Mehrunissa, The Mughal Empress


This is one of the winning entries in the Essay Writing Contest 2017 where we were asked to write about a person we admire. This essay is written by Nonny of Class IX (2017) about the ambitious and determined Mughal Empress, Mehrunissa (Nur Jahan).

new-doc-2017-02-22_1In the 17th century, the world respected birth more than talent. Those who had not been born into distinguished families enjoyed power and wealth, whereas those had not fared no better than their ancestors.

However, there was one woman who, throughout her life, fought against the odds to reach a position in which she almost ruled over an entire empire. For this reason more than any other, I admire Mehrunissa, a tigress who married into the Mughal family. Being a woman, she was expected to do nothing more than produce heir to the throne. But, using little more than her ambition and determination, she concentrated all the power in her hands, and performed all the responsibilities of government more competently than the pleasure loving emperor had ever done. Heedless of the frowns of the rest of the nobility, she defied the rules of purdah that all women were expected to adhere to, and sometimes even rode out into battle. In the treacherous world of the Mughals, she was always able to distinguish between friend and foes, and effectively eliminate all threats to the empire. Mehrunissa not only maintained the stability of the empire, she also constantly had to eliminate threats to her own power. Since she was not the one sitting on the throne herself, she always had to ensure that she was in the emperor’s favour, while also making sure that nobody else was close enough to him so as to able to reduce her own influence over him.

Mehrunissa was a woman with a lot of grit, determination, and cunning, which is why I really admire her.