Post Publishing Note: What follows is about the Taj Majal, but it's not really about the Taj Mahal. It's about Shah Jahan, but it's not really about Shah Jahan. It's really about how we assess people and why we need to reassess how we assess them. More on this - my current obsession - in the next post.
I write this on the 389th anniversary of Mumtaz Mahal's death. According to The Writer's Almanac, Mumtaz was the "favorite" of her husband, Shah Jahan's three wives.
If you look up Shah Jahan, his Wikipedia page says "he is widely considered one of the greatest Mughal emperors." I say he was an asshole.
Mumtaz died while giving birth to her 14th child! Then, supposedly in grief, the "great" emperor spent the next 22 years and who knows how much cash and slave labor (reportedly 20,000 workers) on her mausoleum.
In order to inherit the throne, Jahan fought his own brothers and had his rivals killed. Yet because he "commissioned" (had other people build) the Taj Mahal and a bunch of other monuments, he goes down as "great."
Was he? Does he deserve a reverential painting like this? He sounds like a conniving, murderous, sex-obsessed douchebag to me. We need new data on how we judge people, especially men.
He put his wife through hell while she was alive - 14 kids in 21 years while having to share him with two other women - then he "honors" her after she's gone. How about honoring her while she was alive?
But that's how it was back then, right?
True. But "then" sucked. He sucked. And as far as I'm concerned, the Taj Mahal sucks. Sell it and use the money to feed people. Do it soon though. The pollution from the factories and automobile traffic in Agra is tarnishing its luster. Not that it ever deserved any anway.