Empress Nur jahan – A life of ambition

nur jahan

nur jahan

Nur Jahan was an administrator par excellence and a politician who had no parallel in Mughal history among women. Nur Jahan was born on 31st May 1577 in Kandahar region of Afgahistan into a Persian family. Her father was Mirza Ghiaz Beg and mother Asmat Begum. Mirza Ghiaz Beg was travelling with his family to India in search of job at Emperor Akbar’s court when they were attacked by robbers. After losing all their possession and unable to fend a just born Meherunissa, the family left her in bushes to her fate and proceeded further. But a merchant found the baby in bush and searched her family and handed baby Meherunissa back to her parents. Thus her early days of life was a tough one saved by a whisker of luck abandoned by her own parents.

Ghiaz Beg came to Emperor Akbar’s court in 1578 and found a small treasurer job. Beng astute and hardworking and machivellian he rose to become treasurer of Kabul province. By late 1590s he rose to become the Minister in Emperor Akbar’s court and was given title Itimad-ud-Daula or “Pillar of state”.  In the year 1595 Meherunisas was married off to Ali Quli Khan also called Sher Afghan at age of 17 years.  There were rumors that Prince Salim was in love with Meherunissa so Akbar ordered her marriage to Ali Quli, but there is no historical proof that Prince Salim loved Meherunissa as a youngster. Ali Quli Khan was an Persian brought up in Afghanistan and a slave of a Persian noble. He became a wanderer and a looter(petty theif) after his Persian master’s death and later joined Akbar’s army under Salim in Rajputhana. The story goes that once a big Mughal commander was saved during Maharana Pratap’s jungle raid by Ali Quli hence he came in contact with Akbars army. Meherunissa and Ali Quli had a daughter called Ladli Begum who was born in 1605. Meherunisas had many miscarriages almost 7 of them before Ladli Begum survived. Ali Quli served under Prince Salim in the mughal army.

In 1605 Akbar died and Prince Salim ascended the mughal throne.  When Prince Salim was ascending the throne of mughal empire there were two camps in court, one was Prince Salim and another of his son Khusrau led by powerful commanders and ministers like Man Singh, Aziz Koka and Abdul Rahim Kan-e-khana.  It is said that Ali Quli sided with Khusrau along with Meherunissa’s brother Muhammad Sharif. Jehangir after coming to power got them all arrested but pardoned everyone except Muhammad Sharif. Muhammad Sharif was put to death, Ali Quli was made governor of Bengal, Abdul Rahim was sent to war in Deccan but Aziz Koka was banished from court.

In 1607, Jehnagir got complaints regarding Ali Quli involved in anti state activities. He sent his milk brother and childhood friend Qutubuddin Koka to get Ali Quli to court. Ali Quli refused and there was a fight and Qutubuddin Koka was killed in the fight. Qutubuddin Koka’s gaurds pounced on Ali Quli and killed him. Meherunissa and her daughter were brought to court and became attendants to Rquaiah Begum, the dowager Queen. Meherunissa served Ruqaiah Begum for four years earnestly. In 1611 during Meena Bazaar Jehangir saw Meherunissa and fell in love with her and married her the same year.

By 1615 Meherunissa completely took up political administration along with Prince Khurram. Emperor Jehangir who was already sick with heart disease, asthama etc was happy to relax and drink wine and eat meat and listen to music and paint etc. Jodha Bai gave her stiff opposition in initial years of marriage but by 1615 with her shrewd, cunning capability Meherunissa replaced all old ministers and nobels with her well wishers and family members. Her father who was arrested by Jehangir on charges of corruption as he had siphoned off loads of royal treasury money in 30 years of service in mughal court was pardoned and became Prime Minister of mughal empire. Her brother became Wazir(Finance Minister) beating others with more sevice and capability. She displeased loyalists like Mahabat Khan by arresting his son in law etc. Mahabat Khan staged a coup because of this and it was Nur Jahan with her scheming that saved Jehangir and other royal family members.

But the biggest games she played was in mughal harem within the mughal family. She completely destroyed relations between Jehangir’s family members with her games and manipulations. Her first target was Jodha Bai. Prior to marrying Nur Jahan, Jodha Bai was Jehangir’s favourite wife and his chief consort. Once Nur Jahan married Jehangir she started competing with Jodha Bai on every aspects. Jodha Bai was an excellent archer and swordsman. Once when Jehangir, Nur Jahan and Jodha Bai went on a hunt in jungle a tiger attacked Jehangir’s elephant and Jodha Bai took a gun and killed tiger before it attacked Jehangir. Nur Jahan who was frozen in fear was chided by Jehangir to learn something from Jodha Bai. He even praised her sky high and gifted her many jewels. This made Nur Jahan jealous of Jodha Bai and she started learning archery and sword fight.

She started doing everything to please Jehangir and soon within a span of 3-4 years Jehangir was completely over awed by her.  Such was her power at court and hold upon the Emperor that soon after she was declared Badshah Begum (the first lady of the court), she started signing royal decrees with an authority even the Emperor could not invalidate. No other Mughal empress ever had her name imprinted on currency. She sent Jehangirs childhood friend Mahabhat Khan away to Kandahar on pertex of rebellion so he cannot over rule her decisions and influence Jehangir.

Sir Thomas Roe, the ambassador of the king of England, who stayed in the Mughal court from 1615-1618 has remarked, “All power vested in the clique (‘Jinta” or purse) of Nur Jahan at that time. It was impossible to get any work done without the help of her brother Asaf Khan and his son-in-law Prince Khurram. Her influence had increased so much that even powerful Amirs like Mahabat Khan feared her. Jahangir himself was in pleasure day and night, resigning the entire administration to her”. Thomas Roe called the mughal court the kitchen cabinet of Nur Jahan in one letter. He even went on to say that Jehangir had become her slave.

“The Conqueror of the World was the slave of a woman – his consort, Nur Mahal or Mehrunnisa ”   wrote William Foster, The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to India

Niccalo Maccuni writes “However, the way she expressed her love for her husband wasn’t the subservient way. Mehr-un-Nisaa had entered the Mughal harem as the twent fifth wife of Jahangir and at age 34 years. So she chose a radically different path. She was a demanding wife. She chose to argue with him at times and not speak to him when such arguments happened. She made sure in some way or the other she was always the centre of his attention. Instead of her giving in completely to him, it was the other way round she made him give in to her. Once when Jehangir slapped her because she was speaking ill of Pince Khurram she slapped him back in front of musicians in garden”

 

“She gave Jahangir to understand that the only way of being pardoned for the affront was to throw himself at her feet” –  Niccolao Manucci, Italian traveller

 

Noor Jahan wanted to marry ladli Begum her daughter to Prince Khurram. But Prince Khurram was in love with her neice Arjunmand Bano, Asaf Khan’s daughter and refused. So Noor Jahan asked Khusrau who was in custody of Asaf Khan that if he marries Ladli begum she will free him and also make him emperor. Khusrau flatly refused as he loved his only wife. So finally Noor Jahan married Ladli begum to Jehangir’s youngest son Shariyar. Through her daughter’s husband Noor Jahan wanted to control the empire after Jehangir’s death. This angered Prince Khurram and he rebelled. He refused to go to war in Kandahar or send his troops there and hence Persia took over Kandahar. Prince Khurram got too scared that in his absence and Jehangirs ill health she may make Shariyar next emperor. He took Khusrau with him to Deccan and killed him in custody.  Further he wrote letters to emperor Jehangir with rebellious streak and harsh words for Nur Jahan.

This was the year 1622 and Khurram rebelled. Khurram was declared a traitor and was chased though out India as a fugitive with his wife and kids for company. Mahabhat Khan defeated Prince Khurram many times once in agra, then Mandu, then Gujarath etc.  Once Jehangir only reached to face Prince Khurram in war field. Prince Khurram was not ready to face his father in war field and withdrew the next day. When Jehangir went to meet him in his camp at night, Prince Khurram did not relent and stop the war and his rebellion. This angered Jehangir and he declared declared him a traitor. Finally after many defeats Shah Jahan wrote letter to Jehangir seeking pardon. Finally Shah Jahan was forgiven but Aurangzeb and Dara Sikoh were taken as hostage for his good behaviour by Nur Jahan.

Mahabhat khan became close to Prince parvez in this campaign and hence Nur jahan became insecure. Mahabhat was loyal to Jehangir not her. She hence sent Mahabhat to Bengal and parvez to Bhuranpur. Nur Jahan cleverly arranged for his son in law to be arrested on false charges and make Mahbhat rebel. Mahabhat took Jehangir hostage and Nur Jahan rescued them with her tactic and sweet tounge. Mahabhat ran and joined Shah Jahan in Deccan. Within a year of this Jehangir died. Shah Jahan killed many male relatives and ascended throne. Asaf Khan betrayed Nur Jahan and sided with Shah Jahan.  He sent Nur Jahan to Lahore where she lived 18 years and commissioned Jehangir and her grave with pension she got.  She died in 1645 a lonely death with only daughter Ladli begum for company.

Nur Jahan had everything going for her from a traitors widow who killed emperors milk brother,to an Empress at the age of 34 years a middle age when hardly any emperor will marry a woman of her age that too a widow. Prince Khurram the unofficial crown Prince of mughal empire who was in her junta, father a Prime Minister, brother a Finance Minister, a husband who adored and worshipped her she squandered away everything in her ambition to retain power after her husbands death. Her scheming ways, her manipulations, her machivellian stratergies brought the mughal empire and mughal family on its knees. The mughal princes were known for their violence to gain throne but even they were no match for a Nur Jahan’s tactic and cunning manovering. Prince Khurram got so scared by her tactics that he  rebelled and later killed many male members of his family immediately after becoming an emperor. Nur Jahan wanted her son in law Shariyar to be next emperor, Jehangir wanted Dawar Baksh, Khusrau’s elder son to be emperor, the nobels were split between Dawar Baksh, Prince Parvez second son of Jehangir and Prince Khurram.

Prince Parvez died mysteriously in Deccan just like Prince Khusrau. No one ever knew was it a murder or natural death. Khusrau was murdered by Prince Khurram in his custody. But Parvez was sent with Khan Jahan a loyalist of Nur Jahan to deccan, did Nur Jahan get him killed to get Shariyar a chance to throne no one will ever know. Prince Khurram was too strong too tactical to get him killed. Jehangir although angry at Khurram for killing Khusrau and losing Kandahar to Persians yet had soft corners for his previous favourite son. The family got destroyed in the ambition between Nur Jahan and Prince Khurram(Shah Jahan). Like two swords cannot stay in one sheath similarly both Nur Jahan and Khurram were highly tactical, manipulative, machivellian and strong characters none lesser than the other. Prince Khurram won in the end thanks to Asaf Khan who betrayed Nur Jahan. And may be the nobels, ministers and commanders were fed up of hankering to whims and fancy of Empress Nur Jahan. They just tolerated her for Emperor Jehangir’s sake. In a way Nur Jahan saved mughal empire as Jehnagir was too disinterested in administration, but in reality did she save the empire or destroy it with her manipulations. In her abscence could not may be Jodha Bai or Prince Khurram handle mughal empire better than her for Jehangir? Or a Mahabhat Khan and Prince Khurram could they not handle the empire better than a Nur Jahan and her junta without destroying foundations of mughal empire and creating strife in family. These will all remain hypothetical questions.

 

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Empress Jodha Bai – Chief Consort of Jehangir

Jodha Bai

Jodha Bai

Jodha Bai was born on 13 May 1573 to Mota Raja Udai Singh of Jodhpur(marwar) and Rani Manrang Devi. Jodha Bai’s royal family were called Suryavanshi’s and they traced direct decendancy to Lord Rama and through him to Lord Surya. They originally ruled UP state of Kannauj. Jodha Bai also called Manmathi Lalji Bhaisa was grand daughter of Rao Maldeo a powerful marwar king of Rajputhana. Rani Manrang Devi was the daughter of Raja Askaram Bhimvrajot of Gwalior. She was also given title Taj Bibi Bilqis Makhani Begum Sahiba after her death in April 18th 1619 and was buried in Suhagpura (Agra).  Her only issue from emperor Jehangir was Prince Khurram(Shah Jahan). Jodha Bai was the third wife of Prince Salim and his Chief Consort from 1605 till 1615. She was the tenth daughter of Mota raja Udai Singh. Raja Udai singh and Akbar were friends from teenage times only. Jodha Bai’s dowry included 75 lakhs of silver coins a little less than the 2 crore silver coins given during Prince Salim’s first wife Man Bai’s marriage.

There is an interesting story of how Jodha Bai was married to Prince Salim. Akbar had personal issues to settle with Jodhpur royals as they refused to help Humayun when he was running to save his family from forces of Sher Shah Suri. Akbar attacked Jodhpur and Nagore fort and took Udai Singh as hostage to Agra fort to ensure his father Rao Maldeos good behaviour. Rao Maldeo died in 1562 and his younger brother Chandra Sen seized throne in absence of Udai Singh after farticide. In 1564 Akbar attacked Jodhpur again and defeated Chandra Sen and appointed Raja Udai Singh as the incharge. By 1581 he was promoted to the title of Raja and was crowned King of Jodhpur on 4th Augus 1583 and all the lands returned to his family by Emperor Akbar. Akbar became good friends with him when Udai Singh was an hostage and later joined imperial services in 1562 after his fathers death. In 1581 only Raja Udai Singh married his youngest sister born after his father Rao Maldeo’s death Princess Rukmavathi Lalji Bhaisa to Emperor Akbar(Akbar was 39 years, Rukmavathi  was 17 years). Once Prince Salim accompanied his step mother Rukmavathi Lalji Bhaisa to a wedding ceremony and there he saw Jodha Bai, her neice and his cousin(Hira Kunwari his mother’s aunty was married to Rao Maldeo the grandfather of Jodha Bai). Prince Salim conveyed his desire to marry Jodha Bai to his mothers and grandmother after returning from the wedding. Thus Prince Salim married Princess Jodha Bai on 26th June 1586.

The marriage was not an easy affair. Kalyan Das Rathore of Siwana threatened to kill both Mota Raja Udai Singh and Prince Salim if this marriage took place. Akbar had to send mughal imperial forces and attack Siwana where Kalyan Das died fighting the mughal army. Marrying a Rajputh Princess to a mughal was considered an humiliation and degradation to Rajputhana. Thus the marriage took place with lot of strife and objections. Jodha Bai and Prince Salim married in both Hindu and muslim rituals at Raja Udai Singh palace in Fatekpur Sikri.

Jagat Gosain

A young Jodha Bai (Prince Salim wife and Shah Jahan’s mother)

Jodha soon endeared herself to her husband and his family members by her wit, political acumen, courage in using weapons and even warfare. Once when Jehangir was on a hunt in forest when a tiger jumped at Jehangir who could not shoot it on time and Jodha Bai fired and killed the animal in an instant. Nur Jahan was also with Jehangir during that hunt. Jehangir was highly impressed with her hunting skills and rewarded her for saving his life. Salim’s favourite wife was Jodha Bai till Nur Jahan in 1611 arrived in his life and ensured he never again cared for any other wife again. Emperor Jehangir had a love for wine and opium from adult life only. That love for wine and opium destroyed his physical health to such an extent that by the time he was in late 20s he once collapsed in his palace. The physician warned him that if he continued drinking 20-30 glasses of wine a day he will not live many more months. From that day Prince Salim reduced his consumption of wine.

But his health was failing by the time he was in late 30s he had heart attack, asthama and also other health issues. This helped Nur Jahan to get a grip on administration and she removed all old ministers and commanders and put her loyal men especially family members to those positions. She also very cunningly ensured that Jehangir was taken away from family members he liked or loved that included his wives like Jodha Bai, childhood friends Mahabhat Khan etc. Jodha definetly was no push over but Nur Jahan succedded in ensuring Jehangir hand over all power to her. By 1615 Nur Jahan had completely taken over the administration and even Jehangirs mind. Jehangir who anyway was unwell and had not much interest in politics was too happy to hand over his responsibility to Nur Jahan and enjoy his wine and meat.

Nur Jahan truly made all his other wives life miserable with her cunning political plays, she only seems to have hastened Jodha Bai’s death at young age of 46 years. Jodha Bai seemed to have taken Jehangir’s disinterest in her life after Nur Jahan’s arrival a bit seriously only. Her marriage life was not full of roses as anyone thought it would be because Prince Salim loved her immensely.  Jodha had powerful relations backing her in mughal family and court, Prince Salim mother Maharani Hira Kunwari was her grand aunt in relation from maternal side,  Maharani Rukmavathi Lalji Bhaisa one of the top ten wives of Akbar was her own father Udai Singh’s sister, Raja Bhagwan das was her uncle(paternal aunty’s husband), Man Singh was her brother in law and cousin brother(he married her sister), Man Bai, Prince Salim’s first wife was her cousin sister, many of other Rajputh wives of Akbar like Raj Kunwari and Nathi Bai were her auntys in relation. She had so many people who were out there to support her both in mughal court and mughal family that her life looked like a bed of roses. Also many kings and emperors in relation were her maternal uncles like Sher Shah Suri, Muhammad Bahadur Shah, Haji Khan, Daulat Khan, Maharana Pratap etc. But her life was filled with tragedies of great propotions.

She lost her first child a baby daughter named Begum sultan in 1590. In those days a wife’s importance was based on her ability to give birth to a male child. For 7 years after marriage she could not give birth to a baby boy. This distressed her greatly. Man Bai and other wife of Jehangir had already given him two male heirs. But Jodha Bai despite being a favourite of Prince Salim could not give him a male heir. Man Bai had become a favourite of Akbar by giving birth to Salim’s eldest Khusrau already.  This made her insecure and she did lots of worships in various temples and fasted to pray for a son. She even undertook the strenuous journey of walking from agra to Ajmer Sharif on bare foot with Prince Salim to pray for a son (like Akbar had done). Finally her only surviving child her baby son was born in 1592 and named Prince Khurram(Shah Jahan).

In the meanwhile, Prince Salim was usually away from agra and family either he was governor of Ajmer or sent on wars with Persia or Maharana Pratap, rajpuths etc. During Akbar’s time 21 wars were fought between Maharana Pratap and Akbar and majority of the time it was Prince Salim commanding the army. Only 3-4 times Murad, Man Singh or other commanders commanded the army against Maharana Pratap. Prince Salim being away from family(wife and kids) took a toll on his wives. His kids got highly influenced by other relatives than their own father and these relatives sowed seeds of hatred in heart of kids against their own father Salim.  Like Khusrau was closer to Man Singh, Aziz Koka, Abdul rahim and Akbar and Khurram  was closer to Akbar, Ruqaiah and Nur Jahan his maid caretaker than to his mother Jodha Bai or Salim. Man Bai drowned her worry of being away from husband Salim and Khusrau(as he lived in Akbars household) by taking to heavy drinking.

Meanwhile a great tragedy struck Jodha Bai too. After 7 years of prayers, fasting and tears finally she gave birth to a son Prince Khurram on 5th January 1592. When Prince Khurram was born the court astrologer predicted that Prince Khurram fame will be more than Akbar and Prince Salim. When Ruqaiah Begum, his first wife heard of this she asked her husband to hand over Prince Khurram to her for upbringing. Already Akbar had started getting wary of Salim and he agreed to hand over 6 day old baby under Ruqaiah Begum’s care. Thus Jodha Bai’s only hope her son was taken away from her and brought up in Akbar’s household. Prince Khusrau Salim’s elder son was already being brought up in Akbars household and called Salim Shah Bhai (Prince brother) instead of father. Now Prnce Khurram too was taken away from Salim’s household. That caused great wedge in Akbar and Salim’s already strained relationship. Ruqaiah was highly possessive of Prince Khurram and restrained meeting time of Khurram with Jodha Bai. Further tragedy struck a lonely Jodha Bai, her baby daughter, her last child died in 1597 soon after birth.

