Last Updated 24 Mar 2020

The Fall of Mughal Empire

Category Mughal Empire 
Essay type Research
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The fall of Mughal Empire Under Aurangzeb’s successors the decay of empire was hastened by several causes and the spirit of lawlessness rampant throughout the land. In such circumstances ruin of Mughal Empire was inevitable.

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. He hardly realised that the greatness of an empire depends on the progress of its people as a whole, largely owing to the emperor’s each of political foresight. The symptoms of the integration of Mughal Empire appeared before he left the world.

His successors only hastened the process of decay. Disintegration of the Mughal Empire The death of Aurangzeb on the 3rd March, 1707, was a signal for the disintegration of the mighty Mughal Empire, which dazzled the contemporary world by its extensive territories, military might and cultural achievements. The reign of Aurangzeb was the swan-song of the Mughal rule in India. No sooner had he breathed his last then his three sons Muazam, Muhammad Azam and Muhammad Khan Baksh entered into bitter oratorical quarrels for the possession of the throne of Delhi.

While nine Mughal Emperors followed one another in quick succession in the fifty years following the death of Aurangzeb, many adventurers Indian and foreign carved out independent principalities for themselves. Mughal government of Oudh, Bengal and the Deccan freed themselves from the control of the Central Government. The Hindu powers found the time opportune for assertion of their independence. Invaders from the North-West repeated their incursions in search of wealth and the European trading companies interfered in Indian Politics.

In spite of all these external and internal dangers, dissolution process of the Central structure of the great Mughal Empire was slow and long drawn out process. BajiRao’s raid of Delhi(1773) and Nadir Shah’s invasion(1739) exposed the hollowness of the Mughal Empire and by 1740 the fall of the empire was an accomplished fact. Among the various causes responsible for decline and the downfall of the great Empire the following deserve special mention: 1. Aurangzeb’s responsibility. The expansion of the Mughal Empire under Aurangzeb resembled an inflated balloon. The empire has expanded beyond the point of effective control.

Its vastness in the absence of developed means of communication tended to weaken the centre instead of strengthening it. The emperor’s religious policy provoked a general discontent in the country and the empire was faced with rebellions of the Sikhs, the Jats, the Bundelas, the Rajputs and above all the Marathas. Aurangzeb only created enemies. His narrow bigoted religious policy turned the Rajputs, a reliable supporter of the Imperial dynasties into foes. He re-imposed “Jeiza” on the Hindus which led to the rising of the Satnamis, Bundelas and the Jats. The Sikhs rose against the empire paralysing Imperial administration in the Punjab.

The Hindu resistance in the Maharashtra assumed a national character. The Maratha guerrillas demoralised the splendid armies of Aurangzeb, broke their spirit of superiority and wore them out. One of the strongest reasons of the annexation of the Shia Kingdoms of Bijapur and Golconda was religious. The conquest of these Muslim kingdoms of the south removed the strongest local check on Maratha activities and left them free to organise resistance of Mughal Imperialism. Aurangzeb’s mistaken policy of war in the Deccan which continued for twenty seven years drained the resources of the empire.

The rulers of Bijapur and Golconda were Shias and for a fanatical Sunni like Aurangzeb there was no place for them in India. The annexation of these States was a blunder. He should have followed a buffer-state policy towards these kingdoms. He should have subordinated his religious zeal to statesmanship. If he had helped these states against the Marathas, he would have been able to keep the latter in check with much less expense and waste of energy. After the annexation of Bijapur and Golconda, Aurangzeb tried to crush the power of the Marathas; Sambhaji the son of Shivaji was captured and put to death.

His son Sahu was also made a prisoner. However the Marathas carried on their struggle against the Mughal under the leadership of Raja Ram and Tara Bai. When Aurangzeb died in 1707, the power of the Marathas was not still crushed. They were stronger than before. Well I think, “The Deccan was the grave of his reputation as well as of his body”. He had to remain a way from the capital for a quarter of a century. The result was that the whole of the administration went out of gear. There was confusion everywhere. The provincial Governors did not send the land revenue to Central Government.

At a time when money was needed for Deccan war, very little was coming from the provinces. No wonder when Bahadur Shah succeeded to the throne, the treasury was empty. After the death of Aurangzeb various provinces became independent of the Central authority. Oudh became independent under Saadat Khan Bengal, Bihar and Orissa became independent under AlivardiKhan. Asaf Jat Nizam-ul-Mulk became indepent in the Deccan. The Rohillas became independent in Rohilkhand. The Rajputs also asserted their independence. Thus, gradually the Mughal empire broke up.

The failure of Aurangzeb in the Deccan wars destroyed the military prestige of the Mughals. Too much of expenditure made the Mugahl government bankrupt. The Deccan wars can rightly be called the ‘Ulcer’ which destroyedthe Mughal Empire. Weak Successors of Aurangzeb Aurangzeb died in 1707 and before his death he left a will by which he portioned his empire among his three sons. Inspite of this a bitter fratricidal war took place among the three princes for the throne. Muazzam was the ruler of Kabul and the Punjab, Muhammad Azim the second son was the ruler of the deccan. Prince Muazzam came to the throne after defeating his brothers.

The Mughal system of government being despotic much depended on the personality of the emperor. Under a strong emperor all went well but the succession of a weak emperor was reflected in every filed administration. Unfortunately all the succession after Aurangzeb were weaklings and quite incapable to meet the challenges from within and without far from stemming the tide of decline, they arranged the situation by their idiosyncrasies and lacks morals. Bahadur Shah I (1707-1712) was 69 at the time of his succession to the throne and was too old to maintain the prestige of the empire.

