Selim took possession of the government immediately on his father’s death, and assumed the title of Jehangir (Conqueror of the World).He found the whole of his dominions on the north of the Nerbadda in a state of as great tranquillity as could be expected in so extensive an empire. The rebellion of Osman continued in Bengal, but was confined to part of that province. The contest with the rana of Oudipur was a foreign war, and the success, though not complete, was on the side of the emperor.
Affairs wore a worse aspect in the Deckan, where the Nizam Shahi government of Ahmednagar seemed to be recovering from the loss of its capital, and more likely to regain some of the territory it had been deprived of than to be completely subverted by the arms of the Moguls.
Jehangir’s first measures were of a much more benevolent and judicious character than might
have been expected of him. He confirmed most of his father’s old officers in their stations; and issued edicts, remitting some vexatious duties which had survived Akber’s reforms, forbidding the bales of merchants to be opened by persons in authority without their free consent, directing that no soldiers or servants of the state should quarter themselves on private houses, abolishing the punishments of cutting off ears and noses, and introducing other salutary regulations. Notwithstanding his own notorious habits, he strictly forbade the use of wine, and regulated that of opium; subjecting all offenders against his rules to severe punishment.
He restored the Mahometan confession of faith on his coin, together with most of the forms of that religion. He, however, kept up some of Akber’s rules regarding abstinence from meat on particular days. He observed some of his superstitious devotions; he exacted the ceremony of prostration from all who approached him; and although, in his writings, he affects the devout style usual to all Mussulmans, he never acquired, and probably did not seriously pretend to, the character of a religious man. The general impression is, that, though more superstitious, be was less devout, than Akber, and had little feeling of religion even when abstracted from all peculiar tenets.
Among his earliest measures was one for affording easy access to complaints, on which he valued himself at least as highly as the efficacy of the invention deserved: a chain was hung from a part of
the wall of the citadel, accessible, without difficulty, to all descriptions of people; it communicated with a clustre of golden bells within the emperor’s own apartment, and he was immediately apprised, by the sound of the appearance of a suitor, and thus rendered independent of any officers inclined to keep back information.
The hatred which had so long subsisted between the new emperor and his eldest son was not likely to have been diminished by the events which preceded the accession. Khusru had ever since remained in a state of sullenness and dejection; and it is by no means probable that Jehangir’s treatment of him was such as would be likely to soothe his feelings.
1606, March; AH 1014, Zi Haj 4.
His behaviour does not appear to have given rise to any suspicion, until upwards of four months after the accession; when Jehangir was awaked, at midnight, with the intelligence that his son had fled, with a few attendants, and taken the road to Delhi. He immediately dispatched a light force in pursuit of him, and followed himself, in the morning, with all the troops he could collect.
Khusru was joined, soon after leaving Agra, by a body of 300 horse, whom he met on their march to the capital. He proceeded by Delhi, subsisting his troops by plunder, and by the time he reached the Panjab, had collected a body of upwards of 10,000 men. The city of Lahor was betrayed to him, and he was making an ineffectual attempt to reduce the citadel, when he was disturbed by the
approach of his father’s advanced guard. When this was announced to him, he drew his force out of Lahor, and attacked the royal troops; but, although he had the advantage of engaging a detachment, he was unable to offer a successful opposition. He was totally defeated, and, having fled in the direction of Cabul, he was run aground in a boat as he was passing the Hydaspes, and was seized and brought in chains before his father.
The whole rebellion did not last above a month.
Khusru’s principal advisers, and many of his common followers, fell into the hands of the emperor, and afforded him an opportunity of displaying all the ferocity of his character. He ordered 700 of the prisoners to be impaled in a line leading from the gate of Lahor; and he expatiates, in his Memoirs, on the long duration of their frightful agonies189. To complete his barbarity, he made his son Khusru be carried along the line on an elephant, while a mace-bearer called out to him, with mock solemnity, to receive the salutations of his servants190.
The unhappy Khusru passed three days, in tears and groans, without tasting food191; and remained for long after a prey to the deepest melancholy.
Prince Parviz, the emperor’s second son, had
been sent, under the guidance of Asof Khan, against the rana of Oudipur, very soon after the accession: he was recalled on the flight of Khusru, but in that short interval he had effected an accommodation with the rana, and now joined his father’s camp.
In the spring of the next year, Jehangir went to Cabul; and, when at that city, he showed some favour to Khusru, ordering his chains to be taken off, and allowing him to walk in a garden within the upper citadel. If he had any disposition to carry his forgiveness further, it was checked by a conspiracy, which was detected some time after, to release Khusru and to assassinate the emperor.
On his return to Agra, Jehangir sent an army, under Mohabat Khan, against the rana of Oudipur, with whom the war had been renewed; and another, under the Khan Khanan, to effect a settlement of the Deckan. Prince Parviz was afterwards made nominal commander of the latter force: he was too young to exercise any real authority.
The only event of importance in the following years was an insurrection at Patna by a man of the lowest order, who assumed the character of Khusru, and, seizing on the city in consequence of the supineness of the local officers, drew together so many followers, that he engaged the governor of the province in the field, and some time elapsed before he was driven back into Patna, made prisoner, and put to death.
In the end of the year 1610, affairs in the
Deckan assumed a serious aspect. After the taking of Ahmednagar, the conduct of the government of the new king fell into the hands of an Abyssinian named Malik Amber. This minister founded a new capital on the site of the present Aurangabad; and maintained, for a long series of years, the apparently sinking fortunes of the Nizam Shahi government. His talents were not confined to war: he introduced a new revenue system into the Deckan, perhaps in imitation of Todar Mal; and it has given his name an universal celebrity in the Deckan equal to that enjoyed in Hindostan by the other great financier192.
Malik Amber profited by some dissensions which fell out between the Khani Khanan and the other generals; and prosecuted his advantages with such success that he repeatedly defeated the Mogul troops, retook Ahmednagar, and compelled the Khani Khanan himself to retire to Burhanpur. In these circumstances, Jehangir recalled his general, and conferred the command on Khan Jehan.
