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Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram (5 January 1592 – 22 January 1666), better known by his regnal name Shah Jahan (Persian: "King of the World"), was the fifth Mughal emperor, who reigned from 1628 to 1658.
|Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram|
|Padishah of the Mughal Empire
Shah Jahan seated on the Peacock Throne
|5th Mughal Emperor|
|Reign||19 January 1628 –31 July 1658|
|Coronation||14 February 1628, Agra|
|Predecessor||Shahryar Mirza (de facto)
|Born||Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram
5 January 1592
Lahore, Mughal Empire
|Died||22 January 1666
Agra Fort, Agra, Mughal Empire
|Burial||Taj Mahal, Agra|
Shah Jahan was widely considered to be the most competent of Emperor Jahangir's four sons and after Jahangir's death in late 1627, when a war of succession ensued, Shah Jahan emerged victorious. He put to death all of his rivals for the throne and crowned himself emperor in January 1628 in Agra under the regnal title "Shah Jahan" (which was originally given to him as a princely title). Although an able military commander, Shah Jahan is perhaps best remembered for his architectural achievements. The period of his reign is widely considered to be the golden age of Mughal architecture. Shah Jahan commissioned many monuments, the best known of which is the Taj Mahal in Agra, which entombs his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.
In September 1657, Shah Jahan fell seriously ill, which set off a war of succession among his four sons, in which his third son Aurangzeb, emerged victorious. Shah Jahan recovered from his illness, but Aurangzeb put his father under house arrest in Agra Fort from July 1658 until his death in January 1666. On 31 July 1658, Aurangzeb crowned himself emperor under the title "Alamgir."
The Mughal Empire reached the pinnacle of its glory during Shah Jahan's reign and he is widely considered to be one of the greatest Mughal emperors.
Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram was born on 5 January 1592 in Lahore, in modern-day Pakistan, and was the third son of Prince Salim (later known as 'Jahangir' upon his accession). His mother was a Rajput princess from Marwar called Princess Jagat Gosaini (her official name in Mughal chronicles was Bilqis Makani). The name "Khurram" (joyous) was chosen for the young prince by his grandfather, Emperor Akbar, with whom the young prince shared a close relationship.
Just prior to Khurram's birth, a soothsayer had reportedly predicted to the childless Empress Ruqaiya Sultan Begum, Akbar's first wife and chief consort, that the still unborn child was destined for imperial greatness. So, when Khurram was born in 1592 and was only six days old, Akbar ordered that the prince be taken away from his mother and handed him over to Ruqaiya so that he could grow up under her care, and Akbar could fulfill his wife's wish to raise a Mughal emperor. Ruqaiya assumed the primary responsibility for Khurram's upbringing and he grew up under her care. The two shared a close relationship with each other as Jahangir noted in his memoirs that Ruqaiya had loved his son, Khurram, "a thousand times more than if he had been her own [son]."
Khurram remained with her until he had turned almost 14. After Akbar's death in 1605, the young prince was allowed to return to his father's household, and thus, be closer to his biological mother.
As a child, Khurram received a broad education befitting his status as a Mughal prince, which included martial training and exposure to a wide variety of cultural arts, such as poetry and music, most of which was inculcated, according to court chroniclers, by Akbar and Ruqaiya. In 1605, as Akbar lay on his deathbed, Khurram, who at this point was 13,[full citation needed] remained by his bedside and refused to move even after his mother tried to retrieve him. Given the politically uncertain times immediately preceding Akbar's death, Khurram was in a fair amount of physical danger of harm by political opponents of his father, and his conduct at this time can be understood as a precursor to the bravery that he would later be known for.
In 1605, his father succeeded to the throne, after crushing a rebellion by Prince Khusrau – Khurram remained distant from the court politics and intrigues in the immediate aftermath of that event, which was apparently a conscious decision on Jahangir's part. As the third son, Khurram did not challenge the two major power blocs of the time, his father's and his step-brother's; thus he enjoyed the benefits of Imperial protection and luxury while being allowed to continue with his education and training. This relatively quiet and stable period of his life allowed Khurram to build his own support base in the Mughal court, which would be useful later on in his life.
