Mughal Emperor Jahangir was the son of Akbar. His earlier name was Nuruddin Muhammad Salim. His mother, Jodha Bai, was a Jaipur princess. He succeeded his father to the throne in 1605 A.D.
His reign covers a period of twenty-three years (1605-1628 A.D.). The importance of Jahangir’s reign lies in the fact that it saw, more or less, an continuation of the policy and work of Akbar the Great. Jahangir was not as liberal as farsighted and as tolerant as his illustrious father, but he desired to conform to his father’s policy as far as possible.
Jahangir was married to Manbai, the daughter of Raja Bhagwant Das. Prince Khusrav was the son of Jahangir and Manbai. Jahangir was devoted to Manbai, who was given the title of Shah Begum and who committed suicide in 1604 owing to her son’s misconduct towards her husband. Jahangir was so much affected by this incident that he did not touch food or water for full four days.
Policiy and Administration
In following his father’s example, Salim Jahangir did not allow religious views to affect his policy as a ruler. The wise and enlightened policy if Akbar towards his non-Muslim subjects was generally followed by Jahangir, but his son and successor, Shah Jahan, allowed religion to get the better of politics and the unwisdom of this change made its influence felt in the reign of Aurangzeb with disastrous consequences.
Jahangir adopted his father’s foreign policy both in Northern and Southern India. He completed the subjugation of Mewar, against which Akbar had begun his attacks. In 1615, the Rana of Mewar was forced to submit to the Emperor. Nur-ud-din Muhammad Salim (Jahangir) followed a conciliatory policy and by terms of the treaty the Rana was to supply a contingent of cavalry, but was exempted from attending the imperial court in person. The Emperor followed the same conciliatory policy towards the Afghan rebels in Bengal, and prepared the ground for the complete submission of the eastern province in the near future. However, Jahangir failed to add to conquests affected by his father.
Jahangir established direct relations between the Mughal Government and the East India Company. In 1615, Sir Thomas Roe arrived as an accredited ambassador or James I to the Mughal Court. He obtained for the English merchants the privileges to trade in Gujarat including the right to set up factories at Agra and Ahmadabad.
As a man Jahangir was on the whole an amiable personality. He was respectful to his mother and other elderly members of his family. His succession to the throne was supported by elderly ladies of the family such as Salima Sultan Begum and Ruqaiya Begum. Although he rebelled against his great father (Akbar) and remained in rebellion for years, he had done that under a wrong impulse and on the advice of his selfish companions and eventually realized his folly and made amends after he was in possession of the throne. He cherished the loving memory of Akbar, and in thought and expression, held him in great reverence. He would walk to his mausoleum at Sikandra and rub his forehead at its threshold.
Jahangir was a devoted husband. Though he had many wives, he knew what it was to love a wife. He lamented the loss of his first queen, the Jaipur princess (mother of prince Khusrav) and on her death refused to touch food and drink for four days. His devotion to Nur Jahan was thorough and bordered on subservience. For him it was unthinkable to undertake any important measure without consulting her. He was a good friend and remembered and promoted all those who had rendered him any service in his prince-hood, after he became king. He wished sincerely the welfare of his subjects and endeavoured to promote their material and moral interests.
Art, Architecture and Painting
Jahangir prided himself on being a connoisseur of the art of painting and used to say that he was sure to find out as to who were the authors of various paintings, and if a picture was painted by the joint labours of a number of artists, he could tell as to who had painted the various parts of it.
Jahangir was very interested in architecture, though it must be admitted that his contribution to the development of that art was much less than to painting. Among the notable buildings erected by him, Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra is the most remarkable. He altered its design and partly rebuilt it. Itimad-ud-Daulah’s tomb near Agra, constructed under the direction of Nur Jahan, is one of the finest buildings of its kind in the country and is adorned with mosaic work outside and paintings inside. Under Jahangir’s patronage a great mosque was built in Lahore; it rivals that at Delhi built by his son Shah Jahan. Jahangir’s reign was also important because of the progress attained in the art of painting.
Next to painting Jahangir took delight in laying out fine gardens. Some of the gardens in Kashmir and Lahore were laid out at his orders. He tried to adorn the currency with fine calligraphic designs. He struck beautiful medals and coins with his portraits stamped on them.
Jahangir was possessed of a fine critical taste in matters of dress and pleasures of the table. He designed new fashions and stuffs for himself and forbade other people to make use of them. He particularly relished fine fruits. He praised the mangoes as one of the best fruits and was very fond of delicious cherries of Kabul.
Trained in soldierly pursuits and art of warfare under the supervision of his father, Jahangir in his early youth had developed into a capable soldier. He was devoted to sport and was a skillful shot with rifle and with bow and arrow. He was given practical training in war and diplomacy and acquired a considerable experience of both, but never displayed that energy and devotion which are necessary in a general.
Death of Jahangir
The health of Jahangir had completely broken down. So, he returned to Lahore. While he was yet on the way, he was taken ill and died early in the morning of 8th November, 1627 near Bhimbar. He was then 58 years of age. He was buried in a beautiful garden at Shahdara near Lahore. His widowed queen Nur Jahan subsequently erected a handsome mausoleum over his grave.
Also read: Prince Salim