He liked to appease all parties by profuse by grants of titles and rewards. Jahandar Shah (1712-1713) the next in succession was a luxury profligate fool. Farrukh Siyar (1713-1719) was a contemptible coward. Mohammad Shah (1719-1748) spent most of the time watching animal fights. He was nicknamed “Rangila” for his addiction to wine and women. During his rule Nadir Shah attacked Delhi and Subedars became independent. Ahmad Shah (1748-1754) excelled his predecessors in his sensual pursuits. He was unable to cope successfully with the disintegration forces that had grown so alarming on all sides.

The empire was reduced to a small district round Delhi. The emperor was deposed and blinded in 1754 by the ‘wasir’. He was succeeded by Alamgir II and he was succeeded by Shah Alum who came under British and Maratha protection. Such weak and imbecile Emperors could hardly act as worthy custodians of public interests or maintain the integrity of the empire. Degeneration of Mughal Nobility When Mughal came to India they had hardly a character. Too much of wealth, luxury and leisure softened their character. Their ‘harems’ became full. They got wine in plenty.

They went in palanquins to the battlefield. Such nobles were not fit to fight against the Marathas, the Rajputs and Jats and the Sikhs. The Mughal nobility degenerated at a very rapid pace. The Mughals nobility was taken from the Turks, the Afghan and the Persians and the climate of India was not very suitable for their growth. They began to degenerate during their stay in India. Ruddy warriors in boots, became pale persons in petticoats : “Where wealth accumulates men decay; And disloyalty on the empire did pray” We have a significant example of the moral degeneration of the Mughal peerage.

The Prime Minister’s grandson Mirza Tafakh-kjur used to sally worth from the mansion in Delhi, with his ruffians plunder the shops in the bazars, kidnap Hindu women passing through the public streets in litters or going to the river to dishonour them; and yet there was no judge strong enough to punish him, no police to prevent such crimes. Every time such an occurrence was brought to the Emperor’s notice by the news letters or official reports, he referred it to the prime minister and did nothing more. Court Factions Broadly speaking, the nobles were ranged in two parties.

Those two were children of the soil or the Indo-Muslim party. To this group belonged the Afghan nobles, the Sayyeds of Barha and Khan-i-Dauran whose ancestors came from Badakhastan. These Indian Muslims depended mostly on the help of their Hindu compatriots. The foreign nobles of diverse origin, opposed as a class to the members of the Hindustani party; were indiscriminately called Mughals. They were sub-divided into two groups according to the land of their origin. Those who came from Transoxiano and other parts of central Asia and were mostly of Sunni, persuasion formed the Turkani party.

The most prominent members of this group was Mohammed Amin Khan and his Cousin Chin-Qillich Khan better known as the Nizam-ul-Mulk. The Irani party was composed of those who hailed for the Persian territories and were Shias. The most important members of the Irani party were Asad Khan and Zulfiqar Khan, the king maker. These were mere factions and were not like modern political parties. Their members had no common principle of action among themselves except of self-interest and no firm party allegiance. They fought battles, upsetting the peace of the country and throwing administration to dogs.

Even in the face of foreign danger these hostile groups could not forge a united front and often intrigued with invadors. Defective Law of Succession The absence of the law of primogeniture among the Mughals usually meant a war of succession among the sons of the dying Emperor in which the military leaders of the times took sides. “The sword was the grand arbiter of right and every son was prepared to try his fortune against his brothers” Such a system though not commendable was not without its advantages. It provided the country with the ablest son of the dying emperor as the ruler. Demoralization in the Mughal Army

The abundance of riches of India, the use of wine and comforts had very evil effects on the Mughal army. Nothing was done to stop the deterioration. The soldiers cared more for their personal comforts and less for winning battles. The importance of the Mughal armies was declared to the world when they failed to conquer Balkh and Badakhashar in the time of Shah Jahan. Likewise the failure of Shah Jahan to recapture Kandar inspite of three determined efforts proved to the world that the military machine of the Mughal had become imporatant. In 1739 Nadir Shah not only murdered the people of Delhi but also ordered their wholesale massacre.

When such a thing is done by a foreigner, it only proves that the existing government is helpless. Such a government forfeits the right to exact allegiance from the people as it fails to protect life and property of the people. There were inherent defects in Mughal military system. The army was organised more or less on the feudal basis where the common soldier owed allegiance to the mansabdar rather than the Emperor. The soldier looked upon the mansabdar as their chief, not an officer. The defects of this system though evident enough in revolts of Bairam Khan and Mahabat Khan assumed alarming proportions under the later Mughal Kings. Only forced by need does he came out of the moat His army best knows how to turn from the fight; The Infantry – afraid to the barber that shaves; The Cavalry – fall off from their beds in their sleep; But in a dream – they see their mount frisk”. Economic Bankruptcy After the death of Aurangzeb, the Mughal Empire faced financial bankruptcy. The Deccan wars ruined the finances of the empire. The marches of the Imperial army damaged crops in Deccan while the beasts of burden ate away all the standing crops and greenery. Whatever little was left was destroyed by the Marathas Raiders.

There was dislocation of trade and industry. Extravagant expenditure was a crushing burden upon the resources of the country. Nature of the Mughal State The Mughal government was essentially a police government and confined its attention mainly to the maintainance of internal and external order and collection of revenue. The Mughals failed to effect a fusion between the Hindus and Muslims, an create a composite nation

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