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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Farman of Mughal Emperor Akbar & Jatipura Goverdhan Temple : Janmashtmi Special | With Pictures of the old Jatipura temple on Goverdhan Hill


Before i begin with this post, let me convey my best wishes on the festival of Shri Krishna Janmashtami to all of you. For foreign readers, especially the ones from Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia and Middle East, it is important to know at least, in brief, about the meaning of this festival - in order to understand the importance of this post.

Shri Krishna Janmashtami: 

According to Hindu Mythology, this festival marks the celebration of the birth of Lord Krishna. Krishna was the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu and appeared to destroy evil forces that were troubling the people on earth. The story of his birth and his childhood antics and extraordinary heroism is highly engaging. You can read more about it on various websites and in books.   

Birth of Lord Krishna : Painting from the Royal House of Mewar, 1710

Shri Krishna was born to Princess Devaki and her husband Vasudev in a prison cell in the palace of his uncle and the King of Mathura, Kansa, at midnight. Why was a prince born in a prison cell? Because there was a divine proclamation that the eighth child of Devaki would cause the death of his uncle Kansa. This terrified Kansa so much that he imprisoned his beloved and newly married sister and her husband and killed their offspring at birth. However, as per divine suggestion, Vasudev, unknown to anyone, exchanged his seventh and eighth children with the children of his friend Nand, who lived in a nearby village, at birth. The seventh child was Balarama, the avatar of the Sesh Nag on which Lord Vishnu rests and the eighth child was, of course, the Lord Himself born as Krishna.

According to the Hindu (lunar) calendar, Shri Krishna was born on the midnight of the eighth day of the first fortnight (waning fortnight) of the month of Bhadrapad. (This day occurs on the eighth day after Shravana Purnima, which is celebrated as Raksha Bandhan, another beautiful Hindu festival.) This day varies every year, as the Hindu lunar calendar is different from the Gregorian solar calendar.  

Shri Krishna was brought up by Nand and his loving wife, Yashoda, as their own child. Even today, the name Yashoda conjures up the image of an extremely loving mother. 

Shri Krishna is also known by various other names like Gopal, Kanha, Murari, Murali(dhar), Makhanchor, Manohar, Shyam, Govardhandhari, Devakinandan, Nandkishore, Dwarikadhish, etc. His birth is celebrated with zest and devotion across homes and temples in India, especially in places like Mathura, Puri, Udupi, etc. Little Krishna, in a crawling posture or squatting on one knee and eating stolen butter, is placed in a decorated cradle, which is swung lovingly by his devotees. Butter, cream, milk, curd, pounded rice, sweets made of milk / lotus seeds / coconut etc are offered to the Lord. Many people fast on this day and break the fast only after performing puja (worship) and offering prasad / bhog (sacred dishes) to the Lord after midnight. 

People dress up as Krishna and his young friends and enact scenes from His Leelas or perform the Rasleela. Clay toys are used to recreate scenes of Krishna's birth and childhood. In many places, pots of curd are hung high and groups of youngsters climb on top of each other to reach and break the pot.  

This day is holy to Hindus because it reminds them of the Lord's assurance that He will always appear to protect mankind whenever evil threatens them. 

yada yada hi dharmasya,
glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya
tadatmanam srujamyaham.     

Why i chose this day to post the Farman & what's so special ?

By this farman, Mughal Emperor Akbar granted in perpetuity, the village of Jatipura*, tax free, to this well-known Brahmin saint - Vithal Rai, for the upkeep of the temple of Shri Goverdhan** Nath Ji.

* - Jatipura is a village in Mathura district in present-day Uttar Pradesh state of India. It is the village where the Goverdhan hill is located. This is a very important place for Hindu pilgrims. A new modest temple has been constructed near the ruins of the old one. This temple is called the Jatipura Mandir or the temple of Goverdhan Nath. The old temple was also famous by the same name.

