|Abul Muzaffar Muhy-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir|
|Aurangzeb seated on The Peacock Throne.|
|Reign||31 July 1658 – 3 March 1707
( 48 years, 215 days)
|Coronation||15 June 1659 at Red Fort, Delhi|
|Successor||Bahadur Shah I|
|Spouse||Nawab Raj Bai Begum
Dilras Bano Begam
Hira Bai Zainabadi Mahal
Muhammad Azam Shah
Bahadur Shah I
Muhammad Kam Baksh
|Abul Muzaffar Muhy-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb|
4 November 1618 |
Dahod, Mughal Empire
|Died||3 March 1707
Abul Muzaffar Muhiu 'd-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb (Persian/Urdu: ابلمظفر محىالدين محمداورنگزيب, Hindi: अबुल मुज़फ्फर मुहिउद्दीन मुहम्मद औरंगज़ेब आलमगीर) (4 November [O.S. 25 October] 1618 – 3 March [O.S. 20 February] 1707), is more popularly known as Aurangzeb, or by his chosen imperial title Alamgir ("Conqueror of the World"), he was the sixth Mughal Emperor, whose reign lasted for 49 years, from 1658 until his death in 1707.
Aurangzeb was a notable expansionist and was also among the wealthiest of the previous Mughal rulers with an annual yearly tribute of £38,624,680 (in the year 1690), during his lifetime victories in the south expanded the Mughal Empire to more than 1.25 million square miles, he ruled over more than 150 million subjects, constituting nearly one fourth of the world's population.
Aurangzeb was born the third son and sixth child of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumand Bāno Begam) in Dahod on the way to Ujjain. Aurangzeb was born when Shah Jahan was a governor of Gujarat suba. In June 1626, after an unsuccessful rebellion by his father, Aurangzeb and his brother Dara Shikoh were kept as hostages under Nur Jahan at their grandfather Jahangir's Lahore court. On 26 February 1628, Shah Jahan was officially declared the Mughal Emperor, and Aurangzeb returned to Agra fort to live with his parents. It was here that Aurangzeb received his formal education in Arabic and Persian. His daily allowance were fixed to 500, and while he spent his allowance on religious education and the study of history he accused his brothers of alcoholism and womanizing.
On 28 May 1633 when Aurangzeb was 15 years of age he narrowly escaped death when a powerful War elephant named Sudhakar stampeded through the Mughal Imperial encampment. Young Prince Aurangzeb rode against the War elephant and struck its trunk with a lance and successfully defended himself from being crushed. While his older brothers fled from the arena, Aurnagzeb's valor was well appreciated by his father the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan who gave him the title Bahadur (Hero) and had him weighed in Gold and presented him with gifts worth Rs 2 lakhs. This heroic deed was celebrated in Persian and Urdu verses.
If the (elephant) fight had ended fatally for me it would not have been a matter of shame. Death drops the curtain even on Emperors; it is no dishonor. The shame lay in what my brothers did!
In September 1634, Aurangzeb accompanied Shah Jahan to Kashmir where he was presented with the Pargana of Lukh-bhawan. On 13 December 1634, Aurangzeb was given his first command of 10,000 horse and 4,000 troopers. He was allowed to use the red tent (an imperial prerogative), as Shah Jahan had made plans for him, particularly in the Mughal military.
Sayidullah Ismail Khan (later wazir to Shah Jahan), Mir Muhammad Hashim of Gilan and Muhammad Saleh Kamboh were some of his childhood teachers. Aurangzeb had a keen mind and learnt quickly from his reading. He learned the Quran and the hadith very early on and could readily quoted from them. Aurangzeb mastered Arabic and Persian like a scholar. He also learned Chagatai Turkic during his tenure at Kandahar Province.
Aurangzeb was a prolific writer of letters and commentaries on petitions. He frequently quoted Islamic verses and wrote Arabic with a vigorous naskh hand and would include text from the The Holy Quran. Two richly bound and illuminated manuscripts written by him are located in Mecca and Medina, with another copy preserved in Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah. He used to cover his personal expenses by weaving prayers caps and by writing copies of The Holy Quran.
Aurangzeb was a follower of Sufism and he followed the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi Sufism order. He was a disciple of Khwaja Muhammad Masoom, the third son of Ahmad Sirhindi. Aurangzeb's letters written to Khwaja Masoom demonstrate his attachment to his master. After his coronation, he wrote to Shaykh "Due to the duties of the empire, he is unable to attend shaykh's company, therefore he may send one of his noble son's to the capital for spiritual and Islamic guidance", the shaykh sent his fifth son Khwaja Saif ad-Din Sirhindi. He guided Aurangzeb to observe the law and to implement Islamic rule throughout the empire, and many other Sufi's also revered Aurangzeb, including the Sufi Sultan Bahu (ca 1628 - 1691), who wrote a book about spirituality. The book was written in Persian and titled "Aurang-i-Shāhī", to resemble the name of the emperor. The author has praised the emperor with titles such as "The Just King".
