Setting the Game of Ferocity and Innocence: Hunts of Jahangir

Dr. Manisha Choudhary*

Citation: Setting the Game of Ferocity and Innocence: Hunts of Jahangir. American Research Journal of History and Culture ; V4, I1; pp: 1-18

Copyright This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The details in the Jahangirnama are much a query in nature and the desires of emperor to show the crack of dawn for the herculean task of knowledge creation which was undertaken by the intriguing and truth searching mind of him. Much of the record created by Jahangir is an effort to assert for his own royal status, affirm the warrior instinct and tocast self as a protector and spiritual elements. The noting around the flora and fauna and his hunting expeditions form a major section of the text and are immense to understand the personality of the Mughal emperor-Jahangir. Interestingly, the super seceding numbers of the hunts have been missed and the partial collection of the flora and fauna have been highlighted enough to project Jahangir as ‘Naturalist’. This paper is an effort to understand the hunts of Jahangir and his approach towards components of nature. Much of his recordings were surrounded with ingredients of strangeness and rarity and were engagement of a self acclaimed ‘truth searching mind’. The absenteeism from military expeditions gave him enough space for undertaking the kills and making leisure records. The curiosity around birds and animals has been expanded much beyond the capacity by outreaching and outsourcing the task of painting, on to the painters.It is an effort to re-look the observations of the emperor to understand his perspective towards the components of nature.



The month of October in 1605 A.D proved fatal for the population of Mughal Hindustan due to the news of Badshah Jalaluddin Mohummad Akbar’s death. As the throne and the crown don’t weep and mourn. So, a prince (who was constantly working on the seditious activities during the lifetime of Akbar) was in waiting for declaring the succession over the vast and culturally extensive Mughaliya sultanate. And, on accession (24th October 1605); he declares himself to be called Jahangir (the world-seizer) with laqab of Nuruddin (the illuminator) who was earlier prince Salim and Shekhu Baba of Akbar.2 The much effect of the persianate culture was visible on the Mughals of India. The same hang-over was with Jahangir who thought to change his name ‘because this resembled that of the Emperor of Rum’3 and as per his idea ‘my sitting on the throne coincided with the rising and shining on the earth of the great light’4 and being prince he also heard from the sages ‘that after expiration of the reign and life of King Jalaluddin Akbar one named Nuruddin would be administrator of the affairs of state’5 . Enough material, spiritual, logical and cosmic reasons were laid out by Jahangir for his action.

The Mughal empire served as Culture of Encounters6 which was significant and provides enough to call it a cosmopolitan empire. Many of the ancient Indian literatures had great influence over the court of the Mughal. Many scholars were engaged with the translation work for converting the massive Sanskrit epics into the court language i.e. Persian and Sanskrit textual production. The massive state accounts and literature is a vast treasure trove to have an insight into the workings of the state and to write the history of Mughals. Pulling out data for the environmental history from the Mughal sources is quite a task. Due to the simple reason that, vast historical accounts were not written for the purpose of stock taking of the available wildlife and thick forests.The inability to invoke the revenue mechanism in the environs of wilderness wasa enough reason to ignore the vast forests and its ingredients for a revenue oriented state. The constant expansion of agriculture was gradually taking up the forests and was also bringing in the records solely for the purpose of revenue. The natural wealth and resources were forming a rich surrounding and were easily available in abundance. Before Akbar made Fatehpur Sikri his capital the ‘hill was full of wild beasts’.7 In span of 14 to 15 years it was made into a city full ‘of gardens and buildings, and lofty, elegant edifices and pleasant places’.8 So, it can be put up that the much (now) decried wildlife and the dense forest covers were much regular and miscellaneous items for the royals and commoners of the medieval times and the state expanded with a spurt. The dearth of flora and fauna was not known.The accounts of conflict between the people and predators (wild animals) are completely missing in the massive court literature produced through the pen of Mughal emperors or the historians patronized by them. The much concentration by the autobiographers and authors was on narrating the stories and the specifications of valor, bravery and polity and the ‘borrowed’ diplomatic skills of the emperor. For any author, besides the emperor no other person existed in the empire that was worth mentioning in the historical accounts. A few exceptions survived and were honored with a short narrative due to all the wrong reasons such as aiming against the emperor and were given to disloyalty, treachery and were dishonest in their acts. The much work done by the officials in alignment of emperor’s advice helped them only to seek a rank for themselves. The piety, valor, kindness, intelligence, diplomatic skills, spiritual connects and mystical insights of the emperor are constant appearances in court narratives to form a voluntary reminder for a reader. It was to ensure that the chosen one is ruling over others due to the divinely consent (formed!). In specification all its compliances were lying with the imperial army who was solely made responsible to carry out all the divinely actions for the empire under the divinely scholar vision of the emperor with the muscular strength of the braving soldiers.

Amongst the available Tawarikh literature of the imperial Mughals Babarnama and Jahangirnama are able to fix a different treatment. It is solely due to the fact that both autobiographers were able to collect a lot of simple details and information about the surrounding flora and fauna and narrates a lot about the ironies of life. The collection of Babur was much due to his encountered surprises and fascination for the wide viability of flora and fauna of which he had no previous knowledge and sense. The change of geographical terrain changed much of the ecology and environment for Babur and he acknowledged much the same in his Tuzuk-iBaburi. On similar lines Jahangir was also working hard through his autobiography but the ecology and environment were no new unfolds for him as he was born and brought up in and around the landscapes of Agra (the imperial capital city). The collection of details in the Jahangirnama are much a query in nature and the desire of emperor to show that the crack of dawn for the herculean task of knowledge creation has been undertaken by the intriguing and truth searching mind of Jahangir. The much element of same assertion was derailed most of the times.

