William Dalrymple, one of my (and my mother’s) favorite writers, published a really wonderful review essay on, broadly speaking, the place of women in Mughal India. I particularly enjoyed the passages about strong Mughal mothers, like this one which describes Ruby Lal’s Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World.
There are frequent references to elderly begums speaking their mind to their children: when Prince Hindal rose in rebellion against his brother Humayun, his mother Dildar Begum received him in blue mourning clothes. When he asked why, she replied, “I am wearing mourning for you; you are young [nineteen] and have, from the instigation of irreflecting sedition-mongers, lost the true way; you have girded your loins for your own destruction.” Prince Hindal quickly sued for peace.
Some of you may be familiar with the notion that South Asian men are “mama’s boys.” But you might be too if you had a Mughal mother.