Prince Salim: A lost childhood

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

akbar receiving his 3 sons at fatekpur sikri
akbar receiving his 3 sons at fatekpur sikri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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