Salim – Akbar : A complex relation

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

Akbar and Jehangir with falcon
Akbar and Jehangir with falcon

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

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

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

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

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