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Mithila, History, Literature and Art

Real Story of Akbar’s Birth

Excerpt from the book:

The Tezkereh Al Vakiāt: Or, Private Memoirs of the Moghul Emperor Humayun

By Jawhar

About the Author : As cited by the translator of this book in his Introduction. Read original>>

[Thus saith the humble servant of the Court, the Asylum of mankind, Jouher, having had the good fortune, while still a youth, to be admitted into the service of his Majesty Humayun, and having continued in it till his death. I was at all times, and in all situations, in constant attendance on the royal person ; it therefore occurred to me as desirable that I should write a narrative of all the events to which I had been an eye vitness, that it may remain as a record of the past interesting occurrences ; I have endeavoured to explain them to the best of my humble ability, although in a style very inferior to the dignity of the subject. I commenced this work in the year 995 (A.D. 1587), and have named it the Tezkereh al Vakiat, Relation of Occurrences.* 

* Although the Author does not here mention the situation he held, he afterwards explains that he was the Aftabchy or Ewer bearer, an office formerly well known in all the courts of Europe and still to be found in the establishment of our King’s household.]


CHAPTER X.

Of his Majesty’s marching again from Ouch, and of the difficulties he experienced in the Desert. A. H. 948.—A. D. 1541.

When the seeds and fruit of the trees Sunker and Perhem (probably the Jack fruit and wild bean) were all expended, it so happened that an erratic Dervish, who had been wandering through the Desert, saw a fort on the boundaries of Joudpur, the territory of the Rajah Maldeo. 

The aforesaid Dervish immediately returned and informed his Majesty of the circumstance, who instantly said he would proceed thither. We therefore marched to the neighbourhood of the fort, and happily procured abundance of grain and water. We halted there for three days, during which time one of the officers, named Shykh Aly, proposed to the King to take possession of the place by surprise; but his Majesty said, ” if you could make me King of the whole world, I would not attempt so foul an action, or be guilty of such ingratitude.”

In short having marched from this fort we travelled all night, and till twelve o’clock next day in the Desert, without finding water; at length we discovered some wells, and halted there.

The next day we marched at noon, and travelled for twenty-seven astronomical hours before we again found water: during this horrid journey many of our people died, and all suffered exceedingly. When about four hours of the day remained we came to a few trees, where, through the grace of God, we found a well, a rivulet, and a pond of water: here his Majesty alighted, and having prostrated himself on the ground, returned thanks to the Almighty for his beneficence. He then ordered all the water bags to be filled, to be loaded on his own horses, and to be sent back to the people who had fallen in the rear to assist them in joining the party.

It so happened that a Moghul merchant, to whom the King was much indebted, was one of the persons who from fatigue and thirst had fallen down on the road, and his son was standing by him; as the King had also rode back part of the way, he came to where the Moghul was lying, and deeming it a favourable opportunity to cancel his debt, proposed to the unfortunate sufferer, that he should have as much water as he could drink, provided he would relinquish his pecuniary demand. The poor man said, “a cup of water is, in my present situation, more valuable than the wealth of the whole world, and I consent.” Three of the attendants having witnessed the agreement, the King ordered them to give him as much water as he wished: the Moghul being satiated, proceeded and joined the camp. His Majesty then gave orders to bury all the persons who had died from thirst, and to supply the survivors with abundance of water, to enable them to join the camp.

After being well recruited, we marched from the trees, and arrived at a village called Pylpur; thence we proceeded to Pehludy, where we procured abundance of grain; from thence in one march we arrived in the vicinity of the residence of the Raja Maldeo.

As soon as his Majesty had alighted, he sent a Firman to the Raja to wait on him, but that chief made some idle excuse: he, however, sent a present of fruit.

We remained there for three days without any act of hospitality being shewn us, or any comfort given to the distressed monarch; during this time one of the King’s porters, named Raju, deserted, and informed Maldeo that the King had a number of valuable rubies and pearls in his possession; another of the royal attendants, named Muhammed Ayshek, also deserted, and instigated the Raja to demand these jewels. When the King found that Maldeo had no intention of waiting on him, but was rather inclined to molest him, he again marched, and halted at the pond of Jougy.

