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Nur Jahan - The Light of the World

Nur Jahan, born as Mehr-un-Nissa, a strong, charismatic and a well-educated woman was one of the most powerful, influential and privileged woman in Mughal history. She was born to  Mirza Ghias Beg and Asmat Begum in Kandahar. Beg's family lost almost everything in a misfortune in their homeland and with the hope of rebuilding the lost possession, the family was moving to India. However, on the way, the caravan was attacked and they were deprived of the meager possession also that they had. A belief also holds that the misfortune led the family to abandon baby Nur Jahan. But then destiny had other plans. She was picked up by another man in the caravan and he was moved by her innocence and beauty and somehow believed that she might change the fortune of the deprived family. Beg soon found a position in Akbar's court and he served as the diwan (treasurer). Nur received superior education and got married at the age of 17 with Sher Afghan, governor of Bihar, who died in two years leaving Nur with a step daughter.

Nur's life again surrounded with misfortune leading her to serve Empress Ruqaiya Sultan Begum, Jahangir’s stepmother as ladies-in-waiting. They served here for four years until Jahangir fell for Nur and married. She received the name Nur Jahan meaning 'Light of the World' from Jahangir and had great influence over him as he was alchohol and opium addicted.

Eventually, Nur Jahan emerged as the most powerful woman and effectively wielded the imperial power. She was also known as the 'tiger slayer' as she killed four tigers in one single hunt.

Nur Jahan tactfully overturned many rebellions in her lifetime and was the real power behind the throne that led Jahangir to rule for more than 15 years. She was the only woman to be granted with certain honours and privileges and had the privilege of coinage strucked in her name in the coinage. However, the empress had a tragic end and passed her last days that though in her last days in confinement.  



By: Subrata Dey


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