The 2 cities most related to the life and occasions of the Mughal nobleman Abdur Rahim Khan i Khanan or the Hindi poet Rahim are Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. Whereas lifting the veil on obscure Burhanpur continues to be a while away sooner or later, Delhi is rediscovering Rahim and reviving its outdated reminiscences of him.

Abdur Rahim Khan i Khanan (1556-1627) stands out in Mughal historical past as an impressive normal and courtier. His most cited achievements are the navy victories in Gujarat, the conquest of Sindh and a protracted tenure as viceroy within the Deccan searching for to develop the Mughal empire additional south. In courtroom, he was the best of the Mughal patrons of Persian poetry. However this record of achievements is outmatched by a good higher repute because the Hindi poet Rahim.

I, like many others, first encountered Rahim in a Hindi lesson in center college. Rahim quickly turned my favorite medieval poet, and stays so, as he has for a lot of others. It’s because he’s the simplest of all of the medieval poets to know and memorize. Rahim’s dohas, for which he’s greatest recognized, are simple classes for on a regular basis life, relating themes similar to friendship, enmity, the crests and troughs of life, household, relationships and so on. He speaks to us throughout centuries in a recent tone. This isn’t the voice of a recluse or a thinker however of somebody reflecting on a lifetime of achievement and shame, political intrigue and cold-blooded calculation and pragmatism.

A view of  the tomb where Rahim and his wife, Mah Banu,  are buried, before restoration work began.

A view of the tomb the place Rahim and his spouse, Mah Banu, are buried, earlier than restoration work started.
Sonu Mehta/ HT Photograph

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It was solely a lot later that I found that Rahim wrote a terrific deal greater than his dohas with their excessive ethical and moral overtones. He additionally wrote quite a lot of Hindu devotional poetry and much more poems devoted to like and erotica. Whereas his dohas, which he wrote presumably when he was a a lot older man, are easy in language and development, his sensuous poetry isn’t. A lot of it, written when he was a younger man, is crafted with an eye fixed to literary excellence. In any case, he lived in a time of nice literary achievement with contemporaries similar to Tulsidas, Keshav, Gung and lots of others. This made this era in India as vital as William Shakespeare made the 16th century in England.

. In Delhi, Rahim has left his imprint with an beautiful tomb for his spouse’s grave. He himself was later buried right here. We all know little about Mah Banu however the tomb inbuilt her reminiscence is definitely distinctive. It stands not removed from Humayun’s tomb. For a few years it was a considerably unhappy and forlorn construction. The restoration works now being undertaken by the Aga Khan Belief for Tradition will quickly treatment that and we are able to hope that, just like the restored Humayun’s tomb, this too will add to the magic of Delhi’s previous. This tomb says a terrific deal a couple of now misplaced relationship. It’s in any case one of many only a few constructions of this measurement constructed within the reminiscence of a lady — even rarer if we exclude royal ladies .

Close by was one other tomb constructed by Abdur Rahim — a smaller one for a son- which has now disappeared. This occurred within the early 1950s because the Nizamuddin colony, bursting on the seams to accommodate partition refugees, swallowed it up. Fortuitously, the tomb of one other son survives in Burhanpur in MP. It’s a magnificent construction and simply probably the most distinguished one of many many different buildings related to Rahim there. However Rahim’s life, however his many political, navy and literary achievements, ended tragically. He and his household have been caught up in probably the most harmful of all Mughal preoccupations — the succession battle. This led to his personal downfall however extra tragically the execution of his son and grandsons. Rahim’s life had many comfortable issues to it however not a cheerful ending.

This  is a painting of Abdur Rahim Khan i Khanan, imagined as a young man, based on portraits of him as an older man.  It was a gift to the writer.

This is a portray of Abdur Rahim Khan i Khanan, imagined as a younger man, based mostly on portraits of him as an older man. It was a present to the author.
Courtesy TCA Raghavan

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Most portraits of Rahim have been made late in Jahangir’s reign — when he was getting old and was falling out of favour. One of the best amongst them are in Europe and the USA and their copyrights are jealously guarded. What did Rahim in his prime appear to be? A painter in Pakistan, whose identify I sadly can’t recollect, sought to fulfill my curiosity and painted a youthful Rahim after finding out the work of the older man.

The Aga Khan Belief, to contextualize the restoration works on the Khan i Khanan’s tomb, has additionally organised a Rahim celebration. On 10-12th March we are able to see within the Habitat Centre scholarly dialogue, music performances, poetry recitals and an exhibition — all centering on Rahim. The variety of the performances from qawali to dastongoi carry out a taste of Rahim’s personal life — as a courtier, a normal, and a poet of ethics, morality and devotion as additionally the author of very stunning sensuous verse. In his afterlife Rahim has thus appeared to some as an excellent exemplar of the Bhakti motion whereas to others as a staunchly conservative Muslim.

For me personally this isn’t coincidence, however an actual Rahim revival. I’ve studied and researched him in each incarnations — the nobleman and the poet — for a few years. Fortuitously my very own ebook on Abdur Rahim Khan i Khanan and his father Bairam Khan has additionally solely simply been revealed. Together with their biographies I additionally present how views and assessments of the father- son duo modified over the 19th and 20th centuries — with nationalism, language politics, communalism and partition every taking part in a job. That Rahim’s celebration and revival takes place once more now within the 21st century is each serendipitous and marvellous.

TCA Raghavan is a former Indian Excessive Commissioner to Pakistan and Singapore. ‘Attendant Lords: Bariam Khan and Abdur Rahim- Poet and Courtier in Mughal India’ is his first ebook.

What: Celebrating Rahim Khan

When: 7.15 pm on March 10, 9.30 am to three.30 pm on March 11 and seven.15 pm on March 12

The place: Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Street, Close to Airforce Bal Bharati Faculty

Nearest metro station: JLN Stadium

Entry is free

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