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A Safavid Poet in the Heart of Darkness: The Indian Poems of Ashraf Mazandarani Author(s): Stephen Frederic Dale Reviewed work(s): Source: Iranian Studies, Vol. 36, No. 2 (Jun., 2003), pp. 197-212 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of International Society for Iranian Studies Stable URL: . Accessed: 08/04/2012 06:15
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IranianStudies,volume 36, number2, June2003

StephenFrederic Dale

A Safavid Poet in the Heart of Darkness: The Indian Poems of Ashraf Mazandarani
Harkih az Iranbeh Hind ayad tasavvurmikunad In kih chuln kaukabbih shab darHind zar pashidehast. Whoevercomes from Iranto Indiaimagines, That in Indiagold is scatteredlike starsin the evening sky. AshrafMazandarani

Nirad Chaudhurirecasts the legend of Circe and Odysseus as a metaphorfor India's relation to her "European" conquerors.In his version Aryan tribes who migrated into and/or invaded the Indian subcontinentin the second century B.C. were the first such conquerorsto be ensnaredby the allure of India's wealth. Once there they utterlyforgot their Eurasianhomelands,abandonedtheir vigorous steppe culture and degeneratedinto the colonized Hindus of whom Chaudhuri spoke with caustic contempt during the Indiannationalistmovementin the twentiethcentury: They stood at the gate of the goddess with flowing tresses, and heard her, Circe, Sweetly singing before her loom, as she walked to and fro weaving an imperishable web, gorgeousand dazzling, such as only goddesses can make. So she lived on the island of Aeaea, and so she has in India. Men have stood at her gate, and called to be admitted,and to all she has opened her shining doors. She has taken them in, given them seats, and served food. But with the food she has also mixed the drug which makes them want to forget their country. Then she has turnedthem into rudebeasts.' Chaudhuriobserves of the Aryans/Hindusthat "to forget is one thing, and to be
happy is another.
. .

. They learned neither to tolerate their new environment nor to

adapt to it. This, for a people who had no recollection of their original home, was a terribledestiny.... Even after living in the country for thousandsof years the Hindus
StephenFredericDale is Professorof Historyat The Ohio State University. * I am indebted to my colleagues Dick Davis and Alam Payind, both poets and translatorsof poetry, for their help with the translations in this article. Professor Muzaffar Alam of the University of Chicago was also kind enough to read the entire manuscriptand suggest changes as did Paul Losensky of IndianaUniversity. The anonymous readers of the manuscriptfor Iranian Studies were exceptionallymeticulousand helpful in theircritiques. 1. NiradC. Chaudhuri, Continentof Circe (New York, 1966), 306. The
ISSN 0021-0862 printASSN1475-4819 online/03/020197-16 02003 The Society for IranianStudies DOI 10.1080/021086032000062947

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198 Dale have never got used to the heat."2 As Aryans they also continued to revere fair complexions among the predominantly dark-skinned population,a considerableirony in view of the even more pronounced racialconsciousnessof laterconquerors. As Chaudhuri demonstrates,subsequentinvaderssuch as the Timurid-Mughals and the British were condemned to what many would think to be a far worse fate.3Drawn seductively by the Indian Circe into her subcontinentallair, they were corruptedin its humid, fecund, overheated environment but condemned to be miserable precisely because they remembered theirhomelandsbut could not return. Chaudhuriexaggerates for effect-the effect of irritatinghis fellow Hindus-but his metaphorof Odysseus' men aptly evokes the simultaneousattractionand dreadthat most foreign rulers have felt in India. Entranced by the subcontinent's wealth and exoticism, they were repulsed by its enervating climate and either bewildered or offended by indigenousreligion and social customs. And they were intensely homesick. However, these feelings were not peculiaronly to conquerorsof India;they were shared by most voluntaryemigres to the subcontinent.One such man who experienced these conflicting emotions and recordedthem with unusual clarity and subtlety was the late seventeenth century Iranian poet Ashraf Mazandarani(d. 1116 a.h. /1704 a.d.). His Indianpoems representone of the most artisticallycomplete evocations of feelings the Indian Circe provoked, while they also exemplify a universal6migr6 phenomenon,the ambivalenceof exile. TheCaravanof India MuhammadSa'id Mazandarani, commonly known by his takhallusor penname,Ashraf, was born in Isfahansometime between 1030 and 1035 A.H. into a family of Calims from Mazandaran. father, Mulla MuhammadSalih, had immigratedto Isfahanin search His of education and employment and became a student of the prominent cWlimMulla Muhammad Taqi Majlisi, whose daughterhe eventuallymarried.4 Ashraf himself seems to have had a superbreligious and culturaleducation.He studiedin the madrasasof the the shaykhal-Islam of Isfahan,Mirza Hadi, and Aqa Husayn Khwansari. The latterwas also a prominent poet with the takhallus cAsr. Not only was Ashraf well connected, therefore, in the religious circles of the Safavid capital but he studied poetry with the eminent poet MuhammadcAli Tabrizi,known by his takhallusSa&ib, who had recently returnedfrom India when Ashraf met him. His Indian connections also included his
2. Chaudhari, Continent of Circe, 136.

