UPSC Exam Preparation: This Day in History – Jan 05

5 January 1592

Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was born


What happened?

On 5 January 1592, Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram, later known as Shah Jahan was born to Mughal Emperor Jahangir and his wife Jagat Gosaini.

Shah Jahan was an important figure in the history of India. In this article, you can read about his life history for the UPSC exam. Questions can be asked on this topic in especially the UPSC Prelims exam.

Biography

  • Shah Jahan was born in Lahore, Pakistan to Prince Salim (who later became Emperor Jahangir) and his Rajput wife from Marwar Princess Jagat Gosaini. Her official Mughal name was Bilqis Makani. Shah Jahan’s grandfather was Mughal Emperor Akbar.
  • Although initially named Prince Khurram, he assumed the regnal name Shah Jahan later. He was Jahangir’s third son and considered the most able and competent to be king. After Jahangir’s death, he overthrew his rivals to the throne and emerged victorious. He was crowned on 14 February 1628 in Agra.
  • He was educated in martial arts and a variety of fine arts. He was brought up chiefly by Akbar’s first wife, the childless Empress Ruqaiya Sultan Begum.
  • Shah Jahan was an able military commander. While still a prince, he was able to obtain the submission of the Rajput state of Mewar which Akbar had not been able to defeat. Mewar then became a vassal of the Mughal Empire.
  • On becoming the emperor, Shah Jahan executed many of his former rivals including his own brother Shahryar, imprisoned many more and consolidated his power. The Mughal rules of succession do not follow primogeniture, i.e., the eldest son succeeding the father; there is always a fight for power by brothers in the Mughal courts.
  • Before becoming king, as prince, he had been the governor of the Deccan, Bihar, Bengal, Gujarat and Delhi.
  • As king, Shah Jahan expanded the military and promoted the production of arms. He annexed several territories.
  • Shah Jahan was not as religiously tolerant as his grandfather Akbar. In 1633, he started imposing Sharia law on the construction of churches and temples.
  • He was married multiple times as was the custom. His favourite was said to be Arjumand Banu Begum who is better known as Mumtaz Mahal. She died during childbirth in 1631 and Shah Jahan was said to be depressed. He got the Taj Mahal built in her honour and perhaps, he is most famous for this architectural feat.
  • He also created many other architectural marvels including the Pearl Mosque at Agra, the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid at Delhi, the Shalimar Gardens and some other buildings in present Pakistan. He also got the famous Peacock Throne built.
  • He had several children including Dara Shukoh, Aurangzeb and Jahanara Begum among others. Although Dara Shukoh was the heir apparent and the emperor’s favoured as his successor, Aurangzeb defeated and killed him in the succession struggle.
  • This war of succession had started even before Shah Jahan’s death. He had fallen ill in 1658 when the struggle started. Aurangzeb started ruling the empire and put Shah Jahan under house arrest at the Agra Fort after he had recovered.
  • He was confined to the fort for 8 years and he was accompanied and nursed by his daughter Jahanara Begum. He died on 22 January 1666 aged 74 years.
Also on this day

1952: Death of Lord Linlithgow, Viceroy of India from 1936 to 1944 (longest reign any Viceroy has had).

Also see: