Born as a Hindu Rajput princess or 'Rajkumari', Mariam-uz-Zamani was Raja Bharmal's eldest daughter. Raja Bharmal was the then ruler of Amer or Jaipur and was the grand-daughter of Raja Prithvi Singh I of Amer. Raja Bhagwan Das of the region of Amer was the brother of Mariam-uz-Zamani. The Rajput queen was the aunt of Raja Man Singh I who reigned over Amer and occupied a significant designation in Akbar's court, was respected as one of the 'Navaratnas' of Akbar's court.
Marriage of Mariam-uz-Zamani
Mariam-uz-Zamani's marriage with Akbar inspired the Mughal emperor to obtain a wider view of all aspects of Hinduism and his Hindu subjects. On 6th February, 1562 Mariam-uz-Zamani or Heer Kunwari's hand was offered in wedlock to Akbar according to a political treaty at Sambhar close to Jaipur in Rajasthan. Thus she became the third and chief wife of Akbar after his first wife, Ruqaiya Sultan Begum and second wife, Salima Sultan Begum who was Bairam Khan's widow. During the initial phase of 1569, Akbar learnt that Mariam was expecting a child and immediately sent her to the humble residence of Sheikh Salim Chisti, a famous holy man who lived in Sikri. The prince Jahangir was born on 30th August, 1569 and was named 'Salim' after the holy man Sheikh Salim Chisti, who was greatly revered by Akbar.
Mariam-uz-Zamani's marriage to emperor Akbar was a significant development in history and depicted his religious tolerance. The concept of offering Hindu Rajput ladies in marriage to Muslim rulersstarted to be viewed with respect and admiration, post the marriage of Akbar and Mariam-uz-Zamani. His marriage with her bore testimony to the fact that Akbar made an attempt to be the Badshah of Muhammadans as well as Hindus, and that he viewed them as equals. Manbhawati Bai, the niece of Mariam-uz-Zamani who was also known as Manmati Bai married her son Salim on 13th February, 1585.
Akbar was a secular ruler and permitted his wife Jodha Bai to perform Hindu rites and rituals in the imperial palace, which even included his readiness in constructing a Hindu temple in the premises of the palace grounds for his wife. This was completely against the nature of any Mughal Sultan and he even took active part in her Puja. Mariam-uz-Zamani was an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna. Paintings of Lord Krishna and beautiful frescoes embellished the interior walls of the palace of Mariam-uz-Zamani.
Power Consolidation of Mariam-uz-Zamani's Family
The marriage of Mariam-uz-Zamani with Mughal emperor Akbar created a favourable environment for the family members and relatives of the Hindu Rajput queen. Several of her family members were appointed in high posts as some of his leading counsellors of Akbar's court. Mariam-uz-Zamanis nephew, Raja Man Singh I was absorbed into the royal service of Akbar's court and was made the successor of Raja Bhagwan Das of Amer by Akbar. Raja Bhagwan Das was also offered a post amongst his nobility.
The rulers of Amer often were the recipients of manifold benefits from their close alliance with the Mughals and were awarded large reserves of power and wealth. Raja Bhagwan Das was gifted the prestigious title of 'Amir-ul-Umara' or 'Chief Noble' and was made the commander of 5000, which was the highest military position during that point of time. Man Singh I, who was Bhagwan Das' son, rose to a much higher position having being made commander of 7000. Thus Kachwaha Rajputs of Amer greatly reaped the advantages of the marriage between Mariam-uz-Zamani and Akbar. One of the sons of Akbar, Prince Daniyal was also allowed to be adopted by Raja Bharmal's wife in Amer, as a gesture of honour towards the royal family.
Political Influence of Mariam-uz-Zamani
It is believed that Mariam-uz-Zamani was an intelligent businesswoman who was involved in global trade in silk, spices and other materials, hereby gaining a handsome fortune which surpassed that of European kings. She even was the owner of ships which transported pilgrims to and from Mecca, the sacred Islamic city. She was said to be the only Mughal queen who possessed a 12, 000 strong cavalry and every nobleman rewarded her with a jewel on the festival of New Year. She was permitted the right to issue the royal 'farman' or official documents like the other Mughal ladies namely Nur Jahan, Hamida Banu Begum, Nadira Banu, Mumtaz Mahal and Jahanara Begum.
Death of Mariam-uz-Zamani
Mariam-uz-Zamani died in the year 1623 and was the only wife of Akbar who had been buried near him. A step well or 'Vav' was built on the orders of Emperor Jahangir according to her last wishes. Series of stairs lead one to her underground tomb chamber which was built on Tantpur Road which is presently known as Jyoti Nagar. Though she maintained her religion of Hinduism throughout her life, she had been buried following Islamic customs, very close to her husband Akbar's mausoleum. Currently, the Archaeological Survey of India or ASI maintains the tomb. The mosque of Mariam-uz-Zamani was erected by Jahangir, her son and today it is situated in Lahore, Pakistan.
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