It was in the sixth year of his reign that Jehangir contracted a marriage with the celebrated Nur Jehan, an event which influenced all the succeeding transactions of his life.
The grandfather of this lady was a native of Teheran, in Persia, and held a high civil office under the government of that country. His son, Mirza Gheias, was reduced to poverty, and determined
to seek for a maintenance by emigrating, with his wife, and a family consisting of two sons and a daughter, to India. He was pursued by misfortune even in this attempt; and by the time the caravan with which he travelled reached Candahar, he was reduced to circumstances of great distress. Immediately on his arrival in that city his wife was delivered of Nur Jehan; and into so abject a condition had they fallen, that the parents were unable to provide for the conveyance of their infant, or to maintain the mother so as to admit of her giving it support. The future empress was therefore exposed on the road by which the caravan was next morning to proceed. She was observed by a principal merchant of the party, who felt compassion for her situation, and was struck with her beauty: he took her up, and resolved to educate her as his own.
As a woman in a situation to act as a nurse was not easy to be found in a caravan, it is a matter of no surprise that her own mother should have been the person employed in that capacity; and the merchant’s attention being thus drawn to the distresses of the family, he relieved their immediate wants; and perceiving the father and his eldest son to be men much above their present condition, he employed them in matters connected with his business, and became much interested in their fate. By his means they were introduced to Akber; and, being placed in some subordinate employments, they soon rose by their own abilities.
In the mean time Nar Jehan grew up, and began to excite admiration by her beauty and elegance. She often accompanied her mother, who had free access to the harem of Akber, and there attracted the notice of Jehangir, then Prince Selim. His behaviour gave so much uneasiness to her mother, as to induce her to speak of it to the princess whom she was visiting. Through her, the case was laid before Akber, who remonstrated with his son; and, at the same time, recommended that Nur Jehan should be married, and removed from the prince’s sight. She was bestowed on Shir Afgan Khan, a young Persian lately come into the service, and to him Akber gave a jagir in Bengal.
But these means were not sufficient to efface the impression made on Jehangir; and, after he had been about a year on the throne, he took the opportunity of his foster-brother Kutb u din’s going as viceroy of Bengal to charge him to procure for him the possession of the object of his passion.
It was probably expected that all opposition from the husband would be prevented by influence and promises; but Shia. Afgan had a higher sense of honour, and no sooner suspected the designs that were entertained, than he resigned his command, and left off wearing arms, as a sign that he was no longer in the king’s service.
The further progress of the affair does not appear: it must have been such as to alarm Shir
Afgan; for the viceroy having taken occasion to visit the part of the province where he resided, and having sent to invite his attendance, he went to pay his visit with a dagger concealed in his dress. An interview begun in such a spirit might be expected to close in blood. Shir Afgan, insulted by the proposals, and enraged at the threats of the viceroy, took his revenge with his dagger, and was himself immediately dispatched by the attendants.
The murder of the viceroy, which was ascribed to a treasonable conspiracy, gave a colour to all proceedings against the family of the assassin. Nur Jehan was seized, and sent as a prisoner to Delhi. Jehangir soon after offered her marriage, and applied all his address to soothe and conciliate her; but Nur Jehan was a high-spirited as well as an artful woman, and it is not improbable that she was sincere in her rejection of all overtures from one whom she looked on as the murderer of her husband. Her repugnance was so strongly displayed as to disgust Jehangir. He at length placed her among the attendants on his mother, and appeared to have entirely dismissed her from his thoughts.
His passion, however, was afterwards revived; and reflection having led his mistress to think more favourably of his offers, their marriage was celebrated with great pomp; and Nur Jehan was raised to honours such as had never before been enjoyed
by the consort of any king in India193.
From this period her ascendency knew no bounds: her father was made prime minister; her brother was placed in a high station. The emperor took no step without consulting her; and, on every affair in which she took an interest, her will was law. Though her sway produced bad consequences in the end, it was beneficial on the whole. Her father was a wise and upright minister; and it must have been, in part at least, owing to her influence that so great an improvement took place in the conduct of Jehangir after the first few years of his reign. He was still capricious and tyrannical, but he was no longer guilty of such barbarous cruelties as before; and although he still carried his excess in wine to the lowest stage of inebriety, yet it was at night, and in his private apartments. In the occupations which kept him all day before the eyes of his subjects, he seems to have supported his character with sufficient dignity, and without any breaches of decorum. Nur Jehan’s capacity was not less remarkable than her grace and beauty; it was exerted in matters proper to her sex as well as in state affairs. The magnificence of the emperor’s court was increased by her taste, and the expense was diminished by her good arrangement. She contrived improvements in the furniture of apartments; introduced female dresses more becoming than any in use before her time; and it is a question
in India whether it is to her or her mother that they owe the invention of ottar of roses194. One of the accomplishments by which she captivated Jehangir is said to have been her facility in composing extemporary verses.
It was not long after the time of this marriage that the disturbances in Bengal were put an end to by the defeat and death of Osman. The satisfaction derived from this event was more than counterbalanced by the ill success of the war in the Deckan.
Jehangir had determined to make up for the languor of his former operations by a combined attack from all the neighbouring provinces. Abdullah Khan, viceroy of Guzerat, was to invade Malik Amber’s territory from that province at the same moment that the armies under Prince Parviz and Khan Jehan Lodi, reinforced by Raja Man Sing, were to advance from Candesh and Berar.
But this well-concerted plan entirely failed in the execution. Abdullah Khan advanced prematurely from Guzerat, and Malik Amber did not lose a moment in profiting by his mistake. His mode of war was much the same as that of the modern Marattas. Owing to the neighbourhood of the European ports, his artillery was superior to that of the emperor, and afforded a rallying point
on which he could always collect his army; but his active means of offence were his light cavalry. He intercepted the supplies and harassed the march of the Moguls; he hovered round their army when halted; alarmed them with false attacks; and often made real incursions into different parts of the encampment, carrying off much booty, and keeping up continual disorder and trepidation. Abdullah Khan was so completely worn out by this sort of warfare, that he soon determined to retire. The consequences of a retreat before such an enemy were easy to be foreseen: all his evils multiplied upon him from the day that it commenced; his rear-guard was cut to pieces; and his march had nearly become a flight before he found refuge in the hills and jungles of Baglana, whence he proceeded without molestation into Guzerat.
