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Ruby Lal resurrects an empress in ‘Nur Jahan’

Ruby Lal resurrects an empress in ‘Nur Jahan’
March 21
07:21 2018

Nur Jahan The Book

Four centuries ago, a Muslim woman ruled an empire. Her legend still lives, but her story was lost—until now when Ruby Lal, professor of South Asian history, revives the captivating story of a forgotten Persian ruler in Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan
In 1611, thirty-four-year-old Nur Jahan, daughter of a Persian noble and widow of a subversive official, became the twentieth and favorite wife of Emperor Jahangir, who ruled the vast Mughal Empire. An astute politician as well as a devoted partner, she issued imperial orders and even coins of the realm bore her name. When Jahangir was imprisoned by a rebellious nobleman, the Empress led troops into battle and ultimately rescued him.
The only woman to acquire the stature of empress in her male-dominated world, Nur was also a talented dress designer and innovative architect whose work inspired her stepson’s Taj Mahal. Nur’s confident assertion of talent and power is revelatory; it far exceeded the authority of her female contemporaries in Renaissance Europe, including Elizabeth I. Here, she finally receives her due in a deeply researched and evocative biography that awakens us to a fascinating history.
Ruby Lal is professor of South Asian history at Emory University. She is the author of Coming of Age in Nineteenth Century India: The Girl-Child and the Art of Playfulness and Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World.

Surendra Ullal adds:

When it came to hunting, she was a master shot. As a dress designer, few could compare. An ingenious architect, she innovated the use of marble in her parents’ mausoleum on the banks of the Yamuna River that inspired her stepson’s Taj Mahal. And she was both celebrated and reviled for her political acumen and diplomatic skill, which rivaled those of her female counterparts in Europe and beyond.
While other wives were secluded behind walls, Nur ruled the vast Mughal Empire alongside her husband, and governed in his stead as his health failed and his attentions wandered from matters of state.
Acclaimed historian Ruby Lal uncovers the rich life and world of Nur Jahan, rescuing this dazzling figure from patriarchal and Orientalist clichés of romance and intrigue, and giving new insight into the lives of women and girls in the Mughal Empire, even where scholars claim there are no sources. Nur’s confident assertion of authority and talent is revelatory. In Empress, she finally receives her due in a deeply researched and evocative biography that awakens us to a fascinating history.
Deepa Mehta, filmmaker and screen writer in her review observed“ What an extraordinary and detailed account of a remarkable woman―amazing! A very impressive, thorough, poetic, humane work.” And the author of The World Made by Women Amanda Foreman says, “This is an outstanding book, not only incredibly important but also a fabulous piece of writing. Here, India’s greatest empress is reborn in all her fascinating glory in a luminescent account of her life and times. Ruby Lal has written a classic―one of the best biographies to come out this year and certainly the best ever of Nur Jahan.”(Hardcover: 320 pages. Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; .Language: English $27.95. )

Tina Watson

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50 SPIRITUAL APPETIZERS – VINOD DHAWAN

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It’s a lovely book. It feels energetically clear and light. It’s easy to read, dip in and out and most importantly it offers information without fluff! Blessings on this project.

Jac O’Keeffe
Spirituality teacher based in USA.

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