Prince Muhammad Salim was the eldest son of Akbar. He was born in August 1569, after many prayers and blessings of the saints. Therefore, Akbar ensured that his son receive the best education possible. Salim started his studies at the age of four and was taught Persian, Arabic, Hindi, history, arithmetic, geography and other sciences by important tutors like Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khana.
Prince Salim succeeded to the throne on the eighth day after his father’s death. He took the name Jehangir and started his 22 years reign at the age of 36. Having seized power, he had to fend off his own son Khusraw’s claim to the throne. Khusraw was defeated and as a punishment, his eyes were taken out.
Jehangir started his reign with several popular acts. He released prisoners of war, promised to protect Islam and granted general amnesty to his opponents. He set up a “Chain of Justice” outside his palace. Anyone in trouble could simply pull the chain and receive a hearing from the Emperor. Jehangir married the extremely beautiful and intelligent Mehr-un-Nisa in May 1611, which is in itself a story of romance and intrigue. Mehr-un-Nisa was given the title of Nur Jehan on her marriage to Jehangir. Jehangir was fond of ease and comfort. He was an alcohol addict and could be found day and night with wine goblets in his hands. He was also susceptible to the influence of others, a weakness exploited by many. Because of his inebriated state, Nur Jehan came to be the actual power behind the throne.
It was during Jehangir’s reign that the British got formal permission to trade freely in the Mughal Empire. This was his greatest blunder for these traders went on to become the rulers of the Sub-continent.
Jehangir was a good writer and loved nature. He recorded all sorts of wildlife in his book Tuzk-i-Jehangiri. He liked paintings and collected many of them in his palace. Some of them are still found in museums. He died in 1627 and was buried in Shahdra, near Lahore. His great mausoleum is still present and is a popular tourist attraction.
This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003