CHAPTER XI.

His Majesty proceeds to Amerkote, and the circumstances which occurred on the journey. A. H. 940.—A. D. 1542.

When his Majesty had obtained a hint of the intentions of Maldeo, he resolved to set out for Amerkote; he, therefore, ordered two of the officers to go on and seize some guides; they did so, and brought in two camel drivers. The King ordered their animals to be tied with the royal camels, and the men to be disarmed and confined: he also sent to them the Kazy Mehdy Aly to explain, that no injury was intended them; but that if they would shew the route to Amerkote, they should be well rewarded: the two rustics pretended they knew nothing about the road, and would give no information. Some time after, they drew their daggers and killed one of the attendants who was centinel over them; they then proceeded to where their camels were tied, stabbed them, and also a favourite horse and mule belonging to his Majesty, which reduced the royal stud to two horses and one mule. When the servants saw this, they rushed on the villagers and cut them to pieces.

This event, and other unfortunate circumstances, caused great dismay among the followers, and several of them talked of quitting his Majesty, who said to them, ” if you leave me, whither will you go? you have now no other refuge.” Notwithstanding this, Khoja Kebyr, and two others of the most confidential attendants deserted, and went to Maldeo. In this scene of distress the King determined on marching to the westward, and ordered that some of the chiefs should move on in front, and that he would follow them at a short distance with the females and servants. In this manner we proceeded till morning; but at the dawn of day we discovered three parties pursuing us, each of these parties might consist of five hundred cavalry; and to add to our consternation, we at this time had lost sight of our advanced division.

The King then enquired of some of the attendants whether they thought our pursuers were friends or enemies; and when it was agreed that they were the latter, he ordered all the baggage to be taken off the horses and placed on the camels, and that the foot soldiers should mount the horses; by these means we mustered in all sixteen troopers. His Majesty then consulted with Shykh Aly Beg, what was advisable to be done: the Shykh replied, ” we are now just in the situation of the martyr Imam Hussyn : nothing remains but to sell our lives as dearly as possible. Pardon me all the offences I have committed against you, and give me a few men with me, that I may go and bring you an account of these people.” His Majesty pronounced the form of forgiveness, gave him his blessing, and sent seven horsemen with him.

The Shykh then said to his companions, ” we are but few, and our enemies many; let us act separately, and when we approach them discharge our arrows simultaneously on their line, and let us trust in Providence for the consequences.” The men did so, and when near the enemy let fly their arrows; and as ” the decree of God is all powerful,” two of their chiefs were mortally wounded, and fell from their horses; on seeing which the others all fled, and left the field to the victors. Shykh Aly then caused the two heads to be struck off, and sent them by a Chobdar (wand bearer) with hearty congratulations to his Majesty. When the King saw a horseman approaching, he asked his people if they knew who it was; they replied, ” it is Bhebud  the Chobdar.” The man then rode up, and having untied the heads from his saddle bow, presented them to the King, who considered the circumstance as a fortunate omen.

The King then recalled Shykh Aly, and consulted with him what was further requisite to be done; the Shykh said, ” if your Majesty will be pleased to move on a short distance in front, I with my seven horsemen will protect the rear.” This was agreed to, and we marched on.

I omitted to mention that, on our entering the Jesselmere district, his Majesty had detached a small party to collect provisions and bring them to the camp. It appeared that these people, having collected several cows and buffaloes, lost their way, and not knowing where to find the camp, had halted and refreshed themselves at a pond in the Desert; in this situation we fortunately found them; and their officers had again the honour of paying their respects to the King. When they heard of our miraculous escape, they were profuse in their excuses for having been absent at such a critical time, and hoped that the shadow of his Majesty would be for ever suspended over their heads, in the name of the Prophet and of his illustrious descendants.