** - Goverdhan is an 8 kilomere long hill in Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, which is again related to Lord Krishna. According to Hindu Mythology, Lord Krishna lived in the region of Goverdhan, around 5000 years ago, and this place was the witness of many of his divine deeds. One among them was the lifting of the Goverdhan hill by Lord Krishna on his little finger. It was done so, to protect the villagers living around Goverdhan from incessant rains. From that day, Krishna is worshipped as Goverdhan Nath, the Lord who protects people. Every year, on the day after Diwali, a festival called Goverdhan Puja is conducted especially in North India, to observe the anniversary of this event.

The following miniature painting depicts Lord Krishna holding the Goverdhan hill on his little finger:- 

Krishna Holds Up Mount Govardhan to Shelter the Villagers of Braj, 

Folio from a Harivamsa (The Legend of Hari (Krishna))

The old ruins of the Goverdhan hill temple, which was built by Shri Vallabhacharya, exist to this day here. Pictures have been uploaded at the end of this post. To this day, this place is a very important pilgrimage center for the Hindus. Daily, around lacs of people - from India and abroad - visit this place. The size of the crowd here is the same, whether it's day or night, rainy or sunny, throughout the year. It swells during the Hindu months of Shravan / Bhadrapad

I have personally visited this temple many times, but, like many others, i too did not know that this temple was held in HIGH regard by the man who is one of the inspirations behind this blog - Mughal Emperor Akbar.

I came to know about this only a few months back when i discovered this farman. Then, I decided to write about this RARE farman and its association with Shri Vithal Rai and Shri Nath Ji and especially chose the day of Janmashtmi to publish this post. The farman presented here is of exceptional historic value.

I request the readers to share this post with as many people as possible. And, the next time you visit Goverdhan, do remember Akbar also. He was the one who granted a farman that enabled the maintenance of the Goverdhan Nath temple for years to come. 

Let us take a look at the Farman...

Let us now see what the farman was all about. This farman was given by Mughal Emperor Akbar to the son of Shri Vallabhacharya - Vithal Rai, according to which -

" Akbar granted in perpetuity, the village of Jatipura*, tax free, to this well-known Brahmin saint - Vithal Rai, for the temple of Goverdhan** Nath. "

Two other Mughal farmans given to this Brahmin have been posted on the blog. 

a. Recently, a farman given by Emperor Akbar to the Brahmin saint, ShriVithal Rai, was posted on this blog. That farman was issued to prevent the harassment of the saint at the hands of Imperial Mughal officers. The Emperor had given clear orders that no officer could harass the saint about his faith and that the saint should be allowed to pray for the welfare of the Empire, as per his custom.

Farman of Mughal Emperor Akbar to protect a 'Brahmin of Mathura'

b. A few months back, another farman was posted on the blog. That farman had been granted by Emperor Akbar's mother, Mariam Makani Hamida Bano Begum, to the same saint. She had been forced to issue the farman to confirm the earlier farman of Akbar (mentioned above) because the Mughal officers had not heeded the earlier farman.

Farman of Hamida Bano Begum

Emperor Akbar's officers did NOT always demonstrate the same tolerance as the Emperor towards other faiths. He had to give a series a farmans to ensure the protection of this saint. Some of these farmans also contain the approval of Sheikh Abu'l Fazl and Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khana. 

Many times, when the officials ignored the farmans issued by the Emperor and continued to harass the common folk, the latter often sought help from the royal Mughal ladies, who then issued farmans to confirm the orders of the Emperor and redress the grievances of the petitioners. This point was mentioned by S.A.I Tirmizi, former Deputy Director of Historical Archives, Govt. of India, while discussing Farmans issued by Mughal ladies. Apart from the Farman issued by Hamida Bano Begum mentioned above, there are other such Farmans issued by the royal ladies. One such Farman issued by MUZ has also been posted on this blog in the past. She had issued this Farman as a warning, and had asked the official under question to return the disputed Jagir (which he had illegally usurped) to its righful owner (a zamindar).

