Padshah Begum

Padshah Begum was a superlative imperial title conferred upon the empress consort or 'First Lady' of the Mughal Empire and was considered to be the most important title in the Mughal harem or zenana.[1] This title can be equivalent with "empress" in English, but in only approximate terms in the Mughal context.

Padshah Begum of
the Mughal Empire
Shahnamah of Firdausi, late 18th century, Mughal, India.jpg
Badshah Begum, the chief consort of Emperor Muhammad Shah, who held the title of Padshah Begum
StyleHer Imperial Majesty
ResidenceAgra Fort
AppointerMughal Emperors
Formation20 April 1526
First holderMaham Begum
Final holderZeenat Mahal
Abolished14 September 1857


Padeshah, Padshah, Padishah, or Badishah is a superlative royal title, composed of the Persian pād (master) and shāh (king), which was adopted by several monarchs claiming the highest rank, equivalent to that of an ancient Persian notion of "The Great" or "Great King", and later adopted by post-Achaemenid and Christian Emperors. Its Arabized pronunciation as Badshah was used by Mughal emperors, and Bashah or Pasha was used by Ottoman Sultans.

Begum, begam, baigum or beygum is a female royal and aristocratic title from Central and South Asia. It is the feminine equivalent of the title baig or bey, which in Turkic languages means chief or commander. It usually refers to the wife or daughter of a beg.

List of Padshah BegumEdit

Padshah Begum Tenure Notes
From Until
Maham Begum 1526 1530
Bega Begum 1530 1540
1555 1556
Hamida Banu Begum 1556 1604
Saliha Banu Begum 1608 1620
Nur Jahan 1620 1627
Mumtaz Mahal 1628 1631
Jahanara Begum 1631 1658
1669 1681
Roshanara Begum 1658 1669
Zinat-un-Nissa Begum 1681 1721
Badshah Begum 1721 1789
Zeenat Mahal 1840 1857

Historical usageEdit

The title of 'Padshah Begum' could only be bestowed upon the chief or principal wife, a sister, mother, or a favored daughter of the Mughal emperor[2] and could not be held by more than one lady simultaneously.[3] This was evidenced by the fact that Emperor Jahangir's wife, Nur Jahan, could only be given the title after his chief wife, Saliha Banu Begum (the Padshah Begum for most of his reign), had died in 1620.[1]

Where the consorts of the Mughal emperors were concerned, the title could only be bestowed upon the chief wife of the emperor. The title was first bestowed upon Maham Begum, who was the chief wife of Emperor Babur. It was held by Bega Begum during the reign of Humayun. Then this title was bestowed upon Hamida Banu Begum by Akbar who bore it until her death in 1604.[4] Emperor Jahangir bestowed this title upon his chief wife, Saliha Banu Begum, and then to her successor (after her death), Nur Jahan. Emperor Shah Jahan bestowed this title upon his chief wife, Mumtaz Mahal but after she died, he bestowed it upon his daughter Jahanara Begum. Emperor Muhammad Shah bestowed this title upon his chief wife Badshah Begum.

The title was also bestowed upon the daughter of the emperor, such as Emperor Shah Jahan's daughter, Princess Jahanara Begum, and Emperor Aurangzeb's daughter, Princess Zinat-un-Nissa, both of whom bore the title throughout their lives.[5]

In some cases, the title was also bestowed upon the sister of the emperor. Aurangzeb bestowed the title on his sisters Roshanara Begum and Jahanara Begum. When a Timurid Shahzadi held the title it meant "Empress amongst princesses".[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Findly, Ellison Banks (1993). Nur Jahan, empress of Mughal India. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 95, 125. ISBN 9780195360608.
  2. ^ Aftab, Tahera (2008). Inscribing South Asian Muslim Women: an Annotated Bibliography & Research Guide ([Online-Ausg.] ed.). Brill. p. 66. ISBN 9789004158498.
  3. ^ The Journal of the Numismatic Society of India, Volumes 20-21. Numismatic Society of India. 1958. p. 223.
  4. ^ Badayuni, Abdul Qadir. Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh. Vol. III. Begum Pädshāh, the mother of his Majesty, busied herself in the ladies' apartments of the palace in interceding for the Shaikh and said to the Emperor. My son, he has an aged and decrepit mother in Ajmer.
  5. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie (2004). The Empire of the Great Mughals: History, Art and Culture. Reaktion Books. p. 152. ISBN 1861891857.
  6. ^ Butenschön, Andrea (1931). The Life of a Mogul Princess: Jahānarā Begum, Daughter of Shāhjahān. Taylor & Francis. p. 221.

Begum Pädshāh, the mother of his Majesty, busied herself in the ladies' apartments of the palace in interceding for the Shaikh, and said to the Emperor. My son, he has an aged and decrepit mother in Ajmer, Author of the Tabuna-i-Akbari.

2A grant in aid of livelihood. 138