|[PART SIX] Maham Begam's
feast and death, the Mystic Feast and Mirza Hindal's marriage feast, Bega
Begam's complaints to Humayun [[112-131]]
My lady, who was Maham Begam, had a great longing and desire to see a son of Humayun. Wherever there was a good-looking and nice girl, she used to bring her into his service. Maywa-jan, a daughter of Khadang, the chamberlain, was in my employ. One day (after) the death of his Majesty Firdaus-makani [Babur], my lady said: "Humayun, Maywa-jan is not bad. Why do you not take her into your service?" So, at her word, Humayun married and took her that very night.
Three days later Bega Begam came from Kabul. She became in the family way. In due time she had a daughter, whom they named 'Aqiqa. Maywa-jan said to Lady Maham Begam, "I am in the family way, too." Then my lady got ready two sets of weapons, and said: "Whichever of you bears a son, I will give him good arms." Then she packed up the arms, and got ready gold and silver walnuts. She procured also the (special) arms of a Mughul commander, and was very happy, and kept saying: "Perhaps one of them will have a son." She kept watch till Bega Begam's [daughter] 'Aqiqa was born. Then she kept an eye on Maywa-jan. Ten months went by. The eleventh also passed. Maywa-jan said: "My maternal aunt was in Mirza Ulugh Beg's haram. She had a son in the twelfth month; perhaps I am like her." So they sewed tents and filled pillows. But in the end everyone knew she was a fraud.
His Majesty who had gone towards Chanada [Chunar], returned safe and sound.
My lady who was Maham Begam, gave a great feast. They lit up the bazars. Before that time people used to illuminate the bazars (only). Then she gave orders to the better class and to the soldiers also to decorate their places and make their quarters beautiful, and after this illumination became general in India.
[Missing from manuscript] ...a jeweled throne, ascended by four steps, and above it gold-embroidered hangings, and laid on it a cushion and pillows embroidered in gold.
The covering of the pavilions and of the large audience tent was, inside, European brocade, and outside, Portuguese cloth. The tent-poles were gilded; that was very ornamental.
(My lady) had prepared a tent-lining and a kannat/1/ and sar-i-kannat of Gujarati cloth-of-gold, and a ewer for rose-water, and candlesticks, and drinking-vessels, and rose-water sprinklers,—all jeweled gold.
With all her stores of plenishing, she made an excellent and splendid feast.
[Missing from manuscript] ...twelve strings of camels, and twelve of mules, and seventy tipuchaq horses, and one hundred baggage horses. She gave special robes of honour to 7,000 persons. The festivities lasted several days. [[112-114]]
In April my lady was attacked by a disorder of the bowels. On the 27th of the same month she passed from this transitory life to the eternal home.
The stamp of orphanhood was set anew on my royal father's children, and especially on me, for whom she herself had cared. I felt lonely and helpless and in great affliction. Day and night I wept and mourned and grieved. His Majesty came several times to comfort me, and showed me sympathy and kindness. I was two years old when her Highness my lady took me into her own house and cared for me, and I was ten when she departed from this life. I remained one year more in her house. When I was eleven, and his Majesty went to Dholpur, I accompanied my mother. This will have been before he went to Gualiar [Gwalior] and began to build.
At the end of the mourning for my lady, his Majesty went to Delhi and began to build the fort of Din-pana. He then returned to Agra.
Dearest lady (Khanzada Begam) said to his Majesty: "When will you make Mirza Hindal's marriage feast?" His Majesty replied: "B'ismu-l-lah." When Mirza Hindal was married, my lady was living, but there was delay in arranging the feast. (Khanzada Begam) said: "The things for the Mystic Feast are also ready. Let us first celebrate this, and afterwards Mirza Hindal's." His Majesty said: "Let whatever my royal aunt wishes be done." She replied: "May God bless it and make it good."
DESCRIPTION OF THE HOUSE OF FEASTING WHICH WAS SET UP ON THE RIVER'S BANK, AND WHICH WAS CALLED THE MYSTIC HOUSE:
First there was a large octagonal room with an octagonal tank in the centre, and again, in the middle of the reservoir, an octagonal platform on which were spread Persian carpets. Young men and pretty girls and elegant women and musicians and sweet-voiced reciters were ordered to sit in the tank.
The jeweled throne which my lady had given for the feast was placed in the fore-court of the house, and a gold-embroidered divan was laid in front of it, (on which) his Majesty and Dearest Lady sat together.
On the right sat her paternal aunts, the daughters
of Sultan Abu-sa'id Mirza: [The list continues with the names of the women].
There were other begams, very many, adding up altogether to niney-six stipendiaries. There were also some others.
