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Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Nishan of Sahibatuz Zamani Padshah Begam / Begam Saheb Jahanara with Scan of Original Persian Document


The present post is about an Imperial order given by the daughter of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan / sister of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. I cannot share enough about Mughal Princess Jahanara with you. She simply fascinates me with the amount of hold she had over her father and brother as well as the common people! It is unbelievable that this hugely popular and enormously powerful woman has been so neglected in the annals of history that very few know of her or her importance in the Mughal empire today.

Background: Princess Jahanara


S.A.I. Tirmizi, Edicts from the Mughal Harem, Introduction, pp. 14-21, 28-32.

After the untimely demise of her mother, a barely 18 Jahanara assumed the mantle of the leading lady of the Mughal court as well as the role of the ‘matriarch’ of her family, taking care of her father and siblings. While Shah Jahan bestowed the titles of Sahibatuz Zamani (Mistress of the Age) and Padshah Begam on her, she was commonly called Begam Saheb.

Reference: For the title of Sahibatuz Zamani - Saqi Mustaid Khan, Maasiri Alamgiri, tr. J.N. Sarkar (Kolkata, 1947), p 213. For title of Badshah Begum - Manucci, Storia Do Mogor, tr by William Irvine (London, 1907), II, pg 127

Jahanara was granted:

1.       The jagirs of the villages of Achchol, Farjahara and the sarkars of Bachchol, Safapar, and Doharan. 
Reference: Rekha Mishra, Women in Mughal India (Delhi, 1967), p 64.

2.        The Paragana of Panipat (23 Julus, 1650-51) whose annual revenue was 1 crore dams!
Reference: Muhammad Saleh Kambu, Amal i Saleh ed Ghulam Yazdani III (Kolkata, 1939), p 109.

3.       The port of Surat whose revenue was granted to her for her expenditure on paan!
        Reference: Manucci, Storia Do Mogor, tr by William Irvine (London, 1907), I, pg 65

The diwan of her sarkar was Ishaque Beg Yazdi. He held a mansab of 1000 zat and 200 sawar in 1638-39. In the same year, he was given the title of Haqiqat Khan and appointed as Arzi Mukarrar. In 1681, Sayyid Ashraf was appointed her Miri Saman

Reference: For Arzi Mukarrar - Abdul Hamid Lahori, Badshahnama ed. Kabir al-din Ahmad and Abd al Rahim (Kolkata, 1868), I, part I, pp 104, 142. For Miri Saman - Saqi Mustaid Khan, Maasiri Alamgiri, tr. J.N. Sarkar (Kolkata, 1947), p 129.


Mansabdar literally means "rank-holder". Mansabdars governed the empire and commanded its armies. Mansabdari was basically a Persian concept that was prevalent even during the reign of the early Mughals. Akbar made the system more efficient. Zat referred to the rank held by a mansabdar. Those whose rank was 1000 (hazari) or less were called Amir. Those whose rank was above 1000 were called Amiral Kabir (greater Amir). Those whose rank was above 5000 were even called Amir-al-Umara (Amir of Amirs). Bhagwandas Das was an Amir-al-Umara in Akbar's court. Sawar referred to the number of armed cavalrymen maintained by a Mansabdar.  

Jahanara even presented khilats (honorific awards) to foreign ambassadors. 

Reference: Muhammad Saleh Kambu, Amal i Saleh ed Ghulam Yazdani III (Kolkata, 1939), p 188.

Dutch traders sought exemption from customs at Surat and Broach from her. She rejected this plea but allowed them to make a fixed annual payment of Rs 50,000 in lieu of all dues. She gave them permission to construct a building and repair boats and issued nishans to enable them to recover debts. 

Reference: The English Factory Records (1655-60), ed. W. Foster (Oxford, 1915), pp. 11-12, 15, 73-74.

She also intervened along with Dara Shikoh on behalf of Abdullah Qutb Shah of Golconda to save his kingdom from being annexed by Prince Aurangzeb.   
Reference: Aqil Khan Razi, Waqiati Alamgiri ed. Zafar Hasan (Delhi, 1946), pp. 10-11.

Though she supported Dara Shikoh during the war of succession and dedicated her life to taking care of her imprisoned father, Aurangzeb still treated her as his “aapa” and accorded her utmost dignity and respect till the end. On the occasion of Eid in 1666 AD, he gifted her 1 lakh gold coins and increased her annual allowance by 5 lakhs to Rs 17 lakhs per annum.
Reference: Saqi Mustaid Khan, Maasiri Alamgiri, tr. Sarkar (Kolkata, 1947), p 36.

Due to her enormous influence in her father's court, she was sought after to solve political problems as well as the problems of the common people, such as securing subsistence grants. As a result, there are about 10 nishans issued by her that are known at present!!

Now we come to an early Nishan/order issued by Princess Jahanara in October 1632.

