Babur or Zahir-ud-Din Muhammad was the founder and first Ruler (1526–1530) of the Mughal dynasty in the Indian subcontinent. He was a successor of both Timur and Genghis Khan over his father and mother respectively. My post ‘BIBI’S OF BABUR’ is a glimpse personal life of Sultan Babur.
BIBI’S OF BABUR
1. Maham Begum
Maham Begam or Mahim Begum was Empress of Mughal Kingdom from 1526 to 1530 as the third wife and chief companion of Babur. She was the first recipient of the majestic title Padshah Begum, a formal designation of being the first lady of the Mughal court. Maham Begum is also frequently stated in the Humayun-Nama by her adoptive daughter Gulbadan Begum. She was the mother of Babur’s eldest son and ultimate inheritor, Humayun.
Contemporary records give no precise information regarding Maham Begum’s parentage. Babur’s autobiography, the Baburnama, makes little reference to their wedding and says nothing about Maham’s family.
Babur married her in 1506 at Herat, when on the death of Sultan Husayn Mirza, he paid a sympathy visit to Herat capital of Khosran. Maham played a dynamic role in the political matters of Babur as well as in the royal household. She had the qualities of exciting intelligence and good looks. She escorted her husband to Badakhshan and Transoxiana and stood by him through pleasure and sorrow. Upon the birth of the couple’s first child, Humayun. Another four children were born to her and unluckily all died in infancy.
As Babur’s chief consort, she had well distinct rights over other inmates of his harem. She herself took her own guardianship of, two Dildar Begum’s children, Hindal Mirza and Gulbadan Begum, though she already possessed five children.
A dedicated mother, Maham spent all her spare time to educate the prince in values dear to her. She would narrate to him stories related to her ancestor Shaikh Ahmad Jam and other renowned holy notables of his time.
Maham Begum was the chief queen and the only one, advantaged to sit by the side of Babur on the throne of the Mughal Empire. She was commanding, moody, and spoils and it seems Babur denied her nothing.
2. Aisha Sultan Begum
Aisha Sultan Begum (married 1499–1503), daughter of Sultan Ahmed Mirza. Aisha was a primary cousin of her husband and was a Timurid princess by birth. She was the daughter of Babur’s paternal uncle, Sultan Ahmed Mirza, the King of Samarkand and Bukhara.
In her infancy, Aisha was engaged to her double first cousin, Babur, the son of Umar Sheikh Mirza and her aunt, Qutlugh Nigar Khanum. Their fathers were brothers and their mothers were sisters. The commitment happened in 1488 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan when Babur himself was only five years old. Aisha married Babur 11 years later in August 1499 at Khojand and subsequently joined him in Ferghana, where Babur had succeeded upon the death of his father as ruler of the valley of Ferghana.
The young queen found her husband a shy, if not reluctant lover. Babur remained very shy of her at the beginning of their marriage and went to see her only once in ten or fifteen days. He soon bored even of this and discontinued his visits altogether. Thereafter, Aisha’s aunt and mother-in-law, Qutlugh Nigar Khanum, used to scold him with great fury (“many dunnings” as he says in his autobiography, translated by Annette Beveridge) and called him to visit her every few days.
Babur was simply not interested in her, or in marriage, at this time. Yet, Aisha gave birth to Babur’s first child after three years of marriage. This was a daughter, Fakhr-un-Nissa, born in 1501 at Samarkand but died after a month or forty days. Though their association was much closer now, it seems that Aisha and Babur quarreled and she left him before the coup of Tashkent in 1503.
3. Zainab Sultan Begum
Zainab Sultan Begum was Queen Group of Ferghana Valley and Kabul as the second wife of the first Emperor Babur. She like two of his other wives Aisha Sultan Begum and Masuma Sultan Begum was an immediate cousin of the Babur.
She was one of the first Mughal cousins to wed among the own family, which later became a common practice, which would be especially be followed by Humayun, the second Mughal emperor who flourished Babur after his death in 1530.
Zainab Sultan Begum was born a Timurid princess and was the fifth daughter of Sultan Mahmud Mirza, who was Babur’s paternal uncle. Her mother was the granddaughter of Mir Buzurg, and the daughter of a brother of Khanzada Begum, her father’s first wife. Her father was a son of Abu Sa’id Mirza, the Emperor of the Timurid Empire.
