Wednesday, January 04, 2006


It would seem we are not the only ones with such useless preoccupations as the names of mangoes.

Below is a letter from the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb to his son, taken from the Ruka’at=i=Alamgiri or Letters of Aurungzebe, translated by Jamshid Bilmoria. A bit surprised to realise Aurangzeb knew Sanskrit, wonder what literature he would have been reading in that language.


Exalted son, I was much pleased with the ‘dáli’ of mangoes sent by you to the old father. You have requested me to suggest names for the unknown mangoes. When you yourself are very clever, why do you give trouble to (your) old father? However I have named them ‘Sūdhá-ras’ and ‘Rasná-vilás’*.

*Sanskrit names given to two kinds of mangoes. Sàns. ‘Sūdhá=nectar and ‘ras’=juice; i.e. as sweet as nectar. Sans. ‘Rasna’=the tongue and ‘vilás’ pleasure; i.e. relishable to the palate. Here Aurungzebe shews his knowledge of Sanskrit.