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Shah Jahan

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Shah Jahan I
The Lord of the Auspicious Conjunction[1]
Al-Sultan Al-Azam
Sehenshah-E-Hind (King of kings of India)
Portrait by Bichitr, c. 1630
5th Mughal Emperor of India
Reign19 January 1628 –31 July 1658[2]
Coronation14 February 1628[3]
PredecessorJahangir I
Shahryar Mirza (de facto)
(1592-01-05)5 January 1592
Lahore, Lahore Subah, Mughal Empire
(modern-day Punjab, Pakistan)
Died22 January 1666(1666-01-22) (aged 74)
Agra, Agra Subah, Mughal Empire
(modern-day Uttar Pradesh, India)
Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India
(m. 1612; died 1631)
  • Qandahari Mahal(1610)
    (before 1666)
  • Akbarabadi Mahal
    (m. Error)
  • Lilavati Bai of Kharwa
  • Fatehpuri Mahal
among others...
Full name
Mirza Shahab-ud-Din Muhammad Khurram Shah Jahan[5]
Regnal name
Shah Jahan[6]
Posthumous name
Firduas Ashiyani (lit.'One who nest in Paradise')
HouseHouse of Babur
DynastyTimurid dynasty
FatherJahangir I
MotherJagat Gosain
ReligionSunni Islam (Hanafi)
Imperial SealShah Jahan I's signature

Mirza Shahab-ud-Din Muhammad Khurram (5 January 1592 – 22 January 1666), also known as Shah Jahan I (Persian pronunciation: [ʃɑːh d͡ʒa.ˈhɑːn]; lit.'King of the World'), was the fifth Mughal emperor, reigning from 1628 until 1658. During his reign, the Mughals reached the peak of their architectural and cultural achievements.

The third son of Jahangir (r. 1605–1627), Shah Jahan participated in the military campaigns against the Sisodia Rajputs of Mewar and the rebel Lodi nobles of the Deccan. After Jahangir's death in October 1627, Shah Jahan defeated his youngest brother Shahryar Mirza and crowned himself emperor in the Agra Fort. In addition to Shahryar, Shah Jahan executed most of his rival claimants to the throne. He commissioned many monuments, including the Red Fort, Shah Jahan Mosque and the Taj Mahal, where his favorite consort Mumtaz Mahal is entombed. In foreign affairs, Shah Jahan presided over the aggressive campaigns against the Deccan sultanates, the conflicts with the Portuguese, and the wars with the Safavids. He also suppressed several local rebellions and dealt with the devastating Deccan famine of 1630–32.

In September 1657, Shah Jahan was ailing and appointed his eldest son Dara Shikoh as his successor. This nomination led to a succession crisis among his three sons, from which Shah Jahan's third son Aurangzeb (r. 1658–1707) emerged victorious and became the sixth emperor, executing all of his surviving brothers, including Crown Prince Dara Shikoh. After Shah Jahan recovered from his illness in July 1658, Aurangzeb imprisoned his father in Agra Fort from July 1658 until his death in January 1666.[7] He was laid to rest next to his wife in the Taj Mahal. His reign is known for doing away with the liberal policies initiated by his grandfather Akbar. During Shah Jahan's time, Islamic revivalist movements like the Naqshbandi began to shape Mughal policies.[8]

Early life[change | change source]

Birth and background[change | change source]

He was born on 5 January 1592 in Lahore, present-day Pakistan, as the ninth child and third son of Prince Salim (later known as 'Jahangir' upon his accession) by his wife, Jagat Gosain.[9][10] The name Khurram (Persian: خرم, lit.'joyous') was chosen for the young prince by his grandfather, Emperor Akbar, with whom the young prince shared a close relationship.[10] Jahangir stated that Akbar was very fond of Khurram and had often told him "There is no comparison between him and your other sons. I consider him my true son."[11]

When Khurram was born, Akbar considering him to be auspicious insisted the prince be raised in his household rather than Salim's and was thus entrusted to the care of Ruqaiya Sultan Begum. Ruqaiya assumed the primary responsibility for raising Khurram[12] and is noted to have raised Khurram affectionately. Jahangir noted in his memoirs that Ruqaiya had loved his son, Khurram, "a thousand times more than if he had been her own [son]."[13]

However, after the death of his grandfather Akbar in 1605, he returned to the care of his mother, Jagat Gosain whom he cared for and loved immensely. Although separated from her at birth, he had become devoted to her and had her addressed as Hazrat in court chronicles.[14][15] On the death of Jagat Gosain in Akbarabad on 8 April 1619, he is recorded to be inconsolable by Jahangir and mourned for 21 days. For these three weeks of the mourning period, he attended no public meetings and subsisted on simple vegetarian meals. His consort Mumtaz Mahal personally supervised the distribution of food to the poor during this period. She led the recitation of the Quran every morning and gave her husband many lessons on the substance of life and death and begged him not to grieve.[16]

