Akbar Salim: The midnight visit

Akbar and Jehangir with falcon

The Year was 1604. Akbar had started falling frequently unwell by old age issues. Salim was back at agra fort for good after his revolt against Akbar since 1599. Man Bai’s suicide on 16th May 1604 had shaken Salim to the core. Man Bai was his first wife and cousin. She played an important role in handling Salim’s household in his absence during wars and revolt. She was same age as Salim and committed suicide by taking heavy dose opium in 1604.  She was given title “Shah Begum” meaning “Kings wife” by Salim after birth of Khusrau.

One day Akbar fell very unwell and wanted to speak to Salim urgently. He sent a message to Salim to meet him. Salim was in his palace with his wives and set out to meet Akbar in a boat in Yamuna river. As he was approaching shore a rain of arrows descended on his boat. His boatman died and Salim had to row back his boat back to his palace and could not meet Akbar. This was second attack after returning to agra fort.

Next day Akbar again send him message to come and meet him and he wants to speak to him urgently. This time Salim set out with bodygaurds. Salimreached shore and was about to walk towards agra fort gate leading to Akbar palace when an old courtier came running and told him to go back as if he enters agra fort he will not go back alive. A trap had been set to kill Salim once he enters the fort. Salim again went back to his palace unable to meet Akbar.

Salim was worried now not about his safety but his children and mother’s safety too. Some of his children like Khurram (Shah Jahan), Bahar were still in agra fort harem with their grandparents. Now Salim was always in war or in revolt since his kid days. He hardly stayed a few years with family from age of 9 years. So his kids were more close to grandparents than parents. Most of his kids considered Akbar as father than Salim as he was non absentee father in their life. Same way Ruqaiah and Marium uz Zamani were more like mothers to Salim’s kids than his own wives like Jodha, Kamrasi etc. Since kids were brought up more in Akbars household this was not surprising.

The mughal court was split into three camps, one was Salim camp. Second was Daniyal camp and third camp was Khusrau’s camp. Man Bai had committed suicide because Khusrau who was staying with Akbar started calling Salim “Shah Bhai” instead of his father and threw his contention to the throne. When Man Bai told him to be loyal to Salim in a letter he had refused to do so. Man Bai felt so dishonoured at his refusal that she drank wine mixed with opium and killed herself when Salim had gone hunting. Many powerful nobels sided with Khusrau be it Aziz Koka, Abdul Rahim Khan e Khana, Man Singh, Ali Quli etc. The mughal court was split wide open with all courtiers siding one or other camp.

By now Akbar was getting impatient. He had called Salim to meet him on two consecutive days and Salim had ignored his summons. Akbar was anyway angry on Salim for his revolt and killing of Abul Fazl etc. He had accepted Salim back to agra fort only because his mothers Salima and Ruqaiah etc had requested him. Further Hamida Bano, his mothers death had broken Akbar. But the deep divide between father and son remained. Salim’s enemies lost no time to fuel hatred in Akbars heart saying “Salim had defied Akbars orders on purpose and Salim thinks too much of himself” etc. By third day Akbar was furious on Salim for not visiting him although he had sent messages. By now entire agra knew emperor was unwell, so Salim must have also known it yet did not come to meet Akbar. Akbar sent a last message to Salim to meet him in his palace.

Salim got the third message and was not sure how to go and meet Akbar. Agra fort was filled with enemies lurking around every corner. His own son Khusrau, his cousin Man Singh, his uncle Aziziz Koka were all baying for his blood. Salim’s wives did not want him to go to meet Akbar as they were not sure if he would be safe. So Jodha Bai aka Jagat Gosain decided to go to meet Akbar. Jodha Bai was third wife of Salim and his senior most wife after Man Bai and his second wife death. Jodha Bai was also Khurram aka Shah jahan’s mother. Khurram was given by Akbar to be brought up by Ruqaiah Begum when he was a six day old baby.

Jodha Bai went to agra fort to meet Akbar. Now Jodha Bai had a safe passage into agra fort and Akbars palace unlike Salim. Jodha Bai was related to Bhagwan Das and Man Singh and Khusrau as her aunty (father Udai Singh sister was married to Bhagwan Das). Further by relation Akbar was not only her father in law he was her maternal uncle by marriage to her aunty Rukmavathi. So there was no threat to her life from anyone as all those opposing Salim were her close relatives and would never harm her. Jodha Bai went to Akbars palace and met Akbar and told him of Salim’s predicament to come and meet his father.   

Salim also had enemies in his own house hold. His two servants tried to assassinate him a few days back. Then they tried running to soutrh india to join Daniyal camp but were caught.  When Akbar heard from Jodha Bai the threat Salim faced he realized the true reason Salim never came to meet him all these days. Jodha took a few of Salim’s children with her and left to Salims palace after visiting Akbar. But khurram refused to leave Akbar and go with her to Salim’s palace. Khusrau anyways opposed his father and would not have left to stay with his father. The remaining kids of Salim from various wives Jodha Bai took and left to Salims palace.

A couple of days later, Akbar called his senior wives and told to ensure no one knows that hes left his palace. At midnight Akbar left in boat to visit Salim in his palace. Salim was surprised that his father had come to his palace to meet him at night. Akbar and Salim talked one to one with each other after many years and sorted out their differences and misunderstanding. Akbar left in morning back to his palace. Akbar called Man Singh, Abul Rahim and Aziz Koka and ordered them to allow Salim into agra fort. Thus finally Salim got to visit his family at agra fort and attend mughal court

Khurram- Jodha Bai: The Separation pangs

Jodha Bai
Jodha Bai

Jodha Bai was mother of Khurram aka Shah Jahan the mughal emperor. Jodha Bai was daughter of Mota Raja Udai Singh and Maharani Mangrang Devi of Jodhur royal family also known as Marwar. Prince Salim married Princess Jodha Bai in 1586. Salim was 17 years old and Jodha Bai was 13 years old at time of marriage. Jodha Bai was related both to Salim through her aunt Rukmavathi and mother Hira Kunwari. Maharani Rukmavathi was the last chief wife of Emperor Akbar. She married him in 1581 when he was 39 years old and she was 15 years old. Udai Singh(not to confuse with Kunwar Prataps father) married his youngest sister Rukmavathi to Akbar in 1581. And he married his daughter Jodha Bai to Akbars elder son Salim in 1586.

Both Rukmavathi and Jodha Bai got very high powers in mughal court. Rukmavathi was one of top 10 chief wives of Akbar and had many powers. Same way Jodha Bai was top 3 wives or chief consorts of Salim aka Jehangir. Man Bai and Nur Jahan were other two chief consorts of Salim aka Jehangir. Jodha Bai like Man Bai got seals to issue orders on behalf of her husband Salim or emperor Jehangir. Salim was anyways away from agra or mughal court on wars and as governor in other places so Man Bai and Jodha Bai got all powers to run his family in agra or Lahore court.

Jodha Bai had a tragic personal life. Till 7 years of marriage she never had a child. In 16th century value and respect of wife depended on her giving birth to an heir. When all other Salim’s senior wives had kids from Salim, Jodha Bai could not have a child till 7 years after marriage. One baby was born but died. This frustrated Jodha Bai a lot. She turned to spirituality and prayers. She did a lot of fasts and prayed in many temples to get a baby. Not that Salim actually had any issues with her for not giving him a baby. Actually it made him sympathize with her and get more close to her. Salim had always loved Jodha Bai and proposed marriage to her himself after seeing her at a family function in marwar. So he had no problems if she was childless and did not give him a heir. He still treated her with respect and gave her high position in his harem(house hold). But society was a cruel place not kind hearted towards women who did not have children. The mughal harem was no different place. Only women who gave birth to children especially male prince had respect in mughal harem usually. Exceptions were senior wives like Ruqaiah and Salima who never had kids from Akbar yet had very high position because they were related to Akbar.

Similarly Salim adored Jodha Bai much and gave her many powers and high position in his family. Jodha was not only his wife she was his cousin sister as his mother Hira Kunwari’s grand aunt was married to Jodha’s grandfather and her aunty Rukmavathi was Salim’s step mother(akbars wife). So whether Jodha would have child from Salim or not, she would have power and high position in Salim’s life and house hold. Yet Jodha wanted a child badly. Finally in 1591 she decided that she will undertake same pilgrimage Akbar undertook to have Salim. To walk from Lahore to Ajmer Sharif bare foot. Pince Salim was not really in favour of her undertaking this hazardous walk but he finally bent to her wishes. He too accompanied her on this pilgrimage. Prince Salim was a warrior used to tough life in war fields and on roads. But Jodha had a very secure and shielded life first under her father than her husband Salim. So walking 500 or more kilometres was not an easy task for a princess. Yet Jodha and Salim took this barefoot walk and completed it after almost a month. Jodha prayed for a baby in Ajmer Sharif just like Akbar.

Finally in 1592, she was blessed with a baby boy Khurram. Khurram was born on 5th Jan 1592 to Jodha Bai and Salim. Salim was in war field in Rajputhana at Khurrams birth. When Khurram was born Salim rushed back from war field to meet his new born baby. Now Akbar called a priest from Kashi and asked him to do astrological charts of child. The priest said Khurram will be more famous than grandfather Akbar or father Salim. When Ruqaiah heard this she demanded Khurram to be handed over to her for upbringing. Akbar could not say no to his senior wife and cousin. So at 6 days old Khurram was ordered by Akbar to be handed over to Ruqaiah for upbringing. Ruqaiah was 48 years old and Akbar 50 years old when Khurram was born. Jodha was 19 years old and Salim 23 years old when Khurram was born to them.

When Salim heard this he must have definetly felt bad but did not actually show any opposition. Already his elder son Khusrau from Man Bai was being brought up by Akbars house hold. Now his younger son Khurram was being given to Ruqaiah to be brought up in Akbars household. In a way may be this was a way Akbar was trying to tie up or restrain Salim politically. Anyways in Akbarnama, Abul Fazl has mentioned that “Akbar loved his grandsons(Khusrau and Khurram) more than sons” taking a direct dig at Salim. Further Akbar even gave very high ranks to both Khusrau and Khurram at small age. At 7 years only Khusrau had a mansabdari rivalling his father Prince Salim and his uncles Daniyal and Murad. Whether Salim was flattered by all attention his boys were getting from Akbar or resented it no one will know. But what happened a few years down the line must have hurt Salim as a father a lot. But both Khusrau and Khurram started considering Akbar as father and Salim was just a dummy invisible father in their life. Khusrau went a step further calling Salim as “Shah Bhai” means “Royal brother” rather than father.

Jodha and Salim had a daughter in 1597 but she died in few weeks. This left Jodha pretty much shattered. Although she was a mother she was like a barren woman. Her baby was being brought up away from her household by Ruqaiah. Although they stayed in same fort access to her child was rare and for very less time. Khurram further considered and called Ruqaiah as his mother and Akbar as his father. Salim was anyways away in war field or his revolt and drowned any his sorrows of his kids not considering him as father in wine and in friends company. The fact that Salim revolted against Akbar also did not help Salim’s family or Jodha. Mughal harem must have turned against Salim’s family. But Jodha Bai had no option but stay at mughal fort and see her child growing up calling grandparents as mother and father. Man Bai had similar issues with Khusrau considering Akbar as father and her husband Salim as royal brother. Khusrau too never listened to his mother or father as he had powerful grandfathers blessings.

It was total messed up family and relations in Salim’s household. This family stress and tension ensured many of Salims wives died in their 20s or 30s. Man Bai committed suicide in early 30s. Jodha died in early 40s. Shahib Jamal his second wife and son Parvez mother died in her late 20s too. This must have affected them mentally in some ways. And the fact that the sons born were being raised by Akbars house hold rather than own parents must have added to the frustration of family members. Which father will like his children calling him brother? Which mother will be fine with children treating them as strangers and step grandmother as mother living in same roof? Or the fact that Salims sons were being seen as suitable challengers to throne after Akbars death by Akbar himself must have truly frustrated Salim and his wives too. Because which wife would want her child to become emperor surpassing her husband? Or which mother wants her husband and son to be contender for same throne?  So Man Bai drowned her lonliness at being away from husband and son in addiction. She was heavy drinker and opium user like her husband. Salim himself almost died of overdose drinking at 29 years and than had heart attack at 37 years and than another heart attack in 40s.

Unlike her two cousins Man Bai and Salim who drowned their upsets and wasted themselves in heavy drinking and opium addiction, Jodha took to spirutiality and fasting and prayers to overcome her grief of separation from only child. When Man Bai moved to Allahabad to be with Salim during his revolt in her last months, Jodha stayed back at agra fort. May be because her child Khurram was in agra fort with Ruqaiah or she wanted to take care of Salim’s family. But Jodha never left mughal family and stayed back with them than go to her husband. Meanwhile Man Bai was not helping herself or her husband with her high addictions. Salim may have not loved Man Bai like a Nur Jahan but he was definetly concerned about her. Salim himself mentions that Man Bai had mental illness and her family too agreed on that fact. Anyways staying in royal family that too a mughal family filled with so much treachery and two faced people may have frustrated Man Bai. Man Bai would have her bout of depression and meltdowns where she would not spare even Salim of her angry outbursts. Abul Fazl himself has mentioned in Akbarnama that Man Bai would get agitated for simple things in mughal harem. In 16th century mental illness was not really known or treated. Man Bai seems to have had heavy depression and Salim too seemed to have been frustrated and depressed in life. From age of 9 years he was away in war fields for long times till he revolted in his 30s. As child soldier seeing so much cruelty and war must have affected him mentally too. Add to that all the political games played within family must have made him very insecure and mentally frustrated. But he was not someone to give up as easily as a Man Bai and held on to his life despite health issues and many personal set backs in life both politically and personally. Once Salim came to know that Man bai was drinking very heavy and unwell when he was away in war campaign in Persia. So after war he called Man Bai to join him in Kabul fort as she had gone to attend a wedding with Jodha Bai of their relatives in Rajputhana. Man Bai and Jodha visited Salim in Kabul fort. Salim tried to placate Man Bai’s lonliness but with his constant travel on war campaigns and to other cities on work he could not do much to placate her frustrations.

In 1605, Salim became emperor. First order he gave as emperor was that Khurram will return to his mother Jodha Bai. But Khurram was already 13 years old and close to Ruqaiah and Nur Jahan his nurse maid. He never really accepted Jodha as his mother or spent much time with her. He became close to Salim but, only reason that may be is that him becoming next emperor depended on his closeness to his father. Khurram if you read his life history is a very machivellian and strong person like an Akbar. He was not a Salim who showed his emotions openly or what was in his mind. In royal families relationship are superficial, they see aligning with whom will benefit them. Based on that all relationships thrive in mughal family.

Salim too like Jodha loved Khurram a lot. When Khurram son got unwell, Salim took oath not to hunt in gun and maintained it for years till Shah jahan revolted. And everyone knows Salim loved hunting and was a great hunter too. For him to refrain from hunting is like a very big sacrifice. And Salim always affectionately called Khurram as Khurram baba usually used for kids even after he became a father and big adult. May be for Salim it was a way of compensating years of Khurram being away from parents and Salims household. Further Salim ensured Khurram never went to war field till he was big. Khurram went on first war camapagn at age of 19 or 20 years old for a mughal prince. Compared to him Akbar went to war at 11 years, Salim at 9 years, Murad at 11 years etc. Salim ensured none of his sons went to war as kids atleast after he became emperor.  

Khurram felt being close to his father and his current favourite Nur Jahan his nurse maid one upon a time was more beneficial in long term to his political ambitions. So he never bothered about his own mother Jodha Bai much in long term. Anyways for all purpose Ruqaiah was a mother to him than a Jodha Bai. In 1617-18 Nur Jahan started her political manouvering and first asked Khurram to marry her daughter Ladli begum from Ali Quli. Khurram refused saying he considers her as sister. Than Nur Jahan asked Khusrau and he too refused saying he only loves his wife. So Nur Jahan married Ladli Begum to Sharyar and started making all decisions against Khurrams interest. Khurram was shocked at this turn of events. He finally must have realized its only a own mother who cares for a child without any expectations.

But it was too late in 1619, Jodha Bai died at young age of 46 years. Thus even if Khurram wanted to rectify his behaviours and get close to his mother it was too late. When Jodha died, Khurram cried a lot and Jehangir had to take him to his palace and console him. May be the guilt of not having had a relationship with mother all life weighed on his mind.  But Jodha was already dead and gone. In her last few years she had lost her husbands love too him being close to Nur Jahan after 1611 to 1619 till her death. Her son Khurram was never her son since birth although Salim tried his best to get him back to his mother once he became emperor. It is said when Taj Mahal was being built Shah jahan put a trishul shape on top in memory of his mother. But it was too late to rectify decades of neglecting an own mother. She died heartbroken with son who never cared about her for 27 years that she lived or got husbands love and attention for last 8 years since he married Nur Jahan. Akbars decision to hand over Khurram to his senior wife Ruqaiah for upbringing thus brought irreparable damage to relationship between Khurram and his parents especially mother Jodha. Basically Salim and Jodha could never foster a parent child relationship with Khurram. They just remained an option in Khurrams life while for all purpose Akbar and Ruqaiah became his parents. Thus their only child which they got after many prayers and penance just remained a distant dream for them. Atleast Salim had other children from other wives to experience joy of being a parent. But Jodha did not get joy of being a parent all life despite having a child.

Akbar and Salim: The Poison conspiracy

Salim tending to an aged Akbar

The Year was 1590. Akbar suddenly became gravely unwell. He had dysentery and high temperature. His condition did not became better after 2-3 days also. It only seemed to worsen with time.

Meanwhile the corridors of mughal court were ripe with conspiracy and regime change theories. Salim and Murad started gathering their supporters in case Akbar may not survive than a clash for the throne was inevitable as Akbar had not appointed a successor to himself. Daniyal was too young at 18 years but still his father in laws like Abdul Rahim were also actively getting support for his cause to ascend the throne. Everyone in mughal court was vying time on whom to support in war of succession so they shall get maximum benefits in future.

Meanwhile Akbars condition did not seem to improve after 3-4 days also with best of treatment. Akbar was in terrible pain and delusion. One day Abul Fazl, Chronicler Akbarnama came to meet Akbar and suggested that may be Akbar has been poisoned by a loved one. Akbar admonished Salim who was there that could he not wait few more years to come to throne that he poisoned his own father. Salim was shocked that his father trusted that Salim had attempted on Akbars life leading to his current illness. That too the room had a few of Akbars ministers and family members. Akbar admonishing him in front of everyone left Salim shocked. He left the room unable to control his tears.

After a few weeks Akbar did recover from that illness. Later on a detailed enquiry did reveal that Salim had nothing to do with Akbars illness and neither was Akbar poisoned. It was more a case of having eaten dead stale meat that led to severe poisoning. But the hatred had already been sown in the heart of Salim and Akbar towards each other successfully. Once Akbar got well he decided to send Murad to Malwa as Governor. He ordered Salim to go to Rajputhana to lead war against Mewar and other kingdoms. Daiyal was sent to Deccan to fight Maik Amber.Although Murad and Salim were contenders for throne at youth days, when they went to separate missions they started getting close and corresponding with each other regularly. They bonded over their love for drinks and hatred for Abul Fazl and Akbars courtiers in chief at mughal court in general even before leaving for separate missions. Murad went a step further and in his death will wanted his kids guardian to be Salim rather than Akbar, who was still alive. Murad was 29 years old when he died.

Salim on the other hand went to war against Rajputhana from 1591 to 1597. In 1598 he arrived back to agra and refused to go back to war as he felt he was needed more in agra. Than again Akbar asked him to attack Mewar in 1599 and he left unwittingly but did not reach Mewar but stopped at Ajmer and turned back to attack agra treasury. Later after reaching agra outskirts he changed his mind and left to Allahabad where he set up parallel court. Salim never forgave Abul Fazl for those false accusations against him. He kept that incident and other few incidents in his mind and finally took his revenge by killing Abul Fazl in 1602. Salim had this tendency that whenever someone accussed him he would sulk and go into silent modes rather than clarify or prove that he had nothing to do with those incidents.His enemies often took advantage of this fact and used his emotional reactions to situations rather than clever practical reactions to hurl accusations at him at every other given opportunity in mughal court.

