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Aurangzeb Alamgir (1658-1707)

Aurangzeb Alamgir (1658-1707)

Aurangzeb Alamgir (1658-1707)

Abul Muzaffar Mohy-ud-Din Mohammad Aurangzeb came into power after the illness of his father Shah Jahan in 1658. Dara Shikoh, his brother jumped into the war of accession while Shuja and Murad, the other brothers tried to dominate the Mughal Empire.

Aurangzeb finally captured the throne when he confined his father in Agra Fort. Shah Jahan died in that house arrest after eight years and Aurangzeb ascended as the sixth Mughal Emperor. His abilities and prowess as a ruler made his age the longest of all Mughal kings’ after Akbar, the Great. After him, the Mughal Empire gradually slipped away from the hands of the Mughals due to the succession of the incompetent rulers. Being valiant and audacious, he was given the title of “Bahadur” (the brave) by his father. Being a Sufi and disciple of Khawaja Mohammad Masoom, he adopted the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi order.

Early Life

Born as the third son and sixth offspring of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal on November 4, 1618, Aurangzeb proved himself to be tilted towards religion. Unlike his brothers who were indulged in wine and sexual activities, he spent his daily allowance on buying books on history and religion. Fond of learning, Aurangzeb mastered over Arabic and Persian with the comparable fluency and learnt Quran and Hadith. Mohammad Saleh Kamboh and Mir Mohammad Hashim were his teachers in his early years. He was taught writing in Naskh mold of writing which is used to the holy verses of Quran. His writing masterpieces of Quran are present in Makkah and Medina along with on the shrine of Nima-ud-Din Aulia. He showed his extreme valor when he won an elephant fight after a strenuous effort while his brothers escaped the war. Shah Jahan gave him the title of Bahadur and weighing him in gold awarded him with 2 lac rupees on this victory on May 8, 1633. Shah Jahan entrusted him in 1634 with 10,000 horses and 4000 troopers for his first expedition.

Aurangzeb, from the very beginning, tilted towards Islam and followed Sufism. After coming into power, he requested Khawaja Mohammad Masoom, his Murshad (the religious leader), to send his son for the guidance as he was unable to attend the company of Khawaja. The request was answered and Khawaja sent Khawaja Saif-ud-Din Sirhindi, his son of 27 years old to the palace of Aurangzeb. Khawaja Saif guided the Emperor on religious issues and banned some heretical and forbidden practices in the Empire. Music was one of them which were strictly forbidden as it was haram in the Islamic Sharia. Unlike, the previous Mughal emperors, Aurangzeb did not go astray on the question of religion because of the guidance of Khawaja Saif-ud-Din.

Expeditions of the Early Age

In 1635, Jhujhar Singh, a turncoat of Bandelkhand stood against the Emperor which infuriated the later and he ordered to attack Bandelkhand from three sides. Abdullah Khan Bahadur Firoz attacked it from the north with 6000 soldiers, Khan-e-Dauran from the west accompanied by 6000 men, and Syed Khan-e-Jahan from Badayun with 10,500 men. Aurangzeb led the expedition with 10,000 men at the age of 16. The battle was won by Aurangzeb who hoisted his flag on the terrace of Jahangir Mahal on October 4, 1635 and captured Orchha, the capital of Bandelkhand. Devi Singh was appointed the new governor of Bandelkhand and Jhujhar Singh succeeded to escape.

On July 14, 1636, Aurangzeb was made the Governor of Deccan. He built a new city named Aurangabad and married Rabia Durrani in 1637. In 1644, Jahan Ara Begum, the daughter of Shah Jahan and sister of Aurangzeb got burnt accidentally while the Emperor was away from the palace. After three weeks, he came back strived for the recovery of the princess Jahan Ara Begum. He took care of her wounded daughter (on such critical time Shah Jahan was accused of being incestuous with his real daughter according to some non-Muslim chroniclers). He dismissed Aurangzeb on wearing military garb inside the palace and Red Tent (the sign of Mughal army) was taken back from him and given to Dara Shikoh, his brother. In 1645, he was appointed the governor of Gujrat while Balkh and Badakhshan were granted to him in 1647. Later he was given the areas of Sindh and Multan. In 1652, Deccan was given to him second time and he attacked Qutabshahi Golkanda in 1657 and Bejapur in 1658.

