The Identity of Maryam Zamani, A Hindu?

During my research, I came across some news articles discussing Sujan Rai, a Hindu historian, who claimed in his work Khulasat-ut-Tawarikh that the princess of Amer was actually Jahangir's mother. Allegedly, her name was omitted by Muslim historians due to her Hindu background. However, this claim lacks credibility. If true, Mughal historians would also have concealed the identities of Khusrau and Shah Jahan's mothers, who were also Hindu Rajput princesses.

The prevailing belief is that Hira Kunwari, the daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amer, was the mother of Jahangir and was given the title of Maryam Zamani. Interestingly, Jahangir himself only refers to her as one of his father's wives. 

Here is Abul Fazl's account of Akbar's first Hindu wife: "Raja Bharmal from the sincerity of his disposition made the arrangements for the marriage in the most admirable manner and brought his fortunate daughter to this station and placed her among the ladies of the harem.

Birth of Salim

A Brief Overview of Akbar's Relationship with Hinduism:

Akbar appointed many Rajputs to high positions at the court. He had a special preference for Hindus from a young age. He even renounced Islam later in life. Akbar's affection towards Hindu princesses in his Harem led him to celebrate Hindu rituals such as the Hom, a form of fire-worship, and sun worship. He adopted Hindu customs such as wearing a rakhi on his wrist and the Hindu mark on his forehead.

Badauni notes: "Akbar, from his youth had been in company with Hindus, and thus he learnt to look upon a cow, which in their opinion is one of the reasons why the world still exists, as something holy. Besides, the Emperor was subject to the influence of the numerous Hindu princesses of the Harem, who had gained so great an ascendancy over him, as to make him forswear beef, garlic, onions and beard.

He prohibited the slaughter of cows and abolished Jizya. He had also introduced many Hindu customs and heresies in the court in order to please Hindus, and abstained from everything which were disgusting to them. Pigs and dogs were kept in the Harem, and to inspect them daily was considered a religious exercise. Hindus, who believe in incarnations, said that the boar belonged to the ten forms which God had once assumed. The saying of some wise men that a dog had ten virtues, and that a man, if he possess one of them, was a saint, was also quoted as a proof.

Names like Ahmad, Muḥammad and Mustafa became offensive to him, who thereby wished to please the Hindus outside, and the princesses inside the Harem, till after some time those courtiers, who had such names, changed them; and such names as Yar Muhammad and Muḥammad Khan were altered to Rahmat."

Akbar commissioned translations of many Sanskrit works such as Ramayana, Mahabharata, Atharva Veda and Harivamsa, into Persian.

Given these circumstances, it may seem surprising that a Rajput princess like Maryam Zamani could have constructed a mosque. (A Mosque in Lahore was built by Maryam Zamani during Jahangir's reign, known as Begum Shahi Mosque.)

Akbar's policy was to form matrimonial alliances with Hindu princesses, allowing them to practice their religion in order to gain the trust of his Hindu subjects. Frederic Fanthome noted that giving these princesses Muslim names would go against this policy, as it could imply that they had converted to Islam. Therefore, it is unlikely that Akbar would have given Raja Bharmal's daughter the Muslim name of Maryam Zamani.

Jahangir and Hinduism:

Jahangir, like his father, did not kept a beard. In the Jahangirnama, it is recorded that Jahangir bestowed Muslim titles upon some of his Hindu wives. One notable example is Mani Bai, also known as Jodh Bai, the mother of Shah Jahan, who was referred to as Jagat Gosaine by Jahangir. Other instances include:

"After Khusrau's birth I gave the title of Shah Begum to [Manbhawati Bai, the daughter of Raja Bhagwan Das]."

"In the time when I was prince I had taken Rawal Bhim Singh's daughter in marriage, and called her by the title of Malika-Jahan."

Muslim women were also given prestigious titles, such as Hamida Banu Begum (Mariam Makani), Mihr-un-nissa (Nur Mahal and Nur Jahan), and Arjumand Banu Begum (Mumtaz Mahal, and possibly Taj Mahal).

Below are excerpts from the Akbarnama detailing the exquisite beauty and noble lineage of the Hindu princesses:

"At this time it was represented to His Majesty that Raja Bhagwan Das, who held high office, and who had lofty lineage and abilities, had a daughter whose purity adorned her high extraction, and was endowed with beauty and graces; and that it was the wish of her family that she should be united to prince Salim"

"The daughter of Raja Bhagwan Das gave birth to a daughter in the house of Prince Sultan Salim, and there were various rejoicings"

"One of the occurrences was the birth of Sultan Khusrau...the auspicious pearl displayed itself in the city of Lahore, in the bedchamber of Prince Sultan Salim, from the chaste womb of the daughter of Raja Bhagwan Das"

"A daughter was born in Lahore to Prince Salim by the daughter of Dariya Malbhas. His Majesty gave her the name of Daulat Nisa"