Abul Fazl was not only hated by only Salim in mughal family but by Murad and few other of Akbars relatives. The major reason for this was that Akbar blindly trusted Abul Fazl and listened to him whether matters of politics or family matters. Akbar never consulted his children about politics or personal matters but with his friends like Birbal, Aziz Koka, Abul Fazl, Faizi etc and just announced his decisions on his children. That made many in mughal family hate Abul Fazl and Akbars cortere. Although many in mughal family had problems with Akbars friends and cortere none dared take any action about their displeasure as no one was ready to face Akbars warth. But Salim definetly was not some one who was bothered about what Akbar thought about his actions against Akbar’s favourites or about Akbars anger in general.  From youth age only Salim did what he wanted to do irrespective of what Akbar thought about it. In court when no one would dare put an opposing view on any matter about Akbars thought and decisions, only Salim would muster courage to speak against Akbars decisions. Even Akbars orders and farmans could not move Salim into action if he did not desire to do that job.

Also Salim was not that good at conveying his thoughts and emotions to Akbar may be because he had stayed very long time away from family in war fields etc. So there were definetly communication gaps between father and son. That helped Akbars cortere and Salims enemies to create further wedge between father and son at every given opportunity. Salim also rarely bothered to clarify any accusations against him. May be he felt his father should not have believed in any accusations against him and trusted him or came and clarified facts with him before assuming him guilty. Whatever the reason of mis communication between father and son, Salim’s enemies had maximum benefits of these mis communication between Salim and Akbar.

Salim waited almost more than a decade after Abul Fazl accussed him of poisoning Akbar and than finally gave orders to Bundela Raja Bir Singh to kill Abul Fazl. Abul Fazl went to Deccan to meet Daniyal and while returning near Madhya Pradesh was attacked and killed by Bir Singh Bundela, Orccha King later. Salim after becoming emperor made Bir Singh Orccha King in Madhya Pardesh and allowed him grants to build temples at Mathura and few other places. This was reward by Salim for killing Abul Fazl to Bir Singh and his family. Salim even married a princess of Bundela clan. Thus enemity of Abul Fazl and Salim ended in a bloody note. Abul Fazl may have felt that to please his master Akbar he can go on instigating Akbar against Salim and Salim would not dare act against it as he has Akbars blessings. Anyways if you read Akbarnama you can get to know Abul Fazl was one who did everything to please his master rather than say the truth on face like an adviser should actually do.

Salim waited patiently unlike his real nature in other matters of showing anger and acting immediately without much planning and bidded his time to take the ultimate revenge. With Abul Fazl’s murder Salim sent a clear message of warning out to all his enemies in mughal court(which he had in plenty among his own relatives and courtiers) that he shall not hesitate to act decisively against anyone even when they have Akbar’s blessings or are Akbar’s favourites. Akbars blessings and protection shall not make Salim’s enemies immune to any attacks or guarantee of no retributions from Salim in future like it had happened till 1602. And Salim also sent a message to Akbar through this murder that Akbars displeasure and fear of punishment shall not weigh on his decisions henceforth to act against all those people that he deems are against him or filling Akbars ears against him. Thus with one stone Salim killed many birds by this one act of his. Thus Abul Fazl’s murder is turning point in mughal history. But the roots of this murder was sowed decades back by Abul Fazl’s hatred for Salim and his constant instigation of Akbar to act against Salim’s interest whatever his reason for that was.

Mughal court was filled with such syphocants who enjoyed instigating father against son or brothers against brother and enjoying the benefits of those enemities. Surprisingly Salim and his brothers had a better healthy relationship except on some occasions like Akbars grave illness in 1590 unlike the other generation mughal siblings. Salim, Murad and Daniyal although instigated against each other by their relatives and cortere maintained a healthy relationship till the end and never really were after each others life like other generation of mughal siblings. Credit must be given to them for maintaining an healthy relationship and not letting others drive wedge in their sibling relationship although constant instigation must have taken place. Salim often searched and sent exotic and beautiful animals to Daniyal who was an animal lover wherever wars and work took him or Daniyal often sent him poetry he had written in leisure times to provide his opinion on them.  Salim even praises Daniyals poetry long after he died in Jehangirnama and remembers Daniyals love for animals after seeing an exotic breed of horse in his autobiography. Murad and Salim too communicated often with each other although one was in Malwa other in Rajputhana. Murad knew of Salims love for paintings and sent him unique paintings or drawings about nature and animals.   

Its only a few months before Akbars death that finally father and son reconciled. Till than Salims enemies and Akbars courtiers had a field day for several years or decades as father and son were not really on taking terms or avoided communicating their thoughts to each other. Akbar felt may be Salim is younger and son and has to communicate with him first. Salim may have felt Akbar as father should understand him and not believe his cortere and relatives who are instgating Akbar against him without Salim clarifying anything. Thus in their ego clashes or individual personalities decades went away without proper communication and misunderstandings. The biggest beneficiary in this ego clash was Akbars cortere and Salims cortere. Both had field day for decades instigating father against son and son against father and reaping benefits of this no communication between father and son. Same issue happened between Salim and Khusaru and Salim and Khurram later on. Decades of being away from kids because of wars and other duties or revolt ensured that Salim and his sons also never had a father and son relationship ever. For all purposes Khusrau and Khurram considered Akbar as father as Salim was an absentee father at most in their life. Further Akbar pitching father and sons as contender for same throne never helped to build any relationship between Salim and his sons. Khusrau and Khurram were brought up in Akbars household rather than by Salims wives in Salims household. The seeds of hatred and revolt during Salims regime by his sons were sown decades back only

Akbar adopted kids

Its a known fact that Akbar adopted a few kids before he could have Salim. His most famous adopted son was Abdul Rahim Khan e Khana who was his second wife Salima Begum and Bairam Khans son.  Main reason was before Salim quiet a few kids of Akbar died and may be he had lost all hope of having a kid of his own. In 16th century people had kid within 15-16 years old of age. Akbar did not have child till 27 years old. At 27-30 years people would become grandparents in those times. The average life span of a person was only 35 years that time.  And for a king or emperor it was even more important to become a father and given an heir to throne and empire.

It is well documented in history that Nur Jahan and Jehangir did not have kids of own. So they adopted many girls who were orphan or poor and abandoned by their families and brought them up. In 16th century there were no orphanages as such. Some religious places would feed and take care of orphans. But otherwise there was no orphanage as such. If a baby or small kid was abandoned on streets it would die, become a slave of some rich mans house hold etc but there was no formal adotion as such. Some people would feel pity and give shelter to abandoned babies.  In 21st century orphans are treated so badly even in orphanages so we can only imagne their situation in 15th or 16th century.

It is said Akbar too adopted a few kids especially a baby boy a few years before Salim was born. This was after his twins Hassan Hussein had died. People of empire indeed believed that Salim was born to Akbar because he adopted that boy child. The details of this adopted boy are not known to anyone. Akbar had this issue with detaling his family members detals in his official book Akbarnama. Even Salim is not mentioned from after he went to school till 30 plus years of age very rarely. Majority of his wives were never named in Akbar nama and only titles like Marium uz Zamani are given. So adopted kids being named and details being provided will be a distant dream.

 Now everyone knows adoption was common in past for kings to get heirs. Raja Man Singh was adoped by Raja Bhagwan das of amer. Man Bai, Salims wife was born to her parents but had an adopted elder brother Man Singh. Raja Man Singh was just a few years younger to Akbar although Man Bai his sister was wife of Salim, Akbars son. So there was a huge age difference between when Raja Man Singh was adopted and Man Bai was born to her parents.

Salim too adopted a few kids who were abondoned. There is a story of once Salim going to war expedition as a young 10-12 year old. One day his Cheetah refused to come with entourage and ran behind a bush in an outskirts of a village and refused to come back when its trainer called it. Salim sent the trainer to get Cheetah back, but the trainer said there was something the Cheetah found in the bush and refusing to come out. The Cheetah had got a baby’s smell and was inspecting it. Finally a body gaurd of Salim went and got the baby who was just born and thrown in bushes by its parents. Salim took baby to his war camp and gave it to the servants to take care of it. Once it was stable and good health he sent it to Agra to bring it up. Akbar gave the baby to his senior wife for upbringing. Salim always took his pet cheetah’s, deers etc  along with him with his entourage where ever he went even to war fields. So like this example rich people did adopt orphaned and babies thrown on roads and bushes but that was a rare thing.  Because that time caste and religion was much more rigid and adoption was rare. Yes the babies left on road would be brought up but more as slaves and maids of the rich masters who found them. Or they ended up like a courtesean anarkali etc for pleasure of their masters who brought them up or sold them to others for entertainment.

This is story of one such adopted child of Akbar. One day Akbar went on empire tour. Salim was a small kid and insisted that he will accompany his father on tour. So Akbar obliged him and took him on the tour. They stayed in the governors or Nawabs palace. One evening Akbar dressed up as commoner and decided to go around the new city. Salim insisted he wanted to go out with his father, finally Akbar conceded and took him out. After going out in city both were returning to the palace when they saw a dog trying to pull roti from a kids hand. Akbar chased the dog away and tried to find the parents of child but could not. So he carried theinjured  child to palace and tried to find the childs parents. But it was later discovered that the childs parents had died and their relatives had abandoned the child to its fate.  So Akbar took the girl child back to agra and she grew up in Agra fort. So such instances were rare but not uncommon in rich house holds to adopt unofficially abandoned children and bring them up. Some even became like family and stayed all life with the families they were adopted in.

Qutub uddin Khan Koka

Qutubuddin Koka and Jehangir

Qutub ud din Khan was the milk brother of Prince Salim aka Emperor Jehangir.  Everyone by now must know how great the position of a milk brother was to mughal emperors.  Akbar gave special importance to his milk brother Adham Khan and forgave him for all misbehaviours.Milk brother was more dear than own brothers in many cases. Salim loved his pets so much people said he loved his pet deer Manas Raj like an own brother. So we can imagine how much Salim loved Qutubuddin Koka. Few years after  Qutubuddin death, Jehangir lamented that without company of his milk brother he has no desire to live or carry affairs of state. That was the kind of lonliness Jehnagir felt at loss of his milk brother.

 Emperor Jehangir had only 3-4 best friends one of them was Qutub ud din Koka. Qutub ud din was born in 13th August 1569 to the daughter of Sheikh Salim Chisti, the saint because of whose blessings Salim was born. Qutub ud din Koka was the son of Sheikh Salim Chisti daughter Zil Bahar Begum who was appointed milk mother of Prince Salim by Akbar.  

Emperor Jehagir was very close to Qutub ud din Koka and consulted him on every political matter. Qutub ud Din was appointed Governor of province of Bihar by Salim during his rebellion. Than he was appointed personal secretary to Emperor Jehangir and finally Governor of Bengal on 2nd Septemeber 1606. He was killed after a fight with Ali Quli Khan, the Faujdhar of Bengal on 20th May 1607.

It is said that Prince Salim decided to loot the treasury of agra fort in Akbars absence in 1599 on advice of his best friends Mahabhat Khan and Qutub ud din Koka. Both suggested him to loot the treasury of agra and use that money to build an army so that he can conquer newer lands and prove his worth to Akbar. Of course that plan could not be implemented as Salims grandmother Hamida Bano and step mother Salima Begum came to meet him in outskirts of agra campment, and Salim could not meet their eyes and left to Allahabad by boat thus cancelling his plan to attack agra treasury.

In 1607 Ali Quli Khan was suspected to have given refuge and help to some Agfhan refugees. Jehangir sent many notices to Ali Quli Khan to report to the throne. But Ali Quli Khan failed to report in agra. So Qutub ud din Koka was sent to Burdwan to investigate the matter and get Ali Quli Khan to agra. Qutub ud din reached Burdwan in Bengal on 20th May 1607. He went to Ali Quli Khans residence to ask him about his refusal to report to agra court. Quli Khan attacked Qutub ud din Koka and killed him. The mughal armed gaurds of Qutub ud din attacked and killed Quli Khan. Thus Qutub ud din Koka’s life ended early in his 30s only. Jehangir was devastated at loss of his best friend and milk brother.

Sharifuddin Mirza’s Death

Sharifuddin Hussain Mirza was the brother in law of Akbar. Sharifuddin Mirza had married Akbars elder sister Princess Bakshi Bano. Bakshi Bano was the daughter of Humayun and Gunwar Bibi. But since Gunwar Bibi died when Bakshi Bano was very young, Bakshi was brought up by milk maids. Bakshi Bano was 3 years elder to Akbar and became close to him when both were hostage of Askari Mirza, step brother of Humayun in Kabul.

Bakshi Bano was married at age 10 years to Ibrahim Mirza in 1550 by her father Humayun. Ibrahim Mirza was an ancestor of Alexander the great’s family. Ibrahim Mirza died in a battle in 1560, when Bakshi ano was just 20 years old. Bakshi was left a young widow without any children too. Hence her brother Akbar married her to Sharifuddin Mirza, the viceroy of Mewat in the same year. Sharifuddin had captured Amer in the same Year 1560. Sharifuddin’s father was Khwaja Moinunddin, a learned man from Persia.

In 1560 Sharifuddin defeated Amer and captured some sons and nephews of Raja Baramal. Raja Bharamal was forced to give huge sums as protection money to Sharifuddin to save his sons and nephews life. That is one of the major reasons he proposed his daughter Hira Kunwari’s marriage to Akbar in 1562. That marriage ensured his son and nephews were freed and he need not pay money to Sharifuddin for the safety of the princes.

Sharifuddin got very ambitious after marrying Bakshi Bano. He frst revolted against Akbar and captured Ajmer and Nagaur. Akbar sent Khan i Jahan Quli Khan and defeated Sharifuddin. Shariuddin was forgiven as he was Bakshi Banos husband. But Sharifuddin continued planning and plotting against Mughal empire and how to become an independent king.

How Sharifuddin really died was an interesting tale. Sharifuddin had high ambitions. He wanted to become an independent ruler or emperor if possible. And he rebelled against Akbar in 1560s. He was defeated and appointed viceroy or governor later. But Sharifuddin never left his ambitions. In 1569 Salim was born and he was a major thorn in path of Sharifuddin to become an independent ruler. Till Salim was alive, Sharifuddin felt he could not truly success becoming an independent ruler.

Everyone knows Salim was sent at young age to war field. During this time he was sent to various wars and was away from family. During one such war camp, Sharifuddin attempted to kill him. Akbar knew Salim was a prime target of his enemies from childhood especially his mughal kinsmen only. That is why from young age Salims security was very tight. Raja Todarmal was a famous minister in Akbars court and he donated lots of money to Tirupathi temple to be rebuilt. So his statue is there in Tirupathi temple. Salim was very fond of ladoos especially from Tirupathi. So Sharifuddin sent a maid to Salim with Tirupathi ladoos.  The maid told him that Raja Todramal has sent them to him. Usually all food given to Salim was tested.  But that time of late night Salim was alone in his tent and he trusted Todarmal so he ate the ladoo excitedly like any small kid will do in his place.  

Salim was very happy to get the ladoos and ate them immediately but the ladoos were laced in poison. When Salim ate the ladoos he got seriously unwell and lost conciouness.  Now Salim always took his pet animals with him everywhere he went. You must have seen paintings of lions strolling with Persian ambassador or Chinese Emperor when they visisted India. Same way Salim took some of his pet animals even to the war field. On war campaigns some  of his pet cheetah, deer and lions accompanied his entourage. Salim had more than 1000 pet lions in his stable in agra fort. Same way he was fond of Cheetahs and deers too from a young age and kept them as pets. Some of these dreaded animals were so tamed that they played and slept in Salims room or palace in agra as quoted by British ambassador Thomas Roe in his letters . Same way in war camp too these animals kept Salims company in his tent.  When Salim collapsed he was with his pets in his tent. The pets panicked and ran out of the royal tent and started making noises.

His body gaurds felt something was wrong and went inside and saw he was lying unconscious. The Hakim was called and he saw that Salim had been poisoned. Immediately Akbar was sent information in agra, Akbar and his sister Bakshi Bano rushed to the war camp far away from agra. Salim became unwell but his life was saved. Akbar started enquiring about who had given Salim poisoned laced ladoos. Obivously Todarmal was only a alibi to ensure Salim ate that ladoo without any suspicion. After enquiry it was found Sharifuddin was involved in this plot to kill Salim. So Akbar asked Bakshi Bano to decide Sharifuddins fate. Bakshi Bano ordered Sharifuddin to be killed. Akbar put Sharifuddin under elephant foot. Thus Sharifuddin died a cruel death. It cannot be ruled out that he may have attempted to kill Salim before too hence Bakshi Bano and Akbar felt that it is no use forgiving him again and again as he is not reforming. And till he is alive Salims life shall be in danger.

But in history all things are not recorded especially Salims childhood and young adulthood is not documented at all unlike some other emperors and historical persons. So it cannot be said if Sharifuddin had attempted on Salim’s life before too. But it can be presumed that if Sharifuddin wanted to be emperor his prime targets were Salim and Akbar only. Its not easy to kill an emperor as he has all security but easy to target a prince away from family on a war campaign. Thus Sharifuddin’s ambition to be emperor ended with a cruel death.

Aurangzeb Family

Wife

Dilras Banu Begum  (1622-1657): She is buried in Bibi ka Maqbara, Aurangabad Maharashtra. She was princess of Safavid Dynasty of Persia who ruled Persia for many centuries. Her father was Mirza Badi uz Zaman of Safavid dynasty and mother was Nauras Banu Begum. Nauras Banu Begum was daughter of Mirza Muhammad Sharifuddin, the husband of Bakshi Bano Begum

Nawab Bai  (1620 to 1691): Was grand daughter of Rajputh Raja of Rajouri in Kashmir, a hindu Rajputh

Aurangabadi Mahal: Was a cocubbine of Russian/Georgian origin

Udaipuri Mahal: Was a cocubbine of Gerogian ancestory and was in Dara sikohs harem before he died

Children list

Zeb un Nissa (15th Feb 1638 to 26th May 1702)  : Born to Dilras Banu Begum and eldest child of Aurangzeb. She was a poetess and wrote many poems. She was imprisoned in Salimgarh fort Delhi by her father Aurangzeb in 1682 and died in prison only.

Zeenat un Nissa (5th Oct 1643 to 7th May 1721) : Born to Dilras Banu Begum and was Padshah Begum after her mothers death. Zeenat wanted Aurangzeb to pardon Sambhaji Maharaj but Aurangzeb had him executed. She took care of her father’s household.  

Zubdat un Nissa (2nd Sep 1651 to 17th Feb 1707) : Born to Dilras Banu Begum  and married to Siphir Sikoh in 1673 at age 22 years.  Siphir Sikoh was fourth son of Dara Sikoh and supported his father in war of sucession and was imprisoned for many years. He married Aurangzeb’s daughter and than later became governor of Orissa, Delhi etc . Majority of Siphir’s siblings were killed by Aurangzeb in a cruel manner.

Muhammad Azam Shah (28th June 1653 to 8th June 1707): Eldest son of Dilras Banu Begum and Aurangzeb. He was emperor from 14th March 1707 to 8th June 1707. He was defeated by his step brother Shah Alam in battle of Jajua and killed in 1707.

Akbar II (11th Sep1657 to 1706): Youngest son and child of Dilras Banu Begum and favourite son of Aurangzeb. He rebelled against Aurangzeb for imprisoning his sisters and brothers and questioned in him in full court. Aurangzeb was furious at his bravery to question emperor and bad blood ensured. But since hes youngest child Aurangzeb forgave him. He joined Rajpuths and decided to attack Aurangzeb army later. But Aurangzebs machievellanism saved the day and Akbar feled to Persia and died in 1706. He was brought up by his elder sister Zeb un Nissa after mothers death at child birth.

