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Thursday, December 25, 2014

"Supplications NOR force NOR gold can WIN me" | Zeb-un-Nissa - Part-2

This post is about a daughter of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb - Zeb-un-Nissa. Sharing her journey with all of you. This is a 3-series article. This is the Part-2 of the same. 

Links of other Parts.
Part-1 > "I will not lift my Veil" - Zeb-un-Nissa | - I 
Part-3 > "My name is Zeb-un-Nissa | I am the Glory of Womankind" - III

Continuing from Part-1 ~~~

In personal appearance, Zeb-un-Nissa is described as being tall and slim, her face round and fair in colour, with two moles, or beauty-spots, on her left cheek. Her eyes and abundant hair were very black, and she had thin lips and small teeth. In Lahore Museum is a contemporary portrait, which corresponds to this description. She did not use missia for blackening between the teeth, nor antimony for darkening her eye­lashes, though this was the fashion of her time. Her voice was so beautiful that when she read the Koran she moved her listeners to tears. 

In dress she was simple and austere; in later life she always wore white, and her only ornament was a string of pearls round her neck. She is held to have invented a woman’s garment, the angya kurti, a modification, to suit Indian conditions, of the dress of the women of Tur­kestan; it was worn all over India. She was humble in her bearing, courteous, patient, and philosophic in enduring trouble; no one, it is said, ever saw her with a ruffled forehead. Her chief friend was a girl named Imami, a poet like herself. Zeb-un-Nissa was skilled in the use of arms, and several times took part in war. < This fact is surprisingly recorded in the Amer chronicles.

Zeb-un-Nissa - wearing angiya-kurti

In the beginning of 1662 Aurangzeb was taken ill, and, his physicians prescribing change of air, he took his family and court with him to Lahore.  

Following is a tale, of whose "degree of authenticity" , i can not say, but i am mentioning here

At that time Akeel Khan, the son of Aurangzeb's Wazir was governor of that city. He was famous for his beauty and bravery, and was also a poet. He had heard of Zeb-un-Nissa, and knew her verses, and was anxious to see her. On pretext of guarding the city, he used to ride round the walls of the palace, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. One day he was fortunate; he caught sight of her on the house­top at dawn, dressed in a robe of gulanar, the colour of the flower of the pomegranate. 

He said - “A vision in red appears on the roof of the palace.” She heard and answered, com­pleting the couplet: “Supplications nor force nor gold can win me.” She liked Lahore as a residence, and was laying out a garden there: one day Akeel Khan heard that she had gone with her companions to see a marble pavilion which was being built in it. He disguised himself as a mason, and, carrying a hod, managed to pass the guards and enter. She was playing chausar with some of her female friends, and he, passing near, said: “In my longing for thee I have become as the dust wandering round the earth.” She understood and answered imme­diately: “Even if thou hadst become as the wind, thou shouldst not touch a tress of my hair.” 

They met again and again, but some rumour reached the ears of Aurangzeb, who was at that time gone to Delhi, and he hastened back. He wished to hush up the matter by hurrying her into marriage at once. Zeb-un-Nissa demanded free­dom of choice, and asked that portraits of her suitors should be sent to her; and chose naturally that of Akeel Khan. Aurangzeb sent for him; but a disappointed rival wrote to Akeel: “It is no child’s play to be the lover of a daughter of a king. Aurangzeb knows your doings; as soon as you come to Delhi, you will reap the fruit of your love.” Akeel Khan thought the Emperor planned revenge. 

So, alas for poor Zeb-un-Nissa! at the critical moment her lover proved a coward; he declined the marriage, and wrote to the king resigning his service. Zeb-un-Nissa was scornful and disappointed, and wrote: “I hear that Akeel Khan has left off paying homage to me”—or the words might also mean, “has resigned service”—“on account of some foolishness.” He answered, also in verse, “Why should a wise man do that which he knows he will regret?” (Akeel also means, a wise man). But he came later to Delhi again, perhaps regretting his fears. 

He went to her garden; the Emperor was told and came unexpectedly, and Zeb-un-Nissa, taken unawares, could think of no hiding-place for Akeel but a deg, or large cooking-vessel. The Emperor asked, “What is in the deg?” and was answered, “Only water to be heated.” “Put it on the fire, then,” he ordered; and it was done. Zeb-un-Nissa at that moment thought more of her reputation than of her lover, and came near the deg and whispered, Keep silence if you are my true lover, for the sake of my honour. 

One of her verses says, What is the fate of a lover? It is to be cruci­fied for the world’s pleasure.One wonders if she thought of Akeel Khan’s sacrifice of his life.?

