While visiting India two years ago, I was elated to tick another amazing destination off my bucket list. On a work-related trip for five-long weeks to this oriental land, we were taken to many Indian sites outside of the formal training. It was as if the organisers had known that everyone was anticipating the visit to the Taj Mahal. That tour was scheduled for the very last weekend in India and we almost never got to see this beauty because of some internal kerfuffle.
Many of the sites visited were mausoleums/tombs, but while there, it was very hard to believe that these heritage sites were anyone’s final resting place. Most, if not all of them, had scores of tourists and boasted manicured lawns and gushing fountains. The homes of the very rich of these times are not as architecturally beautiful, creative or even reminiscent of these structures. It never for a minute gave you the vibes of a place of the dead. It came alive as we learned of the monarchy laid to rest there.
The Taj Mahal love story
The Taj Mahal came alive to me because of the love story attached to it. The Mughal Emperor, Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram, reign named Shah Jahan, a Persian King of War, fell in love with his second wife Arjumand Banu, reign named, Mumtaz Mahal. Of the Islam religion, Mumtaz was betrothed to Shah, and blessedly for them, it was love at first sight.
It was mentioned how much he loved his wife. So much so that she was his favourite, and would help him govern with sound advice and grant pardons to wrongdoers. He valued her opinions and they were super close. Mumtaz bore him fourteen children, but it was immediately after giving birth to his final child that she tragically died.
Shah did not handle this well, and it was rumoured that he formally mourned her death for some two years. It was because of his great pain from loving her that he decided to build a mausoleum so great that it would stand as a tribute to Mumtaz Mahal. In fact, Taj Mahal was to be ‘Heaven on earth’ and so the specifications of the grounds reflected what Muslims believed to be heaven.
It was sad to me that Mumtaz never saw this major tribute of love, and that Shah spent his latter days in Agra Forte prison looking at the Taj from his window, having been imprisoned by one of their sons. Though he was buried beside his late wife in the Taj, it later fell in disrepair and was victim to vandalism until a British Governor ordered that it be restored. We almost wouldn’t know of its full allure today had it not been for that.
Intrigued by this story the tour guide had so vividly told us, I thought on the lives of these ancient people. It certainly demonstrated how deep one man’s love was for a woman that it drove him to create one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Though he lived long after her death, I still believe he died with a broken heart. I thought to myself, this must be the most colossal gesture of LOVE on earth!
As if I had lost my Christian mind, a still small voice instantly reminded me that Jesus Christ held the record for that. Not only did He come from his Kingdom to earth for us, but He sacrificed His body for us, His bride, and raised again to give us a hope for always. We will be with Him one day, we will not just lay by Him in a tomb but live and rejoice with Him!
What a promise of TRUTH!
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans chapter 5, verse 8, NKJV)
That pretty much topped off my day at the Taj Mahal. I have never looked at that monument the same. So, it is a man’s tribute, but God’s tribute is a promise for eternity and one that could never fall in disrepair. Though I was wishing for a love like that, the Spirit reminded me that we all have had a greater sacrifice of love made for us in the form of Jesus and the reminder was the cross. Christ too was laid in a tomb, but He is not still there!
“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” (Matthew chapter 28, verse 6).
God’s everlasting love
The Taj Mahal is this colossal tribute from one man to a woman based on his love for her, but never forget that Jesus’ cross is the everlasting tribute of God’s love for the whole world. We are a loved people, even if we didn’t know this before today.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John chapter 3, verse 16, NKJV).
And the beauty of this reality is that we have everlasting life! God’s love remains greater than the Taj Mahal.
Kimberley Morgan Salmon is a praise and worship leader who remains passionate about touching hearts through singing and writing as she thrives to become a published author of Christian women’s fiction. She loves the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is grateful for God’s saving grace which continues to transform her life. As a Press Service International Columnist, she is elated that she can now share her journey with God with the world.