In this article we will discuss about the reign of Shah Jahan in India.
Extension of the Empire:
The Mughuls attempted to conquer south India as part of their Imperial policy right from the reign of Akbar. Shah Jahan pursued the same policy. Besides, the states of south India provided shelter to the rebels against the Mughuls. Shah Jahan desired the submission or conquest of these states to stop this state of affairs. Therefore, attempts were made for the same during the entire reign of Shah Jahan.
Khan Jahan Lodi had sold off Balaghat to Ahmadnagar just before the accession of Shah Jahan on the throne. When he revolted, he found shelter in Ahmadnagar. Shah Jahan sent a strong force against Khan Jahan and Ahmadnagar in 1629 A.D. Ahmadnagar, withdrew its support to Khan Jahan but refused to submit itself. The Mughuls could succeed only partially against it.
However, Ahmadnagar soon became weak because of its internal affairs. Nizam Shah, the ruler of Ahmadnagar, appointed Fateh Khan, son of Malik Ambar as the Vazir. Fateh Khan was not only incapable but selfish and disloyal. He killed Nizam Shah and raised Hussain a child of ten years to the throne.
He tried to be diplomatic and opened negotiations with Bijapur, Golkunda and the Mughuls at one and the same time. Shah Jahan did not trust him and ordered an attack on Daultabad. Fateh Khan at once accepted the suzerainty of the Mughuls and sent costly presents to Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan felt satisfied. Besides, his heart was no more there in the campaign of the Deccan due to the death of his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal. He left the Deccan in 1632 A.D.
Mahabat Khan reached Deccan as the Mughul governor in 1633 A.D. He felt displeased with the policy of duplicity of Fateh Khan. He attacked Daultabad and conquered it after a siege of three and a half months. Hussain Shah, the last ruler of Ahmadnagar and Fateh Khan were sent to the Mughul court as captives and the territory of Ahmadnagar was annexed to the Mughul empire.
Shah Jahan imprisoned Hussain Shah in the fort of Gwalior while Fateh Khan was given a pension of rupees two lakhs per annum and taken in the service of the Mughuls. Thus, Ahmadnagar became a part of the Mughul empire in 1633 A.D. However, some nobles including Shahji Bhonsle, persisted in their struggle against Mughuls up to 1636 A.D. in the name of a child called Murtaza III.
In 1636 A.D., they were also forced to hand over Murtaza III to the Mughuls. He was also imprisoned in the fort of Gwalior. That was the end of the struggle of Ahmadnagar against the Mughuls.
The ruling family of Golkunda was Shia and its rulers had refused to acknowledge the suzerainty of the Mughuls. Shah Jahan desired to conquer Golkunda. Muhammad Qutab Shah had died in 1626 A.D. and his son, Abdulla Qutb Shah, who was only eleven years of age, sat on the throne.
The nobles of the court started quarrelling among themselves during his reign. That weakened Golkunda. Shah Jahan decided to take advantage of its weakness and demanded annual tribute from Golkunda in 1631 A.D. Golkunda refused it. In 1636 A.D., when the Mughuls forced Bijapur and the Marathas for peace, pressure was put on Golkunda.
The same year Abdulla Qutb Shah agreed for peace on the following terms:
(i) Besides the name of four Khaliphas, the name of Shah Jahan would be included in the Khutba and on coins of Golkunda.
(ii) Golkunda accepted the suzerainty of the Mughuls and agreed to pay rupees six lakhs per annum as tribute and also arrears amounting to rupees thirty-six lakhs.
(iii) The Mughuls would help Golkunda in case it was attacked by Bijapur or the Marathas, and, if failed to do so, would pay compensation for the loss suffered by Golkunda.
Shah Jahan appointed Aurangzeb the governor of the Deccan who remained at that post from 1636 to 1644 A.D. and made Aurangabad his capital. During this period, nothing much could be achieved by the Mughuls in the Deccan except the conquest of a small principality Baglana.
However, Aurangzeb, for the convenience of administration divided the Mughal territory of the Deccan into four provinces, viz.:
(1) Khandesh with its capital Burhanpur which included the strong fort of Asirgarh;
(2) Berar with its capital Elichpur;
(3) Telingana with its capital Nander, and
(4) Ahmadnagar which included the territories snatched away from the state of Ahmadnagar by the Mughuls and its capital was Ahmadnagar.
Aurangzeb was appointed governor of the Deccan for the second time in 1652 A.D. and remained at that post up to 1657 A.D. At that time, the condition of the Mughul territory of the Deccan was deplorable. Primarily it was because of corrupt officials and frequent transfers of Subedars.
