Al-Sultan al-Azam
Sehenshah-e-Hind (Emperor of India)
Portrait by Abu al-Hasan, c. 1617
4th Mughal Emperor
Reign3 November 1605 – 28 October 1627
Coronation24 November 1605
PredecessorAkbar I
SuccessorShah Jahan
Shahryar Mirza (de facto)
Dawar Bakhsh (titular)
BornNur-ud-din Muhammad Salim
(1569-08-31)31 August 1569
Fatehpur Sikri, Mughal Empire[1]
Died28 October 1627(1627-10-28) (aged 58)
Bhimber, Kashmir Subah, Mughal Empire
  • (m. 1585; d. 1604)
  • (m. 1586; d. 1619)
  • (m. 1596)
  • (m. 1608; d. 1620)
  • (m. 1611)
Mirza Nur-ud-din Baig Muhammad Khan Salim
Era dates
16th and 17th centuries
Regnal name
Al-Sultan al-‘Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram, Khushru-i-Giti Panah Abu’l-Fath Nur ud-din Muhammad Jahangir Padshah
Posthumous name
Jannat Makani (lit.'Dwelling in Heaven')
HouseHouse of Babur
DynastyMughal dynasty
ReligionSunni Islam[6][7] (Hanafi)
Imperial SealJahangir's signature

Nur-ud-Din Muhammad Salim[8] (31 August 1569 – 28 October 1627),[9] known by his imperial name Jahangir (Persian pronunciation: [d͡ʒa.hɑːn.ˈɡiːɾ]; lit.'Conqueror of the World'),[10] was the fourth Mughal Emperor, who ruled from 1605 till his death in 1627.

Born Prince Salim, he was the third and only surviving son of Emperor Akbar and his chief empress, Mariam-uz-Zamani. Akbar's quest for a successor took him to visit the Hazrat Ishaan and Salim Chishti, Sufi saints who prophesied the birth of three sons. Jahangir's birth in Fatehpur Sikri was seen as a fulfillment of Chishti's blessings, and he was named after him. His early life was marked by personal tragedy, including the death of his twin brothers in infancy, which led to a sense of grief in his family. His early education was comprehensive, covering various subjects including Persian, premodern Urdu, and military tactics. Jahangir's upbringing was heavily influenced by the cultural and spiritual heritage of his family, setting the stage for his later rule as emperor.

His reign was marked by a combination of artistic achievement and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the Mughal Empire's considerable expansion and consolidation. Jahangir's rule is distinguished by his commitment to justice and his interest in the arts, particularly painting and architecture, which flourished during his reign. Jahangir's reign was characterized by a complex relationship with his nobility and family, notably reflected in his marriage to Mehr-un-Nissa (later known as Empress Nur Jahan), who wielded significant political influence behind the throne. This period saw the empire's further entrenchment into the Indian subcontinent, including efforts to subdue the Rajput kingdoms and extend Mughal authority into the Deccan. Jahangir's foreign policy included interactions with the Safavids of Persia and the Ottoman Empire, as well as with the English East India Company, marking the beginning of European influence in Indian politics and commerce.

Despite his achievements, Jahangir's reign had challenges, including revolts led by his sons, which threatened the stability of his rule. His health, deteriorated by a lifetime of opium and alcohol use, led to his death in 1627, precipitating a brief succession crisis before the throne passed to his son, Shah Jahan. Jahangir's legacy, lives on through his contributions to Mughal art and architecture, his memoirs, and the policies he implemented, which continued to influence the empire after his demise.

Early life

Portrait of Empress Mariam-uz-Zamani, giving birth to prince Salim in Fatehpur Sikri, painted by Bishandas.

