READ BETWEEN DESTINATIONS.
The book that still retains its crown.
It is year 1925 and the metropolis of London is a melting pot of migrants, workers and talents. As the political and cultural heart of imperial Britain, the burgeoning metropolis throbs with life drawing in people from countries and continents within an expansive radius of thirty five million square kilometers making it the capital of the largest multiracial empire the world has ever seen. North of the historic city of London, at Finsbury Circus, the School of Oriental Studies is a nucleus of this immensity. Under the supervision of its first director, Edward Denison Ross, a linguist specializing in the languages of the Far East, the institution now located at Bloomsbury and recognized as a leading center of eastern history and culture in Europe, busily expands human knowledge as a part of its mandate to empower officials to better understand and govern the empire’s provinces, particularly in the east. Inside the rambling building, a student of Ross huddles over tons of ancient manuscripts and works of historians both contemporary and old. His eyes scan billions of words while his mind concentrates on framing the picture of a medieval regent who lived and died nearly three centuries before him, in another time, another empire – that inpsite of not possessing the vastness of the one he lives in, had been a formidable one of its age and exhibited unquestionable signs of greatness.
The thesis that eventually emerges from his labors some two years after not only wins him the respect of his peers, particularly that of Ross, and a doctorate in Philosophy from the university of London but later as he dons the role of a Reader in Indian History at the university of Lucknow, becomes the bedrock from which emerges a literary work that since its publication has remained a treasured document on Gurkani history and perhaps the only academic work that unfalteringly takes one deeper into the life of its second emperor: Naseer-ud-din-baig-Muhammad-Humayun.
The Humayun Badshah (in Arabic and Padshah in Persian) by Dr. S.K Banerji is in the true sense an academic masterpiece and the product of an age when research and exploration of eastern history and culture was at its pinnacle enthusiastically pursued by both eastern and western scholars striving to extract the truth from layers of hardened obscurity. Published in 1938 during the last nine years of British India, it is a literary work that transcends literature itself and in present times finds its rightful place as an indispensable part of world heritage.
Brimming with historical facts, explanations and the opinions of its knowledgeable author who spent thirteen lengthy years in expanding his thesis by incorporating even more researched material from medieval manuscripts as well as modern interpretations to unveil the early reign of Humayun in minute detail, it abounds in insights that’s rarely found in modern day history books – as the writer consulting, questioning and weighing in balance contradictory views on the regent presents logical explanations to arrive at plausible conclusions.
Dr. S.K Banerji was a scholar who questioned facts and a teacher with a profound interest in imparting knowledge. Likewise the pages of his literary work reflect the patience and approach of an academician out to guide modern generations in getting properly acquainted with a regent whose character and reign has often been a subject of debate. Beginning right from the birth of Humayun to his defeat and expulsion from the throne of Hindustan for a period of fifteen years, the Humayun Badshah unravels with sensitivity the different stages of the emperor’s life. It doesn’t lightly touch events and occurrences but explores microscopically the emperor’s relationship with his parents and siblings, his conflicts with neighboring kingdoms, his dilemmas as a regent, his flaws and miscalculated decisions, his crushing defeats and triumphant victories (accompanied with illustrated diagrams of battlefields), and the noble virtues that set him way apart from his descendants – even going to the length of providing readers with the names and background information of every person who directly or indirectly affected Humayun’s fate.
For an academic understanding of the second Gurkani emperor, the Humayun Badshah is a book that inspite its antiquity has not as yet lost its crown.