Monday, April 29, 2013

Qissa e Laila Majnu... Aurangzeb and Hirabai Zainabadi

Aurangzeb has been portrayed as cold blooded shrewd and puritanical, devoid of emotions and it is precisely this image of him which is etched deeply in our minds that one find it hard to believe that he lived and died like any other human being. Several historical records, the most important being Akham-i-Alamgiri,* Aurangzeb's biography, tell us that he not only studied music but also had a deep appreciation of music. His biographer tells us about his visit to Deccan as a prince where he fell madly in love with Zainabadi, a “woman of unequalled musical skill”. For several years Aurangzeb was lost to the world, living only for Zainabadi and her music, forgetting even his rigorous religious discipline.
 Hirabai Zainabadi, had been, in the  Aurangzeb's maternal aunt's husband Mir Khalil, Chief of the Artillery, Deccan ,harem. One day the prince went with the ladies of his harem to the garden of Zainabad Burhanpur, named Bagh-i-Ahu-khanah (Garden of the abode of Deer) for a stroll .the prince glimpsed Hirabai frolicking in the mango garden unaware of his presence This move of hers robbed the prince of his senses and self-control. intoxicated at first sight he decided to posses her  with active help of  Khan-i-Zaman's wife (the prince's maternal aunt),the issue was resolved when the uncle agreed to trade the slave girl Chattar Bai in Aurangzeb's harem for Hirabai. 
It is said that Zainabadi went as far as insisting that Aurangzeb should accept a cup of wine from her hand, as the prince gave in and was about to drink from the cup, Zainabadi took it away from him saying"The purpose was to test your love, and not to leave a bitter taste in your mouth."
Niccalo Manucci.* narrates the story thus:“Aurangzeb grew very fond of one of the dancing-women in his harem, and through the great love he bore to her he neglected for some time his prayers and his austerities, filling up his days with music and dances; and going even farther, he enlivened himself with wine, which he drank at the ins­tance of the said dancing-girl. The dancer died, and Aurangzeb made a vow never to drink wine again nor to listen to music.
Recalling the incident many years later, Aurangzeb wrote to his grandson, "In my youth, I was also attached to a person who was haughty. Throughout her life, I maintained my love, and never uttered a harsh word to her." It is remarkable that even in love Aurangzeb was testing his own endurance..
Images 1 NSD Drama Begum Zainabadi By Bharti Sharma 
             2 Dolls of
           *3Ahkam-i-Alamgiri authored by Aurangzib’s favourite officer Hamid-ud-din Khan Nimcha
           *4 Ahukhana is at Burhanpur MP. Zainabad. The place was Royal leisure pavilions during the Mughal time. Body of Mumtaj Mahal
                was buried at this place for six months.
          *5 Niccolao Manucci (1639–1717) was an Italian writer and traveller. He worked in the Mughal court</

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