Prince Salim was the third son born to Akbar and Mariam-uz-Zamani in the capital city of Fatehpur Sikri on 31 August 1569.[11][9][12] He had two elder twin brothers, Hassan and Hussain Mirza, born in 1564, both of whom died in infancy.[13][14][15][16][17] Grief-struck, Akbar took Mariam-uz-Zamani along with him after their sons' demise as he set out for a war campaign, and, during his return to Agra, he sought the blessings of Salim Chishti, a reputed khawaja (religious leader) who lived at Fatehpur Sikri.[18] Akbar confided in Salim Chisti, who assured him that he would be soon delivered of three sons who would live up to a ripe old age. A few years before the birth of Prince Salim, Akbar and Mariam-uz-Zamani went on a pilgrimage to Ajmer Sharif Dargah to pray for a son.[19][20]

When Akbar was informed of the news that his chief Hindu wife was expecting a child, an order was passed for the establishment of a royal palace in Fatehpur Sikri near the lodgings of Salim Chishti, where the Empress could enjoy the repose in the vicinity of the saint. Mariam was shifted to the palace established there and during her pregnancy, Akbar himself used to travel to Sikri and used to spend half of his time in Sikri and another half in Agra.[21]

One day, while Mariam-uz-Zamani was pregnant with Salim, the baby stopped kicking in the womb abruptly. Akbar was at that time hunting cheetahs when this matter was reported to him. Thinking if he could have done anything more for the safety of his unborn child, he vowed that from that day he would never hunt cheetahs on Fridays and Salim notes in his autobiography that Akbar kept his vow throughout his life. Salim, too, in reverence for his father's vow, never hunted cheetahs on Friday.[22] When Mariam-uz-Zamani was near her confinement, she was shifted to the humble dwelling of Salim by Akbar where she gave birth to Salim. He was named after Salim, given the faith of Akbar in the efficacy of the prayers of the holy man.[11][23]

Akbar, overjoyed with the news of his heir ordered a great feast on the occasion of his birth and the release of criminals with great offence. Throughout the empire, largesse was bestowed on common people, and he set himself ready to visit Sikri immediately. However, he was advised by his courtiers to delay his visit to Sikri on account of the astrological belief prevalent in the country of a father delaying the visit to see his long-awaited son immediately after his birth. He, therefore, delayed his visit and visited Sikri after forty-one days of Salim’s birth (the postpartum period, called nifās in Arabic and Classical Persian).

Jahangir's foster mother was the daughter of Salim Chishti, and his foster brother was Qutubuddin Koka, the grandson of Chishti.[24][25]

Salim began his education at the age of five. On this occasion, a big feast was thrown by the Emperor to ceremonially initiate his son into education. His first tutor was Qutubuddin Koka. Many other tutors were appointed to teach Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Hindi, Arithmetic, History, Geography, and Sciences. Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, one of the versatile geniuses, was an important tutor of him.[26] His maternal uncle, Bhagwant Das the Kachhwaha ruler of Amer, was supposedly one of his tutors on the subject of warfare tactics.[citation needed]

Salim grew up fluent in Persian and premodern Urdu, with a "respectable" knowledge of Persianified courtly Chaghatai ("Turki"), the Mughal ancestral language.[27]



Young Prince Salim and his wife Jagat Gosain, both holding Bulbuls c.17th century

Prince Salim's first and chief consort was the Kachwaha Rajput princess, daughter of his maternal uncle Raja Bhagwant Das of the Kingdom of Amber Kunwari Manbhawat Deiji entitled Shah Begum, to whom he was betrothed in his tender years.[28] His Mansab was raised to Twelve Thousand, in 1585, at the time of his marriage to Shah Begum.[29] Nizamuddin remarks that she was considered to be the best and most suitable princess as the first wife of Prince Salim.[30] Abul Fazl in Akbarnama illustrates her as a jewel of chastity and describes her as an extremely beautiful woman whose purity adorned her high extraction and was endowed with remarkable beauty and graces.[31]

The marriage with Manbhawat Deiji took place on 24 February 1585 in her native town Amer which was also the native town of his mother, Mariam-uz-Zamani. Akbar alongside several other nobles of the court personally visited Amer and followed this marriage. A lavish ceremony took place and the bride's palanquin was carried by Akbar and Salim for some distance in her honor. The gifts given by Mariam-uz-Zamani to the bride and bride-groom were valued at twelve lakh rupees.[32] She became his favorite wife and soon rose to the level of a consort rather than being a mere wife. Jahangir notes that he was extremely fond of her and designated her as his chief consort in the royal harem in his princely days. Jahangir also records his attachment and affection for her and makes notes of her unwavering devotion towards him.[33] Jahangir honored her with the title "Shah Begum" after she gave birth to Prince Khusrau Mirza, the eldest son of Jahangir.[34]

One of his early favorite wives was a Rathore Rajput princess, Kunwari Manawati Deiji, daughter of Mota Raja Udai Singh of the Kingdom of Marwar. The marriage was solemnized on 11 January 1586 at the bride's residence i.e. Jodhpur[35] After her death, Jahangir honored her with the title of ‘Bilquis Makani’ (lit.'Lady if Pure Abode'). She gave birth to two daughters of Salim, both of whom died during childhood and Prince Khurram, the future emperor Shah Jahan, who was Jahangir's successor to the throne.

