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16-Indian History-AD-4 (1605-1707)

India has a continuous civilization since 2500 BC. During the 2nd millennium, Aryan speaking tribes migrated from northwest into the Indian subcontinent. The following material has been taken from "A New History of India", by Stanley Wolpert. 2004.

Mugal History Contd from Previous Page

The Mugal Empire (1526-1707 AD) - 181 years
Mugal Glory - 1605-1707 - Jahaangeer, Shaah Jahaan and Aurangzeb

Jahaangeer (reign, 1605-1627) - 22 years
Akbar tried his power briefly to suppress his son Saleem, but then was poisoned by his son Jahaangeer and he died on October 17, 1605. Saleem assumed his Persian name Jahaangeer and started his 22 year reign at the age of 36. Jahaangeer's Raajpoot mother can hardly be credited with having converted her son to Hindu ways, but his remarkable Persian wife Mehrunnisaa, who he renamed Noor Jahaan after marrying her in 1611, firmly established Persian culture at Aagaraa's court.

Noor Jahaan was the daughter of an Iranian nobleman Giyaas Beg. She came to Mugal court as a child with his father and moved to Bangaal as a wife of Sher Afagan. Sher Afagan died in 1607, so she moved to Dehlee as a waiting woman in the service of one of Akbar's widows. Early in 1611, she was playing with her mates at a bazaar, then she met Jahaangeer. Mutually agreed, she married him in May. She was a 34-married old widow, when she married to the Emperor. She was not only his wife but was the ruling Empress. Even at the age of 34, she was strikingly beautiful and was physically skilled and intellectually intelligent. By 1622, she was effectively participating in all kingdom related works of Jahaangeer. Throughout her life, Jahaangeer was captive of her beauty, so much so that he minted coins bearing her image. She herself was also an artist.

She raised her father Mirzaa Beg (renamed Itimaddaulaa by Akbar) to the premiership and brought her brother, Aasif Khaan, into position to serve the next Emperor in that office by arranging the marriage of her lovely daughter, Mumtaaz Mahal to Jahaangeer's third son Khurram (later known as Shaah Jahaan). The combination of beauty, brilliance, and ambition soon captured Jahaangeer's heart and then to usurp his throne. Jahaangeer had another son name Khusaro. Jahaangeer used to go to Himaalaya to spend his summer, that was emulated by British also.

In his early period, he showed some artistic temperament, but soon he became alcohol addicted and then to opium. According to his autobiography he started drinking from the age of 18, from a glass of wine gradually increasing up to 20 cups a day. When he cut back on alcohol on doctor's advice, he became addicted to opium.

So Jahaangeer had 2 sons - Khusaro and Khurram (later known as Shaah Jahaan). Khusaro rebelled in 1607, but was caught and later was released. After his release he again plotted to assassinate his father but was again discovered. This time he was blinded, but regained partial eyesight and spent his rest of his life as captive.

So Jahaangeer appointed his younger son Khurram in command of his army in 1613 and therefore the Prince, who was soon named Shaah Jahaan, took many Saltanat from around. The only threat came from Persia, when in 1622, Shaah Abbaas took away Kandhaar from Aagaraa's control. Jahaangeer was too preoccupied with his gardens, wine, poetry and women to lead an army over the Baloochistaan passes and Shaah Jahaan refused to follow Noor Jahaan's order sensing that she did no longer favored him (because she married her own daughter from her previous marriage to his brother Shahariyaar), and was trying to get him away from Aagaraa and Dehlee. One year before Shaah Jahaan's elder brother Khusaro had died, probably poisoned by one of his brothers. After Khusaro's death, Shaah Jahaan was the leading contender for the throne; and his real opponent was Noor Jahaan who herself wanted to rule, no matter who reigned.

In 1623, Shaah Jahaan marched toward Aagaraa but was driven off by Mahaavat Khaan whom Noor Jahaan had called back from Kaabul. Shaah Jahaan was chased around for three years before he returned to Dehlee. By then Mahaavat Khaan became so powerful that Noor Jahaan considered him a threat so she was sent to Bangaal by charging for embezzlement of royal funds. Then Mahaavat Khaan organized a coup in 1626 taking both Jahaangeer and Noor Jahaan as prisoners. He kept them in prison for several months without harming them, then lost his nerve and let them escape. Noor Jahaan pardoned him and sent him to hunt Shaah Jahaan, she appointed her brother Aasif Khaan the premier of the kingdom, On October 29, 1627 Jahaangeer died.