Education[change | change source]

As a child, Khurram received a broad education befitting his status as a Mughal prince, which included martial training and exposure to a wide variety of cultural arts, such as poetry and music, most of which was inculcated, according to court chroniclers, by Jahangir. According to his chronicler Qazvini, prince Khurram was only familiar with a few Turki words and showed little interest in the study of the language as a child.[17] Khurram was attracted to Hindi literature since his childhood, and his Hindi letters were mentioned in his father's biography, Tuzuk-e-Jahangiri.[18] In 1605, as Akbar lay on his deathbed, Khurram, who at this point of time was 13,[source?] remained by his bedside and refused to move even after his mother tried to retrieve him. Given the politically uncertain times immediately preceding Akbar's death, Khurram was in a fair amount of physical danger from political opponents of his father.[19] He was at last ordered to return to his quarters by the senior women of his grandfather's household, namely Salima Sultan Begum and his grandmother Mariam-uz-Zamani as Akbar's health deteriorated.[20]

Khusrau rebellion[change | change source]

In 1605, his father succeeded to the throne, after crushing a rebellion by Prince Khusrau – Khurram remained distant from court politics and intrigues in the immediate aftermath of that event.[source?] Khurram left Ruqaiya's care and returned to his mother's care.[21] As the third son, Khurram did not challenge the two major power blocs of the time, his father's and his half-brother's; thus, he enjoyed the benefits of imperial protection and luxury while being allowed to continue with his education and training. This relatively quiet and stable period of his life allowed Khurram to build his own support base in the Mughal court, which would be useful later on in his life.[22]

Jahangir assigned Khurram to guard the palace and treasury while he went to pursue Khusrau. He was later ordered to bring Mariam-uz-Zamani, his grandmother and Jahangir's harem to him.[23]

During Khusrau's second rebellion, Khurram's informants informed him about Fatehullah, Nuruddin and Muhammad Sharif gathered around 500 men at Khusrau's instigation and lay await for the Emperor. Khurram relayed this information to Jahangir who praised him.[24]

Jahangir had Khurram weighed against gold, silver and other wealth at his mansion at Orta.[25]

Nur Jahan[change | change source]

Due to the long period of tensions between his father and his half-brother, Khusrau Mirza, Khurram began to drift closer to his father, and over time, started to be considered the de facto heir-apparent by court chroniclers. This status was given official sanction when Jahangir granted the sarkar of Hissar-Feroza, which had traditionally been the fief of the heir-apparent, to Khurram in 1608.[26] After her marriage to Jahangir in the year 1611, Nur Jahan gradually became an active participant in all decisions made by Jahangir and gained extreme powers in administration, so much so that it was obvious to everyone both inside and outside that most of his decisions were actually hers. Slowly, while Jahangir became more indulgent in wine and opium, she was considered to be the actual power behind the throne. Her near and dear relatives acquired important positions in the Mughal court, termed the Nur Jahan junta by historians. Khurram was in constant conflict with his stepmother, Nur Jahan who favoured her son-in-law Shahryar Mirza for the succession to the Mughal throne over him. In the last years of Jahangir's life, Nur Jahan was in full power, and the emperor had left all the burden of governance on her. She tried to weaken Khurram's position in the Mughal court by sending him on campaigns far in Deccan while ensuring several favours were being bestowed on her son-in-law. Khurram after sensing the danger posed to his status as heir-apparent rebelled against his father in 1622 but did not succeed and eventually lost the favour of his father. Several years before Jahangir's death in 1627, coins began to be struck containing Nur Jahan's name along with Jahangir's name; In fact, there were two prerogatives of sovereignty for the legitimacy of a Muslim monarchy (reading the Khutbah and the other being the right to mint coins). After the death of Jahangir in 1627, a struggle developed between Khurram and his half-brother, Shahryar Mirza for the succession to the Mughal throne. Khurram won the battle of succession and became the fifth Mughal Emperor. Nur Jahan was subsequently deprived of her imperial stature, authority, privileges, honors and economic grants and was put under house arrest on the orders of Khurram and led a quiet and comfortable life till her death.

