VS Gopalakrishnan
VS Gopalakrishnan / 2 yrs ago /





I thought of writing about the Bollywood Khans and their Hindu wives. It struck me that I could begin with a piece on Mughal Kings and their Hindu wives involving old and former times and a much wider canvas! It’s about reigning men in different realms!

One has to be clear that the Mughals were basically barbaric power-mongers whose objects were ruthless killing of human beings, in their pursuit of annexing territories, and looting treasures. In this process, the fighting enemy-men were to be beheaded and killed and young (Hindu) women were to be abducted to fill up the harem. As such the Islamic women were treated in Muslim society as chattels only for creating progenies. The Hindu women taken as prisoners were simple objects of sexual gratification. If anyone became a queen in this process, it was a token. The Hindu woman needed to be converted to Islam first and yet she would be one amongst the other Muslim queens.

It is well known that Akbar (r.1556-1605), the third Mughal emperor was married to Jodha Bai, who was a Hindu. Akbar grew as a kid in a village in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh while his parents, Humayun and Hamida Begum, were in exile in Persia. The kid Akbar’s best friend was kid Ram Singh ( I ) who later became the Maharaja of Rewa. Can this explain his “tolerance” of Hindus when he became a mature ruler? Jodha Bai was the daughter of the Rajput Raja Bharmal (aka Bihar Mal) of Amber. She was also known as Hira Kunwari. She was converted to Islam and named Mariam Zamani due to marriage with Akbar. The unlettered Akbar whose youthful activity was mainly hunting and fighting, was a great war strategist, and his conquests of Rajasthan and Gujarat were at the cost of immense bloodshed. Matrimony with the daughters/sisters of defeated Rajput Kings was also a strategy with him! Only two Rajput Kings- those of Mewar and Ranthambore- refused matrimonial alliance with Akbar.  

Akbar’s virility, with three "chief Queens", 800 wives and a harem of 5000, was beyond question. It is said that Akbar married at least three foreigners, one of them a Portuguese and another an Armenian. Not all wives were Queens. He invented a different rule for women of the Court. His own music-loving daughter Meherunnisa (begotten by Queen Daulatabad Begum) fell in love with the court-musician Tansen, and Akbar allowed her to marry him after Tansen underwent conversion from Hinduism to Islam. (There are some accounts to the effect that Tannu Pandey aka Tansen was converted to Islam, when he was very young, by his Guru Pir Mohammad Ghous of Gwalior). Anyway, subsequent to Meherunnisa’s marriage with Tansen which Akbar however did approve, he (Akbar) issued a firman that no Mughal princess or any girl born into Mughal royalty would thenceforth be allowed to marry which meant that they would only die unwed!

We now come to Prince Salim, born to Jodha Bai, and the third and eldest surviving son of Akbar who took over power on the death of Akbar in 1605. Salim, on accession to the throne, was conferred with the title Jahangir (conqueror of the world) and he ruled from 1605 to 1627. In 1585, twenty years before his accession, he married his cousin sister princess Manbhawati Bai of Amber. Manbhawati Bai was the daughter of Raja Bhagwant Das of Amber, who was the brother of Jodha Bai and son of Raja Bharmal. Manbhawati  was Salim’s first wife.

But Salim went on to marry any number of beautiful girls from Muslim and Rajput families one after another. Salim’s third wife and a favourite wife too, was another Hindu, the Princess Manmati who was the daughter of Raja Udai Singh of Jodhpur. This marriage was arranged by Salim’s first wife Manbhawati Bai. Manmati’s real name was Jagat Gosain. Manmati gave birth to Khurram, the future Emperor who was given the title Shah Jahan.

Salim, later known as Jahangir, had a harem of more than 800 women. His 20th wife was the famous Nur Jahan whom he married in 1611 while he was the Emperor. Nur Jahan was a titled name and she was earlier known as Mehrunnisa (not to be confused with Akbar’s daughter Meherunnisa who married Tansen). This Mehrunnisa was the daughter of a Persian Courtier in Akbar’s court, and she was a widow when she married Jahangir, having married earlier Sher Afghan. Jahangir became a drunkard and an addict to drugs, and the beautiful and clever Nur Jahan became the de facto ruler.

