THE JOURNAL OF EDWARD TERRY CHAPLAIN OF SIR THOMAS ROE – TALKS MOSTLY OF HINDUSTAN ONLY A CHAPTER ON JAHANGEER

THE JOURNAL OF EDWARD TERRY CHAPLAIN OF SIR THOMAS ROE
TALKS MOSTLY OF HINDUSTAN ONLY A CHAPTER ON JAHANGEER
Edward Terry Journal 1655 1777

Cultures do clash, and generate complexities of inferiority complexes, and to wriggle their way out, confuse other nations, by literally distorting the truth. The legend is of the travel of Sir Thomas Roe to Hindustan as the Ambassador of England. The talk is of a journal, which was actually never found and consisted of a portion, some letters here and there. Even a partial Dutch translation. A portion was published, but the full journal was not there. Imagine such an important colonial evidence could only be published in 1899, that is around 300 years after the actual travelogue. In our view it is a manipulated journal. The journal is at odd with other journals of the period. We need not comment on same here. We find actual publication of the travelogue of Edward Terry who was chaplain of Sir Thomas Roe, who visited (or wrote about) Hindustan in 1655 and 1665, reputed to be presented to the Prince of Wales in 1622, and amazing it speaks of the geography of Hindustan and devotes only a chapter to Emperor Jahangeer. Jyotsna G. Singh calls it colonial ethnography and out rightly says:

“I have nothing to plead for this presumption but the Novelty of my Subject, in which I confess some few have prevented me, who by traveling India in England, or Europe, have written somewhat of those remotest parts but like unto poor Tradesmen who take up wares in trust, have been deceived themselves, and do deceive of others.”
Jahangeer Edward Terry 1655 and 1777

There are a few engravings in the journal. Foremost is to comment on the portraiture of Emperor Jahangeer himself. Although at first sight it looks like a Mughal subject (from some miniature), many things are wrong in it. Jahangeer’s hair style is all weird with hair going up to his neck and the crown is all wrong, alienated from the Mughal perspective. The portrayal of Jahangeer with a smelling Rose is to be borrowed from the miniature of the Turkish Sultan Muhammed, which was done by Western artists too. Look a the dagger, a stiletto with no base for the Mughals. It seems that surely Edward Terry never saw actually the Emperor and wrote about him from street gossips as it was fashionable for foreigners to do at that time.

When these foreigners could not get to the truth, they invented tales. Foremost was their dirty mind which slung slanders on all Mughals including the Kings and the ladies of the harem. William Finch accused Jahangeer of having an illicit relation with his step mother and innovated the fake legend of Anarkali. Creating scandals about all the Muslims ladies, and hurling abuses at them. Emperor Shah Jahan was accused of incest after the death of his beloved wife. It seems that their mind was full of cheapness, and they had no access to the Courts at all. Legend has it that some of these people would get to the roof of the church in Lahore to steal a look of the Mughal Ladies in their harem, and a Royal order was issued that they were not allowed to access the roof of the church, which was at a higher place and showed private quarters in the fort. Francois Bernier would follow the caravan of Mughal princesses to steal a look of them. History is reported by him on his own:

It was with difficulty, he writes, that these ladies could be approached; they were almost inaccessible to the sight of man. “Woe to any unlucky cavalier, however exalted in rank, who, meeting the procession, was found too near, nothing could exceed the insolence of the tribes of eunuchs and footmen which he would have to encounter, and who eagerly avail themselves of such an opportunity to beat a man in the most unmerciful manner.”

Hardly anything in Dutch account

In fact Francois Bernier was himself was once nearly caught in a similar situation, and narrowly escaped the cruel treatment that other riders in the imperial train had experienced. Determined, however, not to suffer himself to be beaten, and perhaps maimed, he drew his sword, and having fortunately a strong and spirited horse, was enabled to open a passage, sword in hand, through a host of assailants and to dash across a rapid stream in front of him. Stalking a Mughal lady was not without danger.

Such flabbergasting stories as Mughal princess’s lover caught, who hid himself in a cooking vessel (degh). Emperor Aurangzeb had boiling water poured in the degh and the lover died in it, without uttering a sound to save his beloved. Filthy minds, outrageous suggestions.

An objective study needs to be carried out of the activities of these Goras in Hindustan, instead of romanticizing their presence here.

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