|4th Mughal Emperor|
|Reign||15 October 1605 – 7 November 1627|
|Coronation||24 October 1605|
|Predecessor||Akbar The Great|
|Consort||Nur Jahan Begum|
|Wives||Saliha Banu Begum
Khas Mahal Begum
Jagat Gosain Begum
Malika Shikar Begum
Sahib Jamal Begum
Malika Jahan Begum
Koka Kumari Begum
Kanwal Rani Begum
seven other wives
Princess Nithar Begum.
|House||House of Timur|
|Father||Akbar The Great|
31 August 1569
|Died||7 November 1627
Rajouri district, Kashmir
|Burial||Tomb of Jahangir, Lahore|
Nur-ud-din Mohammad Salim, known by his imperial name Jahangir (30 August 1569 – 7 November 1627), was the fourth Mughal Emperor who ruled from 1605 until his death in 1627. He is considered to be one of the greatest Indian Emperors and the fourth of the Grand Mughals in Indian historiography. Much romance has gathered around his name, and the tale of his illicit relationship with the Mughal courtesan, Anarkali, has been widely adapted into the literature, art and cinema of India.
Jahangir was the eldest surviving son of Mughal Emperor Akbar and was declared successor to his father from an early age. Impatient for power, however, he revolted in 1599 while Akbar was engaged in the Deccan. Jahangir was defeated, but ultimately succeeded his father as Emperor in 1605 because of the immense support and efforts of the ladies in Akbar's harem like Ruqaiya Sultan Begum, Salima Sultan Begum and his grandmother Maryam Makani. The ladies wielded considerable influence over Akbar and favoured Jahangir as his successor. The first year of Jahangir's reign saw a rebellion organized by his eldest son Khusrau Mirza. The rebellion was soon put down; Khusrau was brought before his father in chains. After subduing and executing nearly 2000 members of the rebellion, Jahangir blinded his renegade son.
Jahangir built on his father's foundations of excellent administration, and his reign was characterized by political stability, a strong economy and impressive cultural achievements. The imperial frontiers continued to move forward—in Bengal, Mewar, Ahmadnagar and the Deccan. The only major reversal to the expansion came in 1622 when Shah Abbas, the Safavid Emperor of Iran (Persia), captured Kandahar while Jahangir was battling his rebellious son, Khusrau in Hindustan. The rebellion of Khurram absorbed Jahangir's attention, so in the spring of 1623 he negotiated a diplomatic end to the conflict. Much of India was politically pacified; Jahangir's dealings with the Hindu rulers of Rajputana were particularly successful, and he settled the conflicts inherited from his father. The Hindu rulers all accepted Mughal supremacy and in return were given high ranks in the Mughal aristocracy.
Jahangir was fascinated with art, science and architecture. From a young age he showed a leaning towards painting and had an atelier of his own. His interest in portraiture led to much development in this artform. The art of Mughal painting reached great heights under Jahangir's reign. His interest in painting also served his scientific interests in nature. The painter Ustad Mansur became one of the best artists to document the animals and plants which Jahangir either encountered on his military exhibitions or received as donations from emissaries of other countries. Jahangir maintained a huge aviary and a large zoo, kept a record of every specimen and organised experiments. Jahangir patronized the European and Persian arts. He promoted Persian culture throughout his empire. This was especially so during the period when he came under the influence of his Persian Empress, Nur Jahan, and her relatives, who from 1611 had dominated Mughal politics. Amongst the most highly regarded Mughal architecture dating from Jahangir's reign is the famous Shalimar Gardens in Kashmir. The world's first seamless celestial globe was built by Mughal scientists under the patronage of Jahangir.
Jahangir, like his father, was a proper Sunni Muslim with tolerance; he allowed, for example, the continuation of his father's tradition of public debate between different religions. The Jesuits were allowed to dispute publicly with Muslim ulema (theologians) and to preach the Gospel. Jahangir specifically warned his nobles that they "should not force Islam on anyone”. Jizya was not imposed by Jahangir. Edward Terry, an English chaplain in India at the time, saw a ruler under which "all Religions are tolerated and their Priests [held] in good esteem." Jahangir enjoyed debating theological subtleties with Brahmins, especially about the possible existence of avatars. Both Sunnis and Shias were welcome at court, and members of both sects gained high office. Sir Thomas Roe, England's first ambassador to the Mughal court, went as far as labelling Jahangir, who was sympathetic to Christianity, an atheist.
