Mughal Emperor Jahangir: Life, Legacy, and Influence

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Mughal Emperor Jahangir

In history, there are rulers who has inscribed their names in golden words not only through their political power but also through their passion for the arts. One such figure was Emperor Jahangir, the fourth ruler of the Mughal Empire. Jahangir ruled from 1605 to 1627 until his death. He was known for his love of art and culture, but also his cruelty and indecisiveness. Let’s know more about the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and all about his influence and legacy.

Early Life of Jahangir

Born Nur-ud-din Muhammad Salim, Jahangir was born in 1569, the third and only surviving son of Akbar the Great. He was a bright and intelligent child, but he was also willful and rebellious. In 1599, he rebelled against his father but was eventually defeated and imprisoned.

After Akbar’s death in 1605, Jahangir ascended to the throne. He was a popular ruler at first, and he made some significant reforms, such as abolishing the death penalty for petty theft. However, he also became increasingly addicted to alcohol and opium, and his rule became more erratic.

Learnings of Jahangir

Salim started his early education at the age of 5. He was proficient in multiple languages including Turkish, Hindi, and Persian.

  • Moreover, he was also skilled in different subjects including Arithmetic, History, Geography, and more.
  • During his lifetime, Jahangir composed numerous poems and crafted mesmerizing art. 
  • Jahangir also received training in civil and military administration.
  • During the Kabul expedition of 1581, he was earlier assigned for the management of troops but soon got promoted to the post of Army Officer in 1585.
  • However, he grew impatient and hungry for power and launched a massive rebellion against his own father in 1599. But his attempts to conquer the throne were unsuccessful.

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Jahangir was also a great patron of the arts. His court was a vibrant hub of creativity, with artists, poets, and scholars from various corners of the world converging under his benevolence. His court painters, most notably Mansur and Bichitr, created magnificent works of art that still mesmerize art enthusiasts today. Mansur’s botanical illustrations and Bichitr’s portrait of Jahangir as a victorious ruler with the world at his feet are iconic examples of their talents.

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Love for nature

Jahangir’s love for nature was so profound that he famously wrote in his memoir, the Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri, “The world is a picture, and each day it produces a new scene.”

  • He was an avid observer of the natural world, and his court was a sanctuary for artists and naturalists alike.
  • His patronage of art led to the creation of some of the most stunning naturalist paintings, often accompanied by intricate Persian calligraphy.
  • These paintings captured the flora and fauna of the Mughal Empire with astonishing precision.
  • He was a skilled artist himself, and he encouraged the development of Mughal miniature painting.
  • He also built many beautiful buildings, including the Shalimar Gardens in Kashmir.

Influence of Jahangir

Jahangir’s reign left an enduring influence in the world of art and culture. His passion for collecting rare gems, manuscripts, and paintings enriched the Mughal treasury, which, in turn, inspired generations of artists and collectors. 

The Mughal School of Painting, characterized by its meticulous attention to detail and harmonious colour schemes, thrived under his patronage and continued to influence Indian art for centuries.


  • Although Jahangir was strict towards his family members, he was renowned for his fairness and justice. 
  • One of his major works in accordance with these qualities was the famous Golden Chain of Justice, also known as Zanjir-I-adl. 
  • It was a chain attached to multiple bells. So, when a citizen enters the palace, they can simply pull the chain which will ring the bells and summon the presence of the emperor. This was simply installed for citizens seeking justice from the ruling empire. 


Interestingly, Jahangir issued the famous Dastur-ul-Almal or the twelve rules of conduct for the welfare of his people. 

  • He abolished numerous taxes imposed by the Subedars on common people. This includes the Tagma and Meerwahi taxes.
  • He banned animal slaughter for two days a week including Thursday (his coronation day) and Sunday which was the day of his father.
  • Jahangir started the construction of mosques and sarais all over the region. 
  • He ordered that the property of the dead would be passed on to the legal heirs. In case the property remains unclaimed, it would go to the state. Most importantly, the income from such properties would be used for public welfare. 
  • Jahangir imposed a ban on the manufacture and sale of intoxicants. 
  • He disallowed the common practice of mutilating the limbs of the criminals.
  • He disallowed landlords from forcibly occupying the land of poor farmers.
  • Akbar reinstated the Mansabdari system and mansabdars appointed during Akbar’s reign. 
  • Convicts serving longer periods were released from the jail.
  • Jagirs granted to religious institutions were allowed to remain in their hands.  
  • Jahangir established numerous hospitals and appointed experienced hakims for effective treatment.

Also Read – Life & Accomplishments of Aurangzeb: The Least Favorite Mughal

However, Jahangir’s reign was also marked by violence and cruelty. He executed several of his own relatives, including his son Khusrau Mirza. He also waged several wars, including a long and costly conflict with the Portuguese in the Deccan.

Jahangir died in 1627 and was succeeded by his son Shah Jahan. He was a complex and contradictory figure, but he left a lasting legacy on Mughal India. His reign was marked by both great achievements and great tragedies. He was a man of many contradictions, and his legacy is still debated today.

Quiz Time


#1. Which of the rulers was the successor of Akbar?

#2. Who was a patron of paintings in the Mughal Dynasty?

#3. Which Monument was built in the reign of Jahangir?

Muhammad GhoriMahmud Ghazni
Megasthenes Ibn Battuta
Prithviraj ChauhanShah Jahan
Maharana PratapWho Is The Father Of Akbar?
AshokaHow Akbar Died?

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