On 26 June 1586, he married a second Rathore Rajput princess Kunwari Sujas Deiji daughter of Raja Rai Singh of Bikaner.[36] In July 1586, he married Malika Shikar Begum, daughter of Abu Sa'id Khan Chagatai. Also in 1586, he married Sahib-i-Jamal Begum, daughter of Khwaja Hasan of Herat in Afghanistan a cousin of Zain Khan Koka.

In 1587, he married a Bhati Rajput princess (name not known) entitled Malika Jahan Begum, daughter of Rawal Bhim Singh of the Kingdom of Jaisalmer. He also married the daughter of Raja Darya Malbhas.

In October 1590, he married Zohra Begum, daughter of Mirza Sanjar Hazara. He married a third Rathore Rajput princess Kunwari Karam Deiji, daughter of Rao Keshav Das of Merta linked with the house of Marwar.[37] 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 Shah Husain Chak of Kashmir. In January/March 1593, he married Nur un-Nisa Begum, daughter of a Safavid prince Ibrahim Husain Mirza, by his wife, Gulrukh Begum, daughter of Kamran Mirza brother of Mughal Emperor Humayun. In September 1593, he married a daughter of Ali Khan Faruqi, Raja of Khandesh .He also married a daughter of Abdullah Khan Baluch of Sindh.

On 28 June 1596, he married Khas Mahal Begum, daughter of Zain Khan Koka, Subadar of Kabul ,and Lahore. This marriage was initially opposed by Akbar as he did not approve of the marriage of cousins to the same man however seeing the melancholy of Salim being refused to marry her, Akbar approved of this union. She became one of his chief consorts after her marriage.

In 1608, he married Saliha Banu Begum, daughter of Qasim Khan, a senior member of the Imperial Household. She became one of his chief consorts and was designated the honorary title of Padshah Begum and for most of the reign of Jahangir retained this title. After her death, this title was passed to Nur Jahan.

Coin of Jahangir depicting him

On 17 June 1608, he married a second Kachwaha Rajput princess Kunwari Koka Kumari eldest daughter of Jagat Singh, the deceased heir apparent or "Yuvraj" of Amer and granddaughter of Mirza Raja Man Singh I. This marriage was held at the palace of Jahangir's mother, Mariam-uz-Zamani in Agra. On 11 January 1610, he married the daughter of Raja Ramchandra Bundela of Orchha.[38]

At some point, he had also married a daughter of Mirza Muhammad Hakim, son of Emperor Humayun.[39][5] She was also one of the chief consorts of Jahangir.

Jahangir married Mehr-un-Nisa (better known by her subsequent title of Nur Jahan) on 25 May 1611. She was the widow of a high-ranking Persian nobleman Sher Afgan. Mehr-un-Nisa became his utmost favorite wife after their marriage and was the last of his chief consorts. She was witty, intelligent, and beautiful, which 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'). After the death of Saliha Bano Begum in the year 1620, she was designated the title of "Padshah Begum" and held it until the death of Jahangir in 1627. Her abilities are said to range from fashion designing to building architectural monuments.


Jahangir by Abu al-Hasan c.1617

He succeeded the throne on Thursday, 3 November 1605, eight days after his father's death. Salim ascended the throne with the imperial grand title of Nuruddin Muhammad Jahangir Badshah Ghazi and thus began his 22-year reign at the age of 36.