At this place two messengers arrived from Maldeo, the Raja of Joudpur, who stated,” that the King had entered his territory without any invitation; and although it must be known that the killing of kine was forbidden in Hindu districts, we had nevertheless killed a number of these sacred animals; that the King having intruded himself into these parts, he was now completely in the Raj as power, and must take the consequences.”

His Majesty consulted his friends what answer he should give to this message; they replied, ” that as there was no chance of coming to an amicable arrangement, the only mode was to put a bold face on the matter and confine the messengers.” This was done, and we marched on; but on passing one of the forts of Jesselmere, the garrison came out and attacked us: the skirmish lasted for several hours; during which time they severely wounded several of our people; at length they returned to their fort. At the distance of ten miles from this spot, we came to a village where we found plenty of grain and water, but no vestige of any human being.

About this period the Raja ordered his son, who was also named Maldeo, to precede our march, and to fill up all the wells with sand, so that we might perish for want of water. The son obeyed these orders; so that after we left the above mentioned village, and had arrived at the next stage, we found all the wells choked up with sand: we were therefore compelled to proceed on a second stage. Here we experienced the same difficulty; but as we were too much fatigued to proceed further, we were obliged to halt there during the night.

On this occasion the King ordered the camels to be placed in a circle round the horses and tents, directed that the people should be on the alert, and said, ” he would himself keep watch by walking round the circle all night.” Shykh Aly would not consent to this proposal; but insisted on his Majesty’s lying down, and that he himself should keep watch. On this the King went and lay down; whilst he was asleep, a thief came into the camp, took the sword from under his Majesty’s head, and drew it half out; but being alarmed, left it in that situation and went away.

When the King awoke, he saw that his sword was halfway drawn from the scabbard, and was much astonished; he therefore called to the servant, who was sleeping at the foot of the bed, and asked him if he had drawn the sword; who replied,” that he would not have ventured to do so for the world.”

In short we marched from that place, and arrived at a stage where there were four wells, in three of which we found water, but the fourth was choked up. In order to secure an equal division of the water, his Majesty assigned one of the wells for his own household; the second he gave to Terdy Beg and his followers, and the third to Khaled Beg and attendants; as we had no buckets to draw the water, a copper pot was let down, and pulled up by a camel; but as the well was very deep, and the pot a long time coming up, in order to prevent the people from crowding round the mouth of the well, they were directed to keep at a distance till a drum was beaten to give notice of the proper time, when they should be regularly served in turn: notwithstanding this precaution, in consequence of the anxiety to be first served, much quarrelling took place among the people; at length the domestics of his Majesty came and complained that Terdy Beg had given water to his own horses and camels, but would not let them have any for their animals; they also swore, that if he did not supply them they would fight for it, and either have water, or be killed. On this his Majesty, fearing contention, rode to the well, and said to Terdy Beg in the Turky language,” be so good as draw off your people for a short time from the well till mine are served, which will prevent disputes.” Terdy Beg complied with his Majesty’s command, and the servants procured a scanty supply of water; in short the misery we suffered at this stage was intolerable.*

About this time the son of the Raja of Joudpur, having in his hand a white flag, came in sight of our party, and sent a messenger to request an audience of his Majesty; the man having been admitted, delivered the following message: You have entered this country without any invitation; and “although you well knew that in all Hindu countries it is forbidden to kill kine, your people have frequently done so; if you had acted with due “politeness, you should have informed me of your wishes to pass through “my country; I should then have performed the rights of hospitality towards “you, as is the custom of all Hindu princes, or Zemindars. Now, if you “choose to halt here for some time, I will send bullocks to draw the water, “and will give you some buckets; but it was very unkind and improper in you “to confine my two messengers; I therefore desire you will release them.” After some consultation the King ordered the two messengers to be released; and having learned that at the next stage there was only one well, he gave orders that we should move in three divisions, at a day’s interval; the first party to consist of the royal family, escorted by Terdy Beg; the second party to be under the command of Munaim Beg, and the third under charge of Shykh Aly: notwithstanding this precaution, a number of people died on this journey through thirst.

