or who is an "intellectual?" Those who mock such people call
them "eggheads, boffins, highbrows" and use other such
deprecatory diminishing and derogatory remarks. As we tend to favour them
we shall quote Aldus Huxley in support of the intellectual being a rare,
sentient and, even, on occasion, a lovable being.
"Books and a coloured skein of thoughts was
and magic words lay ripening in my soul
till their much whispered music turned a wine
whose subtlest power was all in my control.
These things were mine and they were real for me
As lips and darling eyes and a warm breast
For I could love a phrase, a melody
As a fair woman worshiped and possessed.—"
The intellectual thus can live with notions, ideas and
concepts as if they were real live persons. A part of existence occurs
inside the spacious, well appointed mansion which is his or her head. This
is as rich and variegated as anything outside.
Those unable to access and relish this dimension look
askance at the minority who can and often become the victims of negative
emotions such as envy and jealousy. This breeds fear and distrust and can
lead to violence. Especially if the intellectual is action oriented and
successful in making a mark in the world of practical affairs.
To include Abul Fazl in the category of intellectuals
we shall recount an incident from the time he was in power.
"It is said that when the Shaikh was Prime
Minister and Plenipotentiary Wakeel-I-Mutluq he had many important
callers. The Khan-I-Khaanaan Mirza Abdur Rahim brought the erstwhile
ruler of Sind, Mirza Jani to visit the Shaikh.
In view of their standing the visitors were rapidly
ushered into the study of the host. Abul Fazl was lying stretched out on
his diwan perusing a copy of the court chronicle, the Akbarnama. So
engrossed was he in his reading that he did not rise up from the bed to
greet his most distinguished visitors. All he could manage was to say ‘Do
enter . Come in Mirza Sahebs and pray be seated.’ Mirza Jani Beg
erstwhile ruler of Sind had not quite lost the expectations of near
servile courtesy he thought due to his station. He was appalled and
disgusted and left in a huff. Mirza Abdul Rahim stayed on to talk.
A few days later Rahim entreated Mirza Jani to let
bygones be bygones and accompany him on a repeat visit to Shaikh Abul Fazl.
After much protest, humming and hawing the erstwhile Sind king listened to
his friend and accompanied him to the Shaikh’s mansion.
This time round things were different from the very
beginning. As soon as their names were announced the Shaikh came right out
and upto the front main gate. He was all courtesy and attention. To Mirza
Jani he said ‘We are from the same place (Sind) as your highness. We are
Mirza Jani was astonished at the change in the attitude
of the Shaikh and enquired of the possible reason from Rahim.
‘Do you remember what Abul Fazl was doing when we
entered? He was reading the chronicles of the reign of his master. He was
deeply embroiled in the narrative. He was hardly aware of the world around
him. In the circumstances he responded as best as he could. No offence was
intended as he was just not there but in the text he was reading.’
Today he was his urbane and courtly self. Fully aware
of what was happening around him. There is no mystery to the difference in
his conduct on the two different occasions !"
The reader may well ask "How then was Abul Fazl a
success in the practical world of men and affairs?" We can give an
example of the Shaikh’s practical wisdom from the arrangements he made
during his most successful campaign in the Deccan.
At every halt a very large tent chahal raawati was
erected wherein a deewaan/masnad of considerable magnificence and
splendour was set out and spread for Shaikh Abul Fazl. In the kitchens
accompanying the army camp (Urdu) one thousand plates (portions /thhaalees)
of food was prepared for distribution to all officers accompanying. A
separate nine yard marquee (Nau guzee) was also erected to cook
khichhree in enormous cauldrons and throughout the day so that food could
be distributed throughout the day to whoever wanted
Food is an essential for civil or military government.
Today, the heads of state presidents and governors invite prominent
citizens on occasions like Independence day and Republic Day. They usually
come in cars with drivers official or personal. The masters get tea and
snacks. The drivers nothing. This must change.
We shall return to Abul Fazl
and more gracious times in a future column.