Jahangir is one of the Mughal Emperors who has probably been denied the spotlight in history books. Akbar, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb are more talked about than the rest of them put together. He is mostly remembered as the son of Akbar and father to Shah Jahan and his expensive taste in art is also noted. Even his wife, Nur Jahan, has her own space in history as the de-facto ruler of the empire in his stead. Probably his only claim to fame in history is about his relationship with ‘Anarkali’ even though there is very little evidence of it. Through this book author Parvati Sharma tells us about the emperor who ruled for 22 years.
The book is divided into seven parts starting from his Accession to the throne and covering every aspect of his life. Through Parvati Sharma, we see the sides of Jahangir that are not covered in history. For instance, did you know that Jahangir had a flair for writing? He could describe a war and a flower with the same enthusiasm. He had an open mind when it came to religion and some believe that growing up in Akbar’s court and having a Rajput mother enabled him to have a curious mind when it came down to religion and superstition. His interest lay in verifying before believing and it makes me think that he had a scientific mind. Yet his love for fine art was well known. Much of the art and finery that is attributed to the Mughal Empire had been commissioned and collected by Jahangir.
Nur Jahan and his relationship with her is ever a mystery. Some records show that being the daughter of Akbar’s Grand Vizier, Mehr-un-nisa a.ka. Nur Jahan had a brilliant mind and interest in the affairs of the state. With Jahangir’s addiction to liquor and opium, Nur Jahan found it easy to manipulate the emperor and rule in his stead. Other accounts paint a different picture where Nur Jahan and Jahangir were partners. Jahangir admired her knowledge, respected her opinions and as a result involved her in the state of affairs.
I found the book to be very informative and appreciated the selected bibliography that the author has provided at the end. The maps and images offered helped the reading experience. The USP of the book is that the author narrates the story of an emperor and follows up with examples of small anecdotes that prove the point that she is trying to make. It made the read a bit interesting to a person like me who isn’t into nonfiction as much.
This is an interesting book. I would not call it an intimate portrait, but it does present a good portrait of Jahangir. I have not read much about Jahangir, and Parvati Sharma's book does indeed give me a solid enough foundation to go on.
It could have been deeper, more analytical. However, I would also think that this would defeat the purpose that I assume that the author had in mind.
It's good. It's an easy read, and does provide the lay reader with enough material to go on for further reading.