Who Was the Rajput Wife of Mughal Emperor Akbar?

For history enthusiasts, the 2008 Hindi movie Jodha Akbar, starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai, may have caught your attention. Many believe that Jodha (not her real name) was Emperor Akbar's only wife, whom he loved deeply. Questions on Answers.com such as "How did Akbar meet Jodha Bai?" and "How many children did Jodha and Akbar have?" have sparked curiosity.

Akbar's Wives:

Ruqayya Sultan Begum was the first wife of Akbar. She was the daughter of Hindal, Humayun's younger brother. 

In 1557, Akbar married the daughter of Abdulla Khan Mughal.

Salima Sultan Begum was the daughter of Gulrukh Begum, Humayun's sister. Salima was initially married to Bairam Khan in 1557. After the death of Bairam Khan, Akbar married her in 1561.

The so-called Jodha Bai, the fourth wife of Akbar, was the daughter of Raja Bharmal of the Kachwaha dynasty, who ruled over the small kingdom of Amer (now in Jaipur) from 1548 to 1574. He was the first Rajput to join Akbar's court.

During the first year of Akbar's reign in 1556, Majnun Khan, the governor of Narnaul, informed Akbar of Raja Bharmal's loyalty during the siege of Narnaul. [After Humayun's death, Haji Khan, a commander of Sher Shah Suri, besieged the Mughal province of Narnaul.] Impressed by Raja Bharmal's loyalty, Akbar invited Raja Bharmal and his family to the court in Delhi, where they were rewarded with robes of honor.

As they bid farewell at court, Akbar was seated on a wild elephant that was moving erratically. Despite the chaos, the Rajputs remained steadfast in their loyalty, even as the elephant charged towards them. Akbar was greatly pleased by the unwavering commitment of the Rajputs.

On January 14, 1562, Akbar set off to Ajmer to pay his respects at the mausoleum of Shaikh Muin-ud-din Chishti. On his way to Ajmer, Chagatai Khan, one of his courtiers, brought to his attention the situation of Raja Bharmal, who had sought refuge in the hills. The Mughal governor of Mewat, Sharaf-ud-din Husain, had waged war against Amer with the help of Suja, the son of Bharmal's elder brother Puranmal. This conflict resulted in Bharmal's defeat and his agreement to pay tribute. Sharaf-ud-din had also taken the Raja's son Jagannath, as well as Raj Singh and Kangar, the sons of the Raja's brothers Askaran and Jagmal, as hostages.

As Sharaf-ud-din prepared to invade Amer again, Raja Bharmal sought Akbar's protection. Bharmal was warmly received at Akbar's court at Sankanir, where he expressed his desire 'to enter into Akbar's service and to strengthen the ties of friendship by a matrimonial alliance'.

Following Akbar's orders, Sharaf-ud-din surrendered the hostages to Akbar, who promptly returned them to Raja Bharmal.

On January 20, 1562, Emperor Akbar married Heera Kunwari, Raja Bharmal's eldest daughter at Sambhar. Raja Bharmal was made a Commander, while his son Raja Bhagwan Das and grandson Raja Man Singh were given prominent positions in the Mughal court. Heera Kunwari was Akbar's first Hindu wife. 

Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai in Jodha Akbar

Was Bharmal's Daughter the Mother of Jahangir?

In his Memoirs, Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri, Jahangir never mentions his mother by name, but always refers to her as Maryam Zamani. Jahangir's account of Raja Man Singh in the Tuzuk suggests that Heera Kunwari was not Jahangir's mother.

Rogers' translation: "I made Raja Man Singh - who was one of the greatest and most trusted noblemen of my father, and had obtained alliances with this illustrious family, in as much as his aunt had been in my father's house, and I had married his sister (Man Bai) - as before, ruler of the province of Bengal. His father was Raja Bhagwan Das. His grandfather Raja Bharmal was the first of the Kachwaha Rajputs to have the honor of entering my father's service."

