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Khushhal Khan1 Togatus: A Pathan Poet in Roman Dress

  • Evelyn Howell

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KhushhalKhan, hereditary Khan of the Khatak tribe of Pathans, lived from a.d. 1613 to 1689. For the first half of his long life Khushhal enjoyed the favour, and in some degree the friendship, of the Mogul Emperor Shah Jehan, whose feudatory he was and to whose state he did some service. But in 1658 Aurarigzeb succeeded to the throne, having defeated and deposed his father. With that Khushhal's fortunes began to decline, and in 1664 he was arrested, clapped in irons, and sent down into Hindustan, where he spent five weary years in captivity. Having somehow procured his release, he laid himself out for revenge, and began to play a part not unlike that of William Wallace or Owen Glendower. The rebellion which he fomented by his pen and furthered by his sword can be counted as not least among the causes which on the death of Aurangzeb brought about the dramatic downfall of the Great Moguls. This in turn opened the way for the East India Company to become the paramount power in India.

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page 184 note 1 Aurang is the Mogul Emperor, Aurangzeb. Philip of Macedon seems a tolerable classical equivalent. Pronounce Aurang as ‘Owning’, with ‘ow’ as in ‘cow’.

page 185 note 1 These are the opening lines of a long ballad in which the poet celebrates the victories won by the tribesmen over the Imperial forces and dwells on future difficulties.

page 186 note 2 Sweet basil.

page 186 note 3 Judas tree.

1 Khush (anglicized in the First World War as ‘cushy’) means ‘happy’ and hal means condition. ‘Khan’ is not a name, but a title. Every Pathan adds it to his own name, but in some tribes one man is recognized as the Khan of that tribe.

Khushhal Khan1 Togatus: A Pathan Poet in Roman Dress

  • Evelyn Howell

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