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JEWS AND JUDAISM AT THE COURT OF THE MOGHUL EMPERORS IN MEDIEVAL INDIA

JEWS AND JUDAISM AT THE COURT OF THE MOGHUL EMPERORS IN MEDIEVAL INDIA

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JEWS AND JUDAISM AT THE COURT OF THE MOGHUL EMPERORS IN MEDIEVAL INDIA by WALTER J. FISCHEL
JEWS AND JUDAISM AT THE COURT OF THE MOGHUL EMPERORS IN MEDIEVAL INDIA by WALTER J. FISCHEL

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Published by: avitechwriter on May 19, 2010
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04/22/2013

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JEWSANDJUDAISMATTHECOURT OF THEMOGHUL EMPERORSIN MEDIEVAL INDIABy
WALTER
J.
FISCHEL
I.Introduction.II.HistoricalBackground.III.Akbar theGreat(1542-1605),IV. TheReligious DisputationsathisCourt.V.TheParticipationofJewsintheseDisputations.VI. Translation of theHolyBooks.VII. TheOriginof theJewsatAkbar's Court.VIII. Persia: TheReservoirforIndianJews.
IX.Kashmir.
X. ThePersonalityofSarmad.XI.Sarmad's PlaceintheAnnals of Persian Literature.XII.Sarmad's Service to theJewishCause.1.Sarmad and the"Dabistan."2.Sarmad and thePersianGenesis-translation.3.Sarmadand the CrownPrinceDaraShikoh.XIII.Sarmad'sTragicEnd.XIV.Akbar theGreat andNadir ShahofPersia.(1688-1747).
137
 
FISCHEL
I
INTRODUCTION
Duringthe sixteenthcenturythreemajorhistoricaleventstookplacewhichhavefundamentallytransformedthepo-litical,culturalandreligiousorderof the IslamicandAsiaticworld.These threemajorhistorical eventswere theriseofthe Sefaviddynasty,with the introductionofShi'a IslamasastatereligioninPersia(1502);theappearanceofthePor-tugueseinAsiaandtheircolonizationonthecoastof India(1510);and the establishmentof theMoghuldynastyin In-dia(1526).Thefar-reachingeffectof thesethree factorsonthe life andhistoryoftheJewishcommunitiesscatteredthroughouttheOrientand theirgeographical,economicand culturalstructureare still almostuntouchedproblemsofJewishhistoricalre-search.'Anattemptis here madeto dealwithbutone ofthesethreeevents,namely,withtheriseoftheMoghuldynastyinIndiaanditsrelationshiptoJewsandJudaism.MedievalMoghulIndia,the Indiaof aBabur,of anAkbartheGreat,ofanAurang-zeb-tomentionbut themostoutstandingrulers-coveringaperiodof abouttwo centuries(1526-1707),hasnotyetbeenrecognizedas a field ofJewishhistory.The attentionofJew-ishscholarshipwasdirected,as farasJewsinIndiaare con-cerned,towardsthe more exoticgroups,suchasthe"BeniIsrael"groupinBombay,andtheso-called"Black"and"White"JewsinCochin,whiletheJewishexplorationofthatvastterritoryofIndia,whichwasundertheruleoftheMoghuldynasty,wasentirely neglected.ForthehistoryofMoghulIndiathereisnow accessibleandavailablea tremendouswealthofsourcesinOrientalandEuropeanlanguages,manuscriptsandprintedtextsscattered
I
Seethepresentwriter'sarticle,"TheRegionofthePersianGulfandits
JewishSettlements"in AlexanderMarxJubileeVolume,NewYork, 1949,
wheretheeffectofthe SefavidDynasty,especiallyofthepolicyofShahAbbasI(1587-1629)on theJewsinAsiahasbeeninvestigatedfor thislimitedarea.
138[2]
 
[3]JEWSANDJUDAISMATCOURTOFMOGHUL EMPERORS139
throughoutthelibrariesofIndiaandEurope, staggeringandcomplexintheirquantity.Three differentcategoriesof suchmaterial canbediscerned.First,thechroniclesoftheMoghulcourt,autobiographies,bio-graphiesandmemoirs,officialrecords,gazetteersandliteraryworks writteninPersian, Sanskrit,Mahrattiandother Orientallanguages;second,letters andreportsbyJesuitmissionariesaccreditedto theMoghulemperorwritten to theirprincipalsinGoa,annualaccountsbytheJesuitcentral authoritiesinIndia tothePopeinRome andthePortugueseGovernmentinLisbon,and individualworksofJesuitandother mission-aries,writteninPortuguese,Latin,Italian andotherEuro-pean languages;andthird,travel booksofEuropeanvisitorstoIndia,manyof which havebeenpublishedbytheHakluytand similar learned societies.2It wouldrequiretheco-operativeand collectiveefforts ofmanyscholars overaperiodofmanyyearstoperuseand ex-ploitforJewishhistorical researchinIndia allofthis abun-danceofrawmaterialand theliteraturebaseduponit.Thetimeisripe,however,tobeginsuch a task.InpenetratingintothisnewterritoryofJewish historyallthatcanbepresentedhere are thefirstfruits of asystematicapproachto thesources,withoutanyclaimofcompletenessandfinality.3
II
HISTORICALBACKGROUND
Withoutgivinghere morethan the mostessentialhistoricalfacts for theunderstandingoftheproblem,it should bestatedthat the Islamic ruleover India can bedivided into twobroad
2Afullbibliographyof all first-handsources,printsandmanuscriptsisgiveninSriRamSharma'sABibliographyof MughalIndia(1526-1707),Bombay,1940-amost valuableguide throughamulti-lingualliterature.
3
Hebrewsourcespertainingto ourproblemandto thisterritoryhavenotbeenused,althoughthepossibilityisnot discardedthatsuchsourcesmayeventuallybecomeavailable.Theattention ofJewishscholarsiskindlyinvited to thispoint.

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