Here is a list of thirteen major revolts that occurred during the medieval period in India:- 1. The Uzbegs 2. The Mirzas 3. The Revolt in Bengal and Bihar 4. The Revolt of the Baluchis and the Afghans 5. The Revolt of Prince Salim 6. Revolt in Bundelkhand (1628-1635 A.D) 7. Revolt of Khan Jahan Lodi (1628-1631 A.D.) 8. Portuguese 9. Sikhs 10. The Revolts of the Jats and a few more.
Revolt # 1. The Uzbegs:
Among the old nobility of Akbar, one strong section was that of the Uzbegs. Their notable leaders were the subedar of Jaunpur, Khan-i- Zaman, his brother Bahadur Khan, his uncle Ibrahim Khan, the governor of Oudh, Khan-i-Alam and Abdullah Khan, governor of Malwa. They were powerful and ambitious nobles and disliked the centralization of administration by Akbar. They had another grievance that Akbar did not reward their services well.
Their discontentment resulted in an open revolt by Abdullah Khan in 1564 A.D. He was defeated and forced to seek shelter in Gujarat. Other leaders of the Uzbegs also revolted in the east in 1564 A.D. and continued to resist the Emperor till 1567 A.D. But, finally all of them were subdued.
Revolt # 2. The Mirzas:
The Mirzas were part of the royal family. Ibrahim Mirza, Muhammad Husain Mirza, Masud Husain Mirza, Sikandar Mirza and Mahmud Mirza were among those nobles who were blood relatives of Akbar. Being members of the royal family, they desired best rewards from the Emperor, failing which, they also revolted during the period when Uzbegs revolted against Akbar. They were also defeated, forced to seek shelter in Gujarat and, finally, subdued when Akbar suppressed the revolt in Gujarat in 1573 A.D.
Revolt # 3. The Revolt in Bengal and Bihar:
In 1580 A.D., Baba Khan Kakashal in Bengal and Muhammad Masum in company with Arab Bahadur in Bihar revolted against Akbar. They were dissatisfied with the oppressive policy of the local governors and made a common cause against them.
They killed Muzaffar Khan, governor of Bengal by treachery and occupied the entire territory of Bengal and Bihar. Akbar despatched Raja Todar Mai against them who after one year of campaign succeeded in suppressing the revolt. Most of the rebels were either killed or forced to leave the provinces which were restored to the Mughul Emperor.
Revolt # 4. The Revolt of the Baluchis and the Afghans:
The Afghans and the Baluchis revolted in 1585 A.D. when Akbar planned to conquer Kashmir. They blocked the passages from Afghanistan to India, killed Birbal in a battle and forced Jain Khan to retreat. However, Raja Todar Mal succeeded in defeating them several times and Raja Man Singh finally recovered the Khybar Pass from them. That finished their revolt.
Revolt # 5. The Revolt of Prince Salim:
Salim was the crown-prince and was brought up with utmost care and love by Akbar. That spoiled him and he became ease- loving and irresponsible. Akbar lived for long which made the prince impatient to capture the throne which resulted in his revolt in the later period of the rule of Akbar.
Salim was the governor of Ajmer. He left his assignment and went to Allahabad without the permission of the Emperor. There he behaved as an independent ruler. At that time, Akbar was busy in the siege of Asirgarh.
Akbar took the revolt of his son indifferently but tried to mend his ways through personal efforts. He returned to his capital in 1602 A.D., tried various means to conciliate the prince. He recalled Abul Fazl from the Deccan to give him friendly advice.
Abul Fazl, however, was murdered by Vir Singh Deva, Bundela chief of Orcha at the direction of the prince Salim. That enraged Akbar and he decided to punish the prince. Then Salima Begum went to Allahabad and convinced Salim to beg pardon from the Emperor.
The prince realised the futility of his efforts, went to Agra in 1603 A.D. and asked for pardon. Akbar pardoned him and deputed him to suppress Mewar. But the prince left for Allahabad again without the permission of the Emperor.
There he engaged himself in wine and women. Akbar felt very much dissatisfied with the behaviour of his son but as his sons, Murad and Daniyal had died, he had no other alternative except to tolerate him. In 1604 A.D. Salim came to Agra at the death of his grandmother. Akbar pardoned him again and kept him with him till his death in 1605 A.D.
Thus, various revolts occurred during the reign of Akbar but none of them succeeded even in seriously disturbing the affairs of the state.