Accession of Aurangzeb

Shah Jahan’s illness in 1657 broke out a war of accession among the brothers. Dara Shikoh, the eldest brother who got favors from his father in his later years, claimed the throne whereas Shah Shuja, the second son claimed to be the ruler of Bengal but he was pinned downed by Dara. Murad Bakhsh, the younger son (supported by Aurangzeb) claimed Gujrat against Dara who was declared the heir of the crown by Shah Jahan, their father. Aurangzeb came affront Dara after defeating Raja Jaswant singh. The battle of Samugarh proved to be decisive when Dara was defeated by Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb seized Agra and his father surrendered the Agra Fort. Escaped Dara marched towards Punjab. Shuja’s army had to surrender before Aurangzeb’s forces on being trapped but the later adopted a policy of reconciliation and offered governorship of Bengal to Shuja deliberately thinking of isolating Dara Shikoh. Shuja refused the offer and was killed in Arakan and Murad was murdered in 1661. Dara remained the only rival who was soon dominated by Aurangzeb and was executed on August 30, 1659. Aurangzeb Alamgir occupied the throne confining his father to Agra Fort where he stayed till his death in 1666.

Expansion by Aurangzeb

Aurangzeb captured three Muslim kingdoms of Adilshahis of Bejapur, Qutbshahis of Golkanda and Nizams of Ahmadnagar. Abdul Hasan Qutab Shah revolted and fortified them capturing the diamond mine named Kollur mine, the only diamond mine of the world. Out of total 18 diamond of the world, 13 are said to be from Golkanda Kollur Mine. After a siege of eight months, Aurangzeb finally succeeded to defeat Abdul Hasan Qutab Shah who surrendered and the diamond came to the hands of Arangzeb. Possession of the Hope Diamond, Nur-ul-Ain Diamond, Dariya-e-Nur, Kara Diamond, the Regent Diamond, Wittelesbach Diamond, and the Great Stone Diamond made Aurangzeb the richest Emperor of the world.

Reign of Aurangzeb and Religions

Aurangzeb’s age is the golden period of financial performance. The annual income in the stable years of his age rose to £ 100 million through land revenue, customs, and taxes collected from 24 provinces or states. He discarded the liberal approach to religion which was adopted by his predecessors.  In his forty nine years’ rule his orthodox views on Islam brought some changes contrary to the previous Mughals. Ban on music was one of them. He issued a Decree in 1668 to ban the music. Manucci, a chronicler writes on this Decree:

“In Hindustan both Mogals and Hindus are very fond of listening to songs and instrumental music. He therefore ordered the same official to stop music. If in any house or elsewhere he heard the sound of singing and instruments, he should forthwith hasten there and arrest as many as he could, breaking the instruments. Thus was caused a great destruction of musical instruments”.

He is reported to topple Hindu and Sikh temples between 80 and 60,000, Richard Eaton states. Christians also showed their concerns about religion and demolition of their settlements. Aurangzeb discontinued the financial aid to the Christian Missionaries started by his ancestors. He is also reported by the historians to make the Sikh Guru of Kashmir embrace Islam forcibly. Sikh Guru was publicly forced to discard his religion and accept Islam as true religion but on his refusal, he was beheaded on November 11, 1675.

Revolts

In Aurangzeb’s age some rebels rose against him due to the vastness of the Empire. In 1669, Jats of Bharatpur stood against him while Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj waged a war against the Emperor and killed the Mughal commander Afzal Khan and injured Shaista Khan, the Mughal governor. Aurangzeb controlled the rebellion by 1689 executing Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and arresting his son. In 1672, Bhirban of Satnami sect rose near Delhi which was retaliated and crushed. A Pashtoon warrior poet, Khushhal Khan Khatak rebelled against Aurangzeb who, by 1674, pacified the situation through the split of the Pashtoons. The execution of Teg Bahadur by Aurangzeb enraged Sikhs. Banda Singh Bahadur captured many states and declared his empire which pushed the Mughal Empire for Jihad (holy war) against Sikhs. The conflict remained till Guru Gobind Singh. Mir Jumla, commander of Aurangzeb handled upheaval by Ahoms in Assam and Aurangzeb emerged as victorious.

Death

After living an active and victorious life, at the age of 88, Aurangzeb died on February 20, 1707 in Ahmednagar and was buried in the compound of the grave of Sheikh Burhan-ud-Din Gharib, a Sufi saint and a disciple of Hazrat Nizam-ud-Din Aulia’, a Saint in Delhi.His Shrine is Khuldabad with a simple construction contrary to the previous Emperors of the Mughal Empire.

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