Salim and his pets

jehangir with his pet lion
jehangir with his pet lion

Prince salim aka Emperor Jehangir was a lover of nature and animals. He loved hunting but at the same time he was very fond of his pet animals. His love for his pets sometimes transcended belief levels. Like when his pet Manas Raj died by accident he built Hinar Minar aka Taj mahal of animal kingdom for it in Sheikupura in Lahore outskirts. People in Lahore/agra seeing his love for deer started saying Jehangir loved Manas Raj like he loved his own brothers Murad and Daniyal. In todays times pets are considered family but in those times it was odd to treat pets as family and shower them with affection like siblings or children or mourn them at death by building huge tombs like Jehangir did for Manas Raj.

He built Haathi Mahal(elephant palace) for his elephants to spend time after retiring from war services. He would even speak to his pets. In 21st century its considered normal  to speak to pets like humans but in 16th century people thought that as eccentric. He loved his elephants so much that seeing them shivering in cold Yamuna water in December he ordered his swimming pool to be filled with hot water and allow his elephants to bathe in it. Jehangir even mentioned in Jehangirnama if his wife and sons were a fraction as loyal as his pet animals he would be happiest man in world.

Jehangir was fond of giving animals as gifts to his well wishers. Very elaborate gifts were expected on Nauroz. But gift-giving was reciprocal, and the givers usually received in excess of what they gave, even if the award of a pair of elephants from the emperor might be viewed with some skepticism, given the cost of maintaining elephants.

His brother Prince daniyal was fond of animals too and hence Salim sent him exotic animals and horses as gifts often

Quote from Jehangirnama

Danyal was a young man of fine stature, with a pleasing build and good-looking.  He was very fond of elephants and horses. It was impossible for him to hear that anyone had a good horse or elephant and not get it.

Emperor Jahangir’s court boasted a 100 lions, tamed and perfectly trained. Lions must have been bred in the emperor’s ‘Royal Lion House’ and were plentiful in the Mughal menageries. In 1619, Jacques de Coutre, a Flemish merchant, experienced this first- hand in Agra when he walked into a patio of lions. One even caught his leg in its jaw but did no harm.

Once someone told Jehangir that lion and tigers cannot change their true nature and will kill any human if given an opportunity. So Jehangir kept his bred lions and tigers in his bedroom for many months and even in his Dewan e Khas and none tried to kill him.

Jehangir would get so fascinated by looking at animals. Once he went to jungle and saw cub tigers alone without mother and picked them up and started playing with them. He was so engrossed in the playing with baby animals that he did not see mother tiger approaching him from back to attack. For his luck one of his commander saw that and shot the mother tiger dead as it pounced on Salim. Later Salim got the baby tiger cubs and took care of them in his palace.

Another incident that shows his love for his pets is in Rajputhana war. Prince Salim was 10 years old and was in Rajputhana for war. He had rescued a baby deer from a tiger in forest and taking care of it in war camp. One day the baby deer ran out and was caught by the enemy camp soldiers. When Salim arrived in evening after a day at war his pet deer was missing and he got news its captured by enemy soldiers. None was ready to go into enemy camp and rescue the pet deer. So at night Salim himself went into the enemy war camp and got his baby deer freed and got it back. Only issue was seeing its owner come to rescue it baby deer started crying in joy that brought attention of enemy soldiers on Salim. Yet he managed to get his pet deer back risking his life. It was more of a kid folly to get into enemy camp just to get back his baby pet deer. If he had not rescued it would have ended up as dinner or lunch mostly.

Another incident mentioned about Jehangirs pet love is about his pet lion. Once Jehangir was away from agra for few days and when he came back one of his pet lion realized same and ran to meet his owner escaping cluthes of care takers into the Deewan e Aam. Soon chaos ensured and commoners and ministers alike were running helter shelter looking at a huge lion running in Deewan e aam during court time. Finally Jehangir had to get down from emperor seat and calm the lion and the lion refused to go back into the lion stable at any cost leaving its owner. Thus Jehangir had lion company by his side through the days court proceedings as the lion refused to be coaxed back from Deewan e aam leaving his owner and the proceedings could not be stopped to allow Jehangir to go back to his palace taking his lion along.

This was common for Jehangir to take his pet lion/tiger for meetings with ambassadors and other emperors. But having a lion perched on emperors seat next to its owner Jehangir in Deewan e aam was an uncommon sight for agra citizens and nobels.  The Christian priests recorded this incident in their letters. Many mughal paintings decipt Jehangir with lion on stroll while meeting Persian ambassador etc

Jehangir was a curious naturalist and had keen sense of observation. Jehangirnama is filled with observations about animals

On this day Salbahan arrived from Burhanpur and exhibited to my view my late brother Danyal’s horses and elephants. One of the elephants he had brought was named Mast-i-Alast. I liked its looks, so I named it Nur Gaj. An amazing thing was witnessed in this elephant. Beside both ears were bumps the size of small watermelons, and there was also a bump on the place where fluid drips out from elephants when they are in rut. The bump on its forehead was larger than has been seen in other elephants. I thought it looked very handsome and awe-inspiring.

 But he was a keen and expert hunter too as noted in Jeghangirnama

On Monday the fourteenth [February 20], while on the road, it was heard that two Mar. i 607-Mar i 608 91 lions were menacing travelers between Panipat and Karnal, I got my elephants together and set out. When I reached the place they had been spotted, I got on a female elephant and ordered the other elephants to encircle the lions as m a qamargha. By God’s grace I shot them both and eliminated the evil of these two, which had blocked the people’s way.

