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Memoirs Of The Emperor Jahangueir

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About the Book

The book records the autobiographical Memoirs of Emperor Jahangir. It had been translated in 1785-86 from the original Persian manuscript by Major David Price. It has been hold that all autobiographies generally give a fictitious account of the life of persons who subject only some part of their personal life to public evaluation. It is only in exceptional cases that the autobiographies give a genuine and truthful account of their writers. Such rare autobiographies are not many. Among them may be included those of Mahatma Gandhi, Bertrand Russel and a few other great men and women who totally exposed themselves to public gaze and left their food prints on the sands of time. However the present Memoirs of emperor Jahangueir have historical significance and throw a flood of light on the events and personages of his time. Being the most powerful rural and undisputed monarch of Hindustan of the period, he held its destiny absolutely. He seems to have given some real and faithful account of his life and we get some truthful portraits of events of the time. About his love for wine, he says, ?? my usual daily allowance extended to twenty and sometimes to more than 20 cups each cup containing half a seer? and if I were but an hour without my beverage, my hands began to shake and I was unable to sit at rest.? Then realising that his addiction to wine may bring about his ruin, he devised some expedient to abate the evil and gradually reduced his intake from twenty to five cups a day. His live of meting out justice evenly to his subjects is a matter of common knowledge and tales of imparting such justice are galore. He issued some twelve ordinances or Special Regulations as Rulers of Conduct never to be deviated by different functionaries in their respective stations. The first ordinance related to what is called China of Justice ?one end of which I caused to be fastened to the battlements of the royal tower to the Castle of Agra and the other to a stone pillar near the bed of the river Jamunah to the end that when at any time the dispensers of law under my authority might fail in the administration of justice, the injured party by applying his hand to the China would find himself in the way of obtaining speedy redress.?


He also describes an example of the kind of religious tolerance practised by his father, Akbar. When he asked his father why he had not forbidden his Hindu subjects to build their temples described by him as ‘haunts of idolatory’, Akbar admonished him by saying, “My dear child, I find myself a puissant monarch, the shadow of God upon earth. I have seen that He bestows the blessings of His gracious providence upon all His creatures without distinction. I should I discharge the duties of my exalted station, were I to withhold by compassion and indulgence from any of those entrusted to my charge. With all of the human race, with all of God’s creatures, I am at peace: why then should I permit myself, under any consideration, to be the cause of molestation or aggression, to be the cause of molestation or aggression to any one? Besides, are not five parts in six of mankind either Hindus or aliens to the faith; and were I to be governed by motives of the kind suggested in your inquiry, what alternative can I have but to put them all to death. I have thought it therefore my wisest plan to let these men alone. Neither is it to be forgotten, that the class of whom (i.e. Hindus) we are speaking, in common with the other inhabitants of Agrah, are usefully engaged, either in the persuits of science or the arts, or of improvements for the benefit of mankind, and have in numerous instances arrived at the highest distinctions in the state, there being, indeed, to be found in this city men of very description, and of every religion on the face of the earth.” Besides of the Nurjahan, who was his principal queen, he had four hundred females both Muslims and Hindus in his harram. He was most generous to them. His father had a bigger harram and on Akbar’s death, he generously raised the allowances of all its inmates lest they should feel aggrieved. No doubt it is a most absorbing narrative of emperor Jahangueir’s life and contains a wealth of information on the kind of life led by him and his courtiers and also the social, political, commercial and administrative conditions prevailing at the time and coming as it does out of emperor’s pen is of inestimable historical value. Such books provide pillars on which historians erect the edifice of history.

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