To contain the Bundela rebellion led by the renegade Jhujhar Singh, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan planned a campaign to strike the rebellious territory known as Bundelkhand and its capitol Orchha from 3 sides: Syed Khan-i-Jahan with 10,500 men from Badaun, Abdullah Khan Bahadur Firuz Jang with 6000 men from the north and Khan-i-Dauran with 6000 men from the south-west. The three generals were of equal rank and hence Shah Jahan and Inayat Khan, ensured unity and co-operation amongst them, Aurangzeb, then a 16 year old commander of 10,000, escorted by 1000 archers and 1000 horses, was made the (nominal) commander-in-chief. He was to stay in the rear, away from the fighting and take the advice of his generals as the Mughal Army gathered and commenced the Siege of Orchha in the year 1635.
If the campaign was meant to be Aurangzeb's baptism of fire, we must say the baptism was performed at a great distance from the fire!
— Dow's account of the war
The campaign was known for its spectacular usage of Artillery according to Mughal accounts more than 220 Cannons were combined with the elite Mughal armies of 32,000 men, that ultimately captured the Bundela capital during the combined Siege of Orchha, on 4 October 1635. Aurangzeb then raised the Mughal flag on the highest terrace of the Jahangir Mahal and installed Devi Singh as the new administrator, while Jhujhar Singh had escaped. After a flurry of events, the Gonds killed Jhujhar and his son in their sleep and sent their heads to the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in December 1635. Aurangzeb then went to Dhamuni where Shah Jahan paid him a visit. There, he ordered the demolition of Bir Singh Dev's temple and had a Mosque constructed. Aurangzeb returned from Dhamuni to wait for his father at Orchha and together they traveled through the country.
On the way to Sironj they reached Daulatabad where Aurangzeb on 14 July 1636 took formal leave of the emperor to take up his new post as the Viceroy of the Deccan. At this time, he began building a new city near the former capital of Khirki which he named Aurangabad after himself. After Shah Jahan's vassals had been devastated by the alarming expansion of Ahmadnagar during the reign of the Nizam Shahi boy prince named Murtaza Shah III, the Mughal Emperor dispatched his son the Subedar of the Deccan Aurangzeb, who in the year 1636 brought the Nizam Shahi dynasty to an end. Pleased by Aurangzeb's efforts in the Deccan his father Shah Jahan presented him a magnificent Talwar called Alamgir. In 1637, Aurangzeb married Rabia Durrani. During this period the Deccan was relatively peaceful. In the Mughal court, however, Shah Jahan began to show greater favour to his eldest son Dara Shikoh.
In 1644, Aurangzeb's sister Jahanara was accidentally burned when the chemicals in her perfume got close to a lamp while in Agra. This event precipitated a family crisis with political consequences. Aurangzeb suffered his father's displeasure when he returned to Agra three weeks after the event, instead of immediately. Shah Jahan had been nursing Jahanara back to health in that time and thousands of vassals had arrived in Agra to pay their respects to the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his injured daughter the Mughal princess Jahanara. Shah Jahan was outraged to see Aurangzeb enter the interior palace compound in military attire and immediately dismissed him from his position of Viceroy of the Deccan, Aurnagzeb was also no longer allowed to use Red tents (an imperial prerogative, which Shah Jahan handed over to Dara Shikoh) or associate himself with the official military standard of the Mughal Emperor.
In 1645, he was barred from the court for seven months and mentioned his grief to fellow Mughal commanders. Thereafter, Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan appointed him governor of Gujarat where he served well and was rewarded for bringing stability. In 1647, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan made him governor of Balkh and Badakhshan (in modern Afghanistan and Tajikistan), replacing Aurangzeb's ineffective brother Murad Baksh. These areas were, at the time, under attack from various tribal oriented forces and Aurangzeb's tough military skills proved useful to deter their threats. He was appointed governor of Multan and Sindh where he gained fame during the Mughal-Safavid War, a protracted military struggle against the Safavid army over the city of Kandahar. Aurangzeb himself led many assaults and learned from his mistakes by writing a lengthy memorandum as a guide for the Mughal Army, which Shah Jahan himself praised.
In 1652, Aurangzeb was re-appointed governor of the Deccan. In a bold effort to extend the Mughal Empire, Aurangzeb gathered an army of 40,000 and attacked the Qutb Shahi dynasty at Golconda in the year 1657, and Bijapur in the year 1658. Although Aurangzeb almost came close to achieving total victory both times, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan ordered the Mughals to withdraw, most probably due to the woes of Dara Shikoh who then interceded and arranged for a peaceful end to the war and gained the support and favor of the Qutbshahis of Golconda and the Adil Shahi of Bijapur.
Shah Jahan fell ill in 1657, and because he was the most famous Mughal commander, Aurangzeb's elder sister Roshanara appropriated his seal to ensure that he would not authorize, initiate or involve himself in any possible war of succession. When Shah Jahan's second son Shah Shuja declared himself emperor in Bengal. Imperial armies sent by the heir apparent Dara Shikoh and Shah Jahan were quick to restrain this effort, and Shah Shuja retreated to Bengal.
