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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

"My name is Zeb-un-Nissa - I am the glory of womankind" | Zeb-un-Nissa - Part-3

This post is about a daughter of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, who was a Sufi at heart. Sharing her journey with all of you. This was a 3-series article. This is the final Part-3 of the same. 

Links of previous Parts.
Part-1 > I will NOT lift my Veil
Part-2 > Supplications nor Gold nor Force can Win Me

Continuing from Part-2 ~~~

In the last part, we saw the story of Zeb-un-Nissa and her lover - Aqeel Khan. According to it, the lover died because of Zeb-un-Nissa's honor. Though, as per the available Mughal documents(called Akhbarat), Aqeel Khan "lived for long". But, this clause "lived for long" is a bit confusing. Aurangzeb went to Lahore with his family in 1662. But, Zeb-un-Nissa was put into prison in 1681-82. Now, as per that tradition, Aqeel Khan came to Delhi "later", where he met his end. Could it be possible that, he "lived for long"after 1662(till 1681-82?) and came to Delhi "later" around 1682.?. The tale is a bit confused. 

Two contradicting thoughts come to my mind :

1. It does not appears to be the nature of Zeb-un-Nissa that she will allow some one to die for her sake. We have seen in Part-1 post{Link} that, Aurangzeb had given her the freedom to choose a groom, and she even rejected the Prince of Persia, who came from Iran.!!

2. But, from the poems of Zeb-un-Nissa we get a feeling of the tragic loss of a beloved. This makes one think, if she really loved some one whom she lost.?

" LIFE passes by, a caravan of shadows,
Leaving no track or voice upon its way;
Only the torch of beauty, where it flashes,
Spreads in the world disaster and dismay. "

" WHERE is the kindred soul that will join me in singing, like David,
Psalms to be borne by the wind up to the threshold of heaven?
All too cold are our sighs; they flutter helplessly earthward
When they should rise like fire, like flame that ascends to the sky.
Day after day goes down into night, and the vision of union
Comes like a dream in the night, doomed to be broken by dawn.
Oh to be free from the weeks and days and their weary succession,
Free as the wind to pass into the courts of the Friend. "

Zeb-un-Nissa was deeply religious, but she was a Sufi, and did not share her father’s cold and narrow orthodoxy. One day she was walking in the garden, and, moved by the beauty of the world around her, exclaimed, “Four things are necessary to make me happy—wine and flowers and a running stream and the face of the beloved.” This was a couplet, which she was to write. Again and again she recited the couplet; suddenly she came upon Aurangzeb, on a marble platform under a tree close by, wrapt in meditation. She was seized with fear, thinking he might have heard her profane words; but, as if she had not noticed him, she went on chanting as before, but with the second line changed, “Four things are necessary for happiness—prayers and fasting and tears and repentance!”

She passed away on 26th May or 6th June 1702, after seven days’ illness. 
Her place of burial is a bit disputed.
There are 2 possibilities given. 

Some say that she was buried in her garden at Nawakot, near Lahore, according to the instructions she left. The tomb is desolate now, although once it was made of fine marbles, and had over its dome a pinnacle of gold; it was ruined in the troubled times of the dissolution of the Mughal Empire. The great gate still stands, large enough for an elephant with a howdah to enter, and within the enclosure is a tower with four minarets, roofed with turquoise and straw-yellow tiles. But the garden that was in its time very splendid, being held second only to that of the Shalimar of Shah Jahan, has dis­appeared; and the walls rise up now from the waving fields of grain. This may be the tomb of her old instructress Miyabai.


It is said she laid this garden in Lahore, though some sources dispute this claim. This garden, in Lahore, was called the Chauburgi, or four-towered, can still be traced by portions of the walls and gates remaining. Three of the turrets over the archway still stand, ornamented with tiles in patterns of cypress-trees and growing flowers, and the gateways have inscriptions in Arabic and Persian. One of these inscriptions tells that she presented the garden to her old instructress Miyabai. But the issue is that, this tomb bears an inscription which mentions the date of commission as 1646, when Zeb was only 7-8 years old..!! It is possible she might have renovated this garden later, but not constructed it.