Muhammad Sultan (30th Dec 1639 to 14th Dec 1676): Eldest son of Aurangzeb and Nawab Bai> Nawab bai was daughter of Syed Shah Mir and a Raja of Rajouri’s hindu daughter. Muhammad Sultan was Aurangzeb’s eldest son and married Shah Suja’s daughter and sided with Shah Shuja against Aurangzeb in war of succession. He was imprisoned by Aurangzeb in 1660 in Salimgarh fort where even elder sister Zeb un Nissa was imprisioned. He died in 1676 in Salimgarh Fort prison.

Bahadur Shah I (14th Oct 1643 to 27th Feb 1712): He was also known as Shah Muzzam or Shah Alam. He reigned for 5 years as emperor from 1707. His mother was Nawab Bai and he was younger brother of Muhammad Sultan. In 1681 when he was sent to crush Akbar IIs rebellion he purposely failed to capture Akbar II. In 1687 he failed to again act aginast ruler of Golconda and Aurangzeb ordered his imprisonment for treason. In 1695 he was released from prison and sent on wars.

Badrun nissa (17th Nov 1647 to 9th April 1670): Was only daughter of Nawab bai and Aurangzeb. She was greatly loved by her father and he was distressed at her death. 

Meherunissa (28th Sep 1661 to 2nd April 1706): Was only daughter of Aurangabadi Mahal and Aurangzeb. Aurangabadi Mahal was a Russian by ansectory. Meherunissa married her cousin Izzad Baksh Mirza, the son of Murad Baksh Mirza the son of Shah Jahan. 

Kam Baksh(7th March 1667 to 14th Jan 1709) : Was son of Udaipuri Mahal, the cocubbine of elder brother Dara Sikoh. He fought war of sucession against Bahadur Shah I and was defeated and died in 1709.

Salim Akbar reconciliation

akbar with sons

akbar with his sons

Marium Makhani Hamida Banu, mother of Akbar died in August 1604. Akbar had planned to go and teach Salim a lesson for his revolt and had reached near Allahabad. He than heard news that his mother was serious and went back to agra. After few days Salim hears that his grand mother has died. Salim was very close to his grandmother. So he returned to agra for the funeral. At the funeral, Salim was admonished by Akbar and arrested for killing Abul Fazl, his chronicler.  Finally Salim was released after 10 days.

Salim settled in agra. Salim’s home return was not liked by many ministers and relatives. Chief among them was Khusrau his son, Man Singh, his brother in law, Abur Rahim Kahn e Khana, Bairam Khans son and Aziz Koka the milk brother of Akbar. But they could not show their displeasure in public  and hence started instigating Akbar against him.

The first assassination on Salim took place in his palace only by two of his own servants. But Salim survived it. Those servants tried to run to Deccan to Sultan Daniyal for protection but they were caught by Salims men and punished brutally.  When the news reached Akbar he was saddened by the brutality of Salims wrath. The ministers and relatives who disliked Salim started instigating against Salim saying “Drinking had made him unmindful and has made him take violent decisions”.  (Source: Akbarnama Vol 3). Similarly other attempts were made that created great rift between Akbar and Salim in ensuing months.

Meanwhile after a few months Akbar suddenly fell unwell grievously.  He sent message to Salim to come and meet him. Salim decided to go and meet Akbar and went in boat to meet him at agra fort from his palace. As they were nearing the Yamuna banks near Agra fort gate, arrows started spraying in all directions on his boat. An attack had taken place on him, his boat man tried to take boat back but arrows pierced him and he died. Salim somehow saved himself and he returned back to his palace. This was second attack on him since his return to agra.

Salim decided to try to go after two days again to meet Akbar. This time he took body gaurds with him and reached Yamuna banks. He was about to get off his boat and walk inside agra fort near Akbars palace when one old minister came running to him outside. This minister knew Salim since childhood. He told Salim not to enter Agra fort as trap had been laid for him. Man Singh and Aziz Koka had installed soldiers to capture Salim if he tried to meet Akbar inside agra fort. Man Singh, Aziz Koka, Abdul Rahim Khan e Khana, Ali Quli and many others wanted his son Khusrau to be emperor. Again Salim went back to his palace in boat instead of going inside the fort to meet Akbar.

By now Akbar was tensed why Salim never came to meet him although hes sick and sent messages so many times. The corterie instigated Akbar against Salim saying “he had disobeyed emperors orders and thinks hes above emperor” etc. Akbar was by now very angry at Salims behaviour. Salim was tensed how to meet Akbar. That time Salims wife Jodha Bai aka Jagat Gosain (Khurrams mother) said she will go and meet Akbar. Jodha Bai went to agra fort, no one stopped or attacked her. She went to Akbars palace and met him and told of Salims predicament to meet Akbar.

Akbar was better now although he required rest. Akbar decided he will go and meet Salim in his palace instead. So Akbar went at midnight in boat to meet Salim in his palace secretly without anyone knowing about it except his senior wives. Salim was surprised Akbar came to meet him although hes unwell. Akbar and Salim talked over and sorted their misunderstandings. Akbar went back to agra fort after the meeting.

Akbar called everyone of his big ministers and told that Salim shall handle court proceedings from that day instead of him. Salim could finally come back to agra fort to meet Akbar and his mothers. He started handling day to day matters from that day in court.

 

Salim pet fawn rescue

jehangir with his pet lion

jehangir with his pet lion

In 21st century its so common to treat pet animals like family. But in other centuries too few people treated pets like family. Especially the royal’s like Maharana Pratap who loved Chetak so much that he cried like a child at his death, Akbar who loved his pet Hawai and Jehangir who loved his pets so much that citizens of mughal empire started saying that “The emperor loved his pet as much as he loved his own brothers Murad and Daniyal”. Now thats a compliment to love a pet like ones own sibling that few humans will get from ones own citizens.

This pet love started at very young age for Salim. From very small age his father Akbar allowed him to keep pets like lion, tiger and Cheetah. At age of 10 years Salim risked his life to enter enemy camp to save his pet deer. Salim was sent  to Rajputhana  for war against Maharan Pratap. One day Salim went into forest and saw a young baby deer or fawn alone without its mother about to be attacked by a tiger. Salim and his gaurds killed the tiger and carried the baby deer back to his tent. Now since Salim was small when he was sent to war field, he had no friends of his age group at war camp. The minimum age to join army as soldier was 14-16 years than. But Salim went to war field at age 8 or 9 years. So he was quiet lonely without friends of his age group or siblings to play with at war camp. So he found solace in company of his pet animals in the war camp.

Salim grew very fond of the deer he had saved in forest. Every evening after war he would play with it and feed it etc. One day he came back from war field and found that his pet baby deer is not to be seen anywhere in the army camp. He sent servants to search for it everywhere but it was not found anywhere. Someone came back and told the deer had escaped and gone far from sight and captured by Maharana Prataps soldiers. Salim was tensed and wanted his pet deer back. But no soldier was ready to go into Maharana Prataps war camp and risk his life to get the deer back. It was a suicide mission sure shot death to enter enemy camp. So everyone adviced him to forget his deer and go and rest.

Salim could not sleep what with his pets life in danger at enemy camp. So he sneaked out of his camp at midnight to get his pet deer back. He travelled to Maharana’s camp(which was very far off from mughal camp) and entered it and started searching for his pet deer. Since he was a small boy and it was pretty dark no one discovered him at midnight inside the camp. Finally he found his baby deer tied to a post. As soon as baby deer saw its owner it got excited and started screaming in joy. Salim ran to free the baby deer but was found by Maharana Prataps gaurds. Salim picked his pet and ran with gaurds behind him. Salim ran to hide straight into a tent where Maharana Prataps was discussing war strategy with Shakti Singh and Amar Singh and few others.

The gaurds entered the tent after Salim. Maharana and others were shocked to see Salim in their tent. Shakti Singh who had worked for Akbar for decades knew Salim well when he was in agra. Anyways Mughals and Mewar met 22 times in war field during Akbars time, in that majority times Salim was in that war. So they knew each other very well as they met regularly in battle field for decades. Indeed it was Salim who had forgiven Shakti Singh for killing three mughal commanders in Battle of Haldighatti battle to save Maharana Pratap life and sent him from Mughal court back to Rajputhana. Maharana Pratap and Amar Singh were also shocked to see Salim in their war camp after midnight. The gaurds of Maharana Pratap told him all about the deer and how Salim had rescued it and was being chased by them. Salim was least bothered he was in enemy camp in front of Maharna Pratap and Shakti Singh etc. Like a typical 10 year old kid he warned everyone that the deer is only his pet and no one should dare think of hurting the deer and he will take it back to his camp at any cost. Mahrana Pratap forgave Salim for coming into his camp and allowed him to go back to mughal camp with his deer. Maharana told Shakti Singh and Amar Singh to leave Salim out of Maharanas war camp. Salim left with his pet deer back to mughal camp. By than Man Singh had discovered Salim missing from his tent and parties were sent for his search. Finally Salim was found and he arrived back in mughal camp carrying his baby deer in toe. Thus ended a prince dangerous adventure to rescue his pet deer from enemy camp. Luckily for Salim, the enemy camp was of the nobel and great Maharana Pratap. Thus a kiddish love for his pet did not cost him his life.

But  Salim was known to behave in such manner when it concerned an animal. He would become thrilled like a small child and lose himself in company of animals and nature. Like in his mid 20s he had once gone during war to visit the jungle to hunt. He went forward alone and suddenly saw tiger cubs in forest. The mother was not around. Looking at the baby cubs, Jehangir lost himself in the moment. Who would not want to play with small fluffy tiger cubs? He lifted the three four cubs in his arms and lap and sat on a stone nearby playing with them. After sometime the mother arrived and got angry at the intruder and attacked him for daring to touch her cubs. But Jehangir was so happy playing with tiger cubs his gun and sword were placed away for him to reach suddenly. By the time he realized what was happening the tiger was almost on top of him. Ali Quli one of the mughal commander arrived and slayed the mother tiger and saved his life. Salim gave him title “Sher Afghan” for saving his life. Ali Quli was Nur Jahan’s husband. Thus Salim could totally lose himself in the moment in company of animals. So it was no surprise for a kid Salim to run to enemy camp to resuce his pet baby deer. There are many other incidents that decipt his love for his pets or animals in general.  But entering enemy camp was the heights of his love or rather stupidity even by 21st century standards of pet love.  No wonder historians are of opinion that Salim would be happiest being a zoo keeper or librarian rather than an emperor. He loved animals and books very much.

Salim aka emperor Jehangir loved hunting too. But that did not dissuade him from treating his pet animals like family and building them huge palaces like Hathi Mahal meaning “Elephant palace” for his retired war elephants to rest and Hiran Minar meaning “Deer tomb” for his pet deer Manas Raj at Lahore. Salims love for his pets involved having his swimming pools filled with hot water for his pet elephants to bathe in cold winter to sitting through the night in stable waiting for his favourite elephant or lion to give birth to a baby elephant or baby lion. Salim had more than thousand pet lions in his palace. Some had freedom to stroll with ambassadors and other kings and emperors along sidetheir master Jehangir. Not sure if the other emperors liked a lion or tiger strolling with them, but their master was pretty happy and had paintings drawn to commemorate his pets strolling  with dignitaries. His love for his pets was so much that Thomas Roe British ambassador found lions strolling in Jehangirs bedroom once as he went to get some signatures on documents.  Jehangir may have never needed any body gaurds or fear of any enemies what with mighty lions giving him company in his bedroom.

Anyways he did not have many enemies apart from his closest family namely sons like Khusrau and Shah Jahan. He was like ajatha  shatru with hardly any enemies in outside world. Even biggest enemies of mughal empire regarded him as non threatening. Like above incident when Maharana Pratap let him go from his war camp. Same way there is another story of Salim going to hunt in forest and finding that Amar Singh(Maharana Prataps son) his dreaded enemy had also come hunting to same forest. That time Salim was in his teenage years, his enemy hunting in same forest did not agitate him and neither he bothered to capture or kill Crown Prince Amar Singh. He just went about his task of hunting as if it was very normal to meet your mortal enemy’s in forest while hunting during war breaks.

Salim always let go off opportunities that could defeat an enemy of mughal empire usually knowingly or unknowingly. Especially he had particular affiliation to let go off Maharana Pratap and his family at every opportunity. May be his differences with father Akbar made him to look away. Like Salim refused to lead war against Maharana Pratap on one occasion, on another occasion he stopped at Ajmer and refused to attack Maharana Prataps army despite Akbars orders. After enjoying with his friends few months he decided to revolt against Akbar only and attacked Agra. Than there is famous incident of battle of Haldighatti, where Salim let off Shakti Singh although he killed three mughal commanders and saved Maharanas life. Akbar was obviously furious at Salim decision to let go Shakti Singh. There is one more incident, where mughal army managed to catch Maharana’s daughter from forest and got her to mughal camp. This was when guerila warfare was the tact used by mewar. They thought they can bargain for her life and capture Maharana Pratap and end decades of war with mewar at last. But Prince Salim played spoil sport and sent her back to Maharana’s camp. Rather Salim himself went with his friends and dropped her back in same forest where mughal army had captured her. Why would a crown Prince have to go himself to drop an enemys daughter back in forest, may be he did not trust any of his mughal army men to safely drop Maharana’s daughter back as per his commands. When Prince Khurram was sent to attack Mewar, he did many atrocities against Mewar commoners. Someone sent complaint to mughal court to Jehangir and Jehangr sent letter to Khurram not to trouble the local people of mewar. Although to what extent Khurram followed Jehangirs orders on ground is not known. Jehangir did not attack Udaipur when Prince Karan Singh gave shelter to a traitor Khurram who had rebelled against Jehangir.  Thus when Akbar had a hostile policy towards Mewar, Salim had a re conciliatory policy towards them.

It must be noted here that Maharana Prataps wife Roop Kunwar Rathore and Akbars wife Rukmavathi Lal Baiji were sisters. Also their brother Mota Raja Udai Singh’s daughter Jodha Bai was married to Salim and was mother of Shah Jahan aka Khurram. Also a sister of Roop Kunwar and Rukmavathi was married to Bhagwan Das of amer and another to Shakti Singh of mewar.  Even more interesting was that Salims mother Hira Kunwari’s father’s aunty was married to Raja Maldeo who is Roop Kunwar and Rukmavathi’s father. So that could explain why Salim forgave Shakti Singh and left Maharana Prataps daughter. It must be noted Amar Singh, Maharana Prataps son was involved in 17 wars against mughals. Salim himself was involved in more than 19 wars against Rajpuths some against Mewar in his life as a prince(before becoming emperor).  It must be noted that Prince Salim went to war at age of 8 or 9 years and most of his life  was mostly spent in war fields on and off till he became emperor. Later again in 1592, he went to war and was in war field till he revolted against Akbar in 1599.  After becoming emperor Jehangir had five wars against Mewar all led by others.  He finally defeated mewar after his fathers death and that too historians say because Akbar asked him to win over mewar in his final days, promise on death bed to capture mewar.

Jehangir Aurangzeb temple visit

 

jehangir with arrow

jehangir with arrow

Once Jehangir visited a temple in Agra. He took his grandsons Dara Sikoh and Aurangzeb along for the visit. While Dara had no issues visiting the temple with their grandfather, Aurangzeb a young kid at that time refused to enter the temple saying it will make him a Khafir “non believer” and its blasphemy for him to enter a temple.  Jehangir tried to convince the kid Aurangzeb to come inside the temple but Aurangzeb simply refused and Jehangir left Aurangzeb outside and went inside with his other grand kid to offer prayers. Jehangir had puja offered and than went outside and Aurangzeb was waiting for him.

Jehangir was so angry at aurangzebs attitude during temple visit that he came back and called Shah jahan, his son and complained about aurangzebs behaviour in temple. But Aurangzeb never changed his attitude and remained defiant and disliked anything to do with hindu or any other religion. Shah Jahan himself was an orthodox muslim from a young age. That was more to do with his being adopted and brought up by Ruqaiah Begum, Akbars first wife than his own parents Jodha Bai and Prince Salim. Akbar had handed over Prince Khurram aka Shah jahan to Ruqqaiah for upbringing as a 4 days old baby. Only later on in his life in his mid 40s did Shah Jahan become liberal and allowed Diwali and Holi celebrations in Delhi fort. The change occurred because Dara Sukoh showed inclination towards Hinduism and Sufism and even Sikhism.  And Shah Jahan’s favourite son was Dara Sukoh, so father just had to become more liberal to accomdate his loving sons interest in Hindu religion and Sufism. Otherwise for most of his life even Shah Jahan remained orthodox muslim rather than a follower of many religions like his father Jehangir or grandfather Akbar.

Jehangir was born to a Rajputh Princess Hira Kunwari.  Although he practiced Islam and to some extent  Din e Illahi his fathers Akbars religion, he had no issues in participating in various other religious practices or going to their temples. The British felt he was an aethist because he had Jesus and Mary pictures in his bedroom and also had Persian version of Bhagvad Gita in his bed room.  Thomas Roe felt he was an muslim when required and hindu other times. Willam Finch wote that he was a Christian sometimes.  Some felt he was a Jain other times because he loved to hold discussions with Jadrup Gosain the jain muni in his ant mound(in forest). Jehangir celebrated holi, diwali, raksha bandhan and duseerha in agra fort. He also celebrated Christmas and Easter with Christians in court and visited churches in Delh, Lahore and agra. He celebrated the Parsee festival of nauroz with fervour in his palace.  He was multi religious in celebrating various religious functions in his palace. Indeed he was so impressed with Jainism as a religion that he converted to Jainism and called himself jagat guru and his chief consort Jodha Bai as Jagat Gosain.  Although converting to Jainism did not stop him from following Islam and hindu rituals and celebrating various religion  festivities.  Basically all the ambassadors of other countries and his courters were confused which religion he practiced or belonged to.

Jehangir rebuilding Mathura temple

Bir Singh Bundela

Bir Singh Bundela

 

Many temples had been destroyed in wars and raids by mughal and other invaders in India. One such temple was the temple dedicated to Sri Krishna in Vrindhavan and Mathura. When Jehangir became emperor he made Bir Singh Bundela the ruler of Orchha in 1605. Bir Singh asked Jehangir permission to build a temple for Lord Sri Krishna in Vrindhavan, Mathura. The Krishna Temple at Mathura was destroyed by Sikandar Lodhi in 16th century. Lodhi also prohibited bathing in Yamuna river by hindus and shaving their heads or doing any hindu rituals on the banks. Jehangir not only gave permissionto build temple but  apparently paid thirty three lakhs to Bir Singh Bundela  to build this temple. He also removed all restrictions that were in place before at Mathura for hindus. Jehangirs mother Hira Kunwari the wife of Akbar was a great devotee of Sri Krishna. Even Prince Dara Sikoh, son of Shah jahan had presented a carved stone railing to the temple during his visit there. But it was removed on orders of Aurangzeb in 1666. Aurangzeb demolished the entire Keshav Rai temple in 1670.

How Bir Singh Bundela became close to Jehangir aka Prince Salim is an interesting story. Prince Salim had great issues with Abul Fazl and hated him from long. Abul Fazl was the chronicler and friend of Akbar and Akbar trusted his words very much more than Salim too. Once Akbar got very unwell when Salim was in early 20s. Fazl suggested that Prince Salim may have poisoned him, and Akbar chided his son. Prince Salim left room in tears. Later it was found that Akbar was given stale dead animal meat that made him  very sick. Another time Akbar told Salim to get the women of family to Kashmir. It was snowing heavily and blizzards and landslides were taking place. So Salim left women half way and went to inform Akbar that he will get them to Kashmir after weather is better. Abul Fazl said, it was Salims prerogative to follow Akbars orders and not decide what to do himself. Akbar got furious on Salim and slammed him in front of all courtiers and commanders. Salim got so upset at this open humilation that he did not come out of his tent full day even for meals. There were other incidents too that made Salim hate Abul Fazl. So when he rebelled against Akbar in 1599, Abul Fazl started speaking against his rebellion in court and the fact that Salim was unfit to ascend mughal throne. That infatiuated Salim, so he called a chieftain of Orchha Bir Singh Bundela and told him that if he kills Fazl he will reward him with lots of money. Bir Singh Bundela carried out his orders and sent his head to Salim in Allahabad fort. Akbar was very angry at Salim and attacked Orchha and took it under his control in 1604. Bir Singh Bundela and his family went into hiding.  

