Having grown up in the 60’s Mughle Azam was a must see- once a year movie for us.
As children we were fascinated by Akbar Jodha Bai’s story, not to forget Prithviraj Kapoor’s royal demeanour and booming voice and Durga Khote’s simplicity, dignity and dimples and Dilip Kumar’s masterful histrionics in the film. Years later their love story was further immortalised by Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai in Jodha Akbar.
According to popular legend, Akbar married the sister of Raja Man Singh of Amber, named Jodha Bai. Though she was reluctant at first, she later grew to love him and bore him a son through the blessings of Shaikh Salim Chisti, whom they named Salim after him. Salim later went on to ascend the Mughal throne after Akbar under the title Jahangir.
It’s a story, which lends itself to imagination. The reality, however, is far more obscure.
In his memoirs, The Tuzuknama or Jahangirnama, Jahangir never once mentions the name of his mother even though he gives the names of many of his own and his father’s wives.
These are the reference to his mother (unnamed) in his memoirs:
“When my mother came near the time of her delivery, he (Akbar) sent her to the Shaikh’s house that I might be born there.”
Another of the myths is that Jodha Bai was the sister of Man Singh, but this is dispelled in this paragraph where Jahangir is describing his dispensations after becoming Emperor:
“I made Raja Mān Singh— who was one of the greatest and most trusted noble men of my father, and had obtained alliances with this illustrious family, inasmuch as his aunt had been in my father’s house (i.e. was his wife), and I had married his sister, and Khusrau and his sister Sultānu-n-nisā Begam, the latter of whom is my eldest child, were born of her—as before, ruler of the province of Bengal.”
He refers to Man Singh’s aunt as his father’s wife not as his mother as is written in Wikipedia
“Mariam uz-Zamani Begum Sahiba (other names: Rukmavati Sahiba, Rajkumari Hira Kunwari and Harkha Bai) was a Rajput princess who became the Mughal Empress after her marriage to Mughal Emperor Akbar. She was the eldest daughter of Kachwaha Rajput, Raja Bharmal of Amber, the older name of the Rajput State of Jaipur .” There was no reason for a princess from Mewar to be called Jodha Bai.
Many tend to believe Wikipedia when it says that “She was also the mother of emperor Jahangir, her husband’s heir.” They forget that this is an open source and not a historical source.
“Hira Kunwari, Akbar’s first Rajput wife, was the eldest daughter of Raja Bhar Mal of Amber. She was also the sister of Bhagwandas and the aunt of Man Singh I of Amber.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jodha_Bai)
Yet when Jahangir mentions her he doesn’t refer to her as his mother :
“On Sunday the 26th of the above-mentioned month was held the marriage feast of Parwīz and the daughter of Prince Murād. The ceremony was performed in the house of Her Highness Maryam-zamānī. The entertainment was arranged in the house of Parwīz, and all who were present were exalted with all kinds of honour and civilities. Nine thousand rupees were handed over to Sharif Āmulī and other nobles, to be given in alms to faqirs and other poor people.”
He describes his marraige to the granddaughter of Man Singh:
“On the 4th Rabī‘u-l-awwal the daughter of Jagat Singh entered the harem, and the marriage ceremony was performed in the house of Her Highness Maryam-zamānī. Amongst the things sent with her by Rāja Mān Singh were 60 elephants.”
“he feast of my solar year was celebrated in the house of Maryam-zamānī.”
Mariyam Zamani was obviously very important in Jahangir’s life and was clearly a mother figure in his life. But it’s obvious she lived in the Royal Harem.
Whereas in a later entry Jahangir talks of his mother but she is not assigned a name and she is not living in the Royal Palace either:
“On Monday, the 12th, a halt was made at the garden of Dil-āmīz, which is on the bank of the river Ravi. I waited on my mother in this garden. Mīrzā Ghāzī, who had done approved service in command of the army at Qandahar, waited on me, and I bestowed great favour on him.”
Jahangir details the birth of two of his brothers and one sister, not naming the mothers but referring to them as concubines. Clearly he didn’t feel that their status as concubines and not wives did not merit naming them.
“Three months after my birth, my sister, Shāhzāda Khānam, was born to one of the royal concubines; they gave her over to his (Akbar’s) mother, Maryam Makānī. After her a son was born to one of the concubines, and received the name of Shāh Murād. On the night of Jumādā-l-awwal 10th, A.H. 979 (September, 1572), another son was born to one of the concubines. As his birth took place at Ajmīr in the house of one of the attendants of the blessed shrine of the reverend Khwāja Mu‘īnu-d-dīn Chishtī, whose name was Shaikh Dāniyāl, this child was called Dāniyāl.”
In the case of these two daughters of Akbar he names the wife as Bībī Daulat-Shād and she must have been of noble lineage.
“After the birth of Dāniyāl a daughter was born to Bībī Daulat-Shād whom they named Shakaru-n-nisā Begam.”
“After some time another girl was born to this same Bībī Daulat-Shād, and he (Akbar) called her Ārām Bānū Begam.”
He gives a detailed account of his various children, their birth and their mother’s names.
Sahib Jamal is mentioned as Pervez’s mother and Jagat Gosain as the mother of kHurram. In fact it was Jagat Gosain of Jodhpur who was referred to as Jodh Bai. And she was Jahangir’s wife and mother of Khurram ( ShahJahan)
Another wife mentioned is Shaei Begum, a great grand daughter of Mirza Kamran.
There is no mention of Jodhabai in ‘Akbarnama’, nor in any Mughal documents of the period.
Thee writer duo of historical fiction, Alex-Rutherford in their book Ruler of the World in their popular historical fiction quintet of Empire of the Moghul, refer to Jahangir’s mother as Hira Bai of Amber and he describes her relationship with Akbar as one of disdain and resentment for his treatment of Rajput kingdoms.
So many films and serials have been made on this theme but no one actually realised that this story was spread in the 19th century by an Englishman LtCol James Tod, who though not a historian wrote a book “Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan” first published as “Annals of Rajputana” in 1832. He based his stories on songs sung by local bards..
Prof Shirin Moosvi,of AMU, who presented a paper on Friday on Akbar at a seminar at the National College in Bandra, said a painting of Jehangir’s mother along with his grandmother showed her to be Indian but there was no name given.
There is of course a possibility that as one historian says that Akbar’s wife would not be named publicly and that’s why Mariam Zamani is not listed in official records as Jahangir’s mother. Many present day historians list Mariam Zamani as his mother.
Artistic depiction of Mariam-uz-Zamani alias Harka Bai
There is only one reference to her as mother of Jahangir, given by SAI Tirmizi in his book on letters of the royal ladies of the Mughals in which Mariam Zamani gives her designation as Jahangir’s mother.
In any case whoever was his mother it definitely wasn’t Jodha Bai.
And I am unable to understand why JAhangir never mentions his mother by name or refers to Mariam Zamani as his mother whenever he talks of her.
I suppose there will always be debate on this