The Nishan of Princess Jahanara

Princess Jahanara used the invocations of Allahu Akbar and Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim during the reigns of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. The exact invocation on this particular nishan is not known to me at present. Similarly, Jahanara's seal generally carried the legend, Uliya i aliya Jahan Ara bint i Shah Jahan, though the seal on this particular nishan is illegible. The legend means "the exalted (among all the exalted ones) Jahan Ara, daughter of Shah Jahan." 

Jahanara continued to issue nishans during the reign of Aurangzeb too, though their scope was more limited.

Just like a hukm, the first 2 lines of a nishan are abbreviated to distinguish it from the parvanchas of ministers wherein all lines are of equal length. A nishan is similar to a farman/hukm, but of lower importance.  

Seal  -->  Illegible
Tughra -->  The nishan of the most exalted cradle of sublimity, Jahan Ara, daughter of His Majesty Shah Jahan Badshah, the valiant, Sahib Qiran I Sani


Only the hukms of Queen Mothers carry unwans. All other hukms and nishans carry tughras.

Be it known to the bold and brave, valorous and valiant, worthy of limitless favors, majesty of eminent nobles, Najabat Khan, honored and glorified by Her Highness’ {Princess Jahanara} sublime favors, that mauza Umrauli has been conferred upon the chaste Shaham Ana as inam by virtue of a royal sanad. It is incumbent upon that worthy of favors and bounties {Najabat Khan} to consider it obligatory to render help and assistance to the people of the above-mentioned lady {Shaham Ana} in all matters and to regard her as one of the dependents and servants of Her Highness {Princess Jahanara} and whenever the shiqdar {Shaham Ana} and her agent may wait upon him in case of straitened circumstances, he should give due attention and help and see that nobody is allowed to perpetuate atrocities and excesses upon her men and the riaya of that mauza. He should take such steps as may promote the prosperity of the riaya of the said mauza and none should be bold to interfere in their affairs. Taking every care in the matter, it should be considered peremptory. Written on 19 Mehr, 5 ilahi / 2 October, 1632 AD.

Original Nishan of Princess Jahanara in Persian

Persian Text of the Nishan of Princess Jahanara

English Translation of Nishan of Princess Jahanara

Reference: S.A.I. Tirmizi, Edicts from the Mughal Harem, Edicts of a Princess, pp. 82-83. 


1.    The original edict is preserved in the Victoria Memorial Museum, Kolkata, A. No. 1896.

2.    The seal is rectangular with a niche each in the middle, on the top and at the bottom.

3.    Sahib Qiran I Sani is a title of Shah Jahan and means “second lord of happy conjunction”.

4.    About Najabat Khan – Shah Jahan gave this title to Mirza Shuja, the 3rd son of Mirza Shahrukh of Badakhshan, who was born in India during the reign of Jahangir. Mirza Shahrukh had fled to Hindustan in 1584 after Badakshan was taken over by the Uzbeks. He joined Akbar's court as a noble. Mirza Shuja was also given a mansab of 2000 and appointed Faujdar of Kol in the 3rd Julus (3rd reigning year) of Shah Jahan. The following year, he was made Faujdar of Suba Multan and later Kangra. He passed away in the 7th reigning year of Aurangzeb.

5.      Each pargana had a shiqdar who was its revenue collector and also maintained law and order there.

6.      A mauza was an administrative district that could contain one or more villages. It was a revenue collection unit within a pargana. (Did you know that in Assam, the head of a mauza was called a mazumdar?)


Jahanara issued this nishan to Najabat Khan to inform him that the mauza of Umrauli had been given as inam to Musammat Shaham Ana by virtue of a royal order. She clearly instructs him to ensure that nobody is allowed to perpetuate atrocities and excesses upon that lady’s men and the inhabitants of that village.” Further, he should help the lady and her people in all possible ways, by considering the lady as one of the servants of Jahanara herself.

The importance attached to Najabat Khan can be seen in the very opening sentence of the nishan where he has been showered with fulsome praise. 

Another point worth pondering is that the mauza was granted to a woman. This indicates that a woman could also hold land / property in those days in her own name. Quite remarkable, isn't it?

Musammat is similar to "plaintiff" / "defendant" in court proceedings today.


From the farmans of Maryam Makani Hamida Banu, Mariam-Uz-Zamani and Jahanara, we can see that the queen mothers, queen consorts and princesses went all out to promote the welfare of the raiyat. There are other farmans of the Mughal ladies that show that these ladies were keen to augment the revenue of the empire by encouraging the cultivation of land lying fallow. 

However the Zamindars usurped the revenue and withheld payment whenever an opportunity presented itself. We saw how Zamindar Suraj Mal usurped the revenues of the jagir of Mudabbir Beg in the pargana of Chaupala, in sarkar Sambhal. { LinK : Farman of Mariam-Uz-Zamani Begum }

Zamindars and jagirdars in general tried to extract as much revenue as possible from the peasants who were sometimes reduced to penury and forced to revolt. Some Zamindars even cheated the empire by not remitting the revenue collected into the Imperial Treasury. 

