Book Review: Jahangir - An Intimate Portrait of a Great Mughal by Parvati Sharma


Copyright (C) Privy Trifles

Genre: Non-Fiction/ History

Publishers: Juggernaut

Price: Rs. 599/- (I got the book for review from the publisher)

Behind the Book

Jahangir was the fourth of the six Great Mughals - great grandson of Babur and grandfather of Aurangzeb - and the least known among them. His father, Akbar, transformed the Mughal kingdom into an empire, and his reign is often considered an epoch in itself. Jahangir's son Shahjahan built the tomb that Tagore famously described as a 'teardrop on the cheek of time', and was sometimes upheld as Akbar's true heir. Jahangir, on the other hand, has the reputation of a weak man, at best: an alcoholic with an eye for art and greed for pleasure, controlled by a powerful wife. But far from being a disinterested prince and insignificant ruler, Jahangir showed tremendous ambition and strength throughout his life. When his succession was threatened, Jahangir set up a rebel court in the face of the mighty Akbar himself. While he made no conquests to match his father's, Jahangir was the first Mughal to win the allegiance of the fearsome Ranas of Mewar. And, for all his reputed frivolity, Jahangir was the emperor who won his dynasty its glorious association with things of beauty and splendour - and who wrote one of the most perceptive and entertaining imperial memoirs of all time.

The man who is most often defined by his relationships is here presented holistically as a canny ruler and conscientious administrator, an astute observer of human society and a connoisseur with wide-ranging interests. In this marvellous work of popular history, Parvati Sharma tells a compelling story of one of the most fascinating and undervalued rulers of India.

About the Author

Parvati Sharma's debut, The Dead Camel and Other Stories of Love, earned her a cult following for its depictions of love and sexuality in urban India. Her novella, Close to Home, was acclaimed as 'tender, acute and pulsing with real Indian life'. She has also written a book for children, The Story of Babur. Sharma has worked as a travel writer, editor and journalist

We play many roles in life. Starting from being a daughter or son to our parents, to brother/sister, aunt/uncle, friend, lover, wife/husband and ofcourse the professional roles we adorn in our day to day life. Doctors, lawyers, CEO the list is long. Balancing amongst all these roles is not easy, it is a tight rope walk. History is replete with stories where successful rulers / motivational speakers / professionals have failed in some other role in their lives miserably. The world today might remember them as a successful King but in personal life, they were forgotten long before they breathed their last.

Jahangir - An Intimate Portrait of a Great Mughal by Parvati Sharma is an honest attempt at showing Mughal Emperor Jahangir in a new light, devoid of the tag of being the 'son of King Akbar'. The author tries to shed some light on his life as an independent individual, Nuruddin Mohammed Jahangir.

Backed with lot of interesting research, the author tries to show us who the real Jahangir was, compared to what we know him as through history books. It is very interesting to see so many different facets of his personality. A mango lover, wine connoisseur, a keen observer, tender lover, short tempered at times, nature lover, ardently devoted to his wife - this man enjoyed life to the hilt.  He spent lavishly on art and acquiring paintings which adorned his chambers. Not to forget, how ably he ruled. The book also talks about his religious beliefs and the unforgettable victory he grabbed over the rulers of Mewar.

Though the author clearly states that she is not a historian, she has managed to present a very endearing image of Jahangir. As someone who was a puppet in the hands of his wife Nur Jahan who ruled the kingdom with iron hands, he still managed to put up with it gracefully without allowing it to reflect on his persona. The fact that Nur Jahan had an entire story of her own which has gone down in history, making her one of the most influential women is another thing altogether.

The best thing about this book has to be those rare images and maps, the author has shared in the book. A reader cannot help but ask for more! Parvati Sharma's writing is lucid, engaging and has the ability to hold onto your attention. She, skillfully grabs snippets of his personality from various sources and weaves them together to make Jahangir come alive in these pages.

Recommended for all history lovers!

Foodie Verdict

This book is like Spicy Egg Pancake - Delectable both in looks and in taste!

Source: Scratching Canvas


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