Mughal Empire

Mughal Empire

The Mughal Empire or Mogul Empire was an empire in the Indian subcontinent, founded in 1526. It was established and ruled by the Timurid dynasty, with Turko-Mongol Chagatai roots from Central Asia, claiming direct descent from both Genghis Khan (through his son Chagatai Khan) and Timur, and with significant Indian Rajput and Persian ancestry through marriage alliances; the first two Mughal emperors had both parents of Central Asian ancestry, while successive emperors were of predominantly Persian and some Rajput ancestry. The dynasty was Indo-Persian in culture, combining Persianate culture with local Indian cultural influences visible in its court culture and administrative customs.

The beginning of the empire is conventionally dated to the victory by its founder Babur over Ibrahim Lodi, the last ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, in the First Battle of Panipat (1526). During the reign of Humayun, the successor of Babur, the empire was briefly interrupted by the Sur Empire established by Sher Shah Suri. The “classic period” of the Mughal Empire began in 1556, with the ascension of Akbar to the throne. All Mughal emperors were Muslims; Akbar, however, propounded a syncretic religion in the latter part of his life called Din-i Ilahi, as recorded in historical books like Ain-i-Akbari and Dabistan-i Mazahib. The Mughal Empire did not try to intervene in native societies during most of its existence, rather co-opting and pacifying them through concilliatory administrative practices and syncretic, inclusive ruling elite, leading to more systematic, centralized and uniform rule. Traditional and newly coherent social groups in northern and western India, such as the Marathas, the Rajputs, the Pashtuns, the Hindu Jats and the Sikhs, gained military and governing ambitions during Mughal rule which, through collaboration or adversity, gave them both recognition and military experience.


Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur was the founder of the Mughal Empire in India. He was born on 14th February A.D. 1483 in Ferghana. His father Umar Shaikh Mirza was the ruler of Ferghana. He descended from two Central Asian warriors; Timur, The Turkish hero from his father’s side and Chengiz Khan, the great Mongol hero from his mother’s side.

Therefore the blood of two great Hero’s of Central Asia was flowing in his veins. That made Babur bold and courageous. He had the proud feeling of being the successor of his two great ancestors. Hence he had the ferocity of a Mongol and the courage and ability of a Turk. His family belonged to the Chagatai section of the Turkish race, but he was commonly known as “Mughal”.

Ferghana was a small state in Transoxiana (now a part of Turkistan). There was constant danger to Ferghana as his father was not in good terms with his brother Ahmad Mirza, the ruler of Samarkand and Bukhara and his brothers-in-law, Mahmud Khan and Ahmed, the rulers of Tashkent Sairemns Shahrukhin. In 1494, his father died in an accident & Babur at the young age of 11 years succeeded to Forghana. This was in-fact a critical situation for him as the Timurid Princes were busy fighting one another.

Babur thought was a small boy could understand the Central Asian politics better than any young boy of his age as above. He also had adequate military training and acquired experience of administration, war and diplomacy. In between 1494 and 1504 he had to struggle hard to strengthen his position in Central Asia. He, too, made a bid to conquer Samarkand from his uncle. He won the city twice but lost it in no time on both the occasions.

The second time the Uzbek Chief; Sahabani Khan defeated Babur and conquered Samarkand. This forced Babur to move towards Kabul which he conquered in 1504. For the next 14 years, Babur kept himself busy for the conquest of the homeland from the Uzbeks. In 1511 he won Samarkand third time by defeating Sahabani khan. But within a year Shahabani’s nephew Ubaidullah Khan defeated Babur and forced him to leave Samarkand. Babur returned to Kabul leaving all hopes on Central Asia. These developments finally forced Babur to look towards India.

Conquest of India

Babur said from the time he Captured Kabul (1504) to his victory at Panipat, “I had never ceased to think of the conquest of Hindustan”. But he had never found a suitable opportunity for undertaking it. Like other earlier invaders of Central Asia, Babur was attracted to India by the force of its fabulous wealth. India was the Land of gold and riches. Babur’s ancestor, Timur had not only carried away a vast treasure and many skillful artisans, but also annexed some areas of the Punjab. These areas remained in the possession of Timur’s successors for several generations. When Babur conquered Afghanistan, he felt that he had a legitimate right to these areas.

Another reason for Babur’s conquest of India was insufficient income of Kabul. According to the Historian Abul Fazl, Babur ruled over Badakhshah, Kandhar and Kabul which did not yield sufficient income for the requirements of the army. In-fact the expenses on controlling the armies and administration were greater than the income. With these measure resources Babur could not provide well for his Kingdom and Kingsmen. He was also apprehensive of an Uzbek attack on Kabul and considered India to be a good place of refuge, and a suitable base for operations against the Uzbeks.

Further the Political situation in the north-west Kingdoms of India was suitable for Babur. Their relation was so bitter that they could not be united against any foreign aggression. Ibrahim Lodi, the Sultan of Delhi was not liked by his own Afghan Chiefs and nobles. Further his efforts to establish a large centralized empire had alarmed not only the Afghan Chiefs but also the Rajput’s. Daulat Khan Lodi, a powerful Afghan Chief and the Governor of Punjab, was an ardent enemy of Ibrahim Lodi.

He was ruling Punjab like an independent ruler. Other important enemies of Ibrahim Lodi were Alam Khan Lodi and Rana Sangram Singh, the king of Mewar and head of the Rajput confederacy. It is said that all of them most probably invited Babur against Ibrahim Lodi. However before the battle of Panipat, Babur had conducted five expeditions to India between 1519 and 1525 A.D. In 1519 Babur established his control over Bayour. In his first expedition, Babur tried to avoid war against Ibrahim Lodi of Delhi and Daulat Khan Lodi of Punjab and asked them to surrender but he failed in this mission. In 1520 Babur proceeded to Sialkot and established his authority there by suppressing the rebellious Afghan tribes.

In 1524, Babur made the fourth expedition against India. On the initiation of Daulat Khan Lodi, the Governor of Punjab who wanted to dethrone Ibrahim Lodi in favour of his uncle Alam Khan. Babur took this opportunity and proceeded to India. In the mean while Ibrahim Lodi had summoned Daulat Khan Lodi to Delhi but he did not go there in person and sent his son Dilawar Khan. Therefore the relations between the two had become quite tense. Ibrahim defeated Daulat Khan and expelled him from Punjab. By the time Babur realized and captured Lahore. Dault Khan helped Babur to occupy Dipalpur which was given to Alam Khan. Daulat Khan has expected that Babur would return Punjab to him. But he gave him Jalandhar and Sultanpur.

It disappointed Daulat Khan. He tried to play treachery with Babur but was caught by his ambitious son Dilwar Khan. Babur rewarded Dilwar by offering him Sultanpur and imprisoned Daulat Khan for his treachery. Later he released Daulat Khan and gave him Jalandhar only. He did not accept the charge of Jalandhar and fled to the hills.

Then Babur left for Kabul after keeping a small contingent at Lahore and Sialkot. After Babur’s departure, Daulat Khan Lodi came back from the hills and conquered Sultanpur, Sialkot and Dipalpur. Alam Khan Lodi fled away to Kabul and Dilawar Khan apologised before his father. On hearing this news Babur made his fifth expedition in 1525 and defeated Daulat Khan and his son Dilwar Khan who beg apology for their misconduct.

Daulat Khan was sent to Bwerea for imprisonment but he breathed his last on the way. Babur established his full control over Punjab. The army and officials of Daulat Khan also extended their whole hearted co-operation to him. Alam continued his support to Babur till the battle of Panipat. Now after destroying the powers of Afghans and establishing his control over Punjab, Babur decided to move against his greatest enemy Ibrahim Lodi, the Sultan of Delhi.

It is said that Babur had received a better assistance from Rana Sangha of Mewar for his move against Ibrahim. But his accusation against Rana Sanga has been refuted by some scholars. But it was a fact that the officials and some nobles of Delhi had sent secret invitation to Babur against their Sultan. Babur was very much pleased to receive such invitations on the eve of the battle of Panipat. This had made him more bold and courageous.

The Battle of Khanwa

The establishment of an empire in the Indo-Gangetic Valley by Babur was a threat to Rana Sangha. He hoped that Babur like an invader would plunder health and leave India. But the situation was different now. Therefore Rana Sangha decided either to drive Babur out of the country or to confine him to the Punjab. Babur on the other hand accused Rana Sangha of breach of agreement. He said that Sangha had invited him to India and promised to join him against Ibrahim Lodi, but made no move while we conquered Delhi and Agra.

Another battle was inevitable in the history and that was the battle of Khanwa. Many Afghans, including Mahmud Lodi, a younger brother of Ibrahim Lodi joined with Rana Sangha in the hope of regaining the throne of Delhi in case Sangha won. Sangha had also the support of many Rajput’s as he was the chief of the Rajputana confederation. Rana Sangha himself bore the title of the hero of hundred fights. The reputation of Rana Sangha and his early success against some of the outlying Mughal posts such as Bayana demoralised Babur’s soldiers. Babur on the other-hand was not the man to retreat at this stage of his progress in India.

He infused a fighting spirit in his soldiers by declaring Jihad on the eve of the war. Both the forces met at Khanwa, a place nearly 40 km. away from Agra. According to Babur, Sangha’s forces exceeded 200,000 including 10,000 Afghan cavalry men. Babur’s forces were undoubtedly inferior in number. The battle of Khanwa (1527) was fiercely contested battle. Rana Sangha made ferocious attacks on Babur’s right and almost breached it.

However, the Mughal artillery took a heavy toll of life, and slowly, Sangha’s forces were pushed back. At this juncture, Babur ordered his soldiers in the centre to launch an attack which drove the backbone of Sang’s army. Rana Sangha was badly wounded and was taken to a place of safety. But he came back after a short while and renewed the war. It is said that apprehending the war to be dangerous and suicidal, one of Rana’s associates poisoned him to death.

However the battle of Khanwa ended with the defeat of Rana Sangha. The battle of Khanwa was decisive and significant. It proved the superiority of Mughal weapons upon Rajput’s.

Battle of Ghaghra

The next battle, a less important for Babur, was the battle of Ghaghra in which he met the combined forces of Mahmud Lodi, a younger brother of Ibrahim Lodi and Nusrat Shah who was a son- in-law of Ibrahim Lodi had marched up to Kanauja by defeating and ousting some Mughal officials in Uttar Pradesh.

However, Babur defeated the combined forces of Mahmud Lodi and Nusrat Shah in the battle of Ghaghra in 1529. This was perhaps the last battle of his life. Babur had made his position safe and secured in India.But Babur did not live long to enjoy his empire. He fell ill and died in 1530 A.D. Just a few months, before his death Babur had nominated his eldest son Humanyu as his successor and had asked him to be liberal to his brothers.

Humayun (1530-1556 A.D.)

Nasir-Ud-Din Muhammad Humayun, the eldest son of Babur was born at Kabul on 6 March 1508 A.D. He was the only son of his mother, Mahim Sultana. His younger brother Kamran and Askari were born of another wife of Babur, Gulrukh Begum while Hindal, the youngest one was the son of Dildar Begum.

Humayun was given proper education and had experience of fighting and administration before his accession. He participated in the battles of Panipat and Khanua and looked after the administration of Hisar Firuza, Badakhshan and Sambhal during the life-time of his father. Babur nominated him as his successor before his death.

Nizamuddin, the wazir who had doubts about the capabilities of Humayun, tried to place on the throne Mahdi Khwaja, the brother-in-law of Babur. But realising the futility of his plan afterwards, he abandoned it and supported the cause of Humayun. Therefore, Humayun ascended the throne on 30 December 1530 A.D. without a contest four days after the death of Babur.

Early Difficulties of Humayun

Humayun had to face many difficulties right from his accession on the throne. His own character, his brothers and relatives and the legacy from Babur created several problems for him. But his greatest enemies were again the Afghans who yet aspired to capture the throne of Delhi from the Mughuls.

Legacy from Babur

Babur could not get time to consolidate his conquests in India. He distributed money and treasures lavishly among his nobles and soldiers which created financial difficulties for the empire. Therefore, Humayun inherited an unstable and bankrupt empire from his father. Besides, the advice of Babur to treat his brothers well also created problems for an obedient son, Humayun.

Brothers of Humayun

All the three brothers of Humayun proved not only incapable but disloyal as well to their elder brother. When the Mughul empire needed cooperation of the brothers and, thereby, unity in the Mughal camp, the brothers of Humayun divided its resources by emphasising on their selfish ends & ambitions.

While Humayun needed help from his brothers, they either became indifferent towards him or raised the standard of revolt against him. Thus, each of his brothers created problems for Humayun at one time or the other.

Humayun’s Relatives

Babur had assigned large jagirs to his relatives. That made them quite powerful and enhanced their ambitions. One of them Mahdi Khwaja aspired for the throne just after the death of Babur. Another two relations of Humayun, viz., Muhammad Zaman Mirza, his brother-in-law and Muhammad Sultan Mirza, his cousin revolted against him and helped his enemies.

Absence of a Unified Army

The Mughul army was not a national army. It was a heterogeneous body of adventurers—Chaghatais, Uzbegs, Mughuls, Persians, Afghans and Hindustanis. Such an army could be effective only under the leadership of a capable commander like Babur. Under a man of less calibre, it could turn out to be a congregation of adventurers.

Character of Humayun

Humayun was a brave and well-meaning person. But, as a king, he suffered from certain weaknesses. He was neither a capable commander nor a diplomat. He failed to understand the enormity of his problems and the necessity of providing strong leadership to his followers. He also lacked the capability of continuous hard labour.

However, the greatest weakness of Humayun was his extreme generosity which became one of the causes of his failure.

The Division of the Empire by Humayun

Humayun gave large territory to each of his brothers which virtually meant the division of the empire. He assigned Kandhar and Kabul to Kamran, Sambhal to Askari and Mewat to Hindal. Afterwards he permitted Kamran to occupy Punjab and Hisar-Firuza as well.

The Afghans

The worst enemies of Humayun were, however, the Afghans. They were the masters of Delhi only some years back and they did not give up the ambition to capture it again. Mahmud Lodi had returned to Bihar and was getting active support from Nusrat Shah of Bengal to make a fresh attempt to capture Delhi.

Bahadur Shah, the ruler of Gujarat was also an Afghan. He was young and ambitious. He had conquered Malwa and was increasing his pressure on Rajasthan, particularly on Mewar. Many fugitive Afghan nobles had found shelter under him.

Another Afghan chief, Sher Khan, was shrewdly attempting to organise the Afghans against the Mughuls. He was an insignificant rival of Humayun at that time but, later on, he proved himself to be the strongest enemy of Humayun and, finally, succeeded in turning out Humayun from India.

Efforts of Humayun to Remove his Difficulties: Contest with the Afghans
Attack on Kalinjar (1531 A.D.)

Only after some months of his accession on the throne Humayun engaged himself in fighting. It began with his attack on Kalinjar. Its ruler Prataprudra Deo was supposed to be sympathetic towards the Afghans. He was putting pressure on Kalpi. If Kalpi had gone to him and he would have, then, gone to the side of Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, it would have proved dangerous for Humayun.

Therefore, it was primarily to check the growing influence of Bahadur Shah that Humayun decided to capture Kalinjar and therefore, attacked it in 1531 A.D. He besieged the fort but before he could capture it, news reached him that Sher Khan had captured the fort of Chunar and the Afghans under Mahmud Lodi were advancing towards Jaunpur. Humayun agreed for peace with Prataprudra Deo and returned after taking some money from him as compensation. Thus, the attack of Kalinjar proved futile.

The Battle of Dauhria (Dadrah) and the First Siege of Chunar (1532 A.D.)

The Afghans, under Mahmud Lodi, had forced the Mughul governor of Jaunpur to retreat and were consolidating their position in Avadh (Oudh) by the time Humayun reached in the east to subdue them. Humayun defeated the Afghans at Dauhria. Mahmud Lodi could flee away from the battle but lost all his prestige among the Afghans.

Humayun, then, besieged the fort of Chunar which was in the hands of Sher Khan. Humayun failed to capture the fort even after a siege of four months. By that time, Bahadur Shah of Gujarat increased his pressure on Rajasthan which was against the interest of Humayun.

Humayun, therefore, asked Sher Khan to accept his suzerainty and send a contingent of Afghan troops to serve him. Sher Khan agreed and sent his son Qutb Khah to serve the Mughul emperor. Humayun, then, returned to Agra.

Humayun wasted nearly one and a half year at Agra and spent his money in the construction of a new city in Delhi called Din Panah. In 1534 A.D. Muhammad Zaman Mirza and Muhammad Sultan Mirza revolted in Bihar but they were defeated and imprisoned though they escaped from the prison soon after.

Contest with Bahadur Shah (1535-36 A.D.)

Bahadur Shah, the ruler of Gujarat had entered into treaties with some states of south India, conquered Malwa in 1531 A.D., captured the fort of Raisen in 1532 A.D. and forced the ruler of Mewar to accept a treaty. He was in correspondence with Sher Khan and Nusrat Shah of Bengal against Humayun.

He had strengthened his forces and built up strong artillery by securing the services of a Turkish gunner, Rumi Khan. He provided shelter to Muhammad Zaman Mirza and refused to return him to Humayun. He desired to capture Delhi itself and, thus, was posing a threat to the Mughuls.

Humayun decided to settle his score with Bahadur Shah and entered Malwa with this view. At that time, Bahadur Shah had besieged the fort of Chittor. Karanwati, the Rajamata of Mewar sent a rakhi to Humayun and sought his assistance as a brother. Humayun proceeded towards Chittor but stopped at Sarangpur on the way.

He did not desire to attack Bahadur Shah till he was engaged in jihad against the infidels of Mewar. Desired to consolidate his army, win over those peoples of Malwa who were against Bahadur Shah and arrange for the stoppage of help coming to Bahadur Shah either from Mandu or Ahmadabad.