Zainab’s paternal uncles included Umar Sheikh Mirza, the monarch of Ferghana Valley, who later converted her father-in-law as well while her first cousins included her future spouse, Babur, and his elder sister, Khanzada Begum. Her sister Ak Begum, who was married to Babur’s brother Jahangir Mirza, became her sister-in-law.
Babur married her after occupying Kabul in 1504. However, she was not a favorite wife of the emperor because she was too proud of her parents and failed to win Babur’s love. He also did not recollect the year of her death correctly.
Babur has written about the wedding of Sultan Mahmud Mirza to Khanzada Begum who was the daughter of Mir of Tirmiz. Afterward, she died, he married her late wife’s niece Khandaza Begum through whom he fathered five daughters and a son. This created Babur’s hate for his uncle, and subsequently, he was reluctant to marry Zainab.
It was due to the frequent appeals and insistence of Babur’s mother that he married her as he could not repel the “good offers” of his mother for this marriage. Babur didn’t want to marry her because consistent with him, she was “not very congenial”.
Zainab Sultan Begum died infertile two or three years after her marriage, which is in 1506 or 1507. Contemporary family members write that she expired of smallpox.
4. Masuma Sultan Begum
Masuma Sultan Begum, daughter of Sultan Ahmed Mirza and half-sister of Aisha Sultan Begum. Masuma Sultan Begum was the queen of Ferghana Valley and Samarkand as the fourth wife of sultan Babur.
Masuma Sultan Begum was born a Timurid princess as the fifth and youngest daughter of Sultan Ahmed Mirza, the Monarch of Samarkand and Bukhara, and his fifth wife Habiba Sultan Begum, niece of Sultan Husain Aghun. She had four elder half-sisters, among whom one, Aisha Begum, was the former wife of her husband Babur, and two more became her sisters-in-law.
Following Babur’s damage to Samarkand and Andijan, Habiba Sultan Begum, Masuma’a’s mother, brought Masuma to Herat. One day when Babur was visiting an elder relative on his expedition to Khosran, Masuma came there together with her mother. Masuma fell in love with him. As Babur tells it, “At once I felt rising in her great inclination towards me.” Babur asked her hand in marriage. After an argument of personal messages, Babur’s elder relative and Payanda Sultan Begum (wife of Sultan Husayn Mirza Bayqara) settled with Habiba Sultan Begum that the latter should bring her daughter to Kabul for Babur. Babur then moved to Kabul where he married her in 1507.
A year after her marriage she gave birth to a girl, at the time Babr’s wife was taken ill in childbed, and she died. Her daughter was given her name.
5. Bibi Mubarika
Bibi Mubarika, Pashtun of the Yusufzai tribe. Bibi Mubarika Yousafzai was the Empress partner of the Mughal Empire. She was the wife of Emperor Babur, the originator of the Mughal Empire and the first Mughal emperor. She is frequently mentioned in the Humayun-nama by her stepdaughter Gulbadan Begum, who calls her stepmother ‘The Pashtun lady’.
Bibi Mubarika was the daughter of Malik Shah Mansur, the topmost of the Yusufzai tribe of Pashtuns. She was the granddaughter of Malik Sulaiman Shah, and the niece of Taus Khan. One of her brothers named Mir Jamal accompanied Babur to India in 1525, and held high rank under Humayun and Akbar.
Babur married her at Kehraj on 30 January 1519. The coalition was the sign and seal of friendship between him and her tribe. An intelligent woman, Mubarika played an important role in the founding of friendly relations between the Mughals and the Yusufzai Pashtun chiefs. Mubarika was much-loved by Babur as evidenced by the fact that she was one of the small and select parties of ladies who were the first to join him in India in 1529. Bibi Mubarika lived through Humayun’s reign and died early in Akbar’s reign.
6. Gulrukh Begum
Gulrukh Begum, to not be confused with Babur’s daughter Gulrukh Begum, who was also referred to as Gulbarg Begum. Gulrukh Begum possibly a Begchik Mughal was the mother of Kamran and Askari.
7. Dildar Begum
Dildar Begum , one of the wives of Babar whose parentage unknown and mother of Hindal.
8. Gulnar Aghacha, Circassian concubine
9. Nargul Aghacha, Circassian concubine
Both are a slave. Given as gifts to Babur by Tahmasp-Shah-Safavi of Persia. Both of them were the members of Babur’ Harem.
Here I am not drawing any conclusion. But the conclusion should be drawn by my readers.
Ref: 1. BABUR NAMA