7 Aug 2014

Who Was the Rajput Wife of Mughal Emperor Akbar?

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You history lovers must have seen the 2008 movie Jodha Akbar, starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai. People think that Jodha (that's not her real name) was the only wife of Emperor Akbar and he loved her very much. I could find some interesting questions on Answers.com, like; "How did Akbar met Jodha Bai", "How many children did Jodha and Akbar have" and the list goes on. This post is about Akbar's wives.

Update: Recently I came across some additional information regarding Akbar's Rajput wives. I am posting it here: In some history books it's written that Jodha Bai, Akbar's celebrated Rajput wife, was the daughter of Rao Maldeo of Marwar (now Jodhpur). We know that Jodh Bai, the grand daughter of Raja Maldeo, that is, the daughter of his son Motaraja Udai Singh, was married to Akbar's son Jahangir. Maldeo's daughter's name was Rukmawati Bai. She had the pet name of Jodh Bibi. Akbar's marriage with Rukmawati Bai was mentioned by Satish Chandra in his book, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals.

Akbar's Wives:

Ruqayya Sultan Begum was the first wife of Akbar. She was the daughter of Hindal, Humayun's younger brother. As per records she had no children.

Salima Sultan Begum was the daughter of Gulrukh Begum, a sister of Humayun. She was married to Bairam Khan in the beginning of Akbar's reign. After the death of Bairam Khan, Akbar married her in 1561. 

Daughter of Raja Bharmal, the So-called "Jodha Bai":

Raja Bharmal of Kachwaha dynasty was the ruler of the small kingdom of Amber also known as Amer (now in Jaipur) from 1548 to 1574. During the first year of Akbar's reign (1556), Majnun Khan, governor of Narnaul, informed him of the loyalty of Raja Bharmal which he had shown at the siege of Narnaul (After the death of Humayun, Haji Khan, a commander of Sher Shah Suri, had besieged Narnaul). Raja Bharmal and his family were invited to the court at Delhi and were rewarded with robes of honours. At the time of their dismissal, Akbar was seated on a wild elephant, which got restive and was rushing in every direction. The people moved to one side. Once when it ran towards the Rajputs, they didn't move but still stood firm. This loyalty of Rajputs pleased Akbar very much.

Akbar the great
On 14th Jan 1562, Akbar set off to Ajmer to visit the mausoleum of Shaikh Muin-ud-din Chishti. On his way to Ajmer, Chagatai Khan, one of his intimate courtiers, reminded him of Raja Bharmal and informed that the Raja had taken refuge in the hills since Sharaf-ud-din Husain, governor of Mewat, had made war upon Amber at the instigation of Suja, son of Raja's elder brother Puran Mal. Sharaf-ud-din's intention was to take procession of Amber for himself. Followed by his defeat, the Raja was agreed to pay tribute and his son Jagannath, and Raj Singh & Kangar, the sons of his brothers Askaran and Jagmal, were taken as hostages. Now that Sharaf-ud-din was preparing to invade Amber again and the Raja requested Akbar's protection. At the request of Akbar, Raja Bharmal visited the court at Sankanir and paid his respects. He was most honorably received by Akbar and his request to enter into Akbar's service and to strengthen the ties of friendship by a matrimonial alliance was granted. On the order of Akbar, Sharaf-ud-din surrendered Jagannath, Raj Singh and Kangar to Akbar and afterwards they were sent to the Raja. Akbar married Heera Kunwari, Raja Bharmal's daughter on Jan 20, 1562 at Sambhar. Raja Bharmal was made a Commander and his heir Raja Bhagwan Das and grandson Raja Man Singh were also given high positions in the Mughal court.

Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai in Jodha Akbar

Who was the Mother of Jahangir?
Jahangir never mentions the name of his mother in his Memoirs, but, the following few lines from Jahangirnama proves that Heera Kunwari (daughter of Raja Bharmal) was not the mother of Jahangir:-

Firstly, see Jahangir's account of Raja Man Singh, "I made Raja Man Singh-who was one of the greatest and most trusted noblemen of my father, and had obtained alliances with this illustrious family, in as much as his aunt had been in my father's house, and I had married his sister (Man Bai), and Khusrau and his sister Sultanu-n-nissa Begum, the latter of whom is my eldest child, were born of her-as before, ruler of the province of Bengal. His father was Raja Bhagwan Das. His grandfather Raja Bharmal was the first of the Kachwaha Rajputs to have the honor of entering my father's service, and he excelled his tribe in truth and sincerity of friendship, and in the quality of valor". In another version of Jahangirnama, he says something like this, "She (aunt of Raja Man Singh) was in my father's harem, but no favourite with destiny, although possessed of uncommon beauty".

