Jehangir and Hira Kunwari

Hira Kunwari

Hira Kunwari

Prince Salim was born to Princess Hira Kunwari on 31st August 1569. Princess Hira Kunwari was daughter of Raja Bhiramal of Amer(Jaipur) and sister of Bhagwan das and aunt of Raja Man Singh. She married Akbar in 1562 at the age of 12 years and gave birth to Salim at age 19 years in 1569. Though nothing much is written about Prince Salim and his mother relationship in Akbarnama a few travellers have mentioned details of his bonding with his mother. Prince Salim respected his mother a lot and would carry her palanquin on his shoulders at times, even in his late 40s or early 50s as mentioned by travellers. He called his mother Hazrat or his Majesty. Hazrat means holy and respected and usually used for prophets and saints in Arabic. He also greeted his mother with great honour doing sajda(kneeling and kissing ground where mother stands) which people do while praying to God in Islam and prostration(lying stretched flat on ground in front of mother) which people do in front of Idols(Hindu Gods) or saints. That shows the respect he had for his mother. When Portugese captured his mothers trading ship he attacked Goa and captured it.

Jehangir says following about his birth

When my mother was near the time of delivery, she was sent to the shaykh’s house so that my birth might take place there. After my birth I was named Sultan Salim, although one never heard my father, either drunk or sober, call me Sultan Salim or Muhammad Salim. He always called me “Shaikhu Baba”

 Jehangir had great regard for his mother and from time to time he mentions his mother in Jehangirnama. He addresses her as “My mother” or “Her Majesty” or “hazrat”  or “Marium uz Zamani”  the title given to her after his birth which means “Mary of ages”. Akbars mother was known as Marium Makhani. The emperors mother or elder sons mother was given honorific names like Marium uz Zamani and Marium Makhani  etc. Jehangir had great respect for his mother and often did sajda (Kneeling and kissing ground near mothers feet) and postration (lying stretched on ground flat and bowing at mothers feet) and Koinush (bending back to half and saluting mother). He mentions same in Jehangirnama

 I had stationed my son Khurram to guard the palaces and treasuries when I set out in pursuit of Khusraw. After my mind was relieved on that score, it was ordered that Khurram should bring Her Majesty Maryamuzzamani and the harem to me.* When they reached the vicinity of Lahore, on Friday the twelfth of the month [August 7] I got in a boat and attained the happiness of paying homage and greeting my mother in the vicinity of a village named Dhar. After executing the rites of koriinush, prostration (sijda), and and after observing the formalities the young owe their elders under the terms of the Genghis code and Timurid law, I performed my evening worship of the Omniscient King. When that was finished I obtained permission to withdraw and entered the fortress in Lahore.

Jehangir used to carry his mothers Palaquin on his shoulders sometimes. Both travellers during Akbars regime and Jehangirs regime mention this fact. Duirng Akbars regime one traveller mentions that Prince Salim Shah carried his mothers palanquin from palace to place of worship(temple) on his shoulders.

Edward Terry who came to India between 1616-1619 mentions in his traveller memories

He will in pietie helpe to carrie sometimes his mother in a palanka on his shoulders. He speakes respectively of our Saviour, but is offended at His crosse and povertie ; thinking them incompetible to such majestic, though told that His humilitie was to subdue the worlds pride.

Jahangir’s birthday, along with the imperial weighing ceremony that marked it, was therefore celebrated twice, once according to the lunar calendar on the seventeenth of Rabi’ I (which fell on August thirtieth the year he was born, A.H. 977 ( 1569) and again according to the solar calendar on or around the twenty-second of Shahrivar ( beginning of September).  Akbar himself started this tradition of weighing Salim in gold and silver. This weighing usually took place in his mother Marium uz Zamani’s palace.

Jehangir mentions his weighing a few times in jehangirnama

On Wednesday the eighteenth , the weighing ceremony for my fortieth lunar year  was held in Maryamuzzamani’s quarters. I ordered the gold from the weighing distributed to the women and the deserving. On Thursday the first of Jumada II , the solar weighing ceremony was held in Her Majesty Maryamuzzamani’s quarters. Some of the gold was divided among he women, and the rest was ordered distributed to the poor of the realm.

When Jehangir was 44 years old he mentions being weighed twice once in lunar and once as per solar year. He mentions the same below.

