Identities of Composite literary Tradition during the Sultanate of Delhi: A Study of Amir Khusrau and Kabir in the Making of Indian Heritage

Pdf : Views  Download 


Citation: Imon-ul-Hossain, “Identities of Composite literary Tradition during the Sultanate of Delhi: A Study of Amir Khusrau and Kabir in the Making of Indian Heritage”, American Research Journal of History and Culture, Vol 7, no. 1, 2021, pp. 1-9.

Copyright Imon-ul-Hossain, This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The history of Medieval India had long been interpreted on two grounds basically, - the age of destruction of Indian civilization by the central Asian invaders; and the growth of composite culture. But the above terms reflect contradictory sense because if the advent of foreigners fully eliminated India’s glorious past then how could there be an amelioration of cultural assimilation during our period of study. In this regard, communalist modern scholars of this period can be held responsible, who sought to disseminate unscientific viewpoints on both Hindu and Muslim superiority, or at best with a so-called notion of “community crisis”. In fact, it is not even so hard to identify the biasness of Marxist scholars who set up a dominance in medieval Indian history writing by excluding many impartial treatments. However, as a chief offshoot of this composite tradition the mystic literary practice had thrived out of Bhakti and Sufi movement, which imparted the idea of love and devotion for God, simultaneously emphasized the harmonious social relationship through the spiritual promulgation of human relationship with extra-mundane world. This paper has attempted to describe the literary aspects of Delhi Sultanate period, by which the composite cultural scenario can be discernible in the making of Indian heritage, and tried to evaluate several subsided corners of this subject. As a part of my discussion, therefore, I have decided to provide a critical analysis about the two most prominent mystic authors of this age- Amir Khusrau and Kabir.

Keywords: Kabir, Amir Khusrau, Sultanate, Delhi, Mystic, India


The Islamic civilization during the days of its origin didn’t offer much impetus towards cultural activity as the holy Quran sternly insisted upon the prohibition of ostentatious and luxurious life1. So, at that time it was natural that there was no exertion for literature. In the course of time, Islam began to spread in different corners of the world, and gradually with the variation of regions Muslim life associated with cultural thought, even Islam changed the character itself. Rightly pointed out by Prof. K.M. Ashraf, “the teaching of Quran appears to have worked more or less satisfactory in the tribal surroundings, and the strong democratic traditions of Madina. But as soon as Islam began to expand beyond the limits of a city state, the ‘inspired word of God ‘failed to be elaborated for the working of a more extensive political structure ….”2. But, with beyond dispute the assumption may not be wrong if we think that there was a revival of Muslim world in terms of material development. In this respect, we can allude the name of Baghdad which had become the glorious cultural center of middle east. This period can also be seen as a discourse of romantic, social and morality-oriented compositions by many central Asian scholars vizFirdausi, Saadi and Hafez who had broken the conservative ideology of Muslims, and were renowned for their diverse thematic works.

The Turks brought their own heritage in Indian civilization which was far different from Arabian culture. In terms of daily speaking and administrative purpose the Persian had become their serviceable language. Thus, during 13th century onward Lahore emerged as the first center for the cultivation of the Persian language. A notable characteristic of this period was the translation of many texts from Sanskrit to Persian and Persian to Turkish. Khawaja Zia Nakhshabi, one of the most distinguished scholars of that time, was the first to translate Kok Shastra from Sanskrit to Persian, also he had another famous composition Tuti Nama (Tells of Parrot). Under Sultan Zainul Abidin of Kashmir the translation of Rajtarangini and Mahabharata translated into Persian3. Although there are various allegations from the side of Hindu nationalist historians about the destruction of Indian heritage by the Medieval rulers. In that case, they have opined that Sanskrit had lost its value in both Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Period. Presumably, these scholars failed observe that large numbers of great Sanskrit works had been composed during 11th century, or 12th century onward than that of previous ages. We have uncountable instances of commentaries, and digests on the Hindu law that generally called Dharmashastras said to have prepared between 12th and 16th century4. Immediately after the emergence of Bhakti movement, precisely following the great Sankara, the works in the field of Advaita philosophy by Ramanuja, Madhava, Vallabha, and also few ancient texts like Ramayana and Mahabharata had been continued to be composed from 11th and 12th century onward. Sultan Firoz Shah Tughlaq who have been regarded as the fanatic monarch and apparently hostile towards the Hindus, even he was curious to explore the ancient texts 5. During his time the Indian classical work Ragadarpan was rendered from Sanskrit to Persian. Same example can also be noticeable for Sultan Alauddin Khalji6.