Soon after, Shah Shuja's youngest brother Murad Baksh, with secret promises of support from Aurangzeb, declared himself emperor in Gujarat. Aurangzeb, ostensibly in support of Murad Baksh, and marched north from Aurangabad, gathering support from his allied nobles and generals. Following a series of victories, Aurangzeb declared that Dara Shikoh had illegally usurped the throne. Shah Jahan, determined that Dara Shikoh would succeed him, handed over control of the empire to him. A Rajput named Raja Jaswant Singh, was defeated by Aurangzeb at Dharmatpur near Ujjain and then concentrated his forces and attention on defeating his elder brother Dara Shikoh. A series of bloody battles followed, with troops loyal to Aurangzeb defeating Dara Shikoh's armies particularly during the Battle of Samugarh. In a few months, Aurangzeb's forces surrounded the Mughal capitol city of Agra. Fearing for his life, Dara Shikoh departed for Delhi, leaving Shah Jahan behind. After Aurangzeb shut down the Sakia that supplied water to the city, the aged emperor surrendered the Agra Fort to the besieging forces, but Aurangzeb refused any meeting with his father and instead met with the recently arrived Ottoman ambassador Manzada Husein Agha, explaining his rise to the throne, the ambassador propitated Aurangzeb to bring an end to the internal conflict among the Mughals.
Later, Aurangzeb declared that his brother and Mughal heir apparent Dara Shikoh was no longer a Muslim, Aurangzeb also accused Dara Shikoh of poisoning the Mughal Grand Vizier Saadullah Khan, during the reign of Shah Jahan, both of these statements however remained contrary to any factual evidence. After being betrayed by his own commander, Dara Shikoh and his son Suleiman Shikoh were captured by Mughal forces and then paraded in silver chains inside the city of Agra causing considerable distress among the locals, later both of them were executed by the orders of the new Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
In a sudden reversal, Aurangzeb arrested his brother and long time ally Murad Baksh, whose supporters defected to Aurangzeb in return for rich gifts. Meanwhile, Dara gathered his forces, and moved to the Punjab. The army sent against Shuja was trapped in the east, its generals Jai Singh and Dilir Khan, submitted to Aurangzeb, but Dara Shikoh's son Suleiman Shikoh, escaped. Aurangzeb offered Shah Shuja the governorship of Bengal. This move had the effect of isolating Dara Shikoh and causing more troops to defect to Aurangzeb. Shah Shuja, who had declared himself Mughal Emperor in Bengal began to annex more territory prompting Aurangzeb to march from Punjab with a new and large army that fought during the Battle of Khajwa, where Shah Shuja and his Chain mail armored War elephants were routed by the forces loyal to Aurangzeb. Shah Shuja then fled to Arakan (in present-day Burma), where he was executed by the local rulers. Murad Baksh was finally executed, ostensibly for the murder of his former divan clerk named Ali Naqi, in 1661.
With Shuja and Murad disposed of, and with his father Shah Jahan immured in Agra, Aurangzeb pursued Dara Shikoh, chasing him across the north-western bounds of the empire. After a series of battles, defeats and retreats, Dara Shikoh was betrayed by one of his generals, who arrested and bound him. In 1659, Aurangzeb arranged his formal coronation in Delhi. He had Dara Shikoh openly marched in chains back to Delhi where he had him executed on arrival on the 30th of August, 1659. Having secured his position, Aurangzeb kept his frail father Shah Jahan at the Agra Fort where Shah Jahan died in 1666 and was denied a state funeral.
Soon after his ascension, Aurangzeb abandoned the liberal religious viewpoints of his predecessors. Though Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan's approach to faith was more syncretic than the empire's founder, Aurangzeb's position is not so obvious though his conservative interpretation of Islam and belief in the Sharia (Islamic law) is well documented. Despite claims of sweeping edicts and policies, contradictory accounts exist. Specifically, his compilation of the Fatawa-e-Alamgiri, a digest of Muslim law, was either intended for personal use, never enforced, or only poorly done. While some assert the lack of broad adoption was due to an inherent flaw, Hanafi law was sought to be codified under Aurangzeb but the work of several hundred jurists, called Fatawa-e-Alamgiri While it is possible the war of succession and a continued incursions combined with Shah Jahan's spending made cultural expenditure impossible, Aurangzeb's orthodoxy is also used to explain his infamous "burial" of music. The scene describing the "death of music"(and all other forms of performance) is paradoxically dramatic.
Immediately after becoming the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb enforced morals, and strictly banned the consumption, usage and practices of: alcoholism, gambling, castration, servitude, eunuchs, music, nautch and narcotics in the Mughal Empire. He learnt that at Sindh, Multan, Thatta and particularly at Varanasi, the Hindu Brahmins attracted large numbers of indigenous local Muslims to their discourses. He ordered the Subahdars of these provinces to demolish the schools and the temples of non-Muslims. Aurangzeb also ordered Subahdars to punish Muslims who dressed like non-Muslims, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds.
Another instance of Aurangzeb's notoriety, was his policy of temple destruction. Figures vary wildly from 80 to 60,000, However, Aurangzeb's Firmans on behalf of the Balaji or Vishnu Temple, Varanasi indicate that this wanton destruction was not universal. Historian Richard Eaton believes the overall understanding of temples to be flawed. As early as the sixth century, temples became vital political landmarks as well as religious ones. He writes that not only was temple desecration widely practiced and accepted, it was a necessary part of political struggle. Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded because he objected to Aurangzeb's forced conversions.