He was suspicious of the activities of the friendly states of Bahadur Shah in the South and desired to take all precautions against their activities as well as those of Alam Khan Lodi who had gone towards Kalinjar and could attack Humayun from behind. After ten days, Chittor was captured by Bahadur Shah and freely looted for three days.

Humayun then proceeded forward and reached Mandasor, 60 miles from Chittor and checked the route of return of Bahadur Shah. Bahadur Shah also reached Mandasor and instead of attacking Humayun took defensive postures. Humayun kept his army out of reach of the artillery of Bahadur Shah and stopped his supplies.

Bahadur Shah felt short of supplies and his army lost its morale. He fled away without fighting during the night of 25 April 1535 A.D. and took shelter in the fort of Mandu. Humayun pursued the fugitive. From Mandu, Bahadur Shah fled away to Champaner, then to Combay and afterwards to Diu.

Humayun pursued Bahadur Shah up to Combay but then, leaving the task of pursuing Bahadur Shah to his nobles, returned to besiege the fort of Champaner. It was captured by him and he got a large booty from there which he lavishly distributed among his followers.

By that time, entire Malwa and Gujarat had surrendered to the Mughuls. It was a grand success and so were the capture of the forts of Mandu and Champaner. Humayun appointed his brother Askari as the governor of Gujarat, left Hindu Beg for his assistance and came back to Mandu.

Askari, however, failed to manage the affairs of Gujarat which resulted in a revolt by the people under Imad-ul-mulk, one of the trusted officers of Bahadur Shah. Bahadur Shah himself arrived in Gujarat after some time.

After a minor battle against the forces of Bahadur Shah, Askari decided to retire to the fort of Champaner. Tardi Beg, the governor of the fort, however, refused to hand over the fort and its treasure to Askari as he grew suspicious of the design of Askari. Askari, then, proceeded towards Agra. Bahadur Shah captured Champaner very soon and Tardi Beg retreated to Mandu.

Thus, the whole of Gujarat was lost by Humayun to Bahadur Shah. Fearing that Askari might capture Agra for himself, Humayun also left Mandu and proceeded towards Agra. The two brothers met in the way and Humayun was assured of the loyalty of his brother. He gracefully pardoned him and all other officers and reached Agra. Mandu was occupied by Mallu Khan in the name of Bahadur Shah.

Therefore, Malwa was also lost by the Mughuls. Thus, within a year, both Malwa and Gujarat were lost by the Mughuls. The incompetence of Askari and the neglect of personal attention towards the affairs of Gujarat and Malwa by Humayun were the primary reasons of this loss of the Mughuls.

It was a very poor show on the part of Humayun. Lane-Poole has commented- “Malwa and Gujarat, two provinces equal in area to all the rest of Humayun’s kingdom had fallen like ripe fruits into his hands. Never was conquest so easy. Never too was conquest more recklessly squandered away.”

Contest with Sher Khan (1537-1540 A.D.)

While Humayun was busy in fighting against Bahadur Shah, Sher Khan consolidated his position in Bihar. He had become the master of south Bihar, was in possession of the strong fort of Chunar and most of the Afghan nobles had gathered under his banner. In Bengal, Nusrat Shah had died and his successor Mahmud Shah proved an incapable ruler.

That gave further opportunity to Sher Khan to strengthen his power at the cost of Bengal. He attacked Bengal in 1536 A.D., besieged its capital Gaur and forced Mahmud Shah to pay thirteen lakh dinars. In 1537 A.D., he again attacked Bengal. Only then Humayun realised that it was necessary to subdue Sher Khan.

In July 1537 A.D, Humayun proceeded towards Bihar and first laid the siege of Chunargarh. Humayun could capture the fort after six months. In the meantime Sher Khan had captured Gaur and looted all its treasure which he kept safe at the fort of Rohtasgarh. Humayun, thus, lost valuable time in the siege of Chunargarh.

Humayun reached Banaras and started negotiations with Sher Khan for peace. It was agreed that the province of Bengal would be handed over to Sher Khan under the suzerainty of the Mughuls and he would pay ten lakh rupees annually while Bihar would be taken over by the Mughuls. But before the treaty could be signed, a messenger of Mahmud Shah arrived and requested Humayun to attack Bengal to save his master.

Humayun broke off the negotiations with Sher Khan and proceeded towards Bengal. Sher Khan deputed his son Jalal Khan to delay the advance of Humayun. Jalal Khan successfully achieved his mission and returned to his father who had successfully finished his campaign in Bengal and returned to Bihar. Humayun, therefore, faced no difficulty in capturing Bengal.

During these months, Sher Khan captured Kara, Banaras, Sambhal, etc. and laid siege of Chunargarh and Jaunpur. He virtually blocked the way of return of Humayun to Agra. After some months, news of the activities of Sher Khan and also that of his brother Hindal who declared himself emperor at Agra were received by Humayun. He left Jahangir Quli Beg with five hundred soldiers in Bengal and proceeded towards Agra in March 1539 A.D.

The Battle of Chausa (26 June 1539 A.D.)

Humayun took the route of the Grand Trunk Road which passed through south Bihar which was under complete control of Sher Khan. According to Dr A.L Srivastava, it was a great mistake. However, Humayun was forced to cross the river Ganges once more and he reached Chausa, a place at the boundary between Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Sher Khan also reached there. The two armies remained there facing each other for three months (April to June 1539 A.D.). Negotiations of peace were carried on but nothing came out of them.

Sher Khan delayed the battle deliberately. He waited for the rains which would create problem for the Mughul army which was camping in the low land between the rivers Ganges and Karmanasa. That actually happened when the rains started. On 25 June he gave the impression to the Mughuls that he was proceeding to subdue one of the tribal chiefs in Bihar. But, he returned and attacked the Mughuls in the early hours of 26th June from three sides.

The Mughuls were completely surprised and the entire army was destroyed. Humayun just saved his life by plunging himself into the river Ganges and crossing it with the help of a water-carrier, Nizam. Sher Khan declared himself the Sultan and assumed the title of Sher Shah after this battle. He captured Bengal as well and then returned to Kannauj.

The Battle of Bilgram or Kannauj (17 May 1540 A.D.)

While Sher Shah was consolidating his position in the east, Humayun and his brothers wasted their time at Agra. Humayun had generously pardoned not only his brother Hindal but also the rebel Sultan Mirza. Yet the brothers could not unite among themselves. Kamran fell ill and he grew suspicious that Humayun was poisoning him slowly.

Therefore, he left for Lahore with the larger part of his army. The Mughuls, of course, defeated the Afghan army in Malwa which was sent by Sher Shah under his son Qutb Khan. But, they failed to take any effective measure against Sher Shah. However, Humayun finally moved towards the east and reached near Kannauj where Sher Shah had already encamped himself.

This time too the two armies faced each other for more than a month and again the rains started. On 17 May 1540 A.D when the Mughuls were shifting themselves to a higher plain, Sher Shah attacked them. The Mughuls fought valiantly but were defeated. Humayun again fled away.

The battle of Bilgram was the decisive battle between Humayun and Sher Shah. Humayun could reach Agra but had to fly from there as Sher Shah was pursuing him. Sher Shah captured Delhi and Agra and, thus, the Afghans snatched the throne of Delhi from the hands of the Mughuls. Humayun first went to Lahore, then to Sindh and, finally, left India to seek refuge at the court of Shah of Persia.

Causes of the Failure of Humayun against Sher Shah

There were various causes which resulted in the failure of Humayun against Sher Shah. He has expressed that the opposition of his brothers and weakness of his character as causes of his failure have been highly exaggerated by many historians which is an act of injustice to him.

Humayun divided his empire among his brothers because it was a tradition among the Timurids. If he had not done so, there was every possibility of a civil war among the brothers. The time, which he passed in Mandu after the conquests of Gujarat and in Gaur after the conquest of Bengal, was not passed in ease and comfort but in organising the administration of these newly conquered states.

Among his brothers Kamran did nothing against him for the first ten years of his rule. However, he lost faith in the capacity of Humayun to defend the empire and so left him to safeguard his own provinces. Askari never revolted against Humayun. On the contrary, he was always by the side of Humayun in all his important battles. He left Humayun to go with Kamran because he was his real brother.

Besides, he gave a chance to Humayun in escaping to Persia and looked after his son Akbar in his absence. Hindal possessed a weak personality. He revolted against Humayun mostly under the influence of others. Yet, he loved Humayun and, ultimately, died fighting for his sake.

If Kamran and Hindal would have gone to the support of Humayun before the battle of Chausa, probably, Humayun would have succeeded against Sher Shah. But the cause of their neglect at that time was more due to their miscalculations rather than bad intentions.

The major cause of the failure of Humayun was that his enemies possessed equally effective artillery. Another important cause was that Sher Shah was, certainly, a better and more experienced military commander than Humayun. Yet, another disadvantage of Humayun was his financial difficulty which he inherited from his father and which worsened further due to his generosity.

He lost Gujarat and Malwa because Tardi Beg refused to support Askari; Mahmud Shah of Bengal failed to defend himself against Sher Shah even for a few months; and, heavy rains disturbed the Mughul army before the battle of Kannauj.

Humayun in Exile (1540-1555 A.D.)

Humayun remained in exile for nearly fifteen years after his defeat at the battle of Kannauj. His efforts to go to Kashmir or Badakhshan were foiled by his brother Kamran. He then proceeded to Sindh and tried to capture it but failed. In 1541 A.D. he married Hamida Banu, the daughter of the spiritual preceptor of Hindal, Mir Ali Akbar Jani.

Hindal left for Kandhar at that time and another loyal officer of Humayun, Yadgar Mirza also left his company. Humayun proceeded towards Marwar. Its ruler Maldeva had assured of his help to Humayun about a year back. But, Humayun realised that he was not in a mood to help him at that time and, probably, was won over by Sher Shah to his side.

He immediately withdrew himself because he feared that Maldeva would imprison him and hand him over to Sher Shah. While returning from there he was given shelter by Virasala, the Rajput ruler of Amarkot where Akbar was born in 1542 A.D. Shah Husain, the ruler of south Sindh agreed to give passage and needful help to Humayun to proceed to Kandhar at that time and Humayun left India.

Kamran tried to capture him on the way but Humayun could reach Persia safely after leaving his infant son Akbar. Akbar was taken under the care of Askari who was the governor of Kandhar at that time. Shah Tahmasp, the ruler of Persia, welcomed Humayun and agreed to help him with money and soldiers in 1544 A.D. on condition that he would accept the Shia faith, propagate it among his subjects and restore Kandhar to Persia after its conquest.

Humayun had to accept that humiliating treaty and then he proceeded to attack Kandhar with the help of the Persian forces. Humayun captured Kandhar and Kabul from Kamran in 1545 A.D. and retained Kandhar to himself after the death of the son of Shah Tahmasp. Here he was joined back by Hindal and Yadgar Mirza. But, Kamran and Askari troubled him.

They were, however, defeated several times, pardoned by Humayun every time but, ultimately, were captured and punished. Kamran was blinded and allowed to proceed to Mecca where he died in 1557 A.D. Askari was also allowed to go to Mecca from where he never returned and died in 1558 A.D.

Hindal also fell fighting against the Afghans during this period. Thus, ultimately, Humayun became free from the rivalry of his brothers and settled himself in Afghanistan from where he got an opportunity to come back to India and recover his lost empire. In 1555 CE, Humayun was able to recover his Empire after the victory in Battle of Machhiwara that marked the end of Suri Dynasty.

Sher Shah Suri (c.1540-45 CE)

Tomb of Sher Shah Suri, Sasaram


  • Sher Shah Suri’s original name was Farid was the founder of the Suri dynasty. Son of a petty jagirdar, neglected by his father and ill treated by his step-mother, he very successfully challenged the authority of Mughal emperor Humayun, drove him out of India and occupied the throne of Delhi.
  • He started his life as an ordinary soldier & reached the position of ruler of Hindustan.
  • Tarikh-i-Sher Shahi of Abbas Khan Sarwani is the chronicle of Sher Shah Suri reign. It provides detailed information about politico-admin system & reforms initiated by Sher Shah Suri.
  • Once again Sher Shah established the Afghan Empire which had been taken over by Babur.

Sher Shah’s Early Career

  • The intrigues of his mother compelled the young Farid Khan to leave Sasaram (Bihar), the jagir of his father. He went to Jaunpur for studies. In his studies, he so distinguished himself that the subedar of Jaunpur was greatly impressed.
  • He helped him to become the administrator of his father’s jagir which prospered by his efforts. His step-mother’s jealousy forced him to search for another employment and he took service under Bahar Khan, the ruler of South Bihar, who gave him the title of Sher Khan for his bravery in killing a tiger single-handed.
  • But the intrigues of his enemies compelled his to leave Bihar and join the camp of Babur in 1527. He rendered valuable help to Babur in the campaign against the Afghans in Bihar. In due course, Babur became suspicious of Sher Khan who soon slipped away.
  • As his former master Bahar Khan, the ruler of South Bihar had died, he was made the guardian and regent of the minor son of the deceased. Slowly he started grabbing all the powers of the kingdom. Meanwhile the ruler of Chunar died and Sher Shah married his widow. This brought him the fort of Chunar and enormous wealth.

Military achievements of Sher Shah

Sher Shah’s encounters with Humayun
  • Encounter on the fort of Chunar and Sher Shah’s diplomatic surrender.
  • Battle of Chausa with Humayun and Sher Shah’s victory.
  • Batttle of Kannauj and Sher Shah’s decisive victory over Humayun. With the victory at Kannauj, Sher Shah became the ruler of Delhi, Agra, Sambhal and Gwalior, also came under his sway. This victory ended the rule of the Mughal dynasty for 15 years.
Sher Shah’s Other Conquests


Battle at Surajgarh (1533)

Sher Shah defeated the combined forces of the Lohani chiefs of Bihar and Mohamud Shah of Bengal at Surajgarh. With this victory, whole of Bihar came under Sher Shah. Dr. Qanungo has described the importance of this victory in these words, “If Sher Shah had not been victorious at Surajgarh, he would have never figured in the political sphere of India and would not have got an opportunity to compete with Humayun… for the founding of an empire.”


Invasion of Bengal

Sher Shah plundered Bengal several times and by capturing Gaur, the capital of Bengal, forced Mohammad Shah to seek refugee with Humayun.

Sher Shah’s conquests after becoming the emperor of Delhi


Conquest of Punjab (1540-42)

Sher Shah immediately, after his accession to the throne conquered Punjab from Kamran, brother of Humayun.


Suppression of Khokhars (1542)

Sher Shah suppressed the turbu­lent Khokhars of the northern region of river Indus and Jhelum.


Conquest of Malwa (1542)

The ruler of Malwa had not helped Sher Shah in his struggle with Humayun. Therefore he attacked Malwa and annexed it to his empire.


Conquest of Raisin

Sher Shah attacked Raisin – a Rajput principality and besiegect it. Rajput ruler Purnamal entered into an agreement with Sher Shah that if he surrendered, his family would not be harmed. However Sher Shah did not honour this agreement.


Conquest of Multan and Sind (1543)

Sher Shah conquered and annexed these provinces into his empire.


Conquest of Marwar (1543-1545)

Sher Shah brought Marwar under his control by forged letters and sowing dissensions in the army of Maldev, the ruler of Mewar.


Conquest of Kalinjar (1545) & Death of Sher Shah Suri

Sher Shah was killed on 22 May 1545 during the siege of Kalinjar fort against the Rajputs of Mahoba.When all tactics to subdue this fort failed, Sher Shah ordered the walls of the fort to be blown up with gunpowder, but he himself was seriously wounded as a result of the explosion of a mine. He was succeeded by his son, Jalal Khan, who took the title of Islam Shah Suri. His mausoleum, the Sher Shah Suri Tomb (122 ft high), stands in the middle of an artificial lake at Sasaram, a town on the Grand Trunk Road.


Impact of Sher Shah’s Conquests
  • Sher Shah was able to bring under his control a substantial part of India.
  • The frontiers of his empire extended on the one hand from Punjab to Malwa and on the other from Bengal to Sind.
  • He dislodged the Mughal emperor Humayun and founded the Suri dynasty.
  • With large areas under his control, he was able to provide a sort of uniformity to the administrative system of India.
Factors Responsible for Sher Shah’s Military Achievements

Service in Babur’s Army

Sher Shah had worked for sometime in the army of Babur. This enabled him to familiarize with the strength and weaknesses of the Mughal army.


Military Organization

Sher Shah took the following measures to strengthen his army.


  • Strength: Sher Shah maintained a strong standing army at the centre like Ala-ud-Din Khalji. His army included 1, 50,000 cavalry, 25,000 infantry, 3000 war elephants and a part of artillery.
  • Recruitment: He did not depend on the Jagirdars for the supply of soldiers whenever needed by the Sultan. He maintained a direct link and made them direct loyal to him and not through jagirdars.
  • Descriptive identification: With a view to checking fraudulent practices in army in inflating the figures of soldiers and horses, Sher Shah adopted the practices of maintaining the description (huliya) of the soldiers and that of branding (dag) of the horses.
  • Payment in cash: The soldiers were paid in cash whereas most of the officers were given the jagirs.
  • Mostly Afghans in the army: He recruited mostly Afghan soldiers from every part of the country and also from Afghanistan and gave them important posts in the army.
  • Supplementary armies: Besides the standing army under the direct command of the Sultan, provincial governors, nobles and subordinate rulers were also allowed to maintain their separate armies.
  • Discipline in the army: In the words of Qanungo, “The severe discipline in Sher Shah’s camp in one campaign was sufficient to turn a raw recruit into a seasoned veteran”.


Military Strategies

Sher Shah was a pastmaster in adopting successful war tactics. He believed in the maxim “Everything is fair in love and war”.

Following are some of the main instances of Sher Shah’s military strategy

  • Sher Shah’s diplomatic surrender to Humayun at Chunar fort.
  • Sher Shah’s false pretence of withdrawing but sudden attack at Humayun in the battle of Kannauj.
  • Sowing dissentions in Maldev’s army by forged letters.
  • Arriving at some sort of understanding with the ruler of Gujarat and keeping Humayun engaged in conflict with him.
  • Raising the cry of ‘jihad’ to infuse enthusiasm among his soldiers.
  • Going back from his promise with Rajput ruler Purnamal Chauhan and sudden attack by Sher Shah on him.


