Mughal Empire: Causes of Disintegration

As Rome wasn’t built in a day, similarly the disintegration of the Mughal Empire was not a result of a single’s day deed. There were several factors and wrong-doings of Mughals which led to the gradual downfall of the Empire. All the efforts made by Akbar to consolidate the empire on the basis of the religious line as well as the regional line was destroyed first by Shah Jahan and then by Aurangzeb.  This might be the unheard fact but it was Shah Jahan who failed to rule the Empire and wasted all the money in building several monuments. The fact that he spent most of the time in his palace rather than spending time in court.

He was an unsuccessful father as well. If he had spent time clearing of doubts among princes and finding an appropriate solution, then a competent prince could be raised to the throne and the entire empire could be consolidated efficiently. But that was not the line of Shah Jahan, he was busy in making love with his empress. This clear ignorance of an Emperor as well as the father of several competent and incompetent princes, lead them to the war of succession. This war of succession saw the rise of an incompetent prince as the Emperor of India, who failed to make his citizen prosperous and happy.

Aurangzeb readily divided the citizens on the basis of the religious lines.  He ordered to destroy all Hindu Temples and to raise mosques in place of them, which angered the Hindus and we can see the rise of Marathas for the protection of Hinduism. But instead of understanding the cause of the rising of Marathas, he began a war with them and spent an enormous amount of time in the war. This unfruitful engagement leads to the rising of the same conflict by which he had accessed the throne. This time, that war was successfully exploited by several feudal rulers, British and other elements who dreamed to uproot the Mughals out of power.

Role of Aurangzeb in the disintegration of the Mughal Empire

Mughal Empire's Emperor: Aurangzeb
Mughal Empire’s Emperor: Aurangzeb

According to Jadunath Sarkar, Aurangzeb was responsible for the disintegration of the Mughal Empire because he departed from the liberal & progressive policy laid out by Akbar. It is emphasized that the Rajput policy, religious policy & Deccan policy of Aurangzeb were drastically different from that of his predecessors. This departure ruined the Mughal Empire.

The closer examination of the policies of Aurangzeb reveals that he didn’t depart fundamentally from policies initiated by Akbar. Some changes were witnessed in the religious Rajput & Deccan Policy of Aurangzeb but these were outcomes of changing geopolitical environment. The impact of changes wasn’t very significant so Aurangzeb alone can’t be held responsible for the disintegration of the Mughal Empire.

Role of Agrarian Crisis

According to Irfan Habib, the Mughal Empire was destroyed by the severe agrarian crisis faced by it during the latter half of the 17th century.

Agrarian Crisis- Capitalist crises of agricultural overproduction. They are reflected in the increase of unmarketable reserves of agriculturalcommodities, the decline of prices paid to farmers for them, the destruction of a portion of agricultural produce for whichthere is no demand, a decline in the net profit of farmers, the acceleration of the processes of ruin and expropriation of small and middle agricultural producers, the worsening of agrarian overpopulation—the growth of hidden unemployment and the decline of wages of agricultural workers

Role of the Jagirdari Crisis

According to Satish Chandra, the Jagirdari crisis was responsible for the disintegration of the Mughal Empire.

Role of Scientific & Technology backwardness

According to Mohammad Ather Ali, Mughal Empire didn’t keep pace with Europe in science & technology while Europe witnessed a scientific revolution in the 17th No such revolutionary progress was witnessed in India. As a result, the industrial & military technology in Mughal Empire couldn’t progress with time. A small European force having advanced weapons could defeat a much bigger Indian army easily.

The technological backwardness didn’t allow Indian industries to transform with time. No industrial revolution took place in India. These factors adversely affected the inner strength of the Mughal Empire & it started declining.

Role of Monetary Crisis

According to Shireen Moosvi, Mughal Empire was destroyed by the severe monetary crisis faced by it in 18th On basis of his research, he found out that a large number of silver coins were issued by the Mughal ruler in the 18th century to use big stock of silver accumulated by state. The price of silver had fallen sharply in the international market. There was no significant use of silver in external trade & it was used to maintain a coin.

The issuing of silver coins on large scale resulted in a severe inflationary challenge in the Mughal Empire. The economic hardship being faced by common masses increased enormously. The agrarian Jagirdari & other crises got intensified all these challenges triggered the disintegration procedure of the Mughal Empire.

Role of other factors

Limitation of the character of the Mughal polity contributed significantly to the disintegration of the Mughal Empire. Mughal Empire was a despotic state; the participation of common masses in decision making was absent. Mughal Empire was an example of a military state. It was established through military conquest. It was sustained through the power of the military. The fate of the Mughal Empire was doomed by this own limitation.

De-nervation of Nobility also contributed to declining of the Mughal Empire. Nobel had become extremely powerful & ambitious. After the death of Aurangzeb Nobel had started playing the role of kingmakers. They placed weak rulers on the throne so the real power could remain in their hands. Foreign invasions also played important role in the disintegration of the Mughal Empire. In 1739, Nadir shah invaded the Mughal Empire & defeated Mughal forces in the battle of Karnal. This invasion of Nadir shah left the Mughal Empire prostate & bleeding. Ahmad Shah Abdali invaded India seven times during 1748-61. He annexed Punjab. These invasions shattered the power & prestige of the Mughal Empire. The process of disintegration gained further momentum.