After the Mystic Feast (938 H.) came Mirza Hindal's wedding feast (Jauhar, 944 H.). Some of the begams already named went away, and (of those) some had sat at the right hand in that assembly (i.e., the Mystic Feast).
Of our begams: [the numbered list of women continues to 87].
Other begas and aghas, the wives of the amirs, sat on this hand, and all were present at the marriage feast.
This was the fashion of the Mystic House: (there was) a large octagonal room in which they gave the feast, over against this a small room, also octagonal. In both every sort of profusion and splendour appeared. In the large octagonal hall was set the jewelled throne, and above and below it were spread out hangings embroidered with gold, and wonderful strings of pearls hung, each one and one-half yards in length. At the end of each string were two glass globes. There had been made and hung some thirty or forty strings.
In the small room, in an alcove, were set a gilded bedstead and pan-dishes, and water-vessels and jeweled drinking-vessels, and utensils of pure gold and silver.
Facing west (was) the audience hall; facing east, the garden; on the third side and facing south, the large octagon; and on the side facing north, the small one. In these three houses were three upper rooms. One they named the House of Dominion, and in it were nine military appurtenances, such as a jeweled scimitar and gilded armour, a broad dagger and a curved dagger, and a quiver, all gilt, and a gold-embroidered overmantle.
In the second room, called the House of Good Fortune, an oratory had been arranged, and books placed, and gilded pen-cases, and splendid portfolios, and entertaining picture-books written in beautiful character.
In the third room, which they called the House of Pleasure, were set out a gilded bedstead and a coffer of sandal-wood, and all imaginable pillows. Then in front were spread specially choice coverlets, and before these table-cloths, all of gold brocade. Various fruits and beverages had been got ready, and everything for merriment and comfort and pleasure.
On the feast-day of the Mystic House, his Majesty ordered all the mirzas and begams to bring gifts, and everyone did so. He said: "Divide the gifts into three heaps." They made three trays of ashrafis and six of shahrukhis. One of ashrafis and two of shahrukhis he gave to Hindu Beg and said: "This is the share of Dominion; give it to the mirzas and chiefs and vazirs and soldiers."
He gave in the same way to Mulla Muhammad Farghari and said: "This is the share of Good Fortune. Give it to those who are eminent and respectable, and to theologians and religious men, to ascetics and graybeards, and dervishes and devotees, and the poor and needy."
Concerning one tray of ashrafis and two of shahrukhis he said: “What need is there to count?” First he himself vouchsafed his blessed hand and said: "Let them take to the begams on one small tray of ashrafis and on another shahrukhis. Let each person take her hands full." What was left, that is two trays of shahrukhis,—which may have been 10,000,—and all the ashrafis, —about 2,000—he gave in largesse, and scattered first before the wali'u-n-ni'matan (beneficient seniors), and then to those present at the entertainment. No one received less than 100 or 150, and those in the tank especially received very much. His Majesty was pleased to say: "Dearest lady! If you approved, they might put water in the tank." She replied: "Very good," and went herself and sat at the top of the steps. People were taking no notice, when all at once the tap was turned and water came. The young people got very much excited. His Majesty said: "There is no harm; each of you will eat a pellet of anise and a bit of comfit/2/ and come out of there." Upon this, everyone who would eat the comfit came out quickly. The water was as high as their ankles. To end the story, everyone ate the comfit and all came out.
Then the viands of the feast were set forth, and robes of honour were put on, and gifts bestowed, and head-to-foot dresses given to the comfit-eaters and others.
On the margin of the tank was a room fitted with talc windows, and young people sat in the room and players made music. Also a woman's bazaar had been arranged, and boats had been decorated. In one boat was made the semblance of six people and six alcoves; in (another) an upper room, and below it a garden with amaranthus and cockscombs and larkspurs and tulips. In one place there were eight boats, so that there were eight pieces.
In short, everyone was astonished and amazed who beheld what gift of contrivance the great God had bestowed on the blessed mind of his Majesty.
THE DESCRIPTION OF MIRZA HINDAL'S (MARRIAGE) FEAST IS AS FOLLOWS:
Sultanam Begam (i.e. the bride) was a sister of Mahdi Khwaja. My father's brother-in-law had no child except Ja'far Khwaja, and there was no child of Khanzada Begam. Dearest Lady had taken care of Sultanam as though she were her child. Sultanam was two years old when Khanzada Begam took charge of her. She (Khanzada) loved her very much, and thought of her as a brother's child of her own. She made a most entertaining and splendid feast.
A kushka/3/ and hangings and five divans and five pillows for the head, and one large pillow and two round ones; and girdles and veils, together with a tent . . . with three gold-embroidered cushions and head-to-foot dresses for a prince, with collar and bordering of gold embroidery, and bath-wrappers and napkins and embroidered mantle to be worn over the armour.