Reforms introduced by Sher Shah Suri


Civil Administration

  • Sher Shah Suri divided his empire into 47 sarkars. The sarkars were divided into parganas.
  • Shiqdar was the head of Sarkar and head of pargana administration.
  • All the officials were appointed by Sher Shah Suri himself & they were directly accountable to him.
  • Sher Shah Suri followed the system of local responsibility.
  • In case, the officers faith in catching the criminal they were punished by him.
  • The administrative system of Sher Shah Suri was so efficient that there was peace & security everywhere & crimes were rare.
  • According to Abbas Khan Sarwani, even an old woman could walk in middle of night with basket full of gold & nobody dare to touch her.
  • The peace & security prevailing during Sher Shah Suri reign contributed too big to growth of trade & commerce.
  • Trade roots are safe & merchants were not required to worry about safety of belongings.


Judicial Reforms

  • Sher Shah Suri appointed Qazi & Mir Adil to try the cases of judicial cases.
  • Separate code established for civil & criminal cases. In civil cases, Hindu laws were applied to Hindu & Islamic law was applied to Muslim. But in criminal cases, uniform Islamic law was applied to all.
  • The punishment was severe. The purpose of punishment was not reform the criminal but set the example for others.


Currency Reforms

  • At the time of Sher Shah Suri to the throne of Delhi. The currency system had debased. Different types of mixed currencies were in circulation. Sher Shah Suri abolished all these currencies & issued two new currencies made up of silver & copper.
  • Silver currency issued by him is known as Rupaiya

1 Rupaiya – 64 Dams

  • The currency reforms of Sher Shah was so lasting i.e. rupaiya continued throughout Mughal period as well as East India Company for long time (till 1883).
  • The name of modern Indian currency drawn from the same.


Communication Reforms

  • Sher Shah constructed a number of roads to connect various parts of India.
  • The most important road built by Sher Shah connected Sonar Gaon in Bengal with Indus River (Takshila). At present it is known as Grand Trunk (GT) road.
  • One road was built to connect Agra with Burhanpur & other road connected Agra with Jodhpur.
  • The 4th road built by Sher Shah connected Lahore to Multan.
  • Trees were planted near the roads.
  • Wells were dug for making the provision of drinking water.
  • Rest houses (Sarai) were constructed for benefit of travelers. There was separate arrangement for Hindus & Muslim in these rest houses.
  • Sher Shah reformed postal system as well.
  • The Sarai was used as Dak Chauki (PO).
  • Relay system was used for transportation of post.
  • The in-charge of post office was known as Daroga-i-Dag Chauki.
  • For communication of secret information a spies were appointed by Sher Shah.


Educational Reforms

  • Sher Shah initially refered education for Muslim. He didn’t interfere in the education system of Hindus.
  • Maktabs were established as a center of primary education. These were attached to mosque. The learning of Persian & Arabic was imparted in these institutions.
  • Madrasas were centers for higher learning.
  • Sher Shah issued land grants education institution of both the Hindus & Muslims.


Welfare Measures

  • In spite of being a despotic ruler, Sultan Sher Shah Suri initiated a number of welfare measure for benefit of people. Land grants were issued by him to man of learning & religion. Belonging to the communities of Hindus as well as Muslims.
  • Free kitchens were established by him to feed the poor & hungry.
  • Planting of trees & digging wells & construction of public rest houses could be also considered as welfare measure of Sher Shah.


Taxation Reforms

  • Sher Shah introduced a new system of Lr assistance known as Zabti system.
  • A number of taxes were being collected from merchants, traders & manufacture when Sher Shah came to power. He abolished all these taxes & collected only 2 taxes.
  • First tax was collected at stage of manufacturing of item.
  • Second tax was collected when good were sold to final consumer.


Essential features of Sher Shah’s Policy

  • Sher Shah political system was monarchical. He adopted Hazrat-i-Ala.
  • Despotism of highest order could be seen in politico admin system created by Sher Shah. He ruled with an iron hand.
  • The degree of despotic control was so high he didn’t appoint the prime minister. All the power remains concentrated in hands of Sher Shah Suri.
  • Sher Shah’s a state system was highly centralized. As all the impart official were appointed by him personality & they were directly accountable to him.
  • Sher Shah was a strong imperialistic ruler. He organized a number of military campaigns to carry out territorial expansion. He died in battle field itself during seize of fort Kalinjar in 1545.
  • His state system was secular as he didn’t allow the religion to detect the policy of state. He didn’t discriminate between Hindus & Muslim while delivering justice or initiating welfare measures.
  • Elements of cultural state were also present in politic administrative system of Sher Shah. In spite of being involved in regular wars & battles Sher Shah paid attention to construction of monuments & patronage to scholars.
  • Sher Shah demolished Din-Panah city built by Humayun to erase memories of Mughals on the same spot he built a new fort named as Purana Quila.
  • Inside fort, a beautiful mosque was constructed Quila-i-Qucha.
  • Sher Shah’s tomb located as Sasaram in Bihar is finest monument of Medieval Age.
  • Abbas Khan Sarvani lived in his court & dedicated his work to Sher shah Suri.
  • Sher Shah’s politico-admin was highly efficient & effective.

Sher Shah’s Land Revenue system

  • Sher Shah was successfully military conqueror but at the same time he was a great administrator as well. During his short reign of about 5 years, Sher Shah initiated number of reforms & among these refomrs his Land Revenue reforms were most significant.
  • The Land Revenue refoms of Sher Shah formed an important component of his internal restructuring. Many of the elements of revenue system were developed by him and continued by Akbar & other rulers in future.


Essential features of Sher Shah’s revenue reforms

  • The Land Revenue reforms introduced by Sher Shah Suri were having elements of Ryotwari system because the revenue assessment was carried at the level of individual peasant by taking every peasant as unit.
  • The revenue collection was carried out by taking village as unit.
  • The intermediaries were used in collection process. But they were not allowed to collect anything extra from peasant 10% of total collected revenue was paid to intermediary for their services.
  • Sher Shah’s revenue system was scientific & rational because amount to be paid by a peasant was determined through survey and measurement of land.
  • The land was measured by taking Bigha & Biswa as unit.
  • Sikandari Gaj was the smallest unit of measurement (sikander lodhi).
  • In the revenue system developed by Sher Shah, a balance was maintained between needs of state & interest of peasantry.
  • To ensure that peasants were not over burden, the land of peasant was divided into three categories on basis of fertility of soil. These categories were the good, middle & bad categories.
  • Sample was out from these three categories & average was taken as reforms yield to determine total production.
  • 1/3rd of total production was demanded as Land Revenue by state.
  • Sher Shah collected an emergency tax from the peasants. The resources mobilized through this tax were kept in separate account. These resources were used to provide assistant to peasant during emergency time.
  • In case of the failure of crops state granted Tacavi loan. The revenue collection was also stopped if challenge was severe. Revenue concessions were given to peasants in case challenge was moderate.
  • The peasants were given the freedom to pay the lr in either in kind or cash.
  • For conversion of kind into cash, a rate list was prepared by Sher Shah Suri. It was known as Sher Shah’s Ray.
  • The prices prevailing in capital wree used in this list.
  • Sher Shah didn’t allow officials to misuse their discretionary powers. In the system developed by him there was hardly any scope of use of discretion.
  • Sher Shah’s revenue system had the provision of Patta (title deed) certificate of land issued to every peasants and Qabuliyat (dead of acceptance) a certificate containing the description of revenue demand.


Sher Shah as a bridge between Mughal & Delhi Sultanate


  • Sher Shah was an Afghan by origin. Sher Shah’s polity was monarchical like that of Lodhi’s but his emphasis on power & prestige on crown was similar to that of the Mughals.
  • Lodhi’s belief in Afghan theory of kingship in which Sultan was considered as first among the equals.
  • Sher Shah emphasized on superior status of crown. The nobility was treated as ordinary servants of states.
  • The highly centralized characters of Sher Shah’s political system were reflection of Mughal policy because Lodhi believed in idea of confectionary.
  • Sher Shah Policy was secular like Mughals.
  • The elements of welfare of Sher Shah’s political system were also similar to Mughals.
  • Sher Shah continued provincial & sub-provincial admin developed by Lodhi Sarkar & Pargana were the admin units during Sher Shah Reign. These units emerged first time under Lodhi.
  • Imperial state system witnessed during Sher Shah Reign, was reflection of Mughal policy because Lodhi didn’t focus on Imperialism.
  • Sher Shah initiated number of innovation & reform during his reign like Mughal ruler.


Significance of Sher Shah’s Reign

  • Sher Shah was an empire builder. There have been very few extensive when person starting from secret. He faced challenges from his family as well as from outsider.
  • Sher Shah reign famous for extensive reference.
  • Many of references were long lasting.
  • Significance of reference could also be realized by the fact that many of initiatives were continued by Akbar.
  • Progress of Art & culture were quite significance during Sher Shah Region.
  • Sher Shah’s reign – Significance Bridge between Sultanate & Mughals.


Suri Dynasty after Sher Shah’s Death

Islam Shah Suri (c.1545–1554 CE)

  • Islam Shah Suri was the second ruler of the Suri dynasty which ruled part of India in the mid- 16th century. His original name was Jalal Khan and he was the second son of Sher Shah Suri.
  • On his father’s death, an emergency meeting of nobles chose Jalal Khan to be successor instead of his elder brother Adil Khan, since he had shown greater military ability. Jalal Khan was crowned on 26 May 1545 and took the title “Islam Shah”. He was still worried that his brother would threaten his power and tried to have him captured. But Adil Khan evaded his grasp and raised an army. It marched on Islam Shah while he was at Agra. In the battle Islam Shah came out victorious and Adil Khan fled, never to be seen again.
  • The support some of the nobles had given his brother made Islam Shah suspicious and he ruthlessly purged their ranks, strictly subordinating the nobility to the crown. He continued his father’s policies of efficient administration and increased centralisation. He had little opportunity for military campaigning; the fugitive Mughal emperor Humayun, whom his father had overthrown, made one abortive attempt to attack him.
  • His twelve-year old son, Firoz Shah was murdered by his maternal uncle, Mubariz who captured the throne and assumed the title of Muhammad Adil Shah. Adil Shah was a pleasure-seeker and left the responsibility of administration in the hands of his Hindu minister, Hemu. The authority of Adil Shah was soon challenged by two members of the royal family, named Ibrahim Shah and Sikandar Shah and Bengal declared its independence under Muhammad Shah.
  • Adil Shah, Ibrahim Shah and Sikandar Shah hotly contested among themselves for the capture of the empire. Nobody succeeded in eliminating others which resulted in the division of the empire. Sikandar Shah established himself at Lahore and Ibrahim Shah at Bayana while Adil Shah retired to Chunargarh leaving Hemu to contest against his rivals.
  • Delhi was taken over first by Ibrahim Shah and then by Sikandar Shah. This was the state of affairs of the empire which was built up by Sher Shah when Humayun decided to recapture his lost empire. In November 1554 A.D., Humayun proceeded towards Peshawar and captured the territory up to Lahore by the beginning of 1555 A.D. Sikandar Shah sent an army under Tatar Khan and Haibat Khan to check the advance of Humayun.
  • Battle of Machhiwara was the decisive defeat and ended Suri Dynasty.

Recovery of Mughal Empire & Death of Humayun (c.1555-1556 C.E.)

Sher Shah who had turned out Humayun from India died in 1545 A.D. He was succeeded by Islam Shah. Humayun once attempted to attack India during his life-time but could not carry out his plan due to vigorous activity of Islam Shah. Islam Shah died in October 1553 A.D. That resulted in the division of the Afghan empire in India.

The Battle of Machhiwara took place on 15 May 1555 A.D. between the Afghans and the Mughuls. It was a complete victory for the Mughuls and entire Panjab was occupied by them. Sikandar Shah himself then marched forward to fight against the Mughuls and the battle of Sarhind was fought between the two on 22 June 1555 A.D.

Sikandar Shah was defeated and fled to the hills of north-west Punjab. Humayun then occupied Delhi in July 1555 A.D. Afterwards, Agra, Sambhal and the nearby territory was also occupied by the Mughuls.

Humayun, however, could not live long after the capture of Delhi. One day when he was descending from the stairs of the library at Din Panah, he slipped and fractured his skull. Only two days after the accident, he died on 26 January 1556 A.D. He nominated his son Akbar as his successor to the throne before his death.

Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar


Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar who becomes famous as Akbar, the Great was the son and successor of the Mughal emperor Humayun and the grandson of Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur who laid the foundation of Mughal Empire in India.

By the time Akbar was about to be born, Humayun had already lost his empire to Sher Shah and was wandering here and there as a fugitive with a small number of his followers. His wife Hamida Banu Begum, a Persian Shia lady, was also with him. She was by that time in the advanced stage of her pregnancy and was unable to move with her fugitive husband. Fortunately she got a shelter in the house of the King Rana Virsal of Amarkot (now known as Umerkot) who being moved by humanity and generosity assisted a king at his darkest hour of life. Rana Virsal also assisted Humayun with men and material to enable him to lead an expedition against Thatta and Bakhar. When he was on the way of the expedition and while camping somewhere on the way, we got the news of the birth of his son from a trusted follower named Tardi Beg Khan. The child was born on 15th October 1542. It was joyful news for Humayun and his followers. He thanked the Almighty for his blessing. But as he was in a destitute condition he could not reward his followers in a befitting manner.

He did not take interest in literary education. Rather he was fond of martial arts and military education. Under the guidance of his teacher Bairam Khan, Akbar achieved skill in the display of sword and horse riding. Humayun had given Bairam Khan the entire responsibility of his son and had asked him to act as his guardian. Bairam Khan in-fact rendered this responsibility very honestly with a great sense of respect and devotion to his master Humayun.

Akbar was appointed as the Governor of Ghazani in 1551 after the death of his uncle Hindal. At Kabul, Humayun was waiting for an opportunity to score his goal in Hindustan. Sher Shah was succeeded by his son Islam Shah who died in 1553. After his death the Shah domain was divided by some powerful aspirants such as Muhammad Shah Adil, Ibrahim Sur and Sikandar Shah who were in possession of Agra, Punjab and Delhi respectively.

Humayun restored his Imperial throne of Delhi. On 23rd July, 1555 he entered the capital and ascended the imperial throne. Akbar was assigned the governorship of Punjab and was also declared as the heir-apparent.

However, Humayun did not live long to enjoy the throne of Delhi. On 24th Jan. 1556 he met an accident while coming down the steps from his two-storeyed Library and died. Mean while Akbar was at Punjab with his guardian Bairam Khan and was busy in chasing the Sur emperor Sikandar Shah who was creating fresh problems to Mughals. When the news of the emperor’s death reached, Bairam Khan, who was a politician, declared Akbar as the new emperor and performed his accession ceremony in the garden of Kalanaur in Punjab on 14th February, 1556.

This accession ceremony simply registered Akbar’s claim on the throne of Delhi. At Delhi, the news of the emperor’s death was not disclosed to public for seventeen days as the prince Akbar had not reached the capital. A man named Mulla Bekasi who resembled Humayun was asked to appear from the Jharokha till Akbar was formally declared Emperor of Delhi.

Early Problems of Akbar

Humayun died leaving the throne of Delhi insecure and unstable. The Afghan ascendency was at its high point and Delhi passed to their hands when Hemu, the able prime minister of Adil Shah of Bengal attacked and captured Delhi sometimes in October 1556. By this time Akbar was at Jalandhar and was watching the fall of the Mughal control over its empire.

Mughal states like Bayana, Etawah, Sambhal, Kalpi and Agra were not under strict control. Even situation at Kabul, Kandahar and Badakhshan was not in favour of the Mughals. Aghans like Sikandar Shah, Ibrahim Shah and Adil Shah were still aspiring to establish their supremacy. Adil Shah was already successful in establishing his supremacy over the throne of Delhi through his able Commander Hemu. The Rajput States like Mewar, Ambar and Jaisalmer were still powerful and posing threat to the rise of Mughals.

The Second Battle of Panipat (Nov. 2, 1556)

The loss of Delhi was a great blow to Akbar and the Mughals. Hemu after capturing Delhi assumed the title of Vikramaditya and had established his control over a vast territory spreading from Gwalior to the river Satluj. Akbar was advised by his terrified Mughal nobles and officers that it would not be wise to encounter an enemy like Hemu and we should return to Kabul for safety and reorganization. But Bairam Khan did not agree to this advice and decided to measure swords with Hemu.

Akbar also agreed with his regent. As a result the armies of the Mughals and the Afghans met each other on the historic battlefield of Panipat on the 5th November, 1556. This is known as in history as the Second Battle of Panipat. Although Akbar had a small number of army about 20,000 under his command, it was a crucial battle for him. But the army of Hemu was more than five times than that of Akbar.

It was not the strength but courage and confidence that made Akbar to face his greatest enemy boldly. It is said, fortune favours the brave. Hemu on the other hand in-spite of a huge army was not favored by fortune. In the thick of the battle an arrow struck him in his eye which pierced his brain. He fell unconscious in the battlefield.

His army being headless dispersed in confusion. Akbar won the battle and recovered the throne of Delhi. Hemu was captured and beheaded. Thereafter it came to an end to Afghan ascendency. The sun of the Mughal Empire began to ascend in the political horizon of India.

Regency of Bairam Khan

Bairam Khan as the guardian of Akbar continued as the de facto administrator of the Mughal Empire. But being power drunk he grew proud, heedless and autocratic. His high-handedness also came to the notice of the Akbar on many occasions. The harem party under the emperor’s foster mother Maham Anaga put pressure on the emperor to out him. At last Bairam Khan was dismissed in spite of his life long record of loyalty to the Mughal House.

