This article examines the career and writings of the minor poet ʿAbd al-Jalil Bilgrami (1660-1725) in order to explore the relation between the practice of courtly poetry and the work of politics in the Late Mughal empire. Tracing the transformations in ʿAbd al-Jalil’s writings over the first decades of the eighteenth century, this article demonstrates that the poet’s practice, driven as much by literary concerns as by material needs, responded to and was implicated within the politics of the Mughal court. His life thus illuminates both the opportunities and dangers opened by the practice of poetry in an era of the rapid and unprecedented dispersal of political authority in the empire.
Journal of South Asian Intellectual History (SAIH) is dedicated to the study of the history of ideas in pre-modern and early modern South Asia. The main concern of the publication is to advance philological and historical research into the rich intellectual history of South Asia in fields such as (but not limited to) philosophy, logic, astronomy, medicine, mathematics, literature, philosophical theology, and mystical traditions. Sources of such investigations may be produced in any of the languages of South Asia, including, for example, Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian, Gujarātī, Malayalam, Kannada, and Arabic. Given the nature of intellectual interactions in pre-modern and early modern South Asia, the Journal also welcomes articles, written in English, working across various disciplinary boundaries and languages.