For Sultanam Begam: nine jackets with garniture of jewelled balls, one of ruby, one of cornelian, one of emerald, one of turquoise, one of topaz, and one of cat's-eye.
Again: of necklaces, nine; and one embroidered collar and bordering, and four short jackets with ball-trimming, and one pair of ruby earrings and another of pearls, three fans, and one royal umbrella.
One dirakht and two khutb/4/ and other furniture and effects, and household goods and chattels and workshops of all sorts. Khanzada Begam gave everything she had collected, and she arranged a feast such as had not been made for any other child of my royal father. She planned it all and carried it all out.
[Missing from manuscript] ...nine tipuchaq horses, with jewelled and gold-embroidered saddles and bridles; and gold and silver vessels and slaves, Turki and Circassian and Arus and Abyssinian,—of each (race) a royal gift of nine.
What my royal father's brother-in-law gave to the mirza was a set of nine tipuchaq horses, with jeweled and gold-embroidered saddles and bridles; and gold and silver vessels, and two other sets of nine horses, baggage animals, with velvet saddles and bridles; and brocade and Portuguese cloth, and Turki and Habashi and Hindi slaves,—in all, three sets of nine; and three head of elephants.
In his Majesty's leisure after the feast came news that the vazir of Sultan Bahadur, Khurasan Khan by name, had attacked Bayana. His Majesty dispatched Mirza 'Askari, with several amirs, Mir Faqr-'Ali Beg and Mir Tardi Beg, etc. These went to Bayana and fought and defeated Khurasan Khan. The Emperor set out for Gujarat shortly afterwards, in prosperity and safety. It was on the 15th of the revered Rajab 941H. that he quite decided to go himself to Gujarat. He set up his advance camp in the Gold-scattering Garden, and there spent a month while the forces were gathering in.
On court days, which were Sundays and Tuesdays, he used to go to the other side of the river. During his stay in the garden, ajam (Dil-dar Begam) and my sisters and the ladies were often in his company. Of all the tents, Ma'suma Sultan Begam's was at the top of the row. Next came Gul-rang Begam's, and ajam's was in the same place. Then the tent of my mother [scribal error?] Gul-barg Begam, and of Bega Begam and the others.
They set up the offices and got them into order. When they had put up the pavilions and tents and the audience tent, the Emperor came to see the camp and the splendid set-out, and visited the begams and his sisters. As he had dismounted somewhat near Ma'suma Sultan Begam's (tent), he honoured her with a visit. All of us, the begams and my sisters, were in his society. When he went to any begam's or sister's quarters, all the begams and all his sisters used to go with him. Next day he came to the tent of this lowly person, and the entertainment lasted till the third watch of the night. Many begams were there, and his sisters, and ladies of rank and of position, and other ladies, and musicians and reciters. After the third watch his Majesty was pleased to command repose. His sisters and the begams made resting-places in his presence./5/
Bega Begam woke (us) up, and said: "It is time for prayers." His Majesty ordered water for ablution made ready where he was, and so the begam knew that he was awake. She began complaint, and said to him: "For several days now you have been paying visits in this garden, and on no one day have you been to our house. Thorns have not been planted in the way to it. We hope you will deign to visit our quarters also, and to have a party and a sociable gathering there, too. How long will you think it right to show all these disfavours to us helpless ones? We too have hearts. Three times you have honoured other places by visits, and you have run day and night into one in amusement and conversation."
When she had finished, his Majesty said nothing, and went to prayers. At the first watch of the day he came out and sent for his sisters and the begams, and for Dil-dar Begam, and Afghani aghacha, and Gul-nar aghacha, and Meywa-jan and Agha-jan, and the nurses. We all went, and he said not a word, so everyone knew he was angry. Then after a little he began: "Bibi, what ill-treatment at my hands did you complain of this morning?" and, "That was not the place to make a complaint. You all know that I have been to the quarters of the elder relations of you all. It is a necessity laid on me to make them happy. Nevertheless I am ashamed before them because I see them so rarely. It has long been in my mind to ask from you all a signed declaration, and it is as well that you have brought me to the speaking-point. I am an opium-eater. If there should be delay in my comings and goings, do not be angry with me. Rather, write me a letter, and say: 'Whether it please you to come or whether it please you not to come, we are content and are thankful to you.'"
Gul-barg Begam wrote to this effect at once, and he settled it with her. Bega Begam insisted a little, saying: "The excuse looked worse than the fault. We complained in order that your Majesty might lift up our heads by your favour. Your Majesty has carried the matter to this point! What remedy have we? You are Emperor." She wrote a letter and gave it to him, and he made it up with her also. [[116-131]]
N O T E S
A tent over a doorway, a veil, an umbrella.
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