connoisseurs of Hindustani music became, recognisably, rasikas.

Notes

1 Formerly known as Katherine Butler Brown. In addition to the participants at “Tellings and Texts” conference, I wish to thank Sunil Kumar and the history students at Delhi University whose thought-provoking response to this paper initiated muchneeded revisions; the European Research Council for funding the research that made its way into later drafts; and Steve Dolph for sending me a rare copy of Aditya Behl’s last article, ‘” The Path of True Feeling”: On Translating Qutban’s Mirigāvatī ’, Calque 5 (2009), 68-113. I dedicate this paper with love to Aditya, himself a rasika, whose conversations on this and other subjects I miss very much.

2 Vrind, Śṛṅgārśikṣā, cited in Allison Busch, ‘Hidden in Plain View: Brajbhasha Poets at the Mughal Court’, Modern Asian Studies 44.2 (2010), 299.

3 On the latter, see especially Christopher King, One Language, Two Scripts: The Movement in Nineteenth-century North India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994); also Before the Divide: Hindi and Urdu Literary Culture, ed. by F. Orsini (New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2010).

4 Busch (2010), 298-300

5 For a comprehensive treatment of the Indic concepts of bhava, rasa, and rasika in the period of their initial formulation, see Daud Ali, Courtly Culture and Political Life in Early Medieval India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 185-206.

6 Please note that I am not suggesting in any sense that the Mughals were “foreigners” to India, certainly not by the seventeenth century from which I draw much of my material; I am merely reflecting on the remarkable fact that many new Persianate migrants to India in the Mughal era so rapidly became bicultural.

7 Timothy Rice, May it Fill Your Soul: Experiencing Bulgarian Music (Chicago: University Press, 1994), pp. 3-8.

8 Music connoisseurship practices have been very undertheorised to date. For connoisseurship generally, see Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (London: Routledge, 1999); for art and manuscript collecting in Mughal and early colonial India, see John Seyller, ‘A Mughal Code of Connoisseurship’, Muqarnas 17 (2000), 177-202; Natasha Eaton, ‘ Between Mimesis and Alterity: Art, Gift, and Diplomacy in Colonial India, 1770-1800’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 46.4 (2004), 816-44; and Maya Jasanoff, Edge of Empire: Conquest and Collecting in the East, 1750-1850 (London: Harper Perennial, 2006).

9 For a more detailed discussion, see Katherine Butler Schofield, ‘Reviving the Golden Age Again: “Classicization”, Hindustani Music, and the Mughals’, Ethnomusicology 54.3 (2010), 484-517.

10 Ali (2004), p. 188. In the Nāṭyaśāstra, there were only eight rasas; the ninth, shanta, was a later addition.

11 Martin Clayton, ‘Introduction: Towards a Theory of Musical Meaning (in India and Elsewhere)’, Ethnomusicology Forum 17.2 (2001), 13.

12 Qazi Hasan, Miftāḥ al-sarūd [mistransliterated Miṣbāḥ al-sorūr], Asiatic Society Bengal, MS 1629, ff. 2a-4a; also Carl W. Ernst and Bruce B. Lawrence, Sufi Martyrs of Love: The Chishti Order in South Asia and Beyond (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), pp. 34-46. For extensive discussion of sufi appropriation of rasa theory in the domain of literature, see Aditya Behl, Love’s Subtle Magic: An Indian Islamic Literary Tradition, 1379-1545 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012b), especially pp. 59-108, 286-384.

13 Sundar, Sundarśṛṅgār, cited in Busch (2010), 287. More widely on Mughal-era nayika-bheda and rasa theory, see ibid., 281-7.

14 Abu’l Fazl “‘Allami”, Ā’īn-i Akbarī, trans. by H. Blochmann and Col. H. S. Jarrett (Calcutta: Asiatic Society of Bengal and Baptist Mission Press, 1873-1907; reprint 2008), Vol. 3, pp. 239-44; Mirza Khan ibn Fakhruddin Muhammad, Tuḥfat al-Hind, ed. by N. H. Ansari (Tehran: Bunyad-i Farhang-i Iran, 1968), Vol. 1, pp. 297-321; Saif Khan “Faqirullah”, Tarjuma-i-Mānakutūhala & Risāla-i-Rāg Darpan, ed. and trans. by Shahab Sarmadee (New Delhi: IGNCA and Motilal Banarsidass, 1996), pp. 132-49.

15 Busch (2010), 282-84. A matter for further contemplation concerns Persian of Sanskrit and Brajbhasha nayika-bheda and ragamala verses (dhyanas), whose subject matter and evocative purpose are related. While both Brajbhasha and Sanskrit versions explicitly seek through poetical means to evoke the rasa associated with nayika or raga iconography, there is no attempt to do this in Persian translations of the same material. Rather, the latter tend not merely to be in prose, but in prosaic prose, almost as if they are simply guides to the original materials.

16 It is worth noting that in the Tuḥfat al-Hind, Mirza Khan inserted his section into the chapter on shringara rasa; Khan (1968), pp. 297-31.