Finally in 1605 when Akbar died, Salim became emperor and made Bir Singh Bundela King of Orchha. When Bir Singh Bundela became King of Orchha he asked permission to build the Keshav rai temple in Vrindavan, Mathura. Jehangir granted permission and gave a sum of thirty three lakhs for building the temple. It was one of the most magnificent temple built in Mathura. Aurangzeb had grave issues not only with Hindu religious practices but he disliked Jehangir his grandfather because of various incidents. He ordered demolition of temple in 1670.

The honor of a girl

Prince Salim

Prince Salim

Next day the girl returns to her husband house, they refuse to take her inside house. She goes to parents house and parents too in fear of society shut door on her face. She goes to well to die but is scared shes small 14-15 years old. She hears that Prince Salim is in town. She decides to go to that local durbar and complaint against the courtiers son to the governor. She goes to the fort where Prince Salim is staying. The soldiers do not allow her inside so she sits full day and night outside.

Next day Prince Salim is going out in early morning to swim in nearby river. She runs to him although soldiers do not allow she shouts and luckily he hears her cries for help. Salim tells soldiers to allow her to meet him. The young girl goes and tells him what happened and to give her justice. Prince Salim calls the court to meet later that day. He orders his soldiers to get that courtiers son to court. In court the girl narrates her ordeal in front of all people gathered including courtiers and commanders. The courtier and son refute charges. Her family and husband are called to court. They inform Prince Salim that since the young woman was carried off by the courtiers son and did not return till next day, they do not want her back.

Prince Salim declares that courtiers son should be flayed alive in center of city and all should watch it in public, so no man dares abuse a girl in the streets. The courtier protests saying i am mughal, i have been in service of Akbar for long etc but Salim does not listen to his arguments. He orders soldiers to carry out his order. He also orders to confiscate all property of courtier and his son and to provide compensation to that girl. He also gives her work in the local palace and orders that she be given place to stay in palace quarters since her family has abandoned her. Thus the brave young girl gets justice. That year not one rapes in that city and province because the story spreads like wild fire and all get scared thinking of punishment Prince Salim gave that courtiers son.  

Jehangir: The poorest man in Mughal Empire

mian mir and dara sikoh

mian mir and dara sikoh

Hazrat Mir Muhammad Islam was a very famous saint and lived in Lahore. He was a very close friend of Guru Arjun Devji and laid the foundation stone of golden temple in 1588. Mian Mir protested the killing of Guru Arjun Singh and never took any gifts from Emperor Jehangir, Shah Jahan etc. His most famous disciple was Crown Prince Dara Sikoh, the elder son of Shah Jahan.

Mian Mir was a very pious man and a saint of great renown. Mian Mir had appointed his disciples at his house gates to stop the rich and selfish people from coming to visit him. One day Jehangir went to meet him. He was stopped by the Mian Mir disciples. Jehangir waited till he was given permission to meet the saint.

Jehangir got angry at the treatment meted to him and asked “Why should a fakir have sentries at his gate”.

Mian Mir replied “SO that selfish men do not enter”.

Meanwhile a very poor man entered the saint’s abode and offered a coin as token offering to the saint.

Mir replied “Give this coin to the poorest man in audience”.

The poor man was confused “Who among audience was poorest?”

The fakir pointed to Emperor Jehangir “Give this coin to him, he is poorest man among everyone in kingdom. Not content with a big empire he now wants Deccan. So he has come to beg for blessings from far off Delhi”.

Emperor Jehangir felt ashamed and asked forgiveness from the fakir and left

 

Prince Salim – A long hidden desire

Prince Salim

Prince Salim

Emperor Jehangir aka Prince Salim was going with his entourage to Lahore once when he was 50 years old.

It is the playful but world-weary and tired Jahangir that was remembered in the subcontinent. The Venetian traveler Niccola Manucci records the following anecdote about Jahangir he picked up in India at least half a century after the emperor’s death:

 

One day he was passing through Lahore city when he saw a number of little children playing in the street. He descended from his elephant, sat himself down on the ground in their midst, and distributed sweets, flowers, clothes, gold and silver coin. After embracing and kissing them, he said tearfully: ‘Better were it for me to die or to be a little one like you, not to be as I am to-day, with my conscience entangled in the affairs of this weaiy world.’ At these words he took his departure with a salutation, the tears streaming from his eyes. From these and other like acts the people judged that this king feared God, and desired to live without causing harm to his vassals.

 

So one can only imagine by this incident noted what Jehangir/Salim was deprived of in childhood. Prince Salim went at a very young age of 9 years to war field. In 1581 he was incharge of the Kabul campaign at mere age of 12 years and he had 5000 soldiers(foot and infantry) or Masabdari under him.By 1585 he had 12000 mansabdari the highest any military commander could have apart from the emperor at mere age of 16 years.Hence may be he did not get time to enjoy childhood like common children and hence regretted it in his 50s.

Jehangir and religion

Jehangir playing holi

Jehangir playing holi

Jehangir was a man who had varied interest in religion. Although he was a muslim he even celebrated Hindu festivals at palace like Diwali and holi. Jehangir got so impressed with a jain saint that he took diksha in Jainism and named himself Jagat guru and his chief consort Jodha Bai as Jagat Gosain. Jehangir celebrated parsee festivals like Nauroz with fervour. Jehangir loved celebrating rakhi the hindu festival of bond between brother and sister. Jehangir not only had many rakhi sisters who were maids at palace but allowed commoners to tie him Rakhi. He even allowed the Hindu nobels at his court to tie him rakhi. Dusserha was another beloved festival of emperor Jehangir. He inspected horses, elephants, camels etc in his stable that day. The animals were decorated and presented in parade before the emperor.

Jehangir even celebrated the festival of Pind Dhan and called learned and religious man and gifted them and gave them food and sent Prince Khurram to Akbars tomb to give away 10000 gold coins in alms to commemorate his fathers death anniversary. In 1620 when Jehnagir was in Kashmir he went on boat to watch the festival of “Vethtarwah”  that is done to commemorate River Jhelum. In 1619 Jehangir went to Mathura and visited the temples of Brindahavan. In 1621 Jehangir visited the holy citry of Haridwar and described it as “one of the most holy cities of hindus”. He gave money and alms to the Barhims who worshipped at the ghats and even visited Kashi Vishwanath temple.

Jehangir followed his fathers liberal religious policy. The fact that when Prince Salim rebelled against his father could have used his fathers liberal policy of following various religions as a apostasy and yet did not neither did historians in his regime use it as reason for his rebellion shows he was a liberal. When Abul fazl was killed again Salim could have convienently blamed Akbars renunciation of Islam as excuse for his crimes yet did not. In 1598 a Christian converted to Islam to marry his dead wife neice and Prince Salim desired to punish him but Akbar forbade it. Jehangir like his father converted many Hindu religious texts into Persian and asserted there was not much difference between Sufism in Islam and Vedanta school of philosophy.

When Jehangir became emperor ther Ulemma assumed that Jehangir will be favourable to Islam. Mullah Shah Ahmad wrote to various ministers in mughal court to implement Shariat etc. Jehangir gave orders to Sheikh farid to give names of four scholars who would oversee that nothing against Shariat is done in Empire.  Mullah Ahmad wanted only one person appointed instead of four scholars and thus this matter reached stalemate.  Jehangir ordered allowances to be given to Islam converts. In the sixth year of his reign he ordered a decree to all Governors of provinces that they were not to convert anyone to Islam forcibly.

Jahangir allowed his friend Bir Singh Bundela to build a magnificent temple at Mathura. More than 70 new temples were allowed to come up in Benaras. He allowed Church to be built in Ahmedabad in 1620 and at Hugli. He allowed Christian cemetery at Lahore and Agra. He allowed unhindered Hindu pilgrimage. Jahnagir gave a allowance of Rs 7 to Christian fathers daily who were in agra.

 

In the opening section of his autobiography, Jahangir celebrates the tolerance of his father Akbar.

In Akbar’s India, Jahangir writes:

” there was room for the professors of opposite religions, and for beliefs, good and bad, and the road to altercation was closed. Sunnis and Shias met in one mosque, Christians and Jews in one church, and observed their form of worship.”

Britain’s first ambassador to the Mughal court, memorably recorded Jahangir’s own affirmation of religious tolerance, voiced during what was clearly a not unusual drunken evening:

“The good king fell to dispute the laws of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. And in drink was so kind that he turned to me, and said: ‘Am I a king? You shall be welcome.’ Christians, Moors, Jews, he meddled not with their faith. They came all in love, and he would protect them from wrong. They lived under his safety and none should oppress them. And this often repeated. But in extreme drunkenness he fell to weeping and to divers passions, and so kept us till midnight.”

 Drunk or sober, Jahangir was a strikingly tolerant ruler. As he travelled through his Empire, thousands would have been present to watch the Emperor’s visits to holy men and to their shrines, and to witness his public demonstration of a multi-faith society in action. But Jahangir also seems to have been driven by his own, personal desire to explore the spiritual truths of other religious traditions. He had many private meetings with a renowned Hindu hermit, Gosa’in Jadrup, and he describes one of these in his autobiography:

“The place he had chosen to live in was a hole on the side of a hill, which had been dug out and a door made. In this narrow and dark hole he passes his time in solitude. In the cold days of winter, though he is quite naked, with the exception of a piece of rag that he has in front and behind, he never lights a fire. I conversed with him, and he spoke well, so much as to make a great impression on me.”

It’s almost impossible to imagine a European ruler at this date, or indeed at any date, being represented so submissively taking instruction in faith. In spite of all the political upheavals in India all holy men were revered by emperors and Kings alike.

 

Jahnagir had great issues with Guru Arjun Singh as he sided with Prince Khusrau during rebellion. Jehangir called Guru Arjan Singh and passed capital punishment for treason. But some ministers intervened on his behalf and Jehangir told if he paid 1,00,000 coins as fine he will be let off. Guru Arjun singh refused to pay. Diwan Chandu Lal of Lahore stood is surety. The Diwan of Lahore tortured him and he asked to be allowed to bathe in river Ravi. He did not come out alive from the river.

 

Jehangir celebrated various festivals in grand and public way. Guerreiro has recorded festival of muslims. Jehangir kept fasts for Ramzan and invited Shaikhs and Sayyids to break their fast on some days. On the seventh year of his ascension in 1612 Jehangir celebrated  Rakhi festival publicly and allowed citizens to tie him Rakhi or sacred threads. In Bengal once on Maha Shivratri he met yogis and listened to their stories at night. Dusserha was celebrated every year by the emperor with inspection of mughal troops, horses and elephants. On Diwali Jehangir and his ministers sat and involved in gambling games. Christians could openly celebrate Christmas and easter at agra, Delhi and Lahore. Jehangir himself participated in Christmas festivities in palace organized by British and Portugese ambassadors. He kept hindu astrologers at court to tell him auspicious dates and also weighed himself and his children on special days.

Guerreiro records Jehangir discussing religious matters with Christian missionaries at court. Jehangir met the saint Mian Mir at Lahore and listened to his discourse. He met Jadurup in Ujjain and Mathura and even came to the conclusion that Vedanta of Hindus and Sufi philosophy was similar.

Jeahngir banned public sale of wine, opium and bhang. He ordered total suppression of public gambling. Jehangir himself was a very heavy drinker in his adult years and recorded drinking 40 glasses of wine  a day. But when his health detoriated he reduced it to 10 glasses and than 6 glasses a day but added opium to get the intoxication.  He banned child widows whose marriage was not consummated from burning on funeral pyre. He banned sati and it was only permitted with consent of the woman by the governor of state himself. He banned castration of children.

 

Thomas Roe writes that Jehangir was an atheist. He was an Hindu sometimes, and professing Islam when required.  Willam Finch thought he was a Christian only because he kept pictures of Christ and Mother Mary in his bedroom. Others accused him to be a member of Din- I-Illahi. Since Jehangir hunted wild boar many muslim clerics felt he was a khafir or non believer though none dared to say that openly. 

This Kings disposition seemes composed of extreames : very cruell, and otherwhiles very milde ; often overcome with wine, but severely punishing that fault in others. His subjects know not to disobey . He daily relieves many poore, and will in pietie helpe to carrie sometimes his mother in a palanka on his shoulders. He speakes respectively of our Saviour, but is offended at His crosse and povertie ; thinking them incompetible to such majestic, though told that His humilitie was to subdue the worlds pride

 

A Christians Priest account of Jehangir and court

All religions are tolerated, and their priests in good esteeme. My selfe often received from the Mogoll himselfe the appellation of Father,  with other many gracious words, with place amongst his best nobles. The Jesuites have not only admittance into his piresence but incouragements from him by many gifts, with libertie of converting to them ; and to the subject, to be without losse of favour converted. He made tryall of one convert ^ with many threats to deterre him from his new profession ; and finding him undauntedly resolute, he assayed by flatteries and promises to re-gaine liim ; but therein also failing, hee bade him continue, and with a reward discharged him ; having told him that if he could have frayed [i. e. frightened] or brought him from his religion, he would have made him an example for all waverers. The chiefe Jesuite was Franciscus Corsi, a Florentine by birth, living at the Mogols court agent for the Portugals. I would I were able to conflrme the reports of their conversions. The truth is they have spilt the water of baptisme upon some faces, working on the necessities of poore men, who for want of meanes, which they give them, are content to weare crucifixes, but for want of instruction are only in name Christians. I observed that of the poore there, five have begged in the name of Marie for one in the name of Christ

 

In 1617 jehangir met Jadrup Gosain a jain saint in Ujjain. Saint Jadrup lived in an ant hill in a forest and Jehangir wanted to call him to agra to meet him. But he desisted and in 11th year odf his reign went to Ujjain and went to the forest to meet him. Jehangir spent six “garhis” with the saint in forest. They both discussed the science of Vedanta. Jehangir was so impressed by Jadrup Gosain he visited him again after three days and spent many hours talking to him. Jehangir and Thomas Roe both mention this visit in their books. In 1618 Jehangir halted his royal calvacade and visited the saint again and spoke to him at length. He visited him twice during the halt. In 1620 Jadrup moved his residence from Ujjain to Mathura. Jehangir visited him here also twice and talked to him for hours on philosophy and religion etc.

Jadrup requested Jehangir that according to Vedas the weight of a dam was 36 seers and hence it was better to make one dam as 36 seers instead of 30 seers. Jehangir passed an order that the weight of a “dams” be 36 seer in his empire. Mirza Aziz Koka met saint Jadrup and requested him to influence Jehnagir to release Khusrau and Jehangir released Khusrau on the saints request. Aziz Koka was Khusraus father in law. Hakim Beg brother in law of Nur Jahan beat Jadrup in whip on a small pertex, when Jehangir came to know he dismissed Hakim Beg from imperial service and never admitted him back.

Jehnagir banned cow slaughter in his empire. He issued a decree or farman dated 14th September in 1605 prohbiting animal slaughter in Gujarath for six months a year on representation from Bhanuchandra and Siddi Chandra. The jiziya or poll tax to visit mount Satrunjaya was also abolished. In 1617 Jehnagir invited jain saint Vijaya Deva Suri to Mandu court and met him. Jehnagir was highly impressed with him and remained friendly with him even exchanging letters later on.

The Jogis of Jhakbar gaddi Chandra nath requested to grant 10 bigah land in his name in Punjab which was done through firman by Jehangir.  In 1600 Prince Salim aka Jehangir issued Firman granting 178 bigahs of land to Ajunmal Jangam of Jangambari mutt of Benars. Jehnagir visited Pushkar near Ajmer and granted many villages by firman to Barhmins of Pushkar who worshiped the lake.

Thus like his father Akbar, Jehangir was not confined to one religion and he used to converse with various religion followers. He was one of the highest learned man of his times and knew many languages like Persian, Urdu, Hindi, Rajasthani etc and could converse with various religious on varied religious topics.

Bibliography: Jehangirnama, Early travels in india, Thomas roe Embassy, jehangir and jesuits, The religious policy of mughal emperors, majalis i jahangiri  by lahori etc

Salim and his pets

jehangir with his pet lion
jehangir with his pet lion

Prince salim aka Emperor Jehangir was a lover of nature and animals. He loved hunting but at the same time he was very fond of his pet animals. His love for his pets sometimes transcended belief levels. Like when his pet Manas Raj died by accident he built Hinar Minar aka Taj mahal of animal kingdom for it in Sheikupura in Lahore outskirts. People in Lahore/agra seeing his love for deer started saying Jehangir loved Manas Raj like he loved his own brothers Murad and Daniyal. In todays times pets are considered family but in those times it was odd to treat pets as family and shower them with affection like siblings or children or mourn them at death by building huge tombs like Jehangir did for Manas Raj.

He built Haathi Mahal(elephant palace) for his elephants to spend time after retiring from war services. He would even speak to his pets. In 21st century its considered normal  to speak to pets like humans but in 16th century people thought that as eccentric. He loved his elephants so much that seeing them shivering in cold Yamuna water in December he ordered his swimming pool to be filled with hot water and allow his elephants to bathe in it. Jehangir even mentioned in Jehangirnama if his wife and sons were a fraction as loyal as his pet animals he would be happiest man in world.

Jehangir was fond of giving animals as gifts to his well wishers. Very elaborate gifts were expected on Nauroz. But gift-giving was reciprocal, and the givers usually received in excess of what they gave, even if the award of a pair of elephants from the emperor might be viewed with some skepticism, given the cost of maintaining elephants.

His brother Prince daniyal was fond of animals too and hence Salim sent him exotic animals and horses as gifts often

Quote from Jehangirnama

Danyal was a young man of fine stature, with a pleasing build and good-looking.  He was very fond of elephants and horses. It was impossible for him to hear that anyone had a good horse or elephant and not get it.

Emperor Jahangir’s court boasted a 100 lions, tamed and perfectly trained. Lions must have been bred in the emperor’s ‘Royal Lion House’ and were plentiful in the Mughal menageries. In 1619, Jacques de Coutre, a Flemish merchant, experienced this first- hand in Agra when he walked into a patio of lions. One even caught his leg in its jaw but did no harm.

Once someone told Jehangir that lion and tigers cannot change their true nature and will kill any human if given an opportunity. So Jehangir kept his bred lions and tigers in his bedroom for many months and even in his Dewan e Khas and none tried to kill him.

Jehangir would get so fascinated by looking at animals. Once he went to jungle and saw cub tigers alone without mother and picked them up and started playing with them. He was so engrossed in the playing with baby animals that he did not see mother tiger approaching him from back to attack. For his luck one of his commander saw that and shot the mother tiger dead as it pounced on Salim. Later Salim got the baby tiger cubs and took care of them in his palace.

Another incident that shows his love for his pets is in Rajputhana war. Prince Salim was 10 years old and was in Rajputhana for war. He had rescued a baby deer from a tiger in forest and taking care of it in war camp. One day the baby deer ran out and was caught by the enemy camp soldiers. When Salim arrived in evening after a day at war his pet deer was missing and he got news its captured by enemy soldiers. None was ready to go into enemy camp and rescue the pet deer. So at night Salim himself went into the enemy war camp and got his baby deer freed and got it back. Only issue was seeing its owner come to rescue it baby deer started crying in joy that brought attention of enemy soldiers on Salim. Yet he managed to get his pet deer back risking his life. It was more of a kid folly to get into enemy camp just to get back his baby pet deer. If he had not rescued it would have ended up as dinner or lunch mostly.