3. The term Timurid-Mughal used for the name of the dynasty usually identified as Mughal is for two reasons. As is well known Mughal means Mongol and thus fundamentallymisrepresents this patrilinealTimuriddynasty. However, the founder of the dynasty, Zahir al-Din Muhammad Babur (1483-1530) was a matnlineal descendantof Chingiz Khan and respected and patronized his ChaghataiChingizid relatives only second to those of Timuriddescent. Therefore,TimuridMughal reflects this dual heritage and the respect Babur gave to both his patrilineal and matrilineallines. 4. This was the fatherof MuhammadBaqir al-Majlisithe well-known Safavid cleric. See S. H. Nasr, "SpiritualMovements, Philosophy and Theology in the Safavid Period,"in Peter Jackson and LaurenceLockhart eds. The CambridgeHistoryof Iran, (Cambridge,1986), 6: 693-94.

The Poems of AshrafMazandarani 199

calligraphy teacher, cAbd al-Rashid Daylami, who previously had served as a court of Shah Jahan. It seems likely that Ashrafs calligrapherat the Timurid-Mughal connection with Sa'ib and/orDaylami explains why, when he decided to go to India in 1658/59, he entered the highest court circles and became the tutor to Zib al-Nisa, the daughterof the recently enthronedTimurid-MughalemperorAwrangzib (d. 1707). He remainedin India for fourteenyears and after briefly returningto Iranin 1672 he served Awrangzib's son, Shah cAlam, at the prince's household in Patna. He died in nearby Bengal, where his children remained. One son, Mirza Muhammad cAli became a scholarand poet. Ashraf s careerexemplifies the emigrationof Iranianliterati to India that occurred of throughout Safavid period, many of whom wrote substantialcollections of dtwians the Persian poetry. The number of Iranians who composed Persian verse in India offers some idea of the size of this migration of Safavid writers. In his aptly titled book, Kiirvan-iHind, (the Caravanof India), Ahmad Gulchin-i Macani lists more than 700 Iranianswho were known as poets in India-within Timurid-Muhal territoriesor at the court of the Sultanates of the Deccan, including Shici Bijapur. These Safavid writers who gained literaryreputationsin India have sometimes been seen as a distinct class of professionalpoets, but most were not court panegyristswho primarilymade their living by writing verse. Instead, like Ashraf, most worked in India as bureaucrats,teachers, and scholarsand, like so manyeducatedIranians,wrote poetryas an avocation.7 Differentreasonshave been given for this streamof literatifrom Iranto the Indian subcontinent.Safavid Shici ideology has sometimes been seen as the major and even principal cause. This argument is composed of three related elements. First of all Safavid persecution of members of non-Safavi sufi orders has often been cited as an obvious cause of the relatively poor quality of Safavid poetry-relatively poor when measuredagainst the great writersof the previous five centuries.This argumentis based on the fact that so many sufis were also poets, or vice versa. The memory of the last great "classical" Persian poet, the Naqshbandi sufi poet of Timurid Herat, CAbdalRahmanJami, may lie behind some of these assertions, as Shah Ismacil hounded the Sunni Naqshbandisfrom Iran during the first decade of the sixteenth century. Then E. G. Browne long ago offered a related reason for the dearthof high quality poetic talent in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Iran. Citing the Iranian scholar Qazvini, he suggested that Safavid rulers inadequatelypatronizedpoets because they diverted their scarce resources to build Shici religious institutions and a Shici 'ulama that had not existed in Iranpriorto the Safavid conquestof Tabrizin 1501.8The words of Kawsari,a favorite poet of Shah cAbbasI (r. 1587-1629), offers anecdotalevidence for the lack of royal literary patronage-for whatever reasons-when he contrasts the welcome that Iranianpoets received in Timurid-Mughal India with their treatmentin their homeland. Prefaced by his title, "Complaintabout the lack of interest of Iranianstoward poetry," Kawsari'sfirst line reads:
5. For Mazandarani'searly life see MuhammadHasan Sayyidan, ed., Drvan-i ash CIrAshraf Miizandarianf (Tehran,1373/1994), 17-21. 6. AhmadGulchin-iMacani,Karvan-iHind (Tehran,1369/1970), 2 vols. 7. Aziz Ahmad,"SafawidPoets and India,"Iran, 14 (1976): 129-3 1. 8. E. G. Browne,A LiteraryHistoryof Persia (Cambridge,1953), 4: 26.