Soon after, Jahangir had to fend off his son Khusrau Mirza when he attempted to claim the throne based on Akbar's will. Khusrau Mirza was defeated in the year 1606 with the support of the Barha and Bukhari sāda and confined in the fort of Agra.[40]

Jahangir considered his third son, Khurram (regnal name Shah Jahan) as his favourite son. As punishment, Khusrau Mirza was handed over to his younger brother and was partially blinded. From the time of his marriage with Mehr-un-Nissa, later known as Empress Nur Jahan, Jahangir left the reins of government in her hands and appointed her family and relatives to high positions. Nur Jahan had complete freedom of speech near Jahangir without any reprimand. On the contrary, she could nag and fight with him on the smallest issue. Thus, her unprecedented freedom of action to control the state caused the displeasure of both his courtiers and foreigners.[41] In October 1616, Jahangir sent Prince Khurram to fight against the combined forces of three rebel kingdoms of Ahmednagar, Bijapur and Golconda.[42]

However, when Nur Jahan married her daughter, Mihr-un-nissa Begum, to Jahangir's youngest son, Shahryar Mirza in February 1621, Khurram suspected that his stepmother was trying to maneuver Shahryar as the successor to Jahangir. Using the rugged terrain of Deccan to his advantage, Khurram launched a rebellion against Jahangir in 1622. This precipitated a political crisis in Jahangir's court. Khurram murdered his blind older brother, Khusrau Mirza, to smooth his path to the throne.[43]

Simultaneously, the Safavid emperor Abbas the Great attacked Kandahar in the winter of 1622. Since it was both a commercial center at the border of the Mughal Empire and the burial place of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire, Jahangir dispatched Prince Shahryar to repel the Safavids. However, due to Shahryar's inexperience and harsh Afghan winter, Kandahar fell to the Safavids.

In March 1623, Jahangir ordered Mahabat Khan, one of Jahangir's most loyal high generals, to crush Khurram's rebellion in the Deccan. After a series of victories by Mahabat Khan over Khurram, the civil war finally ended in October 1625.[42][10]

Jahangir was famous for his "Chain of Justice". In contemporary paintings, it has been shown as a golden chain with golden bells. In his memoir Tuzk-e-Jahangiri, he wrote that he ordered the creation of this chain for his subjects to appeal to the emperor if they were denied justice at any level. The British ambassador to the Mughal court, Thomas Roe, describes how petitioners could use the chain of justice to attract the emperor's attention if his decision was not to their satisfaction during Darshana. The Darshana tradition was adopted by the Mughal Emperors from Hindu religio-political rituals.[44]

Public Health

Jahangir took interest in public health and medicine. After his accession, he passed twelve orders, of which at least 2 were related to this area. The fifth order forbade the manufacturing and sale of rice spirit and any kind of intoxicating drugs, and the tenth order was instrumental in laying the foundation of free hospitals and appointment of physicians in all the cities of his empire.[45]

Foreign relations

The East India Company persuaded King James I to send Thomas Roe as a royal envoy to the Agra court of Jahangir.[46] Roe resided at Agra for three years, until 1619. At the Mughal court, Roe allegedly became a favourite of Jahangir and may have been his drinking partner; he arrived with gifts of "many crates of red wine"[46]: 16  and explained to him what beer was and how it was made.[46]: 17 

The immediate result of the mission was to obtain permission and protection for an East India Company factory at Surat. While no major trading privileges were conceded by Jahangir, "Roe's mission was the beginning of a Mughal-Company relationship that would develop into something approaching a partnership and see the "EIC" gradually drawn into the Mughal nexus".[46]: 19 

While Roe's detailed journals[47] are a valuable source of information on Jahangir's reign, the Emperor did not return the favour, with no mention of Roe in his voluminous diaries.[46]: 19 

In 1623, Emperor Jahangir sent his tehsildar, Khan Alam, to Safavid Persia, accompanied by 800 sepoys, scribes and scholars, along with ten howdahs well decorated in gold and silver, to negotiate peace with Emperor Abbas after a brief conflict in the region around Kandahar.[citation needed] Khan Alam soon returned with valuable gifts and groups of masters of the hunt (میر شکار) from both Safavid Iran and the Khanates of Central Asia.[citation needed]

In the year 1626, Jahangir began to contemplate an alliance between the Ottoman Empire, the Mughals, and the Khanate of Bukhara of the Uzbeks against the Safavids, who had defeated the Mughals at Kandahar.[48] He even wrote a letter to the Ottoman Sultan, Murad IV. Jahangir's ambition did not materialise due to his death in 1627.


