This article throws light on the six successors of Aurangzeb:
They are. 1. Bahadur Shah 2. Jahandar Shah 3. Farrukhsiyar 4. Rafi-ud-Darajat, Rafi-ud-Daulah 5. Muhammad Shah 6. Ahmad Shah, Aziz-ud-din, Alamgir II, Shah A lam, Akbar II, Bahadur Shah TI.
1. Bahadur Shah (1707-12):
Both Muazzem and Azam hurried towards Agra on hearing the news of their father’s death; Muazzem assuming the imperial title of Bahadur Shah, also known as Shah Alam, on the way near Lahore. In the Deccan Kam Baksh crowned himself emperor at Bijapur. Muazzem proposed an amicable settlement of their claims on the line their father’s suggestion. But Azam did not agree. Nothing but sword could decide the issue. Azam was defeated and killed in the battle with Muazzem at Jajau near Agra in June 1707.
Freed from his most formidable rival Bahadur Shah lived in peace in Agra till November of the same year but had to hurry towards Rajputana where troubles brewed up. “The attack on the Rajputs begun by Aurangzeb inflicted on the Mughal empire a deep and draining wound which was never healed through superficially covered at times”. No sooner the news of Aurangzeb’s death reached Rajputana Ajit Singh recovered Jodhpur, his ancestral capital by expelling the Mughal garrison there. Bahadur Shah marched out for Rajputana and reached Amber in January 1708.
There was a dispute for the succession to this state, i.e. Amber. Bahadur Shah placed Bejay Singh as the successor and marched towards Jodhpur. Ajit Singh was defeated and was obliged to make his submission to the emperor who not only pardoned him but made him a mansabdar of 3500 and conferred on him the title of Maharaja. Bahadur Shah had to leave for Deccan where Kam Baksh was raising an army.
In his absence in the Deccan Ajit Singh and Jay Singh joined the Maharana Amar Singh of Mewar in a joint resistance to the Mughals. They expelled the Mughal commandant of Jodhpur, recovered Amber and killed the Mughal commandant of Mewat and army officers. Bahadur Shah was forced by circumstances to buy peace with Ajit Singh and Jay Singh and restored them to the Mughal service.
Kam Baksh was defeated near Hyderabad and the wound received by him in the battle caused his death early in 1708. Freed from the remaining contender for the throne Bahadur Shah returned to Rajputana in 1710. But he had to find a speedy solution of the Rajput trouble, as the Sikhs who were in revolt assumed menacing proportions. The rebel Rajput Rajas were pardoned and sent back to their states with lavish presents.
On the death of Guru Govind in 1708 an imposter called Banda who resembled Guru Govind was passed for Guru Govind himself miraculously revived to life, to lead the Sikhs in a war of independence against the Mughals. Banda defeated the Mughal commandant at Sonpat, sacked the town of Sadhaura, killed the commandant of Sirhind.
Jullundur Doab and the country around were raided, plundered and freed by the Sikhs. The Sikhs reached the suburbs of Lahore where they were halted by the Muslims of Lahore. But desultory fighting continued and the Sikhs were on the whole predominant and the north-western road from Delhi was effectively closed by the Sikhs.
The situation drew Bahadur Shah to the scene. Banda took position in the fort of Lohgarh wherefrom he gave fight.’ After a prolonged bloody encounter the fort gave in and a spree of senseless massacre and loot was perpetrated by the Mughal army. But Banda’s timely departure from the fort made the Mughal victory fruitless. Desultory fighting with the Sikhs went for some years to follow and in 1711 Sirhind was captured by the Mughals.
The indomitable Banda, however, did not give any respite to the Mughals. About this time Amin Khan and Rustam Khan two Mughal generals quarreled and the pursuit of the Sikhs was slackened. Bahadur Shah died when the situation was not fully advantageous to the Mughals (Dec. 1712).
Bahadur Shah had a mild and calm temper, great dignity of behaviour, was learned and generous to a fault. He was pious without bigotry and possessed a power of self-control. But he had no idea of statesmanship and mistook statesmanship to be ability to let mat- tears drift, without facing the issues promptly and courageously.
But let it not be forgotten that he ascended the throne at an old age of sixty-two yet he traditions and dignity of the empire left by Aurangzeb were maintained by him throughout his short reign.