He was instructed to surrender all his powers and go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Subsequently, he was killed on the way by some of his enemies in 1561. The fall of Bairam Khan did not make Akbar all powerful. Mughal administration was still under the control of the Harem party which was called the petti coat Government. Some influential women of the harem including Maham Anaga had kept the administration under their control. But when Akbar realized this he tried to get-rid of them and became successful by reducing and curbing their powers.

Even he murdered Adam Khan the reprobate son of Mahama Anaga to score his goal. A few days after the death of Adam Khan, the broken hearted Mahama Anaga passed away. However, Akbar became successful to start his rule in the real sense of the term.

Conquests of Akbar

It was Akbar who had built a vast empire in India whose boundary had touched the great Himalayas in the north and Kanya Kumari in the south, the Hindu Kush in the west and the river Brahmaputra in the east. It was possible due to his aggressive policy of expansion.

During the time of Bairam Khan States like Gwalior, Jaunpur, Benaras, Ajmer and Malwa were added to the Mughal Empire. In 1564 Akbar waged a war against the state of Gondwana which was ruled by Rani Durgavati on behalf of her minor son, Bir Narayan. Akbar’s general Asaf Khan attacked Gondawana and the heroic Rani fought the battle till she breathed her last in the battle field. Her young son, Bir Narayan, also died a hero’s death. Thereafter Gondwana was annexed to the Mughal Empire.

In 1572, Akbar conquered Gujarat. Next year, he occupied Surat. With these conquests his empire extended to the Western Coasts. In 1574 Akbar drove the son of Suleiman Karrani and the ruler of Bengal in two encounters. Thus Bengal was annexed to the Mughal Empire.

In 1581 Akbar led his army to Kabul and defeated its ruler Mirza Hakim who was ambitious enough to conquer Delhi. He was one of Akbar’s step brothers. When he died in 1585, the territory of Kabul was annexed to the Mughal Empire.

Akbar next conquered Kashmir in 1586 and Sindh in 1591. In 1592 Orissa was conquered by Raja Man Singh, the Mughal general. Akbar annexed Baluchistan and Kandhar to the Mughal Empire in 1595. After subjugating the whole of northern India, Akbar diverted his attention towards the Deccan. By that time, the vast Bahmani kingdom of the south was broken into five independent kingdoms. They were Berar, Ahmad Nagar, Bijapur, Golkonda and Bidar. Apart from these, there was another kingdom named Khandesh on the way to the Deccan. The kingdom of Berar was by that time under the control of the kingdom of Ahmad Nagar.

Akbar’s first target was Ahmed Nagar which was ruled by a heroic lady named Chand Bibi. She was ruling on behalf of her minor son. In 1595, the Mughal army entered in Ahmad Nagar and Chand Bibi fought desperately and finally was defeated and killed. Of course, the campaign continued for long five years and in 1600 the kingdom of Ahmad Nagar was conquered. Akbar also occupied Berar and Khandesh and captured the fort of Sirgarh in 1601. It was the last victory of Akbar. He died in 1605. Akbar’s Deccan policy was continued by his successors throughout the Mughal period.

Rajput Policy of Akbar

Akbar was not only an aggressive imperialist but also a wise Statesman of his time. He knew that the conquests of States without their consolidation would not serve any purpose. For the consolidation and conquests of his empire, he adopted a novel policy, famous as the Rajput policy of Akbar. The Rajput’s at that time were a prestigious warrior class in the Hindu society who was famous for their heroism and sense of duty and devotion to their mother-land. Akbar knew the importance of this class. He also knew that it was impossible to conquer the Rajput’s by force. Therefore he changed his policy and extended his hand to them for friendship. He knew that the friendship with the Rajput’s would mean much.

Rajput’s were most loyal as friends, as also most dangerous as enemies. He tried to bring the Rajput’s to his fold. He made all possible efforts to establish cordial relations with Rajput’s. He even stressed upon establishing matrimonial alliances with the Rajput rulers. As a result, the Rajput rulers of Ambar, Bikaner, and Jaisalmer gave their daughters to the Mughal Emperor in marriage and earned his favour. He also offered respectable and high posts to the Rajput’s who joined the Mughal service.

Raja Bhagwan Das and Raja Mansingh for example were given high posts of office for their loyalty and faithfulness to the emperor. Akbar’s liberal attitude inspired a large number of Rajput’s to join the Mughal service in different capacities of Mansabdars and they even were prepared to shed their blood for the conquests and consolidation of the Mughal Empire.

Mewar was the only state which did not submit to the Mughal Empire. Her famous ruler Rana Pratap Singh considered it as a stigma on the Rajput character. He hated the Rajput’s who had submitted to the Mughal emperor Akbar by accepting his Rajput policy. He faced the Mughal army very bravely in the battle of Haldi Ghati in A.D. 1576. Although he was defeated but his spirit of independence did not make him to surrender to the Mughals. It was only after his death, the state of Mewar during the rule of his son Amar Singh passed into the hands of Mughals completely.

However Akbar’s Rajput policy was proved completely a success. Rajput’s as seen had rendered valuable service even at the cost of their lives for the expansion and consolidation of the Mughal empire. He also got the support of the Rajput’s against any nefarious designs of some Afghan rulers and leaders. Akbar’s Rajput policy in-fact was a proof of his great statesmanship.

Religious Policy of Akbar

If Akbar is remembered today, it is due to his famous religious policy. His real fame rests on his liberal religious policy. His knowledge on the essence of different religious philosophies at a later stage made him to promulgate a new religion famous in history as Din-i-Ilahi under whose banner Akbar had tried to unite Hindus and Muslims. For the vast Mughal empire to be enduring Din-e-Ilahi was probably the only alternative. However time, proved it as Akbar’s ‘Monument of Folly’.

Mughal legacies

Akbar inherited Mughal legacies in the matters of religion. His father Humayun and his grandfather Babur were not fanatics. They had not conquered India with a religious motive. Their motive was purely political. Though Babur had declared Jehad on the eve of certain important wars, his motive was only to unite and encourage the Muslim soldiers. Babur and Humayun were no doubt men of learning and liberal outlook.

Akbar’s mother Hamida Banu Begum was a Shiha Muslim and the daughter of a Persian scholar. She taught her son Akbar the fundamentals of religious toleration. As the descendant of liberal ancestors, Akbar maintained the religious toleration and Akbar maintained the family legacies of liberal outlooks. Further his tutor Abdul Latif was a man of broad ideas who taught him sublime conceptions of divine and spiritual realities.

Hindu influence

Akbar’s father Humayun during his extreme distress as a homeless wanderer had kept his pregnant wife Hamida Banu Begum under the protection of the Hindu king of Amarkot. The Hindu king being sympathetic at his misfortune had given shelter to Hamida Banu Begum in his own house where Akbar was born. The gesture of that Hindu king even at the dangerous hours during the rule of Sher Shah was really an unforgettable memory of Akbar. This incident might have inspired the future emperor to adopt some liberal policy to Hindus.

Influence of Sufi friends

Akbar had come in close contact with two of his Sufi friends known as Faizi and Abul Fazal who were highly cultured and thoroughly liberal in their outlook. They influenced Akbar to show respect towards different faiths and cultures.

Influence of Rajput Queens

Akbar married the Hindu princess of Ambar, Bikaner, and Jaisalmer and established matrimonial and cordial relations with Rajput’s. Though this matrimonial alliance was for a political motive, yet it had its religious results. With the presence of the Hindu women in the Mughal harem, Hindu religious ceremonies and festivals entered into the Mughal Palace. Almost all the great Hindu festivals like Diwali, Dussehara, and Holi were observed in the Mughal Palace. The emperor used to participate in all the festivals wearing the Hindu dresses. This also made the emperor Akbar liberal towards Hindu religion.

Influence of Contemporary Religious thinkers

Akbar constructed a House of worship or Ibadatkhana at his capital city of Fatehpur Sikri and invited religious thinkers and preachers of different religions and faiths to that house for religious discussions. Religious leaders of various religions such as Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Parsi and Christian were invited for learned discourses. Akbar acquired knowledge by associating himself with the wise men of the country with the result he was far away from orthodox beliefs.


Akbar promulgated a new religion known as Din-i-Ilahi in 1582. It means divine faith. It was a collection of the finest principles of all the religions. Being an amalgamation of all religions the new religion aimed at uniting people of all religious sects. It aimed to establish the oneness of God. Instead of superstitions, men were asked to follow a code of moral conduct. To lead a pure and principled life and the worship of the Lord were the cardinal tenets of the new religion. The religion was simple and its principles were easily intelligible. Din-i-Ilahi was also known as Tahid-o-Ilahi.

Principles of Din-i-llahi

According to Din-i-Ilahi feasts served after the death of a person for the liberation of his soul is meaningless. A man should give such feasts in his life time. So, that his journey after death becomes smooth.

  • A man should arrange community feasts on his own birthday. He must also distribute alms on that day which brings better in his next life.
  • The followers of the Din-i-Ilahi should address a co-religionist with Allah-o-Akbar and the other should respond with ‘Jalla Jallalhu’.
  • A follower of Din-i-Ilahi should not eat flesh, onion and garlic. Dining with executioners, fishermen and untouchables was not permissible.
  • According to Din-i-Ilahi a man’s marriageable age was 16 years and that of a woman was fixed at 14 years.
  • Marriage with widows, old women and pre-puberty girls were forbidden.
  • All should lead a life of purity and good moral character.
  • People must sleep with their heads towards the east and legs towards the west.
  • A man must take a vow to sacrifice four essentials for the emperor. Such as life, wealth, religion and honour.
  • No one should grow beard.
  • Followers of Din-i-Ilahi should believe in one God and should be tolerant towards all religions.
  • When a follower of Din-Ilahi dies his neck should be tied with a brick and some grains and set afloat in a river. Afterwards the brick and the grains were to be removed from his neck and submerged in the water and the dead body should be consigned to flames at a place where there was no water.

Propagation of Din-i-ilahi and its Analysis

Din-i-Ilahi was not propagated properly. Akbar did not move any efforts for its propagation. He did not even force anyone to accept this religion. Among the Hindus only Raja Birbal accepted this religion. Raja Bhagwan Das and Man Singh refused to accept this religion. Muslims also did not take any interest in Din-i-Ilahi.

Among the Muslims the Din-i-Ilahi was extremely unpopular. The women also secretly incited the people not to accept this religion. During Akbar’s lifetime this religion never gets any popular acceptance. It was totally eclipsed after the death of Akbar.


As an administrator Akbar was second to none among the Muslim rulers of India. The basic principles on which his administration rested were nationalism, liberalism and impartiality. He abandoned the traditional Muslim policy of administration and ruled the country on a number of sound principles. According to him, the state being a secular institution should not spend on religious foundations. To him religion is purely a personal matter and it has nothing to do with state administration. That is why Akbar did not allow the Ulemas or the orthodox Muslims to interfere in politics.

Akbar’s administration was completely impartial. All subjects irrespective of their different religious background were treated equally. Akbar gave appointments to the people on the basis of their merit and talent but not on the basis of their religion. Raja Man Singh, Raja Todar Mai and Birbal being Hindus enjoyed high offices during Akbar’s rule. His administration presented a national colour. These had made the foundation of his government very strong and stable.

Abul Fazl’s Ain-i-Akbari gives a detailed account of his administration. However in brief it could be said that his administrative arrangement was known as Mansabdari System. Officers of different categories were in this system. High officials were Dewan, Mir Bakshi, Khan-i-Jahan and Sadar-i-Sadar. Akbar divided his empire into 15 Subas (provinces) and each Suba was under the charge of a Subedar. Different departments such as military, judicial and revenue performed their duties well.

Akbar’s revenue administration was a continuation administration of that of Sher Shah. But it had received a sea change by the Todar Mal’s Bandobast System. It was infact a very popular measure in the direction of Land-settlement. Some of his other measures were also very popular. The liberality and utility of his administration was enjoyed by each Indian.

Akbar’s Revenue Reforms


  • The history of Akbar’s revenue reform can be traced from 1562 when Akbar took over responsibility of state affairs in his own had.
  • At this time, Zama-i-Raqmi system was in operation system was developed by Berham Khan when Akbar was on throne.
  • After taking over responsibility of state affair in hand, Akbar started paying serious attention to revenue admin because LR was main source of state income.
  • Aitmad Khan was appointed as Vajir by Akbar. After dismissing no other Vajir in quick successions. According Badayani he separated Jagir land from Khalisa land. He also effected in economy expedition to improve finances of state.
  • In 1564, Akbar appointed Mujjafar Khan as head of revenue department (Deewan-i-Kul) & Todarmal was appointed as assistant.
  • Mujjafar Khan asked Quanungo in 1567 (Pargana revenue officer) to collect agrarian data such as total amount of land under cultivation types of crops being cultivated, total production & other such details from their areas.
  • On the basis of data collected by Quanungo, a new system Zabt-i-Harsala (system of annual measurement) was implemented.
  • Jama-iRaqmi was put aside.
  • This system couldn’t perform properly because data provided by Quanungo was much accurate. Many of Quanungo were big land owners; they deliberately suppress actual agrarian data.


Karori Experiments (1574)
  • In this system the whole Khalisa land was divided into number of revenue circules (Dastur) in such a way that every revenue unit was yielding an income of 1 crore Dam.
  • Amil was the officer responsible for collection of revenue & since he collected 1 crore dam, he was known as Karori. This system got the name Karori Experiment.
  • Amil was pargana level officer.
  • This system was introduced by Akbar to collect.
  • Proper revenue data.
  • To carry out the measurement of cultivated area.
  • To carry out extension of cultivation.


  • This system was introduced by Akbar in 1579-80.
  • Initially it was implemented in Khalisa land.
  • 1581-82 Jagir land was brought under it.
  • This system categorized by elements of change & continuity.
  • While some of the essential feature of revenue system of Sher Shah were continued but at the same time a number of new elements were in corporated.
  • Mujjafar Khan & Todarmal were brains behind this system.
  • In this system, land was divided into 4 categories on the basis of frequency of cultivation.
  • These categories were Polaj (cultivated every year), Parati (left follow for 1-2 years after taking 1 crop), and Chachhar (left follow for 3-4 years after taking 1 crop).
  • Each of these categories was further subdivided into 3 subscategories on the basis of the fertility of soil.
  • These subcategories were known as good, middle and bad category land.
  • 10 yearly production data was collected for each of subcategory (1569-1578).
  • Average of each subcategory was calculated to eliminate the ill effect of fluctuation.
  • After calculating the average of each subcategory and category of land, final average was calculated.
  • This final average was fixed as standard production for Bigha for years here after.
  • 1/3rd of this standard production for Bigha was demanded from peasant as Land Revenue.
  • Here after only land cultivated by peasant was required to be measure to estimate the amount of Land Revenue. There was no need to calculate yield for Bigha for every year through sample cutting or other methods.
  • For the preparation of pricelist Akbar divided the entire Khalisa area into number of zones (Dastur) in such a way the price of various commodities were uniform throughout zones.
  • Local pricelist was prepared to each zone to taken into account the average price of each article over last 10 years.
  • The price list so prepared was not changed here after. The same list was used for conversion of kind into cash year after years.
  • In this system, a peasant was allowed to leave upto 12.5% of his total land uncultivated.
  • This land was known as Nabud.
  • Land Revenue was not demanded for Nabud.
  • The normal rate of Land Revenue was 1/3rd of production.
  • In Multan, the rate of Land Revenue was 1/4th.
  • In Kashmir, the rate was 50% of production.
  • The peasants were free to pay Land Revenue in either cash or kind.
  • Along with Land Revenue, Akbar collected an emergency tax from peasants. It was known as “Dah-i-Seri”.
  • The system was progressive in nature because it encouraged the famous to bring more land under cultivated for the land brought under cultivation Land Revenue wasn’t demanded at full rate. The rate of Land Revenue gradually increased to full level over period of 5 years.
  • The assessment of Land Revenue was carried out at level of individual peasant but revenue collection was carried out by taking entire village as unit.
  • In case of failure of crops due to less rainfall or any other natural factor, state granted concessions & remissions in Land Revenue loans were also given to peasantry to sustain during the crisis.
  • Ain-i-Dahsala wasn’t rigidly imposed on peasantry. The state officials had instruction to accept any other system of Land Revenue assessment if peasants of any particular area demanded. Because of other system of lr assessment such as Batai, Kankud, Nashq & Maqtai were also in operation simultaneously.
  • In Batai, crop was shared between state & peasant
  • In Kankut system the total production was estimated through rough measurement of the field by pacing it or by guess work.
  • In Nashq system the peasants were ask to pay same amount as Land Revenue as they were paying in past.
  • In Muqtai system the lumsum amount paid by entire village.
  • Along with Land Revenue peasants were required to pay other taxes as well.


Impacts of Ain-i-Dahsala

  • Ain-i-Dahsala system introduction by Akbar was significance improvement over the revenue systems developed by previous rulers. In this system, many of limitations of the Sher Shah’s Zapti system were successfully rectified because of this, peasants as well as state significantly benefited.
  • In this system, there was no need to measure yield for Bigha every year because reference is standard yield was developed by state.
  • Only the land under the ploughed (cultivated) was measured & total production was easily estimated. So Ain-i-Dahasala was easy to implement.
  • Problem associated with delay with measurement of land was tackled to large extent because land could be measured any time from sowing of seeds to harvesting crops.
  • In Sher Shah’s Zapti system land was measured only when crop was ready to harvest. Any delay in measurement resulted in extreme difficulty to peasantry because entire crop could get lost.
  • Ain-i-Dahsala system enabled state as well as peasantry to understand the amount of income or burden of Land Revnue.
  • With measurement of field the peasant could come to understand the amount of revenue to be paid to state after harvesting of crops.
  • In same manner state used to come to know approx. income from Land Revenue for year.
  • Ain-i-Dahsala system was progressive because it increased the peasants to bring more land under cultivation.
  • In this system, the local prices were used in pricelist. The peasants preferring to pay Land Revenue in cash were not over burden.
  • Ain-i-Dahsala system contained provision for emergency time it was based on elements of foresight.
  • The positive impact of this system brought in Mughal Empire in long run because everybody’s interest was taking care of. There was hardly any scope of peasant exploitation by hands of officials because of use of discretionary power was negligible (Zarib – rope – price tanak).