The other armies had by this time taken the field; but seeing Malik Amber, on his return, flushed with success over their colleague, they thought it prudent to avoid a similar calamity, and concentrated at Burhanpur.
Jehangir’s arms were attended with better fortune in his war with the rana of Oudipur; and his success was the more welcome, as the fruit of the abilities of his favourite son. Mohabat Khan, when first sent on that service, had gained a victory over the rana, but was unable to do any thing decisive from the strength of the country into which he, as usual, retreated. The same fortune attended Abdullah Khan, afterwards appointed to succeed
Mohabat; but Prince Khurram (Shah Jehan)195, who was now sent with an army of 20,000 men, evinced so much spirit in his attacks on the Rajput troops, and so much perseverance in bearing up against the strength of the country and the unhealthiness of the climate, that the rana was at last induced to sue for peace; and his offer being readily accepted, he waited on Shah Jehan in person, made offerings in token of submission, and sent his son to accompany the prince to Delhi.
Shah Jehan, on this occasion, did not forget the policy of Akber. The moment the rana’s homage was paid, he raised him in his arms, seated him by his side, and treated him with every form of respect and attention.
All the country conquered from him since the invasion of Akber was restored; and his son, after an honourable reception from Jehangir, was raised to a high rank among the military chiefs of the empire.
The merit of this campaign belonged exclusively to Shah Jehan; for Aziz, who had been sent to assist him, had behaved to him with so much arrogance, that Jehangir was soon obliged to remove him, and commit him for a time to confinement.
This exploit raised Shah Jehan’s credit to the highest pitch; and, as he had lately married the
niece of Nur Jehan, he was supported by her powerful influence, and was generally looked on as the chosen successor to the empire.
During these events, Raja Man Sing died in the Deckan.
A rebellion of the Roushenias, which broke out in 1611, and in which the city of Cabul abut bad been exposed to danger, was now terminated by the death of Ahdad, the grandson and spiritual successor of Bayazid. Abdullah Khan, viceroy of Guzerat, having incurred the king’s displeasure, by oppressions in the province, and by the indignity with which he treated the royal news-writer, was ordered to be seized and sent to the capital. He anticipated the order by setting off on foot, with his troops and attendants following at a great distance. He came to court barefooted and in chains, and threw himself at the king’s feet; but was pardoned, and not long after restored to favour at the intercession of Shah Jehan.
It was not long after the return of Shah Jehan that Sir T. Roe arrived at the court, as ambassador from King James I196. His accounts enable us to judge of the state of India under Jehangir.
The sea-ports and the customs were full of gross abuses, the governor seizing on goods at arbitrary prices. Even Roe, though otherwise treated with hospitality and respect, had his baggage searched
and some articles taken by the governor197. His journey from Surat, by Burhanpur and Chitor, to Ajmir, lay through the Deckan, where war was raging, and the rana’s country where it had just ceased; yet he met with no obstruction or alarm, except from mountaineers, who then, as now, rendered the roads unsafe in times of trouble.
The Deckan bore strong marks of devastation and neglect. Burhanpur, which had before, as it has since, been a fine city, contained only four or five good houses amidst a collection of mud huts; and the court of Parviz, held in that town, had no pretensions to splendour.
In other places he was struck with the decay and desertion of some towns, contrasted with the prosperity of others. The former were, in some instances at least, deserted capitals198; and their decline affords no argument against the general prosperity.
The administration of the country had rapidly
declined since Akber’s time. The governments were farmed, and the governors exacters and tyrannical.
Though a judicious and sober writer, Roe is profuse in his praise of the magnificence of the court; and he speaks in high terms of the courtesy of the nobility, and of the order and elegance of the entertainments they gave to him. His reception, indeed, was in all respects most hospitable, though the very moderate scale of his presents and retinue was not likely to conciliate a welcome where state was so generally maintained. He was excused all humiliating ceremonials, was allowed to take the highest place in the court on public occasions, and was continually admitted into familiar intercourse with the emperor himself.
The scenes he witnessed at his private interviews form a curious contrast to the grandeur with which the Mogul was surrounded. He sat on a low throne all covered with diamonds, pearls, and rubies; and had a great display of gold plate, vases, and goblets, set with jewels. The party was free from all restraint, scarcely one of them remaining sober except Sir Thomas and a few other grave personages, who were cautious in their indulgence. Jehangir himself never left off till he dropped asleep, when the lights were extinguished and the company withdrew. On these occasions he was overflowing with kindness, which increased with the effects of the wine; and once, after talking
with great liberality of all religions, “he fell to weeping, and to various passions, which kept them to midnight.”
But he did not retain these sociable feelings in the morning. On one occasion, when a courtier indiscreetly alluded in public to a debauch of the night before, Jehangir affected surprise, inquired what other persons had shared in this breach of the law, and ordered those named to be so severely bastinadoed that one of them died. He always observed great strictness in public, and never admitted a person into his presence who, from his breath or otherwise, gave any signs of having been drinking wine. His reserve, however, was of little use: like great men at present, he was surrounded by newswriters; and his most secret proceedings, and even the most minute actions of his life, were known to every man in the capital within a few hours after they took place.
Notwithstanding the case above mentioned, and some other instances of inhumanity, Roe seems to consider Jehangir as neither wanting in good feelings nor good sense; although his claim to the latter quality is impaired by some weaknesses which Sir Thomas himself relates. In one case he seized on a convoy coming to the ambassador from Surat, and consisting of presents intended for himself and his court, together with the property of some merchants who took advantage of the escort: he rummaged the packages himself with childish curiosity; and had recourse to the meanest apologies to appease
and cajole Roe, who was much provoked at this disregard of common honesty.