This is the reason why we see that the farmans are forced to clearly indicate that no one should "perpetuate atrocities on the defendant" or "go against the spirit  of the farman", in the interest of the defendant. Sometimes, multiple farmans had to be issued for the same case, as even the royal orders were ignored at times. For instance, the farman of Hamida Banu was issued as a reminder after no action was taken on the farman of Akbar for granting land to Vithaleshrai of Mathura.  { Link : Farman of Hamida Banu Begum }

Such instances indicate that increasingly, Zamindars and the peasants were cut off from the Mughal governing class and were discontented, especially starting from the later years of Shah Jahan's reign. The revolts gathered momentum during Aurangzeb's rule, resulting in the agrarian crisis that was one of the foremost reasons for the slow collapse of the Mughal empire.  

Reference: S.A.I. Tirmizi, Edicts from the Mughal Harem, Introduction, pp. 35-36.

Last post: When Akbar Rode a Horse to STOP a Forced Sati Practice

This article has been posted under the Miscellaneous section of history_geek's blog.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

When Akbar RODE a Horse to STOP a Forced Sati Practice of Rani Damayenti


In this post i am sharing an incident, which was quite unusual to be done, especially by a monarch, who happened to be the Emperor of Hindustan. This incident pertains to the practice of "Sati" which was stopped by personal intervention of Mughal Emperor Akbar.

In simple terms, Sati is a practice, according to which, a wife committed herself to the funeral pyre of her husband at the latter's death, willingly or unwillingly. This practice is NOT restricted to a single community or a place. Incidents of Sati have been found across Indian subcontinent in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Bengal, Odisha, Coromandel Coast area, Nepal, etc. etc.

In the beginning, i said, this event was unusual as this was a rare case for an Emperor to personally intervene in order to save the life of a lady. First, it was against the well-established customs of those times. Second, the Emperor traveled long on his horse to stop this practice.

Let's start the post.

The lady whom Akbar saved in 1583, from getting immolated in the funeral pyre of her deceased husband was Rani Damyenti. Later, she died a natural death in 1627.
Mother - Rani Jaswant Ji, daughter of Rao Durzan of the principality of Varsingot. She died in 1601.
Father - Mota Raja Udai Singh of Jodhpur(don't confuse him with Rana Udai Singh of Mewar). 
Jagat Gosain(Jodh Bai), who got married to Salim 4 years after this incident, was also his daughter from a different wife. Mota Raja died in 1595.
Issue - She had 2 sons. One of her sons' name was also Udai Singh.

Her husband was the Thakur of Mertha. His name was Jai Mal. He died at Chausa in Bengal, in 1583.

Historian Smith has described this incident as a romantic* adventure, characteristic of "Akbar at his best", which shows that even when he was past 40 he retained the activity and chivalrous spirit of his youth. JaiMal of Deosa was a close cousin of Raja Bhagwan Das of Amer who had been assigned to Imperial Office on an urgent task in the area of Chausa in Bengal. He rode hard to comply with urgent orders, and died near Chausa from the effects of the heat and over-exertion. His widow, a daughter of Udai Singh, did not want to commit herself to the funeral pyre, as was the prevalent "custom". But her son, also named Udai Singh, and some other relatives insisted that, she must burn. Abu'l Fazl records in Akbarnama that - Akbar came to know of this news while he was in his Female Apartments / harem , and it was early morning. Getting the news, at once, he resolved to prevent the sacrifice. He jumped on a horse and rode to the spot, unattended and unescorted by the royal guards, although some of his personal guards galloped after him as soon as they learned of his disappearance. He was in time, and his unexpected arrival stopped the proceedings. At first he was very eager to execute the guilty parties who forced the lady, but on consideration he granted them their lives and merely imprisoned them for a short period.

* Romantic does not means that Akbar was in Love with that widow..! :-P 

This is more about praise and to render a sense of chivalry to this remarkable act at the age past 40. :)

The words from an abridged translation/extract of Akbarnama are as follows -

" In the interior of Hindustan it is the custom, when a husband dies, for his widow willingly and cheer­fully to cast herself into the flames (of the funeral pile), although she may not have lived happily with him. Occasionally love of life holds her back, and then the husband's relations assemble, light the pile, and place her upon it, thinking that they thereby preserve the honour and character of the family. But since the country had come under the rule of his gracious Majesty, inspec­tors had been appointed in every city and district, who were to watch carefully over these two cases, to discriminate between them, and to prevent any woman being forcibly burnt. About this time, Jai Mal, who had been sent with his forces to join the amírs in Bengal, died of sunstroke in the vicinity of Chausa. His wife, the daughter of Mota Raja, was unwilling to burn; but her son Udai Singh, with a party of his bigoted friends, resolved upon the sacrifice. The matter came to the Emperor's knowledge, and his feeling of justice and humanity made him fear that if he sent messengers to stop the proceedings, some delay might occur, so he mounted his horse, and rode with all speed to the place. As the facts were not fully known, some of these men, in their thoughtlessness, were disposed to resist and make disturbances. But when His Majesty arrived, Jagganath and Rai Sal came forward to meet him, and brought the leader of these foolish men to him. He accepted their assurance of repentance, and only placed them in con­finement."

