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Issue:January' 2018


Her Excellency of the Mughal era !

M. R. Dua

FW. W. Norton & Company,
New York. 2018
Pp - 225+833, $27.95
Nur Jahan, born of refugee Persian parents, and a widowed mother of a daughter from her previous marriage, happened to be “the only woman ruler in the long dynasty of India’s great Mughals” in India.
Nur Jahan was born to parents, Asmat and Ghias who fled Iran. Asmat was then ninemonth pregnant with Nur. The child born was named Mihr-unNisabut. She was unfortunately, abandoned on the roadside near Kandahar. The baby was picked up by a passerby-couple and restored to her parents.
This book tells how did she become the queen of India and ‘how did she do it..?
The author describes Nur Jahan’s personality in amorous, idolatry words and describes her as ‘a sensitive companion, a superb caregiver, accomplished adviser, hunter, diplomat and aesthete.’ The Fourth Mughal emperor of India, Jahangir, had children from his earlier 19 marriages. Nur Jahan, his 20th wife, bore him four kids.
‘Empress’ is a well- researched and brilliantly told love-story by Ruby Lal, professor of SouthAsian Studies at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Lal is an acclaimed eminent historian and author of several books on Indian history. Lal seems to have pursued this Mughal wife’s fascinating tale with child-like passion.
When 17 years of age, Mihr was married to a picayune among the elongated Mughal court staff, and sent to a distant place.
Emperor Jahangir longed for her. They got married. After marriage with Emperor Jahangir at the age of 34, she killed six tigers, and also saved her husband, Jahangir, from being killed by a small time royal relative.

l Ruby Lal Mihr impressed her second husband (Jahangir)—raising family, managing home and children, helping him in the state affairs, observing all the traditional customs, traditions and rituals of Islam ... reciting Quranic verses and maintaining best of relations with Hindu neighbours and their families.
Nur had fairly good knowledge of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and the Hindu traditional culture. She had deepened ‘her power over her husband.’ She had started casting herself into the mould of ‘a distinguished queen on par with great rulers like Elizabeth I. Lal describes her to be a ‘classic oriental queen... ‘co-sovereign of the empire who was half-Hindu Rajput co-emperor.
This book is an interesting read.