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AKBAR AND SALIMA SULTANA BEGUM
Salima Begum was a Mughal Empress.She was the third wife of Akbar the great.She was the second wife of Bairam Khan, the mentor of Emperor Akbar.After the death of her first husband Bairam Khan, she married her cousin Akbar. She was one of the chief queens of Akbar.
This article mainly concentrates on the relation between Akbar and Salima.
There are two views regarding the relationship.From the 16th century to the 20th century most of the historians documented that they had an excellent husband-wife relationship.But after the introduction of Jodha love story, a new version was introduced as if Salima was a motherly figure to Akbar.
I would discuss the various aspects events of Salima Sultana Begum; then we will come to a conclusion regarding their relationship.
SALIMA BEGUM’S MARRIAGE LIFE:
Salima was the daughter of Gulrangbegum, the third daughter of Emperor Babur.Her father was Nurud-din Muhammad Mirza.She was betrothed to Bairam Khan by her uncle Humayun during his reign.Humayun had promised to Bairam Khan that once the Mughals conquered Hindustan, he would get Salima married to Bairam Khan, Unfortunately, Humayun passed away soon.The Mughals captured and created a firm hold on Hindustan only under his son Akbar.Bairam Khan had helped Akbar to get hold of Hindustan.Bairam Khan reminded Akbar of the promises Humayun had done for him and asked for the hands of Salima(Akbarnama Volume II page 90).Akbar was cornered to accept the proposal for the sake of his father.History doesnt say whether Akbar was for or against the wedding.
Salima was 19 years when she was married to Bairam Khan who was in his late 50’s.It was a totally a mismatch.It was unfair on Bairam Khan to ask for Salima’s hands who was very intelligent, well cultured and a charming lady((The Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri page no 232).She was a true royal blood.Humayun had betrothed her to Bairam based on a previous wedding made by Babur.
There is no documentation in any Historical Chronicle about Salima’s and Bairam khan’s wedding life.She being a true royal blood would have been loyal to her husband.
WAS AKBAR For SALIMA BAIRAM KHAN’S WEDDING:
Akbar was three years younger to Salima.One should read the description made by Abulfazl on Bairam khan’s wedding.
The following is an extract from Akbarnama regarding the wedding;(Akbarnama Volume II page 90)
“When Jālandhar became a seat of enlightenment owing to the arrival of the sublime camp, the Khān-Khānān applied his mind to the fulfilment of his claim, and begged the grant thereof from H.M. the Shāhinshāh. H.M., as under the guise of indifference he was treading the path of conciliation, signified his assent to the request, and promoted the marriage. All the Court ladies and specially Bīka Maham Anaga showed great alacrity in furthering the marriage, and accordingly the marriage and the bridal procession (zifāf) took place within one week. M. Nūru-d-dīn was son of M. ‘Alāūddīn Muḥammad, who was son of Khwāja Ḥasan, commonly known as Khwājazāda Caghānīān. ThisKhwājazāda was grandson of K. Ḥasan ‘Aar, who again was the direct descendant of K. Alāūddīn who was the firstKhalīfa of Khwāja Naqshaband. Let it not be concealed that the Khwājazāda Caghānīān was son-in-law of Sulān Maḥmūd, son of Sultan Abū Saīd Mīrzā. Pasha the daughter of ‘Alī Shukr Beg the third ancestor of Bairām Khān, and who was married to S. Maḥmūd, gave a daughter whom she had by the Mīrzā to the Khwājazāda. H.M. Getī Sitānī Firdūs Makānī on considering these relationships showed favour to M. Nūru-d-dīn Muḥmud, in whom he saw marks of sincerity and loyalty, and gave in marriage to him his daughter Gulbarg Begum. Salīma, who was distinguished for good qualities, purity and nobility of disposition, was born of that holy one (Gulbarg B.). H.M. Jahānbānī Jinnat Āshiyānī had thought of this connection (the marriage with Bairām) on account of those relationships. Good God! What an imitative world it is! Because S. Mahmūd made a mistake aboutKhwājazāda Caghāniān, in that he made an alliance with a strange family, why was it that H.M. Firdūs Makānī followed this up by making an alliance with M. Nūru-d-dīn Muḥd., and for what reason did this alliance take place now in pursuance of what had gone before?”
Abul Fazl was a mirror image of Akbar;s mind.Abul Fazl was the historian appointed by Akbar to wrire about his reign.Akbar had also helped him in writing Akbarnama.After writing every chapter in Akbarnama.Abul Fazl used to read it to Akbar.So the content had been written according to Akbar’s view.
One could read in the extract that Akbar had agreed to the wedding under the guise of indifference.He seemed to be disinterested in the wedding.Bairam Khan was a very powerful statesman at that time.Akbar was a puppet under him.It was the initial stages of indifference between Akbar and Bairam Khan(Akbarnama Volume II page 89).Infact Akbar had a tough time in taking over power from Bairam Khan.Akbar was scared about Bairam khan that without his knowledge, he went to Delhi and from there he started accumulating power with the help of Maham Anga and overthrew Bairam Khan.Bairam Khan was also at fault.He started giving a lot of favor to his own relatives.All the royal servants were ill-treated and insulted(Akbarnama Volume II page 138).So Akbar was forced to take power.This shows that though he was disinterested in the wedding he was forced to agree.Moreover Akbar wanted to keep up his father’s promise.
One could read in the Extract how Abul Fazl had used the word mistake and had blamed both Babur and Humayun for this wedding.So it is clear Akbar had been very much against the wedding but for the sake of his father had agreed to it.Akbar should have loved Salima even before her wedding with Bairam Khan.It could have been a one sided love.But Salima was a well cultured lady that she was loyal to her first husband till his death.Akbar had no role in the assasination of Bairam Khan.Akbar was loyal to Bairam Khan till the end of his life.
Bairam Khan’s assassination
After Bairam Khan’s death Akbar married salima(The Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri page no 232);.Infact Akbar and Salima were a better match than Bairam khan.Akbar had done a real favor for his cousin in marrying her who had become a young widow at the age of 21.
This clearly shows that Akbar had loved his cousin and could have been a single sided love.But we should not view it in a vulgar way for both of them were decent.After Bairam Khans death he married her and they should have had a good husband wife relationship.
OPINION OF BADONI:
Now let us see what Badoini had said about Salima.Badoini is another Historian who was in Akbars court and had written a book without the Emperor’s knowledge.He seemed to have an aversion towards Salima for one of his increment was cut by Akbar as a book of Salima was missing from the library(Muntakhab At Tawarikh English Vol. 2 page 389).Akbar suspected that Badoini had taken it and had punished him.Badoini usually do not like individuals who were close to Akbar,let it be wife,courtier or Akbar’s friend.He had infact adressed Salima to be Bairam Khan’s wife and later to have entered Akbar’s harem.He was harsh in mentioning her as a lady who had entered the emperor’s harem rather than Akbar’ wife(Muntakhab At Tawarikh English Vol. 2-page 216) This show the hatred Badoini had for Salima because Akbar loved her.
Akbar gave special permission to Salima to accompany Gulbadan to Mecca.Salima atga who turned to be rebellion was pardoned by Akbar for the sake of his favorite wife Salima.
AKBAR SALIMA’S LOVE AT OLD AGE:
Akbar was attached to Salima even in his old age.It was Akbar who selected her to go and negotiate with his son Jahangir.(AkbarnamaVolume III page no 815).This shows the trust he had on Salima.
When Akbar returned from Deccan he was entertained on the way to Agra near Fathepur by Salima in a garden specially laid out for her by Khwaja sandal.(AkbarnamaVolume III 795 see the footnote.It was revealed by Faizi)
SALIMA’S LOVE FOR AKBAR
Salima Was also equally loyal to Akbar.She was very affectionate with her stepson Jahangir and got pardoning from Akbar when he was in rebellion.Infact she was loyal to Akbar even after his death.She got pardoning from Jahangir for Aziz koka,the favorite foster brother of Akbar.This shows the love she had for Akbar and remembered him even after his death.
HISTORIANS VIEW ON AKBAR SALIMA’S RELATIONSHIP:
Historian Vincent had written in his book that Salima was the mother of Akbar’s son,though there is no clear documentation about it in historical chronicles.But this shows Vincent had felt Akbar and Salima has good husband wife relationship(Akbar the Great Mogul, 1542-1605 page no 102).Similarly Drik Collier in his novel had written that Salima was Akbars favorite wife and also had described their romance in a beautiful way.So all the historians had an opinion that Akbar and Salima had husband and wife relationship.
RUMOR BECAUSE OF THE FAKE JODHA AKBAR LOVE STORY:
It was only after the fake Jodha Akbar love story that the fans started the new rumor that they did not have a husband and wife relationship.The fans wanted Akbar to have sexual life only with Jodha which Akbar will not do even in his dream.Salima was one of Akbar’s favorite wife.Akbar had multiple favorite wives in his harem,which the fans failed to realize.Because of this the fans started spreading multiple rumors. They also started spreading the rumor that Akbar married her to save Rahim and her from Mahamanga.Akbar was all powerful.If that was the motive he could have made her stay with his mother and aunt and give her security.That case Akbar should marry a lot of ladies.It was only the love he had for Salima that he made her one of his chief wife.
Now we had come to the conclusion that Akbar had good marraige life with Salima and she was one of his favorite wife.Salima was loyal to Bairam Khan as well as to Akbar,that was the reason she chose a garden as her final resting place(The Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri page no 233).She was a lady to be respected.