Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Rachel Berry of Mughal India

The Feast of Roses
See the Goodreads page here.
See the Shelfari page here.
Arrogance. It's the fallibility many humans admit to, but not one can find the sense of. What is it that makes us want to conquer other humans? What is it that gives us an inherent need to make them feel inferior when, all in all, we will always be inferior ourselves? This exact phenomenon is the source of many tragedies throughout history, tragedies such as the ever-so-famous sinking of Titanic, the fall of Rome, the World Wars....actually, every war, when you think about it.  The figure portraying how much life arrogance has stolen  is a figure bordering on the ridiculous. You would think that, just maybe, we would learn. That humans would eventually have an epiphany of how this accursed phenomenon only leads to other accursed phenomena.
     But we shall never. That is the sorry truth.
     Let's start with some examples of this phenomenon in action from Indu Sundaresan's The Feast of Roses. Sundaresan's piece follows the many escapades of Empress Nur Jahan, who ruled the Mughal Empire (the richest Empire on Earth during the seventeenth century, nowadays located in Pakistan and India) in her husband's name for approximately eighteen years. She faced many trials throughout her period of prominence in the Empire, predominantly men who believed she was not worthy, and at times not capable, of wielding such power over the country. Such an  issue made survival in the cut-throat environment of a royal court quite trying indeed, and just like Ms. Rachel Berry of Glee, Nur Jahan used ruthless techniques to prove those who doubted her utterly wrong. Very funny how power struggles continue to plague politically prominent people today. Why has it continued, asks the inquirer?
   Let's progress with a law of evolution from our good friend, Charles Darwin-"Survival of the Fittest"
    Darwin studied the evolution of animals, specifically finches on the Galapagos Islands (which sound like a pretty nice destination to get some work done indeed), and this was one of several laws concluded from his travels. Scientifically speaking, humans are indeed animals. We have evolved from intellectually inferior apes, and adapted to our world so well that the power alter it is in our very grasp, a power no other species on Earth possesses. But still animals. But still beasts. These rules of evolution, therefore, apply to us as well.
   Since humans followed this law in a most primitive state, it is only natural that we followed them as the species became more complex. It is all we knew concerning how to live, and continues to be so-it is why we go to work each day (one cannot survive if he does not have the money to do so), why every song you hear on the radio these days has to do with break ups, make ups, or make-outs. In all honesty, the Mughal Imperial Court had quite a large resemblance to the animal kingdom-characters rose, fell, conspired, even killed each other to attain dominance over others; for if you have that dominance, you're that much more difficult to conquer. If you're more difficult to conquer, you're that much more likely to become immortal.


  1. I had no idea there was a book written on Nur Jahan. We've studied about her in history and admired her. It should interesting to read...I'll keep an eye open for this one!

    As regards your thoughts on man's constant quest for power and dominion, it's a really sad thing. It's the reason we'll have no peace on this earth.'s inherent in man. The best thing, though, is that each individual CAN change...and that's our hope. It's what makes us different, really, from other animals. Or so, I believe. :)

  2. @Risa Good point...humans are in such a comfortable position nowadays that abandoning this principle wouldn't have such catastrophic consequences.


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