Francois Bernier Witnesses Monsoon in India

Seascape Study with Rain Cloud (Rainstorm over the Sea) by John Constable

The famous French traveller to India who served in the Mughal court as the physician, first to Dara Sikoh and then to Aurangzeb, Francois Bernier  

documented the Monsoon in Delhi – 

If providence did not kindly provide a remedy, and wisely ordained the month of July when the heat is most intense, rains begin to fall which continue three successive months, the temperature of the air thus becomes supportable and the earth is rendered fruitful’. About the variability of the rains, he wrote: These rains are not, however, so exactly regular as to descend undeviatingly on the same day or week. According to the observations I have made, particularly in Delhi, where I resided a long time, they are never the same in two years together. Some time they commence or terminate a fortnight or three weeks sooner or later and in one year they may be more abundant than another. I have even known two entire years without scarcely a drop of rains and in consequence of that an extraordinary drought, with widespread sickness and famine. 

Travellers, like Bernier, started coming to India as soon as the sea route to India was discovered. They were cartographers, mathematicians, botanists, physicians, among several other professionals who were on the ground in India discovering its vastness and splendour. Bernier, from his experience in India, elucidates the rain patterns, direction of winds, time periods, and their regularity. 

His inquiry in rains furthers as follows:

“I have been led to believe that the heat of the earth and rarefaction of the air are the principal causes of these rains which they attract. The atmosphere of the circumscribing seas (Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean) being colder, more condensed and thicker, is filled with clouds drawn from the waters by the great heat of the summer and which driven and agitated by winds discharging themselves upon the land, where the atmosphere is hotter, more rarefied, lighter, and less resisting than over the seas and thus discharge is more less tardy and plentiful.”

These were musings primarily without any scientific study per se but through some observation of patterns. Some of Bernier’s observations were factually incorrect. However, the investigation of observation patterns is an essential element of the progress of science to which Bernier’s arguments play a key role.