Though Roe speaks highly in some respects of particular great men, he represents the class as unprincipled, and all open to corruption. The treaty he had to negotiate hung on for upwards of two years, until he bribed Asof Khan with a valuable pearl; after which all went on well and smoothly. Both Roe and other contemporary travellers represent the military spirit as already much declined, and speak of the Rajputs and Patans as the only brave soldiers to be found199.
The manual arts were in a high state, and were not confined to those peculiar to the country. One of Sir T. Roe’s presents was a coach, and within a very short period several others were constructed, very superior in materials, and fully equal in workmanship. Sir Thomas also gave a picture to the Mogul, and was soon after presented with several copies, among which he had great difficulty in distinguishing the original200. There was a great influx of Europeans, and considerable encouragement to their religion. Jehangir had figures of Christ and the Virgin at the head of his rosary; and two of his nephews embraced Christianity, with his full approbation201.
The language of the court was Persian, but all classes spoke Hindostani; and Hawkins, who only knew Turkish, found the emperor himself and the Khani Khanan well versed in that tongue.
No subject seems to have excited more interest, both in the ambassador and the court, than the flute of Prince Khusru. All his bad qualities were forgotten in his misfortunes; he was supposed to be endowed with every virtue; the greatest joy prevailed when any sign appeared of his restoration to favour, and corresponding indignation when he fell into the power of his enemies. Even the king was supposed to be attached to him, though wrought on by the influence of Shah Jehan and the arts of Asof Khan and Nur Jehan202.
Khusru’s exclusion was not the more popular for its being in favour of Shah Jehan; who, according to Sir T. Roe, was “flattered by some, envied by others, loved by none.” Roe himself represents him as a bigot and a tyrant; but as his conduct shows nothing but ability and correctness, it is probable that he owed his unpopularity to his cold and haughty manners; the ambassador himself remarking, that he never saw so settled a countenance, or any man keep so constant a gravity, never smiling,
nor by his looks showing any respect or distinction of persons, but entire pride and contempt for all. Yet the prince could not at that time have been older than twenty-five.
Shah Jehan might have expected to find a formidable rival in Parviz, his elder brother; but that prince, though sometimes an object of jealousy to him, could offer no really formidable opposition to the superior abilities of Shah Jehan, supported by the influence of the empress.
A final blow was given to any hopes that Parviz may have entertained, by the elevation of his brother to the title of king203, on his undertaking a great expedition against the Deckan.
He was invested with ample powers on this occasion; and Jehangir himself moved to Mandu, to be at hand to support him in case of need.
Roe accompanied the emperor on his march; and his account of the movement of the army forms a striking contrast to the good order and discipline he had hitherto admired. The court and camp, while halted, were as regular as ever; but the demand for carriage cattle created a general scramble and confusion. The Persian ambassador and Roe were left for some days at Ajmir, from the want of conveyance for their baggage; and the tents of the soldiers and followers were set fire to, to compel them to proceed, though ill provided. When actually in motion, the same want
of arrangement was felt: sometimes there was a deficiency of water; and sometimes, in long and difficult marches through woods and mountains, the road was scattered with coaches, carts, and camels, unable to proceed to the stage204.
The state of affairs in the Deckan was very favourable to Shah Jehan. The ascendency of a private person, like Malik Amber, led to jealousy among his confederates, and even his own officers. In consequence of these dissensions, he had suffered a defeat, which produced still further discouragement among the allies; so that when Shah Jehan entered the Deckan, he found little difficulty in detaching the king of Bijapur from the confederacy; and Amber, seeing himself entirely deserted, was likewise compelled to make submission on the part of his nominal sovereign, Nizam Shah; and to restore the fort of Ahmednagar and all the other territory which he had re-conquered from the Moguls.
After this glorious termination of the war, Shah Jehan returned to Mandu, and joined his father, within a twelvemonth of the time when they had marched from Ajmir.
Jehangir took this occasion to visit the province of Guzerat; he remained there for near a year, and added the viceroyalty of that province to the governments previously held by Shah Jehan.
He quitted Guzerat in September 1618; and the next two years are marked by no events, except an insurrection in the Panjab; the capture of the fort of Kangra or Nagarcot, under the mountains; and a journey of the emperor to Cashmir.
While in that valley, he received intelligence of a renewal of the war in the Deckan. It seems to have been begun, without provocation, by Malik Amber, who probably was tempted by some negligence on the other side, for he had little difficulty in taking possession of the open country, and driving the Mogul commanders into Burhanpur, from whence they sent most earnest entreaties for help from Jehangir.
Shah Jehan was again ordered to march with a powerful army; and great treasures were collected to supply him after he reached the frontier. From some rising distrust in his mind, he refused to march, unless his brother, prince Khusru, were made over to his custody, and allowed to go with him to the Deckan. Being gratified in this respect, he entered on the service with his usual ability. Before he reached Malwa, a detachment of Malik Amber’s had crossed the Nerbadda, and burned the suburbs of Mandu; but they were driven back as the prince advanced; and he, in turn, crossed the Nerbadda, and began offensive operations. Malik Amber had recourse to his usual mode of war, cut off supplies and detachments, hung upon the line of march, and attempted, by long and rapid marches, to surprise the camp. He found Shah Jehan always on his
guard; was at last compelled to risk the fate of the campaign in a general action, and was defeated with considerable loss.
But although Shah Jehan had a clear superiority in the field, he still found a serious obstruction in the exhausted state of the country.
It was therefore with great satisfaction that he received overtures from Amber, offering a further cession, and agreeing to pay a sum of money.
Not long after this success, Jehangir was seized with a violent attack of asthma, a complaint from which he suffered severely during the rest of his life. He was for some time in such imminent danger, as to lead to expectations of an immediate vacancy of the throne.
Parviz hastened to court, but was sent back to his government with a reprimand; and though Shah Jehan had not time to take such a step before he heard of his father’s recovery, yet the sudden death of prince Khusru, which happened at this juncture, was so opportune, that it brought the strongest suspicions of violence against the rival to whose custody he had been intrusted. We ought not, however, too readily to believe that a life not sullied by any other crime could be stained by one of so deep a dye.