Francois Bernier, traveled and chronicled Mughal India during the war of succession, notes both Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb's distaste for Christians. This led to the demolition of Christian settlements near the British/European Factories and enslavement of Christian converts by Shah Jahan. Furthermore, Aurangzeb stopped all aid to Christian Missionaries (Frankish Padres) initiated by Akbar and Jahangir.
Aurangzeb destroyed several non-Islamic shrines: some Hindu nationalists state the number to be as high as 60,000. Among the Hindu temples he demolished, three were the most sacred for Hindus- Kashi Vishwanath temple, Krishna Janmabhoomi temple and Somnath temple. He built large mosques at their place. In 1679, he ordered destruction of several prominent temples that had become associated with his enemies: these included the temples of Khandela, Udaipur, Chittor and Jodhpur.
From the start of his reign up until his death, Aurangzeb engaged in almost constant warfare. He built up a massive army, and began a program of military expansion along all the boundaries of his empire. Aurangzeb pushed north-west into the Punjab and what is now Afghanistan; he also drove south, conquering three Muslim kingdoms: Nizams of Ahmednagar, Adilshahis of Bijapur and Qutbshahis of Golconda these new territories were administered by the Mughal Nawabs loyal to the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
Soon after seizing the throne Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb began advancements against the unruly Sultan of Bijapur and during the year 1657, the Mughal is known to have utilized Rockets during the Siege of Bidar, against Sidi Marjan. Aurangzeb's forces are known to have discharged rockets and grenades while scaling the walls. Sidi Marjan himself was mortally wounded after a rocket struck his large gunpowder depot and after twenty-seven day's of hard fighting Bidar was captured by the victorious Mughals.
In the year 1663, during his visit to Ladakh the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb established direct control over that par of the empire and loyal subjects such ad Deldan Namgyal agreed to pledge tribute and loyalty, Deldan Namgyal is also known to have constructed a Grand Mosque in Leh, which he dedicated to Mughal rule.
In the year 1664, Shaista Khan the son of Asaf Khan IV, was appointed the Subedar of Bengal he immediately eliminated Portuguese and Arakanese pirates from the region and in 1666 swiftly recaptured the port of Chittagong by leading an army of 70,000 strong from the cruel Arakanese king Sanda Thudhamma and the city remained a key port throughout Mughal rule.
In the year 1685 the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb dispatched his son Muhammad Azam Shah with a force of nearly 50,000 men to capture Bijapur Fort and defeat Sikandar Adil Shah the ruler of Bijapur who refused to be a vassal. The Mughals led by Muhammad Azam Shah could not make any advancements upon Bijapur Fort mainly due to the superior usage of cannon batteries on both sides. Outraged by the stalemate Aurangzeb himself arrived on 4 September 1686 and commanded the Siege of Bijapur after eight days of fighting the Mughals were victorious.
Only one remaining ruler Abul Hasan Qutb Shah the Qutbshahi ruler of Golconda refused to surrender, he and his servicemen fortified themselves at Golconda, and fiercely protected the Kollur Mine (then, the worlds only diamond mine). In the year 1687 the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb led his grand Mughal army against the Deccan Qutbshahi fortress during the Siege of Golconda. Golconda itself was the only diamond producing city in the world at that time. The Qutbshahi's had constructed massive fortifications throughout successive generations on a granite hill over 400 ft high with an enormous 8mile wall enclosing the city. The main gates of Golconda had the ability to repulse any War elephant attack. In fact of the 18 most famous diamonds in the world 13 came from the Golconda Kollur Mine ruled by the then Qutbshahi dynasty the city was also home to the most famous diamond cutters. For the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb the conquest of Qutbshahi ruled Golconda was crucial to the legitimacy of his reign throughout the realm. Although the Qutbshahi's maintained impregnable efforts defending their walls, at night the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and his infantry usually assembled and erected complex scaffolding that allowed them to scale the high walls. During the eight month siege the Mughals faced many hardships including the death of their experienced commander Kilich Khan Bahadur. But finally the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and forces his managed to penetrate the walls by capturing a gate their entry into the fort led Abul Hasan Qutb Shah to surrender peacefully and hand over the precious Nur-Ul-Ain Diamond, Great Stone Diamond, Kara Diamond, Darya-e-Nur, The Hope Diamond, the Wittelsbach Diamond and the The Regent Diamond making the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb the richest monarch in the world.
It is believed that Mughal cannon production reached its zenith during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, in fact one of the most impressive Mughal cannons is known as the Zafarbaksh, which is a very rare composite cannon, that required skills in both wrought iron forge welding and bronze casting technologies and the in depth knowledge of the qualities of both metals. The Ibrahim Rauza was also a famed cannon, which was well known for its multi-barrels.François Bernier (personal physician to Aurangzeb) observed versatile Mughal gun-carriages each drawn by two-horses.
As soon as he became Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb sent some of the finest ornate gifts such as carpets, lamps, tiles and others to the Islamic shrines at Mecca and Medina, immediately after his emergence to the throne he also ordered the construction of very large ships in Surat that would transport these gifts and even pilgrims to the Hijaz. These annual expeditions organized by Aurangzeb were led by Mir Aziz Badakhshi who died in Mecca of natural causes but managed to deliver more than 45,000 gold and silver coins, Jewels and several thousand Kaftans of honor.
