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Jahāngīr's Vow of Non-Violence

Ellison B. Findly
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Vol. 107, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1987), pp. 245-256
DOI: 10.2307/602833
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/602833
Page Count: 12
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Jahāngīr's Vow of Non-Violence
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Abstract

Histories of Jahāngīr (r. 1605-1627) ordinarily characterize the Mughal emperor as a man of great excess, focusing on his passion for the hunt, his clear addiction to wine and opium, and his random swings between extreme cruelty and extreme compassion. Rarely, if ever, is note made of his vow of non-violence taken in 1618 and rescinded in 1622, by which he forswore the killing of animals. Examination of his memoirs shows that Jahāngīr, in taking the vow at about age fifty, was acting out long held feelings of remorse for the murder of his father Akbar's friend and biographer Abūʿl Faẓl. Highly sensitive to the vagaries of the father-son relationship, Jahāngīr then rescinded the vow in 1622 when his own son Shāh Jahān openly turned on him in rebellion. Finally, this pattern of vow-taking coincides with Jahāngīr's previously unexplained, and rather odd, policies toward the Jains, the one group openly avowing non-violence at the Mughal court.

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