At length we arrived within twenty miles of the fort of Amerkote; but here a very distressing circumstance occurred, viz. the horse of an officer, named Rushen Beg, having been knocked up, he insisted on taking one which he had lent the Queen; when his Majesty was informed of this transaction, he immediately alighted from his horse, sent it to the Queen, and, after walking some distance, mounted a camel belonging to the Ewer department; in this manner we proceeded three or four miles; when Khaled Beg rode up and presented his horse to his Majesty. Some hours after this the King entered Amerkote, attended by only seven horsemen. The Rana Pursaud sent his brother to wait on his Majesty with a polite message, “that the day was not a fortunate one, but hoped that on the following day “he would mount the throne.” Provisions were then supplied for the whole party, all of whom joined us during the course of the day.

On the following morning the Rana Pursaud had the honour of paying his respects, and congratulated his Majesty on his safe arrival; he then represented that he had 2000 horsemen of his own tribe, and 5000 cavalry belonging to his allies, all of whom were devoted to him with heart and soul: these troops were at his Majesty’s service, and by their aid he might easily conquer the districts of Tatta and Bhiker.

The King replied, ” that he had no money to pay the troops with, but probably he might raise some from his attendants.” On hearing this, Shah Muhammed whispered ” that he knew where they, the servants, had hidden their valuables.”

Soon after the Rana had retired the King undressed, and ordered his clothes to be washed, and in the meanwhile he wore his dressing gown; while thus sitting, a beautiful bird flew into the tent, the doors of which were immediately closed, and the bird caught; his Majesty then took a pair of scissors and cut some of the feathers off the animal; he then sent for a painter, and had a picture taken of the bird, and afterwards ordered it to be released.

About this time the King ordered all the officers to assemble in the tent, and while they were there seated, he sent some of his confidential domestics under the direction of Shah Muhammed to search the baggage of the officers, and to bring to him whatever valuables or money they might find. The servants went, and having examined all the portmanteaus and bags, and opened the camel saddles, found some money and other valuables, which they laid down before his Majesty. It happened that an old woman, having a small box, gave it in charge of Hussyn Kurchy to take care of till we should arrive in a place of safety; on seeing what was going forward, Hussyn endeavoured to conceal the box, but he was seized with it in his hands, and brought before the King. When the box was opened, it was found to contain three (Bricks) ingots of pure gold, forty-two gold Mohrs, and several golden and inlaid trinkets. Kafur, one of the eunuchs, was ordered to cut the end of Hussyn’s ear as a punishment for his treachery, but the eunuch mistaking the order, cut off the whole ear; on seeing this the King was very angry, sent for a surgeon, and had the ear sewn on again, assisted in the operation, and apologized to the sufferer. When all the plunder was collected, his Majesty ordered that one half of the money should be restored to the owners, the other half to be divided among the servants and followers; but of the clothes he took one half for his own use, and the other half he gave back to the proprietors.

After some time his Majesty again consulted the Rana on what was most advisable to be done. The Rana advised that the King should proceed to Tatta,* or go on to Jun, where he might depend upon being joined by all the people of that district. Having adopted this advice, his Majesty waited for a fortunate hour, and then commenced his journey, leaving all his family in the fortress of Amerkote: the first day we marched twenty-four miles, and encamped on the banks of a large pond.

CHAPTER XII.

Birth of the Prince Muhammed Akber, may God perpetuate his kingdom, in the fortress of Amerkote—and the events that followed. A. H. 949—A. D. 1542.

The next day, while the King was encamped at the large pond, a messenger arrived from Amerkote with the joyful intelligence of the birth of a son and heir. This auspicious event happened on the night of the full moon of the month Shaban 949; in consequence of which his Majesty was pleased to name the child, The Full Moon of Religion (Budr addyn) Muhammed Akber. On this joyful occasion he prostrated himself, and returned thanks to the Almighty Disposer of all events.