In this first discussion my related study is on the diverse composite perception of Amir Khusrau as well as his approach towards the non-Muslims which has been manifested through his literary practice. Amir Khusrau was born on 1253 at Patiali in modern Uttar Pradesh. In the context of authorship, he disseminated patriotism by enumerating numerous micro beauties, heritage and cultural offshoots of Hindustan. Perhaps, the sole appropriation of his love for homeland entrusted him with a prestigious designation “Tuti-yi-Hind”(parrot of India) .Similarly, Khusrau marked his reputation as an innovator of Indo-Persian literary genre, and also placed his greatness among the famous poet-laureates of this age. The poetry of Amir Khusrau can be identified with his diverse incorporation of linguistics. In fact, we may claim that his writings engendered a compound of many foreign, indigenous and local dialects which appeared to be a dynamic exertion of medieval intellectual world. Amir Khusrau mentioned different languages these are varied from regions and styles of this land. Through the literary texts of Khusrau we can find the existence of several forms such as, - Sindhi, Lahauri, Kashmiri, Kubri, DhurSamandri, Tilangi (Telugu), Gujar (Gujrati), Gauri (North Bengal), Bengali, Awad and Delhi7. Khusrau expressed his pride through many of his poems and statements about the pluralistic nature of Hindustani linguistics. In this respect, we can observe one of his poetry-

“The people of Khita, Mongol, Turks and Arabs

In speaking Indian dialects get sewn lips

But we can speak any language of the world

As expertly as a shepherd tends his sheep.”8

He also enunciated in “Nuh Sipihr” about his versatile acquaintance with all such forms of languages

“In most of these people’s languages

I have gained knowledge

I know them, enquired about them and can speak them

And to an extent, more or less, have been enlightened by them”.9

During our period of study, as mentioned earlier we have noticed many instances of translation works, or cultural exchanges through classic and canonical texts. But the uses of various ‘words’, ‘terms’, and dialects were hardly visible among them except the compositions of Amir Khusrau. We can analyze this aspect through the examples of his poetries-

“aaj rañg hai ai mahā-rañg hai rī, aaj rañg hai ai mahā-rañg hai rī , mere mahbūb ke ghar rañg hai rī…ai torā rañg man bhāyo nijāmuddīn ..maiñ to torā rañg man bhāyo nijāmuddīn muñh māñge bar sañg hai rī maiñ to aiso rañg aur nahīñ dekhī sakhī rī ai mahbūb-e-ilāhī maiñ to aiso rañg aur nahīñ dekhī..”10

The word Rang or Rung is generally used as ‘colour’ in Hindi and most of the north Indian language it’s not a Persian or Urdu term. Same goes to another statement ‘maiñ to aiso rañg aur nahīñ dekhī sakhī rī ...’. Next word ‘Mahbūb-e-ilāhī’ is a combination of Urdu and Arabic. Although, this phrase was popularized by Khusrau’s master Nizamuddin Auliya.

we can also use another of his poem –

“Tarah tarah kay phool lagaaye, lay gadhwa haathan mein aaye. Nijamudin kay darwazay par...”11

This is a tributary couplet written in Indo-eastern Bhojpuri language, and a romantic description of his beloved master Seikh Nizamuddin Auliya.There are many examples scattered in his compositions which ascertained the diverse familiarity, and the dealings of Khusrau with these linguistic genres.

The period of 13th century can be perceived by the development of mutual understanding between Hindus and Muslims in terms of sociological behaviours because of the dynamic endeavour made by the mystic cults through their circulation of religious tolerance. Amir Khusrau should be regarded as the forerunner of this approach. It would be perceptible If we look into several of his poetry and individual quotes, about how he explored the culture, rituals and practices of the so called ‘infidels’(Kafir) of Hindusthan. One may be astonished to quest at his perception because when other notable authors of that time viz, -Zia-uddin Barani, Minhajuddin Shiraj -who had completely ignored, and directed many pimping opinions against the non-Muslims. Nevertheless, in such state Khusrau remained exceptional by imparting the Hindus into his subjective study. In this facet, what I think as the whole human beings are bounded by different socio-religious impositions. But despite living in many extreme dissentions on the ground of race, ethnicity and religion, they are psychologically always curious toward their opponent community. That’s why, this accentuate may not be undeserved that Amir Khusrau had such soft-corner, and large-hearted personality to reach in more intimacy with those alien counterpart Hindus. Here I am citing few of his poetical excerptions to facilitate the analysis properly.

‘I grew pale before the Hindu idol.

Alas, he had no idea of my distress.

I told him, ‘I want to kiss your lips.’

