Jahangir – an enigma




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

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

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

Jehangir 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.

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