This site is one of the ost popular places to visit in the world so it comes as no surprise that there have been romanticized stories made up about the Taj Mahal over the years. The culture is known to have a strict hierarchy. For example, India uses a caste system that people are born into. There are very few exceptions to moving up in this system, so one is usually stuck with what they are born in. This is a very power oriented way to run a society. People almost never talk to people who are not in the same caste system which makes for a very divided country in terms of class and wealth.
This just goes to show how important he aspect of power is to people in India, especially to those higher up in the caste system. Many people believe the romanticized story about how Shah Jahan built this famous mausoleum because the death of his favorite wife. It is actually claimed that it was her dying wish on her deathbed to have it built for her and that he actually ended up doing it. People even believe that he remained celibate after her death in order to remain faithful to her.
As it turns out, these are false beliefs about him. In fact, there are sources that suggest he was a self absorbed emperor who was obsessed with power in reality. This is not hard to believe because it is only human nature to be obsessed with power when one has that much of it in the palm of their hand. He also was not as faithful to his favorite wife as he is originally made out to be. He obviously had multiple wives and they were not all just dropped because one of them died. Having more than one wife is also a sign of power.
Men were only allowed to have multiple wives while on the other hand for women it was considered a huge sin to have more than one husband, to the point that they would be burned alive as punishment. It also shows wealth because one man has to ave the money to provide for multiple wives, so this suggests that he is a power oriented person. While the Taj Mahal may be just a symbol of power, the well known Taj Mahal critic, Aldous Huxley in his book, Jesting Pilate, even goes as far as to describe the mausoleum as an “absolutely purposeless” work of art.
It most definitely should not be considered purposeless, as the site serves a purpose in a purely aesthetic sense, but to some people it may lose some of its sentimental value without having that extra little backstory of love. It is not so much an act of love, but more of a reflection of “absolute beauty” and power. Begley, 34). This suggests that it is more for aesthetic purposes and a sign of strength and power as opposed to the popular romantic belief that it was made out of love. It is also pointed out that the architecture reflects the nature that sits around it.
While there are obviously going to be a lot of aesthetic decisions made while building a structure, there is a lot of evidence pointing towards the facts the the Taj Mahal is more a symbol of power. There are not exactly any clear signs pointing to the fact that the design choices that were made had influence from Shah Jahans love for his wife. Usually when a structure is built specifically for someone there is some sort of area or room that is dedicated to them to make it clear that the building was made for them. But, the Taj Mahal does not have anything of the sort for his wife.
This does not mean it is true but it is just a thought. Bibliography Begley, Wayne E. The Myth of the Taj Mahal and a New Theory of its Symbolic Meaning. AcedemicJournal: text. March 1979. Web. 26 January, 2013. More specifically, it talk about how the Taj Mahal was not actually built out of love for his wife that died, but to show his power and reflect beauty. It also ouched on the religious aspects of the design but will not be talking to much about that side of it. At least for now. As I progress with developing my thesis I may eventually include that as well.
Brahmacari, Radhasyam. The Distorted History of the Taj Mahal. Web. January 27, 2013. This article argues that the Taj Mahal was not built out of love. It talks a lot about how people have this distorted perception about why the Taj Mahal was actually built which goes exactly with the direction my essay is going. Cooper. The Taj Mahal. VoI 3, No 1. October 1917. Web. 27 January, 2013.
Since I am arguing that the Taj Mahal was not in fact made out of love, I wanted to use a source that says it was made out of love just to give a sense of both side of the story. It also helps me better understand my topic, and helps me make a decision on which side of the argument to take. Jairazbhoy, R. A. The Taj and its Critics. Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Orient: text. January, 1956. web. January 26, 2013. One of the main things that I want to quote from this as that the Taj Mahal reflects the eauty of nature, contrary to the popular belief that it was made out of love.
The main point of this article though, is critiquing the design of the mausoleum which will help me explain why this structure was more likely built as a sign of power. Kosambi, D. D. The Culture and Civilization of Ancient India in Historical outline. House 803: text. July 31, 1964. web. March 3, 2013. This book talks a lot about the ancient customs and culture of India. This will be of great usage to me when I explain that the culture of India is very power oriented which will help prove my point that the Taj Mahal is a symbol of power.