He laughed and said, ‘Nahi Nahi’, a proscriptive no.’12

The term Nahi used here for rejection or prohibition of Khusrau’s offer in a utopian sense. During that age hardly the Muslims could visit the Hindu temples and idols, as they were swayed by many hide-bound customs. Wherein, for Khusrau it was very natural. Now another joke can be appended here-

“One day I was strolling by a stream

When I saw a Hindu lass on the bank.

I asked, ‘my pretty, how much for your hair?’

She cried, ‘A pearl for every strand,’

Or ‘Get Lost, you wretch’ in the Hindavi sense. “13

Most recently, we have a popular book of Audrey Truschke in which she used the term “Culture of Encounters” as a title of this book14. Here, the culture conferring to nonMuslims literary participations in Mughal court. In fact, Audrey Truschke brough a new relevant insight about the psychological competition of contemporary Hindu and Jain Sanskrit scholars for getting the favourable position in Mughal imperial house. Now, such intention of discovering the ‘encounters’ i.e Hindus had cantered round in Amir Khusrau’s works. We should examine one of his couplets about how he defined the comparison of a devoted Jogi boy with the famous Muslim annal Laila and Majnu-

“The young Jogi boy was sitting in the dust,

Face pretty as Laila’s, mind mad as Majnun’s.

His beauty was really enhanced by the dust

A mirror is brighter when polished with grit.”15

Our discussion about Amir Khusrau would be incomplete beyond the perusal of his idea of Hindusthan, which has a deep co-relation with his commendation of motherland and realization of other faiths. In that case, we must remember that there was no sense of unified nationalism in Medieval India as the term ‘nation’ and ‘nationalism’ is apparently a modern concept. Prof. Syed Nurul Hassan in his “Problem of Nationalities in Medieval India” has pointed out the various evolution behind the growth and development of territorial national consciousness16.However, for Amir Khusrau the notion of patriotism has to be regarded as an outcome of his curious mind and deepest compassion about the peoples, nature and culture of India. At least, we have to consider this through an emotion-centric mind set up for mother-land, which commonly inlaid to every human character. But, in the context of historical comparison one should not ratiocinate that there was an existence of broad patriotic cognition irrespective of caste, creeds and regional variations when Khusrau was imbibing such prosperous introspection through his compositions.

Amir Khusrau didn’t exclude a single theme of material Hindusthan from his observation. Moreover, one can recognize the presence of numerous micro beauties, sub-themes which are related in the core subject of his authorship to overpraise the less valuable corners of Human life as well as the poet’s cordial interaction with commoners and ordinary Hindus. Very interestingly, he has justified the love of motherland ‘Hind’ depending upon the dictum of prophet Muhammed -“Hub al watan min al-iman” (the love of motherland is an essential part of the true faith), even he ascertained that this is an inevitable part of faith17. Above all he argued about the superiority of motherland. At this point, he ordained two reasons-firstly, to be his birth place; and secondly, the prophetic tradition arrived in this land of infidels for which they would receive reward hereafter. He quoted –

“Hind was a paradise for the unbelievers since the advent of Adam till the coming of Islam. Even in recent times, these infidels have had every pleasure of heaven like wine and honey”18

In most cases, the mentions of Indian foods, animals had also been delineated. Here I am including few his couplets and their inner significance-

“Last night my pan-seller was up to his tricks, as he slowly prepared pan leaves in his shop...”19

“The rose prefers no other beauty to yours, that’s why it always laughs at everyone else. My Hindu flower-seller, cover your face. It’s your fault the rose seems to wear a sacred thread”20

The previous poetry mentioned about Pan i.e., betel leaves which was probably a high price commodity at that time, thence, mostly the elite classes used to receive its teste. In the second couplet, one hand it displaying about his familiarity with flower, basically an element of idol worship; and on the other hand, his continuous relationship with Hindus. Indeed, Khusrau felt comfort and certainty within the milieu of non- Muslim inhabitants as like as Malik Muhammed Jaisi, a 16th century narrator of India. By eulogizing Indian beauty, he said, “it is so moderate that a poor peasant spends the nights in the pasture-land grazing his flock with only a single worn-out cloak wrapped around him, a Brahman can take his bath in the cold water of the river early in the morning, where a mere branch of tree is enough to shade the poor of the country”21.