In year 1597 Prince Salim who had just returned from campaigns of five years was being forced to again go on campaign to Deccan. He resisted it, but finally Akbar forced him to go on campaign to Rajputhana in 1599. Prince Salim started his rebellion in Ajmer and this lasted till 1604. In 1605 after Akbar’s death Prince Khurram was returned to his fathers household. He started staying with his mother-father at age 14 years. But by then he could not establish the close bond a child and mother had and was closer to Ruqaiah Begum only for many more years. Add to that Nur jahan was his nurse maid as a kid so he was close to Nur Jahan too after her marriage to Jehangir. Jodha felt isolated by both husband and son and Nur Jahan’s cunning polity started having impact on her health. Jehangir who himself was not in great health left the empire work in hands of Nur Jahan and Prince Khurram after 1615.

By 1617-18, Nur Jahan started playing political games to consolidate her powers after Jehangirs death. She first proposed that her daughter Ladli Begum marry Prince Khurram which was opposed strongly by Arjumand Bano(Mumtaz Mahal) and Prince Khurram told her for him Ladli Begum was like a sister and hence rejected proposal.  Then she asked Prince Khusrau(who was in prison and blinded) to marry her daughter(From first marriage) and said that he will get fredom from prison and become emperor  and he too refused. Finally she married Ladli Begum to Jehangir’s youngest son Shariyar and started grooming him to be next emperor. When Prince Khurram realized Nur Jahan’s games, he was highly unimpressed. For decades he had respected her and sided with Nur Jahan against his mother Jodha Bai only to be betrayed by Nur Jahan. But it was too late as his mother Jodha Bai died a year after only in 1619 at young age of 46 years. This death shook Prince Khurram badly and he mourned her for many days. He was so broken by her death that Jehangir took him to his palace to console him out of grief. Thus ended life of Empress Jodha Bai, Chief Consort of Emperor Jehangir from 1605-1615 and his Chief Queen till 1619. She was buried in Sughagpura, mughal gardens in agra. This tomb and garden was blown up by British in 1832. Her tomb was never traced back or shifted as Mughals were arch rivals of British and also in first war of Independence.

Thus ended an Empress lonely and tough life, being away from an ambitious rebel husband for long years as a young married woman, a son and only child snatched away from her womb  at tender age of 6 days to fulfil an emperors(Akbar) chief consorts(Ruqaiah) wish to raise a future emperor (Shah Jahan), an chief consort position snatched away after few years of happiness and bliss with husband for a new rival in harem(Nur Jahan) who made her life tough with political and machivellian games, a son who considered a foster mother Ruqaiah as his own and favoured his fathers favourite wife Nur Jahan for his future political ambitions. Her life can only be compared to another of her contemporary Man Bai, her husband Salim’s first wife in terms of the tragedy and fortune reversals. She had everything going for her, her husbands favourite, a heir to boast of, an Empress and chief consort position and yet in reality had nothing truly. She died a lonely death at a very young age of 46 years when many mughal princess and begums actually lived longer than the Emperor/Princes.

Maharani Rukmavati Lalji Baisa -Akbars youngest chief wife

 

 

Rukmavathi Lalji Bhaisa

Maharani Rukmavathi Lalji Bhaisa

Rukmavathi Lal Bhaiji was a Princess of Jodhpur(called Marwar then) a powerful Rajputhana kingdom. Princess Rukmavathi was daughter of King Rao Maldeo and his cocubbine Tipu. Akbar married Rukmavathi in 1581 (he was 39 years and she was 17 years old at time of marriage). Marwar rulers are called Suryavanshi’s because their leniage can be traced to Lord Rama and through him to Lord Surya himself. The Jodhpur royal family used to rule Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh for many centuries till Muhammad Ghori defeated Raja jai Chand in 1192 and they had to leave. They roamed the plains of Ganges in Gujarath and Rajasthan before settling in Rajputhana.

Rukmavathi was also the sister of Motta raja Udai Singh of Jodhpur whose daughter Jodha Bai (or Jagat Gosain later after convering to Jainism) was married to Prince Salim(who became Jagat Guru after accepting Jainism) and was his chief consort after he became Emperor Jehangir. Jodha Bai was Emperor Jehangirs chief consort (also known as Malika e Khas, Chief Queen) from 1605 when he became emperor till 1615 (when Nur Jahan became his favourite and Chief Queen ).  Jodha Bai was Malika e Hindustan till her death in 1619.

Rukmavathi had powerful connections and was related to powerful emperors and Kings of those times. Indeed among all of Akbars wives she was the only one who had powerful brother in laws. Her brother in laws included

  • Emperor Sher Shah Suri (her elder sister Lal bai was married to Sher Shah Suri in 1544)
  • Badshah Muhammad Shah (Her elder sister Kankavati was married to him)
  • Haji Khan of Ajmer (Her elder sister Ratnavati married him)
  • Khan Muhammad Daulat Khan (Her elder sister Jasoda bai married him in 1532)
  • Maharana Pratap (Her elder sister Phool Kanwar was married to him)
  • Bhagwan Das (Her elder sister was married to him)

Further to this Rukmavathi’s neice Jodha Bai was chief consort of Prince Salim and his third wife and mother of next emperor Shah Jahan(Prince Khurram). Princess Rukmavathi ensured that Emperor Jehangir also married Shah Jahan to Rukmavathis grand neice (Jodha’s brothers daughter).  Rukmavathi’s great grand neice was married by Shah Jahan to dara Sikoh and was his top three wives too. Rukmavathi’s elder sister was Phool Kunwar the one of the two chief consort of Maharana Pratap. Bhagwan das, brother of Hira Kunwari (mother of Salim) was also married to an elder sister of Rukmavathi and hence her brother in law. Raja Man Singh was her nephew in relation. Hence Rukmavathi had a close family relationship with powerful men of those times.

The circumstances that led to her marriage to Emperor Akbar was intruiging. When Sher Shah Suri attacked Delhi, Humayun was betrayed by his three younger brothers and his wife and kids were captured in a night raid by the Afghan general in Dausa, West Bengal. His daughter Aqiqa was brutally abused and killed by Sher Shah Suri’s forces and her body was thrown into river and not returned for final rites to Humayun. When Humayun faced defeat he ran to Marwar(Jodhpur) and asked refuge for few months as his wife was pregnant which was refused by Rao Maldeo because he did not want to displease Sher Shah. Hence Humayun sought refuge in Umerkot till Akbar was born. Humayun lost his elder son Al Aman due to hunger while running from Sher Shah in Rajputhana desert. When Akbar became emperor he attacked Marwar in 1561 and captured both Jodhpur and Nagore fort not only to expand his empire but to settle old scores. Maldeo tried to please Akbar by sending him many gifts through his second son Chandra Sen but that did not placate Akbar at all for two decades. Finally Mota Raja Udai Singh, Rao Maldeo’s elder son managed to placate Akbar and Akbar appointed Udai Singh as King of Jodhpur instead of younger brother Chandra Sen who had occupied the throne after his fathers death by committing farticide.  Raja Udai Singh married his youngest sister Rukmavathi to Akbar in 1581(Akbar was 39 years, Rukmavathi was 17 years old) and then later on his daughter Princess Jodha Bai to Prince Salim in 1586(Jodha Bai was 13 years of age and Salim was 17 years of age at time of marriage).

Rukmavathi was one of the top 36 chief wives of Akbar  and among his top 10 wives and had many powers. She was very close both to Akbar and Jehangir. Some incidents show how close Rukmavathi was to Akbar and Jehangir. Tulsi das was a great poet who lived in times of Akbar. Akbars commander and adopted son Abdul Rahim Khan e Khana(known as Rahim Das the great poet) was a great friend of Tulsi Das and Kabir das. When Akbar entrusted the education of his sons to Abdul rahim , he appointed hindu priest from Kashi to teach about Hindu religion to Akbars sons. Also he requested Tulsi Das to teach Ramayana to the Princes. Tulsi das work was translated into Persian for the Mughal princes and library. Akbar had good relation with Tulsi das, he visited his ashram in 1590s and its recorded in mughal books and paintings.

When Salim was Governor of Ajmer he revolted against Akbar and settled in Allahabad fort in 1599. In those times Prince Salim family(wife and kids and siblings etc) were in agra fort with Akbar and family. Prince Salim went to meet Tulsi Das often in his ashram as he was known to him from childhood. Initially Akbar ignored Salims folly for few years. But someone informed Akbar that Tulsi Das was instigating Prince Salim to revolt against him as he was meeting him often. Emperor Akbar invited Tulsi Das to agra and accused him of supporting Prince Salim’s revolt and why he should not be punished. Tulsi das said that he only spoke to Prince Salim as a teacher about personal things and nothing political was ever discussed between them.  Abul Rahim Khan e Khana and Kashi Priest requested Akbar to let Tulsi Das as they can vouch for his innocence but Akbar refused to budge. No ones wise counsel had an effect on Akbar’s mind.  Princess Rukmavathi  was known for her gift of gab and fearlessness in mughal harem. Her neice Princess Jodha Bai also had this quick wit and gift of gab that endeared Prince Salim to her. Princess Rukmavathi intervened on behalf of Tulsi Das and told Akbar to let go him and argued on his behalf. Akbar finally realized his folly and let tulsi Das go back to Kashi. When Prince Salim who was away returned to Allahabad and heard about Tulsi Das being summoned to agra court by Akbar and being questioned, seeds of revolt and misunderstanding between him and Akbar were more strengthened.

In 1593 Akbar requested Salim to go on a expedition to Deccan (South India) but Salim refused. So Akbar sent Prince Daniyal on the expedition but Daniyal was a young and immature at war fields faced defeats and also got heavily addicted to drinks. So Akbar sent Salim on expedition to Rajputhana in 1596 again after Maharana Pratap and went to Deccan himself. During Akbars time, Mughals and Maharana Pratap’s army met in battle almost 21 times and majority of these times Prince Salim was involved in these wars. Prince Salim got bored of going to these futile wars and stopped at Ajmer and set up his base there and refused to go to any war with Mahrana Pratap. For a year or so he enjoyed his time in Rajputhana with his childhood friends like Mahabat Khan(Rajputh) and Qutubuddin Koka(Sheikh Salim Chisti’s grandson) and Karan Singh(his cousin brother) etc. Finally someone suggested him that if he loots the treasury of agra fort he can declare himself a independent ruler as Akbar is away in Deccan. Prince Salim went back and camped in outskirts of agra. The inchage of agra fort closed its gates refusing Prince Salim and his friends entry into the fort. Prince Salim camped outside agra city, the situation got really tensed for weeks. Finally Hamida Banu and Princess Rukmavathi and Salima Begum decided to go and meet him and find his reasons for camping outside agra with a huge army. When Salim heard his grand mother and step mothers are coming to meet him, he refused to meet them and went in boat to Allahabad and told his army to come later. Thus a potentially explosive situation was handled cleverly by the mughal women.  This also shows how Prince Salim revered and respected his grandmother and step mothers and felt guilty facing them after his revolt. Apart from Salima Begum only Maharani Rukmavathi went to meet Prince Salim in Allahabad fort to bring reconciliation between her husband Akbar and son Prince Salim. This shows that apart from Salima Begum, even Maharani Rukmavathi had huge influence on Prince Salim’s decisions be it political or personal.

Emperor Jehangir pardoned Shakti Singh (of mewar) brother of Maharana Pratap for helping Maharana Pratap escape from battle field of Haldighatti by giving his horse and killing two mughal commanders who were following his elder brother because Princess Rukmavathi requested him to do so. Princess Rukmavathi’s one elder sister was married to Maharana Pratap and another to Shakti Singh of Mewar(Udaipur, Chittorgarh). Prince Salim mother Hira Kunwari and Rukmavathi were first cousin sisters as Hira Kunwari aunty(Bharamal’s sister) was married to Rao Maldeo.  Rukmavathi was not only active in politics but also built gardens in agra and other places. It is said that Prince Salim was so close to Princess Rukmavathi that he incurred warth of Akbar by pardoning Shakti Singh once for helping Maharana Pratap.

The same closeness with Princess Rukmavathi led to once Prince Salim returning a Princess of Mewar with full honours (a daughter of Maharana Pratap) when she was captured by the Mughal forces during heights of the war between Mughal and Mewar forces in jungle rather than leverage it as his commanders suggested in 1580s.

This same closeness with Princess Rukmavathi and Jodha Bai stopped Emperor Jehangir from launching an attack on Maharana Karan Singh of Udaipur (Karan Singh’s grand mother(step) Roop Kanwar was sister of Princess Rukmavathi)  when Prince Khurram took shelter there at height of his revolt with Mugahl Empire at Udaipur(Prince Khurram’s first wife was the grand neice of Rukmavathi and neice of Jodha Bai). Prince Salim had major issues with his mother Hira Kunwari’s Amer family in later years once he revolted against Akbar and hence he grew quiet close to the Jodhpur royals. Rukmavathi and Jodha Bai had major roles to play in developing his close relation with Jodhpur royals. Rukmavathi was his favourite step mother apart from Salima Begum and Rukmavathi was also his mother Hira Kunwari’s first cousin sister. Hence Prince Salim trusted her and his favourite wife Jodha Bai’s advice completely.

Princess Rukmavathi along with Princess Jodha held sway of the Jodhpur dynasty over the politics of Mughal Empire by their closeness to Akbar and Jehangir.  Mota raja Udia Singh was Akbar’s childhood friend he only gave him the affectionate title “Mota raja”. Akbar was very fond of both Rukmavathi and Jodha Bai apart from Man Bai because they were all born and brought up in front of his eyes. Mota Raja Udai Singh was taken an hostage in Akbar’s court and then in his services for long till 1583 after which he became independent ruler of Jodhapur. Mota raja Udai Singh had palace in both Fatekpur Sikri and Agra. Although Rukmavathi did not give him an heir or any children yet both Akbar and his son Salim listened and respected her advice and wise counsel and adhered to it. Prince Salim was just 5 years younger to Princess Rukmavathi. This relation continued in future with Jodhpur Princesses marrying Mughal Princes and Emperors like Shah Jahan, Dara Sikoh and Fraukshiyar in later times too. But none had an influence that Maharani Rukmavathi or Empress Jodha Bai had over empire politics and emperors decision making in later times.

Unrequited Love: Firoza Khilji and Biram Dev

Firoza Khilji was daughter of Alauddin Khilji and his maid Asamani Khavas. Once Alahuddin khilji invited Kanhadadev, the king of Jalore to delhi. Jalore was only kingdom that Alahuddin Khilji had not annexed so far. Kanhadadev sent his son Biram Dev(Rao Vikram Dev Chauhan). Biram Dev was provked by Khilji to have an arm wrestling match with his dreaded wrestler Punju.

During the match Khilji had ordered his wrestler to injure Biram Dev to death. But Biram Dev was a wrestler par excellence and defeated Punju easily. Firoza who was witness to this match along side Alauddin Khilji fell in love with Biram Dev. Firoza told her father Alauddin Khilji that she will either marry Biram Dev or no one else and will kill herself if she did not get him.

Alahuddin Khilji was in dire straits at his daughters diktats and had no option but to go with a proposal to Birma Dev to marry his daughter Firoza. Khilji made it clear that Biram Dev had to convert to Islam and marry Firoza. Biram Dev had no option but to agree to marriage and he said he will go and come with marriage procession with family and friends back to Delhi. But as soon as he reached Jalore, Biram Dev rejected the marriage proposal of Firoza.

At same time Ulugh Khan a commander of Khilji had ransacked Sarnath and taken the Shivling from there. Biram Dev attacked Ulugh Khan army and defeated them and took back the Shivling. Khilji got vry angry on Biram Dev and sent a huge army to annex Jalore. The commander Kamaluddin Gurg  besieged fot of Jalore and for two years there was a fight and Kanhadadev and Biram Dev died defending Jalore. The fort was ransacked by Khilji’s army and many people were killed and many Rajput women committed Jauhar.

When Firoza came to know of Biram Dev death she killed herself ending this one sided love affair.

Read more in Kanhada – De- Praband

 

Forbidden Love: Khizir Khan Khilji and Dewal Rani Devi

 

Khizir Khan

Khizir Khan Khilji was eldest son of Allahuddin Khilji from his wife second wife Maharu. Dewal Rani Devi was the daughter of Kamala Devi the favourite wife of Allauddin Khilji and her first husband, Raja of Guajarat Raj Karan deva II. Allahuddin’s brothers Ulugh Khan attacked Gujarath in 1298. The King of Guajarath King Karan Deva escapd with his kids to Deccan and took shelter with the Devagiri Yadava King Ramchandra. Kamala Devi was taken to Delhi where after a few months, Allauddin Khiljji married Kamala Devi and she became his third wife and a favourite. Affter a few years around 1306 Kamala Devi started missing her daughter and requested that her daughter from first marriage be brought to Delhi back from her first husband Karan Deva.

Allahuddin Khilji sent his confidante Malik Kafur and his brother Ulugh Khan to Devagiri to get back Deva Rani from Karan Deva. Meanwhile now Deval Rani was big 14-15 years old and of marriageable age. The Devagiri King Raja Ramchandra propised his elder son Shankar Devas marriage in hand to Deval Rani but Gujarath King Karan Deva was not happy with proposal as the King Ramchandra was a Yadava while they were Rajpuths. Rajpuths considered Yadavas as inferior caste, hence Raja Karan Deva kept postponing proposal saying one reason or another. Malik kafur and Ulugh Khan laid siege on Deavgiri and defeated King Ramchandra and took Deval Rani to Delhi to her mother Kamla Devi.

A few days later Khizir Khan and Dewal Rani fell in love with each other. The marriage was met with opposition by Allauddin Khilji and Maharu because by relation they were half siblings. But Khizir Khan defied Allauddin Khilji orders to stay away from Dewal Rani and they both continued meeting. Maharu, Khizir’s mother was not fine with the relation and tried many ways to separate them like sending them away to different city and by keeping Dewal Rani in house arrest. But nothing worked, Khizir love for her only increased with every step to separate them. Finally seeing Khizirs despair at staying away from Dewal Rani, Maharu and Allauddin Khilji had no option but to agree for marriage of both. It is said that when they were being separated Khizir Khan gave Deval Rani a lock of his hair as gift in his memory and Deval Rani gave him her ring in rememberance.

Finally looking their despair and love parents had to give in.  The marriage of Khizir Khan and Dewal Rani took place in 1312. Mallik Kafur the commander of Allauddin Khilji instigated him to imprison Maharu’s sons Khizir Khan and Shadi Khan in fort of Gwalior. Malik Kafur told Alahuddin Khilji that Maharu, Alp Khan and Khizir had tried to kill him and hence Khilji ordered their imprisonment. Mallik Kafur treated Khizir Khan and his brother like enemy of state and tortured them. Dewal Rani was only constant companion of Khizir Khan in his imprisonment.

Allahuddin Khilji was on death bed in 1316 and asked for Khizir Khan so he can be anointed as next emperor but Mallik Kaafur cleverly delayed the matter till Allauddin was dead. Indeed Allauddin Khilji was killed by Mallik Kafur only as per many historians by giving slow poison.

Mallik Kafur placed youngest son of Allauddin Khilji, a six year old called Umar on throne. He sent people to blind both Khizir and Shadi Khan. Mubarak Shah the third son of Allauddin Khilji and Mallika Jahan somehow escaped an assaination plot. A few months later bodyguards of Allauddin Khilji murdered Mallik Kafur and appointed Mubarak Shah as regent of Umar Shah. Mubarak Shah imprisoned Umar, the six year old kid and became emperor himself.