The growth of environmental concerns to study the human civilizations forms a dynamic branch of the history writing which has successfully filled up many long due gaps that were untraceable earlier. The environmental history deserves applause for forming voice and creation of space which highlights the importance of all our significant and magnificent silent surroundings such as forests, wildlife, rivers, grasslands etc. But still the much negligence for it continues to prevail. The honesty needed for this branch of history writing demands from the writers not to side with any of dragged psycho-fancies and not to aim at ‘making-hero exercise’ out of their vested interests.

The push for this work comes from the fact that some cursory works have tried to pose Jahangir a champion of the environment in their otherwise seminal works due to the limited approach of history writing. The observation and investigations of nature by Jahangir formed an ‘ideal king’ for Francis Bacon.9 The scholarly work puts forth that Jahangir of seventeenth century Hindustan was fitting well as a king in the concept of Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626 A.D), who believed ‘that the boundaries of ancient learning should be surpassed and advocated an inductive methodology for scientific inquiry which implied drawing knowledge from the natural world through experimentation, observation and testing of hypotheses’.10 Francis Bacon was born on 22 January 1561 in London. He was an English renaissance statesman, a natural philosopher, writer and an advocate for promotion of the scientific methods and served as attorney general and Lord Chancellor of England. He took up Aristotelian ideas, arguing for an empirical, inductive approach, known as the scientific method, which is the foundation of modern scientific inquiry.11 In 1575A.D., he completed studies at Trinity College and in the following year, enrolled for a law program at Honorable Society of Gray’s Inn. Finding the curriculum at Gray’s Inn stale and old fashioned, Bacon later called his tutors ‘men of sharp wits, shut up in their cells if a few authors, chiefly Aristotle, their dictator.’ Now, Bacon favored the new Renaissance humanism over Aristotelians and scholasticism, the more traditional schools of thought which prevailed in England at that time.12 The entire reasoning of Bacon was attainment of his own struggles and ‘to bolster up his thesis, he adduces the biblical King Solomon’.13 A saying was adopted for strengthening the mission, ‘the glory of god is to conceal a thing but the glory of the king is to find it out’.14 The purpose of it was to be ‘enlightened and empowered by learning and scientific research, become able to understand the nature of things in general and to forsee the development of affairs and thus remain in control’.15

In another work Jahangir has been credited with the title of ‘the Naturalist’ due to his jotted down observations which were surrounded with strangeness. The work highlights these notes as Jahangir’s observations on biology, botany, geology, ornithology and zoology.16 A through reading of the Jahangirnama only brings out the records that were made by Jahangir for identifying and signifying the strangeness of the flora and fauna as per his own understanding. The text (Jahangirnama) provides some information here and there no information on the physiology and classification of the birds, animals, tree, flowers and plants which is in no shape. The observations of the nature are also very few and in comparison of the hunting exercises and hunt details provided by Jahangir. Surprisingly, the details of flora and faun, forms a minuscule section of the emperors’ scientific attention. The Jahangirnama is a rich account of the details around nature but is just not sufficient to claim the title of ‘Naturalist’ for Jahangir. The India’s Wildlife History is a substantial contribution for understanding the varied dynamic dimensions floating through the wildlife history of India.

The directions of Jahangir to the miniature art painters for drawing the natural phenomena (lilies, tulips, Himalayan blue throat barbet, falcon, turkey cock etc.) were refereed as nature studies by R. Skeleton.17 The famous works of S. P. Verma on Mughal paintings are major contribution to the depiction of the diverse flora and fauna in the art. But he has not made any assertion about the natural sciences.18 The paintings patronized by Jahangir are more intrinsic art pieces rather than any kind of natural and environmental studies. Art historians have significantly acknowledged the same effort.19 Art is a source to re-construct the cultural dynamism of history and associations of the empires. The change in autobiographies from Babur to Jahangir was that Jahangir has explained with a ‘combined method, written and visual, in representing natural phenomena’.20 Another work of cursory attention exerted to credit Jahangir on and along the same lines.21 Similarly, it gives a willing miss to the Jahangir’s hunting expeditions. On the other hand it is a good contribution to credit many others who were part and parcel of the extensive Mughal empire and were carrying out many environment friendly activities for acclaiming some distinct intellectual recognition for self.22 The intervention here is that Babur was not having any peaceful time and did not had a prolonged administratively settled empire, which was inherited by Jahangir from Akbar, where the deceased (Akbar) has contributed a lot in terms of art, craft, literature, religion, military, administration, revenue generation and collection etc. The constant movements of Babur would have liberally permitted him only that much as visible in Baburnama. Jahangir was a keen patron of paintings which became possible due to the efforts of Akbar; who established a kitab-khana (atelier of court painters) on his accession in 1556 and through his keen interest persuaded the painters to gradually liberate themselves from Persian model and produce personal and eclectic works.23 The usage of flora and fauna in Mughal decorative art has been explored much. The painting folied during Akbars’ reign especially Hamzanama are loaded much with details ‘of flowers in bloom and various fowl and forest animals in verdant setting with finely drawn deciduous trees’. 24 Therefore, it is evident that the Mughal paintings and expressions around them developed over a long duration of time with efforts of all the predecessors’ of Jahangir. Exclusively crediting Jahangir for the efforts as Naturalist is an exertion undertaken by the historians. The increased use of the flowers in art expressions was ‘created soon after the emperor’s (Jahangir) often mentioned trip to Kashmir… was over joyed by the lush, flower-filled valleys’.25 So, it is very well highlighted that he was trying to take and record the beautiful vegetation with which he was having afresh encounters. How long it can be justified that Jahangir was a naturalist through these records? And, how far it is justified to credit Jahangir for the contributions and creative paintings and observations made by the Ustad Mansur and Hasan? Ustad Mansur was ‘an artistic phenomenon…keen observer of nature…lending certain emotional undertones…art…is admiration of zoologist…priest of natural history… unflinching objectivity through the vast multiplicity of Nature’s wonderful forms…reproduces those forms with the precision of a microscopic vision’.26 All artists of Mughal atelier were working within set of conventions. To which Mansur was no exception. Yet, he made some intersperse individual touches. Hence, it can be asserted that it was not solely Jahangir who was stretching out in the ecology. Many others were equally or more active in their observations and objectivity about the representation of the ecology in art pieces.The credit for patronizing them lays with Jahangir, which was very much, a task undertaken by all the Emperors’ across the world but the recognition for specialization should be accounted on side of the painters for ‘their patient endurance and strenuous efforts over the years to achieve originality, especially because, from the very outset, the medieval artist had to work within an exacting set of conventions’.27 The available quantum of paintings is an effort of unflinching element of tradition that was guiding the kitab-khana(house of ateliers) of Mughals. As far as the depiction of art with illustrations is concerned one needs to recognize that it reached to Akbar’s court in 1580 via Goa and had an immense impact on the Mughal art.28 So, clearly the art pieces drawn by Mansur were not an invention of Jahangir and Mansur was carrying on the legacy with his keen and objective observations. The mughal artists not only copied European herbals but also took up the style of putting up the draws on the canvas.29 The acquaintance with vivid natural characters (animals, birds, flowers etc.) came from fables and legends and the margin-illuminations methods were derived from the Safavis and Timurid traditions.30 The expansion of ambit and assimilation of varied themes in the paintings has been very well explored.

