Continuing his series on political romances, Four Wheel Drive India tours and travels, into history and tries to probe the veracity of the Akbar - Jodha Bai romance.
If you took the Jodha Bai - Akbar romance as depicted in the movie at face value, you might be in for some re-thinking, post reading this article. For the romance, if it may be called so, wasn't half as utopian? Neither was Jodha Bai during her lifetime known as Jodha. Post her marriage to Akbar; she was Mariam uz - Zamani.
Akbar's marriage with the daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amber (modern day Jaipur) was quite unequivocally a device used for political acquisition. Hira Kunwari (Jodha's maiden name) was married to Akbar on January 20, 1562, at Sambhar near Jaipur. She was Akbar's third wife. It will be interesting to note here that there is little clarity on the total number of wives that Akbar eventually had.
The fact that other Rajput kingdoms, subsequently, also established similar matrimonial alliances with Akbar, cannot be disproved. The law of Hindu succession has always been patrimonial, so the threat to lineage, in marrying their princesses for political gain, was pretty inconsequential.
History does not corroborate any instance of Akbar's romance with Jodha Bai in the real sense. Yet, there seems to be near unanimity over Jodha Bai being referred to as Akbar's favourite queen.
What then could have possibly led to Jodha being given this preference?
Jodha, it is said, was extremely gorgeous and dignified. But apart from her personality attributes, she gave Akbar what his other queens could not — an heir. Akbar's first queen was the childless Ruqaiyya Begum, and his second wife was Salima Sultan, the widow of his most trusted general, Bairam Khan.
A sense of desperation seemed to mark Akbar's prayers at the Dargah of the Shaikh Salim Chishti, which later led to the birth of his first surviving child Jahangir. Was Akbar's affection for Jodha Bai thus familial and borne out of a sense of gratitude?
Subsequently, Jodha is said to have enjoyed increased clout over political matters. She was Akbar's only queen who could issue Farman (official decree), which was normally the exclusive privilege of the emperor. Jodha used her influence to build gardens, wells, and mosques around the country.
It is also accepted that Jodha had the permission to worship in the Hindu way in her palace and continued to remain a devotee of Lord Krishna. Akbar's fondness for Jodha only made him more accepting of Hindu rituals. That Jahangir, Akbar's successor, too is appreciated as a liberal leader, perhaps only shows the indirect influence that Jodha might have made politically.
Having dwelt upon Jodha's preferred status in Akbar's life, Akbar's subsequent marriages cannot be wished away. And this is where the soft romance between Akbar and Jodha gets mired in irony.
Reference - Times of India