Subhan Quli, Balkh's Uzbek ruler was the first to recognize him in 1658 and requested for a general alliance, he worked alongside the new Mughal Emperor since 1647 when Aurangzeb was the Subedar of Balkh. Aurangzeb warmly received the embassy of Shah Abbas II of Persia in 1660 and returned them with gifts.
The Sultan of the Maldives Ibrahim Iskandar I, was alarmed by the expansion of the English East India Company and the Dutch East India Company in the Indian Ocean, he was also alarmed by their staunch interest in Cowries and Caries. And in the year 1660, pirates and their sloops associated with various European trade groups pillaged various islands ruled by Ibrahim Iskandar I, Sultan of the Maldives immediately requested the assistance of the Mughal Faujdar of Balasore and even wrote a letter persuading the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb to prohibit the English East India Company and the Dutch East India Company to sail on profitable routes by the Indian coasts. The Maldives however was not directly subjected to the rule of the Mughal Empire.
In the year 1688 the desperate Ottoman Sultan Suleiman II urgently requested for assistance against the rapidly advancing Austrians, during the Ottoman–Habsburg War however the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and his forces were heavily engaged in the Deccan Wars against the Marathas to commit any formal assistance to their desperate Ottoman allies.
In 1686 English East India Company which had unsuccessfully tried to obtain a firman, an imperial directive that would grant England regular trading privileges throughout the Mughal empire, initiated so-called Child's War with the empire which ended in disaster for the English, particularly when the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb dispatched a strong Mughal fleet from Janjira commanded by the Sidi Yaqub and manned by Mappila loyal to Ali Raja Ali II and Abyssinian sailors firmly blockaded Bombay in 1689. In 1690 the company sent envoys to Aurangzeb's camp to plead for a pardon. The company's envoys had to prostrate themselves before the emperor, pay a large indemnity, and promise better behavior in the future.
In September 1695, English pirate Henry Every perpetrated one of the most profitable pirate raids in history with his capture of a Grand Mughal convoy near Surat. The Indian ships had been returning home from their annual pilgrimage to Mecca when the pirates struck, capturing the Ganj-i-Sawai, reportedly the greatest ship in the Muslim fleet, and its escorts in the process. When news of the piracy reached the mainland, a livid Aurangzeb nearly ordered an armed attack against the English city of Bombay, though he finally agreed to compromise after the East India Company promised to pay financial reparations, estimated at £600,000 by the Mughal authorities. Meanwhile, Aurangzeb shut down four of the East India Company's factories, imprisoned the workers and captains (who were nearly lynched by a rioting mob), and threatened to put an end to all English trading in India until Every was captured. The Privy Council and East India Company offered a massive bounty for Every's apprehension, leading to the first worldwide manhunt in recorded history. However, Every successfully eluded capture.
Once again the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb dispatched Daud Khan the Mughal Empire's local Subedar of the Carnatic in the year 1702, to besiege and blockade Fort St. George for more than three months, the governor of the fort Thomas Pitt was instructed by the British East India Company to vie for peace.
Emperor Aurangzeb's exchequer raised a record £100 million in annual revenue through various sources like taxes, customs and land revenue, et al. from 24 provinces. A pound sterling was exchanged at 10 rupees then.
|No.||Province||Land Revenue (1697)||Notes|
|1||Bijapur[disambiguation needed ]||£5,000,000|
|10||Berar[disambiguation needed ]||£1,580,750|
Aurangzeb felt that verses from the Quran should not be stamped on coins, as done in former times, because they were constantly touched by the hands and feet of people. His coins had the name of the mint city and the year of issue on one face, and, the following couplet on other
King Aurangzeb Alamgir
Stamped coins , in the world , like the bright full moon.
— Mir Abdul Baqi Suhbai
By the year 1700, the Marathas ravaged the Mughal provinces from the Deccan to Bengal and internal dissatisfaction and secessionist agendas from the Rajputs, Sikhs and Jats arose due to the weakness of the Mughal Empires administrative and economic systems.
In the time of Shah Jahan, the Deccan had been controlled by three Muslim kingdoms: Ahmednagar (Nizam Shahi), Bijapur (Adilshahi) and Golconda (Qutbshahi). Following a series of battles, Ahmednagar was effectively divided, with large portions of the kingdom ceded to the Mughals and the balance to Bijapur. One of Ahmednagar's generals, a Hindu Maratha named Shahaji Raje, joined the Bijapur court. Shahaji Raje sent his wife Jijabai and young son Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to Pune to manage his Jagir.
In 1657, while Aurangzeb attacked Golconda and Bijapur, Shivaji, using guerrilla tactics, took control of three Adilshahi forts formerly under his father's command. With these victories, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj assumed de facto leadership of many independent Maratha clans. The Marathas harried the flanks of the warring Adilshahis and Mughals, gaining weapons, forts, and territory. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's small and ill-equipped army survived an all out Adilshahi attack, and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj personally killed the Adilshahi general, Afzal Khan. With this event, the Marathas transformed into a powerful military force, capturing more and more Adilshahi and Mughal territories.