200 Dale

Dar in kishvarkharidSir-i sukhannist, Kasi sargarm-i bazar-isukhannist.9 In this countrythereis no buyerof speech, No one attendsto the marketof speech. Finally, there is the related reason offered by the Safavid historian, IskandarBeg Munshi who, when writing about poets during the reign of Shah Tahmasp (r.1524-1576), said that in the latterpartof his reign Tahmaspgrew too pious to support panegyric poets. Tahmasp felt these writers should be writing panegyric verse to the
Caliph cAli.I'

Safavid religious persecution certainly drove many sufis from Iran, and some of them may have been poets, but Shici religious intolerance or preoccupationis not a sufficient explanation for the presence of such great numbersof Safavid Iranianswho wrote Persian poetry in India. Nor does convincing evidence exist to show that Shah Tahmasp's later attitudetypified all Safavid monarchsor that royal patronageof poets completely dried up. As the Indo-Muslimscholar Aziz Ahmadhas observed, all Iranian shahs patronizedpoets, but they just did not match the scale of patronagein Mughal India and the other Muslim courts of the subcontinent."The most persuasive reasons for the massive migrationof Safavid-eraIranianliteratito India are three:the economic disparity between the Iranianplateau and the Indian subcontinent, political relations between Timurid-Mughaland Safavid monarchs and the cultural biases of the IndoMuslim administrative political elite. and As E. G. Browne and others have observed, the economic disparity between Iran and India was a major cause of Iranian migration to the subcontinent.The relative poverty of the Iranianplateau and Central Asia compared to the great wealth of the of Indiansubcontinenthas been a fundamentaldeterminant economic relationsbetween these two regions throughthe millennia. This continued to be the case in the SafavidMughal era as well. In 1600, for example, when Safavid power was at its height under Shah cAbbas I, Timurid-MughalIndia was one of the world's wealthiest states. Its fertile agriculturallands supporteda populationof perhaps 100 million people. These lands not only generateda vast agriculturalsurplus,including such export commodities as sugar and newly cultivated tobacco, but produced cotton cloth and other manufactures.Cotton cloth was India's premierexport commodity;Indian spices were largely grown along the southwestern coast well beyond Mughal dominions. The combined sales of agriculturaland manufacturedproducts brought foreign currency flowing into Indianports and bordertowns from Iranand the surrounding regions. Even the indefatigableShah cAbbas could not alter the reality of Iraniangeography and the paucity of its natural resources. When compared to the lavish agrarianand human
9. MuhammadAbdu'l Ghani, A History of Persian Language and Literatureat the Mughal Court(Allahabad,repr. 1972), 2, 168. in 10. Quoted by S. Safa in "PersianLiterature the Safavid Period,"in Jacksonand Lockarted. CambridgeHistoryof Iran, 6: 954. 11. Ahmad,"SafawidPoets and India,"118.

ThePoems of AshrafMazandarani 201

resources of Mughal India, Safavid Iran was a largely arid plateau with extremely modest resources,a thinly populatedplateauwith no more than ten million people and a perennial foreign trade deficit with India.'2 Just as British India is said to have representedan employment agency for the British middle class, Timurid-MughalIndia offered similar employment opportunities for the Iranian educated and professional elite. Apart from the economic imbalance between Safavid Iran and Timurid-Mughal India there were political and cultural factors that encouragedthe migrationof Ashraf and other Iranians to South Asia. First of all substantial numbers of Iranians accompanied Babur's son and heir, Humayun, when in 1555 he recovered the South Asian empire he had so carelessly lost to Afghan forces fifteen years earlier. The Safavids had not only welcomed Humayunas a guest in Iran when Afghan forces had driven him from India fifteen years earlier, but they also providedhim with substantial military aid that enabled him to reconquer his father's empire. When he returnedto Agra his entourageincluded many Iranians.His alliance with the Safavids establisheda close relationshipthat enduredthroughthe life of both dynasties, largely unaffectedby their Shi'i-Sunni sectarian differences and even by their struggle for the control of Qandahar.In India Humayun's son Akbar (r. 1556-1605) welcomed all faiths to his court, a policy proudly noted by his successor Jahangir(r. 1606-28), who pointed out thatin Iranonly Shicis were welcome. The good qualities of my revered father are beyond the limit of approval and the boundsof praise.... The professorsof variousfaiths had room in the broad expanse of his incomparablesway. This was different for the practice in other realms, for in Persia there is room for Shias only.... [In Akbar's realm] there was room for professorsof opposite religions, and for beliefs good and bad.... Sunnis and Shias met in one mosque, Franks and Jews in one church, and observedtheirown forms of worship. 13 Ashraf s court appointmentillustrateshow this relationshipprosperedeven in face of the two regimes' contrastingreligious and political interests.Indeed, his appointment is especially interestingin view of Awrangzib'sostentatiousSunni piety. Second, Iranianswere especially valued in India as Humayun and his successors regarded the knowledge of Persian literature and Iranian administrative skills as normativefor a civilized Islamic state. Persian,of course, had also been widely used in the various governments of the Delhi sultanate-and by historians, poets and sufis in India-several centuries prior to Mughal rule. Indo-Persianculture was the dominant aristocraticethos of the later Timurids including Zahir al-Din MuhammadBabur, the founder of the Timurid-MughalEmpire. His own maternal grandfather,the Mongol to Yunus Khan,had spent many years in exile in Iranand returned the Chaghataiulas in CentralAsia with the attributesof an urbaneIraniancourtier.As described by Babur's
12. Stephen Frederic Dale, Indian Merchants and Eurasian Trade, 1600-1750 (Cambridge, 1994), chapter2. 13. Alexander Rogers translatedand Henry Beveridge ed., The Tuzuk-iJahangiri, or Memoirs of Jahaingir (Delhi, reprint1978 of 1909-14 edition), 1: 37.

