Emperor JAHANGIR – Fourth Mughal Emperor

Fourth Mughal Emperor Jahangir
Fourth Mughal Emperor Jahangir | Image Source

Quick Facts

Fourth Mughal Emperor Jahangir

Nur-ud-din Muhammad Salim (later known as Jahangir) was the fourth mughal emperor who ruled in the mughal empire from 1605 to 1627. Jahangir meaning “conqueror of the world” was his regal name. The Story of Jahangir with Anarkali is famous in the Indian cinema, art and literature.

Early Life

Jahangir was born on 31st August 1569 in Fatehpur Sikri. He was the son of Akbar and Mariam-uz-Zamani (daughter of of Raja Bharmal of Amber). None of Akbar’s previous children survived before prince Salim. Akbar took help from holy man for the  birth of Jahangir and called him Shekhu Baba.

After Akbar’s death in 1605, Prince (Jahangir) succeeded to the throne to become the fourth mughal emperor and received the title of Nur-ud-din Muhammad Jahangir Badshah Ghazi. He was 36 years old when he started his reign. Prince Khusrau Mirza, the eldest son of Jahangir tried to hold the throne on Akbar’s wish but he was defeated in 1606 by his father Jahangir. Jahangir handed over him to his younger brother who was partially blind and killed.

His third son Prince Khurram (later known as Shah Jahan) killed Khusrau Mirza in 1622 for his own succession.

Reign

Jahangir had sent his son Prince Khurram for fight against Ahmednagar,  Golconda and Bijapur in 1622. As a result, Prince Khurram wanted to get into power and so turned against his father. He made a proposal for power. Jahangir accepted the challenge and at the end, he was able to retain the power.

He sent Khan Alam to Safavid Persia alongwith 800 soldiers, scholars and  ten Howdahs decorated with lot of gold and silver to settle peace with Abbas I of Persia in 1623. Before this, there was lot of dispute in Kandahar region. In  response to this, Khan Alam came back with lost of expensive gifts from Safavid Persia.

Marriages

Shah Begum

Salim (future Jahangir) was independently commanding the regiment in Kabul  in 1581 when he was just 12 years old. In 1585 his rank was raised and also engaged to his cousin Rajkumari Man Bai. She was the daughter of daughter of Bhagwant Das, the ruler of Amer district in Rajasthan.

Bhagwant Das was the son of Raja Bharmal (also known as Bihari Lal), a Rajput ruler of Rajasthan. He was the brother of Akbar’s wife  Mariam-uz-Zamani (also known as Jodha Bai).

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Jahangir married to Man Bai on 13th February, 1585. After the marriage, he gave her the name, Shah Begum. Both of them had the son Khusrau Mirza.

Jagat Gosain Begum

Jahangir married to many skilled girls in short period of time who belonged to the noble Mughal and Rajput families after his first marriage. Jagat Gosain was one of them who belonged to a Rajput family. Jahangir named her  Taj Bibi Bilqis Makani after the marriage. She was also the empress consort of the mughal empire. She gave birth to the prince Khurram (future Shah Jahan) who was also the successor of Jahangir.

Other marriages

Jahangir married Malika Shikar, daughter of Sultan Abu Said Khan in July 1586. He then married Sahib Jamal Begum, daughter of Khawaja Hassan of Herat in the same year.

In 1587, Jahangir married to Malika Jahan Begum, daughter of Bhim Singh who was the Maharaja of Jaisalmer.

In 1590, he married to Zohra Begum, daughter of Mirza Sanjar Hazara.

He married to Karamnasi Begum, daughter of Raja Kesho Das Rathore of Mertia in 1591.

In 1592, he married to Kanwal Rani, daughter of Ali Sher Khan. And in the same year he married to the daughter of Hussain Chak of Kashmir.

In 1593, he married to Nur Un-Nisa Begum, daughter of Ibrahim Husain Mirza. He married to the daughter of Ali Khan Faruqi who was the Raja of Khandesh in the same year.

Jahangir married to Khas Mahal Begum, daughter of Zain Khan Koka who was the chief native officer of Kabul and Lahore in 1596.

In 1608, he married to Saliha Banu Begum (daughter of Qasim Khan) who was a  senior member of the monarchical family circle. He married to Koka Kumari Begum, daughter of Jagat Singh who was the yuvraj of Amber in the same year.

Nur Jahan

On 25th May 1611, Jahangir married to Nur Jahan (also known as Mehrunissa). Nur Jahan was very beautiful and sharp minded. Though Sher Afgan (actual Name: Ali Quli Istajlu) was her first husband. He initially served the safavids and then later joined the Mughals as courtier.

Sher Afgan got the name Sher Afgan (meaning Tiger tosser) from Akbar when once he saved Akbar from a tiger attacking on him from in a royal hunt in Bengal. Akbar was so impressed by his bravery that he awarded him the master of Imperial Guard at Burdwan (in Bengal). He was killed in rebellion when he came to know that Jahangir had ordered his soldiers to kill him in order to possess his wife.