Complete Translation of Akbarnama, gives more details of this incident. Akbarnama, Vol-3, Pg-595, states:

" One of the occurrences was that the grand-daughter of Rao Maldeo obtained a new life. In the wide country of India, on account of truth-choosing, and jealous honour, when the husband dies, his wife, though she have spent her days in distress, gives herself to the fire with an expanded heart and an open brow. And if from wickedness and love of life she refrain from doing this, her husband's relatives assemble and light the flame, whether she be willing or unwilling. They regard this as preserving their honour and reputation. From the time that this ever-vernal country has been kept verdant and fresh by the justice of the world's lord, vigilant and truthful men have been appointed in every city and district in order that the two classes of cases may be continually kept distinct, and that forcible burning may not be permitted.

At this time H.M. had sent Jaimal by relays of horses to the Bengal officers. On account of immoderate expedition, and the excessive heat, the torch of his existence was extinguished in the neighbourhood of Chausa. His wife, the daughter of the Mota Raja Udai Singh, had not the courage to burn herself. Udai Singh, her son and some bold and foolish persons set themselves to work this injustice (to make her burn). It was high dawn when the news came to H.M.'s female apartments. The just sovereign fearing that if he sent others there would be delay, mounted a swift horse and went off to the spot. As the circumstances were not known there was confusion for some time. Foolish talkers, and imaginative simpletons, made up wonderful stories of a fight. The loyal and devoted, and the happy warriors, got agitated and assembled in troops. There was a time of confusion and they set about putting on their armour and making ready for battle. 

The loyal but feeble-minded were at a loss, while the strong and well-disposed galloped off. The two-faced and wicked misunderstood matters and talked unintelligently. The crooked in their ways and the inwardly dark raised a song of triumph. Such had been the rapidity that even the guards had not been able to come up, but some of the personal attendants arrived near the spot. The faction gave up their proceed­ings in presence of the Shahinshah's majesty. When that cavalier of fortune's arena had come near the spot, Jagannath(son of Raja BharMal) and Rai Sal went ahead and seized the ringleader of the ignorant and turbulent ones and brought him to His Majesty. The appreciative sovereign read the writing of repentance on the foreheads of the crew, and in all this ebullition of anger gave them their lives, but imprisoned them. In a short time the prudent prince made use of justice, graciousness, and courage, and brought things into tranquillity. The dust of turbulence was laid and the pean of joy rose high. "

Following points will help you all to understand the above info in a better manner:

1. There is another person named Jai Mal who died in the Battle of Chittor in 1568. Do not confuse him with the JaiMal mentioned in this post.

2. Serving in Bengal was tough. The toughness of the climate and extreme situation of Bengal can be ascertained from the fact that, the Mughal soldiers who served in Bengal were to be given DOUBLE the pay compared to the soldiers serving in REST of the Sultanate.This was an order of Akbar somewhere after 1575, during the time when Shah Mansoor was handling financial affairs. More can be read about that incident here. Click Here -> LINK

3. Abu'l Fazl has not given the details of the place where Akbar travelled to save the concerned lady. It would seem from reading Jarett, II, Pg-288, that he travelled as far as Loni, which is in Ranthambore, in the Sarkar of Revari ; because this was the current residence of that royal family. But, the place itself is not explicitly mentioned in Akbarnama, as we saw above.

4. Ain-i-Akbari, II, Pg-42, Jarett ; states that "Akbar insisted on the principle that no widow should be forced to burn against her will." So, Akbar was against FORCED Sati practice.

5. Abul Fazl tells us that it was Early Morning when Akbar got this news, while he was in his harem.

6. The husband of the lady, JaiMal was a nephew of Raja BharMal. I had mentioned earlier, in my post on Marriage of Akbar and MUZ, that JaiMal was the FIRST person who met Akbar in January 1562, as a representative of Amer Family for negotiations before the marriage. After JaiMal, his father Rupsi met Akbar. And, at last it was Raja Bharmal himself who met Akbar. 

You can read more at this post: 453rd Marriage Anniversary of Akbar-MUZ - Part 2

7. JaiMal, son of Rupsi, had his estate in Deosa, in Jaipur. Rupsi was brother of Raja Bharmal of Amer.
Jai Mal was the cousin of Raja Bhagwan Das, Raja Jagannath Das, Harka Bai(MUZ) , as their fathers were REAL brothers.

