The Myth of Jodha Bai and the “Hindu-Muslim” marriages

via VEDAPRAKASH published on February 15, 2008

In recent times, the “Hindu-Muslim” marriages have raised many questions, though, they are hailed as hallmark of secularism, cross-cultural marriage pattern and so on. The discussion under the caption, “Hindu Muslim Marriages : Finding Balance & Harmony.. How Successful ?” in the website, http://indiafamily.net/talk/messages/12484/1544.html invariably brings out the following facts:

1. Hindu boys married to Muslim girls are asked to convert first.

2. Muslim girls reluctant very much to marry Hindu boys, even they love genuinely, fearing the opposition from her family, however, after conversion, her family invariably agree.

3. Rarely, Muslim girls married to Hindu boys follow the religion of their husbands, unless, they are able to cut away from their family totally.

For another type of mixed marriage, the responses found in the following site are interesting, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/this_world/3744263.stm, but they exhibit the same pattern.

The following is today’s news:

Friday, February 15, 2008

‘Marriage of Hindu boy, Muslim girl not unusual’
http://www.expressindia.com/news/print.php?newsid=59736

Allahabad, December 9: The Allahabad High Court has ordered that marriage of a Hindu boy with a Muslim girl was not “unusual” in the prevailing social scenario and directed police authorities to provide security to a couple.

On a petition filed by one Pooja Arya alias Tabassum Bano and her husband of Mirzapur district, a two-judge bench comprising Justice V M Sahai and Justice Barkal Ali Zaidi said, “in cases like these, the law enforcement authorities usually buy peace at the cost of the Constitutional rights and privileges of citizens”.

“They pander to the sentiments of the illiterate masses which comprised the major part of our communities in order to maintain peace. They fail to realize that they are thereby negating the Constitutional rights of individuals.
“The real role of the law enforcing agencies is to protect and preserve the rights of individuals guaranteed by our paramount Constitution and, to deal with an iron hand with all those persons, who want to decimate those privileges,” the court observed.
Directing the police authorities in Mirzapur to provide appropriate protection to the petitioners, the court observed that the petitioners have right to marry according to their wishes.

Here, too, it is not clear what the couple has decided? While Hindus have been liberal in India, it appears, Muslims have been struck to their principles not only in India, but even in advanced society like Malaysia:

Hindu-Muslim marriage ‘illegal’

Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia’s Islamic authorities gave a Hindu man married to a Muslim woman custody of their children on Thursday, in a landmark decision for minority rights, after the couple were forcibly separated because they follow different religions.

The decision was announced at an emotional hearing in the High Court attended by the ethnic Indian couple, Marimuthu Periasamy and Raimah Bibi Noordin, both rubber tappers who had been happily married for 21 years.

The case is the latest in a series of conflicts involving the religious rights of minority groups that is straining ties in multi-ethnic Malaysia, where Islam is the dominant religion. Buddhists, Christians and Hindus are the minority faiths.

The crisis began unexpectedly when Islamic authorities took away Raimah Bibi and six of her seven children on April 2 on the grounds that her marriage with Marimuthu was illegal. It was not clear why the authorities acted now when the couple had been together for 21 years.

Broke down and sobbed at the hearing Tuesday, Raimah Bibi, 39, broke down and sobbed openly when the judge asked her if she will give up custody of their seven children, who are aged between four and 14.

“Yes, I agree to surrender my children to Marimuthu,” she said, wiping her tears with the ends of her headscarf. Later, government lawyer Zauyah Be Loth Khan said the Islamic Affairs Department had no objection to the children being raised as Hindus by the father. “It is up to the parents,” she said.

The decision was a landmark step in minority rights because it allowed a Hindu man to take custody of his children who legally might be considered Muslims because their mother is one.

“It would set a precedent for other cases,” said the 43-year-old Marimuthu’s lawyer, Karpal Singh. Singh indicated that Raimah Bibi gave up the children as a compromise to end the family’s predicament.

“What is very sad is that a happy united family has been divided and has faced such a crisis,” said Lim Kit Siang, opposition leader. “For this to happen to a couple that has lived together for 21 years as a result of a religious conflict is not good for our international image,” he said.

After Raimah Bibi and the six children were removed on April 2, Islamic authorities took them to a Muslim village for rehabilitation and religious counselling.
Marimuthu has claimed that his wife was a practising Hindu despite having a Muslim name and that he feared she would be brainwashed at the rehabilitation village.