An income of rupees four crores per year was expected from this territory but, in 1652 A.D., it gave an income of rupees one crore only. The Mughuls maintained a large army in the South because they constantly fought against the states of the South. It meant huge expenditure. Besides, the administrative cost there was too heavy.
Therefore, the income of this territory of the Mughuls fell short of its expenditure. The same way, because of shortage of income, the Jagirdars there could not maintain that number of soldiers which was expected from them. Therefore, Aurangzeb paid his attention first towards economic and administrative reforms.
He took help from a capable officer, Murshid Quli Khan Khurasani in introducing revenue reforms. Murshid Quli Khan understood the revenue reforms introduced by Raja Todar Mai in the North and by Malik Ambar in the Deccan and reformed the revenue administration on the basis of their reforms.
Murshid Quli Khan divided the Mughul territory in the Deccan into two parts for the purpose of revenue:
1. Penghat which consisted of Khandesh and half the territory of Berar, and
2. Balaghat which included rest of the Mughul territory in the Deccan.
For his assistance, he appointed two deputy diwans. He got the land measured, classified it into different categories on the basis of production and collected the data as to what type and how much land was with each cultivator.
He appointed loyal and honest officers everywhere. He collected the money which was given to the cultivators as Taqvi loans and distributed it among poor peasants so that they could purchase bullocks and seeds for themselves. The peasants were asked to pay 1/4 of the produce as revenue to the state. Keeping in view the local circumstances, different methods were adopted for collecting the revenue.
At places, a rough estimate of the produce was done while at others, the revenue was fixed on the basis of actual produce. The reforms of Murshid Quli Khan proved successful. Within a few years, agriculture-production increased and that increased the income of the state as well.
Historian Bhimsena wrote that ‘in 1658 A.D., no piece of land remained uncultivated near Aurangabad.’ Besides the revenue reforms, Aurangzeb carried out certain other civilian as well as military reforms. He turned out incapable and dishonest officers from services. All his measures succeeded.
But Aurangzeb was not satisfied only in governing better the territories of the Mughuls in the Deccan. He desired to finish the existence of the states of Bijapur and Golkunda. First, he paid attention towards Golkunda which was a prosperous state and therefore, could provide rich dividends to Aurangzeb. Golkunda had also failed to pay the annual tribute to the Mughuls which it had agreed to pay by the treaty of 1636 A.D.
Besides, Aurangzeb desired to get fame and influence which he had lost in his unsuccessful campaigns of Central Asia and Kandhar by fresh conquests in the Deccan. He, therefore, wanted simply a pretext to attack Golkunda. The affair of Mir Muhammad Sayyid alias Mir Jumla provided that opportunity to him. Mir Jumla had settled in Golkunda only twenty-five years back.
He amassed wealth, increased his influence, pleased Abdulla Qutb Shah, the ruler of Golkunda and became his vazir. Mir Jumla conquered Karnataka and added it to his own jagir. Thus, a territory 300 miles in length and 50 miles in breadth became his personal jagir. Besides, both by trade and plunder he collected enormous wealth.
A French traveller, Thovenot said that he possessed diamonds which were twenty mans in weight. Mir Jumla organised his private army as well which consisted of 5,000 cavalry, 20,000 infantry and a good part of artillery. Sultan Qutb Shah grew suspicious of him and asked him to surrender Karnatak. Mir Jumla refused to hand it over to the Sultan. That annoyed Qutb Shah who decided to imprison him.
Mir Jumla felt suspicious and opened negotiations with the rulers of Persia and Bijapur and also with Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan immediately took him into his service and asked Qutb Shah to allow Mir Jumla to proceed to Delhi.
Mir Jumla could get the opportunity to find shelter with Aurangzeb but his son and other family members were imprisoned and the property of Mir Jumla was confiscated. It provoked Shah Jahan and he permitted Aurangzeb to attack Golkunda.
Prince Muhammad, son of Aurangzeb was deputed to attack Golkunda in 1656 A.D. Qutb Shah freed the son and the relatives of Mir Jumla but Aurangzeb did not feel satisfied. He himself proceeded towards Golkunda to recover the arrears of the tribute and the property of Mir Jumla.
The Mughuls captured Hyderabad and besieged the fort of Golkunda. Qutb Shah, on the one hand, sought the help of Bijapur and, on the other hand, begged mercy from Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan ordered Aurangzeb to turn back from Golkunda.
