Jahangir - Mughal Ruler

Jahangir - Mughal Ruler
Jahangir - Mughal Ruler
Jahangir inherited the Mughal throne from his father, Akbar, the greatest Mughal emperor. His realm included part of Afghanistan and the Indian subcontinent up to the Deccan. It was one of the largest empires of the world and enjoyed prosperity.

Prince Salim (Selim) was Akbar’s eldest son, who took the reign name Jahangir, which means “world grasper.” He explained in his memoir that there was a contemporary Ottoman emperor also named Salim, which made him decide to change his name.

Jahangir had to suppress many revolts during his reign, including those of his sons, one of whom he had blinded after the revolt failed. Other campaigns were against rulers in the Deccan area subdued by Emperor Akbar and again in revolt, and against the Persian ruler for control of Kandahar.

In addition to his frank memoir, there are vivid accounts by others about Jahangir. One was by his boon companion, the English sea captain William Hawkins, and another was by Sir Thomas Roe, English ambassador, who arrived at the Mughal court in 1616 to negotiate a treaty between England and the Mughal government but failed and left two years later.

As were many Mughal princes, Jahangir was addicted to strong alcoholic drinks, and to eating opium, which seldom left him sober. He professed himself an orthodox Muslim but was generally tolerant of other religions. However, he let divine faith, a religion that his father sponsored, wither away.

In 1611, Jahangir married the Persian-born widow of one of his officials after having her husband killed for refusing to divorce her and for revolting against him. The lady was given the title Nur Jahan, which means “light of the world,” and she became the empress for the remainder of his reign. Both Jahangir and Nur Jahan patronized the arts. But Nur Jahan was also politically ambitious.

To influence her husband’s succession she married her daughter to one of his sons, and her niece (Mumtaz Mahal) to another, who became his father’s successor as Shah Jahan. She surrounded herself with her relatives, arousing the jealousy of Jahangir’s relatives; intrigues among the members of the two factions led to rebellion.

In 1627, her protégé, a general named Mahabat Khan, revolted in alliance with Shah Jahan; they imprisoned both Jahangir and Nur Jahan for several months. Just as he had revolted against his father, so he died in the midst of his son’s revolt, followed by a power struggle between his sons.

Despite wars and rebellions, Jahangir’s reign was generally prosperous, as he enjoyed the legacy of his father. His memoirs often expressed good intentions for promoting justice and efficiency, but he seldom followed through because of his indulgence in alcohol and drugs.