Coin of Jahangir

In the year 1594, Jahangir was dispatched by his father, the Emperor Akbar, alongside Asaf Khan, also known as Mirza Jafar Beg and Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, to defeat the renegade Raja Vir Singh Deo Bundela and to capture the city of Orchha, which was considered the centre 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, at 26 years of age, ordered the completion of the Jahangir Mahal a famous Mughal citadel in Orchha to commemorate and honour his victory.

From the very beginning of Jahangir reign as emperor, he witnessed the internal rivalry of the bundela chiefs for control.[49] Jahangir appointed his favourite, Bir Singh, as the ruler of Orchha by removing Raja Ram Shah.[49] This greatly hampered the interest of Ram Shah house.[49] Thus, Ram Shah, along with his family members Bharat Shah, Indrajit, Rao Bhopal, Angad, Prema, and Devi (the wife of the deposed king), raised their arms in rebellion.[49] However, Ram Shah was defeated by his brother Bir Singh with the help of imperial army under Abdullah Khan.[49] Then the deposed Bundela chief escaped and continued to fight the Mughals for two years until he was finally arrested in 1607 and put in prison at Gwalior.[49]

Jahangir with falcon on horseback

Jahangir then gathered his forces under the command of Ali Kuli Khan and fought Raja Lakshmi Narayan Bhup of the Kingdom of Koch Bihar in the far eastern province of Bengal. Raja Lakshmi Narayan then accepted the Mughals as his suzerains and was given the title Nazir, later establishing a garrison at Atharokotha.

In 1613, Jahangir issued a sanguinary order for the extirpation of the race of the Kolis who were notorious robbers and plunders living in the most inaccessible parts of the province of Gujarat. A large number of the Koli chiefs were slaughtered and the rest hunted to their mountains and deserts. 169 heads of such Koli chiefs killed in battle by Nur-ul-llah Ibrahim, commander of 'Bollodo'.[50][51]

In 1613,[52] 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 to attend the annual Hajj. The Rahimi was owned by Mariam-uz-Zamani, mother of Jahangir and Akbar's favourite consort.[12] She was bestowed the title of 'Mallika-e-Hindustan' (Queen of Hindustan) by Akbar and was subsequently referred to as same during Jahangir's reign. The Rahimi 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 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 colonisation of the Indian sub-continent.

Jahangir was responsible for ending a century-long struggle with the Sisodia Rajput house of Mewar. The campaign against them was pushed so extensively that they were made to submit with great loss of life and property.

In 1608, Jahangir posted Islam Khan I to subdue the rebel Musa Khan, the Masnad-e-Ala[53] of the Baro-Bhuyan confederacy in Bengal,[54] who was able to imprison him.[55][56] Jahangir also captured Kangra Fort in 1615, whose Katoch rulers came under Mughal vassalship during the reign of Akbar. Consequently, a siege was laid and the fort was taken in 1620, which "resulted in the submission of the Raja of Chamba who was the greatest of all the rajas in the region." The district of Kishtwar, in the vast province of Kashmir, was also conquered the same year.


The Tomb of Jahangir in Shahdara, Lahore

A lifelong user of opium and wine, Jahangir was frequently ill in the 1620s. Jahangir was trying to restore his health by visiting Kashmir and Kabul. He went from Kabul to Kashmir but decided to return to Lahore because of a severe cold.

On the journey from Kashmir to Lahore, Jahangir died near Bhimber on October 29, 1627.[57] To embalm and preserve his body, the entrails were removed; these were buried inside Baghsar Fort near Bhimber in Kashmir. The body was then conveyed by palanquin to Lahore and was buried in Shahdara Bagh, a suburb of that city. His son, Shah Jahan, commissioned his tomb and is today a popular tourist attraction site.

Jahangir's death launched a minor succession crisis. While Nur Jahan desired her son-in-law, Shahryar Mirza, to take the throne, her brother Abu'l-Hassan Asaf Khan was corresponding with his son-in-law, Prince Khurram to take over the throne. To counter Nur Jahan, Abu'l Hassan put Dawar Bakhsh as the puppet ruler and confined Nur Jahan in the Shahdara. Upon his arrival in Agra in February 1628, Prince Khurram executed both Shahryar and Dawar and took the regnal name Shah Jahan (Shihab-ud-Din Muhammad Khurram).[58]


Emperor Jahangir weighing his son Prince Khurram (the future Shah Jahan) on a weighing scale by Manohar c.1615.

