Nawab Bai

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Nawab Bai
Born c. 1623
Rajauri, Kashmir
Died 1691 (aged 67–68)
Delhi, Mughal Empire
Spouse Aurangzeb
Issue Muhammad Sultan
Bahadur Shah I
Badr-un-Nissa Begum
Father Raja Raju of Rajauri or Syed Shah Mir
Religion Islam (Hinduism, prior to marriage)

Rahmat-un-Nissa (Persian: رحمت النساء بیگم‎‎) (c. 1623 – 1691) better known by her title Nawab Bai, was a secondary wife of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.[1] Nawab Bai was born a Rajput princess and was the daughter of Rajah Raju of Rajauri.[2] She married Aurangzeb in 1638,[3] and bore him three children including, Aurangzeb's eldest son Prince Muhammad Sultan, his second son Prince Muhammad Muazzam, who succeeded his father as Bahadur Shah I.[4]

Her sons misconduct, and disobedience to their father, under the influence of their counsellors, embittered her later life. She ended her days some time before the middle of 1691 at Delhi, after many years of separation from her husband and sons.[5]

Family and lineage[edit]

There are two conflicting accounts of Nawab Bai's parentage.[6] According to one account, she was the daughter of Rajah Raju of the Rajauri State in Kashmir, and came of the hill Rajput blood.[7][8] However, according to Mughal historian Khafi Khan, she was the daughter of a Muslim saint named Syed Shah Mir, the descendant of Abdul-Qadir Gilani, who had taken to a life of retirement among the hills of Rajauri. The Rajah of the country waited on him and in the course of time, he was so adored the holy man that he offered him his daughter in marriage to him. The saint accepted the tribute, converted and wedded her, and thus became the father of a son and a daughter. Then he went on a pilgrimage to the holy land of Islam, where all trace of him was lost. The Rajah brought up his deserted grandchildren as Hindus, keeping their parentage a secret.[6] When Emperor Shah Jahan demanded from him a tribute of money,[9] and daughter of his house, the Rajah sent him this granddaughter, who was noted for her beauty, goodness and intelligence.[6] According to modern historians, she was given this false pedigree in order to give Bahadur Shah a right to call himself a Sayyid.[10][9]


In the imperial harem she was taught languages and culture by a set of masters, governesses, and Persian women versed in court manners, and in due time she was married to Aurangzeb [6] in 1638 and became his secondary wife.[1] After her marriage, she was given the name Rahmat-un-Nissa.[10] In 1639, she gave birth to Aurangzeb's first son, Prince Muhammad Sultan Mirza. He was born on 29 December 1639, at Mathura.[11] Over the next eight years, she gave birth to two more children. They were Prince Muhammad Muazzam Mirza (future Emperor Bahadur Shah I), and the memorizer of the Quran, Princess Badr-un-Nissa Begum.[12] Although, she had given birth to Aurangzeb's eldest son, but still his first wife, the Persian princess, Dilras Banu Begum, remained his chief consort as well as his favourite.[13]

Aurangzeb's accession[edit]

The misconduct of her sons, Muhammad Sultan and Muhammad Muazzam, who disobeyed the Emperor under the influence of evil counsellors, resentted her latter life.[14] In 1659, her eldest son Prince Muhammad Sultan joined his uncle, Prince Shah Shuja, and married his daughter Gulrukh Banu Begum. However, soon he left the prince, and returned to his father in February 1660.[15] On Aurangzeb's orders he was put under arrest and was sent to Salimgarh fort,[16] and was later transferred to Gwalior fort in 1661.[17]

In 1662, during Aurangzeb's illness, his sister Roshanara Begum, dictatorially took charge of him and would not allow anyone except her own confidants, to see him.[18] Believing that there was no hope of her brother's surviving, Roshanara took charge of the state. When Rahmat-un-Nissa learned of this, she said to her that she was not doing right. Roshanara became angry, seized her by hair and dragged her out of Aurangzeb's chamber.

In 1669, a man named Abdullah submitted a petition to her, that after the dismissal of his son, the post of faujdar of pargana Arandole be granted to him. But when the matter was submitted to Aurangzeb, it was rejected.[19] In 1670, Prince Muhammad Muazzam had been instigated by the flatterers to act in a self-willed and independent manner. Aurangzeb's letter of advice which produced no effect. He summoned Nawab Bai from Delhi, in order to send her to her son to bring him on right path. She reached Sikandra in April 1670. Prince Muhammad Akbar, Bakshimulk Asad Khan and Bahramand Khan conducted her to the imperial harem.[20] In May 1670, she started for Aurangabad, and was commanded to spend two days at Gwalior, with her son Prince Muhammad Sultan. After staying there for sometime, Sarbuland Khan conducted her to Prince Muhammad Muazzam.[21]