Jahangir was not without his vices. He set the precedent for sons rebelling against their emperor fathers and was much criticised for his addiction to alcohol, opium, and women. He was thought of allowing his wife, Nur Jahan, too much power and her continuous plotting at court is considered to have destabilized the imperium in the final years of his rule. The situation developed into open crisis when Jahangir's son, Khurram, fearing to be excluded from the throne, rebelled in 1622. Jahangir's forces chased Khurram and his troops from Fatehpur Sikri to the Deccan, to Bengal and back to the Deccan, until Khurram surrendered unconditionally in 1626. The rebellion and court intrigues that followed took a heavy toll on Jahangir's health. He died in 1627 and was succeeded by Khurram, who took the imperial throne of Hindustan as the Emperor Shah Jahan.
Prince Salim forcefully succeeded to the throne on Thursday, 21st Jumadi II, 1014 AH/ 3 November 1605, eight days after his father's death. Salim ascended to the throne with the title of Nur-ud-din Muhammad Jahangir Badshah Ghazi, and thus began his 22-year reign at the age of 36. Jahangir soon after had to fend off his own son, Prince Khusrau Mirza, when the latter attempted to claim the throne based on Akbar's will to become his next heir. Khusrau Mirza was defeated in 1606 and confined in the fort of Agra. As punishment Khusrau Mirza was blinded.
Jahangir considered his third son Prince Khurram (future Shah Jahan), his favourite. In 1622, Khurram murdered his blinded elder brother Khusrau in order to eliminate all possible contenders to the throne.
Rana of Mewar and Prince Khurram had a standoff that resulted in a treaty acceptable to both parties. Khurram was kept busy with several campaigns in Bengal and Kashmir. Jahangir claimed the victories of Khurram – Shah Jahan as his own. Taking advantage of this internal conflict, the Persians seized the city of Kandahar and as a result of this loss, the Mughals lost control over the trade routes to Afghanistan, Persian and Central Asia and also exposed India to invasions from the north-west.
Jahangir's rule was characterized by the same religious tolerance as his father Akbar, with the exception of his hostility with the Sikhs, which was forged so early on in his rule. In 1606, Jahangir ordered the Sikh Guru Arjan Dev (the fifth Sikh guru) to be tortured and sentenced to death after he refused to remove all Islamic and Hindu references from the Holy book. He was made to sit on a burning hot sheet while hot sand was poured over his body. After enduring five days of unrelenting torture Guru Arjan was taken for a bath in the Ravi river. As thousands watched he entered the river never to be seen again.
An aesthete, Jahangir decided to start his reign with a grand display of "Justice", as he saw it. To this end, he enacted Twelve Decrees that are remarkable for their liberalism and foresight. During his reign, there was a significant increase in the size of the Mughal Empire, half a dozen rebellions were crushed, prisoners of war were released, and the work of his father, Akbar, continued to flourish. Much like his father, Jahangir was dedicated to the expansion of Mughal held territory through conquest. During this regime he would target the peoples of Assam near the eastern frontier and bring a series of territories controlled by independent rajas in the Himalayan foothills from Kashmir to Bengal. Jahangir would challenge the hegemonic claim over Afghanistan by the Safavid rulers with an eye on Kabul, Peshawar and Kandahar which were important centers of the central Asian trade system that northern India operated within. In 1622, Jahangir would send his son Prince Khurram against the combined forces of Ahmednagar, Bijapur and Golconda. After his victory Khurram would turn against his father and make a bid for power. As with the insurrection of his eldest son Khusraw, Jahangir was able to defeat the challenge from within his family and retain power.
Jahangir promised to protect Islam and granted general amnesty to his opponents. He was also notable for his patronage of the arts, especially of painting. During his reign the distinctive style of Mughal painting expanded and blossomed. Jahangir supported a flourishing culture of court painters.
Jahangir is most famous for his golden "chain of justice." The chain was set up as a link between his people and Jahangir himself. Standing outside the castle of Agra with sixty bells, anyone was capable of pulling the chain and having a personal hearing from Jahangir himself.