202 Dale

Mongol cousin, Mirza Haydar Dughlat, Yunus Khan was "possessed of splendid qualities.... He was skilled in eni~mas, calligraphy,painting.... He was well trained in instrumental music and singing."4 The prestigeof Perso-Islamicvalues can partlybe seen in the popularityof a Nasireanakhlacq manual known as the Akhlhq-IHumiiyinr. Writtenby the chief qdzJof Husayn Bayqara(d. 1506) of Heratand dedicatedto Babur, whom the authormet in Kabul,the treatiselater became requiredreadingamong courtiers in Agra and Delhi.'5 However, respect for the language and Persianate culture reached new heights in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Indeed, as Muzaffar Alam has pointed out, Akbar actively recruited Iranian literati in the late sixteenth century, making cultural preference into state policy.'6 Under his successor, Jahangir, increased emigrationwas also partly a function of his marriageto the Iranianwoman, Nur Jahan,precipitatinga deluge of relatives who poured into India after her. A final interestingpoint aboutthis migrationis that it was, apartfrom Indianmerchants,almost entirely one way. Whereas many Iraniansoccupied high administrativeand military posts and were sometimes recognized as poet laureatesat the Timurid-Mughal court, no Persian-speaking Indian Muslims are known to have attained similar recognition in Safavid Iran. In economic and cultural terms, the relationshipbetween Iran and India seems to have to have been similar to that of Englandand the United States in the late nineteenthcenturyandearly twentiethcentury. AshrafMazandarani: Indian Verse the Most of the Iranianswho wrote Persianpoetryin Indiaeithermade no allusionto their adopted home or denounced it. Writers who composed classically structuredghazals and rubici's set in the abstractedrose gardenof the imagination,rarelyhinted that they lived in a climate where roses withered and nightingales never sang. Others who mentioned India usually "had nothing but evil to say of the country."'7 Ashraf is exceptional for he presents an unusually wide spectrumof reactions to Mughal India. Indeed, in his verse he depicts the country almost as the Circe of Nirad Chaudhuri's imagination, a land whose riches seduced relatively impoverished Iranians,men who couldn't abstain from migratingbut who once in India remainedalienated and bitterly homesick. In his poems he manifests the exile experience: why Iranians migrated to India, his own reactions to the subcontinent,his reasons for returninghome to Isfahan and, most engagingly, his awareness of his complex, conflicting feelings for Iran and his voluntaryIndianexile. The "Indianpoems" representonly a small proportionof his verse, which include qastdas, rubMciyat, on masnavis and "fragments" various subjects,
14. Mirza HaydarDughlat, Thrikh-iRashid! ed. by W.M. Thackston,(Cambridge,MA, 1996), ff. 61b-62a. 15. See Muzaffar Alam, "Akhlaqi Norms and Mughal Governance," in Franqois 'Nalini' Delvoye and MarcGarborieau, Makingof Indo-PersianCulture(Delhi, 2000), 67-95. The 16. Muzaffar Alam, "The Pursuit of Persian: Language in Mughal Politics," Modern Asian Studies32 (1998): 320-21. 17. Browne, A Literary History, 4: 259. Browne is quoting the Urdu poet and literary critic in Shibli Nucmani for whom see J. A. Haywood, "Shibli Nucmrnin" C. E. Bosworth et al, The Encyclopaediaof Islam New Edition(El2), (Leiden, 1996), 9: 433-34.

ThePoems of AshrafMazandarani 203 including expressions of Shici piety. Some of the poems Ashraf addressedto his family are particularly touching, and offer additional autobiographical information on the poet's life. The "exile' poems representmerely an introductionto the culturalattitudes of this exceptionallyinterestingand influential6migr6Indo-Persian poet. Ashraf candidly explains in his verse why he and other Iraniansabandonedtheir country for the subcontinent;they were driven from Iran by scarce opportunitiesand drawn to India by its wealth and the pleasures of Indian life. In these poems he repeatedly uses night-or darkness or henna-as the metaphor for India, employing stereotypical imagery that originated in Hellenistic times and which was commonly used by Arab-Muslim writers and classical Perso-Islamic poets such as Rumi, Amir Khusrawand Hafiz.18 Ashraf sometimes makes this Indian"night"seem a necessary but distasteful exile, at other times, a benign, comfortingrefuge. In two poems he says that he himself and Iraniansin generallong for Indiato escape the nakednessof poverty. Bih Hind-i tirehbakhtiraftamaz rah-iparishani, Bih tarnki kashidamkhwishraaz sharm-icuryani. '9 Melancholydrove me to this black-omenedIndia, Fromthe shameof nakednessI draggedmyself into the darkness. Dar Irannistjuz' Hind arzui biru-zgaran-ra, Tamarm-i bashadhasrat-ishabruizeh rulz daran-ra.(7 1) Among destituteIraniansthereis nothingbut desire for India. All day the fasting people long for night. Contrastingthese images of being forced by circumstance into the unknown and potentially ominous Indiandarknessis anotherverse in which Ashraf makes the Indian "night"seem benign. Dar u harlahzeh migardad chiragh-idigarirawshan, Sawad-iHind, shabha-yichiraghan-ast pindari.(72) At each momentanotherlamp is lit. You might imagine India's darknessto be a night of lamps. In another verse the darkness of the Indian night is entirely transformedinto an entrancing spectacle, almost like the Timurid-Mughalminiaturespicturing the annual Diwali festival of lights.

