ABSTRACT

From the beginning of the seventeenth century, internal trade in north India began to expand rapidly. Several factors contributed to it. Among these mention may be made of policies of Akbar: collection of land revenue in cash, payment of salaries of officials in cash, establishment of a large number of mints, construction of major roads linking far-flung areas of the empire to the capital city of Agra, etc. The advent of European traders in the area in the early seventeenth century accelerated the process. Among the major beneficiaries of the expanding internal commerce were Jains who, in course of the seventeenth century, became important traders throughout the area. 1 However, documents of the various Euopean trading companies and contemporary travel reports of Europeans, which constitute the most important sources for writing the trade history of the period, hardly throw any light on the socio-cultural life of this group. For this we have to use works by Jains which though abundant are not, strictly speaking, works of history. They cannot be even compared to contemporary Persian chronicles—such as Akbarnāmā, Padshahnāmā of Abdul Hamid Lahori, etc.—the most popular form of history writing in Mughal India. The present paper is an attempt to point out some of the Jain sources which yield information on socio-cultural life of the Jains in the Mughal capital of Agra.