NOTES & REFERENCES
[ Ch. 20
Jahan’s instructions, ordered its restoration, saying that although Shah/.ada Sultan Aurangzeb Bahadur had built in that place (temple) some M.hrabs and given it the name of a mosque but Mulla ’Abdul Hakim had represented to H.I Majesty that this building, by reason of its being the property of another person, could not be considered a mosque according to the mviolable Islam.c law (vide H.C. Commissariat, Studies in the History of Gujarat, p. 58)
The pious royal chroniclers do not mention it, but we learn from local revenue records that after (he political problem had been dealt with, Shah Jahan allowed the surviving prisoners of Hugli to return, gave them permission to rebuild the Church, and even gave it an endowment of 77ff bighas of rent-free lands. For deuils see D.G. Crawford, A Biref History of the Hugli District, p. 8.
It is interesting to note that ”Shah Jahan invaded the Dcccan in 1635, the King of Spain ordered his officers at Goa to help both Bijapur and Ahmadnagar” (Banarsi Prasad, History of Shah Jahan, p. 302).
O.C.Caroe, The Pathans, p. 220.
W.W. Barfold, The Musaiman Culture (Tr. by Suhrawardy), p. 144.
Too much significance cannot be attached to fanciful schemes which did not find expression in action. In Inttha-i Ahu al-Fadl, there are letters indicated of Akbar’s desire to carry on warfare against Ihe Portuguese.
M. R. Roychaudhury, The Slate and Religion in the Mughal India p. 120. Ibid
The Cambridge History of India, IV, 208. Ibid., IV, 209.
Shah Jahan’s conduct confirmed what Aurangzeb’s friends had advised ”Shortly afterwards Nahir Dil Chela arrived with famian from Shah Jahan to Dara, in which the latter was advised to stay in Delhi, while he (Shah Jahan) would give short shrift to his enemies. This finally exposed the duplicity of Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb decided not to go lo see him” (Banarsi Prasad, History of Shah Jahan, pp. 332-33), Bcrnier doubts the authenticity of this letter, but leaves to doubt Shah Jahan’s attitude towards Aurangzeb, and says ”that the father fell into the snare which he had spread for his son (Aurang/,eb)” (Bcrnier, Travels, p. 61).
12. Will Durant, The Story of Civilisation, Pt. I, p. 474.
13. Brij Narain & Sri Ram Sharma, Tr. & ED., A Contemporary Dutch Chronicle of Mughal India, pp. 101-02.
14. The Cambridge History of India, IV, 562.
16. Bernier, op. cit.. p. 23.
17. For details see Rawlinson’s article in O’Malley’s Modern India and the West, pp. 544-45.
18. There are some indications that Muila ’Abd al-Hakim, the great scholar and intellectual of the times, belonged to Dara Shukoh’s liberal group. Aurangzeb, when governor of Gujarat, had ordered the conversion of an unauthorised Jain temple, built by Scth Shantidas at Ahmadabad, into a mosque (1055/1645). Three years later Dara Shukoh became governor of Gujarat and, under Shah
Aurangzeb. Aurangzeh, the third son of Shah Jahan was born on 21 October 1618, at Dohad, on the frontier of Gujarat and Rajputana. He was younger than Dara Shukoh and Shuja, but in competence and character he easily excelled them. He was industrious, far-seeing and thorough. He had distinguished himself as an abel administrator during the long years that he spent in the Deccan and other provinces of the Empire. He was a fearless soldier and a skilful general and in his dealings with men he was cool and cautious. Owing to Dara’s influential opposition life had not been a bed of roses for him and he had to learn at an early age of the tactics of cautious diplomacy. He kept his feelings under control and could readily think of methods essential to success.
Even as a prince, Aurangzeb was known for his devotion to Muslim religion and observance of Islamic injunctions. Dara used to contemptuously refer to him as Namazi (prayermonger), while Aurangzeb referred to his elder brother as a ”heretic,” and in some of his letters written (e.g. to Shah Jahan) during the War of Succession, he claimed that he was Acting ”for the sake of the true faith and the peace of the realm”. As soon as he was secure on the throne, he started the introduction of reforms which would make his dominion a proper Muslim State. After his second (and formal coronation on 5 June 1659, he issued orders which were calculated to please the orthodox.1 He appointed censors of public morals (muhtasibs) in all important cities to enforce Islamic Law and put down practices forbidden by the Shari’ah such as drinking, gambling and prostitution. He also forbade the cultivation of
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bhang throughout the Empire. In 1057/1664, he issued his first edict forbidding sati, and repeatedly denounced the castration of children for sale as eunuchs. In the economic sphere he showed a determined opposition to all illegal exactions (abwab) and all the taxes which were not authorised by Islamic Law. Immediately after his second coronation, he abolished inland transport duty (rahdari) amounting to 10% of the value of goods, and the octroifpandari) on all articles of food and drink brought for sale into the cities.
These measures gave relief to the people and were popular, though they were partially responsible for Aurangzeb’s later financial difficulties. Gradually the emperor’s puritanism began to manifest itself and steps were taken which were not so universally welcomed. In 1079/1668, he forbade music at his court and, with the exception of the royal band, pensioned off the large number of State musicians and singers. The ceremony of weighing the Emperor on his birthday against gold and silver was discontinued and, in
1090/1679, the ceremony of darshan was abandoned. In the course of time the festivities held on the Emperor’s birthday were curtailed or abolished, and the mansabdars were forbidden to make the customary presents to the Emperor.
Aurangzeb also took early steps to tighten up the administration which had slackened during the prolonged War of Succession. As soon as Aurangzeb had dealt with his rivals, he turned towards the reorganisation of the civil government. ”A period of strong government began. Everywhere the provincial viceroys began to assert imperial prestige. Energetic subadars extended the bounds of the empire to Assam, Chatgaon, Palamau, and other tracts. Local notables found out that disobedience of orders or independent attitude would be tolerated no longer. The border tribes were taught that no violation of the imperial frontier would unpunished.”2
Conquest of Assam and Chittagong. Some of the earliest conquests of Aurangzeb’s reign were in the eastern end of the Indo-Pak subcontinent. During the War of Succession (1067-
[ Ch. 21
1070/1656-1658), the Hindu rulers of Cooch-Bihar and Assam, taking advantage of the disturbed conditions in the Empire,had invaded the imperial dominions and seized Mughal territory. For three years they were not disturbed, but, in June 1660, the civil war was finally over, and Aurangzeb felt that the time had come for retribution. He accordingly asked Mir Jumlah, the viceroy to recover the lost territories.
In November 1661, Mir Jumlah started from Dacca and occupied the capital of Cooch-Bihar in a few weeks. The kingdom of Cooch-Bihar was annexed, and the Muslim army left for Assam. The capital of Ahom kingdom was reached on
17 March 1662, and more important Ahom fortresses were occupied and garrisoned by Mughal soldiers. Rich spoils were taken by the conquerors, but soon the victory was almost turned into a disaster. On the approach of the rainy season, the Mughal army had to go into cantonments and suffered heavily from unhealthy climate and want of food. The Ahoms rallied their forces and took the offensive, but the position was saved by the brilliant Afghan general, Dilir Khan, who inflicted a crushing defeat upon the enemy and compelled the Ahom raja to sign a humiliating treaty. The Mughals recovered a heavy tribute, and annexed some forts and towns in the cultivated districts near the frontier of Bengal, but their army had suffered great hardships and the aged Mir Jumlah died on 30 March 1663, on his way back to Dacca.