This event, which seemed to complete the security of Shah Jehan’s succession, was, in reality, the cause of a series of dangers and disasters that nearly ended in his ruin. Up to this period, his own influence had been strengthened by the all-powerful
support of Nur Jehan; but, about the time of his departure for the Deckan, that princess had affianced her daughter by Shir Afgan to Prince Shehriar, the youngest son of Jehangir205; a connection of itself sufficient to undermine her exclusive attachment to the party of her more distant relative. But her views were further changed by a consideration of the impossibility of her gaining an ascendency, such as she now possessed, over an active and intelligent prince like Shah Jehan. During her father’s lifetime, she had been kept within bounds of moderation by his prudent counsels: after his death, which happened about this time, she exercised her dominion over the emperor without the least control; her brother, Asof Khan (to whose daughter Shah Jehan was married) being a mere instrument of her will. Unwilling to relinquish such unlimited power, she determined by all means to oppose the succession of Shah Jehan; and, warned by the death of Khusru, and the danger of Jehangir, she saw that she had not a moment to lose in cutting off the resources which might at any time enable the prince to overcome her opposition.
An opportunity was not long wanting of pursuing this design. Candahar having been taken by the Persians, it was pointed out as an enterprise worthy of the conqueror of the Deckan, to recover that ancient possession. Shah Jehan at first gave
in to the project, and advanced as far as Mandu; on his way to the north; but, perceiving, before long, that the object was to remove him from the country where his influence was established, and engage him in a remote and difficult command, he put off his further march, on pretext of the season and the state of his troops, and began to stipulate for some securities to be given to him before he should venture to move out of India.
These demands were represented to Jehangir as arising from a project of independence; and Shah Jehan was directed, in reply, to send the greater part of his army to the capital, in order that it might accompany Shehriar, to whom the recovery of Candahar was to be committed. Orders were also sent direct to the principal officers, to leave Shah Jehan’s camp and repair to that of Shehriar. This drew a remonstrance from Shah Jehan, who now desired to be allowed to wait on his father, while the other as peremptorily ordered him to return to the Deckan. The jagirs which Shah Jehan held in Hindostan were transferred to Shehriar during these discussions; and Shah Jehan, who had not been consulted in the arrangement, was desired to select an equivalent in the Deckan and Guzerat.
As things drew towards a crisis, Nur Jehan, distrusting both the military talents of her brother and his zeal in her present cause, cast her eyes on Mohabat Khan, the most rising general of the time, but hitherto the particular enemy of Asof Khan. He was accordingly summoned to court from his government
of Cabul, and was treated with every mark of favour and confidence.
Jehangir, who had been again in Cashmir, returned on the commencement of these discussions, and fixed his court at Lahor, to be at hand in case his presence should be required.
In the mean time messages passed between Shah Jehan and the emperor, but with so little effect in producing a reconciliation, that Jehangir put several persons to death on suspicion of a plot with his son; and Shah Jehan, finding that his fate was sealed, marched from Mandu with his army towards Agra;
Jehangir, on this, marched from Lahor, and, passing through the capital, arrived within twenty miles of the rebel army lying at Belochpur, forty miles south of Delhi. Shah Jehan retired into the neighbouring hills of Mewat, and disposed his troops so as to shut the passes against a force which the emperor detached in quest of him. A partial and indecisive action took place, and is said to have been followed by negotiations.
The result was, that Shah Jehan determined to retire, and set out on his march for Mandu.
It does not appear what induced him to adopt this step: it was attended with all the consequences usual with attempts to recede in civil wars. Jehangir advanced in person to Ajmir, and sent on a strong force, under Prince Parviz and Mohabat Khan, to follow up the retiring rebels. Rustam Khan, whom Shah Jehan had left to defend the hills on the Chambal, deserted to the enemy; the
province of Guzerat expelled his governor, and he was himself compelled, by the advance of the imperial army, to cross the Nerbadda and retire to Burhanpur. Nor was he long permitted to remain there in tranquillity; for Mohabat Khan, having blinded him by some delusive negotiations, crossed the Nerbadda, and was joined by the Khani Khanan, who till this time had been attached to Shah Jehan.
The rains were at their height when Shah Jehan commenced his retreat into Telingana, and a great part of his forces had deserted him before he directed his course to Masulipatam, with the intention of making his way to Bengal.
He accomplished this long and arduous march by the early part of the succeeding year, and met with no opposition in Bengal, until he reached Raj Mahal, where the governor of the province engaged him, and was defeated in a pitched battle. By this victory Shah Jehan obtained possession of Bengal, and was enabled to seize on Behar, and to send on a detachment under Bhim Sing, the brother of the rana of Oudipur, to endeavour to secure the fort of Allahabad.
In the mean time prince Parviz and Mohabat Khan, after chasing Shah Jehan from the Deckan, had cantoned for the rainy season at Burhanpur. On hearing of his arrival and rapid progress in Bengal, they put themselves in motion in the direction of Allahabad. Shah Jehan crossed the Ganges to meet them; but the people of the country, who were not inclined to enter on opposition
to the emperor, refused to bring in supplies to his camp, or to assist in keeping up his communications by means of the boats on the Ganges.
The discouragement and privations which were the consequence of this state of things, led to the desertion of the new levies which Shah Jehan had raised in Bengal; and when, at last, he came to an action with his opponents, he was easily overpowered, his army dispersed, and himself constrained once more to seek for refuge in the Deckan. Affairs in that quarter were favourable to his views.
During his first flight to the Deckan the king of Bijapur and Malik Amber had both remained steady to their engagement with Jehangir; and the king of Golconda had shown no disposition to assist him during his retreat through Telingana. Since that time the Moguls had taken part on the side of the king of Bijapur in a dispute between him and Malik Amber, and the latter chief retaliated by invading the Mogul dominions, and carrying his ravages to the neighbourhood of Burhanpur.
He was therefore prepared to receive Shah Jehan with open arms; and wrote to press him to undertake the siege of Burhanpur. Shah Jehan complied, and commenced his operations. The place made an obstinate defence; and, in the end, the return of Parviz and Mohabat to the Nerbadda obliged him to raise the siege and attend to his own safety.
His adherents now deserted him in greater numbers than before; and, being dispirited by ill health as well as adverse fortune,
he wrote to beg his father’s forgiveness, and to express his readiness to submit to his commands.
Jehangir directed him to give up the forts of Rotas in Behar, and Asirghar in the Deckan, both of which were still in his possession, and to send two of his sons, Dara Shekh and Aurangzib, to court, as hostages for his good behaviour.
These demands were complied with; but we are prevented judging of the treatment designed for Shah Jehan by an event which, for a time, threw the whole empire into confusion.
After the first retreat of Shah Jehan to the Deckan, Jehangir returned from Ajmir to Delhi; and believing all serious danger to his government to be at an end, he went on his usual expedition to Cashmir, and repeated it in the following year.
On the third year he was induced, by a new revolt of the Roushenias, to change his destination for Cabul; and although he soon heard of the suppression of the rebellion, and received the head of Ahmed, the son of Ahdad, who was the leader of it, he made no change in his determination.
But he was not destined to accomplish this journey in tranquillity; for no sooner was Shah Jehan reduced to submission than the domineering spirit of Nur Jehan proceeded to raise up new enemies.
Mohabat Khan was the son of Ghor Beg, a native of Cabul206. He had attained the rank of a commander of 500 under Akber, and
was raised to the highest dignities and employments by Jehangir. He had long enjoyed a high place in the opinion of the people207, and might now be considered as the most eminent of all the emperor’s subjects. This circumstance alone might have been sufficient to excite the jealousy of Nur Jehan. It is probable, however, that she also distrusted Mohabat for his old enmity to her brother, and his recent connection with Parviz.
Whatever might be the motive, he was now summoned to court to answer charges of oppression and embezzlement during the time of his occupation of Bengal. He at first made excuses for not attending, and was supported by Parviz; but, finding that his appearance was insisted on, he set out on his journey, accompanied by a body of 5000 Rajputs whom he had contrived to attach to his service.
Before his arrival, he betrothed his daughter to a young nobleman, named Berkhordar, without first asking the emperor’s leave, as was usual with persons of his high rank. Jehangir was enraged at this apparent defiance: he sent for Berkhordar, and, in one of those fits of brutality which still broke out, he ordered him to be stripped naked and beaten with thorns in his own presence; and then seized on the dowry he had received from Mohabat, and sequestrated all his other property.
When Mohabat himself approached the camp; he was informed that he would not be admitted to the emperor’s presence; and, perceiving that his ruin was predetermined, he resolved not to wait till he should be separated from his troops, but to strike a blow, the very audacity of which should go far to insure its success.
Jehangir was at this time encamped on the Hydaspes; and was preparing to cross it, by a bridge of boats, on his way to Cabul. He sent the army across the river in the first instance, intending to follow at his leisure when the crowd and confusion should be over. The whole of the troops had passed, and the emperor remained with his personal guards and attendants, when Mohabat, getting his men under arms a little before day-break, sent a detachment of 2000 men to seize the bridge, and moved, himself, with all speed, to the spot where the emperor was encamped. The place was quickly surrounded by his troops; while he himself, at the head of a chosen body of 200 men, pushed straight for the emperor’s tent. The attendants were overthrown and dispersed before they were aware of the nature of the attack; and Jehangir, who was not quite recovered from the effects of his last night’s debauch, was awakened by the rush of armed men around his bed: he started up, seized his sword, and, after staring wildly round, he perceived what had befallen him, and exclaimed, “Ah I Mohabat Khan! Traitor! what is this ?” Mohabat Khan replied by prostrating himself on
the ground, and lamenting that the persecution of his enemies had forced him to have recourse to violence to obtain access to his master. Jehangir at first could scarcely restrain his indignation; but, observing, amidst all Mohabat’s humility, that he was not disposed to be trifled with, he gradually accommodated himself to his circumstances, and endeavoured to conciliate his captor. Mohabat now suggested to him that, as it was near his usual time of mounting, it was desirable that he should show himself in public to remove alarm, and check the misrepresentations of the ill disposed. Jehangir assented, and endeavoured to withdraw, on pretence of dressing, to his female apartments, where he hoped to have an opportunity of consulting with Nur Jehan: being prevented from executing this design, he prepared himself where he was, and at first mounted a horse of his own in the midst of the Rajputs, who received him with respectful obeisances; but Mohabat, reflecting that he would be in safer custody, as well as more conspicuous, on an elephant whose driver could be depended on, urged him to adopt that mode of conveyance, and placed him on one of those animals with two armed Rajputs by his side. At this moment, the chief elephant driver, attempting to force his way through the Rajputs, and to seat the emperor on an elephant of his own, was dispatched on a sign from Mohabat. One of Jehangir’s personal attendants who reached the elephant, not without a wound, was allowed to mount with his master, and
the same permission was given to the servant who was intrusted with the bottle and goblet, so essential to Jehangir’s existence.
These examples of the consequences of resistance had their full effect on the emperor; and he proceeded very tractably to the tents of Mohabat Khan.
Meanwhile, Nur Jehan, though dismayed at this unexpected calamity, did not lose her presence of mind. When she found all access cut off to the emperor, she immediately put on a disguise, and set out for the bridge in a litter of the most ordinary description. As the guards were ordered to let every one pass, but permit no one to return, she crossed the river without obstruction, and was soon safe in the midst of the royal camp. She immediately sent for her brother and the principal chiefs, and bitterly reproached them with their cowardice and neglect, in allowing their sovereign to be made a prisoner before their eyes. She did not confine herself to invectives, but made immediate preparations to rescue her husband by force; and although Jehangir, probably in real apprehension of what might happen to himself in the confusion, sent a messenger with his signet to entreat that no attack might be made, she treated the message as a trick of Mohabat’s, and only suspended her proceedings until she could ascertain the real position of the enemy’s camp, and the part of it inhabited by the emperor. During the night, a nobleman named Fedai Khan made an attempt to
carry off Jehangir by swimming the river at the head of a small body of horse: his approach was discovered, and it was with difficulty he effected his escape, after losing several of his companions killed and drowned in the river.