The concerns of environment emerged with the global warming and climatical decline seen in the last century. Before it British officers serving the Queen through distant postings in colonies of India and Africa realized the essences to preserve the wildlife taking lessons from the extinct species of hare and fox in their native lands i.e England. In a similar kind of pursuit for raring Marino sheep’s Australia was made a destination.31 The over-raring of same in Australia has completely disturbed the cosmology of Australian soil which is now showing excess of urea and nitrogen in the soil making it unfit for any kind of agricultural activities. The war against the dangerous beasts in colonial India was prominent and a major task to be accomplished by ‘paid’ active participation of the natives to clean off ‘Indian Legacies’ which were called so by later awakening.32 The destruction of the animals in the colonial period was rampant and much rigorous due to which the ecological balance destabilized. The sole purpose of this entire brutal exercise was to extract the commercial benefits attached to the forests. The capital in forest was immense in form of timber for which a massive demand was existing, in the colonies and back home (England) for various industrial exercises like ship-building, wagon making, fuel, construction of houses etc. The forests were reserves of timber from hills was specific in its own kind due to long and erect logs. This specification was an essential requirement in railways, house-building, wagon industries and ship making etc. All this led to the excess degradation of the ecology which has been pushed to the edge of irrevocable losses. The increasing awareness about the environment made researchers across the disciplines, to look and innovate means which will definitely not stop the demolition, degradation and detoriaton of the ecology but will only help in delaying the same process. The effort by the historians to understand the losses of flora and fauna and the climatical degradation have given birth to the understanding of environmental history which now forms a significant branch of history writing.

The much effort has been made to understand the contribution of Mughals to the environment and to put forth that the loss was not due to the hunting.33 In the same process the historians have gone beyond the environmental understanding to credit some of the historical personalities and specially for Jahangir much opinion have been formed due to his recorded fancies around the animals and birds. The experiments by him such as cutting open the animal and birds, measuring the hunted down animal, cross breeding and keeping cranes in the palace have been credited as the efforts by a naturalist. But all this only indicates that he was only an experientialist. The vivid descriptions of animals and birds were forming rarities and amusement for him. The violent actions and spirited movements against the components of nature were boastfully portrayed as true-to-life. The consciousness prevailed to talk about the temperature and the environment and the weather. The emperor mentions on accession that Agra is ‘unsuited to most temperaments….elephant and buffalo thrive in its climate’.34 Details about variety of flowers and fruits speak a lot about the engagements of Jahangir.35 The naming of elephants36 every now and then depicts that the emperor was trying to set the norms for the huge animals.

This work aims to highlight that the efforts of Jahangir were more tilted towards satisfying his own queries and to depict self as an emperor who was constantly engaged in the truth searching exercise through the experiments. After demolishing the idol of varha (a hindu god with head of pig and body of man) followed by throwing out the jogis from Pushkar hill, the bottom of the tank was fixed at 12 cubits and in circumference it was about 1.5 kos.37 The efforts were not made to locate truth about the river Shipra regarding the testimony that the water turns into milk and its affair was left for Allah.38 The hunts for all medieval rulers were means to pass time and were also mechanisms for developing the war skills. The forests were spaces for developing military skills and exercises; and hunts were methods for fine tuning the joint war-military exercises. Here, an effort has been made to bring-forth that Jahangir was not engaged in any exercise of being ‘Naturalist’ or ‘Environmentalist’. His efforts were mainly guided to make a special space for self in the galaxy of the Mughal emperors. Because none of them (as per him) were truth searching minds and they neither had sense of recognizing, praising and recording the specialties. The horns of mountain ram were cut open to clarify the saying(about presence of worms in its horns) and the statements proved clearly untrue.39 The mouth of snake was opened forcefully to feed him a hare which it was swallowing.40 The wolf was dissected for locating its liver41, very much in the same way as it was done in case of tiger.42 The rain which attracted notice of emperor was also such that no old men remember any such violent shower and every hailstone was a hen’s egg in size.43 The truth searching was not limited to the animals it extended to the humans as well. In 1607 when the royal standards reached Kashmir he as certained that the animal like Kashmir is never experienced headache in their lives44 and are dirty and unclean from inside as well as outside.45 The experimentation on the sanyasi of Moti order to check persistence was a sick action.46 This experimentalist knew no limits.

