The Mughals were great patrons of music and dancing. Babur who arrived in India from Andijan, Uzbekistan, signified the advent of Persian music into India. What ensued was a delectable confluence of Indo- Persian music that garnered a great following and appreciation in India which is still quite prevalent today.
Babur’s marriage to Aisha Sultan Begum, this being his first marriage, in his own words, left him in quite a bashful state, and not quite knowing what to do, left him quite perplexed and he found himself being afflicted by a boy he saw in the camp bazaar, his very name Baburi fitting in. Up until then, he says,”I had no inclination for anyone, indeed of love and desire, either by hear-say or experience”. He composed a Persian couplet that went like this,
“May none be as I, humbled and wretched and lovesick, No beloved as thou art to me, cruel and careless”.
Akbar’s love and admiration for music was quite unprecedented. His court was often adorned with great musicians from all over the world. One of his nine gems Tansen, a Hindustani poet, was greatly revered by Akbar. So much so that, some of the courtiers of Akbar became envious of the bond Akbar shared with Tansen and often jokingly exclaimed, “We shall never be able to rest till Tansen is ruined”.
There is a legend that says that when Tansen began to sing Raga Deepak, the air became warm, audience bathed in perspiration, leaves fell, flames lighted the lamps. Such was the overwhelming effect of his music. The inclusion of Tansen in the Court was an attempt to integrate Hindu and Muslim traditions within the empire.
It is said that in the court of Mughals, musicians regularly held impromptu gatherings where they often practiced with their varied instruments and spent hours creating medleys. A few examples of musical instruments prevalent during the Mughal Period are the Bin, also called the Pungi, a wind instrument played by snake charmers, Nagara also called the Drum, which Akbar himself played quite beautifully.
Sur Das, one of the greatest Hindi poets of all times, was also a contemporary of Akbar. He verses were mostly focused on Lord Krishna. A verse from one of his poems titled, “The First Meeting Of Radha and Krishna” is as follows,
Krishna’s eyes met her’s;
love woke in his heart,
says Suradasa, bewitched by her,
he gazed and gazed.