The tendency of Amir Khusrau was always to prove the greatness of Indian heritage for which he used to praise her (India) communities, customs and festivals. He regarded Sanskrit not merely an ancient language, but profoundly emphasised upon its richest literary tradition. By remarking his comparison, he stated –

“This language has the quality of a pearl amongst pearls. It is inferior to Arabic, but superior to Dari (Persian)”22

Now the question here that why Khusrau expressed his modest-corner for Arabic, because psychologically he was bounded by theological sphere. So, conventionally he had to inherit the same motives. Hence, not Sanskrit but Arabic was superior. Since, it has conjunction with the fear for heaven or hell wherein Persian was comparatively less valued. Amir Khusrau’s work is replete with the desire of searching Hindusthani mood of knowledge. He over-praised the Brahman class about their versatile wisdom and exalted honour. Even extolled them proudly, - ‘the scholars from all corners of the world come to India for acquiring knowledge but the Brahmans never leaves the boundaries of India for pursuing wisdom as there is no need for them’. We should look his statement -

“Brahman in their knowledge and intellect are far superior to the knowledge of all the books of Aristotle …Whatever the Greek revealed in philosophical thought to the world, the Brahmans have a greater wealth”23.

While talking about the Brahmans he has defined their nature, and brought them in a special category whose knowledge remained conceal from mundane universe. No one could penetrate to realize their qualities. However, Khusrau tried to explore them in some angel-

“As nobody had tried to learn from the Brahman. They have remained unrevealed. But I to an extent have done a bit of research in this matter. And after putting a stamp of confidence on their heart. Have gained some insight into their secrets of learning. Whatever I could grasp has not been contradicted so far.”24

Through the above discussions we come to know about the different perspectives of Amir Khusrau’s understanding of pluralistic Hindustan in terms of imagination, or at best, in a stage of person-centric visualization. Now, I shall portray some divergent viewpoints of this legendary author. One can raise issue that why his negativity should disclose whereas he was, perchance, the only progressive figure of medieval intellectual world who said to have modelled the backbone of harmonious Indianness. In that case, I sought to stand with scientific historical objectivity, in which a historiographer must remain in impartiality on the basis of adequate sources; and thematically argumentative or counter-argumentative. Rightly pointed out by leading historian R.C. Majumdar, “The ascertainment of truth, so far it can be ascertained…is the one object, the one sanction, of all historical studies”25.

Prof. Aziz Ahmed was the first to trace the shortcomings of three medieval Scholars, - Amir Khusrau, Muhammed Isami and Malik Muhammed Jaisi -in his “Epic and counter Epic in Medieval India”26. Here it has been expounded that Muslim rule in India contributed two literary growth, - one is the Muslim epic of conquest; and another is the Hindu epic of resistance. Now these literatures had psychological roots of the contemporary authors who wished to glorify specific communities and war heroes. The Muslim narratives developed through Qasidas(panegyrics), mostly which were conducted on the occasion of campaign by the Muslim kings in various Hindu kingdoms. Now, in medieval period we have few instances of notable compositions about the annals of Muslim victory. In this consideration, Amir khusrau’s Miftah al Futuh is the first war epic (Razmiya), which narrates four victories of Jalal-Al-Din Khalji, two of them against Hindu rajas. The next work of Amir Khusrau, Khazain al Futuh, was written in prose form, and the conquest of Turks against the Hindus had been glorified. The Khalji campaign of Deccan was identified as a bravado of iconoclasm. Khusrau’s next epic “Ashiqa” was courtly (Bazmiya) in subject, related to the love story of Alauddin Khalji’s son Khizr Khan for the Hindu princess of Gujrat, Dewal Rani. Here one psychological perspective is obvious that is the recognition of conquers right of possession upon the dominated Hindu beloved. Khusrau, beyond dispute being a poet laurate, is the only individual figure of medieval century who said to have conveyed the pluralistic depiction of Hindustan, and his genius authorship absorbed both the major and micro beauty of Hindustan’s culture, peoples, nature and environment. But one may surprise to see his quotation about how he set out a Muslim majoritarian tendency-

“Happy Hindustan, the splendors of religion, where the (Muslim holy) law finds perfect honor and security…. the strong men of Hind have been trodden under foot and are ready to pay tribute. Islam is triumphant and idolatry is subdued.” 27

Amir Khusrau’s last epic Tughluq Nama had an actual sake to signify the re-establishment of Muslim power in India by his hero Ghiyath al Din Tughluq. Following, such cases one may be confused about his contrary approach. However, through these all-critical overviews we should interpret Amir Khusrau as visionary, literary genius and harbinger of nation’s pluralism. Likewise, we must not abstain to evaluate Khusrau on the ground of his majoritarian intention towards the Hindus. But, one thing I have to point out here that the Indo-Persian historiography as well as medieval literary traditions often used the term “infidel” for non-believers that doesn’t actually means to illiberally representing other counterparts. At best, we can project them as the mind set up circle of Muslim authors, otherwise, there is no dissidence to deliberate Amir Khusrau far more superior than that of the contemporary scholars about their treatment of Non-Muslims.