Aurangzeb kept that order secret and continued the siege till Qutb Shah agreed to his terms. The treaty was signed between the two parties the same year. By its terms, Qutb Shah married one of his daughters to Prince Muhammad, gave rupees ten lakhs in dowry and another rupees fifteen lakhs as war indemnity, returned the property of Mir Jumla, agreed to pay the arrears of the tribute and accepted the suzerainty of the Mughul emperor.
Bijapur had always opposed the intrusion of the Mughuls in the Deccan. It had, therefore, always supported Golkunda against the Mughuls. Sultan Ibrahim Shah had died some months earlier than Jahangir and Muhammad Adil Shah had ascended the throne. The Mughuls attacked Bijapur in 1631 A.D. under the command of Asaf Khan, but failed and Asaf Khan was called back by Shah Jahan.
Then Mahabat Khan was appointed the governor of the Deccan. He finished the independent existence of Ahmadnagar, conquered Daulatabad but failed to capture the fort of Parendra. Mahabat Khan was shocked by this failure on his part and died of illness in 1634 A.D. Afterwards, Shah Jahan remained busy in suppressing the revolt of Jujhar Singh and no success was achieved against Bijapur.
In 1636 A.D., Shah Jahan attacked Daultabad. Bijapur was weak at that time due to rebellious attempts of its nobles.
Therefore, Muhammad Adil Shah readily agreed for peace and a treaty was signed between the two parties on the following terms:
1. Bijapur accepted the suzerainty of the Mughul emperor and agreed to pay him an annual tribute of rupees twenty lakhs.
2. Bijapur promised to help the Mughuls to recover the forts of Chunar and Trimbak if these were not surrendered voluntarily by Shahji Bhonsle.
3. Bijapur agreed to be friendly with Golkunda and get settled disputes with it by the Mughuls.
4. Shah Jahan returned voluntarily the forts of Parendra, Bidar, Gulbarga, Sholapur etc. to Bijapur.
The same year, Golkunda and Shahji Bhonsle agreed for peace with the Mughuls. Thus, the year 1636 A.D. was a remarkable year in the history of the Deccan policy of the Mughuls.
Dr Jadunath Sarkar has remarked:
“Thus after forty years of strife (1595-1636) the affairs of the Deccan were almost settled. The position of the emperor was asserted beyond challenge, his boundaries clearly defined, and his suzerainty over the southern kingdoms formally established.”
After the treaty in 1636 A.D., there remained peace for twenty years between Bijapur and the Mughuls. Muhammad Adil Shah proved himself a capable ruler and governed his kingdom well. He died in November 1656 A.D. His queen, Bari Sahiba placed a boy of eighteen years on the throne who assumed the title of Adil Shah II.
It was believed that Adil Shah I had no son and Bari Sahiba had accepted him as her son for the sake of convenience. Aurangzeb reported this fact to Shah Jahan who then saw an opportunity to annex Bijapur to the Mughul empire. Shah Jahan accused Bijapur that it had not paid the annual tribute in full, had strengthened the army to help Golkunda and had illegally occupied the territory of Mir Jumla in Karnataka.
He ordered Aurangzeb to attack Bijapur on these pretexts and sent Mir Jumla and some other capable officers to help Aurangzeb in the campaign. The Mughuls captured the fort of Bidar, destroyed the army of Bijapur which was collected in Gulbarga and, in 1657 A.D., occupied the fort of Kalyani. Bijapur sued for peace from the emperor.
Therefore, when Aurangzeb attacked the fort of Bijapur, he received orders from Shah Jahan to conclude a treaty with Bijapur and send back Mir Jumla and other officers to the court. Aurangzeb obeyed the orders of the Emperor and a treaty was signed between the two parties by which Bijapur agreed to pay war indemnity of rupees one and half crores. Shah Jahan gracefully reduced the sum to rupees one crore only.
However the forts of Bidar and Kalyani remained with the Mughuls. Shah Jahan fell ill at that time and there arose the possibility of war of succession between his sons. Adil Shah II too took advantage of the changed situation and refused to fulfill the terms of the treaty. Aurangzeb could collect only a part of the war indemnity when he returned to Aurangabad in January 1658 A.D.
The Mughuls faced a challenge from another quarter at that very time when they were fighting against Bijapur and Golkunda. Shivaji, son of Shahji Bhonsle started his efforts to carve out an independent kingdom for himself. He started attacks on Mughul territories. Aurangzeb despatched a Mughul army against him and he was defeated. He accepted the suzerainty of the Mughuls when the treaty was signed between Bijapur and the Mughuls.