When this joyful news was made known, all the chiefs came and offered their congratulations. The King then ordered the author of this memoir (Jouher) to bring him the articles he had given in trust to him; on which I went and brought two hundred Shahrukhys (silver coin), a silver bracelet, and a pod of musk; the two former he ordered me to give back to the owners from whom they had been taken, as formerly mentioned; he then called for a China plate, and having broken the pod of musk, distributed it among all the principal persons, saying, ” this is all the present I can afford to make you on the birth of my son, whose fame will I trust be one day expanded all over the world, as the perfume of the musk now fills this apartment.” After this ceremony the drums were beaten, and the trumpets proclaimed the auspicious event to the world.

As soon as the evening prayers were finished we marched from the pond, attended by a number of the Amerkote Rana’s troops, and one hundred Moghuls, commanded by Shykh Aly Beg. After five marches we arrived in the vicinity of Jun;* here we found Jany Beg, the former possessor of Amerkote and a celebrated Cossac, drawn up with a formidable body of his cavalry to oppose us. The Jat troops of the Rana and the Moghuls immediately charged the Cossacs, put them to flight, and killed a number of them; amongst the prisoners taken was a Moghul deserter, who had been severely wounded in the face. On being brought before the King, Myrza Kuly said in the Turky language, ” this is the fellow that abused your Majesty on such an occasion;” the King said, “well, he has received his reward, let him go:” but he ordered all the other prisoners to be killed.

After this affray we moved on, and took possession of Jun, where the royal tent was pitched in a large garden. At this place a number of Zemindars came and offered their services to the King, who first employed them to dig a deep ditch all round the garden, so as to form it into a respectable fort; from this place a messenger was despatched to Amerkote to bring the young Prince and his mother. On the 20th of the month of Ramzan the Prince arrived, and had the honour of being first embraced by his Majesty on the 36th day of his age.

As this circumstance corroborates the date before mentioned, it is possible that Abul Fazil may have made a mistake in the Akber Nameh, though not likely.

I am now obliged to revert to some circumstances which occurred in the last year, in order to preserve my narrative. During the period that the King laid siege to Sehwan, it was observed that a soldier in the fort made so good a use of his musquet, that he never failed to hit some of our people; on which his Majesty said, ” I hope I shall one day get hold of that fellow;” he also said, ” I wish I could catch the person who took the sword from under my head, and drew it half way out of the scabbard.” By chance it now happened that these two men were both in Jun when we took it; and having met in an arrack shop were boasting of their feats of bravery: their conversation having been overheard, they were seized and brought before the King, who, after inquiry, ordered the musqueteer to be put to death, but forgave the thief, and made him a handsome present.

During our stay at Jun the King issued orders that all the Chiefs of that country should wait on him; in consequence of which, the Rajas of Sudha, of Symech, of Cutch, and Jam, who was formerly the Chief of Bhiker, had the honour of paying their respects, and not less than fifteen or sixteen thousand horsemen were collected.

About this time Shah Hussyn having marched from Tatta, arrived within eight miles of Jun, and took post on the bank of the river (Indus). It was one evening during the fast of Ramzan, just as his Majesty had taken his first mouthful of water, that intelligence was brought him of the desertion of Tersh Beg, and of his having joined his enemy Hussyn. This news greatly affected the King, and he said, ” may a speedy death overtake him!” and it really so happened that the arrow of Fate did suddenly strike him; for when he arrived with Shah Hussyn, the latter made him a present of a slave, who having soon after committed some fault, Tersh Beg cut his nose; in revenge for which, three days afterwards, the slave assassinated him: upon hearing this, the people all declared that ” the King was a worker of miracles;” and no wonder, as it is written in the Koran, that ” the Kings are the Vicegerents of God,” and is a proof of the legitimacy of our monarch, the Emperor Humayun.

About this time, Shah Hussyn sent from Tatta a messenger to the Rana of Amerkote, then with the Emperor; and in order to induce the Rana to desert to his party, sent him an honorary dress, a rich dagger, and several other presents. The Rana immediately brought these presents, and shewed them all to the King, who desired him to put them on a dog, and send them back to his master. This was actually done; and caused Shah Hussyn to be much ashamed of himself.