Revolt # 6. The Revolt in Bundelkhand (1628-1635 A.D.):
During the reign of Jahangir, Bir Singh Bundela was the ruler of Bundelkhand. He had killed Abul Fazl at the instigation of Jahangir when Akbar was the Mughul emperor. When Jahangir became the ruler, Bir Singh was given high honour and rank.
He died some months earlier than Jahangir and his son, Jujhar Singh was accepted his successor by Jahangir. Jujhar Singh was in the service of the Emperor at the court while his son, Bikramajit looked after the administration of Bundelkhand.
Bikramajit oppressed his subjects by heavy collection of revenues. When the news reached Shah Jahan, he ordered an inquiry into the past collections. That alarmed Jujhar Singh and he fled away from the court to Bundelkhand.
Shah Jahan ordered the Mughul army to attack Bundelkhand from different directions in 1628 A.D. and himself reached Gwalior to supervise the operations. Jujhar Singh realised the futility of fighting against the Emperor and surrendered himself in 1629 A.D. He offered one thousand gold mohurs, fifteen lakh rupees, forty elephants and a part of his Jagir to the Emperor. Shah Jahan pardoned him and sent him in the campaign of the Deccan.
Jujhar Singh served the emperor loyally for five years and took important part in the wars of the Deccan. In 1634 A.D., he returned to his capital, Orcha. In 1635 A.D., he conquered Gondwana and killed its ruler Prem Narayan. This was a crime in the eyes of the Emperor as no Mughul emperor allowed fighting among his vassal rulers.
The son of Prem Narayan also appealed to the Emperor for justice. Shah Jahan ordered Jujhar Singh either to pay rupees ten lakhs and give up Gondwana to him or hand over part of his Jagir which may be equal to Gondwana.
Jujhar Singh refused to accept any of these conditions. Shah Jahan then sent Aurangzeb to attack Bundelkhand. Jujhar Singh and his son, Bikramajit abandoned the capital Orcha, found shelter at Chauragarh and, finally, proceeded towards the Deccan.
Orcha was occupied by Aurangzeb, Hindu-temples were destroyed and mosques were raised in their places. Jujhar Singh and Bikramajit were killed in the jungle by the Gonds and their heads were produced before Shah Jahan. Two of the sons of Jujhar Singh and one of his grandsons were converted to Islam.
The Bundela ladies who were captured during the war were either taken over to the Mughul-harem or were distributed among the Mughul nobles. Bundelkhand was handed over to Devi Singh, one of the relatives of Jujhar Singh, who had sided with the Mughuls during the war. Thus, the revolt of Bundelkhand was brutally suppressed in 1635 A.D.
However, the Bundelas refused to accept Devi Singh as their ruler and efforts were made to free Bundelkhand from the hands of the Mughuls. Champat Rai, ruler of Mahoba and then his son and successor, Chhatrasal fought for the independence of Bundelkhand for years to come.
Revolt # 7. Revolt of Khan Jahan Lodi (1628-1631 A.D.):
Pir Khan alias Khan Jahan Lodi was a capable and respected Afghan noble of the Mughuls. During the last days of the rule of Jahangir, he was the governor of the Deccan. He remained indifferent when Shah Jahan revolted against Jahangir. He also refused to help Shah Jahan when he asked for it.
He even tried to befriend the states of the Deccan and sold Balaghat to Ahmadnagar for three lakh rupees. Probably, he desired to carve out an independent kingdom for himself when the empire was disturbed just after the death of Jahangir. Shah Jahan had awarded the title of Khan-i-Khana to Mahabat Khan which was previously awarded to him by Jahangir.
However, when Shah Jahan ascended the throne, he readily accepted him the emperor. Shah Jahan ordered him to recover Balaghat from Ahmadnagar. He attempted for it but failed which dissatisfied Shah Jahan who transferred him to the governorship of Malwa and appointed Mahabat Khan as the governor of the Deccan.
The revolt of Jujhar Singh Bundela withdrew the attention of Shah Jahan from Khan Jahan. He was, rather, asked to help the imperial army in suppressing that revolt. After the revolt, Shah Jahan ordered Khan Jahan in 1629 A.D. to visit the court. He attended the court where he failed to receive that respect which he used to receive during the reign of Jahangir.
He felt danger to his life and fled towards the Deccan the same year. The imperial army pursued him. He was defeated in a battle near the river Chambal. However, he succeeded in reaching Ahmadnagar after leaving many of his relatives and ladies of the harem behind him.
Murtaza Nizam Shah, the ruler of Ahmadnagar welcomed him, awarded him a Jagir and assigned him the responsibility of recovering that territory which was snatched away by the Mughuls from Ahmadnagar.