Please remember as i mentioned before that - this Akeel Khan death incident is a TALE associated with her, and not proved. The "degree of authenticity" can not be ascertained. Here, I mentioned this just for information.

After this she was imprisoned in the fortress of Salimgarh in Delhi, some say because her father dis­trusted her on account of her friendship with her brother, Prince Akbar, who had revolted against him; others say because of her sympathy for the Maratha Chief Shivaji.

Prince Muhammad Akbar had accompanied Aurangzeb in his wars against the Rajput states in 1679 AD and had the army totally under him. He rebelled against his father in 1681 and proclaimed himself as the Emperor. Zeb actively lent her support to him during his rebellion. After the rebellion was suppressed, her private correspondence with her brother was discovered. She became the recipient of her father's wrath as the letters revealed how closely attached she was to her brother's interests. Her property was seized and her pension stopped. Aurangzeb was later able to forgive his son but could never forget what he perceived as deep betrayal on the part of Zeb, whom he had trusted more than anyone else in his life.

There she spent long years, and there she wrote much bitter poetry, which can move the most cheerful person to tears:— 
{Note - Makhfi was her pen name, meaning "the hidden one".}

So long these fetters cling to my feet! My friends have become enemies, my relations are strangers to me.

What more have I to do with being anxious to keep my name undishonoured when friends seek to disgrace me?

Seek not relief from the prison of grief, O Makhfi; thy release is not politic.

O Makhfi, no hope of release hast thou until the Day of Judgment come.

Even from the grave of Majnu the voice comes to my ears—“O Laila, there is no rest for the victim of love even in the grave.”
She writes :--
I have spent all my life, and I have won nothing but sorrow, repentance, and the tears of unfulfilled desire:—

Long is thine exile, Makhfi, long thy yearning,
Long shalt thou wait, thy heart within thee burning,
Looking thus forward to thy home-returning.
But now what home hast thou, unfortunate?
The years have passed and left it desolate,
The dust of ages blows across its gate.

If on the Day of Reckoning
God say, “In due proportion I will pay
And recompense thee for thy suffering,”
Lo, all the joys of heaven it would outweigh;
Were all God’s blessings poured upon me, yet
He would be in my debt.

When her memory was becoming dim in the hearts of her friends, Nasir Ali(see part-1 post) alone thought of her, and wrote a poem to her, saying that, now, the world could not delight in her presence, and he himself had to go about the earth unhappy, having no one but himself to appreciate his verses. But she sent no answering word.

When she was released(briefly) she lived solitary in Delhi, and the verses she wrote there are very melancholy, telling of the faithlessness of the times:—

Why shouldst thou, O Makhfi, complain of friends, or even of enemies? Fate has frowned upon thee from the beginning of time.

Let no one know the secrets of thy love. On the way of love, O Makhfi, walk alone. 
         Even if Jesus seek to be thy companion, tell him thou desirest not his comradeship.

Here is one of her saddest poems, expressing something of the tragedy of her life:—
O idle arms,
Never the lost Beloved have ye caressed:
Better that ye were broken than like this
Empty and cold eternally to rest.

O useless eyes,
Never the lost Beloved for all these years
Have ye beheld: better that ye were blind
Than dimmed thus by my unavailing tears.

O foolish springs,
That bring not the Beloved to my abode;
Yea, all the friends of youth have gone from me,
Each has set out on his appointed road.

O fading rose,
Dying unseen as hidden thou wert born;
So my heart’s blossom fallen in the dust
Was ne’er ordained His turban to adorn."

Part-3 > "My name is Zeb-un-Nissa | I am the Glory of Womankind" - III

This article has been posted under the Miscellaneous topics section.

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  1. Abhay,

    This continuation is so much more poignant than the first part. Fate initially lulled Zeb into believing in an illusory but beautiful world that centred around her and her verse. And then, left her in the care of Hades for the rest of her life.

    O, favored child of destiny!
    Ask for anything your heart desires
    As long as it is for others.
    Pause, however, ere you wish to satisfy your soul
    For 'tis with the men who adore you.
    If ever you try to break free,
    your soul will be crushed with the same passion
    with which earlier your every whim was met!

    Thanks so much for bringing this tragic princess to life for us.

  2. Radhika,

    Thanks for sharin this brief poem with us.