Thus, the Deccan policy of the Mughuls proved fairly successful during the reign of Shah Jahan. The existence of Ahmadnagar was wiped out while both Bijapur and Golkunda accepted the suzerainty of the Emperor. Besides, these were forced to pay the annual tribute from time to time and parts of their territories and a few of their forts were occupied by the Mughuls.
Thus, though Bijapur and Golkunda could retain their separate existence, yet their power was seriously damaged. Probably, Bijapur and Golkunda could be annexed to the Mughul empire if Shah Jahan himself would not have stopped wars against them by Aurangzeb. Shah Jahan understood well the politics of the Deccan.
He felt that the annexation of these states would create problems for the Mughul empire and therefore, remained satisfied by weakening them and acceptance of his suzerainty by them. It is also believed that prince Dara Shukoh and princess Jahan Ara were also against the annexation of these states.
It would have increased the power and prestige of Aurangzeb which would have gone against the interest of Dara Shukoh. These factors helped Bijapur and Golkunda in safeguarding their existence. The war of succession which ensued among the sons of Shah Jahan shortly afterwards also helped their fortunes at that time.
Some Other Minor Conquests:
Some minor conquests were also made during the reign of Shah Jahan. The Bhils of Malwa and Gonda, Raja Pratap of Palamau and the Raja of Little Tibet accepted the suzerainty of the Mughul emperor while Assam was forced to establish trade relations with the Mughul empire after constant fighting between the years 1628-39 A.D.
Like all other Mughul emperors who ruled prior to him, Shah Jahan also desired to conquer Central Asia. Imam Quli Uzbeg, the ruler of Central Asia had tried to capture Kabul between 1628-29 A.D. but had failed. Afterwards his brother Nazr Muhammad succeeded in capturing Samarqand. But his son Abdul Aziz revolted against him.
Shah Jahan tried to gain from that internal fighting among the Uzbegs. Prince Murad was sent to capture Central Asia. He succeeded partially. He was called back and, in his place, prince Aurangzeb was deputed. Aurangzeb too succeeded only partially and returned in 1647 A.D. Thus, the attempt of Shah Jahan to conquer Central Asia failed.
Kandhar had always been a bone of contention between the Persians and the Mughuls. It was captured by Persians in 1622 A.D. during the reign of Jahangir. But in 1638 A.D., the Persian governor Ali Mardan Khan surrendered the fort to the Mughuls and accepted the service of Shah Jahan.
When the Mughuls failed in Central Asia, the Persian emperor was encouraged to attack Kandhar. He captured it in 1648 A.D. The attempts of Aurangzeb in 1649 A.D. and 1652 A.D. respectively and the attempt of Dara Shukoh in 1653 A.D. failed to recover the fort. Thus, Kandhar was lost to the Mughuls during the reign of Shah Jahan.
The War of Succession (1657-1659 A.D.):
Shah Jahan fell ill on 6 September 1657 A.D. He failed to attend the court for a long time. He even could not present himself before his subjects for Jharokha Darshan. The rumour spread that he was dead. That disturbed the empire. The emperor was the centre point of power and peace. The death of an emperor was always an occasion of internal disruption and disturbance of peace.
The very probability of the death of Shah Jahan created rival groups in the court and the empire. Each son of Shah Jahan became desirous to capture the throne and the nobles prepared themselves to support one or the other prince.
The Hindus desired to favour a prince who might pursue a liberal religious policy; the fanatic Muslims desired to favour a prince who might protect Islam, while the people in general felt insecure for their life, honour and property. Shah Jahan tried to dispel the rumours.
He presented himself before his subjects every day for Jharokha Darshan. Besides, in order to avoid the war of succession, he declared prince Dara Shukoh as his successor in the presence of his all nobles and assigned him the responsibility of administering the empire on his behalf. But among the Mughuls, the succession was mostly decided by the sword. Shah Jahan himself had captured the throne by this means. His sons also pursued the same course and the war could not be avoided.
The war of succession which took place among the sons of Shah Jahan had one novelty. While previously, these were fought after the death of the emperor, this war was fought when Shah Jahan was yet alive. Besides, all sons and daughters of Shah Jahan who are famous in history, participated in it.
While the four sons viz., Dara Shukoh, Shah Shuja, Aurangzeb and Murad Bux fought against each other, the sisters allied themselves with one or the other brother. Jahan Ara supported Dara Shukoh, Roshan Ara supported Aurangzeb and Gauhan Ara sided with Murad Bux.