The presence of Khan Jahan in the Deccan created problems for the Mughuls and Shah Jahan himself proceeded there particularly with a view to suppress the revolt of Khan Jahan. Shah Jahan attacked Khan Jahan from three sides and forced him to fly for safety. He fled towards Daulatabad and tried to seek help from the ruler of Golkunda which he did not get.
Nizam Shah also became neutral in this war due to the presence of the Mughuls. Khan Jahan, therefore, was forced to leave the Deccan. Khan Jahan fled towards the North and crossed the river Narbada.
Here he was attacked by Bikramajit, son of Jujhar Singh who killed many of his supporters. Khan Jahan fought his last battle at Sihonda in the modern Banda district of Uttar Pradesh and was killed by Madho Singh. His head was cut off and sent to Shah Jahan. Thus finished the revolt of Khan Jahan in 1631 A.D.
Revolt # 8. Portuguese:
The Mughul emperor had given the monopoly of the trade of salt in Bengal to the Portuguese. They enjoyed their trade for many years. But, they became arrogant, forced the local people to accept Christianity and started raiding the Imperial territory. They also supported the ruler of Arakan against the Mughuls.
All that annoyed Shah Jahan and he ordered his officers to turn out the Portuguese from Bengal in 1632 A.D. Hooghly was captured by the Mughuls after a siege of three and a half months. Thousands of the Portuguese were killed and thousands were taken as prisoners. Many of them embraced Islam while their young women were taken into harem. The Portuguese, thus, were forced to submit.
Revolt # 9. Sikhs:
The relations of the Sikhs were spoiled with the Mughuls just in the beginning of the reign of Shah Jahan. The quarrel began with a minor incident. Shah Jahan was camped near Amritsar for the purpose of hunting. One of his hunting hawks flew into the camp of Guru Har Govind and was captured by his disciples.
When the Mughuls asked the Guru to return it, he refused and foiled several attempts of the Mughuls to recover it by force. However, some friends of the Guru who were in Mughul service pleaded in favour of him to Shah Jahan who left the matter as it was.
Another quarrel between the Sikhs and the Mughuls arose when Guru Har Govind started constructing the city of Sri Govindpur near the bank of the river Bias. The enemies of the Guru instigated Abdulla Khan, governor of Jullundhar to attack the Guru and stop the construction of the new city. The Mughuls attacked but were defeated.
The Mughuls came in conflict with the Sikhs for the third time when Vidhi Singh, one of the disciples of the Guru and a famous dacoit, stole two fine Imperial horses and presented them to the Guru. The Mughuls demanded them back but the Guru refused. A strong Mughul force attacked the Guru in 1613 A.D. but was defeated.
Another force of the Mughuls was defeated by the Guru near Kartarpur. But the Guru realised the futility of constant fighting against the Mughuls. He feared that it might result in extinction of the nascent Sikh religion.
Therefore, he left Punjab and settled down at Kiratpur in the hills of Kashmir where he died in 1645 A.D. Thus, the relations between the Mughuls and the Sikhs became strained during the reign of Shah Jahan.
Revolt # 10. The Revolts of the Jats:
The first organised revolt of the Hindus against the policy of religious persecution of Aurangzeb was that of the Jats. The local Muslim officer at Mathura, Abdul Nabi was destroying temples of the Hindus and disrespecting their women. In 1661 A.D., he destroyed a Hindu temple and raised a mosque on its ruins.
The Jats under their leader Gokul revolted against this in 1669 A.D., killed Abdul Nabi and looted the tehsil of Sadabad. In 1670 A.D., the temple of Keshav Rai was destroyed by the orders of Aurangzeb. It further inflamed the Hindus and Gokul could collect 20,000 followers.
He defeated some small Muslim forces which were sent against him. He was, however, defeated and killed at the battle of Tilpat. The Jats were punished severely. But, the Jats remained undaunted. In 1686 A.D. they again raised the standard of revolt under their leader Raja Ram.
Raja Ram gave serious trouble to the Mughuls for nearly two years, defeated some Mughul officers and attacked even Agra. He was, however, defeated and killed in 1688 A.D. But then Churaman, nephew of Raja Ram led the Jats. This revolt of the Jats continued till the death of Aurangzeb and, ultimately, the Jats succeeded in establishing their independent kingdom with its capital Bharatpur.
Revolt # 11. The Revolt of the Satnamis:
The Satnamis formed a religious sect in the districts of Narnol and Mewat. They claimed that they believed in the true God and therefore, called themselves Satnamis. As they shaved their complete head and face, they were called Mundiyas as well. The cause of the revolt was a quarrel between a Satnami peasant and a Mughul soldier.
