About this text
Rukait-I-Alamgiri is one Aurangzeb's three collection of letters, the other two being "Rakaim-i-Karaim" and "Dastur-al-Amal Aghahi" respectively. Rukait-I-Alamgiri was put together by Inayat Allah, one of Aurangzeb's principal secretaries. It was translated into English by Jamshid H. Bilimoria and provided the text with dates and arranged the letters in order of receipients. The translation was published in 1908.
Our selections here contain excerpts on food, asceticism, diseases and their remedies and general regulations.
Exalted son, I remember the savour of your 'khichadi'1 and 'biryani'3 during the winter. Truly, the ' kabuli' cooked by Islam Khan does not surpass them (in point of relish and savour). I wanted to have from you (in my service) Saliman, who cooks 'biryani' ; but you did not allow him to serve me as my cook. If you happen to find a pupil of his, skilful in the art of cookery, you will send him to me. However, happy is the day when you come, eat, [Page 13] and make others eat. (Couplet)"Happy is the day and happy is the time when a friend enjoys the company of (another) friend,"(Couplet)" The desire (for eating) has not entirely left me ; (though) blackness has departed from (my) hair, it has not departed from (my) face" (i.e. though I have become old, I have not yet given up my former habit of indulging in the pleasures of the palate).
Exalted son, I remember that one day I paid a visit to Miyan Abdul Latif—may his tomb be sanctified. During the conversation, I said,"If you permit me I will fix (the income of) some villages of the Kaharkun district for (defraying) the expenses of the monastery ". He recited, with his holy tongue, these two hemestichs :" I am placed under an obligation when the king grants me villages ; but I am not under an obligation when God gives me food ". I replied,"It is so ; but I join the service of the mendi-cants and pious men, for the good and welfare of this world, for my own happiness, and for the fulfilment of (my) prayer for the increase of happiness and fortune, and not for putting them under any obligation". The Miyan said, "Truly, the intention of the mind is good, if it is from the very bottom of the heart. Receive only half of the revenue which you now obtain from your subjects (peasants) and take less than even half from the hard-working and helpless peasants. Fix monthly allowances on the mendicants, who put faith in God, who do not beg, and live in deserts. Administer justice (carefully) to the oppressed in such a way that no one will be deprived of his right. Don't allow the weak to be oppressed by the tyrants. (Then) you will [Page 29] see increase in your happiness". Immediately these words of the Miyan reminded me of the complaints of the inhabitants of Chakleh Kura, and so involuntarily I wrote this letter to you. May you be happy.
Exalted son, a reporter writes to his own brother from the district of Lauli (that) "The tolls on merchants and travellers bring forth every year from Rs. l5000 to 16000; but the district treasurer and the police officer do not send to the royal treasury more than Rs. 1000 or 2000." Truly, this is not 'rah-dari'1(collecting tolls) but 'rah-zani'(rob-bing the king of his property). The (use of the) property of the people (by the king for his private expenses) is un-lawful.2 If these officers take five percent out of hundred and one percent out of forty (of the tolls) I will not grudge it. Suppose that the dishonest practice of the treasurer is disclosed, the first thing for enquiring into this is that an order should be issued in the names of the commissioner and the secretary. Then I know what to do about his dishonesty. The half of the produce of the land is allowable to the landlord and the remaining (half) is the property of the king.
Grandson Bahadur, for removing physical diseases and avoiding dangers you should continue the morning prayer which is accepted by God. All erudite and learned persons unanimously agree that to blow on water by reciting 'Surat-i-Ikhalas' and 'Surat-i-Shafa'a'1 and then to drink that water is the great and immediate cure (of diseases). Though to weigh the entire body of a person against gold, silver, copper, corn, oil and other commodities is not the practice of the country of our ancestors and of the Mohemadans of this country (i.e., India), many needy and poor persons are benefited by this practice (therefore we must also observe this practice). His Majesty (Shah Jehan) [Page 79] also used to weigh (against gold, silver &c.) his auspicious body twice a year and (then) to distribute the gold and silver equal to the weight of his own body among the poor. If this light of my eyes (i.e., grandson Bahadur) will weigh his body against various commodities, which are mentioned in the letter, fourteen times a year, it will be efficacious for removing mental and physical calamities. (Couplet)" You (i.e.,God) know our (man's) weakness, anxiety, and inva-lidity; and You also know the remedy and cure of our dis-eases." God is the curer and healer of diseases ; God is perfect ; and God is holy.