18. AnnemarieSchimmel discusses this imagery with her typical eruditionin 'Turk and Hindu: A Poetical Image and its Application to Historical Fact," in Spero Vryonis Jr. ed., Islam and CulturalChange in the MiddleAges (Wiesbaden,1975), 107-26. 19. Gulchin-i Macani,Karvan-iHind, 1: 72. Unless otherwise indicated Ashraf Mazandarani's verses cited here are from this work. Page numberswill be given following each verse.

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Harkih az Iranbih Hind ayad,tasavvurmikunad, kawkabbih shab,darHind zar pashidehast.(71) In kih chuln Whoevercomes from Iranto Indiaimagines, Thatin Indiagold is scatteredlike starsin the night sky. that it Given these attractions is scarcelysurprising Ashrafsays in anotherverse: Muflisi kardaz zindan-ivatanazadam, Payamaz pish badarraftu Hind uftadam.(71) Indigencefreed me from the prisonof my homeland; My feet going before, I left and stumbledinto India. While in these lines Ashraf conveys both his reluctance to leave Iran and his compelling reasons for choosing exile in India, in several others he speaks directly about his reactionto Indiaitself. Some of these both echo and anticipatethe oft-repeated complaintsof CentralAsian, Iranianand Europeanexiles about India's oppressiveheat, as in the following ruba'i. garm, Dar Hindkih khaku gardmigardad

Ta gumbad-ilajavardmigardadgarm,
tab Chuin kih natijah-yihava khurdagist, garm.(73-74) abashzi nasim-i sardmigardad In Indiawherethe soil and dust becomes hot, Until heaven becomes hot, Like fever thatcomes from a draft, Its wateris heatedby a cold breeze. Yet Ashraf does not dwell excessively on the weather,the often tedious subject of so many 6migr6memoirs and laments-Iranian, Turk,or British. Indeed, like so many others who sought their fortunesin India, Ashraf prosperedthere. He did after all enjoy an exceptional position as a tutor to Awrangzib's daughter. In one couplet and two ruba Crs he exalts Mughal India, and in all three verses he reworks the metaphorof sawad or darknessand shab or night, transmutingthe often unfavorableconnotations into sometimes transcendentimages. In one couplet sawad becomes the Persian poet's rose garden. metaphorical Sawad-iHind gulistan-ikhwab-ramanad manad, Hava-yishiirah-iabesh sarab-ra Nazarah-ibut-i Hindipas az butan-iMughal, manad.(71) Bih sayahdar shudanaz aftab-ra The Indiandarknessresemblesthe rose gardenof dreams. The airof its marshywaterseems a mirage.

The Poems ofAshraf Mazandarani 205 Seeing the Indianidol, afterthe idols of the Mughals, Is like enteringa shadowfrom the sun. The next verse, a rubai echoes Kawsari'ssentimentabout the dearthof patronage r, in Iran, now with scholars, and presumablyAshraf himself among them, representing lights illuminatingthe night thatis India. nah Eran ravajbakhsh-idanabashad, Harchandkih asbabmuhayyabashad, Dar Hind biuvad hunarravan-ra shuhrat, Shabrawshani-yichiraghpaydabashad.(73) There is no currencyfor learnedmen in Iran, Althoughthe means may be found. In Indiathe talentedarerenowned. A lanternwill illuminethe darkness. In a second rubM the poet anticipatesthe title of a work of a later literaryexile, z Joseph Conrad,when Ashraf takes the illuminationtheme one step furtherarguingthat God himself has blessed India's darkness.Even if the phrasedil-i shab literally means, "heart of night" or midnight, it is renderedhere as "heartof darkness,"arguably the most appropriate translation view of Ashraf s repeatedinvocationof the metaphor. in Harchandkhudadarhamahjadadgarast, Khwan-ikaramash kashidahdarbahru barr-ast, Razzaqi-yiu bih Hind zahirgardad, Fayz-i azali dardil-i shabbishtarast.(73) AlthoughGod is everywherejust, Dispensinghis blessing on sea and land, His providenceis manifestin India; God's grace is greaterin the heartof darkness. Finally in a fourthpoem Ashraf seems to conclude his thoughtby observing that it is naturalfor Iraniansin the darknessof sleep to long for India. Rulbih sii-yi Hind shabhadarvatankhwabidahast, Harkih 'aysh u cishrat-iHindustan-ra didahast.(70) At night in his homelandhe sleeps with his face towardsIndia, Whoeverhas seen the pleasuresand delights of Hindustan. Yet for all the poetically resonantreasons for leaving Iran and dwelling in Mughal India, Ashraf seems to have felt his emigre status with all the emotional force of a refugee. He is a refugee who is still homesick in the midst of his newly-found prosperity,mournfulfor the friends he has left behind and contemptuousof the inferior

