“Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passion of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones.”
– Sir Edwin Arnold
I’ve been listening to Yanni’s “Love is All” and they showed the backdrop of Taj Mahal. When I was still in elementary, I remembered the story about this place and I realized it was worth reading again.
This is the story (from)
Shah Jahan, initially named Prince Khurram, was born in the year 1592. He was the son of Jehangir, the fourth Mughal emperor of India and the grandson of Akbar the Great. In 1607 when strolling down the Meena Bazaar, accompanied by a string of fawning courtiers, Shah Jahan caught a glimpse of a girl hawking silk and glass beads. It was love at first sight and the girl was Mumtaz Mahal, who was known as Arjumand Banu Begum at that time. At that time, he was 14 years old and she, a Muslim Persian princess, was 15. After meeting her, Shah Jahan went back to his father and declared that he wanted to marry her. The match got solemnized after five years i.e., in the year 1612.
It was in the year 1628 that Shah Jahan became the Emperor and entrusted Arjumand Banu with the royal seal. He also bestowed her with the title of Mumtaz Mahal, meaning the “Jewel of the Palace”. Though Shah Jahan had other wives also, but, Mumtaz Mahal was his favorite and accompanied him everywhere, even on military campaigns. In the year 1631, when Mumtaz Mahal was giving birth to their 14th child, she died due to some complications. While Mumtaz was on her deathbed, Shah Jahan promised her that he would never remarry and will build the richest mausoleum over her grave.
It is said that Shah Jahan was so heartbroken after her death that he ordered the court into mourning for two years. Sometime after her death, Shah Jahan undertook the task of erecting the world’s most beautiful monument in the memory of his beloved. It took 22 years and the labor of 22,000 workers to construct the monument. When Shah Jahan died in 1666, his body was placed in a tomb next to the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal. This magnificent monument came to be known as “Taj Mahal” and now counts amongst the Seven Wonders of the World. This is the true story of the Taj Mahal of India, which has mesmerized many people with its bewitching beauty.
The reality of life is that sometimes we meet a person who really change and brings outthe best in us. The Prince had so many wives but his love remained loyal to one woman, the woman who empowers him and gives him hope.
Men and women can do the same for each other. Sometimes you meet people in your life who creates a spark in us the first time. We get all these giddy feelings and happy things going on for us but after few months and or years the spark is gone. Why is that? Is it because sometimes we become so comfortable that the person we like or love is already taken for granted.
Why is it that the Shah was able to love this one person even thought there were a lot of people around him who can bear his children. Why is this one woman the treasure he holds the most in his court?
I am mezmerized by Mumtaz Mahal’s persona. What is in her that makes her the favored one and the center of the Shah’s heart? It seems she was very feminine yet a fierce warrior because she accompanied and stayed by the Shah’s side not just in his royal court but also in his business, political and defense conquests. For me she was not just the typical court lady but a very wise adviser and confidante to her husband.
Though there was genuine love between the two, Arjumand Banu Begum was a politically astute woman and served as a crucial adviser and confidante to her husband, she even is said to have implored Prince Khurram not to have children with his other wives, a call he listened. Later on, as Empress, Mumtaz Mahal (the chosen one of the Palace) wielded immense power, such as being consulted by her husband in state matters and being responsible for the imperial seal, which allowed her to review official documents in their final draft.
She was a very wise woman. She was the epitome of an ideal that I want to be as the years pass by. Her life may be short – 40 years of fruitful and true love – but she was able to change the history of her country. She made sure that she isn’t just looking after herself but also for the land and the people whom her husband took care of.
Someday I want to visit India and the Taj Mahal. I can see only the pictures for now but I know that if I am in that place, I will be in awe not with the structure but the history and the love that transcends time between a husband and his beloved wife.