The local officer failed to suppress the revolt and some small forces despatched by Aurangzeb to suppress it were defeated. Rumours spread that the Satnamis were magicians and even bullets failed to penetrate their bodies. Then Aurangzeb sent a large force with a park of artillery.
He also wrote out magic charms on papers and tied them to the flags of the army in order to strengthen the morale of his soldiers. The Satnamis fought stubbornly but were defeated. Nearly 2,000 fell dead on the field and the rest of them surrendered.
Revolt # 12. The Revolt of the Sikhs:
Guru Nanak founded Sikhism in the beginning of the 16th century. Nanak, the first Guru of the Sikhs was born on 15 April 1469 A.D. at Talwandi (now called Nankana). His father, Mehta Kalu, was the Patwari of the village.
He first entered into the service of the state, married himself and had two sons and two daughters. But at the age of 27 years, he left his service and the family and wandered from place to place from Tibet in the north to Sri Lanka in the south and from Baghdad in the west to Assam in the east.
He came in contact with different saints and religious preachers. Both Hinduism and Islam affected his religious views. He passed his last days with his family at Kiratpur in Punjab. Nanak was both a social and religious reformer. He was very much discontented with the prevalent social and political conditions of his age.
He expressed- “The age is knife, kings are butchers, justice hath taken wings and fled . . . . I weep in sorrow, how shall deliverance be obtained.” He again said- “Men nowadays are men only in shape and name, in action they are dogs.”
He believed in the unity of God, emphasised on equality of all religions and advised people for prayer to God, observe self- restraint and act good deeds in order to attain salvation. He was against image- worship, caste system and superiority of Mullas and Pandits.
He opposed rituals and the philosophy of incarnations of God. He observed no distinction between the Hindus and the Muslims. He emphasized on equality of men and performance of good deeds. He formed Sangats at different places to propagate his views.
Before he died, he assigned the responsibility of preaching his ideas to his disciple, Lehna. Lehna (Guru Angad), therefore, became the second Guru of the Sikhs after the death of Nanak in 1538 A.D. Guru Angad carried the message of Nanak further and compiled his teachings in the local language. Guru Angad made the provision of Langar permanent.
That encouraged inter- dining among different castes; caste-rigidity relaxed; and, the feeling of social equality among the Sikhs received further impetus. He died in 1552 A.D. Before his death, he appointed one of his disciples, Amar Das as the third Guru. Amar Das was also a family saint like the two previous Gurus and engaged himself in agriculture and trade.
He established twenty-two Gaddis (seats for preaching) to propagate the teachings of Nanak. The head of every Gaddi was appointed by the Guru himself and he was assigned the responsibility of protecting the Sikhs besides propagation of teachings of Nanak. He used to take very simple food while every Hindu and Muslim received good food from his Langar (public kitchen).
Guru Amar Das introduced another novelty in the Langar-system. He met only those people who used to take food from his Langar. Thus, he attacked the caste-system more severely. Guru Amar Das’s position as Guru was challenged by one of the sons of Guru Angad, Baba Sri Chand who established a separate religious sect called the Udasi.
Guru Amar Das avoided conflict with him, changed his seat and went to Govindwal. He opposed the practice of Sati and Purda system, simplified marriage-rituals, and preached against use of all intoxicants particularly alcohol. He simplified marriage-ceremony and the new ceremony was called Lavan. He simplified death-ceremony also. Akbar met Guru Amar Das and was influenced by him.
He exempted him and his disciples from pilgrim-tax and donated many villages to his daughter. Guru Amar Das nominated Ram Das as his successor and told his disciples that he was the embodiment of God. Guru Amar Das died in 1574 A.D. The fourth Guru Ram Das was also patronized by Akbar who gave him 500 Bighas of land which had a natural pond.
At this very place the city of Amritsar and the golden temple was constructed. Guru Ram Das died in 1581 A.D. Before his death, he nominated his third son, Arjun as his successor. From that time onwards, the office of the Guru became hereditary. Guru Ram Das told his disciples that the soul of one Guru automatically transfers to the next Guru and therefore, all Gurus should be respected equally.
Arjun became the Guru of the Sikhs at the age of eighteen years. Guru Arjun took a large part in making the Sikh-sect prosperous and strong during his own time (1581-1606 A.D.). He established Sangats at various places, appointed permanent and whole-time religious preachers (Masands and Meuras) and asked the Sikhs to collect money for the purpose of propagation of religion. He asked the Sikhs to earn money and devote themselves earnestly in agriculture and trade. He also advised them to make themselves strong.
