Noble Father, Treacherous Son: An Ever-Timely Admonition

Shah Jahan

Born 5 January 1592 – Shah Jahan, Mughal emperor of India (1628-58).

Nearly everyone knows that Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a memorial to his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, but fewer people are aware of the tragic fate that befell this great ruler, and I will tell the story of his final years as a cautionary tale for all fathers cursed with sons.

Shah Jahan intended to build a second Taj Mahal, directly across the Yamuna River from his wife’s, but he never had the chance to do so. His third son usurped his throne and imprisoned him in the Agra Fort for the last eight years of his life. He could see the Taj Mahal from his cell, but he was never allowed to visit it, though after Shah Jahan died his third son allowed his father to be buried beside his wife.

The view of the Taj Mahal from Shah Jahan’s cell.

I have visited the Agra Fort three times, and on each occasion that I stood in Shah Jahan’s cell, I felt a chill of impending doom run down my spine. Every son-burdened father reading these words should be experiencing a similar sense of foreboding.

My potentially treacherous third son.

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