Aurangzeb who assumed the title ‘Abul-Muzaffar Mohin-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb Bahadur Alamgir Bads hah Ghazi’ after ascending the throne was the sixth of the fourteen children of Shah Jahan.
He was born at Dahod near Ujjain in 1618. He intensely studied Arabic and Persian. He also studied Quran and Hades—sacred books of the Muslims.
He was trained in horse riding and in the art of soldiering. Soon he became a successful fighter. He was very brave and daring.
Governor of various provinces:
He worked as the governor of Deccan from 1636 to 1644 and 1652 to 1658. He also worked as the governor of Gujarat, Multan and Sind from time to time. As a governor, he demonstrated his great talents as an organizer, administrator, a diplomat and general. He organised the revenue system of Gujarat in such a way that it greatly added to its prosperity.
Aurangzeb’s success in the war of succession:
Shah Jahan’s illness in 1657 led to a bloody war of succession among his four sons—Dara Shikoh, Shuja, Aurangzeb and Murad. Aurangzeb was successful in liquidating his three brothers, putting his father in prison and becoming the emperor of Delhi, through his diplomacy and bravery.
Chief Events of his Reign:
1. Early measures taken by Aurangzeb to strengthen his position:
(a) Popularity measures:
(i) He enhanced the salaries of officers.
(ii) He abolished grain trade tax.
(iii) He declined to accept gifts,
(iv) He gave titles to his supporters.
(b) Puritan measures:
(i) Aurangzeb banned the celebration of ‘Nauroz’ as it was an ancient practice
(ii) He banned music.
(iii) He stopped the practice of weighing the emperor in silver and gold,
(iv) He appointed ‘Muhtasibs’ (moral preachers) for the ethical uplift of the Muslims,
(v) He stopped the practice of ‘jharokha’ (public audience) as it was termed as a blind faith.
2. Religious disharmony:
By following anti-Hindu and anti-Shia policy, he antagonized the majority of population.
3. Revolts on account of Aurangzeb policy:
Following revolts took place:
(а) Conflict with the Jats:
There were three revolts of the Jats of Mathura against the Mughal tyranny. These revolts were primarily on account of the anti-Hindu policy of Aurangzeb. They could not tolerate the demolition of their temples. They resented the construction of a mosque at the site of the birth place of Lord Krishna at Mathura.
The land revenue charged from them was very heavy. The attitude of Abdul Nalu, the Faujdar of Mathura also led to great resentment against the Mughal rule. The conflict continued for a long time and ultimately after the death of Aurangzeb, the Jats succeeded in establishing their kingdom with its capital at Bharatpur.
(b) Conflict with the Satnamis:
The Satnamis formed a Hindu religious sect in the district of Narnaul and Mewat. Most of them carried on agriculture. Generally they were pious people. However, they would not tolerate any oppression. They kept arms and weapons to protect themselves from any kind of attempt to do wrong to them.
An innocent Satnami cultivator was murdered by a Mughal soldier. Being agitated they rose in rebellion and killed the local Mughal official. The Mughal army retaliated with a heavy hand. Aurangzeb himself decided to go in person to Narnaul as he apprehended a general revolt of the Hindus in the entire region.
Aurangzeb attacked them with a heavy force supported by artillery. The Satnamis were massacred indiscriminately. The rebellion was crushed but the people began to hate the rule and looked forward for an opportunity to get rid of the oppressive rule of the Mughals.
(c) Conflict with the Sikhs:
The conflict between the Sikhs and the Mughal rulers started during the reign of Jahangir when Guru Arjun Dev, the fifth Guru of the Sikhs was tortured to death by him. The struggle became intensive during the reign of Aurangzeb. The ninth guru Guru Teg Bahadur (1664-75) was greatly hurt and distressed at the persecution of the Hindus by Aurangzeb.He openly expressed his resentment against this policy.
Aurangzeb summoned him to Delhi and asked him to embrace Islam. On his refusal to do so, he was put to death after a lot of torture. Gurudwara Sisganj at Chandni Chowk in Delhi stands at the place of his martyrdom. Conflict with the Sikhs continued during the entire period of Aurangzeb.
4. Rajput policy of Aurangzeb and conflicts with them:
He tried to crush the Rajput’s; removed them from higher offices, levied the Jizya tax on them; attempted to do away with the independence of Marwar, resulting into fateful consequences.
(1) Conflict with Bundelkhand:
Champat Rai revolted in Bundelkhand and his son Chatrasal defeated the Mongols several times.
(2) Conflict with Marwar:
After the death of Jaswant Singh Aurangzeb tried to secure his infant son but Durga Dass foiled his attempts. The conflict continued for 30 years and in the end Bahadur Shah recognised Marwar as an independent kingdom.
(3) Conflict with Mewar:
Rana Raj Singh of Mewar fought against Aurangzeb. The Rana and Durga Dass incited Akbar to rebel against his father. In 1684, he made peace with Mewar.
5. The Deccan policy:
Aurangzeb was guided by the following reasons:
(1) Aurangzeb was ambitious,
(2) He wanted to conquer the Deccan,
(3) The internal condition of the Shiaite kingdoms was miserable,
(4) Fear of the union of the three forces,
(5) Puritanism led him to do it,
(6) Wanted to conquer the south due to Akbar’s revolt,
(7) The kingdoms stopped paying the tributes.
Following were the results of his Deccan policy:
(i) Expansion of the empire,
(ii) Laxity in the empire,
(iii) Removal of the restrictions on the Marathas,
(iv) The state treasury became empty,
(v) Indiscipline in the north,
(vi) Impaired the dignity of the empire;
(vii) Slackened the development of culture.
6. Conflict with the Marathas:
Aurangzeb’s conflict with Shivaji started in 1659 and continued till Shivaji’s death in 1680. In spite of the huge army and enormous resources of Aurangzeb, Shivaji was successful in establishing a strong Maratha empire.
7. Conflict with the North-east:
In spite of best efforts Assam could not be captured.
8. Conflict with the Afghans:
The Mughal forces suffered heavy losses in the conflict that lasted for a decade. Ultimately the united front of the Afghans was broken and slowly peace restored.
9. Conflict with the English:
After a minor conflict, peace was restored between the parties.
10. Conflict with sons:
Being of suspicious nature, Aurangzeb remained in conflict with his four sons. He kept three of his sons in prison for a number of years.
(i) Brave and successful general,
(ii) Simple life.
(iii) Scholar of merit,
(iv) Great diplomat,
(v) Devoted to religion,
(vi) Firm and resolute.
Most Pathetic last days of Aurangzeb:
Aurangzeb died as a frustrated and sad man. He wrote very pathetic letters to his sons. To prince Azam he wrote, “I have not done well for the country and its people.” To Kam Bakh, he wrote.” “Strange that I came with nothing into this world and now go away with this stupendous caravan of sins.”