The Sun King: Cosmological Aspects of the Mughal Imperial Order of Loyalty known as the Din-e Ilahi

Sunday, January 8, 2012: 11:20 AM
Belmont Room (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Eva Orthmann, Universität Bonn
Humayun (d. 1556), the second Mughal emperor, is often neglected in modern scholarship because of his ineffectual rule and military losses. Unfortunately, this focus on military failure draws attention away from Humayun’s vast knowledge of science, especially astronomy and astrology, and the critical role it played in the development of later Mughal imperial ideology. This paper investigates Humayun’s creative use of astral symbolism in his staging of power. Drawing upon both textual and artistic sources, it examines to what extent Humayun presented himself as a “sun king,” and investigates the sources and import of this ideological self-fashioning. Furthermore, it draws attention to the relationship between Humayun’s performative use of astrology and his son Akbar’s later innovations in instituting an imperial order of loyalty commonly known as Divine Religion (Din-e Ilahi).