Thackston's translation: "Raja Man Singh, one of my father's trusted and important amirs, had various relationships and kinships to this glorious family. Since he was constantly in my father's house, I myself proposed marriage with his sister, who gave birth to Khusrau and his sister Sultanu-n-nissa Begum, my first child."

If Heera Kunwari, Man Singh's aunt was his mother, Jahangir would have definitely mentioned it.

Moreover, historians have noted that, Salim's (Jahangir) rebellion prompted Akbar to declare his grandson, Prince Khusrau, as his successor. Raja Man Singh's support for Khusrau, as the son of his sister Man Bai (who was given the title of Shah Begum by Jahangir), further solidifies the fact that Jahangir was not the son of Man Singh's aunt, Heera Kunwari.

Other Wives of Akbar:

Akbar formed matrimonial alliances with many other Rajput princesses as well.

Bibi Daulat Shad, another wife of Akbar, was the mother of Shukr-un-nisa Begum and Aram Banu Begum.

The mother of Akbar's twins, Hasan and Husain, who sadly passed away after one month, remains unknown. In Tuzuk, Jahangir mentions that Shahzada Khanum (Akbar's eldest daughter), Murad (his second son) and Daniel (his third son) were born to royal concubines.

Miran Mubarak Shah of Khandesh sent one of his daughters to Akbar's harem in 1565. Akbar also wed the daughter of Qazi Isa Khan of Iran. In 1570, Rai Kalyan Mal of Bikaner sent his brother Kanho's daughter to the imperial harem. That same year, Akbar married Nathi Bai, the daughter of Rawal Harraj of Jaisalmer (Mahi Begum, a daughter was born to her but she died in 1577).

Qasima Banu Begum, daughter of Arab Shah, entered the royal harem in 1575. In 1577, the daughter of Rawal Askaran Singh of Dungarpur became part of Akbar's harem. In 1592, Akbar welcomed the daughter of Shams Chak of Kashmir into his harem.

During the Mughal era, it was customary for the emperor to marry women by having their husbands divorce them if he desired them. This is how Akbar came to marry the former wife of Abd-ul Wasi.

Major Price's Jahangirnama, which historians consider forged, gives the following details about Akbar's wives and children. Akbar's first child, Fatima Banu Begum, was born to Bibi Pungrai; twin sons Hasan and Husain were born to Bibi Aram Bakhsh; Shahzada Khanum to Bibi Salima; Murad, also known as Pahri, to Bibi Kheira; Meeti Begum to Mihr Sema; Daniel to Bibi Mariam and Lala Begum to Bibi Naun.

Who was Maryam Zamani?

Maryam Zamani was the title given to one of Akbar's wives, who was the mother of Jahangir. This title is mentioned in the Jahangirnama (Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri), but no other contemporary or later historians referred to her by this title. The real name of Jahangir's mother is not mentioned by any chronicler.

Abul Fazl described Jahangir's mother as the "matrix of the sun of fortune," Ferishta referred to her as the "favorite Sultana," and Nizamuddin Ahmad mentioned her as one of the consorts.

According to Badauni Jahangir's mother was an imperial princess: "In this year one of the imperial wives became with child, and he (Akbar) went to beg the intercession of Shaikh-Salim Chishti living at Sikri, and he left his Empress at the monastery of the Shaikh."

Dutch chroniclers Pieter van den Broecke, Francisco Pelsaert and De Laet gives the name of Jahangir's mother as Gulzar Begum.

Jahangir never calls Maryam Zamani as his mother, instead addressing her as Her Highness and Hazrat. Though he gives the names of many of his father's wives, Jahangir never disclosed his mother's true identity.

Maryam Zamani died at Agra in 1623, with Jahangir expressing his sorrow by stating, "On this day news came from Agra that Her Highness Maryam Zamani, by the decree of God, had died. I trust that Almighty God will envelop her in the ocean of His mercy."

A farman was found mentioning Jahangir's mother as Wali Nimat Begum, but no further details about her are available.


Jahangir had a deep bond with his foster mother, the daughter of Shaikh Salim Chishti. "When I was an infant I was looked after by her. The intimacy I have with her I do not have with my own mother. She stands in the place of an affectionate mother to me."

When his foster mother died in 1607, Jahangir was 'very grieved and depressed, that he lost his appetite for several days and did not change his clothes'. "She had given me milk in my mother's stead — indeed, she was kinder than a mother — and I had been raised from infancy in her care. I took one of the legs of her bier on my own shoulder and carried it a bit of the way."

Who was Jodh Bai?

Jagat Gosaine, the daughter of Motaraja Udai Singh of Jodhpur, better known as Jodh Bai, was Jahangir's wife and mother of Shah Jahan. Rukmawati Bai, also known as Jodh Bibi, was the sister of Motaraja Udai Singh (daughter of Rao Maldev) and Akbar's wife. Colonel James Tod in his 'Annals & Antiquities of Rajasthan' mentions Motaraja bestowing his sister Jodh Bai on Akbar, when in fact he was referring to Rukmawati Bai.


During the Mughal era, it was customary for royal families to employ wet-nurses, known as Anka, to feed and care for their infants. These foster-mothers often formed a stronger bond with the child than their biological mothers. Similarly, foster-brothers, known as koka, and foster-fathers, known as atka were also important persons in the royal court.


Jahangirnama, Akbarnama, Ain-i-Akbari, Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh, Tabaqat-i-Akbari, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals By Satish Chandra


  1. Really very descriptive and informative post. as many books we read , these all creates confusion , now a days a serial Jodha -Akbar is also being aired on Zee TV , it tells some different story .

    1. I agree. History is lost with the importance given to the heroes and heroines. Good to know the real story behind the movies.

  2. Nice piece of information.. Her (Jodha) tomb called as Maryam tomb is near to my house :)

  3. Are you telling that Jodha was Jahangir's spouse & not Akbar's? If that is the case how could Ashutosh Gawarikar play with history ? Thanks for the information.

    1. Hi Hitesh, it's true that Akbar married a princess of Amer, but her name was not Jodha. The movie is 80 percent fiction and 20 percent history....

    2. If these all history.....then wat should be teach to younger generation?if movie s fiction 80 percent...d whole history might b wrongly taken by viewers know?

  4. very well described ... thanks for these inputs Anjana !
    it's surprising that false stories are being allowed to run as movies which is spreading misinformation to all.!!

  5. very well described.. thanks Anjana !
    it's really surprising to see that false stories of Jodha-Akbar are running as movies and spreading misinformation to people !!

  6. You give us wrong information so pls before you posted think

    1. no the information is true.you read akbarnama and jahangirnama you will know the truth

  7. Now that’s really interesting! I was reading about the history of mughal empire Akbar and this article gives me an amazingly different perspective!

  8. Yes, you are right sir.movies, and serial's are fact. They pool us, which is not good for our children's. Don't watch such Indian history movies,serials,etc. They make it without knowledge.

  9. You’ve made some good points there. it’s a good idea !

    send flowers to ajmer

  10. Heera Kunwari converted to Islam. As only then can Nikah take place her new name was Mariam-uz-Zamani. And she was buried after death. So these facts should be mentioned. And we should also see what Rajputs say in their pages as they have the first right to tell their history as it is their history. Their version should be known.

  11. Mariyam uz zamani is the title not name Jodha is the filmy wife of Jalaluddin.

  12. In God's new world when they are all resurrected we can ask them what really happened!!! Love reading these histories. Wish I heard these stories in school growing up. (PA, USA) See www. JW . Org for more information about the Paradise earth soon to come! :)

  13. Intercast marriages ..... Rajputs vs mougals

  14. Lot's of respect for Mewad & Ranthumbor dynasty.
    At least both of them not followed this bullshit.