Dilras Banu Begum
|Dilras Banu Begum|
Muhammad Azam, Mughal Emperor
Sultan Muhammad Akbar
|House||House of Timurid (by marriage)
House of Safavid (by birth)
|Father||Shah Nawaz Khan Safavi|
|Mother||Nauras Banu Begum|
|Died||October 8, 1657
|Burial||Bibi Ka Maqbara|
Dilras Banu (1622 – 1657) was Empress of the Mughal Empire as the first wife and chief consort of Emperor Aurangzeb, the last of the great Mughal Emperors. She is also known by her posthumous title, Rabia-ud-Daurani ("Rabia of the Age"). The Bibi Ka Maqbara at Aurangabad was commissioned by her husband as her final resting place.
Dilras mothered five children by Aurangzeb, including Muhammad Azam Shah, the heir apparent anointed by Aurangzeb, who succeeded his father as Mughal Emperor, the gifted poetess: Princess Zeb-un-Nissa, her father's favourite child, Princess Zinat-un-Nissa (titled Padshah Begum), and Sultan Muhammad Akbar, the Emperor's best loved son.
Dilras was born a princess of the prominent, Safavid dynasty, the then ruling dynasty of Iran (Persia) and one of its most significant ruling dynasties. She was the daughter of Mirza Badi-uz-Zaman Safavi (titled Shahnawaz Khan and popularly known as Mirza Deccan) whose great-grandfather was the son of Shah Ismail I Safavi. Shahnawaz Khan was the governor of Gujarat. He loved pomp and grandeur, which was very evident in the lavish and grand marriage celebrations of his daughter, Dilras to Prince Aurangzeb. Her paternal grandfather was Mirza Rustam Safavi who rose to eminence during Emperor Jahangir's reign. Dilras' mother, Nauras Banu Begum, was the daughter of Mirza Muhammad Sharif.
Dilras married Prince Aurangzeb on 8 May, 1637 at Agra; he was the third son of Emperor Shah Jahan and his Empress consort Mumtaz Mahal. The marriage proposal was put forth by Shah Jahan and was accepted by Dilras' father which led to their betrothal. Aurangzeb was lovingly called by the emperor from the Deccan where he was campaigning and arrived at Agra on 15 April, 1637 for his wedding.
Their marriage ceremony was held at four hours to dawn, amid lavish and grand celebrations and took place at Shahnawaz Khan's mansion. The grandeur of the celebrations are described by chronicler, Khafi Khan, "The burst of fireworks transformed the earth into another sky," and the charms of the singers and dancers would've been the envy "even of Venus." The qazi married the couple in the emperor's presence, and the mehr was fixed at 4,00,000 rupees. After the wedding, a reception (walima) was held on 14 May at Aurangzeb's mansion, where Emperor Shah Jahan gave wedding gifts to amirs.
The newly married couple spent more than three happy months at Agra with the emperor before taking their leave for the Deccan on 4 September, 1637, where Aurangzeb was serving as viceroy. During their stay at Agra, Dilras had become pregnant with Aurangzeb's first child: the gifted poetess, Princess Zeb-un-Nissa. She was born on 15 February, 1638 at Daulatabad, Deccan, and was her father's favourite child.
As Aurangzeb's chief consort, Dilras wielded considerable influence over him, and ruled his zenana. She was amongst the highest ranked figures at the Mughal court unlike her husband's other wives, who were very unpopular at court. However, she did not take part in court politics and in administrative affairs as her husband did not seemed to have allowed even her to interfere in such matters.
Pertaining to her character, she seems to have been a proud and self-willed woman and her husband stood in some awe of her. She was reputed to have been irascible, and was, says Aurangzeb, a woman of "extreme imperiousness, but to the end of her life I continued to love her and never once did I wound her feelings."
Dilras' dominating and proud nature did not create problems in her marriage, as Aurangzeb always acted humbly with his haughty and imperious wife and had great respect and admiration for her. From all accounts it appears that she was not dissimilar in character to her husband either. Both of them were strong-willed, pious and comparatively indifferent to the normal scheme of material values. Aurangzeb took two other wives during his lifetime, but they were inferior wives and remained isolated from him, the status of being the imperial consort was reserved for Dilras only. She retained her influence over her husband till the end of her life and always remained his principal consort.
During the course of their twenty years of marriage, the imperial couple had five children:
- Shahzadi Zeb-un-Nissa (15 February 1638 – 26 May 1702) never married.
- Shahzadi Zinat-un-Nissa (5 October 1643 – 7 May 1721) never married.
- Shahzadi Zubdat-un-Nissa (2 September 1651 – 17 February 1707) married her first cousin, Prince Siphir Shikoh, son of her uncle, Dara Shikoh.
- Shahzada Muhammad Azam (28 June 1653 – 8 June 1707) succeeded his father as Mughal Emperor, married his first cousin, Princess Jahanzeb Banu; had issue.
- Shahzada Muhammad Akbar (11 September 1657 – 31 March 1706) married his cousin, Princess Salima, the grand daughter of his uncle, Dara Shikoh; had issue.
She died from illness following the birth of her fifth child, Muhammad Akbar, who became his father's favourite son and was greatly indulged by him. Three years after her death, in 1660, her husband commissioned a mausoleum at Aurangabad as her final resting place, known as Bibi Ka Maqbara. Here, she was buried under the posthumous title of "Rabia-ud-Daurani". The Bibi Ka Maqbara bears a striking resemblance to the famous Taj Mahal, the mausoleum of Dilras' mother-in-law, Empress Mumtaz Mahal. Bibi Ka Maqbara was the largest structure that her husband had to his credit. In the following years, her tomb was repaired by her son Azam under Aurangzeb's orders. Aurangzeb, himself, is buried a few kilometers away from her mausoleum in Khuldabad.
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