Another incident mentioned about Jehangirs pet love is about his pet lion. Once Jehangir was away from agra for few days and when he came back one of his pet lion realized same and ran to meet his owner escaping cluthes of care takers into the Deewan e Aam. Soon chaos ensured and commoners and ministers alike were running helter shelter looking at a huge lion running in Deewan e aam during court time. Finally Jehangir had to get down from emperor seat and calm the lion and the lion refused to go back into the lion stable at any cost leaving its owner. Thus Jehangir had lion company by his side through the days court proceedings as the lion refused to be coaxed back from Deewan e aam leaving his owner and the proceedings could not be stopped to allow Jehangir to go back to his palace taking his lion along.

This was common for Jehangir to take his pet lion/tiger for meetings with ambassadors and other emperors. But having a lion perched on emperors seat next to its owner Jehangir in Deewan e aam was an uncommon sight for agra citizens and nobels.  The Christian priests recorded this incident in their letters. Many mughal paintings decipt Jehangir with lion on stroll while meeting Persian ambassador etc

Jehangir was a curious naturalist and had keen sense of observation. Jehangirnama is filled with observations about animals

On this day Salbahan arrived from Burhanpur and exhibited to my view my late brother Danyal’s horses and elephants. One of the elephants he had brought was named Mast-i-Alast. I liked its looks, so I named it Nur Gaj. An amazing thing was witnessed in this elephant. Beside both ears were bumps the size of small watermelons, and there was also a bump on the place where fluid drips out from elephants when they are in rut. The bump on its forehead was larger than has been seen in other elephants. I thought it looked very handsome and awe-inspiring.

 But he was a keen and expert hunter too as noted in Jeghangirnama

On Monday the fourteenth [February 20], while on the road, it was heard that two Mar. i 607-Mar i 608 91 lions were menacing travelers between Panipat and Karnal, I got my elephants together and set out. When I reached the place they had been spotted, I got on a female elephant and ordered the other elephants to encircle the lions as m a qamargha. By God’s grace I shot them both and eliminated the evil of these two, which had blocked the people’s way.

This is what he wrote about his pet turkey that he got as gift

Although His Majesty Firdaws-Makani [Babur] wrote in his memoirs of the shapes and forms of some animals, apparently he did not order the artists to depict them. [85a] Since these animals looked so extremely strange to me, I both wrote of them and ordered the artists to draw their likenesses m the Jabanginuvna so that the astonishment one has at hearing of them would increase by seeing them. One of the animals was larger in body than a peahen and significantly smaller than a peacock. Sometimes when it displays itself during mating it spreads its tail and its other feathers like a peacock and dances. Its beak and legs are like a rooster’s. Its head, neck, and wattle constantly change color. When it is mating they are as red as can be—you’d think it had all been set with coral. After a while these same places become white and look like cotton.

Sometimes they look turquoise. It keeps changing color like a chameleon. The piece of flesh it has on its head resembles a cock’s comb. Tbe strange part about it is that when it is mating, the piece of flesh hangs down a span from its head like an elephant’s trunk, but then when it pulls it up it stands erect a distance of two fingers like a rhinoceros’ horn. The area around its eyes is always turquoise-colored and never changes. Its feathers appear to be of different colors, unlike a peacock’s feathers.

He even made his elephant taker a Raja, Quote from Jehangirnama

Kishan Das, the overseer of the elephant department and stable who had held the two offices since His Majesty Arsh-Ashyani’s time and who had been hoping for a long, long time to be made a raja, was awarded the title of raja and given a rank of 1000

Jehangirs elephants bitten by mad dog, quote from Jehangirnama

I knew that any animal bitten by a mad dog would certainly die, but until now it wasn’t known to be true of elephants. One night during my reign, however, a mad dog got into the area in which one of my personal elephants, Kachhi by name, was tied and bit the leg of the female elephant that was my elephant’s companion. [95b] The female immediately roared, and the elephant keeper came running and drove the dog away into a thorn brake in tbe vicinity. A little later it came back out, went to my elephant, and bit it on the leg. The elephant stepped on the dog and killed it. One cloudy day a month and five days later, a clap of thunder hit the female’s ear while it was grazing. All at once it bellowed, its limbs began to tremble, and it threw itself on the ground. It got up again, but it drooled for seven days until suddenly it bellowed in distress. No treatment

the elephant keepers tried did any good. On the seventh day it fell down dead. One month after the female elephant’s death they were taking the male to the fields by the river bank, and it was cloudy and thundering again. In a rage the elephant began trembling and sat down on the ground. The keepers brought it home, showing every sort of kindness and concern, but after the same period of time and in the same way the female had died this one died too. Such an occurrence was astonishing. It is truly amazing that an animal with a body so large and big could be affected so by a wound inflicted by an animal so small

Jehangir loved being with his pet animals when they gave birth to baby animals and observed it closely

On the eve of Sunday the eleventh of Tir [circa June 22], a female elephant from my personal stable gave birth in my presence. I had repeatedly ordered investigation made into the length of an elephant’s gestation. Finally it was learned that a female was in the mother’s womb for one year and six months, while a male was there for nineteen months. In contrast to human babies, which usually come from the mother’s womb head first, an elephant calf usually comes out

feet first. When the calf was separated from the mother, the mother kicked dust on it with her feet and began to show love and reassure it. The calf remained down for an instant, and then it got up and went for the mother’s udders.

 Jehangir was a great pet owner he observed his pets discomfort and often suggested ways to relive of them, Quote from Jehangirnama

 From the time the elephant Nur Bakht entered the royal stable it had been kept tied in the Public and Private Palace. Of all animals the elephant particularly likes water and loves to get into it, even during the cold weather of winter. If there is no water available, it will take water from a bag and spray it over its body. It therefore occurred to me that, no matter how much elephants enjoy water and are accustomed to it by nature, surely during winter they must be affected by the cold water. I therefore ordered the water heated to lukewarm and poured into its trunk. On previous days when it sprayed cold water over itself, the effects of shivering and trembling could be seen, whereas, in contrast, it seemed to enjoy the warm water. Such treatment is peculiarly mine.

 Jehangirs tribute to his pet a tomb to rival Taj Mahal in middle of river in Lahore

 Hiran Minar was built at the site of a game reserve in honors of Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s pet antelope, due to his fondness of nature and relationship between human’s pets and hunting. Therefore, Hiran Minar was built during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir in a hunting reserve used by the Mughal royals. During the region of Emperor Salim from 1605 to 1627, Sheikhupura had the status of a royal hunting ground. The minaret itself was built in 1606 as a monument to Emperor Jahangir’s beloved pet antelope, Mansiraj, or “Light of the Mind”. Who had been trained to lure wild animals to the tank in order to be hunted? The practice of building such tomb-markers over the skulls of game animals is an ancient Persian custom. Mughal Emperor Jahangir ordered to build a tower and a grave for his deer, Mansraj, and he spotted a deer tried to kill, but accidentally killed his own favorite, Mansraj. The emperor becomes so sad that he ordered to bury deer in the ground where it died and build a tower called Hiran Minar. This is a very rare example of love towards a pet, a gesture of love towards wildlife in a time when the western world was even not familiar with such intentions.

 Thus Prince Salim aka Jehangirs love for his pet animals exceeded the boundaries of pet love during 16th century and even British/French were shocked at his display of pet affection. His pet love was more of 21st century levels where pet animals are considered family.

Jehangir and Hira Kunwari

Hira Kunwari

Hira Kunwari

Prince Salim was born to Princess Hira Kunwari on 31st August 1569. Princess Hira Kunwari was daughter of Raja Bhiramal of Amer(Jaipur) and sister of Bhagwan das and aunt of Raja Man Singh. She married Akbar in 1562 at the age of 12 years and gave birth to Salim at age 19 years in 1569. Though nothing much is written about Prince Salim and his mother relationship in Akbarnama a few travellers have mentioned details of his bonding with his mother. Prince Salim respected his mother a lot and would carry her palanquin on his shoulders at times, even in his late 40s or early 50s as mentioned by travellers. He called his mother Hazrat or his Majesty. Hazrat means holy and respected and usually used for prophets and saints in Arabic. He also greeted his mother with great honour doing sajda(kneeling and kissing ground where mother stands) which people do while praying to God in Islam and prostration(lying stretched flat on ground in front of mother) which people do in front of Idols(Hindu Gods) or saints. That shows the respect he had for his mother. When Portugese captured his mothers trading ship he attacked Goa and captured it.

Jehangir says following about his birth

When my mother was near the time of delivery, she was sent to the shaykh’s house so that my birth might take place there. After my birth I was named Sultan Salim, although one never heard my father, either drunk or sober, call me Sultan Salim or Muhammad Salim. He always called me “Shaikhu Baba”

 Jehangir had great regard for his mother and from time to time he mentions his mother in Jehangirnama. He addresses her as “My mother” or “Her Majesty” or “hazrat”  or “Marium uz Zamani”  the title given to her after his birth which means “Mary of ages”. Akbars mother was known as Marium Makhani. The emperors mother or elder sons mother was given honorific names like Marium uz Zamani and Marium Makhani  etc. Jehangir had great respect for his mother and often did sajda (Kneeling and kissing ground near mothers feet) and postration (lying stretched on ground flat and bowing at mothers feet) and Koinush (bending back to half and saluting mother). He mentions same in Jehangirnama

 I had stationed my son Khurram to guard the palaces and treasuries when I set out in pursuit of Khusraw. After my mind was relieved on that score, it was ordered that Khurram should bring Her Majesty Maryamuzzamani and the harem to me.* When they reached the vicinity of Lahore, on Friday the twelfth of the month [August 7] I got in a boat and attained the happiness of paying homage and greeting my mother in the vicinity of a village named Dhar. After executing the rites of koriinush, prostration (sijda), and and after observing the formalities the young owe their elders under the terms of the Genghis code and Timurid law, I performed my evening worship of the Omniscient King. When that was finished I obtained permission to withdraw and entered the fortress in Lahore.

Jehangir used to carry his mothers Palaquin on his shoulders sometimes. Both travellers during Akbars regime and Jehangirs regime mention this fact. Duirng Akbars regime one traveller mentions that Prince Salim Shah carried his mothers palanquin from palace to place of worship(temple) on his shoulders.

Edward Terry who came to India between 1616-1619 mentions in his traveller memories

He will in pietie helpe to carrie sometimes his mother in a palanka on his shoulders. He speakes respectively of our Saviour, but is offended at His crosse and povertie ; thinking them incompetible to such majestic, though told that His humilitie was to subdue the worlds pride.

Jahangir’s birthday, along with the imperial weighing ceremony that marked it, was therefore celebrated twice, once according to the lunar calendar on the seventeenth of Rabi’ I (which fell on August thirtieth the year he was born, A.H. 977 ( 1569) and again according to the solar calendar on or around the twenty-second of Shahrivar ( beginning of September).  Akbar himself started this tradition of weighing Salim in gold and silver. This weighing usually took place in his mother Marium uz Zamani’s palace.

Jehangir mentions his weighing a few times in jehangirnama

On Wednesday the eighteenth , the weighing ceremony for my fortieth lunar year  was held in Maryamuzzamani’s quarters. I ordered the gold from the weighing distributed to the women and the deserving. On Thursday the first of Jumada II , the solar weighing ceremony was held in Her Majesty Maryamuzzamani’s quarters. Some of the gold was divided among he women, and the rest was ordered distributed to the poor of the realm.

When Jehangir was 44 years old he mentions being weighed twice once in lunar and once as per solar year. He mentions the same below.

Toward the end of Thursday the twentieth of the month (August 31), the solar weighing ceremony was held in Maryamuzzamani’s quarters, and, as usual, I had myself weighed against precious metals and other things. This year I was forty-four solar years old.On Thursday the twenty-second of Shahrivar, corresponding to the seventeenth of Rajab 1021 [September 3](1613 AD ), the solar weighing ceremony was held in Maryamuzzamani’squarters. Having myself weighed like this is a Hindu custom. His Majesty Arsh-Ashyani, who was kindness and generosity itself, approved of this custom and had himself weighed twice a year, once by the solar year and once by the lunar year, against all sorts of metals, gold, silver, etc., and mostly against valuable goods. The total, which amounted to a lac of rupees, was distributed to the poor and needy. 1 too maintain this custom, having myself weighed in the same manner and giving the goods to the poor.

When Salim was 45 years old he was again he was weighed at his mothers residence and he mentions same

 On the Thursday the twenty-eighth of Llrdibihisht, corresponding to the twenty-sixth of Rabi’ I 1022 [May 6],(1614 AD) the lunar weighing ceremony was held in Maryamuzzamani’s quarters. 1 ordered some of the gold from the weighing distributed among the women and the needy who had gathered in my mother’s quarters.

When Salim was 51 years he was again weigned in Marium uz Zamani’s palace

On the twenty-fourth [September 6] the solar weighing ceremony was held in Her Majesty Maryamuzzamani’s quarters, and my fifty-first year by solar reckoning commenced under good auspices. It is hoped that the remainder of my life will be spent in acts that please God.

Marriages of him and his sons were also held in Marium uz Zamani’s palace which Jehangir mentions

On Sunday the twenty-sixth of the aforementioned month [October 19], the marriage of Parvez to Prince Murad’s daughter was held. The betrothal was performed in fder Majesty Maryamuzzamani’s quarters, and the banquet was held in Parvez’s house. Everyone who was present at the celebration was ennobled with all sorts of favors andhonors. Nine thousand rupees were turned over to Sharif Amuli and several other amirs to be given as alms to the poor and needy.

On the fourth of Rabi’ 1 [June 8], Jagat Singh’s daughter entered the harem, and a wedding ceremony and banquet were held in Her Majesty Maryamuzzamani’s quarters. Included in the dowry Raja Man Singh sent were sixty elephants.

On the fourth of the month [April I 3] a celebration was held for my son Shahryar’s marriage. The henna party was held in Maryamuzzamani’s quarters, and the marriagewas performed in I’timaduddawla’s house. I went myself with the ladies of the haremand participated in the celebration.

 

Jehangir even ensured that he inspected the works his mother had ordered no matter how small they were

On Sunday the sixteenth [December 26] we covered four and a half kos and stopped in the village of Barfmadh Mata. Since the garden and step well that had been built by order of Her Majesty Maryamuzzamani in the pargana of Chausath was on the way, I went to see it. Without exaggeration, the stepwell is a fine structure and beautifully built. We ascertained from the officials that twenty thousand rupees had been spent on it.

This must be the Barmadh Mata mentioned by Beale (sec Proceedings A.S.B. for August, 1873). Beale says there is a place, of worship of the Hindus about 1½ koss from Biana in the dist rid of Bhartpur called Barmadh Mata. In the 7th year of Jahangir, 1022 1613, Jahangir’s mother Maryam-zamani made a garden and abaol (step-well) here at a cost of Rs. 20,000. The garden has disappeared, but the building which is over the baolli still exists. Boale gives the inscription. William Finch (Hakluyt Society) speaks of a place called Menhapur, near Biana, where there was a garden made by the Queen -Mother. It was a great sarfiy.

He mentions his mother coming to meet him at Fatekpur Sikri and waiting on her

On the same date Her Majesty Maryam uz zamani came from Agra to greet me, and I attained the happiness of waiting upon her. I hope that the shadow of her protection and affection will always be over the head of this supplicant.

Marium uz Zamani died on 19th May 1623 and buried near Akbars tomb in Tomb of Marium uz Zamani. Jehangir was not in agra to attend funeral but mentioned same in Jehangirnama.

At this time news came from Agra that her Majesty Maiyam uz zamani had passed away. It is hoped that God will inundate her in a sea of mercy.

Though Salim rebelled against Akbar in 1599 and the rebellion lasted till 1605 when he finally returned to Agra after his wife Man Bai’s death, the incident does not seem to have strained his relation with his mother. Hira Kunwari died in 1623 but Jehangir could not attend funeral and he was busy in Prince Khurram rebellion. His own health was detoriating with him having asthama and heart disease and liver problems because of excessive drinking in his younger days. Hence he mentons his mother death only in passing without the details of mourning that he wrote during Man Bai and Jodha Bai’s deaths.

Salim – Rebellion against Akbar

akbarjahangir

akbarsalim

Akbar and Salim’s relation was very complicated and oxcillated between deep love and extreme hate between both the father and son from a young age only. In mughals father had not much role in upbringing of child but Akbar appointed capable teachers and mentors to train his sons. Prince Salim went at a young of 8-9 years to war field. Young mughal princes went to war firld training at young age.

In 1591 Akbar was seriously unwell and Abul fazl his chronicler suggested that Akbar was poisoned and Akbar got angry on Prince Salim in front of his ministers and wives and told him why he could not wait to take throne for few more years than poison his father. Prince Salim felt so bad that he left the room in tears. Prince Salim got very angry at this open humiliation and accusation but kept quiet as he had not poisoned his father which was proved later on. It was discovered that Akbar had food poisoning later on investigation by eating non vegetarian food cooked in palace. Prince Salim never forgot this insult of his ever and took his revenge later by killing Abul fazl, the man who he felt had put this thought in his fathers head.

Prince Salim had helped his younger brother Prince Daniyal against Akbar wishes to marry an Hindu widow whom daniyal rescued from funeral pyre. This agitated Akbar to no end because Akbar was not in favour of such marriage, he only wanted royal wives or mughal relatives for his sons not commoners. That led to a showdown between Salim and Akbar.

Abul Fazl was a hated man in agra fort especially among Akbar’s family especially his children. That was because Akbar listened to his ministers especially Abul Fazl and his brother Faizi on every matter be it empire administration or personal family affairs. The family members especially kids felt that their father should take their advice or listen to them than any minister or friend. Especially Salim and than Murad had huge issues with the coterie and ministers of Akbar like Abul Fazl, Abdul Rahim Khan e Khana etc and defied their father openly as young adults. In his final years even the younger son Daniyal had issues with Akbar and his coterie and openly defied his fathers orders. This caused Akbar serious issues in later ages of his rule as all his three sons openly started defying his orders and took to heavy drinking.

When Akbar was unwell in 1590 all his three sons started mobilizing their supporters like commanders, ministers, nobels and Kings to wage a war of succession. Salim kept people to find what Murad was doing in Akbars illness, Daniyal was too young by contrast for both Murad and Salim to spy on him at that time. When Akbar heard of this, he sent his three sons in three different directions after recovering from his ill health. Daniyal was sent to Deccan, Murad to Gujarath and Salim to wars with Persia and rajputhana. After 1591 till 1597, Salim hardly came back to his family and mostly stayed away on wars. Rather, Akbar ensured he stayed out of agra and Lahore the seat of powers.

Akbar also may be in order to contain Salim appointed his elder son Prince Khusrau at age of seven to a high imperial rank of 10000 mansabha. He also gave Prince daniyal, his youngest son the rights to put the emperors flags and red tents in campaigns. Akbar even decalred publicly he loved his grandsons more than sons (this was direct dig at Prince Salim). Khusrau began to be treated like Salim’s brother and referred to him as Shah bai (Prince brother) rather than father. Akbar and Khusrau left no stone unturned to treat Prince Salim badly  and undercut him in court. This angered and shocked Salim to no extent but he had no options but to bear these insults silently.

Salim when he was in his early 30s once collapsed after heavy drinking in his palace and the Hakim- doctor told him that if he did not stop drinking he did not have many months to live as his liver had damaged considerably. At that time Salim was drinking 40 glasses of wine day and reduced it to 20 glasses a day after the warning. It was only a surprise that Salim did not succumb to heavy drinking like his other two brothers Murad and Daniyal. Like they say the plants under a huge banyan tree never grow and die young under its shades, Akbars sons did not get a chance to grow under his huge stature. They even felt he was neglecting them or not taking their advice on empire and even family matters hence wasted their life drinking away.  Akbar did not make things by sending them away from family and also pitting against them against each other. That led them to defy Akbars orders and advice and drinking heavily to forget the neglect from their father. Salim was not only pitted against his brothers but Akbar even pitted him against his own elder son Khusrau by taking him into his house hold and giving him high ranking of 10,000 mansabdar at age 7 years. This led to more fissures between father and son. Adding to that Khurram also was taken into Akbars household and Ruqaiah Begum became his foster mother.