The reading of Jahangirnama, brings forward a Jahangir who was trying to settle the ferocity (carnivores) and making experiments in context of innocence (herbivores and birds). As per an acclaimed environmental historian, ‘the wild spaces could be a hunting ground where prior imperial rights were asserted and enforced’.47 The hunts of tigers and tigresses were more cold blood murders where the emperor was shooting with a gun from a mounted safe distance. None of the hunts were from horseback and nowhere the animal was given a pre-shoot alarm/warning. The chase of fetching the innocent herbivores gazelles, deer, antelopes, nilgaw, fowls, ducks and partridges etc. and the omnivores birds were also carried out in enclosures. Secondly, most of these constant grazers and birds were easily claimed due to qamargah hunts. Jahangir never spared any of the surrounded animals and birds as done by his father, who ordered release of animals encircled in a huge qamargah organized as part of military exercise at the Punjab Salt Range in 1578 and later disapproved killing of animals in conformity of the strong Indian tradition.48 Comparison of these instances forms enough sound base to understand the individuals and their intellectual folds. The autobiography in context of the natural environment indicates at the engagements of Jahangir with hunting expeditions, animals, birds and trees.The hunting was more an activity for him to be carried out every now and then. When he was in ease after crushing disturbance of Khusrau and Qandhar, the idea to undertake a hunting tour to Kabul illuminated his mind (sic!).49 The animals were mainly hunted down irrespective of their eating choices and were opened up for recording the physical appearances and measures.50 For birds he had twin attitude i.e killing, followed by tasting the flesh of kill and secondly, rearing a few species for which he had special inclination.51

A minaret was erected to recognize the strangeness of the sound made by an antelope as it was never heard by emperor, old hunters, accompaniers and their forefathers, except in the rutting seasons.52 The range of ignorant was wide enough to secure a minaret for the poor animal. Credit was showered on another antelope called Mansaraj; in form of a manarand a prose carved on a stone honoring his tough fights (who had no equal) and success in overcoming from the desert fierceness.53 Further, the same rare quality located by emperor became a reason for banning hunt of deer in Jahangirpur and the flesh of the species was labeled as meat of cows and pigs for the Hindus and Muhammadans respectively.54 As these meats formed the circle of unlawful food.The affection for the above mentioned antelopes didn’t stop him from hunting many more. In 1611, the hunting-grounds of Samonagar; 22 antelopes were killed.55 The meat of nilgaws was made lawful by slaughtering off their throat in name of Allah.56 While returning from Kabul he employed himself in fish catching at a basin built by Raja Man Singh. Twelve fishes were caught and their noses were pierced with pearl.57 Eighty-four deer were pierced with silver rings in their noses.58 A ring was put on beak of saras. 59 For some species of flora and fauna the absence of any previous sight and knowledge formed sufficient ground for attracting attention of Jahangir and strangeness became the reason for recording the same. The notes around uncommon flower from village Jigri and a piebald animal (squirrel)60, a rang61, two rangs62, a markhur63, fight between spider and snake64, a alive rang antelope65, a talking lark66, a white cheetah67, deonak68, female antelope allowed itself to be milched69, a gelded goat70, a tiger romancing a naked jogi as if he was its own female71, a nilgaw72, bird turkey, a monkey, a tadur73, Carnatic goats with pazahar 74, the elephants bitten by mad dog75, a female elephant in process of delivery76, a bird from country of Zirbad (Sumatra as per Bloachmann)77, an elephant from Abyssinia78, nest of the wag-tail79, the cranes in separation from young ones80, a sang-mahi81, affection between young one of monkey and goat82, koel and its tricks83, tuyghun and ashyani falcon84, the pairing of saras85, fighting saras86, milk of a persian she-camel87, a fish tooth with black spot88, shahi falcon89, qutas oxen and a musk deer90, the papiha91 and birds and animals not seen in Kashmir92, a wild ass93, bird jan-bahan94, a black partridge95 etc. indicate to it. The flowers and trees were recognized for the strangeness and specialty. The description of saffron96, oleander flowers, palas tree and its flowers97, Shah-Alu98, ballut tree99, grapes100, a peach101, the tamarind tree102, a banyan tree103, lajvanti tree104, plane tree at Rawalpur105, fruit trees of Kashmir106, are narrations at times in tone of fancies and sometimes efforts to highlight specialties.

Akbar was constant in rearing cheetahs and had a collection of 1000 cheetahs and using them for chasing the hunts.107 Jahangir had no inclination for the same except at times when he used them for chasing the shikar.108 At one instance he was happy enough to give record of successful breeding by cheetahs in captivity for which his revered father was very desirous but the animal never pair off. Similarly the tigers have paired and gave birth to three cubs.109 The instances were ‘recorded because it appeared strange’.110 His fascination was more attached to the number of cheetahs owned by Akbar during his lifetime.111 Divyabhanusingh points out that the demand of Mughals for cheetahs took a heavy toll on the wild population.112 I agree with the aforesaid excellent extensive research because the animals’ habit at and the natural conditions play an important role in the reproduction activities. The hunts of militarily dispossessed Jahangir were relentless pursuits given to total destruction whenever encountered. The trouble caused by the 2 tigers to the wayfarers between Panipat and Karnal, was settled by taking (killing) both the tigers with gun.113 At times these ‘were something more than a pale imitation of war’.114 The methods of hunting were numerous and diverse but the ultimate aim was to settle the furious animal. The shift in status of lion from sultanate to Mughal empire was significant and under later it became a royal prerogative which was previously a free access to the noblemen.115 The regulation of the hunt was a significant step which didn’t helped in conservation but has definitely delayed the process of elimination.