Some time after this event an unfortunate quarrel took place between one of the Moghul chiefs, named Khauaje Ghazy, and the Rana, who in consequence of the dispute left the camp with all his followers, saying, “that any attempt to assist the Moghuls was a loss of labour and time.” As soon as the Rana had abandoned us, all the Zemindars also returned to their own homes, and left us to our fate. The following day Munaim Beg also deserted, and informed Shah Hussyn that the Emperor was now left alone, and was encamped on an open plain, where he might be easily seized or defeated. Luckily this conversation was reported to his Majesty, who instantly ordered all his people to set to, and dig a ditch round the encampment; he even in person took a stick in his hand and pointed out to each party where they were to commence working; and so much diligence was used, that in three days the ditch was completed; so that when Shah Hussyn arrived and found the camp well fortified, he accused Munaim Beg of having deceived him; in short some skirmishing took place between the adverse parties, and Mahmud Gird Baz, one of our chiefs, was killed.

During this time intelligence was brought that Byram Beg (Khan),* who had fled from the battle of Canouge, was come from Gujerat to join his Majesty. On hearing this joyful news the King ordered all the chiefs to go out and meet him: he was shortly introduced, and had the honour of being presented to his Majesty, who was much rejoiced by the arrival of so celebrated a character.

The following night the Bastard, Shah Hussyn, came to the edge of our ramparts and blew his trumpets: on hearing them Byram Beg and several other chiefs sallied forth, but his Majesty recalled Byram, and ordered Rushen Beg and others to pursue the fugitives: they did so; and when arrived near the enemy’s camp a duel took place between Rushen Beg and Baber Kuly, one of our opponents: Rushen unhorsed his adversary; but a foot soldier cut the thigh of his horse in such a manner, that although he * Afterwards preceptor and guardian of the Prince Akber. See Dow’s Hindustan.

brought his master back to the camp, he immediately died. This is said to be a peculiar quality or virtue of the Tupchdk horses.

After this affair his Majesty ordered Shykh Aly Beg to proceed to Chekaw, and from thence send grain to the camp, which he accordingly performed; but Shah Hussyn having heard of this, sent a superior party to cut off our supplies; in consequence of which the King ordered off Tehur Sultan to reinforce our detachment: this measure however gave offence to Shykh Aly, who complained of the supercession, which caused a quarrel between these two officers.

His Majesty being now wearied of the confinement to his entrenchments, said, ” that the next time Shah Hussyn approached the camp, he would go out in person and chastise him;” and orders were given to have his arms and horses in readiness; we were therefore in expectation that a battle would take place the ensuing day, although it was in the holy month of Ramzan; but during the night a man came from the bank of the river, and said, ” that some person on the opposite side was calling for a boat.” The King commanded that they should inquire his name, and what he wanted with a boat; he replied, ” that he was Tehur Sultan;” on hearing this his Majesty said, ” God grant that all may be well!” in short a boat was sent over, and he was brought into the presence, where he reported that the convoy had been attacked, that Shykh Aly was killed, and that he had with difficulty made his escape.

As the King had determined to go out next morning to battle, he was much affected by this news, and did not sleep during the whole night.

In the mean time Shah Hussyn, having received reinforcements, was also resolved upon battle; but during that night a chief, named Muhammed Bynuaz, deserted to him, and communicated the cutting off of our detachment, and of the King’s intention of engaging him the next day. He added, that as his Majesty was now desperate, he advised him (Shah Hussyn) to conciliate matters.

In consequence of this advice Shah Hussyn, some days afterwards, sent the chief, Baber Kuly, with a few trifling presents to the King, accompanied by an apology for his past conduct, and an assurance that shame alone prevented him from paying his respects in person. His Majesty in a condescending manner asked the ambassador to tell him the circumstances of the duel between him and Rushen Beg. He repeated that Rushen Beg had dismounted him with his lance, but did not injure him any farther, and that some other person had wounded his competitor’s horse; his Majesty then sent for Rushen Beg, and made them embrace each other. After this his Majesty dismissed the ambassador, with an assurance that he would immediately quit the country of Sinde.

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