This is what he wrote about his pet turkey that he got as gift

Although His Majesty Firdaws-Makani [Babur] wrote in his memoirs of the shapes and forms of some animals, apparently he did not order the artists to depict them. [85a] Since these animals looked so extremely strange to me, I both wrote of them and ordered the artists to draw their likenesses m the Jabanginuvna so that the astonishment one has at hearing of them would increase by seeing them. One of the animals was larger in body than a peahen and significantly smaller than a peacock. Sometimes when it displays itself during mating it spreads its tail and its other feathers like a peacock and dances. Its beak and legs are like a rooster’s. Its head, neck, and wattle constantly change color. When it is mating they are as red as can be—you’d think it had all been set with coral. After a while these same places become white and look like cotton.

Sometimes they look turquoise. It keeps changing color like a chameleon. The piece of flesh it has on its head resembles a cock’s comb. Tbe strange part about it is that when it is mating, the piece of flesh hangs down a span from its head like an elephant’s trunk, but then when it pulls it up it stands erect a distance of two fingers like a rhinoceros’ horn. The area around its eyes is always turquoise-colored and never changes. Its feathers appear to be of different colors, unlike a peacock’s feathers.

He even made his elephant taker a Raja, Quote from Jehangirnama

Kishan Das, the overseer of the elephant department and stable who had held the two offices since His Majesty Arsh-Ashyani’s time and who had been hoping for a long, long time to be made a raja, was awarded the title of raja and given a rank of 1000

Jehangirs elephants bitten by mad dog, quote from Jehangirnama

I knew that any animal bitten by a mad dog would certainly die, but until now it wasn’t known to be true of elephants. One night during my reign, however, a mad dog got into the area in which one of my personal elephants, Kachhi by name, was tied and bit the leg of the female elephant that was my elephant’s companion. [95b] The female immediately roared, and the elephant keeper came running and drove the dog away into a thorn brake in tbe vicinity. A little later it came back out, went to my elephant, and bit it on the leg. The elephant stepped on the dog and killed it. One cloudy day a month and five days later, a clap of thunder hit the female’s ear while it was grazing. All at once it bellowed, its limbs began to tremble, and it threw itself on the ground. It got up again, but it drooled for seven days until suddenly it bellowed in distress. No treatment

the elephant keepers tried did any good. On the seventh day it fell down dead. One month after the female elephant’s death they were taking the male to the fields by the river bank, and it was cloudy and thundering again. In a rage the elephant began trembling and sat down on the ground. The keepers brought it home, showing every sort of kindness and concern, but after the same period of time and in the same way the female had died this one died too. Such an occurrence was astonishing. It is truly amazing that an animal with a body so large and big could be affected so by a wound inflicted by an animal so small

Jehangir loved being with his pet animals when they gave birth to baby animals and observed it closely

On the eve of Sunday the eleventh of Tir [circa June 22], a female elephant from my personal stable gave birth in my presence. I had repeatedly ordered investigation made into the length of an elephant’s gestation. Finally it was learned that a female was in the mother’s womb for one year and six months, while a male was there for nineteen months. In contrast to human babies, which usually come from the mother’s womb head first, an elephant calf usually comes out

feet first. When the calf was separated from the mother, the mother kicked dust on it with her feet and began to show love and reassure it. The calf remained down for an instant, and then it got up and went for the mother’s udders.

 Jehangir was a great pet owner he observed his pets discomfort and often suggested ways to relive of them, Quote from Jehangirnama

 From the time the elephant Nur Bakht entered the royal stable it had been kept tied in the Public and Private Palace. Of all animals the elephant particularly likes water and loves to get into it, even during the cold weather of winter. If there is no water available, it will take water from a bag and spray it over its body. It therefore occurred to me that, no matter how much elephants enjoy water and are accustomed to it by nature, surely during winter they must be affected by the cold water. I therefore ordered the water heated to lukewarm and poured into its trunk. On previous days when it sprayed cold water over itself, the effects of shivering and trembling could be seen, whereas, in contrast, it seemed to enjoy the warm water. Such treatment is peculiarly mine.

 Jehangirs tribute to his pet a tomb to rival Taj Mahal in middle of river in Lahore

 Hiran Minar was built at the site of a game reserve in honors of Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s pet antelope, due to his fondness of nature and relationship between human’s pets and hunting. Therefore, Hiran Minar was built during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir in a hunting reserve used by the Mughal royals. During the region of Emperor Salim from 1605 to 1627, Sheikhupura had the status of a royal hunting ground. The minaret itself was built in 1606 as a monument to Emperor Jahangir’s beloved pet antelope, Mansiraj, or “Light of the Mind”. Who had been trained to lure wild animals to the tank in order to be hunted? The practice of building such tomb-markers over the skulls of game animals is an ancient Persian custom. Mughal Emperor Jahangir ordered to build a tower and a grave for his deer, Mansraj, and he spotted a deer tried to kill, but accidentally killed his own favorite, Mansraj. The emperor becomes so sad that he ordered to bury deer in the ground where it died and build a tower called Hiran Minar. This is a very rare example of love towards a pet, a gesture of love towards wildlife in a time when the western world was even not familiar with such intentions.

 Thus Prince Salim aka Jehangirs love for his pet animals exceeded the boundaries of pet love during 16th century and even British/French were shocked at his display of pet affection. His pet love was more of 21st century levels where pet animals are considered family.

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