“What’s in a name? That which we call rose by any another name would smell as sweet” said the famous 16th century poet William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet.
Little did the great poet or any another learned men knew that a change in name would be the reason of communal violence, conflicts, turmoil and even a threat to the ancient history on the other side of the globe. His countryman Col. James Tod followed the quote so ardently that he even did not take care to look into records while writing his book Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan. This British East India employee and an amateur historian went ahead by quoting one of the most disastrous line in history and that is none other than “…On the union of the imperial house with that of Jodhpur, by the marriage of Jodha Bai to Akbar, ….. (sic)”.
The historian clearly mentions in page 965 of his book (Volume II) that it was Jodha bai of Jodhpur who married Akbar. Probably being an Englishman he messed up the names of two distinct and totally different Rajput princess of two diverse era – Harkha Bai (Hira Kunwari) of Amer and Jodhaa Bai (Jagat Gosain aka Manavati Baiji Lal later Taj Bibi Bilkhis Makhani). Going by a number of inaccuracies in his work, it is very clear that the amateur historian messed up the two names and mistook Jodha Bai for Hira Kunwari. Princess of Jodhpur (daughter of Udai Sighji Sahib) was not married to Akbar but his son Salim (later Jahangir).
However, in the same book (1920 edition) you will find the editor William Crooke quoting “Ain-i-Akbari” I (Page 619) explaining that although there has been controversies about Jodha Bai, it is evident that she was wife of Jahangir and not Akbar. This fact again has been supported by the writer himself where he refers Jodha Bai as the daughter of Raja Udai Singh of Jodhpur. Now, the Rajput princess who married Akbar in 1562 in Sambhar, Rajasthan was not the daughter of Raja Udai Singh of Jodhpur but Raja Bharmal of Amer. Jodha Bai was wife of Jahangir and mother of Shah Jahan whereas Hira Kunwari was wife of Akbar and mother of Jahangir. In the footnotes the editor mentions – “Jodha Bai is a title, meaning ‘Jodhpur lady’. There were some doubts about her identity, but she was certainly daughter of Udai Singh and wife of Jahangir (sic)”
Although the concept of Jodha Bai being Akbar’s wife never emerged until 19th century, readers did fell prey to James Tod’s mistake and failed to recognize the editor’s correction or even referring the documentary history of the Great Akbar’s era in the form of Tabqat-i-Akbari, Mutakhabutawarikh, Akbar Namma and Ain-i-Akbari which no where mentions Jodha Bai as Akbar’s wife.
Movies like Mughal-E-Azam(1960), Jodha-Akbar (2008) and now the TV series Jodha Akbar all seem to be inspired by Tod’s adaptation. But couldn’t they see the footnotes where the editor William Crooke has clearly explained it as a ‘mistake’. It seems that the scriptwriter, director and producer of all three shows took no interest in the chronological facts.
The movie Mughal-E-Azam was such a brilliant movie in the form of cinematic approach that every one of us believed that Jodha Bai was Akbar’s wife. Then came Ashuthosh Gowariker’s Jodha-Akbar. Again, the movie is amazing in terms of cinema but in terms of history it is completely trash.
The influence of these movies has been so spectacular that any attempt against this prejudiced view now proves futile. Thanks to James Tod who has a reputation of inaccuracies and is also famous for mistaking Rana Kumbha, a Mewar ruler in the 15th century as the husband of the princess-saint Mira Bai besides, misinterpreting the story of Queen Padmini.
So, going by the historical facts and knowing the mess by an Englishmen, what becomes your opinion now – Who was Jodha bai, was it Akbar’s wife or daughter-in-law?
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