Due to the long period of tensions between his father and step-brother, Khurram began to drift closer to his father and over time started to be considered the de facto heir-apparent by court chroniclers. This status was given official sanction when Jahangir granted the sarkar of Hissar-Feroza, which had traditionally been the fief of the heir-apparent, to Khurram in 1608. Nur Jahan was an intelligent and beautiful lady with an excellent educational background. She was an active participant in the decisions made by Jahangir. Slowly and gradually, she became the actual power behind the throne, as Jahangir became more indulgent in wine and opium. Coins began to be struck containing her name along with Jahangir's name. Her near and dear relatives acquired important positions in the Mughal court, termed as the Nur Jahan junta by historians. After the death of Jahangir in 1627, Nur Jahan was put under house arrest and led a quiet life.
In 1607, Khurram became engaged to Arjumand Banu Begum (1593–1631), who is also known as Mumtaz Mahal (Persian for "the chosen one of the Palace"). They met in their youth. They were about 14 and 15 when they engaged, and five years later they got married. The young girl belonged to an illustrious Persian noble family that had been serving Mughal Emperors since the reign of Akbar. The family's patriarch was Mirza Ghiyas Beg, who was also known by his title I'timād-ud-Daulah or "Pillar of the State". He had been Jahangir's finance minister and his son, Asaf Khan – Arjumand Banu's father – played an important role in the Mughal court, eventually serving as Chief Minister. Her aunt was the Empress Nur Jahan and is thought to have played matchmaker in arranging the marriage.
The prince would have to wait five years before he was married in 1612 (1021 AH), on a date selected by the court astrologers as most conducive to ensuring a happy marriage. This was an unusually long engagement for the time. However, Shah Jahan first married Princess Kandahari Begum, the daughter of a great-grandson of Shah Ismail I of Persia with whom he had a daughter, his first child.
Politically speaking, the betrothal allowed Khurram to be considered as having officially entered manhood, and he was granted several jagir, including Hissar-Feroze and ennobled to a military rank of 8,000, which allowed him to take on official functions of state, an important step in establishing his own claim to the throne.
In 1612, aged 20, Khurram married Arjumand Banu Begum, who became known by the title Mumtaz Mahal, on the auspicious date chosen by court astrologers. The marriage was a happy one and Khurram remained devoted to her. She bore him fourteen children, out of whom seven survived into adulthood. In addition, Khurram had two children from his first two wives.
Though there was genuine love between the two, Arjumand Banu Begum was a politically astute woman and served as a crucial advisor and confidante to her husband. Later on, as empress, Mumtaz Mahal wielded immense power, such as being consulted by her husband in state matters and being responsible for the imperial seal, which allowed her to review official documents in their final draft.
Mumtaz Mahal died, aged 37 (7 July 1631), while giving birth to Gauhara Begum in Burhanpur, the cause of death being postpartum haemorrhage, which caused considerable blood-loss after a painful labour of thirty hours. Contemporary historians note that Princess Jahanara, aged 17, was so distressed by her mother's pain that she started distributing gems to the poor, hoping for divine intervention, and Shah Jahan was noted as being "paralysed by grief" and weeping fits. Her body was temporarily buried in a walled pleasure garden known as Zainabad, originally constructed by Shah Jahan's uncle Prince Daniyal along the Tapti River. Her death had a profound impact on Shah Jahan's personality and inspired the construction of the Taj Mahal, where she was later reburied.
In the intervening years Khurram had taken three other wives, Kandahari Begum (m. 12 December 1609) and Izz un-Nisa Begum (m. 3 September 1617), the daughters of Muzaffar Husain Mirza Safawi and Shahnawaz Khan, son of Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana, respectively. But according to court chroniclers, his relationship with his other wives was more out of political consideration, and they enjoyed only the status of being royal wives.
Prince Khurram showed extraordinary military talent. The first occasion for Khurram to test his military prowess was during the Mughal campaign against the Rajput state of Mewar, which had been a hostile force to the Mughals since Akbar's reign. In 1614, commanding an army numbering around 200,000, Khurram began the offensive against the Rajput kingdom. After a year of a harsh war of attrition, Maharana Amar Singh II surrendered conditionally to the Mughal forces and became a vassal state of the Mughal Empire.
In 1617, Khurram was directed to deal with the Lodi in the Deccan to secure the Empire's southern borders and to restore imperial control over the region. His successes in these conflicts led to Jahangir granting him the title of Shah Jahan (Persian: "King of the World") and raised his military rank and allowed him a special throne in his Durbar, an unprecedented honour for a prince, thus further solidifying his status as crown prince.Edward S. Holden writes, "He was flattered by some, envied by others. loved by none."
