Saturday, February 20, 2010

The successors of Aurangzeb
The successors of Aurangzeb: Bahadur shah and others, Mohammed shah; invasion of Nadir Shah ; growth of Maratha power ; Ahmad shah Durrani; the third battle of panipat.

War of succession.  Aurangzeb left behind him four sons, the princes Muazzam, Azam, Akbar, and Kambakhsh.  Akbar, a rebel and exile, no longer counted ;
the three others were all equally eligible candidates for the vacant throne.  A document in the nature of a will found under the pillow of the dead emperor suggested a division of the
empire between these three sons, but none of them had the slightest intention of being content with anything less than the whole.  The eldest, prince Muazzam, had himself proclaimed
at kabul, while his brother, prince Azam, assumed the imperial dignity in the Deccan camp.  Both of these claimants assembled large armies, which met at Jajau, to the south of Agra, in
June 1707.  The battle ended in the total defeat of prince Azam, who was killed, along with two adult sons.  Shah Alam or Muazzam thus secured possession of Agra, the treasure city of the
empire, and the command of abundant cash, which he distributed freely among his followers .  In February 1708 Prince Kambakhsh was defeated in the Deccan, and died from his wounds. Thus
prince Muazzam became undisputed Padshsh.  He is known to history as either Bahadur shah I or shah Alam I.

      Reign of Bahadur Shah I.  He conciliated the Marathas by the release of their Raja, Shahu (ante,p.219), and patched up a peace with the Rajputs.  The most important event of his short
reign was a severe conflict with the Sikh sectaries of the Panjab, and it will be convenient to notice briefly in this place the origin and early stages in the development of the Sikh power.

      Origin and rise of the Sikhs.  The Sikhs, or 'disciples', are one of the many reformed sects of Hinduism which have arisen from time to time.  The teaching of Nanak, the first guru oif the
sect, late in the fifteen century, which was based on that of Kabir(ante,p.143), did not attract much official attention until the beginning of the seventeenth century in Jahangir's reign, when the guru of
of the day was put to death.  That act of severity roused the zeal of the martyr's adherents, who took up arms under the leadership of his son Har Gobind and became the declared enemies of the government.

