Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Truth

Hira Kunwar, Akbar's first Rajput wife, was the eldest daughter of Raja Bhar Mal of Amer.[2] She was also the sister of Bhagwandas and the aunt of Man Singh I of Amber, who later became one the nine jewels (Navaratnas) in the court of Akbar.[3]

Hira Kunwari (her maiden name) was married to Akbar on January 20, 1562, at Sambhar, near Jaipur.[4] She was Akbar's third wife and one of his three chief queens. She was 22 days older than her husband. Akbar's first queen was the childless Ruqaiyya Begum, and his second wife was Salima Sultan, the widow of his most trusted general, Bairam Khan. After her marriage, Hira Kunwari was given the title Mariam-ul-Zamani ("Mary of the Age").[5]

A hindu by birth she remained Lord Krishna devotee in spite of her conversion and till now her palace is decorated with Krishna paintings and frescos.[citation needed] She is said to have been politically involved in the court until Nur Jahan became empress.

Like other few women at the Mughal court, Maryam-uz-Zamani could issue official documents (singularly called farman), which was usually the exclusive privilege of the emperor. Maryam Zamani used her wealth and influence to build gardens, wells, and mosques around the country.[6]

In 1586, she arranged a marriage of her son, Prince Salim (later Jahangir), to her niece, Princess Manmati (Manbhawati Bai), who was the mother of Prince Khusrau Mirza.

Maryam Zamani owned and oversaw the ships that carried pilgrims to and from the Islamic holy city Mecca. In 1613, her ship, the Rahīmī was seized by Portuguese pirates along with the 600-700 passengers and the cargo. When the Portuguese officially refused to return the ship and the passengers, the outcry at the Moghul court was quite severe. Zamani's son, the Indian emperor Jahangir ordered the seizure of the Portuguese town Daman. This episode is considered to be an example of the struggle for wealth that would later ensue and lead to colonization of India.[6]

Maryam Zamani died in 1622.[7] As per her last wishes, a vav or step well was constructed by Jahangir. Her tomb, built in 1611, is on the Delhi-Agra National Highway, near Fatehpur Sikri. She was buried according to Islamic custom and was not cremated according to the Hindu religion.

There is popular perception that Rajput wife of Akbar, mother of Jahangir, was known as "Jodha Bai".[2]

In Tuzuk-e-Jahangiri she is referred as Mariam Zamani.[8] Neither the Akbarnama (a biography of Akbar commissioned by Akbar himself), nor any historical text from the period refer to her as Jodha Bai.[8] Tuzk-e-Jahangiri, the autobiography of Jahangir, doesn't mention Jodha Bai either.[2]

According to Professor Shirin Moosvi, a historian of Aligarh Muslim University, the name "Jodha Bai" was first used to refer to Akbar's wife in the 18th and 19th centuries in historical writings.[8] According to the historian Imtiaz Ahmad, the director of the Khuda Baksh Oriental Public Library in Patna, the name "Jodha" was used for Akbar's wife for the first time by Lieutenant-Colonel James Tod, in his book Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan.[5]

According to Professor N R Farooqi, a historian of Allahabad Central University, Jodha Bai was not the name of Akbar's Rajput queen; it was the name of Jahangir's Rajput wife Princess Manmati of Jodhpur, whose real name was Jagat Gosain.[2]

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1.^ Christopher Buyers. The Rathor Dynasty: Genalogy. Retrieved on 2008-02-15.
2.^ a b c d Atul Sethi. "'Trade, not invasion brought Islam to India'", The Times of India, 2007-06-24. Retrieved on 2008-02-15. 
3.^ Jaipur (Princely State). Retrieved on 2008-02-15.
4.^ Harsha Kumari Singh. "Royal support for Jodhaa Akbar", NDTV, 2008-01-31. Retrieved on 2008-02-15. 
5.^ a b Syed Firdaus Ashraf (2008-02-05). Did Jodhabai really exist?. Retrieved on 2008-02-15.
6.^ a b Findly, Ellison B. (1988), “The Capture of Maryam-uz-Zamānī's Ship: Mughal Women and European Traders”, Journal of the American Oriental Society 108 (2): 227-238 
7.^ Glynn, Catherine & Smart, Ellen (1997), “A Mughal Icon Re-Examined”, Artibus Asiae 57 (1/2): 5-15 
8.^ a b c Ashley D'Mello. "Fact, myth blend in re-look at Akbar-Jodha Bai", The Times of India, 2005-12-10. Retrieved on 2008-02-15.