Harkha Bai (also Hira Kunwari, Jodha Bai, Mariam-uz-Zamani) was the Jaipur princess and wife of Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great. She was born on October 1, 1542. She was the daughter of Raja Bharmal and was known as Hira Kunwari in her childhood. She is also referred to as ‘Jodha Begum”.
The marriage of Harkha Bai took place in 1562 with Akbar the Great. Her marriage was a political alliance between the Mughal Emperor Akbar and the King of Jaipur. Hira was given the title of “Mariam-uz-Zamani” after her marriage to Akbar. The father and brother of Harkha Bai joined the court of Akbar. In 1563, one year after their marriage, Akbar abolished the pilgrimage tax on Hindus.
The marriage of Harkha Bai with Akbar had deep impact on the social, religious and political policies of Akbar. Akbar gave prominent positions to many Rajputs in his Mughal court. Raja Mansingh (close relative of Harkha bai) was one of a trusted general and among the navaratnas in Akbar’s court.
Akbar had deep respect for Harkha Bai. She was the one who gave birth to Prince Salim. Salim was a son of many prayers and later became Emperor with the name “Jahangir”.
Harkha Bai was a follower of Lord Krishna and Akbar allowed her to worship Hindu God and Goddesses.
Akbar also married other Rajput princesses. These Hindu wives of Akbar had deep impact on Akbar’s religious policies. Akbar also adopted many Hindu beliefs and practices, such as, the transmigration of Soul and the doctrine of Karma. He also began to celebrate many Hindu festivals such as Shivratri, Dussehra, Rakshabandhan, etc.
Harkha Bai enjoyed high position in the Mughal court and also had the power to issue official documents.
She died in 1623.
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