According to the request of that sacrifice (i.e., Asad Khan), Ateek Allah Khan has been made permanent in his post. For this he must observe many conditions. Firstly, he must every year increase the revenue of (his) district, secondly, he must not practise oppression upon the 'Ahadis' and must not ruin any village ; thirdly, he must make free of robbers the boundaries of his own 'faujdari' and make them full of safety, so that travellers, way farers, merchants and 'biparis' may travel without any anxiety. If he accepts [Page 94] these conditions and acts according to them, he will be given a written document for the post ; otherwise, not. When the second Khalif Umar, the Lord of the Believers— may God be pleased with him—appointed, in his 'khilafat', one the governor of a province, he made some conditions with him. (1) He must not allow the door keeper to have a watch near the door of the court so that people might represent their needs before him without, any difficulty. (2) He must spend his time in rendering services to the people of God. (3) He must not ride (but walk on foot, so that people might represent their needs to him). (4) He must not take anything from the royal treasury for himself or for his family. He must follow a profession and (thus) earn his livelihood by lawful means. If he cannot earn it on account of old age or sickness, he might, by the advice of the true believers, take(from the royal treasury) occasion-ally one or three 'dirams' ;more than this must not be allowed. (5) He must show (his) courage by dealing out justice to people ; and in deciding cases he must not be partial to relatives and friends. Many other conditions are also written in chronicles and histories. We, who are the followers of the Khalifs, should try our best according to our ability. O God ! guide us to the right path ; and confer peace upon good and virtuous people.
The dervish, who was brought before me last night, is illiterate. He seems to be an orthodox devotee. It is possible that he is practising hypocrisy. Many of his words and actions, one of which was the refutation of (the doc-trine of) charity, were contrary to religion. The king of the time is the trustee of the royal treasury. What he gives to others (in charity, from the treasury) is legal. It is also lawful on his part, if he gives away in charity the revenue obtained from villages which have been selected by him for his private expenses after the decision of the religious men and the consultation of the nobles of the kingdom. Especially when some portion is given in cha- [Page 107] rity, from this income, to the helpless dervishes, how can it be said to be unlawful? You should ask him the reason his speaking against charity. If he gives a reasonable ans-wer, you should say to him 'This sinner (i.e., Aurungzebe) has also a reason for practising charity'. Otherwise (i.e., if he does not give a sound reason), you should punish him like heretics, who fabricate something and attribute it to religion. Sultan Mahmud may God forgive his crimes did not allow half-hearted religious men and heretics to enter his court, nay not even his kingdom, so that other people might not be misled by seeing such persons in the form of the (above-mentioned) dervish, and they themselves might have no power to mislead others. O God ! guide us to the right path; and may peace be upon those who resign themselves to Thee and submit to Thee.
Tarbiat Khan is yet in need of money. He has got money (from the royal treasury) for (distributing it) among the soldiers of the fortresses. From outside I came to hear that he has kept this money for his own private purpose. What can the wicked reporters do ? The Khan has been appointed over them. These reporters upset important royal arrangements by selfishness ; and being ashamed (of their conduct), they pretend ignorance in communicating the news. What is the cause of the fortification of the fortresses by the great rebels and of the watch of Esavi Khan over these fortresses ? Had we been informed from the beginning these things would not have happened. The 'jaghir' should be taken away from Tarbiat Khan and given to Burhan Allah Khan who complains of having no 'jaghir'. Evidently Burhan Allah Khan is in army. You should write and threaten the above Khan (i.e., Tarbiat Khan),"How has this case resulted in this manner? Why did you pay no attention to the results of the affair as far as your eye could reach? At the time when money was not distributed among the soldiers, when there was no provision in the fortress, and when the soldiers were weakened by want of food and money, where were you ? It is enough if the soldiers receive their pay and are faithful in doing their [Page 140] work. We know that the soldiers can do nothing without money and food. Are these the ways of true and faithful Mohemadans to ruin the state affairs, which are truly divine, for the sake of selfishness, and to disregard, for the sake of this perishable life, the right of soldiers (of getting money), which strengthens the infidels to injure them ? Immediately you should get the receipts of pay from all soldiers and send them (to me). Otherwise you will certainly be punished like those who are dishonest and help the infidels. Because, truly, God will not allow the tricks of the treacherous to prosper".
Having heard about the great wealth of India Sharif-i- Mecca, for taking an advantage for himself, sends me every year an envoy(for receiving money from me). This sum of money which I sent(with the envoy to the Sharif) is for the needy. We should take care whether the money is distributed among the poor or is wasted by the Sharif. On your own behalf you should write to the great and rich merchants of the auspicious harbour of Surat that this sum of money will be sent through them to the needy of the two holy and auspicious cities(i.e., Mecca and Medina) if they guarantee its safety. Any how religious charity practised by government should not be known to the public. My object is to please the holy souls of the prophets, the Glo-rious and Sublime God and His companion(i.e., Mahomet). May the good will and peace of God be upon him (i.e., Mahomet) and upon his family. If this is also impossible, why should it (i.e., money) not be distributed among the [Page 168] poor of this country (i.e.,India)? Because the manifesta-tion of the Holy God is reflected in every place(i.e.,God is omnipresent).We are nearer to God than even to the pulse of our neck.