2. Jahandar Shah (1712-13):
Bahadur Shah died on February 27, 1712 at Lahore where all his four sons Muiz-ud-din Jahandar Shah, Azim-ush-shan, Rafi-ush-Shan and Jahan Shah were present. Zul- Fiqar Khan, a leader of the Irani party brought all the three brothers by a secret arrangement to stand against Azim-ush-Shan and to divide the empire between themselves with Zul-Fiqar as the common minister.
A war of succession began in which the last three brothers were killed and Jahandar Shah secured the throne with the help of Zul-Fiqar Khan who became the Prime Minister of the State. Jandahar Shah spent his time at Delhi in pleasure and merry-making with his concubine Lai Kumari and under infatuation with her he indulged in every kind of mad freak and base enjoyment, while Lai Kumari sought to imitate Nur Jahan, the famous queen of Jahangir. Punishment was not slow in coming. As Khafi Khan remarks: ‘In the brief reign of Jandahar Shah violence had full sway.
It was a fine time for minstrels and singers and all the tribes of dancers and actors’. Obviously affairs of the state were not looked after. Jandahar was not destined to enjoy his life for long. He was deposed and strangled to death at the instance of Azim-ush-Shan’s son Farrukhsiyar who occupied the throne in 1713. Minister Zul- Fiqar was also done to death.
3. Farrukhsiyar (1713-19):
If Jahandar Shah had secured the throne with the help of Zul-Fiqar Khan, Farrukhsiyar got it with the help of the Sayyid brother Hussain Ali Deputy Governor of Patna and Abdullah Governor of Allahabad. On his ascending the throne Farrukhsiyar appointed Abdullah the wazir of the State and Hussain Ah the commander of the army. Abdullah was more a soldier and less of an administrator; as such the whole burden of administration both civil and military fell on Hussain Ali. As Farrukhsiyar was cowardly, feeble and incapable of doing either good or evil, the Sayyid brothers took full advantage of the situation.
New viceroys were sent to many provinces, e.g. Abdus-Samad Khan to Lahore, Raja Jay Singh Sawai to Malwa, Sayyid Khan Jahan to Ajmer; the viceroyalties of Multan and Bihar were retained by the Sayyid brothers which they governed through deputies. Shamat Khan was placed in charge of Gujarat, and Bengal was formally given to Mir Jumla but its former revenue minister Murshid Quli Khan now called Ja’far Khan Nasiri was ordered to govern as Mir Jumla’s deputy. In addition to his duty as deputy governor of Bengal Murshid Quli was also made the governor of Orissa. The Deccan with its six provinces was given to Nizam-ul-Mulk one of the leaders of the Turani party. He was by far the ablest man in the entire State and rose to foremost position which he retained till his death in 1748.
Farrukhsiyar was soon aware of his powerlessness and in his attempts to assert his own power, he under the influence of some of his anti-Sayyid friends, mainly Mir Jumla, brought about another imperial tragedy. It may be pointed out in all fairness to the Sayyid brothers that the treatment Farrukhsiyar received from them was no more harsh than what he himself had meted out to the Sayyid brothers. His ingratitude to the Sayyid brothers made his removal a necessity for the Sayyids. But the way in which he was removed and treated was unduly harsh.
In the morning of February 27, 1719 Sayyid Abdullah with Ajit Singh and his own adherents entered the palace and surrounded it and in the meantime Hussain Ali also reached Delhi and with more than thirty thousand men appeared at the gates of the palace. There was a verbal encounter between Sayyid Abdullah and the emperor inside the palace and all sorts of wild rumor spread in the city putting it into utter confusion and skirmishes.
On the 28th Farrukhsiyar who had taken shelter in the harem was dragged out by a contingent of the Afghans with blows and handed over to the minister who blinded him immediately. The fallen emperor was put into the prison for two months after which he was strangled to death.
Farrukhsiyar was feeble, false, cowardly and contemptible, and it is impossible to either admire or regret him, says Irvine. The deposition of Farrukhsiyar may not be called wrong but the way in which the whole thing was done was excessively harsh and monstrously cruel. The only important achievement of the reign was the extermination of rebel Sikh Guru Banda.
