Shakespeare – Indian ?
By Maxwell Pereira
A debate had raged a while ago, regarding the claimed actual origins
of the greatest ever play-write, Shakespeare. The controversy
was over the belief of some Arabs that the Bard of Avon was indeed
their own Arab trader Sheik-Zabir, whose literary legacy the English
had usurped! According to them, the worthy while in England on
business, had observed the obsession of the locals for theatre,
and sought to use this to his advantage. To promote his own trade
by catering to their love of the stage, he put up a play titled
Othello based on a Mediterranean tragedy he was familiar with.
The play was a run-away success, and its writer was motivated
into writing more for the stage; which ultimately led to this
Arab trader to permanently settle in England.
had occasion recently to remember this tale, when I encountered
an even more intriguing claim that Shakespeare was in fact an
Indian, and really a woman. A claim like the Arabs’ Sheik-Zabir,
and more, recorded in 1942 in the college magazine of my alma
mater St Aloysius’ at Mangalore – through the humorous
pen of an alumnus Haridas Purshattam. This interesting piece of
writing merited a place in the compilation “On Eagle’s
Wings” of tid-bits put together by Prashanth Madtha from
across 125 years of the College’s existence.
Aybeesee Ph.D (Physical Director), the worthy informed his fellow
college mates – during his recent excavations at Konchadi,
had come across a rare inscription to prove that Shakespeare was
none other than Tippu’s soldier Sheshappayya. During the
Third Mysore War, this soldier was taken prisoner by the British.
Cornwallis mistook him for Tippu himself, and took him to England
where he was received by Sir Walter Raleigh. By the time Cornwallis
realised his blunder and released him, Raleigh had been so deeply
impressed by Sheshappaiyya, that he urged him to stay on. Sheshappaiyya
gained employment in the Globe Theatre and started writing dramas
(plays) and eventually was transformed into Shakespeare.
this story was not enough, the writer had more – this one
from the ‘unearthly’ pot in Bengal that Professor
Exwyzed M.Sc. (Moral Science) had unearthed. Here, one Shah Behari
who went to England for higher studies, fell in love with a not-so-beautiful
lady. He then abandoned not the lady, but the idea of his return
to India, and remained with his name changed to Shakespeare. In
yet another tale, it was Khan Sahib Prof Hakeem M.D. of Kasaigully
who discovered an inscription at Kudroli. Here it was Sheik Byari,
a wealthy perfumer and a poet who went to England to become Shakespeare.
writer in the St. Aloysius’ magazine continued, with another
latest discovery by a gentleman who preferred to remain incognito
– for only he knew that Shakespeare was a woman! And that
was queen Mumtaz mahal, generally known as Shah-ki-Pyari (darling
of the Shah). She received English education, wished to go to
England to play tennis in slacks at Oxford; where, lo and behold,
her name was entered in the Oxford rolls as Shakespeare instead
legends and myths surrounding Shakespeare are legion. But I am
sure none of them would have made the poor play-write turn in
his grave as many times as the ones perhaps that link him to his
Indian origins – so claimed, in my College Annual of 1942.
More, the one that makes him not a he, but a she.
Shakespeare, the Brits are very sure, was born in England, on
23 April – the date known traditionally; and the register
at the Holy Trinity Church at his birthplace Stratford, records
his baptism on 26th April. He was one of Mary and John Shakespeares’
five children, of whom two died before William was born, and another
was lost when still young. The town Stratford-upon-Avon where
he was born in 1564 is located in the centre of England, which
has always been, and still is, an important river-crossing settlement
and market centre.
father, John, trained as a glove-maker and married Mary Arden,
the daughter of Robert Arden, a farmer from the nearby village
of Wilmcote. John and Mary set up home in Henley Street, Stratford,
in the house now known as Shakespeare's Birthplace. John Shakespeare
was a prominent citizen, serving on the town council for many
years and becoming Bailiff, or Mayor, in 1568. Besides his craft
as a glover, he traded as a wool dealer and was also involved
the son of a leading townsman, William is said to have studied
at Stratford. Some of his ideas for plots and characters probably
came from Ovid's tales, the plays of Terence and Plautus, and
Roman history. It is not known what Shakespeare did when he left
school. At the age of 18, in November 1582, he married Anne Hathaway
(26), the daughter of Richard Hathaway, a local farmer. They had
three children - Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith.
one knows when or why Shakespeare left Stratford for London, or
what he was doing before becoming a professional actor and dramatist
in the capital. Among the tales concerning his 'lost years' between
1585 and 1592, is one that tells how he was caught poaching deer
in Charlecote Park, near Stratford, and went off to London to
reputation was established in London by 1592; in the year Robert
Greene, another dramatist, called him 'an upstart crow' - envious
of his success. 1n 1594, Shakespeare joined others in forming
a new theatre company, under the patronage of the Lord Chamberlain,
and for almost twenty years remained its regular dramatist, producing
on average two plays a year.
words: 07.03.2005: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23,
Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http://
www.maxwellperira.com and email@example.com
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