The formation of Indian heritage has been a long-drawn process from far ancient period. Our culture digested each and every elements of whole universe which gradually became the principle of Indian nation. There might have been numerous advents of foreign powers, rise and fall of royal dynasties, political turmoil, but altogether the deep-rooted homogenous socio-cultural relationship had never been threatened on the manner of political institutions. Perhaps, this is the most exalted disposition of this sub-continent. In the same mode, we should also elucidate the insight of Amir Khusrau who dedicated his generous espial in the creation of composite culture. Hence, in later period his footsteps had been followed in many notable aspects of Indian culture. Precisely, in the field of recognizing the other faiths still we have no more example like Amir Khusrau.

We have various major opinions about the growth of Bhakti movement in India which held the role of Islam behind the rapid augmentation of this mystic school. Iswari Prasad states, - ‘the Muslims introduced a new spirit into Hindu society by laying stress on the unity of God. The implicit explanation stands on one formulation – the Hindus said to have influenced by the austerity of Islam, and its faith on oneness of God’28. Dr. Yusuf Hussain in his “The Glimpses of the Medieval Indian Culture”, made an assumption, by giving the case of Ramananda who reported to have acquired the knowledge of Islamic ideas, and was unconsciously inspired by them29. However, it is hard to bank on these above arguments. As the idea of universal brotherhood was already existed in ancient India, and its extraction had been presented by Vedas. Even, the Bhakti movement as a regeneration of Hinduism, gained much response from the lower-class masses, and was not wholly established. The fundamental factor was to raise up against the Brahmanical sway, and exploitation which was actually a continuous process itself beyond any external force. Although Bhakti movement could not collaborate to perpetually eliminate the interregnum between Hinduism and Islam, but it had created a good bonding of these twogreat religions for transitory time.

My analysis now redirected to another influential mystic saint as well as a prominent poet of medieval century, Kabirdas or Kabir. I would like to evaluate his composite ideas through many of his literary offshoots. As far as his caste and profession is concerned it has been elicited from Kabir’s own word-

“Tu Brahman, Mei Kasi Ka Julaha

Hari Ke Nao Bin Kin Gati Paiye, Kahe Julaha Kabir”30

(You are a Brahmin and I am a Julaha from Kashi, Julaha Kabir says that there is no way without blessing of God)

He was a poor Julaha – a Mohammedan weaver of Kasi. It is, therefore, certain that because of his extreme marginal background he was unable accomplish formal education during his infancy. He mentioned in a couplet of his Doha – “Moshi- kaged suth nahi, kalam dhari nahi hath”31 (I never touched ink or paper nor did I take a pen).

The idea to regard Kabir as the prophet of Hindu-Muslim unity has been directed differently. The Apostle of Hindu-Muslim Unity, written by Muhammad Hedayetullah, and published in 1977. In his preface, Hedayetullah says this about Kabir -

“He was not only a true product of the interaction of Hindu-Muslim ideas, but also a sincere ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity. By preaching a new spirituality, he not only disregarded the formal religions of Hinduism and Islam, which he considered merely man-made, he also struggled to unite the two communities by a new piety which would not discriminate between them either religiously or socially....”32. Denouncing all religious formalisms, he preached a new dogma of universalism with an attempt to resolve the tensions that had prevailed between the two communities for so many centuries. Now, I would like to cite from Amartya Sen’s ‘Argumentative Indian’- “A similar commitment to accepting—and exalting diversity can be seen in many other writings, from the prose and poetry of Amir Khusrau, a Muslim scholar and poet in the fourteenth century, to the rich culture of non-sectarian religious poetry which flourished from around that time, drawing on both Hindu (particularly Bhakti) and Muslim (particularly Sufi) traditions. Indeed, interreligious tolerance is a persistent them in the poetry of Kabir, Dadu, Ravi-das, Sena and others....”33. However, whether he was a pioneer “Hindu-Muslim unity”, or his effort was “interreligious tolerance”, we have to reach in detail.

As an exponent of dynamic society Kabir spoke up against the bigotry, and rigidity of both his coeval Hindus and Muslims. I would like to give few examples. This is an earliest collection, and mostly authentic which threatened the Muslims slaughtering and eating of cows-

“We have searched the Turk’s religion (turakii dharam).

These teachers throw many thunderbolts.

Recklessly they display boundless pride.

While explaining their own aims, they kill cows.