He was succeeded as viceroy of Bengal by Sha’istah Khan, who had been transferred from the Deccan, owing to his failure against Shivaji. He tried to retrieve his reputation in Bengal, and proved to be, indeed, one of the most capable viceroys of the province. He administered Bengal wisely, maintained a magnificent court, and achieved signal success in bringing down the prices of the articles of daily use. He took action against the Arakanese pirates, who, with the help of Portuguese adventurers and their half-cast offspring, had made the area unsafe, and were bold enough to carry on their degradations right up to Dacca. ”As these raids continued for a long time,
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 414
Bengal became day by day more desolated. Not a house was left inhabited on either side of the rivers lying on the pirates’ track from Chittagong to Dacca.”3 Bernier writes: ”These people were Christian only in name; the lives led by them were most detestable, massacring or poisoning one another without compunction or remorse, and some times assassinating even their priests who were too often no better than their murderers.”4 Sha’istah Khan made thorough preparations, built a powerful flotilla. Won over some of the European collaborators of the pirates by inviting them to Dacca, and, in January 1666, attacked the king of Arakan, he captured the island of Sondip in the Bay of Bengal, and, by defeating decisively the Arakanese fleet, compelled the king of Arakan to cede Chittagong, which was renamed Islamabad, proved a valuable addition to the Empire.
”The viceroyalty of Sha’ista Khan, governed Bengal from
1664 to 1677, and again from 1680, to 1688 is a landmark in the history of the province. He ensured the safety of the Bengal rivers and seaboard by destroying the pirates’ nest at Chittagong. His internal administration by its mildness and elaborate arrangements for dispensing impartial justice promoted the wealth and happiness of the people. He adorned his capital, Dacca, with many fine buildings, and constructed sarais all over the country. According to popular tradition during his viceroyalty rice was sold at the rate of eight maunds to a rupee,”5 and naturally people remembered his days with gratitude.
Bengal under the Mughals. The Mughal interest in Bengal steadily increased Since Shah Jahan’s days, the viceroy was usually the leading noble of the realm, like Mir Jumlah, or a member of the royal family, like Shah Shuja’. On the other hand, through the organisation of the countrywide higher services under the mansabdari system, and with the elaborate Mughal system of supervision, close contact with the imperial capital was maintained. Bengal, which was known as Bulghakpur during the early Muslim rule, became the most
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peaceful and contented area of the Empire, and in the later days its revenues were the mainstay of Aurangzeb’s army. The cultural consequences of Mughal rule were even greater. ”What the Vaishnava religion did for the Hindus of Bengal was done for their. Muslim neighbours by the Mughal conquest; this province was ultimately joined the general religious and cultural movements of the rest of India; its narrow isolation was broken. ”6
The Great Change in East Bengal. The conquest and settlement of a great part of the erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) was essentially a Mughal achievement--in a great measure of Aurangzeb’s reign. The area east of Brahmaputra, commonly called Bang, was one of the three well-marked regions of the former province of Bengal (Varind, Radh and Bang), and had distinguished characteristics of its own. Owing to its geographical situation, climate, terrain and the ethnic origin of the population, it had remained isolated from the rest of the subcontinent. ”The force of Aryan colonisation (however meagre in volume) and Aryan culture (however diluted with Dravidian cult and culture) was all but exhausted when they reached the country east of the Brahmaputra and old Tista rivers. In these regions the people up to the foothold of the hills were Mongoloid by race, spirit-worshippers by religion and speakers of many local dialects which had on written literature and were foreign to the literary Bengali of Gaur, Varendri and Radh.”7 Even during the Hindu rule, the influence of the Hindu scholars and priests of Western Bengal was confined to large towns and rich monasteries. After the Muslim conquest ”even this little interchange of culture ceased. For some time after the mass of the people east of the Tista and the Brahmaputra remained Hindus, but their religion was not akin to that of the Hindus of Gaur or Radh. They had no learned Brahman priesthood, no Sanskrit scriptures, no Vedic ritual.”8 Not only was East Bengal separated from West Bengal by a great religious gulf, but the Hindu population of Western parts looked down upon the inhabitants of East Bengal. Writing
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in 1876, Beveridge says: ”We find also that to this day the Hindus of Western and Central Bengal look down on the inhabitants of Eastern Bengal, and call them Banglas. This word, though etymologically it only means an inhabitant of Bang--i.e. Eastern Bengal-has acquired and opprobrious signification, and is used to mean a rough or bungling person.”9 The ridicule of East Bengalis is a recurrent theme in Bengali literature. Dr Dinesh Chandra Sen writes: ”Many of the old poets have tried to show their wit at the cost of Bengal men. We come across many passages in which East Bengal people and their dialects are ridiculed. Most celebrated of those is Mukandurana’s satire of East Bengal boatmen.”10 Even Chaitanya, before spiritual life absorbed him, ”used often to scoff at Eastern Bengal by imitating some of the queer words of their dialects.”11 Not only was the language of East Bengal, ”containing quaint archaic words with a sprinkling of Urdu,”12 a subject-matter of ridicule, but even the diet, especially the dry fish popular in Chittagong, was a constant target of sneers.
Hindu attitude towards East Bengal facilitated the task of Muslim missionaries, but the isolation of the area was not broken with the establishment of Muslim rule at Gaur. The hold of Gaur over areas of Brahmaputra was uncertain and confined to limited areas. Besides, whatever progress was achieved under the Ilyas Shahi and Husain Shahi rulers was later undone by the confusion created by the Arakanese and the Portuguese raiders.
Sir Jadu Nath Sarkar writes: The civilising of East Bengal (if I may be permitted to use the expression) began with Islam Khan’s conquests from Dacca as his base, and this process was completed when later viceroys made that city the seat of their government.”13 The Muslim contribution during the Mughal period was, however, not only in the realm of culture and civilisation but they were also responsible for the more basic tasks of security and colonisation. Before the area could be ”civilised” or properly colonised, the menace of the pirates had to be dealt with and the vigour and power of organisation
[ Ch. 21
displayed by the Mughals in the performance of this task has ea~rned them enthusiastic praise. Beveridge says:
”We see the difference between them (i.e.) Hindus and M uslims in the way in which they treated the Arakanese irrvasion. The Hindus were unequal to the contest, and fled under the pretext of avoiding contamination; the Mtuhammadans, on the other hand, took the more manly course off grasping the nettle, established themselves at Dacca, where thjte danger was greatest, raised and maintained a fleet, and swept the rivers and their estuaries clear of the Arakanese and trie Portuguese pirates. Bengalis, indeed, and especially those of Eastern Bengal, have much reason to be thankful to the Vluhammadans, for it is to them they owe in great measure their preservation from the Burmese. But for the conquest by the Muhammadans of Sandwip and Chittagong, it is probable that much of what is now known as Eastern Bengal would have b een a portion, and a deserted and despised portion, of the Lingdom of Arakan or Burma.”14
Once the problem of the ruinous raids had been dealt with, efforts at colonisation and civilisation could produce enduring r esults. The Muslims consolidated their position ”by civilisation, namely.”15 There were many factors which Facilitated Muslim colonisation. To quote Beveridge again:
”Muhammadans are not nearly such ’stay-at-homes’ as
Hindus. They have fewer local superstitions, and no local
gods, while the principle of the family is less strong among
them. The joint-family system is unknown to them, and the
practice of polygamy is unfavourable to fixity of residence.
There is also no doubt that Muhammadans are more
•enterprising than Hindus; and that their more generous diet fits
”them better to endure an unhealthy climate, and especially the
salt air of the eastern districts. Hence we find that the chars
and islands are almost exclusively peopled by
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan
Muslim colonisation and struggle against the jungle and the elements has been a continuous process in the history of Bengal, but its most fruitful period began when in Aurangzeb’s reign. Arakanese were beaten back in the south, and CoochBihar and Assam were annexed in the north.
