Now appears the fascinating figure of Nur Jehan, the Light of the World. Empress of Jehangir and, for twenty years, the virtual ruler of India. The influence of this remarkable woman was unbounded. To her great gifts of wisdom and tact were due the stability, prosperity and power of the empire, in no small degree. Her husband had coins struck in her name bearing the inscription: "Gold has assumed a new value since it bore the image of Nur Jehan." The Great Mogul's trust and faith in her were unbounded. To the protest of his relatives that he had delegated his power to her, he replied, "Why not, since she uses it to much better advantage than I could?" When he was ill, he preferred her treatment to that of all his physicians. She was the only one who had power to check his habits, limiting him to three cups of wine a day.
It was during the supremacy of Nur Jehan that the new style of architecture was introduced, a feminine type of architecture in which the virile red sand-stone of Akbar's buildings was supplanted by white marble inlaid with precious and semi-precious stones. Jewelled walls instead of rough stone ones. The delicacy and effeminacy of Persia replaced the vigour and strength of the Central Asian Highlands. Its gift to posterity was the Taj Mahal and the marble palaces of Agra, Delhi, and Lahore. The exquisite building known as the tomb of Itmad-ud-daulah on the other side of the Jamuna, was built by Nur Jehan in memory of her father, the Lord High Treasurer, and later Prime Minister to Jehangir. It was one of the first buildings in the new style of architecture. It is believed that the stones were inlaid by the slaves of Nur Jehan. It is interesting to compare this first imperfect attempt with the perfection attained in the Taj Mahal where 44 stones of different shades of red are used to reproduce the delicate shades of one rose petal. The progress in efficiency is striking.
Nur Jehan's own apartments in the Agra Palace, the Saman Burg, were also decorated under her personal supervision. She was truly a great patroness of the arts, and her charity was boundless.
In a man like Vivekananda, with a genius for seeing only what was great in an individual or a race, such understanding of the Mussulman was nothing strange. To him India was not the land of the Hindu only. it included all. "My brother the Mohammedan" was a phrase he often used. For the culture, religious devotion, and virility of these Mohammedan brothers, he had an understanding, an admiration, a feeling of oneness which few Moslems could excel. One who accompanied him on one of his voyages tells how passionately thrilled Vivekananda was, when their ship touched at Gibraltar, and the Mohammedan lascars threw themselves on the ground, crying: "The Din, the Din!"
For hours at a time his talk would be of the young camel driver of Arabia, who. in the sixth century after Christ attempted to raise his country from the degradation into which it had fallen. He told of the nights spent in prayer, and of the vision that came to him after one of his long fasts in the mountains of the desert. By his passion for God, and the revelation granted to him, he became one of the Illumined Ones, destined to rank for all time with the very elect of God. There have been few of these Great Ones; of each, one may say with truth, "Of his kingdom there shall be no end."
The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji
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