Furthermore, Jahangir preserved the Mughal tradition of having a highly centralized form of government. Jahangir made the precepts of Sunni Islam the cornerstone of his state policies. A faithful Muslim, as evidenced by his memoirs, he expressed his gratitude to Allah for his many victories. Jahangir, as a devout Muslim, did not let his personal beliefs dictate his state policies. Sovereignty, according to Jahangir, was a "gift of God" not necessarily given to enforce God's law but rather to "ensure the contentment of the world." In civil cases, Islamic law applied to Muslims, Hindu law applied to Hindus, while criminal law was the same for both Muslims and Hindus. In matters like marriage and inheritance, both communities had their own laws that Jahangir respected. Thus Jahangir was able to deliver justice to people in accordance of their beliefs, and also keep his hold on empire by unified criminal law. In the Mughal state, therefore, defiance of imperial authority, whether coming from a prince or anyone else aspiring to political power, or a Muslim or a Hindu, was crushed in the name of law and order.
Jahangir's relationship with other rulers of the time is one that was well documented by Sir Thomas Roe, especially his relationship with the Persian King, Shah Abbas. Though conquest was one of Jahangir's many goals, he was a naturalist and lover of the arts and did not have quite the same warrior ambition of the Persian king. This led to a mutual enmity that, while diplomatically hidden, was very clear to observers within Jahangir's court. Furthermore, Abbas had, for many years, been trying to recover the city of Kandahar, which Jahangir was not keen to part with, especially to this king whom he did not particularly care for, despite seeing him as an equal. In this state, Jahangir was also open to the influence of his wives, a weakness exploited by many. Because of this constant inebriated state, Nur Jahan, the favourite wife of Jahangir, became the actual power behind the throne.
In the year 1623, the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, sent his Tahwildar, Khan Alam to Safavid Persia, accompanied by 800 Sepoys, scribes and scholars along with 10 Howdahs well decorated in gold and silver, in order to negotiate peace with Abbas I of Persia after a brief conflict in the region around Kandahar. Khan Alam soon returned with valuable gifts and groups of Mir Shikar (Hunt Masters) from both Safavid Persia and even the Khanates of Central Asia.
In the year 1626, Jahangir began to contemplate an alliance between the Ottomans, Mughals and Uzbeks against the Safavids, who had defeated the Mughals at Kandahar. He even wrote a letter to the Ottoman Sultan Murad IV, Jahangir's ambition however did not materialize due to his death in 1627.
Salim was made a Mansabdar of ten thousand (Das-Hazari), the highest military rank of the empire, after the emperor. He independently commanded a regiment in the Kabul campaign of 1581, when he was barely twelve. His Mansab was raised to Twelve Thousand, in 1585, at the time of his betrothal to his cousin Rajkumari Manbhawati Bai, daughter of Bhagwant Das of Amber. Bhagwant Das, was the son of Raja Bharmal and the brother of Akbar's Hindu wife Mariam uz-Zamani.
The marriage with Manbhawati Bai took place on 13 February 1585. Jahangir named her Shah Begum, and gave birth to Khusrau Mirza. Thereafter, Salim married, in quick succession, a number of accomplished girls from the aristocratic Mughal and Rajput families. One of his early favourite wives was a Rajput Princess, Manmati Bai. Jahangir named her Jagat Gosain Begum, and she gave birth to Prince Khurram, the future Shah Jahan, Jahangir's successor to the throne.
On 7 July 1586 he married a daughter of Raja Rai Singh, Maharaja of Bikaner. In July 1586, he married Malika Shikar Begum, daughter of Sultan Abu Said Khan Jagatai, Sultan of Kashghar. In 1586, he married Sahib Jamal Begum, daughter of Khwaja Hassan, of Herat, a cousin of Zain Khan Koka. In 1587, he married Malika Jahan Begum, daughter of Bhim Singh, Maharaja of Jaisalmer. He also married a daughter of Raja Darya Malbhas. In October 1590, he married Zohra Begum, daughter of Mirza Sanjar Hazara. In 1591, he married Karamnasi Begum, daughter of Raja Kesho Das Rathore, of Mertia. On 11 January 1592, he married Kanwal Rani, daughter of Ali Sher Khan, by his wife, Gul Khatun. In October 1592, he married a daughter of Husain Chak, of Kashmir. In January/March 1593, he married Nur un-nisa Begum, daughter of Ibrahim Husain Mirza, by his wife, Gulrukh Begum, daughter of Kamran Mirza. In September 1593, he married a daughter Ali Khan Faruqi, Raja of Khandesh. He also married a daughter of Abdullah Khan Baluch. On 28 June 1596, he married Khas Mahal Begum, daughter of Zain Khan Koka, sometime Subadar of Kabul and Lahore. In 1608, he married Saliha Banu Begum, daughter of Qasim Khan, a senior member of the Imperial Household. On 17 June 1608, he married Koka Kumari Begum, eldest daughter of Jagat Singh, Yuvraj of Amber.