So, this was the story where Akbar stopped a forced Sati practice. In medieval ages, when there were NO women or human rights organizations, in those days, such an act by Akbar, itself speaks volumes about the thought process of this remarkable man - whom we still remember. 

There is one more LESSER known incident where Akbar forbade a lady from committing Sati, which i will cover in separate post. It seems, Akbar was "really" concerned about this practice.

Last Post : Farman of Wali Nimat Mariam-Uz-Zamani Begum with Persian Scan

This article has been posted under the Mughals section of history_geek's blog.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Farman of Wali Nimat Mariam-Uz-Zamani Begum with Scan of Original Persian Document

Hi Friends,

This post is about an edict(Imperial Order/Farman) issued by Mariam-Uz-Zamani(MUZ) Begum - one of the most awaited posts on this blog, for which many of you have sent enough blogger form messages and posted many many comments here. Sorry for the delay, but this post is worth it's wait.

Before we start, let me tell the brief contents of this post. The Imperial Order of MUZ is discussed at the end of the post, and before that various terminologies related to Imperial Mughal Farmans have been discussed. This post contains the Original Persian Scan of that Farman, along with some scans from the Indian Historical Records Commission Meeting, 1925 at Lahore ; which describe the title of "Wali Nimat" conferred on Mariam-Uz-Zamani Begum. Let us start now.

We all know that Wali Nimat Mariam-uz-Zamani Begum had the privilege to issue edicts. {See this earlier post, where this was mentioned, along with the same hukm that is discussed in this article --> Link

Today, sharing the details of a hukm or edict issued by this remarkable lady with you. It was fascinating to see how involved she was in such a routine court matter as the embezzlement of the assets of a court employee by a Zamindar. This is an example of how she was involved in resolving the civil disputes among the masses through her edicts.

A hukm is simply an edict issued by a Queen-Mother or a Royal Consort. Similarly, an edict issued by a prince's consort or a princess is known as a nishan.

Parts of a Hukm

Let's first understand what a hukm consists of / looks like.
"Hukm", literally means an order.

1. A hukm has an invocation at the top. You may remember that Akbar replaced the earlier invocation from Babur and Humayun's reigns - Huwal Ghani - with Huwal Akbar and Allahu Akbar. {This link refers to the post where the change of invocation by Akbar was discussed --> Akbar Changes Invocation.} Mariam-uz-Zamani continued to use the last invocation even in the reign of her son.

2. The hukm of a Queen-Mother carries an unwan below the invocation. The hukm of Mariam-uz-Zamani carries the unwan "hukm i Maryam Zamani" (meaning - edict of Maryam Zamani).

3. The hukm is adorned with a beautiful seal, affixed to the right of the unwan. The seal is usually of a peculiar stamp and shape. It usually contains a legend which includes the name and titles of the owner, along with the appellations of her father, husband or son and the year of engraving the seal. The seal on the hukm of Mariam-uz-Zamani resembles a pitcher and carries the legend,

"Wali Nimat Begam walidah i Jahangir Badshah"

This translates to Wali Nimat Begam, mother of Emperor Jahangir.

4. The first 2 lines of a hukm are abbreviated in order to distinguish it from a parvancha of a minister (in which all the lines are of equal length)

Importance of a Hukm

A hukm ranks next only to the farman of an Emperor. The historical value of a hukm cannot be underestimated - for instance, the hukms of Maryam Makani and Mariam-uz-Zamani Begam not only add to our knowledge of history but also prove how the Queen Mothers implemented the religious and agrarian policies of the emperor.

You can read a farman issued by mother of Akbar - Maryam Makani Begum at this link given below. She had confirmed an earlier order of her son Mughal Emperor Akbar in which he had granted a favor to a Brahmin of Mathura. The Original Farman issued by Akbar will be posted soon, till then, here is the link to the Farman of Hamida Bano Begum: Maryam Makani Hamida Banu Begum's Farman

The hukm of Maryam Zamani is important for 2 more reasons:

1. It is the only contemporary document that so clearly identifies Wali Nimat Begam with Maryam Zamani and calls her the mother of Jahangir. She was the eldest daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amber who married her to Akbar at Sambhar near Ajmer in 1562 AD.

References: Abul Fazl, Akbarnama, Vol. II, pg 242; Nizamuddin Ahmad, Tabaqati Akbari II (Kolkata, 1931), pg 155, Abdul Qadir Badayuni, Tarikh-i-Badouni, II, tr. Lowe (Kolkata, 1924), pg. 46.

2. The hukm aims to institute an enquiry into the embezzlement of the revenues and usurpation of the jagir of Mudabbir Beg in the pargana of Chaupala in the sarkar of Sambhal by Suraj Mal Zamindar. It instructs the officer concerned to summon the ryot and after investigating into the matter, he should ensure that all the arrears are paid to Mudabbir Beg and that not a single fulus or jital is appropriated by Suraj Mal.

