Myths VS Facts- Anarkali, Testimony Of Mughal Voyeuristic Acts

Article by Esha

                        This article is series on Mughal dynasty you can read part-1 here.

The movie Mughal-e-Azam is perhaps, one of the best loved, love stories, based on the lives of a court dancer in Akbar’s court, Anarkali and his crown prince Salim. As seen with regards to various historical narratives, this too has different versions. In the previous article on Mughals, author had put forth opined views with the help of a series on Mughals by Alex Rutherford-‘Empire of the Mughal –Ruler of the world,’ and Google. This piece too is based on information from both.


On Wikipedia the identity of Anarkali is given as Sharif-un-Nissa, also known as Nadira Begum, a courtesan from Lahore. She was ordered to be buried alive between two brick walls by Akbar when he discovered the illicit relation between her and his son Salim. The movie Mughal-e Aazm is based on this version.


Let us now recount the story written in Alex Rutherford’s book. Chapter 23 named ‘Pomegranate Blossom’ tells us about a celebration which took place during Naurauz, wherein Akbar introduced Anarkali to his couturiers and his sons. She had been gifted to him by the Turkish Sultan and was an Italian lady. Akbar had bestowed the name Anarkali (Pomegranate Blossom) on her because of her rare beauty. She was his favourite concubine but on that day he felt magnanimous enough to share her dancing poise with a chosen few. Salim was completely enamored by her grace and beauty. He was so obsessed that he pledged to have her, irrespective of the risk.


Salim cajoled his khawajasara into first sending her messages to meet him surreptitiously and then bringing Anarkali to his chambers (page 350,351,352). There on began a sordid affair between the two. At every opportune moment he would try to set up secret rendezvous. This did not last long as the khwawjasara, frightened at the state of affairs and fearful for her life, reported the matter to Abul Fazl, Akbar’s trusted friend and the author of his biography. He immediately disclosed the facts to Akbar.


Abul Fazl apprehended Salim while he was waiting for a nefarious tryst with Anarkali and took him before a seething Akbar. Anarkali was also brought before him and sentenced to be buried alive between two brick walls. All pleas by her, seeking forgiveness was turned down and she was dragged away wailing pathetically. Salim was dismissed to Kabul, as his mother and step mothers had extracted the promise of sparing his life from Akbar.


Akbar rebuked Salim very severely for the betrayal and refused to acknowledge him as his son. Ironically, it was Akbar who had sat with his sons and courtiers watching her erotic performances. What an absolutely fantastic display of morality! The Mughals lived a very perverted life, in spite of this, The Indian historians thought it fit to paint a rosy picture of this dynasty, at the cost of real honest Indian rulers. Would anyone care to explain how a father could accuse his son of immorality if he had been depraved enough to enjoy his concubine’s sensual performance sitting by his son? What father perpetuates such perverted acts?

Today many Indians are feeling cheated; the history that we grew up on glorified the invaders and honey coated their tyranny.                          

It is absolutely atrocious to even imagine the deception carried out by our so called historians. They deliberately misled generations of Indians into believing in a dynasty which has nothing much to speak about. All the rulers were tyrannical towards the original inhabitants of this country. Why have they been glorified to such an extent?

It is necessary to have an atmosphere of fraternity in a country as varied as ours, however does behoove a set of agenda driven gang to wipe out true facts and supplant them with fake ones. The British, had an ulterior motive in trying to show Indian culture, heritage and literature in poor light as they wanted to enslave the Indians. It was through, such under hand tactics that they could break the morale of the Indians.

What is infuriating is the blatant prejudice projected by a group of Indian historians, after our freedom to foster fake historical facts on us. What was the compulsion to do so? All these years they have tried to deride our culture, heritage, lineage, faith and portrayed everything Indian as regressive and inferior. Truth can be hidden but for a limited time only, now with the explosion of the digital media and the social media, information is readily available to those who want to know. The enlightened masses are now irritated beyond words at the unapologetic attitude of our so called intellectuals. It is time now for nationalists to go in for deeper research about our past and rectify the mistakes of these agenda driven motley crowd.

An article by Esha

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