17 On the nafs or “lower” soul as woman in Persian sufi poetry, particularly that Jalaluddin Rumi, see Annemarie Schimmel, My Soul is a Woman: The Feminine in Islam (New York: Continuum, 2003 [1997]), pp. 69-80.

18 Ibid., esp. 118-38; see also e. g. Shantanu Phukan, ‘‘Through Throats Where Rivers Meet’: The Ecology of Hindi in the World of Persian’, Indian Economic and Social History Review 38.1 (2001), 33-58; Katherine Butler Brown [Schofield], ‘The Origins and Early Development of Khayal’, in Hindustani Music: Thirteenth to Twentieth Centuries, ed. by Joep Bor et al. (New Delhi: Manohar, 2010), pp. 159-94; Francesca Orsini, ‘“Krishna is the Truth of Man”: Mir ‘Abdul Wahid Bilgrami’s Haqā’iq-i Hindī (Indian Truths) and the Circulation of Dhrupad and Bishnupad’, in Culture and Circulation, ed. by Allison Busch and Thomas de Bruijn (Leiden: Brill, 2014), pp. 222-46.

19 Phukan (2001), 34-36. Phukan’s article, with its reflections on the confluence of “varying emotional resonance [s]” of Hindi and Persian in Mughal literature, has many things to say to my work in this chapter.

20 See e. g. the lyrics of the dhrupad and other song compositions in the Sahasras for Shah Jahan, and Khushhal Khan’s Rāg-rāginī roz o shab, compiled for Nizam Asaf Jah III of Hyderabad; Sahasras: Nāyak Bakhśū ke dhrupadoṃ kā sañgrah, ed. by Premlata Sharma (New Delhi: Sangit Natak Academy, 1972); Khushhal Khan “Anup”, Ragrāginī-yi roz o shab, Salar Jung Museum Library, MS Urdu Mus 2.

21 Ibid., 36; Phukan, ‘” None Mad as a Hindu Woman”: Contesting Communal Readings of Padmavat ’, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 16.1 (1996), 41-54.

22 Aditya Behl, ‘Presence and Absence in Bhakti: An Afterword’, International Journal of Hindu Studies 11.3 (2007), 321-2; Behl (2009), 73-76.

23 Katherine Butler Schofield, ‘Sense and Sensibility: The Domain of Pleasure and the Place of Music in Mughal Society’, forthcoming; see also Behl (2012b), especially pp. 286-324.

24 For a potted biography see Charles Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1883), Vol. 3, p. 1088; and more extensively Ziauddin, Hòayy al-arwāḥ, John Rylands Library University of Manchester, MS Persian 346, ff. 57b-8a.

25 We derive the title Tarjuma-yi Pārijātak (a) from colonial-era catalogues like Hermann Ethé’s Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts in the Library of the India Office (Oxford: India Office, 1903), Vol. 1, pp. 1117, but this treatise should probably be entitled Tarjuma-yi kitāb-i Pārijātak, “Translation of the book Pārijātak”, as it is in the colophon, or simply Pārijātak; e. g. British Library, MS Egerton 793, f. 211a. In the preface, only the Sanskrit original is referred to, in the phrase muṣannīf-i kitāb-i Pārijātak ki Ahōbal nām dārad, “the author of the book Pārijātak, whose name is Ahobal”; ibid., f. 2a.

26 Busch (2010), 296-97.

27 Ziauddin, ff. 57b-58a.

28 Nawwab Samsam-ud-daula Shah Nawaz Khan and ‘Abdul Hayy, The Ma‘āthir-ul-Umarā, trans. by H. Beveridge (Calcutta: Oriental Press, 1952), Vol. 2, pp. 683-87.

29 Schofield (2010), 495-98.

30 Faqirullah (1996), e. g. pp. 78-81, 94-95,

31 Though for key discussions of the artificiality of correlations between the rasas individual swaras, ragas, and iconographical forms in both Sanskrit musical treatises and ragamala paintings, see Richard Widdess, The Rāgas of Early Indian Music: Modes, Melodies and Musical Notations from the Gupta Period to c. 1250 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1995), pp. 39-48; and Tushara Bindu Gude, ‘Between Music and History: Rāgamāla Paintings and European Collectors in Late Eighteenth-century Northern India’(PhD dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 2009), pp. 52-55. Harold Powers argues that a single rasa, in its many facets, is predominant in ragamala paintings: shringara rasa; ‘Illustrated Inventories of Indian Rāgamāla Painting’, Journal of the American Oriental Society 100.4 (1980), 482.

32 Qazi Hasan, ff. 8a-b; Zamir, f. 1b; Faqirullah (1996), pp. 78-81; and Muhammad Karam Imam Khan, Ma‘dan al-mūsīqī, ed. by Sayyid Wajid ‘Ali (Lucknow: Hindustani Press, 1925 [1869]), pp. 109-16.

33 Charles Seeger, ‘Speech, Music, and Speech About Music’, in Studies in Musicology, 1935-1975 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), p. 23.

