VIDYAPATI - 15th Century Indian Poet
The Khoja presence in North India during the early 15th century.
by Iqbal I. Dewji
Hindu turuke milala vasa (Hindus and Turks live together)
Ones dhamma funny to the other;
One calls the faithful to prayer, The other recites the Vedas;
One butchers animals saying bismillah, The other butchers animals in sacrifices;
Some are called Ojhas, others Khojas;
Some read astrological signs, others fast in Ramadan;
Some eat from copper plates, others from pottery;
Some practice namaz, others do puja; 33
33 Vidyapati. 1997. Kīrttilataˉ. Shashinath Jha, ed. Bihar: Madhubani.(2.45 46) (As quoted in "Hindu: A History" by Audrey Truschke Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, USA Cambridge University Press- Comparative Studies in Society and History (2023), 1–26 doi:10.1017/S0010417522000524 (pg 9))
"Here, Vidyapati advances, to my mind, two equally important claims. He equates Hindu and Muslim religious and cultural practices, positing comparable differences between their respective dhamme(Sanskrit dharma). Additionally, he names the two communities living together (milala vaˉsa) as a key feature of Jaunpur as a cosmopolitan metropolis.34" (ibid-Truschke)
Vidyapati wrote around 1420's in the city of Juanpur, ruled by the Indo-Persian dynasty called Sharqi. The Jaunpur Sultanate was a major center of Urdu and Sufi knowledge and culture. The Sharqi dynasty was known for its excellent communal relations between Muslims and Hindus, perhaps stemming from the fact that the Sharqis themselves were originally indigenous converts to Islam, as opposed to descendants of Persians or Afghans.
"The Jaunpur Sultanate attained its greatest height under the younger brother of Mubarak Shah, who ruled as Shams-ud-din Ibrahim Shah (ruled 1402–1440). To the east, his kingdom extended to Bihar, and to the west, to Kanauj; he even marched on Delhi at one point." Wikipedia
It is arguable that this cosmopolitan Hindu-Muslim city, Juanpur, ruled by indeginous converts, would have attracted a syncretic community like the Khoja traders, whose presence may have lead Vidyapati to use their name in the poem.
Whilst the term Khoja was equally used by Armenian merchants around that time, they were Christians and it is unlikely that Vidyapati would juxtaposition them as Muslims living in harmony with Hindus.