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After the murder of Sher Afgan, Jahangir ordered his men to take Mehrunissa to Agra in 1607. She had a 9 year old daughter too. Jahangir then married her in 1611. After marriage he gave her the title of Nur Jahan, meaning the light of the world.

Nur Jahan was her favorite wife because she was very intelligent, beautiful and skilled queen. Nur Jahan means “Light of the World”. It is said that once she had hunted 4 tigers with only 6 bullets.

Conquests

Vir Singh Deo

Emperor Akbar sent his son Jahangir alonwith Abu’l-Hasan (also known as Mirza Jafar Beg), brother of Nur Jahan and son of  Mirza Ghiyas Beg to defeat Vir Singh Deo (Bundela Rajput chief and ruler of Orchha kingdom) in 1594. Jahangir attacked his capital with a force of 12000 and a long list of encounters he dispirited Bundela and forced Vir Singh Deo to surrender.

After immense casualties Vir Singh Deo had gave around 5000 Bundela infantry and more than 1000 cavalry. To celebrate his victory Jahangir ordered to build Jahangir Mahal (in Orchha Madhya Pradesh). He was 26 years old during this victory.

Lakshmi Narayan

Jahangir fought against Lakshmi Narayan of Cooch Behar under the command of Ali Kuli Khan along with his forces. After the defeat Laxmi Narayan had to accept Mughals as his chief.

Seize of Rahimi

The Portuguese had seized the Mughal ship named “Rahimi” in 1613. The ship was on its way from Surat to  Mecca and Medina with a large load of 100,000 rupees and pilgrims to attend Hajj. Jahangir’s mother Mariam-uz-Zamani was the owner of the ship. Rahimi was a very large ship also known as the “great pilgrimage ship”. Portuguese denied to hand over the ship and their passengers to the mughals. This act in turn resulted in the burst of anger of Jahangir. Thus  Jahangir  ordered his soldiers to attack Daman (Portuguese town). He also ordered to seize the churches owned by Jesuits (members of society of Jesus).

Jahangir initiated a strong offensive attack against Rajputs which resulted in the end of the long fight between the Mughals and the state of Mewar.

Defeat of Musa Khan and seize of Kangra Fort

Jahangir sent Islam Khan I (Mughal general of Bengal) to beat Musa Khan (leader of Bara-Bhuiyans of the Bhati region) in Bengal in 1608. He also succeed in capturing Kangra Fort (near Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh) in 1620 which Akbar had failed to do in 1615. 

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Religion

Many historians called Jahangir an orthodox Sunni. According to Sir Thomas Roe who was England’s first ambassador for Mughal’s court, Jahangir had his own religion and his own making. During his accession his father’s chief minister and some orthodox noblemen gained immense popularity in the Mughal’s court.  

Jahangir killed Guru Arjan Dev in the prison. He seized his lands and also imprisoned his sons because he thought his sons to be the suspect of helping Khusrau’s rebellion. It is said that Jahangir did not understand what a Sikh was and he thought Sikhs to be Hindu.

Jahangir also mistreated Jains. One of the historians from his court had mentioned that Emperor Jahangir ordered to destroy all the temples in Gujarat. The women going to these temples were ill treated by the Mughals on the order of Jahangir.

Criticism

  • Jahangir was known as a powerless King. Henry Beveridge (Orientalist in British India) has compared Jahangir with Roman emperor Claudius and said both of them were weak rulers.
  • Sir William Hawkins (representative of English East India), had once visited Jahangir’s court in 1609 also said what Akbar’s Deccan will be lost by Jahangir.  
  • Niccolao Manucci (an Italian writer) who had worked under Dara Shikoh (Jahangir’s grandson and Shah Jahan’s eldest son) had said once in a discussion: It’s a truth that the son waste what their father has earned in sweat.
  • John F. Richards (historian), had said that his private life and addictive usage of drugs and wine made him sloth. 

Death of Jahangir

Jahangir died while travelling from Kashmir to Lahore in Bhimber (town between the border of Kashmir and Pakistan) in 1627. His body was buried inside the Baghsar Fort near Bhimber in Kashmir. Before the burial, there was a decision to remove and preserve his internal organs. 

Later his body was carried to Lahore and buried in Shahdara Bagh. The Tomb of Jahangir was built in 17th century in Shahdara Bagh in Pakistan. It is one of the famous tourist attractions of Pakistan.

In Media and Cinema

  • Movie “Pukar” | 1939 | Actor Chandra Mohan played the role of Jahangir
  • Hindi movie “Anarkali” | 1953 | Pradeep Kumar played the role of Jahangir
  • Movie”Mughal-e-Azam” | 1960 | Actor Dilip Kumar played the role of Jahangir.
  • TV Series “Bharat Ek Khoj” | 1988 | Actor Vijay Arora played the role of Jahangir
  • TV Series “Noorjahan” | 2000 | Actor Milind Soman the role of Jahangir

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