Poetry and Legitimacy at the Mughal Court

Selected Tasks of a Poet according to the Text of Čahār čaman by Chandar Bhan Brahman





Chandar Bhan Brahman, Mughal, patronage, Persianate, Legitimacy


The present paper proposes to take a new look at the imperial Mughal court’s pattern of patronage of arts and letters as a vital and indispensable component of the imperial state machinery on the one hand and an instrument of historical change on the other. It focuses on, and draws from, Čahār čaman, a mid-17th-c. work by Chandar Bhan Brahman, one of the prominent figures among poets, writers, scribes and secretaries in Mughal service; a person involved in the never-ending, and aesthetically intricate, ceremonial exchange of goods, honors, acts of refined praise and proofs of recognition that not only made up the rich and variegated courtly milieu of the period but also gave form and actively shaped the ethos of the Mughal state’s pattern of self-representation—all in the service of legitimating the imperial power and its expanding claim over increasingly vaster stretches of the Indian subcontinent and its regional rulers and their riches. The same was done in the garb of sophisticated aesthetics of imperial power that demanded rulers, princes, prominent chiefs and officers, executive clerks, accountants and administrative professionals to communicate and ever prove anew their status and position in the language and manners recognized as aesthetically pleasing and in the form requiring literary, if not poetical, skills and competence based on knowledge of recognized expressive forms and appropriate genres as well as individual talent and personal ambition.

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How to Cite

Podlasiński, Oskar. 2023. “Poetry and Legitimacy at the Mughal Court: Selected Tasks of a Poet According to the Text of Čahār čaman by Chandar Bhan Brahman”. Cracow Indological Studies 25 (2):183-204. https://doi.org/10.12797/CIS.25.2023.02.06.

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