Jahangir married the extremely beautiful and intelligent Mehr-un-Nisaa (better known by her subsequent title of Nur Jahan), on 25 May 1611. She was the widow of Sher Afgan. Mehr-un-Nisaa became his indisputable chief consort and favourite wife immediately after their marriage. She was witty, intelligent and beautiful, which was what attracted Jahangir to her. Before being awarded the title of Nur Jahan ('Light of the World'), she was called Nur Mahal ('Light of the Palace'). Her abilities are said to range from fashion designing to hunting. There is also a myth that she had once killed four tigers with six bullets.
Mehr-Un-Nisa, or Nur Jahan, occupies an important place in the history of Jahangir. She was the widow of a rebel officer, Sher Afgan, of Mughals, whose actual name was Ali Quli Beg Ist'ajlu. He had earned the title "Sher Afgan" (Tiger tosser) from Emperor Akbar after throwing off a tiger that had leaped to attack Akbar on the top of an elephant in a royal hunt at Bengal, and then stabbing the fallen tiger to death. Akbar was greatly affected by the bravery of the young Turkish bodyguard accompanying him and awarded him the captaincy of the Imperial Guard at Burdwan, Bengal. Sher Afgan had killed in rebellion (after having learned of Jahangir's orders to have him slain to possess his beautiful wife Mehr Un Nisaa as Jahangir yearned for her much earlier than her wedding to Sher Afgan), the governor of Bengal Qutubuddin Koka who was instructed secretly by Jahangir in his quest and who also was the emperor's foster brother and Sheikh Salim Chishti's grandson and consequently had been slain by the guards of the Governor. The widowed Mehr-un-Nisaa was brought to Agra along with her nine-year-old daughter and placed in—or refused to be placed in—the Royal harem in 1607. Jahangir married her in 1611 and gave her the title of Nur Jahan or "Light of the World". It was rumored that Jahangir had a hand in the death of her first husband Sher Afghan. Albeit there is no recorded evidence to prove that he was guilty of that crime; in fact most travelers' reports say that he met her after Sher Afgan's death.(See Ellison Banks Findly's scholarly biography for a full discussion.)
According to poet and author Vidya Dhar Mahajan, Nur Jahan had a piercing intelligence, a volatile temper and sound common sense. She possessed great physical strength and courage. She went on hunting tours with her husband, and on more than one occasion shot and killed ferocious tigers. She was devoted to Jahangir and he forgot all about the world and entrusted all the work of the government to her.
The loss of Kandahar was due to Prince Khurram's refusal to obey her orders. When the Persians besieged Kandahar, Nur Jahan was at the helm of affairs. She ordered Prince Khurram to march for Kandahar, but the latter refused to do so. There is no doubt that the refusal of the prince was due to her behaviour towards him. She was favouring her son-in-law, Shahryar, at the expense of Khurram. Khurram suspected that in his absence, Shahryar might be given promotion and he might die on the battlefield. It was this fear which forced Khurram to rebel against his father rather than fight against the Persians and thereby Kandahar was lost to the Persians. Nur Jahan struck coins in her own name during the last years of Jahangir's reign when he was taken ill.
In the year 1594 Jahangir was dispatched by his father, the Mughal Emperor Akbar, alongside Abul Hasan Asaf Khan also known as Mirza Jaafar Beg son of Mirza Ghias Beg Isfahani and brother of Nur Jehan and Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, to defeat the renegade Vir Singh Deo of Bundela and capture the city of Orchha, which was considered the center of the revolt. Jahangir arrived with a force of 12,000 after many ferocious encounters and finally subdued the Bundela and ordered Vir Singh Deo to surrender. After tremendous casualties and the start of negotiations between the two, Vir Singh Deo handed over 5000 Bundela infantry and 1000 cavalry but he feared Mughal retaliation and remained a fugitive until his death. The victorious Jahangir Only 16 years of age, ordered the completion of the Jahangir Mahal a famous Mughal citadel in Orchha to commemorate and honor his victory.