Farman of Wali Nimat Mariam-Uz-Zamani Begum 

The following is the order/Farman of Mughal Emperor Akbar. This Farman is longer than the other Farmans. 

Note the strict, yet restrained, language of this Farman, wherein clear orders are given to the imperial officials not to harass this saint. 




Jalal-ud-din Muhammed Akbar Badshah Ghazi1

Son of Nasir-ud-din Muhammad Humayun Badshah Ghazi - Son of Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur Badshah Ghazi - Son of Umar Sheikh Shah - Son of Abu'l Sa'eed Sultan - Son of Muhammad Miran Shah - Son of Amir Timur

The Farman of Jalal-ud-din Muhammed Akbar Badshah Ghazi

Contents (Approximate English translation) :


At this time, (which is) founded on happiness, the Farman of the Exalted ( one) received the honor of promulgation that Goswami Vithalrai, a resident of Gokul2, has purchased on paying its price land from the owners thereof in the mowza of Jatipura3, situated in the Pargana, adjoining Govardhan4, and has caused to be built thereon buildings, gardens, cowsheds and workshops for the temple of Govardhan Nath5, and is residing and staying there.

Therefore the order (which should be) obeyed by the world finds the honor of issue (is issued) that the above mentioned mowzah has been given over tax free, into the possession of the above named Goswami, from descendant to descendant6.

Therefore all Collectors7, Civil officers8, Karoris9, jagirdars10, and landholders (Zamindars),
present and future, should strive after (the fulfilment of) this Order, Exalted as the heavens, and leave in the possession of the abovenamed (person) the above Mowzah with the land purchased, descendant after descendant (from generation to generation).

They should not molest and harass him with the demands of the forbidden imposts, or civil levies11, or Imperial taxes or land tax12 or imposts on manufacture, or other extraordinary contributions13 or of the produce of the trees14 there. 

And they should not demand a renewed farman. They should not deviate in this matter (from the above Orders), so that the Knowledge endowed Goswami, feeling grateful for (this) Imperial favour may daily engage himself in praying for the good of our eternity-allied Kingdom. 

Written on the 20th May / 31st May 1593 AD .. "


The Original Persian Farman

I could obtain a photocopy of the Persian Farman, though it was quite tattered.

Thankfully, this document could be scanned. 

Here it is :

Farman of Emperor Akbar Issued to Shri Vithal Rai, Granting Him the Village of Jatipura, Tax Free, in Perpetuity


1. Ghazi can have many meanings. In post-Islamic era, it was used to convey the meaning of a slayer of infidels. This was a title taken by Mughal Emperor Akbar. See the seal of Akbar in the farman. The title of Ghazi was taken by Mughal emperors only and is present in the names of Babur and Humayun also. 

2. Gokul is a small town in Mathura district of present-day Uttar Pradesh state of India. The place is associated with Lord Krishna, as per Hindu mythology. 

3. Jatipura is a village in Goverdhan. The temple of Goverdhan Nath on Goverdhan Hill is situated in this village. 

4. Goverdhan is the name of the place, where the 8 kilometre long Goverdhan hill is situated. Presently, it is also the name of a district in Uttar Pradesh state of India. 

5. Goverdhan Nath refers to Shri Nath Ji, a manifestation of Lord Krishna. 

6. The Farman was given with the intention that the village of Jatipura should be inherited by the heirs of Vithal Rai. 

7. These were the agents or nobles, who collected taxes. 

8. These were the clerks or revenue officers of the Mughals. 

9. These were the officers who measured the land in a village and assessed the area under cultivation. 

10. The higher mansabdars who had their Jagirs / a place administered directly by them. 

11. These mean cesses or miscellaneous imposts. 

12. A type of Mughal-era tax imposed on land. This amounted to land revenue. 

13. This refers to Peshkash, or a bribe, or any unlawful demand. 

14. This was a Mughal-era tax imposed on "each tree" for its use by the civilians. Later, Akbar abolished this tax.

Note the date of this Farman : 

This Farman was issued in the 1590's - the period when Akbar's policies were at their best.