North-West Frontier. Operation in the east were barely over when trouble started on the north-western frontier of the Empire. In 1078-1667, a Yusufza’i leader, named Bahaku (who had favoured Dara Shukoh against Aurangzeb in the struggle for the throne), rose in rebellion. The faujdar of Attock defeated Bhaku, and with the help of reinforcements from Lahore and Kabul gradually subdued the area. The area remained quiet for some time but in 1083/1672 Mughal forces met with a great disaster. A subordinate of the governor of Kabul was accused of misconduct and many tribes combined in opposition to the authorities. They had a stroke of good fortune when Muhammad Amin Khan, the governor of Kabul, returning to his headquaters after spending the winter at Peshawar, decided to risk an engagement with the rebels with a small and poorly equipped contingent. His forces were annihilated, and he was able to barely escape to Peshawar with a few of his senior officers (1 May 1672). On hearing of the disaster the Emperor degraded and transferred Muhammad Amin Khan, but the officers who were sent to replace him quarreled amongst themselves, and failed to make much progress. In July 1674, Aurangzeb himself went to Hasan Abdal, a convenient halfway station between Rawalpindi and Peshawar, and stayed there for over a year directing the operations. He took with him officer who knew the area and, by the use of force and diplomacy, was able to restore peace.
Among the tribal leaders who opposed Aurangzeb was the famous Pushtu poet Khushhal Khan Khattak. He was the chief of the Khattak tribe,’ which since the days of his great grandfather, Malik Akoray, the founder of Akora, had guarded the road from Attock to Peshawar against the hostile Yusufza’is, and had the right to levy tolls on this highway.
Khushhal had fought with distinction in Mughal armies at Kangra, Balkh and Badakhshan, and had sided with Aurangzeb against Dara Shukoh in the War of Succession. He was also a lifelong admirer of the ”Shah Jahan Qadrdan” (the discerning Shah Jahan), but soon differences arose between him and the new Emperor. Partly they were the outcome of the rapprochement between the Mughals and the Yusufza’is. From Akbar’s days the Pathan opposition to the Mughals had been led by the Yusufza’is while the pro-Mughal party looked to Malik Akoray and his successors as its leaders”. In Shah Jahan’s reign, however, the Mughals came to terms with the Yusufza’is who, were numerically much more important than the Khattaks. The Yusufza’i chief made his submission, and was restored to those Yusufza’i villages which had been added to Khushhal’s fief. This rapprochement had taken place through Dara Shukoh, and in the War of Succession Bhaku Khan, the Yusufza’i chief, supported Dara, while ”Khushhal, who had been approached by Dara but had rebuffed him, prevented the Yusufzais from offering him asylum in the Samah by driving off a Yusufza’i lashkar which was awaiting the fugitive on the river bank”. Khushhal, possibly, hoped that Aurangzeb would appreciate this and would restore the Yusufza’i villages. In this, he was disappointed, though Aurangzeb confirmed him in his chieftainship. Worse followed, when the new Emperor, on his accession, abolished all tolls in his dominion. For some time this order was not applied to the north-western frontier, where special conditions prevailed but in 1072/166l,Mahabat Khan, the founder of the famous mosque at Peshawar, was transferred, and the deputy of the governor, who replaced him, obtained a mandate for the abolition of the tolls for crossing the Indus.”Since Akbar’s time the collection of the Attock tolls was a right which had vested in Malik Akoray and his successors, and it follows that Khushhal was hard hit by the new orders and greatly resented what had been done.”17 He had not taken any ”overt action,” but possibly his disaffection became known to the governor who summoned him to Peshawar (1075/1664)and despatched
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him in chains and under escort to Delhi, from where he was sent to spend over two years as a prisoner in the Gwalior fortress. Even after that he was kept under house arrest and was not permitted to return to his country. This treatment, added to his earlier grievances, made him a lifelong enemy of Aurangzeb and the Mughals, and, he gave expression to his feeling in vivid, forceful verses, which even now breath fire.
At last Khushhal was released on a promise of loyalty and good behaviour. He was present at the side of the Mughal governor at the disaster of 1083/1672--in fact Amin Khan had under taken this hazardous journey after being re-assured by Khushhal,18 but by now iron had bettered his soul, and it is doubtful whether he gave any help to the Mughal governor. Soon he broke out in open rebellion and spent the remainder of his life in rousing the Pathan tribes against the Mughals. In this he had only a small measure of success. Some Afridi chiefs joined him, but the more numerous Yusufza’is refuse to side with him. They were his hereditary enemies-his father, grandfather and great-grandfather had all died fighting against the Yusufza’ is -but the trends of the times were also against him. An era of Mughal-Afghan co-operation was opening-- owing to the success of Mughal diplomacy and the failure of the Raushaniyyah movement~and even some of his sons, notably Bahrain, opposed him. In 1101/1689, Khushhal, the warrior, died, broken-hearted, at the age of seventy-six, but Khushhal, the poet, is among the immortals.
Mughal-Afghan Rapprochement. Aurangzab’s early reign was marked by some bitter fighting on the frontier, and, of course, the Afghan hostility to the Mughals found its most vivid expression in Khushhal’s poetry, but this should not obscure the fact that Aurangzeb lived long enough to see a complete transformation in the Mughal-Afghan relationship.
Personal grievances may have played their part in the conversion of the scion of a family, traditionally loyal to the Mughals, into their most inveterate enemy, but there was a solid, historical basis for the Mughal-Afghan animosity. The
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Mughals had displaced the Afghans, first the Lodis and later the Surs, on the throne of Delhi, and acute group enmity was inevitably. Mutual animosity and distrust started a vicious circle and in early Mughal administration the Afghans did not receive an adequate share. They were, as a rule excluded from offices of trust and importance especially under Akbar and Jahangir. Even in less mundane affairs there were factors contributing to differences and antipathy. The acceptance of Raushaniyyah doctrines by some section of the Afghans provided a basis, not only for religious differences, but also of a conduct which was bound to involve them in conflict with others.
But these factors gradually lost their validity and force. The heterodox Raushaniyyah doctrines were vigorously controverted by local religious leaders. Islamic orthodoxy was restored in the Afghan highlands. Religious differences had, thereby, disappeared and Khushhal Khan Khattak was as keen and orthodox a Muslim as Aurangzeb himself. In worldly matters also the Mughals and the Afghans had begun to understand each other. In the days of Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan, the bitterest and longest feud of the Mughals had been with the Yusufza’is, and now relations with them were very smooth. Under Shah Jahan, the Afghans were finding better employment, but their great opportunity came when Aurangzeb launched his campaign in the Deccan.The Afghans rendered signal services in this long-drawn struggle, and Dilir Khan, who rose to be a panj-hazari, was perhaps Aurangzeb’s ablest and most zealous general in the war with Shivaji and Sambhaji.
The reconciliation between the Mughals and the Afghans during the later part of Aurangzeb’s reign can be clearly seen in the twenty-years peaceful regime of Amir Khan (1089-
1110/1678-1698), his last governor of Kabul and Peshawar. During Muhammad Shah’s reign, a number of Afridis and Yusufza’is settled in Rohilkhand, and many amongst themnotably Najib al-Dawlah, regent at Delhi for a number of years-played a very helpful role during the decline of the
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 422
Mughal Empire. Perhaps the climax in the Mughal-Afghan relations came when on the eve of the third battle of Panipat, Nawab Qudsiyah Begum, the old, venerated widow of Muhammad Shah, personally went to Shuja’al-Dawlah to appeal to him to throw in his lot with the Afghan king. Ahmad Shah Abdali!
