25,000 Emperor Shah Jahan Coins Donated to Mumbai University
A 1.1 kg gold coin minted by Emperor Shah Jahan, is now the property of the University of Mumbai. It’s as large as a quarter plates. Made of solid gold this is solo masterpiece.
This coin and 25,000 other heritage coins, currency notes, seals and medals from countries all over the world constitute Mumbai stock broker Dinesh Mody’s priceless private collection was recently donated to the University for Use in its new master’s degree in numismatics and archaeology.
The Shah Jahan coin dates back to the era between 1628 and 1658, when he ran the empire after Jahangir. In the 1980s, it was auctioned in London, when Mody bought it for a small fortune. But between the 17th and 20th centuries, the coin travelled widely, and thereby hangs a fascinating tale.
The story goes that the massive coin was issued to placate the Khalifa, the head of the Muslim sect. Islamic kings were forbidden from issuing coins with Kalima (aayat from the Koran) or images of humans or other living beings. However, Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan frequently issued coins engraved with birds, animals and their own visages. When the Khalifa, who migrated from Baghdad to Morocco, learnt of this practice, he sent out a stern warning to Shah Jahan that if he continued in this vainglorious manner, he would be excommunicated.
Dilip Rajgor, a scholar and the author of several books on numismatics, says that the missive had its desired effect on the emperor. ‘‘He did not eat for a day and then one of his advisors came up with a solution, which was to mint a large coin from pure gold and call it Shahenshah,’’ said Rajgor. The coin was sent to the Khalifa with a message that read‘‘the Shahenshah (Emperor) is asking for forgiveness’’. On it was inscribed in Persian, ‘‘There is only one God, and he is Allah, and Mohammed is his Prophet.’’
Whether it was tombs or coins, Shah Jahan evidently liked to do things with a splash. The Khalifa’s daughter, who married an Afghan prince, took this coin with her. The couple’s daughter married the prince of Bahawalpur and the coin was sent with her as dowry.