    Will get back later. Having some Net issue now. :)

  3. History-geek, no doubt I was eagerly waiting fr ur next post on Zebunnisa, but surely not this kind of one. Felt very sad fr poor girl. On hindsight, I feel marraige with Akeel would hv saved this girl frm this kind of punishment, She would hv been happily living with her husband writing poetry., doing whatever she wanted.
    It seems the word 'forgive' was not there in Aurangzeb's dictionary.:( In his Swayamvar like act, do u think, Aurangzeb would hv agreed to her alliance with Akeel Khan or was that to trap him?If the story written by u is held true, then it's really tragic end to the love story. Poor guy, heart attack se hi mar gaya hoga!
    How come Aurangzeb, who forgave Jahanara for siding with Dara, do such a cruel thing to his beloved daughter? It's heart wrenching to read her poetry,how with the passing of time her hope also diminished n thus the tone of her poetry also changed. History-geek, how many years did she spend like this? U said she was released temporarily, what fr? How n where did she die?

  4. Hi All,
    sorry for being almost invisible for such a long time...:) But i have never forgotten to read however...Unfortunately , nowadays I don't even get to see all the episodes of JA....but anyways,it doesn't matter as long as we get the daily does here..!! :D

    Wish u all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS ..!!

  5. Hi Kamal

    Merry Christmas! :)

    I stopped watching JA long back :) Are you enjoying it?

  6. Oh No Radhika...It's a a whole comedy now....LOL..Anarkali saheli-fied with ManBai and Jagat Gosain....ROFL.....!!
    Just watched last 2 epis and this is what I got to see....:D

  7. Thank you Abhay .......... !

    I knew that Aurangzeb's love for someone was too good to be everlasting and true. Yet, I never expected such harshness from him towards his own child.

    Wasn't Zeb, her father's favorite child? Yet Aurangzeb imprisoned her? Her mistakes being falling in love and supporting her sibling, and standing up for her beliefs?

    That Aurangzeb had an unpleasant personality is well known, but him being so selfish and conditional in his love for his own child, and taking his punishment to an extreme, is unbearable and unacceptable.

    This lovely Sufi hearted princesses life was made miserable, gloomy and desolate by her own father. I dislike Aurangzeb even more than before.

  8. Rula diya aaj Abhay :( anyways lovely post.

  9. This is Really a heart wrenching tale of princess Zeb , that moved me to the core !!!
    How Aurangazeb can't pardon his fav daughter , when he pardoned his Son alone... And Added to the fact of surprise was , these accounts where found in the Amer chronicles !!! How come the Articles where left behind , as we know that the articles related MUZ was turned to ashes by Aurangazeb ...

  10. Wish u the same, K D R :)

  11. Was she the only daughter of Aurangzeb, Abhay? Sorry, I forgot. Because I hv heard that Aurangzeb's daughter was secretly loved / in Awe of Shivaji, n thus she helped him to escape frm prison.Your comments, history-geek---?

  12. Aurangzeb had 5 daughters. Zeb was the eldest. The others were Zinat-un-Nissa, Zubdat-un-Nissa, Badr-un-Nissa, and Mehr-un-Nissa. Zinat and Zubdat were also poets. Zinat later got the title of Padshah Begum and took care of Aurangzeb's home till his death. Later she remained a respected senior lady of the harem. She was known for her piety and charity.

    I don't know how much truth there is but it is said that Zeb helped Shivaji escape in a fruit basket and this was one of the reasons for her imprisonment. Zinat also was sympathetic towards the Marathas and helped Yesu Bai, the widow of Shambaji and her son, Sahu.

  13. The reasons for Zeb's imprisonment are unclear. It may be because of either her support for Prince Akbar and his rebellion or her sympathy towards Shivaji or something else.

    It is difficult to say why exactly Aurangzeb imprisoned her and was not able to forgive her. It is said that he had trusted her more than anyone else and her betrayal was a shock to him - he was not able to overcome that.

  14. Abhay, thanks for this , very touchi post,But why she said to her lover, Keep sielant for sake of my honour, What a painful death he got.Her father forgave his Son, but not daughter, is reason is this, trust hardly broken Heart point, or its zidd of her father.But this Gazal will more identify zeb character; waiting for third,

    Rahate The Kabhi Jin Ke Dil Mein

    Hum Jaan Se Bhi Pyaaron Ki Tarah

    Baithhe Hain Unhi Ke Koochen Mein

    Hum Aaj Gunahagaaron Ki Tarah

    Daawaa Thaa Jinhe Hamadardi Kaa

    Khud Aa Ke Naa Poochhaa Haal Kabhi

    Mahafil Mein Bulaayaa Hain Hum Pe�(2)

    Hasane Ko Sitamagaaron Ki Tarah

    Barason Ke Sulagate Tanaman Par

    Ashkon Ke Do Chhinte De Naa Sake

    Tapate Huye Dil Ke Jakhmon Par

    Barase Bhee To Angaaro Ki Tarah

    Sau Rup Bhare Jeene Ke Liye

    Baithhe Hain Hajaaro Jahar Piye

    Thhokar Naa Lagaanaa Hum Khud Hai(2)

    Giratee Huee Diwaaron Ki Tarah

  15. Thanks Radhika. Looking back, I feel, Mughals n poetry, Sher-o-Shairy go hand in hand.:)

  16. Lovely post Abhay and Ayushi. Thank u

    I too have the same thoughts like u Ayushi. She knew her love was going to be set on fire and she kept quiet.