The Sikhs. In course of time Aurangzeb became involved in difficulties with the Sikhs and it may be convenient to review their relations with the Mughal government at this stage.
The Sikh religion was established by Guru Nanak (874-
946/1469-1539) and was an aspect of the general religious movement which tended to bring Hinduism and Islam closer. A feature of the new creed, borrowed from Islam, was the elimination of priesthood, As almost all the Sikhs were originally Hindu, the Brahman priests were naturally unhappy at the new development resulting in the loss of a privileged position. The first two successors of Nanak met with constant trouble from the Hindu Tapasis, and their relations with Muslims were friendly. Khushwant Singh says that the Brahmans ”saw the size of their flock and their income diminishing. They began to persecute the Sikhs and, when their own resources failed, reported against Amar Das to the Emperor. When Akbar refused to take action against the Guru, they bribed local officials to harass the Sikhs.”19 About Birbal, Vincent Smith remarks: ”He was hostile to the Sikhs whom he considered to be heretics. They consequently regard his miserable death as the just penalty for this threats of violence to Arjun Singh, their revered Guru,” The third Guru was visited by Akbar, who had made a gift of several villages and the land on which the lake of Amritsar was excavated. When the Golden Temple was to be built, Hadrat Miyan Mir of Lahore was asked to lay the foundation stone20 Soon, however, the Sikhs and the Mughal authorities came into conflict. This basically due to the fact (as pointed out by Sarkar) that the militant and turbulent peasantry of the central
[ Ch. 21
Punjab had adopted the new doctrines, and it was almost natural for them to come in conflict with established authority. The first clash occurred during the days of Jahangir, when Guru Arjun, the contemporary Guru, gave his blessings (and financial help)to Prince Khusrau who had revolted against his father. According to Sikh accounts, the resentment of Jahangir was fanned by a Hindu revenue official, named Chandu Shah, who ”harboured a deep animosity against Arjun for refusing to accept his daughter for his son”. A fine of two lacs of rupees was imposed on the Guru as a punishment, and on his failure to pay the fine or allow his Sikh followers to subscribe it on his behalf, he was handed over to Chandu Shah. In order to enforce the payment, the Guru was subjected to torture, in the course of which he died.21
”One of Guru Arjun’s last instruction to his son, Guru Har Gobind, was to sit fully armed on his throne and maintain an army to the best of his ability.” Macauliffe, who records this in his lecture, adds. ”This was the turning point in the history of the Sikhs.”22 By now, the Sikhs had begun to organise themselves on semi-military lines and there were more conflicts with the established authority. As Sarkar says: ”The growing military strength and the royal pomp of the Guru and his worldly spirit and tastes made a conflict between him and the government of the country inevitable, and it broke out after Shah Jahan’s accession.”23 Guru Har Gobind ”had so completely sunk the character of a religious reformer into that of a conquering general, that he had no scruple in enlisting large bands of Afghan mercenaries.”24
In 1628, the Sikhs defeated a Mughal force which had been sent against them, but they were ultimately overwhelmed, and Har Gobind had to flee to the hills. The gaddi in the plains was maintained by a representative ”in alliance with the imperial government” and, on his death in 1645, the Guru was succeeded by Guru Har Rai, who tried to help Dara Shukoh during the War of Succession. On his death in 1072/1661, Aurangzeb was asked to intervene in the dispute between his
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sons, but, before he could give his verdict, the dispute was resolved b} the death ot one of the two claimants.
The ninth Guru, Tegh Bahadur, who came to the gaddi in
1664, served in the Mughal army on the Assam frontier ¥or some years, but later returned to Eastern Punjab and settled down at Anandpur. He called himself Sacha Badshah (True King), and started levying tribute upon the local population. According to Cunningham, the historian of the Sikhs, the Guru ”followed the example of his father with unequal footsteps, and, choosing for his haunts the wastes between Hansi and the Sutlej, he subsisted himself and his disciples by plunder in a way, indeed, that rendered him not unpopular with the peasantry”. He is further credibly represented ”to have leagued with a Muhammadan zealot, named Adam Hafiz and to have levied contribution upon rich Hindus, while his confederate did the same upon wealthy Musaltnans. They gave a ready asylum to all fugitives, and their power interfered with the prosperity of the country; the imperial troops marched against them, and they were at last defeated and made prisoners.”25 Cunningham’s reference to the Muslim saint also finds an echo in Siyar al-Muta’akhirin, but possibly there is some confusion here. If Adam Hafiz is the same person as Hafiz Adam Banauri, a well-known disciple of Hadrat Mujaddid Alf-iThani, his exile relates to the reign of Shah Jahan. After giving some other stories current about the end of Guru Tegh Bahadur, Cunningham adds that ”Tegh Bahadur was put to death as a rebel in 1675, and that the stern and bigoted Aurangzeb had the body of the unbeliever publicly exhibited in Delhi.” Col. Garrett, who edited Cunningham’s book, adds a footnote containing the alleged conversation between Aurangzeb and the Guru which is related by two Sikh authors and which the British exploited in 1875 to whip up Sikh enthusiasm against the Muslims. The historical fact, however, is that Aurangzeb was not even present in the capital at that time. The execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur took place on 11
( Ch. 21
November 1675, when Aurangzeb was at Hasan Abdal. The Emperor did not return to Delhi till 27 March 1676.
Guru Tegh Bahadur was succeeded by Guru Gobind Singh, who concentrated his energies on converting the Sikhs into so>ldiers and making himself supreme in the hilly areas of East Punjab. The Sikhs were trained in the use of arms, and were told to devote themselves to the waging of war against the Mughals, and always to wear steel in one shape or another. The real sufferers from the growing military strength of the Sikhs, who had enrolled five hundered Pathan mercenaries in their ranks, were the Hindu rajas of the Punjab hills, and many bloody battles were fought between the Guru and these rajas. At last they complained to the Mughal governor, who passed on the complaint to Aurangzeb in the Deccan. ”The emperor consented to send an expedition against the Guru, provided the hill chiefs defrayed its expenses. The hill chiefs accordingly contributed a lakh of rupees, whereupon a force of ten thousand men was sent against the Guru.”26 This expedition was at first unsuccessful, but later the combined forces of the Mughals and the rajas besieged Guru Gobind Singh in his stronghold of Anandpur. The Guru managed to escape, but his mother and two children were captured and taken before Wazir Khan, the faujdar of Sirhind. At first the faujdar treated the children with kindness, but later at the instigation of his chief subordinate. Saj Anand, had them executed.
Meanwhile Guru Gobind Singh was pursued by the Mughal forces, but with the assistance of certain Muslims he managed to escape in the blue dress of a Haji. It was during this flight that Guru Gobind Singh addressed Aurangzeb a long epistle in Persian verse, generally known as Zafar Namah. This poem contained bitter complaints against the Mughal Emperor, but its appeal was in the name of humanity and Islam, and it provided a basis for mutual understanding. As Khushwant Singh says: ”Aurangzeb was apparently moved by the contents of the letter and issued orders that the Guru was not to be molested any further.”27 According to certain Sikh accounts,
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 426
Aurangzeb invited the Guru to visit him in the Deccan. Evidence on this point is not conclusive but it is certain that, after this Guru Gobind Singh was allowed to live in peace. Shortly thereafter, Aurangzeb died. His son Bahadur Shah, who, before ascending the throne, was the viceroy of the Punjab, was on excellent terms with the Guru, but, later, the relations of the Mughals with the Sikhs sharply deteriorated owing to the emergence of Bandah, a Hindu Bairagi, as the leader of the Sikhs. A study of the reign of Aurangzeb, however, shows that he was able to deal successfully with the Sikh problem and that the Sikhs were not a major source of disturbance to him.