We now come to Prince Khurram (son of Jahangir and Manmati) who became Shah Jahan, the Emperor, in 1628. If Jahangir was half Hindu by blood, Shah Jahan was three-fourths Hindu by blood. Shah Jahan had three Muslim wives and no Hindu wife. His most favourite wife was Mumtaz Mahal whom he married when he was 20 years old, in the year 1612. The other two wives did not matter to him at all and he was wholly devoted to Mumtaz. Mumtaz in turn was wholly devoted to Shah Jahan and had no political interests unlike Nur Jahan, the wife of Jahangir. She passed away while giving birth to her 14th child.

Aurangzeb who succeeded Shah Jahan in 1658 was the sixth child and third son to the Shah Jahan-Mumtaz jodi. He hated Hindus and there was no question of his having Hindu wives. He had five wives in all.

Why did not any Mughal Royal go for a Christian, Sikh, Parsi or Jain queen? Surely their harems had women from different religions and also foreigners. Only that the Hindu queens came out of Rajput royal alliances.


Jodha / / 5 months ago

it is strange how u can enter selective information,Mr. V. S. Gopalakrishnan, u did mention that they were so called 'barbaric power mongers' but it didn't strike u of course that in those times had he not killed, india would again have been destroyed and u don't remember how many heads Ashoka cut, do u? Also, there wasn't only tolerance towards Hindu kings etc. they were given all the respect and also there lands back. Also, the Mughals were not like other afghans and all who just took India's wealth.. So thats there for u and i request u to pls know about the topic and then propogate ur philosophy

Manan / / 10 months ago

I think jhoda is salim,s wife becouse jhoda is jodpur maharaja,s doughter

shailaja s bhat / / 2 yrs ago
shailaja s bhat

Gopal Sir and Vijay Ji,
It is the informal atmosphere here made me to learn many things in these last two years.At my stage of life this kind of history classes, political science classes along with interaction helps a lot to expand my vista ! Regarding Hyderabad Sulekha Meet,I was only helping Raghava Sir as per his instructions, it was my pleasure to work for him ! I have gained the friendship of many esteemed people of Sulekha in return !

vijays desk / / 2 yrs ago
vijays desk

Shailaja Ji
Thanks for putting the matter in right perspective. I agree with you that it was a matter of boosting their personal egos.Thanks also for the info as to how they were guarded!!!
Also have been wanting to tell you that the Hyderabad meet of sulekha had gone off well and as per reports you also had played an active role in helping out along with the main organizer Mr Raghav-so my congrats to you also

shailaja s bhat / / 2 yrs ago
shailaja s bhat

Vijay Ji,
It was not alone satisfying their lust, but boosting their ego by counting no of women they possess.I doubt they had ever enjoyed many of their company at all ! That too Akbar had his wars through out his life time and his favourites in the harem ! No chance for using majority of the women of his zanaanah ! They were guarded by Eunuchs from running away !

V-S-Gopal / / 2 yrs ago

Dera Vijayji,
Many thanks for the good words.
vs gopal

vijays desk / / 2 yrs ago
vijays desk

VSG ji
Thanks for the very informative account from history which gives in detail the immoral indulgence of the Mughal kings- it appeared satisfying their lust and passions was their favourite past time
Very informative and and interesting account- enjoyed reading it

rcvp / / 2 yrs ago


Very apt decoration for NKR - Aasthana guru of Sulekha !!!


rcvp / / 2 yrs ago


ha ha KAZHICHU KATTAL ! that's a very handy strategy to eliminate unwanted association :)))
I am sure, people have mastered this technique in human relations for decades now. One reason for the death of joint families perhaps :)))
oh yes, the paatis are no match to this learned Pulavar :))

And thank you tons for this Dayadhi and Pangali too. Two words that have jarred my ears all my adult life in my mother's house !! I dint know they just were synonyms for maternal and paternal !!!!


V-S-Gopal / / 2 yrs ago

Thanks for the further edifying non-Brahmin terminolgy!

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