Deccan papers shine the light on Aurangzeb rule

The king’s notes:The Yaddasht-i-Ahkam-i-Muqaddas with Aurangzeb’s imperial instructions.G. RamakrishnaThe Hindu

The king’s notes:The Yaddasht-i-Ahkam-i-Muqaddas with Aurangzeb’s imperial instructions.G. RamakrishnaThe Hindu  

1.5 lakh indelible ink documents preserved in Hyderabad

Think Mughals, and you think of Delhi and Agra. But few know that it is Hyderabad that houses the largest collection of written communications of their reign.

The Telangana Archives and Research Institute holds a whopping 1.55 lakh documents — all on handmade paper — including 5,000 from the period of Shah Jahan (1628-1658) and another 1.5 lakh of Aurangzeb (1658-1707). No other archive in the country, not even the National Archives in New Delhi, boasts of such a collection. It gives a graphic picture of the mansabdari system, the military administration and the revenue machinery of the Mughals in the Deccan.

Written in Persian in Shikasta script, cursive style, the documents are linked and arranged in chronological order — date, month and regnal year-wise.

Slew of orders

The documents includefarman(order of the emperor),nishan(order of a member of the royal family),yaddasht-i-ahkam-i-muqaddas(memorandum containing imperial orders),parwana(orders issued by higher authorities),siyaha huzur(proceedings of the provincial court),roznamcha-i-waqai(daily news report),qabzul wasil(bill payments) andarz-o-chihra(documents on personnel and horses).

Aurangzeb spent 13 years as the subedar of the Deccan during the reign of Shah Jahan and had vast experience in political and other matters. Even after he ascended the throne on July 25, 1658, he continued to focus on the Deccan to check the activities of his rebellious son Mohammed Akbar and on conquering Bijapur and Golconda, which he did in 1687.

According to State Archives Director Zareena Parveen, the accountant-general of the erstwhile Hyderabad State, Syed Muhibuddin, went to Aurangabad (the headquarters of the Mughals) for an inspection in 1916 when he discovered a large number of old documents lying in the vaults of Fort Ark.

He reported the matter to theDaftar-i-Diwani, the administrative wing of Hyderabad State, headed by the superintendent Syed Khurshid Ali. Steps were taken to shift them to the Daftar-i-Diwani, which eventually became the State Archives.

The paper, made by Chinese professionals, has withstood the vagaries of time. The documents are intact even after water seeped into the archives a few years ago.

“In fact, they became brighter as it washed away the acidic material that covered the indelible ink used by the Mughals,” said Ms. Parveen.

An expert in Persian herself, Ms. Parveen arranged the documents chronologically, deciphering the contents, and put them in non-acidic dockets.

The documents reveal Aurangzeb’s administrative skills. Theyaddasht-i-ahkam-i-muqaddasshows reports on recommendations of pay hikes for staff sent to the emperor, who also had spies to report on negligence, and actions against the government.

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