Limitations of Ain-i-Dahasal system


  • Though this system was far better than any system developed by Akbar’s predecessor but at the same time it mostly emphasized that system wasn’t perfect. It had number of limitations.
  • In this system, land even required to measure everyone; though it could be measured any time during sowing of seeds to harvesting of crops but still it was quite cumbersome process. Delay was quite frequent. The peasants were required to pay for measurement of land over and above burden of Land Revenue.
  • Peasants were required to pay other taxes over & above Land Revenue because of this burden on peasantry quite high.
  • In case failure of crops the revenue remission, concession, & other state assistance were often delayed because of this suffering manifested in form of a massive revolt in Doab region in 1584-85.
  • It was found that main reason behind revolt was differences in measurement of standard. At instruction by Akbar, an agriculture committee was appointed under chairman Fateh-ulla-Siraji to search because of peasantry.
  • Fateh-ulla-Siraji was rebounded age he developed new yard, “Gaj-i-Ilahi” to create unifroms measured standard so that suffering of peasantry could be eliminated.
Place of Akbar

Akbar was one of the greatest monarchs of the world. The time of Akbar like the Elizabethan era of Great Britain was also a glorious epoch in the history of India. He was a great conqueror and was the second or real founder of the Mughal Empire. He saved the Mughal rule at Delhi which had gone to the hands of the Afghans with the death of his father Humayun. In a crucial battle against Hemu, he had to exhibit tremendous courage and ability to re-occupy the throne of Delhi.

After that he had not looked back. As a conqueror of high repute he had conquered almost a major part of the country to his credit. His empire extended from the Himalayas in the north to the Vindhyas in the south and from Hindu Kush in the west to the river Brahmaputra in the east.

As an administrator, he excelled all the Muslim rulers of the history of India. Alauddin Khilji and Sher Shah may be compared with him as administrators of high repute. His military, economic and revenue administration was out and out excellent. He brought a drastic change by introducing Mansabdari System in administration. His Land revenue system under the able guidance of his revenue minister Todar Mai was a mile-stone. As a far-sighted administrator, he looked into the interest of the people of all communities.

His Rajput policy was an act of clever statesmanship. He knew without the support of the Rajput’s his dream of a vast and prolonged empire could not be materialized. He made Rajput’s his friends instead of his enemies.

His real greatness was seen in his religious achievements. In a land of multi-religions like India, he adopted a liberal policy and allowed the people of all religions to profess their faith independently. He abolished certain objectionable taxes like Jaziya and pilgrim tax imposed on Hindus.

He respected the saints of the religions and invited them to his Ibadat Khana for religion discourses. To Hindus he was a great liberal. To him, the Hindus and Muslims were the sons of the same soil and children of the same God. They were given equal status before law, equal rights in administration and equal freedom in matters of religion.

Akbar was far away from the narrow circles of his time. Through his Din-i-Ilahi he thought of establishing spiritual unity among the people of different communities of India. Though he did not succeed in his mission but his attempt for spiritual unity among the people of India was praise worthy step. Akbar was a great patron of learning and had men like Abul Fazl, Faizi, Todar Mal, Birbal, Man Singh and Tansen at his court. He himself though illiterate had developed tremendous passion for learning in association with the wise men.

He was also a patron of art and architecture. He laid foundation of many majestic edifices. He was a great conqueror, administrator, diplomat and a statesman of high repute. He was also a lovable husband, affectionate father and an obedient son. Above all he was one of the greatest monarchs of history.

Jahangir (c. 1605-1627 CE)

Nur-ud-din Muhammad Salim, known by his imperial name Jahangir (August 1569 – 28 October 1627), was the fourth Mughal Emperor, who ruled from 1605 until his death in 1627. He assumed the title of Nur-ud-din Muhammad Jahangir Badshah Ghazi. His imperial name means ‘conqueror of the world’.

Important features of his reign are as under

  • Jahangir is perhaps the only ruler who although ruled for about 22 years but for about 16 years he was only a ruler in name only as during this period, his wife Nur Jahan was the virtual ruler.
  • He is famous for his ‘golden chain of justice’.
  • His twelve orders issued in the early period of his reign showed his great concern for the welfare of his subjects.
  • Long drawn war between Mewar and the Mughals came to an end.
  • Relations between the Mughal rulers and the Sikhs began to deteriorate.
  • Two visitors namely Captain W.Cook and Sir Thomas Rao came to the court of Jahangir. The latter who was the ambassador of King James was able to get permission from Jahangir allowing the English to trade at Surat. With the passage of time, trade was followed by rule of the English over India.

Main events of the reign of Jahangir

Chain of justice

The earliest measure of Jahangir was that a golden chain having 60 bells and weighing several ‘maunds’ was fastened between the Shahburj of Agra fort and a stone pillar raised on the banks of river Jamuna. People seeking justice were required to pull this chain in order to put forth their complaints or petitions to the King. This act speaks very high of Jahangir’s sense of justice but to what extent it proved helpful is not clearly known.

Issuance of 12 rules of conduct (‘Dastur-ul-Amal’)

  • Jahangir issued the following orders which demonstrate his concern for the welfare of the people:
  • He abolished the Tagma’ and “meerwahi” toll taxes and the taxes that the Subedars imposed on the people for their expenses.
  • He ordered for the construction of mosques, sarais, and wells on the road-sides which reduced the dangers from the thieves and dacoits.
  • He ordered that the property of the dead would be passed over to their legal heirs and the unclaimed property would go to the state, the income of which would be spent on public-welfare.
  • He banned the manufacture and sale of the intoxicants although he himself was addicted to drinking.
  • He disallowed the mutilation of the limbs of the criminals.
  • He ordered that the land-lords would not forcibly occupy the lands of the farmers.
  • He ordered for the construction of government hospitals and ap­pointed the physicians (hakims) in them.
  • Animal slaughter was banned on two days in the week i.e. Thurs­day, his Coronation day, and Sunday, the day of his father and on certain other occasions in the year.
  • Akbar held Sunday with respect because it was the day of the sun. So Jahangir did like-wise.
  • He reinstated all the mansabdars, appointed during Akbar’s reign, in their positions and promoted them on merit.
  • The Jagirs, known as Aima and Madadgar, granted to the reli­gious and charitable institutions were allowed to remain with them.
  • All the convicts, serving for longer periods, were released from the jails.

Revolt of Prince Khusro

In 1606, Jahangir’s eldest son and an aspirant of the throne revolted but was defeated. It is said that after his arrest, he was poisoned to death.

Execution of Guru Arjun Dev (1606)

Two reasons are attributed to Jahangir’s conflict with the 5th Sikh Guru Arjun Dev. One, it is said that the Sikh guru helped prince Khusro against the emperor. Second, Guru Arjun Dev was becoming popular and promoting the creed of Sikhism.

The execution of the Guru greatly provoked the Sikhs and they began to prepare themselves to wreak vengeance upon the Mughals, They declared their Guru a ‘martyr’.

Marriage with Nur Jahan (1611)

Nur Jahan’s marriage with Jahangir almost eclipsed his personality. Jahangir in his biography ‘ Tuzuk-i-Jahangir’ himself wrote about his influence, “I have sold my kingdom to my beloved queen for a cup of wine and a dish of soup.”

Treaty with Mewar (1615)

Jahangir and Rana Amar Singh, son of Rana Pratap saw several ups and. downs in the struggle which continued for about 10 years. In 1615 both signed a peace treaty. The treaty reflected statesmanship of Jahangir.

Following were important terms of the treaty

  • The Rana accepted the suzerainty of the Mughal emperor.
  • The Rana was not asked to enter into matrimonial relations with the emperor and he, in place of himself, sent his son, prince Karan to the Mughul service at the court.
  • Jahangir restored all territory of Mewar including the fort of Chittor to the Rana on condition that the fort would not be repaired.

Jahangir and South India

Jahangir’s repeated attempts to conquer south India were without substantial gains.

Conquest of Kangra (1619)

After prolonged and terrible warfare of 14 months Kangra was conquered.

Loss of Kandhar (1621)

Jahangir lost Kandhar.

Revolt of prince Khurram (1622)

Prince Khurram (later on Shah Jahan) was asked by Jahangir to crush a revolt in Kandhar but he refused fearing that Nur Jahan might create difficulties for him in his absence from India. His revolt failed and he begged pardon.

Revolt of Mahabat Khan (1622)

He was an able commander. He came into prominence when he suppressed the revolt of Khurram. He was, however, considered a powerful opponent by Nur Jahan who wanted to have her way. Mahabat Khan felt humiliated by her treatment. He revolted but had to seek pardon. Emperor Jahangir pardoned him keeping his past services in view.

Shah Jahan (c. 1628-58 CE)

·         Also known as Khurram, whose mother was the Hindu Jagat Gosain, and was married to Arjumand Banu Begum (Mumtaz Mahal).

·         He was crowned in Agra in c. 1628 CE; had to face instant revolt by Bundelas under Jujhar Singh and Khan Jahan Lodi, the Mughal governor of the Deccan. Khan Jhan Lodhi, with the intention of securing help in times of necessity, gave away Balaghat to the Nizam Shah, to which Shah Jahan objected and ordered Khan Jahan Lodi to recover it. As the latter failed, Shah Jahan recalled him to court. Khan Jahan, however, turned hostile and took shelter with Nizam Shah. This infuriated Shah Jahan and decided to follow an aggressive policy to recover the lost territories of the Deccan.

·         Shahjahan followed the Deccan policy of his predecessors. During the reign of Akbar, a part of Khandesh and Berar was annexed to the Mughal Empire. Jahangir tried to conquer Ahmadnagar but he could not do it as its Prime Miniser Malik Ambar opposed the Mughal forces very bravely. He was a great warrior of his time.

·         After the death of Malik Ambar, his son Fateh Khan became the Prime Minister of Ahamadnagar. He was a contemporary of Shahjahan. Taking that opportunity, Shah Jahan paid heavy bribes to Fateh Khan and conquered Daulatabad. After that Ahmadnagar was annexed to the Mughal Empire in 1633.

·         Shahjahan next proceeded against the rulers of Golkonda and Bijapur and they submitted to the Mughal ruler out of fear. In 1636 CE, ahdnama (treaties) were signed with signed with Bijapur and Golcond. The main points of agreement with Bijapur were:

ü  Adil Shah accepted the Mughal suzerainty.

ü  He was to pay 20 lakh rupees as indeminity.

ü  He was not to interfere in the affairs of Golconda.

ü  Mughal Emperor was to arbitrate in case of any future dispute between Bijapur and Golconda.

ü  Adil Shah was to help Mughals in conflict against Shahji Bhonsle (father of Shivaji).

·         They accepted the Mughal supremacy and paid huge tributes. Shahjahan appointed his third son Aurangzeb as the Governor of Deccan in 1636. After some time Aurangzeb left the Deccan to become the Governor of Gujarat and to head the Mughal army in Central Asian campaigns.

·         Aurangzeb became the Governor of Deccan for the second time in 1653. This time he wanted to annex Bijapur and Golkunda in the Mughal Empire in order to take the credit. And another reason for this move was that Aurangzeb was an orthodox Sunni Muslim who hated the Shia Muslims of Bijapur and Golkunda. He invaded Golkunda in 1656. Golkunda was about to fall when he received the news from the emperor to stop the war.

North-West Frontier Policy

·         There was a long drawn conflict between India and Persia over the possession of the fort of Kandhar. The Persian emperor conquered Kandhar during the reign of Jahangir and the frontier became unsafe. Though Shahjahan recaptured the fort, he had to house it again to the Persian ruler Shah Abbas II in 1648. It was a severe blow to the prestige of the Mughal Emperor. Shahjahan sent three expeditions one after another under the leadership of his two sons Aurangzeb and Dara but they failed. There was a great loss of men and money. And the North-west Frontier remained exposed to dangers.

·         The Central Asian policy of Shahjahan like his North-west Frontier policy ended in failure. He sent the Mughal army to conquer Samarkand. The Mughal army conquered Balkh and Badakhshan on the way. But the Mughal rule could not be established there as the local people were hostile to outsiders.

·         The Uzbek tribes of Central Asia fought against the Mughals ferociously. Aurangzeb could not suppress them. Thus, there was the permanent loss of Kandhara.

Sikh rebellion led by Guru Hargobind

  • A rebellion of the Sikhs led by Guru Hargobind took place and in return Shah Jahan ordered the destruction of the Sikh temple in Lahore.

Relations with the Safavid dynasty

  • Shah Jahan and his sons captured the city of Kandahar in 1638 from the Safavids, prompting the retaliation of the Persians led by their ruler Abbas II of Persia, who recaptured it in 1649.
  • The Mughal armies were unable to recapture it despite repeated sieges during the Mughal–Safavid War. Shah Jahan also expanded the Mughal Empire to the west beyond the Khyber Pass to Ghazna and Kandahar.

Relations with the Ottoman Empire

  • While he was encamped in Baghdad, the Ottoman Sultan Murad IV met Shah Jahan’s ambassadors, Mir Zarif and Mir Baraka, who presented 1000 pieces of finely embroidered cloth and even armour.
  • Murad IV presented them with the finest weapons, saddles and Kaftans and ordered his forces to accompany the Mughals to the port of Basra, where they set sail to Thatta and finally Surat.

War with Portuguese

  • Shah Jahan gave orders in 1631 to Qasim Khan, the Mughal viceroy of Bengal, to drive out the Portuguese from their trading post at Port Hoogly. The post was heavily armed with cannons, battleships, fortified walls, and other instruments of war.
  • The Portuguese were accused of trafficking by high Mughal officials and due to commercial competition the Mughal-controlled port of Saptagram began to slump. Shah Jahan was particularly outraged by the activities of Jesuits in that region, notably when they were accused of abducting peasants.
  • On 25 September 1632, the Mughal Army raised imperial banners and gained control over the Bandel region and the garrison was punished.

Religious and Language Tolerance

  • Shah Jahan preached equality among Hindus and Muslims. He introduced various new policies to unite all the religions. As a result, his reign worked for 30 successful years. He used to celebrate all the festivities of Indian origin and tried to converse with every problem.
  • Hindavi, the origin of Hindi language, was introduced for the first time in his court. Realising that everyone could not speak Persian, he introduced a new court language, which maintained a perfect balanced mixture of Sanskrit and Persian.

Reforms introduced by Shah Jahan in Ain-i-Dahsala system

  • Rate of Land Revenue was increased to 505 of production.
  • This didn’t necessarily mean extra burden on peasantry because he abolished number of miscellaneous ceases paid by peasantry along with Land Revenue (Ab-wba).
  • Concept of Nabud abolished.
  • This system extended to Deccan by Murshid Kuli Khan.

Impact of reforms in revenue system under Akbar’s successors

  • The increase in Land Revenue to 505 along with abolishment of Nabud was against interest of peasantry. Now peasants had to pay Land Revenue of higher rate for entire land owned by them.
  • Introduction of Izaradari system left peasants at the mercy of middle man. Since Aurangzeb was busy in Deccan for long time, there was nobody to keep check on misuse of powers of middle man (Izardar). This was important factor behind Agrarian crisis witnessed during latter half of 17th
  • This agrarian crisis was responsible for number of revolts & rebellions such as Jat rebellions & revolts of Satnami. Religious factors were involved to some extent in this but it must emphasize that these revolts were reflection of economic discontent prevailing among peasants primarily.


Agrarian Crisis

  • The Mughal Empire had to face very serious Agrarian Crisis during later half of 17th This crisis was outcome of combined effect of no politico-administrative economic & natural factors.
  • The burden of Land Revenue had increased significantly on peasantry during reigns of Shah Jahan & Aurangzeb. As a result, availability of surplus of peasants got reduced. They enjoyed hardly any safety against fluctuation in production. Even slight reduction in production used to create serious trouble for peasants.
  • Reintroduction of Izardari system also adversely affected the vast majority of peasantry. The Izardars misused their power to extract as much as possible from peasantry. There was no protection of state against such intermediaries.
  • Jagirdars also contributed to intensification of agrarian crisis. Jagir were given faujdari powers (power to admin to criminal justice) by Aurangzeb. The number of bad Jagirs was high & good Jagirs were few. The difference between Jama & Hasill was high & because of Jagir was tried to extract as much as possible from peasantry.
  • Natural calamities were also involved in Aurangzeb Crisis of 17th
  • According to Peter Mundi & Abdul Hamid Lahori, Deccan was destructed by severe famine 1630-32.
  • According to Kafi Khan, serious drought happened (Mukha-ul-Luhab) during 1666-67. The crops got destroyed & peasants had to face immense crisis.
  • Lack of proper attention to politico-admin matter by Aurangzeb was also responsible to Aurangzeb Crisis. He was busy in Deccan for 25 years (1682-1707) continuously. He couldn’t pay attention to the needs of agriculture & suffering of peasantry.
  • Local officials misused their authority to exploit the peasantry. According to contemporary records, the Subedar of Mathura increased burden of Land Revenue to peasantry disproportioning. Plea of peasantry wasn’t heard. They had no option to raise banner of revolt under Chudamal & Surajmal.
  • Excessive financial burden faced by Mughal Empire due to continuous military campaign were also behind the agrarian crisis of later 17th State was facing resource crunch & ultimate burden felt on poor peasantry.


Impact of Agrarian Crisis

  • According to Dr. Ifran Habib, Aurangzeb Crisis played most important role in disintegration of Mughal Empire. This crisis was responsible for revolts of Jats & Satnamis. The Sikh revolts were also largely extended the Aurangzeb Crisis.
  • These revolts & rebellions seriously affected strength & stability of Mughal Empire & the process of disintegration of great Mughal Empire before Aurangzeb left this world.


