In 21st century its so common to treat pet animals like family. But in other centuries too few people treated pets like family. Especially the royal’s like Maharana Pratap who loved Chetak so much that he cried like a child at his death, Akbar who loved his pet Hawai and Jehangir who loved his pets so much that citizens of mughal empire started saying that “The emperor loved his pet as much as he loved his own brothers Murad and Daniyal”. Now thats a compliment to love a pet like ones own sibling that few humans will get from ones own citizens.
This pet love started at very young age for Salim. From very small age his father Akbar allowed him to keep pets like lion, tiger and Cheetah. At age of 10 years Salim risked his life to enter enemy camp to save his pet deer. Salim was sent to Rajputhana for war against Maharan Pratap. One day Salim went into forest and saw a young baby deer or fawn alone without its mother about to be attacked by a tiger. Salim and his gaurds killed the tiger and carried the baby deer back to his tent. Now since Salim was small when he was sent to war field, he had no friends of his age group at war camp. The minimum age to join army as soldier was 14-16 years than. But Salim went to war field at age 8 or 9 years. So he was quiet lonely without friends of his age group or siblings to play with at war camp. So he found solace in company of his pet animals in the war camp.
Salim grew very fond of the deer he had saved in forest. Every evening after war he would play with it and feed it etc. One day he came back from war field and found that his pet baby deer is not to be seen anywhere in the army camp. He sent servants to search for it everywhere but it was not found anywhere. Someone came back and told the deer had escaped and gone far from sight and captured by Maharana Prataps soldiers. Salim was tensed and wanted his pet deer back. But no soldier was ready to go into Maharana Prataps war camp and risk his life to get the deer back. It was a suicide mission sure shot death to enter enemy camp. So everyone adviced him to forget his deer and go and rest.
Salim could not sleep what with his pets life in danger at enemy camp. So he sneaked out of his camp at midnight to get his pet deer back. He travelled to Maharana’s camp(which was very far off from mughal camp) and entered it and started searching for his pet deer. Since he was a small boy and it was pretty dark no one discovered him at midnight inside the camp. Finally he found his baby deer tied to a post. As soon as baby deer saw its owner it got excited and started screaming in joy. Salim ran to free the baby deer but was found by Maharana Prataps gaurds. Salim picked his pet and ran with gaurds behind him. Salim ran to hide straight into a tent where Maharana Prataps was discussing war strategy with Shakti Singh and Amar Singh and few others.
The gaurds entered the tent after Salim. Maharana and others were shocked to see Salim in their tent. Shakti Singh who had worked for Akbar for decades knew Salim well when he was in agra. Anyways Mughals and Mewar met 22 times in war field during Akbars time, in that majority times Salim was in that war. So they knew each other very well as they met regularly in battle field for decades. Indeed it was Salim who had forgiven Shakti Singh for killing three mughal commanders in Battle of Haldighatti battle to save Maharana Pratap life and sent him from Mughal court back to Rajputhana. Maharana Pratap and Amar Singh were also shocked to see Salim in their war camp after midnight. The gaurds of Maharana Pratap told him all about the deer and how Salim had rescued it and was being chased by them. Salim was least bothered he was in enemy camp in front of Maharna Pratap and Shakti Singh etc. Like a typical 10 year old kid he warned everyone that the deer is only his pet and no one should dare think of hurting the deer and he will take it back to his camp at any cost. Mahrana Pratap forgave Salim for coming into his camp and allowed him to go back to mughal camp with his deer. Maharana told Shakti Singh and Amar Singh to leave Salim out of Maharanas war camp. Salim left with his pet deer back to mughal camp. By than Man Singh had discovered Salim missing from his tent and parties were sent for his search. Finally Salim was found and he arrived back in mughal camp carrying his baby deer in toe. Thus ended a prince dangerous adventure to rescue his pet deer from enemy camp. Luckily for Salim, the enemy camp was of the nobel and great Maharana Pratap. Thus a kiddish love for his pet did not cost him his life.
But Salim was known to behave in such manner when it concerned an animal. He would become thrilled like a small child and lose himself in company of animals and nature. Like in his mid 20s he had once gone during war to visit the jungle to hunt. He went forward alone and suddenly saw tiger cubs in forest. The mother was not around. Looking at the baby cubs, Jehangir lost himself in the moment. Who would not want to play with small fluffy tiger cubs? He lifted the three four cubs in his arms and lap and sat on a stone nearby playing with them. After sometime the mother arrived and got angry at the intruder and attacked him for daring to touch her cubs. But Jehangir was so happy playing with tiger cubs his gun and sword were placed away for him to reach suddenly. By the time he realized what was happening the tiger was almost on top of him. Ali Quli one of the mughal commander arrived and slayed the mother tiger and saved his life. Salim gave him title “Sher Afghan” for saving his life. Ali Quli was Nur Jahan’s husband. Thus Salim could totally lose himself in the moment in company of animals. So it was no surprise for a kid Salim to run to enemy camp to resuce his pet baby deer. There are many other incidents that decipt his love for his pets or animals in general. But entering enemy camp was the heights of his love or rather stupidity even by 21st century standards of pet love. No wonder historians are of opinion that Salim would be happiest being a zoo keeper or librarian rather than an emperor. He loved animals and books very much.
Salim aka emperor Jehangir loved hunting too. But that did not dissuade him from treating his pet animals like family and building them huge palaces like Hathi Mahal meaning “Elephant palace” for his retired war elephants to rest and Hiran Minar meaning “Deer tomb” for his pet deer Manas Raj at Lahore. Salims love for his pets involved having his swimming pools filled with hot water for his pet elephants to bathe in cold winter to sitting through the night in stable waiting for his favourite elephant or lion to give birth to a baby elephant or baby lion. Salim had more than thousand pet lions in his palace. Some had freedom to stroll with ambassadors and other kings and emperors along sidetheir master Jehangir. Not sure if the other emperors liked a lion or tiger strolling with them, but their master was pretty happy and had paintings drawn to commemorate his pets strolling with dignitaries. His love for his pets was so much that Thomas Roe British ambassador found lions strolling in Jehangirs bedroom once as he went to get some signatures on documents. Jehangir may have never needed any body gaurds or fear of any enemies what with mighty lions giving him company in his bedroom.
Anyways he did not have many enemies apart from his closest family namely sons like Khusrau and Shah Jahan. He was like ajatha shatru with hardly any enemies in outside world. Even biggest enemies of mughal empire regarded him as non threatening. Like above incident when Maharana Pratap let him go from his war camp. Same way there is another story of Salim going to hunt in forest and finding that Amar Singh(Maharana Prataps son) his dreaded enemy had also come hunting to same forest. That time Salim was in his teenage years, his enemy hunting in same forest did not agitate him and neither he bothered to capture or kill Crown Prince Amar Singh. He just went about his task of hunting as if it was very normal to meet your mortal enemy’s in forest while hunting during war breaks.
Salim always let go off opportunities that could defeat an enemy of mughal empire usually knowingly or unknowingly. Especially he had particular affiliation to let go off Maharana Pratap and his family at every opportunity. May be his differences with father Akbar made him to look away. Like Salim refused to lead war against Maharana Pratap on one occasion, on another occasion he stopped at Ajmer and refused to attack Maharana Prataps army despite Akbars orders. After enjoying with his friends few months he decided to revolt against Akbar only and attacked Agra. Than there is famous incident of battle of Haldighatti, where Salim let off Shakti Singh although he killed three mughal commanders and saved Maharanas life. Akbar was obviously furious at Salim decision to let go Shakti Singh. There is one more incident, where mughal army managed to catch Maharana’s daughter from forest and got her to mughal camp. This was when guerila warfare was the tact used by mewar. They thought they can bargain for her life and capture Maharana Pratap and end decades of war with mewar at last. But Prince Salim played spoil sport and sent her back to Maharana’s camp. Rather Salim himself went with his friends and dropped her back in same forest where mughal army had captured her. Why would a crown Prince have to go himself to drop an enemys daughter back in forest, may be he did not trust any of his mughal army men to safely drop Maharana’s daughter back as per his commands. When Prince Khurram was sent to attack Mewar, he did many atrocities against Mewar commoners. Someone sent complaint to mughal court to Jehangir and Jehangr sent letter to Khurram not to trouble the local people of mewar. Although to what extent Khurram followed Jehangirs orders on ground is not known. Jehangir did not attack Udaipur when Prince Karan Singh gave shelter to a traitor Khurram who had rebelled against Jehangir. Thus when Akbar had a hostile policy towards Mewar, Salim had a re conciliatory policy towards them.
It must be noted here that Maharana Prataps wife Roop Kunwar Rathore and Akbars wife Rukmavathi Lal Baiji were sisters. Also their brother Mota Raja Udai Singh’s daughter Jodha Bai was married to Salim and was mother of Shah Jahan aka Khurram. Also a sister of Roop Kunwar and Rukmavathi was married to Bhagwan Das of amer and another to Shakti Singh of mewar. Even more interesting was that Salims mother Hira Kunwari’s father’s aunty was married to Raja Maldeo who is Roop Kunwar and Rukmavathi’s father. So that could explain why Salim forgave Shakti Singh and left Maharana Prataps daughter. It must be noted Amar Singh, Maharana Prataps son was involved in 17 wars against mughals. Salim himself was involved in more than 19 wars against Rajpuths some against Mewar in his life as a prince(before becoming emperor). It must be noted that Prince Salim went to war at age of 8 or 9 years and most of his life was mostly spent in war fields on and off till he became emperor. Later again in 1592, he went to war and was in war field till he revolted against Akbar in 1599. After becoming emperor Jehangir had five wars against Mewar all led by others. He finally defeated mewar after his fathers death and that too historians say because Akbar asked him to win over mewar in his final days, promise on death bed to capture mewar.