Just before Shivaji's coronation in 1659, Aurangzeb sent his trusted general and maternal uncle Shaista Khan, the Wali in Golconda to recover forts lost to the Maratha rebels. Shaista Khan drove into Maratha territory and took up residence in Pune. But in a daring raid on the governor's palace in Pune during a midnight wedding celebration, the Marathas killed Shaista Khan's son and maimed Shaista Khan by cutting off the fingers of his hand. Shaista Khan, however, survived and was re-appointed the administrator of Bengal going on to become a key commander in the war against the Ahoms. It is believed that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj presented the head of Afzal Khan and the fingers of Shaista Khan to his mother Jijabai, symbolizing his swift victory over the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
However, Aurangzeb ignored the rise of the Marathas for the next few years as he was occupied with other religious and political matters including the rise of Sikhism. Shivaji captured forts belonging to both Mughals and Bijapur. At last The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb ordered the armament of the Daulatabad Fort with two bombards (the Daulatabad Fort was later utilized as a future Mughal bastion during the Deccan Wars). The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb also sent his powerful general Raja Jai Singh of Amber, a Hindu Rajput, to attack the Marathas. Jai Singh won the fort of Purandar after fierce battle in which the Maratha commander Murarbaji fell. Foreseeing defeat, Shivaji agreed for a truce and a meeting with Aurangjeb at Delhi. Jai Singh also promised Shivaji his safety, placing him under the care of his own son, the future Raja Ram Singh I. However, circumstances at the Mughal court were beyond the control of the Raja, and when Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his son Sambhaji went to Agra to meet Aurangzeb, they were placed under house arrest, from which they managed to effect a daring escape.
Shivaji returned to the Deccan, and was given the title Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire in 1674. While Aurangzeb continued to send troops against him, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj expanded Maratha control throughout the Deccan until his death in 1680. Shivaji was succeeded by his son Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj. Militarily and politically, Mughal efforts to control the Deccan continued to fail.
When Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur died in 1679, a conflict ensued over who would be the next Raja. Aurangzeb's choice of a nephew of the former Maharaja was not accepted by other members of Jaswant Singh's family and they rebelled, albeit in vain. Thereat, Aurangzeb seized control of Jodhpur. He also moved on Udaipur, which was the only other state of Rajputana to support the rebellion. There was never a clear resolution to this conflict, although it is noted that the other Rajputs, including the celebrated Kachhwaha Rajput clan of Raja Jai Singh, the Bhattis, and the Rathores, remained loyal. On the other hand, Aurangzeb's third Aurangzeb's son Akbar left the Mughal court along with a few Muslim Mansabdar supporters and joined Muslim rebels in the Deccan. Aurangzeb in response moved his court to Aurangabad and took over command of the Deccan campaign. The rebels were defeated and Akbar fled south to the shelter of Chhatrapati Sambhaji, Shivaji's successor. More battles ensued, and Akbar fled to Persia and never returned.
In 1689, Aurangzeb's forces captured Sambhaji, his successor Chhatrapati Rajaram and his, Maratha forces fought individual battles against the forces of the Mughal Empire, and territory changed hands repeatedly during years of interminable warfare. As there was no central authority among the Marathas, Aurangzeb was forced to contest every inch of territory, at great cost in lives and money. Even as Aurangzeb drove west, deep into Maratha territory – notably conquering Satara— the Marathas expanded their attacks further into Mughal lands - Malwa, Hyderabad and Jinji in Tamil Nadu. Aurangzeb waged continuous war in the Deccan for more than two decades with no resolution. He thus lost about a fifth of his army fighting rebellions led by the Marathas in Deccan India. He came down thousands of miles to the Deccan to conquer the Maratha Empire and eventually died at the age of 90, during his final campaign against the Maratha Empire.
The Mughals suffered heavy losses in the entire war of 27 years. Afterwards, the whole Mughal Empire got split in small kingdoms. Nizam of Hyderabad, Nawab of Oudh and Nawab of Bengal quickly declared their kingdoms as independent from Mughals.
Aurangzeb after ascending on the throne of Delhi ordered Mir Jumla II to invade Cooch Behar and Assam and establish Mughal prestige in eastern India. Mir Jumla II entered Assam in the beginning of 1662. He easily repulsed the feeble resistance offered by the Assamese at the garrisons between Manaha and Guwahati. He occupied one garrison after another, and Pandu, Guwahati, and Kajali fell into the hands of the Mughals practically unopposed.
The easy success of Mir Jumla II was due to dissatisfaction in the Assam camp. The leading commanders and the officers were the exclusive monopolies of the Tai-Ahom. But. King Jayadhwaj Singha (Sutamla, 1648–1663) had appointed a Kayastha as viceroy of lower Assam and commander-in-chief of the Ahom army despatch against Mir Jumla II leading to resentment among the ranks. This officer was Manthir Bharali Barua of Bejdoloi family. He was also appointed Parbatia Phukan. This appointment caused bitter resentment among the hereditary Ahom nobles and commanders and the resistance which they offered to the invaders was neither worthy of the efficient military organisation of the Ahoms nor of the reputation which they acquired by repeated success in their enterprises against foreigners, and Mir Jumla II’s march into Assam was an uninterrupted series of triumph and victories though the real secret of his success, namely, defection in Ahom camp, which has not been touched upon by any historian of the expedition.