  17. Suganya,

    While putting "zeal" into her soldiers before a war - when she was pumping up their "confidence" through her speech, she gave them the example of the "pride of Rajputs" - that they will die but not run away from the battle.

    I think it is this reason which made her name being mentioned in Amer Chronicles. :)

    BTW, Lot of Mughal records are present in museums in Rajasthan today. :)

  18. Thanks for your views Radhika.
    I want a small thing - Aurangzeb had one more daughter. Her name was Hejat-un-Nissa. :)

  19. Geeta,
    She was freed later in her life, at the very end but very briefly & that was a "nominal" release. All in all, she died in the Salimgarh Fort Complex only, in Delhi. :(
    This will be covered with some more details in next part. :)

  20. Welcome back after long. :)

    Belated Merry Christmas to all here. :D

    Glad that you kept reading. Hopefully, you will be active now. :)

    About Jodha Akbar show..
    I don't know what to say. LOL. They are showing Man Bai and Jagat Gosain and Anarkali(fictional story), as friends. ROFL.
    And just now heard that we have a new promo according to which Salim has created some ruckus where Anarkali is also involved.

    Seriously, i don't know what to say about the moral and ethical limits of the creatives. They are tarnishing the image of these historical personalities in the name of Natkiya Rupanter.

    The royal princesses have been shown in such degrading manner. They are killing the story of Jodha Akbar on a purpose , it seems. :(

  21. What more can be added here Charu. :)

    Zeb's life was very tragic. She saw those dreams which shattered like a pack of cards. Life was indeed very disloyal to her. Her poems depict her melancholy. :(

    I agree that Aurangzeb was TOO MUCH strict with her. Yes, she WAS his favorite kid.

  22. My views are same as yours Preeti.
    Quite Unfair to Zeb.!

  23. Geeta,
    I do not lend credence to the tale that Zeb "loved" Shivaji. At maximum, it can be concern/sympathy as she was a Sufi, and perhaps also because Aurangzeb's policies were not liberal at all towards the Marathas.

  24. Radhika,
    The most major reason can be her support to her brother during his rebellion against Aurangzeb. :)

  25. Ayushi,
    A nice post again. And an equally fitting poem. :)

    Sindhu, We do not know the "almost exact circumstances" of those times and don't know how the event took place. The writeup is based on best possible accounts. Even i have a thought why she asked Akeel to be quiet, and what is the "degree" of truth in this fact. :)

  26. Abhay, Yes they killing the show, But which Music Words heard, When Salim +Anar met first time. That was very Vibrated. Touching Heart. Actually, More intelligency, sometimes, stops way, this is happening to our writers. They feeling more confident, which they showing its Right, when this feeling comes. Improvment ways close.
    Many friends withdraw forum. some shifted other serial. Writers needed a reality check, But already very Late.
    i know serial is sinking, but i am seeing.?My energy not shifts then another.

  27. Lovely Post. Another tragic figure from the Mughal family.

    After reading so much about Aurangzeb and his family, i can't help but pity him. A tyrant he was, but such instances invoke sympathy for him. He had to punish his favorite daughter, just because of his ever increasing suspicious nature. He lost a son and a daughter.

    I have always been curious about Aurangzeb's relation with Roshanara. We know she supported Aurangzeb because Dara Shikoh was supported by Jahanara and she hated her sister. How did Aurangzeb feel about it? And did Roshanara's help really matter? Jahanara must have commanded maximum respect in the harem, so the Mughal harem must have supported Dara Shikoh's accession to throne, right? And later Roshanara was made the Padshah Begum for a while before she disgraced herself and eventually died. Like Maryam Makani and Salima Begum's backing helped propel Salim to throne, Did Roshanara's backing for Aurangzeb help him in any way?

    Even in this post, we have talked about Zeb backing her brother, Akbar. Being a part of the harem and under the constant watch of her father, how could Zeb have helped her brother in taking the throne without completely revolting against her father and leaving the palace to join Akbar?