206 Dale culture of his adoptedhome. The poet repeatedlyexpresses the conflicting emotions of a voluntaryexile. In three separatelines he offers a classic dmigre's lament;in the midst of prosperity is inexplicablyunhappy. he Dar kishvar-iHindkasIchiradaradgham, dardu darmanba ham.(74) Payvastehdaru1st In Indiawhy shoulda personmourn. Joinedtogetherin it are afflictionand cure. Man kihjuz' gham nist darbaram,namidanam chira, uftadaham.(72) ChunmitiC-i 'aysh darHindiista1n I do not know why thereis naughtin me but grief, Since the meansof happinesshave fallen to me in India. Harkih amadbarumid-i nicmat-ialvan-iHind, dil Khurdchandankhuln-i kaz zindaganisir shud.(72) Whoeverhas come in searchof India'sblessings, He has sufferedsuch heartache thathe is tiredof life. Yet Ashraf seems to appreciate that he desires the impossible, the best of both worlds-the Indianand the Iranian.When in the following lines he mentionsIran'scold he may be alluding to Amir Khusraw's poem, Nuh Sipihr, in which Amir Khusraw favorablycomparesIndia'sclimate to thatof frigid Iran.20 cAlamikhwahamkih bashadictidalishbarqarar, Dad az Hindulstan garmu Irankhunuk.(73) I wish thata happymean could be fixed in the world; and Remove heat from Hindustan cold from Iran. In some measureat least the poet realizes he is sufferingjust the absenceof friends and family.2' Dar in ghurbatshudamghamginva ghamkhwanr namiayad,
20. One of Amir Khusraw's favorable contrasts is between the cold of Khurasanand Arabia and India's warmth.MuhammadWazid Mirza edited the Persiantext in his book, TheNuh Sipihr of Amir Khusrau (London, 1949), and R. Nath and Faiyaz Gwaliori have publishedan annotated translationof the third section of the poem in which Amir Khusraupraises India. See India as Seen by AmirKhusrauin 1318 A.D.(Jaipur,1981). reasonsfor returning 21. See MahmudHasan Sayyidan's affecting discussion of Mazandarani's to Iran, including especially his separation from his family in Diwan-i ash'cr-i Ashraf 29-3 MuizandarC7nr, 1.

The Poems of AshrafMazandarani 207

zi namiayad.(70) Bih sarvaqtam yaran-ivatanyarn I have become mournfulin this exile and no sympatheticcompanioncomes; No friendamongthe friendsof my countrycomes to my chamber. Yet Ashraf's melancholia has more profoundcauses. As he shows in two separate verses he longs for Iranitself. ayambiriin, Garbih sad zahmatman az HindFustan Iran 1) Khudbigulaz Cuhdah-i chisan ayambirfin.(7 If with greateffort I shall leave Hindustan, Tell me how can I ever breakmy ties with Iran. Ashrafaz kishvar-iIrannakunidil kih nihal, zi u Chuln ja kandahshud az nushiu namamluftad.(70) Ashrafdo not uprootyour heartfrom Iran, For like a shoot wrenchedfrom the ground, You will not thrive. Ashraf's's contradictory impulses seem genuine. However, he ultimately leaves little doubt where his heartreally lies, makingclear his preferencefor his homelandand his belief in its cultural superiority.How can you, he asks, really weigh one country againstanother.Iranis not only differentbut so superioras to be incomparable. Bih kh&k-i Hind chih sanjidiyar-iIrani-ra? Bih khak-itirehbarabar makungulistan-ra! How can you comparethe soil of Hind with the land of Iran? Do not equateblack soil with a rose garden! He expresses his feelings more baldly in two culinary comparisons in which Indians are said to be flat and uninteresting-saltless bread and saltless meat-while as Iraniansare portrayed pureor uncorrupted-saltless waterand saltless wine. Hindistnan bi-namak,Iraniab bi-namak. an chiin kababibi-namak,in chuln sharabibi-namak.(73) Indiansare like saltless bread;Iranianslike saltless water; Thatone is like saltless kebab;this one like saltless wine. Elsewhere Ashraf is brutallyfrank when he writes that India is a pale reflection of his homeland.In this instancehe is playing off on the variantmeaningsof sawfid, which may mean copy as well as darkness. Ba mulk-i Hind, nisbatIranchih mikuni?