The jungle, its animals and the anthropological structure of space are embedded in the soil. This interplay is visible in the animal comparatives and similes drawn by the medieval writers. The lion was always a metaphor much in use to depict the sultan/Emperor.116 The comparison of the traitor with a dog was a constant tradition in the medieval writings. For ‘Isami the Mongols were ‘dogs in hour of battle. And a ferocious lion does not pursue a dog’.117 Babur had an illustrious lineage from Timur (paternal side) and Genghis Khan (a Mongol) on the maternal side or from dog as per ‘Isamis’ illustration.118 Similar kind of numerous usages were taken up by Jahangir from jungle and its components which reflect that the native landscape serves multiple environments into which a ‘man is inserted, surrounded, integrated and absorbed, and how it is that living creatures are defined as good or bad’.119 The interesting comparisons between the rebels and the animal instincts by quoting from Sadi120, Rumi121 and Gulistan122 form a naturalist reading! A valiantly misbehaving servant was explained as ‘when gnats get wings they smite elephant’.123 The Afghans and Indians who were helping and siding with the rebel son Khusrau (earlier the dearest son) were compared to foxes in Hindustan (double back).124 Raja Man Singh was a trusted officer of Akbar and didn’t paid obedience in the court even after six or seven summons while serving in province of Patna and Bihar, and was helping Khusrau in rebellion. All these events were enough for Jahangir to call him and Khan Azam ‘old wolves of this state’.125 The soldiers fighting in Deccan against Ambar were called lions from forest of bravery and crocodiles of river due to their endurance, resistance and strength which was shown against enemy.126 The advisor of Shah-Jahan in rebellion was called ‘dog of a Hindu’.127 And, all the previous titles of Khurran were shunned down and he was called Bi-daulat.128 A eulogy was put before Jahangir by a poet who compared emperor with the sun and was able to secure an elephant in reward.129 While the emperor was at Ajmer a man represented to him that the name Jahangir, corresponds to the great name ‘Allah Akbar’ and he was rewarded with land, horse, cash and clothes.130 The elephants of mountainous dignity and with lightening speed were desired for conquest of Mawara’a-n-nahr (Transoxiana).131 While expressing his admiration and surprises regarding bird turkey, the emperor pulls in nearly all the specialties and specifications of peacock, cock, peahen, cotton, chameleon, elephant, and rhinoceros.132 So, it can be said that the natural units were much in-sets and were fit to explain the social units.

The animals also formed part of the special gifts from the darbar. The reward and recognition of service with presents was an established norm at Mugahl court. The elephants and horse formed the special gifts. When Shah Beg Khan was entitled as Khan-dauran a male elephant and a special horse along with a jeweled dagger was bestowed upon him.133 Man Singh presented 100 elephants (male and female) to Jahangir, none amongst those was considered fit, to be included in the private elephants of the emperor and by the emperor self134, and later in favor emperor gave his best horse to Man Singh which was received by Akbar from Shah Abbas.135 In marriage of emperor with daughter of Jagat Singh, Man Singh gave 60 elephants.136 Later when Man Singh was taking leave to join the imperial army at Deccan, emperor gave his own elephant to him.137 Three elephants from Ratan (a rajput king) were received and one was included in the royal stable.138 90 elephants were presented by a Khan.139 The region of Bengal140, Bihar141 and Orissa142 were rich in elephant count and many nobles were sending them to the court. Besides these many other elephants were also received by the emperor.143 Twenty one elephants were given to Khankhana along with a bayhorse (it was head of the stable of emperor’s private horses).144 Again one special elephant was given while he was leaving for service in Deccan.145 Most of the governors who left for Deccan got elephants.146 Regularly, elephants were presented to and were sent for; governors.147 The rarities and gifts from Lakhmi Chand (Raja of Kumaon) mainly constituted of gunth ponies, hawks, falcons, yaks, navels of musk and skins of musk antelopes with musk bags.148 The gifts from Khan Dauran were two strings of camels, Arabian dogs and hunting animals.149 Lashkar Khan also sent three strings of Persian camel and 20 Arabian dogs with many other items.150 A rare gift of 5 cheetahs was presented to Qasim Khan, governor of Bengal.151 The immense number of animals has formed the ‘wealth for exchange’.

A few instances and the efforts appear here and there which indicate to the emperor’s interest of breeding. At hunt around fort of Rohtas, he ordered to capture and keep a few red and white antelopes alive for the breeding purpose.152 The wild bird pheasant (tadru) was kept in captivity and it bred producing up to 60-70 young ones in duration of two years. The Markhur goats were mated with Barbary goats.153 The effort to milech a tigress was foolish enough and the rage of animal was set-up as a reason for dried-up breast.154 The experimentalist doesn’t miss any chance to underline that all the previous efforts have failed in this context.155

