Nadira Banu

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Nadira Banu
Shahzadi of the Mughal Empire
Spouse Dara Shikoh
Issue Sulaiman Shikoh
Mumtaz Shikoh
Sipihr Shikoh
Jahanzeb Banu Begum
Full name
Nadira Banu
House House of Timur (by birth)
Father Sultan Parvez Mirza
Mother Iffat Jahan Banu Begum
Died 6 June, 1659
Balochistan, Pakistan
Burial Nadira Begum's Tomb, Lahore
Religion Islam

Nadira Banu (d. 1659) was a Mughal princess and consort to Crown prince Dara Shikoh, the heir-apparent to the fifth Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. After Aurangzeb's rise to power, Prince Dara’s immediate family and all of his supporters were in grave danger. Nadira died in 1659, several months before her husband's execution, and was survived by two sons and a daughter.

Early life[edit]

Shahzadi Nadira Banu Begum was born a Mughal princess as the daughter of Sultan Parvez Mirza, (second son of Emperor Jahangir) and his wife Iffat Jahan Banu Begum.[1] The princess' paternal grandparents were Emperor Jahangir and his second wife Sahib-i-Jamal while her mother, Iffat Jahan Banu Begum, was also a Mughal princess being the daughter of Sultan Murad Mirza (the second son of Emperor Akbar and his wife Salima Sultan Begum). Nadira was thus, of the most exalted lineage being a Timurid both from her father and her mother's side.

Nadira's paternal uncle was Emperor Shah Jahan, who later became her father-in-law as well. Nadira Bagum was considered to be rather beautiful, and considerably intelligent. Her husband-to-be was reportedly eager for the marriage and they had a good relationship throughout his turbulent life.

Marriage[edit]

The wedding of Nadira Begum and Dara Shikoh

The marriage was originally arranged when the couple were both teenagers, by Dara's mother, Mumtaz Mahal. When the Empress died with the birth of her last child, Gauharara Begum, the wedding arrangements halted as the Mughal Empire plunged into mourning and Shah Jahan was consumed in his grief. After much coaxing by many, including his favorite daughter Jahanara Begum, he resumed life as normal and let her oversee the remaining aspects of the wedding.[2]

Princess Nadira married her first cousin, Prince Dara Shikoh, on February 1, 1633 at Agra; midst great celebrations, pomp and grandeur. The nikah ceremony was performed after midnight. By all accounts, Nadira and Dara were both devoted to each other, and Dara's love for Nadira proved to be even more faithful than that of Shah Jahan for Mumtaz Mahal — for unlike his father, he never contracted any other marriage.[2]

Nadira Begum emerges in Mughal chronicles as being no less beautiful than her mother-in-law, and perhaps just as courageously loyal. She bore her husband eight children, with two sons, Sulaiman Shikoh and Sipihr Shikoh and a daughter Jahanzeb Banu Begum, surviving to play important roles in future events. Within two years of their marriage, in 1635, the handsome Sulaiman Shikoh was born; another son Sipihr Shikoh would follow in 1644 and a daughter Jahanzeb or affectionately known as Jani Begum, was born sometime afterwards.[2]

Nadira and Jahanara Begum, her cousin as well as sister-in-law, were said to have gotten on well; a fact which probably sprung from Jahanara’s involvement in her wedding and her closeness to her brother. Jahanara had consciously decided to support Dara, the most beloved to her of all of her siblings, over Aurangzeb, and she made outward demonstrations of this decision.

According to legend, Aurangzeb had fallen sick sometime during his teen years. It was at this time he called Jahanara in. He then asked her outright if she would support him in his bid for the crown. She refused. Despite how unpopular this must have made her in his sight, and her undying loyalty to her brother Dara, she went on to become the head of the harem in Aurangzeb’s court.

Jahanara’s outward declarations of love for her eldest brother no doubt strengthened the relationship between herself and his wife, and when she died, she left the cream of her fortune to one of the daughters Nadira had borne him.

Dara Shikoh was said to be a fine painter, and many of his works, when criticized, were considered to be almost of a professional standard. Some of his works were collected and gifted to Nadira Banu, and it was a token of her affection for him that she cherished it until her death, when it went on display at a museum.

Issue[edit]

Nadira bore her husband eight children, four sons and four daughters:

  1. Unnamed daughter (b. 29 January 1634) died in infancy.
  2. Shahzada Sultan Sulaiman Shikoh (1635 - 1662) married the daughter of Khwaja 'Abdu'l-Rahman bin 'Abdu'l-'Aziz Naqshabandi; had issue.
  3. Shahzada Mihr Shah (b. 14 July 1638) died in infancy.
  4. Shahzadi Pak-Ni'had Banu Begum (b. 5 September 1641) did not survive to adulthood.
  5. Shahzada Mumtaz Shikoh (b. 16 August 1643) died in infancy.
  6. Shahzada Sultan Muhammad Sipihr Shikoh (1644 - 1708) married his first cousin, Princess Zubdat-un-Nissa, the fourth daughter of his uncle, Emperor Aurangzeb; had issue.
  7. Shahzadi Jahanzeb Banu Begum (? - 1705) married her first cousin, Prince Azam Shah, the third son of her uncle, Emperor Aurangzeb; had issue.
  8. Shahzadi Amal un-nisa Begum

Death[edit]

Nadira Begum died on 6 June, 1659, of dysentry while she was accompanying her husband and family at Balochistan. She had been faithful and devoted to her husband during the hardships in his life and had shared in all his wanderings. Her death drew Dara into such a frantic state of grief that his own fate appeared a matter of indifference to him.[3]

Nadira's last wish was to be buried in India, and without considering the consequences of her request, Dara sent his deceased wife's corpse to Lahore in charge of his soldiers to be buried there.[4] The princess' tomb was built next to Mian Mir's tomb in Lahore, Pakistan, who had been the spiritual instructor of Dara Shikoh.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The City in the Islamic World. Brill. 2008. p. 574. ISBN 9789004171688. 
  2. ^ a b c Hansen, Waldemar (1972). The Peacock throne : The Drama of Mogul India. (1. Indian ed., repr. ed.). Motilal Banarsidass. p. 121. ISBN 9788120802254. 
  3. ^ Edwardes, S. M.; Garrett, H. L. O. (1995). Mughal Rule in India. Atlantic Publishers and Distributors. p. 96. ISBN 9788171565511. 
  4. ^ Bernier, Francois (1996). Travels in the Mogul Empire. Asian Educational Services. p. 103. ISBN 8120611691. 
  5. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie (1963). Gabriel's Wing: A Study Into the Religious Ideas of Sir Muhammad Iqbal. Brill Archive. p. 9.