Conquests in the Deccan and the Maratha Wars. The Marathas presented Aurangzeb with a much bigger problem than the Sikhs. Their rise into prominence was partly the after effect of the Bhakti movement which, by giving birth to a new literature, enriching the local language and popularising a religious cult which made a powerful emotional appeal to all sections of the people, had infused new life into Maratha society. The growing importance of the Marathas was also due to more mundane factors. There is much truth in the view that the Muslim conquest of the Deccan was far less complete than that of Northern India. Hindus held many appointments in the revenue and finance departments of the Muslim ruler of Golkonda and Bijapur and at times even the highest ministerial appointments were filled by Deccani Brahmans.Life in the hill forts of the Western Ghats, never easily accessible and particularly cut off from the world during the monsoons, did not appeal to the Muslim officers, and Maratha chiefs and soldiers were employed in large numbers in garrisoning these forts,
Maratha statesmen and warrior controlled various departments of the Muslim States of Ahmadnagar, Golkonda and Bijapur, and the conflicts of the Mughals with these states provided them with an opportunity to advance their sectional intrests.Amongst Maratha statesmen who rose to prominence
fee judged by ^ Shahi boy as tn£
during the days of Shah Jahan was Sh^..^ who served Sultans of Ahmadna^ar and Bijapur a^ Poona and in Karnatak. His importanc^ fact that in 1635-36, he set up a Ni ^am Shahl boy as th£ nominal Sultan of the defunct kmgdoi^ Qf Ahmadnagar; and reoccupied in his name the whole of th^ western porti0n of the old dominion as far as the sea. Shah Jahan was able to deal with him, and Shahji, after making his submiss,on to tne Mughals, sought service with the rul of Bijapur. Shahji’s son, Shivaji, however, more than fuelled the dreams of his father. Shivaji’s mother lived at Poon^ ^ ^^ had married again, and the young Shivaji spent hi^ eafly days jn the spurs and valleys of the Ghats, which were tQ fee hi§ battlefieid. He attached to himself a number of Mawaff leaders of his own age and in the disturbed conditions of tt\e Deccan started taking control of hill fortresses. For a lon§ time these aggressive proceedings were ignored at Bijapur, ^nd whgn jn 1070/1659 a strong contingent often thousand cav^lfy was sent under Afdal Khan, the vigilant Maratha met him i^ a private conference, in which he stabbed and killed Kharx with his dagger ^e leaderless troops of Bijapur were roi^ by Shivajj’s soldiers who lay in ambush.
Next year Shivaji came in confli^ with thg Mughai ruiers. In 1071/1660, Aurangzeb appoint^ Sha.istah Khan, his maternal uncle, and a veteran gener^ viceroy of the Deccan, with instructions to suppress Shivaji. j^ gained a few victories and recaptured several forts, but, on s AprU 1663> the njmbiefooted Marathas delivered a night ^ack Qn sha’istah Khan, who was camping at Poona, and, aH^ough the Vicer0y himself escaped with the loss of three fingerss his son was killed.
Next month Sha’istah Khan w^g recailed by Aurangzeb, who now sent Dilir Khan and Raj^ Jaj singh; with his son, Prince Mu’azzam, to the Deccan. t\Q -m^r^ successful and Shivaji sued for attended the court at Agra, but felt rank amongst mansabdars of only fj
im ^ &
]n 1077/1666> he ^ ^ bejng giyen a
thousand; made known
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 428 his displeasure and was kept under surveillance from which he secretly escaped and reached the Deccan. After his return Shivaji consolidated his pos.tion and formally assumed the title of Maharaja in June 1674, and as Aurangzeb was busy in the north-west, he was not disturbed. He, however, died in
1091/1680 and the mad cruelty of his unworthy son, Sambhaji, forcibly attracted the attention of the Mughal ruler. In
1093/1682, Sambhaji raided Burhanpur and perpetrated such cruelties on the Muslim population that the qadis of the place sent a manifesto upbraiding Aurangzeb. The Mughal Emperor, who was even otherwise anxious about the developments in the Deccan where his rebel son, Prince Akbar, had taken refuge at Sambhaji’s court, decided to go himself to the south. He reached Aurangabad in the third week of March 1682 and the last twenty-five years of his life were to be spent in this part of the subcontinent.
Bijapur and Golkonda, which often gave shelter to the Maratha raiders, were annexed in 1097/1687, respectively, and Sambhaji was captured and put to death in early 1689, but this did not mean the end of Aurangzeb’s troubles in the Deccan. He brought up Sambhaji’s child, Shahu, at the court and treated him with great consideration, but Sambhaji’s younger brother, Rajaram, took over the Maratha leadership. On his death in April 1700, his widow, Tara Bai, carried on the struggle.
Mughal forces achieved many successes against the Marathas, but they proved temporary. Often the forts, won at great cost and after prolonged efforts, would be easily lost through the treachery or the ineptitude of the Muslim commanders. The conquest of the fort of Jinji took seven years, in spite of the fact that the Wazir Asad Khan and his son, Dhulfiqar Khan, were in charge of operations. Before his death Aurangzeb had conquered most of the Maratha forts, but he was unable to suppress the powerful roving Maratha bands which challenged the Mughal authority whenever they could. In 1111/1699, they carried their first raid in Malwa. Four
429 Aurangzeb (1069-1119/1658-1707) [ Ch 21
years later they disrupted the communications between northern and southern India, in 1118/1706, they sacked Baroda. After Aurangzeb’s death on 3 March (N.S) 1707, the Marathas got completely out of hand, largely owing to the internal quarrels of the Mughal nobles and princes who started competing for the Maratha support, and this became a major factor in the downfall of the Mughal Empire.
Policy towards Non-Muslims. A marked feature of Aurangzeb’s reign was the religious policy which he followed.”When he came to the throne, Aurangzeb gave on signs of being adversely inclined towards any class of his subject.” The trial and execution of Dara and Sarmad were on charges of heresy but, as pointed out by some contemporary writers, the steps were really political.No action of any sort against Hindus or other non-Muslims was taken. Aurangzeb, however, tried in an increasing degree to run the Empire in accordance with Islamic Law and in course of time this brought the question of the position of non-Muslims to the fore. The eleventh year of Aurangzeb’s reign (1079/1668), when he forbade music at the royal court and took other puritanical steps in conformity with the strict injunctions of Muslim Law, is considered a landmark in this respect. Eleven years later (1090/1679), a still more thorough purification of the court life was ordered and the jizyah, which had remained abolished for over a centruy was reimposed. By now Aurangzeb had adopted the policy of regulating his government in accordance with strict orthodox Islamic Law and many orders in futherance of this were issued.
Aurangzeb abolished a large number of taxes, which had been levied in India for a long time, but which were not authorised by Islamic Law. Possibly it was the unfavourable effect of these remissions on the State exchequer which led to the examination of other lawful sources of revenue. The fact that, according to the most responsible account,28 the reimposition of jizyah was suggested by ’Inayat Khan, the Diwan-i Khalsah, would seem to show that it was primarily a
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 430
fiscal measure. The theologians, who were becoming more dominant at the court, naturally endorsed the proposal and Aurangzeb carried it out with his customary thoroughness.
