Mughals conquered India for more than 300 years. These three centuries of rule is marked as the most crucial and turning period in Indian history. Aurangzeb was one of the most known Mughal emperors. He is considered as the last powerful emperor of Mughal dynasty.
He is mostly known as a cruel despot and authoritarian ruler in Indian history. He reigned for almost 50 years and during his ruling period the empire reached to it’s large extent but shown signs of falling apart.
The name of Aurangzeb is noted as the most controversial emperor in Indian history. For suppressing the revolt he used most of the Mughal treasury which founded the base for Mughal Empire disintegration and downfall.
Birth, childhood and education
Abul Muzaffar Muhi-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb was born on 3rd November 1618 in Dahod, Gujurat as the third son and sixth child of emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. From early childhood his rebellious nature made him into a hostage for a short while under his grandparents’.
When his father became Emperor of Mughal Empire in 1628, from that time he started his formal education. Aurangzeb was interested in religious and historical education. He also learned Arabic and Persian language. From an early young age he memorized the whole Quran.
Aurangzeb was taught to have a beautiful hand writing from childhood. He was also a courageous and brave person from a very young age. This nature of him crowned him with the title ‘Bahadur’ by his father emperor Shah Jahan and he was appointed as the governor of Gujurat and later of Multan and Sindh.
He was given significant administrative positions during his father’s ruling period. At the age of 16, he was appointed as the viceroy of Deccan. Aurangzeb did remarkable and exceptional work in military campaigns. But he was always desirous craving for more power and position.
Crowning as an Emperor
Being an ambitious person of powers Aurangzeb always had resentment towards his father’s favouring for his elder brother Dara Shukoh like his other brothers. He feared that being elder son throne would be given to Dara Shukoh.
When his father Shah Jahan fell ill, the war for the succession of throne broke out among brothers and in this war of power Aurangzeb had the victory with his valour, courage, craze for crown, compassion, cruelty of no bound and strategic plans. With this victory in the war of succession he imprisoned his own father in Agra and slaughtered his brothers, even his own son and nephew in insanity for the peacock throne.
He got himself rid of everyone who was a threat in his way to throne. He showed no mercy while eradicating all his enemies.
This made him the most brutal king in history. In 1658 he was crowned as the emperor of great Mughal dynasty. After gaining the throne he titled himself Alamgir (“Conqueror of the world”). He arranged his coronation on 13th June 1659 at Red Fort, Delhi.
Conquests over Territories-
As an emperor Aurangzeb was desperate for the expansion of his empire. Although Mughal Empire was vast, desire for conquering more regions was never satisfied within him. To fulfil his desire of the largest territory he constantly engaged himself in constant warfare.
During his reign his territory expanded up to 3.2 million square kilometres. As an emperor he fought constant wars. The most significant wars was Mughal-Martha war fought between Maratha Empire and Mughal Empire. He conquered Ahmednagar Sultanate, Qutbshahis of Golconda and Adil Shahis of Bijapur and added into his territory.
During his reign siege of Bidar occurred. Aurangzeb was a cruel ruler and did not trust upon anyone. He was truly devoted to the state affairs. He was cruel yet most dutiful emperor and took all the responsibilities upon himself in order to rule the empire as he trusted no one over the matter of throne.
Aurangzeb was deeply religious. He was pious Muslim like Akbar but did not respected other religions. He was an orthodox Sunni Muslim and put his own religion supreme over others. His extreme devotion and faith in own religion made him a bigot in the history.
His extreme bigotry in his own religion was a grave mistake as an emperor. He lacked imagination power in religious matters. He abandoned the famous policy of great Akbar to respect every religion which made the root of Mughal Empire strong during Akbar’s reign. He executed Sufi mystic Sarmad Kashani and ninth Sikh guru Tegh Bahadur for refusing to get converted into Islam.
Religious restrictions were imposed over non-Muslim communities. Hindus were not allowed to practice their own religion freely. Festivals like Deepavalil were banned during his reign. He gave up the good customs like Jharoka Darsan established by his predecessors.
He destructed Other religious settlements. Non-Muslims were dismissed from the work and were forced to accept Islam. The Rajput who were given higher positions were dismissed during reign of Aurangzeb.
Aurangzeb ordered destruction of Hindu temples. He also granted lands for maintenance and repair of temples. His policies for temples were totally mixed. In history he is known as living saint because he ruled according to Sharia law.
The most hated Ziziya tax was re-imposed on non-Muslims mostly on Hindus who were not fighting for Mughal Empire. Ziziya tax was introduced by Akbar for the non-Muslims to practice their own religion. To win over Hindus Akbar got rid of this taxation system.
But by reintroducing it Aurangzeb dug the grave for his own empire. Hindu merchants were imposed with 5% discrimination tax while Muslims were with only 2.5%.which was an unfair taxation for merchants of other religions.
Remarkable works of Aurangzeb
Unlike Shah Jahan Aurangzeb was not fond of art, culture and architectures. Still he constructed mosques like Moti Masjid in Red Fort complex in Delhi, Badshahi Mosque in Lahore and, mosque in Barbara. He ordered the construction of tomb of Sufi saint.
The above works are considered as the best Historical monuments in present day. Unlike other Mughal Emperors, Aurangzeb did not believe in luxurious life.
During his reign singers and musicians were dismissed and music was banned in the royal court. He led a life of simplicity throughout his whole life time and kept himself away from extravagance and luxury.
Textile industry got a new dimension during his ruling period. He implemented several policies banning gambling,music, narcotics.
Because of bigotry political and religious policies of Aurangzeb he had to deal with rebellions. The first one were Jats of Mathura who had conflict with Mughal Empire on the matter of land collection. But it was supressed as Jats were defeated and captured.
Another revolt broke out because of Satnamis which include castes like Goldsmiths, Carpenters, Sweepers, Tanners etc. Bundelas under the leadership of Chhatrasal Bundela and Another notable rebellion occurred due to political and religious conflicts between Sikhs and Mughals.
After the execution of ninth Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur Sikhs became more rebellious.
Aurangzeb mercilessly tried to extinguish the fire of rebellion but it never died out. Till his death he had to fight with these rebels. The revolt become more stronger when particular groups of Hindus that are the Rajputs and the Marathas started rebelling. It was the result of his lack of vision in religious matters.
Aurangzeb died a natural death at the age of 88 on 3rd March 1707 outliving many of his successors. During his last days he was mentally disturbed over his failures against the Marathas and the revolts. Aurangzeb lived a great life ruling over the large Mughal Emperor.
He did not believe or trust upon anyone. He was a great warrior and during his reign Mughal Empire reached at its largest peak. But due to his faith in own religion he did the grave mistakes of his life which led to the downfall of the great Mughal dynasty.
In many aspects Aurangzeb was a remarkable person of exceptional character. He imprisoned his father emperor Shah Jahan in the war of succession but he did not mistreat him.
He is considered as controversial king because most people believe that he was the reason of destruction of Hindu temples while others argue that he built more temples than he destroyed.
Aurangzeb had no close friends or advisers. His subjects had fear for him more than respect. Till his last breath he was the most dutiful and last significant emperor in the Mughal empire.