Mughal Kharkhanas

  • The term Kharkhana refers to factory/workshop at times. It was also used at context of a warehouse. This Kharkhana formed important component of Mughal economic system. The needs of the state at low cost, contributed to revolt progress of economy by inventing new design & technologies.
  • There was a separate department to look after Kharkhana head of this department was known as Deewan-i-Batai during reign of Akbar. During reigns of Jahangir & Shahjahan Mir-i-Saman was head of Kharkhana.
  • 6 types of Kharkhana were mentioned in contemporary records these were meeting different needs of state agencies.
  • These 6 Kharkhana dealing with needs of courts, palace, military officials animals & storehouse.
  • Kharkhana were maintained by not only state but also by Nobel & Jamindars. All of them rquire factories to meet the needs of their establishments.
  • Best of craftsman were employed in these Kharkhana on salary.
  • Senior craftsman – Ustad

Junior craftsman – Shagird

  • Every Kharkhana was under administrative responsibility of an officer – Daroga, this officer was having specialized knowledge of crafts in which Kharkhana.


Monuments of Shahjahan

Agra Fort

  • Though Akbar had built the Agra Fort, it was completely remodeled by Shahajahan with additional structures in marble. Shahjahan reconstructed the old buildings with marble stone. He also constructed some new marble buildings. Among them Moti Masjid or Pearl Mosque and the Musamman Buri were most beautiful. The Moti Masjid which he constructed in the honour of his daughter Jahanara was one of the most beautiful mosques of India. It was in this beautiful building that Shahjahan spent the last years of his life as a prisoner.

The Red Fort

  • Shahjahan’s next great creation was the Red Fort of Delhi. It took almost nine years for completion. The buildings inside the Red Fort are the Moti Mahal, Hira Mahal, Rang Mahal, the Diwan-i-Am and the Diwan-i-Khas. These are the most wonderful marble structures with attractive decorations. Out of them the Diwan-i- Khas was the most ornamented and decorated with precious stones. It was the special chamber of the Emperor.

The Jam-i-Masjid

  • The Jama or the Jam-i-Masjid of Delhi is another great creation of Shahjahan. It is a structure of red sandstone. It is huge and spacious in size. The entrance to the Mosque looks majestic. It took six years for completion.

The Taj Mahal

  • The Taj Mahal at Agra is the best monument of Shahjahan. It is famous as one of the wonders of the world. He built it in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The best builders from the Empire and also from abroad were engaged to build it. The foreign traveler Tavernier wrote that the Taj Mahal was built in 22 years and three crores was spent for its construction. It is indeed a “Dream in the marble.” It is the crowning glory of Indo-Islamic architecture.

Peacock Throne

  • Apart from all these architectures, Shahjahan made a beautiful and fabulous throne famous as the Peacock Throne for himself. It is said that precious jewels worth 86 lakh of rupees was spent for its construction at that time. One lakh tolas of gold were used in its body. When finished, the peacock throne became 3 yards x 21 yards, and 5 yards in height. Its canopy was covered with rubies and gems.
  • The canopy was supported by twelve pillars made of emerald. Two peacocks were designed on each pillar with gems fixed on them. Between each pair of peacocks, a tree was designed, with rubies, diamonds, emeralds and pearls fixed on it. This was like a fine piece of art made in jewels. Unfortunately this precious throne was taken away from India by invader Nadir Shah later on.
  • Shahjahan’s time was the golden age of the Mughals for its superb development in art and architecture. But beneath if, there were some signs of weakness which have created some amount of hesitations in the minds of the historians to give the credit of his age as golden age. The loss of Kandahar, tragedy in Central Asia, famines in Decean and Gujarat and above all, the war of succession which broke out, showed the darker side of Shahjahan’s regime.

Aurangzeb (c. 1658-1707 CE)

He was one of the ablest of Mughal emperors under whom the Mughal Empire reached its greatest territorial limits and emerges as the largest single state ever known in India form the dawn of history to the rise of British power.

Early life

Aurangzeb was born on 3 November 1618, in Dahod, Gujarat. He was the third son and sixth child of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. In June 1626, after an unsuccessful rebellion by his father, Aurangzeb and his brother Dara Shukoh were kept as hostages under their grandparents’ (Nur Jahan and Jahangir) Lahore court. On 26 February 1628, Shah Jahan was officially declared the Mughal Emperor, and Aurangzeb returned to live with his parents at Agra Fort, where Aurangzeb received his formal education in Arabic and Persian.

Early Military Campaigns and Administration

Bundela War

The Mughal Army under the command of Aurangzeb recaptures Orchha in October 1635.

Aurangzeb was nominally in charge of the force sent to Bundelkhand with the intent of subduing the rebellious ruler of Orchha, Jhujhar Singh, who had attacked another territory in defiance of Shah Jahan’s policy and was refusing to atone for his actions. By arrangement, Aurangzeb stayed in the rear, away from the fighting, and took the advice of his generals as the Mughal Army gathered and commenced the Siege of Orchha in 1635.The campaign was successful and Singh was removed from power.

Viceroy of the Deccan

Aurangzeb was appointed viceroy of the Deccan in 1636. After Shah Jahan’s vassals had been devastated by the alarming expansion of Ahmednagar during the reign of the Nizam Shahi boy-prince Murtaza Shah III, the emperor dispatched Aurangzeb, who in 1636 brought the Nizam Shahi dynasty to an end. In 1637, Aurangzeb married the Safavid princess Dilras Banu Begum, posthumously known as Rabia-ud-Daurani. She was his first wife and chief consort as well as his favourite. He also had an infatuation with a slave girl, Hira Bai, whose death at a young age greatly affected him. In his old age, he was under the charms of his concubine, Udaipuri Bai. The latter had formerly been a companion to Dara Shukoh. In the same year, 1637, Aurangzeb was placed in charge of annexing the small Rajput kingdom of Baglana, which he did with ease.

In 1644, Aurangzeb’s sister, Jahanara, was burned when the chemicals in her perfume were ignited by a nearby lamp while in Agra. This event precipitated a family crisis with political consequences. Aurangzeb suffered his father’s displeasure by not returning to Agra immediately but rather three weeks later. Shah Jahan had been nursing Jahanara back to health in that time and thousands of vassals had arrived in Agra to pay their respects. Shah Jahan was outraged to see Aurangzeb enter the interior palace compound in military attire and immediately dismissed him from his position of viceroy of the Deccan; Aurangzeb was also no longer allowed to use red tents or to associate himself with the official military standard of the Mughal emperor. Other sources tell us that Aurangzeb was dismissed from his position because Aurangzeb left the life of luxury and became a Faqir.

In 1645, he was barred from the court for seven months and mentioned his grief to fellow Mughal commanders. Thereafter, Shah Jahan appointed him governor of Gujarat where he served well and was rewarded for bringing stability.

In 1647, Shah Jahan moved Aurangzeb from Gujarat to be governor of Balkh, replacing a younger son, Murad Baksh, who had proved ineffective there. The area was under attack from Uzbek and Turkmen tribes. While the Mughal artillery and muskets were a formidable force, so too were the skirmishing skills of their opponents. The two sides were in stalemate and Aurangzeb discovered that his army could not live off the land, which was devastated by war. With the onset of winter, he and his father had to make a largely unsatisfactory deal with the Uzbeks, giving away territory in exchange for nominal recognition of Mughal sovereignty. The Mughal force suffered still further with attacks by Uzbeks and other tribesmen as it retreated through the snow to Kabul. By the end of this two-year campaign, into which Aurangzeb had been plunged at a late stage, a vast sum of money had been expended for little gain.

Further inauspicious military involvements followed, as Aurangzeb was appointed governor of Multan and Sindh. His efforts in 1649 and 1652 to dislodge the Safavids at Kandahar, which they had recently retaken after a decade of Mughal control, both ended in failure as winter approached. The logistical problems of supplying an army at the extremity of the empire, combined with the poor quality of armaments and the intransigence of the opposition have been cited by John Richards as the reasons for failure, and a third attempt in 1653, led by Dara Shikoh, met with the same outcome.

Aurangzeb became viceroy of the Deccan again after he was replaced by Dara Shukoh in the attempt to recapture Kandahar. Aurangzeb regretted this and harboured feelings that Shikoh had manipulated the situation to serve his own end. Aurangbad’s two jagirs (land grants) were moved there as a consequence of his return and, because the Deccan was a relatively impoverished area, this caused him to lose out financially. So poor was the area that grants were required from Malwa and Gujarat in order to maintain the administration and the situation caused ill-feeling between father and son. Shah Jahan insisted that things could be improved if Aurangzeb made efforts to develop cultivation. Aurangzeb appointed Murshid Quli Khan to extend to the Deccan the zabt revenue system used in northern India. Murshid Quli Khan organised a survey of agricultural land and a tax assessment on what it produced. To increase revenue, Murshid Quli Khan granted loans for seed, livestock, and irrigation infrastructure. The Deccan returned to prosperity, but too slowly to satisfy the emperor.

Aurangzeb proposed to resolve the situation by attacking the dynastic occupants of Golconda (the Qutb Shahis) and Bijapur (the Adil Shahis). As an adjunct to resolving the financial difficulties, the proposal would also extend Mughal influence by accruing more lands. Aurangzeb advanced against the Sultan of Bijapur and besieged Bidar. The Kiladar (governor or captain) of the fortified city, Sidi Marjan, was mortally wounded when a gunpowder magazine exploded. After twenty-seven days of hard fighting, Bidar was captured by the Mughals and Aurangzeb continued his advance. Again, he was to feel that Dara had exerted influence on his father: believing that he was on the verge of victory in both instances, Aurangzeb was frustrated that Shah Jahan chose then to settle for negotiations with the opposing forces rather than pushing for complete victory.

War of Succession

Sepoys loyal to the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb maintain their positions around the palace, at Aurangabad, in 1658.

The four sons of Shah Jahan all held governorships during their father’s reign. The emperor favoured the eldest, Dara Shukoh. This had caused resentment among the younger three, who sought at various times to strengthen alliances between themselves and against Dara. There was no Mughal tradition of primogeniture, the systematic passing of rule, upon an emperor’s death, to his eldest son. Instead it was customary for sons to overthrow their father and for brothers to war to the death among themselves. Historian Satish Chandra says that “In the ultimate resort, connections among the powerful military leaders, and military strength and capacity the real arbiters”. The contest for power was primarily between Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb because, although all four sons had demonstrated competence in their official roles, it was around these two that the supporting cast of officials and other influential people mostly circulated. It also ignores the fact that factional lines in the succession dispute were not, by and large, shaped by ideology.” Marc Gaborieau, professor of Indian studies at l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, explains that “The loyalties of seem to have been motivated more by their own interests, the closeness of the family relation and above all the charisma of the pretenders than by ideological divides.” Muslims and Hindus did not divide along religious lines in their support for one pretender or the other nor, according to Chandra, is there much evidence to support the belief that Jahanara and other members of the royal family were split in their support. Jahanara, certainly, interceded at various times on behalf of all of the princes and was well-regarded by Aurangzeb even though she shared the religious outlook of Dara.

In 1656, a general under Qutub Shahi dynasty named Musa Khan led an army of 12,000 musketeers to attack Aurangzeb, and later on the same campaign Aurangzeb, in turn, rode against an army consisting 8,000 horsemen and 20,000 Karnataka musketeers.

Having made clear that he wanted Dara to succeed him, Shah Jahan became ill with stranguary in 1657 and was closeted under the care of his favourite son in the newly built city of Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi). Rumours of the death of Shah Jahan abounded and the younger sons were concerned that Dara might be hiding it for Machiavellian reasons. Thus, they took action: Shah Shuja in Bengal, where he had been governor since 1637, Prince Muhammad Shuja crowned himself King at RajMahal, and brought his cavalry, artillery and river flotilla upriver towards Agra. Near Varanasi his forces confronted a defending army sent from Delhi under the command of Prince Sulaiman Shukoh, son of Dara Shukoh, and Raja Jai Singh while Murad did the same in his governorship of Gujarat and Aurangzeb did so in the Deccan. It is not known whether these preparations were made in the mistaken belief that the rumours of death were true or whether the challengers were just taking advantage of the situation.

Aurangzeb becomes Emperor

After regaining some of his health, Shah Jahan moved to Agra and Dara urged him to send forces to challenge Shah Shuja and Murad, who had declared themselves rulers in their respective territories. While Shah Shuja was defeated at Banares in February 1658, the army sent to deal with Murad discovered to their surprise that he and Aurangzeb had combined their forces, the two brothers having agreed to partition the empire once they had gained control of it. The two armies clashed at Dharmat in April 1658, with Aurangzeb being the victor. Shuja was being chased through Bihar and the victory of Aurangzeb proved this to be a poor decision by Dara Shikoh, who now had a defeated force on one front and a successful force unnecessarily pre-occupied on another. Realising that his recalled Bihar forces would not arrive at Agra in time to resist the emboldened Aurangzeb’s advance, Dara scrambled to form alliances in order but found that Aurangzeb had already courted key potential candidates. When Dara’s disparate, hastily concocted army clashed with Aurangzeb’s well-disciplined, battle-hardened force at the Battle of Samugarh in late May, neither Dara’s men nor his generalship were any match for Aurangzeb. Dara had also become over-confident in his own abilities and, by ignoring advice not to lead in battle while his father was alive, he cemented the idea that he had usurped the throne. “After the defeat of Dara, Shah Jahan was imprisoned in the fort of Agra where he spent eight long years under the care of his favourite daughter Jahanara.”

Aurangzeb then broke his arrangement with Murad Baksh, which probably had been his intention all along. Instead of looking to partition the empire between himself and Murad, he had his brother arrested and imprisoned at Gwalior Fort. Murad was executed on 4 December 1661, ostensibly for the murder of the diwan of Gujarat sometime earlier. The allegation was encouraged by Aurangzeb, who caused the diwan’s son to seek retribution for the death under the principles of Sharia law. Meanwhile, Dara gathered his forces, and moved to the Punjab. The army sent against Shuja was trapped in the east, its generals Jai Singh and Dilir Khan submitted to Aurangzeb, but Dara’s son, Suleiman Shikoh, escaped. Aurangzeb offered Shah Shuja the governorship of Bengal. This move had the effect of isolating Dara Shikoh and causing more troops to defect to Aurangzeb. Shah Shuja, who had declared himself emperor in Bengal began to annex more territory and this prompted Aurangzeb to march from Punjab with a new and large army that fought during the Battle of Khajwa, where Shah Shuja and his chain-mail armoured war elephants were routed by the forces loyal to Aurangzeb. Shah Shuja then fled to Arakan (in present-day Burma), where he was executed by the local rulers.

On 10 August 1659, Dara was executed on grounds of apostasy and his head was sent to Shahjahan. Having secured his position, Aurangzeb confined his frail father at the Agra Fort but did not mistreat him. Shah Jahan was cared for by Jahanara and died in 1666.

Mughal Empire under Aurangzeb

Aurangzeb’s imperial bureaucracy employed significantly more Hindus than that of his predecessors. Between 1679 and 1707, the number of Hindu officials in the Mughal administration rose by half, many of them Marathas and Rajputs. His increasing employment of Hindus and Shia Muslims was deemed controversial at the time, with several of his fellow Sunni Muslim officials petitioning against it, which he rejected, and responded, “What connection have earthly affairs with religion? And what rights have administrative works to meddle with bigotry? ‘For you is your religion and for me is mine.” He insisted on employment based on ability rather than religion.

Under Aurangzeb’s reign, Hindus rose to represent 31.6% of Mughal nobility, the highest in the Mughal era. This was largely due to a substantial influx of Marathas, who played a key role in his successful Deccan campaign. During his time, the number of Hindu Mansabdars increased from 22% to over 31% in the Mughal administration, as he needed them to continue his fight in the Deccan. However, one of his Rajput nobles, Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur, Hindu ruler of Jodhpur, “destroyed mosques and built idol-temples in their stead” around 1658–1659, according to Aurangzeb. Despite this, relationships did not turn sour between the two, as they worked together for the next two decades up until Singh’s death in the late 1670s.

Establishment of Islamic law

Aurangzeb compiled Hanafi law by introducing the Fatawa-e-Alamgiri.

Aurangzeb was an orthodox Muslim ruler. Subsequent to the policies of his three predecessors, he endeavored to make Islam a dominant force in his reign. However these efforts brought him into conflict with the forces that were opposed to this revival.

Historian Katherine Brown has noted that “The very name of Aurangzeb seems to act in the popular imagination as a signifier of politico-religious bigotry and repression, regardless of historical accuracy.” The subject has also resonated in modern times with popularly accepted claims that he intended to destroy the Bamiyan Buddhas. As a political and religious conservative, Aurangzeb chose not to follow the secular-religious viewpoints of his predecessors after his ascension. Shah Jahan had already moved away from the liberalism of Akbar, although in a token manner rather than with the intent of suppressing Hinduism, and Aurangzeb took the change still further. Though the approach to faith of Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan was more syncretic than Babur, the founder of the empire, Aurangzeb’s position is not so obvious.

His emphasis on sharia competed, or was directly in conflict, with his insistence that zawabit or secular decrees could supersede sharia. The chief qazi refusing to crown him in 1659, Aurangzeb had a political need to present himself as a “defender of the sharia” due to popular opposition to his actions against his father and brothers. Despite claims of sweeping edicts and policies, contradictory accounts exist. Historian Katherine Brown has argued that Aurangzeb never imposed a complete ban on music. He sought to codify Hanafi law by the work of several hundred jurists, called Fatawa-e-Alamgiri. It is possible the War of Succession and continued incursions combined with Shah Jahan’s spending made cultural expenditure impossible.

He learnt that at Sindh, Multan, Thatta and particularly at Varanasi, the Hindu Brahmins attracted large numbers of indigenous local Muslims to their discourses. He ordered the Subahdars of these provinces to demolish the schools and the temples of non-Muslims. Aurangzeb also ordered Subahdars to punish Muslims who dressed like non-Muslims. The executions of the antinomian Sufi mystic Sarmad Kashani and the ninth Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur bear testimony to Aurangzeb’s religious policy; the former was beheaded on multiple accounts of heresy, the latter, according to Sikhs, because he objected to Aurangzeb’s forced conversions.