Inheritance of power and wealth in the Mughal empire was not determined through primogeniture, but by princely sons competing to achieve military successes and consolidating their power at court. This often led to rebellions and wars of succession. As a result, a complex political climate surrounded the Mughal court in Khurram's formative years. In 1611 his father married Nur Jahan, the widowed daughter of a Persian noble. She rapidly became an important member of Jahangir's court and, together with her brother Asaf Khan, wielded considerable influence. Arjumand was Asaf Khan's daughter and her marriage to Khurram consolidated Nur Jahan and Asaf Khan's positions at court.
Court intrigues, however, including Nur Jahan's decision to have her daughter from her first marriage wed Prince Khurram's youngest brother Shahzada Shahryar and her support for his claim to the throne led to much internal division. Prince Khurram resented the influence Nur Jahan held over his father and was angered at having to play second fiddle to her favourite Shahryar, his half-brother and her son-in-law. When the Persians besieged Kandahar, Nur Jahan was at the helm of the affairs. She ordered Prince Khurram to march for Kandahar, but he refused. As a result of Prince Khurram's refusal to obey Nur Jahan's orders, Kandahar was lost to the Persians after a forty-five-day siege. Prince Khurram feared that in his absence Nur Jahan would attempt to poison his father against him and convince Jahangir to name Shahryar the heir in his place. This fear brought Prince Khurram to rebel against his father rather than fight against the Persians. In 1622 Prince Khurram raised an army with the support of Mahabat Khan and marched against his father and Nur Jahan.. He was defeated at Bilochpur in March 1623. Later he took refuge in Udaipur Mewar with Maharaja Karan Singh II . He was first lodged in Delwada Ki Haveli and subsequently shifted to Jagmandir Palace on his request. Prince Khurram exchanged his turban with maharana and that turban is still preserved in Pratap Museum, Udaipur.(R V Somani 1976). It is believed that mosaic work of Jagmandir inspired him to use mosaic work in Taj Mahal of Agra. His rebellion did not succeed and Khurram was forced to submit unconditionally. Although the prince was forgiven for his errors in 1626, tensions between Nur Jahan and her stepson continued to grow beneath the surface.
Upon the death of Jahangir in 1627,the wazir Asaf Khan, who had long been a quiet partisan of Prince Khurram, acted with unexpected forcefulness and determination to forestall his sister the empress Nur Jahan's plans to place Prince Shahryar on the throne. He put Nur Jahan in close confinement.He obtained control of Prince khurram's three sons who were under her care. Asaf Khan also managed palace intrigues to ensure Prince Khurram's succession the throne. Prince Khurram succeeded to the Mughal throne as Abu ud-Muzaffar Shihab ud-Din Mohammad Sahib ud-Quiran ud-Thani Shah Jahan Padshah Ghazi (Urdu: شهاب الدین محمد خرم), or Shah Jahan.
His regnal name is divided into various parts. Shihab ud-Din mean "Star of the Faith", Sahib al-Quiran ud-Thani means "Second Lord of the Happy Conjunction of Jupiter and Venus". Shah Jahan means "King of the World", alluding to his pride in his Timurid roots and his ambitions. More epithets showed his secular and religious duties. He was also Khalifat Panahi ("Refuge of the Caliphate"), but Zill-i Allahi, or the "Shadow of God on Earth".
His first act as ruler was to execute his chief rivals and imprison his step mother Nur Jahan. Upon Shah Jahan's orders several executions took place on 23 January 1628. Those put to death included his own brother Shahryar; his nephews Dawar and Garshasp, sons of Shah Jahan's previously executed brother Prince Khusrau; and his cousins Tahmuras and Hoshang, sons of the late Prince Daniyal. This allowed Shah Jahan to rule his empire without contention.
- Deccan 1611–1612
- Bihar 1613–1614
- Gujarat 1614–1618
- Delhi 1623–1627
- Bengal 1624–1625
- Bihar 1625–1627
Administration of the Mughal EmpireEdit
During his reign the Marwari horse was introduced, becoming Shah Jahan's favourite, and various Mughal cannons were mass-produced in the Jaigarh Fort. Under his rule, the empire became a huge military machine and the nobles and their contingents multiplied almost fourfold, as did the demands for more revenue from the peasantry. But due to his measures in the financial and commercial fields, it was a period of general stability—the administration was centralised and court affairs systematised.