This one is MORE certain, and i believe this point. Till her death she was imprisoned in the prison of Salimgarh Fort in Old Delhi. After her death, she was buried in the garden of Thirty Thousand Trees near Kabuli Gate in Old Delhi. She was later transferred to the Mausoleum of her ancestor Akbar in Sikandra, when the British authorities destroyed this place in Delhi to make way for a railway station.

Her Writings

Thirty-five years after her death, what could be found of her scattered writings were collected. It contained 421 ghazals and more variety of literary writings. 

Her writings share the characteristics of other Sufi poetry - "the worship of God under the form of the Beautiful Beloved, who is adorable but tyrannical, who reduces the lover to abject despair, but at last bestows on him a gleam of hope when he is at the point of death".

She writes >
The Beloved is the Hunter of the Soul, chasing it like a deer through the jungle of world:-
I have no peace, the quarry I, a Hunter chases me,
It is Thy memory;
I turn to flee, but fall; for over me he casts his snare,
Thy perfumed hair.
Who can escape Thy prison? no mortal heart is free
From dreams of Thee.

The lover is the madman, who for his love is scorned and mocked by the unsympathetic world. The personified Power of Evil, the Enemy, lurks at the devotee’s elbow, ready to distract him from the contemplation of God.

As a poet, she was evidently acquainted, not only with the theories of Sufism, but with the prac­tices of the fakirs as well. The assembly of the devout, as in the Dargah at Ajmer today: how they greet the morning with floods of tears and deep sighs, how they beat their hearts of stone till the sparks of divine love fly out from them. 

The hatchet to strike the flinty heart is the symbol of the Sufi poet: one sees it in the portraits of Hafiz and others(for example - Rumi, with the exception of Rumi, I know none other who gets into the realm of words and possesses it from within, but i do like Zeb's poetry now). There is also the scoffing at the orthodox who meet within the mosque, and the glorification of the more advanced soul to whom all the uni­verse is the temple of God, nay even God himself —Where I make my prayer—at that place is the Kiblah.”

But along with the above, the poems of Zeb-un-Nissa, in addition to what they share with other Sufi poetry, have a special Indian flavour of their own. She inherited the Akbar tradition of the unification of religions, and knew not only Islam, but Hin­duism and Zoroastrianism also. Her special triumph consists in that she weaves together the religious traditions and harmonizes them with Sufi practices. 

I list the following as a proof, in what i mentioned above. 
Please try to read her admiration of different religions.
This is what "A Sufi" really writes like. See Below.

In some of her poems she hails the sun as the symbol of deity.

Con­stantly she speaks of the mosque and the temple together or antithetically - saying that God is equally in both, or too great to be worshiped in either. She writes:-

No Muslim I,
But an idolater,
I bow before the image of my Love,
And worship her:

No Brahman I,
My sacred thread
I cast away, for round my neck I wear
Her plaited hair instead.

Sometimes she even combines the Hindu and Muslim idea. :
In the mosque I seek my "idol-shrine".
On the Day of Judgment(Qayamat) we should have had much difficulty in proving that we were true believers, had we not brought with us "our beloved Kafir idol" as a witness.

The glorification or adoration of the pir, or spiritual teacher, is also shown in her poems. In her poems, he is the intermediary between God and man, and is sometimes symbolized as the Morning Breeze, bringing from the enclosed garden the fragrance to those, less privileged, who can only stand without the gate.

She has the immortality she perhaps would have desired. 
In one of her verses she says: - "I am the daughter of a King, but I have taken the path of renunciation, and this is my glory, as my name Zeb-un-Nissa, being interpreted, means that I am the glory of womankind."

How hard to read, O Soul,
The riddle of life here and life beyond !
As hard as in the pearl to pierce a hole
Without the needle-point of diamond.

Chide not that 'mongst the flowers
The bulbul doth ecstatically sing;
His passion, yea and his delight, are ours,
Along the garden paths meandering.

We, by our pain made brave.
Seek not despair nor hope ; neither outlast
Their little day. We take but what Fate gave.
Not as Zuleikha, brooding o'er the past.

Careless ones, in vain
The treasure of your life has passed away.
Heedless that nothing of your years remain,
You talk like children of another day.