Taxation Policy

He imposed Jizya, a military tax on non-Muslims who were not fighting for Mughal Empire in his second decade on ruling in the year 1679. It may be noted that women, children, elders, handicapped, the ill, the insane, monks, hermits, slaves, and musta’mins—non-Muslim foreigners who only temporarily reside in Muslim lands were exempted from the jizya. Further, Aurangzeb levied discriminatory taxes on Hindu merchants at the rate of 5% as against 2.5% on Muslim merchants. He ordered to dismiss Hindu quanungos and patwaris from revenue administration.

The introduction of Jizya in 1679 was a response to several events shortly before its introduction: the great Rajput rebellion of 1678, the Maratha alliance with the Shia Golconda, and the Mughal expansion into the Deccan. However, according to Jamal Malik, the contemporary historian Khafi Khan (died 1733), whose family had served Aurangzeb, noted that Jizya could not be levied and remained largely a tax on paper only.

Policy on Temples and Mosques

The Queens and ladies of the harem of the emperor Aurangazeb travelling to Kashmir

During his reign, Aurangzeb ordered the destruction of many temples and some mosques. For example, he ordered the destruction of Vishvanath Temple at Varanasi for being a centre of conspiracy against the state, and he ordered the destruction of the Jama Masjid at Golkunda after finding out that its ruler had built the mosque in order to hide revenues from the state.

Aurangzeb displayed a particular animus towards Hindus and their temples. In the first volume of his Pulitzer Prize winning book series, historian Will Durant stated the following:

Aurangzeb cared nothing for art, destroyed its “heathen” monuments with coarse bigotry, and fought, through a reign of half a century, to eradicate from India almost all religions but his own. He issued orders to the provincial governors, and to his other subordinates, ‘to raze to the ground all the temples of either Hindus or Christians, to smash every idol, and to close every Hindu school. In one year (1679–80) sixty-six temples were broken to pieces in Amber alone, sixtythree at Chitor, one hundred and twenty-three at Udaipur; and over the site of a Benares temple especially sacred to the Hindus he built, in deliberate insult, a Mohammedan mosque. He forbade all public worship of the Hindu faiths, and laid upon every unconverted Hindu a heavy capitation tax.

As a result of his fanaticism, thousands of the temples which had represented or housed the art of India through a millennium were laid in ruins. We can never know, from looking at India today, what grandeur and beauty she once possessed. Aurangzeb converted a handful of timid Hindus to Islam, but he wrecked his dynasty and his country. A few Moslems worshiped him as a saint, but the mute and terrorized millions of India looked upon him as a monster, fled from his tax-gatherers, and prayed for his death. During his reign the Mogul empire in India reached its height, extending into the Deccan; but it was a power that had no foundation in the affection of the people, and was doomed to fall at the first hostile and vigorous touch. The Emperor himself, in his last years, began to realize that by the very narrowness of his piety he had destroyed the heritage of his fathers.

Aurangzeb changed the name of one of Hinduism’s holiest cities, Benaras, to Muhammadabad. Among the Hindu temples he demolished were three of the most sacred, the Kashi Vishwanath temple, Kesava Deo temple, and Somnath temple, and built large mosques in their place. In 1679, he ordered destruction of several prominent temples that had become associated with his enemies, including those of Khandela, Udaipur, Chittor and Jodhpur.

Ian Copland says that he built more temples than he destroyed. Ram Puniyani states that Aurangzeb was not fanatically anti-Hindu, but rather continuously adapted his policies depending on circumstances. He banned the construction of new temples, but allowed the repair and maintenance of existing temples, and even made generous donations of jagirs to many temples to gain the goodwill of his Hindu subjects. There are several firmans (orders) in his name, supporting temples and gurudwaras, including Mahakaleshwar temple of Ujjain, Balaji temple of Chitrakoot, Umananda Temple of Guwahati and the Shatrunjaya Jain temples, among others.

Execution of Opponents

The first prominent execution during the long reign of Aurangzeb started with that of his brother Prince Dara Shikoh, who was accused of being influenced by Hinduism although some sources argue it was done for political reasons. Aurangzeb had his allied brother Prince Murad Baksh held for murder, judged and then executed. Aurangzeb is accused of poisoning his imprisoned nephew Sulaiman Shikoh.

In 1689, the second Maratha Chhatrapati (King) Sambhaji was brutally executed by Aurangzeb. In a sham trial, he was found guilty of murder and violence, atrocities against the Muslims of Burhanpur and Bahadurpur in Berar by Marathas under his command.

In 1675 the Sikh leader Guru Tegh Bahadur was arrested on orders by Aurangzeb, found guilty of blasphemy by a Qadi’s court and executed.

In the year 1689, according to Mughal accounts, Sambhaji was put on trial, found guilty of atrocities[94] and executed.


Aurangzeb seated on a golden throne holding a Hawk in the Durbar. Standing before him is his son, Azam Shah.

In 1663, during his visit to Ladakh, Aurangzeb established direct control over that part of the empire and loyal subjects such as Deldan Namgyal agreed to pledge tribute and loyalty. Deldan Namgyal is also known to have constructed a Grand Mosque in Leh, which he dedicated to Mughal rule. Aurangzeb seated on the Peacock Throne.

In 1664, Aurangzeb appointed Shaista Khan Subedar (governor) of Bengal. Shaista Khan eliminated Portuguese and Arakanese pirates from the region and in 1666 recaptured the port of Chittagong from the Arakanese king, Sanda Thudhamma. Chittagong remained a key port throughout Mughal rule.

In 1685, Aurangzeb dispatched his son, Muhammad Azam Shah, with a force of nearly 50,000 men to capture Bijapur Fort and defeat Sikandar Adil Shah (the ruler of Bijapur) who refused to be a vassal. The Mughals could not make any advancement upon Bijapur Fort, mainly because of the superior usage of cannon batteries on both sides. Outraged by the stalemate Aurangzeb himself arrived on 4 September 1686 and commanded the Siege of Bijapur; after eight days of fighting, the Mughals were victorious.

Only remaining ruler, Abul Hasan Qutb Shah (the Qutbshahi ruler of Golconda), refused to surrender. He and his servicemen fortified themselves at Golconda and fiercely protected the Kollur Mine, which was then probably the world’s most productive diamond mine, and an important economic asset. In 1687, Aurangzeb led his grand Mughal army against the Deccan Qutbshahi fortress during the Siege of Golconda. The Qutbshahis had constructed massive fortifications throughout successive generations on a granite hill over 400 ft high with an enormous eight-mile long wall enclosing the city. The main gates of Golconda had the ability to repulse any war elephant attack. Although the Qutbshahis maintained the impregnability of their walls, at night Aurangzeb and his infantry erected complex scaffolding that allowed them to scale the high walls. During the eight-month siege the Mughals faced many hardships including the death of their experienced commander Kilich Khan Bahadur. Eventually, Aurangzeb and his forces managed to penetrate the walls by capturing a gate, and their entry into the fort led Abul Hasan Qutb Shah to surrender peacefully.

Art and Culture

Aurangzeb was known to be of a more austere nature than his predecessors. Being religious he encouraged Islamic calligraphy. His reign also saw the building of the Lahore Badshahi Masjid and Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad for his wife Rabia-ud-Daurani.


Manuscript Quran, parts of which are believed to have been written in Aurangzeb’s own hand.

The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb is known to have patronised works of Islamic Calligraphy during his reign particularly Syed Ali Tabrizi.


Unlike his father, Aurangzeb was not much interested in architecture. Aurangzeb constructed a small marble mosque known as the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) in the Red Fort complex in Delhi. He ordered the construction of the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore. He also constructed a mosque on Benares. The mosque he constructed in Srinagar is still the largest in Kashmir. The structure of Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad, which now is a historical monument, was constructed by the sons of Aurangzeb in remembrance of their mother. The inspiration came from Taj mahal as is quite visible from its architecture.


The textile industry in the Mughal Empire emerged very firmly during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and was particularly well noted by Francois Bernier, a French physician of the Mughal Emperor. Francois Bernier writes how Karkanahs or workshops for the artisans, particularly in textiles flourished by “employing hundreds of embroiderers, who were superintended by a master”. He further writes how “Artisans manufacture of silk, fine brocade, and other fine muslins, of which are made turbans, robes of gold flowers, and tunics worn by females, so delicately fine as to wear out in one night, and cost even more if they were well embroidered with fine needlework”.

Foreign Relations

Aurangzeb sent diplomatic missions to Mecca in 1659 and 1662, with money and gifts for the Sharif. He also sent alms in 1666 and 1672 to be distributed in Mecca and Medina. Historian Naimur Rahman Farooqi writes that, “By 1694, Aurangzeb’s ardour for the Sharifs of Mecca had begun to wane; their greed and rapacity had thoroughly disillusioned the Emperor … Aurangzeb expressed his disgust at the unethical behavior of the Sharif who appropriated all the money sent to the Hijaz for his own use, thus depriving the needy and the poor.”

Relations with the Uzbek

Subhan Quli, Balkh’s Uzbek ruler was the first to recognise him in 1658 and requested for a general alliance, he worked alongside the new Mughal Emperor since 1647, when Aurangzeb was the Subedar of Balkh.

Relations with the Safavid Dynasty

Aurangzeb received the embassy of Abbas II of Persia in 1660 and returned them with gifts. However, relations between the Mughal Empire and the Safavid dynasty were tense because the Persians attacked the Mughal army positioned near Kandahar. Aurangzeb prepared his armies in the Indus River Basin for a counteroffensive, but Abbas II’s death in 1666 caused Aurangzeb to end all hostilities. Aurangzeb’s rebellious son, Sultan Muhammad Akbar, sought refuge with Suleiman I of Persia, who had rescued him from the Imam of Musqat and later refused to assist him in any military adventures against Aurangzeb.

Relations with the French

In 1667, the French East India Company ambassadors Le Gouz and Bebert presented Louis XIV of France’s letter which urged the protection of French merchants from various rebels in the Deccan. In response to the letter, Aurangzeb issued a Firman allowing the French to open a factory in Surat.

François Bernier was a French physician and traveller, who for 12 years was the personal physician of Aurangzeb. He described his experiences in Travels in the Mughal Empire.

Relations with the Sultanate of Maldives

In the 1660s, the Sultan of the Maldives, Ibrahim Iskandar I, requested help from Aurangzeb’s representative, the Faujdar of Balasore. The sultan was concerned about the impact of Dutch and English trading ships but the powers of Aurangzeb did not extend to the seas, the Maldives were not under his governance, and nothing came of the request.

Relations with the Ottoman Empire

Like his father, Aurangzeb was not willing to acknowledge the Ottoman claim to the caliphate. He often supported the Ottoman Empire’s enemies, extending cordial welcome to two rebel Governors of Basra, and granting them and their families a high status in the imperial service. Sultan Suleiman II’s friendly postures were ignored by Aurangzeb. The Sultan urged Aurangzeb to wage holy war against Christians.

Relations with the British

In 1686, the East India Company, which had unsuccessfully tried to obtain a firman (imperial directive) that would grant England regular trading privileges throughout the Mughal Empire, initiated the so-called Child’s War. This hostility against the empire ended in disaster for the English, particularly in 1689 when Aurangzeb dispatched a strong fleet of grab ships from Janjira that blockaded Bombay. The ships, commanded by Sidi Yaqub, were manned by Mappila (loyal to Ali Raja Ali II) and Abyssinian sailors. In 1690, the company sent envoys to Aurangzeb’s camp to plead for a pardon. The company’s envoys had to prostrate themselves before the emperor, pay a large indemnity, and promise better behaviour in the future.

In September 1695, English pirate Henry Every perpetrated one of the most profitable pirate raids in history with his capture of a Grand Mughal grab convoy near Surat. The Indian ships had been returning home from their annual pilgrimage to Mecca when the pirates struck, capturing the Ganj-i-Sawai, reportedly the greatest ship in the Muslim fleet, and its escorts in the process. When news of the piracy reached the mainland, a livid Aurangzeb nearly ordered an armed attack against the English-governed city of Bombay, though he finally agreed to compromise after the East India Company promised to pay financial reparations, estimated at £600,000 by the Mughal authorities. Meanwhile, Aurangzeb shut down four of the East India Company’s factories, imprisoned the workers and captains (who were nearly lynched by a rioting mob), and threatened to put an end to all English trading in India until every person was captured. The Privy Council and East India Company offered a massive bounty for Every’s apprehension, leading to the first worldwide manhunt in recorded history.

In 1702, Aurangzeb sent Daud Khan Panni, the Mughal Empire’s Subhedar of the Carnatic region, to besiege and blockade Fort St. George for more than three months. The governor of the fort Thomas Pitt was instructed by the East India Company to sue for peace.


Aurangzeb received tribute from all over the Indian subcontinent using the wealth which he received he established bases and fortifications in India particularly in the Carnatic, Deccan, Bengal and Lahore.


Aurangzeb spent his reign crushing major and minor rebellions throughout the Mughal Empire.

Traditional and newly coherent social groups in northern and western India, such as the Marathas, Rajputs, Hindu Jats, Pashtuns, and Sikhs, gained military and governing ambitions during Mughal rule, which, through collaboration or opposition, gave them both recognition and military experience.[129]

In 1669, the Hindu Jat peasants of Bharatpur around Mathura rebelled and created Bharatpur state but were defeated.

In 1659, Shivaji, launched a surprise attack on the Mughal Viceroy Shaista Khan and, while waging war against Aurangzeb. Shivaji and his forces attacked the Deccan, Janjira and Surat and tried to gain control of vast territories. In 1689 Aurangzeb’s armies captured Shivaji’s son Sambhaji and executed him after he had sacked Burhanpur. But, the Marathas continued the fight and it actually started the terminal decline of his empire.

In 1679, the Rathore clan under the command of Durgadas Rathore rebelled when Aurangzeb didn’t give permission to make the young Rathore prince the king and took direct command of Jodhpur. This incident caused great unrest among the Hindu Rajput rulers under Aurangzeb and led to many rebellions in Rajputana.

In 1672, the Satnami, a sect concentrated in an area near Delhi, under the leadership of Bhirbhan, took over the administration of Narnaul, but they were eventually crushed upon Aurangzeb’s personal intervention with very few escaping alive.

In 1671, the Battle of Saraighat was fought in the easternmost regions of the Mughal Empire against the Ahom Kingdom. The Mughals led by Mir Jumla II and Shaista Khan attacked and were defeated by the Ahoms.

Maharaja Chhatrasal was a medieval Indian warrior from Bundela Rajput clan, who fought against the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, and established his own kingdom in Bundelkhand, becoming a Maharaja of Panna.

However, after Aurangeb’s death Jats under Badan Singh later established their independent state of Bharatpur.

Aurangzeb leads the Mughal Army during the Battle of Satara.

In 1657, while Aurangzeb attacked Golconda and Bijapur in the Deccan, the Hindu Maratha warrior, Shivaji, used guerrilla tactics to take control of three Adil Shahi forts formerly under his father’s command. With these victories, Shivaji assumed de facto leadership of many independent Maratha clans. The Marathas harried the flanks of the warring Adil Shahis, gaining weapons, forts, and territory. Shivaji’s small and ill-equipped army survived an all out Adil Shahi attack, and Shivaji personally killed the Adil Shahi general, Afzal Khan. With this event, the Marathas transformed into a powerful military force, capturing more and more Adil Shahi territories. Shivaji went on to neutralise Mughal power in the region.

In 1659, Aurangzeb sent his trusted general and maternal uncle Shaista Khan, the Wali in Golconda to recover forts lost to the Maratha rebels. Shaista Khan drove into Maratha territory and took up residence in Pune. But in a daring raid on the governor’s palace in Pune during a midnight wedding celebration, led by Shivaji himself, the Marathas killed Shaista Khan’s son and Shivaji maimed Shaista Khan by cutting off three fingers of his hand. Shaista Khan, however, survived and was re-appointed the administrator of Bengal going on to become a key commander in the war against the Ahoms.

Shivaji captured forts belonging to both Mughals and Bijapur. At last Aurangzeb ordered the armament of the Daulatabad Fort with two bombards (the Daulatabad Fort was later used as a Mughal bastion during the Deccan Wars). Aurangzeb also sent his general Raja Jai Singh of Amber, a Hindu Rajput, to attack the Marathas. Jai Singh won the fort of Purandar after fierce battle in which the Maratha commander Murarbaji fell. Foreseeing defeat, Shivaji agreed for a truce and a meeting with Aurangzeb at Delhi. Jai Singh also promised Shivaji his safety, placing him under the care of his own son, the future Raja Ram Singh I. However, circumstances at the Mughal court were beyond the control of the Raja, and when Shivaji and his son Sambhaji went to Agra to meet Aurangzeb, they were placed under house arrest because of Shivaji’s apparent misbehaviour, from which they managed to effect a daring escape.Cite While Aurangzeb continued to send troops against him, Shivaji expanded Maratha control throughout the Deccan until his death in 1680. Shivaji was succeeded by his son, Sambhaji. Militarily and politically, Mughal efforts to control the Deccan continued to fail.

On the other hand, Aurangzeb’s third son Akbar left the Mughal court along with a few Muslim Mansabdar supporters and joined Muslim rebels in the Deccan. Aurangzeb in response moved his court to Aurangabad and took over command of the Deccan campaign. The rebels were defeated and Akbar fled south to seek refuge with Sambhaji, Shivaji’s successor. More battles ensued, and Akbar fled to Persia and never returned.