The Ahoms, however, recovered their senses when the hostile force reached the neighbourhood of Kaliabor. They concentrated their defence at Simaluguri and Samdhara. In February 1662, Mir Jumla II laid Siege of Simaluguri and after severe hand-to-hand fight, the Ahoms abandoned the fort and took to flight. The Ahom forces at Samdhara on the opposite bank, being unnerved by the fall of Simaluguri, left their charge without any opposition worth the name. After this brilliant success, Mir Jumla II entered the Ahom capital Garhgaon on 17 March 1662. The Ahom king Jayadhwaj took shelter in the eastern hills abandoning his capital and all his treasures. Immense spoils fell into the hands of the Mughal Empire – 82 elephants, about 3 lakhs of coins in gold and silver, 675 big guns, about 4750 maunds of gunpowder in boxes, 7828 shields, 1000 odd ships, and 173 stores of rice.
But, Mir Jumla II conquered only the soil of Ahom capital and neither the king nor the country. The rainy season was fast approaching and so Mir Jumla II halted there and made necessary arrangements for holding the conquered land. Communications with the imperial fleet at Lakhau as well as with Dacca were arranged. But the torrential rain and violence of the rivers caused immense hardship to the Mughals and the communication with the Mughal fleet and Lakhau and with Dacca became completely disrupted.
The Ahoms took the fullest advantage of the unspeakable hardship of the Mughals. With the progress of monsoon, the Ahoms easily recovered all the country east of Lakhau. Only Garhgaon and Mathurapur remained in the possession of Mughals. The Ahoms were not slow to take advantages of the miserable plight of the Mughals. The Ahom king came out of his refuge and ordered his commanders to expel the invaders from his kingdom. A serious epidemic broke out in the Mughal camp at Mathurapur, which took away the lives of hundreds of Mughal soldiers. There was no suitable diet or comfort in the Mughal camp. At last life became unbearable at Mathurapur and hence the Mughals abandoned it.
By the end of September the worst was over. The rains decreased, and flood went down, roads reappeared and communications became easier. The contact with the Mughal fleet at Lakhau was restored which cheered the long suffering Mughal garrison. The Mughal army under Mir Jumla II joined the fleet at Devalgaon. The Ahom king Jayadhwaj Singha took refuge in hill again. But in December, Mir Jumla II fell seriously ill and the soldiers refused to advance any further. Meanwhile the Ahom king became extremely anxious for peace. At last a treaty was concluded at Ghilajharighat in January 1663, according to which the Ahoms ceded western Assam to the Mughals, promised a war indemnity of three lakhs of rupees and ninety elephants. Besides, the king had to deliver his only child and daughter Ramani Gabharu, as well as his niece, the daughter of the Tipam Raja to the harem of the Mughal emperor. Thus, according to the treaty Jayadhwaj Singha transferred Kamrup to the possession of the Mughals and promised to pay a heavy war indemnity.
The question of prompt payment of war indemnity of elephants and cash became a source of friction between the Ahoms and the Mughals. The first instalment was paid by Jayadhwaj promptly. But as soon as Mir Jumla II withdrew from Assam the Ahoms began to default. Jayadhwaj Singha’s successor Chakradhwaj Singha (Supangmung, 1663–1670) was against any payment at all on principle. He shouted out from his throne: - "Death is preferable to a life of subordination to foreigners". In 1665 the king summoned an assembly of his ministers and nobles and ordered them to adopt measures for expelling the Mughals from western Assam, adding—"My ancestors were never subordinate to any other people; and I for myself cannot remain under the vassalage of any foreign power. I am a descendant of the Heavenly king and how can I pay tribute to the wretched foreigners."
A large portion of the war indemnity still remained undelivered for which the Ahom king had to receive threatening letters from Syed Firoz Khan, the new Fauzadar at Guwahati. On receiving Firoz Khan’s letter the Ahom king made up his mind to fight. On Thursday, Bhadra 3, 1589 saka near aboutAugust 20, 1667 the Ahom army started from the capital and sailed down the Brahmaputra in two divisions. They encamped at Kaliabor, the Vice Regal headquarters, from where they conducted their war operations against the Mughals. Syed Firoz Khan, the imperial governor of Guwahati and his army were not prepared for such an eventuality, with the result that the Ahoms gained a series of victories over the enemy. The Ahom army on the south bank was successful in their fighting. Their chief objective was the capture of Itakhuli which is a small hill on the south bank of the Brahmaputra at Guwahati. In 2 November 1667, Itakhuli and the contiguous garrison of Guwahati fell into the hands of the Ahoms. Enemy was chased down to the mouth of the Manaha river, the old boundary between Assam and Mughal India. The Ahom also succeeded in bringing back the Assamese subjects who had previously been taken as captives by the Mughals during the expedition of Mir Jumla II. Thus within the short span of two months the Ahoms succeeded their lost possession and along with it their lost prestige and glory, this was due to the determination and courage of Ahom king Chakradhwaj Singha. On receiving the news of victory the king cried out-"It is now that I can eat my morsel of food with ease and pleasure". The success of the Ahoms in recovering possession of Guwahati and lower Assam forms a chapter in the history of their conflicts with the Mughals. Thus Auranzeb and his Mughal army had to face considerable difficulty due to the Ahom power of Assam in the east and from the Maratha power in the west.