Noor Jahaan tried to seek help her other son-in-law, Shahariyaar, but he was sick; then she tried to get her brother Aasif Khaan's support but he supported his own son-in-law Shaah Jahaan whom he informed by courier about his father's death. Shaah Jahaan rushed to claim his throne reaching Aagaraa only in early 1628. All of his closest rivals were put to death and then Shaah Jahaan enjoyed three weeks celebration of his coronation. Noor Jahaan was pensioned off and went to live in Laahaur till her death in 1645.

Shaah Jahaan (reign, 1628-1658) - 30 years
Shaah Jahaan's real name was Khurram when his father appointed him in command of his army. Soon he took his name as Shaah Jahaan. His father died when he was away. His father-in-law Aasif Khaan informed him about the death of his father by courier, so he rushed to Aagaraa to reach only in early 1628. All his rivals were put to death and Noor Jahaan was sent to Laahaur.

Shaah Jahaan had 7 wives and Mumtaaz Mahal was his 4th wife. He had 4 sons - the eldest one Daaraa Shikoh (born on Mar 20, 1615 and died on Aug 30, 1659), the second son was Shujaa, the third one was Aurangzeb and the youngest one was Muraad. He had 2 daughters also Chimanee Begam and one another one. Chimanee never married refusing to leave her father during the 7 years he was held prisoner by Aurangzeb. She spent her last days in Ajamer, as did another daughter who probably died from TB. Chimanee's tomb is near Ajamer Vaaley Khwaajaa's Daragaah in Ajamer.

When he took over the kingdom from his father Jahaangeer, it was bankrupt. He moved from Aagaraa to Delhi in 1638. The huge city of Shaajahaanbaad, now known as old Delhi, was built in 10 years. Much of its building materials was taken from the ruins of Feerozaabaad and Shergarh. Its principal street was Chaandanee Chauk. It was protected by rubble wall with 14 gates; some of them are still in existence - Ajameree Gate, Kashmeeree Gate, Delhi Gate, Turkmaan Gate, Laahauree Gate. Between this city and Yamunaa River he built the Red Fort (started in 1639 and completed in 1648), based on the model of Aagaraa Fort.

The most lavish spender of all Mugal kings, Shaah Jahaan was addicted to monumental architecture inlaid with jewels and semiprecious stones, and to a Harem whose total population was 5,000. His beloved wife Mumtaaz bore him 14 children, only half of them survived to adulthood before she herself died at the age of 39 while delivering her 14th child. His eldest son was Daaraa Shikoh (b/d 1615-1659) whose deep interest in art, humanity and philosophy led many courtiers and foreign visitors believe that India will soon have another ruler like Akbar, but Daaraa's brother Aurangzeb had other ideas.

He was much more successful in pushing towards south, rather than consolidating the Empire in Afagaanistaan. He also admired art and literature and above all architectural monuments on an unparallel scale. Taaj Mahal built during 1632-1653 (in 21 years) is the most striking building of his period - one of the seven wonders of the world. His other buildings include Red Fort, mosques, in Delhi, Aagaraa and Laahaur, not only in scale but also in details. He loved his wife Mumtaaz Mahal so much that he built Taaj Mahal to pay his tribute to her. She died in 1631 while giving birth to her 14th child.

Shaah Jahaan's first years were preoccupied to struggle with Dakkan and Bundelkhand rebellions. All were handled finally except Dakkan. It was Burhaanpur, the Mugal fortress in the Dakkan, in the midst of famine, that Mumtaaz Mahal died in a childbirth in 1631. Shaah Jahaan lived for another 35 years. The other three princes, Aurangzeb, Shujaa and Muraad were granted much lower Mansab (local ruling places), though above 10,000.

