Action Versus Fiction…
“History is a set of lies agreed upon.” – Napoleon Bonaparte.
It is widely believed that fourth Mughal Emperor Jahangir (August 31, 1569 – October 28, 1627) had replaced Raja Man Singh with Qutubuddin Koka as the Subedar (Governor) of Bengal in order to marry Sher Afgan’s (actual name Ali Quli Beg Ist’ajlu) extremely beautiful and intelligent wife Mehr-un-Nisaa, better known by her subsequent title – ‘Nur Jahan‘! Some historians have mentioned that Jahangir had Sher Afgan slain, to possess his wife. According to the historians, the Mughal Emperor instructed Governor Qutubuddin to murder Sher Afgan, secretly, with the help of his guards…
English diplomat Thomas Roe, representative of the English East India Company Sir William Hawkins, Italian writer and traveler Niccolao Manucci and many other foreign delegates visited the South Asian nation during the Mughal Era and their memoirs about the Indian subcontinent were major sources of history about contemporary India. Although they portrayed the dark sides of Emperor Jahangir in their writings, none of them mentioned about the Emperor’s romance with Mehr-un-Nisaa or his alleged involvement in the murder of Sher Afgan! In his autobiography ‘Tuzuk-e-Jahangiri‘ (original language: Persian), the Emperor did not write a single line on his love or Sher Afgan’s death. Even in other history books in Persian, like ‘Ma’asir-i-Jahangiri‘, ‘Pandh Nama-e-Jahangiri‘ and ‘Tarikh-i Salim Shahi‘, the authors did not narrate these two issues!
Naturally, the question arises here: How did these ‘stories’ find their places in the pages of history? In fact, Muhammad Hashim Khafi Khan mentioned these two events in his publication, ‘Muntakhab-ul lubab‘, in a rare first. Surprising!!! How did Khafi Khan know about the incidents, not mentioned by any of Jahangir’s contemporary historians, during Aurangzeb’s time (or 70 years later)?
After the demise of Sher Afgan in 1607, Mehr-un-Nisaa was sent to the Royal Harem in Agra, along with her nine-year-old daughter. She spent next four years at the Harem as lady-in-waiting. Emperor Jahangir married Mehr-un-Nisaa on May 25, 1611. With this, she became the Emperor’s 20th wife as ‘Nur Mahal‘ or ‘Light of the castle‘. And, she was given the title ‘Nur Jahan‘ or the ‘Light of the World‘ in 1616. Now, the most important question is why the Emperor waited four years for marrying Mehr-un-Nisaa after getting her husband murdered?
In his ‘Tabaqat-i-Akbari‘, Nizamuddin Ahmad shared Jahangir’s childhood and youth with the readers. However, Ahmad, too, did not mention about Jahangir’s romance with Mehr-un-Nisaa! Can this be surmised that Emperor Jahangir found his place in the history as a disreputable ruler only because of the malicious imagination of a hypocrite historian?
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