The eldest prince, Dara Shukoh was an educated, cultured and liberal prince. He was kind, loyal to his father and possessed good moral virtues. His religious views were most liberal and therefore, he commanded respect among the Hindus. He was appointed as governor of Punjab but mostly remained at the court and therefore, was in touch with the administration of the empire.
He possessed courage, chivalry and self-confidence. Due to his character and ideas, he enjoyed confidence and affection of the Emperor and the majority of the subjects and, probably, would have proved the most competent among his brothers as an emperor. But Dara was certainly not as competent as Aurangzeb was in the art of war and diplomacy.
Of course, his nomination as the successor to the throne strengthened his position against his brothers to a certain extent but it also created serious problems for him. He had to carry on the administration according to the advice of his father and, at the same time, had to fight against his brothers.
While he was not free to carry on the administration as he liked, his brothers always doubted his intentions. His brothers felt that he was trying to strengthen his hold on the throne. Therefore, they decided to settle the issue of succession by recourse to war which virtually meant the overthrow of the authority of Shah Jahan.
Next one to Dara was Shah Shuja who was the governor of Bengal. He was a capable soldier and possessed an attractive personality. But he had become ease-loving in the climate and comforts of Bengal.
As he was a Shia by faith he received the support of the Shias. Aurangzeb, the third prince possessed courage, capacity to do hard labour and a determined will. His participation in the campaigns of Central Asia and Kandhar had made him a capable commander.
He was the one among his brothers who was most skilled in the art of war and diplomacy. He was a fanatic Sunni by faith and therefore, the Sunnis were desirous to have him as the emperor with a view to strengthen Islam in India.
From past several decades reactionary forces of Islam were becoming powerful in India and had influenced the religious policies of Jahangir and Shah Jahan. These were led by Shaikh Ahmad Sarhindi and Abdul Haq Dhelvi. These forces aimed at establishing a state based on the ideals of Islam in India. Therefore, these forces supported Aurangzeb against the liberal prince, Dara Shukoh.
However, Dr M. Atahar Ali has severely refuted this opinion. He has given the number of Rajput and Maratha mansabdars who participated in the war of succession in favour of Dara Shukoh as well as in favour of Aurangzeb and has maintained that the presence of equally good number of Rajput and Maratha mansabdars in the camp of Aurangzeb has established the fact that religion played no important role in the war of succession.
The youngest one, Murad Bux was courageous and a tough fighter in the battlefield but in the harem he was an indulgent prince. He was liberal and kind-hearted but he was emotional, impractical, imbalanced and lacked shrewdness.
He could fight against anybody like a child and therefore, could become an effective instrument in the hands of any shrewd person. He was the governor of Gujarat at that time. All these four princes prepared themselves to capture the throne when Shah Jahan fell ill.
Shah Shuja, Aurangzeb and Murad proceeded towards the capital with their armies on the pretext of meeting the ailing Emperor. Shah Jahan wrote letters to them under his own signatures with a view to impress them that he was alive. He also advised them to come to the capital not with their armies but only with their bodyguards. But no prince followed his advice.
On the contrary, Shah Shuja declared himself emperor in Bengal and Murad did the same in Gujarat. Shah Shuja proceeded towards the capital in January 1658 A.D. Murad murdered his diwan Ali Naqi, looted Surat and proceeded towards the capital in February. Aurangzeb extracted as much money as he could from Bijapur and Golkunda and also from Mir Jumla, consolidated his hold over the Deccan and proceeded towards Agra in February.
However, he did not declare himself the emperor. He pretended that he was going to meet his ailing father. All the three brothers of Dara were conspiring against him and were in correspondence with each other for this purpose. Aurangzeb proved most successful among them. He could manage a treaty with Murad. Both of them declared that their aim was to destroy Dara because he was not true to his faith.
They agreed that after victory over Dara, Afghanistan, Punjab, Kashmir and Sindh would be handed over to Murad as an independent ruler and the rest of the empire would go to Aurangzeb. The same way 1/3rd booty would go to Murad and 2/3rd to Aurangzeb.
Shah Jahan sent Imperial armies against these rebel princes. The one army was despatched towards the east against Shah Shuja under the command of Sulaiman Shukoh, son of Dara Shukoh and Raja Jai Singh. Another one was sent towards south under the command of Raja Jaswant Singh and Qasim Khan.
The Imperial commanders were asked to force the rebel princes to withdraw to their provinces and if forced to fight then the lives of the princes were to be spared. Shah Shuja faced the Imperial army at Bahadurpur, five miles away from Banaras on 14 February 1658 A.D. He was defeated and he fled towards Bengal.