Ancestry[change | change source]

Marriages[change | change source]

In 1607, Khurram became engaged to Arjumand Banu Begum (1593–1631), who is also known as Mumtaz Mahal (Persian lit.' The Exalted One of the Palace'). They were about 14 and 15 when they were engaged, and five years later, got married. The young girl belonged to an illustrious Persian noble family that included Abu'l-Hasan Asaf Khan, who had been serving Mughal emperors since the reign of Akbar. The family's patriarch was Mirza Ghiyas Beg, who was also known by his title I'timād-ud-Daulah or "Pillar of the State". He had been Jahangir's finance minister and his son, Asaf Khan – Arjumand Banu's father – played an important role in the Mughal court, eventually serving as Chief Minister. Her aunt Mehr-un-Nissa later became the Empress Nur Jahan, chief consort of Emperor Jahangir.[27]

The prince would have to wait five years before he was married in 1612 (1021 AH), on a date selected by the court astrologers as most conducive to ensuring a happy marriage. This was an unusually long engagement for the time. However, Shah Jahan first married a Persian Princess (name not known) entitled Kandahari Begum, the daughter of a great-grandson of the great Shah Ismail I of Persia, with whom he had a daughter, his first child.[28]

Shah Jahan, accompanied by his three sons: Dara Shikoh, Shah Shuja and Aurangzeb, and their maternal grandfather Asaf Khan IV

In 1612, aged 20, Khurram married Mumtaz Mahal.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Shah Jahan". Cambridge University press. 18 June 2020.
  2. Shujauddin, Mohammad; Shujauddik, Razia (1967). The Life and Times of Noor Jahan. Lahore: Caravan Book House. p. 121. OCLC 638031657.
  3. Necipoğlu, Gülru, ed. (1994). Muqarnas : an annual on Islamic art and architecture. Vol. 11. Leiden, Netherlands: E.J. Brill. p. 143. ISBN 978-90-04-10070-1.
  4. Fenech, Louis E. (2014). "The Evolution of the Sikh Community". In Singh, Pashaura; Fenech, Louis E. (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-19-969930-8. Jahangir's son, ponkua, better known as the emperor Shah Jahan the Architect
  5. Singh, Pashaura; Fenech, Louis E., eds. (2014). "Index". The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. p. 649. ISBN 978-0-19-969930-8. Shah Jahan, Emperor Shahabuddin Muhammad Khurram
  6. Flood, Finbarr Barry; Necipoglu, Gulru (2017). A Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture. John Wiley & Sons. p. 897. ISBN 978-1-119-06857-0.
  7. Illustrated dictionary of the Muslim world. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Reference. 2011. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-7614-7929-1.
  8. Richards 1993, Shah Jahan, pp. 121–122.
  9. "Shah Jahan". Encyclopædia Britannica. 17 October 2023.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Findly 1993, p. 125
  11. Jahangir (1999). The Jahangirnama: Memoirs of Jahangir, Emperor of India. Translated by Thackston, W. M. Oxford University Press. p. 30. ISBN 0-19-512718-8.
  12. Eraly 2000, p. 299
  13. Jahangir (1999). The Jahangirnama: Memoirs of Jahangir, Emperor of India. Translated by Thackston, W. M. Oxford University Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-19-512718-8.
  14. Kamboh, Muhammad Saleh. Amal I Salih. During her stay at Fatehpur, the mother of Shah Jahan, Hazrat Bilqis Makani, a resident of Agra became ill. The treatment did not work. Finally, on 4th Jamadi-ul-Awal, she died and according to her will, she was buried at Dehra Bagh, near Noor Manzil.
  15. Perston, Diana; Perston, Micheal. A Teardrop on the Cheek of Time: The Story of the Taj Mahal. Although removed from his mother at birth, Shah Jahan had become devoted to her.
  16. Lal, Muni (1986). Shah Jahan. Vikas Publishing House. p. 52.
  17. Banarsi Prasad Saksena (1932). History Of Shahjahan Of Dihli 1932. Indian Press Limited.
  18. Saiyada Asad Alī (2000). Influence of Islam on Hindi Literature. Idarah-i-Adabiyat-Delli. p. 48.
  19. Prasad 1930, p. 189 "During his grandfather's last illness, he [Khurram] refused to leave the bedside surrounded by his enemies. Neither the advice of his father nor the entreaties of his mother could prevail on him to prefer the safety of his life to his last duty to the father."
  20. Nicoll 2009, p. 49
  21. Faruqui, Munis D. (2012). The Princes of the Mughal Empire, 1504–1719. Cambridge University Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-107-02217-1.
  22. Nicoll 2009, p. 56
  23. Emperor, Jahangir (1999). The Jahangirnama. Freer Gallery of Art, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution and Oxford University Press. pp. 61. ISBN 9780195127188.
  24. Emperor, Jahangir (1999). The Jahangirnama. Freer Gallery of Art, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution and Oxford University Press. pp. 84. ISBN 9780195127188.
  25. Emperor, Jahangir (1999). The Jahangirnama. Freer Gallery of Art, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution and Oxford University Press. pp. 81. ISBN 9780195127188.
  26. Prasad 1930, p. 190 "Khusrau conspired, rebelled, and lost the favour of his father ... Of all the sons of Jahangir, Khurram was marked out to be the heir-apparent and successor ... In 1608 the assignment of the sarkar of Hissar Firoz to him proclaimed to the world that he was intended for the throne."
  27. Nicoll 2009, p. 66
  28. Eraly 2000, p. 300