the taj mahal is a huge monument built for love. in a world that represents scant respect for the depth and gravity of that emotion; a world that has reduced loved to ‘days’ and ‘cards’ and ‘date nights’… it makes me stop, and think about shah jahan, and his wife mumtaz…
i wonder about their undying love… what kind was it? was it intense and passionate? was it true love… but then, what is true love? isn’t love how we choose to define it..?
they were engaged for 5 years before they got married. in that intermittent time, shahjahan got married to a hindu princess… hmmm.. once married they were inseparable, some articles say. what did that mean in those times? and would i want that kind of a love, would it be relevant to me and in my times? or does love change, in meaning and expression?
it makes me think about what kind of people they were… what kind of a man was he? did he respect his wife? or just lust for her? lust is a good thing, makes you feel wanted… but lust without respect, that in my eyes is demeaning. did he respect her and respect her body? was she a trophy wife?
when domestic rape is being spoken about with a loud voice, with women trying to feel more empowered to take decisions with respect to their bodies… how was mumtaz? was she forced to have sex as and when shahjahan wanted? one could say but those were the times when women didn’t know better…
what did she think? about her life, about him?
did she pine for him when he was in the harem? did she feel jealous? she is said to have asked him not to have children with his other wives… did that mean abstinence from sex with them? he is said to have listened but a contrary report says he had one child with each of his other wives ‘to fulfill his duty as a husband’.
shahjahan and mumtaz has fourteen children.
they say shahjahan was unconsolable on her death. mumtaz was his right hand in life and even at court. and he was unable to get over the pain of her loss for days.
the taj mahal has long stood for ‘perfect’ love. love for a wife, love for a partner. almost bordering on worship?
as i stood before it two winters ago. i failed to understand this expression as just ‘love’… was it pure love, or was it an ego? he was a man known for his monuments in delhi and agra, so he expressed love through another beautiful monument, that’s fine right, i told myself…
still, i was left with a nagging question… is the taj mahal more about shahjahan than about mumtaz?
what do you think about this monument and expression of love?
p.s. i utterly love the taj mahal, and am always awed by its simplicity and splendour… it is a wonderful monument and in no way do i want to take away from that…