34 Sher ‘Ali Khan Lodi, Taẕkira-yi mir’āt al-khayāl, ed. by Hamid Hasani and Safarzadah (Tehran: Rawzanah, 1998), p. 141.

35 Ibid. I translate the word tā‘s̱ir as “efficacy” here (less often as “effect”) in order to highlight the link made in the sources between music and medicine, and the raga as a quasi-medicinal preparation that possesses medicinal efficacy; see especially Karam Imam (1925), pp. 109-16.

36 Abu’l Fazl (1873-1907), Vol. 3, p. 239; Mirza Khan (1968), p. 71 and elsewhere; (1996), pp. 14-19, 32-33, 94-97; Zamir, ff. 11b-12a. The author of the fourteenth-century Ghunyat al-munya, the first known Persian treatise on Hindustani music, translated rasa as kaifīya-i laṭīfa (“subtle emotional state”), listed all the rasas and considered them to saturate Indian poetry, music, and dance (for a discussion see Behl (2012b), pp. 293-94)— but there is no evidence the Mughal theorists knew their masterful Tughluqid predecessor.

37 Ras Baras Khan, Shams al-aṣvāt, ed. and trans. by Mehrdad Fallahzadeh (Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2012 [1698]).

38 Powers (1980), p. 482.

39 Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali, The Alchemy of Happiness [Kimīyā-yi sa‘ādāt], trans. by Field (London: John Murray, 1910 [c. 1100]), pp. 100-01.

40 Abu’l Fazl (1873-1907), Vol. 1, p. 611; and Abu’l Fazl “‘Allami”, Ā’īn-i Akbarī, ed. Blochmann (Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1868-1877), Vol. 2, pp. 262-63.

41 Faqirullah (1996), pp. 152-3. For one of the earliest detailed elaborations of the efficacious purposes of music vis-à-vis the human emotions, see Epistles of the Brethren of Purity: On Music, ed. and trans. by Owen Wright (Oxford: Oxford University Press and The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2010), pp. 76-81, 124-26, 162-75.

42 e. g. Qazi Hasan, ff. 8a-b; Zamir, f. 1b; Faqirullah (1996), pp. 78-81; Karam Imam (1925), pp. 109-16.

43 Behl (2012b), p. 22.

44ẕauq o maza [taste]”; Mirza Khan (1968), Vol. 1, p. 71.

45 Faqirullah (1996), pp.

46 Zamir, f. 1b.

47 ‘Ivaz Muhammad Kamilkhani, Risāla dar ‘amal-i bīn o thātha-yi rāg-hā-yi Hindī, Bodleian Library, MS Ouseley 158, 1668, ff. 123a-125a.

48 Shaikh ‘Abdul Karim bin Shaikh Farid Ansari al-Qadiri, Jawāhir al-mūsīqāt-i Muḥammadī, British Library, MS Or. 12,857, c. 1640, f. 67b; Katherine Butler Schofield, ‘Indian Music in the Persian Collections: The Javahir al-Musiqat-i Muhammadi’, parts 1 and 2, British Library Asian and African Studies Blog (October 2014), http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/

49 Ras Baras Khan (2012

50 Zamir, ff. 11b-12a; this is a literal translation of and commentary on the original; cf. Ahobala Pandit, Saṅgītapārijāta (Hathras: Sangit Karyalaya, 1971), pp. 31-32.

51 Faqirullah (1996), pp. 94-99; Abu’l Fazl (1873-1907), Vol. 3, pp. 251-52. Faqirullah’s description is a palimpsest of Abu’l Fazl’s, by which I mean verbatim citation with insertions of original commentary.

52 Ibid., pp. 133-49.

53 For detailed discussion see Françoise “Nalini” Delvoye, ‘The Verbal Content of Dhrupad Songs from the Earliest Collections, I: The Hazar Dhurpad or Sahasras’, Dhrupad Annual (1990), 93-109.

54 Orsini (2014a), p. 234

55 Behl (2012b).

56 Orsini (2014a), p. 234

57 Abu’l Fazl (1873-1907), Vol. 3, p. 257-58; Katherine Butler Brown [Schofield], ‘If Music be the Food of Love: Masculinity and Eroticism in the Mughal Mehfil’, in Love in South Asia: A Cultural History, ed. by Francesca Orsini (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 61-83.

58 Muhammd Akram Ghanimat, Nairang-i ‘ishq, ed. by Ghulam Rabbani ‘Aziz (Lahore: Panjabi Adabi Akademi, 1962 [c. 1690]); Christopher Shackle, ‘Persian Poetry and Qadiri Sufism in Late Mughal India: Ghanimat Kunjahi and his Mathnawi Nayrang-i ‘Ishq’, in The Heritage of Sufism: III. Late Classical Persianate Sufism (1501-1750), ed. by Leonard Lewisohn (Oxford: Oneworld, 1999), pp. 435-63.

59 Rice (1994), pp. 6-8.

60 On the term suficate, see Shackle (1999), pp. 436-37.

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