Akbar Salim Shah Jahan : The rebellious sons

Father-son differences across generations – The mughals

Continuing with the Father-Son Life stages saga

Akbar and Bairam Khan relationship

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.

Look at Akbar wrt to BK relationship. Akbar idolized BK and did whatever he told. BK was like that one superstar we adore who can do no wrong and whose all decisions are correct. He learned to be a ruthless warrior just like BK was. This phase lasted till 16 years when he slowly started having conflicts with BKs way of thinking.

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.

Akbar and BK started having major differences from when Akbar was 16 years. Akbar did not want to be as ruthless with enemies and sometimes not kill them, may be allow them to live if they accepted his leadership even after defeat. But BK was a strict task master he had only one rule kill the enemy after defeat, punish the servant if he disobeys etc. To add fuel to this difference was Maham anga who was considered as mother by Akbar. Mother plays such a important place in a father-son relationship especially in teenage years and till a son is 30-35 years. From age of 15 till 35 a father and son hardly communicate with each other. They find faults with each others way of working, values, culture, living etc.

A son thinks father is thinking like old generation and his thinking is of a new generation and father thinks son is trying to dissent against his rule as head of family. That is what happened between BK and Akbar as well as Akbar and Salim and with Jehangir and Shah Jahan etc. Luckily for Akbar, BK accepted to go to haj and was killed on the way thus eliminating the fight once and for all. But unluckily for Salim and Shah Jahan their fathers lived till their mid 30s that led to insecurity and revolts.

Why did a Salim revolt against Akbar?

– Real reason was he was scared he may die young without becoming king and wanted to become one fast. Why was he scared of death at such a young age? Well because he was an wine and opium addict and health was failing him fast. This was a real reason he declared himself parallel king.

– Second reason was because he had a different way of thinking of how the kingdom should be ruled. And he felt till his father is alive he cannot experiment his thoughts and way of ruling hence he refused to obey Akbar’s orders after age of 30.

– Third reason not confirmed by Akbarnama and Jehangirnama is his failed love affair with Meherunissa aka Nur Jahan where she was married off to Ali Quli although Salim had loved her and wanted her as his wife. No surprise that this is not in official records of Mughals, failed love sagas were never recorded in official biographies.

– Fourth Reason was that he was scared that his father may make Daniyal or Khusrau as heir instead of him as Akbar was fed up with his addiction and violent ways(which were usually exaggerated by courtiers who did not necessarily like Salim)

Why did Shah Jahan revolt against Jehangir?

– He was fed up with all the games Nur Jahan was playing with him keeping him away from agra the seat of power and he felt he was doing all work like winning wars and Nur Jahan was taking credit of it and enjoying fruits of his work

– He was scared that since his younger brother Shariyar was Nur Jahan’s son in law Nur Jahna may make him king and thru him cling on to power while he was the defacto crown prince from childhood(because Akbar felt he was best suited to be king and later jehangir also gave him privileges although he was his third son not eldest)

Why did Aurangzeb revolt against Shah Jahan?

– Aurangzeb was a very Machiavellian and manipulative person from childhood. He was also a very revegeful person who suspected all(paranoia). Right fro childhood he wanted to be the next emperor. He poisoned his elder brother Dara Sukoh at a very young age of 13 years. But luckily Dara Sukoh survived and Shah Jahan forgave aurangzeb for this misdeed. But this made aurangzeb cautious and suspicious of Dara Sukoh. He felt Shah Jahan loved Dara Sukoh over the other brothers and sisters. But all parents have favourites and even if Shah jahan loved Dara Sukoh more that did not mean he loved aurangzeb any less. Now its not easy for a father to forgive a son for attempting to kill his another son that too within a year or two after his wife Mumtaz Mahals death. Shah Jahan also was not happy in different times with aurangzeb’s administration as governor and admonished him. He even took away the governership of aurangzeb for reaching agar late when jahanara was burnt by a fire mishap. Only jahanara and dara sukoh intervention go him back the governership. Aurangzeb carried the anger against his father and elder brother right from childhood but never showed it in front(like a Salim, Khurram etc by open one off rebellion). He acted like a good dutiful son and devoted muslim prince who had no interest in politics. Then rest is as they say is history- he played his cards well that both Shah Jahan and Dara Sukoh were too late to realize his true nature and save themselves. He even fooled his other three brothers into his plot and killed them after he grabbed the throne.

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