After 1591, Salim hardly came to Lahore/Agra(three capitals where mughal family stayed) and imperial powers that be till 1597. He was mostly away as governor of Ajmer or wars with Persia or Rajputhana. This led to a great conflict in his family, his wives got lonely and his kids came under influence of relatives and Nobels instigated them against their father for their own benefits. Salim’s kids(sons especially) were brought up by Akbars household, they hardly had any bond or respect for their father or in case of Prince Khurram even mother Jodha Bai.  The chief among them who ensured Khusrau remained challenger to Salim were Abul fazl, the chronicle and friend of Akbar, Abdul Rahim Khan e Khana, Bairam Khans son who was also Khusrau’s father in law and Aziz Koka, milk brother of Akbar and PrinceDaniyal’s father in law. Apart from them Raja Man Singh sided with Khusrau as he was his sister Man Bai’s son and Sher Afghan Ali Quli, Meherunissa’s husband and later Governor of Bengal  and Meherunissa’s brother Muhammad Sharifuddin all were in favour of Khusrau becoming emperor after Akbar.

Why did all these people dislike Salim and support Khusrau? The reasons are many, few thought Salim is a drunkard and cannot handle empire properly. Some had personal hatred for Salim as he would not get easily influenced by their thoughts unlike a Akbar or Khusrau.  Some felt he would be orthodox and not liberal like Akbar which proved wrong in later stages. Salim was just using religion as tool to gain approval for his succession, once he became emperor and consolidated power he started acting like an atheist. He refused to allow any religious influence in politics and never hesitated to put in prison or kill any threat to his throne that included Sikhs or Muslim religious. When the battle of succession was ensuing Salim ensured everyone thought he favoured them, the muslim clergy thought he will reintroduce orthodox Islam in court and empire, the Christian portugese priests thought he will convert to Christianity etc.

In 1597 Prince Salim returned to imperial courts. Akbar immediately told him to go on campaign to Deccan to help Daniyal’s failing campaign. Salim refused, said Akbar is aged and hence he must stay in Agra court. Akbar was angered by this refusal and started giving more powers to Khusrau. The world was talking that Khusrau will succeed his grandfather and not Salim.

In 1599 Akbar went to Deccan war and ordered Salim to go to war with Maharana Pratap. Salim went but stopped at Ajmer and  did not bother to go forward to war with Mewar. Instead in 1599, Salim rebelled and marched to agra fort with intention to steal the royal treasury. But his grandmother and step mothers thwarted this effort. Salim with his army went to Allahabad and set up independent rule and minted coins in his name. Akbar tried his best too contain the rebellion by appointing Salim governor of Bengal etc but Salim refused to stop rebellion.

Salim felt that Abul Fazal was instigating his father against him. He felt Abul Fazl was advicing Akbar to make Daniyal next emperor than him. Salim had strong opposition at mughjal court because all his fathers close friends and Navratnas were against him. So he got Abul fazl killed by his friend Bir Singh Bundela, later Raja of Orccha in 1602. Bir Singh sent his head as gift to Prince Salim. Akbar was saddened by this death of his close confidant and friend. But Salim now had more powers and could go to agra without major opposition. No one would now dare consider him lightly as contender for throne and also his safety was more ensured in Lahore and agra fort by his act. His opponents got the message that he can eliminate his enemies if he wanted no matter how powerful and how close to Akbar.

The period between 1599 to 1605 is very significant period in Salim and Akbars life. Its in 1599 that Meherunissa later Nur Jahan, rumoured love interest of Prince Salim was married to Ali Quli, a commander of mughals. Its said Akbar did not want Salim to marry Meherunissa and married her off to Ali Quli. Salim rebelled that same year when he was sent on expedition to Rajputhana against Maharana Partap. Instead of going to war against Maharana Pratap he turned his army towards agra since Akbar had gone to Deccan to help Daniyal in war against Ahmednagar. In 1599, Akbar lost his second son Prince Murad to extreme alchoholism. This death shook both Akbar and Salim, as Salim was also closer to his younger brother Murad by that time. Both had openly started defying against Akbars orders by than and Salim may have felt he had found an ally against his father and mughal court in his brother. Both were contenders for same throne as young adults but their fathers favouritism towards Daniyal and Khusrau and hatred for Akbars coterie had got them close in last few years. The matter complicated more when Murad wrote in his death will giving his personal possessions to Prince Salim and even guardianship of his small kids to Salim.

In 1604, finally Akbar decided to end Salims rebellion and marched to meet him on banks of Ganga but he received news of his mother Marium Makhani Hamida Banu’s death on 6th Sep 1604 and returned back to agra. Salim himself very close to his grandmother went to attend her funeral in agra against advice by confidants. Akbar was furious at Salim and admonished him for rebellion and put him in prison for few days. This led to anger from Salim’s side and more bad blood. In 11th March 1605, Akbars last son Prince Daniyal died destroying hopes of Akbar on his succession later. Finally as last straw, Man Bai consumed opium and killed herself when Salim was on a hunt in Allahabad on 16th May 1604. Man Bai’s death broke Salim’s spirit and he decided to move to agra to be with his father, close to seat of power. Salim and Khusrau blamed each other for Man Bai’s death. Man Bai basically killed herself as her son had rebelled against his father for throne and did not listen to her advice.

After Salim returned to agra, again bad blood ensured between father and son with relatives and nobels trying their best to make differences between them. Once when Akbar was quiet unwell he sent a message to Salim to come to meet him in palace, but Salim never went for four days. Actually when Salim went to Akbar’s palace in boat his boat was sprayed with arrows and his boatman died. The second day when he attempted to go to Akbars palace to meet him, a courtier came running to him on fort ramparts and told him not to enter Agra fort as an assassination attempt was to take place. Salim again went back. Akbar was angry why Salim was not coming to meet him despite sending messengers. Actually Man Singh and Aziz Koka had placed their gaurds at gra fort to ensure Salim never comes to meet Akbar or even if he comes he may be captured. Salim then sent his wife and chief consort Jodha Bai to meet Akbar and get all his kids from Akbars palace to his own palace for their own safety. Jodha Bai met Akbar and told him of the assassination attempts and took three of Salim’s kids with her back to their fathers palace. Prince Khurram refused to accompany his mother and stayed back at Akbars palace. When Akbar came to know attempts he called a court meeting and declared that from that day Prince Salim will handle all his duty(Akbar’s) including  administration and any war related decisions. This shocked Khusrau camp.

Not until a few weeks before Akbar’s death did Salim and Akbar get a chance to sort differences. There was strong rebellion to ensure that Khusrau became next emperor and not Salim. A meeting was called to this effect by Abdul Rahim Khan e Khana and Man Singh but elder noblemen like Sheikh Bhukari and Saiyid Khan opposed this move and walked out of meeting. This shocked Khusraus supporters. Murtaza Khan brought good news to Salim that many nobels were on his side. Finally Abdul Rahim, Mirza Aziz Koka had to come to pay their respect to future emperor. Akbar knew his last time had come and called Salim to agra fort and gave him his turban and sword signalling him to be next emperor over Khusrau. The funeral took place same day 27th October 1605 and Akbar was buried in Sikandra, agra. Salim left to his palace after funeral and was crowned after 8th day of Akbars death.

Khusrau by now was with Raja Man Singh and both were planning to flee to Bengal. Salim summoned Man Singh and forgave Khusrau. The one reason for Salim forgiving Khusrau initially was that his mother Hira Kunwari must have interceded on his behalf and also Salim was feeling guilty that Man Bai died at such young age. Whether Salim madly loved Man Bai like a Nur Jahan or Sahib Jamal is disputable, but he certainly respected her as she was his first wife and gave her titles like Shah Begum(Kings wife).

 

Salim – Marriages (Famous)

Prince Salim

 

 

Prince Salim

 

In mughals Princes were usually married at the age of 16. On this occasion the palace and the whole city were decorated, roads covered with costly cloth and illuminated, trees beautified with artificial flowers and armed soldiers wearing colorful uniforms stood on both sides of the road where the marriage procession passed. The bridegroom sat on an elephant, while nobles in palkis (palanquins) or on horses followed him. Music and dancing were the order of the day. The wedding celebrations lasted for a month, during which grand feasts and entertainment were held at the royal palace. Alms and charity were distributed generously, prisoners were released and food was served to the poor. Turkish ceremonies were usually observed at weddings, but as Akbar and his successors married Rajput princesses, Hindu customs were also adopted. Three Turkish and Indian ceremonies such as sachaq, mehndi, and the baarat were very significant. Before the wedding costly gifts were exchanged between the two families for the bride and groom. The bride received a dowry from her parents, as well from her in-laws. According to the Muslim law, the bride received mehr or alimony from the bridegroom.

Prince Salim married 25 women, majority of these weddings were arranged by his parents. Ony 3 of his wives were commoners and they were also from famous mughal nobleman family and only one Persian nobel’s family. Prince Salim first marriage was to Man Bai of Amer aka Jaipur. Man bai was daughter of his mother Hira Bai’s elder brother Bhagwan das and sister of Raja Man Singh. Bhagwan Das desired to marry his daughter Man Bai to Prince Salim. The marriage took place in a grand way not heard or seen before or after those times. Akbar himself went to Amer along with his nobels and ministers to take part in wedding on 16th February 1584. Akbar ordered gold and costly jewels to be scattered all the way from agra palace to Amer along the route the marriage procession took. When prince Salim was married to the daughter of Raja Bhagwandas, the mehr was fixed at two crore silver tankas(coins). The Raja gave away horses, elephants, slave boys and girls from Ethiopia and India as dowry along with gold and silver utensils adorned with jewels. At the same time the Raja gave a saddled horse to every noble who accompanied the bridegroom.

Bhagwan das thanked Akbar and said “My daughter is the honour of your palace and we your slaves”.  But Akbar replied “ Your daughter is the Queen of our palace and you are our great Lord”. As a mark of respect to rajpuths, Akbar and Prince Salim carried the palanquin of Princess Man Bai for a short distance at her marriage to Salim. Man bai was mother of Prince Khusrau, elder son of Salim. Man Bai died at very young age of 34 years by consuming high opium in 1604. She is buried in Khusrau bagh in Allahabad with her son.

After the marriage, the prince was allowed a separate establishment with a monthly allowance for the newlyweds. Sometimes a prince would be given a palace, servants, and cash for initial expenses. Mughal princes were mostly married into the royal family or to the daughters of nobles, members of the Safawids of Iran who had come to the Mughal court, and daughters of Rajput rulers. Marriage with Rajput princesses and with the daughters of the Safawids had a political significance.

Jodha Bai

Jodha Bai

Prince Salim another famous wife was his third wife was Jodha Bai of Marwar aka Jodhpur on 11th June 1586. 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. 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 father’s sister 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. Maharani Rukmavathi was the one of the top ten chief wives of Akbar. Jodha Bai had two children a daughter who died as infant and another son Prince Khurram the future emperor Shah Jahan.  Jodha Bai died at young age of 46 years in 1619. She was buried in agra but her tomb was destroyerd by British in 18th century.

Sahib Jamal was another favourite wife of Prince Salim. She was daughter of Khwaja Hussain,  who was cousin brother of Zain Kahn Koka the milk brother of Akbar. Akbar was not in favour of this wedding as Sahib Jamal was a commoner but Salim was very much keen to marry her and finally Akbar relented. Salim married sahib Jamal in October 1586. She was mother of second son of Prince Salim, Prince Parviz. Sahib Jamal died very young at age 27 years in 1599 and is buried in Lahore with her son.

Sahila Banu Begum was another favourite wife of Salim. She was the daughter of Qasim Khan of Mughal lineage. Salim married her in 1607 and immediately made her Padshah Begum and she remained Padshah Begum till her death in 1620. Since she was so highly favoured, its assumed that her father must have been a cousin of Emperor Akbar. Thats because Padshah Begum was next only to the emperor in decision making and usually sisters(cousin sisters included) or mothers of Emperors became Padshah Begums.  Contrary to popular belief, the famous Meherunissa aka Nur Jahan was made Padshah Begum only after Sahila Banu’s death in 1620. Sahila Banu Begum had two kids who died at infancy. Sahila Banu herself died at young age of 28 years. This is one feature of many of Prince Salim’s wives many died at very younge ages in their 20s or early 30s.

Koka Kumari Begum was another controversial marriage of Prince Salim. Koka Kumari sahiba was the Princess of Amer and was grand daughter of Man Singh. Prince Salim married her on 17th June 1608. Koka Kumari was a relative of his mother Hira Kunwari and a daughter of Jagat Singh, Crown Prince of Amer. This marriage was basically a political marriage to stop Raja Man Singh who had supported Khusrau for the throne against Prince Salim. Koka Kumari sahiba was a widow and 26 years old when Prince Salim married her to stop Man Singhs revolt. Koka Kumari lived a long life unlike other wives of Prince Salim and lived with her step son Shah Jahan in Delhi after Emperor Jehangir’s death.  One of her neice was even married to Prince Khurram aka Emperor Shah Jahan by his father Emperor Jehangir. She did not have children from Prince Salim.

nur jahan

nur jahan

Nur Jahan was the most controversial wife of Prince Salim and his last wife. She was daghhter of Minister of Akbar, Itmadullah and a widow of Sher Afghan. Emperor Jehangir married her on 25th May 1611 when she was 34 years old and a widow. Emperor Jehangir was 42 years old and never married anyone after her. Its rumoured he saw her in the annual Meena Bazaar and married her. She totally dominated her husband and Mughal politics after her marriage and ruled with iron fist over mughal empire. She displeased many mughal nobels and even Prince Khurram aka Shah Jahan that led to his revolt in 1621.Her family including father, brother and neice Mumtaz Mahal totally dominated Mughal court and finally led to the blood bath after Emperor Jehangir’s death by Prince Khurram. Nur Jahan had no issue with Emperor Jehangir but had one daughter Ladli Begum from her first husband Ali Quli aka Sher Afghan a commander of mughal forces and governor of Bengal. Shes buried in Lahore in her own tomb.

These are 6 most controversial or favoured wives or marriages of Prince Salim. Prince Salim had 25 wives and hundreds of cocubbines in his harem. But his most favoured and powerful wives were Man Bai also known as Shah Begum(Kings wife), Jodha Bai and Nur Jahan. All three were his chief consorts at various points of time.

Salim – Childhood

 

prince-salim-as-baby

prince-salim-as-baby

Prince Salim was born on Wednesday, 31st August 1569 at early morning 7 hours of day had passed. He was born to Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar and Mairam uz Zamani Hira Kunwari Princess of Amer. Akbar had lost many kids notably his baby daughter Fathima and twins Hassan and Hussain before Salim was born in 1569 at the age of 28 years. Fathima was born when Akbar was 19 years old to a cocubbine but died at age of one year. His twins Hassan and Hussein were born when Akbar was 22 years old again to a cocubbine but died within 40 days of birth. The cause of death of Baby fathima is not known but for the twins it was rumoured that someone had poisoned them. Akbar was already 28 years old when Prince Salim was born. In 16th century the average life span of a person was 35 years old and marriages took place at very young age. By the age of 14-16 years a man became a father and women became mothers at even younger ages of 11-13 years. Indeed by the age of 27-28 years many men became a grandparent or married of their kids. Hence Akbar was already quiet old by the time he became a father to Prince Salim at age 28 years.

Salim was a child born of many prayers. Emperor Akbar walked barefoot from Agra to Ajmer Sharif in tthe year 1568 praying for a son an heir to the Mughal Empire. The first time Akbar came to Ajmer Sharif was on 14th January 1562. After that he regularly visited Ajmer Sharif, the most famous time was in 1569 to pray for an heir. His wife Hira Kunwari was blessed with a son Prince Salim on 31st August 1569. He was born in fatekpur Sikri at house of Saint Salim chisti in a hut. When Akbar learned his wife was pregnant he sent his wife to Saint Salim Chisti’s house. Akbar had promised to walk barefoot to thank the saint Mouiddin Chisti if he was blessed with an heir. On 20th January 1570 he left agra to Ajmer Sharif and reached there on 5th February 1570. After that Akbar would do annual trips to Ajmer Sharif many times the last few miles on bare foot. The annual pilgrimage by Akbar stopped in the year 1582 may be because he was getting inclined to other religions too.

At birth of Prince Salim great celebrations took place at agra. The emperor ordered all prisoners except political ones to be set free. Seven days of continous festivities were ordered in agra.  Prince salim was born in Sheikh salim Chitsti’s house in Fatekpur Sikri.  A Kashi priest warned Akbar not to meet the prince for some days because many other kids had died youn so Akbar went to meet his new born son after 40 days. Khwaja Hussain composed a qaseeda on the birth of Prince salim and received two lakh silver tankas from Akbar. The newborn was named same day after the Saint Salim Chisti whose blessings Akbar thought he was blessed with a child. An allowance was granted for his maintanence. The Sheikh salim’s son in law Sheikh Ibrahim brought good news to Akbar and received high honors. Akbar ordered a fort and palaces to be built in Fatekpur Sikri in honor of Saint salim chisti and because Prince salim was born there. It took 15 years to build Fatekur Sikri.

According to the custom the baby born was handed to a senior mughal favourite courtier’s wife who had a baby recently. This lady became milk mother or anaga of the baby and was respected highly by the child like his own mother all life. Few princes had many anagas or milk mothers. The husband of milk mother was called Atagah or foster father and her son Kukaltash. Prince Salim’s milk mother was saint salim chisti’s daughter and her son Qutubuddin Koka was his Kukaltash or milk brother. The milk mothers family enjoyed prestigious position all life.

The occasion of circumcision of Prince salim in 1573 was celebrated very grandly. Prince salim went to school at age of 4 years 4 months and 4 days. His school going ceremony took place on November 28, 1573. A grand celebration was kept at both occasions by Akbar and nobels were invited from across the empire. Mir Kalan Harvi was the first tutor of Prince Salim and he raised Prince salim on his shoulders. Akbar next choose a religious scholar named Shaikh Ahmed and appointed him as his tutor. In 1579, Akbar appointed Qutubudin Khan a high ranking nobel of central asian family as Prince Salim’s teacher. Qutubudin Khan was the uncle of Mirza Aziz Koka the milk brother of Emperor Akbar. Later Abdul Rahim khan i Khanan the foster son of Akbar(farzand- son as Akbar called him) and son of Bairam Khan, foster father and Ataliq (Teacher) of Akbar was appointed as the tutor of young Prince Salim. The Emperor ensured Prince salim had best education. He studied Urdu, Persian, Turki, Arabic, Hindi in languages. He learned arthmetic, history, geography, politics and accounts etc in subjects.

He learned to compose poems from Abdul Rahim, son of Bairam Khan. Prince Salim was appointed many teachers among them the Kashi Priest to teach hindu religious scriptures, French and Portugese teachers to teach science and medicine etc. Prince salim had great interest in astronomy and science and nature like his grandfather Emperor Humayun. Humayun was a great astronomer of repute and built a personal observatory near Old Delhi fort. Jehangir(Prince Salim) wanted to build an observatory in Agra near Yamuna river but because of his sons revolt and later his illness could not fulfll his vision. Jehangirs greatest achievement in astronomy was the celestial globe.

Although Prince Salim went for war training at young at 8 or 9 years his education never stopped. Tutors accompanied him on war fields and his education continued. Salim was very interested in science and loved experimenting on animals and observing birds and plants. He even correctly wrote gestation period of elephants as 18 months before the scientists proved him correct in 20th century.

Prince salim was a naughty child and he was pampered with affection by the women folk in harem. He was a favourite of his grand mother Hamida Banu and his step mothers Ruqaiah Sultan and Salima Sultan. He was very close to his step mother Jodhpur Princess Maharani Rukmavathi whose neice Jodha Bai he married later and Salima begum his fathers chief consort. Prince Salim went at a very young age of 8-9 years to war field. In 1581 he was incharge of the Kabul campaign at mere age of 12 years and he had 5000 soldiers (foot and infantry) or Masabdari under him.By 1585 he had 12000 mansabdari the highest any military commander could have apart from the emperor at mere age of 16 years.