     Sikh organisation.  Guru Gobind Singh (1675-1708), grandson of Har Gobind, converted the sect into a political power by means of an organization (known as the Khalsa) and rule of life which sharply separated the sikhs from the rest of the population and united
them closely among themselves.  The disciples, who were fobidden to use tobacco in anyform, were required to wear their hair long, and to practise sundry other special onservances.  The fact that most of the Sikhs were jats by caste supplied another bond of union,
and the reult was that during the eighteenth century the sect gradually became a ruling power.  But, although the jats have furnished the majority of sikh converts, it must be clearly understood that people of all castes may be initiated as Sikhs, and that within
the sect no distinction of caste is recongnized.
     War of Banda, the sikh leader.  When Bahadur Shah died at Lahore, in February 1712, he was engaged in endeavours to check the barbarous ravages commited by the Sikhs at Sahrind and other places in the Panjab, under the leadership of Banda, the nominee of Guru Gobind
Singh.  Bahadur shah was a good-natured, generous man, but lacking in the strength needed by  a ruler in troublous times.  He was nicknamed the 'Heedless king' (Shah-i-bekhabar).
    War of succession ; Jahandar shah ; Farrukhsiyar.  The death of the emperor was followed by the usual war between his four sons.  The most competent claimant, Azim-ush-shan, governor of Bengal, had the ill luck to be the first killed in battle.  Two others perished
in further fighting.  The survivor, Jahandar shah, a worthless debauchee of low tastes, was proclaimed emperor by Zulfikar khan, apowerful noble, who became Vazir (1712).  After a few months Jahandar Shah was put out of the way, and Farrukhsiyar, son of Azim-ush-shan-, was
placed on the throne (January 1713) by the influence of two Saiyids of Barha.  For some years this clan of Saiyids enjoyed the position of king-makers, and appointed whom they chose to occupy the seat of Aurangzeb.  The imperial dignity was quickly becoming an empty although
dangerous honour.
   Defeat of the sikhs.  The principal event in Farrukhsiya's reign was the crushing defeat of the Sikhs, whose leader Banda was captured and executed with the most inhuman tortures.  About a thousand of his followers also were slain.  This severity kept the Sikhs quiet for
a generation.  Allusion has been made above (ante, p.162) to the important trading privileges gained for the English merchants by the surgeon Hamilton, who attended Farrukhsiyar.  The emperor, a timid, helpless creature, not personally of any importance, was murdered
early in 1719.
  Accession of Mohammed shah ; break-up of the empire.  Several nonentities, who lasted only a few moths, having been set up, the Saiyids selected another insignificant prince, who ascended the throne as Mohammed shah, in October 1719.  During his reign, which was long, and continued
until 1748, the empire began to break to pieces.  The emperor of Delhi was gradually reduced to a position like that of the later members of the Tughlak dynasty(ante,p.119), while the outlying powers, Hindu, Mohammedan, and foreign, came to the front, with the ultimate result that the
sceptre passed into English hands.
  Independence of the Deccan ; the Nizam.  A Turki noble, named Chin Kilich khan, generally known by his title of Asaf jah, the son of a favourite officier of Auragzeb, had become viceroy of the Deccan.  For a time he held the office of vazir at Delhi, but in 1723 he retired from court, and
after that date may be regarded as an independent sovereign.  He was the ancestor of the present Nizam of Hyderabad.  Before the withdrawal of Asaf Jah to the south, the king-making clan of saiyids had lost their power through the murder of Husain Ali and the imprisonment of his brother Abdullah, who had been their leaders.

  Practical independence of oudh ; Saadat khan.  About this tiem, Saadat khan, governor of Oudth, likewise made himself practically independent and founded the line of Nawab-Vazirs, who were recognized later as kings of oudh.

  Bengal ; Allahvardi Khan.   The Suba of Bengal, including Bihar and Orissa, although nominally under the control of the emperor, was really as little subject to his authority as the Afghan kings of Bengal had been before the time of Akbar.  Allahvardi (Alivardi) khan, the Subadar from 1740 to 1756, an able despot, ceased
to pay tribute to the imperial court.
  The Rohillas ; general revolt of provinces.  To the north of the Ganges, the Rohillas, a clan of Afghan immigrants, made themselves masters of the rich tract now called Rohikhand.  In short, everywhere a general revolt of the provinces began in the reign of Mohammed shah, anmd was completed in the time of his successors.

  Shahu and Balaji Visvanath Peshwa.  Tara Bai was the last natable member of sivaji's line.  Shahu, who became Raja early in 1708 (ante,p.219), had been brought up at the Mogul court, and was more Mohammedan than Hindu un his habits. He preferred pleasure to business, and was glad to leave affairs of state in the hands
of ministers, especially in those of a clever Brahmin named Balaji Visvanath, who was appointed his Peshwa in 1714, and tried to introduce some order into the confused Maratha Government.

  Baji Rao I, Peshwa.  When Balaji Visvanath died, in 1720, he was succeeded by his elder son, Baji Rao I, after an interval of some months.  The dignity of Peshwa thus became hereditary.  Owing to shahu's easy-going disposition, the minister overshadowed his nominal master, and from 1727, when the peshwa was granted full
 powers, the Raja ceased to count.  Shahu surveyed until 1748, but Baji Rao was the real head of the government, and was able to pass on his authority to his son.  Baji Rao was an able soldier as a leader of plundering bands; but woth no taste for civil administration.  He largely extended Maratha influence in the dominions
still under the nominal authority of the emperor of Delhi.
  Balaji ; the peshwa dynasty.  On the death of Baji Rao I, in 1740, his place as peshwa was taken, after a struggle, by his son Balaji, who became practically the sovereign of the Marathas.  Nobody asks who succeeded shahu as Raja of satara.  All readers of history rightly think of the government of the Marathas in the
eighteenth century as that of the Peshwas.  Their position was the same as that of the ministers in modern Nepal, who have thrust their nominal sovereigns into the background.  The name of the Maharajadhiraj in that country has no interest for anybody. Thus the line of the Peshwas became substantially a ruling dynasty,
which may be taken to date from 1727, when Shahu bestowed full powers on Baji Rao I.  The dynasty lasted until the general settlement of India effected by the Marquess of Hastings in  1818, but retained little power after the treaty of Bassein, in 1802.
  Change in Maratha government.  During the rule of the first three peshwas the character of the Maratha government changed.  The hereditary dominions in the ghats and Konkan left by Sivaji became of comparitively small importance.  The main efforts of the Maratha rulers were directed to securing their power over the dominions of the Mogul
emperor and the Nizam, by compelling the sovereigns of those countries to pay tribute to the Marathas.  countries which consented to pay chauth, or one-fourth of the land revenue, plus the sardesmukhi, or one-tenth, were supposed to be protected from plunder.  The emperor Mohammed shah, in 1720, during the lifetime to Balaji Visvanath peshwa,
had been forced not only to acknoledge the maratha title to the hereditary dominions of shivaji (swaraj) , but to recognize formally the Maratha right to levy Chauth and sardesmukhi from the six Subas of the Deccan.
  Origin of existing maratha states.  About this time the chiefs who founded the still-existing maratha dynasties of the Gaikwar of Baroda, of Holkar at Indore, and of sindia at Gwalior, come into notice.  The ancestor of the Gaikwar was an adherent of a defeated opponent whom Baji Rao I though it prudent to conciliate.  The chiefs of Indore
and Gwalior are descended from men of humble origin who became officers of Baji Rao and gradually rose to distinction in his service.  At the great settlement of 1818 those three dynasties were lucky enough to be confirmed in their possessions.  But the Bhonsla Raj of Nagpur or Berar lost its independence at the same date, and was finally
extinguished by Lord Dalhousie in 1853.  The Raj had been founded in 1743 by a Maratha leader named Raghuji, who acquired  Cuttack (Katak) in 1751, and claimed from Bengal twelve lakhs of rupees as chauth.  Raghuji is not to be confounded with Raghoba or Raghunath Rao, the younger son of Baji Rao I, who became prominent in the first Maratha war.

  Foreign invasion ; Nadir shah.  Unhappy India, already bleeding to death from internal disorders, had yet a calamity still greater to suffer.  For more than two centuries she had been spared the misery caused by serious invasions from beyond the passes of the north-western frontier, but was now to undergo experiences which recalled the days of Mahmud and Timur.
Early in 1736, the throne of persia was seized by Nadir shah, an adventure who had earned a right to the highest place by the display of extraordinary abilities as a general.  Being dissatisfied at the delay of the Delhi government in redressing certain grievances of which he complained, he occupied Ghazni and Kabul, and, advancing without meeting serious
resistance, was within a hundred miles of Dehi before Mohammed shah could do anything to stop him.
 Battle of karnal; massacre at Delhi.  Early in 1739, at karnal, not far from the historic field of Panipat, the imperial forces ventured  to bar the invaders path, and were easily routed.  Mohammed shah submitted , and, being courteously received, entered Delhi with the Victor.  Nadir shah at first held his troops in check and protected the city, but when the
populace attacked him and his men, he let loose twenty thousand soldiers to burn, plunder, and kill.  Not less than thirty thousand people perished in the massacre, which lasted for half a day.