Though Guru Arjun himself had no attraction for material possessions but he held his court with grandeur like Mughul emperors in order to inspire his disciples. He desired that all his disciples should try not only for moral and spiritual progress but also for physical and material progress.
He preached- “He who practiseth martial exercises shall become fearless in battlefield. He who resolved to conquer or die in arms, and he who when dying claspeth the true name to his heart, shall efface the sins of many births and obtain deliverance.”
Guru Arjun compiled the teachings of all previous Gurus in Guru Granth Sahib. He constructed the golden temple at Amritsar and constructed Hari-Mandir within it. The Guru Granth Sahib has become the sacred text of the Sikhs and the golden temple has become their most sacred shrine.
When Khusrav, son of Jahangir revolted and went to Punjab, Guru Arjun blessed him and gave him some financial help. That enraged Jahangir who imposed a fine of rupees two lakhs or two and a half lakhs on the Guru. Guru Arjun refused to pay it. He said- “I have no wealth of my own. Whatever wealth I have, it is for the help of the poor and helpless one.”
Jahangir ordered to consficate all property of the Guru and imprison all his family members. Guru Arjun was imprisoned and he was tortured to death in prison in 1606 A.D. Jahangir, of course, did nothing against the Sikhs more than this. Yet, his treatment towards their Guru was harsh and unjust. The Sikhs regarded it as the first onslaught by the Mughuls on their religion.
The Sikhs also felt the necessity of arming themselves for the first time. Thus, the death of Guru Arjun by torture gave birth to the idea of converting the Sikh-sect into a military sect and the Guru into a military-leader-saint.
Before his death, Guru Arjun directed his son for the same. He sent him a message thus “Bid him not to mourn or indulge in unmanly lamentation, but sing, God’s praises—Let him sit fully armed on his throne, and maintain an army to the best of his ability.”
His son, Har Govind who now became the Guru, was only eleven years of age at that time. He followed completely the direction given to him by his father. He held recitation of the Granth Sahib for ten days and then sat on the seat of the Guru with two swords on his waist. He started taking arms and horses from his disciples instead of cash money, allowed them to eat flesh, found Takht-Akal-Banga and fortified the city of Amritsar.
He arranged for the military training of his disciples along with religious preaching. Jahangir asked him to pay the fine imposed on his father. He refused to pay it and therefore, was imprisoned in the fort of Gwalior for nearly two years. After his release, however he remained at peace with Jahangir who, probably gave him some supervisory powers over the affairs of Punjab.
Guru Har Govind came in conflict with Shah Jahan as well. In 1628 A.D., when Shah Jahan had just ascended the throne and was on a hunting party in Punjab, one of his hunting- birds was captured by the Sikhs. That resulted in fighting between the Sikhs and the Mughuls. The matter was settled by the good offices of some officers who were in the service of the Emperor but respected the Guru.
Once more Har Govind came in conflict with the Mughuls when one of his disciples stole away two fine royal horses and presented them to the Guru. Of course, the Guru defeated some small Mughul forces but realising the futility of struggle against the mighty power of the Mughul emperor, he retired to Kiratpur, a place in the hills of Kashmir. He died there in 1645 A.D. Then his son, Har Rai became the seventh Guru of the Sikhs.
When Aurangzeb ascended the throne Har Rai (1645-61 A.D.) was the Guru of the Sikhs. He had maintained good relations with Dara Shukoh. Therefore, Aurangzeb was displeased with him. He ordered him to visit the royal court. The Guru sent his son Ram Rai to the court who went over to the side of Aurangzeb.
Har Rai, therefore, debarred his son Ram Rai from his right to become the Guru and nominated his second son, Har Kishan (1661-64 A.D.) as his successor. Ram Rai tried to become the Guru with the help of Aurangzeb. Har Kishan was summoned to the royal court but he died in 1664 A.D.
Then the Sikhs chose Tegh Bahadur (1664-75 A.D.), son of Har Govind as their Guru who became the ninth Guru of the Sikhs. Tegh Bahadur opposed the religious policy of Aurangzeb openly and expressed his resentment against it in public meetings. Aurangzeb ordered him to visit the court.
When the Guru reached Delhi, he was imprisoned. He was asked to embrace Islam by Aurangzeb but when he refused he was tortured for five days and then put to death. Before leaving for Delhi, Tegh Bahadur had nominated his fifteen-year-old son.
Govind Singh as his successor. Guru Govind Singh thus became the tenth and the last Guru of the Sikhs. Before his death, he abolished the seat of the Guru and declared- “Wherever five disciples would be present, I would be present.”