Mubarak too had an eye for Dewal Rani who was beautiful and asked Khizir to hand her over to him, but Khizir refused. Mubarak decided to kill Khizir and sent people to kill him in prison. In the attack, Dewal Rani’s both hands were cut off as she cling to Khizir as assains attacked him and refused to move back. Thus ended a great love story of forbidden love between Khizir Khilji and Dewal Rani. Mubarak forcibly took Dewal Rani in his harem and treated her as a slave girl to humiliate his brother Khizirs memories.

Please read more on Ishquia or Ashiqa / Mathnavi Duval Rani-Khizr Khan (Romance of Duval Rani and Khizr Khan) by Amir Khusrau

Queen Kamal Devi – Allauddin Khilji’s Rajputh wife

Alauddin-Khilji

 

Contrary to popular beliefs that Akbar was first muslim ruler to marry a Hindu Raajputh wife and give her a high exalted position in his palace and family, there are many others before him who have done the same. Allauddin Khilji was one of them.

Allauddin Khilji attacked the kingdom of Gujarath in year 1299 with a huge army led by Nusrat Khan and Ulugh Khan who were Alla- uddin Khiji’s brothers. Raja Rai Karan Dev II was the Bagela Rajputh King ruling Gujarath in those times.

The army met in battle around June 1299 but after sometime the army of Delhi Sultanate was too strong and Raja Rai Karan Dev left Gujarath and took shelter in other kingdom. Ulugh Khan ransacked the city of Anahilavada and captured the wealth of the city and Raja Karan Devs wifes including his chief consort Queen Kamala Devi and were taken to Delhi.

Allauddin Khilji fell in love and married Kamala Devi and she became his favourite Queen. This infuriated his first wife Mallika Jahan the daughter of Jalal uddin Khilji to no end. Queen Kamala Devi had a daughter Dewal Rani Devi from her previous marriage to King Raja Rai Karan Dev II who had fled with her father during conquest of Gujarath. The Queen Kamal Devi missed her daughter and requested Allauddin Khilji to get her daughter back to her. Allauddin Khilji sent his army under Ulugh Khan and got back Kamala Devis daughter to Delhi.

The Jain writer of those times Merutunga’s book Vichara Shreni states that Raja Rai Karan Deva II Minister Madhav had a role in Allauddin Khilji attacking Gujarath. As per the story Raja Rai Karan Deva had a eye for women and he abducted the beautiful wife of Madhava and took her to his harem(palace). While trying to save Madhavs wife, his younger brother was killed by Raja Karan Deva II. This infuriated Madhav and he went to Delhi and instigated Allauddin Khilji to attack Gujarat.

Salim – A prince in exile

Bala Qila fort is in the city of Alwar in Rajasthan. Alwar fort was built by Hasan Khan Mewati in 1551 A.D.  The fort has six gates, namely, Jai Pol, Suraj Pol, Laxman Pol, Chand Pol, Krishen Pol and Andheri Gates. The fort also has Jai Mahal, Nikumbh Mahal, Salim Sagar Pond, Suraj Kund and many temples.

Bala Qila Fort

Bala Qila Fort

 

It is said that Prince Salim later Emperor Jehangir stayed in this Bala Qila fort when his father, the great Emperor Akbar banished him for three years from mughal court. The reason for banishment is not provided in any historical book. But the reason could be an attempt on Abul Fazl life or an affair with a commoner girl. This was when Salim was hardly 25 years old before his rebellion against Akbars rule. Abul Fazl was the court chronicler and a navrathan of Akbars court. The duration he stayed here is not specific but his exile lasted three years.

Palace

Palace

The place where Emperor Jahangir stayed in Bala Qila is known as Salim Mahal. A pond is also named in his honour called Salim Sagar pond.

Lost Love: Hindal Mirza-Hamida Bano

Strange are the ways
Where the river of love flows,
Those who jump into it, are drown
Those who are drown, get across.

A poem by Amir Khusrau

Hamida Banu was the daughter of a confidant of Miraz Hindal, Akbar Khan. Hindal had known her from childhood as her father was his confidant. Hindal Mirza was 22 years old and Hamida was 17 years old and the year was 1541.

Humayun saw Hamida Banu daughter of Shaikh Ali Akbar Jami first time in Mirza Hindal’s palace at Alwar. Humayun asked “Who is this?” and Khwaja Muzzam said she is his relative. Humyaun had come to meet Dildar Begum, his step mother and mother of Gulbadan and Hindal Mirza that day. Another day he came to meet Dildar Begum he said “Mir Baba Dost is our relative, it is fitting that you should give me his daughter in marriage”. When Hindal Mirza heard this he made objections to the marriage and Humayun got angry and left the palace.

Dildar Begum admonished Hindal Mirza and sent a letter to Humayun stating that the girls mother was using persuasion to marry Hamida to him but he went away in anger. So Humayun wrote back to her saying she must arrange his wedding to Hamida and he is ready to pay any alimony.

Dildar Begum kept a party and called Humayun and others for party at Hindals palace. Humayun sent message to call Hamida Banu to their presence after party. Hamida Banu refused saying “If it is to pay my respects i have paid it other day(at party). Why should i come again?

Another day Humayun send message to Hindal Mirza to send Hamida Banu to his presence. Hindal Mirza replied “Whatever i may say she will not listen. Go yourself and tell her”.  When Subhan Quli went her with message she said “To see kings once is lawful, second time forbidden, i will not come”. When Humayun came to know of this he said “If she is not a consort, we will make her a consort”.

The proposal of marriage was sent to Hamida Bano. For 40 days Hamida Bau resisted giving one reason or another. Dildar Begum went and adviced her “One day you have to marry, who better than a king?”. Hamida replied back “Oh yes i will marry. But it will be a man whose collar my hand will touch and not whose skirt it does not reach.” Dildar Begum tried to persuade her many times.

After 40 days of persuasion finally in September 1541 Humayun married Hamida Bano paying Two Lakhs rupees. Hindal Mirza left to Qandahar, something Humayun did not permit him to go for long and finally permitted immediately after his marriage. A heart broken Hindal Mirza left Humayun with his troops only returning to rescue Akbar from Kabul fort after a few years.

Excerpts from Humayunnama by Gulbadan Begum

Note: The entire episode taken from Humayunnama

Akbar and his sons

 

Akbar and his sons

Akbar had three sons Salim, Murad and Daniyal. All the three were big alcoholics and wasted their young life in intoxication. Like they say no plants can grown under a huge banyan tree, Akbar was a huge banyan tree that never allowed his sons to come out of his shadow. This led to huge frustrations in his sons minds and others manipulated their anger and frustrations to cause rift not only among the father and sons but also between the brothers. The only good thing that emerged was that the brothers like past and future generations did not attempt to kill each other for the throne or kill each others children. But did Akbar have a role to play in this rift between his sons? For the answer lets examine some points

Salim

Emperor_Jahangir_receiving_his_two_sons,_an_album-painting_in_gouache_on_paper,_c_1605-06

Jehangir with Khusrau and Parvez

 

 

The unofficial crown prince the heir to throne the first born son of Akbar a child of many prayers and born to a privileged life son of a father who was richest and most powerful man in world, Salim had everything going for him. Then what exactly led to him being insecure, get addicted to alcohol and drugs and waste away his youth. Salim was always encouraged by everyone including Akbar as the next emperor of Mughal empire and received education in commensurate to his position as the unofficial crown prince. Not only this Akbar even allowed him to develop networks that would help him when he would become emperor in long term by appointing important tutors who were influential. Salim even went to battle at a young age of single digit and by 12 years he led independent command of army to wars. But as Salim grew up into an adult there seemed to crop many differences between father and son.

There were many reasons for that the major ones being

  1. There was a stark difference in Akbar and Salims nature and thinking. Akbar was a very practical man while Salims nature was more to give leeway to his emotions in decision making. Akbar never lost the sense of practicality in dealing with anyone while Salim dealt more in a emotional or need basis. He relied heavily on his coterie of friends to guide him usually who gave him advice that benefitted them not really him. Akbar also had a coterie in his navratnas and milk brothers etc but he was not really totally swayed by them while making decisions.
  2. Salim became an addict to his vices like drinking, addiction to narcotics etc and that led him to make rash decisions like ordering to kill someone for small mistakes.
  3. Salim never seemed to like his fathers coterie especially the navratnas like Man Singh, Abul Fazl etc because he felt they instigated his father against Salim(and his other close family and friends)
  4. When Salim was 22 years old in 1591-92 Akbar was down with a illness that never seemed to get cured. During this time Salim kept spies to keep watch on his brother Murad. Once Akbar was well, he was informed by Murad and Harem ladies of Salim’s behaviour and from that day Akbar grew suspicious of Salim. Not only that during this illness Abul Fazl even suggested Akbar that Salim may have poisoned him that led to more differences between father and son.
  5. Akbar started giving more important postings and war campaigns to Murad and Daniyal rather than Salim increasing his anxiety and inseurity.
  6. Not only this Akbar even took Khusrau under his care and tutored him giving him high rank of 5000 mansabdari at age of 6 years. Khusrau was incharge of the powerful imperial forces led by rajpuths and mughal seasoned fighters(pathans and mughals) at such a young age thus increasing his standing among mughal princes and making him a direct contender for throne. Khusrau was given provinces to govern at young age.

Now all the above points and many other things started causing a rift between father and son. Not only did this cause a rift between Akbar and Salim, it created a great fissure in Salims relation with his son Khusrau because they were no longer only father and son but direct contenders of the throne.

Another very important policy of Akbar totally broke Salim’s and his childrens relation. In order to keep Salims growing ambitions in check Akbar used his grandson Khusrau and Khurram(Shah Jahan) as baits. This Akbar did by taking both of them away from Jehangirs harem and bring them up in his harem under his care. Akbar was quoted in Akbarnama as stating that he loved his grandsons more than his sons. This truly created flutter in mind of Salim, Murad and Daniyal. Everyone in empire got an indication that Akbar may make his grandson Khusrau the next emperor superceding their father and uncles. If the rift between Khusrau and Salim was not deep enough he even handed a 6 days baby Khurram to his first wife Ruqaiah for upbringing although he was only living child of Salim and Jodha his third wife.

Note: Read more details of rift in post – Why Salim revolted against Akbar?

Murad Mirza 

Murad Mirza the second son of Akbar was 9 months younger to Salim and brought up by Salima Begum his third wife(but born to a cocubbine). Initially Salim and Murad had good relations but their relation deteriorated when during Akbars illness in 1592 Salim put people to keep an eye on Murad. When Akbar came to know of this, he decided to send Salim and Murad away from the imperial court. Murad was sent off to Malwa and then Deccan. Once away from Akbar, Murad started asserting himself and slowly defying his father and other commanders. He even started drinking excessively that led to his death in 1599. During his last days his defying ways made him look like a twin version of Salim giving many a heart burns to his father Akbar.

Daniyal Mirza

 

akbar receiving his 3 sons at fatekpur sikri

akbar receiving his 3 sons at fatekpur sikri

Daniyal Mirza was 3 years younger than his two elder brothers(born 1572) and was a favourite of Akbar till he became addicted to wine. Daniyal had many privileges assigned to him chief being the red tent that he could use exclusively that only an emperor or next heir could use. This made Salim very insecure although he never had any fight with Daniyal on this front. But Daniyal also once out of his fathers sight started drinking heavily and died drinking from a gun barrel in open defiance of Akbars orders.

Now all this policy of Akbar led to grave insecurity among the siblings and the brothers were insecure about each other being given prominence. But it must be appreciated that the three brothers did not thirst for each others blood and try to kill each other in succession war or harm each others kids like previous generations. It more of less highlighted their upbringing(by their mothers). So Akbar indirectly through his actions developed sibling rivalry among his sons(Daniyal, Murad and Salim) and even son and grandsons(Salim and Khusrau) or grandsons(Khusrau and Khurram).

Akbar may have succeeded as an emperor but failed as a father(to Salim, Murad and Daniyal) and grandfather(to Khusrau, Khurram). Its easy for a man to command his citizens and people working under him(ministers, nobels, army) but Akbar forgot his sons are not his citizens. Akbar forgot he was not only an empeeror whose commands his sons must follow but he is their father too.

As a father Akbar seems too strict and too unbending its not a two way relation between him and his sons, its a one way relation. He commands and they obey no questions asked. Where his sons wanted to find a father they only found a rigid emperor trying to protect his kingdom. Every human requires a certain amount of freedom has certain desires and likes to do things on his own accord. He never stopped to check what his sons desire, why they are rebelling, why they defy his orders, why they are spoiling their life drinking away.

You can easily say Salim, Murad and Daniyal were in a golden cage trying to get out of it. What we think was a rebellion may have been a frustration a cry for a ear from a father not a command from an emperor. This system of pitting one son against another, a grandson against son all this led to terrible consequences in long run. Friendly competition encouraged between children is fine till a certain age not after that. Akbar started this competition to check who among his sons or grandson was the best but it went to such a extent that they grew suspicious of each other.

But this tactic had another affect altogether instead of competing among the siblings, his sons grew suspicious of each move from Akbar. Each of his move made them insecure, frustrated them, scared them into what to expect next. Instead of competing with their siblings they started removing their insecurity by drinking, by defying Akbars orders, by helping Akbars enemies etc. Not only did Akbar spoil the relations between Salim , Murad and Daniyal and between Salim and Khusrau he spoiled his relation with his own sons. None of his three sons had genuine affection and respect left for him by the end of their lives and they were suspicious of his every move. Salim even openly rebelled in fear of this suspicion.

Akbar even went to the extent of using Salims own sons Khusrau and Khurram as leverage against their own father, to keep Salim in a tight leash and make him obey his orders. He messed up Salims relation with his two sons Khusrau and Khurram by not allowing them to stay in their fathers household.

Everyone ultimately paid a price for this tactic. Akbar died a lonely man none of his sons loved or respected him from heart, they all died young drinking in frustration only Salim was saved because may be he was too strong to withstand the effects of heavy drinking. Khusrau treated is father as competitor not as father and Salim too treated him same way, Khurram became so insecure that he killed all his brothers and some of their children too to become emperor, Khusrau lost his eyes first in sucession war at hands of father than his life at hands of Khurram. Salim faced rebellion from his sons Khusrau and Khurram like he had rebelled with his father. A simple policy of competition to choose best hire ultimately destroyed three generations relationships.

Note: This was the Ghenghiz Khan idea to give throne to most capable son not eldest son that was followed by Akbar that led to messing up relationships

 

Why did Salim revolt against Akbar?

Why did Salim rise in revolt against Akbar in 1599?

Prince_Salim,_the_future_Jahangir

Jehangir

There are few reasons for Salim’s revolt

Salim was adviced by his close associates that since Akbar was in Deccan during 1599, he should loot the agra treasury and prove himself independently

Salim wanted to be emperor early on because Salim was a big alcoholic and was scared that he may die young before becoming an emperor and Akbar was in good health at that time.

The below three reasons made Salim revolt to prove himself

Salim was angry at Akbar giving more preference to Daniyal over him – like the red tent that only emperor could display, Daniyal had Akbars permission to display it during battle

Salim was vary of Akbar favouring his son Khursau and giving him more commands and jagirs as this was a first indication of Akbar thinking to make Khusrau his heir instead of Salim

Man Singh, Khan e Khana Rahim(Bairam Khans son), Aziz Koka(Milk brother of Akbar) all were powerful ministers in Akbars court and wanted Khusrau to be declared next heir over Prince Salim

Apart from those immediate reasons here are a few more that caused rift between father and son 

When Salim was hardly 24-25 years old once Akbar fell very ill with severe stomach infection. Abul Fazl his friend suggested that Prince Salim may have poisoned Akbar. Akbar in pain called out to Salim and said “Sheiku baba, this entire empire is yours why did you poison me?” in front of all the present individuals. Salim felt shocked as he had not really poisoned Akbar and walked out of the room. Later on it was discovered that Akbar had eaten some cooked stale meat and hence had fallen unwell. But by then Salim was too hurt and angry to forgive either Akbar and especially Abul Fazl. This build up of anger and hatred led him to finally killing Abul Fazl as he felt Fazl was filling Akbars ears against him.

Salim once was ordered by Akbar to bring entire entourage of Akbar’s harem(Akbars wives and women) to Kashmir by Akbar(where he was camping). On the way there was a snow strom and land slide so Salim left the women safely in the plains and travelled to Akbar’s camp to inform him of this matter. Akbar turned to Abul Fazl for advice and he informed Akbar that it was not Prince Salim’s authority to decide what to do but follow Akbars orders which he had failed. An enraged Akbar himself rode to the Harem and got them to his camp. This left Salim red faced and he refused to come out of his tent or eat anything for a full day.

Salim’s alleged love affair with Meherunissa (future Nur Jahan) is said to be another thorn in father-son relation although no historical evidence exists of this love affair before marriage.  Akbar was not in favour of his son marrying a Iranian refugee’s daughter whose father was only a clerk but rose to Prime Minister position in later years as he was not a nobel or royal family. Already anarkali(not definite) affair must have created enough rift in them and add to that a few more love affairs by Salim would have only angered Akbar further.

Salim ordering Abul Fazls death who was Akbars chronicler and best friend really agitated Akbar. He had Salim imprisoned for few days after Salim returned to Agra after revolt.

The exact reason of why Salim ordered his death cannot be truly known

But Jehangir states in Jehangirnama that with Abul Fazls death he can now go and meet Akbar without any fear(quote below). But right from a young age Salim had issues with Abul Fazl.

One was the Akbar’s illness incidence where Abul Fazl wrongly suggested Salim of trying to kill Akbar.

Second incident was the Kashmir incident where Akbar admonished Salim for leaving harem behind because of snow storm and coming alone to his camp.

Third incident was when Prince Daniyal fell in love with a hindu widow whom he had saved during sati and wanted to marry her which Akbar did not approve of it was Salim who helped Daniyal to marry this young widow.

Quote from Jehangirnama by Emperor Jehangir on Abul Fazl death 

At that time, because of the corruption of mischief-makers, my exalted father’s mind was quite turned against me, and it was certain that if [Abu’l- Fazl] succeeded in reaching him he would create more discord and prevent [me] from rejoining [my father]. It was therefore absolutely necessary that he be prevented from reaching him. Since Bir Singh Deo’s territory lay in his path, and at that time [Bir Singh] was in the circle of insurgents,I sent him a message that he should waylay the miscreant and dispatch him to nonexistence, in return for which he could expect great rewards from me. Success smiled on the endeavor, and as [Abu’1-Fazl] was passing through [Bir Singh Deo’s] territory, [Bir Singh] blocked his path, scattered his men in a skirmish, and killed him, sending his head to me in Allahabad. Although this caused distress to His Majesty Arsh-Ashyani [Akbar], in the end it resulted in my being able toproceed to kiss the threshold of my exalted father’s court without fear, and little by little the bad blood between us subsided.

Right from childhood there is lot of difference in Salim and Akbars characteristic. Salim’s forgiving Shakti Singh for saving brother Pratap by killing three mughal soldiers in battle of haldighatti must have infuriated Akbar. Akbar and Salim’s friends and advisors never missed a single opportunity to widen the rift between father and son. The father son were never on great talking terms to resolve their issues among themselves because of ego clashes and allowed others to take advantage of this. Salims love affairs with commoners and girls not of Akbars liking also added to the deep fissures between them.

One incident that stands out is that Akbar sent one of his senior minister to admonish Salim and Salim complained to his father that the minister was very rude while speaking to him. Akbar had that ministers tounge cut off. Although that minister was just carrying out Akbars orders. Now a question arises why Akbar himself cannot go and admonish his son or call him to his presence and admonish him? Why he requires a minister and admonish Salim?  This and such incidents show that there was a great deep fissure in Salim-Akbar relation from long before Salim actually revolted.

