Historians And Historiography During the Reign of Akbar
This book, written as a doctoral dissertation in the 1960s, was somewhat of a departure from the then prevalent research themes of Mughal history: its revenue system, composition of the nobility, level of peasants' exploitation and so forth. In examining the primary sources of Mughal history, the court chronicles, it sought to go beyond the sterile positivist true vs false dichotomy. Instead, it sought to unearth and evaluate the unstated assumptions underlying the works of history of the period first labelled "Muslim" by James Mill in 1817-18 and later on "Medieval" in the twentieth century. In a slim though influential work, Historians of Medieval India published in 1960, Peter Hardy had postulated that history was for them a branch of Islamic theology, where historical events manifested Divine will. This book arrived at a contrary conclusion: all historians, irrespective of their grave differences, treated historical events as a manifestation of human, especially the ruler's will. In some ways, we owe the notion of historical explanation in terms of personal characteristics of rulers – strong vs weak or liberal vs dogmatic – to this essential feature of our medieval sources.