Gulbadin Bano: Princess who changed the concept of luxury

Gulbadin Bano: Princess who changed the concept of luxury
Gulbadin Bano: Princess who changed the concept of luxury

Gulbadin Bano: Princess who changed the concept of luxury

Friday, November 17, 1525, was the day when an army marched from Deh Yaqub area of ​​Kabul and changed the history of India.

This army belonged to the Mughal emperor Zahiruddin Muhammad Babar. Gulbadin Bano, Babar’s two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, witnessed the departure of this magnificent army.

So she writes, “I saw the army go and the thought came to my mind that in an instant this scene would disappear from sight.” So for months and years after the army left, that view of Kabul’s eastern road remained in sight.

The departure of the army may have been mentioned so much later that the scene would have been captured in the eye of Gulbadin’s imagination, otherwise it would have been very difficult for a girl at such a young age (two and a half years old) to remember anything. Is.


However, when Babar’s family was called to Agra after the decisive battle of Panipat in 1526, Gulbadin remembers going to his father Jan (Babar). She was about five years old at the time and when her memoir of that age adorned the page of the paper, it provided a new perspective on Mughal history.


Gulbadin Bano wrote in Humayun Namah that a year after the conquest of Rana Sanga, when Mahim Begum (Babar’s favorite wife) came to India from Kabul, this insignificant (Gulbadin Begum) also accompanied Hazrat Badshah. The Holy Prophet succeeded. When the expedition reached Begum Kohl, Hazrat Badshah sent two palanquins for you. From Kol to Agra, Mahim Begum rode with nine riders and eighteen Ramd horses.

In front of her were a hundred Mughals who were well-dressed and well-dressed.
This is the observation of five-year-old Gulbadin Bano during her visit to India which she has presented in her book ‘Humayun Nama’.

Najaf Haider, a professor at the Center for Historical Studies at the School of Social Sciences at the renowned Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, told the BBC that history was silent about Gulbadin Begum. His book ‘Ahwal Humayun Badshah’ which is commonly known as ‘Humayun Namah’ is his greatest introduction.

He said that in this too he has mentioned very little about himself but the study of the book gives a good idea of ​​his importance in the Haram and the Mughal Empire and the study of the book shows that he used to talk about the Haram. What is the challenge?

Rahma Javed Rashid, an assistant professor of history and culture at the historic Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi, told the BBC: Begum, but in fact she was born from the womb of Dildar Begum.

In Humayun’s letter, Gulbadin Begum also mentions that when he was two years old, he was handed over to him on the orders of Mahim Begum. In addition to her son Humayun and other children, Mahim Begum also raised and trained her stepchildren. Gulbadin Begum learned the manners of the court and the royal palace under the patronage of Mahim Begum.

Dr. Rahma quotes Humayun Nama as saying that when she reached Agra, she was greeted and seated on a carpet adorned in a garden and the court ministers brought offerings for the five-year-old girl.
In Humayun’s letter, Gulbadin Begum is rich: ‘The minister of King Babam (Babar) came to Nogram with his wife Sultanam to receive him. I was in a palanquin. My uncles dropped me off in the garden.

There he spread a small carpet and made me sit on it and taught me that when the king’s minister came, you should stand up and meet him. When they came, I stood up and met them. His wife Sultanam also came. I unknowingly wanted to stand up for him but the minister objected that this is your old mama. What does it take to stand up? Your father has a lot of respect for this old slave. ‘

She further writes that ‘Wazir Sahib offered me five thousand Shah Rakhis and five horses which I accepted and his wife Sultanam offered three thousand Shah Rakhis and three horses and said that the food is ready, if you eat Servants will be honored. I accepted their invitation and a throne was laid in a good place and a red silk sheet was laid on it with the margin of Gujarati Zarbafat, and six tents of red silk and Zarbafat were erected in which Each had its own color.

He described his meeting with his father, King Babar, as follows: ‘I was sitting next to the minister, eating about fifty roasted sheep and bread and syrup and many fruits. After the meal, I sat in my palanquin I fell at your feet, you behaved very kindly and sat me on your lap for a while, at that time I was so happy that I could not be happier.

The picture of the Mughal harem, written by Gulbadin Begum, is very different from the one presented by ordinary Indian and European historians.

Ruby Lal, a well-known Indian historian based in the United States and author of a book on Queen Noorjahan, writes that many male historians have described the shrine as a “feminine, sexual, isolated place.” For them, it is a place of celebration and luxury where kings and princes used to go for their comfort.

According to Ruby Lal, Gulbadin’s memoir presents a complex picture of the harem, which is categorized by relationships and age.

Ruby Lal compared an excerpt from Gulbadin Begum to an excerpt from KS Lal’s book Mughal Haram (published in 1988) and said that there is a difference between the two.

He has written about the memory of Gulbadin Begum that it is the only work of 16th century Mughal India written by a woman.

