By Seyed Hossein Hosseiniseddiq

A manifestation of Iran's cultural relations with the thousand-colored country of India

January 4, 2021 - 22:6

Iran and the Indian subcontinent are two ancient and neighboring Aryan civilizations that, regardless of the relationships mentioned in myths and legends, have forged strong over the past centuries. 

Bahram -e Gor and Balash Kings of the Sasanian Empire have lived in India for some time. Anoushiravan, another the Sasanian King of Kings, was extremely interested in Indian customs and traditions, and some doctors, chess players and it has housed Indian mathematicians and translators. Borzoyeh Tabib brought the book Kelileh and Demneh (Kalila wa-Dimna) to Iran from the subcontinent. Khosrow Parviz has always exchanged gifts with the kings of the subcontinent.

The Ghaznavid sultans played an important role in the development of Islam and Persian language and literature. Mahmud Ghaznavi invaded the subcontinent seventeen times and occupied an important part of India until 418 AH. With the arrival of poets, writers, scholars, and Persian speakers in India, Persian language and literature developed in this great subcontinent, and until the arrival of the British in the second quarter of the thirteenth century, Persian was the official, scientific and literary language of this vast land.

During the reign of the sultans of Delhi, the Persian language and literature developed in the subcontinent, and the Indians also began to learn the Persian language and write poetry. The era of the Timurid kings of 932-1274 AH, such as Babor, Homayoun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzib, is considered to be the peak and perfection of the prevalence of Persian literature. Jalal al-Din Mohammad Akbar Shah developed Persian literature for half a century.

Akbarshah's court became a gathering place for poets and writers of the time. His support caused poets and writers from Iran to come to his court. Nour al-Din Mohammad Jahangir, like his father, honored the Persian language. After Jahangir, Shahab al-Din Shah Jahan came to power in 1037 AH. He was an art-loving and art-encouraging man, and during his time all kinds of handicrafts and various arts grew in India and reached perfection.

During his period, the combination of Iranian and Indian art and Iranian techniques became popular in India, and one of the manifestations of the combination of these two civilizations can be clearly seen in the Taj Mahal mansion.

Shah Jahan and his wife Momtazmahl both had literary taste and talent, and because of the environment of poetry and literature, especially Persian, which existed in his system and court, they narrate anecdotes, novels, and improvisations that emphasize the perfection of taste and culture of this king and the queen signifies.

It was due to the cultivation of art and the taste of Shah Jahan that prominent Iranian poets migrated to India. The court of Shah Jahan was a very fertile ground for the development of the Persian language and literature. During the reign of the same king, the combination of the two languages, Hindi and Persian, which began in Lahore in the fourth century AH, reached its perfection in the eleventh century.

One of the greats in the field of writing is Enayatullah Kanboh, the author of the book Bahar- e Danesh and one of the scientists of the Shah Jahan era.  Bahar -e Danesh was written from fiction and ancient Indian romantic legends in Persian during the reign of lover king. In this age, storytelling grew at an unprecedented rate. In the Indian subcontinent, storytelling flourished and hundreds of stories were written. The profession of storyteller was recognized officially in the courts of the kings of Iran and India.

Here is the summary of one of those stories:

While hunting, Jahandar Prince of India buys a sweet-talking parrot from a young and accompanies himself with the bird. One day, the parrot, seeing the prince playing love with his maid, rebuked him and said: Why did you ignore the love of Bahrehvarbanou, the daughter of the king of Minosavad, and fall in love with this maid?

Upon hearing Bahrehvarbanou's descriptions, the prince falls in love with her and sends Binazir the painter to Minosavad to paint her picture. Binazir goes to Bahrehvarbanou’s garden as a businessman and after drawing her picture, he shows her the picture of Jahandar.

Bahrehvarbanou falls in love with Jahandar after seeing his beauty. Jahandar is also intoxicated by seeing Bahrehvarbanou's picture and falls ill. The doctors are unable to treat him, and the prince's father, who is bored and upset about his son falling in love; goes to him and finally the opinion of the sages is placed on it. Each of the king's relatives comes to the prince and tells a story in this regard, and thus these seven people close to the king tell seven stories about the infidelity of women and their intrigue. But these legends do not deter the young prince from what he has been doing.

The king, after consulting with the elders of the court, decides to send a person with many gifts to King Homayoun, Bahrehvarbanou's father, and ask for a letter from Bahrehvarbanou for Jahandar. In response to Jahandar's father's letter, the king writes a violent letter and rejects his request.

Upon hearing this news, Jahandar leaves the throne and rushes to the beloved land. Ignoring the Sharak's advice, Jahandar goes to Homayoun Shah's court in Minosavad with a parrot and shows his eagerness to serve him, but Homayoun Shah expels him. They sit in the garden of Bahrehvarbanou. The parrot, seeing the condition of the prince, tells stories about lovers who have endured hardships on the way to reach their beloved; but the insane Jahandar burns in the fire of love.

One day, when Bahrehvarbanou sees Jahandar singing, she remembers him and reveals her love to the Nanny or nursemaid. The king upon hearing this news from the Nanny and after consulting with the ministers and elders, the court sees the expediency in her marriage and gives the order. After determining the blessed omen for their marriage, prepare the means of feasting and happiness.

After getting married to Bahrehvarbanou, Jahandar returned to his homeland by giving jewelry to her father. In the middle of the road, the two brothers end the quarrel over their father's inheritance, and they give him their capital. Hormoz, the son of a minister who is a fan of Bahrehvarbanou, joins him in expressing friendship to Jahandar and while hunting, he says to Jahandar: I can transfer the soul from one body to another by knowing the great name.

Jahandar is deceived by his words and takes place in his body by transporting the soul, But Hormoz leaves him and goes. At the same time, the Jahandar king's father greets him with a group of princes and puts Hormoz on the throne instead of the Jahandar. Jahandar returns in the form of a shark and saves a young man who is being tried for kissing the image of the minister's daughter in the mirror, by flogging him in the shadow. Bahrehvarbanou, seeing Sharak's wisdom, takes him from a dervish, and hearing the truth from Sharak, asks Hormoz to become a deer so that the world can return to its original body. Hormoz is then hanged.

Sometime later, Bahram Khan, the general of the government, rebelled against Jahandar for the sake of the monarchy and ignored his advice letters. Jahandar also fought Bahram bravely and defeated the insurgents by killing him. When Jahandar hears the song of Bahram's daughter named Ghazal Tatari, he calls her and her mother to himself and is intoxicated by the sound of her harp instrument. Bahrehvarbanou, annoyed by the Jahandar's association with the Tatar Gazal, leaves the palace and pitches a tent in the desert. After writing an apology letter, Jahandar goes to the desert and, seeing her condition, weeps and dies. Bahrehvarbanou also dies on her bed in a wedding dress.

*Dr. Seyedhossein Hosseiniseddiq is a faculty member at the Islamic Azad University

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