How vain the tears you weep !
Your sorrow fruitless, your remorse too late ;
The threshold with your lashes wherefore sweep,
When, Makhfi, see, the shrine is desolate ?
--- Zeb-un-Nissa / Makhfi

To me, she appears a champion of "Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb" of Dilli-Awadh-Lucknow-Ayodhya-Banaras-Allahabad , as she blends Islam & Hinduism with flawless innocence in her writings - one whom i can call a Sufi at heart. {Sufism-Finding God through Love}

Her name was "Zeb-un-Nissa -  The Glory of Womankind" .

This article has been posted under the Miscellaneous topics section.

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  1. Abhay

    Thank you for the last part of the trilogy on Zeb-un-Nissa. :)) It has been a beautiful journey of discovery of an extraordinary sufi-princess, who would otherwise have remained 'makhfi' to many of us.

    May this innocent soul rest in peace wherever she is. I cannot believe that she could suffer so much without losing her equilibrium but chose to release her grief through poetry.

    Why her father chose to punish her so severely and for so long and how he could watch his favorite child wither away will always remain a mystery. But it's sad that her siblings and friends also stayed away, without ever thinking what loneliness could do to her. The brother for whom she suffered so much perhaps, did he ever dare to ask her how she was? This question has no known answer.

  2. Why are so many Mughal women missing from the official chronicles? Was it just a matter of convenience for the chroniclers to record the major events that happened in court / battlefield and ignore the rest? Did they feel women were insignificant and didn't need to be covered except as also-beens when kings / princes got married / had kids etc.? Was it a misplaced sense of "respect" for women that made the royalty / chroniclers keep them under wraps?

    The sense of trivializing women's history and their place in history extends even to historians and researchers who do not look beyond the official court chronicles and tend to "look down " upon writings that do record the events surrounding the womenfolk, such as Gulbadan Begum's memoirs.

    Lastly, we the people also hanker to know more about the emperors and their achievements and dismiss the women as nothing more than beautiful damsels who were fortunate enough to be loved and pampered by powerful emperors of the land and who occasionally wrote verse.

    How much importance is given to the writings of Salima Sultan, Jahanara and other women writers / poets of the Mughal empire? How much do we know about the paintings of women artists like Sahifa Banu? How much do we know about the role played by women in active politics and the administration of the empire, beyond a Nur Jahan and beyond a few farmans?

    This trilogy on Zeb-un-Nisa is a wonderful step in discovering at least one of the Mughal women literally hidden behind the purdah of bias. Looking forward to discovering some others.

  3. Looking beyond Zeb's tragic life, I can only see an immense love for God and humanity in her and a desire to rise above the narrow confines of individual faiths. Many people feel women cannot reach God because they are perpetually engrossed in worldly duties. Many more people feel that only a particular religion can lead to God. Zeb proved all these people wrong and showed through her verse how the Gods of various faiths were the same and we could either pray to any of them or choose to focus on the Supreme Being instead of binding ourselves to one of His manifestations.

    How far she must have progressed down the path to enlightenment to be able to think so deeply about religions and the means to reach God!

    Yes, Zeb is and will be immortal always. I don't want to remember her as a grieving soul. To me, she will always epitomize purity and innocence of soul, her tremendous faith in and love for God to the extent that she perhaps chose to show her face only to Him, and her mesmerizing poetry that will continue to haunt future generations.

    Thankfully, at least her poetry has been preserved. I couldn't find any of the verse of any other Mughal lady.

  4. mashallah..kya post hain abhay..dil nikal kar rakh dia hain is post mein. how do u knw so much abt sufi mystics? i became nostalgic reading tat ganga jamuni analogy. tears rolled down reading 'tis writeup. superb one abhay. looking 4 mor 4rm radhika n u. u took away my breadth in 'tis post. u seem 2 b gr8 fan of sufis. young boys dese days dont read hafiz n rumi.

  5. so true radhika. how i wish we had mor women writing mughal chronicles lyk gulbadan begam. humayun nama gives so many details whr women participated directly in imp decision making. dey were part of many decisions. r history iz dominated by such sources which discredit womens role. internet adds to problm. ppl think women did not do ny gud in medieval history. tat iz wrong. women were involved in many realms. so glad to b a member of 'tis blog. amazing nd well written fresh posts wid new perspectives and urge to xplore more.

