The Mughal (moo-guhl) Empire, or Mughal Dynasty was an Empire that ruled parts of India and Pakistan (the shape of modern India was defined after British independence). Their rule lasted for some 330 years, from 1526 to 1857, governing the people of India. They were very different from the past groups, empires, and dynasties that ruled India, in that they were Muslim. After British independence, India was split between Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India. This divide was caused by religion. The great dynasties of India from the ancient times, like the Vedics, Mauryans, and Guptas all were Hindi organizations. For any time after that, any group, be it tribe or empire, that emerged out of the land of India was ought to be Hindu. The Hindu religion was flowing through the countryside like dust on the roads, snow in the mountains, wind in the valleys, and water in the rivers. It was sewn deep into the native Indian soil. The Mughals introduced a foreign religion, Islam. The Mughals would have most certainly been Hindu had they been Indian. But the Mughal founding rulers were not from India. This does not mean that they were savage intruders. They knew the land, and resided in India like any Hindu. I would say they were as Indian as anyone there. It’s just that their culture was from a different place. Almost 15% of Indians today are Muslim because of the Mughal heritage.
That is why a percentage of Indians today are Muslim. After the Mughal time, India still remained predominately Hindu, despite many people from other cultures such as the Mughals (Muslim), or the British (Christian) controlling India.
Imagine Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India all as one country called PBI (Pakistan, Bangladesh, India (not actually called PBI)). After the Mughals left PBI, there were still a great deal of Muslims there. 90 years later, during Indian independence day in 1947, you have a problem. The Hindus and Muslims in PBI are fighting. So PBI is forced to split into the three nations we are familiar with today: Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India. Pakistan and Bangladesh are predominately Muslim, while India is predominately Hindu. Lots of people migrated across the borders to go to the country that supported their religion. It was the biggest human migration in world history.
I’m sure that a huge percentage of Muslims were living in PBI (once again just a made up name by me), but only 15% of India is Muslim today, because most of the Muslims moved to either Pakistan or Bangladesh.
You may have heard of the Taj Mahal, a beautiful white mausoleum set in the Indian city of Agra (part of the Golden Triangle (read my other post Change of Plans)). It was made by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a burial place for his late wife.
Its elegance and beauty is unmatched. The architect who designed it must have been a genius. There is a perfect blend of Islamic, Persian, and Indian touches, each represented with equal esteem.
The whole thing is made out of white marble. I could imagine the sun rising above the horizon, a new day with maybe the start of a new leader in the Mughal Empire. The sun’s new rays would glance and gleam off the dazzling white surface of the Taj Mahal, projecting the special light across the ground of fountains and gardens, plants and animals, remembering the couple that is buried there. The nocturnal animals would go to sleep at the sight, while the other animals would awake to the new dawn.
Each new dawn would come, and after every one, the Taj Mahal loses a little bit of its color of pure white light. Through the ages, it has accumulated probably a very thin sheet of light gray from pollution and dust, darkening the shadowed parts just a little. Then the morning light drapes a thin layer of aquamarine over the Taj Mahal like a curtain, taking away another little bit of white color.
And that is what it’s like today. It doesn’t quite shine the brilliant lustrous white of a freshly polished marble statue, but it does reflect on how special the structure must of been and how importantly symbolic the design had to be. And it still stands fully complete, tall, and proud.
Shah Jahan’s original plan was to construct the Taj Mahal as a mausoleum for his wife, then build another bigger (duh) Taj Mahal-ish thing across the the Yamuna river that runs through Agra as a burial sight for himself. He was then going to build a magnificent bridge to span the Yamuna river, connecting the two monuments. Sadly his son overthrew him before he could complete the last two things, so today we only have the Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan was buried next to his wife in the Taj Mahal when he died. Of course Shah Jahan’s tomb table was higher. For each of the monarchs, they were buried so that their heads were facing North and their feet South, and their faces were turned in the direction of Mecca, the holy Muslim city (read Jasper’s Blog: The Kaaba), which in this case was West.
Even though India has those Hindu roots going deep, their are still great Islamic representations in Hindustan like the great Taj Mahal.
Below: Taj Mahal
Below: Foggy Taj Mahal (read my other post: Busy Cities)