Soon after his mother's death, Daaraa Shikoh married his cousin, Naadiraa, to whom he remained singularly devoted, and she bore him 8 children. Aurangzeb (b/d 1618-1707) was only 14 years old at that time, but he already hated his elder brother, so in the hope to cool him down was to keep him at a distance, Shaah Jahaan appointed Aurangzeb as Nawaab of Dakkan in 1636 [at the age of 18]. But he remained there only for 8 years and came back to northern center of Empire [in 1644]. By that time Shaah Jahaan had begun construction of a magnificent new capital in Delhi to which his court would move in 1648. Aagaraa was not totally abandoned by Shaah Jahaan, but perhaps the memory of Mumtaaz Mahal was troubling him, or perhaps the heat, or perhaps the passion to build his own city. 

He had already erected six cities before and this was the 7th one, Shaajahaanbaad, later called it Old Delhi, after British began building a New Dehlee in 1911. The material to build Shaahjahaanbaad was taken from Feerozaabaad - the Tugalaq's Delhi, whose Puraanaa Qilaa (Old Fort) still stands as a wretched remnant of the once proud Sultanat. Shaahjahaan built his Laal Qilaa (Red Fort) even larger than Aagaraa's palace - a city within the city that enclosed almost 5 million square feet. Inside were royal apartments, Harems, a secretariat, factories, storehouses, military barracks, a treasury, a mint, stables, homes for tens of thousands servants, courtiers, princesses, and a king mightier the England's monarch and richer than China's and as strong as Persia's. After the fort was finished, a Jaamaa Masjid was built facing its main entrance - India's largest place of worship. Its central courtyard alone is over a 100,000 square feet which can accommodate tens of thousand of Muslims on a Friday afternoon for united prayer.

In 1639, Prince Shujaa, Shaah Jahaan's second eldest son, was sent to Bangaal. He ruled there for 18 years. Muraad, the youngest son of Shaah Jahaan was the black sheep. Shaah Jahaan always sat on his Peacock Throne (Takhte Taaoos - it is said that when it was made, the world had run out of gold). It was encrusted with the largest diamonds (Kohinoor diamond), rubies, sapphires, emeralds and pearls ever found, blinding distracted courtiers and visitors who had the chance to face him. Daaraa Shikoh's intellectual curiosity and religious tolerance was more than counterbalanced by Aurangzeb's Islaamik orthodoxy and militant zeal. Till Shaah Jahaan remained healthy, the tension between these polar princes was held in balance. Shaah Jahaan sent Aurangzeb back to Dakkan in 1652, but did not give him full power to conquer Golkundaa and Beejaapur by invasion with the fear that his power will grow.

Daaraa Shikoh was the Nawaab of Panjaab, so stayed close to his father, caring little for glory and Harem or court politics, always busy in mysticism, Hindu as well as Soofee. Even Geetaa also translated into Persian. Shujaa remained in Bangaal and Muraad was sent to Gujaraat. Late in 1657, when Taaj Mahal was completed, he fell victim to his own insatiable Harem lust throwing Dehlee's court into a state of panic.

Aurangzeb lured simple Muraad against his "disgraceful brother" (Daaraa Shikoh), first by claiming only to save Islaam, and later by promising Muraad the Panjaab and Sindh for his support. Shujaa was first to proclaim himself Emperor, minting coins in his name before the end of 1657 in Bangaal; stimulating Muraad to do the same in Gujaraat. Aurangzeb was more cautious, waiting till July 1658 before claiming the throne at Dehlee and Aagaraa. But by early 1658, Shaah Jahaan regained his health and tried desperately to help Daaraa, but he was busy in his mysticism. So the united force of Aurangzeb and Muraad marched towards north. Muraad was flattered by his pious elder brother Daaraa, and Aurangzeb forced Shaah Jahaan to surrender at Aagaraa Fort early in June. Soon after that Muraad was taken as prisoner by his brother and three years later in 1661 he died.

During his last days of life, 1657-1666, he was imprisoned by his own son Aurangzeb for the sake of throne. At that time he was living in Aagaraa so he was imprisoned there only - in Aagaraa fort. It is said that in those days Shaah Jahaan wanted to see only Taaj Mahal so there is a small mirror in one of its wall to look at its image in it. Asked by his son as which single grain he wanted to eat and what single work he wanted to do in the prison, he answered, "I wish to eat Chanaa (red graam) and would like to teach children." Aurangzeb said to himself, "His royal feelings have not gone yet." There he again fell ill (in June 1658) and died in February 1666. 

