Boiram Khan Retires

The Emperor Humayun died in 1556 when Akbar was only thirteen years old. Although Akbar was proclaimed ‘Padishah’ or Emperor, he was too young to hold the reins of power by himself, and so for some time a very wise man named Boiram Khan ruled the kingdom in Akbar’s name. Boiram Khan had been one of Humayun’s faithful companions.

When Akbar finally took charge of his empire, Boiram Khan remained as one of the commanders of Akbar’s army. Unfortunately, Boiram Khan became jealous of Akbar, haughty and undivine. He began doing many wrong things.

Akbar was very grateful to Boiram Khan because he had helped him so much during his youth. But complaint after complaint kept coming against this commander because he was killing people for no reason and instigating certain groups to rebel against the Emperor. Finally, Akbar said, “The best thing is for Boiram Khan to retire and go on a pilgrimage to Mecca.”

In 1561 Boiram Khan unwillingly set out for Mecca. Even on the way, he was fighting and killing people. People attacked him because he had been very unkind, so Boiram Khan and his followers fought against the attackers. At one point, one of Akbar’s great admirers, a brave lieutenant, came and attacked Boiram Khan. The commander and his group counter-attacked and killed the lieutenant. Suddenly, Boiram Khan’s eyes became filled with tears.

His soldiers said to him, “You were such a great general. Once upon a time, you were Akbar’s tutor. Then you became his only adviser. You fortified and protected his empire. We have never seen you in tears before. Why are you crying today?”

Boiram Khan replied, “My friends, what have I done with my strength? I curse my life more than anybody else on earth. Because of my strength and power, I have caused the death of hundreds of beautiful and powerful human beings and lost the affection of the Emperor. If I did not have such strength, such capacity, then I would not have been able to kill so many people and the Emperor would not have had to send me away. Those whom I have killed had so many good qualities. They were very brave and faithful to Akbar; that is why they fought. Only because I happened to be stronger was I able to kill them. This strength of mine – is it a blessing or a curse?”

Sad to say, Boiram Khan was assassinated before he reached Mecca.


from The Moghul Emperors
by Sri Chinmoy