Secondly, we are told by the historians that, Salim's (Jahangir) rebellion, had made Akbar to declare his grandson, Prince Khusrau, to be his successor. At that time, Raja Man Singh had supported Khusrau since he was the son of his sister Man Bai (who was given the title of Shah Begum by Jahangir). It means that Jahangir was not the son of his aunt Hira Kunwari.

Bibi Daulat Shad, another wife of Akbar, was the mother of his two daughters, Shukr-un-nisa Begum and Aram Banu Begum. He had made matrimonial alliances with many other Rajputs as well. Again, we do not have the information of the mother of Akbar's twins, Hasan and Husain (they died after one month). In Tuzuk, Jahangir says that Shahzada Khanum (eldest daughter of Akbar), Murad (second son of Akbar) and Daniel (Akbar's third son) were born to royal concubines. In 1577, Mahi Begum, a daughter of Akbar died, whose mother was Nathi Bai, daughter of Rawal Harraj of Jaisalmer. Qasima Banu Begum, daughter of Arab Shah, entered the royal harem in 1575. Miran Mubarak Shah of Khandesh sent one of his daughters to Akbar's harem in 1565. Akbar also married the daughter of Qazi Isa Khan of Iran.

Who is Maryam Zamani?

Jahangir mentions four of his father's wives. He never refers Maryam Zamani as one of Akbar's wives. "On the same day Her Majesty the revered Maryam Zamani came from Agra, and I acquired eternal good fortune from the blessing of waiting on her. I hope that the shadow of her bringing up and affection may be perennial on the head of this suppliant"; "the feast of my solar year was celebrated in the house of Maryam Zamani". These are some of the statements he made about Maryam Zamani. When she died in 1623, he just says that, "On this day news came from Agra that Her Highness Maryam Zamani, by the decree of God, had died. I trust that Almighty God will envelop her in the ocean of His mercy".

It seems like Jahangir was not really attached to his own mother. His foster-mother was the daughter of Shaikh Salim Chishti and he was deeply attached to her, "In my childhood I was under her guardianship and care, I have not so much affection for my own mother as for her. She is to me my gracious mother. She had given me her milk and was as a mother to me or even kinder than my own kind mother". A farman was found, which mentions the name of Jahangir's mother, 'Wali Nimat Begum, the mother of King Nur-ud-din Jahangir'. We do not have any further information about the Wali Nimat Begum.

Who is Jodh Bai?

Jagat Gosaine, daughter of Motaraja Udai Singh of Jodhpur, was known as Jodh Bai. She was the wife of Jahangir and mother of Shah Jahan.


The Memoirs of Emperor Jahangir written by Himself translated by Rogers/Elliot

Author: Anjana

Anjana writes about Indian history and flowering plants. Was this article helpful? Leave a comment below.


  1. Really very descriptive and informative post. as many books we read , these all creates confusion , now a days a serial Jodha -Akbar is also being aired on Zee TV , it tells some different story .

    1. I agree. History is lost with the importance given to the heroes and heroines. Good to know the real story behind the movies.

  2. Nice piece of information.. Her (Jodha) tomb called as Maryam tomb is near to my house :)

  3. Are you telling that Jodha was Jahangir's spouse & not Akbar's? If that is the case how could Ashutosh Gawarikar play with history ? Thanks for the information.

    1. Hi Hitesh, it's true that Akbar married a princess of Amer, but her name was not Jodha. The movie is 80 percent fiction and 20 percent history....

    2. If these all history.....then wat should be teach to younger generation?if movie s fiction 80 percent...d whole history might b wrongly taken by viewers know?

  4. very well described ... thanks for these inputs Anjana !
    it's surprising that false stories are being allowed to run as movies which is spreading misinformation to all.!!

  5. very well described.. thanks Anjana !
    it's really surprising to see that false stories of Jodha-Akbar are running as movies and spreading misinformation to people !!

  6. You give us wrong information so pls before you posted think

    1. no the information is true.you read akbarnama and jahangirnama you will know the truth

  7. Now that’s really interesting! I was reading about the history of mughal empire Akbar and this article gives me an amazingly different perspective!

  8. Yes, you are right sir.movies, and serial's are fact. They pool us, which is not good for our children's. Don't watch such Indian history movies,serials,etc. They make it without knowledge.

  9. You’ve made some good points there. it’s a good idea !

    send flowers to ajmer

  10. Heera Kunwari converted to Islam. As only then can Nikah take place her new name was Mariam-uz-Zamani. And she was buried after death. So these facts should be mentioned. And we should also see what Rajputs say in their pages as they have the first right to tell their history as it is their history. Their version should be known.

  11. Mariyam uz zamani is the title not name Jodha is the filmy wife of Jalaluddin.

  12. In God's new world when they are all resurrected we can ask them what really happened!!! Love reading these histories. Wish I heard these stories in school growing up. (PA, USA) See www. JW . Org for more information about the Paradise earth soon to come! :)