Reference: Akbarnama, Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh, 

Shah Jahan : The adopted child syndrome

Prince Khurram aka Shah Jahan was born to Prince Salim(Jehangir) and Princess Jodha Bai(Jagat Gosain) on 5th January 1592 at lahore. An astrologer of kashi predicted that Khurram would become more famous that his father and grandfather. Ruqaiah Begum the first wife of emperor Akbar always had a desire to bring up the next emperor of mughal empire. So she requested that Khurram be given to her for upbringing. So when Khurram was 6 days old Akbar issued an order that Khurram would be brought up by Ruqaiah in Akbar’s harem rather than with his mother Jodha Bai in Jehangir’s Harem. Thus Prince Khurram was brought up by Malika e Mughal Sultanat(Empress Mughal Empire) Ruqaiah Sultan.

Lets look at some of the actions behaviours of Shah Jahan vis-a-vis the fact that he was an adopted child. Please read below some characteristics of adopted child. 

 It is very common for those who were adopted to feel rejected and abandoned by their birth parents. This is accompanied by feelings of grief and loss. There is no set time or age when these feeling surface but, sooner or later, they do.

Feelings of loss and rejection are often accompanied by a damaged sense of self esteem. There is an understandable tendency to think that “something must be wrong with me for my birth parents to have give me away.” It must be understood that these feelings and thoughts are unrelated to the amount of love and support received from the adoptive parents and family.

Guilt accompanies loss and grief because the adopted individual believes that they are being disloyal to the people who adopted, loved and raised them. They do not want to hurt or betray their adoptive mother or father.

The child’s repeated discoveries that the mother from whom he has been biologically separated will continue to warm him, nourish him, and protect him pours into the very structure of his personality a stability and a reassurance that he is safe, even in this new, alien world.

The child who is placed with adoptive parents at or soon after birth misses the mutual and deeply satisfying mother-child relationship, the roots of which lie in that deep area of the personality where the physiological and the psychological are merged. Both for the child and for the natural mother, that period is part of the biological sequence, and it is to be doubted whether the relationship of the child to its post-partem mother, in subtler effects, can be replaced by even the best of substitute mothers. But those subtle effects lie so deeply buried in the personality that, in the light of our present knowledge, we cannot evaluate them

Jehangir and Shah Jahan

Jehangir and Shah Jahan

Shah Jahan at age 13 years left zenana(Ruqaiah’s palace) and went to mens quarters. So Shah jahan just moved from ruqaiah palace(akbars harem) to mens quarters. He never went back and stayed with his parents Jehangir or Jodha Bai ever. But after Akbars death, jehangir ensured Shah jahan spent more time with him and Jagat/Jodha and not always with ruqaiah. Hence Shah jahan grew close to his real mother Jodha Bai.

Secondly after nur jahan married jehangir and started playing all her divide games shah jahan wanted an ally and his mom jagat was that ally(as ruqaiah was close to nur jahan and not jagat) against nur jahan in harem. Shah jahan was a very Machiavellian person, he knew whom to side and when. When Akbar was alive he was close to him and when jehangir became emperor he became close to jehangir and when nur jahan started infuencing jehangir he joined her ranks, only when he felt threat to his throne by sharyar and nur jahan he left nur jahans side and rebelled. So he was a brillaint tactician when it came to politics whether in public or private life. He knew whom to side with and when.

So as you see from above Shah Jahan may have been handed by akbar to ruqaiah for upbringing but the child never forget birth mothers(or fathers). They have desire to know and be with biological parents no matter how nice adopted parents treat them. They feel guilty why their parents gave them up to other parents?(or in shah jahans case why grandparents took him from parents) They feel guilty and do not want to be disloyal to adopted parents although they want to be with biological ones.

Shah jahan was shattered by  Jodha Bais death very much that Jehangir had to go and console him. Was it a adopted son guilt that he could never be with his real mother all life, his insecurity in life, his voilence towards relatives, his fear and non trust of male relatives all stems from his adopted status as a baby.

His being over attached to mumtaz first his dependence on jahanara and his way of keeping dara sikoh near him and not sending him to be governor far off like other sons. Remember daras life was attempted at young age, shah jahan did not want to lose him like mumtaz(to death) or jagat gosain/Jodha Bai or jehangir(thru adoption).  He was scared to send loved ones away from his side.

His fear of Khusrau and sharyar and male relatives stems from this adopted child syndrome, his killing them also stems from this psychology. His over love for mumtaz(his childhood friend whom he could trust) and not other wives also comes from adopted  child syndrome.

His anger and hatred for jehangirs rule in his padshahnama(he felt jehangir abondoned him twice- once when jehangir allowed akbar to adopt him and give to ruqaiah and second jehangir abondoned him for nur jahan and sharyar sake) stems from this adopted child syndrome. Basically he felt jehangir failed to protect him as father(biological one).

No matter how much love Akbar gave him or Ruqaiah in adopted shah jahans mind he desires to be near to his biological parents is very strong. That is why the deep mourning in jagats death that is why deep hatred in padshah nama for jehangir rule etc. That also is reason for deep hatred and mistrust of step brothers khusrau, sharyar, jahandar(whom he killed) and parvez(died on own else would be killed too).

Basically he was brought up in such a way that he mistrusted his close relations that is because he was given up for adoption by parents rather his parents failed to not keep him with them. Whether the decision was Akbars or Salim’s it does not matter to the child, he felt his parents abandoned him for long duration. Nur Jahan further complicated matters by trying to make him an enemy in Jehangir’s eyes. That was the last straw for the adopted child Khurram most probably. First being separated from biological parents, then after Akbars death getting closer to his birth parents Jehangir and Jodha, then just when things were getting better and Khurram was finding his real family, Nur Jahan entering his fathers life and trying to create fissures in the relationship and finally his mothers death in 1619 all this culminated in his rebellion and violent killing of his close relatives to get the throne.

All adopted children find it tough to live with adopted family but for Shah jahan it must have been more tougher as his biological parents lived in same fort as his adopted parents. Even more worst his adopted parents Ruqaiah and Akbar were his grand parents. A young child loves to play and learn from parents. But both Ruqaiah and Akbar must have been in their 50s when Khurram was born. So could they truly fulfil a parent role in Khurrams life may be not. That filled the child Khurram with insecurity, fear of being lonely, feelings of being abandoned by real parents etc. Many of his actions can be scrutinized using the adopted child syndrome.

Battle of Haldighati : Jehangir and Shakti Singh

Jahangir

Jahangir

The battle of Haldighatti took place on 18th June 1576. The Mewar army was led by the Maharana Pratap while the Mughal side was led by Raja Man Singh of Amber and Prince Salim(Emperor Jehangir).

Salim was 7 years of age at the time of this war and it must have been one of his first battles. Yet as a prince he commanded people under him and that included Shakti Singh(Saktha Singh) the younger brother of Maharana Pratap fighting for the mughals.

Quote from James Todd – Annals and Antiques of Rajasthan

Maharana made good a passage to where Salim commanded. His guards fell before Partap, and but for the steel plates which defended his howda, the lance of the Rajput would have deprived Akbar of his heir. His steed, the gallant Chetak, nobly seconded his lord, and is represented in all the historical drawings of this battle with one foot raised upon the elephant of the Mogul, while his rider has his lance propelled against his foe.

Maharana Pratap reached the place where Salim was in the battle surrounded by his gaurds and threw a lance but the howdah saved Salim’s life. But his elephant mahout was killed and the elephant ran off without any mahout to control it.

The battle was fought for four hours almost and Maharana Pratap had to be  rescued thrice from the enemies by his army. Finally the mughals had the Maharana surrounded and Jhalla Man Singh took Maharana’s silver chattra from his back and put it on himself. The mughal army fell on him and killed him while Chetak took Maharana safely away from the battle field.

Three Mughal gaurds who saw a man leaving the battle field followed him out of the battle field to check who the man was who was going out of the battle field.  Shakti Singh who saw this followed them. Chetak crossed the small stream and fell down bleeding heavily. The three mughal soldiers who followed him asked him who he was and why he came out from battle field? Shakti Singh who reached there killed them and gave his horse to Pratap to leave far as soon as possible. Shakti Singh promised to rejoin him at a later date and went back.

After sometime doubts were raised on Shakti Singh’s  version of the story that Pratap had killed three mughal warriors and left. Shakti Singh was called to answer the truth in front of Prince Salim. Shakti Singh initially struck to his version of the story that Pratap had already killed the mughal warriors and left before he reached that place. But no one in mughal camp was ready to believe him. Prince Salim promised to pardon him if he told the truth. Shakti Singh finally broke down and revealed the truth that he could not stand watching his elder brothers life in danger without defending him and he had killed those mughal soldiers. Salim pardoned Shakti Singh as promised but told him to leave and go back to his brother Pratap and dismissed him from mughal services.

Quote from James Todd

On rejoining Salim, the truth of Sakta was greatly doubted when he related that Partap had not only slain his pursuers, but his own steed, which obliged him to return on that of the Khorasani. Prince Salim pledged his word to pardon him if he related the truth ; when Sakta replied, ” The burthen of a kingdom is on my brother’s shoulders, nor could I witness his danger without defending him from it.” Salim kept his word, but dismissed the future head of the Saktawats.

Note: Prince Salim was sent on many campaigns against Mewar and Maharana Pratap after Haldighatti. Indeed from age of 7 years till age of 30 when he went to rebellion against Akbar he was involved in many wars against Mewar and Maharana Pratap. On Mewar side it was Amar Singh who was involved many wars against mughals.

Jehangir kids

1) Sultan al-nisa begum by Shah Begum(Man Bai) 1586-1646
2) Khusrau Mirza by Shah Begum 1587-1622
3) Parvez by Sahib-i-Jamal 1589-1626
Sahib-i-jamal was daughter of Kwaja Hasan of Herat a cousin of Zain Khan Koka foster brother of emperor Akbar(son of Akbar’s wet nurse)
4) Bahar Bano Begum by Rajkumari Karamsi 1590-1653
5) Khurram Shihab-al din aka Shah Jahan by Taj Bibi Bilqis/Mariam Makhani/Jodha Bai/Jagat Gosain 1592-1667
6) Sharyar by cocubbine 1605-1628
7) Jahandar by cocubbine 1605-1628

 These are only the surviving children of Jehangir

He had around 13 children in all. His last child was by Sahila Banu Begum who died as an infant. 

Bahar Bano and Khurram were Jehangirs favourite children

Jehangir had no children from his favourite and last wife Nur Jahan. But Jehangir and Nur Jahan adopted many kids many of them orphaned or widowed girls. The best known adopted child of them was Seis Alla who was a son of Nur Jahans sister.

Akbar sons

Hassan(twins) 19th Oct 1964- 5th Nov 1964  : Second child, twins born to Bibi Aram Baksh and died as infant

Hussain(twins) 19th Oct 1964- 29th Oct 1964: Third son, twins born to to Bibi Aram Baksh and died as infant

Salim 30th Aug 1569- 8th Nov 1627 : Fourth and eldest surviving child born in 1569 august was Akbar’s first child born to Hira Kunwari aka Mariam uz zamani

Murad 7th June 1570- 12th May 1599 : Akbar’s  sixth child and second surviving son born a few months(8 months) after Salim (a cocubbine Bibi Kheira)

Description as per Jehangirnama

Three months after my birth my sister, Shahzada Khanam, was born to one of the royal concubines ; they gave her over to his (Akbar’s) mother, Maryam Makani. After her a son was born to one of the concubines, and received the name of Shah Murad. As his birth occurred in the hill country of Fathptir, he was nicknamed Pahari. When my revered father sent him to conquer the Deccan, he had taken to excessive drinking through associating with unworthy persons, so that he died in his 30th year, in the neighbourhood of Jalnapur, in the province of Berar. His personal appearance was fresh-coloured ; he was thin in body and tall of stature. Dignity and authority were evident in his movements, and manliness and bravery manifested themselves in his ways.

 

Daniyal 11th Sep 1572- 8th Apr 1604: Akbar’s 3rd son and 9th child is buried in lahore tomb along with his mother an cocubbine (Bibi Miriam an Armenian died in 1596 and buried in Lahore along with Daniyal in same tomb). Daniyal was given to Mariam-uz-zamani to be raised by Akbar.

Description as per Jehangirnama

On the night of Jumada-1-awwal 10th, a.h. 979 (September, 1572), another son was born to one of the concubines. As his birth took place at Ajmir in the house of one of the attendants of the blessed shrine of the reverend Khwaja Mu’Inu-d-dln Chishti, whose name was Shaikh Daniyal, this child was called Daniyal. Daniyal took to improper ways, like his brother Shah Murad, and soon died from excessive drinking, in the 33rd year of his age. His death occurred in a peculiar way. He was very fond of guns and of hunting with the gun. He named one of his guns yaka u janaza, ‘ the same as the bier,’ and himself composed this couplet and had it engraved on the gun :—

 

“From the joy of the chase with thee, life is fresh and new ;

To everyone whom thy dart strikes, ’tis the same as his bier.”

 

When his drinking of wine was carried to excess, and the circumstance was reported to my father, farmans of reproach were sent to the Khankhanan. Of course he forbade it, and placed cautious people to look after him properly. When the road to bring wine was completely closed, he

began to weep and to importune some of his servants, and said : ” Let them bring me wine in any possible way.” He said to Murshid Quli Khan, a musketeer who was in his immediate service :

” Pour some wine into this yaka u janaza, and bring it to me.” That wretch, in hope of favour,

undertook to do this, and poured double-distilled spirit into the gun, which had long been nourished on gunpowder and the scent thereof, and brought it. The rust of the iron was dissolved by the strength of the spirit and mingled with it, and the prince no sooner drank of it than he fell down.

 

” No one should draw a bad omen :

If he does, he draws it for himself.”

Daniyal was of pleasing figure, of exceedingly agreeable manners and appearance ; he was very fond of elephants and horses. It was impossible for him to hear of anyone as having a good horse or elephant and not take it from him. He was fond of Hindi songs, and would occasionally compose verses with correct idiom in the language of the people of India, which were not bad.

 

Khusrau Mirza: Eleventh child of Akbar born to Raj Kunwari, princess of Bikaner and died in infancy(not to be confused with Jehangir’s eldest son)

 

Jehangir and Khurram : Immense love turned to hatred

Salim and Khurram (Jehangir and Shah Jahan)

jahangir-weighing-son-khurram in gold

Jehangir weighing Khurram in Gold

Salim had 5 sons from various wives(please read Jehangir’s wives and sons list to know more). But his favorite son or child was his third son born to the Jodhpur Princess Jodha Bai aka Jagat Gosain on 5th January 1592

In Jehangirnama he states – I gave my son a rosary of jewels with the hope that he may attain fulfillment of all his desires both in visible and spiritual things (Translated by Alexander Rogers)

Right from childhood Khurram became a favourite of his grandfather Akbar and father Salim. Although Salim stayed away from family(in agra and lahore) on work, war and rebellion still he never let his love and bond wane for Khurram. He would call Khurram “baba” affectionately in his memories a term used for small kids even when Khurram was an adult and a father of many children.  In many places he quotes Khurram as fortunate son and my lucky son Khurram.

Quote from Jehangirnama : When i started in pursuit of Khusrau I had left my son Khurram(who was hardly 13 years old then) in charge of palace and treasuries.

Quote from Jehangirnama : On the second day of Zil-i-hijja I gave my son Khurram a flag and drum and bestowed upon him a rank of 8000 personnel and 5000 horses and gave an order of Jagir.

Unlike Salim and Murad who went to wars at a very young age of 7 years and 11 years respectively Khurram was not sent to war field at young age. His first expedition was to Mewar at the age of 19-20 years when he was an adult and had kids. In that sense Jehangir ensured his kids went late to the war expeditions Parvez at 16-17 years and Khurram at 20 years. Although Khurram was given jagirs and an considerable rank of soldiers under his command he did not go to war as a kid soldier.

Quote from Jehangirnama : On Friday, the 6th Day of Rabi-ul-akhir I came to the Quarters of my son baba Khurram. This year which was the commencement of my son Khurram’s 16th lunar year the astrologers and astronomers predicted that a most important epoch according to his horoscope would occur. As the princes health was not good i gave orders to weigh him and according to the rules and divide the gold, silver, metals among faqirs and needy. The whole day was spent in the enjoyment and pleasure in the company of baba khurram and all his presents were approved. This was done on 3rd July 1607.

Quote from Jehangirnama – On 25th Friday, weighing of my son Khurram took place. Upto the present day when Khurram is 24 years and married and has children he has not defiled himself with drinking wine. Baba though has children and kings and kings son drink. Today which is the day of weighing i will give thee wine to drink and give thee leave to drink it on feast days and time of new year and all great festivals. But thou must observe the path of moderation for wise men do not consider it right to drink to such an extent as to destroy the understanding and it is necessary to only gain profit from drinking. Khurram went to Mewar campaign on 16th Dec 1613 and returned on 20th Feb 1615

Look at Jehangir’s advice to Khurram on not exceeding his limits on drinking wine. It stemed from his personal experience of turning a wine addict and facing many health issues and behaviour issues because of that maybe. But note that he does not speak to any other son about such issues itself is significant. And the fact that even at 24 years of age he still participates in weighing ceremony of Khurram itself is a big factor. For no where in Akbarnama or other Mughal autobiographies we read of emperor participating in his sons weighing ceremony once he is adult.

Quote from Jehangirnama – Prior to this because of favour and overwhelming affection I bore Khurram(note no baba Khurram like previous quotes) and his sons when his son fell critically ill i had sworn that if God spared his life I would never hunt with gun again and never harm an animal with my own hand. Despite the enjoyment i derived from hunting particulary hunting from guns I did not do it for five years now.

It may seem a small thing but Jehangir who was fond of hunting giving up hunting is a very big thing. In those days Kings and Princes were very fond of hunting and it was not only a sport but a way of keeping enemies in check by carrying out hunting expeditions at their borders to warn them.

So what led to a conflict that made Khurram given title Shah Jahan by Jehangir after conquest of Mewar rebel and declare war on Mughal empire and his father Jehangir and Jehangir call him Be Daulat (Unfortunate) publicly

Quote from Jehangirnama – During these days its repeatedly reported that Khurram had taken over some of Begum Nur Jahan’s and Prince Shariyar’s jagirs among them the pragan of Dolpur

 Quote from Jehangirnama – I ordered the Diwan to levy Khurrams jagirs of Hissar, Mian Doab and instead he could take jagirs of Malwa, Gujarat or Deccan or wherever he wanted.

 Quote from Jehangirnama – I sent Musavi Khan one of my loyal servants to deliver threatening messages and try to persuade the wretch with rational arguments and guide him to wakefulness from his slumber of heedlessness and conceit.

There were many reasons for this rift

Jehangir’s health started deteriorating and he had a heart attack around the time Shah Jahan started his rebellion in 1619-1620. Nur Jahan influence on administration started increasing and she handled all decisions. Khurram did not like her increasing influence in administration.

Nur Jahan took decisions against Khurrams interests. Khurram he had refused to marry her daughter Ladli Begum in past. Shariyar was married to Nur Jahan’s daughter Ladli Begum and Nur Jahan now wanted Shariyar to be next emperor not Khurram by then.

Nur Jahan influenced Jehangir and forced him to withdraw jagirs to Khurram and give him less significant jagirs. This led to even more anger and resentment by Khurram.

Khurram refused to go on Deccan campaign if Khusrau’s custody was not handed over to him. Jehangir was very unwell at that time. Nur Jahan agreed to hand over Khusrau custody to Khurram. Jehangir was angry at this arm twisting tactics of Khurram.