However, in a statement to the court, Raimah Bibi said she was born a Muslim and wants to “continue professing the Islamic faith”. Singh said Raimah Bibi “will have absolute access” to her children.

Now comes Jodha Akbar!

>Coinciding with the “Valentine’s day”, obviously, the much-publicized Rs. 60 crores movie “Jodha Akbar” is slated to hit the screens today 15th February 2008. However, the moviw has been plagued with controversies as usual, as the movie-makers tried to mix myth with history.

>Rajputs have objected to the story as Jodha or Jodha Bai was Akbar’s daugter’ in law and not wife or concubine.

>They have also said that Jodhabai was one of the many wives of Jahangir, and not Akbar’s, adding that the fact was misrepresented in K Asif’s Mughal-E-Azam too.

>The movie had earlier run into trouble with the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which issued a letter to Gowarikar asking him if he had the permission to use animals in his film. The movie has used over 50 camels, 100 horses and about 80 elephants.

>The myth that Jodha Bai was wife of Akbar has been floated by the local Mohammedans / Muslims, particularly, the guides who used to tell stories to the visiters to Fatepur Sikri and other buildings, where the structures particularly, inside of the magnificent palaces and halls appear as Hindu Temple and prayer hall with pillars carved with a lot of God and Goddesses.

>The Muslim guides always explain away that one Jodha Bai was one of the wives of Shajahan, Akbar even Aurangazeb and so on and they allowed the “Hindu wife” to pursue her own way of Hindu life!

>Thus, the story that Jodha Bai was sister of Udai Singh and she was married to Akbar. After the marriage, Akbar returned all possessions he had seized from Marwar sans Ajmer.

>Original records like Ain – i Akbari and histories of the Amber kings, confirm that in 1562 Akbar married Raja Bharmal’s daughter at Sambhar, 100 kms from modern Jaipur without mentioning any name.

>Maharaja Brajraj Singh of the Kishangarh royal family said, ”Our genealogy, the documents of the royal family are the most authentic records, and in our records different names appear. She is called Hira Nai and Harkan Bai. Some historians call her Jodha, so he took the most popular name for his film.”

>Gowarikar said, ”For me what became important was to get into the research. I read the Rajput history where some called her Harkan Bai, Shahi Bai and Jodha Bai. I also read the history of Jaipur where it mentions Uday Singh the raja who gave his daughter away to Jehangir, but her name was Jodh.”

>Further explaining he said, ”Both Jodha and Jodh are different, I could have called my film Harkan-Akbar or Meera-Akbar but I thought some historians might object to it so I kept the popular name.”

>That historians like Col Todd have called Akbar’s wife Jodha and films like Mughal-e-azam picked up the name and entrenched it in public memory had been only due to popular belief.

>But the Rajput community that’s opposing the film says the time has now come to set the record straight. They claim Jodha was from Jodhpur and she was married not to Akbar but his son Jehangir.

>Prof Khangarot, a historian and spokesperson for the Rajput Sabha said, ”Do you have a right to make your own history or change it. Jodha Bai was the daughter of Mota raja of Jodhpur who wed Salim and became the mother of Shah Jahan.”

>The Rajput Karni Sena has already started burning posters of the film. They say they won’t allow it to be shown in Rajasthan. But the Jaipur royals who support the film say Gowarikar has depicted Rajput culture with sensitivity.

>Thus, historians are of the opinion that the name Jodha does not figure in any original records of the time, infact it is only in the past 200 years that the name begins to appear in historical narratives.

>Thus, there is no definite answer in recorded history. But there are oral traditions, there are legends and myth.

>According to Irfan Habib, there is no mention of Akbar’s Rajput wife anywhere in any Mughal text. Abul Fazal, in his ‘Akbarnama’, does not mention her name as Akbar’s wife. Nor does Jahangir, in his autobiography, ‘Tuzk-e-Jahangiri’, mention Jodha Bai as his mother.

>This is because, according to N R Farooqi, Jodha Bai was not the name of Akbar’s Rajput queen. It was, in fact, the name of Jahangir’s Rajput wife, whose real name was Jagat Gosain. Since she belonged to the royal family of Jodhpur, she was also referred to as Jodha Bai.

>According to Farooqi, she was a very important woman in the royal household. Besides being married to the emperor, she was also the mother of Khurram, who later became Emperor Shah Jahan.

>The myth of Jodha Bai being Akbar’s Rajput wife, says Irfan Habib, probably gained credence during the 19th century when guides at FatehpurSikri gave her the mantle of Akbar’s wife, a perception which is prevalent even today.

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