Aurangzeb (reign, 1658-1707) - 49 years    See also  Maraathaa Power below
He was one of the four sons of Shaah Jahaan, after Daaraa Shikoh and Shujaa and the 6th Emperor of Mugal Dynasty. His reign lasted for almost half a century, only second to Akbar. When Shaajahaan got terminally ill in 1657, his all four sons claimed the throne. (1) Daaraa Shikoh (1615-1657) (2) Aurangzeb ruled in Deccan (3) Shujaa (4) Muraad. Aurangzeb, who finally succeeded him, was his 3rd son and 6th child - a tough and cruel but highly intelligent strategist.

Soon he found that his father had recovered, so instead of taking any risk of being deposed, he defeated his elder brother Daaraa Shikoh and imprisoned his own father who was living in Aagaraa, in Aagaraa fort. There he again fell ill and died in 1666. Daaraa was condemned to death on the night of 30th August 1659. Aurangzeb knew that if he had to survive, he had to expand his kingdom, so he pushed to south. He was mainly opposed by Maraathaa born Shivaajee (died in the age of 53, in 1680). Aurangzeb's full name was "Abu Muzaffar Muhiuddin Muhammad Aurangzeb Aalamgeer". He was a Persian. The last 39 years of his life, he had to struggle to sustain his power. He had a sister also named Jahaanaaraa Begam who got accidentally burnt in Aagaraa in 1644.

He ascended the throne of Akbar as "Aalamgeer" on the 31st of July 1658 and reigned until his death ion 3rd March 1707. He was the most pious as well as most ruthless single-minded leader of brilliant administration capacity and as cunning statesman. He had no friends, only worshipping admirers and enemies. He spent more time in prayer than in his Harem and was most methodical in his pursuit of power. Daaraa became quiet, Muraad hoped to free Aagaraa and Shaah Jahaan, but couldn't do it. Shujaa was driven out of India entirely seeking refuge in Burmaa, where he reportedly met a violent end.

Monumental construction had come to an end after Shaah Jahaan, as did most royal expenditure on nonreligious celebrations, including wine, song, dance. The era of religious tolerance initiated by Akbar had also ended. He made sure that Islaamik laws were obeyed. In 1668, Hindu religious fairs were outlawed and no new Hindu temples permits were issued, not even the repair of old temples was granted. He even tried to abolish gambling, and illicit sex which was invented and practiced as the means of worship. He re-imposed Jaziyaa Tax on Hindu in 1679. The primary cause of the widespread revolt occurred in the latter part of Aurangzeb's reign was economic, not religious. Revenue demands were raised. Soon inflation increased and so the decline of Mugal Empire. Hindu Jaat under a Zameendaar named Gukul revolted in Mathuraa in 1669; Panjaab, Maraathaa, Raajpoot also revolted at time to time. Aurangzeb achieved greater success than Akbar through his policy of terror and naked power. Nonetheless Sikh still remained in opposition.
Sikh's Development   See also    Sikh Religion
Since the founding of the Sikh faith by Guru Naanak in early 16th century recruiting from peasantry and Muslim birth. Recording his sayings, his chosen successor, the second Guru, Guru Angad (1504-1552) gave the community a clearer sense of its own identity. The third Guru, Amar Daas was patronized by Akbar. The fourth Guru Raam Daas had served at Akbar's court and was granted some land between the rivers Satalaj and Raavee in Panjaab which became the site of Sikh's sacred capital. Raam Daas's son and successor, the fifth Guru, Arjun (1563-1606), completed the great Sikh temple at this spot naming the city "Amritsar" (Pool of Nectar) for its tank filled with "sacred" well water. Sikh's scripture Granth Saahib was also compiled and deposited in Amritsar temple under Arjun's guidance. Jahaangeer charged Arjun with treason and had him tortured to death for supposedly aiding the Emperor's rebel son Khusaro. Arjun's martyrdom inspired his own son, the sixth Guru Hargobind to arm his comrades to defend their own religion converting the old pacifist faith of Guru Naanak into a militant new order against Mugal tyranny. although he retreated to Kiratpur in the Himaalaya foothills, he stood against them till his peaceful death in 1644.