The Farman/Hukm/Edict of Wali Nimat Mariam-Uz-Zamani Begam

The original hukm is available in the Red Fort Museum of the Archaeological Survey of India, No. G. 51. {The readers who stay in Delhi, can visit and find this Farman preserved there.}


Let's see the hukm without further ado.

-> Invocation: Allah u Akbar (God is great)
{ This was a symbolical motto of Akbar. In 1575-76 AD, Akbar proposed to have this motto inscribed on coins and his seal. See this Link -> Click Here }

-> Seal - Mihrabi {pitcher shaped} 

-> Legend on Seal - Wali Nimat Begam, mother of Nurud Din Jahangir, the king

-> Unwan: the hukm of Maryam Zamani

Here is the Persian text of the hukm:

Original Persian Text of Hukm of Mariam-uz-Zamani

Here is a scan of the original hukm in Persian. The original scan of the hukm in the book from which the following scan was made is itself not clear.

Original Hukm of Mariam-uz-Zamani

And here is the English translation of the hukm, which has also been written below for easy reading and translation by translation tool.

English Translation of Hukm of Marium-uz-Zamani


The English translation of the hukm (as seen in the scan above) reads as:

"    Be it known to the asylum of dignity, perfect in wisdom...chieftainship, worthy of kindness and beneficence, Sayyid...expectant of favour, that whereas Mudabbir Beg, one of the servants and well-wishers of this court, has represented that the revenue authorities have assigned him a jagir in the pargana of Chaupala in sarkar Sambhal in lieu of his pay, but its assets have not been realised by his gumashtas and Suraj Mal, Zamindar, has embezzled and usurped them. (It is hereby ordered) that on learning the contents of the order of Her Majesty {this hukm}, he should summon the (riaya) before him and making enquiry into the matter get all the dues, the present revenue and arrears, paid to the aforesaid person (Mudabbir Beg), and he should not permit Suraj Mal to embezzle and usurp a single fulus or jital. Considering this imperative, he should bring the order to execution and do nothing contrary to it...on the date...the month of Tir of Ilahi year... "


1. Chaupala, modern Moradabad, was included in the sarkar of Sambhal in the suba of Delhi.       Reference: Moradabad District Gazetteer ed. H.R. Nevill, Allahabad, 1911, pg 150

2. Gumashtas: Literally appointee. Connotes an agent, a steward, a confidante, an officer employed by Zamindars to collect rents, by bankers to receive money, by merchants to carry on their affairs in places other than where they reside. Reference: H.H. Wilson, Glossary of Judicial and Revenue Terms of British India (London, 1855), pg 189

3. Zamindar: Literally landholder. Probably coined in India as early as the 14th century. Under the Mughals, the Zamindars were classified into 3 broad categories:
a. Autonomous chieftains ; b. Intermediary Zamindars ; c. Primary Zamindars
Reference: Irfan Habib, The Agrarian System of Mughal India, (Mumbai, 1963), pg 138; S. Nurul Hasan, The Position of the zamindars in the Mughal Empire in the Indian Economic and Social Review I, No. 11, April-June 1964, pp 107-119.

4. Riaya : Plural of raiyat. Literally, "hard at pasture" and connotes a peasant.

5. Fulus: Dams and half dams (adhelas) are called fulus on their inscriptions. A fulus was a copper coin. Reference: Stanley Lane-Poole, Catalogue of Indian Coins in the British Museum - The Mughal Emperors, (London, 1892), pg lxxvi

6. Jital: A very old Indian coin that can be traced back to the early Delhi Sultanat. Under Akbar, jital was equivalent to 1/25 of a dam. The dam was divided only by accountants in their calculations. Reference: Abul Fazl, Ain-i-Akbari I, pg 32; Yule and Burnell, pg 457

7. Tir: The 4th month of the ancient Persian solar calendar, which was introduced by Akbar as Ilahi era. Reference: V.S.Bendrey, Tarikhi Ilahi, (Poone, 1933), pp 3, 15

8. Ilahi year: The Tarikhi Ilahi was founded by Fathullah Shirazi and introduced by Akbar in 1584-85 AD. But it was ordered to be calculated from the year which commenced on 11 March, 1556 AD.
Note: Reference to the introduction of the Ilahi era was made in the post --> Link1. You can read more about Fathullah Shirazi at Link2.

9. The date on the hukm is not legible but it must be during Jahangir's reign.


From the seal and the unwan, we know that Maryam Zamani and Wali Nimat Begam (who is the mother of Jahangir) are one and the same.

Sujan Rai Bhandari, the chronicler of Aurangzeb's reign, mentions that Jahangir was born to the daughter of Raja Bharmal Kachhwaha. Reference: Suraj Rai Bhandari, Khulasatut Tawarikh, Delhi 1918, pg 374.
Note: This earlier post had also mentioned the above quoted reference made to Mariam-uz-Zamani by Sujan Rai Bhandari --> Link.

