Indian History Carnival–66: Dara Shikoh, Casa Da India, Gopikabhai, Prince William

  1. Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, was assassinated by his younger brother Aurangzeb in August 1659. Upanishad Ganga had two episodes (1, 2) about this Mughal prince who translated the Upanishads into Persian. The Mughal India blog has an album presented by him to his wife Nadira Banu Begam.
  2. On Nov 1, 1755 Lisbon woke up to an earthquake which registered 9.0 on the Richter scale. The city which was built over 250 years using plundered wealth was brought down in 10 minutes. One famous building was Casa Da India which controlled the Indian trade. Maddy writes  how that building was destroyed.

    Well, if one had done a trip to medieval Lisbon and got through to the commercial and political heart of the city on the banks of the Tagus, or the Palace square – Terreiro de Paco, you would have noticed the large palace or Paco da Riberia to the left of the square, a handsome building designed by architect Terzi, remarkable for its grandeur, tapestries and riches therein. An extension of the original building actually housed the Casa da India where all the goods from Malabar were destined to and which the king standing on his balcony could watch being loaded or unloaded, with a lot of reassurance. The pepper that came from the vines near the hills, dried and blackened in the sun, carried over to Calicut, fought over by the many people eager to trade it to the white man, passed hands finally and found its way to the hulls of the ocean going ships belonging to the Portuguese and vying for valuable space with other spices, articles of plunder and sometimes even slaves. These articles were the ones being unloaded and taken to the building they called Casa Da India.

  3. Continuing her series on the Peshwa women, Mohini writes about Gopikabhai who was married to Nanasaheb

    As Nanasaheb’s Governance grew so did Gopikabai’s stature. She made sure that everyone knew of her position as the Peshwa’s wife and paid her due respect. She travelled to Dhawalpur, Malva and Prayag between 1740 and 1741. She only returned to Pune after knowing that she was with child. Vishwasrao was born to her on the 22nd June 1742. As Gopikabai could read and write Marathi, she would send out letters to the nearby fiefdoms and get news from around Pune. Gopikabai would also sit into meetings with Nanasaheb and would more often than not actively participate in the discussions. Nanasaheb could not tolerate this interference. According to him these things were beyond the ambit of a woman and she should stick to household duties. To put a stop to this meddling, he kept her away from learning the Modi script and so Gopikabai could not know of the dealings and documents which were sent in the Modi script. Furthermore Nanasaheb did not make any administrative decisions on Gopikabai’s advice.

  4. Something that is hitting the roof in Britain is Prince William’s Indian ancestry. In case you missed the news, lucky you. Razib Khan writes on this

    Observe the large variance in ancestry of Diana’s two third cousins presumably derived from Eliza Kewark (though there is always the chance that these segments come from different South Asian ancestors, the typically South Asian mtDNA match across the two reduces the probability of that being the answer in this case). Beyond eight generations the chance of a genetic segment being passed from an ancestor down to a descendant is small. Diana’s cousins are seven generations down from Eliza Kewark, so it isn’t totally implausible that a segment should get passed down. But William at eight is at the boundary, and he may carry no segments (in fact, Diana may have carried no segments). Of course I did note that their mtDNA is likely to be passed down, because there is no element of chance in that. You have your mother’s mtDNA. But one can debate whether mtDNA, which is not present in the nucleus, really counts as ancestry. I believe that heritable genetic material is heritable genetic material. Assuming the lines of descent are as they are recorded I accept that we know for a fact that William likely has South Asian mtDNA. But we most certainly do not know if he has any South Asian autosomal DNA.

The next carnival will be up on July 15th. Please send your nominations to @gmail before that date.

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