The seventh Guru Har Raay was hounded even farther into the mountains from which he emerged only after 1658 to support Daaraa Shikoh's claim to the throne. Following Aurangzeb's victory, however, Har Raay was obliged to send his son Raam Raay as hostage to Dehlee's court, where the young man became the follower of the Emperor losing his father's support. Shortly before his death in 1661, Har Raay designated his younger son, Hari Krishan, as his successor, but this son was also forced to seek Aurangzeb's favor in Dehlee; and he expired there of smallpox in 1664. The ninth Guru was Har Raay's granduncle, Teg Bahaadur  (1621-1675), who was arrested by Aurangzeb's soldiers in Aagaraa and brought to Dehlee where he was subsequently beheaded after refusing to convert to Islaam. The tenth Guru, Teg Bahaadur's son, Guru Gobind Raaya (1666-1708) was the tenth and the last Guru of Sikh. He vowed to take his father's murder and to end Aurangzeb's tyranny. He organized his community into "Khaalasaa" (an army of the pure") taking as new surname Singh and baptizing his closest followers with the same name.

Thus from this time Sikh emerged as a close-knit force of toughened fighters who recognized eath other by the sartorial symbols of their faith - (1) never cut their hair and beards, (2) always to carry a saber (Kripaan), (3) to wear a steel bracelet on their right wrists, (4) knee-length soldier's shorts and (5) to keep a comb for their hair. [Or say five K - Kesh, Kripaan, Kachchhaa, Kadaa, Kanghaa] The Guru was now merged with his community since all were now hunted men and full-time fighters. Gobind Singh had more than 20,000 supporter to back him up, but the king's army still outnumbered them.

Maraathaa Power (Shivaajee)
In Mahaaraashtra, an equally fierce Maraathaa community emerged under the leadership of Shivaajee Bhonsle who founded Marathaa "nation" Shivaajee's father Shaahjee, who had served the Sultaan of Ahmadnagar, northernmost of the five successor-kingdoms to the once Baahmaanee Sualtanat. As the Sultaan's Jaageerdaar in Poonaa, Shaahjee was an important local leader and soon found himself wooed by his immediate neighbor Sultaan of Beejaapur. He shifted his alliance to Beejaapur and took a second wife too as a new Sultaan. Emotionally suppressed Shivaajee's mother Jeejaa Baaee paid her all attention to her son. After Shaah Jahaan came to power in 1628, Shaahjee once more shifted his alliance by accepting a Mugal Mansab from late 1630 until 1632 and he again returned to his original state Ahmadnagar. The following year, in 1633, Daulataabaad fell and the Sultaan was taken prisoner by Mugal army. With some 12,000 followers, Shaahjee retained his independence for a few years, but when Beejaapur concluded a treaty with Shaah Jahaan, Shaahjee surrendered to the joint Mugal-Beejaapur army. He was banished from Poonaa, but Jeejaa Baaee raised her son living there only which was to become the capital of Maraathaa power.

Shivaajee was a fiercer fighter than his father. He grew with his mother's love of Hinduism and antipathy to Muslim Beejaapur and Mugal. Dakkan rulers were Shiyaa, while Mugal were orthodox Sunnee, but Shivaajee amde no difference between them. Hw wanted "Swaraaj" in his birth country "Mahaaraashtra". He left Poonaa at the age of 20 (in 1647) to fight with Mugal and Beejaapur powers with people skilled in guerilla warfare. These mountain rats would wait for caravans to come to mountains, looted them to strengthen their army with arms, money etc. Shivaajee soon controlled a substantial portion of Mahaaraashtra, although Beejaapur kept his father as hostage, but it didn't affect him.