Khusrau was apparently killed in custody by Khurram’s gaurds in 1622. Actually Khurram recieved news that Jehangir was very unwell and may not survive as he had suffered an heart attack. To remove any favourite contenders of throne he ordered killing of Khusrau and his wife in custody. He further buried Khusrau without informing his father or other family and sent a letter saying Khusrau died of ill health. By then Jehangir had become fine and a minister who was in deccan informed him that Khusrau may have been killed. Jehangir was furious and ordered Khurram to report to the court to answer regarding Khusrau’s death which Khurram ignored. Finally Jehangir ordered Khusrau’s body to be brough to Allahabad and buried with his mother Man Bai’s tomb(Khusrau Bagh).

These and many other issues led to rebellions and wars between Mughal empire(Jehangir) and Prince Khurram

If you read Shah Jahan’s official biography you see the hatred for Jehangirs rule and regime. It is true that the best of friends can only be the worst of enemies. For all the love Jehangir felt for his son, ultimately his son became his biggest rebel before death and worst critic after death too.

But despite all anger towards a ungrateful son Jehangir did allow Shah Jahan many lee ways – although shah jahan started a civil war by trying to capture key cities of Delhi and agra in Jehangirs absence and was defeated in many civil wars, Jehangir never caught him or punished him like he did a Khusrau. He even did not attack mewar when Karan singh gave shelter to Shah Jahan and family. He did not take away all his jagirs(states) and looked after Dara Sukoh and Aurangzeb who were surrendered as hostages to Mahbhat Khan to avoid further civil wars nicely.  And despite all hatred towards Jehangir, Shah Jahna still gave funds to build Jehangir tomb in Lahore. So despite Nur Jahan trying to create fissures in father son relationship, the relationship never was destroyed completely.

But it definetly caused great heartburn to Jehangir who faced rebellion of Khusrau and then Khurram, a replay of his own rebellion against his father Akbar. But that rebellion of Salim against Akbar did not have any volience except the killing of Abul Fazl the friend and biographer of Akbar. Unlike Khusrau and Khurrams rebellion, the Salim rebellion did not have the blood shed, the civil wars, the split in court along father and son camps etc. It was an ameture rebellion in Salim that ended in a whimper.

Jehangir The pet lover

Jehangir with pets

jehangir with his pet lion

jehangir with his pet lion

jehangir with pet falcon

jehangir with pet falcon

Prince Salim or Emperor Jehangir as he is known had varied interests. He was the few scientist emperors in India who loved to conduct experiments on soli, in animal and human behaviors. Apart from his experiments and love for wine and opium his other love was animals.

He was a animal lover and his pets always got special treatments like his elephants were allowed to use his swimming pool filled with warm waters in winter when he saw them shiver during bathe in Yamuna’s cold water, he even built palace for his elephants called haathi mahal(although it no longer exists), he built a hiran minar for his pet Manas Raj near Lahore. Indeed Salim aka Jehangir had the biggest collection of pet lions with him and quiet a few ambassdors to his court have mentioned them strolling around in his palace.

Indeed once when Prince Salim pet deer strayed into enemy camp during war and none of his soldiers or gaurds dared go into enemy camp and get it back he did the honors himself and went right into the enemy camp and got back his pet deer. He was just a kid then hence may be unaware of dangers of getting caught by enemy in their camp. So he was a typical animal lover who would go to extremes to keep his pets happy. Indeed Jehangir was so fond of his pet deer Manas Raj that local legends say that he loved Manas like an own brother and hence built him that magnificent tomb(That rivals the Taj Mahal)

Jehangir loved hunting too. What a contrasting personality.

Father-son stages of life an analysis- Akbar and Salim

Jehangir had a bell of justice which could be rung by anyone and they could speak to him in Diwan-e-am. Jehangir got all sort of interesting people ringing that bell. One day it was jehangir’s birthday.

Once a beggar came to Jehagir hall of audience with tattered clothes and rang bell of justice as he wanted to give jehangir gift on his birthday. Jehangir called him inside and the beggar sat by the emperor’s throne and gifted him a small piece of roti he had as gift which jehangir took and ate much to disgust of his nobles etc.

FOR A COUPLE OF hundred years now, each generation of fathers has passed on less and less to his sons–not just less power but less wisdom. And less love. We finally reached a point where many fathers were largely irrelevant in the lives of their sons. The baby was thrown out with the bathwater, and the pater dismissed with the patriarchy. Everyone seemed to be floundering around not knowing what to do with men or with their problematic and disoriented masculinity.

I do not know of power but less wisdom and love is true. Parents especially fathers are so scared to give independence to sons that leads to lots of conflicts. Fathers are scared that their sons may become more powerful than them and want to hold on to that power in a family etc till the last. Love and time are things that keep reducing with each generation not only by a father but by mother and even siblings, that is how friends become more of a family in times of need and sometimes these friends misguide us for their benefits. This happened with salim who was more close to friends and they always misguide him ex for bhagawat etc

The struggles between fathers and sons are legendary. In the minds of some fathers, a son holds such promise, offering them an opportunity to relive an “improved” version of their own childhood. Conversely, in the minds of some sons, being fathered means carrying the weight of responsibility to satisfy a fathers dream and destinations. This makes for quite a combustible mixture; especially as the autonomy of middle and late adolescence kicks in, leaving dreams and destinations in the dust.

From all means its clear Akbar wanted Salim to be a great warrior like him and hence sent him in childhood to war. Whether this was appreciated by Salim or not we will not know but the fact that Salim hardly went to any war after he became emperor except known enemies of past means he was done and over with wars. When he was 40 years he already had 33 years experience in war field and he commanded an independent army at age 12 years. That is too many years of experience for a person of 40 years in war field. There is something known as fatigue or burnout that occurs in any person if pursuing a profession for long and Salim was definetly burnt out by 40 years.

As children, sons idolize their dads and think they can do anything. This identification is most often demonstrated by a son’s imitation of his father’s behavior by walking like him, talking like him or wearing his clothes or shoes. At this age, a son wants so much to please his father and receive his approval and acceptance.

This was the initial period where Salim as a kid was in awe and also scared of Akbar. The trying to please daddy could be seen in his struggles to learn archery and sword fighting. But this phase was cut short at age of 7 when he was sent to war field.

As teens, sons experience a period of discord in which conflict is the central theme they share. They often reject the expectations, values and directions their fathers have embraced and take on more non-traditional philosophies, placing them regularly at odds with one other. The teen may resent or even fear his father depending on the intensity of their differences, at times, carrying over into the son’s early twenties.

This is the phase Salim is in from 19 till 22. His values are different, his views of world is different, his parents may have problems with him going to watch a dance or have friendship with anarkali a courtesean but Salim does not think he is wrong.  Typical teenage years where you are out to change the world, bring new system, values and culture. This exists even today in 21st century where parents may not like us playing with a maids kid, or with slum kids on street, or a car drivers child becoming friends with us in school etc(RTE act where posh schools do not want to allow poor kids in schools because rich parents do not want lower strata kids to mingle with their kids). Salim is always in odds with Akbar as their thinking their values their way of living etc differ. Salim never had qualms about loving a courtesean Anarkali or a widow Nur Jahan. Akbar too married a widow, divorcee and a commoner girls but as parent he would never accept his son doing the same.

As young adults, the father-son relationship enters into a period of evolving. Distance may still exist emotionally and they may even ignore each other. The conscious attempts at being different than one’s father so characteristic in the discord stage begin to appear more like competition. Competition with another can be viewed as one of the most indirect but highest forms of flattery that exists. Mark Twain once said, ” When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”

Salim shall enter this phase at age of 24-25 years and this lasts till 34 years of age. Salim was never interested in a war with Mewar and Pratap though on his fathers orders he definetly waged war against them. Actually Salim spent almost all his teenage and adult life in war against Pratap only on orders of Akbar. Its said on his death bed Akbar took promise from Salim that he shall defeat Mewar. Hence Salim finally sent Khurram to wage war against Mewar.  But there again when he got info that Khurram was torturing innocent citizens of mewar he ordered him to release them. In history too once Amar Singh was defeated Jehangir returned all his land and treated him with respect even hugging him in ajmer while meeting him and teaching Karan hunting etc. Also when he came to know Shakti Singh helped Pratap in battle of haldighatti to escape by killing 4 Mughal afghan soldiers he forgives Shakti singh and tells him to go back to Pratap despite entire Mughal court baying for Shakti singh blood. See that conscious effort to be different from his father. Salim was a good warrior but never modelled himself as a great conqueror.

As adults in their 30’s and 40’s, sons begin to move into the stage of acceptance toward their fathers. They have begun to forgive, recognize strengths and even admire the qualities that once seemed so out of step with their previous “know it all” manner of thinking. They begin to accept each other’s differences. Fathers and sons often become friends during this time, share common interests and express opinions without heated exchanges. The son may even experience challenges as a father with his own son. Charles Wadsworth once said, ” By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.”

Well well Salim never reached this stage to appreciate his father when alive(may be in last year of Akbars life). But in jehangirnama once while having mangoes he feels sad that daddy dearest is not with him to enjoy those anymore. Also that fact that he never bad mouth his dad although he had differences with him when alive in his auto biography shows he had reached that stage of forgiveness and admiration of his fathers ability. (Compare that to a Shah Jahan biography or a Auragnzeb who are so critical of their fathers- they never reached maturity or understanding or had too much hatred filled in their hearts against fathers to realize it- in short they never grew up or they did not have the inner strength to forgive and forget)

In their 50’s, older adult sons become a legacy of their father’s influence for better and worse. Time tempers painful memories and in their place often remains admiration and respect for the difficult job being a father must have been. Older adult sons who have not yet resolved those issues with their elderly or deceased fathers, however, typically see them replayed with their teenage or young adult sons. If elderly fathers are still living, an ironic role reversal occurs with older adult sons beginning to take care of their aging fathers. Perhaps the best revenge is to live long enough to be a problem to your children.

Well Jehangir reached this stage faster in his 30s only because his son Khusrau revolted against him making him realize what a tough thing it is for fathers to handle when son revolts. That is when he finally reconciled with Akbar and went back to him. He finally realized what his father felt at his revolt.

Jahangir Wife List

The list of Jehangir’s 26 wives.

Rajkumari Man Bai – daughter of Bhagwan Das – mother of Khusrau and Sultan al nissa   Feb 13th 1585. She was given title Shah Begum(kings wife). She gave birth to Jehangir’s eldest daughter Sultan al Nisa Banu and son Khusrau Mirza

Rajkumari Ratan Bai   daughter of Dhameri raja Basu on 28th May 1586. The dowry was 2.5 lakh silver coins

Rajkumari Jodha Bai (later named Jagat Gosain after accepting diksha in Jainism with Jehangir) daughter of Mota Raja  Udai Singh of Marwar and mother of Khurram aka Shah Jahan 1586 on 11th January 1586

A Daughter of Bikaner Raja Rai Singh on 7th July 1586

Malika Shikar Begum daughter of Sultan Abu Khan Jagatai, Sultan of Kashghar in July 1586

Sahib Jamal daughter of Khwaja Hassan  of Herat a cousin of zain Kahn Koka (A favourite of Jehangir and mother of second son Parvez) in 1586. She was a commoner and Akbar was not in favour of this marriage.

Malika e Jahan Begum daughter of Maharaj Bhim Singh of Jaisalmer  – mother of Jahandar in 1587

Daughter of Raja Mal Bhais 1588

Zora Begum daughter of a Mughal nobel Mirza Sanjar Hazara in October 1590

Rajkumari Karmasi daughter of Raja Rao Keshav Rathore of Merta mother of Bahar Bano Begum(Favourite daughter of Jehangir) in 1591

A daughter of Dost Muhammad Khwaja

Rajkumari Kanwal Rani daughter of Ali Sher Khan and wife Gul Khatun on January 11th 1592

A daughter of Rawal Bhim brother of Raja Rai Kalyan Mal of Jaisalmer

Daughter of Syed  Mubbarak Khan of Kashmir in 1593

A daughter of Hussain Chak of Kashmir

Nur Unnisa Begum daughter of  Ibrahim Hussain Mirza by Gulrukh Begum(Daughter of Kamran Mirza, younger brother of Humayun and son of Babar)  and  sister of Muzaffar Hussain in March 1593

Daughter of Kandesh King Raja Faruqi in September 1593

Daughter of Abdullah Khan of Balochistan

Khas Mahal a daughter of Zain Khan Koka Subadar of lahore (A neice of Sahib Jamal) on June 28th 1596

Daughter of Thakur Man Chand

Sahila Banu daughter of Qasim Khan of Mughal lineage 1608. she was Padshah Begum till her death in 1620

Koka Kumari Sahiba a daughter of Jagat Singh of Amer (Man Singh grand daughter and a widow) June 17th 1608. Jehangir gave 80,000 Rs as marriage dowry to her father Jagath Singh. Koka Kumari was a widow. She was grand daughter of Man Singh.

A daughter of Ram Chandra Bundela a Orchha King in 1609

A daughter of Madhukar Deo Bundela Orchha King(chieftain)

 Meherunissa aka Nur Jahan daughter of Itamdaullah  25th May 1611 (widow of Sher Afghan)

Prince Salim: A lost childhood

You know as a kid father and sons are usually a bit aloof, kids especially sons are scared of father more than a daughter can ever be. Hence whatever work they want done they go to mom and grandmom etc and these people convey the message to father. That is what happens even in 21st century too in many house holds. In 16th century I can imagine that sons and fathers had this headmaster- pupil kind of relation mostly.

akbar receiving his 3 sons at fatekpur sikri

akbar receiving his 3 sons at fatekpur sikri

That is where I liked some relation like an Akbar-Salim or Jehangir-Khurram because Akbar and Salim relation till it went from bad to worst after 1596-97 was more of close bonding that father and sons of those times never displayed. Same for a Jehangir and Khurram where a 14 year old kid went and told father he had met a girl in Meena Bazaar Mumtaz whom he liked and wanted to marry. Even after the rebellion phase if you read Jehangir letters to Akbar they look like a child complaining to his father or discussing with his father. Like when Salim wrote a letter to father that the generals do not obey him and hence he is finding it difficult to manage etc. Or when Akbar secretly visited Salim and talked to him about their differences.

And childhood is a very important indeed most important phase of life. From birth till 16 or 18 years if you do not get that love, care and support of parents its tough especially for boy kids. They become rebellious, anti social and what not. Just read the life history of many crminals you find they had very bad childhood, majority had dysfunctional family where father or mother or both were violent or did not show love and care to kids.

Akbar’s logic is he went to war field at 11 years of age and became emperor at 13 years and took care of kingdom alone from 20 years so Salim also should do it. Yes but he must not forget he had great mentors a Bairam Khan who considered him as own son(no matter latter differences), a maham anga to guide him, a mother hamida to care and love him always with him, a Ruqaiah and Salima cousins and childhood friends like adham khan for company and to play and enjoy,  elder sisters like Bakshi to pamper him.

Salim if he goes off to the war field at 7-8 years whom shall he have neither a father like BK. I do not think Rahim and Man Singh ever cared or loved Salim(In real or reel life) like a BK cared for Akbar. BK did not have own kids his son was born at age 55 years so for him his son will be an Akbar only. Anyone who is parents understand very well apna khoon apna hota hai paraya paraya only. Rahim and Man Singh have their own family and kids to care for. Why would they concentrate on Salim like a BK did Akbar?

Further BK was 40 years elder to an Akbar an mature man who had seen life who knew how to handle kids about kid psychology. So although he took Akbar to war field with him as leader, it was BK who fought and managed everything. Further he was childless so he loved Akbar like an own son. Further when Akbar’s parents in exile BK brought him up, took care of him like father a strong bond from childhood. But Salim has no such bonding with Rahim and Man Singh. They are like some distant relatives who stay with him. Till now its only Akbar who has been father figure and done everything to Salim. Suddenly he is sent of with all strangers to a battle field a very bad place for child actually. All that blood and gore and death will shake any child.

Akbar could discuss any issue be it emotional, psychological, admin etc to Bairam Khan but Salim may not be able to do that with Rahim and Man Singh as they are not close. Seconly both Rahim and Mna Singh somehow had major issues with Salim when he turned 25 and above. Now these opinion is not formed in a month or year it takes time to hate a man so much that you want him not to be emperor and make bhagawat. I am sure from a young age only Salim and Rahim/Man Singh despised each other. So even more tough for Salim to go and tell them his personal problems. Without parents, siblings and friends or grandmom to tell or speak it will be a tough life for a sensitive kid like Salim. When finally he shall return home at 18-19 years here is a kid who has been deprived of childhood, family love and care, sibling and friend company, pushed into the most cruel world of war where even adults cannot easily handle.

Salim may look like an adult returning with all battle glories but in reality he was returning back as a 8 year old kid looking for some love and care if not from his family from his friends or anyone. That is where he falls for an anarkali or a nur jahan etc in life again and again strong woman capable of mothering him. No he was not looking for any love of a soulmate(or the physical aspect of marriage else he would marry a 35+ widow) he was looking more for a parental love through his lovers and wives and even his kids like khurram. Salim stayed as a 8 year old frustrated angry kid wanting to take revenge for depriving him of his childhood from whomever he deemed had taken it away be it his father, his fathers advisors the navrathna’s. Salim never grew up he remained the child all life wanting someone to hand hold him, mother him rather parent him and wanting to enjoy childhood pleasures like painting, flowers, gardens, hunting, playing with his pets etc even after he became big and an emperor. This was basically because he was deprived of many of these pleasures as a child.

A case of example is in his 50s Salim was going with his entourage to Lahore and in Delhi market found kids playing. Here is an anecdote by a ambassador to Mughal court on what he witnessed while travelling with emperor. Jehangir was child like by nature(this is what the ambassador states in his letters ) once while travelling to Lahore he saw poor children playing on streets and got down from his elephant and sat on ground with them and played their games with them and then gave them lots of gifts, sweets. He even cried saying “You all are so lucky to have this joy of playing without any worry which i cannot do because of worldly worries. I wish i was as lucky as you kids”. So one can only imagine by this incident noted what Jehangir was deprived of in childhood.

So Akbar’s case cannot be compared to a Salim. Akbar had faced a lot of hardship as captor with his uncles that hardened him not Salim who is brought up by parents lovingly. So both cases are vastly different. So was sending prince to war fields at young ages really spoil them and make them insensitive to the world around and cruel too. History is quiet complex and a mystery but someone has to think of this aspect too of why Mughal princes despised their siblings and were cruel. Is their childhood to be really blamed especially the aspect of sending them to gory battle field as young as 7 years? If anyone goes to battle field before becoming an adult 18 years and above it impacts your behaviours and makes you insensitive and insecure and violent. Because war field is no easy place to be even for adults and kids shall have it more tough.

Salim – Akbar : A complex relation

We all have read how Salim was a child of many prayers and Akbar doted on him. But Salim was so naughty that he was sent to war field at age of 7-8 years to learn discipline. But Salim’s major years were missing in Akbarnama and a few years were spent away from family in exile. Now why was that no book/chronicle mentions it.

Akbar and Jehangir with falcon
Akbar and Jehangir with falcon

But if you go to Bala Qila(fort) in Rajasthan there is a Salim palace and Salim pond where Salim spent his time in exile. He also first went to Afghanistan during exile alone without any family, friends etc royal entourage which is intruging because as prince/crown prince his life is always in danger. During the time in Afghanistan he did not stay at Kabul fort the official residence of Mughals too. The total time period of exile is not correctly known because akbarnama does not mention anything about salim after age of 7-8 till 30s which in itself is intruging because Salim was the unofficial crown prince of mughal empire from birth. So why was Salim exiled is an suspense?

All we know through other sources is since Salim was a naughty child to discipline him he went to war field at a young age as young as 7-8 and in 1591 at age of 22 there was festivity held in Lahore  his return to family from battle fields. Another fact is that while Murad and Daniyal were given important posts and sent to battles etc good assignments Salim did not have many great assignments to his credit after he turned adult. Many people think that was because he was a drunkard addict by 22-23 but even Murad and Daniyal were much more addicted that Salim to drinks and opium but yet given important charges.