In the south, the armies of Murad and Aurangzeb combined themselves at Dipalpur in April 1658 A.D. Jaswant Singh could not get the news of it. He was expecting to meet only the army of Murad and lacked sufficient resources to challenge the combined armies of both the princes.
Besides, his colleague, Qasim Khan was not reliable. Yet, that was no time to talk of peace. He faced the combined army of Murad and Aurangzeb at Dharmat, fourteen miles away from Ujjain on 25 April 1658. Qasim Khan did not support him well and fled away from the battle in its midst. Jaswant Singh and his Rajputs fought bravely but they were defeated.
Jaswant Singh was wounded and forcibly removed from the field by his trusted followers. The Imperial army was dispersed. It is said that when Jaswant Singh reached Jodhpur, his queen refused to admit him in the fort because it was against Rajput chivalry to have fled from the field for the sake of saving his life.
Aurangzeb and Murad moved forward towards Agra via Gwalior. Now Dara Shukoh moved from Agra to give them a battle. He fought against them at Samugarh, eight miles east of Agra on 8 June 1658 A.D. He was badly defeated. He felt so ashamed that he did not meet even Shah Jahan and left for Delhi with his family members.
The battle of Samugarh decided the fate of Dara. Aurangzeb besieged the fort of Agra, cut off the water-supply from the river Yamuna to the fort and forced Shah Jahan to open the gates of the fort. After that Shah Jahan remained the prisoner of Aurangzeb till his death on 31 January 1666 A.D. The father and son exchanged letters between themselves but never met each other.
Various factors were responsible for the defeat of Dara in the battle of Samugarh. Dara could not take his complete artillery to the battlefield. It was used when the enemy forces were beyond its reach and afterwards Dara came between it and his enemies so that it could not be used. Dara allowed the army of his enemies a complete day rest.
He could not send support in time to his weakened left-wing under Rustam Khan who, therefore, was killed. When he himself moved from the centre to support his left-wing, he came before the fire of his artillery. Further, he committed the mistake of coming down from his elephant to ride on horse-back on the advice of some of his followers with a view to safeguard him from the artillery fire of the enemy.
When his soldiers did not see him on his elephant, they felt that he had died. It demoralised them and they fled away from the battlefield. Besides, while the Rajputs fought for him whole heartedly, his commander of the right-wing, Khalilulla Khan and his soldiers did not engage in fighting but only put up a show of it. It would be wrong to conclude that the army of Dara was weak.
On the contrary, he commanded a stronger army. The backbone of the Imperial army, the Sayyids and the chivalrous Rajputs were on his side and his fighting skill was supported by capable officers like Rustam Khan, Chattrasal Handa and Diler Khan. His artillery was superior than his enemy’s. But defection of many Muslim officers and their soldiers and superior commandership of Aurangzeb brought about his defeat.
After the capture of the fort of Agra, Aurangzeb did not try to pursue Dara. Instead he paid more attention towards Murad and the army of the Sulaiman Shukoh in the east. Murad had begged excuse from his father, showed no keenness to dethrone him and started behaving independently.
Therefore, Aurangzeb grew suspicious towards him. The same way Murad grew suspicious towards Aurangzeb due to his neglectful behaviour towards him. Aurangzeb decided to remove Murad from his way. He invited Murad several times on feast which was always refused. But, once after returning from a hunt near Mathura, Murad agreed to pass one night with Aurangzeb on the advice of one of his officers who was won over by Aurangzeb by bribing him.
Murad was entertained at a grand feast and then a maid-servant was sent to shampoo the legs of Murad in his tent. She lulled him to sleep and then removed his weapons from his side. Murad was then imprisoned easily while his army was won over by persuasion and money.
Aurangzeb proceeded to Delhi from Mathura. Dara had failed to raise a good army so far and had gone to Lahore. Delhi, therefore, was occupied by Aurangzeb without resistance. He held his coronation at Delhi and declared himself the emperor. Then, Aurangzeb despatched one army towards the east against Sulaiman Shukoh and himself proceeded to pursue Dara.
Dara had an army of 14.000 men and enough money, yet, neither he succeeded in collecting a larger force than that nor he dared to fight Aurangzeb. He fled to Multan and then to Bakhar. Aurangzeb followed him till Multan and then returned to Delhi after leaving his officers to pursue him.
