Jehangir-The Curious Emperor (From Jahangir-Nama)



Jehangir can be called the first scientist emperor (and only) of India. He had child like enthusiasm to discover something new and keenly observed nature and animals.

Jehangir’s temperament for discovering new things and new facts was unmatched.

He was not only interested in experiments but also a naturalist.

Here are some of his curious experiments

1) Jehangir correctly wrote in his autobiography that an Elephant gestation period is 18 months by observing his pet elephants and it was confirmed later in 20th century.

2) Once a deer was thrown into Jehangir’s tiger cage for meal and they became friends. The deer would sleep keeping its head on tigers chest and the tiger licked it like a parent and showered attention. This matter was informed to the emperor who was awe struck and decided to conduct an experiment on animal psychology.

Then he got an idea and removed that deer from cage and brought a similar deer(size, age) and put it in cage. The tiger immediately attacked and killed it and ate it.

Then a sheep was put inside and it met the same fate.

When the other deer was then put in back with the tiger, the tiger treated it with the usual love and affection liking its face and allowing it to sleep by placing its head on his chest.

3) Jehangir even cross bred animals for eg: Markhur goats with Barbary goats, lion with a tiger etc.

4) He like dissecting animals and checking what is inside them. His dissection experiments included reptiles, crocodiles, birds, lions, tigers etc. Once he had a lion dissected to check from where it derived its strength and courage and concluded that it was because of its gall bladder enclosed in its liver and another time because of its paws etc

5) Once a person got bitumen from Persia because it was reputed to mend broken bones. Jahangir conducted experiments and concluded the claim was false.

6) He conducted experiments on soil from various locations and concluded that some places like Gujarat had better fertile lands than places like Agra.

7) Once a man claimed that laughter arises because people eat saffron and if you eat in large quantities it leads to death. So he got a hardened criminal to eat half a kilo saffron in front of him and that person neither laughed nor died.

8) Once a yogi came and claimed that he can eat any quantity of arrack but be in his senses. So Jehangir made him drink arrack and after a few pints he passed out.

9) For 5 years Jehangir kept two saras cranes with him and observed them and recorded all their behavior, mating, kids etc in accurate detail that would make any biologist proud.

10) Once a person claimed and cheated people that he can give long life. So Jehangir told him he will tie his hands and legs and push him in Yamuna river from top of fort. If he comes out alive he will give him all his wealth and even his crown. The man got scared and accepted he had lied.

11) A person once told him that lions/tigers cannot change their true nature and will kill any human if give opportunity. So he brought a few of his pet lions/tigers and made them be in his room for weeks and they never tried to kill him. He had such good camaraderie with animals(or knew psychology of animals very well) that sometimes in forest wild deer etc would come and eat out of his hand.

12) He conducted many more experiments that have been recorded in Mughal chronicles and even Jehangir-nama. He was a person who could not be easily convinced to do anything because he demanded proof for everything instead of believing.

13) He would often challenge/question claims of holy man and it would be tough for them to prove him their claims about the things written in scriptures. Hence they labelled him as an atheist. Like Jehangir told the Jesuits that he will convert to Christianity if they threw the cross in fire and it does not burn as they claimed.

14) He was a naturalist who observed nature, animals etc .and gave details of flora and fauna of that time.

15. He was a contradictory person. He loved his pet animals very much and would get upset and mourn for days if he lost them and also build them tombs. His pet lions and tigers he fed with his own hands sometimes. But also he was a prolific hunter.

(Source: Compiled from Jahangir-Nama)

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