 Return home of Nadir shah, 1739.  Nadir shah wanted something more than blood.  The seizure of the crown jewels and the peacock throne (ante,p.200) alone was sufficient to enrich the robber beyond the dreams of avarice, but he was not content until he had extorted from the surviving citizens, great and small, the larger part of their possessions, every form of
cruelty being used to compel payment.  He then made a treaty with Mohammed shah, providing for the throne, and after a stay of fifty-eight days returned to his own country, laden with coin, plate,jewels, and prcious things of every kind to the value of many millions sterling.  Like the early invaders, he also took away with him hundreds of skilled artisans.
 The court of Delhi.  The imponent court of Delhi continued to be the scne of endless intrigues and assassinations.  The most prominent personages there were the Vazir Kamar-ud-din khan and Ghazi-ud-din, son of Asaf jah, viceroy of the Deccan.
  Ahmad shah Durrani.  In 1747 Nadir shah, king of persia, who had become an insane  tyrant, was murdered, and succeeded in his eastern territories by a chieftain named Ahmad KHan, head of the Abdali or Durrani clan of Afghans, who took the title of Ahmad shah.  Next year the Durrani invaded the panjab, and was driven back, after a hard fight at Sahrind, by the imperial
forces under the command of the heir-apparent, prince ahmad, and the Vazir, who was killed in action.
 Ahmad shah of Delhi, 1748.  In April of the same year, Mohammed shah died and was succeeded by his son, Ahmad shah, who must not be confounded with his Durrani namesake and contemporary.
 Annexation of the Panjab by the Durrani.  During the reign of Ahmad shah, Ghazi-ud-din and other nobles were engaged in constant fighting with one another, and ahmad shah Durrani annexed the panjab.  In 1754 Ghazi-ud-din blinded his nominal sovereign, and selected as his successor a son of Jahandar shah.
 Sack of Delhi by Ahmad shah Durrani.  This prince was enthroned under the title of Alamgir II, but had nothing beyond the title in common with Aurangzeb.  In 1756 Ahmad shah Durrani sacked Delhi and repeated the horrors of Nadir shah's massacres seventeen years before.  He also disgraced himself by a cruel slaughter of unarmed Hindus at Mathura.  Next year the heat caused
sickness among his troops and obliged him to retire to hsi own country.
 Maratha conquest of the panjab.  The son of Ghazi-ud-din, who bore the ame name as his father, called in the marathas to help him against his rivals, and the imperial city and the panjab were occupied by a Maratha chief named Raghoba, the younger son of Baji Rao I(1758).

 Maratha empire at its greatest extent, 1760.  This bold advance of the upstart Hindu power alarmed the Mohammedan princes, and induced them to combine for the empulsion of the intruders, by whom almost the whole of India, from the Himalayas and the Indus to Tanjore, was dominated for the moment.  The maratha army now included a large park of artillery and ten thousand disciplined
infantry, modelled on European principles.
 The Bhao Sahib at Delhi.  In 1760, the Peshwa, hearing that Ahmad shah Durrani had defeated the marathas in the panjab, or gained a great expeditionary force under his cousin,Sadashei Rao, commonly known as the Bhao Sahib, to march on Delhi.  As the Peshwa's army slowly advanced, it was joined by sindia and Holkar and other chieftains, and by the jats under Suraj Mal.  They
begged the Bhao Sahib to adopt the traditional guerilla  tactics of the Marathas, but the Brahmin general haughtily refused.  This caused great offene, and after this, the jats took no further part.  The Bhao Sahib captured Delhi on 2 August, and completed the ruin of the palace and city, stripping the silver plating from the ceiling of the Hall of Audience.  It was generally realized that if the
marathas were victorious, they would establish a Hindu Raj on the ruins of the Mogul empire.  Meanwhile, the Afghan commander was encamped at some distance away, on the banks of the jumna, unable to cross owing to the swollen state of the river.

