The Entombed Slave Girl of the Moguls: A Victim of Imperialism

By Mabel Deane Khawaja.

Published by The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 11, 2016 $US5.00

The interdisciplinary scope of humanities unlocks the secret archives of Empire builders in the subcontinent. The monument of love built by Emperor Jahangir is proof of a tragic love story that is omitted from the chronicles of the Mughal Empire. She was a talented dancing girl in the royal court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar where she stole the heart of the Crown Prince Salim. Her real identity is unknown, but the Mughal Emperor had given her the title of a beautiful “blossom of a pomegranate.” While mystery surrounds Akbar’s royal decree to entomb Anarkali, the tall minarets of her elegant mausoleum are a testimony to her tragic death. Just as filial loyalty stopped the Crown Prince in Portugal to exonerate his beloved Ines de Costa during his father’s lifetime, Jahangir waited for Akbar’s death to construct a majestic mausoleum (1605–1615) for his beloved Anarkali. In 1849, when the British took control of Punjab, Anarkali’s tomb became the site of British barracks and the first Anglican Cathedral. After independence, the mausoleum remained closed to the public, yet Anarkali’s story has been passed on. In the twentieth century, a literary masterpiece play in Urdu captures the tragedy of Anarkali’s romance. Movie makers of Pakistan and India also portray her love story on screen, aggrandizing her royal romance, but miniaturizing the tyrannical act that snatched her basic right to life. Media culture continues to exploit her image as a marketing ploy for consumerism and sexism.

Keywords: Consumerism, Sexism, Media Culture, Transnational Parallels, Human Rights

The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies, Volume 14, Issue 2, June 2016, pp.1-9. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 11, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 527.689KB)).

Dr. Mabel Deane Khawaja

Associate Professor, English and Foreign Languages Department, Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia, USA