In the east, Shah Shuja had started proceeding towards Agra. As Aurangzeb had gone to pursue Dara, he expected to capture Agra easily. Mohammad, the elder son of Aurangzeb blocked his way at Khajwah near Allahabad. Aurangzeb and Mir Jumla also soon joined him and the strength of the Imperial army became nearly double that of Shah Shuja.
Shah Shuja was defeated and he fled away. Prince Mohammad and Mir Jumla pursued him up to Bengal. Shah Shuja felt desperate and entered Arakan. Afterwards, nothing was heard of him. It is said he conspired against the ruler of Arakan. It was detected and he was killed.
In the meantime, Dara had fled away from the fort of Bakhar. He went to Cutch, then to Gujarat where he was welcomed by the governor. He had now two options before him. He could either go to the Deccan or could seek support from Rajasthan.
Raja Jaswant Singh had once assured him of his support but when Dara reached Ajmer he was shocked to know that Jaswant Singh was won over to the side of Aurangzeb through the good offices of Raja Jai Singh who had joined Aurangzeb prior to him.
Jaswant Singh was appointed governor of Gujarat by Aurangzeb who had returned to Delhi after defeating Shah Shuja. Dara was defeated by the Imperialists at the pass of Deorai near Ajmer. He now failed to find shelter in Gujarat and entered Sindh with a view to cross over to Afghanistan.
He decided to go for the safety of Bakhar which was defended by one of his loyal officers against the Imperialists. But his beloved wife Nadira fell ill and Dara sought shelter with one Baluchi chief, Malik Jiwan who was once saved by him from the wrath of emperor Shah Jahan. Malik Jiwan betrayed him and handed him and his family to the Imperialists.
His wife Nadira had died by then. Dara and his second son, Siphir Shukoh were sent as captives to Delhi in September 1659 A.D. Aurangzeb paraded Dara in the streets of Delhi in dirty attire, seated on a filthy elephant.
He was, then, put into prison. A special court tried him for apostacy, found him guilty and he was beheaded. His dead body was shown to the public in the streets of Delhi and then he was buried at the tomb of Humayun at Delhi.
Sulaiman Shukoh, the eldest son of Dara Shukoh, had found shelter at Gharwal whose ruler Prithvi Singh refused to hand him over to Aurangzeb. But Raja Jai Singh induced his son Medini Singh to hand over Sulaiman Shukoh. Medini Singh managed to surrender him to Aurangzeb.
He was sent as prisoner to the fort of Gwalior where he died as a result of slow poisoning (1662 A.D.). Murad Bux was charged of murdering his Diwan, Ali Naqi and was put to death. Aurangzeb, however, left Siphir Shukoh alive, made him free after twelve years and married his third daughter with him. The same way, he left alive Izid Bux, son of Murad and married his fifth daughter with him.
Aurangzeb, thus, became the undisputed ruler of the Mughul empire. It is a matter of conjecture as to what would have been the history of India if instead of Aurangzeb, Dara Shukoh would have succeeded in the war of succession? Aurangzeb proved himself a bigot. He reversed the liberal religious policy of Akbar.
That resulted in the revolt of the Hindus which disrupted the unity of the empire and weakened it. On the contrary, if Dara would have been the emperor, he would have continued the liberal policy of Akbar which would have strengthened the empire and would have given a longer life to it.
Last Days and Death of Shah Jahan:
Shah Jahan passed the last eight years of his life as a prisoner in the Shah Burj of the Agra Fort. Aurangzeb took away from him the royal jewellery and devoided him of even the daily comforts of life. His daughter, Jahan Ara, however, served him loyally till his death. He died in 1666 A.D. and was buried near the grave of his dear wife Mumtaz Mahal in the Taj Mahal in the Taj Mahal at Agra.
Mumtaz Mahal was the most beloved queen of Shah Jahan. All known sons and daughters of Shah Jahan were born of her. She was born in 1594 A.D. and her name of childhood was Arjumand Banu Begum. She was married to Shah Jahan in 1612 A.D. She gave birth to fourteen children. She died in 1630 A.D. at Burhanpur.
Mumtaz Mahal remained a loyal wife to her husband in all his pleasures as well as sufferings. She was a well-educated, cultured and generous lady. Her father, Asaf Khan who rose to eminence in the state, brought her up with utmost care and affection. Besides being loyal to her husband, another virtue of Mumtaz Mahal was that she was a religious-minded lady.
She observed all religious practices of Islam devotedly. She did not interfere in politics but it is said that her religious views influenced the religious views of Shah Jahan towards orthodoxy. Shah Jahan constructed the world famous Taj Mahal at Agra in her memory.