The Mughal Empire continued to expand moderately during his reign as his sons commanded large armies on different fronts. India at the time was a rich centre of the arts, crafts and architecture, and some of the best of the architects, artisans, craftsmen, painters and writers of the world resided in Shah Jahan's empire. It is believed that at the time the Mughal Empire had the highest gross domestic product in the world.
Shah Jahan annexed the Rajput confederates of Baglana, Mewar and Bundelkhand. He then chose his 16-year-old son Aurangzeb to serve in his place and subdue the rebellion by the Bundela Rajputs led by Jhujhar Singh.
Famine of 1630Edit
A famine broke out in 1630–32 in Deccan, Gujarat and Khandesh as a result of three main crop failures. Two million died of starvation, grocers sold dogs' flesh and mixed powdered bones with flour. Parents ate their own children. Some villages were completely destroyed, their streets filled with human corpses. In response to the devastation, Shah Jahan set up langar (free kitchens) for the victims of the famine.
Relations with the Deccan SultanatesEdit
Shah Jahan captured the fortress at Daulatabad, Maharashtra, in 1632, and imprisoned Husain Shah of the Nizam Shahi Kingdom of Ahmednagar. Golconda submitted in 1635 and then Bijapur in 1636. Shah Jahan appointed Aurangzeb as Viceroy of the Deccan, consisting of Khandesh, Berar, Telangana, and Daulatabad. During his viceroyalty, Aurangzeb conquered Baglana, then Golconda in 1656, and then Bijapur in 1657.:170–171
Sikh rebellion led by Guru HargobindEdit
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A rebellion of the Sikhs led by Guru Hargobind took place and in return Shah Jahan ordered the destruction of the Sikh temple in Lahore. Skirmishes were fought at Rohilla (1621), Amritsar (1634), Lahira (1634), Kartarpur (1635), and elsewhere.
Relations with the Safavid dynastyEdit
The Mughal armies were unable to recapture it despite repeated sieges during the Mughal–Safavid War.." Shah Jahan also expanded the Mughal Empire to the west beyond the Khyber Pass to Ghazna and Kandahar.
Relations with the Ottoman EmpireEdit
While he was encamped in Baghdad, the Ottoman Sultan Murad IV is known to have met Shah Jahan's ambassadors: Mir Zarif and Mir Baraka, who presented 1000 pieces of finely embroidered cloth and even armour. Murad IV presented them with the finest weapons, saddles and Kaftans and ordered his forces to accompany the Mughals to the port of Basra, where they set sail to Thatta and finally Surat.
War with PortugueseEdit
Shah Jahan gave orders in 1631 to Qasim Khan, the Mughal viceroy of Bengal, to drive out the Portuguese from their trading post at Port Hoogly. The post was heavily armed with cannons, battleships, fortified walls, and other instruments of war. The Portuguese were accused of trafficking by high Mughal officials and due to commercial competition the Mughal-controlled port of Saptagram began to slump. Shah Jahan was particularly outraged by the activities of Jesuits in that region, notably when they were accused of abducting peasants. On 25 September 1632 the Mughal Army raised imperial banners and gained control over the Bandel region and the garrison was punished.
Under Shah Jahan, the reaction by the orthodox Muslims to the policies of Akbar and Jahangir had an effect for the first time. He was more radical in his thinking than his father and grandfather. Upon his accession, he adopted new policies which reversed Akbar's treatment of non-Muslims. In 1633, his sixth regnal year, Shah Jahan began to impose his interpretation of Sharia provisions against construction or repair of churches and temples. After learning that wealthy Hindus wished to complete several unfinished temples in Benares, he ordered all new temples in the city to be destroyed. Following this, only prominent shrines encountered during military campaigns were damaged. He celebrated Islamic festivals with enthusiasm unfamiliar to his predecessors. Long-dormant royal interest in the Holy Cities was also revived during his reign.
Shah Jahan's treasurer was Shaikh Farid, who founded the city of Faridabad.
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When Shah Jahan became ill in 1658, Dara Shikoh (Mumtaz Mahal's eldest son) assumed the role of regent in his father's stead, which swiftly incurred the animosity of his brothers. Upon learning of his assumption of the regency, his younger brothers, Shuja, Viceroy of Bengal, and Murad Baksh, Viceroy of Gujarat, declared their independence, and marched upon Agra in order to claim their riches. Aurangzeb, the third son, and ablest of the brothers, gathered a well trained army and became its chief commander. He faced Dara's army near Agra and defeated him during the Battle of Samugarh. Although Shah Jahan fully recovered from his illness, Aurangzeb declared him incompetent to rule and put him under house arrest in Agra Fort.
