The history books have given us ample knowledge about the whole Mughal Empire and it’s emperors, who ruled over India and its people for centuries. Starting right from Babur, the first emperor to Bahadur Shah Zafar, with whom the prosperous Mughal Empire died a slow and inglorious death. Behind every successfully ruler there is an army of well- informed ministers and other wise men of the kingdom. But how many times have we given enough credit to the Queen or the Begum, who supported their Badshas and were the driving force and the guiding light to the emperors. One such empress was Mehrunissa or Padsha Begum Nur Jahan who was Jahangir’s twentieth and last wife. In the 17th century when women didn’t have a say in the affairs of the court and other worldly matters, Mehrunissa stood out and took complete administrational interest in the affairs of the throne. It is said that she played a big role in bringing major changes and reforms during her reign and was the only women Jahangir married out of love without any political interest. Such was her beauty and her intelligence that Jahangir was head over heels in love with her and married her even though she was widowed and had a child from her first marriage. Here are a few facts about this powerful lady who changed the course of Mughal Empire.
1. Mehrunissa was born to a Persian refugee couple when they were escaping Persia and it’s rulers. Mirza Ghiyas Beg’s forefathers were advisors to the Persian royal family until impostors took the throne away.
2. As an infant, Ghiyas Beg left her alone in a desert as he couldn’t fend for all his family. He did that so someone could find the baby and take better care of her.
3. Mehrunissa was taken back to her family by the man who brought Ghiyas Beg into the court of emperor Akbar.
4. Akbar’s Padsha Begum Ruquaya took special interest in Mehrunissa after their chance encounter at Salim’s first wedding ceremony, where he was getting married to Hindu princess, Jagat Gosini. Ever since then she was brought to the royal zenana quarters and that is when she met Prince Salim.
5. With Prince Salim’s growing interest in Mehrunissa, Emperor Akbar and Begum Ruquaya decided to get her married to Ali Quli Khan, who was a brave soldier.
6. Mehrunissa was brought up in a very liberal environment by her parents. Where she was not just taught how to run a household, but also important subjects, which helped her to gain all the knowledge about the life in court.
7. Ali Quli on the other hand was an orthodox man who gave no freedom or credit to Mehrunissa. After a series of miscarriages, she gave birth to a girl child whom she later named Ladli.
8. Once Jahangir ascended the throne, he was hell bent to get married to Mehrunissa. Such was her charm and beauty. He later named her Nur Jahan, which translates to ‘light of the universe’.
9. Nissa, was the only Mughal empress who attended the daily jharokas with the emperor, which made her quite a public figure.
10. Her command over emperor Jahangir was strong and so was his love for her. Hence, he gave her all that he had to offer. She is known to be the real power behind the throne, as Jahangir was addicted to opium and alcohol, which made his decision-making abilities weak.
11. She started a small court of her own, which consisted of her father, her elder brother and Prince Khuram, who was later known as Emperor Shah Jahan.
12. She was the first Empress whose seal was used to mint coins and was used publicly.
13. Mehrunissa wasn’t just a brilliant scholar, but also a shrewd ruler. She was brilliant in creating political tactics and was feared by the greatest ministers of the court, as she had the emperor’s favour.
14. After Jahangir’s death, she ruled the throne for a while and was later put on house arrest by Prince Khurram so he could ascend the throne.
15. She had keen interest in gardening and planned the garden for her father’s tomb, which is said to be the inspiration for the Taj Mahal.
Mehrunissa wasn’t just some porcelain skinned, blue-eyed beauty. But also a strong support system for Emperor Jahangir to run the vast Mughal empire in its glory years.
Would she be your role model? Tell us in comments.