François Bernier

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search

François Bernier (25 September 1620 - 22 September 1688) was a French physician and traveller. He was born at Joué-Etiau in Anjou. He was briefly personal physician to Mughal prince Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, and after Dara Shikoh's demise, was attached to the court of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, for around 12 years during his stay in India.

Quotes[edit]

Travels in the Mogul Empire (1656-1668)[edit]

Bernier, Francois, Travels in the Mogul Empire (1656-1668), revised by V.A. Smith, Archibald Constable, Oxford, 1934.

  • There was no middle state. A man must be of the highest rank or live miserably.
    • Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 6
  • Most towns in Hindustan are made up of earth, mud, and other wretched material; that there is no city or town (that) does not bear evident marks of approaching decay.
    • Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • In eastern countries, the weak and the injured are without any refuge whatever; and the only law that decides all controversies is the cane and the caprice of a governor.
    • Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • [In these circumstances the peasant had little interest in cultivating the land. Bernier observes that] “as the ground is seldom tilled otherwise than by compulsion… the whole country is badly cultivated, and a great part rendered unproductive… The peasant cannot avoid asking himself this question: Why should I toil for a tyrant who may come tomorrow and lay his rapacious hands upon all I possess and value… without leaving me the means (even) to drag my own miserable existence? - The Timariots (Timurids), Governors and Revenue contractors, on their part reason in this manner: Why should the neglected state of this land create uneasiness in our minds, and why should we expend our own money and time to render it fruitful? We may be deprived of it in a single moment… Let us draw from the soil all the money we can, though the peasant should starve or abscond…”
    • Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • No artisan can be expected to give his mind to his calling in the midst of a people who are either wretchedly poor, or who, if rich, assume an appearance of poverty, and who regard not the beauty and excellence but the cheapness of an article; a people whose grandeess pay for a work of art considerably under its value and according to their own caprice… For it should not be inferred that the workman is held in esteem, or arrives at a stage of independence. Nothing but sheer necessity or blows from a cudgel keeps him employed; he never can become rich, and he feels it no trifling matter if he have the means of satisfying the cravings of hunger and of covering his body with the coarsest garment. If money be gained it does not in any measure go into his pocket, but only serves to increase the wealth of the merchant.
    • Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • [Francois Bernier, late in the seventeenth century, talks of originally “real Mongols”, “White men, foreigners”. He also says] “that children of the third and fourth generation [of Uzbegs, Persians, Arabs and Turks], who have the brown complexion… are held in much less respect than new comers, and are seldom invested with official situations: they consider themselves happy, if permitted to serve as private soldiers in the infantry or cavalry.”
    • Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1990). Indian muslims: Who are they. Also in Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 5
  • [According to Bernier, the Mughals maintained] “a large army for the purpose of keeping people in subjection… No adequate idea can be conveyed of the sufferings of the people. The cudgel and the whip compel them to incessant labour… their revolt or their flight is only prevented by the presence of a military force.”
    • Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 4
  • The Omarahs mostly consist of adventurers from different nations who entice one another to the court; and are generally persons of low descent, some having been originally slaves, and the majority being destitute of education. The Mogol raises them to dignities, or degrades them to obscurity; according to his own pleasure and caprice.
    • Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 5
  • [Describing the bazar held in Delhi near the Red Fort, Francois Bernier (seventeenth century) says that] “Hither, likewise, the astrologers resort, both Mahometan and Gentile. These wise doctors remain seated in the sun, on a dusty piece of carpet, handling some old mathematical instruments, and having open before them a large book which represents the sign of the Zodiac. In this way they attract the attention of the passenger… by whom they are considered as so many infallible oracles. They tell a poor person his fortune for a payssa… Silly women, wrapping themselves in a white cloth from head to foot, flock to the astrologers, whisper to them all the transaction of their lives, and disclose every secret with no more reserve than is practised by a penitent in the presence of her confessor. The ignorant and infatuated people really believe that the stars have an influence (on their lives) which the astrologers can control.”
    • Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 1
  • The Great Mogol is a foreigner in Hindustan, a descendent of Tamerlane, chief of those Mogols from Tartary who, about the year 1401, overran and conquered the Indies. Consequently he finds himself in a hostile country, or nearly so; a country containing hundreds of Gentiles to one Mogol or even to one Mahometan. To maintain himself in such a country… he is under the necessity of keeping up numerous armies, even in the time of peace.
    • Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Also quoted in part in in Islam in India and Pakistan - A Religious History by Dr.Y P Singh, British India by R.W. Frazer
  • Bernier says that the Rajput “Rajas never mount (guard) within a (Mughal) fortress, but invariably without the walls, under their own tents… and always refusing to enter any fortress unless well attended, and by men determined to sacrifice their lives for their leaders. This self devotion has been sufficiently proved when attempts have been made to deal treacherously with a Raja.”
    • François Bernier, quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 4
  • The unfortunate peasants who were incapable of discharging the demand of their rapacious lords, were bereft of their children who were carried away as slaves.
    • François Bernier, quoted from Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 4
  • …grandees pay for a work of art considerably under its value, and according to their own caprice. … When an Omrah or Mansabdar requires the services of an artisan, he sends to the bazar for him, employing force, if necessary, to make the poor man work; and after the task is finished, the unfeeling lord pays, not according to the value- of the labour, but agreeably to his own standard of fair remuneration; the artisan having reason to congratulate himself if the Korrah has not been given in part payment.
    • François Bernier, quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 7
  • Begum Sahib, the elder daughter of Shah Jahan was very handsome... Rumour has it that his attachement reached a point which it is difficult to believe, the justification of which he rested on the decision of the Mullas, or doctors of their law. According to them it would have been unjust to deny the king the privilege of gathering fruit from the tree he himself had planted.
    • François Bernier, quoted in Lal, K. S. (1988). The Mughal harem. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.

External links[edit]

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about: