Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Feast of Roses -- Indu Sundaresan

The feast of roses is a fiction that covers a detailed historical view on Mughal empire during the rein of Jahangir. The book sheds light on Mehrunisha/Noor Jahan, the twentieth wife of Jahangir and one of the most powerful women in Mughal empire. The book covers in detail how Jahangir used to run the empire and in broader perspective how Mughal empire was structured. It provides detailed information on throne inheritance, struggle for power (vested in the emperor), purpose of marriage and status of women in the Indian society and small discussions on religious freedom and trade in the society.

The focus of the book is mainly on Jahangir's faith in Mehrunisha and how Mehrunisha used that faith to gain control of the Mughal empire. Jahangir acted on Mehrunisha's advice on a number of critical decisions like in Khurram's (or Shah Jahan) marriage to Mehrunisha's cousin Mumtaz mahal, in declining trade permission to English, in deciding future of ministers and in deciding who should be fighting different rebels in the empire.

A couple of historical information surprised me. They challenged my belief which included Mumtaz Mahal was the strongest woman in Mughal empire, Mughal empire has no clear form of justice or governance, and there was really no trade and development.

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