Jahangir then gathered his forces under the command of Ali Kuli Khan and fought Lakshmi Narayan of Koch Bihar. Lakshmi Narayan, then accepted the Mughals as his suzerains he was given the title Nazir and later established a garrison at Atharokotha.
In 1613, the Portuguese seized the Mughal ship Rahimi, which had set out from Surat on its way with a large cargo of 100,000 rupees and Pilgrims, who were on their way to Mecca and Medina in order to attend the annual Hajj. The Rahīmī was owned by Mariam-uz-Zamani, Jahangir's mother. She was referred as Queen mother of Hindustan during his reign. Rahīmī was the largest Indian ship sailing in the Red Sea and was known to the Europeans as the "great pilgrimage ship". When the Portuguese officially refused to return the ship and the passengers, the outcry at the Mughal court was quite unusually severe. The outrage was compounded by the fact that the owner and the patron of the ship was none other than the revered mother of the current emperor. Jahangir himself was outraged and ordered the seizure of the Portuguese town Daman. He ordered the apprehension of all Portuguese within the Mughal Empire, he further confiscated churches that belonged to the Jesuits. This episode is considered to be an example of the struggle for wealth that would later ensue and lead to colonization of the Indian sub-continent.
Jahangir was responsible for ending a century long struggle with the state of Mewar. The campaign against the Rajputs was pushed so extensively that the latter were made to submit and that too with a great loss of life and property. Jahangir also thought of capturing Kangra Fort, which Akbar had failed to do. Consequently, a siege was laid, which lasted for fourteen months, and the fort was taken in 1620.
The district of Kistwar, in the state of Kashmir, was also conquered.
Jahangir died on the way back from Kashmir near Sarai Saadabad in 1627. To preserve his body, the entrails were removed and buried in the Baghsar Fort, Kashmir. The body was then transferred to Lahore to be buried in Shahdara Bagh, a suburb of Lahore, Punjab. He was succeeded by his third son, Prince Khurram who took the title of Shah Jahan. Jahangir's elegant mausoleum is located in the Shahdara locale of Lahore and is a popular tourist attraction in Lahore.
While Sunni Islam was the state religion, there was not widespread pressure to convert; indeed, Jahangir specifically warned his nobles that they "should not force Islam on anyone.” In the first century of Islamic expansion this attitude was taken partially because of concerns that an absence of non-Muslims would deprive the state of a valuable source of revenue. However, as the jizya was not imposed by Jahangir, there might have been more behind this policy of toleration than mere economic reasoning. Jahangir was certainly willing to engage with other religions, and Edward Terry, an English chaplain in India at the time, saw a ruler under which "all Religions are tolerated and their Priests [held] in good esteem." Brahmins on the banks of the Ganges received gifts from the emperor, while following a meeting with Jadrup, a Hindu ascetic, Jahangir felt compelled to comment that "association with him is a great privilege." He enjoyed debating theological subtleties with Brahmins, especially about the possible existence of avatars. Both Sunnis and Shias were welcome at court, and members of both sects gained high office. When drunk, Jahangir swore to Sir Thomas Roe, England's first ambassador to the Mughal court, that he would protect all the peoples of the book.
But relations between them did turn tense in the year 1617 when Sir Thomas Roe the Elizabethan diplomat warned the Mughal Emperor Jahangir that if the young and charismatic son Prince Shah Jahan, the newly instated as the Subedar of Gujarat had turned the English out of the province, "then he must expect we would do our justice upon the seas". Fearing the worst Shah Jahan sealed an official Firman allowing the English to trade in Gujarat in the year 1618.
