Mumtaz mahal – The Lady of the Taj

According to Shah Jahan’s own court chronicle, the Badshahnama, which says, “ On the 17th Sil-I-Kada, 1040, died Nawab Aliya Begam, in the 40th year of her age…She had borne him eight sons and six daughters…” 

Maulvi Mionuddin Ahmed observes that Mumtaz’s original name was Arjumand Banu Begum, and she was conferred the honorific title Mumtaz-ul-Zamani by her father-in-law Jehangir, but never Mumtaz Mahal, and she acquired the addition “Mahal” posthumously by virtue of being entombed in a palace, and that on the contrary it was not the monument which acquired her name, as latter-day historians would have us believe.

What was the status of this lady? 

Arjumand Banu’s father was Khwaja Abul Hasan (also known as Yamin-ud-Daula Asaf khan) and mother, Diwanji Begum. Born in 1594, Mumtaz was married to Shah Jahan in 1612. She was 18 while Shah jahan was 21 years of age at the time of marriage. But she as not Shah Jahan’s first wife. Shah Jahan’s first wife, the queen, was a great grand-daughter of the ruler of Persia – Shah Ismail Safwi. Shah Jahan had numerous other wives and many consorts. He not only was married before taking Mumtaz as his wife but also married again after her death. In between these  weddings he also used to take consorts by the hundreds into his harem. It is, therefore, futile to argue, as is traditionally done, that Shah Jahan was so devoted to Mumtaz as to lose all interest in life after her death and that he, therefore, perpetuated her memory in a magnificent monument. 

During the 18 years of her married life she bore 14 children of whom 7 survived her. That meant in no single year was she free from pregnancy, which shows Shah Jahan’s utter disregard to his wife’s health, so much so that Mumtaz died soon after her last delivery. She was only 37 years of age. 

This questions the whole myth that Taj Mahal is a monument of Love?

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