How can they kill the mother?

Whose milk they drink like that of a wet-nurse?

The young and the old drink milk pudding,

But these fools eat the cow’s body.

These morons know nothing. They wander about in ignorance.

Without looking into one’s heart, how can one reach paradise?”34

Simultaneously, he attacked the hidebound Hindu ritualistic elements in his same words-

“The pandits have gone astray studying and pondering the Vedas,

Lost in many secrets they do not find their own selves.

Absorbed in their daily prayers, sacrificial libations,

And the six ritual acts, they stay in their ashrams.

They have imparted the Gayatri mantra throughout the four ages,

But go and ask if any have attained salvation.

Ram is found immanent in everyone, but they purify themselves.

Tell me, who is lower than these?”35

Moreover, according to Kabir, ‘it is not only the ritual actions of Hindus and Muslims, even their religious books, the Vedas and the Quran, are equally worthless’. One can realize how he drastically step up against them from another of his song-

“He who taught the Muslim creed (kalamam) in the Kali age

Was unable to seek out the power of the creation.

According to karma, the actor performs his actions.

The Vedas and Muslim books are all worthless.

According to karma, one became an avatar in the world.

According to karma, one fixed the Muslim prayers.

According to karma, circumcision or the sacred thread.

Neither the Hindu nor the Turk knows the secret.

Water and air were joined together,

All this turmoil was created.

When surati is absorbed in the Void,

On what basis can our caste be told?”36

What Kabir clearly says in these quotes is not that both religions lead to the same goal, but rather that true religious experience totally transcends the doctrines and practices of any specific traditional religion. This idea is, in fact, probably the most frequent and dominant idea found in all early collections of Kabir’s compositions. In Kabir, God or the absolute or the Supreme Spirit is finally identified with the religious subject’s mental experience of a unique, non-temporal and non-sensorial consciousness. The logical conclusion is rather that Kabir had little or no use for everyday religious institutions and everyday religious customs and allegiances whatsoever. To say otherwise is to distort history in favour of some contemporary historical project. The secular state is to one’s mind clearly a worthy ideal, but Kabir’s contributions to this ideal are dubious at best, however much we may otherwise love his poetry and his ideas.

He was a founder of humanistic lore with the inclusion of material forces. Once, a set up believe was associated in both these two great religions, where it had been often insisted upon temple and mosque as the house of God. In order to entrust the latter’s hereditary faith, overtly discrimination broke out. Sometime, not alone the Hindus or Muslims were treated for not allowing each other’s sanctum, but even the females had no place there. In mosques or holy shrines hardly, women could get entry. Sultan Firoz Shah Tughlaq openly promulgated that ladies must be prevented from their accession at Sufi shrines. Same fact goes to several temples which strictly brought the senses of opprobrium against the females. That’s why, Kabir strongly claimed to curtail the value of those so called “temples” and “mosques” through his poems. I am citing one of his quotes –

“O servant, where dost thou seek me?

Lo! I am beside thee.

I am neither in Kaaba nor in Mosque:


Neither am I in rites and ceremonies,

Nor in Yoga and renunciation

If thou art a true seeker, thou shalt meet me

In a moment of time.

Kabir says, “O Sadhu! God is the breath of all breath” 37

Actually, the worldly impetus in a visibly divine tone was the basic subjective theme of Kabir. In his tenet no more enunciation on traditional theology had been propounded, rather than this he wished an extinction of common scriptural approaches based on divergent community faiths. Kabir’s notion of composite society, indeed, relied upon moralistic venture of human being. He stands on behalf of the women to hinder the long form of gender discrimination, whom had always been regarded as the cause of misery, and decline in a family. We should observe his quote-

“Nari narak na janiye, sab santan ki khaan

Jaame harijan upjay, soyee ratan ki khaan

Nari ninda na karo, nari ratan ki khaan

Nari se nar hot hai, Dhrub Prahlad samaan”38

(Don’t think of women as hell, she is the goldmine of all saints.

Its women who gives birth to the men of God, the women are the mine of jewels

Never defame a woman, a woman is the mine of jewels

All men come out of woman, Dhruva Prahlad alike)

The above discussion of two mystic figures of medieval India delineated their approach towards a composite social profile. Now, I shall look forward to the role of these preachers in the formation of Indian heritage. This analysis should also be an effort to revisit that despite being the presence of such dynamic harmonious perception in our civilization; how after the advent of colonial rule Indian mind had been separated, and both Hindus and Muslims had become the victim of radical communalism. As mentioned earlier, we have seen the devoted struggle of these mystic preachers to eschew socio-religious rigidity. But, in spite of such efforts, why our sociological behaviour still remained with the notions of purity and pollution. This aspect has also need to reinterpret here.

The rise of communalism in Indian sub-continent had a longdrawn process, which has been traced by several scholars. Precisely, after the arrival of colonial rule, due to the purpose of discriminating both Hindus and Muslims, they had imposed different policies-based on hostility or identity. Now, we should look into the basic modes of communalism. In materialistic nature, it is a motive which peoples derived from their pre-generators through various transmission of superstition, bigotry and ritualistic rigidity. However, in the course of time, such factors gradually generate the psychology of that programme. In this consideration, other observations are noticeable – when a particular community considered its superiority, they always directed to prove themselves on its behalf; and inversely, when a particular community thinks about so called ‘identity crisis’. Then in time after time the locomotives thrives as an obvious antagonistic force to reestablish their peculiar appearance.

There are multiple opinions behind this process. Anil Seal, one of the most leading scholar of Cambridge school, argued about the absence of nationalism because of the numerous sways of dissidence, conflict and diversity among the Indians39. Hence, the extract of his perception was the hereditary presence of communalism and racism rather than the ideas of ‘unified nationalism’. We can include few more characteristic of our sub-continent, – firstly, because of the regional variations there are various psychological atmosphere among the peoples which varied even after each kilometre; and secondly, religion do not play as the supreme force to mobilize a particular community where the senses are mostly centred round with racial or ethnical influences. We have many examples of indigenous groups
who shared their common ties and rituals despite remaining fundamentally in own faith. 

Immediately, after the beginning of Aligarh movement, a group of British academicians like- Theodore Beck and Morrison, infused the concept of separate identity among the intellectual Muslims. By which, it had been disseminated that National congress is an institution of Hindu majority, and no amelioration of Muslims could be achieved from there. This rumour gradually became a model of ‘identity crisis’ for upper strata of Muslims. Hence, if the Muslims dreaming for political, economic and social advancement; certainly, they need separate party or democratic platform within British dominion. Sooth to say, it was an incessant intention of those British officials to very strategically induce division between the two-dominant community of Indian sub-continent. On the eve of swadeshi movement, the growth of Hindu nationalism was also a catalyst in making this distance. Beyond dispute, they were the pioneer of anticolonial struggle, but their objective was imperfect to imbibe everyone in the mainstream of anti-British agitation. Hardly Muslims could participate in their organizations. Another reason can also be traced that the Muslims were not in touch of western education as the British education was regarded as ‘Haram’ or Lesson of Christianity from the days of 1857. Surprisingly, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s Aligarh college had often been called as the institution of Christianity. Mostly the elite Hindu groups could attach with English because of their financial stability. In the course of time, under the effect of British ‘divide and rule policy’, the new emerging educated Muslims drastically advocated the two nations theory. Eventually, Muslim league, Hindu Mahasabha and RSS came into being; and directly or indirectly they were supported by Britishers. I dare to say, even among the congress leaders such radical elements had been acted, otherwise, it is hard to believe that how Madan Mohan Malavya, a reverent educationist, politician and three times elected president of INC, took his alteration from Congress to Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahsava40. Same example goes to Mohammed Ali Jinnah, whose leadership later became the extreme locomotive of Pakistan41. Whether it was the responsibility of British policy alone, or the long evolutionary process that does not make sense. But the curse has not been erased still. We have seen in earlier discussion of both Amir Khusrau and Kabir’s approach who laid the foundation of sociological assimilation by excluding conflicts, superiority-inferiority and purity-pollution. It was, therefore, a fight against the evil norms -like ‘Pan-Hinduism’, ‘Pan-Islamism’ and ‘PanSikhism”, which later developed as the guiding medium of colonial policy making.

Even, in 21st century India it is hard to imagine that in this sacred land of Kabir and Amir Khusrau, how we unfortunate peoples are occupied by communal, community, caste, race and ethnic rivalry. Perhaps, we are unable to nourished their estimable humanistic doctrine to regard anybody not as ‘Hindu’ or ‘Muslim’ but as human being only. Just as like Kabir said “Hari in the east Allah in the west look within your heart from there you will find both Karim and Ram”. In lieu of, we put our reliance widely upon canonical texts illustrated by the ungenerous ‘Brahmans’ or ‘Mullahs’. During the period of colonial rule political opportunists keep this tool as weapon for gaining more power. In post-independence period, and until now communal politics is going on. In each and every corner of our country regularly we are experiencing many horrible incidents caused by these elements. Another fact is also to remark here is the absence of scientific and impartial history writing among the academicians of this discipline. The prime objective of this social science is the ascertainment of truth. Do some extend, we may not have this capability as we human beings made of bone and blood, so it is impossible to be unbiased completely. But at least we can try to reach in the very approximation of truth to formulate our glorious heritage. 


