Thursday 16 December 2021

Dona Juliana Portuguese Loyal Slave Girl: Love Affair With Mughal Prince Muazzam (1643 – 1712)

This is an unusual love affair between a Portuguese Slave Girl and a Indian Mughal prince which describes the intensity of her love that the Portuguese slave girl by the name Dona Juliana Dias Da Costa(1658–1733), had over Shah Alam, the son of Aurangzeb.

Dona Juliana

It is said that she not only assisted in safeguarding the Christian in then Mughal-ruled India but was also responsible in spreading the faith in Portuguese India.


Dona Juliana Dias da Costa was considered to be a woman of Portuguese origin from Kochi in the court of Aurangzeb the Mughal Empire in Hindustan. She became Harem-Queen to the Mughal Emperor of India.

Dona Julian

Bahadur Shah I the son of Aurangzeb who became the monarch in 1707.


In the suburban village of Okhla, one of the oldest in Delhi, stands a tall board that reads ‘Sarai Julena Gaon’. This signboard is the last remaining proof of a sarai, or rest house, built for weary travellers built in the 18th century. Today, the area houses DDA (Delhi Development Authority) flats.

Sarai Juliana

The architect of this lost structure was a woman who once held much importance in the Mughal courts, even though she was a Christian and the daughter of a maid in the palace.


At 17 - Youngest Tutor to Muazzam/Shah Alam

Aurangzeb entrusted the education of Prince Muazzam (later Shah Alam), his second son, to Juliana. She was 17 and he was 18 at the time.


Muazzam was “filled with remorse for the merciless imprisonment of his grandfather Shah Jahan”, and the “seeds of a lifelong affair were sown”.


The prince held much contempt against his father, who had him imprisoned at one point for suspected treason. A loyal Juliana stuck by Muazzam’s side to the point where she risked her own life to give him a comfortable life in prison for seven long years, smuggling in gifts and other items of luxury.

Muazzam-Shah Alam  
This loyalty would pay Juliana when the prince took over the throne and became Bahadur Shah I. Juliana remained by his side even in his battle for the throne, where she “prophesied [his] victory…against his brother because of the prayers of all the Christians were with him”, and “encouraged him to make one last stand while riding beside him on an elephant”.
Aurangzeb receiving  his son prince Muazzam in his court
After father's death he became a ruler in  1707 and she used to accompany Bahadur (Shah Alam) to the battle fields, riding the war elephant and never failed to give him moral support. Though closer to a powerful royal Muslim family, she never gave up her Christian faith, daily prayers, etc.
Life Style of that time
It is said that Juliana had acclimatized the young prince to Christianity to such a point that he would kneel before Jesus in prayer, send blessings to the church, and just about everything short of baptism.

Shah Baradur's gratitude towards Dona Juliana knew no limits. In view of Juliana's trust in prayer, he gave her this title: "Juliana Fiddawie", or "Juliana devoted to prayer". Moreover he sent her presents valued about ninety thousand rupees and made over to her four villages yielding a yearly income of fifty-thousand rupees.


He also set apart the palace which once belonged to his unfortunate uncle Prince Dara Shikoh, for her place of residence. Many other titles were conferred upon her, but the one she herself appears to have cherished most was "Fiddawie Badahur Shah Juliana", or "Juliana devoted to Shah Baradur".


Whenever Dona Juliana went out her long retinue included two elephants richly caparisoned and on them were borne aloft two gorgeous vermillion standards with white crosses.


Finally, out of regard for her the Emperor created a new dignity, known as "the Juliana", i. e., the dignity of crowning the Emperor, a position which became hereditary in her family after her death.

After the death of Bahadur Shah in 1712, Farrukh Siyar ascended the throne in 1713 through violent struggle. When he was ill as a result of painful carbuncle, Juliana helped him with her knowledge of natural medicine plus Christian prayers.


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madeinindia said...

very interesting to know. I use to live in Okhala , very long time back...

quite amazing to know the history behind the name

Er. Maqbool Akram said...

Thanks dear friend.Aapne apna qeemti waqt nikal kar is blog ko padha. Wish you a happy Merry Christmas.