  28. Hi Sav

    Roshanara supported Aurangzeb for one more reason - she was closer to him in age and was closer to him than with her older siblings.

    Aurangzeb was quite grateful for her support, which shows in the power and influence she enjoyed after he became emperor. The biggest help she gave him may have been in forewarning him about the conspiracy of their father and brother in trying to get rid of Aurangzeb.

    Zeb was in secret correspondence with her brother who was very dear to her. She never openly opposed her father. Her secret correspondence was discovered after her brother was caught and her father was enraged by the breach of conduct and the betrayal of trust on her part.

    She was possibly released later because of her innocent and pure nature, though she lived alone in Delhi later. By this time, possibly Aurangzeb had moved to Aurangabad with the rest of his family. But she may have stayed back because she patronized various scholars in their projects out of her own allowance and also had a personal library where she spent most of her time reading and composing verse.

    Sav, I don't know how much this is true but I read about 2 things that happened in 1683, a few years after her imprisonment that may indicate the emperor was no longer angry with her. One was the death of the mother of Aurangzeb's prime minister Ruh ullah Khan. Zeb visited the prime minister's residence to pay condolences on behalf of herself and her father.

    Another occasion, a happy one for a change, was the marriage of her brother Murad Baksh. All the wedding celebrations from the groom's side took place in her palace.

  29. Ayushi, Abhay,

    Somehow I am not able to reconcile her nature with her letting Aqeel die for her honor. This may be a 'romantic tale' that sprang up later around the life of the beautiful and tragic princess. :(

  30. I really loved the poems written by Zeb-un-Nissa. It is very much clear that they are written by a person of great intellect and experience. Beautifully written....

  31. Radhika, Maybee i wrong, But just thought came, Aqeel, if caught then , he will punish, by Aurangjeb, more crual Manner,or Zeb i think,knows, she will not save him, for that Harsh punishment.Honour also disturbs, Zeb, then. So little unconciousness +Fear, Took that decesion,but Aqueel totally disslove in his Love.But which pain he left, that was Alive in Zeb, Heart, or it refelects in Zeb first, Aqeel showed his cowardness.& refuse.So both Love was not so much strong, ready to face coming obstacles. Aueel realised, then Zeb,little unconcious.Actually When in love if One withdarws,
    second needed time, to understand him or her, some More.
    but here Auranjeb, reaction changed whole thing. if he was a Mature father, or Understand More, Aqeel+Zeb, then History will be different.But its tough in if we think, this 21 Era also

  32. @All..
    I will join the discussion soon. Interesting responses. :)

  33. beautiful post abhay. i cried reading 'tis. such a tragic life 4 'tis princess. i sense u hv some surprise 4 us in nxt part. smthng hidden in ur silence. i hope i m ryt abhay.

  34. That's really interesting !! Thanks for Sharing the info Abhay :):)

  35. Thanks Samanika. She was a known poetess of her times. A phenomenal personality. :)

  36. Hi Sav,

    The issue of Zeb and Aurangzeb's punishment will become more clear in the next post. :)

    Yes, Jahanara commanded maximum respect in the harem despite the fact that, it was Roshanara who saved Aurangzeb from the trap of Shah Jahan and Dara. After Shah Jahan's death, Aurangzeb personally brought her back from Agra to Delhi.

    About Roshanara, Radhika has answered your query already. :D
    Hope it helps. We will be having a post on Roshanara too, soon.

  37. Iqra,
    Yes you were right. :)
    Hopefully, you got the answer in the next part of this series. :-P

  38. thanks abhay. i understood it. i was thinking how can zeb let a man die so violently. now it iz clear. after reading part3 i m sure abt her paak saaf daman.

  39. Hi Abhay

    Adding some info about Prince Akbar's rebellion, as mentioned by Jadunath Sarkar in his Anecdotes of Aurangzeb (1917):

    Around December 1678, Aurangzeb openly attacked the Rajputs. The war dragged on. Prince Akbar rebelled in January, 1681, joined the Rajputs and assumed the royal title. But Aurangzeb cunningly sent a false letter sowing distrust of Akbar in the minds of the Rajputs. The prince's army melted away and he fled, leaving all his family and property behind. He reached the Maratha court after a perilous journey under the guidance of the faithful Durgadas (around May, 1681).

    Aurangzeb patched up with Maharana Raj Singh and both sides came to a compromise in June, 1681. But after this, the Rajputs (except the Ameris) stopped supporting the Mughal throne. In fact, the Rathors continued the fight till his death.

  40. Very interesting snippet Radhika.
    Thanks for sharing. :)