Mehr-un-nisa, later known as Nur Jahan (also Nur Jehan, Noor Jahan), was the Mughal empress of India and chief wife of Jahangir. She was the daughter of Ghiyas Beg, who was in service of Emperor Akbar.
Mehr-un-nisa is a persian name and its meaning is “Sun of Womanhood”. Mehr-un-nisa was peerless in beauty and unrivaled in feminine accomplishments. She was first married to Sher Afgan, a Persian adventurer who had migrated to India and entered Akbar’s service.
After the death of Sher Afgan, Jahangir had brought Sher Afghan’s widow and daughter, Ladli Begam to court. The widowed lady, Mehr-un-nisa, was appointed a lady-in-waiting to Salima Begam, Akbar’s widow. Jahangir chanced to see her in one of the Nauroz festivals in March 1611, and married her in May 1611.
After her marriage, Mehr-un-nisa came to be known as Nur Mahal and later on Nur Jahan. Nur Mahal means ‘Light of the Palace’ and Nur Jahan means ‘Light of the World’.
At the time of this marriage Jahangir was about to complete his 42nd year, while Mehr-un-nisa was 34 years of age. The Mughal Empress kept excellent health and was possessed of considerable physical strength. Nur Jahan is regarded as the most powerful female personality of Mughal India. Nur Jahan was endowed with a strong intellect and quick understanding. She was highly educated and was great patron of music, art and painting. She event invented new dresses and oranments of fashion. The fashion that the Empress of Mughal India introduced continued to govern society till the reign of Aurangzeb.
Nur Jahan enjoyed great influence and authority. She was given the rank of the first lady of the King. She became the head of the female society of the capital and the mistress of the imperial household. She was so fond of power that she not only participated in the administration but attempted to concentrate authority in her hands.
Nur Jahan exercised healthy influence upon her husband. She looked after the emperor with unparalleled care and devotion. She relieved him of much of the drudgery of state administration and care and anxiety which must always accompany all rulers and administrators. She successfully enhanced the splendor of the Mughal court and ably seconded the efforts of her husband in patronizing learning and arts. She distributed a great deal of charity and, in more than one respect, extended protection and patronage to women.
She took active participation in the political, administrative and State policies. Nur Jahan displayed an inordinate desire for power and for indulging in party politics. From 1611 to December 1621, she was the leader of the famous Nur Jahan Junta which monopolized power and shut out all those who were opposed to this party from power and influence at court. She also raised her father, brother and other relatives to high posts in the empire.
She was devoted for her parents and constructed a tomb for her parents, which is known as Itmad-ud-Daulah. The tomb is famous for its architecture finesse. It is said that most of the design and architecture of Itmad-ud-Daulah was her brain work.
Nurjahan (Mehr-un-nisa) died on December 17,1645.