The entertainment industry has overruled the historical facts a lot of time. The facts are moulded in such a way that the audience perceives them to be true. Like in the most celebrated film, Mughal-e-Azam depicted Jodha and Akbar to be married, which is a myth, that the audiences fantasized as a fact and since then Jodha and Akbar have been cherished as debatable yet hot properties of Bollywood.
Many years after Mughal-e-Azam, illustrious director Ashutosh Gowarikar, in the year 2008, rekindled the romance between the two controversial historical characters (Jodha-Akbar) cementing the existence of the two as real. The spell continued when Ekta Kapoor reinvented the two characters in her televised version in the year 2013. The show had its share of controversies but still emerged successful by grabbing a lot of eye balls, while making its contemporaries choke on their popcorn.
Although all these versions have proved their hypothesis that Jodha was Akbar’s wife, the identity of Jahangir’s mother is still unknown. Ever since these issues emerged, many historians have peddled through the wells and trenches of history to dig deep for a hypothetical Jodha Bai.
Novelist Salman Rushdie’s book ‘The Enchantress of Florence’ gives a rather peculiar angle to the Jodha-Akbar controversy. He claims that “Jodha is a figment of Akbar’s imagination, she is an embodiment of perfection that the hundreds in his harem can never match up to”. Akbar had about three hundred wives in his harem. He further wrote that “Akbar’s queen was indeed a Rajput princess called Mariam-uz-Zamani. You can tell from her name that she is a Muslim convert and is the mother of Jahangir. Jodha is not the mother of Jahangir. His mother is Mariam. However Jahangir had a minor wife called Jodha”.
He also wrote that, “The only Jodha in history is the second wife of Jahangir and not his mother. So it is just a thing that has come up, exactly because everybody believes that she exists.”
The royal records like Ain- I- Akbari and histories of Amber kings suggest that Akbar married Raja Birmal’s daughter, but the name of the princess is something else. According to the documents, the name of the princess was Mariam-uz-Zamani Begum also known as Harka Bai, who is probably addressed as Jodha by some historians.
It is indeed a mystery as to why the memoirs of Jahangir do not cite his mother by her name. If Jahangir had been born to a daughter of a renowned Rajput kingdom, he would have surely boasted of his imperial genes, from both his mother’s and father’s sides.
Jahangir further elaborates the birth of two of his brothers and one sister, not naming the mothers for any of them either, but referring to them as concubines. Clearly he didn’t assume their status as wives and hence did not merit naming them.
A quote from Jahangirnama states, “Three months after my birth, my sister, Shahzada Khanam, was born to one of the royal concubines; they gave her over to his (Akbar’s) mother, Maryam Makani. After her a son was born to one of the concubines, and received the name of Shah Murad. On the night of Jumada-l-awwal, 10th September 1572, another son was born to one of the concubines. As his birth took place at Ajmer in the house of one of the attendants of the blessed shrine of the reverend Khwaja Mu‘inu-d-din Chishti, whose name was Shaikh Daniyal, this child was called Daniyal.”
All these facts clearly state that Jodha probably was a part of the Mughal era but not as Jahangir’s mother but his minor wife.
Note: The article does not intend to hurt the sentiments and beliefs of anybody. The author has written everything by known facts and figures read by them on books and internet.