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.

3 thoughts on “Mariam uz zamani and Salim

  1. Ambili Nair

    But there are some facts that still confuses these points. I agree that the relationship between mother and son wasn’t very good. But if she did not love her husband or her child then how come that after losing their first twin children they both went into depression and they later they had a child (i.e. Salim) after 10 years. If Akbar and Marium – uz – zamani didn’t love each other why did Akbar have his first child with her only. And as soon as he had his first child he had many kids from other wives. He could have had children from his other wives in between those 10 years. But he chose only her to have his first child. And a mother who went into depression losing her twin children and later after years having a baby wouldn’t love her child is hard to believe according to human psychology.


    1. ANGEL Post author

      Akbar had 3-4 kids from various wife and concubines before having Salim from Hira Kunwari aka Marium uz zamani(list given in Akbars children and Akbars sons post). But they did not live long enough. There is no mention of twins mothers name in Akbar nama but Jehangirnama( in British Library) state they were born to a concubine (please check name in Akbar children post). Akbar would not have decided that his first son must be born to only Marium uz Zamani(Hira Kunwari) only, he had three kids within a few months of each other who all survived to adulthood Salim, Murad and Khannum. Its just luck that Hira Kunwari gave birth to a male child Salim who was eldest and survived. Akbar did not plan that his first child will be with only Hira Kunwari and not other wives. When Salim was born Akbar was already 27 years old and in 15th century usually people had kids by 15-16 years(male) and female could have kids even younger(13-14 years). The average life span of humans in india was 35 years old then and so everyone married very young and had kids by 15-16 years max. So 27 years was too late to have a first born living child that too for an emperor in those times. Not only was life span in those times very less 35 years, a emperor had enemies trying to kill him and he had to go to wars and could lose his life anytime. Hence having an heir as soon as possible was utmost importance to not only Akbar but any king in those times. Akbar was desperate to have a male child to succeed him, from which wife or cocubbine or slave would not matter to him in that desperate situation. Akbar had many kids from coccubines and other wives after Salim too.

      Second issue is not whether she did or did not love her son and husband. But when Salim revolted and had issues with Akbar, she did not have an active part n resolving crisis. It was Salima and Hamida Bano who reconciled him with Akbar after decades of anguish and revolts. That was 15th century and we cannot compare relationships in terms of 21st century be it love between husband/wife or parent and child. Just because Akbar’s first son was born to Marium uz Zamani it does not mean Akbar loved Hira Kunwari and vice versa. Marriages in those times were based on political compulsions and maintaining relationship rather than pure love. The marriage was done seeing status, caste and religion, political benefits or family relationships. Very rarely love was reason of marriage that too for royals. Usually parents decided the marriage and boy or girl attended the marriages(even prince and princess). Only in Akbars case since his father died young so he could get freedom to decide whom to marry and when.


  2. U Vijayaraani

    very true version.Atlast I could see a person not mesmerized by jodha Akbar serial.I would like to add a point why Muz did not correct her son when he was marring a granddaughter of mansingh,That marrage took place in muz house.Either she should have been aperson with no power otherwisw aa power hunger person unbothered about others welfare,She could have corrected him.



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