The fondness for lion hunting has surrounded Jahangir and whenever, it is available he didn’t go after any other animal.156 The rustic element of tribe to kill was visibly surviving in him. The element of bravery and strength was telecasted through the use of guns to shoot the furious animalslike Lion and Tiger. Two tigers were shoot from elephant back after enclosing them in qamargah manner.157 The encounter between the Lion and Anup Ray, in which the former was killed forms an interesting description about the struggle involved in killing that animal.158 The tough resistance provided by Anup Ray to protect emperor from the animal has helped him to earn the title of Anira’i Singh-dalan. 159 While the royal standards were at Ajmer the emperor went to Pushkar and in two visits three lions were shot with gun.160 The reports from shikari helped to take three more lions with gun.161 After some days a Lioness with three cubs became target.162 The use of sword for hunting was not obsolete but the valorous Jahangir never undertook any risk of slaying the lion with his shamseer (sword). No sympathy was wasted by the ‘naturalist Jahangir’ while killing, slaughtering, hunting and taking account of his hunts. The simple assertion of despotic imperial masculine authority over a state and its environment was grounded to showcase the rationality and the illuminated mind. The author (Jahangir) was constantly aware to reaffirm his connection between his self acclaimed heroic actions and the noble character. He was constantly consolidating his status in numerous hierarchies: between himself and worthy beast, within his own family, over the nobles of state etc. The jungle, shikargah, pleasure gardens, orchardswere entirely dependent on the nature of imperial activity; for deriving its definition, specifications and treatments. ‘On the contrary, it has been suggested that Indian princes were symbolically as well as literally rooted in forest, and their very legitimacy and physical substance nourished on its fruit and meat’.163 The constant notes of Jahangir highlighting the flavors of varied fleshes and fruits are substantial to show the subsistence on forest and its products for the survival. Amongst the flesh of all the wild animals, the meat of mountain goat made a delicious feed for emperor.164 The flesh of wild ass was a lawful for consumption but it did not suited Jahangir’s taste.165 The flavor of rang flesh; was superior to that of the sheep of Barbary goat.166 He must have tasted both meats to give this kind of quality and taste assurance. The fish with scales was considered fit for consumption due the reasons known personally to Jahangir.167 A sand-grouse was made fit for consumption.168 The fish arbiyat was more delicious and better, but; not as good as rohu. 169 A tihu was obtained and its flesh was called better than that of the partridges.170 Never before he had meat of musk deer, so;the cook was ordered to prepare a du-pyaza from the one which is just now received in gift.171 The determination for not eating a water-fowl was made at the end of sixteenth reign year.172 The flavor for various meats was well expressed.173 The measures of physical appearance of the largest kills were taken and recorded.

Jahangir has enjoyed his sports at expanse of good governance and has tasted and harvested all kind of meats. When Akbar went to Kabul he had a qamargah hunt on the mountain of Ala Bughan and killed many red deers.174 Similarly, the constant engagement of Khurramand various nobles against the rebel forces of Gujarat, Qandhar, Kangra etc. were the times when Jahangir was regularly hunting; always thinking to reach the war fields.In 1607 Jahangir made up his exalted mind to launch an expedition for conquest of Transoxiana which was hereditary kingdom of his ancestors. Before carrying forward this plan he wanted to free Hindustan from the rebels. Therefore, Parwaiz was sent to drive back Rana and he intended to move towards Deccan.175 Similarly, the emperor was desirous to march on and ‘destroy root and branch those servants who had become masters’.176 But in reality it never cracked.For emperor the hunting grounds and the wild animals were synonym for battle field and seditious officers and rebels respectively. The task of controlling and crushing them was lying with the sovereign as a duty. While directing and rewarding most of the nobles of state to join service in Deccan, the emperor was keeping himself busy in hunts.177 Somehow, the disturbance at Ahmadnagar, was also giving enough time to emperor to desire for hunt ‘at a propitious hour determined by the astrologers’ and he started hunting.178 Around the hunting-grounds of Rupbas, the antelopes have come in inhabited area and were not subject to any kind of molestation had become a sufficient reason for hunting, shooting, and chasing-hunting the animal with cheetahs for two or three days.179 As per Jahangir the ability of ruler is to overcome ‘noxious animals’; the term was used by him after killing a tiger near the fort of Mandu.180 The ‘predatory care by the Mughals provided an elegant and flexible means of managing multiple sovereignties, overlapping hierarchies, and fluid reconfigurations of allegiance and dissent’.181 The king of Udaipur (Karan) was assessed as one of wild nature and who never saw assemblies because he lived in hills. But for emperor winning his heart was equally important. For which he not only showered many gifts on him (Karan), but also took him to the darbar of female apartments, where NurjahanBegam also presented gifts to Karan in personal capacity.182 Many such efforts continued in relation of the Udaipur kings. Later, Jahangir took Karan with him for showing a hunt of lioness, as the time of departure for Karan (for his kingdom) was arriving.183 When Bi-daulat (Khurram) was rising in rebellion Jahangir shot 4 lions and wolf near Aligarh and narrated many stories about curbing wilds.184 A tiger has charged on the Ahadis and wounded nearly 12 of them. The wild behavior was cut down by three shots from gun of the emperor.185 A lion was killed with three shots to relive the inhabitants from his wickedness.186 A lioness was killed at Mathura to save the inhabitants from its mischief.187 Equally, the Nur-Jahan Begam was good at shooting as she stroked down 4 lions in six shots188 and in a later hunt she shot a lion in one shot which a excellent shooter (Mirza Rustam) has missed multiple times.189 A lion developed taste for flesh of men, so; Shah-Jahan was ordered to curb its wildness.190 These narratives are significant to see the managerial efforts of Jahangir, who was trying to show that the Mughal emperor can curb the wildness. The belief that persuaded the ruler was that his actions are justifiable and beneficial. Actually, these were for canonization their true sportsmanship and veneer the modernity. The proponent in this was ‘that the hunting ennobles boy and man…by introducing them to the virtues of sportsmanship, patience and physical hardiness, and the pleasures of nature study, camaraderie and social solidarity’.191 While honoring these virtuous codes there was no time for reconciliation.

