I’ve always held an admirable disdain toward the English. A small excerpt I read in William Dalrymple’s , ‘The Last Mughal’ is worth its weight in hard currency.
An impartial and well written book that takes you back to a romanticised impression of Delhi during the 1857 seepoy mutiny; an uprising against the British occupation and subsequent final blow which decapitated the mughal dynasty.
An emperor only in name, Bahadar Shah Zafar had no political or military authority, other than within the confines of the Red Fort in Delhi. A once mighty empire, the Mughal dynasty had dwindled over the last three centuries into small fiefdoms and princely states. India actually belonged to the British throne.
Nothing summarised the state of the muslim empire better than the only known photograph of the last mughal king. His eyes say it all; the hasish, harems and haraam(forbidden) indulgences of generations have finally caught up to the once mighty Islamic age of India.
Dalrymple observes a shameful and regrettable fact that is testament to an age-old concept in wisdom. Not only were the denizens of India incompatible with the western occupiers in their base ideology toward life, but they even differed in their perceptions toward time.
It is said that the British, both civilian and military alike, began their day at 3:30 in the morning. The rich mughal courts on the other hand, were retiring to bed around that same time, intoxicated from yet another night of wine, women and musical prose. By the time the British had prayed, exercised and planned their daily routine whilst sitting down for breakfast, the Indians were fast asleep.
Bahadar Shah Zafar stoked a brewing rebellion by the Indians against the British occupiers. Shortly thereafter, he found himself hurried out of Delhi, holding on for dear life in the back of a donkey cart and a subsequent death in exile. Delhi fell to pillage, rape and a quashed rebellion.
In a jail cell just before his show-trial, Bahadar Shah Zafar lamented his loss in a verse he inscribed on the wall. It is a painful testament to anyone who has contemplated a fall from grace, in any capacity.
“No matter how smart and witty one may be, he is not a man
Who in good times forgot God, and who in anger did not fear Him”