Sultanate era witnessed the rise of Persian as the court language. The real credit of important developments that took place in the field of poetry, prose, biography, political & moralistic literature and historiography really goes to Sultans who were great patrons of learning and literature. The early men of letters followed trans-Indus tradition led by Sadid-ud-din Muhammad Aufi and Muhammad bin Mansur Quraishi generally known as Fakhr-i Mudabbir while indigenous tradition began to take shape with Amir Khusrau.

History: The Muslims introduced the art of historiography and made valuable contributions in the field of history. Fakhr-i Mudabbir, Hasan Nizami, Minhaj-us-Siraj, Afif, Khusrau, Yahya, Isami and Zia-ud-din Barani were the important historians who wrote in a distinguished style from their personal knowledge since they held high official positions and generally participated themselves in several events of the time. Barani though regarded as the historian with the most obvious bias is the most interesting amongst them. He wrote history as an artist and arranged his material without showing any monotony and emphasizing the characteristics o various rulers and reigns. Fakhr-i-Mudabbir was the author of Adab-ul-mumluk wa Kifaya-ul-Mamluk, (Rules of the Kings and the Welfare of the subjects) in which he seems to be distinguished scholar-statesman. In this book he has drawn not only the administrative pattern set up at Ghazni – following the models of Baghdad and Bukhara but also prescribed minutely the lines for the administrative and military organization of a Muslim state. Fakhr-i Mudabbir was really gifted with pratical idealism, moderation and good sense.

Poetry: Hasan was an important poet who wrote beautiful prose. His Faw’aid al-Fu’ad is considered as a literary classic of the period that is based upon Malfuzat or say the table talk of Nizam-ud-Din Auliya. Amir Khusrau wrote ghazals and masnawis which are among the finest in Persian literature. Celebrating the reign of Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shah, Amir Khusrau wrote in Persian poetry Nuh Sipihr and challenged the poets of Iran, and eloquently sang of his native land, its flowers and learned people. Badr of Chach, a poet of repute flourished at the court of Muhammad-bin Tughluq.

Prose: Sadid-ud-din Muhammad Aufi wrote Lubab-ul-Albab, a collection of biographies of Persian poets, Jawami’ ul-hikayat, a great store-house of anecdotes and translated the famous collection of short stories entitled al-Faraj ba’d-ush-shiddat. Zia Nakhshabi wrote in simple and eloquent prose a romantic mathnavi Gulrez and Tuti Namah while his Silk-us-Suluk is well known in mystic circles. Summaries of Tuti Namah have been translated in Turkish, German, English and many Indian languages.

Sansikrit: Persian was not the only language that flourished in that era, as Sansikrit was also in its full bloom in which most of the Hindu religious and philosophical literature was produced. Under the patronization of the Muslim rulers ancient Hindu books Ramayana and Mahabharta were translated from Sansikrit into regional languages such as Bengali. During Sultanate era was the great revival of Jainism which produced teachers like Hemachandra Suri. There were numerous Jain writers of Sanskrit, some of whom were duly honored by Muslim Sultans like Muhammad Tughluq. In Kangra under the orders of Firuz Tughluq, Sanskrit books dealing with astronomy and music were translated into Persian with the help of Brahman scholars. Maladhar Vasu translated the Bhagavata into Bengali under the patronage of Sultan Hussain Shah. Among the early Hindi poets the most prominent was Chandbardai, the author of Prithvi Raja Rasan.

Jagaayak wrote Alhakhand which presents the picture of Rajput life in the 13th and 14th centuries. It was the age of Bhakti movement whose leaders used to write in Hindi. Kabir of Kabir Panthi sect wrote in Hindi which had great mass appeal. In South Marathi, Tamil and Telegu languages developed. Indeed the sultanate era was an age of remarkable literary renaissance.

This article was last updated on Monday, Jan 03, 2005