Personality and Character of Shah Jahan: His Place in History:
Historians have expressed contradictory views about the character and achievements of Shah Jahan. It has led to a question that whether the reign of Shah Jahan was the golden age of Mughul history or not? The character of Shah Jahan exhibits two faces.
On the one hand he is cultured, liberal, just, man of character and protector of literature and fine arts. On the other hand, he is cruel, selfish, indulgent and fanatic. That is why Dr S.R. Sharma says that in certain respects the character of Shah Jahan was that of contradictions.
Shah Jahan was well-educated and cultured. He provided protection to scholars. Persian and Sanskrit literature flourished during his reign. He also patronized fine arts. He was a good singer and patronized fine arts like music, painting and architecture. He had several wives, yet he was devoted to them.
His love for Mumtaz Mahal has become almost legendary. He loved his children and gave them all training and comforts worthy of princes. He was a hard fighter and capable commander. He participated in all important campaigns during the life-time of his father and planned all military campaigns himself when he became the emperor. He extended the boundary of the Mughul empire.
While Ahmadnagar was completely annexed to the Mughul empire, Bijapur and Golkunda were forced to accept the suzerainty of the Emperor. He even attempted to conquer Central Asia and recover Kandhar. He was a just ruler and earnestly desired the welfare of his subjects. Trade, industry and agriculture flourished and the state as well as the subjects enjoyed prosperity during his reign.
He worked hard and personally supervised the administration of the empire. He brought about improvement in the mansahdari system. He helped his subjects generously in times of famines and natural calamities. With regard to religious affairs, he was certainly orthodox when compared with Jahangir and Akbar, yet he did not interfere in the daily lives of the Hindus or the Christians.
He rather participated in fairs and festivals of the Hindus and continued the practices of Jharokha Darshan and Tula Dan as before. He continued the policy of his father and grandfather in his relations with the Rajputs and commanded their loyalty. All these facts go in favour of Shah Jahan.
But there is another side also of the character and personality of Shah Jahan. There are many instances to justify that he was cruel and barbaric in his behaviour and actions. He revolted against his father during his life-time and captured the throne after cruelly killing all his brothers and all probable contenders of the throne.
He favoured his eldest son, Dara Shukoh which resulted in jealousy of his other sons against their brother. He failed to check his sons to fight among themselves during his own life-time. His attempts to conquer Central Asia and Kandhar failed which exhibited the military weakness of the Mughul empire. According to V.A. Smith- “Shah Jahan failed both as a person and as a ruler.” Land revenue was increased during his reign which created economic hardship to peasants.
Trade and industry certainly prospered but its advantages were not utilised in the interest of the state or the subjects. Shah Jahan wasted his increased resources as well as the royal treasury to fulfill his personal pleasures and hobbies. His peacock-throne and several buildings including the Taj Mahal are sufficient proofs to justify this contention. His reign also marked the revival of religious orthodoxy.
The temples at Orcha were destroyed and the Hindu captives were forced to accept Islam during his reign. Nearly seventy-six temples were destroyed at Banaras by the orders of Shah Jahan while he sent costly presents to the religious men at Mecca and Madina. Tax-burden on the Hindus was increased. Pilgrim-tax on the Hindus was reimposed.
In Kashmir, the Hindus and the Muslims inter-married each other. Now, they were stopped from doing so. The Hindus were stopped from wearing dresses in Muslim fashions. The Muslims were given preference in every state service against the Hindus. Of course, during the later period of his reign, his policy was somewhat liberalised because of the influence of prince Dara Shukoh.
Yet, it has been accepted that his reign definitely moved towards the policy of religious intolerance. Thus, the other side of the personality of Shah Jahan is that of failures, wastage of money and revival of religious orthodoxy.
However, when we assess his personality, we can conclude that his character had more virtues than evil. Shah Jahan certainly became cruel and biased at times and the Mughuls faced certain failures also during his reign, yet, the net result went in favour of the empire.
He achieved more as compared to his failures. He has been criticised mostly by European scholars and they too, after describing his weaknesses and failures, assign him a respectable place among the Mughul emperors.
V.A. Smith has criticised Shah Jahan bitterly yet he concludes:
“Whatever be the view taken of the personal character of Shah Jahan, or the efficiency of his administration, it can hardly be disputed that his reign marks the climax of the Mughul dynasty and Empire.”
Among Indian historians, the majority has ranked him as a successful ruler. Shah Jahan occupies a place lower than his grandfather, Akbar, but certainly a higher place than his father, Jahangir.