Jahanara Begum Sahib, Jahan's first daughter, voluntarily shared his 8-year confinement and nursed him in his dotage. In January 1666, Shah Jahan fell ill. Confined to bed, he became progressively weaker until, on 22 January, he commended the ladies of the imperial court, particularly his consort of later years Akbarabadi Mahal, to the care of Jahanara. After reciting the Kal'ma (Laa ilaaha ill allah) and verses from the Quran, Shah Jahan died, aged 74.
Princess Jahanara had planned a state funeral which was to include a procession with Shah Jahan's body carried by eminent nobles followed by the notable citizens of Agra and officials scattering coins for the poor and needy. Aurangzeb refused to accommodate such ostentation. The body was taken by river to the Taj Mahal and was interred there next to the body of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.
Contributions to architectureEdit
Shah Jahan left behind a grand legacy of structures constructed during his reign. He was one of the greatest patrons of Mughal architecture. His most famous building was the Taj Mahal, which he built out of love for his wife, the empress Mumtaz Mahal.
Its structure was drawn with great care and architects from all over the world were called for this purpose. The building took twenty years to complete and was constructed from white marble underlaid with brick. Upon his death, his son Aurangzeb had him interred in it next to Mumtaz Mahal. Among his other constructions are the Red Fort also called the Delhi Fort or Lal Qila in Urdu, large sections of Agra Fort, the Jama Masjid, the Wazir Khan Mosque, the Moti Masjid, the Shalimar Gardens, sections of the Lahore Fort, the Mahabat Khan Mosque in Peshawar, the Jahangir mausoleum—his father's tomb, the construction of which was overseen by his stepmother Nur Jahan and the Shahjahan Mosque. He also had the Peacock Throne, Takht e Taus, made to celebrate his rule. Shah Jahan also placed profound verses of the Quran on his masterpieces of architecture.
The Shah Jahan Mosque in Thatta, Sindh province of Pakistan (100 km / 60 miles from Karachi) was built during the reign of Shah Jahan in 1647. The mosque is built with red bricks with blue coloured glaze tiles probably imported from another Sindh's town of Hala. The mosque has overall 93 domes and it is world's largest mosque having such number of domes. It has been built keeping acoustics in mind. A person speaking inside one end of the dome can be heard at the other end when the speech exceeds 100 decibels. It has been on the tentative UNESCO World Heritage list since 1993.
Shah Jahan continued striking coins in three metals i.e. gold (mohur), silver (rupee) and copper (dam). His pre-accession coins bear the name Khurram.
Silver rupee coin of Shah Jahan, from Patna.
|Spoken style||His Imperial Majesty|
|Alternative style||Alam Pana|
Shah Jahan's full imperial title was:
Shahanshah Al-Sultan al-'Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram, Malik-ul-Sultanat, Ala Hazrat Abu'l-Muzaffar Shahab ud-din Muhammad Shah Jahan I, Sahib-i-Qiran-i-Sani, Padshah Ghazi Zillu'llah, Firdaus-Ashiyani, Shahanshah—E—Sultanant Ul Hindiya Wal Mughaliya
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- Desai, compiled and translated by W.E. Begley and Z.A. (1989). Taj Mahal : the illumined tomb : an anthology of seventeenth-century Mughal and European documentary sources. Cambridge, Mass.: Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture. p. 23. ISBN 9780295969442.
- Asher, Catherine Ella Blanshard (2003). The New Cambridge History of India, Vol I:4 – Architecture of Mughal India (Hardback) (First published 1992, reprinted 2001,2003 ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 368. ISBN 0-521-26728-5.
- Koch, Ebba (Aug 2006). The Complete Taj Mahal: And the Riverfront Gardens of Agra (Hardback) (First ed.). Thames & Hudson Ltd. pp. 288 pages. ISBN 0-500-34209-1.
- Lal, K.S. (1988). The Mughal Harem. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. ISBN 81-85179-03-4.
- Begley, W, The Symbolic Role of Calligraphy on Three Imperial Mosques of Shah Jahan, Kaladarsana, 1978, pp. 7 – 18
- Banks Findly, Ellison (1993). Nur Jahan: Empress of Mughal India. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
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Shah JahanBorn: 5 January 1592 Died: 22 January 1666