animesh kumar

Running water never grows stale. Keep flowing!

Taj – A story of mughal india

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Only let this one teardrop, the Taj Mahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time for ever and ever…

-Rabindranath Tagore

“The past is the prologue to the future.” The novel – violent, erotic, romantic, and sacrificial all in varied dosage in various chapters – starts with a didactic phrase that enchants a romantic saga lost in the silence of eternity visible only with an immortal emblem called the Taj Mahal.

There is a small allegory we read in primary school about the Taj: Once upon a time there was a king Shah Jahan who loved his queen, Mumtaj Mahal, very dearly and when she died he built a mausoleum, Mumtaj Mahal – that after years of rusting against time and people left to be known only as Taj Mahal, in her remembrance where eventually she was buried. But behind-and-beneath this sacred love there was a sacrilegious politics-and-power of great Moghul which ran on the principle of “Taktya Takhta” (Throne or coffin). The age of kingship, the kingship has no kinship- as the author says, must have affected the barrage of this eternal love as it was channelized through. This book is an attempt to wipe out the dust of the past to see the gleam and grief of the lovers. The author, Timeri N. Murari, has done a wonderful job in bringing the fact and the fiction together as he weaves the story through the adventurous history. And excitedly enough, he chooses an unusual but classical style of narration. Even numbered chapters (The Love Story) chronicle the age between 1607 and 1630 AD depicting the love story tormented by the politics; while the odd numbered chapters (The Taj Mahal) talk of the time between 1632-66 AD when the monument was built with 20,000 labors working day-and-night. The edge between past and present blurs as the legend builds up.

Shah Jahan, son of the Emperor Jahan Gir, falls in love with a noble man’s daughter Arjumand at a very tender age. But the destiny, the throne and the kins were all set against the union. They suffered for 5 long years before they could marry and this much-depressed passion found a new body-cal path to evolve and the queen was bestowed with 14 children in a very little duration of their marriage. And eventually, she died during gestation at only 35 – Sex played a superior role in their hallowed love. Another major player was Mehrunissa (Nur Jahan) who plotted un-conspicuously to perch on the throne. Besides, there is Isa – the only witness-cum-messenger of the flourishing love and the most favored eunuch of Arjumand and a trusted attendant of Shah Jahan. In the later half, there is a couple Murthi and Sita – mysteriously employed – sent by their king to help building the Taj together with 20,000 other labors from all over the world.

They all have a special tale to tell. But the beauty of the book lies in the connection the author connects all-of-them with. The lady-love who was long caged inside the grandiloquent building gets a fresh breath as people remind her first name “Arjumand” while her man vanishes to fog and her malignant hard-liner Islamist son Aurangzeb succeeds to power.

So, is it a history book? “No” says the author, “It made me so mad, their vision of India, especially in America, is limited to the Taj Mahal. I promised to write about it in my next book if only they’d remove it from the cover of my book at that time. Once I started researching, the story became absolutely fascinating and so tragic that I got taken up by it. I’ve enjoyed writing this I book the most.”

With all the flaws of love and with all the astute advancements of politics this book promises a journey through the perpetuity offering reader a chance to witness the past that never was such candid.

Written by Animesh

June 3, 2005 at 11:55 pm

Posted in Books

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