chapters 1-10 compared

The Aḫlāq-e Moḥsenī is divided into forty chapters (bāb), each dedicated to a capacity of the ideal ruler or quality of statesmanship, e.g. justice (ʿadl), or a moral quality such as patience (ṣabr). The Vīraratnaśekharaśikhā is likewise divided into forty chapters, some of the titles closely correspond to its Persian counterpart (marked = in the following), some can be considered a transliteration (such as chapter 2, śuklīkaraṇa for šokr) or adaption, e.g. Sanskrit daivaprasannatā meaning “acceptance of fate” for the Persian tavakkol meaning “resignation (to the divine will)”.

chapter Persian title translation Sanskrit title according to uddeśa-prakaraṇa
1 ʿebādat submissive obedience (to God); religious practice tapas
2 eḫlās sincerity susvabhāvatvam
3 doʿā invocation dainyākrandanam
4 šokr thanksgiving tatprāpitānumodaḥ
5 ṣabr patience kṣamā
6 reżā consent (to the divine will) īśecchāprasannatā
7 tavakkol resignation (to the divine will) upanate saṃtoṣaḥ
8 ḥayāʿ chastity vṛddha­śreṣṭhānuvartanam
9 ʿeffat continence bāhyāntaraśucitvam
10 adab courtesy, propriety of conduct vinayaḥ

chapters 11-20 compared

In the preamble to the Aḫlāq-e Moḥsenī, Kāšefī makes a distinction between duties owed by the ruler to god (e.g. obedience to the divine will and thanksgiving) and to the population (e.g. establishing social justice). The chapter on justice is the longest section of Kāšefī’s mirror. The theories of state and society expressed therein are mainly based on Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsīs Aḫlāq-e Nāṣerī which itself draws upon Aristotelian concepts of state and society.

11 ʿolovv hemmat high-mindedness udāratā
12 ʿazm determination; firmness dṛḍhaniścayaḥ
13 ǧedd-o ǧahd effort udyantṛbhāvaḥ
14 s̱obāt steadfastness dhairyāvalambanam
15 ʿedālat justice prajānāṃ vyavahārekṣā
16 ʿafv amnesty krodhādisahanam
17 ḥelm clemency pāpyādyupekṣā
18 ḫolq-o refq pleasant disposition hṛdrāga­pūrvakaṃ hasta­vāraṇam
19 šafaqat-o marḥamat compassion and kindness dayā
20 ḫairāt-o mabarrāt charity and good works dānopakāritvam

chapters 21-30 compared

Promoting donations and charitable deeds is another important feature of the late medieval mirror for princes as well as the development of character traits such as generosity. Chapter 21 includes an anecdote of the semi-legendary Hatim al-Tayy, who was hailed for his munificence.

21 saḫāvat-o eḥsān generosity and
benevolent action
22 tavāẓūʿ-o eḥterām humility and respectfulness ātithyaucityataḥ svasya mārdavam
23 amānat-o diyānat placing in trust and integrity pratidānakam
24 vafāʾ be ʿahd fulfilling contracts aṅgī­kṛtārthaṃ saṃpattiḥ
25 ṣedq truthfulness satyavāditvam
26 enǧāḥ-e ḥāǧāt fulfilling (others’) needs parārtha­kṛti­naipuṇyam
27 taʾannī-o taʾammol thoughtfulness and consideration vimṛśyakṛtitā
28 tadbīr-o mošāvarat guidance and counsel mantranītikriyā
29 ḥazm circumspection dūradīrghadarśitvam
30 šoǧāʿat courage śūratvam

chapters 31-40 compared

The last chapters of the mirror are mainly devoted to advise concerning observance of laws, court life and civil service and is addressing questions such as with whom should the ruler surround himself, who should he avoid, how to deal with servants and retinue.

31 ġairat sense of honour mānaucityam
32 siyāsat jurisdiction daṇḍaucityakriyā
33 tayaqquẓ-o ḫebrat alertness and experience svapnabodhaucitī
34 ferāsat sagacity buddhikauśalyam
35 ketmān-e asrār keeping secrets gabhīratā
36 eġtenām-e forṣat-o ṭalab-e nīknāmī seizing the opportunity and
pursuing recognition
37 reʿāyat-e ḥoqūq observing the law kṛtajñatā
38 ṣoḥbat-e aḫyār associating with fine people satsaṅgaḥ
39 dafʿ-e ašrār eliminating the vicious vyasanityāgaḥ
40 tarbiyat-e ḫadam-o ḥašam handling servants and retinue svādhyakṣa­senā­hasty­aśva­yoga­kṣemāvadhānatā

A Sanskrit Adaptation of the Aḫlāq-e Moḥsenī

The Aḫlāq-e Moḥsenī  “A handbook of moral quality (aḫlāq) dedicated to Moḥsen” was composed in 907 AH/1501-02 A.D. in Herat by Kamāl al-Dīn Ḥosain “Vāʿeẓ” Kāšefī and was dedicated to Abū al-Moḥsen Mīrzā, son of the Timurid Sulṭān Ḥosain Bāyqarā, hence the Name ‘Moḥsen’ in its title. It circulated widely in the Islamicate world and was disseminated also in Central and South Asia; where it had an impact on later works on statecraft and moral qualities of the ruler, commonly referred to as “mirrors for princes”.

Kāšefīs works, such as Aḫlāq-e Moḥsenī or Anvār-e Soḥeylī, were popular up to the colonial era, e.g. through manuals for learning Persian, such as several Persian Readers. Aḫlāq-e Moḥsenī was also used as an exam test for the Indian Civil Service and was edited and translated into English by G. Keene as Morals of the Beneficent (Hertford 1823 and 1850).

During the regency of Ranbir Singh during the second half of the 19th century, this compendium was translated into Sanskrit under the name of Vīraratnaśekharaśikhā by the Kashmirian scholar Sāhib Rām.