Essay on Modern South Asia


Answer one (and only one!) of the following questions in research essay format
(1200-2000 words or between 5-10 pages; double-spaced; 12 point font)

Note: Please cite your sources as footnotes or endnotes. You may use material from the internet,
but it is restricted to 20 percent of your total sources. Internet material must be supported with
citations to it, web addresses, and access dates. If you do not know how to cite information in
footnotes, endnotes, or the equivalent please let me know. Please ensure that material from the
web is accurate! Do this by comparing it with the written record. Also, please make use of the
readings on the thumb drive for this project which are also your class readings. I underline
things that are important and things on which your essay will be graded.
1. Discuss the varieties of ‘humanism’ which may be excavated from the memoirs of
Zahiruddin Babur, the Babur-nāmah.
2. Explore the links and the references to the Timurid legacy of the first three Mughal
3. The Emperor Humayun is often marginalized in Mughal studies. Discuss why and
possible avenues down which Mughal scholars may travel to rectify this situation.
4. From the perspective of orthodox Muslim ulema in the court of Akbar perhaps the most
damaging act on the emperor’s part was the organization of the Dīn-i-Illāhī. What was
this institution in your opinion: a religion? a personality cult? a shrewd political
stratagem? a combination of some or all three? What was the history which led to its
formation and on what previous precedents did Akbar probably base it? Keep in mind as
you think through your essay the enchanted Mughal universe about which we have been
5. The city of Fatehpur Sikri is a masterpiece of Akbar’s political and dynastic ideology (i.e.
the Akbari Constitution). Describe the city and explain how such ideologies are manifest
in the placement and architecture of its buildings. The weight of your grade will be on
bringing out the symbolism of the city and its buildings and how these figured in Akbar’s
political stratagem (that is please do not simply discuss the buildings which is a sure way
to fail the assignment).

6. By the time we come to the 1570s Akbar and his courtiers have instituted a style of
courtly and regal comportment and behavior that is today legendary. Discuss this by
providing examples and the underlying meaning behind this symbolism.


Describe the city of Fatehpur Sikri and explain how such ideologies are manifest in the placement and architecture of its buildings.

Akbar the Great




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