208 Dale

Chulnictib5r-i asl nabashad sawad-ra.(72)

How can you comparethe Indiankingdomto Iran? As the copy can neverbe equal to the original. Iraniansmay well have felt that Timurid-Mughal India was a bad reproductionof Safavid Iran-many culturally insecure Indian Muslims may have accepted their critique. Most "modem"literaryhistoriansof Persianbelieved until quite recently that Indo-Persian poetry, Sabk-i Hindi, was itself a debasedform of Iranian-Persian poetry.22 Nirad Chaudhurimight have nodded his head in agreement.Here was anotherexample of Aryansgoing to seed in the subcontinent. Ashraf arrived in India in 1658/59 just after Awrangzeb had won the war of succession against his brothers.He also imprisonedhis father,Shah Jahan,in Agra fort, as he usurped the throne and proclaimed himself padshah. One of the poems Ashraf wrote seems to refer to these events. Alluding to a poem of the Ghaznavidpoet Sana'i in which the "son of India" seems to refer to Mucawiya, whose mother's name was Hind bint cUtba,Ashrafwrites: In kih az kishvar-ikhiud janeb-i Hind amadeh-i, Dar vilayatkhabar-iHind magarnashanidi? Bacdaz an kih amadiqasd-i iqamatchih kuni? Qissah-ha-yizarar-iHind magarnashanidi Kiseh-hadukhtah bahr-iumid-izar wa sim, Bi-baqa'l-yizar-i Hind magarnashanidi? Zadah-iHind kamar-bastah-i qatl-i padar-ast. In sukhandar safar-iHind magarnashanidi? Kad-khuda-i kuni inja zi barayifarzand. Dastan-ipasar-iHind magarnashanidl?(73)23 O you who have come from your countryto India; In your regionhave you not heardthe news of India? After arrivingwhy do you intendto stay? Have you not heardtales of India's peril? Pursessewn, hopingfor gold and silver. Have you not heardof the transienceof India'sgold?
22. Many Iraniansstill feel this way, but recent scholarly assessments of Indo-Persianverse have tried to examine the verse on its own terms, although not always without an implicit bias. That bias is evident in Ehsan Yarshater'sessay, "The IndianStyle: Progressor Decline," in Ehsan Yarshatered., Persian Literature (Albany, NY, 1988), 405-21. Jan Marek offers a far more sympathetic assessment in "Persian Literature in India," in Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature(Dordrecht,Netherlands,1968), 713-34. A fine study of an individualpoet that makes this debate seem irrelevant is Paul E. Losensky's, Welcoming FighMni,Imitation and Poetic in Ghazal(Costa Mesa, CA, 1998). Individuality the Safavid-Mughal 23. See Fr. Buhl, "Hindbint 'Utba,"El2 3: 455.

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The Indian-born intenton killing his father. Have you not heardthis story on your Indianjourney? You marryhere for a child. Have you not heardthe storyof the Indianson? Ashraf became a tutor to Awrangzib's daughter,Zib al-Nisa, a religious scholar, poet, and patronwho herself was imprisonedby Awrangzibin January1681 for aiding or at least sympathizing with her brotherAkbar's rebellion against the emperor. Like Shah Jahanshe remaineda captive-but for more than twenty years-until she died in Delhi in May 1702.24Ashraf himself returnedto Isfahan in 1672 and at an unknown later date returnedto India,where he served a memberof the royal family in Patna,later dying in Mungerin Bihar in 1704. One of his more touching poems apartfrom those he addressedto his wife, is a qasidathat he wrote to Zib al-Nisa, evidently after he decided to returnto Iran in 1672. This is one of two poems in which he asks permission of Zib al-Nisa to depart.In some of its last lines Ashrafwrites: Yakbarah vatannatavanbar giriftdil az Dar ghurbatam agarchihfuzuin ictib5r. ast Pish-i tulqurbva bucdtafavutnamikunad, Gil khidmat-ihuzulr nabashad ma-rashicar Nisbat chiubatinistchih Dihli chih Isfahan Dil pish-i tul-st chih bih Kabulchih Qandahar.(62-63)25 tan The heartcannotwholly renounceits country, AlthoughI have greateresteem in my exile. It does not matterif I am nearor far from you Flatteryis not in my character As our connectionis a spiritualone, Whatis Delhi or Isfahan? My heartis with you, Whethermy body is in Kabulor Qandahar. The EmigreLament Ashraf's's Indianverse is exceptionallyevocative and honest, but as a manifestationof conflicted feelings it is also quite typical-both of other migrantsto India and 6migre writersin general throughoutthe world. Zahiral-Din MuhammadBabur,the founderof the wealthy Mughal Empirethat employed Ashraf, and RudyardKipling, whose family found employment in British India, expressed almost identical reactions to the Indian Circe. Babur wrote as frankly as anyone ever has about his reactions to the country he reluctantlyconquered, having been expelled from his Central Asian homelands in the
24. Jadunath Sarkar, "The Romance of a Mughal Princess: Zeb-Un-Nisa," Studies in Aurungzeb'sReign (Calcutta,repr, 1989), 90-98. 25. The entirepoem is given by Sayyidan,DIwan-iashCdr-i AshrafMWzandardni,, 95-100.