Many contemporary chroniclers were not even sure quite how to describe his personal belief structure. Roe labelled him an atheist, and although most others shied away from that term, they did not feel as though they could call him an orthodox Sunni. He relied greatly on astrologers (though that was not seen as unusual for a ruler at the time), even to the extent that he required that they work out the most auspicious time for the imperial camp to enter a city. Roe believed Jahangir's religion to be of his own making, "for he envies [the Prophet]Mohammed, and wisely sees no reason why he should not bee as great a prophet as he, and therefore professed himself so ... he hath found many disciples that flatter or follow him." At this time, one of those disciples happened to be the current English ambassador, though his initiation into Jahangir's inner circle of disciples was devoid of religious significance for Roe, as he did not understand the full extent of what he was doing: Jahangir hung "a picture of him self set in gold hanging at a wire gold chain” round Roe's neck. Roe thought it "an especial favour, for that all the great men that wear the Kings image (which none may do but to whom it is given) receive no other than a medal of gold as big as six pence."
Had Roe intentionally converted, it would have caused quite a scandal in London. But since there was no intent, there was no resultant problem. Such disciples were an elite group of imperial servants, with one of them being promoted to Chief Justice. However, it is not clear that any of those who became disciples renounced their previous religion, so it is probable to see this as a way in which the emperor strengthened the bond between himself and his nobles. Despite Roe's somewhat casual use of the term 'atheist', he could not quite put his finger on Jahangir's real beliefs. Roe lamented that the emperor was either "the most impossible man in the world to be converted, or the most easy; for he loves to hear, and hath so little religion yet, that he can well abide to have any derided." Jahangir had continued his father’s fusion of aspects from a number of religions, while remaining as a Muslim. Akbar had given himself the right to make the final decision on all doctrinal matters, and began to establish his own religion, Din Ilahi (‘Divine Faith’). Broad toleration for other religions made little sense to Europeans forged in the heat of religious conflict, while the lifestyle and pretensions Jahangir afforded himself meant that it was difficult to see him as a devout Muslim. Sri Ram Sharma argues though that contemporaries and some historians have been too disparaging about Jahangir's beliefs, simply because he did not persecute non-believers and enforce his views on others.
This should not imply that the multi-confessional state appealed to all, or that all Muslims were happy with the situation in India. In a book written on statecraft for Jahangir, the author advised him to direct "all his energies to understanding the counsel of the sages and to comprehending the intimations of the 'ulama." At the start of his regime many staunch Sunnis were hopeful, because he seemed less tolerant to other faiths than his father had been. At the time of his accession and the elimination of Abu'l Fazl, his father's chief minister and architect of his eclectic religious stance, a powerful group of orthodox noblemen had gained increased power in the Mughal court. Jahangir did not always benevolently regard some Hindu customs and rituals. On visiting a Hindu temple, he found a statue of a man with a pig's head (more than likely actually a boar's head, a representation of Varaha), which was supposed to represent God, so he "ordered them to break that hideous form and throw it in the tank." If the Tuzuk is reliable on this subject (and there is no reason to suspect that it is not), then this was an isolated case.
J. F. Richards argues that "Jahangir seems to have been persistently hostile to popularly venerated religious figures”, which is debatable. Hindu ascetics like Jadrup were treated with respect, and it was only those who upset the order of the state that were seen as a threat to the state, with their popularity making them even more dangerous. A great Muslim saint, Hazrat Mujadid Alif Sani Imam e Rabbani Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi Al-Farooqi, who had gained large number of followers through his spiritual preaching, was imprisoned in Gwalior Fort. Most notorious was the execution of the Sikh Guru Arjan Dev Ji. It is unclear that Jahangir even understood what a Sikh was, referring to Guru Arjan as a Hindu, who had "captured many of the simple-hearted of the Hindus, and even of the ignorant and foolish followers of Islam, by his ways and manners ... for three or four generations (of spiritual successors) they had kept this shop warm." The trigger for Guru Arjan's execution was his support for Jahangir's rebel son Khusrau Mirza, yet it is clear from Jahangir's own memoirs that he disliked Guru Arjan before then: "many times it occurred to me to put a stop to this vain affair or bring him into the assembly of the people of Islam."
A rana was described as an infidel, but only because he was fighting against the Mughals, and infidel was used as an everyday phrase to describe all non-Muslims anyway. Admittedly Muslims were discouraged from performing most Hindu rites, with Jahangir lamenting that many Muslims prayed at a temple dedicated to Durga, and worshipped at a black stone. With Jahangir himself occasionally taking part in Hindu ceremonies, the aforementioned example was probably one way of showing support for the idea that Muslim and Hindus should not mix their rituals. His attitude to religion in his domain was relaxed yet diligent. He saw himself as doing Allah's bidding, yet he was inquisitive enough to explore new ideas about religion, intelligent enough to understand that Hindus were in the majority and grand enough in his pretensions not to need to obey every line of the Qur'an.