 Third battle of Panipat, January 1761.  Ultimately on 6 january 1761, the Maratha host, with little or no support from the jats and Rajputs, confronted the army of Ahmad shah Durrani, who was supported by the troops of oudh and other mohammedan principalities, on the plain of panipat, where the fate of India has been so often decided.  Delay in bringing on a battle had reduced the Maratha army
to a state of famine, and at last the Bhao sahib was compelled either to fight or to starve.  He was utterly routed with enormous slaughter, in which most of the MAratha chiefs fell.  The peshwa died soon after.  The third battle of panipat was the death-blow to the power of the peshwa as the sovereign of the Marathas, the temporary revival of maratha influence a few years later being chiefly the work of Sindia,
Holkar, and other independent princes.

 Withdrawal of the Durrani.  The Durrani made no use of his victory, and was constrained by mutiny to go home with his plunder.  In april 1767, after inflicting several defeats on the sikhs, he reappeared once more for a moment near panipat with fifty thousand
Afghan cavalry, and then retired, troubling himself no more with the affairs of Hindustan.

 Causes of the decline of the Mogul empire.  Akbar, Jahangir, shahjahan, and Aurangzeb were all strong, hardy men of dauntless personal courage, able and willing to meet man or beast in deadly combat, as many anecotes prove.  But the sons of Aurangzeb seemed to be of a different breed.  All the spirit was crushed out of them by their father.  Their sons and grandsons grew up as nerveless weaklings in the  society of women,eunuchs, and the
riff-raff of the palace. The nobles became as debased as the members of the royal family, and were better fitted to buy over a commandant than to storm his fort.  They went to war riding in palankeens, attended by a swarm of worthless followers of both sexes, and were served in camp with all the pomp and luxury of the Delhi court.  Such people could not be successful.  The rule of a despotic monarch cannot not be successful.  The rule of a
despotic monarch cannot be maintained except by a man who knows how to rule.  The succesors of Aurangzeb had no such knowledge.

 IT is not surprising that in the course of a century and a half the Mogul dynasty should have lsot its vigour; the wonder rather is that the padshahs for four successive generations possessed character and ability sufficient to hold together a vast empire and to govern it is such a fashion that it made at least a show of strength.  The DEccan wars exposed the internal rottenness of the imperial organization.  In the whole of India there wasnot a
capable of effecting the necessary reforms.  The weakness of the empire was palinly seen by European observers.  Manucci, the Italian physician, writes, late in Aurangzeb's reign:
'Having set forth all the grandeur and power of the moguls, I will, with the reader's permission, assert from what I have seen and tested, that to sweep it entirely away and occupy the whole empire, nothing is required beyond a corps of thirty thousand trusty European soldiers, led by competent commanders who would thereby easily acquire the glory of great conquerors.'

 That opinion probably was quite sound.  It was held a little lter by Clive, although he did not care to act upon it.

 Condition of India under Aurangzeb's Successors.  The condition of India during the half-century following the death of Auragzeb may be summed up in one word-misery. Even before his death, the french physician Bernier, not an unfriendly critic, declared that 'no adequate idea can be conveyed of the sufferings of the people'.  He writes of 'a tyranny so excessive as to deprive the peasant and artisan of the necessaries of life, and leave them to die of misery and exhaustion
a tyranny, owing to which these wretched people either have no children at all, or have them only to endure the agonies of starvation, and die at a tender age-a tyranny, in fine, that drives the cultivator from his wretched home. . . As the ground is seldom tilled otherwise than by compulsion, and no person is found willing and able to repair the ditches and canals for thenconveyance of water, it happens that the whole country is badly cultivated and a great part rendered
unproductive from the want of irrigation.  The houses, too, are left in a dilaoidated condition.'

 After the old emperor had passed away, hell was let loose, and the people were ground to the dust by selfish nobles, greedy officials, and plundering armies.  Hardly anyone appears on the stage of history who is worthy of remembrance for his own sake, and there is little to be said about literature or art.  In most parts of the country the 'great anarchy' continued for another half-century, until the advance of the English power, in the early years of the nineteenth
century, brought some measure of relief to  a suffering land.

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