210 Dale early sixteenth century. Writing in 1527 and 1528 he recalls his astonishmentwhen he first rode from Kabul into the subcontinent in 1505: "A different world came into view-different plants, differenttrees, differentwild animalsand differentbirds, people and tribes with different mannersand customs. It was astonishing, a truly astonishing place."26 Babur's astonishment,though, was composed of one part attractionand nine parts repulsion. "Thepleasantaspect of Hindustan," says, "is that it is a large countryand he is thick with gold and silver."27In every other way Babur disliked the country he conqueredin 1526. The climate was awful. "We suffered,"he writes, "fromthreethings in Hindustan.One was its heat, anotherits fierce winds and a third, its dust."' Apart from these physical irritationshe despised Indian culture and society. "The people of he Hindustan," caustically remarks,"have no beauty, they have no convivial society, no social intercourse,no intellect or discernment,no urbanity,no nobility or chivalry."29 Many of his Turco-Mongolnobles were so homesick they abandonedBaburto returnto Afghanistan or Central Asia immediately after victories near Delhi and Agra in 1526 and 1527. Babur's own sense of ghurbat or exile, the word repeatedlyused by Ashraf, was intense. From the moment of his conquest he longed to return to Kabul to the climate, society and gardens that he loved. In lines from a Turki ghazal he probably wrote around 1529, a year before his death, he expresses almost exactly the same sentiments as Ashraf. Beginning with an allusion to his ghurbat in India during the monthRamadan Baburwrites: ol Ghurbattah ay hijrimeini pir qilib tur bileh ghurbatmenkata'sir qilib tur. Hijrain In exile this monthof abstinenceages me. from friendsexile has affectedme. Separated Then after lines in which he rues his fate, he says he does not know whetherhe will remain on "that" or "this side," referring apparently to Kabul or his Ferghanah homeland versus India. Then like Ashraf he poignantly speaks about his love-hate feelings for India. aldim. Bi Hind yeri hasilidinkob konguil Ni suldkih bu yer meini dilgirqilib tur. Sendinbu qadrqaldi yeraqolmadfBabur Maczflrtut ay yar ki taqslrqilib tur.30
26. Eiji Mano,ed., Babur-Nama(Vaqayic)(Kyoto, 1995), f. 145a-b. f. 27. Mano, ed., Babur-Nama, 291a. 28. Mano,ed., Babur-Nama,f. 300a. 29. Mano,ed., Babur-nama,f. 290b. 30. I.V. Stebleva, SemantikaGazelei Babura (Moscow, 1982), no. 119. For a modem Turkish transcriptionof Babur's Chaghataisee Bilal Yucel, Babur Divdni (Ankara, 1995), no. 124. For exile poetry of another kind and as a genre see Sunil Sharma, Persian Poetry at the Indian Frontier,MascadSa'd Salmanof Lahore(Delhi, 2000), especially chapter2.

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I deeply desiredthe riches of this Indianland. Whatis the profitsince this land oppressesme? Left so far from you Baburhas not perished, Excuse me beloved for this my error. At just aboutthe same time he expressed similarfeelings in prose. In a letterthat he wrote to his longtime boon companion, Khwajah Kalan, who had fled from India's climate to returnand govern Kabul, Babur said that he desperately hoped to join him afterstabilizinghis new Indianregime. We have an immense and unreserveddesire to go there. Things in Hindustan have also reached a sort of conclusion. The hope is such that, with God most high, this currentwork will, with God's grace quickly be finished. After this workhas been arranged, immediately,if God determines,I shall set out. How can a person forget the pleasures of those regions, especially when one has thus repentedand abstained [from wine.]? How can a person banish from his mind the legal pleasures like melon and grapes? Thus considered a melon was brought.Cuttingandeating it had a strangeeffect. I brokedown in tears.3' Rudyard Kipling reiterated both Babur's and Ashraf's reactions to the Indian climate and their homesickness in voluntary exile. In one of his short poems in the larger set titled, appropriately enough for a discussion of Iranianexile verse, "Certain Maxims of Hafiz," he made one of his many witty comments about the debilitating effect of the Indianclimate. The temperof chums, the love of your wife, and a new piano's tuneWhich of the threewill you still trustat the end of an IndianJune?32 While in another verse from his poem "Christmas in India" he conveys the heimweh/homesick feelings of all expatriates in India's Circe better than any other "Aryan"literary exile of the British period. Having come to India for its "gold," they now, like Ashraf,realizedthe emotionalconsequencesof abandoning theircountry. High noon behindthe tamarisks-the sun is hot
Above us -

As at home the Christmas Day is breakingwan. They will drinkour healthsat dinner-those who tell us how they love us. And forget us till anotheryear be gone!

31. Mano, ed., Babur-Nama,f. 359a. 32. RudyardKipling,Departmental Ditties and BarrackRoomBallads (NY, 1912), 126.

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O the toil thatknows no breaking!Oh the Heimweh,ceaseless aching! O the black dividingSea and alien Plain! Youth was cheap-wherefore we sold it. Gold was good-we hoped to hold it, And today we know the fullness of our gain.33 It is tempting to imagine a posthumous poetry recital, a mushacirah, in which Kipling, Babur, and Ashraf would spontaneously compose verses playing off each other's Indian imagery. It would be even more fitting if they held the literary competitionnearShahJahan'sconfidentinscriptionon Delhi's Red Fort: Agar firdawsbarrii-yi zamin ast, Haminast haminast haminast! If thereis paradiseon earth, It is this, it is this, it is this!34

33. Ibid., 114. 34. This is a literal verbal echo of a line in Amir Khusrau'spoem Nuh Sipihr in which he describes Indiaas an earthlyparadise.See above n. 20.