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The Mughal Prince who was 'Hidden' from History
The Mughal prince who was Jahangir's favourite grandson is seldom spoken of in the talks of history. A great patron of art and the child of Mumtaz Mahal, he was born on June 23rd, 1616. The boy was named 'Shah Shuja' which translates to the brave king. But was it his bravery that really stood out?
A full portrait of Mughal prince, Shah Shuja circa 1675; Source: Public Domain

Born on 23rd June 1616

On a very auspicious day in the west side of the Indian Subcontinent, Shah Jahan and his favourite queen Mumtaz Mahal were blessed with a son whom they named Shah Shuja. The Mughal prince grew up with a ton of other siblings, and despite being the second child, barely received any attention. However, he was still the favourite grandson of Jahangir.

Shuja grew up to be a very handsome and young prince. He was immediately set up for marriage by his sister, Jahanara Begum. So, on one full moon night, he was married off to Banu Begum, before he could even turn twenty. The wedding was carried out with great procession and grandeur. Cash and goods worth one lakh were sent to the mansion of the princess he was going to marry. But happy endings are seldom true. He lost his wife and eventually, his infant too. However, he did what every other Mughal prince in history thought was right after they lost their spouse, and got remarried. Two princesses later, he was wed to a third one, the daughter of Raja Tamsen of Kishtawar. The content couple gave birth to a child in August 1645.

All was merry until one day another catastrophe came by. Shah Jahan fell sick and left his dear kingdom to not just two but four sons. Shah Shuja, at the time, instantly seized control and became the self-proclaimed emperor of the land. As a king, Shah Shuja was a great patron of art. The artisans and musicians thrived in his presence, he knew how to appreciate their talents and rewarded them generously.

One time in the year 1632, he called for an artist named Govardhan to get a picture of him and his beloved painted. This painting is named "Shah Shuja and his beloved". Its splendour gained the painting a position in the Metropolitan Museum of New York and is still admired for its beauty, even today.

Suddenly one day, a dark shadow cast itself in his glorious empire. His siblings, in the hunger for power, battled against each other for a throne their father had left unattended. Tears and bloodshed followed by compromises marked an end to the rule of this Mughal king who was a lover of art.

With bad blood within the family, it was obvious what would have followed. In 1658, several bloodsheds later, Aurangzeb seized the throne and the large army of the Shah Shuja was wiped away in one go.

Aurangzeb, as he's known through the pages of history, was shrewd and egoistic by nature. On his victory, he compelled his own brother to withdraw to Bengal. This was not the end. Defeated yet filled with spirit, he returned but didn't stop waging wars. So, when he was pursued by Mir Jamla and his army, he spontaneously brought together the best men, without having the slightest hint of betrayal he was about to face. Even after facing desertions from his own army men, he never gave up, until Aurangzeb's army hounded into Assam.

He and his family and a small number of loyal retainers, thus, disappeared from history.
Shruti Vashist Author
Last seen on ThisDay, quite some time ago.

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