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Prince Khusrau (1587-1622) was the eldest son of Prince Salim who is better known in history as Emperor Jahangir. His mother Man Bai (later Shah Begam), daughter of Raja Bhagvan Das of Amber, was a Hindu Princess born at Lahore on 6 August 1587. His grandfather, Emperor Akbar, had him brought up in the liberal tradition he had fostered, entrusting his education to teachers such as Abu`Fazl and Abu`Khair. Sheo Daft, a scholar of distinction, instructed him in Hindu religious thought and philosophy. Under the influence of these teachers, his mother and Raja Man Singh, who acted as his guardian for sometime, Khusrau developed an eclectic interest in religion.
His amiable disposition won him the favour of his grandfather and the goodwill of the liberal party at the court. But as relations between the Emperor and his son Prince Salim became strained, Khusrau was driven into an unseemly conflict with his father as a rival for succession to the throne. During Akbar`s absence in the South in 1599-1601, Salim openly rebelled and started holding court at Allahabad. In August 1602, he had Abu`Fazl, his father`s trusted friend and counsellor, killed by a hired assassin. Salem`s excessive indulgence in wine and opium was also a cause of distress to his father, especially after the death from the effects of alcohol of his second son, DanTyal, in April 1604. His third son, Murad, had met with a similar fate in May 1599.
In light of this, Khusrau came to be considered by a section of the nobles headed by Raja Man Singh and Mirza `Aziz Koka, to whose daughter the young prince had been married, as the preferable successor to Akbar. Distressed at the tension that had developed between her husband Prince Salim and his son, Khusrau`s mother Shah Begam, committed suicide on 16 May 1604. Salim, recalled to the court in November 1604, was reconciled to his father who, shortly before his death on 17 October 1605, appointed him his successor. Salim, now Emperor Jahangir, placed Khusrau under strict surveillance at Agra from where he latter escaped on 6 April 1606 and hurried towards the Punjab with only 350 horsemen, augmented at Mathura by another contingent of 300 horse.
Guru Arjan and Prince Khusrau
The fugitive prince during his flight from Agra to Lahore, in April 1606, met Guru Arjan, probably at Tarn Taran. According to Sarup Das Bhalla, Mahima Prakash, "He was in serious trouble. The Guru extended to him the hospitality of Guru ka Langar. Spending the night there, he resumed his journey." The Guru`s detractors headed by Chandu Shah, then a revenue official at the court, incited the Emperor, while he was still in Lahore, against Guru Arjan alleging that he had given help to the rebel prince and blessed him by putting a Tilak (a mark of royalty) on his forehead.
Jahangir, according to what was recorded in his autobiography, resolved: "to put an end to his preachings or bring him to the fold of Islam,". So the Guru was summoned to his court and ordered to pay a heavy fine. Guru Arjan refused to pay the fine feeling that he had done nothing wrong. Jahangir growing wearing of the sweltering heat of the Punjab left for the coolness of Kashmir. Asked what to do about the matter of the imprisoned Guru, he left the matter of the Guru's fate to Murtaza Khan the Govenor of Lahore. The Emperor told him to deal with the Guru in whatever manner he chose. At this point Chandu Shah saw the oppurtunity he had been waiting for. He pressed the Govenor to demand the fines the Emperor had levied. The Quazi issued an injuction demanding that the Guru pay the fine and remove the references to the Muslim and Hindu religions from the Sikh's Holy Book or be tortured to death.
Attempting to intercede and put an end to the torture of his friend Guru Arjan, Hazrat Sant Mian Mir offered to use his influence to have the Guru released. But Guru Arjan would have no part of it. He told the Sant that the matter was in Vaheguru's 'hands', saying that no one should intercede in what God had ordained. Earlier the Sikhs had learned of their Guru's fine and had begun to raise funds to pay it, the Guru had also forbidden them from interceding. The Guru was tortured for 5 days, then he was allowed to take a bath, per his request, in the nearby river. Barely able to keep his balance on feet which were horribly blistered the Guru entered the river's cooling waters and slipped away beneath the waters into eternity. The 30th of May 1606 is remembered as the date of the first Martyrdom of the Sikhs.
A father has his son blinded, his brother has him killed
Khusrau was captured on 27 April 1606 at Shahpur ferry on the River Chenab. Following an abortive attempt to escape, he was blinded. In October 1616, he was transferred from the custody of Ani Rai Singh, a Rajput noble sympathetic to the prisoner, to that of Asaf Khan, brother of Nur Jahan and father-in-law of Prince Khurram (later Emperor Shah Jahan), the ambitious third son of Jahangir. In November 1620, Khurram secured the possession of the person of Khusrau. The Blinding of an heir to the throne in the Mughal world exempted the blind person from ever ruling.
Normally Prince Khusrau would have been safe from any attack by his siblings, but his father who had been remoreful at having had his son blinded, had his physicians try to restore his son's eyesight. It is said that the Prince had regained some of his vision therefore Khurram had him killed on 29 January 1622.
1. Bhalla, Sarup Das, Mahima Prakash. Paliala, 1971
2. Smith, Vincent, The Oxford History of India. Oxford, 1958
3. Lalif, Syad Muhammad, History of the Punjab. Delhi, 1964
4. Klinshwant Singli, A tlisto-i-y of tin` SIKH.v, vol.1., Plinceton, 1963
5. Harbans Singh, The Hi-iitngr of thf SIKHS. Delhi, 19H3 K.A.N.