Next morning, the whole army moved down to the attack. It was headed by Nur Jehan herself, who appeared on the howdah of a high elephant, with a bow and two quivers of arrows. The bridge had been burned by the Rajputs, and the army began to cross by a ford which they had discovered lower down the river. It was a narrow shoal, between deep water, and full of dangerous pools; so that the passage was not effected without the utmost disorder; many were obliged to swim, and all landed with their powder wetted, weighed down with their drenched clothes and armour, and obliged to engage hand to hand before they could make good their footing on the beach. Nur Jehan was among the foremost, on her elephant, with her brother and some of the principal chiefs around her: she with difficulty effected a landing, but found it impossible to make any impression on the enemy. The Rajputs had the advantage of the ground; they poured down showers of balls, arrows, and rockets on the troops in the ford; and, rushing down on those who were landing, drove them back into the water sword in hand.
A scene of universal tumult and confusion ensued: the ford was choked with horses and elephants; some fell and were trampled under foot;
others sunk in the pools, and were unable to regain the shoal; and numbers plunged into the river, and ran the chance of making good their passage, or being swept away by the stream. The most furious assault was directed on Nur Jehan: her elephant was surrounded by a crowd of Rajputs; her guards were overpowered and cut down at its feet; balls and arrows fell thick round her howdah; and one of the latter wounded the infant daughter of Shehriar, who was seated in her lap.
At length her driver was killed; and her elephant, having received a cut on the proboscis, dashed into the river, and soon sunk in deep water, and was carried down by the stream: after several plunges, he swam out and reached the shore, when Nur Jehan was surrounded by her women, who came shrieking and lamenting, and found her howdah stained with blood, and herself busied in extracting the arrow, and binding up the wound of the infant. Fedai Khan had made another attempt, during the confusion of the battle, to enter the enemy’s camp at an unsuspected point, and had penetrated so far that his balls and arrows fell within the tent where Jehangir was seated; but the general repulse forced him also to retire. He effected his retreat, wounded, and with the loss of many of his men, and immediately retired to the neighbouring fort of Rohtas, of which he was the governor.
Nur Jehan now saw that there was no hope of rescuing her husband by force; and she determined to join him in his captivity, and trust to
fortune and her own arts for effecting his deliverance.
Mohabat Khan, after his success at the Hydaspes, advanced to Attok, where Asof Khan had retired. His authority was now so well established that it was recognised by most of the army; and Asof Khan, and such leaders as attempted to hold out, were obliged in the end to give themselves up as prisoners. But the security and even the extent of Mohabat’s power was far from being so great as it appeared; his haughty and violent behaviour to those who had been opposed to him took deep root in their breasts. The ascendency of the Rajputs was offensive to the other troops; and, as the provinces were still faithful to the emperor, and two of his sons at large, Mohabat was obliged to use great management in his treatment of his prisoner, and to effect his objects by persuasion rather than by force or fear.
Jehangir, tutored by Nur Jehan, took full advantage of the circumstances in which he was placed: he affected to enter into Mohabat’s views with his usual facility; expressed himself pleased to be delivered from the thraldom in which he had been kept by Asof Khan; and even carried his duplicity so far as to warn Mohabat that he must not think Nur Jehan was as well disposed to him as he was himself; and to put him on his guard against little plots that were occasionally formed for thwarting his measures. Mohabat was completely blinded by these artifices; and thinking himself sure of
the emperor, he gave less heed to the designs of others.
During these proceedings the army advanced to Cabul; the neighbourhood of the Afghans made it necessary to increase the king’s guard, and Nur Jehan seized the opportunity of getting persons in her interest to offer their services in such a way as to avoid suspicion. Jehangir was allowed, at this time, to go out to shoot on an elephant, always surrounded by Rajputs, and with one in particular, who stuck to him like his shadow, and never for a moment let him out of his sight.
On one of these occasions an affray took place between the Rajputs with the emperor and some of the Ahdis, a select body of single horsemen, whose duty it was to attend on His Majesty. The largest part of the escort being composed of Rajputs, the Ahdis were overpowered and several of them killed; and on their complaining to Mohabat, he said he would be happy to punish the offence if they could bring it home to any individuals. The Ahdis, incensed at this evasion, fell with their whole force on a body of Rajputs, killed many, and drove others into the hills, where they were made slaves by the Hazarehs. Mohabat himself was exposed to so much danger in this disturbance that he was forced to take refuge in the king’s tent. Next day the ringleaders were punished; but a portion of the army was left in open enmity with the Rajputs, whose numbers were also diminished; and the Afghans of the neighbourhood showed every disposition to
take part with the emperor.
Nur Jehan could therefore pursue her schemes with less obstruction and less fear of detection. She employed agents to enlist fit men in scattered points at a distance, whence some were to straggle into camp as if in quest of service, while the others were to remain at their positions, and await her further orders. She next made Jehangir suggest a muster of the troops of all the jagirdars; and when she was summoned to produce her contingent, she affected to be indignant at being put on a level with an ordinary subject, and said she would take care that her muster should not turn out to her discredit. Accordingly she dressed out her old troops so as to make the smallness of their number conspicuous, entertained new levies as if to complete her contingent, and at the same time directed her recruits in the country to repair by twos and threes to the army.
All this could not be done without some alarm to Mohabat Khan; but he was no longer able to crush opposition by force, and he suffered himself to be persuaded by Jehangir to avoid personal risk by forbearing to accompany him to the muster of Nur Jehan’s contingent. Jehangir advanced alone to the review; and he had no sooner got to the centre of the line, than the troops closed in on him, cut off the Rajput horse by whom he was guarded; and, being speedily joined by their confederates, rendered it impossible to make any attempt to seize his person. Mohabat Khan perceived that his power was irretrievably lost; and
immediately withdrew to a distance with his troops, and entered on negotiation to procure his pardon and assurances of safety.