Few incidents stand out about Salim’s childhood. The first incident Qamagrah hunt and second Shakti Singh pardon. The Qamagrah hunt took place when Prince Salim was a small kid 6-7 years old. Emperor Akbar went on hunt to Qamaghar from Chandkot. During that time one day Akbar and his camp reached Jhelum river in Punjab. It was in full flow and Akbar started swimming in river. Prince Salim was standing and watching near the banks and Akbar called him to swim in river. The river was in full spate and though in later years Prince Salim became an good swimmer, the young Prince was scared to swim. This angered Akbar who dunked him in river a few times. This incident is mentioned in Dalpat Vilas.

The second incident of the young Prince childhood was in battle of Haldighatti. 18th June 1576 the battle took place and the young prince along with his howdah fell in the battle field. His elephant Hawai ran in excitement forward and got struck in the haldighatti pass. He was surrounded and attacked from all sides but his elephant shielded him with its body and trunk till he was rescued by Mughal forces later. In the same battle field Prince Shakti Singh of Mewar saved his bother Maharana Prataps life by killing three mughal commanders. A few months later in Lahore, the fact that Prince Shakti Singh who was himself a mughal commander than had killed three mughal commanders came to light. At Lahore a court was set up and Shakti Singh was arrested and produced in court to answer the allegations. Since Akbar was in another part of empire, Prince Salim was asked to judge the matter. Prince Salim forgave Shakti Singh and told him to go back to Mewar to his brother Maharana Pratap with his family. This incident is recorded by James Tod in his book on Rajasthan and many other historical books. Why Salim allowed him to go back and not punish Shakti Singh for killing three mughal commanders when all mughal court baying for his blood? May be answer lies in the fact that Shakti Singh wife, Maharana Prataps wife Phool Kunwar and Akbars wife Rukmavathi were sisters and their father was Marwar Maharana Rao Maldeo. Also Salim’s mother Hira Kunwari’s aunty(fathers mothers sister) was married to Rao Maldeo. Salim had to face Akbars warth for deciding to let go off Shakti Singh and his family and soldiers without any retribution from mughal court. Shakti Singh also captured the fort Bhainsrorgarh on the way to join Pratap. So Akbar got even more infatuated by Salims decision after this incident.

A third incident shows Prince Salim love for his pet animals. Prince Salim built Hathi Mahal for the retired elephants of his royal army, he built Hiran Minar memorial tomb for his pet deer Manas Raj in Sheikhupura village in Lahore outskirts. Prince Salim love for nature and animals was exceptional although he loved hunting. In winter cold when his elephants shivered to bathe in Yamuna river, Emperor Jehangir ordered his swimming pool to be filled with hot water so his elephants enjoyed hot water bathe. He loved to keep lions, tiger and cheetah as his pets. Many time they would accompany him for strolls in garden or for meeting with visitors like ambassadors. Thomas Roe once found a litter of lions and tigers loitering in Emperor Jehangirs bedroom when he had gone to take signature on an official document at midnight in his bedroom.

But the most interesting incident that shows Salim’s love for his pets was in Rajputhana. Prince Salim was 10 years old and he had gone to battle in Rajputhana and one day his pet deer was missing from the war camp. Everyone searched in camp and nearby but that deer was not to be found. The deer had strayed from war camp and been captured by enemy army. The deer in fear started bleating calling his master to save it. Prince Salim requested his soldiers to get it back from enemy camp but none was ready to save it. Who would dare go into Maharana Prataps camp to get just a pet deer back? Finally after midnight Prince Salim only sneaked out to get his pet deer back. But as he saved the deer the enemy soldiers found him and he was caught. But Maharana Pratap let him go as he had pardoned Shakti Singhs life sometime back. Thus Prince Salim could risk going into enemy camp just to save his pet deers life shows his love for animals. Many such incidents denote the affection he had for his pets. Indeed citizens started saying he loved some of his pets like his deer Manas like own siblings Murad and Daniyal. Which was true in some sense and Emperor Jehangir wrote in his autobiography that if only his family members were a fraction as loyal as his pets he would be happiest man in earth.

Prince Salim had great love for nature and animals. Scientists have loved his jehangirnama for its observations on animals and birds and used in biology, botany, zoology, geography and ornithology. He was a naturalist of highest order.

Not much has been written or recorded of Prince Salim’s younger days and adulthood in historical books of those times.

Maharani Man bai – A Life in waiting

Man bai or Shah Begum meaning “Kings wife” was first wife of Emperor Jehangir aka Prince Salim. Man Bai was born in 1570 and died on 16th May 1604. She was the daughter of Raja Bhagwan Das of Amer(jaipur) and his wife. She was younger sister of Raja Man singh the supreme commander in chief of Mughal army and King of Amer.  She was the neice of Marium uz Zamani Hira Kunwari and mother of Prince Salim. The marriage of Man Bai with Prince Salim was conducted in Amer palace(Jaipur) on 1th February 1585. This marriage was one of the grandest wedding witnessed ever even among royal mughals. Akbar himself went with his family and ministers and nobels to Amer for the wedding. The wedding took place both in Hindu and Muslim rituals. The dowry for Man Bai was fixed as 2 crore silver coins and many other gifts like horses, elephants, gold, silver and even servants both boys and girls. Even the Amirs who came with Akbar were given rich gifts. Akbar ordered gold and precious stones to be littered on the way entourage proceeds from amer to agra. People got tired picking the precious stones after the marriage ceremony passed through the path.

Bhagwan das said after marriage “My daughter is honour of your palace and we are your salves”.

Akbar replied “Your daughter is Queen of our palace and you are our great Lords”.

Man Bai was Emperor Akbars favourite daughter in law. Man Bai gave birth to two children elder daughter Sultan un Nissa Begum on 26th April 1586.Sultan un Nissa Begum remained unmarried all her life and built Khusrau Bagh in Allahabad where her mother Man Bai and brother Khusrau are buried. She could not live in peace as Nur Jahan made her life miserable because of her brothers rebellion. She spent her life till her late sixty’s caring for her brother Khusrau’s children as her own. Second son was Khusrau Mizra who was born on 6th August 1587. Khusrau Mirza was a favourite of his grand father Akbar and was supported by Akbar, Aziz Koka, Man singh and Abdul Rahim to be successor to Akbar. Khusrau was competing with his father Salim for throne and even called him Shah Bhai instead of father. Both Khusrau and Khurram were brought up in Akbar’s household rather than their father Salim’s. That made Khusrau hate his father and compete with him for throne. Akbar himself disliked Salim and gave preference to grandsons over his son Salim. That led to lot of bad blood between Salim and Khusrau which ended in Khusrau’s revolt and blinding.

Man Bai was very beautiful to look at and was highly devoted to her husband. But she is said to have had a fiery temper and any offence to her will she felt would flare up into big fights in harem.  She even fought with Salim on slightest offence. She had mental health issues and took up to heavy drinking and opium eating just like her husband Prince Salim. Prince Salim after 1592 was hardly in agra(or Lahore) house. But his family(wife and kids) stayed usually with royal family rather than husband. Hence Man Bai got lonely. Salim was always on campaigns, travelling to regions where he was governor or on rebellion. Remaining time he had friends for company. Man bai’s son Khusrau wanted to be next emperor supported by Man Singh and others. Man bai tried her best to counsel Khusrau but when he did not listen she killed herself by overdose of opium dose. She just got caught in crossfire between an husband and son both wanting to be emperor.

Jehangir’s description of event is given below

In  Jehangirnama, Prince Salim describes her death as following verses. “His mother, while I was prince, in grief at his ways and behaviour and the misconduct of her brother Madho Singh, and killed herself by swallowing opium (tirydq).’What shall I write of her excellences and goodness ? She had perfect intelligence, and her devotion to me was such that she would have sacrificed a thousand sons and brothers for one hair of mine. She constantly wrote to Khusrau and urged him to be sincere and affectionate to me. When she saw that it was of no use and that it was unknown how far he would be led away, she from the indignation and high spirit which are inherent in the Rajput character determined upon death. Her mind was several times disturbed, for such feelings were hereditary, and her ancestors and her brothers had occasionally showed signs of madness, but after a time had recovered. At a time when I had gone hunting, on Zi-1-lrijja 26th, 1013 1 (May 6th, 1605), she in her agitation swallowed a quantity of opium, and quickly passed away. It was as if she had foreseen this behaviour of her unworthy son. My first marriage and that at the commencement of my adolescence was with her. After Khusrau’s birth I gave her the title of Shah Begam. When she could not endure the bad conduct of her son and brother towards me she became disgusted with life and died, thereby escaping the present grief and sorrow. In consequence of her death, from the attachment I had for her, I passed some days without any kind of pleasure in life or existence, and for four days, which amount to 32 watches, I took nothing in the shape of food or drink. When this tale was told to my revered father, a letter of condolence of excessive kindness and affection reached this devoted disciple, and he sent me a robe of honour and the auspicious turban tied just as he had taken it off his head. This favour threw water on the flame of my grief and afforded complete quiet and repose to my unquietude and disturbance. My intention in relating these circumstances is to point out that no evil fortune is greater than when a son, through the impropriety”.

Thus ended Man Bai’s life at the very young age of 34 years. The politics, the intrigues of the mughal family and harem were too much for Man Bai to handle. In the 1590s, there was a major tension between Akbar and Salim once. The reason was younger son Prince Daniyal’s marriage to an hindu widow. Prince Daniyal had saved a young hindu widow and fell in love with her. He was young in his early 20’s and asked permission to marry this young hindu girl. Akbar obviously would not accept such proposals for his son. Daniyal became adamant and it was Prince Salim who helped him at that time. This angered Akbar to a large extent and both were at logger heads. Prince Salim was away on campaigns to Rajputhana at that time. At that time once Man Bai and Jodha Bai went to attend a wedding of their relative in Rajputhana. Man Bai along with Jodha Bai risked anger of Akbar and went to meet Prince Salim in his war camp. This incident showed how much Man Bai cared and loved Prince Salim that she went all way to Rajputhana just to meet him on his war campaign trail. That is why Prince Salim waxes elequoent to her in his memories saying ”What shall I write of her excellences and goodness ? She had perfect intelligence, and her devotion to me was such that she would have sacrificed a thousand sons and brothers for one hair of mine.”

Whether Man Bai was mentally not well(heridetary as Salim says in Jehangirnama) or became addicted to wine and opium etc but a major reason for that must be the mughal harem culture and the mughal men be it her son Khusrau, her husband Salim or her brothers Madhav Singh and Man Singh or may be even Akbars policy of pitting son against father for the throne.  She seemed to be one who cannot accept insubordination and had high idealism of whats right and wrong. She also was highly loyal to her husband and hence could not come to terms that her son with help of her brothers was challenging her husband to the mughal throne. Above that her married life did not seem so happy and ideal, she had other wives and women with whom she had to compete for her husbands love and affection. Basically her idea of life, love, loyalty did not meet the standards of the 16th century that too a mughal harem where loyalty shifted based on who was in power or could be in power in future. She also seems not to know the art of being pleasant and diplomatic on face while being manipulative and playing games behind that was an essential criteria to survive in the mughal harem. That led her to take the extreme step of ending her own life with high dose of opium.

When salim returned from hunt that day Man Bai was dead. When Salim saw that she died he was shaken up, may be guilty too. He went into mourning and not drinking or eating for four days. She was buried in Khusrau bagh(named later) in Allahabad. Salim was in Allahabad at that time. That time he was in direct competition with Khusrau his elder son for mughal throne. A few weeks later he went back to agra to his family. Akbar was unwell and Salim thought it wise to stay close to seat of power. On his death bed, Akbar called Salim and anointed him next emperor by giving him the sword and his head gear. He made all ministers swear loyalty to Prince Salim. He died the next day on 27th October 1605.

 

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.

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.

Maharani Rukmavati Lalji Baisa – chief wife of Akbar

 

 

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 15 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 15 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 3 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.

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)

 

The baby with two mothers

Jahangir

Jahangir

Jahangir was known for his justice and called an adil padshah. People would come to him from far and wide to tell their issues and get justice.

One day Jehangir was finishing his days work and going for seista when the chain of justice was pulled. Jehangir ordered the person who pulled the chain to be brought to his presence. Two women were brought to his presence with one woman holding a baby in her hand. When Jehangir asked them what was the matter both said the baby belonged to them. They both went on arguing and pleading that the baby was theirs. Jehangir was perplexed on how to solve this matter and find the real mother of the baby. 

Finally after thinking for sometime he ordered a gaurd to get a knife and ordered the baby to be cut in two pieces and each half handed to both women. One lady got scared and started sobbing and said Emperor Jahangir to hand over the baby to the other woman only and not cut the baby. Jahangir ordered the baby to be handed over to this woman and ordered the other woman to be put in jail for lying and stealing the other woman’s baby. Thus a mother got justice and the baby got his real mother back.

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.

Daniyal Family

Sultan Daniyal Mirza

The youngest son of Akbar was Daniyal Mirza born in 11th Sep 1572 and died on 8th April 1604

Daniyal Mirza

Daniyal Mirza

He had many wives, a few listed below

1.       A daughter of Sultan Khwaja Abdul Azim Naqshabandi on 9th June 1586. She had a daughter Sa’adat Bano Begum.

2.      A daughter of Quliz Khan Andajani in 1594. She had a daughter Bulaqi Bano Begum

3.      A grand daughter of Rao Maldeo, King of Marwar on 2nd October 1595

4.      A daughter of Rai Mal Sahib

5.      Janan Begum Sahiba daughter of Wakil-i- sultanat Khan i Khanan Nawab Mirza Abdul Rahim Khan in 1599. She was mother of Baisanghar, Taimurasp, Hoshang and Bhurani Bano.

6.      A daughter of Raja Dalpat. She had a daughter Mahi Bano Begum

7.      Sultan Begum Sahiba, daughter of Sultan Ibrahim Khan II Adil Shah, the king of Bijapur

Children

1.       Shezadi Bulaqi Bano Begum Sahiba born in 1595 at Lahore. Married Mirza Wali younger son of Khwaja Hasan Naqshabandi and Shezadi Najib un Nissa(daughter of Humayun). Her son was killed on orders of Shah Jahan at Lahore fort on 2nd Feb 1628.

2.      Mirza Taimurasp born in 1603 and killed on orders of Shah Jahan at Lahore fort on 2nd Feb 1628. He married Shezadi Bahar Bano Begum fourth daughter of Nuruddhin Muhammad Jehangir in 1625

3.      Mirza Baisanghar was born in 1604 and killed on orders of Shah Jahan at Lahore fort on 2nd Feb 1628.

4.      Mirza Hoshang born in 1604 and killed on orders of Shah Jahan at Lahore fort on 2nd Feb 1628. He was married to Hosmand Bano Begum Sahiba, daughter of Shezada Sultan Khusrau Mirza and Jehangir’s grand daughter

5.      Mirza Gurshap 1604 and killed on orders of Shah Jahan at Lahore fort on 2nd Feb 1628.

6.      Shezadi Mahi Bano Begum.

7.      Shezadi Sa’adat Bano Begum

8.     Shezadi Bhurani Begum Sahiba married Mirza Khan son of Nawab Abdullah Safadar Khan Subedar of Gujarath

This is not an exhaustive list, they may have more wife’s and kids and list shall be updated as information is gathered

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.

Murad Mirza – Family

Akbar with Murad
Akbar with Murad

Shezada Murad 7th June 1570- 12th May 1599 : Akbar’s  sixth child and second surviving son born a few months(9 months) after Salim (a cocubbine Bibi Kheira and brought up by Salima Begum Akbar’s second wife and first cousin sister)

Wives: 4 wives in total

Grand daughter of Raja Ali Khan Faruki, Raja of Kandesh

Habiba Banu Begum Sahiba, Daughter of Khan-i-azam, Mirza Aziz Koka

A Rajputh Princess

Children:

Rustam Mirza 27th Aug 1588-9th Dec 1597: Born to Habiba Banu Begum

Alam Mirza 4th Nov 1590: Born to Habiba Banu Begum

Iffat Jahan Banu Begum

In total Murad had more than 7 kids. Since he died young Jehangir became their guardian.

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

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 1599 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(BK) 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 Bairam Khan. I do not think Rahim and Man Singh ever cared or loved Salim(In real life) like a Bairam Khan cared for Akbar. Bairam Khan 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 Bairam Khan 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 Bairam Khan who fought and managed everything. Further he was childless so he loved Akbar like an own son. Further when Akbar’s parents in exile Bairam khan 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 revolt or try to kill him. 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.

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.

Humayun Family

Bega Begum Sahiba– Chief Consort

Bega Begum aka haji begum was also captured by Sher Shah Suri but she was a relative of babar and hence she may have been returned back with respect to Humayun. She was mother of Al -Aman Mirza and Aqiqa Sultan. Al-Aman Mirza died while crossing the Thar desert pursued by Sher Shah forces and Aqiqa Sultan was killed by Sher Shah Suri in attack on Humayun’s camp near Chausa.

Shaad Bibi

Sent back by Sher Shah Suri, no kids

Kanishka Agha Begum

Mother of Ibrahim Sultan Mirza

 Chand Bibi

7 months pregnant and presumed dead in attack by Chausa

Gunwar Bibi

Mother of Bakshi Bano

Machchuk Bibi

Mother of Farrukh Al Mirza, Mirza Hakim, Bakt al unissa Begum, Sakina Bano, Amina Bano

Son-in-law Abul Mali

Hamida Bano(19 years younger to Humayun)

Mother of Akbar

Gulbarg Begum

Najib al nissa Begum

 

He married many more wives but they are not so famous these are major ones

Begum means they are born royalty and bibi means commoners.

His first wife built Humayun Tomb

Source: Humayunnama etc

 

 

Mariam uz zamani and Salim

Now all of us are aware that Salim and his mother Mariam-uz-zamani had not so close a relation. If they were really close then when Salim rebelled against Akbar she would have mediated peace between them. Akbar tried his best to make Salim stop his rebellion and come back to him when he set up a parallel government in Allahabad by not taking strict action on him(like announcing him traitor or sending forces to catch him etc) and writing him letters and sending envoys to convince him to come back to agra to his family and forget his rebellion.

Finally Princess Salima his step mother and Akbars cousin sister brokered peace between father and son by going to Allahabad and getting him back to agra. And Hamida took him to Akbar and both resolved their differences. Further it was Salima and Ruqaiah who supported Salim becoming next emperor rather than Khusrau whom Akbar was fond off and who had powerful backing in form of Man Singh, Aziz Koka, Khan e Khana Rahim etc

 

Hira Kunwari

Hira Kunwari

Prince Salim

Prince Salim

 So where was his mother Hira Bai all the time no where in the act. Nowhere. As a mother and wife she should have been the first person to broker peace between father-son. But she did not why? Did she not care for the empire or for Akbar and Jehangir’s relationship or did she have no real bonding with Salim and Akbar that she would move mountains to resolve their mended father-son relationship. We also know Salim was close to Ruqaiah and Salima than his own mother as mentioned in jehangirnama.