  6. Thank you, Abhay for bringing to light, Zeb-un-nissa's beautiful poetry.

    She was a 'true' Sufi, pure in heart, and in her love for the Almighty. Her writings reflect her sorrow and despair. Her poems also reflect her tolerance towards other faiths and an honest acceptance of their values. She did complete justice to her name that translates into 'Glory of womankind".

    It is sad that this lovely person lived a lonely life and died a lonelier death.

    I am still trying to understand the psychology of the tyrannical father of hers, who unhesitatingly imprisoned his 'favorite' child. He has redefined the 'parent-child' relationship.

  7. Lovely post Abhay!
    Thanks for bringing to life another stellar Mughal lady. So much talent. Never knew about her before these posts. Mughal princesses have endured and survived the harshness of history because of their intelligence and talent. The chronicles don't care about them much or mention their achievements. Ironically, almost every Mughal emperor had a favourite daughter still such minimal mention of them in official documents.

  8. You are right, Iqra. :) Abhay has outdone himself in this series of articles on Zeb. And you will be surprised by his knowledge of Rumi. In fact, I didn't know about Rumi till I met him.

  9. Ya, Iqra, I am just discovering just how active those veiled women were and how much they were at par with the men.

    There is seemingly an incident when Babur's sister, Khanzada Begum read the khutbah - a decree proclaiming kingship - in favor of Humayun, as decided by Babur himself, when his step-brothers were fighting among themselves and each wanted to become the emperor. This shows how important women were considered if an elderly woman of the family could decide who the real king was and her word was regarded as final and binding.

  10. Thank u Abhay,fr this informative triology. But fr this blog we wud not hv known this extraordinary poetess! While reading her poetry, I was sad as well as astonished at the same time. How easily n simple terms she has expressed thought full of depth!
    How I wish she was born to Akbar rather than Aurangzeb! History-geek, did she recieve any title during her golden period with her father?
    Poets r generally sensitive persons. So i don't believe in the story of her sacrificing Aqeel's life fr her honor But the words 'how vain your remorse too late' r really mystic. What remorse she might be referring to?
    Anyway, I feel there is mystic aura around all these Mughal women, Jahanara, Zeb .n who knows there may be many more we may not be aware of. Thank u history-geek, fr making us aware !:).

  11. You're welcome Geeta. :)
    I have not come across any title given to her during the reign of Aurangzeb. Though, her sister Zinat-un-Nissa Begum was the Padshah Begum, after death of Jahanara Begum. :)
    You can check this link:
    Yes, i also do not believe the story that Zeb-un-Nissa let someone die in such a violent manner. It is not her nature. But i am also in a fix, when i read her poetry which depicts loss of someone in her life.

  12. Radhika,

    Her brother was on a run after the rebellion against Aurangzeb. He fled to the Marathas, and later to Iran. He remained out of Mughal territories only. :(

    His life was also quite miserable -

    1. After he fled, one of his sons who was barely 3 years old was captured(?) and put under arrest.

    2. He left another infant son under the care of Rajputs of Jodhpur, on whose loyalty he relied a lot. Till the age of approx. 18 he remained in Jodhpur only under their protection. :)

  13. She may have loved and lost someone in the sense that they got separated. It may not necessarily indicate that she let someone die. My personal viewpoint.

  14. Thanks for the info :)

  15. Ya, Radhika, the position these Mughal Begums enjoyed is enviable. I feel some wives of modern age also don't hv this privilage !

  16. Thanks Abhay the cruelty of the Mughal emperors who did not let alone their own daughters ,sons or parents the nearest of their kith and kin.
    Power corrupts absolute powers makes them madmen and the whims and fancies of them that they want their children to live as they dictate.. A great poet lost in the realm of time she belonged to the 1st family and could have been shone better a great Sufi poetess lost . As gererations passed by they became cruel and crueler thus destroying their own clan what is left over of the dynasty which had Akbar the great who had a vision of the future.