The shikarkhana made all necessary arrangements for the royal hunt and ‘certain lands had to be set aside to ensure the success of royal hunts….it is clear there were a range of imperial hunting grounds in different subas’. 192 The in-charge of shikarkhana ran from pillar to post for maintaining hunting grounds, monitoring the game, and managing the distribution of game to make a successful sport and shoot, and constantly applied the regulations at the hunting areas. The desire of hunting the red deer overcame Jahangir so he ordered for arrangements to be in place for the qamargah hunt. For it the hill of Faraq (Kabul) was surrounded and nearly 100 deer were enclosed out of which about half were hunted and it was called ‘a very hot hunt’. The peasants who were supporting the game were rewarded with 5000 rupees.193 After 12 days another qamargah hunt was arranged and 202 deer, rang antelopes, red antelopes and mountain goats were killed.194 After a few days an order was given to the governor of Jalalabad to arrange a qamargah hunt in the hunting grounds of the Arzina.195 The Arabian dogs were also used for chasing the shikar. 196 A request was made to the king of Iran for large European hunting dogs and in response nine were sent.197 The other prominent style of shikar for Mughals was shakhband, for collection of game Baba Hasan Abdal was put in-charge.198 After striking down some with arrows, the order was pronounced for the courtiers and servants to shoot the rest.199 Following it the qamargah hunt at Rawalpindi delighted Jahangir because he was able to take a red deer by an arrow from a long distance.200 In continuance one more qamargah hunt was arranged in the surroundings of Rohtas fort by the efforts and exertions of Hilal Khan and the members of zenana were taken out for it and the hunt ‘came off with great eclat’. 201 In another hunt around Rohtas with the members of zenana 100 red deer were killed.202 In 1611, Khwaja Jahan was sent to prepare a qamargah and to place sarparda (canvas wall) and a gulalbar round it. When all arrangements of driving in and confining the animals were made the emperor moved out with the ladies and hunted for a week as much as he liked with guns and arrows.203 When the king became tired of hunting he returned in the safety of city and gave orders for the Amirs to go into the shikargah and hunt all the left-over game.204 When Jahangir was at Ajmer, a lioness was marked by a watchmen and he immediately out with a gun and returned.205 Hopefully, taking the kill because the author; makes no further comment about it. This is the situation when the author has claimed ‘time of my reign wild beasts have abandoned their slavery, tigers have become so tame that troops of them without chains or restrain go about amongst the people, and they neither harm men nor have any wildness or alarm’.206 While awaiting the auspicious hour to enter the city of Agra he spent his time hunting lions, rewarding ahadis who showed bravery and went into lionhides, killing nilgaw, hunting antelopes (in neighbors of Rupbas).207 On entering the city the hunting department was ordered to take stock of the hunted down creatures. The record was presented with all details to the emperor ‘that in 56 days 1,362 animals, quadrupeds, and birds have been killed’.208 In the fifth year of reign during a span of 3 months and 20 days, in total 1,414 various species of flora and fauna were taken down in shikar. 209 In 1612, a hunt continued for 2 months and 20 days and 1,812 animal and birds were sported.210 While hunting at Somanagar and Rupbas (now onwards to be called Amanabad), 47 and 158 antelopes were hunted respectively.211 Water-fowls were shot on the tanks of Pushkar212 and in a later returning trip from Pushkar to Ajmer 42 wild pigs were shot.213 While moving out from Ajmer after a stay of three years he took account of his hunts. The details are 15 lions, 1 cheetah, one black-ear, 53 nilgaw, 33 gazalle, 90 antelopes, 80 boars and 340 water-fowl.214 Travelling for about 159 kos; from Deorai till fort of Mandu, Jahangir shoot 28 times215 and large variety of animals in huge numbers were killed.216 The account of the heads taken by the emperor was prepared in 1617, which accommodated the figures and species of hunts from 1580 till 1617. The total hunt credit of Jahangir solely was 17,167 and in total the game in his presence was 28,532.217 Many more killings continued when he moved from Mandu to watch the salt sea.218 The desire for hunting elephants was expressed by Jahangir because so far in his life he has not seen any219 and a qamargah hunt was arranged in Dohad hunting-grounds of suba Gujarat.220 A machan outside the forest was prepared for the emperor, jarga tribe (specialist in hunting elephants) was employed and many male and female elephants were taken in enclosure.221 After much efforts of the hunts-man (Qarawul Beg Baluch Khan) 69 elephants were caught.222 The capturing continued and the huntsmen of Shahjahan were also employed but interestingly, Jahangir himself never went for it.223 In the hunting grounds of pargan of Karohi a jarga (ring in which game is enclosed) was arranged and 101 heads were taken.224 Jirgas were arranged at Bhimbar, Girjhak and Makhiyala.225 Significant numbers of qamargah hunts were organized while the royal standards were on move and halting. Such kills in sequence with delight and sense of pleasure are no instincts of a naturalist but definitely of a brutal hunter.