Speaking to the BBC, Dr Rahma said that the concept of Haram that emerges from Gulbadin Begum’s book Ahwal Humayun Badshah is completely different from the general concept. Its importance is also evident in the fact that it was written by a woman who has been a part of it and has had her own strong position.

He said that if Babar’s wife Mahim Begum was left out, then after Babar’s sister Khanzada Begum, only Gulbadin Begum’s parrot would speak in the Haram. Khanzada Begum had reached India with another caravan.

The importance of Gulbadin Begum can be gauged from the fact that not only Humayun but also Kamran Mirza and Hindal Mirza wanted to keep her with them.

Gulbadin Begum writes: “As long as Akam (Mahim Begum) was alive, she often saw the king (Humayun) in her treasury. When Akam’s condition deteriorated, he told me that it was very difficult for Babar’s daughters to see their brother in Gulberg Bibi’s house

. It was as if Akam’s words had settled in the heart and mind of the king that as long as he remained in India, he would come to our house and meet us and continue to show us immense kindness and generosity and compassion.

Hazrat Badshah used to visit the house of this Khaksar and all the married ladies like Masooma Sultan Begum and Gulrang Begum and Gul Chehra Begum etc. used to come to this Khaksar’s house and pay their respects to Hazrat Badshah.

After the death of King Babam (Babar) and Akam (Mahim), King Humayun would be so kind and sympathetic to this broken heart and would be so kind to this poor man that I forgot my orphanhood and helplessness.
Gulbadin Begum must have been barely 12 or 13 years old when the period of trouble started for Humayun and besides Sher Khan (Sher Shah Suri) she also started having problems with her brothers (Kamran, Hindal and Askari). Handal had assassinated Sheikh Bahlol due to which Humayun got the lamp.

But Gulbadin Begum writes, “A few days later, Hazrat Badshah came to visit my mother and she had brought the Holy Quran with her. He said that people should leave for a while. When they all left and were alone,

he addressed Azam (Dildar Begum) and this insignificant and Afghani Agcha, and Gulnar Agcha, Nargal Agcha and my ego and said that Hindal is my hand and arm, as we have seen. Sight is required, just as strength and arm are required and required.

What can I complain to Mirza Hindal about the case of Sheikh Bahlol? The divine destiny was fulfilled. Now in my heart there is no mail from Hindal. If you are not sure … You raised the Qur’an, but my mother and this insignificant one took it in your hand and everyone said that it was all true. Why do you say such things? ‘

Why did Humayun need to persuade his aunts and uncles and aunts for something but this incident shows that women had their Muslim status in the Mughal harem.

Gulbadin Begum’s importance is also reflected in the fact that she was chosen by King Humayun to celebrate Hindal. So she writes: ‘You said again, Gulbadin, what good would it be if you went and brought your brother Hindal. My mother said she was a little girl and had never traveled alone.

If you allow me to go myself. Hazrat Badshah said, “If I give you this trouble, it is because the grief of the children is obligatory on the parents.” If you go, you will have this kindness and sympathy for us.
So she goes and brings Hindal and Hindal justifies the killing of Sheikh Bahlol by saying that ‘they used to send armor, saddle and soldier’s equipment to Sher Khan so I killed him. ۔ ‘

Marriage also reveals the influence and importance of Mughal women.

Gulbadin Begum does not mention her marriage but Syed Ibn Hassan, a professor at Sindhia College Gwalior who wrote a book on her, writes in the first half of the twentieth century that Humayun was defeated in the battle of Chosa with Sher Khan.

“Many women were killed in the war. It is said that so many lives of women and children were lost in this war that never before in the wars of India have so many lives of women and children been lost.

Finally, after the defeat in this battle, Humayun ran helplessly and crossed the river with difficulty and reached Agra and inquired about the situation from Gulbadin Begum. Gulbadin was 17 at the time and married. Gulbadin was married to her cousin, Khizr Khawaja Khan.

After the incident, Kamran wanted to take Gulbadin with him, but Gulbadin did not consider it appropriate to leave Humayun in this condition and flatly refused.

Professor Syed Hassan writes: “Gulbadin Begum was a very intelligent and sensible girl. Kamran wanted to protect her because she had a special relationship with her husband’s family. And he wanted them to be his helpers. “

Regarding Kamran’s Marwat, Gulbadin Begum has also written that he wanted to write a letter to Khwaja Khidr but he flatly refused but Kamran did not like him.

An interesting incident in this regard, Professor Najaf Haider, who specializes in history and Mughal period at JNU, said, “Someone asked me why you don’t write a letter to your husband, so he said if you want to read it, don’t write.” ‘

While this is a testament to their sense of humor, it is also a testament to the fact that the Mughal princesses were very interested in science and literature. Najaf Haider says that Gulbadin Begum was not only an expert in Persian but also in Turkish.

In addition to the royal women, the wives of ministers and nobles were also dignified before the Mughal emperors. Thus, Humayun’s marriage to Hamida Bano Begum is mentioned by Gulbadin Begum herself, which shows how dignified women lived in the Mughal Haram.

He wrote that before the departure of Bukhar, “the king came to see my mother.” The women of Mirza Hindal’s house also came to greet the king. Seeing Hamida Bano Begum among them, he asked, “Who is this?” Others said, “Mir Baba is the daughter of a friend.” The Eunuch is standing in front of you. Seeing this, you said that this boy was one of our loved ones. And looking at Hamida Bano Begum, he said that we also became close to her.

In those days, Hamida Begum often lived with Mirza Hindal. The next day the king came to see my mother Dildar Begum again and said Mir Baba Dost is one of our dear ones. It would be great if you could marry his daughter to us. ‘Hearing this, Mirza Hindal apologized and said that I consider this girl as my daughter and sister. You are the king so that you do not get along with him and it hurts you. At this the king became angry and got up and left.


“After that, my mother wrote a letter and sent it to you saying that the girl’s mother is even more proud. Hazrat Badshah wrote in reply, “I like your story.” Whatever they are proud of is acceptable to them. Insha’Allah, what has been written about living will be done in the same way.
For forty days, Hamida Bano Begum kept plotting and she did not agree in any way. Finally, my mother Dildar Begum told him that she would marry someone. Then who could be better than the king? Begum replied,

“Yes, I will marry someone whose hand can reach my neck.” Not from a man whose feet I know can’t reach. My mother gave him a lot of advice and he finally agreed.
It is believed that from her womb was born Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar who is considered one of the most important rulers of India.

Gulbadin Begum wrote the Humayun’s Letter at the behest of King Akbar, who was about 60 years old at the time.

Dr. Rahma Rashid says that the importance of Gulbadin Begum is also evident from the fact that she was the first woman to go on Hajj with a large delegation of women. He was accompanied by a caravan of seven or eight dozen women, including only three men.

Prof. Syed Ibn Hassan writes that in fact King Akbar himself wanted to perform this Hajj. He also wore ihram but when he broke the ihram for some reason, Gulbadin Begum presented herself which was accepted by King Akbar and he bore all the expenses.

Referring to Abul Fazl, Prof. Ibn Hassan writes that on October 15, 1575, the caravan was ordered to assemble in a hundred and that was the date of departure, but the caravan left ahead of schedule because the women traveled fast. Could not It was customary for caravans to leave Agra in the tenth month (Shawwal), but the caravan left Agra in the eighth month of Sha’ban, contrary to the constitution.

Dr. Rahma explains that at that time the Portuguese had a monopoly on the sea. So, after reaching Surat, a coastal city in present-day Gujarat, Gulbadin Begum sent delegations to the Portuguese to arrange for the safety of the voyage, and thus this large caravan set out for Hajj.

According to Dr. Rahma, one of the reasons for such a large delegation and the departure of women was Akbar’s shrine, about which Muslims were becoming suspicious of Akbar that he was straying from the right path. To dispel this suspicion, Akbar’s paternal uncle Gulbadin Begum embarked on such a large scale pilgrimage.

Prof. Ibn Hassan writes that the condition of Gulbadin Begum is very rare and scattered in history. It is mentioned in one place in the dhikr of Muhammad Yar when he was 70 years old. Muhammad Yar was his granddaughter who was expelled from the court.

In the same way, her remembrance comes to the fore when she goes with Saleema to Akbar’s court to forgive Prince Saleem’s mistake. And once she accepts the gift of royal money and jewels with Hamida Bano Begum.

Gulbadin Begum died in 1603 at the age of 80. She had a fever for a few days. He had Hamida Bano Begum with him.

Prof. Ibn Hassan writes: “When Gulbadin’s eyes closed in a state of negligence, Hamida Bano Begum called him Jiwa Jiwa (Baji Baji) in a tone of love but did not get any answer. Then she called Gulbadin and called out. Hearing this, Gulbadin Begum opened her eyes and said, “Let me go, you stay alive.” Here her words ended and here her soul flew away.

King Akbar went to the graveyard with his funeral and since Gulbadin Begum’s son was not there, Akbar took his uncle to the grave and thus the one who opened his eyes in Kabul closed his eyes in Agra.

Prof. Ibn Hassan writes about her: “Gulbadin Begum was very generous and philanthropic and used to give a lot of charity. Some people say that sometimes her charity was such that she would sit all day and give money to the needy. Not a single needy person escaped from his court.

She was intelligent, but she was also outspoken, which is reflected in her book, at the beginning of which she wrote that she had written the book after hearing some of it from her own memory and some from others. Thus, the incidents where she herself was not present are based on the record of others, and when Humayun was forced to stay out of India for five years, he narrated the incidents there with reference to Hamida Bano Begum.

They did not try to cover up Humayun’s misdeeds or the shortcomings of the other brothers. King Babar’s children know from his book, not so much from other books.

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