  17. I agree. Also remorse cud be fr her own unwise act of not destroying her letters of support to her brother. Or may be some other incident which proved to be costly .OMG! history- geek, your Shahzadi's hv thrown open qstns fr generations to seek answers.:)
    If Aqeel did not die of fire n lived longer history-geek, how did he die later?

  18. Wow , Abhay ... Thanks a lot this post , though 3 parts this princess has made a special place in our hearts !!! Especially , her poetry is something so painful to read has she has lost her beloved :( but the very fact that she remained attached to the poetry , her passion itself portrays her attitude !!! kudos to the fact , that u hav made a most on such a fascinating princess :):):)

  19. Geeta,

    There are many versions, like Abhay said. :) One version is that he was burnt in the cauldron and another version says he died of natural causes.

  20. very true sav. i wanted 2 know mor about aram banu bt unable. my knowledge on her iz 4rm 'tis blog only tat she was butterfly of harem. contrary 2 popular opinion about harem, dese women were hidden administrators.

  21. u r ryt radhika. i lyk his outlook 4 understanding all religions. tatz y i love reading his posts. 4 me dey r very lovely.

  22. Radhika, which ques's you asking, Very true.& very Deep, Meaning, But In reality Mostely, withdraw this staze, or save Own, Same happened in Zeb Case.First, Others Not thinks, things, acc to Which person, who is suffering?
    Second, acc to them, suppose, they said to Zeb, Leave this way, settle down,
    other Way, its meaning less for Zeb, Because, Zeb, attaching point, or consoling point both have Huge difference.Some love , core , of The DEEP Heart, Many ex, Zeb Love was Deep.But some strongness needed that time.
    or Some Love, Simple style.
    But this changes into Zeb whole, we can see her Poems.some people thinks,
    Punishment is the best way, some cause of fear, other reasons accepts in life, which they not want.But Zeb spended, whole life Lonaliness. This lonaliness changed, whole Zeb life.

  23. Abhay, Thanks for this Post, So This was the story of, Zeb, Yes she lived Very painful life, Many ex,s More, Some people lived, Very painful life, in , One;s Birth, Zeb is One ex.
    After reading, second Part, i discussed, My friend, about Aqeel,She told me, Some verson says, That time some Pot Made, that way, Space, Creats in Pots, if necessary, some can Ran Away, So some says, Aqeel Ran away, But zeb, not knows, about this.some says, after, running, he not came back,for meet, Zeb, This Incidence totally changed, Zeb life.(I heard this first time, not know this true or not )

    But, Internally Broken Girl,Again, Internally Broked, by Own, Close Realtives, Main Own Father.

  24. Abhay After reading, Zeb,Poems, Growth in Poems Cleary Shown.

    Beloved is the Hunter of the Soul.True Lines, refelecting. Someone asked, How Find A GOD. very tough for me, Fasting, Mediation, Tapasya,.Etc.He very disappointed, it means, i can't find a God. Ans was, Love Someone. Love will reach you Near God.

    Meera singing & dancing, through, achieved God. Kabir, was julaha, but he, discovered, in inner God.

    Someone felt Happy, oh this is a very simple way,He started, Love Her daughter, But daughter, fell in love, oppisite caste, Father, Very angery.He again went,,My daughter not listens me, so, i can't love her , without Love, i will not reach near God. Ans was, you not accepting your daughter Love, or you Own accepting, God will accept your Love.So this line, changed, the Person soul.

    Beloved, also knocks Our Heart, or this way soul wakes Up. But in this travelling, conflicts washe.After reading, Zeb poems, Zeb reached where, Where No religion,Boundry, No , conservative thoughts. when person Rise -up these thoughts,Then, When she or he, writes or speaks,Love or transperency we can feel, that person character.

    Zeb is one character, Whose Heart, was Pure or she Reached Sufiiest, that Point, when LOVE, spreads, for all Humanity.But Understand these type of personalites, we Own have to Broad.