Guru Govind Singh (1675-1708 A.D.) converted the Sikh community into a strong military sect. He opposed the religious fanaticism of Aurangzeb throughout his life. He named Sikh-sect the Khalsa, asked the Sikhs to add Singh to their names, put on a distinctive dress and to keep on their person five things—Kesh (hair), Kirpan (sword), Kachha (underwear), Kangha (comb) and Kara (iron bangle).
He advised them to give up all caste distinctions and all restrictions about food, drink and marriage. He, thus, emphasized on social equality and unity among the Sikhs. He was bitterly against the Mughuls. He declared- “I shall make men of all four castes lions, and destroy the Mughuls.”
He provided complete military training to the Sikhs, inspired courage and self- confidence among them and organised a force of 80,000 men. Guru Govind Singh never forgot the death of his father at the hands of Aurangzeb and he met the religious fanaticism of Aurangzeb by creating religious fanaticism among the Sikhs.
Aurangzeb despatched many royal armies against Guru Govind Singh, the local Mughul officers also constantly fought against him and besieged Anandpur five times. But the Guru maintained his spirits against all odds and fought against the Mughuls throughout the reign of Aurangzeb.
Two of his sons were killed during the course of fighting and the remaining two were captured and killed by faujdar of Sarhind. Many times, he defeated the Mughuls but mostly he had to lead the life of a fugitive running from place to place.
He, ultimately, fled to the Deccan and came to the North only after the death of Aurangzeb. Bahadur Shah, son of Aurangzeb sought help from him against his brothers in the war of succession. He agreed to it and went to the Deccan to fight on his behalf.
There two Pathans attacked him while he was busy in his prayer and inflicted severe wounds to him in August 1708 A.D. at Nadir at the bank of the river Godavari. He, later on, died or rather entered a funeral pyre and burnt himself to death on 7th October 1708 A.D. Thus, Guru Govind Singh fought against Aurangzeb throughout his life.
Of course, he himself did not succeed much against the mighty power of the Emperor, yet he made the Sikhs a powerful fighting community in Punjab because of which they played an important part in the future politics of Punjab.
Regarding his contribution towards the rise of the Sikhs, Cunningham has commented- “The last apostle of the Sikhs did not live to see his ends accomplished, but he effectively roused the dormant energies of a vanquished people, and filled them with a lofty, although fitful longing for social freedom and national ascendency.”
Revolt # 13. The Rajputs:
The Rajputs fought against Aurangzeb both on political and religious grounds. Aurangzeb doubted the loyalty of the Rajputs and desired to finish their independent existence and annex their states to the empire. Besides, he regarded their power and influence as the greatest obstacle in executing his policy of religious persecution of the Hindus.
It was impossible to establish the supremacy of Islam in India unless the political power of the Rajputs was broken forever. But Aurangzeb was shrewd enough to choose his time and tactics. His aim, however, became clear to the Rajputs and once they realised that the Emperor was bent upon their destruction they took up arms against the Empire.
There were three important Rajput rulers at that time, viz., Raja Raj Singh of Mewar, Raja Jaswant Singh of Marwar and Raja Jai Singh of Amber (modern Jaipur). Raja Jaswant Singh and Raja Jai Singh both were in the service of Shah Jahan and were among the most capable commanders of his age. When the war of succession started among the sons of Shah Jahan, Jai Singh was despatched along with Sulaiman Shukoh against Shah Shuja.
He defeated Shah Shuja and forced him to retire to Bengal but, after the battle of Samugarh, he joined the standard of Aurangzeb. Jaswant Singh fought against Aurangzeb at the battle of Dharmat, then compromised with him but again left his side when Aurangzeb was going to give battle to Shah Shuja.
Yet, ultimately, he was won over by Aurangzeb through the good offices of Raja Jai Singh and accepted to serve the emperor. Thus, these two important Rajput rulers had accepted service under Aurangzeb while Mewar was at peace with the Mughul empire since the peace-treaty signed during the reign of Jahangir.
Aurangzeb, however, was neither sincere to these Rajput rulers nor he had faith in their loyalty. He despatched Jai Singh to fight in the Deccan where he did quite a useful job but after his failure against Bijapur he died in 1666 A.D. Jaswant Singh was despatched to fight against the Afghans on the north-west frontier. He proved his commandership there but could not come back alive to the court.