Early in Aurangzeb's reign, various insurgent groups of Sikhs engaged Mughal troops in increasingly bloody battles. The ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, like his predecessors was opposed to conversion of the local population as he considered it wrong. Approached by Kashmiri Pandits to help them retain their faith and avoid forced conversions, Teg Bahadur took on the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. This posturing of Tegh Bahadur did not go well with the emperor who perceived the rising popularity of the Guru as a threat to his sovereignty. In 1670, the emperor executed Guru Tegh Bahadur, which infuriated the Sikhs. In response, his son and successor, the tenth Guru of Sikhism Guru Gobind Singh further militarized his followers, starting with the establishment of Khalsa in 1699, eight years before Aurangzeb's death.
The Pashtun revolt in 1672 under the leadership of the warrior poet Khushal Khan Khattak was triggered when soldiers under the orders of the Mughal Governor Amir Khan allegedly attempted to molest women of the Safi tribe in modern day Kunar. The Safi tribes retaliated against the soldiers. This attack provoked a reprisal, which triggered a general revolt of most of tribes. Attempting to reassert his authority, Amir Khan led a large Mughal Army to the Khyber Pass, where the army was surrounded by tribesmen and routed, with only four men, including the Governor, managing to escape.
After that the revolt spread, with the Mughals suffering a near total collapse of their authority in the Pashtun belt. The closure of the important Attock-Kabul trade route along the Grand Trunk road was particularly disastrous. By 1674, the situation had deteriorated to a point where Aurangzeb camped at Attock to personally take charge. Switching to diplomacy and bribery along with force of arms, the Mughals eventually split the rebels and partially suppressed the revolt, although they never managed to wield effective authority outside the main trade route. The anarchy that became endemic on the Empire's North-Western frontier as a consequence ensured that Nadir Shah's invading forces, half a century later, faced little resistance on the road to Delhi.
By the year 1689, almost all of Southern India was a part of the Mughal Empire and after the conquest of Golconda the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb may have been the most richest and powerful man alive, Mughal victories in the south expanded the Mughal Empire to 1.25million square miles, ruling over 150million subjects, nearly 1/4th of the world's population. But this supremacy was short-lived.
Aurangzeb's vast imperial campaigns against rebellion-affected areas of the Mughal Empire, caused his opponents to exaggerate the "importance" of their rebellions. The results of his vast campaigns were made worse by the incompetence of his regional Nawabs.
Muslim views regarding Aurangzeb vary, most Muslim historians believe that the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb was the last powerful ruler of an empire inevitably on the verge of decline. The major rebellions organized by the Sikhs and the Marathas were long embedded and had deep roots in the remote regions of the Mughal Empire.
Unlike his predecessors, Aurangzeb considered the royal treasury to be held in trust for the citizens of his empire. He made caps and copied the Quran to earn money for his use. He did not use the royal treasury for personal expenses or extravagant building projects excepting perhaps the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, which, for 313 years remained the world's largest mosque and still remains to this day the 5th largest mosque in the world. He also added a small marble mosque known as the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) to the Red Fort complex in Delhi. His constant warfare especially with the Marathas, however, drove his empire to the brink of bankruptcy just as much as the wasteful personal spending and opulence of his predecessors. Aurangzeb knew he would not return to the throne after his final campaign against the Maratha in the year 1706, in which, he was joined by newly emerging commanders in the Mughal Army such as Syed Hassan Ali Khan Barha, Saadat Ali Khan and Asaf Jah I and Daud Khan.
Stanley Wolpert writes in his New History of India that:
the conquest of the Deccan, to which, Aurangzeb devoted the last 26 years of his life, was in many ways a Pyrrhic victory, costing an estimated hundred thousand lives a year during its last decade of futile chess game warfare...The expense in gold and rupees can hardly be accurately estimated. Aurangzeb's encampment was like a moving capital - a city of tents 30 miles in circumference, with some 250 bazaars, with a 1⁄2 million camp followers, 50,000 camels and 30,000 elephants, all of whom had to be fed, stripped the Deccan of any and all of its surplus grain and wealth... Not only famine but bubonic plague arose...Even Aurangzeb, had ceased to understand the purpose of it all by the time he was nearing 90... "I came alone and I go as a stranger. I do not know who I am, nor what I have been doing," the dying old man confessed to his son in February 1707.
He died in Ahmednagar on Friday, 20 February 1707 at the age of 88, having outlived many of his children. His modest open-air grave in Khuldabad expresses his deep devotion to his Islamic beliefs. The tomb lies in Khuldabad (Aurangabad, Maharashtra) within the courtyard of the shrine of the Sufi saint Shaikh Burham-u'd-din Gharib (died 1331), who was a disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi.
After Aurangzeb's death, his son Bahadur Shah I took the throne. The Mughal Empire, both due to Aurangzeb's over-extension and Bahadur Shah's weak military and leadership qualities, entered a period of terminal decline. Immediately after Bahadur Shah occupied the throne, the Maratha Empire – which Aurangzeb had held at bay, inflicting high human and monetary costs – consolidated and launched effective invasions of Mughal territory, seizing power from the weak emperor. Within decades of Aurangzeb's death, the Mughal Emperor had little power beyond the walls of Delhi.
AurangzebBorn: 4 November 1618 Died: 3 March 1707
Bahadur Shah I
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