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Sharifuddin Mirza’s attempts to kill Akbar and Jahangir

Sharifuddin Husain Mirza was the brother in law of Akbar, married to his elder sister, Bakshi Bano, who was the daughter of Humayun and Gunwar Bibi. Bakshi Bano, who was three years elder to Akbar was brought up by milkmaids as her mother (Gunwar Bibi) died when she was very young.  Both Akbar and Bano were close to each other, as they had spent some time together as hostage under Humayun’s step brother’s (Aksari Mirza) army. Sharifuddin was not Bano’s first husband, as she was married to Ibrahim Mirza before, who was a descendant of Alexander the Great. But Ibrahim passed away in a battle in 1560 and Bano was left as a widow, without any children. After this incident, Akbar felt that his sister Bano needed someone for emotional support, and hence he got her married to Sharifuddin Husain Mirza, who was also the Viceroy of Mewat in the year 1560.

As Sharifuddin was married to Bano, he got very ambitious and wanted to overthrow Akbar, as he had his eyes on the riches of the Mughal Empire. With immense Mughal backing, Sharifuddin set out to capture Mewar in 1560, and after winning he captured the sons and nephews of Raja Barmal and asked him for ransom money to free his sons and nephews. This compelled Raja Barmal to get one of his daughters (Hira Kunwari) married to Akbar so that he could get his sons back without paying the money. This was a common thing especially during the Mughal era, as marriages were seen as business opportunities by everyone, be it Rajputs, Marathas, or the Mughals.

After this, Sharifuddin got even more interested in capturing the Moghul Empire. This is when he started a revolt against Akbar and captured the Mughal territory of Nagaur and Ajmer, and shifted to Nagaur. Angered with his acts, Akbar sent Khan e Jahan Quli Khan to Nagaur, and defeated Sharifuddin. Sharifuddin was spared as he was Bano’s husband, but this scene was not enough for him as he continued plotting against the Mughal Empire. In 1564, Sharifuddin attempted to assassinate with the help of Shah Abul Ma’ali and an Abyssinian slave called Koka Faulad Habshi, who had pledged to kill Akbar. When Akbar was coming back from the Dargah of Mehboob e Illahi, and was taking a pitstop at the Khair-ul Manzil Masjid and Madarsa, an arrow came and hit him, and it was identified to be that of Habshi, and he was immediately executed for his actions. Akbar healed soon, and went back to the Agra Fort. After this, Sharifuddin took his eyes off Akbar and went to Prince Salim, who was soon to become Jahangir. Sharifuddin was appointed as the governor of some Mughal territory, but still had plans to control the empire.

In 1569, Prince Salim was born, and Sharifuddin believed that he could not become the emperor until Salim existed. Prince Salim was sent into the battlefield at a very young age and he used to stay at war camps, especially away from his family. Akbar knew beforehand, that there was a lot of threat and danger to Salim’s life, especially from Mughal Kinsmen only; hence his security was tightened. Raja Todarmal was the finance minister under Akbar at that time and he was also a part of the ‘Navratnas’ of Akbar’s court. Akbar trusted Raja Todarmal immensely, and hence Salim was many times left under his supervision. Raja Todarmal had once donated loads of money to the Tirupathi temple to get it rebuilt, and Salim really like the Ladoos from the Tirupathi temple. This opportunity was grabbed by Sharifuddin, who laced some Ladoos with poison and sent it to Salim at a war camp through a maid, who told Salim’s security that they were sent by Raja Todarmal. All food that went to Salim was checked by his security, but when the security got to know that they were sent by Raja Todarmal who often used to send Ladoos to Salim, they did not check it. Salim ate the Ladoos and got very unwell and unconscious. It was late at night and hence he was all alone inside his tent. It is a very known fact, that Prince Salim was a lover of animals and he used to travel everywhere with his pet animals, which even included lions. He even took some of his animals to war. Some sources even tell us that Salim had approximately 1000 pet lions in the Agra Fort, and some of them were so tamed that they even slept in his room. So, when Salim got unconscious, his animals noticed and they ran out of the tent and started to make noises, which caught the attention of his security, which was quick to save the young prince’s life. A hakim was called, and information was sent to Akbar in Agra who quickly came to the war camp along with his sister Bakshi Bano. Akbar ran an inquiry, on who laced the Ladoos, and soon Raja Todarmal’s name was out. But Akbar who trusted him immensely, understood that it was not him who laced the Ladoos, so he continued the inquiry and soon got to know that Sharifuddin was involved in this crime. Akbar was now confused about what to do with Sharifuddin, as he had not transformed even after several warnings, and Akbar knew that till the time Sharifuddin was alive, Salim’s life would be in danger. So, Akbar asked, Sharifuddin’s wife and his sister, Bano, what to do with him. Bano ordered a death sentence on Sharifuddin, and as traditions tell us he was crushed under the feet of an elephant, and died a cruel death crushing his dreams of becoming the Mughal Emperor.

Cover Photo Artist: Anonymous; Description: The Mughal Emperors Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb visiting two holy men, accompanied by courtiers and Rajput princes. 


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