(i) Attack on Marwar:
Jai Singh being already dead, Aurangzeb waited in executing his plans till the death of Jaswant Singh who died at Jamrud in Afghanistan in December 1678 A.D. The eldest son of Jaswant Singh, Prithvi Singh had died because of a trecherous act of Aurangzeb while his other two sons had died fighting against the Afghans.
Therefore, there was no heir to succeed Jaswant Singh as ruler of Marwar. Aurangzeb despatched an army to occupy Marwar and as the greater part of the army of the Rathors was in Afghanistan, he got easy success.
Aurangzeb himself went to Ajmer, destroyed the Hindu temples in Marwar and, after returning to Delhi, imposed Jizya on all Hindus on 12 April 1679 A.D. Aurangzeb humiliated the Rathors still more by selling the throne of Jaswant Singh to the chief of Nagar for rupees 36 lakhs. It was clear that the Emperor now felt himself strong enough to suppress the Rajputs in particular and the Hindus in general.
Yet, everything was not over. While returning from Afghanistan, the two queens of Raja Jaswant Singh gave birth to two sons at Lahore. One of them, however, died after some weeks while the other, named Ajit Singh remained alive. Durga Das, the commander of the Rathors reached Delhi with queens and requested Aurangzeb to recognise Ajit Singh as the ruler of Marwar.
Aurangzeb agreed to his request provided Ajit Singh was converted to Islam. It resulted in the beginning of that war between the Rathors and the Mughuls which, with minor brakes in between, continued till the death of Aurangzeb. Durga Das rescued Ajit Singh and his mother by a stratagem, substituting a maid-servant and her child in place of the Rani and the prince.
By the time, the Mughuls came to know about it, Durga Das was nine miles away from Delhi. Aurangzeb sent an army to pursue them but the small detachments of the Rathors which Durga Das left at different places obstructed its way so that Durga Das, Ajit Singh and her mother could reach Marwar safely.
The people of Marwar accepted Ajit Singh as their king and the war of independence was started by the Rathors under their leader Durga Das. Aurangzeb declared one infant of a milkman as Ajit Singh, converted him to Islam, named him Muhammad Raj and proclaimed that the protege of Durga Das was a bogus prince. But it brought about no favourable result.
The Rathors continued their resistance and Durga Das became their hero. The Rajputs still cherish his valour and courage and say that “O, mother, produce a son like Durga Das.” Colonel Tod called him the ‘Ulysses’ among the Rathors.
While J.N. Sarkar writes of him:
“Fighting against terrible odds and a host of enemies on every side, with distrust and wavering among his own countrymen, he kept the cause of his chieftain triumphant. Mughal gold could not seduce, Mughal arms could not daunt that constant heart. Almost alone among the Rathors he displayed the rare combination of the dash and reckless valour of a Rajput soldier with the tact, diplomacy and organizing power of a Mughal minister of state.”
Aurangzeb himself went to Ajmer and despatched a strong Mughul army under the command of prince Akbar and Tahavvar Khan to suppress Marwar. The Mughuls plundered every city of Marwar, destroyed every temple and raised mosques in their place and occupied Marwar. The Rathors retired to hills and deserts but continued their resistance and harassed the Mughuls.
(ii) Mewar Joins the Struggle:
Aurangzeb demanded Jizya from Raj Singh, ruler of Mewar. He desired to break the power of the Sisodiyas. The mother of Ajit Singh of Marwar was princess of Mewar and he feared that Raj Singh would come to the support of Marwar. Raj Singh, on his part, felt that Aurangzeb would like to destroy him and it would be difficult to save Mewar if once Marwar was subdued.
Therefore, he decided to join Marwar against the Mughuls. He started fortifying the fort of Chittor and despatched a force for the protection of the pass of Devbari. Aurangzeb forestalled the designs of Maharana and attacked Mewar. He himself left Ajmer in November 1679 A.D. and proceeded towards Udaipur. Maharana left Udaipur and it was easily occupied by the Mughuls.
Chittor was also captured and it is said that nearly 173 temples in Udaipur and 63 temples in Chittor were destroyed. Raj Singh was defeated in a face to face battle in 1680 A.D. After that Aurangzeb went back to Ajmer in March 1680 A.D. But the Rajputs continued harassing the Mughuls.
Aurangzeb deputed his three sons, Akbar, Muazzam and Azam to subdue Mewar which was now attacked from three sides. But the attack failed because while the princes could not function in union, the Sisodiyas and the Rathors worked in cooperation.
(iii) The Revolt of Prince Akbar:
Akbar, son of Aurangzeb, was a man of liberal views. He doubted the success of the policy of religious fanaticism pursued by his father. He also felt disgusted with constant warfare against the Rajputs. Maharana Raj Singh and Durga Das proposed to him that if he would declare himself the emperor the combined forces of Mewar and Marwar would support him.