1. Akbarabadi, Saeed. Islamic History: The Rise and Fall of Muslims, Adamas Publishers and Distributors. New Delhi. 2017.p.20

2. Ashraf, K.M, Life and Condition of the People of Hindusthan, Gyan Publishing House, New Delhi. 2015, Firsrst Published in Karachi 1920, p. 37

3. Mohammed, Jigar. Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin(1420-70)in the Sanskrit Sources of Kashmir: A study of Rajatarangini’s of Jonaraja and Srivara, Proceedings of Indian History Congress, 1997. pp. 218-225

4. Habib, Irfan. Medieval India: The Story of a Civilization, National Book Trust, New Delhi, 2007. p. 91

5. Banerjee, Jamini Mohan,History of Firuzshah Tughluq, Munshiram Manoharlal, Delhi, 1967. p. 181

6. Niazi, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, The Life and Works of Sultan Alauddin Khalji, Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, 2018. pp. 122-141

7. Amir Khusrau, Nuh Sipihr, Edited by Wahid Mirza, Calcutta. 1950

8. Ibid. p. 166

9. Ibid. p. 171

10. Habib, Mohammed, Hazrat Amir Khusrau of Delhi, D.B. Taraporevala Sons and Co, Bombay, 1927. pp. 47

11. Paul Smith, Book of Amir Khusrau Selected Poems and Tale of The Four Dervishes, CreateSpace Independent Pub. USA. 2015

12. Paul E. Losensky and Sunil Sharma, In The Bazaar of Love: The Selected Poetry of Amir Khusrau, Penguin Books, New Delhi, 2013. p. 104

13. Ibid. In The Bazaar of Love.

14. Truschke, Audrey, Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court, Panguin Allen Lane. 2016

15. op.cit. p. 104

16. Hasan, S.Nurul, Problem of Nationalities in Medieval India,in Religion State and Society in Medieval India, Edited and Introduced by Satish Chandra, OUP,New Delhi. 2005. p. 102

17. Op.cit. Nuh Sipihr. p. 150

18. Ibid. p. 156

19. Op.cit. In the Bazaar of Love. p. 100

20. Ibid. p. 102

21. Op.cit. Nuh Siphir. P.159

22. Amir Khusrau, Dewal Rani Khizr Khan. p. 159

23. Op.cit. Nuh Siphir. p. 162

24. Ibid. p. 163

25. Sreedharan, E, A Textbook of Historiography, Orient Black swan, Hyderabad, 2018. p. 468

26. Ahmed, Aziz. Epic and Counter Epic in Medieval India, edited by Richard M. Eaton, India’s Islamic Traditions 711-1750, OUP, New Delhi, 2003

27. Ibid. p. 39

28. Prasad, Iswari, A Short History of Muslim Rule in India, Second Edition, The Indian Press, Allahabad, p.245

29. Hussain, Yusuf, Glimpses of Medieval Indian Culture, First Edition, Asia Publishing House, Bombay, 1957. p.13

30. Jaidev Singh and Vasudev Singh, Kabir Vani Piyush, Biswavidyalaya Prakashan, Chowk, Varanasi, 1996.p.7

31. Shree Saran, Kabir Byakttitwa aur Krittitya, Aadhunik Prakashan, Delhi,2002,pp. 9-10

32. Hedayetullah, Muhammad. Kabir: The Apostle of HinduMuslim Unity. Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi,1977.

33. Sen, Amartya, The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity, 2005. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. P.19

34. Kabir-granthavali. Edited by Mataprasad Gupta, Lokabharati Prakashan, 1969, Allahabad, Ram. P.5.4

35. Ibid.5.5

36. Ibid. ram. ashtapadi .3

37. Rabindranath Tagore and Evelyn Underhill, One Hundred Poem of Kabir, Macmillian and Co,limited ,London, 1915. p.1

38. Das , G.N, Couplet from Kabir(Kabir Dohe), Motilal Banarsidas,Delhi. 1999

39. Seal, Anil, The Emergence of Indian Nationalism: Competition and Collaboration in the Later Nineteenth Century, Cambridge university press, 1971.p.341

40. Chandra, Bipan. Mukherjee, Mridula. Mukherjee, Aditya. Mahajan, Sucheta. Panikkar, India’s Struggle for Independence, Penguin Books, 1989. p. 422

41. Ibid. p. 424