1 WHEN Baber, the founder of the Mogul dynasty, died, in I530,his son, Humayoon, became ruler of Hindoostan. The empire was however, so much weakened by cessions of territory to three younger sons, that the Mahomedan princes of Delhi undertook to expel Humayoon from the throne and the country. They were assisted in this attempt by the Portuguese and the Afghans, and were so successful that Humayoon was a wanderer in the outskirts of India and in Persia for about twenty-five years, when, with the assistance of a Persian army, he was enabled to regain his kingdom.
2 About eleven years after being driven from Delhi he married a beautiful young girl called Hameedah, who gave birth the succeeding year to a son. This event occurred at a place called Amercot, a fortified Hindoo city, whose ruler was at the time assisting the dethroned monarch with troops and money.
3Humayoon was on the march, when the glad tidings that a son was born to him reached him. It is an Eastern custom, upon the birth of a son, for the father to bestow valuable presents upon his relations, friends, and servants ; but the impoverished and fugitive monarch could not, of course, do this, so when all the officers of the army hastened to his tent to offer congratulations, he could only divide a pod of musk among them. He called for a China plate, and, breaking the musk into pieces upon it, remarked : " I can make you no greater present, my noble friends, upon the birth of my son, but I expect his fame will one day fill the world, as the perfume of this musk fills this apartment."
4 This son was named Jalal-oo-Deen, the " Glory of Faith," and afterward surnamed Akbar, or the " Great." After his birth the fortunes of his father became darker than before, and the royal infant was several times taken prisoner by his paternal uncles, who by this time were also arrayed in antagonism to Humayoon.
5 In 1555, however, by the help of his Persian allies, the long-exiled king regained his throne, and six months afterward was accidentally killed. He had been sitting on the top of his palace to enjoy the evening air, and was descending the stairs, when the muezzin's call to prayer sounded from the minaret of a neighboring mosque. The king attempted to kneel, to repeat the usual prayer, but his feet became entangled in his long robe, and he fell down the steps, receiving an injury on the head which resulted in death.
6 This event occurred early in 1556, and Akbar, then only thirteen years of age, was seated, without serious opposition, upon the throne. For five years he submitted peaceably to the sway of his capable, but ambitious and arrogant, prime minister. Byram Khan, keeping a keen eye, however, upon the course of events. It is probable that the wily premier thought he could keep the young king in that subordinate position, but in this expectation he was greatly mistaken.
7 Akbar was destined to make his long reign as illustrious in the annals of Indian history as is that of his contemporary, Queen Elizabeth, in the history of England. He suddenly seized the reins of power, and issued an edict that only orders signed by his own hand were thenceforth to be obeyed. The enraged premier at first rebelled, but was subdued and pardoned, and, at his own request, was allowed to set out on a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy shrine of faithful Mahomedans. But he was pursued by an Afghan, whose father he had caused to be put to death, and murdered before he could get away from India. Akbar then set himself to face the situation, and study the best means to attach his Hindoo subjects to his person and dynasty.
8 It was a gigantic subject to consider. The Hindoos of the north-west were in a tolerable degree of subjection and satisfaction with the Mogul government. They had found it, on the whole, more endurable than that of the early Mahomedan rulers, and were content to accept situations in its military and civil services, and be faithful subjects as long as there should be no other way open. But in the Deccan and Rajpootana it was very different. There were numerous small Hindoo kingdoms all over these territories, whose male population were almost wholly warriors. These warlike people could not be as easily subjugated as was the little kingdom of Gurrah and other aboriginal tribes, and when subjugated could not be depended upon to furnish happy and peaceable citizens. Akbar resolved to try diplomacy, and see if he could not attach some of the warlike Rajputs to him by the ties of marriage. He therefore sent messengers to visit the Rajpootana chieftains, and to ascertain where there were marriageable young ladies for whose hands he might sue. The result of all this planning and negotiation was, that Akbar received two Hindoo princesses in marriage — one of them the daughter of the Raja of Jodhpore, and the other the daughter of the Raja of Jeypore. The latter princess, Jodh Baig, was to be the queen elect, and her son the successor on the throne. These Hindoo Rajas evidently did not think enough of their faith to sacrifice their worldly prospects for it. Nothing could be further from the spirit of Hindooism than to allow the daughter of a pure twice- born Brahmin to wed with an outcast, which, according to their belief, all people, even kings, are, if not Hindoos. But the Hindoos are not blind to material advantages, and can even sacrifice religious scruples to gain them.
9 Of course, they knew that to refuse the offered alliance would be to bring the Mogul army at once upon them, which would soon take from them every vestige of feudal independence. They, therefore, made a virtue of necessity, and with as good a grace as possible consented to be honored by an alliance with the imperial power.
10No further mention is made in history of the daughter of the Jodhpore Raja ; but Jodh Baie, as mother of Jahangeer, the successor of Akbar, has honorable mention. It is recorded of her that she was of a particularly amiable and affectionate disposition, and remarkably free from bigotry ; and such was her intelligence in matters of State, that the great Akbar did not disdain to seek her counsel, and often to be governed by it. It seems a strange anomaly, indeed, that the closely-indoctrinated daughter of a haughty Hindoo prince should become the wife and companion of the free-thinking and all-powerful Mogul king, and that he should give her so honorable a place in his affections and counsels. It is evident that the Moguls had greater respect for women than had the Mahomedans at that time, although not more, perhaps, than the Hindoos. However that may have been, the Sultana Jodh Baie was an acknowledged power in the land, and the Hindoo subjects of Akbar were drawn, through her influence, much closer to him than they would otherwise have been.
11 The legislation of Akbar was of a wise, protective kind, and the Hindoos were not slow to attribute the protection and favor they enjoyed to the influence of the good queen.
12 It is recorded by Hindoostanee writers that, some months after the arrival of Jodh Baie in the king's seraglio, she accompanied him on a pilgrimage to the city of Ajmere. The object of this journey was to visit the shrine of a celebrated moulvai, or priest, in order to gain some assurance in regard to the birth of a son who should be his successor.
13 The royal pair walked the whole distance of about two hundred miles in stages of six miles a day. Carpets were spread the whole distance for the queen to walk upon, so that her feet should not be injured. It would be sad, indeed, for a Hindoo lady of high rank to injure her feet, for they are colored, ringed, and cared for as tenderly as are her hands.
14 The sultana could then walk pleasantly along her carpeted way, untouched by the dust of the road, and untroubled by observation, for there were kanats, or cloth walls, erected on either side, so that her seclusion as a purdah-nisheen, or vailed lady, should not be violated. But even with all these comforts the daily walk of six miles must have been rather violent exercise for the high-born eastern lady, and one cannot help surmising that a palanquin and bearers were smuggled into the inclosure which assisted the royal progress. However, in some way the pilgrimage was completed, and high towers were built at the resthouses where the royal côrtege halted each night.
15 In due time Akbar consulted the oracle in regard to the matter upon his mind, and in answer the priest, it is said, appeared to the king in a dream, and directed him to return to Agra, and to visit a priest of great sanctity, called Sheik Suleem, who lived twenty-two miles from Agra, at a place called Futtepore-Seekree. They performed this journey likewise, and presented themselves before the priest, who predicted that a son would surely be born to them, who would live to a good old age, and would attain to great honor and glory. The king was greatly delighted at this prophecy, and desired the priest to take up his abode in the royal palace in Agra, and to become his confidential adviser ; but he declined these flattering proposals, and expressed his determination to live and die in Futtepore-Seekree.
16 Akbar then resolved to remain in the same place, and to remove his court there. He at once began to arrange for mosques and palaces to be erected, and the hitherto quiet hamlet became suddenly a theater of royal display and splendor.
17 Within a year the Sultana Jodh Bale gave birth to a son, to whom they gave the name of the priest "Suleem," as a token of their gratitude. This name was borne by the prince thirty-five years, until he was raised to the throne with the title of Jahangeer, or " Conqueror of the World."
18 There are still many remains of the palaces and mosques that were erected in honor of the birth of Prince Suleem. They are situated within a walled inclosure which is seven miles in circumference, embracing the two villages of Futtepore and Seekree. Nearly in the center of this inclosure is a huge rock more than a mile in length. The buildings were very handsome, and were built in a very substantial manner of red sandstone and marble. On one of the principal gateways is the following inscription from the sacred traditions of the Mahomedans: " Said Jesus, on whom be peace, the world is a bridge ; pass over it, but build no house there ; he who hopeth for an hour may hope for an eternity ; the world is but an hour, spend it in devotion."
19 After a few years it became evident that Futtepore-Seekree would never be popular as the Mogul capital, and Akbar removed the royal residence again to Agra. His Court was at this time most brilliant. He affected great liberality of views in religious matters, and welcomed learned men to his Court for the purpose of discussion. Among these were several Englishmen and Europeans ; and there are reliable and very interesting statements from them in regard to the customs and manners of the Mogul nobility. The following paragraph gives a description of the personal appearance of Akbar : —
20 "The door of the khwabgah (place of dreams, that is, bed-chamber) opens, the large drums thunder from the naubat-khnana (royal orchestra) over the great doorway of the palace. A nakib issues forth, mace in hand, and proclaims in the monotonous tone so familiar to dwellers in the East the titles of his master. Immediately after him appears in the doorway a broad-chested man of some what advanced years. He is simply dressed, but there is a certain chasteness in the simplicity which shows that some little care has been taken to produce it. The material is white muslin, but gold thread is introduced in many parts with a very tasteful effect. You remark his arms as they are unusually long, his face is very clear, and the color of the blood so discernible as to give a rich tinge to his olive complexion ; his eyebrows are joined and lowering, which tends to give a severe expression to the excessively bright eyes which they half conceal. This is Akbar. His appearance is the signal for a loud and general cry of ' Allah-oo- Akbar,' ' God is great ;' to which the king, standing still in the door- way, and bowing slightly, responds, 'Jilli Jallalihoo,' 'his majesty is glorious.' This form of salutation and answer was originated by Akbar."
21 True to his policy, Akbar studied the Sanscrit language, and paid great attention to Hindoo literature. He interfered with none of the rites of their faith, except the cruel practices that had corrupted it. He forbade trials by ordeals, and the slaughter of animals for sacrifice ; also the marriages of children. He sternly prohibited Suttee, or widow-burning, and allowed Hindoo widows to remarry. On one occasion hearing that his father-in-law, the Raja of Jodhpore, was about to force his son's widow to burn on the funeral pile of her husband, he personally interfered, and prevented the consummation of the deed.
22 He also put a stop to the practice of enslaving captives taken in war. Almost the only innovations upon religious customs which he made were in the interests of humanity, and his magnanimous policy, if carried out by his successors, would have wrought a great change in the country.
23 But it was left to a Christian Government to banish the cruelties of heathenism from the land of the Hindoos, and to educate the people in the principles of philanthropy.
24 There are no further memoirs of Jodh Baie except that upon her death — the exact date of which is not known — Akbar issued an edict that the court should go into mourning, and that the officers of the army, Hindoo as well as Mahomedan, should shave the mustache and beard. To make the matter sure, the royal barbers were to execute this mandate. All went on well until they came to the quarters of Rao Bhoy, the chief of the tribe of Hara, an inferior caste of Hindoos who were excellent warriors, and had been in this capacity of great assistance to Akbar. There they were repulsed with threats. This rebellion was reported to Akbar, who was much incensed at the intelligence, and forgetting for the moment the great services rendered him by the chief recusant, ordered that he should be pinioned and shaved by force. "But," says the historian, " the barbers might as well have attempted to shave a tiger!" The Haras — as they were called— hastened to arm themselves, and there would soon have been bloodshed to commemorate the death of Jodh Baie had not the king repented of his folly and hastened to restore peace. He rode on his elephant to the camp, and, alighting, sought the incensed chieftain, and with words of praise and affection sought to calm his perturbed spirit. Rao Bhoy was glad to be conciliated, for he was strongly attached to the king. With true oriental adroitness he excused himself from obeying the mandate by saying, "An eater of pork, like me, is unworthy to put his lip in mourning for the queen!" As Mahomedans hate swine's flesh, and high-caste Hindoos abhor all meats, this excuse was very plausible. Akbar was delighted to have even so much of an acknowledgment as this, and, embracing the Rao, carried him off on his elephant, as was his wont, to the royal grounds.
25 Akbar erected a beautiful mausoleum over the remains of Jodh Baie, which was to be seen in Agra until about thirty years ago. It was then destroyed on account of some improvements for the military, by order of the British government, greatly to the regret of the antiquary and all those interested in Indian history, and the memorials of that particularly interesting period in it when the Mogul dynasty was in power.