The other measure, which has been the object of adverse comment, was the issue of orders, at various stages, regarding destruction of Hindu temples. Originally these orders related to a few specific cases-like the temples at Mathura built by Abu al-Fadl’s murderer, to which a railing had been added by Aurangzeb’s rival, Dara Shukoh. In 1080/1669, it was reported to Aurangzeb ”that in the province of Thatta and Multan, and particularly in Benares, the Brahmans were engaged in teaching unholy books in their schools, where Hindus and Mussalmans flocked to learn their wicked sciences and were led away from the right path. Orders were therefore issued to all the governors of provinces, ordering the destruction of temples and schools and totally prohibiting the teaching and infidel practices of the unbelievers”. This statement had been examined at length by Faruqi in his Aurangzeb and his Times and found incompatible with other known facts. It is, however, incontestable that at a certain stage Aurangzeb tried to enforce strict Islamic Law by ordering the destruction of newly built Hindu temples. He obviously did not relish this step, and, later, the procedure was adopted of closing down rather than destroying newly built temples in Hindu localities.29 It is also true that very often the orders of destruction remained a dead letter, but Aurangzeb was too deeply committed to the ordering of his government according to Islamic Law to omit its implementation in so significant a matter. The fact that a total ban on the construction of new temples was adopted only by later jurists, and was a departure from earlier Muslim practice, e.g. of Muhammad b. Qasim in Sind, was no concern of the correct, conscientious and legal-minded Aurangzeb.
As a part of general policy of ordering the affairs of the State in accordance with the views of the ulema, certain discriminatory orders against the Hindus were issued (for example, the imposition of higher customs duties, 5% on the
( Ch. 21
goods of Hindus as against 2% on those of Muslims). These were generally in accordance with the practice of the times, but they marked a departure, not only from the political philosophy generally governing Mughal government, but also from the policy followed hitherto by most Muslim rulers in the Indo-Pak subcontinent, and aroused resentment amongst the Hindus.
Aurangzeb has often been accused of closing the doors of official employment to Hindus, but, as a study of the list of his officers shows, this is completely baseless. Actually there were more Hindu officers under him than under any Mughal Emperor, and though this was primarily due to a general increase in the number of officers, it clearly shows that there was no ban on the employment of Hindus. In case of subordinate revenue officials (qanungos), Aurangzeb passed orders that 50% of the appointments should go to Mughals, and 50% to Hindus. Those who have seen contemporary criticism of the revenue officials and the complaints that they were making assignments for waqfs and even military services null and void, leading to widespread misery and discontent in the soldiery30 will not be surprised at this step. Practically all village officials (patwari and Patel) who handled the revenue and record work were Hindus, and in a State where payments (e.g. for military service or maintenance of educational institutions) were generally not in cash, but through assignments of land, the revenue organisation had tremendous powers. These powers became decisive in a reign in which great importance was attached to the legal status of documents, and probably Aurangzeb found it necessary to end a monopoly, not only to give Muslims greater share of the biggest department of the State, but also to provide a check on the work of the subordinate revenue officials.
Aurangzeb’s policy towards Hindus were naturally unpopular with them. It was forgotten that he had remitted nearly eighty taxes and cesses, paid mainly and in many cases entirely by Hindus, but the reimposition ofjizyah was carefully noted, and resented. At Delhi, the Hindus demonstrated and
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 432
the rising of the Satnamis in 1083/1672, though agrarian in origin, took a religious colour. Aurangzeb found no difficulty in dealing with these demonstrations, and, except in cases where jizyah was remitted for special reasons, it was duly recovered throughout Aurangzeb’s dominions.
It has often been stated that the offence which Aurangzeb gave to Hindus by his religious policy created confusion in the kingdom, and led to the downfall of the Mughal Empire. That this is not so becomes clear on a study of Aurangzeb’s reign. ”The Hindu risings were not successful, and they were not inspired by any common aims, whether religious or political. Aurangzeb suppressed them with Hindu help.”31 It is however, obvious that a policy which is unpopular with vast sections of the public must create problems. A resourceful and determined ruler like Aurangzeb might successfully deal with them, but unpopular policies cannot add to the stability of a regime and, while dealing with the weakening of the Mughal rule, Dr Ishtiaq Husain Qurehsi has admitted that Aurangzeb’s religious policies ”also played some role in its disintegration.”
”Aurangzeb was no worse than the Cavalier Parliament in England which passed the Clarendon Code. His legislation lagged far behind that manifestation of the collective wisdom of the English at that time. He did not interfere with the celebration of private religious worship of his Hindu subjects. He did not forbid their priests teaching Hindus. He did not exculed them from the public services. Aurangzeb erred in common with most of the contemporary rulers of the world. If his church was that of a minority, so was the Protestant church in Ireland. If he levied the Jizyah on the majority of his subjects the preponderant majority of the Roman Catholics in Ireland went on paying the tithes for the support of the alien Protestant church legally till the thirties of the nineteenth century, but virtually till 1867. For almost everything that he did could find an excuse in the state policy of his times.”32
Aurangzeb and the East India Company. Aurangzeb had serious difficulties with the East India Company, which opened
1 Ch. 21
its first trading factory in India at Surat in 1621 and later established trading houses at Masaulipatam, Balasore (1633) and Madras (1460). The trouble first arose in Bengal where Sha’istah Khan was trying to introduce some order and regard for the Mughal government in place of Shah Shuja’s lax administration. This foreign settlements of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, emboldened by their superiority on the sea, had become truculent, and in distant regions considered themselves subject to on checks. Shah Shuja1 partly out of his general indifference to financial considerations and partly to gain their support in the coming struggle for the throne, was particularly generous to foreign traders. To the English factory which was opended at Hugli in 1651, he gave a nishan in 1652, permitting them to trade freely in Bengal on a lump annual payment of Rs 3000 in lieu of customs dues. In the succeeding years the company’s trade in Bengal multiplied many times but, on the authority of Shuja’s nishan, it refused to increase its contribution or even pay subsidiary taxes like rahdari; peshkash. etc. Sha’istah Khan objected to this and difficulties arose between him and the English. The attitude of the officers of the Company may be judged from a letter addressed by their local representatives to the Head Office on 13 January 1665:
”Your Worship must consider that these people are grown more powerful than formerly, and will not be so subject to us as they have been [Italics ours], unless they be a little beaten by us, that they may understand, if they impede us by land, it lieth in our power to requite them by sea....In fine, it is Mr. Blake’s opinion that your affairs will be quite ruined if this Nabob (Shah’istah Khan) lives and reignth long.”33
These differences came to a head in 1685, when the English sacked the Mughal town of Hugli. At this time Sir Joshia Child was the Chairman of the East India Company and ”he persuaded King James II to sanction despatch of 10 or 12 ships of war with instruction to seize and fortify Chittagong. The expedition was an utter failure and in 1686 the English found themselves obliged to abandon Bengal altogether.”34
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 434
Meanwhile, a similar situation was developing on the western coast of India. Partly, it was due to the imperial ambitions of Sir Joshia Child who in 1688 had a resolution passed by the Board of Directors, placing on record ”the determination of the company to guard their commercial supremacy on the basis of their territorial sovereignty”35 and thus foreshadowing the British annexations of the later period. Partly the troubles arose on account of the activities of the English pirates,36 who seized several pilgrim ships including Ganj-i Sawa’i, owned by Aurangzeb himself. The English, it appears, had also begun to coin rupees in Bombay, with a superscription containing the name of their king. Aurangzeb, thereupon, ordered that the English factory at Surat should be seized, and the factories and all Englishmen expelled from his dominions. Effect was given to these orders, but ultimately terms were arranged between the Company and the Mughals. Aurangzeb relented due to the fact that the English had the control of the Arabian Sea and were able to interfere with the Hajj, but, it appears, they escaped permanent damage through having a powerful advocate at the court in the person of Aurangzeb’s Wazir Asad Khan himself. In Bengal also, the aged Sha’istah Khan died in 1688 and was succeeded by the mild and incompetent Ibrahim Khan. The actions of the East India Company were condoned on payment of fine of Rs.1.5 lakh and on its undertaking the responsibility for checking piracies. The important result of the action taken by Aurangzeb, however, was that, as pointed out by Vincent A. Smith, ”the English merchants kept clear of politics and fighting for almost half a century.”37
Cultural Life (1069-1] 19/1658-1707).Under Shah Jahan the royal patronage of cultural activities was at its zenith. Aaurangzeb completely altered the position. In course of time, he disbanded the court musicians, abolished the office of poet laureate, and discontinued the work of the court chronicler. He offer little encouragement to painters. Even about the Taj, the greatest gift of the Mughals to the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, and incidentally the tomb of his mother, he was critical on
[ Ch. 21
grounds of economy and Islamic Law.” The lawfulness of a solid construction over a grave is doubtful, and there can be no doubt about the extravagance involved.”38
Aurangzeb’s policy was unfavourable to the promotion of the arts, but, except in the realm of architecture wherein even otherwise largescale activity could not be carried on with a depleted treasurey, it did not prove disastrous. Partly this was due to its gradual adoption, and partly because the Princes and noblemen partially made up for the lack of royal patronage. In poetry, in which genuine self-expression yields better results than compliance with a patron’s wishes or moods, the abolition of the court patronage and the weakening of the court tradition even led to some welcome new developments. Poetry was, so to say, released from the bondage of the court tradition, and the poets could give a free rein to their own ideas and interests. The greatest Persian poet of the period was Bedil, who turned away from the polished love lyrics of the old court poets and concentrated on metaphysical poetry. Often his fancy ran riot, and many of his metaphors are quaint and far-fetched. Even his meaning is frequently obscure, but he is unmatched for profundity of thought and originality of ideas and similes. He is highly popular in Afghanistan and Central Asia, where his poetry appeals to serious readers in the same way as the great mathnavi of Rumi. He paved the way for Ghalib,who followed him in aiming at originality and depth of thought, but adopted the polished diction of Mughal court poets.