Abul Fazl writes that Akbar married the daughter of Raja Bharmal and sister of Bhagwan Das at Sambhar. Reference: Abul Fazl, Ain-i-Akbari, I, pg 322
Note: Refer to the post on the marriage anniversary of Akbar and Harka Bai --> Link.

Therefore, we can conclude that Wali Nimat Begam was the name/title given to the daughter of Raja Bhara Mal after her marriage with Akbar and it was probably after the birth of Prince Salim (later Jahangir) that the honorific of Maryam Zamani was conferred on her.

Above facts have been mentioned in the following 3 scans from the Meeting of Indian Historical Records Commission, Lahore, 1925. In this meeting this Farman of Mariam-Uz-Zamani was discussed. A person had purchased this farman, from someone whose identity was not revealed in this meeting.

Courtesy - GOI

Wali Nimat Begum was another title conferred upon Mariam-Uz-Zamani Begum. It means "Gift of God / Saint ".

Farmans were issued by those Ladies who had Leading position in the Imperial Harem

Translation of Farman as published in this Paper

Concluding Remarks:

The following text is from the description of the book, Edicts from the Mughal Harem, by SAI Tirmizi, Deputy Director of Historical Archives, Government of India, 1972. The scan of the same is also given.

Scan of the Description of the Book, Edicts From the Mughal Harem

" Status enjoyed by women is the yardstick to assess the standard of civilization for any age or country. The Indian concept of womanhood is quite exalted but its manifestations have often been distorted. This is particularly true of the women in the Mughal harem. The position of the inmates of the harem needs to be re-examined today when we desire to use woman-power for development. Such efforts at re-examination are required to be backed by historical studies. An attempt has, therefore, been made in this book to focus attention on the hitherto somewhat neglected edicts issued from the Mughal harem. These edicts purport to lift up the veil of mystery that has enveloped the Mughal harem. While the Medieval Chroniclers were loath to write about the inmates of the harem, foreign travellers based their account on hearsay. The present book, therefore, attempts to examine the nature and extent of the influence exerted by queens and princesses. Their influence was confined not only to the court but encompassed different parts of the empire and affected collection of revenue, augmentation of cultivation, promotion of trade, appointments and dismissals of mansabdars, movements of troops and suppression of revolts. "

I am purposely not adding my personal views here because the above lines, and indeed the entire article, speak for themselves about the role of the Mughal ladies not only in the court but in the administration of the empire itself. Please feel free to share your views about the role played by the Mughal women in shaping and directing the progress of the empire as well as on the powers & active role played by Marium-uz-Zamani Begum, as seen from her hukm here.   

Thanks to Abhay for his inputs. 

The article has been posted under the Mughals section of this history BLOG.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

The HISTORY of Bindusara, Dharma and Ashoka - 2

Hi everyone,

In this post, i am sharing some information related to history of Mauryan King Bindusara and his wife - Dharma. It contains incident of their marriage and brief insight into the life of Dharma at the Mauryan Palace, followed by some interesting insights about Ashoka/Asoka.

The format of this post is simple. The Reference text which has been considered in this post is Ashokavadana. I am posting the English translation of that Sanskrit text, along with the scans of Sanskrit pages.

This text clearly mentions that there was NO separation of Ashoka and Dharma, as shown in the TV serial, Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat. Initially, Dharma did not get good treatment in the Mauryan household, but she became a Chief Queen later. More can be read in the text itself.

Latest Post on Asoka:
Emperor Asoka Maurya Killed 99 Brothers to Become King - Fact or Myth ? Why/Did Asoka killed Sushima ?  And some other questions | A Debate

Here we go with the translation.

In the city of Champa, a Brahmin had a fair, good-looking, fortunate daughter. She was the most beautiful girl in the country. The fortune tellers predicted she would marry a king and bear two "jewel-like sons": one would become a "Chakravartin Samrat" & rule over one of the four continents, the other would wander and fulfill his religious vows.

The Brahmin was excited by what the soothsayers said. (The whole world desires good fortune.) He took his daughter to Pataliputra. There, he had her put on all of her jewels, and he offered her in marriage to King Bindusara, declaring her to be an auspicious and praiseworthy celestial maiden. King Bindusara had her introduced into his women apartments. Now the king's concubines/wives were jealous of her. 

"This fair, gracious girl," they thought, "is the most beautiful woman in the country; if the king should ever make love to her, he would no longer pay any attention to us!" They instructed her therefore in the art of a hairdresser, so that the king should dislike her for being from a lowly profession. Soon she became an expert in her work. Indeed, whenever she started to do this, the king [would relax so much that he] would quickly fall asleep. The king was very pleased with her and decided to grant her one wish.

"What would you most desire?" he asked.
"Our union," she answered.

