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huma_xceptionTHE RETURN OF LIGHTS AND POETRY to Delhi and Agra, has resulted in a wholly expected flight of scholars and poets from Persia. The Persian Court’s posture to the arts, however munificent, cannot hold a candle to Humayun’s exemplary patronage of the arts. Poets from as far as Samarqand are toasted not just at the Mughal Court but also in the homes of the nobility. But neither is this Delhi’s first encounter with Persian, nor is the influence wholesale and one-way. Amir Khusrau, the 13th Century Indian-born Sufi poet of the Delhi Sultanate, wrote in both Persian and Hindavi, the language of the people. He even went on to lay the foundation of a new language, Urdu, that combined Sanskrit and local dialects with new influences.

A visiting admiral-poet by the name of Sidi Ali Reis has the pleasure of being currently hosted by Humayun. He has already presented a few well-appreciated ghazals in his presence. It is while returning with the Padshah from an excursion to the graves of Amir Khusrau and Hazrat Nizammudin Auliya where they have received the langar of kal bread and spicy stew, that Humayun points out a site close to a bridge where he wishes to have his mausoleum prepared.


The wind of autumn has to blow in this rose and the garden; Thou hearest with thine own ears that a certain one passed away, In the ears of others thy news also has to go.
(Elegy by Maulana Qasim Kahi, Persian poet in Humayun’s Court)

It is common knowledge that Humayun regularly consults the signs of Nature, his astrolabe and the auguries of Diwan-i-Hafiz. So does he have an inkling of his end? Sidi Ali is witness to it. It is a Friday evening and Humayun has just checked on his manuscripts in the upper storey of the Sher Mandal (pictured right). He exchanges a few words with the astrologers. He then descends the marble stairs. While still near the top of the stairs, he kneels down to answer the ‘call to prayer’ which has just sounded. When he gets up, he trips on his robe and falls down the steep stairwell. The attendants and guests including Sidi rush down. Humayun has sustained a deep cut on his forehead.

His attendants carry him to his chambers and the hakims arrive at once. Humayun is unconscious and will not recover. Three days later, he passes away. His son, Akbar is summoned from the field.