chapter  2
Sultan Mahmud's Makeover: Colonial Homophobia and the Persian-Urdu Literary Tradition
Pages 17

In Lahore, the cultural capital of modem Pakistan, one cannot help running into conflicting images of Sultan Mahmud ofGhazna. In the late medieval and early modem periods, Mahmud was a subject of immense literary appeal, due to his lifelong romance with his cupbearer, servant, and lover, named Ayaz. This homoerotic romance, the subject of epic as well as lyrical poems, first in Persian and later in Urdu (sometimes called Hindustani, the linguistic forerunner to modern Hindi), was suppressed during British colonial occupation of South Asia. However, made-over images ofMahmud ofGhazna continued to play a key role in British colonial ideology, as well as in later anticolonial religious/nationalist ideologies among both Muslims and Hindus. This study attempts to recapture the repressed image of Mahmud as a romantic hero by translating passages of Persian poetry that have been ignored both by Westerners and by South Asians.