Such a religious situation allowed the more recently arrived form of Christianity to have opportunity to grow. Jahangir did not seem to have anything against Christianity. He wrote fondly of Akbar's reign, when "Sunnis and Shias met in one mosque, and Franks and Jews in one church, and observed their own forms of worship." Roe noted that "of Christ he never utters any word unreverently." His prayer room in Agra contained pictures of "our Lady and Christ." In the imperial palace in Lahore, over one of the doors, according to William Finch, a merchant, was "the Picture of our Saviour", with an image of the Virgin Mary facing it. Elsewhere, the emperor had pictures of angels and demons, with the demons having a "most ugly shape, with long hornes, staring eyes ... with such horrible difformity and deformity, that I wonder the poore women are not frightened therewith."
It is possible that Jahangir might have seen these images in their Islamic persona, as the Qur'an features such creatures, yet depiction of living things was haraam (forbidden), so the images could well have been created by a Christian artist. However, as Mughal art was still heavily Persian-influenced, images of living beings were allowed, and widespread, so perhaps the otherworldly images had nothing to do with Christianity at all; they nonetheless caught Finch's eye. Muqarrab Khan sent to Jahangir "a European curtain (tapestry) the like of which in beauty no other work of the Frank [European] painters has ever been seen." One of his audience halls was "adorned with European screens." Christian themes attracted Jahangir, and even merited a mention in the Tuzuk. One of his slaves gave him a piece of ivory into which had been carved four scenes. In the last scene "there is a tree, below which the figure of the revered (hazrat) Jesus is shown. One person has placed his head at Jesus' feet, and an old man is conversing with Jesus and four others are standing by." Though Jahangir believed it to be the work of the slave who presented it to him, Sayyid Ahmad and Henry Beveridge suggest that it was of European origin, and possibly showed the Transfiguration. Wherever it came from, and whatever it represented, it was clear that a European style had come to influence Mughal art, otherwise the slave would not have claimed it as his own design, nor would he have been believed by Jahangir.
There was even some baseless suggestion that Jahangir had converted to Christianity. Thrown by the religious tolerance of Akbar and Jahangir's rule, the Jesuit missionaries had long thought that they were always on the verge of conversion. Finch recounted how there "was much stirred with the King about Christianity, he affirming before his Nobles, that it was the soundest faith, and that of Mahomet lies and fables." This is an extremely implausible story, yet the fact that Finch told it at all shows the extent to which Christianity was evident in the Mughal court. Jahangir apparently allowed a Jesuit to teach some Indian boys Portuguese and elements of Christian doctrine, and the Jesuits were also allowed to open churches in Ahmedabad and Hooghly (Bengal). Christians were allowed to openly celebrate Christmas, Easter and other such festivals, and the Jesuits were even given an allowance and gifts to carry on with their work, with a few Indians converting to Christianity. Given the toleration of Hinduism, such imperial leeway was not shocking. Christianity occupied a special place in Islamic canon, as did Isa (Jesus), who was considered to be amongst the greatest prophets.
What did surprise some observers was the baptism into Christianity of three sons of Jahangir's brother, Prince Daniyal, followed by a parade to celebrate their conversions. This was seen by the Jesuits as a gigantic step forward, but the English and the locals knew better. Hawkins dryly commented that Jahangir made his nephews Christian "not for any zeal he had to Christianity, as the [Jesuit] Fathers, and all Christians thought; but upon the prophecies of certain learned Gentiles [Hindus], who told him that the sons of his should be disinherited, and the children of his brother should reign. And therefore he did it, to make these children hateful to all Moores [Muslims]." This highlighted the effective limits of Christianity in India. Its inhabitants already had mono- and poly-theistic religions from which to choose, and the European Christians had done little to demonstrate the attractiveness of conversion. A few did convert, though Terry believed that this was only for Jesuit money, as they did not appear to know anything about their new religion, and Roe agreed on this matter. Even Jahangir's nephews were allowed to return to the Islamic fold, because "the King of Portugal sent them no presents nor wives." Christianity was tolerated because it posed no real threat. It certainly had an effect on the arts, but it is difficult to discern any other lasting impact on Mughal India.
