Aurangzeb was India’s sixth Mughal Emperor. His reign spanned over half a century (from 1658 to 1707), and was highlighted by several conquests and the Mughal Empire’s immense growth. Under him, the empire expanded to its maximum size, if only temporarily; the Mughal empire spanned more than 3.2 million square kilometers during his reign. Aurangzeb, Emperor Shah Jahan’s third son, was appointed Viceroy of the Deccan when he was only 18 years old, and he went on to help his father extend the empire by leading various military expeditions. He was a ruthless individual who sought power and had his father imprisoned when he became ill. Then he overcame his own brothers to capture the throne and declared himself Emperor of India, taking the name Alamgir in the process (Conqueror of the World). Despite his skill as a warrior, he proved to be a ruthless and tyrannical king. The Marathas, Jats, Sikhs, and Rajputs revolted against him because of his harshness and discriminating policies. Even though he was able to put down the rebellions, the triumphs came at a high cost: the imperial Mughal treasury and army were depleted as a result of the rebellions and conflicts. The Mughal Empire quickly dissolved after his death, eventually collapsing in the mid-eighteenth century.
Childhood and Adolescence
Abul Muzaffar Muhi-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb, the third son of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, was born on November 4, 1618, at Dahod, Gujarat. His father was the ruler of Gujarat at the time of his birth, and he became the Mughal Emperor in 1628.
From an early age, Aurangzeb demonstrated his bravery and was appointed Viceroy of the Deccan in 1636. His father ordered him to annex the little Rajput kingdom of Baglana, which he did with ease. Shah Jahan named him governor of Gujarat, and afterwards ruler of Multan and Sindh, after being impressed by his boldness and valour.
He held a variety of important administrative roles throughout his father’s tenure and excelled in each of them. Aurangzeb’s ambition for the throne intensified with time, and he developed a rivalry with his elder brother Dara Shikoh, who was named as their father’s heir.
Reign & Accession
In 1657, Emperor Shah Jahan became very ill, and Aurangzeb worried that Dara Shikoh would usurp the throne. Following this, the brothers fought a bloody succession battle, with Aurangzeb emerging triumphant. During the struggle with his brothers, he showed merciless tenacity and outstanding strategic skills.
In his zeal to take the throne, he imprisoned Shah Jahan in his own palace in Agra and assassinated his brothers, nephews, and even a son. After defeating all of his opponents, Aurangzeb was crowned Mughal Emperor on June 13, 1659, at the Red Fort in Delhi.
He was known for his violence and intolerance, and he murdered a number of notable figures, including the controversial Sufi mystic Sarmad Kashani and the Maratha Confederacy’s leader Sambhaji.
Aurangzeb, an orthodox Sunni Muslim, refused to follow his forefathers’ liberal religious views. He wanted to turn the country into an Islamic state, therefore he banned Hindu festivities and demolished several Hindu temples. He became well-known for his crimes and brutality against individuals of different faiths. When the Sikh leader Guru Tegh Bahadur refused to convert to Islam, he had the Christian communities surrounding the European factories demolished and the Sikh leader Guru Tegh Bahadur beheaded.
In the Mughal Empire, he enacted a number of restrictive measures, including the prohibition of alcohol, gambling, music, and narcotics. He also imposed discriminatory fees on non-Muslims and fired a large number of Hindus. Several non-Muslims were also forced to convert to Islam or face terrible penalties.
As emperor, he was likewise adamant on expanding the realms under his control. During Aurangzeb’s reign, the Mughal Empire was continuously at war. In addition to annexing the Ahmednagar Sultanate, he defeated the Adil Shahis of Bijapur and the Qutbshahis of Golconda. He was also successful in expanding his kingdom in the south, reaching Tanjore (now Thanjavur) and Trichinopoly during his long rule (now Tiruchchirappalli).
Aurangzeb was a tyrannical, violent, and dictatorial monarch who was despised by his subjects. Several rebellions sprang out during his reign, including Maratha and Rajput uprisings. The Mughal emperor was able to put down the rebellions and consolidate his rule, but the incessant battle exhausted the Mughal coffers and army, weakening the monarch’s position.
He was the richest and most powerful man alive at one point in his life, and he was able to grow the Mughal Empire to 3.2 million square kilometers during his rule. His empire’s splendour, however, was short-lived. His continual wars and several revolts against him had severely damaged the empire’s foundations, and it did not take long for the empire to crumble after Aurangzeb’s death.
Battles of Importance
Aurangzeb was an aggressive emperor who waged many wars, the most famous of which being the Mughal–Maratha Wars, which lasted from 1680 to 1707 and were fought between the Maratha Empire and the Mughal Empire. The conflict began when Aurangzeb invaded Shivaji’s Maratha refuge in Bijapur, and it lasted for the rest of Aurangzeb’s life. The Mughal Empire’s resources were severely depleted as a result of these battles.
Personal History and Legacy
Aurangzeb married a number of times. Dilras Banu Begum was his first wife and major consort. Begum Nawab Bai, Aurangabadi Mahal, Udaipuri Mahal, and Zainabadi Mahal were among his other renowned spouses. Zeb-un-Nissa, Zinat-un-Nissa, Muhammad Azam Shah, Mehr-un-Nissa, Sultan Muhammad Akbar, Muhammad Sultan, Bahadur Shah I, and Badr-un-Nissa were among his many children.
He was a long-lived man who outlived the majority of his offspring. On February 20, 1707, he died of illness at the age of 88. His son Azam Shah replaced him as Emperor, although he was assassinated only a few months later. Aurangzeb’s death effectively signaled the start of the Mughal Empire’s demise.
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