Toward the end of Thursday the twentieth of the month (August 31), the solar weighing ceremony was held in Maryamuzzamani’s quarters, and, as usual, I had myself weighed against precious metals and other things. This year I was forty-four solar years old.On Thursday the twenty-second of Shahrivar, corresponding to the seventeenth of Rajab 1021 [September 3](1613 AD ), the solar weighing ceremony was held in Maryamuzzamani’squarters. Having myself weighed like this is a Hindu custom. His Majesty Arsh-Ashyani, who was kindness and generosity itself, approved of this custom and had himself weighed twice a year, once by the solar year and once by the lunar year, against all sorts of metals, gold, silver, etc., and mostly against valuable goods. The total, which amounted to a lac of rupees, was distributed to the poor and needy. 1 too maintain this custom, having myself weighed in the same manner and giving the goods to the poor.

When Salim was 45 years old he was again he was weighed at his mothers residence and he mentions same

 On the Thursday the twenty-eighth of Llrdibihisht, corresponding to the twenty-sixth of Rabi’ I 1022 [May 6],(1614 AD) the lunar weighing ceremony was held in Maryamuzzamani’s quarters. 1 ordered some of the gold from the weighing distributed among the women and the needy who had gathered in my mother’s quarters.

When Salim was 51 years he was again weigned in Marium uz Zamani’s palace

On the twenty-fourth [September 6] the solar weighing ceremony was held in Her Majesty Maryamuzzamani’s quarters, and my fifty-first year by solar reckoning commenced under good auspices. It is hoped that the remainder of my life will be spent in acts that please God.

Marriages of him and his sons were also held in Marium uz Zamani’s palace which Jehangir mentions

On Sunday the twenty-sixth of the aforementioned month [October 19], the marriage of Parvez to Prince Murad’s daughter was held. The betrothal was performed in fder Majesty Maryamuzzamani’s quarters, and the banquet was held in Parvez’s house. Everyone who was present at the celebration was ennobled with all sorts of favors andhonors. Nine thousand rupees were turned over to Sharif Amuli and several other amirs to be given as alms to the poor and needy.

On the fourth of Rabi’ 1 [June 8], Jagat Singh’s daughter entered the harem, and a wedding ceremony and banquet were held in Her Majesty Maryamuzzamani’s quarters. Included in the dowry Raja Man Singh sent were sixty elephants.

On the fourth of the month [April I 3] a celebration was held for my son Shahryar’s marriage. The henna party was held in Maryamuzzamani’s quarters, and the marriagewas performed in I’timaduddawla’s house. I went myself with the ladies of the haremand participated in the celebration.


Jehangir even ensured that he inspected the works his mother had ordered no matter how small they were

On Sunday the sixteenth [December 26] we covered four and a half kos and stopped in the village of Barfmadh Mata. Since the garden and step well that had been built by order of Her Majesty Maryamuzzamani in the pargana of Chausath was on the way, I went to see it. Without exaggeration, the stepwell is a fine structure and beautifully built. We ascertained from the officials that twenty thousand rupees had been spent on it.

This must be the Barmadh Mata mentioned by Beale (sec Proceedings A.S.B. for August, 1873). Beale says there is a place, of worship of the Hindus about 1½ koss from Biana in the dist rid of Bhartpur called Barmadh Mata. In the 7th year of Jahangir, 1022 1613, Jahangir’s mother Maryam-zamani made a garden and abaol (step-well) here at a cost of Rs. 20,000. The garden has disappeared, but the building which is over the baolli still exists. Boale gives the inscription. William Finch (Hakluyt Society) speaks of a place called Menhapur, near Biana, where there was a garden made by the Queen -Mother. It was a great sarfiy.

He mentions his mother coming to meet him at Fatekpur Sikri and waiting on her

On the same date Her Majesty Maryam uz zamani came from Agra to greet me, and I attained the happiness of waiting upon her. I hope that the shadow of her protection and affection will always be over the head of this supplicant.

Marium uz Zamani died on 19th May 1623 and buried near Akbars tomb in Tomb of Marium uz Zamani. Jehangir was not in agra to attend funeral but mentioned same in Jehangirnama.

At this time news came from Agra that her Majesty Maiyam uz zamani had passed away. It is hoped that God will inundate her in a sea of mercy.

Though Salim rebelled against Akbar in 1599 and the rebellion lasted till 1605 when he finally returned to Agra after his wife Man Bai’s death, the incident does not seem to have strained his relation with his mother. Hira Kunwari died in 1623 but Jehangir could not attend funeral and he was busy in Prince Khurram rebellion. His own health was detoriating with him having asthama and heart disease and liver problems because of excessive drinking in his younger days. Hence he mentons his mother death only in passing without the details of mourning that he wrote during Man Bai and Jodha Bai’s deaths.

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