"A daughter was born to Prince Salim by the daughter of Kesho Rathore. His Majesty called her Bihar Banu. On the same night a daughter was born to the Prince by the Motaraja's daughter. His Majesty gave her the name of Begum Sultan"

"The daughter of the Motaraja gave birth to a son in the harem of Prince Sultan Salim in Lahore. He received the name of Sultan Khurram (Shah Jahan)"

"One of the occurrences was the marriage of Prince Sultan Daniel. There was a feast of joy, and that nosegay of fortune was united to the daughter of Rai Mal the son of Rai Maldeo"

The chroniclers make reference to the marriages of Akbar, as well as his sons Salim (Jahangir), Murad and Daniel, with Muslim princesses. However, they have not documented the names of the princesses, regardless of their religious background.

"Naqib Khan (Sanskrit translator at Akbar's court) represented that Qazi Isa, his uncle had made his daughter a present to His Majesty....he visited the house of Naqib Khan and received that chaste lady according to ancestral rites"

"Excellent events which occurred during the siege of Mankot was that the fortunate-starred daughter of Mirza Abdullah Khan Mughal who was distinguished for his lineage, entered into the bond of matrimony with the unique jewel of the Caliphate"

"About this time the daughter of Said Khan Gakhar entered the service of that nursling of the Caliphate (Salim)"

"In the beginning of this auspicious year a daughter was born to Prince Sultan Salim. The daughter of Said Khan obtained this great blessing"

It is highly unlikely that Jahangir's mother's name was not recorded in Mughal records simply because she was a Hindu. It is important to note that Akbar's chroniclers did not mention the mothers of his other children either.

Abul Fazl mention the death of Daniel's mother in 1596, referring to her as "the great lady of the family of chastity." Abul Fazl also recorded the passing of Mahi Begum, one of Akbar's daughters, stating, "One of the occurrences was the departure of Mahi Begum to the spiritual world. That nursling of the rose-garden of the Caliphate was the grand-child of Rawal Harraj the ruler of Jaisalmer (Nathi Bai).


The enigmatic Wali Nimat Begum, entitled Maryam Zamani, was a prominent figure in the Mughal court. European travelers noted her active involvement in trading operations in the Red Sea. In 1613, the Portuguese seized the Rahimi, the largest of the Surat vessels, which belonged to her. This event refutes certain authors' assertions of her Portuguese lineage. She was known for her architectural contributions, such as the construction of the Begum Shahi Mosque in Lahore and a Baoli in Bayana.

None of the Mughal historians have revealed the true identity of Maryam Zamani. According to the Jahangirnama, Maryam Zamani passed away in 1623. A tomb believed to be hers was discovered in Agra, but unfortunately, it does not contain any inscriptions to definitively confirm its identity.


  1. Hello Anjana!

    The Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri (Rodgers and Beveridge) has MANY FLAWS, so much so that even the preface of the book states that it is a "garbled" and "defective" memoir and "in part, at least, a fabrication". If you don't believe me please check out the preface yourself. The Jahangirnama and Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri (different versions) often and obviously contradict each other! Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri, a book that calls itself a fabrication more than once in the preface. Hence these "autobiographies"or "memoirs" are not at all reliable.

    For more info about how unreliable/ false these memoirs are please read this blog:

    The English translation of the Akbarnama from Farsi has mistakes. The words for mother and foster mother/milk mother in farsi are distorted in the English translation simply as mother. This is evident in the English translated text when Maham Anga is mentioned as Akbar's "mother" instead of foster mother, but the farsi word was "foster-mother". This is why it states that Daniyal's mother died when it was in fact his foster mother that had pasted away. Prince Daniyal's biological mother was Mariam uz Zamani. He was given to Raja Bharmal as an infant so that he could be raised by the Maharani of Amer (which historians believe is his maternal grandmother).

    To know how many children Akbar and MUZ had please check out :

    Also I would like to say that Mariam uz Zamani was just a title, so there was NO ISSUE that it was given to a Hindu, who was the eldest daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amer (later Jaipur), and mother of Jahangir. Man Bai and Jodh bai (Jagat Gosain) who were Hindu Rajput wives of Jahangir were given the titles Shah Begum and Bilqis Makani respectively.

    Akbar's first Hindu wife, the daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amer, was probably named Hira Bai, or Harka Bai, in the movie Jodha Akbar this lady is given the name Jodha Bai (not the same as Jodh bai). This Rajkumari of Amer was also given the several other titles besides Mariam uz Zamani, like Malika-e-Hindustan, Malika-e- Muzzema.

    Jodh bai also known as Jagat Gosain (Bilqis Makani) was Jahangir's wife, and hence Mariam uz Zamani's daughter in law.

    For more info about Mariam uz Zamani please visit
    I'm in no way associated with this blog, but the author (Abhay) has researched Akbar and Mariam uz Zamani to a great extent, so plz check it out. Plus, whenever I interacted with him online he was very open to discussions/questions.

