Aurangzeb’s policy of conflict with the Rajput’s:
It is generally believed by the historians that one of the major causes of the decline of the Mughal empire was the policy of conflict followed by Aurangzeb with the Rajput’s.
Aurangzeb completely reversed Akbar’s policy.
Aurangzeb’s Rajput policy led to conflict on account of the following factors:
1. Aurangzeb was an expansionist and on one or the other pretext, he wanted to annex their kingdoms.
2. Aurangzeb regarded the power and influence of the Rajput’s as a stumbling block in executing his policy of religious persecution of the Hindus.
Chief events were as under:
(i) Conflict with Marwar:
Raja Jaswant Singh the ruler of Marwar who was in the service of the Mughals died at Jamrud in Afghanistan. His wife, while returning from Afghanistan, gave birth to a son who was named Ajit Singh. Aurangzeb wanted that if Ajit Singh was converted to Islam, he would be recognized as the ruler of Marwar. But this was not acceptable to the Rajput’s. This led to the beginning of the 30-year war between the Rathors and the Mughals.
Aurangzeb wanted to keep the widow of Jaswant Singh and his son Ajit Singh under his custody. Durga Das, the brave commander of the Rathors rescued the mother and the son by a stratagem, substituting the maid-servant and her child in place of the Rani and the prince. The people of Marwar accepted Ajit Singh as their ruler.
Annoyed at this, Aurangzeb sent his Imperial troops to subdue the Rajputs. Aurangzeb himself camped at Ajmer. The Mughal forces captured Jodhpur, the capital of Marwar and destroyed numerous temples. Durga Das continued the struggle and the Rajput’s were able to recapture many of their lost territories.
After the death of Aurangzeb, his successor Bahadur Shah recognized Ajit Singh as an independent ruler of Marwar. The Rajput’s still cherish the courage and bravery of Durga Das and say, “O, mother, produce a son like Durga Das.” J.N. Sarkar writes of him, “Mughal gold could not subdue him. Mughal arms could not daunt that constant heart.”
(ii) Conflict with Mewar:
The conflict continued for about 5 years (1676-81). Raj Singh of the Sisodiya clan was the ruler of Mewar with its capital at Chittor. Aurangzeb asked him to pay the Jaziya. Prince Akbar (son of Aurangzeb) deserted the Mughal army and joined hands with the Rajput’s.
Akbar was of liberal views and doubted the success of the policy of religious fanaticism of his father. Maharana Raj Singh and Ajit Singh assured him that if he would declare himself the emperor, the combined forces of Marwar and Mewar would support him. Prince Akbar declared himself the emperor of the Mughals.
Aurangzeb had a very small force at his command at that time as he was away from the capital. So he thought of a plan of sowing dissensions among the Rajputs. He was successful in his efforts. Prince Akbar was defeated and he fled away. Aurangzeb and the new ruler of Mewar, Raja Jai Singh signed a peace treaty known as treaty of Udaipur (1681).
The treaty included the following forms:
(1) The Mughals agreed to withdraw their forces from Mewar.
(2) Raja Jai Singh accepted the Mansab of 5,000 while his son Bhim Singh was given the title of Raja.
(3) The Chittor fort was not to be repaired.
(iii) Conflict with Bundelkhand:
Akbar was not successful on account of the guerilla warfare tactics of the Bundela Rajput’s. Champat Rai, Rajput ruler of Bundelkhand came into conflict with Aurangzeb. However, he committed suicide to save himself from imprisonment. Chhatrasal, son of Champat Rai who was just 11 at the time of his father’s death defied the Mughals and won several victories against them.
Ultimately he was able to set up an independent state in eastern Malwa. He died in 1731 with the complete effacement of the Mughal rule in Bundelkhand. The people of Bundelkhand and Malwa hailed Chhatrasal as the “Champion of the Hindu faith and Rajput honour.”
Consequences of Aurangzeb’s Rajput policy:
The Rajput policy proved very disastrous for the Mughals, as it made the Rajput’s hostile and deprived Aurangzeb of the loyalty of the brave Rajput’s. He wasted several years in conflict with them and suffered serious setbacks. Several of his own famous generals were killed in conflict with the Rajput rulers. He failed to subdue Durga Das of Marwar. He had to enter into treaty with Mewar.
Chhatrasal of Bundelkhand defied the Mughals. Prestige of the Mughal empire suffered. Aurangzeb, on account of constant conflicts could not provide good administration. No doubt, the faulty policy of Aurangzeb towards the Rajput’s was one of the major causes of the disintegration of the Mughal empire.