Shah Jahan, the fourth Moghul Emperor-the son of Moghul Royals- Jahangir and Taj Bibi Bilqis Makani. He was only an emperor in name. The actual emperor was Aurangzeb, his son. Emperor Shah Jahan had been kept in house arrest and strict confinement by his son Aurangzeb for the past eight long years.
It was night time of 1666 and the old emperor was breathing his last. Before his dimming eyes, his life events were whirling with Mumtaj, Tajmahal, Agra, Noorjahan, all gliding before him, one by one.
Shah Jahan and Jahanara
At his bedside, were his loving daughter-princes Jahanara who had looked after her father for eight years and his faithful wives Akbarabadi Begum and Fatehpuri Begum. They were all praying for his life. But the end was near, with a sigh and a last glance towards Tajmahal, his eyes glazed over.
Aurangzeb’s personal adviser – eunuch I’tibar Khan (also known as Khoja Phul), seemed to be waiting for this moment. Upon instructions, I’tibar Khan, had been giving slow poison to Shah Jahan. He would secretly mix dosage of poison in Shah Jahan’s food. This caused a great decline in the health of Shah Jahan and eventually he became bed ridden. I’tibar Khan once brought poisonous massage oil and secretly ordered the royal masseur of Shah Jahan to massage that oil on Shah Jahan’s body. When this oil was applied on Shah Jahan’s body, it caused him severe itching. The pain was unbearable and within days his body had blackened with blistered. After all this pain and sufferings at the hands of his own son, Shah Jahan died on 22 January 1666.
The emperor was dead. Emperor Shah Jahan.
The painting is based on a contemporary letter sent by the Amber State official Parkaldas to the Diwan of Amber, Kalyandas, dated Phalgun Vadi 30, 1222 V.S. / 23rd February 1666.
Shah Jahan, the Emperor of India, was taken out of the rear gate of Agra Fort, by four kahars or palquin bearers. The face of the Emperor lay uncovered, in the tabut or bier.
The two wives of the Emperor, Akbarabadi Begum and Fatehpuri Begum, who were with him when his end came, wished to accompany the cortege, but were stopped at the door of the fort by the guards; sadly they saw the bier of their husband being taken away. Princes Jahanara looked on at the sad spectacle from a window of the palace. She had pleaded to Khoja Phul (the eunuch) not to take the body for burial in the night without waiting for the daybreak. “I have orders from the Emperor (Aurangzeb) to carry the coffin this very night”, he had replied and hurried to lead the cortege out of the fort.
Jahanara had wished to distribute gold coins, to the people on the streets, as the cortege of Shah Jahan passed, as would be done for an emperor, but this wish of hers was not granted.
Aurangzeb did not attend the funeral. There were no sons, grandsons, or nobles to give a shoulder to the Emperor who had ruled for thirty years.
An unceremonious and hurried burial was performed as if he was some common prisoner. Shah Jahan was quickly interred next to his wife Mumtaz’s tomb inside the Taj Mahal. The body was taken out by the Mori Gate and hurriedly consigned to the grave in the Taj Mahal mausoleum.
Shah Jahan’s Durbar
Shah Jahan who is credited for Shahjahanabad in 1637, Building the Red Fort and Taqt-i-Taus (Peacock Throne), Nahar-i-Faiz and beautiful Taj Mahal, himself became ugly towards the end of his life and died a very gruesome and humiliating death.