Life of Muhammad Azam Shah
In the year 1653 on the 28th of June, Prince Muhi-ud-Din (Aurangzeb) and his chief consort and first wife Dilras Banu Begum bore a son in Burhanpur. The son’s name was Muhammad Azam. His mother was Mirza Badi-uz-Zaman Safavi’s daughter.
She was the princess of the famous Safavid dynasty of Persia. Azam lost his mother when he was just four years old. This made Azam a Timurid because of his father’s side and he also had the royal blood of the famous Safavid dynasty.
Azam was very proud of this. Azam was Aurangzeb’s eldest son. At that point of time Aurangzeb was the ruler of the Mughals. Aurangzeb was then the sixth Mughal ruler.
Aurangzeb’s other son Prince Muhammad Akbar died. He was younger to Azam. So, now he was the only son of Aurangzeb. This gave another reason to Azam to boast about. Azam could be distinguished from his siblings and cousins because of his intelligence, excellence, wisdom and gallantry.
As he had the royal blood of the Safavi’s of which he was very proud, he had the qualities of his mother who was commanding and proud. Aurangzeb considered him more as a companion than his own son because of his manners and nobility.
He considered Azam’s manners excellent. Aurangzeb many times said- “between this pair of matchless friends, a separation is imminent’’. He loved him the most and it was sure that Azam would be his heir to the throne. But still the prince enjoyed of getting titled ‘Alijah’.
The assurance that he would become the heir to the throne had many reasons. First, he was the son of woman who belonged to a distinguished and reputed family. Second, Aurangzeb was not satisfied with Muazzam because his (Muazzam) dignity became lower after being imprisoned.
Except Akbar, Azam’s other siblings were (Princesses) Zubdat-un-Nissa, Zeb-un-Nissa and Zinat-un-Nissa. Apart from this he also had half-brothers who were the sons of his father’s Hindu and inferior wives.
They were Shah Alam and Muhammad Kam Bakhsh. As Azam belong to the Persian ancestry which was royal and was Shah Nawaz Khan Safavi’s son, the courtiers were impressed by him.
Azam was supposed to get married to one of his cousin. Her name was Iran Dukht Rahmat Banu and had got the title of Bibi Pari. She was his father’s maternal uncle’s daughter. Their marriage could not take place as Bibi Pari died in Dacca in the year 1665.
Later in the year 1668, on the 13th of May he got married to Ramani Gabharu who was an Ahom princess. After the marriage her name was changed to Rahmat Banu Begum. Ramani was Swargadeo Jayadhwaj’s daughter.Their marriage turned out to be political one.
After one year of this marriage, Azam got married to his first cousin in the year 1669 on January 3rd. Her name was Princess Jahanzeb Banu Begum. She was his eldest uncle Dara Shikoh’s daughter. Her mother’s name was Nadira Banu Begum.
Azam loved Jahanzeb a lot and was his favourite wife. One year after their marriage, a son was born to them. His grandfather kept the son’s name as Bidar Bakht. Aurangzeb loved these three, that is, Azam, Jahanzeb and Bidar the most.
He loved them immensely. Jahanzeb was his favourite daughter-in-law and Bidar his favourite grandson. He used give them lavish gifts very often. Prince Bidar soon become a successful general and was courageous and prudent. Azam got married the third time which was his last marriage.
This time he got married to Shahar Banu Begum in the year 1681. She was titled as Padshah Bibi. She was the daughter of Ali Adil Shah II and was the princess of Adil Shah dynasty. He was the ruler of Bijapur. Even though he married thrice, he still loved Jahanzeb the most.
But after she died in the year 1705, his life went into darkness and was filled pain and sorrow. Azam had three sons. They were Shahzada Sikandar Shan, Sultan Bidar Bakht and Shahzada Jawan Bakht Bahadur.
Reign and Administration of Prince Azam
Prince Azam recaptured Kamarupa again. Islam Khan Chisti had occupied it. But after Mir Jumla died Kamarupa was lost. In the year 1678 he became the Subahdar, that is, the Governor of Bengal, Berar Subah and Malwa. He got this position after Azam Khan Koka died.
Azam Khan Koka was his predecessor. After this he took over the region of Kamarupa again in February 1679. He also found the Lalbagh Fort in Dacca which was incomplete. He first completed the fort and only then he got the transfer of the fort.
There were a few remains of the fort before. This showed that the fort was not only a resident for the prince but it is established and made as a fortress as well. Azam even made a mosque within a particular area of the fort.
As Azam was the son of Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor no one went against him. Neither the zamindars nor the vassal chiefs did the mistake of raising their voice in front of him.
Not only this, no reporters were imprudent enough to write any sort of news which was against the administration of Prince Azam.
When Azam was in power, the responsibility of revenue collection was given to Mir Maula and Muluk Chand who were the Diwan and Huzur-Navis respectively. Aurangzeb also made Prince Azam as Shahi Ali Jah which meant heir-apparent. The Marathas annexed Malwa and Berar Subah. While the Nawabs of Murshidabad took over Bengal.
Taking over Bijapur by the Mughals
In the year 1685 Prince Azam was sent by Aurangzeb to Bijapur to defeat their ruler Sikandar Adil Shah and capture the Bijapur Fort. Sikandar Adil Shah was not at all ready to be a vassal. The Bijapur Fort had cannon batteries on both sides and their forces were around fifty thousand.
These canon batteries on both the sides were excessively used. Due to this Prince Azam’s army could not move towards the fort. Aurangzeb was outraged by this. He was not at all happy with the situation going on in Bijapur.
This is why in the year 1686 on the 4th of September; he went to Bijapur to fight against Sikandar Adil Shah. Finally, after fighting with them for eight continuous days they, that is, the Mughals won.
After this Prince Azam was appointed as the Governor of Gujarat. Later on, Aurangzeb realized that a war would rage between Prince Azam and his step-brother Kam Baksh. Baksh was younger then him. Aurangzeb separated both of them because Azam hated Baksh particularly.
Azam was sent to Malwa while Baksh was Bijapur. Azam had tarried near Ahmednagar. At this time Aurangzeb died and left abode. Before Aurangzeb had died, Azam tried consolidating his power. Prince Azam requested a lot to his father Aurangzeb.
But Aurangzeb was not at all ready to support him in this and hence did not encourage him to do such. By then Prince Azam should have moved to Malwa but he did not. Instead he went to an imperial camp and was preparing to bury his father’s body at his tomb at Daulatabad. Then, he took over the throne and called himself the Emperor.
Death of Muhammad Azam Shah
After Aurangzeb died, there were disputes between prince Azam and his son Bidar Bakht on one side and Azam’s half-brother Prince Muhammad Muazzam on the other side. Prince Shah Alam was Aurangzeb’s second son. He was his Kashmiri Hindu wife Nawab Bai Ji’s son.
Both the sides fought against each other in the Battle of Jajau. Both the father and the three sons, that is, Azam and the sons Shahzada Sikandar Shan, Sultan Bidar Bakht and Shahzada Jawan Bakht Bahadur were defeated by Muazzam and they were killed in the year 1707 on the 8th of June.
Prince Azam reigned in the year 1707 from 14th march to June 8th. This showed that he was a titular Mughal emperor. Thus, Azam’s step brother Prince Muhammad Muazzam became the successor of Aurangzeb and took over the throne of the Mughals.
After Muazzam took over the throne he got the title of Bahadur Shah I. The body of Prince Azam and his wife is along each other. Both the graves are present in a Sufi saint’s dargah complex.
This Sufi saint’s name was Sheikh Zainuddin. This dargah is located in Khuldabad which is near to Aurangabad. The tomb of Aurangzeb is to the west and is near to this.