In 1686, she met the famous Italian writer and traveller, Niccolao Manucci at Goa,[22] who claimed that to bleed Nawab Bai twice every year regularly.[23] In 1687, Muhammad Muazzam duspected contumacy with Sultan Abul Hasan, the ruler of Golkonda.[24] Her advice and even personal entreaty had no effect on him, and at last on Aurangzeb's orders he was placed under arrest.[25] Muazzam's sons,[26] and his first wife and chief consort Nur-un-Nissa Begum were also imprisoned in separate jails.[27]

Nawab Bai is known to have built a serai at Fardapur, at the foot of the pass, and also founded Baijipura, a suburb of Aurangabad.[14]


She died at Delhi before the middle of 1691, during her son Muhammad Muazzam's imprisonment. Aurangzeb along with his daughter Zinat-un-Nissa Begum came to Muhammad Muazzam in order to condole him.[28]


  1. ^ a b Sarkar, Sir Jadunath (1912). History of Aurangzib Vol. I (PDF). Calcutta: M.C. Sarkar & Sons. p. 61. 
  2. ^ Mohammada, Malika (January 1, 2007). The Foundations of the Composite Culture in India. Aakar Books. p. 300. ISBN 978-8-189-83318-3. 
  3. ^ South Asia Papers - Volume 2. South Asian Institute, University of Punjab. 1978. p. 96. 
  4. ^ Khan, Muhammad She Ali (1989). The elite minority, the princes of India. S.M. Mahmud & Co. p. 263. 
  5. ^ Sarkar, Sir Jadunath (1973). 1618-1659. Orient Longman. p. 34. 
  6. ^ a b c d Sarkar 1912, p. 62.
  7. ^ Manucci 1907, p. 54.
  8. ^ Irvine, p. 2.
  9. ^ a b Irvine, p. 136.
  10. ^ a b Sarkar 1912, p. 61.
  11. ^ Sarkar 1912, p. 71.
  12. ^ Sarkar 1912, p. 72.
  13. ^ Commissariat, Mānekshāh Sorābshāh (1958). A History of Gujarat: Mughal period, from 1573 to 1758. Longmans, Green & Company, Limited. p. 151. 
  14. ^ a b Sarkar 1912, p. 63.
  15. ^ Elliot, Sir Henry Miers (1877). The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period: Ed. from the Posthumous Papers of the Late Sir H. M. Elliot .. Trübner and Company. pp. 249–51. 
  16. ^ Sen, Surendra Nath (1949). Indian Travels of Thevenot and Careri: Being the Third Part of the Travels of M. de Thevenot Into the Levant and the Third Part of a Voyage Round the World by Dr. John Francis Gemelli Careri. National Archives of India. p. 370. 
  17. ^ Sarkar 1947, p. 20.
  18. ^ Eraly, Abraham (2000). Emperors of the Peacock Throne: The Saga of the Great Mughals. Penguin Books India. p. 536. ISBN 978-0-141-00143-2. 
  19. ^ Majid (Prof.), Siddiqui (January 1, 2005). The British Historical Context and Petitioning in Colonial India. Aakar Books. p. 13. ISBN 978-8-187-87950-3. 
  20. ^ Sarkar 1947, p. 63.
  21. ^ Sarkar 1947, p. 64.
  22. ^ Manucci 1907, p. 276.
  23. ^ Eraly, Abraham (January 1, 2007). The Mughal World: Life in India's Last Golden Age. Penguin Books India. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-143-10262-5. 
  24. ^ Sharma, S. R. (January 1, 1999). Mughal Empire in India: A Systematic Study Including Source Material, Volume 2. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 605. ISBN 978-8-171-56818-5. 
  25. ^ Sarkar 1912, p. 64.
  26. ^ Shashi, Shyam Singh (1999). Encyclopaedia Indica: Aurangzeb and his administrative measures. Anmol Publications. p. 270. ISBN 978-8-170-41859-7. 
  27. ^ Srivastava, M. P. (1995). The Mughal administration. Chugh Publications. p. 247. ISBN 978-8-185-61397-0. 
  28. ^ Sarkar 1947, p. 207.


  • Sarkar, Jadunath (1947). Maasir-i-Alamgiri: A History of Emperor Aurangzib-Alamgir (reign 1658-1707 AD) of Saqi Mustad Khan. Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta. 
  • Manucci, Niccolao (1907). Storia Do Mogor: Or, Mogul India, 1653-1708 - Volume 2. J. Murray. 
  • Sarkar, Jadunath (1912). History of Aurangzib mainly based on Persian sources: Volume 1 - Reign of Shah Jahan. M.C. Sarkar & sons, Calcutta. 
  • Irvine, William. The Later Mughals. Low Price Publications. ISBN 8175364068.