Whether it was for a girl like anarkali or not Salim definetly did not have great relationship with Akbar and may be his mother too during teenage/adult life. For that matter Daniyal too had clashes with Akbar over marrying a widow sati girl he had rescued. Again Salim supported Daniyal and his relation with Akbar strained even more. Akbar’s courtiers and Salim’s friends added fuel to fire, Like once Akbar was very unwell and Abul Fazl suggested Salim may have poisoned him using Hakim in front of Salim only(and other courtiers)  while it was a case of ill health(dysentry or something) and Akbar questioned Salim on that matter. Akbar recovered later but the seeds of anger were already sowed in Salim’s mind as he had not poisoned his father. Salim held a grudge on Abul Fazl from that day.

The relationship that went sour between father and son could not be repaired because of the friends and coterie between both till 1604 when finally Salim returned to Agra fort after his grand mother Hamida Bano’s death and his step mother Salima Bano’s reconciliation efforts. Akbar favouring Khusrau to be next emperor further complicated matters. The two-three attempts on Salim’s life while his father was unwell by Khusrau’s supporters when Salim wanted to meet Akbar but was not allowed to also worsened the situation. Salim was warned of these attempts by courtiers or attacks that took place on him that never allowed him access to Akbar’s presence drove rifts between father and son again as Akbar had sent him messages to come to his presence. But Akbar recovered and finally father and son reconciled their differences.

The Hostage Emperor

Mahabat Khan took Jehangir/Shariyar/Dara Sikoh/Aurangzeb hostage in lahore where he was camping but to entire world he showed as if Jehangir is still comanding him. This was in 1626.

But Nur Jahan escaped and joined her daughter ladli and her grand daughter on other side of river. Then Nur Jahan commanded a mughal force to rescue Jehangir/Shariyar etc

The attack failed and hence Nur Jahan surrendered with her daughter/grand daughter to Mahabat Khan

When Shah Jahan heard all this he decided to rescue his father and kids and proceeded to Lahore from deccan. But before he reached Jehangir’s camp Nur Jahan had already rescued him using her brain. Nur Jahan ordered him to return to deccan.

Then she told Jehangir to take Mahabat Khan into confidence and tell him everything Nur Jahan was planning. Jehangir did that and Mahabat Khan started trusting Jehangir. The emperor’s camp shifted to Kabul. There Jehangir tricked the forces and Mahabat Khan forces were seperated from him. The royal body gaurds of Jehangir surrounded and killed/sold many of Mahabat’s Khan forces. Some of his loyalist had already joined Jehangir camp. Mahabat Khan fled to join Shah Jahan.

Nur Jahan may not have given him heir she married him late at 35 past age when women gave birth in those times. So i am sure Jehangir did not marry her for heir/children he just loved her as a childhood friend and love. Secondly although she did not give him heir she and Shah Jahan were defacto rulers on his behalf for decade from 1615 to 1620 when Khurram rebelled. Although Jehangir was emperor Shah Jahan handled warfare and outside affairs and Nur Jahan handled internal matters for a decade on Jehangir behalf.

Why could Jehangir not handle empire on own- he handled but he was not wordly wise and street smart like his son Shah Jahan or manipulative like Nur Jahan to understand others. Also he was unwell by wine addiction liver problem and heart problems and asthama etc so many ailments its great he survived till 58 years. So Shah Jahan and Nur Jahan helped him handle everything after 1615.

Ashrafi Mahal ka kissa- Jahangir Nur Jahan chronicles

Once Jehangir and Nur Jahan visited Mandu. Jehangir loved the place and wanted to explore it. He took Nur Jahan along with him to go around and visit the madrasa, hoshang shah’s makbara and various palaces. Now the madrasa’s were built at a height and they had to climb a lot of stairs to go on top.

Nur Jahan refused to climb up as there were too many stairs to climb. Jehangir then promised her that for each stair she climbed he will give her a gold coin or ashrafi. Nur Jahan climbed a stair and Jehangir gave her one ashrafi, this went on till she climbed all stairs and reached the top. They saw all the places and then climbed down and again Jehangir had to give her a gold coin for each step she climbed down.

When both got down Nur Jahan gave all the gold coins she had got from Jehangir to be distributed to the poor. The locals named the place Ashrafi Mahal after this incident. Jehangir loved Mandu and visited it two-three times. Once he stayed 7 months in mandu unwilling to return to Agra or Lahore palace. Akbar was in his late 40s and Nur Jahan in 40s at the time this happened.

Dara Sikoh poisoned by Aurangzeb- The deadly lunch

darashikoh

darashikoh

Dara Sikoh the elder son of Shah Jahan was a amicable person. He was 15 years old when his mother Mumtaz Mahal died giving birth to her 14th child, a daughter. His father Shah Jahan went into prolonged seclusion for months and did not come out of grief for almost an year. In the meanwhile the responsibility of the empire and family rested on the young shoulders of Dara Sikoh and his elder sister Jahanara Begum who was 17 years old. Although Shah Jahan came out of seclusion after a year he lost all interest in running administration for a few more years and dedicated his time in building Taj Mahal. During this time Dara shouldered many responsibilities of both the court and empire.

Aurangzeb his younger brother was highly ambitious and orthodox and his only aim was becoming the next emperor. Dara Sikoh’s idealogy was liberal and hence he and Aurangzeb’s ideas were always at logger heads with each other. Aurangzeb took a great dislike for his elder brother as he was a favourite with his father Shah Jahan and sister Jahanara.

Dara was 18 years old and Aurangzeb around 15 years, when Dara fell gravely ill after lunch one day. Shah Jahan who had lost his wife 3 years back was scared and upset that Dara fell so gravely ill and requested any Hakim in and around Mughal empire to help cure Dara. But no matter what the Hakim’s tried they just could not cure him. Dara’s food had been poisoned and mixed with tiger hairs uknown to anyone. Dara lost all appetite and whatever he ate and drank he would throw up and no food intake was possible. It was almost 15 days since that fateful day of poisoning. Astrologers, peers, fakirs even swaiji’s were invited to cure him by the orthodox Shah Jahan but to no avail.

Shah Jahan  discovered that Aurangzeb had administered him tiger whiskers in food and hence Dara was so unwell. Many hakims/pandits gathered and they were of the opinion that till the whiskers were removed from his intestine he would not be able to have any food. He had already weakened a lot without food for 15 days.

All hakims/vaidya were of the opinion that if two ounces of chebulic myrobalan (scientific name: termininalia chebula; known in Ayurvedic medicine as Aralu, credited with having laxative and stomachic properties) and a clove weighing one masha were administered, his health could be restored. Shah Jahan’s men searched for these ingridents everywhere but he could not find it anywhere. Shah Jahan’s PM heard about Guru Hari Das and that he had the necessary medicine.

Now Shah Jahan/Jehangir did not have amicable relation with Sikh guru’s since Guru Arjan Dev’s murder. But Shah Jahan humbled himself and sent a letter to guru begging him to save his son. The ingredients were weighed and it was explained that these medicines would cause the hardest substance taken to be digested. To these ingredients, Guru Ji added a pearl which was to be ground and used as a subsidiary remedy. The Emperor was naturally very pleased and forgot all his enemity with Guru Sahib, and vowed that he would never again cause him annoyance. His medicine was administered and effected a speedy and complete cure. Dara Sikoh visited Guru Hari Das and prostrated himself and thanked the Guru for saving his life. Shah Jahan was angry with Aurangzeb at his audacity of poisoning his elder brother but Jahanara and Dara Sikoh told their father to forgive him. Hence he was forgiven but Aurangzeb the ungrateful was now even more angry and plotted more evilly against Dara Sikoh that eventually led to Daras death.

Emperor Jehangirs Curious experiments

Jehangir can be called the first scientist emperor(and only maybe) of india. He had child like enthusiasm to discover something new and keenly observed nature and animals.

Jehangir’s temperament for discovering new things and new facts was unwatched to any rulers (except his own grandfather Humayun). He was not only interested in experiments but also a naturalist.

Here are some of his curious experiements

1) Jehangir correctly wrote in his autobiograhpy that an Elephant gestation period is 18 months by observing his pet elephants and it was confirmed later in 20th century.

2) Once a deer was thrown into Jehangir’s tiger cage for meal and they became friends. The deer would sleep keeping its head on tigers chest and the tiger licked it like a parent and showered attention. This matter was informed to the emperor who was awe struck and decided to conduct an experiement on animal psychology. Then he got an idea and removed that deer from cage and brought a similar deer(size, age) and put it in cage. The tiger immediately attacked and killed it and ate it. Then a sheep was put inside and it met the same fate. When the other deer was then put in back with the tiger, the tiger treated it with the usual love and affection liking its face and allowing it to sleep by placing its head on his chest.

3) Jehangir even cross bred animals for ex:  Markhur goats with Barbary goats, lion with a tiger etc

4) He like disceting animals and checking what is inside them. His dissection experiments included reptiles, crocodiles, birds, lions, tigers etc. Once he had a lion dissected to check from where it derived its strength and courage and concluded that it was because of its gall bladder enclosed in its liver and another time because of its paws etc

5) Once a person got bitumen from persia because it was reputed to mend broken bones and conducted experiements and concluded the claim was false.

6) He conducted experiments on soil from various locations and concluded that some places like Gujarat had better fertile lands than places like agra.

7) Once a man claimed that laughter arises because people eat saffron and if you eat in large quantities it leads to death. So he got a hardened criinal to eat half a kilo saffron in front of him and that person neither laughed nor died.

8) Once a yogi came and claimed that he can eat any quantity of arrack but be in his senses. So Jehangir made him drink arrack and after a few pints he passed out.

9) For 5 years Jehangir kept two saras cranes with him and observed them and recorded all their behaviour, mating, kids etc in accurate detail that would make any biologist proud.

10) Once a person claimed and cheated people that he can give long life. So Jehangir told him he will tie his hands and legs and push him in Yamuna river from top of fort. If he comes out alive he will give him all his wealth and even his crown. The man got scared and accepted he had lied.

A person once told him that lions/tigers cannot change their true nature and will kill any human if give opportunity. So he brought a few of his pet lions/tigers and made them be in his room for weeks and they never tried to kill him. He had such good camaderie with animals(or knew psychology of animals very well) that sometimes in forest wild deers etc would come and eat out of his hand.

He conducted many more experiements that have been recorded in Mughal chronicles and even Jehangirnama. He was a person who could not be easily convinced to do anything because he demanded proof for everything instead of believing. He would often challenge/question claims of holy man and it would be tough for them to prove him their claims about the things written in scriptures. Hence they labelled him as an aethist. Like Jehangir told the Jesuits that he will convert to Christanity if they threw the cross in fire and it does not burn as they claimed. He was a naturalist who observed nature, animals etc and gave details of flora and fauna of that time.

He was a contradictory person. He loved his pet animals very much and would get upset and mourn for days if he lost them and also build them tombs. His pet lions and tigers he fed with his own hands sometimes. But also he was a prolific hunter.

A son’s last wish-Suleiman Sikoh

In his ambition to seize the throne, Aurangzeb was extremely cruel towards his three brothers. He had his brother Shuja pursued into the jungles of Burma, where Shuja disappeared. Aurangzeb then executed his younger brother Murad. Finally, he turned his attention to his older brother, Dara Shikoh.

Dara Sukoh and son Sulieman

Dara Sukoh and son Sulieman

Dara Shikoh was captured and paraded through the streets of Delhi before being decapitated. The citizens of Delhi were heartbroken at the death of their beloved Crown Prince. Dara Shikoh’s son, Suleiman, went to Srinagar for asylum, but the King of Srinagar, instead of giving him shelter, arrested him and sent him to Aurangzeb, who had proclaimed himself Emperor. Aurangzeb’s name means ‘Ornament of the Throne’.

When Suleiman was brought before Aurangzeb, Aurangzeb felt a momentary sadness that his nephew was in such a miserable state. He asked Suleiman what he wanted. He assured his nephew that if he wanted to leave, he would not be killed.

But Suleiman said, “If you want to fulfil my only desire, then kill me immediately. You have killed my beloved father and my siblings. Now I do not want to remain on this earth anymore.”

Aurangzeb said, “What are you talking about? I shall not kill you. I shall allow you to go your own way.”

Suleiman said, “I do not need that favour from you, uncle. Only one favour I want: kill me here and now.”

This was Suleiman’s oneness with his father and love for his siblings. Aurangzeb’s sadistic nature came to the fore again and he imprisoned his nephew. He was angry a prisoner had the braveness to stand in front of him and speak like that with such braveness.

Each day a powerful dose of opium was administered to Suleiman and his physical condition deteriorated. After a year and five months of this suffereing finally, he was strangled by the prison guards. He was not even given a proper funeral and was buried in traitor’s cemetary in 1662 at age of 27. His wife and baby daughter were also killed sometime back in an unmarked grave. Only one daughter who was very small survived the persecution and was married to Aurangzeb’s youngest son Mohammad Akbar after 10 years.

The cost of saving an emperor child’s life – Freedom of India

Jehangir was the emperor of India when he gave permission to British to trade in india. The rest as they say is history because these britishers not only eliminated the Mughal dynasty from face of earth in 1857 first war of independence but also ruled india for 250 years. But why did Jehangir give permission to British after resisting them for 10 years?

Jehangir’s younger daughter Bahar Bano Begum got very unwell once and no vaidya/hakim etc could cure her. She was obivously the apple of her father’s eyes. Jehangir got very upset and scared and went to many holy places to pray for her to get well and also donated etc but to no avail. Captain Hawkins a British captain and Sir Thomas Roe were good friends with Jehangir. But Jehangir had refused them permission to trade in India under East india company.

Captain Hawkins one day went to visit Jehangir and found him very upset and asked him what matter was? Jehangir told him his daughter was very unwell and none of Hakim/Vaidya in india etc could cure her. Captain Hawkins told him to give permission to an British doctor to check her and Jehangir agreed. The doctor checked on Shezadi Bahar and gave her some English medicines. Within a week Bahar was getting better and within another few weeks she was on her feet.

Jehangir who had given up hope was very grateful to Captain Hawkins and gave him many gifts, gold etc and asked him to ask anything he wants in return for saving his daughter’s life. Captain Hawkins asked him to promise him not to refuse what he asked and jehangir promised.

Captain Hawkins told “I want nothing for myself but i beg your majesty to give permission to my countrymen to trade in your country”. Jehangir never wanted to give permission because already the portugese who had been given permission were troubling indians. But he had given his promise and hence allowed east india company to trade. Little did he know what his promise would lead to in future???

The cost of saving an emperor’s child was the independence of India in future and the death of his family lineage.

Akbar’s letter to Salim

My Dear Omrah,

The words of kings resemble pearls; they are not meant for every ear. So listen as you seek the ‘true north’ in this sea of all-pervasive turmoil. Our grandfather, the defender of the faith who rests in paradise, Jahiruddin Muhammed Babur Mirza, was often a king without a kingdom, but the fire of ambition burning in his heart steeled his will to conquer the lands beyond daria Sind. The cruel showers of adversity made him not cynical, but wise and he wrote, “All ill, all good in the count, is gain if looked at aright.” We, the Sublime Radiance, believe monarchs should be ever intent on conquest. If not, those upon throne of wrath and vengeance will have enemies rising in arms against them. Make your mothers’ milk resplendent by growing the boundaries of your empire.

Akbar, Prince Salim and his sister

Akbar, Prince Salim and his sister

Be magnanimous, but if your magnanimity is taken for weakness, be decisive. A powerful clan of Uzbegs who did not let the ever-vernal flower of union and cordiality bloom was pardoned twice by us. Still, they would not cleanse the fountains of disagreement and the third time, committed the treasonable act of proclaiming Muhammed Hakim, our step-brother, as their king. We had them trampled to death.

Believe in luck but take your chances. While storming the fort of Chittor, on the night of Tuesday, 23rd February, 1568, we saw a regal Rajput supervising repairs. We lifted Sangram, our favourite gun, and shot him down. The unlucky man happened to be General Jai Mal. One lucky shot turned the cold winter of defeat into the spring of victory.

We, the Star of India, made powerful allies, so that wheel of the Mughal Empire could roll on with their help. As antagonists, Rajputs could be angry wasps, as Rana Pratap was, but they could be invaluable as allies. Though racial and religious considerations are important in our times, they are never as important as political considerations.

When the sword of the tongue is drawn, it inflicts deeper cuts than the sharpest blade. The harder the bow is drawn, the more the wood complains. As the rigours of the empire grow, there will be revolts. There were no less than 144 revolts against us. There will be times when those close to your heart will cross swords with you. Do what is needed, but treat them with respect.

When Bairam Khan our mentor, fought with us and was brought in our royal presence after his defeat in battle, we raised him from the ground and embraced him. We made him sit to our right-hand side, as had been the rule when he was prime minister.

The nine Stars who bestow their advice on us are our most precious jewels. In 1589, when Raja Todar Mal submitted a petition asking for permission to resign so that he might go to the banks of Ganga and spend his last breath remembering God, we agreed, but realised our folly. We immediately sent admonitions saying that no worship of God was equal to the soothing of the oppressed, and that it would be better for him to spend his least breath in serving man and to make that the provision for his final journey. It’s another matter that he turned back but died on the way.

All Padshahs need a great Munshi, and we chose Abul Fazl. We put on his shoulders the task of chronicling our reign, and he wrote with a pen perfumed with sincerity the account of the glorious events and of our dominion-increasing victories. And when one of our testicles was lacerated in a deer hunt, the application of the medicine was left to – who else, but the writer of the book of fortune.

Overlook defects if the Farzand is worthy of being in your presence. Raja Todar Mal was our manager of money, possessing a sharp intellect for the ins and outs of political and financial affairs, but we did not like his pride. Would that he had not been spiteful and revengeful so that a little opposition would cause dislike to spring up in his heart. But in spite of these defects, if we look to the nature of men in service, in diligence and skill, he was a man such as is seldom seen. We personally consoled him when his idols were lost while moving camps and when he abandoned sleep and food.

We never reveal ourselves to anyone. Some days we can be honest and candid, but in reality we are close and self contained with twists of words and deeds ever so divergent from the other, and most times so contradictory that even by much seeking one could not find any clue to our thoughts. Even our closest observers know no more about us on the last day than they know on first.

Never let fall from the hand, the reins of self control. We allow no sloth or idleness to find its way to us. We wake up three hours before day break. We eat once a day and leave before we are full.

We are busy with work till late at night. Bring reforms constantly, as new problems arise from new regulations. Two major reforms we carried out were creation of a centralised bureaucracy and a standard of military grading. Though the royal revenues increased, our 2000 mansabdars and their followers consume 82% of our annual budget as their pay. But then, all empires are sustained on a machinery of coercion.

We were illiterate but we had an insatiable thirst for knowledge. We have 24,000 volumes in our library and books are read to us regularly. Some of our distinguished Amirs are distinguished scholars.

For example, Abdul Rahim, the Khan-i-Khanan, is fluent in Persian, Arabic, Turki, Sanskrit, and Hindi. When we first ascended the throne, Omrah numbered 51, all non-Indian muslims. By 1580, their numbers increased to 222, nearly half-Indian and including 43 Rajputs. Be inclusive. Be firm with the great, kind to those of low estate, just to all men, high and low, neighbour or stranger, so that every man believes the king is on his side. We were sent into the world by providence to live and labour, not for oneself but for others.

We have set down of good and bad whatever we know, concerning kinsman and stranger: of them all I have set down carefully the known virtues and defects.

May God preserve you at all times!

