Sunday, February 1, 2015

Jahanara; The Mughal Sufi princess

I read about Jahanara- shahjahan's sufi daughter when I was curious about Darashikoh. She seeemd like a fascinating and unusual princess --albeit ultimately a tragic one.

Jahanara Begum daughter of the Emperor Shahjahan, like her  brother Dara Shikoh was a Sufi and like him an the author of biographical works on contemporary and historical Sufi saints.

Together with her brother Dara Shikoh she was a disciple of Mullah Shah Badakhshi, who initiated her into the Qadiriyya Sufi order in 1641. Jahanara Begum made such progress on the Sufi path that Mullah Shah would have named her his successor in the Qadiriyya, but the rules of the order did not allow this.

She wrote a biography of Moinuddin Chishti, the founder of the Chishtiyah order, titled Mu’nis al-Arwāḥ, as well as a biography of Mullah Shah, titled Risālah-i Ṣāḥibīyah, in which she also described her initiation by him.Her biography of Moinuddin Chishti is highly regarded for its judgment and literary quality. In it she regarded him as having initiated her spiritually four centuries after his death, described her pilgrimage to Ajmer, and spoke of herself as a faqīrah to signify her vocation as a Sufi woman

Jahanara Begum stated that she and her brother Dārā were the only descendants of Timur to embrace Sufism.
Jehanara  spent many weeks along with her father Shahjehan at Ajmer  seeking the blessings of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz.  The princess  details her spiritual activities at the shrine   and her mystical experiences. “ “Praise  be to God as I attained the happiness of pilgrimage to the illuminated and perfumed tomb of the revered saving master. I went to the holy sanctuary and rubbed my pale face on the dust of the threshold. From the door-way to the blessed tomb I went barefoot, kissing the ground. Having entered the dome, I went around the light-filled tomb of my master seven times, sweeping it with my eyelashes, and making the sweet-smelling dust of that place the mascara of my eyes.” Of Khwaja she wrote ,

Our Moin ud-Din is annihilated in God,

And after that he subsists in the absolute essence.

The Sufi princess is buried in a small white marble tomb, open to the elements and devoid of any dome opposite her beloved Sufi Hazrat Nizam al-Din Auliya in Delhi. The inscription on her shrine reads as follows :

He is the Living, the Sustaining.
Let no one cover my grave except with greenery,
For this very grass suffices as a tomb cover for the poor.
 The annihilated faqira Lady Jahanara,
 Disciple of the Lords of Chisht,
 Daughter of Shahjahan the Warrior
 (May God illuminate his proof).


  1. Hello, my name is Shagun and I have been looking for this story from a long time. I am happy to find it in such a beautiful place. I am publishing a book of my poetry and would like to retell this story. I seek our kind permission for the same. Please let me know.