SHERAS FERNANDES | NT BUZZ
Q. Tell us about your book, ‘Portuguese India and Mughal Relations 1510 – 1735’?
My latest book, ‘Portuguese India and Mughal Relations 1510 – 1735’ is a sequel to my two books: ‘Goa Through the Mists of History from 10000 BC-AD 1958: A compilation of Goa’s genesis’ (2006) and ‘Portuguese India Mumbai- Chaul-Vasai 1498 – 1739’ (2009). Following the discovery of the maritime route to India from Lisbon in the Iberian Peninsula to Calicut, on the West Coast of India, by Vasco da Gama, in 1498 and the subsequent conquest of Goa by Afonso de Albuquerque, in 1510, Pedro Alvares Cabral his successor settled in Cochin and made it the Capital of the Estado da India (Portuguese India). In 1530 the Capital was transferred from Cochin to Goa and thus began the Christianisation in Portuguese India, which changed the religious and socio-economic status of Goa. This led to the era of involvement of the Mughal emperors in economic, social, religious and political affairs of Portuguese India and the Portuguese trading establishments in Bengal. By 1534, Goa was declared the centre of the Roman Catholic Church for the entire Orient.
Q. Summarise the relationship between the Portuguese and Mughals from 1510 to 1735?
Merely reading the third book is not sufficient to understand the Portuguese relations with the Mughal emperors: Akbar and Jahangir, and their efforts to permit Christianity in the Mughal kingdom. The revenge and destruction perpetrated by Emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal resulting in the death of over 10,000 Indo-Portuguese, Luso-descent -metropolitan Portuguese in the Hooghly settlements, Agra, Delhi.
Q. What are some of your major findings highlighted in your book?
The employment of Goan Christians in Delhi needs detailed study. My purpose of writing on the Portuguese relations with Mughals is to apprise the Goan readers to be aware of the contribution of Emperor Aurangzeb to save Goa from falling into hands of Maratha kings, Sambhaji and Sahu and thus becoming another district of the Maratha Empire. The most important contribution of the three Christian women – Dona Maria Mascarenhas, Emperor Akbar’s second wife; her sister Dona Juliana Mascarenhas and Dona Juliana Dias da Costa of Indo-Portuguese lineage in the Mughal harem, who pleaded with Emperor Aurangzeb to save Goa when Sambhaji and Sahu attacked Goa. In 1684 when Sambhaji marched toward Goa with his army, he was forced to return when Aurangzeb’s army helped Portuguese Goa. The Mughals were tolerant towards the Christians and on the advice of Dona Juliana Dias da Costa decided to help the Portuguese against the Maratha attacks. Dona Juliana Dias da Costa having being brought up with Aurangzeb had a great influence on him; she is also known to have helped spread Christianity in the Mughal Empire.
Q. What has been your source to get relevant facts and information on the topic?
My works [published in Goa] are the culmination of my fourteen-year research of extant records in the British Library – Oriental Office Collection, London and in the Luso-Brazilian-Hispanic Library in Canning House, London and the Central Library Archives, Rua de Ourem, Panaji.
Q. Do you feel that the younger generation should know about the events that had happened in the past?
It is my ardent hope that my work will trigger interest among historians and future generations of scholars to study the records gathering dust in the libraries in Portugal, Spain and Rome.
(Luis Assis Correia will release his sixth book ‘Portuguese India and Mughal Relations 1510-1735’ on March 28 at 5 p.m. at Hotel Mandovi, Panaji. It is open to all.)