Shivaajee kills Afzal Khaan
By 1659, Shivaajee's daring actions roused sufficient Beejaapur concern and Afzal Khaan with his several thousand troops surrounded Shivaajee in Prataapgarh where he was trapped with insufficient food and water to survive a lengthy period. Shivaajee had to surrender to personally meet to discuss final terms. Afzal Khaan was a giant bull of a man while Shivaajee was barely more than 5 feet tall. Afzal advanced unafraid to a level spot just below the high wall of the fortress, and Shvaajee in his loose-fitting cloth shirt with sleeves covering his hands each of which was lethally armed. He carried a scorpion-tail dagger in one hand and had the fingers of the other sheathed in razor-edged iron "tiger" claws. Shivaajee rushed to embrace Afzal Khaan, who collapsed with a death cry that signaled the Hindu troops to kill Afzal's attendants. The leaderless army was easily dispersed in panic and despair. Once it was known that Afzal Khaan was dead, there was no hope of victory. This murder marked the rising Maraathaa power thereafter.

Hearing all this, Aurangzeb sent Raajaa Jaya Sinh to deal with Shivaajee. Shivaajee was again trapped, and in 1665 he again had to surrender 23 out of 25 fortresses in return for a Mansab. Shivaajee actually appeared at Auranzeb's court and was put to house arrest, but once again he escaped with his ingenious talent. He eluded his guards by hiding in a laundry or food basket until he was outside, then made his way to Dakkan. In 1674, he crowned himself as "Chhatrapati" (Lord of the Universe) at Raajgarh where 11,000 Braahman gathered to chant the sacred Ved Mantra, while 50,000 friends and supporters swore undying alliance to him. He died early. in 1680.

Raajpoot's Rebel and Fall of Beejaapur and Golkundaa
In 1680, Raajpoot of Jodhpur and Mevaad rebelled against the central power. Aurangzeb sent his son Akbar to subdue them but he himself joined Hindu forces and declared himself an Emperor. He could not stand against his father's tyranny and ran away to Dakkan. Aurangzeb sought help from Shivaajee's son Sambhaajee (1657-1689). In 1682, Aurangzeb himself came to subdue Sambhaajee, but Sambhaajee played many games with him. Akbar, the prince, lured Sambhaajee to come to north with Raajpoot, Maraathaa and some Mugal armies but Sambhaajee never trusted the Muslim prince. Regional differences always presented hurdles in unifying the country, but after British came to power and in later 19th century Indians learned that if they ever hoped to rule themselves they had to sacrifice their regional ambitions, prejudices and fears to a common united national effort. Beejaapur, at last came under Mugal Empire, Akbar fled to Persia in 1686 where he died before Aurangzeb.

In 1687, the last Shiyaa Sultanat Golkundaa surrendered, leaving only Maraathaa. in 1689, Saambhaajee was captured, tortured and butchered to death. His younger brother Raajaa Raam took the sacred title of "Chhatrapati" and saved his independence for another decade - till his death in 1700. Then Raajaa Raam's widow Taaraabaaee continued this struggle, then Aurangzeb took Saambhaajee's son Shaahoo and his mother into his camp and raised the boy as Mansabdaar in the hope to extend his kingdom that now extended beyond the limits of Ashok's kingdom. Never before, nor since, would so much of the South Asian subcontinent fall within a single ruler's domain - from Kaashmeer to Haidaraabaad, and from Kaabul to Aasaam. Thus Mugal glory was at the top at the end of the 17th century.

The conquest of the Dakkan, took 100,000 lives a year during the last 26 years of Auranzeb's reign, in which Maraathaa fortresses would be taken one week and lost the next, only to be recaptured and re-lost a month later. Aurangzeb's moving capital in this venture alone was - a city of tents 30 miles in circumference, some 250 bazaars, 500,000 camp followers, 50,000 camels, 30,000 elephants. This caused famine as well as bubonic plague to take countless lives. Aurangzeb understood this waste of human and animal lives very late and withdrew his forces in 1705. He was nearing the age of 90 years. He spent most of his days reading and copying the Quraan. The dying old man confessed to his son in February 1707, "I came alone, and I go as a stranger. I do not know who I am, nor what I have been doing. I have sinned terribly, and I do not know what punishment awaits me." He expired on a Friday and was buried in a village near Aurangaabaad.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 10/09/12