In 1689, Aurangzeb’s forces captured and executed Sambhaji. His successor Rajaram, later Rajaram’s widow Tarabai and their Maratha forces fought individual battles against the forces of the Mughal Empire. Territory changed hands repeatedly during the years (1689–1707) of interminable warfare. As there was no central authority among the Marathas, Aurangzeb was forced to contest every inch of territory, at great cost in lives and money. Even as Aurangzeb drove west, deep into Maratha territory – notably conquering Satara — the Marathas expanded eastwards into Mughal lands – Malwa and Hyderabad. The Marathas also expanded further South into Southern India defeating the independent local rulers there capturing Jinji in Tamil Nadu. Aurangzeb waged continuous war in the Deccan for more than two decades with no resolution. He thus lost about a fifth of his army fighting rebellions led by the Marathas in Deccan India. He travelled a long distance to the Deccan to conquer the Marathas and eventually died at the age of 88, still fighting the Marathas.

Aurangzeb’s shift from conventional warfare to anti-insurgency in the Deccan region shifted the paradigm of Mughal military thought. There were conflicts between Marathas and Mughals in Pune, Jinji, Malwa and Vadodara. The Mughal Empire’s port city of Surat was sacked twice by the Marathas during the reign of Aurangzeb and the valuable port was in ruins. Matthew White estimates that about 2.5 million of Aurangzeb’s army was killed during the Mughal–Maratha Wars (100,000 annually during a quarter-century), while 2 million civilians in war-torn lands died due to drought, plague and famine.

Aurangzeb leads his final expedition (1705), leading an army of 500,000 troops.

Impact of Deccan Policy of Aurangzeb

  • Aurangzeb was highly successful in Deccan during 1st 30 years of reign. He could annext the states of Vijapur & Golconda; Maratha king Sambhaji was captured alive but his mightful act of executing Maharaja Sambhaji Mughal Empire into an extremely serious challenge in Deccan.
  • Sambhaji wasn’t so worthy successor of Maharaja Shivaji his high end behavior eliminated number of senior Maratha commanders many of the senior belonging to regin of Shivaji left the capital as a result of these developments Maratha power was declining rapidly under leadership of Sambhaji.
  • Execution of Sambhaji transformed him into a national marker & then dead Sambhaji was more powerful them he alive.
  • Execution of Sambhaji was national insult of Maratha.
  • Mughal army was an almost invisible battle but Aurangzeb failed to understand the nature of Maratha challenge.
  • It kept on chasing these illusionary enemies in Maratha land for almost two decades without any success.
  • By the time Mughal forces used to suppress revolt at one place, such mass revolt use to erupt at the other places.
  • Maratha used Gurilla methods for warfare for which Mughal had no answers.
  • The failures of Mughals in Deccan seriously affected the strength & stability of entire Mughal Empire.
  • The myth of Mughal invisibility got shattered. Deccan proved to be a graveyard of Mughal prestige.
  • Mughal Empire had immense loss of man and material while fighting against Maratha in Deccan.
  • Aurangzeb appointed large number of Mansabdar to counter this challenge. This approach of Aurangzeb resulted in a very serious Mansab/Jagir crisis.
  • The Mughals failure in Deccan inspired the rebellions elements in other parts of Mughal Empire. The challenges in Punjab and other region increased enormously.


Ahom Campaign

While Aurangzeb and his brother Shah Shuja had been fighting against each other, the Hindu rulers of Kuch Behar and Assam took advantage of the disturbed conditions in the Mughal Empire, had invaded imperial dominions. For three years they were not attacked, but in 1660 Mir Jumla II, the viceroy of Bengal, was ordered to recover the lost territories.

The Mughals set out in November 1661. Within weeks they occupied the capital of Kuch Behar, which they annexed. Leaving a detachment to garrison it, the Mughal army began to retake their territories in Assam. Mir Jumla II advanced on Garhgaon, the capital of the Ahom kingdom, and reached it on 17 March 1662. The ruler, Raja Sutamla, had fled before his approach. The Mughals captured 82 elephants, 300,000 rupees in cash, 1000 ships, and 173 stores of rice.

On his way back to Dacca, in March 1663, Mir Jumla II died of natural causes. Skirmishes continued between the Mughals and Ahoms after the rise of Chakradhwaj Singha, who refused to pay further indemnity to the Mughals and during the wars that continued the Mughals suffered great hardships. Munnawar Khan emerged as a leading figure and is known to have supplied food to vulnerable Mughal forces in the region near Mathurapur. Although the Mughals under the command of Syed Firoz Khan the Faujdar at Guwahati were overrun by two Ahom armies in 1667, but they continued to hold and maintain presence in their eastern territories even after the Battle of Saraighat in 1671.

The Battle of Saraighat was fought in 1671 between the Mughal empire (led by the Kachwaha king, Raja Ramsingh I), and the Ahom Kingdom (led by Lachit Borphukan) on the Brahmaputra river at Saraighat, now in Guwahati. Although much weaker, the Ahom Army defeated the Mughal Army by brilliant uses of the terrain, clever diplomatic negotiations to buy time, guerrilla tactics, psychological warfare, military intelligence and by exploiting the sole weakness of the Mughal forces—its navy.

The Battle of Saraighat was the last battle in the last major attempt by the Mughals to extend their empire into Assam. Though the Mughals managed to regain Guwahati briefly after a later Borphukan deserted it, the Ahoms wrested control in the Battle of Itakhuli in 1682 and maintained it till the end of their rule.

Satnami Opposition

In May 1672, the Satnami sect obeying the commandments of an “old toothless woman” (according to Mughal accounts) organised a massive revolt in the agricultural heartlands of the Mughal Empire. The Satnamis were known to have shaved off their heads and even eyebrows and had temples in many regions of Northern India. They began a large-scale rebellion 75 miles southwest of Delhi.

The Satnamis believed they were invulnerable to Mughal bullets and believed they could multiply in any region they entered. The Satnamis initiated their march upon Delhi and overran small-scale Mughal infantry units.

Aurangzeb responded by organising a Mughal army of 10,000 troops and artillery, and dispatched detachments of his own personal Mughal imperial guards to carry out several tasks. To boost Mughal morale, Aurangzeb wrote Islamic prayers, made amulets, and drew designs that would become emblems in the Mughal Army. This rebellion would have a serious aftermath effect on the Punjab.

Sikh Opposition

Early in Aurangzeb’s reign, various insurgent groups of Sikhs engaged Mughal troops in increasingly bloody battles. The ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, like his predecessors was opposed to conversion of the local population as he considered it wrong. According to Sikh sources, approached by Kashmiri Pandits to help them retain their faith and avoid forced religious conversions, Guru Tegh Bahadur took on Aurangzeb. The emperor perceived the rising popularity of the Guru as a threat to his sovereignty and in 1670 had him executed, which infuriated the Sikhs. In response, Guru Tegh Bahadur’s son and successor, Guru Gobind Singh, further militarised his followers, starting with the establishment of Khalsa in 1699, eight years before Aurangzeb’s death. In 1705, Guru Gobind Singh sent a letter entitled Zafarnamah, which accused Aurangzeb of cruelty and betraying Islam. The letter caused him much distress and remorse. Guru Gobind Singh’s formation of Khalsa in 1699 led to the establishment of the Sikh Confederacy and later Sikh Empire.

Pashtun Opposition

The Pashtun revolt in 1672 under the leadership of the warrior poet Khushal Khan Khattak of Kabul was triggered when soldiers under the orders of the Mughal Governor Amir Khan allegedly molested women of the Pashtun tribes in modern-day Kunar Province of Afghanistan. The Safi tribes retaliated against the soldiers. This attack provoked a reprisal, which triggered a general revolt of most of tribes. Attempting to reassert his authority, Amir Khan led a large Mughal Army to the Khyber Pass, where the army was surrounded by tribesmen and routed, with only four men, including the Governor, managing to escape.

Aurangzeb’s incursions into the Pashtun areas were described by Khushal Khan Khattak as “Black is the Mughal’s heart towards all of us Pathans”. Aurangzeb employed the scorched earth policy, sending soldiers who massacred, looted and burnt many villages. Aurangzeb also proceeded to use bribery to turn the Pashtun tribes against each other, with the aim that they would distract a unified Pashtun challenge to Mughal authority, and the impact of this was to leave a lasting legacy of mistrust among the tribes.

After that the revolt spread, with the Mughals suffering a near total collapse of their authority in the Pashtun belt. The closure of the important Attock-Kabul trade route along the Grand Trunk road was particularly disastrous. By 1674, the situation had deteriorated to a point where Aurangzeb camped at Attock to personally take charge. Switching to diplomacy and bribery along with force of arms, the Mughals eventually split the rebels and partially suppressed the revolt, although they never managed to wield effective authority outside the main trade route.


By 1689, the conquest of Golconda, Mughal victories in the south expanded the Mughal Empire to 4 million square kilometres, with a population estimated to be over 158 million. But this supremacy was short-lived.

Unlike his predecessors, Aurangzeb considered the royal treasury to be held in trust for the citizens of his empire. He made caps and copied the Quran to earn money for his use. Aurangzeb constructed a small marble mosque known as the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) in the Red Fort complex in Delhi. However, his constant warfare, especially with the Marathas, drove his empire to the brink of bankruptcy just as much as the wasteful personal spending and opulence of his predecessors.

The conquest of the Deccan, to which Aurangzeb devoted the last 26 years of his life, was in many ways a Pyrrhic victory, costing an estimated hundred thousand lives a year during its last decade of futile chess game warfare. The expense in gold and rupees can hardly be accurately estimated. Aurangzeb’s encampment was like a moving capital – a city of tents 30 miles in circumference, with some 250 bazaars, with a 1⁄2 million camp followers, 50,000 camels and 30,000 elephants, all of whom had to be fed, stripped the Deccan of any and all of its surplus grain and wealth

Even when ill and dying, Aurangzeb made sure that the populace knew he was still alive, for if they had thought otherwise then the turmoil of another war of succession was likely. He died at his military camp in Bhingar near Ahmednagar on 20 February 1707 at the age of 89, having outlived many of his children. His modest open-air grave in Khuldabad expresses his deep devotion to his Islamic beliefs. It is sited in the courtyard of the shrine of the Sufi saint Shaikh Burhan-u’d-din Gharib, who was a disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi.


Mughal Paintings

  • Mughal rulers were not only efficient admin & military conqueror but at a same they were great patron of Art & Culture. This patronage of Mughal ruler resulted in remarkable progress in field of painting.
  • History of Mughal painting could be stressed to reign of Babur. According to his autobiography Tuzuk-i-Baburi, he employed number of painters for making picture for his manuscript.
  • While returning from Persia, Humayun brought two famous painters, Abd al-Samad & his son Mir Sayyad Ali. They initiated real progress in field of painting.
  • Akbar, Jahagir and Shah Jahan extended royal patronage to art of painting. According to Abul Fazl there were 100 painters in court of Akbar. He appointed painters in state services.
  • Jahangir took great personal interest in art of painting. He himself was fine painter if painting was made by group of Artist. He could make out which part made by whom.
  • Shahjahan continued to extend royal patronage but Aurangzeb forbided it. Painting was considered against tenants of Islam by Aurangzeb; he ordered white washing painting found on walls of Akbar palace & tomb.



  • Mughal painting was extended of court art because painters were patronized by Mughal Empire in court progress took place because of state support.
  • Court sense scenes of life palace, hunting & battle scenes dominant Mughal painting.
  • Some painting depict life of common man as well, peasant walking on their fields. Animal pulling plough, women walking to home, heels of village rural street are also found in Mughal painting.
  • Mughal painting represented assimilation of Persian, Indian & European tradition.
  • Persian inflation visible in form of narrative painting / book illustration, flat pictures & use of rose flower in painting was other Persian influences.
  • Portrait paintings, 3D paintings, use of peacock blue & red colors & adoption of miniature painting represented Indian influence.
  • European influence was visible in form of depiction of hallow, use of light & shadow effect & depiction of roaring crowds.
  • Mughal painting was evolved during early times narrative painting was made because depiction of living being was considered against tenants of Islam. Stories of the book like Babur Nama, Humayunama, Razmnama (Persian exaltation Mahabharat), Anvar-i-Suhaili (Persian exaltation Punchatantra) were carried out. Akbar portrait painting commenced reach climax at time of Shahjahan.

Mughal Monetary System

Akbar’s Gold Illahi Mohur from Lahore

  • Mughal Empire was one of the most extensive and lasting political entity in Indian subcontinent witnessed.
  • After coming into existence 1526, empire flourished to 150 years. Though it continued to survive more than 3 centuries.
  • Mughal Empire special attention to coin monetary because it was instrument to forcing sovereignty of crown & coinage was great imported for economic progress.


Features of Mughal Monetary System

  • Complete monopoly of state was an essential feature of Mughal monetary system. Maintaining coining was considered as Royal Prerogative & no one else was allowed to perform this fun.
  • During reign of Aurangzeb, Bombay government of EIC issues coins with name & effigy of English crown, Aurangzeb ordered to stop it. He sent Kafi Khan as his special emissary to Bombay to ensure that company was made desist from this act of challenging Mughal sovereignty.
  • The Mughal coin system was opened to all. Any private citizen could bring his metal to Royal mint & could get converted into coin by paying small fee.
  • This remarkable feature in success of Mughal monetary system because the availability of coins ensured as per need.
  • Tri-Metallic Currency System was followed by Mughal rulers.
  • Gold coins – Muhar, Silver – Rupaiya & Copper – Dam formed the backbone of Mughal monetary system.
  • Very high level of standardization was important feature. Uniform, metallic std. was followed throughout Mughal Empire. In spite of fact that maintaining carried out on dozens of places throughout Mughal Empire.
  • Weight of Gold Muhar 169 gms & silver coins 170 gms, copper Dam 323 gms.
  • Very high level of quality standard was maintained in Mughal monetary system.
  • They were inbuilt checks & balance to ensure that quality std. remains same throughout the empire.
  • Every mint used to have quality inspectors & coins were allowed to come out only after a thorough check.
  • Centralized control on Monetary System was main feature Mughals had well organized & sophisticated Monetary System. Entire mechanism functioned under direct central control, though mint located throughout empire.
  • Mughal coinage was existence of high velocity coinage. These coins were easily accepted by state agencies as well as private entities from KaburKandhahar to Dhaka in East &vijapuraGovalkonda in South.
  • Dependence on import of Metals was also an import feature of Mughal coinage.
  • The metals like gold, silver, copper were mostly receive from outside as result of favourable balance of external trade.

Trade Revolution in 16th century

  • Establishment of Mughal Empire resulted in political unification in Indian subcontinent. Mughal implemented uniform admin peace & security got improved. These developments facilitate growth of trade & commerce.
  • Indian contact with external world were also improved by establishment of Mughal Empire because Babar aLready ruling over Afghanistan. This gave boast to Indian trade being practiced through land route.
  • Significant technical progress was witnessed in India during Mughal rule. Akbar was great patron of science & technology.
  • According to Abul Fazl, the utensils used in Royal kitchen were plated once in every 15 days.
  • Screw was invented during Akbar’s reign prior to this rivets which couldn’t be adjusted once fixed. It was revolutionary invention for ship building industry because wooden planks could be kept in firmly higher position always. This adjustment wasn’t possible with rivet.
  • Gear Mechanism was invented during Akbar’s reign. It enabled the amplification/reduction of speed; it also facilitated the conversion of horizontal motion into vertical motion. It triggered revolutionary progress in irrigation facilities, sugarcane & oils industry.
  • Artillery also witnessed significance progress during Akbar’s reigns Guns having easily removable parts easily manufacture. These breakable guns could export in hill tops easily. This technology was important strength of Mughal against Rajput.
  • Measurement system also witnessed progress Fateh Ulla Sirachi was a famous mathematician during Akbar’s reign. He invented two new yards via Gaj-i-Ilahi for measurement of land & Gaj-i-Akbarshahi for measurement of cloth. He also development Solar Era/Ialhi Era/Fasli Era, this new calendar helped timing of sowing & harvesting a crops.
  • Civil engineering also witnessed progress. Natural air conditions methods were developed. Water was made to flow between 2 layers of walls. Designs of building were made such manner air could swift easily.
  • These technologies advances resulted in emergence of new art & crafts remarkable progress was witnessed in existing crafts. Availability of manufacture goods on large scale gave boost to trade & commerce.
  • The level of monetization of economic also increased in 16th
  • Sher Shah issued pure coin made up of silver & cpper.
  • Akbar issued coin made up of silver, copper and gold. This helped into growth exchange network as a result of which trade & commerce got boost.
  • Arrival of European trading companies & discovery of direct sea routes between India & Europe greatly enhanced Indian external trade. The European traders brought huge amount of Bulliyan to purchase Indian goods.
  • The patronage extended by Mughal rulers to merchants & traders also contributed to remarkable progress in Indian economy. The combined effect of all these factors resulted in a trade revolution in India in 16th

Educations under Mughals

  • The nature & character of education system during Mughal represent continuation of expedation of Delhi Sultanate.
  • The Hindus & Muslims had their separate centers for learning. Mughal Empire issued grants to provide support.
  • State support education institution because large number of citizen required to work in department of state viz revenue.
  • Mughals collected taxes in cash, salaries of officials also calculated in cash. Whenever Jagir issued, revenue income from Jagir& salary of officer receding Jagir were matched. All these calculation require the Mathematics which was important subject of learning.
  • Delhi, Agra, Lahore, Johnpur, Ajmer, Bidar were prominent centers of learning in Mughals.


Essential features of Education System

  • Education system divided along religious line. There was vertical split in two branches comprising Hindu education & Islamic education.
  • Negligible interference of state was another important feature.
  • Education institute of Hindu & Muslims were managed & controlled by private citizen. At the most role of state was in the form of issuing grants to provide financial support.
  • The religious learning found important component of syllabus whole education system was saturated full of religious ideas.
  • Education institute located in cities as well as countryside.
  • The main object of education was to impart ethics & values.
  • The teachers & student ratio was very high as they used very few student in school.
  • Monitor system followed in school. The senior student used to assist teacher in managing affairs.

Imparting knowledge of religion & philosophy equipping student for particular occasion in cultivating displine& preparing person for next battle world were main object during Medieval Age.