Love in India: Salim-Anarkali
This is part II of the series I had begun with Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Another beautiful love story.
I confess I havent seen the movie, Mughal-e-Azam. I don’t quite know what the story of that movie is either, but what I do remember is that famous song, ‘Pyar kiya to darna kya?’ (that translates to ‘When in love, why fear?’). The movie, however, is about the great Mughal empire rule that occurred in India, the emperor Akbar’s son Salim, and his love Anarkali.
There’s several versions of this story, and many even believe this is merely a legend and not factual. However, the fact that it exists and has been passed on and survived many hundreds of years makes it worthwhile to remember. Here is how I’ve heard the story told:
The son of the great Mughal emperor Akbar, Salim, fell in love with an ordinary but beautiful courtesan Anarkali. The name, by the way, was not the one she was born with; she was christened Anarkali later and it literally means ‘pomegranate bud’. Anyway, he was so mesmerized by her beauty and fell in love with her. The emperor, however, could not stand the fact that his own son was in love with an ordinary courtesan. It is said that Akbar tried many different ways to dissuade Anarkali from encouraging Salim. When Salim heard of this, he was so outraged that he declared war against his own father. Akbar’s mighty army was, of course, no match for his and he was sentenced to death.
Heart-broken, Anarkali renounced her love, and Akbar instead had her entombed into a wall, still alive. (How cruel they used to be back then!) Salim was made to watch this happen. Some variations of the story end here. Others insist that Anarkali did not die, and found a secret passageway through which, unknown to Salim, she escaped from the tomb, from the city, never to return.
So much has changed in this world since then. I belive the Mughal Empire existed around the 1600s. It is 2007 now. And love, sadly, still does not have a welcoming place in the society of India.