Jahangir was fascinated with art and architecture. Jahangir himself is far from modest in his autobiography when he states his prowess at being able to determine the artist of any portrait by simply looking at a painting. He also preserved paintings of Emperor Akbar's period. An excellent example of this is the painting of Musician Naubat Khan son in law of legendary Tansen. It was the work of Ustad Mansur As he said:
- "...my liking for painting and my practice in judging it have arrived at such point when any work is brought before me, either of deceased artists or of those of the present day, without the names being told me, I say on the spur of the moment that is the work of such and such a man. And if there be a picture containing many portraits, and each face is the work of a different master, I can discover which face is the work of each of them. If any other person has put in the eye and eyebrow of a face, I can perceive whose work the original face is, and who has painted the eye and eyebrow."
Jahangir took his connoisseurship of art very seriously. Paintings created under his reign were closely catalogued, dated and even signed, providing scholars with fairly accurate ideas as to when and in what context many of the pieces were created, in addition to their aesthetic qualities.
He was not only an admirer of Christian artwork but also a purveyor of it. This was largely due to earlier Jesuit missions during his father's reign. Jesuits had brought with them various books, engravings, and paintings and, when they saw the delight Akbar held for them, sent for more and more of the same to be given to the Mughals, as they felt they were on the "verge of conversion", a notion which proved to be very false. Instead, both Akbar and Jahangir studied this artwork very closely and replicated and adapted it, adopting much of the early iconographic features and later the pictorial realism for which Renaissance art was known. Jahangir was notable for his pride in the ability of his court painters. A classic example of this is described in Sir Thomas Roe's diaries, in which the Emperor had his painters copy a European miniature several times creating a total of five miniatures. Jahangir then challenged Roe to pick out the original from the copies, a feat Sir Thomas Roe could not do, to the delight of Jahangir.
Jahangir was also revolutionary in his adaptation of European styles. A collection at the British Museum in London contains seventy-four drawings of Indian portraits dating from the time of Jahangir, including a portrait of the emperor himself. These portraits are a unique example of art during Jahangir's reign because before, and for sometime after, faces were not drawn full, head-on and including the shoulders as well as the head as these drawings are.
During his time, Jahangir also pioneered several ornate genealogies illustrated with portraits of each family member in the style of Italian Renaissance painters. Jahangir's love for hunting met his love for art as he commissioned artists on multiple occasions to paint him while hunting and would even paint scenes himself, from time to time. Jahangir was also known for his vast collection of illuminated Persian albums that contained writings as well as paintings.
Jahangir is known to have had a great interest in minting coins.
Jahangir was a naturalist as well; he was not only a known birdwatcher or ornithologist but a keen observer of plants and animals as well. Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri (Memoirs of Jahangir) has his recorded observations. Even until the mid-nineteenth century zoologists were unaware of the gestation period of elephants but Jahangir on the other hand had accurately estimated the gestation period of elephants to be 18 to 19 months in the early-seventeenth century itself. He gave the details of the pairing of sarus cranes and detailed descriptions of many Indian birds such as the hawk-cuckoo and animals such as the polecat. Once he was presented with a Don of high-altitude trees on the plains. Once he conducted an experiment to show that the soil in Mahmudabad was healthier than in Ahmedabad (both in Gujarat). It was due to the efforts of Dr. Salim Ali that these contributions of Jahangir were rediscovered.
- In the 1939 film Pukar, Jehangir was portrayed by Chandra Mohan.
- In the 1953 film Anarkali, he was portrayed by Pradeep Kumar.
- In the 1960 film Mughal-e-Azam, he was portrayed by Dilip Kumar. Jalal Agha also played the younger Jahangir at the start of the film.
- In the 1966 film Anarkali (1966 film), he was portrayed by Prem Nazir
- In the 1988 Shyam Benegal's TV Series Bharat Ek Khoj, he was portrayed by Vijay Arora
- In the 2014 Ekta Kapoor's TV Series Jodha Akbar, he was portrayed by Ravi Bhatia. Ayaan Zubair Rahmani also played young Jahengir initially.
- In the 2014 Indu Sunderesan's TV Series Siyasat, he was portrayed by Karanvir Sharma.
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JahangirBorn: 20 September 1569 Died: 8 November 1627