- Jul 21, 2010
For generations of people brought up on the legend of salim anarkali and the film mughal e azam this may be a bit of a shocker- but anarkali was akbars woman before she became salims.
i read this first in a book called EMPERORS OF THE PEACOCK THRONE written by abraham eraly.he writes-'' there seems to have been an oedipal conflict between akbar and salim.the mughal court was rife with rumours of about the tension between the two,because of salims escapades and akbars resentment over them. THE MOST ROMANTIC AND PERSISTANT OF THESE STORIES LINKED SALIM WITH ANARKALI(POMGRANATE BLOSSOM), A BEAUTIFUL AND ACCOMPLISHED CONCUBINE OF AKBAR, AND POSSILBLY THE MOTHER OF AKBARS SON DANIYAL (WHO DIED DUE TO ALCOHOLISM)-LEGEND HAS IT THATA WRATHFUL AKBAR ENTOMBED ANARKALI ALIVE FOR THE CRIME OF EXCHANGING A SMILING GLANCE AT HIM''
i decided to search for more information on this and found this in the book THE MUGHAL EMPERORS AND THE ISLAMIC DYNASTIES OF INDIA IRAN AND CENTRAL ASIA by francis robinson-''there was a sexual jealusy between akbar and salim. akbar was said to have immuered alive his favourite concubine ,anarkali for smiling at salim.''
these are titbits though and i decided to search for a longer account of the matter.
i found a longer account in PRIVATE LIVES OF THE MUGHALS OF INDIA by professor R. NATH.
this is what he writes-
anarkalis real name was nadira begum or sharif un nisa begum. she was a excessively beautiful slave girl in the personal service of akbar, who had great liking for her and conferred the title anarkali upon her.
one day while seated in an apartment lined with mirrors, he noticed the youthful anarkali returning prince salim(who was just passing by the hall) a smile.
akbar knew the character of his sensuous son more than anybody else, and he was outraged by the suspicion of an affair between the crown prince and his own slave girl.
he was so infuriated that he that he ordred her to be 'built' alive into a wall. salim could not save hae from this cruel end, but after his accesion to the throne , he commisioned at lahore a tomb in her memory.
the persian couplet which he had inscribed on her marble tombstone reads,
ah! if i could behold the face of
my beloved(yar) once more,
i would give thanks unto my god,
until thr day of resurrection.-
by majnoon salim akbar
this is an expression of passionate love and this testifies that he had really fallen in love with anarkali. the romance was going on for quite some time.
she innocently reciprocated, little knowing the subtle threads of mughal polity which bound these human beings called mughal emporers, and the unfor tunate lady paid the price by her life.
the mughal harem was a 'matter of fact ' institution and there was no place for romances in it.
and to think that I used to think of akbar as her potential father in law!
in another place the author writes-' some youthful slave girl was always in attendance , when akbar was in his harem to look after his personal service,as was anarkali.'
obviously the personal service didnt mean just massaging his legs or something like that- unless you are talking about his short leg -or shoving his short leg between her two fine legs - if you want to use cricketing terminology.
obviously the stories of anarkali being a common nautch girl are false.
k asif in his movie mughal e azam does not want to malign the character of the mughals by showing father and son fighting over one woman.he also shows her as being allowed to escape alive.
the movie anarkali starring bina rai and pradeep kumar is somewhat more truthful as it shows her being buried alive.
obviously she was buried alive to strike terror in the hearts of the other inmates of the harem.an example was made of her to show others what would happen to them if they dared cross the line.
akbar was known to be an egomaniac and any woman whom he slept was to be only his- even though he sometime slept with her only once and then moved on to others.
of course as shehenshah e hindustan he had no choice-if word got out that his concubine was sleeping with his own son he would become the laughing stock of the nation.it was a question of IZZAT- and he had to act accordingly.
where did he aquire her- possibly in meena bazar- the weekly bazar where beautiful women from all over the world were presented to him by merchants and the most accomplished were bought by him.
she musnt have come cheap-for one thing she was beautiful and the person who sold her must have spent a lot of money in training her in her accomplishments which included makeup dancing etc and must have looked to earn a profit on that .