  2. The story of Akbar and his Hindu begum requires much more fine detailing. As per the chronicles written during Akbar's era namely Tarik I Farishta, she is recorded to be his favorite Sultana. If we take a look at Badayuni book, Muntakhab ut tawarikh he records a statement where he says that 'Akbar is trapped by the beautiful daughter of Raja Bihari Mal' and another statement he writes is "magic the beautiful daughter of Raja Bihari Mal did on Akbar". There are no records of any such statement about another wife of Akbar. For those who don't know, Badayuni was a courtier in Akbar's court who was a bigot and criticized Akbar to the max for his liberal policies and his gradually augmenting secular nature.
    Now talking about why she was his favorite, many argue that this is because she gave birth to his first son Salim, but that is also not true. In the year 1564, Akbar bestowed her with the name Wali Nimaat begum meaning Gift of God. Another point to be noted is that in 1662, Akbar married another Hindu princess of Punjab owing to political advantage but she did not have any such title or name bestowed by her husband. She was known by her native name throughout her life. So to say that this was to just give Heer Kunwari a Muslim name is also incorrect because his other Hindu wives had no such honorific name.
    In the year 1566, Akbar and Wali nimaat begum went barefoot to the pilgrim, Dargah Ajmer to pray for a son. This is recorded in the book by Aziz Ahmed stating it to comply with historical records.
    The very magnanimous palace of Marium uz Zamani, locally known as Jodha bai's palace had its construction began in the year 1567, as per Badayuni writings. Unlike the common belief that it was constructed because she gave birth to Salim can be easily contradicted if one was to have a read of historical chronicles. Salim was born in the year 1569, and therefore the futility of this notion can be evidently perceived. In the year 1664, Marium uz Zamani gave birth to twins named Hassan and Hussain, post demise whose Akbar took Marium uz Zamani with him to the Dargah of Salim Christi in Sikri while he was in the war.
    Now talking about Akbarnama, she has high praises reserved for her in the autobiography of her husband. Describing the event of her wedding to Akbar, which unlike his other marriages has an entire chapter dedicated to it saying that the eldest daughter of Raja Bihari Mal who was wedded to Akbar had the lights of chastity and intellect shining in her forehead over the attendants of the glorious pavilion(meaning Shahi Harem). His so-called other begums namely Ruqaiya who is argued to be his favorite by few people on the internet has not even a passing reference in Akbarnama, she is not even mentioned once in the entire Akbarnama, not her wedding to Akbar or any praise anywhere recorded.
    Another anecdote in Akbarnama vol 2, describes that the auspicious sister of Bhagwan Das held a high rank in the harem. No other wife of Akbar has this statement recorded in Akbarnama or anywhere else. The freedom Akbar bestowed upon his first Hindu begum was exemplary, during the death of her brother Bhupat, Akbar personally sent her to mourn over the death of her brother to Amer. (mentioned in Akbarnama vol 2)

  3. Badayuni records that Akbar used to himself participate in the puja daughter of Raja Bihari Mal performed. Apparently, he had some 10-12 Hindu wives, but the affection of Akbar recorded for Marium uz Zamani was on another complete level. No other wife of Akbar is mentioned in this regard. In addition to this, there is a famous Persian painting named 'Glory of Faith' which is a colored painting made from a sketch recovered from Akbar's era having a Persian inscription 'Jalaluddin Mohammed Akbar ma Marium uz Zamani'.(ma means and). There is no other sketch of any other wife of Akbar that was made at the instance Akbar. (Needless to say that the description of the queen in those days was described by the king, Akbar is recorded to be extremely concerned about the chastity of his women therefore used to deny them a personal identity open to public gaze)
    The palaces he built for her are of Hindu architecture and no way insinuate to be of a lady who was Christian by birth, the titles he bestowed upon her stand as a testimony to the reverence Akbar gave her in his life. She is the only wife who was authorized by Akbar for international trade activities and this is recorded by the book of Dirk Collier who states that he found the records about the long discussions Akbar used to have with his Hindu begum regarding her trade activities, the only woman who was given rank in the military( the earliest reference for this is of the year the 1590s which is Akbar's reign, not Jahangir's) and the only wife of Akbar who was presented with gems and jewels by each nobleman at the instance of Akbar(the earliest reference for the same is of the mid-1590s), the only wife who is stated to have access to his khawabgah and could enter Akbar's palace without his prior permission and it is her palace that is recorded to be connected to Akbar's palace internally. It was she who was known as Mallika-e-Hindustan during Akbar's and Jahangir's reign both. Badayuni in his records vouchers for the same. She is addressed the same by Badayuni in the first two volumes of his book.
    Last but not least, she is the only wife of Akbar buried close to her( at a distance less than a kilometer) does substantiate the relationship these two possessed.