The omission from slaughter of animals for food on certain days was declared at the time of accession. The days forbidden were Thursday and Sunday as these were birthdays of Jahangir and his revered father.226 In 1610, nearly after five years of accession he again repeats his resolve of not hunting on Sundays and Thursdays and added a new condition that all animals should be free from the calamity of butcherly disposition and he will not shoot an arrow or a gun respectively.227 In year 1610 the festival of qurban(zil-l-hijja) occurred on Thursday and as the day was forbidden for killing due to day of accession of Jahangir, the sacrificial animals were kept aside to be killed on next day. And, on Friday sacrifice slaughter of three sheeps wascarried out.228 The determination of giving up shooting with gun and bullet and not to injure any animal with his own hands at age of fifty was recalled.229 He even bargained with god to give up hunting and killing.230 Many a times he was making claims to forbade eating meat on certain days.231 The harvest of the meat was also avoided on certain days as per the customs initiated by Jahangir. None such effort was expected to succeed.232 The grand hunt started on Friday and went on for a week, so; finished on the next Thursday with a Sunday in mid-way.233 Following his father for whom Jahangir claims that ‘he killed some 3000 or 4000 birds and beasts’234 while hunting with Sangram. AbulFazl was moderate in recoding the number of kill.235 The hate of Akbar for slaughter of animals was highlighted and the interested people were guided to Akbarnama for featching details.236 The hunting of Rhinoceroses in north-western frontier by Humayun and Akbar was known to him through his father who witnessed it twice or thrice.237 The emperor (Jahangir) often seems failing in keeping his resolutions regarding not hunting lioness. Loudly claiming that his custom is only to hunt male lions, but before the departure of Karan a lion might not be located. So, killing of lioness was decided and under lot of adverse circumstances the game was taken.238 No pressing reason was available when he took a lioness and three cubs.239 Again at Mathura, without signs of wild behavior (as discussed above) a lioness was shot to death and three cubs were taken (killed) by hands.240 The long training, heightened sense of curiosity and a deep sense of history made him a penchant record-keeper. Striking are the range of observations highlighting the behavior of animals/birds, hunting techniques, methods for tracking and capturing the beasts. The frequent underlining and cramming of his notes with exhaustive specifications governing and recording every aspect of the hunted animal are no symptoms of a naturalist but are very much indicative of an experimentalist. The regular enthusiasm for killing the games was more an instinct, indicating a man; who is trying to overpower his wild surroundings. Indirectly, it was aimed to create a self imagined image of a just and noble emperor who is able to regulate and control the wilderness of the jungel. Maintaining the details of hunt in his diary was mainly for narrating the specifications and greatness of his hunts, as he never missed to specify that nothing such and such has happened previously and was never seen in past. This indicates to a more self-fancied emperor rather than a naturalist.

Amongst all the sports as Jahangir admits was most disposed and fond of shooting.241 The disposition with gun made him to shoot 18 deers in one day. A hunt followed marriage of Parwiz in the regions of Girjhak and Nandana, near Multan and continued for 3 months and six days in which 581 animals were killed.242 The rebels Hussain Beg and Abdu-r-Rahim who were siding with Khusrau were punished by putting over the skins of an ox and ass.243 The brutality and the ambition of Jahangir to kill the innocents knew no limitations. The default in holding the fort of Patna and the inability to protect the royal treasury from the rebel son of Jahangir (Khusrau) came down heavily upon the officer in-charge of fort, who paid by ‘their hair and beards to be cut off’ and further being clothed in costumes of women they were paraded on the back of donkeys in the city and bazaars of Agra.244 While aiming a shot at nilgaw which was in range, ‘suddenly a groom (jilaudar) and two kahar (bearers) appeared, and the nilgaw escaped’.245 At this, emperor ordered to kill the groom on the spot and to mount both the bearers on ass after hamstring and in sequence parade them through the camp, so that no one can do such a thing any time again and the relaxed emperor went out to continue the hunt with hawks and falcons.246 Cutting of some champa tree branches costed a servant mutilation of both the thumbs. The inability to shoot one nilgaw which have escaped in last two years, each time it went off wounded. In the third effort Jahangir followed it but again failed. This made him to vow that if this particular nilgaw will fell then its meat will be cooked and will be distributed amongst the poor for soul of Khwaja Muinuddin and when the nilgaw wormed out moving, he ran for its head and ordered to make it lawful by cutting its head in name of Allah. The vow was fulfilled.247 For the ill-omened owl who sat on the terrace of palace the gun acted as the decree from heaven and blew it into pieces.248 Highlighting his knowledge of Turkish through four sections written in his own handwriting with the confession ‘Notwithstanding that I grew up in Hindustan, I am not ignorant of Turki speech and writing’249, speak a lot about the emperors zeal to reflect himself as man of knowledge. Till date all reputed historians deny these sections as his creation and it appears as he re-copied them.250 When a certain idea came to his mind a rhymed ghazal was created.251 A couplet threw brilliance on his mind.252 The imagination and speed of thought is well highlighted. Later, the ears were pierced openly to mark himself as the ear-marked slave of Khwaja Muinuddin when he recovered from a prolonged illness. It was an act to show indebtness and two pearls were hanged.253 The death of daughter of Shah Khurram on Wednesday (15th June 1616) made him to declare that from now onwards Char-shamba (Wednesday) will be referred as Gum-shamba. 254 All these were the effort to mark self as a just and spiritually inclined ruler.

No doubt the records (paintings of Mansur and Hasan and Janhgirnama) are excellent and remarkable treasures troves for any environmental history student. The hunts of Jahangir irrespective of the behavior and traits of animals and birds are sheer live examples of a hunters trait who was trying to replicate his warrior skills in the jungle. And by crushing the animals and birds he was trying to depict that he carries the capacity of limiting the wildness. The limitation of the ferocity became a major aim for the emperor who went on shooting constantly to pass his time and taking away from the state business. It is important to highlight here that ‘no state at Delhi ever sought to govern directly the That desert area of Rajasthan, the remote salt flats of Cutch, or the jungly tracts of central India and Orissa’.255 The state sources of medieval India in Turki, Arabic and Persian are factual and empirical in strict sense. The insight of these sources helps a lot to understand the comparisons drawn from the nature and natural surroundings. The efforts of the Mughal emperors were diverse in terms of nature but none was guided by the idea of the ecology and environment concerns. The destruction of the carnivores and the grazers were aimed for projection, developing the military skills surrounded with wilderness and developing the war techniques. For Jahangir the animal also served as the objects of experiment and means to satisfy his queries. So, that the truth searching mind of his could be advertised well and his efforts shall be considered as rational. Then, how the ecology was not disturbed? The simple answer is that there was no internal process to disturb the structure of Nature and the limited hunting techniques and technology didn’t prove fatal and were note nough for excess exploitation of the natural wealth, and therefore, didn’t lead to the situation of conflict between man and nature.


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