Emperor of Islam, Emir of the Faithful, Shadow of God on earth, Abul Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar Badshah Ghazi

Facts borrowed heavily from “Emperors of The peacock throne”

This is believed to be collection of a series of letters sent by Akbar to Salim advicing him on how an emperor should be etc life skills from father to son.

Jahangir’s Bell of Justice

 

Jehangir with sons in jaroka

All know about Jehangiri justice and bell

But do you know what each bell strike meant

If bell struck once – Means the person who rung bell had a fight with someone which he should have won but did not so he want justice

If Bell struck twice – Means someone not getting proper wages for his work and want redressal

If Bell struck thrice — Means someone had been robbed

If bell struck four times — Means murder had taken place (which was rare)

If bell struck five times — Means other issues

So soldiers would observe the number of times the bell struck and take to the appointed judge or if its in palace to the emperor

When Jehangir was emperor once he recieved complaints(many) that mughal soldiers were abducting defeated kingdoms women/girls. An old lady came and complained to him that her granddaughter was abducted by one of his commanders. Jehangir arranged a parade of all army men who were involved in that war and the old lady identified the commander. Jehangir returned back the girl to her grand mother and gave them compensation. He realized that despite his saying the army will continue misbehaving with defeated kingdom citizens. So he punished the army commander with a cruel death publicly. This ensured that in future the mughal army think twice before trying to misbehave with defeated kingdom citizens or abducting girls and women after winning war/rebellion

Emperor Jahangir – an enigma

Jehangir built a tomb for Anarkali in Lahore after his father’s death.

Anarkali (Pomogranate Blossom) was the title given to Nadira Begum or Sharf-un-Nisa, one of the favourites of the harem of Emperor Akbar. According to legend (though it is not corroborated by any comtemporary sources, including the autobiography of Jahangir), one day, while the Emperor was seated in an apartment lined with mirrors, he saw the reflection of young Anarkali in the mirror returning the smile of Prince Salim (who later became the Emperor Jahangir). Suspecting that Anarkali was having an affair with his son, he ordered that she be buried alive. She was placed in an upright position at the selected place and walled in with bricks. Prince Salim felt intense remorse at her death and had a monument raised over her sepulcher once he became Emperor. A couplet by Jahangir written on the grave in Persian reads, “If I could behold my beloved only once, I would remain thankful to Allah till doomsday”.
The following inscription is found on the northern face of the sarcophagus:
“majnn Salim Akbar” which can be taken to mean “the one profoundly loved by Salim, son of Akbar”

Abdullah Chagatai, a 18th century historian and architect, has given a very different version. He opines that the tomb, basically built in the centre of a pomegranate garden, contains the grave of Jahangir’s wife Saheb Jamal who was very dear to him.

Jehangir

Jehangir

Jehangir loved his elephant’s so much that in winter he ordered lakes to be filled with hot water to warm it so that they would not shiver in cold

Jehangi only gave Nur Jahan the padshah begum title after Salima, Ruqaiah and Hira Kunwari his three mothers died. Till they were alive they were the Padshah Begum of the empire.

Jehangir was a scientist emperor– he carried out so many experiements and recorded them. Example- he was first person in world to correctly note gestation period of elephants, he conducted experiments to prove the soil in ferile lands of Gujarat and some other places was better than Agra’s, he was a sky gazer and observed stars on telescope and noted few facts about stars, movements correctly in his book before the modern day scientists discovered the same in 20th century

Jehangir was child like by nature once while travelling to Lahore he saw poor children playing on streets and got down from his elephant and sat on ground with them and played their games with them and then gave them lots of gifts, sweets. He even cried saying “You all are so lucky to have this joy of playing without any worry which i cannot do because of worldly worries. I wish i was as lucky as you kids”.

Jehangir would get extremely voilent because of his substance abuse from childhood and suddenly emotional when he would be sober for his actions taken in anger.
Ex: In anger he took Khusrau’s eyes and later regretted and caled best of physicians to restore it. It was restored to some extent and he was allowed to attend court again.

Jehangir although thought of as very bad and hard hearted was very mild mannered and easily led by others. Simple things made him cry easily and he was very attached to his family and friends. He forgave Khusrau three times for rebelling and trying to assaisinate him and then only blinded him. But he was ruthless with Khusrau’s followers. He forgave many nobels who supported Khusrau’s rebellion and made them big posts.

Before Nur Jahan became his favourite wife it was Jagat Gosain-Jodha as he referred to who was his favourite wife. She was Khurram’s mother who was his favourite son till he rebelled.

Although it is widely believed that Nur Jahan controlled the court in Jehangir’s absence he refused to imprison or take strict action on Shah Jahan when he surrendered after rebellion.

Once a beggar came to Jehagir hall of audience with tattered clothes and rang bell of justice as he wanted to give jehangir gift on his birthday. Jehangir called him inside and the beggar sat by the emperor’s throne and gifted him a small piece of roti he had as gift which jehangir took and ate much to disgust of his nobles etc. Then when Jehangir was served lunch he shared his plate with that beggar much to astonishment of everyone and both ate from same plate. After lunch and drinks etc the beggar found it difficult to get up and Jehangir ordered him to be left out as he was weak after giving him gifts and gold coins. But none was ready to touch him as he was dirty and smelly so Jehangir helped him and left him out. (As told by French traveller) Then when the ambassdor asked him how he richest man on earth could eat that hard bread that beggar gave as birthday gift and share his plate with him which he never shared even with his wives and kids he told he had learned it by seeing his father Akbar. Because for a rich man giving gift is not so great and they give expecting something in return but a poor sharing the only roti piece left with him is a very big and valuable to that beggar and given without expecting anything in return and hence a treasured gift.

Jehangir’s death: It is said that the immediate cause of his death was provoked by the death of a young servant on his summer trip to Kashmir. This young servant was trying to gather game for the king when he went a bit too far over the cliff and fell off. Jehangir, who could watch the most inhuman tortures performed on his enemies without as much as blinking his eye, could not suffer to see a faithful servant meet his death in his service. He fell into a stupor and never recovered. He died of alcohol excesses and a heart attack in 627 AD.

Salim, Birth of an heir

Prince Salim, later known as Jahangir, was a child of many prayers. Akbar, who had lost all the children of his early youth, ardently desired an heir who should live to inherit his vast empire. He prayed to God, besought the blessings of saints, and went to the mausoleum of Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti at Ajmer from 1562 to 1569 and waited on other well-known saints of that time.
Prince Salim as baby

Prince Salim as baby

Mariam-uz-Zamani, gave birth on 30th August, 1569, to a child who was named Nuruddin Salim. The mother of Salim, Mariam-uz-Zamani, was the Jaipur princess and is also known as Harkha Bai and Rukmawati Bai.The emperor Akbar fulfilled his vow of making his journey on foot to Ajmer and paying his homage to the shrine of Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti
Akbar had vowed that if he should be blessed with a son, he would walk to the shrine of the founder of the Chishti order, Shaikh Mu’in ad-Din Chishti, at Ajmer to offer his prayers. He left Agra in January 1570, and swiftly covered the 370 or so kilometers. From that year until 1579 he made annual pilgrimages to the city of Ajmer.

Dara Sukoh and Aurangzeb: An elder brother’s love and an younger brother’s hatred

Aurangzeb during and after winning the war of succession always referred to his elder brother as an enemy even in his letters to Shah Jahan and Jahanara(archives are available in museum).

But what did Dara Sukoh feel for his younger brother? Was it hatred or love towards an younger sibbling? Here are a few instances of his love for an younger brother who treated him like an enemy from childhood with hatred and mistrust.

Emperor_Shah_Jahan with dara sukoh shah shuja and aurangzeb

Emperor_Shah_Jahan with dara sukoh shah shuja and aurangzeb

Once Dara Sukoh built a palace on the banks of Yamuna river and invited all his siblings to show them around the new palace. Shah Jahan and all his sons and daughters went to see the newly built palace.  Dara took them to a room in the lower level of the palace and they had dinner and enterainment there. But aurangzeb who was suspicious of his elder brother sat outside the door as if guarding it despite Shah Jahan’s insistence on coming inside and enjoying the ocassion.

But before this Dara actually saved Aurangzeb from severe punishment. When Aurangzeb was 14 years old, he tried to kill Dara Sikoh by poisoning his food with lion hairs. Dara Sikoh fell terribly unwell and he could not eat anything as the lion hairs blocked his intestine. So he could not eat for days and Shah Jahan finally requested the Sikh Guru Hari rai whose medicine ultimately saved Dara. This was a couple of years after Mumtaz Mahal had died. When Shah Jahan discovered that aurangzeb had tried to kill his elder bother he was furious and wanted to punish him. But Dara Sikoh and Jahanara requested Shah Jahan to forgive him.

In the war for succession when Dara Sukoh was fleeing persecution from Aurangzeb he met the the Sikh Guru and told him that he only wanted to free his father, sister and other brothers from persecution by Aurangzeb’s forces and had no desire for the throne.

In the war for succeession on war field Dara Sukoh’s army commander and soldiers were raising “Shah Sujah, Aurangzeb murdabad” slogans and death on them. But Dara Sukoh told them not to do so saying “Let us not wish death to any one.That is base. All of us have God’s breath in us. In any case.We live and have our being With his grace”.

Again on another war for succession his commanders told him that all Rajput army is with him and he shall definitely be the next emperor. So Dara Sukoh commented “My friend if God thinks my younger brother Aurangzeb is more deserving to be an emperor than me and that it will help people of this sultanat, i will be more than happy to see him as the emperor. I have nothing personal against my brother”.

There are many instances when Shah Jahan was angry with Aurangzeb for his follies and had dismissed him from service as Subhedar/Governor but it was Dara Sukoh and Jahanara who always pleaded with him to give Aurangzebb’s responsibilities back.

But auranzeb never realized his folly and always hated Dara Sukoh to such an extent he destroyed all royal records and pictures of his brother and even destroyed a few temples he had donated to build. Aurangzeb took the path of religion and preached hatred agianst his brother because he was the tolerant towards all religions. He had him killed on the same charges

The Famous Jahangiri justice – Jehangir orders his own death

Prince Salim

Prince Salim

Although in later parts of his life Jehangir gave the reigns of his empire to Nur Jahan the initial 7-8 years that he ruled he was known for his fair and just decisions and upholding the rule of law under grave personal loss.

One day a woman came and started ringing the “Bell of justice” vigurously. Jehangir who was conducting “Diwan-e-am” ordered a soldier to see who the person was and get him/her inside. The woman came in front of the emperor wailing and sobbing uncontrollably. Jehangir asked her what had happened? The woman said her husband was killed by a gun shot. Jehangir wondered who could use a gun in agra and asked her the details. The woman said her husband was walking along the Yamuna river near agra fort when a bullet pierced him and he died of its wounds.

Jehangir ordered his minister and soldiers to find out who was using the gun in the agra fort. The minister left to investigate and came back with the queen Nur Jahan with a gun. Nur Jahan admitted that she was shooting piegons when accidentally she shot a man. Jehangir ordered that he will decide tommorow quantum of punishment and till then Nur Jahan should be placed in prison. The entire agra was shocked what decision Jehangir will give his favourite wife the queen.

Next day the Diwan-e-am gathered. Nur Jahan was brought to the court. Jehangir ordered a soldier to get a gun and give it to the woman. Jehangir stepped down from his throne and stood in front of the woman and said “As per mughal law a life for a life is the norm. Since my wife the empress made you a widow as per mughal law you can make her a widow. So take the gun and shoot me.” The woman was shocked beyond wits. The ministers and nobels too were shell shocked. The woman replied “Sir, you are the emperor. How can i shoot you?”. The ministers and nobels also started arguing with him to let go off the decision.

Jehangir was adamant that rule was rule. He told the woman to follow his orders and not be scared of any retribution later. He also ordered that no one can take any action on that woman for the justice he had ordered her to follow later on. Finally the woman said “Your highness, I just wanted justce for my husband’s death as i am all alone and no one to take care of me. I never want the death of my emperor”. Nur Jahan immediately told “I adopt this woman and she shall stay with me in my palace if you permit your highness” The ministers and nobels argued Jehangir to let go off the matter. Jehangir asked the woman if she was fine with staying in agra fort. She readily agreed and forgave Nur Jahan for killing her husband and asked Jehangir to withdraw his earlier order.

Finally Jehangir relented and the people in Diwan e am and those standing outside agra fort felt relieved and returned to their normal routine. Later on Nur Jahan and Jehangir adopted the woman and she became one of their foster daughters.

The Famous Jahangiri justice – Jahangir orders death to his adopted son

Jehangir on his horse Badal

Jehangir on his horse Badal

Jehangir was famous all over the world for his impartial justice which did not care for position of accused wether kin or rich or his own nobels and ministers. Jehangir did not care if the person who had preperated crime was his once favourite person. Even Shah Jahan his favourite son was known to tremble if someone complained against him and Jehangir summoned him to enquiry the lesser said about others. Here is another instance of Jehangir’s insaaf. Seis Alla’s execution remains a monumental step in his fair justice that made him famous as “Adil Padshah”.

Seis Alla was the son of Nur Jahan’s sister and his father was Ibrahim was the Subedhar of Bengal. Nur Jahan who did not have sons from either Sher Afghan or Jehangir her two husbands adopted him and brought him up in court. Jehangir too loved him a lot and treated him like an own son even allowing him to seat on his throne at Durbar as a boy. When he became big he was appointed the Subedar of Burdwan. Seis Alla ruled very well for a few years

One day Seis Alla was travelling on his elephant when for his misfortune his elephant trampled a child to death. His parents were distraught and followed the Subedhar Seis Alla and demanded justice to the driver of his elephant. Seis Alla rejected punishing his elephant driver. But the parents were angry and abused him badly hence Seis Alla was furious and expellede the parents from his Suba Burdwan.

The parents would not give up and travelled long distance from Burdwan to Lahore where Jehangir was residing that year and pulled chain of justice. Jehangir listened to them and wrote a letter to Seis Alla in his own hands to restore the parents of their property and immediately give them justice. He even reimbursed them for the long trip to and fro from Lahore to Burdawan.

The parents presented the letter to Seis Alla. Seis Alla was furious as his pride was hurt and threw both parents in prison. After they were relaesed again the parents travelled to Lahore. Seis Alla got to know of this and wrote letter to his aunty and Asaf Khan her brother to not allow this parents in Jehangir’s presence at any cost. Nur Jahan odrdered the palace gaurds to watch them and not allow them anywhere near emperor in palace or outside. The parents were determined to get justice and stayed back in lahore waiting for an opportunity. After many months one day they got an opportunity.

One day Jehangir decided to swim in river near Lahore fort. A huge crowd had gathered just to watch their emperor in dusk enjoying his swim in the river. The parents somehow jostled in crowd but were stopped by gaurds from going near to hearing distance of emperor. The parents called out to jehangir thrice. Jehangir who was enjoying his swim heard the last call and turned to see who had called him. The soldiers had no option but to allow them near to the shore. Jehangir recalled meeting the parents few years back. The emperor climbed on his boat and told the rower to row towards the shore.

The parents told their harrowing tale to him on the shore. Jehangir immediately ordered Seis Alla to come to Lahore. The parents were allowed to stay in one of Jehangir’s palace till he dispensed justice. Seis Alla had no idea what had happened and arrived after a few weeks and set up camp on opposite side of river at Lahore fort and messaged Jehangir requesting to meet him.

The next early morning Jehangir ordered his elephants to be ready and went to other side of the river with the child’s parents. Seis Alla who was still asleep in his camp as it was yet to be dawn was ordered to be bound by Jehangir. Seis Alla was surprised at this. Jehangir read out the charges against him and gave accounts of witnesses he had procured. Seis Alla agreed to his mistakes and Jehangir told him the law a life for a life. The parents did not want any money they wanted justice.

Seis Alla was but a young man was scared but did not speak anything against the emperor. Jehangir ordered him to lie down in path of the elephant for the punishment and he did so as ordered by his father. The child’s parents were mounted on the royal elephant. Jehangir odered the mahout to tread on Seis Alla and kill him to death. The mahout was scared of Nur Jahan’s wrath and every time allowed the elephant to step over Seis Alla. After a few times Jehangir was furious and threatened the driver to carry out his orders fast. Finally the mahout guided the elephant to tread over Seis Alla the adopted son of Jehangir and Nur Jahan. Seis Alla breathed his last.

Jehangir was numb with grief as he saw his foster son die in front of his eyes and went away in silence. He ordered state mourning for a month and ordered a grand masoulem and held a funeral procession worthy of a emperor’s son for Seis Alla.

Jehangir told in court “I loved him but justice like necessity should blind monarch. A monarch has no relation when he dispenses justice”.

Jehangir loved Seis Alla like his own son and brought him up lovingly just the way Akbar brought up Bairam Khan’s son Abdul Rahim Khan-e-khana

The famous Jahangiri justice – Equality before law

jahangir-weighing-son-khurram in gold

Jehangir weighing Khurram in Gold

In olden times if someone gave correct justice without bias it was phrased as Jehangiri justice. How did this phrase actually arrive? Below is the story.

Jehangir was known to be a justice lover and did not differentiate between family and commoners in giving same justice. Here is another of his famous Jehangiri justice meted to his son Khusrau

One day Jahangir received a serious complaint against his eldest son Khusrau. Khusrau had very happily and proudly ridden his elephant from the palace to a particular place in the kingdom. Along the way, the prince had seen the wife of a low-class man and he had thrown a piece of betel-nut at her in a very offensive way. When the husband came to know that his wife had been insulted by the prince, he went to Jahangir’s court and lodged a formal complaint.

Jahangir became furious and made enquiries to find out if what the man had said was true. After some investigation, he learned that the story was correct. Jahangir immediately ordered that the low-class man should ride on the prince’s own elephant from the palace to the same place where the prince had gone. Khusrau’s wife(who was Khan e kanha Rahim’s daughter) would stand at the same spot where the man’s wife had been standing. Then, when the low-class man passed by, he would throw a piece of betel-nut at the princess.

“This will be the only adequate compensation,” the Emperor said.

The Emperor’s decision was not at all popular. People asked, “How can the Emperor do this? She is the princess and this man is just a low-class person. They are not at all equal, so how can the punishment be equal? Plus, it will be so humiliating for the princess to endure this insult.” Ministers and nobels tried to change Jehangir’s decision.

Jahangir replied, “No, my son has to learn that he cannot do this kind of thing. My order is my order. You have to execute it. Otherwise, both my son and his wife will be even more severely punished.”

Jehangir ordered the elephant to be brought near Agra fort gate so that justice can be carried out. The low class man was nervous he did not know the emperor will really follow justice to the T. The elephant was brought and Jehangir ordered the man to climb it and proceed to the spot. Everyone proceeded to the gate to view this justice. Jehangir ordered the low class man to climb the prince’s elephant.

The low-class man ran out of the palace, crying, “I do not want them to be humiliated and I do not want them to be punished. I forgive your son.”

Then Jahangir said, “Since he has forgiven my son, I have nothing to say.” The Emperor turned to his son and told him, “He has forgiven you, my son. That is the only reason why I am forgiving you

It was common knowledge at agra that if the golden bells of agra fort were rung any day the nobels and ministers would shiver and get nervous that someone had come to complain and whether they were the accused.

The Famous Jahangiri Justice – Horse demands Justice from emperor Jahangir

Emperor Jehangir on horse and pet falcon

Emperor Jehangir on horse and pet falcon

Here is a famous story of Jehangir dispensing justice from his “Chain of Justice”

Mughal Emperor Jahangir, who was fond of dispensing justice to his subjects, ordered a huge bell to be hung up in his palace. The emperor appointed Qazis, the ablest of his judges in all cities of his empire. He had made it known throughout his kingdom that when anyone needed justice that demanded his personal attention, all they had to do was come up to the bell and pull the rope at any hour of the day in his palace or any other locations. Instantly a judge would make his appearance and hear the matter between the disputing parties. If they felt that justice had not been served to the fullest, they had to ring the bell to summon the emperor at his palace or wherever he had camped at that time.