Jahangir's sons were:

Jahangir's daughters were:


A Mughal miniature by Bichitr dated from the early 1620s depicting the Mughal emperor Jahangir preferring an audience with Sufi saint to his contemporaries, the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I and the King of England James I (d. 1625); the picture is inscribed in Persian: "Though outwardly shahs stand before him, he fixes his gazes on dervishes."
Portrait of Mughal Emperor Jahangir making Dua

According to M. Athar Ali, Jahangir generally continued the religious policy of Akbar and had a major interest in pantheism.[68]

At the start of his regime, many staunch Sunnis were hopeful, because he seemed less tolerant of 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 the architect of his eclectic religious stance, a powerful group of orthodox noblemen had gained increased power in the Mughal court. This included nobles especially like Shaykh Farid, Jahangir's trusted Mir Bakhshi, who held firmly the citadel of orthodoxy in Muslim India.[69]

Most notorious was the execution of the Sikh Guru Arjan Dev on Jahangir's orders. His lands were confiscated and his sons imprisoned as Jahangir suspected him of helping Khusrau's rebellion.[70] It is unclear whether 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."[71] Guru Arjan's successor Guru Hargobind was imprisoned for sometime but released soon. He developed friendly relations with Jahangir and accompanied him on his journey to Kashmir just before the latter's death.[72]

Jahangir issued bans on cowslaugher and animal slaughter on certain days of the week in continuance of his father's policy. According to the Dabistan-i Mazahib he appointed Srikant of Kashmir to be qazi of the Hindus so that they would have their own judicial representative. He also continued his father's policy of patronizing Brahmins and temples. Notably he issued several grants to the Chaitanya sect for their temples in Vrindavan, but also made negative comments about their temples. He, like his father, dissaproved of reincarnation and idol worship and ordered the boar image to be removed from Rana Shankar's temple at Pushkar.[73]

However, Later it is known that Jahangir changed his religious policies due to influence of Ahmad Sirhindi, who routinely attend the court debates to counteract some religious beliefs and doctrines which prevalent in the court.[74] In the process, it is recorded from these correspondence which compiled in 1617, that Farid Murtaza Khan took Ahmad Sirhindi advices regarding this matter.[75][failed verification] His efforts influenced Abul Fazl, protegee of emperor Akbar, to support Ahmad Sirhindi in effort to convince Jahangir to reverse the policies of Akbar of tolerating Hindus in Mughal court.[76] Yohanan Friedmann has noted that according to many modern historians and thinkers, the puritanical though of Ahmad Sirhindi has inspired the religious orthodoxy of emperor Aurangzeb.[77][78]: 162–163  This was noted by how Ahmad Sirhindi manage to influence the successor of emperor Akbar, starting from Jahangir, into reversing Akbar policies such as lifting marriage age limits, mosque abolishments, and Hijra methodology revival which abandoned by his father.[79] It is noted by historians that this influence has been significantly recorded during the conquest of Kangra under Jahangir, that at the presence of Ahmad Sirhindi who observed the campaign, the Mughal forces had the Idols broken, a cow slaughtered, Khutbah sermon read, and other Islamic rituals performed.[80] Further mark of Jahangir departure from Akbar secular policy were recorded Terry, a traveller, who came and observed India region between 1616-1619, where he found the mosques full of worshippers, the exaltation of Quran and Hadith practical teaching, and the complete observance of Fasting during Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr celebrations.[80]

According to Jahangir's memoirs, he issued a farman banning Jain seorahs (monks) due to alleged scandalous behavior. However, the ban was quickly rescinded but Jahangir neglected to mention that in his memoirs. There is a wide variety of evidence that Jahangir had good relations with Jains and Jain sources themselves extol him. According to Ali, Jahangir wrote his memoirs with his intended audience of Persian-speaking Muslims in mind and sought to portray himself as an anti-idolatry sultan and thus "modified" facts.[81] Jahangir's memoirs also omit the fact that three of his nephews at one point converted to Christianity with his permission, although they would later reverse their decision.[82]