    For Zeb, this song;

    rahe naa rahe ham, mahakaa karege
    ban ke kali, ban ke sabaa, baage vafaa me

    mausam koi ho is chaman me
    rag banake rahege in fizaa me
    chaahat ki khushabu, yun hi zulfo
    se udegi, khizaayo yaa bahaare
    yunhi jhumate, yuhin jhumate aur
    khilate rahege, ban ke kali ban ke sabaa baage vafaa me
    rahe naa rahe ham

    khoye ham aise kyaa hai milanaa
    kyaa bichhadanaa nahi hai, yaad hamako
    guche me dil ke jab se aaye
    sirf dil ki zami hai, yaad hamako
    isi sarazami, isi sarazami pe
    ham to rahege, ban ke kali ban ke sabaa baage vafaa me
    rahe naa rahe ham

    jab ham na hoge tab hamaari
    khaak pe tum rukoge chalate chalate
    ashko se bhigi chaadani me
    ik sadaa si sunoge chalate chalate
    vahi pe kahi, vahi pe kahi ham
    tumase milege, ban ke kali ban ke sabaa baage vafaa me

    rahe naa rahe ham, mahakaa karege

  25. Ayushi,
    Both your posts are amazing, and very insightful, especially the poems. :)
    Along with that , i liked your mention abut Sant Kabir Das and his being a iron-smith, still he possessed that deep understanding of inner humanistic mystic feelings. This post reflects you are as much enthusiastic about Sufis as you are about Bhakti Sants. :)

  26. Suganya,
    I liked her poetry a lot, and i am sure had it been in original language(without translation) it would have been more beautiful. :)

  27. Well said Sunram. Later rulers trigerred the self destruction mode of their own dynasty, ignoring the tradition of co-existence and sulh-i-kul, well developed by their ancestor Akbar towards the end of his reign.
    Yes, even i too feel for this princess who proves to be a wonderful poetess.

  28. Very well said Charu. Like you, i also have high thoughts about this lady, and about Aurangzeb, i am also quite confused. A father imprisoning his children and grandchildren in too much. He should have taken other means but he ran his government strictly according to the "book".

  29. Well said Sav. I completely agree with you. These ladies, despite being enormously talented, normally wrote under a pen name. Even Salima Begum used to write under the pen name of Makhfi. Mughal Harem was a fascinating place in many regards. A lot of talent existed there. :)

  30. Abhay, Kabir was not Iron-Smith, He was Weaver, Doing is weaving, He found, God., But his Devotion in weaving, was So Good, , When he works, his energy focused, Only own work,This Energy changed After, In love for God, but he not stopped his Work.We can see, in Poetery, Growth. Same Meera, Love for Krishna, Dissolved her Totally, But when she Found Krishna, Her words were, now i can see Every One in Krishna. Zeb poem's which you Last wrote, Same feeling Coming, But her Journey Start, When she fell in Love, But this LOVE totally change Her, Last, or she became Sufi. My Ment was, Maybee Way different, Many ex, More, But destnation is same.& After reaching destination, These type of personalites, Love Everyone, because then Love, Flows for Everyone. Because Everybody is Equal , from there Vision.But Who not understands, they try to obstacle, or damage their way

  31. Ayushi,
    Thanks for pointing out. I wrote ironsmith after reading the word "julaha" in your last poet. Yes, Kabir is fondly remembered as the weaver poet. :)
    Zeb's life makes me think that there was something , some event which transformed her completely. It can be love, as she writes quite painful poetry. By the way, all your posts render a very deep meaning, and i have to read it more than once to get into the actual realm of it.:)

  32. Abhay, So my Posts Do,,Lot of Brain excercise, You Lol,,Actually Some posts direct touch soul, Zeb Post, contains very -Deep meaning.
    Yes Sure some thing Happened in her Life, which becameTURNING POINT of Zeb Life

    Beloved is the Hunter of Soul, Cleary shows, She is in Love, But Some reason, Love Not got, So, this incidence changing her internally.

    in her Poem she is saying, i bow before the LOVE, because this LOVE Met her to God,Maybee Aqeel point, Changed her a Lot or Leaved Deep effect to Her, First she fell in LOVE Simple, But when this LOVE Met her Extreem power of God, Where, Less People Reach, sure she will surprise,
    so again her Good Nature, Obliging her, or she is Bowing before LOVE

    Nor I muslim, Nor;;;;;;;;;;, this world can only who write, who reached, extreem level, of , LOVE,
    Who cross every Conservative Boundery, Relgion, Castisim, Etc, Etc.

  33. Thank you Abhay.
    This post of yours in three parts happens to be my second favorite, the first one being the one on MUZ.
    It is hard to digest that a harsh,control freak kind of personality like Aurangzeb, sired a gentle, progressive thinking, lovable sufi-princess Zeb-un-nissa.

  34. YEah , But sadly it always happens in all the translations ... So Many languages as their own Grammer n Sweetness , that cant be copied to other one as their real one :(:(

  35. Radhika,

    Mughal ladies wrote under the name of "Makhfi". So, some sources claim that there is a possibility, some of the verses attributed to Zeb-un-Nissa are of someone else also. BUT, the characteristic Sufi flavor which is found in the poems of Zeb can not be thought to be present in the writings of any other lady, because we do not know any other lady being influenced by Sufism "so much"(except Jahanara but she did not write such verses).

    This post made me remember some lines written by a women Sufi saint of Kashmir. Hindus called her Lalla Ded and Muslims called her Lalla Arifa. >> "A 1000 times i asked my Guru - The name of the one who is known by nothing; Tired and exhausted was i, asking time and again when out of nothing emerged something, bewildering and great!"

  36. Abhay

    Sorry to differ about one point. But it was mostly during Akbar's reign that it became extremely difficult for princesses to get married. The reasons may have been anything. But the lives of these women was sacrificed at the altar of the throne. :(

  37. Abhay

    You are right - most people do feel that the verse could not have been written by anyone but Zeb. :)

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful poetry of Lalla Arifa. :)

  38. The present discussion is wide-ranging and many beautiful insights have been shared by everyone. :)

    Yet, I find it strange that while it was questioned how Zeb could let Aqeel die, Aqeel's cowardice in running away from marriage was simply accepted by all. It must have taken Zeb so much to get to the point where she was ready to marry this person but he ditched her badly. And yet had the temerity to visit her secretly. If he really repented, he should have approached Aurangzeb and asked for her hand in marriage openly.

    Zeb was failed by many she trusted in her life.

    Sometimes I think that it was better that she lost Aqeel - she only had to live with what if. But a sensitive soul like her may have been even more troubled if she had married a man who wouldn't have been half as courageous and gracious under terrifying circumstances as she was.

  39. Was Zeb grieving for a lost love?

    It wasn't perhaps in the way we think. She may have lost the man she loved - and I seriously do not believe that she was responsible for his death because she simply wasn't that kind of a person who would even let her enemy die and also because the same story is given for Jahanara too. But I feel she may be grieving that she fell in love with a man who didn't have the courage to seek her hand publicly.

  40. Last night, I read a story of a young girl, who was much loved by her father, so much so that he killed her husband and tried to take her home when he thought she wasn't happy with her husband. But when faced with danger, he didn't think twice before throwing her overboard into the icy seas and chopping off her fingers when she tried to hold on to the boat to save her life.

    This is an Inuit myth from Canada and you can read it here:

    Sedna was the name of the girl, who went on to become the ocean goddess of all sea creatures.

    The point is that women are considered expendable and the first to be sacrificed. All love for them, from fathers, brothers, husbands, friends is always subject to the needs of those people and how much women conform to social diktats and are useful / convenient to he men around them.

  41. Yes Radhika I too read that it was during Akbar's regime that he was not interested in princesses getting married as probably their was no one who could match them in opulence status and other qualities and even may be some bad marriages or betrothals took place which may have put him off but he is the one to have started this tradition as per one book I read but aleast he did not kill or maim his sons or daughters

  42. I had expected some one to raise this point, because i too did not like the manner in which Aqeel left Zeb(fact or fiction), as that did show his cowardice. Thanks for raising the point.

  43. A tragic & moving story.
    Radhika, about the last point, I would make an observation. There are all kind of people in this world. Some do believe in equality and freedom. Not all are of same kind. :)

    Thanks for sharing this story. It was totally new to me. :)

  44. radhika - i m with u on 'tis. in last part 2 post comments i asked abhay n he 2 denied any such possibility. zeb can not let a person die like tat.

  45. Abhay

    Agree - not all are the same, thankfully, which is what makes life beautiful and worth living :)