1. Mughal Emperor Akbar Promoted Translation of Many Hindu Sacred Texts to Persian.

The Hindu epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, and other texts such as the Harivamsa, a genealogy of Hari (or Krishna), were translated into Persian and illustrated for the first time during Emperor Akbar’s reign (1556–1605). Unlike other manuscript projects for which the Mughal court artists inherited a tradition of iconography and style from earlier Iranian manuscripts, they had to invent new compositions for these works. The present folio depicts Krishna holding up Mount Govardhan to protect the villagers of Braj from the rains sent by the god Indra.

2. Shri Vithal Rai

The father of the Brahmin saint, Shri Vithal Rai (who received the above-mentioned Farman of Emperor Akbar), Shri Vallabhacharya, established a modest temple dedicated to Lord Krishna on Goverdhan Hill around 1520. Vithal Rai propagated the cult of Krishna Bhakti (devotion to Lord Krishna), which had been started by his father.

Shri Vithal Rai Ji

The disciples of Shri Vithal Rai included the following people:- 

a. Mariam-Uz-Zamani / Harka Bai, First Rajput Wife of Mughal Emperor Akbar
b. Maharani Ajabde Bai Sa, First Wife of Mewar's Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap
c. Raja TodarMal
d. Raja Birbal
e. Baz Bahadur of Malwa (wife - Rani Rupmati)
f. Tansen
g. Raja Man Singh of Amer
h. Rani Durgavati of Gondwana

3. Rani Durgavati's Grant to Shri Vithal Rai

A blog post about Rani Durgavati was published recently. Before settling in Goverdhan, Shri Vithal Rai had lived in the kingdom of Rani Durgavati for a long time. Ruins of the place where Shri Vithal Rai lived can still be seen in Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. He remained in her kingdom till the time Asaf Khan attacked it.

Just like Akbar had given the village of Jatipura as a tax-free grant to Shri Vithal Rai, Rani Durgavati too had given a grant of 108 villages to Shri Vithal Rai in her kingdom of Gondwana. 

4. The Idol of Shri Nath Ji Moved to Udaipur During Aurangzeb's Reign

Lord Krishna is worshipped in many forms. In Goverdhan Nath temple, He was worshipped in the form of Shri Nath Ji. The idol remained here till the 1670's, when it was taken to Udaipur in Mewar in 1672, and, since then, it is being worshipped there. It is housed in the former palace of Maharani Ajabde Bai Sa. She was also a devotee of Lord Krishna. Hundreds of villages were granted to this temple by Rana Raj Singh I and he conferred a revenue of thousands of rupees.

Lord Krishna in the form of Shri Nath Ji, Painting : Udaipur

The temple in Udaipur dedicated to Shri Nath Ji is held sacred by BOTH Hindus and Muslims alike. It is known as Nathdwara {meaning - the door leading to Shri Nath Ji}. It contains some very interesting and rare details related to Shri Vithal Rai & his disciples. Those readers who stay near this place can visit this temple and access these details. 

{A separate detailed post about Shri Vithal Rai will contain the details of many such events.}

5. Pictures of the Ruins of the Old Goverdhan Nath Temple

The following are the pictures of the ruins of the OLD Goverdhan Nath Temple on Goverdhan Hill in the village of Jatipura. A new modest hill temple has been constructed near it. But it is forbidden to take its photograph. 

The copy of the Farman described in this post has been sourced from the President House's Library, New Delhi.

Related Posts:
Farman of Mughal Emperor Akbar to protect a 'Brahmin of Mathura'
Farman of Hamida Bano Begum
Farman of Wali Nimat Mariam-Uz-Zamani Begum
Farman of Begum Saheb Jahanara
Rare Stone Inscription recently found about the Battle of Haldighati

Thanks to Radhika for providing much needed inputs for this article.
Article Category : Mughals(Akbar) and Rajputs.

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