Thought for Sunday 17th May

From Tony Cox

Palace of the Five Winds

I watched a programme a while ago on the National Geographical Chanel, about India, and a place called Agra. Many tourist have gone there and stood in the moonlight to admire the Taj Mahal. Not so many know the rose-red city of Fatehpur Sikri, twenty miles away, founded in 1571 by the Emporer Akbar.

According to the film, Fatehpur Sikri is dead … it has been dead for centuries. Its creator, the Emperor Akbar, deserted the magnificent palace twenty years after it was built, for some reason that nobody knows, and it was completely deserted in 1610.

The guide on the film took us round the huge ruins, with little but ghosts and a few peasants for company. The breeze blew gently through the Council Chamber and the Mint. A rat ran across the floor of the elephant stables. Our eyes were dazzled by the gleam of the sun on deep red sandstone and red marble. We stopped by the great courtyard, with its black and white squares of marble, where the emperor and his courtiers played chess with, as the narrator informed us, slave-girls for pieces. It has some of the finest Persian art carved on its pillars and served the Emperor as a Temple, a Palace, a girls school and a shrine to the King’s Christian wife.  He had a hall built for Religious Discourse, where Akbar brought together representatives of different religions to discuss their faiths.

From the Palace of the Five Winds we were shown across to the balcony where the Emperor Akbar, in the days of our own Elizabeth the First, would sit cross-legged just after dawn, to hear the complaints and requests of his subjects.

The narrator whispered over the film, his voice lowered in awe of the silent city. ‘See! At that place, every morning, every subject in the realm had access to the king. There was no difference in their rank or position’.

Many people would come just because it was good to begin the day in the King’s presence!

Believe it or not, as a Christian, that’s how I feel about my prayer time.

Now there’s a thought.