Jehangir was now restored to liberty, and Nur Jehan to power. She had relinquished none of her designs during the period of her adversity; and as she was obliged to make terms with Mohabat, to procure the release of her brother, who was his prisoner, she determined to connect the pardon of one enemy with the destruction of another; and made it a condition of the emperor’s reconciliation with Mohabat, that he should immediately have the use of his services against Shah Jehan. That prince, after his own submission and the misfortune of his father, had come from the Deckan to Ajmir with only 1000 men, in the hopes that his army might increase as he advanced; but Raja Kishen Sing, his principal adherent, dying at that place, instead of an accession, he suffered the loss of half his numbers, and was obliged, as the only means of securing his personal safety, to fly across the desert to Sind. He was then in the lowest state of depression, and would have retired to Persia if he had not been prevented by ill health. From this time his fortunes began to brighten: he heard of the death of Parviz at Burhanpur, and learned also that Mohabat, instead of pursuing him, was now himself pursued by an army of the emperor, with whom he had again come to a rupture.
Encouraged by these circumstances, he set off; through Guzerat, for the Deckan, where he was
soon joined by Mohabat, with such part of his force as still remained208.
Jehangir, soon after his deliverance, marched back from Cabul to Lahor. Some time was spent in restoring every branch of the government to its old footing; and when all had been satisfactorily arranged, the emperor set off on his annual visit to Cashmir.
Some time after his arrival in that valley, Shehriar was seized with so violent an illness that he was obliged to leave Cashmir for the warmer climate of Lahor. Not long after his departure, Jehangir was himself taken ill with a severe return of his asthma; and it soon became evident that his life was in great danger. An attempt was made to remove him to Lahor; his complaint was increased by the motion and passage of the mountains; and before he had got over a third of his journey he had a severe attack, and died soon after reaching his tent, in the sixtieth year of his age.
Several of the great men of the time of Akber died shortly before Jehangir. Aziz died before the usurpation of Mohabat; Malik Amber, during its continuance; and Mirza Khan (the Khani Khanan), shortly after it was suppressed.
Among the occurrences of Jehangir’s reign may be mentioned an edict against the use of tobacco, which was then a novelty. It would be curious, as marking the epoch of the introduction of a practice now universal in Asia, if the name of tambacu, by which it is known in most eastern countries, were not of itself sufficient to show its American origin.209
189. Price’s Memoirs of Jehangir, p. 88.
190. Khafi Khan.
191. Memoirs of Jehangir, p. 89. The general account of the rebellion is from Jehangir’s Memoirs, Khafi Khan, and Gladwin.
192. Grant’s History of the Marattas, vol. i. p. 95.
193. Among other marks of sovereignty, her name was put on the coin along with the emperor’s.
194. Great improvements must have taken place in later times; for Khafi Khan mentions that the same quantity of ottar (one tala), which he remembers selling in the beginning of Aurangzib’s reign for eighty rupees, was to be had, when he wrote, for seven or eight.
195. The name of this prince was Khurram, and he bore no other at the commencement of his father’s reign; but as he received the title of Shah Jehan long before his own accession, it will prevent confusion to give him that name from the first.
196. He arrived at Ajmir on December 23. 1615, accompanied the king to Mandu and Guzerat, and left him in the end of 1618.
197. It must, however, be observed, that this governor, Zulfikar Khan, was very inimical to the English, and had lately concluded an agreement with the Portuguese, by which he engaged to exclude English vessels from his ports. The agreement was not ratified by the emperor; and Zulfikar was constrained, by his duty to his own government, to maintain outward appearances towards a foreign ambassador. (Orine, vol. iii. p. 361, &c.)
198. Such were Mandu and Todah, of both of which he speaks in the highest terms of admiration. Mandu, the former capital of Malwa, is still generally known; but Todah (the capital of a Rajput prince in the province of Ajmir) enjoys no such celebrity.
199. Roe. Terry. Hawkins.
200. Among the articles he recommends for presents, are historical paintings, night-pieces, and landscapes: “but good, for they understand them as well as we.”
201. Roe. Hawkins. Terry. Coryat.
202. Sir T. Roe once met Khusru, while moving in loose custody, along with the army. He stopped under the shade of a tree during the heat, and sent for Sir Thomas, who was near. His person was comely, his countenance cheerful, and his beard was grown down to his girdle. He knew nothing of what was passing, and had not heard either of the English or their ambassador.
203. From this time some writers call him Shah Khurram, and others Shah Jehan.
204. “In following the Mogul’s court,” says Roe, “I encountered all the inconveniences that men are subject to under an ill government and an intemperate climate.”
205. Khafi Khan.
206. Memoirs of Jehangir, p. 30.
207. Sir T. Roe, in 1616, says of him, that he is a noble and generous man, well beloved by all men, and the king’s only favourite, but cares not for the prince (Shah Jehan).
208. Gladwin’s Jehangir. Khafi Khan makes an intermediate reconciliation between Mohabat and Jehangir, and another visit of Mohabat to court, followed by a fresh revolt: but these rapid changes appear inexplicable; and it is not easy to believe that if Mohabat had been in Nur Jehan’s bands, having no longer her brother for a hostage, he would again have been allowed to retire in safety.
209. Where no other authority is quoted for facts in this reign, they are taken from Khafi Khan, from Gladwin’s “Reign of Jehangir,” or from the autobiographical Memoirs of the emperor. Khafi Khan’s history is compiled from various accounts written and oral. Mr. Gladwin’s is evidently all drawn from written histories, but he only quotes the “Maasiri Jehangiri,” and the Memoirs of the emperor, of which last he possessed a much more complete copy than that translated by Major Price. The Memoirs themselves contain a great deal of information regarding particular periods and the characters of individuals; and though written in a rambling and inaccurate manner, are not without signs of talent. A large portion of them is composed of stories of magical performances; some, though greatly exaggerated, are obviously tricks of ventriloquism and legerdemain, but all regarded by the emperor as in some degree the result of supernatural power. Those fables would lead to a lower estimate of his intelligence, if we did not remember the demonology of his contemporary in England.
This collection transcribed by Chris Gage