Bahadur Shah II

Bahadur Shah II

Infobox Monarch
name = Abu Zafar Sirajuddin Muhammad Bahadur Shah Zafar
Nastaliq|ابو ظفر سِراجُ الْدین محمد بُہادر شاہ ظفر
title = Emperor of the Mughal Empire
othertitles = _ur. Nastaliq|بہادر شاہ دوم; Mughal Emperor
dynasty = Mughal Empire

date of birth = birth date|df=yes|1775|10|24
place of birth = Delhi, Mughal Empire
date of death = death date and age|df=yes|1862|11|7|1775|10|24
place of death = Rangoon, Burma, British Raj
date of burial = November 7, 1862
place of burial = Rangoon, Burma, British Raj
father = Akbar Shah II
mother = Lalbai
reign =28 September 1838 – 14 September 1857
predecessor =Akbar Shah II
occupation = Mughal emperor; Urdu Poet
spouse 1 = Ashraf Mahal
spouse 2 = Akhtar Mahal
spouse 3 = Zeenat Mahal
spouse 4 = Taj Mahal
successor = Mughal Empire abolished
Descendants: 22 sons and at least 32 daughters

Abu Zafar Sirajuddin Muhammad Bahadur Shah Zafar _ur. Nastaliq|ابو ظفر سِراجُ الْدین محمد بُہادر شاہ ظفر, also known as Bahadur Shah or Bahadur Shah II _ur. Nastaliq|بہادر شاہ دوم; 24 October 1775ndash 7 November 1862) was the last of the Mughal emperors in India, as well as the last ruler of the Timurid Dynasty . He was the son of Akbar Shah II by his Hindu wife Lalbai. He became the Mughal Emperor upon his father's death on 28 September 1838. "Zafar" _ur. Nastaliq|ظفر was his "nom de plume" ("takhallus") as an Urdu poet.

As emperor

Bahadur Shah presided over a Mughal empire that barely extended beyond Delhi's Red Fort. The British Raj was the dominant political and military power in 19th-century India. Hundreds of minor principalities fragmented the land. The emperor was paid some respect and allowed a pension and authority to collect some taxes, and maintain a token force in Delhi, but he posed no threat to any power in India. Bahadur Shah II himself did not interest himself in statecraft or possess any imperial ambitions.

Bahadur Shah Zafar was a noted Urdu poet. He wrote a large number of Urdu ghazals. While some part of his opus was lost or destroyed during the unrest of 1857-1858, a large collection did survive, and was later compiled into the "Kulliyyat-i Zafar." The court that he maintained, although somewhat decadent and arguably pretentious for someone who was effectively a pensioner of the British East India Company, was home to several Urdu writers of high standing, including Ghalib, Dagh, Mumin, and Zauq (Dhawq).

Events of 1857

As the Indian rebellion of 1857 spread, Indian regiments seized Delhi. Seeking a figure that could unite all Indians, Hindu and Muslim alike, most rebelling Indian kings and the Indian regiments accepted Zafar as the Emperor of India. [] , under whom the smaller Indian kingdoms would unite until the British were defeated. Zafar was the least threatening and least ambitious of monarchs, and the legacy of the Mughal Empire was more acceptable a uniting force to most allied kings than the domination of any other Indian kingdom.

When the victory of the British became certain, Zafar took refuge at Humayun's Tomb, in an area that was then at the outskirts of Delhi, and hid there. British forces led by Major Hodson surrounded the tomb and compelled his surrender.

Numerous male members of his family were killed by the British, who imprisoned or exiled the surviving members of the Mughal dynasty. Zafar himself was exiled to Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar) in 1858 along with his wife Zeenat Mahal and some of the remaining members of the family. His departure as Emperor marked the end of more than three centuries of Mughal rule in India.