The fact is Hira Kunwari was forced to marry Akbar against her wish, convert to islam and also bear his child. Princess Hira Bai married Akbar in 1562 at age 12 years and gave birth to Salim at age 19 years in 1569. In 16th century women had no choice in marriage, to prevent war and losing kingdom women became pawns in hand of kingdoms. To save his kingdom amer for his sons, Raja Bharamal offered Hira Kunwari’s hand to Akbar. Princess Hira Kunwari was a mere 12 years old at time of marriage as per her birth date recorded. Did all this factors make Hira Kunwari(jodha) dislike salim and remove anger of being forced to marry akbar on the child?  Akbar is very powerful and no nonsense human unlike what is shown in movies/literature etc. So obviously Hira cannot shout, ignore, misbehave with the real Akbar. So whom does she remove her anger on only Salim who would have borne the brunt of her anger on being married against her wishes by her family to Akbar. Anger need not be shown only by physical punishment or shouting it can be shown by ignoring a child by making it feel unwanted etc

Now neither Akbarnama nor Jehangirnama mention about Akbar and Mariam-uz-zamani aka Hira Kunwari in detail(Jehangirnama does mention Salima and Ruqaiah a bit more). Is that not surprising? Look at Humayun nama and Babur nama how they record many incidents of wives, sisters, mothers including details of marriages and issues faced by them etc. How detail baburnama mentions his sister khanzada being given away as hostage to the Uzbeg lord to save his life, his childhood with his elder sister, his first marriage breaking off, how he married late etc

Why is both Akbarnama and Jehangirnama silent on sisters, mothers and wives? Akbarnama is so silent on wives and sisters that its surprising. Atleast Jehangirnama takes some efforts to explain characters of his sisters and brothers and mention something about his 3 mothers Ruqaiah, Salima and Hira Kunwari. But yet it is vague references we do not get to know what sort of relationship really exists between mothers-son etc only incidents.

Of course like any son Salim respected his mother and even loved her but they definetly did not have a close bond that could make Mariam Uz Zamani stand against the world to defend her son.  Jehangir who loved some of his wives like Man Bai, Jodha, Sahib Jamal and Nur Jahan again is silent on their roles also except passing references.

One more point while thinking of it please remember this was 16th century not 21st century. Here women were treated like third class citizens brought, sold and bargained liked cattle etc. They did not have freedom, will and wish or self respect. They were expected to be under father, brother, husband and finally son. If it was 21st century do you think to save his kingdom and sons a father Bharamal will give his daughter jodha’s hand in marriage to a muslim barbarian ruler Jalal. Akbar did not have a great reputation at age 20 years when he married Princess Hira Kunwari. Its only in mid 30s he stopped being so ambitious, cruel and voilent and became more benovolent.

So if they think like this before marriage about jalal which father/brother will push his daughter in marriage. Jodha was basically bargained like a cattle/animal to secure Bharamal’s kingdom and freedom. It was Akbar the greatness that he treated her nicely and allowed her to retain her customs, worship etc despite converting to Islam. Even there he was forced to make her convert to islam to marry her on pressure from society because no Mughal court would accept a heir whose mother has not converted to Islam. And finally her main importance in mughal history is giving birth to Akbars heir, the spice trade, the power of the Queen mother, the individual palaces in her name all came to her only after/for giving birth to Prince Salim. If Salim was not born to her, she may have lost all relevance and been one of his hundred’s of wives.

If anyone knows on royal protocol, a child is brought up by milk mother and maids not by the Queen who is more busy in her royal duties. Many of Akbars children born to lower wives called cocubbines were handed over to other royal wives for better upbringing for this same reason. The mothers just over looked after the upbringing did not have a hands on role taking care of the Prince or Princess. In those days Royal mothers did not even nurse their babies, the milk mothers were appointed for this duty. It is tough to predict what sort of relation Salim truly had with Hira Kunwari. But one thing is Salim respected her a lot after he became an emperor. He would greet her by doing kneeling and kissing ground where his mother feet stood (Thats usually done only for Gods in place of worship). Thomas Roe even found him once in his royal palace chambers pressing her feet and he was emperor and in his late 40s than not a young adult.

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.

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.

Akbar’s life attempted by Maham Anga

In 1566, an attempt was made on Akbar’s life. An assassin, posted on the roof of Khair al-Manzel, a madrasa built by Maham Anka near the Purana Qala, shot an arrow at the emperor as he rode back into Delhi. The arrow wounded Akbar’s shoulder. This incident changed Akbar’s method of rule, notes Hambly. Akbar now took into his own hands the supervision of the entire administration of the empire. (this was shown in movie jodha akbar but it was show an agra market instead of delhi). This was done by Daulat Shad’s husbands family as he had made her divorce her husband and marry him.

Akbar was attempted on in 1562 by Maham’s slave/gaurd his ministers suggested to find out who ordered his assasination attempt but Akbar said “Just kill him, lets not find who was behind all this as too many close people will be suspects”.

 

In 1564 also Akbar was attempted on and again he never want to find who attempted on his life again. In movie-Jodha Akbar they show it was planned by Shariffudin. But who did it really? No one knows because again Akbar was not interested in finding it out.

Why Akbar not interested both time to find out who ordered his assassination? Did he already knew who was behind it and since they are close members of family he did not want world to know? Or what is behind this lack on interest to find who ordered his death?

These three attempts on life 1562, 1564 and 1556 every consecutive year an attempt on life. Akbar was 14 years in first attempt on his life An human do not want to find who want to kill him only if he already know who told them to kill him right and he do not want their name to come out? Why name should not come out is a different reason?

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 – an enigma

Jehangir

Jehangir

 

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 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 Sahila Banu  died.

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.

Emperor 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.

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

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.

Horse demands Justice from emperor

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

Prince Salim and battle of haldighatti

Prince Salim

Prince Salim

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.

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?

Salim-Anarkali myth or reality?

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.

Ranadil Dara Sikoh – The real immortal mughal love story

Here is one more of those classic love story from the mughal royal family. Now all of us are aware about Salim-Anarkali, Jehangir-Nur Jahan and Shah Jahan-Mumtaz love stories. Also Salim-Anarkali story is a story of fiction not real and Nur Jahan by her conduct and greed for power totally disgraced true love, Shah Jahan also became a womaniser after Mumtaz death so all these three were not real love stories.

But there have been other great love stories that never came to the fore because the prince could not become emperors like Salim and Shah Jahan and are buried in the anals of history. Here is one such true story that surpasses easily any of the above mentioned stories. But it is a tragic one.

Dara Sukoh was the crown prince of Mughal empire and the eldest son of Shah Jahan. He had three wives. First was Nadira Begum his cousin sister, second was a christian from Georgia(wdaipuri begum) and last but not the least was Ranadil an orphan. Dara met this orphan Ranadil dancing and singing on streets and grew fond of her and finally married her despite oppositions.

Ranadil an destitute became the 3rd and last wife of the Dara Sukoh the future Mughal emperor and crown prince of Mughal dyansty. If there was a sufi saint kind of person among all Mughal princes it was this Dara Sukoh. He was very selfless and honest so much that Shah Jahan loved him to death but also was sacred of how his son will rule this empire with such a good heart and soul.

Dara Sukoh loved Ranadil very much and was very kind and considerate to her. He knew as an orphan she had a tough life so he ensured he gave her a family that she never had. Dara ensured that Ranadil got whatever she desired or did not even ask and took nice care of her. But Aurangzeb killed him and some of his sons in the most cruel manner. Nadira his first wife swallowed poison after hearing that he had died, Udaipuri begum joined Aurangzeb’s harem but Ranadil refused and was imprisoned.

Ranadil was a great composer and singer, so to overcome her grief she started composing songs in memory of her beloved husband Dara Sukoh and sang them in prision. Aurangzeb had banned poems and singing in his kingdom but Ranadil defied him. Her songs constantly reminded him of the cruel deeds he had done to his elder brother and his family members. Aurangzeb was infussed, he warned her that if she does not stop her singing he would tear her to pieces and feed her to dogs. But Ranadil was made of stronger stuff she would continue singing even when he visited her. That irritated Aurangzeb a lot. He would speak of all sort of cruel ways to torture her or kill her.

Slowly Aurangzeb started falling for her and one wrote her a letter that he wants to swing using her hairs. Ranadil replied back sending a silver plate with a white cloth covered on top(errily reminding him of Dara’s head sent to Shah Jahan at Agra fort). Aurangzeb removed the white cloth and it had her hairs with a note “Oh emperor, here is the hair follicles that you liked”

Aurangzeb did not learn his lesson. Once he again wrote another letter to her that he want to see her lovely face every day and to be his mistress in his harem. Ranadil took a knife and disfigured her face and wrapped this bloodied knife in white cloth and sent to him with message “Oh emperor the face that you said is lovely has now turned very ugly. As evidence i am sending this knife and cloth. Please understand till my last breathe my heart, soul and body only belongs to Dara. Let me die with his thoughts only”.

Aurangzeb tried many times to change her mind but the great lady never cowered to his threats, torture or bowed down to him. An ordinary orphan girl who sang and danced on streets to make a living thus tortured the great emperor Aurangzeb(which no one else dared). She was a great lady always loyal to her husband and his memories. She stood by him till her last breathe making him very proud.

Here is to the epitome of true love of crown prince Dara who honoured an orphan singer and dancer by making her his wife and Princess Ranadil who stayed loyal and gratitude to him and his memories till last breathe of her life undergoing many tortures and persecutions in a dungeon but never bending to the mighty emperor Aurangzeb.

She could have joined his harem and lived a life of luxury as Aurangzeb was totally smitten by her making him dance to her tunes or killed herself like Nadira. But she lived despite all tortures and threats because she wanted to remind him of his evil deeds that he had done to her husband, her step sons and daughters(dara’s kids) and to his siblings and father.

If there is a love story that can be truely called immortal it is this story of love between the crown prince of the mighty mughal empire and an orphan street singer and dancer. Even death and torture could not make them apart and they stayed loyal despite trial and tribulations.

Dara Sukoh may not have built Ranadil a Taj Mahal or Ranadil did not become his children’s mother but their actions and their loyalty to each other under trying circumstances and never ending love stands testimony to an immortal love. Its just that Aurangzeb destroyed all documents and testimonies which had references to these two’s love. But that sands of time still testify the undying love of Crown Prince Dara Sukoh and Princess Ranadil

 

Khusrau Mirza – A prince who accepted death for love

Khusrau Mirza was Prince Salim and Princess Man Bai(Shah Begum) first born son born on Aug 16, 1587. His grandfather was Raja Bhagwan Das and maternal uncle Raja Man Singh. His wife was the daughter of powerful Khan-i-Khana Rahim.

His eldest son was Dilawar Khan and his second son was Buland Akhtar(who died at young age) from his favourite wife the daughter of Khan-e-khana Rahim. It is said that Khusrau was extremely popular among the citizens for his good nature and the nobels for his great administration and manners and military skills.

Akbar wanted him to succeed as the emperor. Khusrau had not wanted to purposely go against his father but the nobels and Akbar himself pitted him as a legitemate heir to the throne against his father. When Jehangir revolted against his father and with his uncles Murad and Daniyal dead by indulging in opium he had no options but to follow his grandfather and courts wishes. The powefu Man Singh, Bhagwan Das and Khan-e-khana supported him in court to be the next emperor.

But then the persian nobels and the religious were anxious since if Khusrau became emperor the Rajput influence would strengthen and Persian and Ulema’s influence would reduce. They started secretly conspiring to make Jehangir the emperor on the promise that he will follow an orthodox islamic way of court dealings rather than the liberal ones of his father Emperor Akbar. Jehangir in order to win the nobels support agreed. Also when Jehangir went to Agra fort to meet his hailing father a courtier came and warned him pf a plot to assasinate him by Khusaru’s men and had to return back.

Jehangir’s step mothers Ruqaiah and Salima begum the timurid princess too supported him only and Akbar was told that as per timurid traditions he cannot make a son as emperor when father was alive. Akbar finally crowned Jehangir as the future emperor. Khurau’s mother caught between father and son committed suicude in May 1605 by overdose of opium.

Jehangir was crowned emperor after Akbar’s death in 1605. Khusaru Mirza and his wife was placed under house arrest in agra fort by Jehangir. Khusaru was frustrated and on the pertex of going to visit his grand father’s grave at Sikandra left with a few hundred of his army men. He was joined by Hussain Beg and Khan e khana Rahim and rtheir army’s. He fled to lahore fort where he laid seige. On the way Sikh Guru Arjan Dev blessed him for which he paid a heavy price. Jehangir was swift and defeated his forced and captured him. All his forces were impaled alive on stakes and Khusrau was forcced to see their pain. Finally an soldier was ordered to pierce metal wire into his eyes to make him blind. It is said by people that Khusrau was brave enough not to protest or utter a single word as this procedure was conducted and it made local citizens admire him more for his courage under immense pain. Khusrau and his wife were house arrested in Agra fort palace.

Jehangir soon felt remorse for his actions and asked the royal physicians to restore his sight and even allowed him to come for court proceedings. Khusrau’s popularity was high even after almost a decade after the revolt and blinding. Khurram-Shah Jahan was apprehensive of his popularity and his father’s growing affections for his first son. Khusrau was now allowed to go outside the Agra forts to nearby gardens etc. Khurram was ambitious and wanted to be next emperor at any cost. He was scared that his father was getting close to Khusrau and his children Dilawar Baksh(Jehangir’s fav grandson).

It was 1620 and Jeghangir requested Khurram to handle the Deccan rebellion. Khurram was ready to go but on one contion to hand Khusrau in his custody. Jehangir refused initially but Nur Jahan who was angry with Khurau for rejecting to marry her daughter Ladli Begum forced Jehangir to hand him over to Khurram. Khusrau and his wife were under Khurram’s custody in 1620 and left for Deccan where he was placed in house arrest again on Khurram’s orders.

It was Jan 22, 1622. Shah Jahan recieved the news that Jehangir was serious from his father-in-law Asaf Khan(Mumtaz Mahal’s father and Nur Jahan’s brother). Shah Jahan was scared as Khusrau was very popular among masses and Khurram was not that loved because of his arrogant and cruel nature. He ordered to kill Khusrau the same day and he was killed defenceless in his cell with his wife. He was buried in Deccan immediately in secrecy.

Jehangir miraculously surivived a bad health scare and he was informed by Khurram that Khurau died of illness. But it was not long before Jehangir got to know truth from some insider in Deccan the way he had been killed. There was uproar in courts and the streets the way a promising young prince a future potential emperor had been killed. Jehangir had confusing emotions he had grown fond of Khusrau in recent times but at same could not forgive his rebellion.

He ordered Shah Jahan to imediately come and answer him at court but Shah Jahan refused to come to court and rebelled against his father for throne. Jehangir was furious declared him “Be daulat” and a traitor. Jehangir had Khusrau’s body excavated and buried him along his mother Man Bai in Allahabad-Khurau Bhag. Nithar Begum his unmarried sister was also buried near him after her death. She oversaw the construction of Khusrau Bhag. Jehangir wanted Dalawr Baksh to become the next emperor.

But after his death and Shah Jahan deceitfully taking over as emperor he ordered to kill all of his brothers children and Jehangir’s two brothers Murad and Daniyal’s children. Khusrau sons Dilawar Baksh, Garashap, Sharyar, Tamarus, Hoshang were executed along with other male cousin brothers and uncles sons on Jan 23, 1628 at Lahore fort by Asaf Khan the scheming father-in-law. All male relatives of Mughal dynasty were executed except Shah Jahan and his own sons.

Khusrau had a sister Nithar Begum and step brothers Parviz, Khurram, Shariyar and Jahandar and another step sister.

On a final note:

Khusaru was a capable prince but he was surrounded by highly ambitious and decietful family members like Nur Jahan, Khurram, Jehangir etc. He was pushed to center stage by his grandfather Akbar but he could not continue the support in final stages. But by then Khurau had wanted to become a emperor because he was told he would be a better emperor and the masses loved him. But alas, Jehangir was powerful an emperor of more 5lakh army and Khurau was young not good at political manevouring. Hence he lost the succession war and his eyesight and life. He had chance to become an emperor to marry Ladli begum but he refused Nur Jahan as he was loyal to his chief wife who lived with him in house arrest.

Some experts on him from historical records

Edward Terry, a clergyman at the Mughal court writes of him: “He had a pleasing presence and excellent carriage, was exceedingly beloved of the common people, their love and delight”. At 18, Khusrau was everything his father was not: personable, brave, and a talented battlefield commander.

In a measure of the popular feeling that Khusrau could still arouse, several voices at court, including those of Jahangir loyalists, pleaded for him to be spared. But the Emperor was adamant and in one contemporary account, the act was done by wire inserted into his eyes, causing a pain “beyond all expression”. He was then thrown into a dungeon. Through it all, the victim bore himself stoically, uttering not a word of remonstrance.

Nur-Jahan was a consummate player in the game of power. In a bid to neutralise Khurram, she approached Khusrau for the hand of Ladli Begum, her daughter by her first husband. The adventurer Pietro Della Valle has left a fascinating account of what followed. First Nur-Jahan informed Khusrau of that which he knew already: that Khurram had demanded the custody of Khusrau from Jahangir. Khurram claimed that he feared another plot against Jahangir by his half-brother. This fooled no one, for by now it was patently clear that Khusrau was incapable of mounting anything like a conspiracy. Khurram was simply taking steps to remove all rivals in his path.

But Khusrau still commanded many loyalties. The same begums who had supported Jahangir against Khusrau earlier now worked hard for his safety, and, as a compromise measure, Khusrau’s custody had been given to Nur-Jahan’s brother, Asaf Khan. Now if only Khusrau would consent to marry her daughter, Nur-Jahan promised him not only his freedom but also that she would throw her weight behind him in the succession.

It was a master stroke by a master strategist, except that Khusrau refused. His reason for doing so stunned Nur-Jahan and her clique: love. His wife was his beacon, the one person who had stood by his side through all the years and he would have nothing whatever to do with another woman. Remember this was an age when large harems and polygamy were the undisputed norm. And the Prince’s options were very likely laid out starkly before him: the throne, or at the very least freedom and luxury versus certain death. Then perhaps we can get a glimmer of the incredulity that Khusrau’s answer must have evoked. His wife, according to Della Valle, begged him on bended knee to accede to Nur-Jahan’s plan and save himself, but Khusrau “could never be prevailed with”.

Throughout 1616-17, Nur-Jahan and Asaf Khan worked on Khusrau, but he remained steadfast in his refusal to contemplate another woman. Finally they gave up and turned instead to the pliable Shahriyar. Khusrau’s usefulness to the Empress was at an end, and now she made no further effort to stall his transfer to Khurram’s custody. Khusrau had effectively signed his own death warrant. In 1617, he was given over to Khurram (known now by the honorific Shah Jahan) who had him quickly moved to Burhanpur in the Deccan. Khusrau was now a man on borrowed time.

The end came in January 1622. The most widely accepted account is that a slave of Shah Jahan’s named Raza Bahadur sought to enter Khusrau’s chambers in the middle of the night. When Khusrau refused him entry, Raza Bahadur broke open the door and rushed in with some accomplices and fell upon Khusrau. Khusrau shouted out to wake his servants and, despite his partial blindness, defended himself bravely but to no avail. He was strangled and then re-arranged on his bed to make it appear as if his death was natural.

Early next day, his wife was the first to discover him. Her shrieks soon wakened the palace. On January 29, Jahangir received word from Shah Jahan that Khusrau had died of qalanj, colic pains. But, as word of Khusrau’s death swept across the empire, there was a public outpouring of grief as had not been seen for a long time. The popular verdict was overwhelming: murder. As far west as Gujarat, people were heard to cry for vengeance against those who had shed the blood of an innocent. Jahangir himself seems to have not been unduly distressed at the news; his ire was reserved for Shah Jahan for seeking to conceal the truth of Khusrau’s death from him. On the Emperor’s orders, Khusrau’s body was exhumed from his makeshift grave, sent to Allahabad and consigned in a mausoleum next to his mother’s in a garden, now called Khusrau Bagh.

A movement soon came into being that proclaimed Khusrau a martyred saint and shrines sprang up wherever his body had rested on its way to Allahabad. So popular were these shrines that a contemporary Dutch observer wrote that “both Hindus and Moslems went there in vast numbers in procession each Thursday … to his worship”. Until, that is, Jahangir ordered them destroyed and the worshippers driven away.

Despite this attempt at canonisation, it seems fair to say that, as with life, death has not been kind to this unfortunate prince. In one of history’s great ironies, the man who most likely killed him ” Shah Jahan ” is universally celebrated for leaving us with that sublime monument to man’s love for a woman: the Taj Mahal. Devoted though he was to his wife Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan had liaisons with many women after her death. Rather, it is in the unfolding of his brother’s life, in Khusrau’s searing affirmation of the centrality of one love, that we see its most enduring monument.