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28 Aug

'Service' and 'Third Gender of the Third Genre' on Mughal Court and Harem (PART 2)

Persecution and gender

This kind of repression of Eunuchs is an example of other instances of violence in various forms against the "third gender." This kind of violence appears to be due to the non-man-like nature of eunuchs that must have threatened the traditional Mughal world. The stories of contemporary documents reveal male anxieties in which eunuchs are portrayed as a metaphor for absence or as the embodiment of a psychological and physical valance. The feeling of being inferior might be accurate in certain instances but was certainly not the sole real-life experience of the lives of eunuchs.

There have been two instances in which eunuchs voiced their pain at being absent. One of them was when Aitbar Khan cursed his parents for denying human's most cherished pleasure'. The second was the case of Daulat eunuch, who lost his nose and ear and cried about being turned into a eunuch two times over. Contrary to these instances, there are numerous instances where the eunuchs faithfully worked for their masters and helped the Mughal State, with no feeling of being inferior because of their gender. A eunuch from Murad Baksh, the brother of Aurangzeb, even sacrificed his life to support him.

The modern informers have been harsh towards the eunuchs by calling them baboons and animals with a desire for riches and engaging in sex acts.

The lens of historical service permits us to look beyond these representations and contextualize them within the broader politics of bodily rituals, the power of politics gendered essentialization, and the everyday power and control sinews that extend beyond the courtroom and bazaar as well as the Harem.

In this context, it is easy to comprehend why there are other depictions of eunuchs complaining about them having more power than they were entitled to have. However, the nature of the information reported contrasts with how the royals treated the eunuchs close to them and conferred them with titles to show they were loyal, trustworthy, and trustworthy. These titles, like Itibar and Aitmad that both refer to being reliable and trustworthy, are given time and time again to famous eunuchs, from Akbar until Shah Jahan's reign, indicating their trustworthiness to their superiors, who were usually males.

The issue of social exclusion cannot be ignored. Unjustified persecution of eunuchs is evident in the source documents. The obvious instances of persecution could be accompanied by more subtle, regular oppression that eunuchs face.

Incredibly, eunuchs appear not to have developed an identity solely because of their gender. However, there are numerous instances in which they repressed their fellow eunuchs, as with the Harem. Another example in which they formed groups and made demands to the Emperor was in the instance which was discussed above. When the eunuchs were in a relationship with an individual, and the person was murdered, the entire Harem of the Emperor, including the ladies and the eunuchs, revolted to call for punishment for the murderer.

Services providers

The gender-based chastisement help to unravel the largely unexplored historical aspect of the eunuchs. It's equally exciting to observe them as suppliers of services. Such eunuchs spanned all of the private and public areas within the Mughal empire. Their role varied from close personal servants to being the most loyal governors. Most important is that the concept of patronage and loyalty was instilled into the character of the service recited by the eunuchs. The names and terminology that gave them trustworthiness also emphasized the supremacy of personal service to the noble and royal people.

A majority of the nobility and royalty, including women, employed Eunuchs to provide personal assistance. Therefore, the domestic and personal aspect of the eunuch's service is the most prominent aspect of their lives and services. When the political idioms were customized as well, the range of service was a stretch from the courtroom to the Harem.

In stating the importance in the nature domestic of services provided by the eunuchs, it is imperative to say that as a service category, they offered all the kinds of services outlined in Abul Fazl. The four types of imperial servants described by Abul-Fazl include nobles in the State, aid serving functionaries of the State and the companions of the Emperor, and personal servants who served the Emperor or his families. Many examples show that eunuchs were an integral part of these categories. In actuality, they were the only service providers with this unique characteristic of offering such a wide variety.

They are an integral component of the public and private spaces. Their presence challenges the very concept of a public-private divide. The study of eunuchs beyond the lens of gender and through the lens of service is a reminder that the divide between private and public in the Mughal empire was being threatened not just through the occasional assertions of power by females, such as stated through Ruby Lal, but also by the constant movements and presence of people of the eunuchs across the gap.

Focusing on the service provider's identity for eunuchs makes it possible to reveal aspects of the Mughal world that were overlooked because we have limited their history mostly to the Harem. The' standard' services by eunuchs weren't restricted to the Harem. Their services were an essential component of the different categories of Mughal services.