Bahadur Shah died in exile on 7 November 1862. He was buried near the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, at the site that later became known as Bahadur Shah Zafar Dargah. [ [ The Dargah of Bahadur Shah Zafar in Rangoon.] ] His wife Zeenat Mahal died in 1886. [ [ Nawab Zeenat Mahal] ]


Modern Pakistan views him as the last vestige of the Muslim state within India before its fall to the British, only to be resurrected with the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Modern India views him as one of its first nationalists, someone who actively opposed British rule in India. In 1959, the All India Bahadur Shah Zafar Academy was founded expressly to spread awareness about his contribution to the first national freedom movement of India. Several movies in Hindi/Urdu have depicted his role during the rebellion of 1857. There are roads bearing his name in New Delhi, Lahore, Varanasi and other cities. A statue of Bahadur Shah Zafar has been erected at Vijayanagaram palace in Varanasi. In Bangladesh, the Victoria Park of old Dhaka has been renamed as Bahadur Shah Zafar Park.


Bahadur Shah Zafar is known to have had four wives and numerous concubines. In order of marriage, his wives were:cite web | first=Abdullah | last=Farooqi | title=Bahadur Shah Zafar Ka Afsanae Gam | publisher=Farooqi Book Depot | url= accessdate=2007-07-22 ]
* Begum Ashraf Mahal
* Begum Akhtar Mahal
* Begum Zeenat Mahal
* Begum Taj Mahal

Zafar had 22 sons, including:
*Mirza Fath-ul-Mulk Bahadur (alias Mirza Fakhru)
*Mirza Mughal
*Mirza Khazr Sultan
*Jawan Bakht
*Mirza Quaish
*Mirza Shah Abbas

He also had at least 32 daughters, including:
*Rabeya Begum
*Begum Fatima Sultan
*Kulsum Zamani Begum
*Raunaq Zamani Begum (possibly a granddaughter)

Most of his sons and grandsons were killed during or in the aftermath of the rebellion of 1857. Of those who survived, the following three lines of descent are known:
*Delhi line -- son: Mirza Fath-ul-Mulk Bahadur (alias Mirza Fakhru); grandson: Mirza Farkhunda Jamal; great-grandchildren: Hamid Shah and Begum Qamar Sultan.
*Howrah line -- son: Jawan Bakht, grandson: Jamshid Bakht, great-grandson: Mirza Muhammad Bedar Bakht (married Sultana Begum, who currently runs a tea stall in Howrah).
*Hyderabad line -- son: Mirza Quaish, grandson: Mirza Abdullah, great-grandson: Mirza Pyare (married Habib Begum), great-great-granddaughter: Begum Laila Ummahani (married Yakub Habeebuddin Tucy).

<---Descendants of Mughal rulers other than Bahadur Shah Zafar also survive to this day. They include the line of Jalaluddin Mirza in Bengal, who served at the court of the Maharaja of Dighapatia, and the Toluqari family.


The following famous poem ( [ Video search] ) was written by Bahadur Shah Zafar as his epitaph; this is an English translation.

In his book, The Last Mughal, William Dalrymple states that according to Lahore scholar Imran Khan, this verse (and the equally popular "Na kisi ki aankh ka noor hoon") may not written by Zafar and do not appear in any of the works published during Zafar's lifetime. While he was denied paper and pen in captivity, he was know to have written on the walls of his room with a burnt stick.

Another verse reads:cquote
Zafar, no matter how smart and witty one may be, he is not a man
Who in good times forgot God, and who in anger did not fear Him.|

ee also

* Mughal Emperor
* Urdu poetry
* List of Indian monarchs
* List of Urdu poets
* Indian rebellion of 1857


External links

* [ Bahadur Shah Zafar at Kavita Kosh]
* [ BBC Report on Bahadur Shah's possible descendants in Hyderabad]
* [ An article on Bahadur Shah's descendants in Delhi and Hyderabad]
* [ Another article on Bahadur Shah's descendants in Hyderabad]
* [,curpg-1.cms An article on Bahadur Shah's descendants in Kolkata]
* [!OpenDocument Forgotten Empress: Sultana Beghum sells tea in Kolkata]
* [ Extracts from a book on Bahadur Shah Zafar, with details of exile and family]
* [ Links to further websites on Bahadur Shah Zafar]
* [ Poetry on]
* [ Extract of talk by Zafar's biographer William Dalrymple (British Library)]

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