All went well for a number of days, and there was hardly a complaint that needed to be resolved by the emperor. However, in the course of time the bell rope, which had withstood rain and sunshine for several seasons, got worn out at Delhi market place. One day it broke and bell fell with a loud thud. Someone who saw the bell falling down, brought some dry straw, twisted it into a rope and restored the bell at its place.

Now, it so happened, that the bell was rung violently on a hot afternoon. The citizens of Delhi who had not heard the bell rung for a long time were surprised and immediately made their way to the marketplace. A judge who had his house close to the place too rushed out and made his way through the excited crowd and demanded: “Who has rung the bell?” Everyone pointed his finger at a large, gaunt, half-starved horse, whose bones could be seen clearly through its skin in many places, totally unconcerned to the tumult that he had caused, happily munching at the dry straw hoping to make a meal out of it. He had rung the bell by tugging at the straw.

Who is the owner of this wretched animal?” was the judge’s next question, and an old man standing in the crowd said: ” Sir, it belonged to the Commander-in-Chief of the emperor’s army. He was once a fine horse of the purest Arab steed, which the emperor has personally presented to him for proving his gallantry in the battlefield. The Commander of the emperor’s army would ride on him proudly, but he has now become too old and feeble to be of much use, and his master has turned him out of the house so that he gets his food from wherever he can. He saw the straw that was dangling at the end of the rope, and in trying to eat it the poor horse had rung the bell of justice.

And justice shall he have!” the judge announced. He ordered the commander and the Emperor to be brought to the market place. Jehangir was in Delhi palace at that time. Without much delay the Commander of the Emperor’s army and the Emperor Jahangir arrived at the scene. The judge explained to the emperor the extraordinary situation, which compelled him to seek the presence of his Royal Personage.

The Emperor was full of rage when he heard the complete story. He turned to his Commander and asked him whether the charges that were leveled against him were true? The Commander nodded his head in acknowledgement. At this, the Emperor rebuked him sharply: “Are you not ashamed to allow your faithful servant to get into this condition after years of service. He did you good service while he could, the least you can do is give him shelter in some corner of your stable and provide him enough to eat”, the Emperor thundered. He warned him of stripping him of his rank and military honours, if the orders were not complied with. The commander bowed his head and promised that he would never let the horse wander in the city and would feed him properly.

Thus the old feeble horse got justice

Jahangir – The birthday gift

Jehangir had a bell of justice which could be rung by anyone and they could speak to him in Diwan-e-am. Jehangir got all sort of interesting people ringing that bell. One day it was jehangir’s birthday.

Once a beggar came to Jehagir hall of audience with tattered clothes and rang bell of justice as he wanted to give jehangir gift on his birthday. Jehangir called him inside and the beggar sat by the emperor’s throne and gifted him a small piece of roti he had as gift which jehangir took and ate much to disgust of his nobles etc.

Prince Salim with holy men
Prince Salim with holy men

Then when Jehangir was served lunch he shared his plate with that beggar much to astonishment of everyone and both ate from same plate. After lunch and drinks etc the beggar found it difficult to get up and Jehangir ordered him to be left out as he was weak after giving him gifts and gold coins.

But none was ready to touch him as he was dirty and smelly so Jehangir helped him and left him out. Then when the ambassdor asked him how he richest man on earth could eat that hard bread that beggar gave as birthday gift and share his plate with him which he never shared even with his wives and kids he told he had learned it by seeing his father Akbar.

Because for a rich man giving gift is not so great and they give expecting something in return but a poor sharing the only roti piece left with him is a very big and valuable to that beggar and given without expecting anything in return and hence a treasured gift.

Akbar also allowed citizens to come and meet him on his birthday and give him gifts and would accept them however small they are with respect.

Prince Salim and battle of haldighatti

Jehangir-Prince Salim was sent with Man Singh in Battle of haldighatti with mughal forces. Salim was 7 years old then( July 1576). Now during battle Salim was on an war elephant. His elephant was attacked and his mahouth killed by a lance thrown by Maharana Pratap. His howdah fell and he was in great danger when Mughals rescued him. Since the battle was fierce he was taken out of battle field and stayed there with a few body gaurds on a horse.

Prince Salim

Prince Salim

Now we all know what happened in war Maharana Pratap left war field followed by 2 Afghan soldiers and Shakti Singh saved him by killing them and giving his horse to Pratap to escape. Some person raised a doubt on Shakti Singh reaching the spot where Chetak died before anyone else and about the two afghans being killed at a later time. Shakti Singh denied helping Maharana Pratap.

Salim told him that if he told truth he shall not do anything to him. Shakti Singh broke down and confessed  that he could not see his own brother in danger and dying before his eyes. Salim who was but a child and who himself was very close to his brothers Murad and Daniyal felt his view was justified that no brother can watch his own blood in danger and not react as Shakti Singh did. Hence despite grave opposition to punish the traitor, Salim told Shakti Singh to leave Mughal court immediately and go away to his brother and family. Shakti Singh left and joined his brother but on way captured a fort under mughals.

Note: Akbar’s wife Rukmavati Bhaisa was from Marwar and her elder sister Phool Kunwari was the wife of Maharana Pratap. Akbar was furious on Salim for letting off Shakti Singh and refused to meet Man Singh for months for letting Maharana Pratap off in that battle.

Source: James Tod, Annals and Antiques of Rajasthan

Salim-Anarkali myth or reality?

Prince Salim

Prince Salim mughal portrait

Salim-Anarkali myth or reality?

I came upon a recent article of Salim-Anarkali as the top 10 love stories in this world ever included with likes of Cleopatra-Anthony etc

Here are some interesting facts on Salim-Anarkali love story

As per William Finch  a British traveller Anarkali was Akbar’s concubine too, and the mother of 27-year-old Danial (Salim’s youngest brother)  who visited Lahore in 1608, three years after Prince Salim ascended the throne as Emperor Jahangir. “The King (Jahangir), in token of his love, commands a sumptuous tomb to be built of stone in the midst of a four-square garden richly walled, with a gate and diverse rooms over it,” wrote William Finch. His travelogue survived, along with accounts by fellow travellers and later historians. So did the tomb itself.

Finch probably didn’t make up the story by himself, because the basic incident is corroborated by other sources, too. However, he almost certainly messed up some details, because there are two discrepancies in his account. Firstly, Akbar was not in Lahore in 1599, the year when Anarkali is supposed to have been executed. Secondly, the court historian had already recorded several years ago that Danial’s mother had died a natural death. So definetly Anarkali was not Danyial’s mother or Salim’s step mother.

The Akbarnama, the official court history of Akbar, records an incident where Akbar became angry with Salim for some reason and sent a noble to admonish him. Salim, however, complained that the noble spoke too harshly and Akbar ordered the tongue of the noble to be cut off, disregarding the fact that the unlucky man was acting on the orders of Akbar himself. If such could be the fate of a high-ranking noble caught in crossfire between the king and the prince, then imagine a slave girl.

Abul Fazl, Akbar’s courtier historian, reports in Akabrnama that Salim was once caught in Akbar’s harem, and, being mistaken for an intruder, was thrashed by the harem staff, and that Akbar, who came on the scene, was about to strike him with his sword, when the prince was recognised. Abul Fazl evidently does not tell the whole truth. Adult sons of emperors did not live in the harem, so it is very odd that Salim was there at night. And if his presence there was proper, it is incredible that he did not identify himself when set upon by royal gaurds.

Akbar was an insatiable sexual predator in his early youth ” he used to send panders and eunuchs into the harems of nobles to select women for him ” but he became continent in his early thirties and adopted a progressively austere lifestyle. But as his own sexual appetite waned, his sons grew into adulthood. Akbar seemed to resent this. He often treated the princes roughly, as if they were his rivals. It was not possible that the royal gaurds did not recognise Prince Salim as they would have seen him come to the harem, but had orders to punish him for coming into Akbar’s harem.

Edward Terry who visited a few years after William Finch writes that Akbar had threatened to disinherit Jahangir, for his liaison with Anarkali, the emperor’s most beloved wife(cocubbine). But on his death-bed, Akbar repealed it.

Syed Abdul Lateef, in his book Tareekh-i-Lahore (1892), mentions that Anarkali’s actual name was Nadira Begum or Sharf-un-Nisa and she was one of Akbar’s concubines. He suspected illegitimate relations between Prince Saleem and Anarkali and, therefore, ordered that Anarkali be burried alive in a wall, and the tomb was later built there by Jahangir (Saleem) when he succeeded to the throne. A couplet by Jahangir written on the grave in Persian reads, “If I could behold my beloved only once, I would remain thankful to Allah till doomsday”.  This clearly infers a passionate affair between Saleem and Anarkali. Two dates have been mentioned on the grave: 1008 Hijri (1599AD) and 1025 Hijri (1615AD) ” perhaps the date she died and the date of the completion of the tomb.

Noted art-historian R. Nath argues that there is no wife of Jahangir on record bearing the name or title of Anarkali to whom the emperor could have built a tomb and dedicated a couplet with a suffix Majnun. He considers it absolutely improbable that the grand Mughal emperor would address his married wife as yar’ designate himself as majnun’ and aspires to see her face once again. He reasons that she was not his married wife but only his beloved, to whom he would take the liberty to be romantic and a little poetic too, and it appears to be a case of an unsuccessful romance of a disappointed lover.

He writes anarkalis real name was nadira begum or sharif un nisa begum. she was a excessively beautiful slave girl in the personal service of akbar, who had great liking for her and conferred the title anarkali upon her.one day while seated in an apartment lined with mirrors, he noticed the youthful anarkali returning prince salim(who was just passing by the hall) a smile. akbar knew the character of his sensuous son more than anybody else, and he was outraged by the suspicion of an affair between the crown prince and his own slave girl.He was so infuriated that he that he ordred her to be ‘built’ alive into a wall. salim could not save her from this cruel end, but after his accesion to the throne , he commisioned at lahore a tomb in her memory.

the persian couplet which he had inscribed on her marble tombstone reads,

ah! if i could behold the face of my beloved(yar) once more, i would give thanks unto my god, until thr day of resurrection.- by majnoon salim akbar

“The innocent who is murdered mercilessly and who dies after enduring much pain, is a martyr. God considers him/her a martyr”.

this is an expression of passionate love and this testifies that he had really fallen in love with anarkali.

the romance was going on for quite some time.she innocently reciprocated, little knowing the subtle threads of mughal polity which bound these human beings called mughal emporers, and the unfortunate lady paid the price by her life.Salim is sent into exile. What eats away at him is not a sense of loss for his unfulfilled love, but remorse for sending Anarkali to her death.

Anarkali Tomb at Lahore?

Anarkali tomb not only is it a “most ingeniously planned octagonal building”, it is a memorial to the love-legend centering around prince Salim (later emperor Jahangir), and Anarkali (pomegranate blossom) who belonged to the harem of emperor Akbar, Salim’s father. Although Mughal sources are silent about Anarkali, European contemporary travelers such as William Finch related the popular gossip rife at the time, mentioning her as Akbar’s “most beloved”Latif, quoting popular legend, says that Sharf-un-Nisa or Nadira Begam, with the title of Anarkali, was found giving a return smile to the prince by the emperor in the mirrors of his palace. Suspecting an intrigue or worse, Akbar ordered Anarkali to be interred alive. Accordingly, she was placed in an upright position and buried alive in a masonry wall, brick by brick. The prince, who must have been devastated, on succeeding the throne in 1605, “had an immense superstructure raised over her sepulcher” 16 years after her death.

In 1940 the grave was found intact in its original position, five feet below the present floor. From accounts of its discovery, the grave is apparently of plastered brick-work, inscribed on the top and sides with the ninety-nine attributes of God and below with a Persian couplet. The Persian couplet inscribed on the sarcophagus has been translated by Latif into English. “Ah! could I behold the face of my beloved once more, I would give thanks unto my God until the day of resurrection,” and is signed “Majnoon Salim Akbar” or “The profoundly enamoured Salim, son of Akbar” and expresses Jahangir’s intense passion for the beautiful Anarkali. No doubt the two inscribed dates 1008 [1599] and 1024 [1615] refer to the date of Anarkali’s death and the completion of the sepulcher respectively. But some historians believe that tomb was built for Sahib Jamal, Salim’s favourite wife and his son Parvez mother.

There may be some truth behind the legend of Salim-Anarkali but the Mughal chronicles have not mentioned it except some hints like Salim being beaten by royal gaurds and Akbar sending someone to admonish him etc. But there are some intrigues Salim is almost totally absent from Akbarnama for a long duration and Salim had visited Afghanistan as a youth(not official visit) without his family accompanying him which in itself is a big intrigue.

It is said that an heartbroken Salim rebelled against his father finally in 1599. Taking over the crown was not the only intention of Salim when he waged war against his father. He had wanted to fight against what he considered the destruction of his tender love by his authoritative parents. He had faced similar resistance to his love for Sahib Jamal his wife who was not of royal paternage in younger times. Salim was a romantic at heart and his and anarkali’s love story is a legend that will stand test of times as one of the greatest love stories of this world.

Dara Sukoh and Aurangzeb – Sibling Rivalry that destroyed the Mughal Empire

I was just reading a book titled “The Mughal empire” about the rivalry for the throne of Agra between Shah Jahan’s son’s Dara Sukoh(fighting to defend his father’s position as emperor) and the main contender Aurangzeb. The Mughals prince’s(sons) always had to fight between themselves for a throne right from the days of Humayun. The most capable prince who won would either banish his other brothers and family who did not die in succession war on Pilgimage to holy place(like Humayun did to his step-brother Askari), blind and keep them imprisoned(Jehangir did this to his eldest son Khusrau but later repented and released him and allowed him to come to court) or just killed them(Shah Jahan did this to his brother Khusrau whose custody he sought forcefully from Jehangir to end his rebellion and killed his two other brothers Parviz, Shariyar and kids too and Auragnzeb did to his brothers Dara Sukoh the crown prince, Murad and Shah Sujah). This set me thinking that the love of titles, power, property and money is so powerful that a human can easily put his aged father in prison till death or kill his siblings and their family without impunity or any consideration. Indeed Auragzeb hated his elder brother Dara Sukoh so much he had his head sent in a plate covered dish to Shah Jahan whom he belived loved his elder brother the most. What a sadistic scene that must have been for an 66 year old father to see his beloved son’s head in  a plate dish presented as a gift from Aurangzeb? Apparently Shah Jahan commented “Its good to see the upsurer has not forgotten his father” before opening the gift and fainting from shock.

Dara sukoh with mystics

Dara sukoh with mystics

But is this phenomenon changed in current times. Yes sibling rivarly may not be so intense because the prize of victory is not being the richest person in world(like for Mughal princes). But still intense sibling rivarly and hatred can be seen where more than one child is available to inherit the wealth, power, position of their ancestors. These are very commonly played out especially in families that are connected to politics and business and rich families. Previously a country’s throne held the lure of the future heirs but currently the lure for power(in politics and business) and wealth(in rich) takes the coveted position. Previously the race was usually limited to sons but now as the society is progressing even daughters/daughter-in-laws are involved in these succession race but are not as voilent as sons.

I was just wondering what is it that makes a human kill/humiliate an own sibling more brutally than they would do any of their worst enemies. How easily a brother forgets this is his own brother with whom he shared a bed in childhood, played with, shared his toys and clothes, shared their inner most secrets which they would never share with their parents and best friends too, helped in studies, saved each other from parents punishments by defending or hidding faults? Yet as soon as they become big and see an opportunity where if all inherit their share will reduce or if only one can inherit the same siblings will not hesitate even once to backstab or destroy or kill and snatch the power, position and wealth.

Many may argue the siblings already disliked each other or did not like each other in childhood hence it is not surprising that they will not hesitate to harm their brother/sisters once they are big and see them as competitors for life resources. Yes, i agree that if in childhood your parents do not give much attention and allow hatred and dislike to brew between siblings for small reasons the same hatred may continue in adulthood. But these are very rare cases.

Take the case of Dara Sukoh and Auragzeb. They were less than 5 years old when their father Prince Shah Jahan rebelled against his father Jehangir because he felt his step mother Nur Jahan was out to harm his claim to the throne.  Those were tough times when an all powerful Mughal army which consisted at one time more than 10 lakh soldiers was chasing the small boy’s family across the entire Indian subcontinent. There must have been days when they slept empty stomach, under open skies, without proper clothes to shelter them from cold. There must have been days when they felt they will be captured and killed any moment by their grandfather’s army. They both were taken as hostages to Jehangir’s court when they were very small 10 and 7 years old. This must have made their sibling bond stronger having faced so many trails and tribulations but it did not. They say that Aurangzeb was angry that his elder brother Dara was most loved by his father. But is that reason enough to justify Dara’s killing.

Everyone knows that all our parents have a favourite son/daughter whose place other siblings cannot take. This bond is formed at an young age especially during times of crisis. I am sure during his rebellion Shah Jahan must have spoken to his elder daughter(Jahnaara) and son(Dara Sukoh) about his rebellion and the tough times which lasted 4 years. Aurangzeb and his other siblings must have been too small to understand the gravity of the situation and hence been sheilded by their parents and elder siblings from grim details of the revolt. Even when Shah Jahan was grieving after becoming the emperor for his wife Mumtaz Mahal and could not take up his duties it was Jahanara who handled the palace duties and Dara Sukoh who handled court and rebellions in kingdom. It is but obivious a parent will love/spend more time a child who will help them in their duties. But is that not what every parent does whether in 15th century or the 21st century. That does not mean a child keeps grudge on the parent and sibling and use that as a reason to harm/kill that sibling/parent once it becomes big and has power(originally bestowed by that very parent).

But if a person is ambitious wants materialistic and worldly riches and power and he succeeds there is nothing stopping him from twisting events, facts and history even against his own family and siblings. And this fact is true not only for a royal prince but for a commoon man too. And remember no one hates and fights with as much hatred as a family member because they know all your faults, your weakness, your strength and use them effectively against you.

The famous Jehangir Justice – An old woman demands justice

Emperor Jahangir

Emperor Jahangir

Jehangir was particular about justice being delivered in his empire. This incident occurred when the Emperor was still a prince in 1590s. In those times the army which won looted the defeated kingdom and killed or captured its citizens. The women especially were in biggest trouble as they were abducted and used as slaves by the winning army. The Emperor(Prince Salim then) had told his army to not abduct or misbehave with any defeated kingdom citizens especially women. But he got constant complaints that his soldiers were abducting women and girls after the kingdoms defeat. But no defeated kingdoms citizen dared to come and give an official complaint. Once the emperor was out on tour in his province(where he was governor). An old lady landed in his travelling cantonment and demanded to meet the Prince. The soldiers refused her audience with the Prince Salim on some pertex. Luckily for the old lady the Prince was returning from a sight seeing expedition just at that time. The old lady went to the Prince and started crying. The mughal army had defeated a Rajputhana kingdom few months back. The mughal army raided the city and abducted many young girls, this old lady’s grand daughter was one of them. The old lady begged the Prince to return her grand daughter to her as she had no one but her as family.

Jehangir took a parade of all army man who participated in the war. The old woman was called to the parade and told to identify the person who abducted her grand daughter. The old woman identified a commander as the man who had abducted her grad daughter. His house was searched and the girl was found in his house and reunited with the old woman. Jehangir realized despite his several warnings his soldiers and commanders are not listening to his orders to not abduct or touch defeated kingdoms woman and girls. Hence to set an exemplary punishment he had the commander flayed alive to death in public. That ensured that mughal soldiers under him did not misbehave or abduct girls of opposing kingdoms after a war. He also compensated the old woman and the girl.