Open main menu

Maham Begam or Mahim Begum[1] (died 28 March 1534; Persian: ماهم بیگم‎; meaning "My moon") was Empress of Mughal Empire from 20 April 1526 to 26 December 1530 as the third wife and chief consort of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire and the first Mughal emperor.

Maham Begum
ماہم بیگم
Padshah Begum
Empress consort of Mughal Empire
Tenure20 April 1526 – 26 December 1530
SuccessorBega Begum
Bornearly 16th century or late 15th century
Khorasan[citation needed]
Died28 March 1534
BurialAgra, Mughal Empire
SpouseBabur
IssueHumayun
Mirza Barbul
Mirza Faruq
Mihr Jahan Begum
Aisan Daulat Begum
HouseTimurid (by marriage)
ReligionIslam

Maham Begum is rightly counted as one of the initial Queens among the Mughals who could be placed on the pinnacle in view of her substantial role and attractive personality. Babur conferred her the superlative imperial title Padshah Begum. The title was first time used for her which was given to the first lady of the Court of Empire. Maham Begum is frequently mentioned in the Humayun Nama by her adoptive daughter Gulbadan Begum, who calls her 'lady and my Lady' (aka and akam).

Contents

Family and lineageEdit

Maham Begum's parentage is not mentioned in any of the contemporary chronicles. Princess Gulbadan Begum calls Khwaja Muhammad Ali as Uncle Muhammad Ali, and it is possible that he may have been Maham's brother. He was associated with Khost, and it is on record that Humayun visited his maternal grandparents in Khost. Babar speaks frequently of Khwaja Muhammad Ali as being employed in the government of Khost; as coming from Khost for orders, etc., and the mirzadas of Khost also are recorded as visiting the court. One of Maham's children was born in Khost. Babar frequently mentions an Abdu-l-malik Khosti, and he may be a connection of Maham. Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak a vizier of the great Mughal emperor Akbar, and author of the Akbarnama, the official history of Akbar's reign wrote that Maham belonged to a noble family of Khorasan. He also stated that she was related to Sultan Husayn Mirza Bayqara, Padshah of Khorasan who belonged to Barlas tribe like her husband Babur, as he met her at his death. Maham Begum traced her descent from Sheikh Ahmad, of Jam. She would narrate to her son Humayun, stories connected with her ancestor and other renowned holy personages of his time. Princess Gulbadan Begum says that she was related to the owner of the Nauroz garden at Kabul which was laid by Ulugh Beg Miranshahi. Some considerations suggest that Maham Begum was a Dughlat Mughal, and of the family of Abdu-l-qadus.

MarriageEdit

Babur married her in 1506 at Herat, when on the death of Sultan Husayn Mirza, he paid a condolence visit to Herat capital of Khosran. She was mentioned as "the one who was to Babur" what Aisha was to Muhammad. She played an active role in the political affairs of Babur as well as in the royal household. She had the qualities of extreme intelligence and good looks. She accompanied her husband to Badakhshan and Transoxiana and stood by him through thick and thin. She was the chief lady of the royal household. Upon the birth of the couple's first child, Humayun. Another four children were born to her and unfortunately all died in infancy. They were Barbul, Mihr Jahan, Aisan Daulat and Faruq.

As Babur's chief consort, she had well defined rights over other inmates of his harem. She herself took her own guardianship of, two Dildar Begum's children, Hindal Mirza and Gulbadan Begum in 1519 and 1525 respectively and Babur's affirmation of it, though she already possessed five children. A devoted mother, Maham spent all her spare time to educate the prince in values dear to her. She would narrate to him stories connected with her ancestor Shaikh Ahmad Jam and other renowned holy personages of his time.

As EmpressEdit

In 1528, Maham Begum came to Hindustan from Kabul. When she reached Aligarh, Babur sent two litters with three horsemen. She went on post haste from Aligarh to Agra. Babur had intended to go as far as Aligarh to meet her. At evening prayer time someone came and said to Babur that he had just passed Maham Begum on the road, four miles out. Babur did not wait for a horse to be saddled but sat out on foot. He met her near the house of Maham's advance camp. She wished to alight, but he would not wait, and fell into her train and walked to his own house. Nine troopers with two sets of nine horses and the two extra litters which the Emperor had sent, and one litter which had been brought from Kabul, and about a hundred of Maham Begum's servants mounted on fine horses. After staying three months at Agra, Maham Begum went to Dholpur with Babur.

Maham Begum was the chief queen and the only one, privileged to sit by the side of Babur on the throne of Mughal Empire. She was powerful, moody and spoil and it seems Babur denied her nothing. It is worth of noticing that “Babur speaks of his favorite wife, Maham Begum’s edict as a farman.” During Humayun's illness Babur walked round him and turned his face. He also exclaimed that he loved Humayun because he was the son of his favourite wife, Maham by saying, "Although I have other sons, I love none as I love your Humayun. I crave that this cherished child may have his heart's desire and live long, and I desire the kingdom for him and not for the others, because he has not his equal in distinction."

As Empress dowagerEdit

After Humayun was restored to health, Babur became ill and died. Humayun ascended the throne at twenty three-years of age. Maham Begum made an allowance of food twice daily. In the morning an ox and two sheep and five goats, and at afternoon prayer time five goats. She gave this from her own estate during the two and a half years. During Babur's illness, he laid a command on Maham Begum, the charge to arrange marriages of Gulrukh Begum and Gulchehra Begum. Maham Begum received her cleverness of the conspiracy and bade Humayun to return from Badakhshan. She played an important role in promoting successfully the cause of Humayun. She continued to be Padshah Begum and participated in the affairs of the imperial household organization of social functions and the maintenance of her husband's tomb, until her death.

After Humayun's return from Chunar, Maham Begam, gave a great feast. They lit up the bazaars. Then she gave orders to the better class and to the soldiers also to decorate their places and make their quarters beautiful, and after this illumination became general in India. With all her stores of replenishing, she made an excellent and splendid feast. She gave special robes of honour to 7,000 persons. The festivities lasted several days.

DeathEdit

In April Maham Begum was attacked by a disorder of the bowels. On the 16th of the same month she died. After the death of Maham, Khanzada Begum, Babar's sister, became the first-lady of the Empire.

It is not known where she was buried and which place was chosen to be her tomb by her son Humayun who was then reigning. She seems to have been buried alongside the grave of Babur. It is certain, however, that her body was never transferred to Kabul.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Mukhia 2004, p. 124.

BibliographyEdit

External linksEdit