The Mughal dynasty was one of the longest-ruling dynasties in India, which ruled almost for two hundred years. Despite a lot of political battles and issues of consolidation of the empire, there are many fascinating stories related to the love lives of the emperors. One such fascinating character is Jodha Bai who is sometimes designated as the beloved wife of Akbar and sometimes as the consort of Jahangir.
Jodha Bai In Popular Culture
In popularly believed tradition, relating to movies like ‘Jodha Akbar’ which is an Indian Epic film directed by Ashutosh Gowarikar and the popular drama series Jodha Akbar by Ekta Kapoor, Jodha Bai has been associated with Akbar as his wife. Also, James Todd, in his book ‘Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan,’ mentioned erroneously Harka Bai as Jodha Bai.
According to historical records, the Great Mughal Emperor Akbar had three chief queens, namely, Ruqqaiya Begum, Salim Sultana Begum and Harka Bai. Harka Bai was the junior-most and she was the daughter of Kacchwaha king Raja Bharmal of Amber and she was popularly known as ‘Heer Kunwari’. After giving birth to succeeding emperor Prince Salim, better known as Emperor Jahangir, she came to be known as ‘Mariam-us-Zamani’ or ‘Mary of the Age.’ With the passing time and ages, she gradually came to be identified as Jodha Bai.
Akbar’s son Jahangir married a Jodhpur princess, Jagat Gosaini (literally meaning ‘Mistress of the World’), daughter of Rathore ruler Mota Raja Udai Singh of Marwar, presently Jodhpur. According to the tradition, she was popularly known as Jodh Bai.
What can be the truth?
It is this confusion of who was actually Jodha Bai, which is a hotly debated question among various historians and historical legacies. According to many historians, Jodha-Akbar’s story is only a fallacy. Jodha, in their view, is only a fictional character of a writer’s pen. They believe that a character named Jodha Bai never existed in Indian history.
What can be true, in my opinion, is that, that Jagat Gosaini was actually Jodha Bai as she belonged to Jodhpur. The title Jodha Bai clearly signifies ‘Jodhpur’s Lady.’ While Harka Bai was Kacchawi princess belonging to Jaipur.
However, as we all know, naming a character won’t change the personality and the role played by that character, the fact remains established that Akbar had a beloved wife Harka Bai who is commonly accepted as Jodha Bai with history having no concrete evidence regarding such acceptance except for divergent views.
Read about another royal heroine, the Countess of Desmond.