4. Rafi-ud-Darajat (1719-19): Rafi-ud-Daulah (1719):
The king-makers, the Sayyid brothers Abdullah and Hussain Ali now raised Rafi-ud-Darajat son of Rafi-us-Shan on the throne. He was a young man of twenty, very intelligent and polite. But he was suffering from consumption and died in the very year of his accession (1719). Another son of Rafi-us-Shan Rafi-ud-Daulah was placed on the throne by the Sayyid brothers who sought to rule the country through imperial puppets. But soon they discovered a better roi faineant in Roshan Akhtar, a youth of eighteen, son of Jahan Shah the fourth son of Bahadur Shah. He assumed the name Muhammad Shah on being placed on the throne after Rafi-ud-Daulah died on September 17, 1719.
5. Muhammad Shah (1719-48):
The new emperor Muhammad Shah though inexperienced and weak was not as feeble and imbecile as his two predecessors. He did not prove to be a docile agent of the Sayyid brothers and found many who did not like the Sayyid brothers’ high-handed rule for the past seven years of their power. The most important and ablest of the emperor’s supporters and enemies of the Sayyids was Nizam-ul-Mulk of the Deccan. The Sayyid brothers although powerful at court had antagonized many and particularly the antagonism of the Turani nobles as also their own dissensions undermined their power.
Hussain Ali viceroy of the Deccan sought to chastise the Nizam who was suspected of trying to make him supreme in the Deccan. But Hussain Ali was murdered on his way to Malwa, seat of Nizam- ul-Mulk. In the circumstances Abdullah Khan tried to retain his power by replacing Muhammad Shah by another more convenient puppet, Muhammad Ibrahim another son of Rafi-ush-Shan but he was defeated and imprisoned in 1720 and killed by poisoning two years later (1722). Muhammad Amin Khan was appointed wazir on the imprisonment of Abdullah Khan but he died a year after. Nizam-ul-Mulk was then appointed wazir by Muhammad Shah.
But the atmosphere at the court was not liked by him and he soon left for the Deccan where he established a virtually independent kingdom. But the change of circumstances after the fall of the Sayyid brothers did not in any way help the emperor to increase his power. Ghulam Hussain, the author of Seir-ul-Mutakherin observes that ‘Young and handsome, and fond of all kinds of pleasures, he addicted himself to an inactive life, which entirely enervated the energy of the emperor’. He allowed matters to drift in their own way and the consequence was most fatal. Province after province, the Deccan, Oudh and Bengal slipped out of imperial control.
The Jats became independent near Agra, the Marathas established their power on a vast expanse of territories, the Ruhelas founded the State of Ruhelkhand in the north Gangetic plain, the Sikhs became active in the Punjab. At this juncture Nadir Shah dealt a mortal blow to the Delhi Empire. In this way the Mughal empire had been reduced within forty years of the death of Aurangzeb. The Mughal empire became a phantom of its former self and ceased to be an all India political unit.
6. Ahmad Shah (1748-54): Aziz-ud-din, Alamgir II (1754-64) Shah A lam (1764-1806): Akbar II (1806-37): Bahadur Shah TI (1837-58):
The next emperor Ahmad Shah, son of Muhammad Shah ascended the throne in 1748. But the disintegrating forces had already assumed such serious proportions that it was not within his power to arrest. The empire now extended to the districts round Delhi. Ahmad Shah was deposed in 1754 and blinded by his wazir Imdad-ul-Mulk, grandson of Nizam-ul-Mulk of the Deccan. Imdad- ul-Mulk now became the king-maker and placed Aziz-ud-din, son of Jahandar Shah on the throne who now adopted the mouthful title of Alamgir II.
He was in confinement before raised to the throne but he was no better now than he was prisoner in hands of his wazir Imdad-ul-Mulk. His attempt to get rid of the wazir led to his murder. The atrocious crime of Imdad-ul-Mulk put Alamgir li s son Shah Alam to great fear and he did not venture to enter Delhi and wandered from place to place and while at Oudh joined Mir Qasim in the battle of Buxar against the English in 1764 after which he lived as a pensioner of the English till his death in 1806.
He was succeeded to the throne by his son Akbar II with the empty title of Emperor till 1837. The Imperial dynasty came to an end with the death of Bahadur Shah II who was deported to Rangoon by the English in 1858, due to his complicity with the mutineers, where he died in 1862.