Even more fruitful, in this atmosphere of free experimentation, were the efforts of Wali (1119-1707),39 universally recognised as they Chaucer of Urdu poetry. Aurangzeb’s long sojourn in the Deccan resulted in the mingling of the poets of the Deccani and Gujarati languages with the northern speakers of chaste Urdu. Wali, whose birthplace is variously given as Aurangabad and Ahmadabad, started as a writer of Deccani. Under the influence of his teacher Gulshan, he modified his diction and incorporated ideas and metaphors from Persian poetry in his verses so beautifully
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 436
that the result was a great literary success and showed the way to the poets of Delhi. There was thus laid the foundation of modern Urdu poetry.
These developments owed very little to Aurangzeb’s initiative. The cultural activities for which he was directly responsible were the spread of Islamic learning and general diffusion of education. His reign was marked by the most extensive grant of patronage and stipends to scholars and students. As Narendra Nath Law points out, ”he sent orders to Mukramat Khan, Diwan of Gujarat, as he did to other Diwans in his dominion, that all students from the lowest to the highest form, those who read the Mizan as well as those who read the Kashaf, be given pecuniary help from the State Treasury with the sanction of the professors of the colleges and of the Sadr of the place.” In Aurangzeb’s reign, we do not come across religious leaders of the caliber of Shah Wali Allah or Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, but there is no doubt that the foundation of the Islamic religious revival of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was laid in his days. He made very liberal grants for the spread of education, and the largescale employment of qadis offered lucrative openings to those with proper education. The popular Islamic curriculum, known as Dars-i Nizamiyyah was coming into being in his reign, and the emperor was personally responsible for the grant of large buildings, known as the Farangi Mahal of Lucknow, to the family of Mulla Nizam-ud-din after whom Dars-i-Nizamiyyah is named. Leaving aside foreign works, most of the books included in the Dars were written during Aurangzeb’s reign. They were mainly the work of two scholars specially patronised by the emperor--Mir Zahid, the Qadi of Kabul, and Muhibbullah Bihari, the Qadi of Lucknow. Compilation of the comprehensive, legal digest, known as Fatawa’-i ’Alamgiri, was also due to the Emperor’s own initiative.
Aurangzeb gave special encouragement to Islamic learning, but now there had been such a wide diffusion of general education that the culture life remained broadbased. An
[ Ch. 21
indication^. of this is seen in Emperor’s own letters. They contain, r-Mnot only quotations from the Holy Qur’an, but many apt and tczmauching verses also. The Dabistan-i Madhahib,w\\ic\\ was con ”••pleted in Aurangzeb’s day, will probably be considere-g-j a product of the earlier reign-as reflecting Dara Shukoh’s school of thought. Aurangzeb’s reign saw, as we
have poL Manted out, the compilation of the great Fatawa’-i ’Alamgiri** } but it was also the period when one of his nobles composecrJBL Rag Darpan, a classic on Indian music. Another book dea”ZT ing with a non-Muslim subject is the poetic version of padmawc^a, .t by Aqil Khan Razi, the governor of Delhi. Perhaps the book which best reflects the general culture of the period is Mir’at aE” khiyal (”Mirror of Imagination”) of Sher Khan Lodi,
not be v
^x». ~. __ y_. v
complete-«c^r1 towards the end of Aurangzeb’s reign. It has a of chapters dealing with contemporary and earlier iterspersed with others about subjects like music, philosophy, ethics, geography, etc. The information in such a one-volume ”Outline of Knowledge could ;ry profound or extensive, and, as the title indicated, and imaginative element predominated, yet the book mu.wu»~__ the wide range of subjects in which cultured noblemeira:-i of the day were interested. It is also worth recalling that Aur -angzeb’s reign was the great period of extension of medical knowledge, and most of the Persian text-books of
Tibb-i YmtL--*nani current till recently were written in his days.
£ Riddle of Aurangzeb.” Aurangzeb is, perhaps, the ntroversial personality of the Indo-Pak history. By is held responsible for the downfall of the Mughal while Orme considered him ”the ablest monarch that ;ned over Hindustan”. Sorley refers to him as ”the istere and obstinate doctrinaire, whose powerful hand needed in arresting the fissiparous tendencies of the dominion,” and adds: ”It is a tribute to the strength of lation and the ability of this man of remarkable genius .ucceeded so well, as he did in preserving he unity of ihackle Delhi empire.”40
most c some h Empire, ever reL gaunt, m had Mughal determi that he the ram
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 438
Aurangzeb is also the least understood of Indian monarch. S.R, Sharma, who has dealt with his personality at length, head the relevant section ”The Riddle of Aurangzeb,” and speaks of him as ”a great enigma”. The puzzle of Aurangzeb’s personality, according to political historian, is that a monarch so able and so pure in his personal life left the Empire entrusted to him larger but weaker than he found it. The puzzle, however, is bigger than is commonly thought and extends to fields other than the political. Aurangzeb is often represented as an enemy of fine arts, and there is no doubt that he withheld patronage from those art to which Islamic lawyers objected. A close study, however, reveals that he himself possessed a fine artistic sensitivity and was not uninfluenced by the atmosphere which produced the Taj Mahal. His attitude towards court musician, for example, is known. What is not so well known is that he himself ”had a perfect expert’s knowledge of” the art of music. When a companion tried to find out why he had given up listening to music, Aurangzeb dolefully pointed out that listening to music was not really enjoyable without accompanying instruments and their use was forbidden according to all schools of Islamic Law. The answer is, evidently, of one who, not only was keen to uphold Islamic Law, but also understood the subtleties of the art of music.
