In 1636 Aurangzeb was a mughal prince and Governor of Deccan when one day he saw Hira Bai at Buranpur and fell madly in love with her. The story goes that he was visiting his maternal aunty (sister of Mumtaz Mahal) Khan i Zamans Mir Khalils wife and entered the Harem without announcement and his eyes fell on a dancer girl Hira Bai and it was love at first sight. As per the book Ma’asir al umara Aurangze was strolling in the gardens of his aunty’s palace when a slave girl Hira Bai(Zainabadi Mahal) saw a tree laden with mangoes and jumped up to pluck it without greeting the prince. Through this one act of offence Aurangzeb lost his heart to Hira Bai. He asked his aunty for this dancing girl and was bestowed with her till her death.
The religious minded Aurangzeb was so infatuated by her that he once agreed to drink wine because Hiar Bai wanted him too only to be stopped by her at last moment. She said she was testing his love for her and did not want him to poison his mouth with wine. He is even said to have celebrated hindu festivals in her company. In Akham e Aurangzeb his biographer Hamiddudin Khan Nimchah says he took Hira Bai in exchange for one of his cocubbines from his aunt. Hira Bai was a hindu girl and a native of Buranpur.
The extent of the love affair spread so far and wide that it reached Shah Jahan’s ears. Dara Sikoh is said to have remarked ” See the piety and abstinence of this hypocritical knave! He has gone to the dogs for the sake of a wench of his aunt’s household”. The affair ended a year later in tragedy as Hira Bai died young.
But Zainabadi Mahal aka Hira Bai died young and Auragnzeb was so upset with her death that he went to a hunt rising his life. When poet Aqil Khan asked him why he risked his life in an emotional state replied Aurangzeb replied
“‘Lamentation in the house cannot relieve the heart,
In solitude alone you can cry to your heart’s content”
Hearing this, Aqil Khan recited another couplet,
“How easy did love appear, but alas how hard it is!
How hard was separation, but what repose it gave to the beloved!”
Aurangzeb gave up music and wine after her death. She was buried in Zainabad. Aurangzeb built mosque and Mala in her name. Zainabad is in Buranpur in Madhya Pradesh.
In later years he commented that God had been gracious to him by putting an end to Zainabadi Mahal as because of her he had caused many iniquities and run the risk of never reigning as he was busy in wordly pleasures. Thus ended the love story of a mughal prince and later a ruthless Mughal emperor on a sober note.
Did the untimely death of Zainabadi Mahal aka Hira Bai lead to Aurangzeb getting more orthodox and ruthless in later years no one can say. Because less than a decade after her death Aurangzeb killed his brother Dara Sikoh in most brutal fashion.