Maharana Raj Singh, however, died on 1 November 1680 A.D. Jai Singh, his son and successor also assured Akbar of his support after his coronation. Tempted by the offer of the Rajputs, Akbar declared himself the emperor of the Mughuls on 11 January 1681 A.D. It was declared that emperor Aurangzeb had forfeited his claim over the throne because of his defiance of the laws of Islam.
Akbar proceeded towards Ajmer with the Rajput army. Aurangzeb had a very small force at his command at that time. He summoned prince Muazzam to his help and reached Rohara, eight miles ahead of Ajmer to face Akbar.
He also succeeded in defecting some Mughul officers of Akbar to his side. He sent message to Tahavvar Khan, the principal adviser of Akbar that if he would not return to the Imperial side, all his family members who were with Aurangzeb would be murdered.
Tahavvar Khan was demoralized, secretly left the camp of Akbar and reached the royal camp where he was immediately killed. Aurangzeb planned another stratagem as well. He wrote a letter to Akbar commending him on his shrewdness for bringing the Rajputs within the reach of the Emperor.
The letter was dropped near the Rajput-camp and, as desired, was picked up by the Rajputs and handed over to Durga Das. Durga Das was not convinced of it but most of the Rajput chiefs did not agree with him and secretly left the side of Akbar the same night. When Akbar got up in the morning, he found Durga Das and some other chiefs with only two or three thousand soldiers by his side. He was totally disheartened and flew towards Mewar.
Thus, Aurangzeb succeeded in befooling the Rajputs and the revolt of Akbar finished without a single battle. Durga Das kept Akbar under his protection and succeeded in taking him to Maharashtra where he was left under the protection of Shambhuji, son of Shivaji. Aurangzeb pursued Akbar and reached Maharashtra in 1682 A.D. Akbar felt his life insecure and left for Persia by sea.
In the way, he was forced to seek shelter with Imam of Masket. The Imam agreed to hand him over to Aurangzeb in return of rupees two lakhs. But due to the pressure of the ruler of Persia, Akbar was freed and he reached Persia safely where he died near the closing years of the reign of Aurangzeb.
(iv) Treaty between Mewar and the Mughuls:
The revolt of Akbar failed, yet it saved Mewar. It became necessary for Aurangzeb to pursue Akbar. He thought of concluding peace with Mewar. Maharana Jai Singh was also willing for peace.
Therefore, a treaty between the two was concluded on 24 June 1681 A.D. on the following terms:
(a) The Mughuls agreed to withdraw their forces from Mewar.
(b) Maharana Jai Singh accepted the mansab of 5,000 while his son Bhim Singh was given the title of Raja and taken into the service of the emperor.
(c) The Maharana ceded the Parganas of Mandal, Pur and Bednur to the Mughuls in lieu of Jizya imposed on his kingdom.
(v) War against Marwar:
The Rathors continued their struggle against Aurangzeb even after when Mewar made peace with him. Durga Das being in the Deccan with prince Akbar, the Rathors fought against the Mughuls without a leader between the period 1681-87 A.D. It was mostly guerilla-warfare. The Mughuls remained firmly entrenched in Marwar.
In 1687 A.D., Durga Das came back from the Deccan. By that time, Ajit Singh had become young. Therefore, both led the Rathors, recaptured some military posts of the Mughuls and raided the Mughul territory up to the vicinity of Delhi. In 1694 A.D. Durga Das handed over the daughter of prince Akbar, Safiyat-un-nisa and in 1698 A.D., his son Buland Akhtar to Aurangzeb.
Durga Das had not only provided shelter to these children but had given them good education and even that of principles of Islam. That created an atmosphere of goodwill between the Rathors and the Mughuls. It resulted in peace between the two. Ajit Singh was given the jagir of Jalor. Sanchod and Siwana and Durga Das was given the Faujdari of Patan in Gujarat and the mansab of 3,000. Both were, thus, taken into the Mughul service.
It was no honourable settlement for the Rathors. But, they compromised and utilised next some years to strengthen themselves Ajit Singh and Durga Das again revolted in 1701 A.D. but again agreed for peace in 1704-05 A.D. The next opportunity of the Rathors came only after the death of Aurangzeb when there ensued war of succession between his sons.
In 1707 A.D. Ajit Singh succeeded in capturing his capital Jodhpur. Slowly he recaptured all territory of Marwar and the work began by Durga Das, ultimately, came to a successful conclusion.