Similarly, Aurangzeb discontinued the office of the poet laureate, but anyone who has read the numerous beautiful verses interspersed in his letters can see that he knew a large number of verses by heart, and had a perfect taste in poetry. Shadman, a Gakkar chief, once read a poem in his praise. Aurangzeb rewarded him but, in addition, gave a personal piece of advice: ”Please, give up writing poetry.” This may have been inspired by Aurangzeb’s growing puritanism, but anybody who has examined the quality of Shadman’s verses will agree that this was a sound wholesome advice, from literary point of view also!
The enigma of Aurangzeb’s personality may be seen even in his emotional life. He has the reputation of being an austere,
[ Ch. 21
unfeeling puritan, and his later life was in strict conformity with Islamic Law, but he was not untouched by romance. The story of his overpowering passion for the girl who entered his harem as Zainabadi Mahal has been recorded, though with a slight variation in Ahkam-i Alamgiri as well as in Ma’athir alUmara’. This happened during his youth. Even more indicative of his tender heart--and abiding attachment to the memory of Zainabadi Mahal-- is a letter which he wrote to his grandson, Prince Bedar Bakht. The prince, who was married to a Sayyid’s daughter, was very fond of his wife, but one day in a fit of anger called her a paji’s (vagabond’s) daughter to which the wife took strong objection. Aurangzeb wrote a letter of admonition to his grandson quoting verses, and recalling the affairs of his own heart:
”In the dawn, the garden-bird said
to the newly blossomed flower”
’Do not be too proud; this garden
has seen many a flower like you.’
The flower laughed and replied:
Truth should not hurt but
No lover ever said a harsh word to his sweetheart.’
”Let it be known to the light of my eyes (my grandson) that in my youth which in the language of his vulgar companions is called the ’blind youth’ (jawani Diwani), I was also attached to a person who was haughty. Throughout her life, I maintained my love, and never uttered a harsh word to her.”
These episodes do not easily fit in the character of stern puritanism, for which Aurangzeb has got a reputation, and naturally puzzle the student and the historian.
Personal Qualities. For Aurangzeb’s personal qualities, there is general admiration. Majumdar writes about him:
”Undaunted bravery, grim tenacity of purpose, and ceaseless activity were some of his prominent qualities. His military campaigns give sufficient proof of his unusual
Blc. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 440
courage, and the manner in which he baffled the intrigues of his enemies shows him to have been a past-master of diplomacy and statecraft. His memory was wonderful and his industry indefatigable. He personally read all petitions and passed orders on them with his own hand. The Italian physician Gemelli-Careri, who visited India during the reign of Aurangzeb and saw him in 1695 when he was seventy-seven years old, admired to see him endorse the petitions with his own hand, without spectacles and by his cheerful, smiling countenance seemed to be extremely pleased with the employment.”41
Aurangzeb exercised severe self-discipline and appeared to have a cold and unmoving disposition, but those who have not been deceived by superficial appearances have found that beneath a rigid and ascetic’s exterior, he had a soft and kindly heart. S.R. Sharma, after quoting Aurangzeb’s revenue regulations at length, says: It must have been clear to the reader from the above evidence that Aurangzeb had the right perspective for a ruler of an agricultural land like ours.”42 He quotes, with approval what he calls Lane-Poole’s ”just estimate of Aurangzeb”: ”Incomparably his father’s superior,--a wiser man, juster king, and more clement and benevolent ruler...His greatest calumniator, Manucci,” he adds, ”admits that his heart was really kind.”
Apart from bravery, industry, benevolence and devotion to duty, Aurangzeb’s life was remarkable for its simplicity and purity. His dress, food and recreations were all extremely simple. He was free from vice and ”even from the more innocent pleasures of the idle rich”. He ate simple, vegetarian food, and led an extremely well-regulated life. He died at the age of ninety, but all his faculties (except his hearing) remained unimpaired. He had a wonderful memory’ ”he never forgot a face he had once seen or a word that he had once heard.”
He was a very well-read man, and kept up his love of books till the end. He wrote beautiful Persian prose. A selection of his letters made by a Hindu and popularly known
( Ch. 21
as Ruq’at-i ’Alamgiri has long been a standard text-book as a model of simple but elegant prose. According to Bakhtawar Khan, he had acquired proficiency in versification, but agreeable to the words of God. ”Poets deal in falsehoods,” he abstained from practicing it. He even understood music well but ”on account of his great restraint and self-denial,” he gave up this amusement in accordance with Islamic injunctions.
Will Durant has been, as pointed out in the preface to this book, most critical of Indo-Muslim rulers. He is also critical of Aurangzeb, but has to add:”
”... he was the least cruel of the Mughals, and the mildest; slaughter abated in his reign, and he mada hardly any use of punishment in dealing with crime. He wSf consistently humble in deportment, patient under provocation, and resigned in misfortune. He abstained scrupulously from all food, drink or luxury forbidden by his faith; though skilled in music, he abandoned it as a sensual pleasure; and apparently he carried out his resolve to spend nothing upon himself save what he had been able to earn by the labour of his hands. He was a St. Augustine on the throne.”43
Administrative Problems. Aurangzeb’s personal qualities have won the admiration of even his opponents, but the greatness of a statesman can be judged only by the practical results achieved by him. In this Aurangzeb was not altogether fortunate. He greatly extended the Mughal dominion, and many of his achievements proved solid and enduring, but there is another side of the picture also. For twenty year, he struggled against the Marathas with all the resources of the Empire and made extensive territorial gains but his success was far from decisive. Shibi, in his brilliant defence of Aurangzeb, has stated that the Mughal Emperor had” taken the sting out of the Maratha problem” and, at the time of his death, only some ”mopping up” operations were called for. This is historically incorrect-and one has only to read the concluding pages of Ma’athir-i-Alamgiri, and the relevant entry in Khafi Khan’s book to realise the sorry state of Aurangzeb’s Grand Army”
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during his last years’ but even if it were true, it can hardly be considered a great achievement. The old, extensive kingdom of Golkonda and Bijapur were each conquered in less than a year but the entire might of the Mughal Empire was pitted against the Marathas for twenty-five years, without gaining decisive results. And in the process, the Achilles’ heel of the Mughal was so exposed that the Marathas gained a new confidence and soon moved from the defensive in the Deccan to an offensive in the north.
In the financial field, Aurangzeb’s achievements were even less distinguished. When he died, the imperial treasury was almost empty. He left barely Rs 12 crores-substantially less than the inheritance of a single Mughal noble like Asaf Khan who left Rs 19 crores in cash and property! Towards the end of Aurangzeb’s reign, the imperial finances were in such severe straits that the Diwan anxiously wait for the receipt of the Bengal revenues, so that there may be no administrative breakdown and the expenses of the Deccan campaign might be met.
It is a tribute to Aurangzeb’s grasp over the affairs of he Empire that no major upheaval occurred in the north during his prolonged absence in the Deccan, but there are clear indications of many minor disturbances and a general slackening of administration. In Bengal, for example in
1108/1696, Sobha Singh, a petty chief of Midnapur, joined hands with Rahim Khan, the chief of Orissa Afghans, and defeated the Hindu zamindar of Burdwan and captured the chief town. They also seized the fort and city of Hugli and plundered the cities of Nadia, Murshidabad, Malda and Rajmahal. The Emperor removed Ibrahim Khan, the governor (though, it appears, soon to appoint him at Allahabad), and the rebellion was effectively put down, but it exposed the insecure position of the administration. As this disturbance enabled the English and other foreigners to fortify their settlements at Calcutta and other places, its effects were far-reaching and permanent.