Patron of Letters
Patron of Letters
Hindi language was coming into vogue, and Shah Jahan himself spoke Hindi and patronized Hindi poets like Sundar Das and Chintamani and Hindi musicians like Jagan Nath, Sukh Sen, and Lal Khan. His reign also saw the rendering into Persian of several Sanskrit classics, some of these translations were patronized by his son Dara Shikoh.Shah Jahan had begun his reign by killing his brothers and all male members of their families. His sons likewise recognized no kinship in their pursuit of kingship. In 1657, when the Emperors health appeared to be failing, his four sons, Dara Shikoh, Shuja, Murad Baksh, and Aurangzeb, began to take steps to secure the succession. Eventually the contest resolved itself between Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb, and the latter proved successful. On June 8, 1658, Aurangzeb entered Agra, made a captive of his father, and assumed the throne. For 8 years Shah Jahan remained a prisoner in the Agra Fort, attended by his faithful daughter Jahanara and gazing, it is reported, most of the time upon the Taj Mahal, where he was to be laid to rest beside his favorite consort.
In some respects Shah Jahan is a paradox. He employed many non Moslems at his court but nevertheless showed considerable intolerance to Hinduism and Christianity. His son Aurangzeb continued this illiberal policy to its worst extent. Shah Jahans court was enormously rich, and he spent a vast sum on splendid buildings. His was an age of luxury. Yet he did nothing to arrest the decline in Mogul economy. The policy of reducing the Deccan and conquering the northwest, also continued by his successor, proved disastrous and shook public confidence in the Mogul imperium. Though he was a just man, he was also at times quite vengeful, and he set into motion wars of succession from which the Mogul polity never recovered. But as the builder of the Taj Mahal, he ensured himself a place in world history.