Joined: 20 August 2008
NEW DELHI: Poetic or creative license is all well, but can you create your own history or push cinematic liberty to the extreme where you end up peddling romanticised folklore as a slice of history? What do you do when there are doubts over the very existence of the character that you hope to recreate on celluloid?
These are some of the questions that film-maker Ashutosh Gowariker will have to answer when he sets out to shoot his magnum opus Jodhaa Akbar starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai.
Who was Jodha Bai? Indeed, if she existed at all, it was as Akbar's daughter-in-law (she was married to Jahangir) and not his wife! But, if you go by folktales and K Asif's classic Mughal-e-Azam, she was Amber ruler Raja Bharmal's daughter and Akbar's wife.
Here is what some of the country's top historians have to say: Asserts renowned historian and former chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research, Prof Irfan Habib, There was not any historical character called Jodha Bai.
It's true that Akbar married Amber ruler Raja Bharmal's eldest daughter but her name is not mentioned anywhere. And she was certainly not Jahangir's mother. Even Jahangir in his memoirs (Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri) does not mention anything about his mother's side.
Former president of Indian History Congress and chairman of history department, Aligarh University, Prof Iqtedar Alam Khan corroborates Habib's version: It is only a Punjab historian Sujan Rai Bhandari, who in his book Khulasat-ut-Tawarikh mentions for the first time that the Amber princess whom Akbar married was Jahangir's mother.
But even Rai does not refer to her as Jodha Bai. However, there is another twist in the tale.
Medieval India, an NCERT history text book for Class XI by Satish Chandra, clearly states on page 165: To strengthen his position, Udai Singh married his daughter, Jagat Gosain or Jodha Bai as she came to be called, to Akbar's eldest son Salim (Jahangir).
N R Farooqi, HoD of Allahabad University History department, confirms this when he says, Jodha was not Akbar's wife but Jahangir's and she was Shahjahan's mother. Bagh-e-Jahan Ara, an 80-acre garden in Agra, used to house her mausoleum till it was sold for Rs 5,000 by the British and subsequently razed to the ground.
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Artistic depiction of Mariam uz-Zamani alias Harkha Bai
|Full name||Rajkumari Hira Kunwari|
|Born||October 1, 1542|
|Died||May 19, 1623 (aged 81)|
Mariam uz-zamani (Other Names:Rukmavati Sahiba, Rajkumari Hira Kunwari, Harkha Bai). was a Mughal Empress, after her marriage to Mughal Emperor Akbar .
Tuzk-e-Jahangiri, the autobiography of Jahangir, doesn't mention Jodha Bai .The great Mughal emperor Akbar had three historians during his rule who recorded the history of their time -- Abul Fazal wrote the Akbar Nama, Abdul Qadir Badayuni wrote the Mutakhabutawarikh and Nizamuddin Ahmed (also called Nizamuddin Bakshi) wrote the Tabqat-i-Akbari. None of them have mentioned 'Jodhabhai' in their books. "These books were written in Persian and there is no mention of Queen Jodhabai. There is no proof of her in history," says Dr S M Azizuddin Hussain, history teacher at the Department of History, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi . There is no proper evidence that the mariam uz-zamani was the Emperor Akbar's wife. 
Her name as in Mughal chronicles was Mariam-uz-Zamani. This is why the mosque of Mariyam Zamani Begum was constructed in The Walled City Of Lahore, present day Pakistan, in her honour. She was also the sister of Bhagwant Das and the aunt of Man Singh I of Amber.
The Mosque of Mariyam Zamani Begum was built by her son Nuruddin Salim Jahangir and is situated in the Walled City of Lahore, present day Pakistan, while Mariam's Tomb is situated 1km away from Tomb of Akbar the Great, at Sikandra, near Agra, present day India.
Mariam uz-zamani was married to Akbar on February 6, 1562, at Sambhar, Rajasthan, India. She was became a wife of Akbar after, Empress Ruqaiya Sultan Begum, who was Akbar's first wife and principal consort, and his second wife, Salima Sultan Begum, the widow of his most trusted general, Bairam Khan. After her marriage, Hira Kunwari was given the title Mariam-uz-Zamani ("Mary of the Age").
She is said to have been politically involved in the court until Nur Jahan became empress.
Maryam Zamani owned and oversaw the ships that carried Haj pilgrims to and from the Islamic holy city Mecca. In 1613, her ship, the Rahimi was seized by Portuguese pirates along with the 600-700 passengers and the cargo. When the Portuguese officially refused to return the ship and the passengers, the outcry at the Moghul court was quite severe. Zamani's son, the Indian emperor Jahangir ordered the seizure of the Portuguese town Daman. This episode is considered to be an example of the struggle for wealth that would later ensue and lead to colonization of the Indian sub-continent.
Maryam Zamani died in 1623. As per her last wishes, a vav or step well was constructed by Jahangir. Her tomb, built in 1611, is on the Tantpur road now known as inJyoti Nagar. She was buried according to Islamic custom. The tomb's location reduced its chances of becoming a tourist attraction, but likewise, its lack of visibility meant it fell into a state of disrepair. However, in the middle of 2010, the Ministry of Culture expressed interest for saving it when news of the tomb's condition spread through media. As a result, the location is now under being managed by the Indian Government.
There is a popular perception that the wife of Akbar, mother of Jahangir, was known as "Mariam uz-zamani".
Tuzk-e-Jahangiri, the autobiography of Jahangir, doesn't mention Jodha Bai. Therein, she is referred to as Mariam Zamani. Neither the Akbarnama (a biography of Akbar commissioned by Akbar himself), nor any historical text from the period refer to her as Jodha Bai.
According to Professor Shirin Moosvi, a historian of Aligarh Muslim University, the name "Jodha Bai" was first used to refer to Akbar's wife in the 18th and 19th centuries in historical writings. According to the historian Imtiaz Ahmad, the director of the Khuda Baksh Oriental Public Library in Patna, the name "Jodha" was used for Akbar's wife for the first time by Lieutenant-Colonel James Tod, in his book Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan.
According to Professor N R Farooqi, a historian of Allahabad Central University, Jodha Bai was not the name of Akbar's queen; it was the name of Jahangir's wife Princess Manmati of Jodhpur, whose real name was Jagat Gosain.
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Who was Jodha Bai (or Jodhaa Bai)? If she existed at all, it was as Akbar's daughter-in-law (she was married to Jahangir) and not his wife as claimed by rajputs of rajasthan after seeing portrayal of Jodha bai as wife of Akbar in Ashutosh Gowarikar's upcoming movie - Jodha-Akbar. Hrithik Roshan plays Akbar and Aishwarya Rai plays Jodha Bai in Gowarikar's Jodhaa - Akbar.
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