"But you are a barber girl," said the king, ' I am a monarch, a consecrated kshtriya [member of the warrior caste] how can I have relations with you? "

"Your majesty," she replied, "I am not a barber girl but the daughter of a Brahmin; my father gave me to your highness as a wife! "

"Who then taught you the barber's art?" asked the king.

"The ladies in the women's apartments," was her answer.

"Well, Then, you won't do me work of a barber anymore", King Bindusara declared.

Then, Bindusara made her - His Chief Queen. Together they dallied and enjoyed time with each other and made love; she became pregnant and, after a period of 8 or 9 months, gave birth to a son. When the prince's birth festival was being celebrated elaborately, she was asked what his name should be. She replied - "When this baby was born, I became ' without sorrow' (a-soka)," , and so the child was given the name Asoka.

Subsequently, the queen gave birth to a second son, and since he was born "when sorrow had ceased" (vigate a-soka) (in her life), he was given the name Vitasoka.

Ashoka was not good looking and was therefore looked down upon by Bindusara.
{ The footnote says that Bindusara also had sons from other wives. He had the horoscopes of all these princes drawn up by astrologers including the religious mendicant - Pingalavatsa. }

One day, Bindusara decided to test his sons so as to determine which one would best be able to rule after his death. He invited Pingalavatsa to test his sons in this regard. Pingalavatsa said, "O King, please take the princes to the golden palace for the test." The king accordingly took the princes to the golden palace. But, Ashoka stood there, discussing about the princes for a while.

Pingalavatsa said to him, "Child, the king has gone to the golden palace to test the princes. You also go there."

Ashoka said, "The king abhors me and doesn't even look in my direction. How can I go there?"

Pingalavatsa said, "Even then, you should go."

{ Guys, the following sentence below, gave two meanings - }
Ashoka replied, "Then, I will take your leave." (<- This is what the textnote says, though the actual translation means - "I will throw away food". )

Then Ashoka went to Pataliputra. Radhagupta was the son of the Prime Minister (Agramatya). He asked Ashoka where he was going. Ashoka answered, "The king is testing the princes in the golden palace. (I am going there.)" 

Radhagupta asked him to go there on an old royal elephant. Ashoka mounted the old elephant and went to the golden palace where there was something going on between the princes to send something away from the earth. (Couldn't get the meaning of "nishsad").

Then the princes ate a hearty meal. Ashoka had boiled rice mixed with curd in an earthen vessel / pot. { Textnote says he quenched his thirst with water but I couldn't find this in the text. }

King Bindusara said avidly to Pingalavatsa, "O Teacher, please test the princes. Who will (be able to ) lead my kingdom after me. "

The religious mendicant, Pingalavatsa, looked at the king and got worried. He knew that Ashoka would be the king. But he was not approved of by the king. If he (Pingalavatsa) said that Ashoka would be the king then he would not survive. {So he thought of a way out.  This line is not in text, but in notes.} 

He said to the king, "I cannot tell his name but I can tell you his nature. He who avails himself of the best things will be the king."

Each prince thought he would be the chosen one; One because (he thought) his seat (asan) was the best. 

{From here, my translation is different from what was given in textnotes, those who know Sanskrit can read the scan to understand better }

Ashoka is thinking deeply that the earth is his seat and he is going to be the king.
After an elaborate meal and drink, the princes returned to Pataliputra.

Then Ashoka asked, "But, who will be the king?" Ashoka said, "Without (making) any distinction, tell me who will be the king? You said that the one whose mount or seat is the best and who eats and drinks the best, will be the king. Like, see, I am going to be the king. My mount is the shoulders of an elephant, the earth is my seat, I eat boiled rice mixed with curd from an earthen vessel, and drink water."

Ashoka's mother began to enjoy Pingalavatsa's prediction that Ashoka would be the king. Then it was said by her, "O, Teacher, which of the 2 boys did you tell would be the king to King Bindusara?" 

(He) said, "Ashoka". Then it was said to her, "But, Never show any urgency to ask the king (this). " {Probably, this means that she should not tell the king about the prophecy of Ashoka becoming the king.}

This pertains to the death of Dharma. She died in 284 BC, when the first wife of Ashoka - who was named Devi was pregnant. Ashoka's brother Sushima had sent some henchmen to eliminate the pregnant Devi, but it was Dharma who became the victim.

Other History Posts under Ashoka Maurya section:

1. Emperor Ashoka Maurya - Introduction to HIM and HIS Family

2. Chanakya's Novel Method to TEST Character of Ministers

3. Emperor Asoka Maurya Killed 99 Brothers to Become King - Fact or Myth ? Why/Did Asoka killed Sushima ?  And some other questions | A Debate

4. What is the BASIS of GREATness ? | From Akbar to Ashoka to Alexander & Maharana Pratap

The article has been posted under the Ashoka Maurya section of this history BLOG.

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