A Saint and a Soldier

A new book explores the literary works of Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan

Five decades before the magnificent monument of love, Taj Mahal, was built by Shah Jahan, Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan, a poet in Akbar’s court, built a tomb (pictured above) in Delhi in the memory of his wife Mah Banu, who passed away in 1598. It was the first Mughal tomb built for a woman. The monument is architecturally a replica of Humayun’s Tomb and located close to it. After his death in 1627, Rahim was also buried beside his wife, just like Shah Jahan was in the Taj.

For the past couple of years, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has undertaken conservation work at the monument located on Mathura Road (in association with the Archaeological Survey of India and InterGlobe Foundation) as part of its Nizamuddin area urban renewal initiative. Along with taking up restoration work at the monument, AKTC also commissioned a book on Rahim – arguably one of the most accomplished ministers in the court of Akbar, who was a noted poet and composer besides being a powerful army general.

Titled Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan: Kavya, Saundrya & Sarthakta (Vani Prakashan), the book was released in the Capital last week. Edited by Harish Trivedi, with a forward by poet-lyricist Gulzar and Urdu scholar Gopichand Narang, it has essays by academicians such as Ramchandra Shukla, Namvar Singh, Uday Shankar Dubey, Sadanand Sahi, Deepa Gupta and Pratap Kumar Mishra, among others.

“Rahim’s atelier produced beautifully illustrated translations of the Ramayana and Mahabharata into Persian. He is also credited with the translation of the Baburnama from the Chaghatay Turki to Persian,” writes Trivedi in the book.

The book highlights Rahim’s literary works, which comprise Hindi dohas (couplets) and books on astrology. “Rahim’s dohas, written 400 years ago, are equally relevant today,” says Ratish Nanda of AKTC.

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