According to Richard M Eaton, Emperor Jahangir issued many edicts admonishing his nobles not to convert the religion of anybody by force, but the issuance of such orders also suggests that such conversions must have occurred during his rule in some measure. He continued the Mughals tradition of being scrupulously secular in outlook. Stability, loyalty, and revenue were the main focus, not the religious change among their subjects.[83]


Jahangir's inscription on the Allahabad Pillar of Ashoka.[84]

Jahangir was fascinated with art and architecture. In his autobiography, the Jahangirnama, Jahangir recorded events that occurred during his reign, descriptions of flora and fauna that he encountered, and other aspects of daily life, and commissioned court painters such as Ustad Mansur to paint detailed pieces that would accompany his vivid prose.[85] For example, in 1619, he put pen to paper in awe of a royal falcon delivered to his court from the ruler of Iran: “What can I write of the beauty of this bird's colour? It had black markings, and every feather on its wings, back, and sides was extremely beautiful,” and then recorded his command that Ustad Mansur paint a portrait of it after it perished.[86] "Nadiri" was a type of exclusive clothing designed by Jahangir, reserved for his personal use and esteemed courtiers.[87] Jahangir bound and displayed much of the art that he commissioned in elaborate albums of hundreds of images, sometimes organized around a theme such as zoology.[88]

Jahangir himself was far from modest in his autobiography when he stated his prowess at being able to determine the artist of any portrait by simply looking at a painting. 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 is 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's Jade hookah, National Museum, New Delhi

Jahangir took his connoisseurship of art very seriously. He also preserved paintings from Emperor Akbar's period. An excellent example of this is the painting done by Ustad Mansur of Musician Naubat Khan, son-in-law of legendary Tansen. In addition to their aesthetic qualities, 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 the foreword to W. M. Thackston's translation of the Jahangirnama, Milo Cleveland Beach explains that Jahangir ruled during a time of considerably stable political control, and had the opportunity to order artists to create art to accompany his memoirs that were “in response to the emperor's current enthusiasms”.[89] He used his wealth and his luxury of free time to chronicle, in detail, the lush natural world that the Mughal Empire encompassed. At times, he would have artists travel with him for this purpose; when Jahangir was in Rahimabad, he had his painters on hand to capture the appearance of a specific tiger that he shot and killed because he found it to be particularly beautiful.[90]

The 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. They felt the Mughals 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.[citation needed]

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 faces were not drawn in full, including the shoulders as well as the head as these drawings are.‘’ [91]


Jahangir is widely considered to have been a weak and incapable ruler.[92][93][94][95] Orientalist Henry Beveridge (editor of the Tuzk-e-Jahangiri) compares Jahangir to the Roman emperor Claudius, for both were "weak men... in their wrong places as rulers... [and had] Jahangir been head of a Natural History Museum,... [he] would have been [a] better and happier man."[96] Further he notes, "He made no addition to the imperial territories, but on the contrary, diminished them by losing Qandahar to the Persians. But possibly his peaceful temper, or his laziness, was an advantage, for it saved much bloodshed. His greatest fault as a king was his subservience to his wife, Nur-Jahan, and the consequent quarrel with his son, Shah Jahan, who was the ablest and best of his male children".[97] Sir William Hawkins, who visited Jahangir's court in 1609, said: "In such short that what this man's father, called Ecber Padasha [Badshah Akbar], got of the Deccans, this king, Selim Sha [Jahangir] beginneth to lose."[96] Italian writer and traveller, Niccolao Manucci, who worked under Jahangir's grandson, Dara Shikoh, began his discussion of Jahangir by saying: "It is a truth tested by experience that sons dissipate what their fathers gained in the sweat of their brow."[96]

According to John F. Richards, Jahangir's frequent withdrawal to a private sphere of life was partly reflective of his indolence, brought on by his addiction to a considerable daily dosage of wine and opium.[98]

In media

Jahangir and Anarkali

Films and television


Works online

See also


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Further reading

Jahangir Timurid dynasty Born: 20 September 1569  Died: 8 November 1627 Regnal titles Preceded byAkbar Mughal Emperor 1605–1627 Succeeded byShah Jahan