20 Mar 2015

Internal Revolts among the Mughals: Revolt of Prince Akbar

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"Certainly, the guide and teacher of my rebellion is you; others are merely following your footsteps. How can the path which you himself chose to follow be called "the path of ill-luck?

My father sold Paradise for two grains of wheat, 
Am I an unworthy son for selling it for one barleycorn?

Former emperors like Akbar had contracted alliance and kinship with this race and conquered the realm of Hindustan with their help. By the help of these people the great Mahabat Khan made a prisoner of King Jahangir, and chastised his enemies. Jaswant was the man who in the battle against Shah Shuja (Battle of Khajwa) was guilty of such a defect that he merited to be rigorously punished instead of being pardoned. Yet your Majesty passed this over because you not only knew the man, but feared him. The same Jaswant it was whom you won over with many charms and soft speeches and detached from the side of Dara Shukoh, so that victory fell to your side....Now is the proper time for you to lay in provisions for the next life, in order to atone for your former deeds, done out of greed for this transitory world against your august father and noble brothers in the days of your youth.

What good did you do to your father, That you expect all these from your son?
You are not curing yourself, Then, for once, give up counseling others!"

(Akbar's letter to Aurangzeb)

Aurangzeb (1658-1707), one of the great-grandsons of Akbar the Great, named his fourth son Akbar again! Prince Akbar, the second son of Aurangzeb and his Persian wife Dilras Banu Begum, was born at Aurangabad in September 1657. We know that Aurangzeb had gained the throne by deposing his father and murdering his brothers. Aurangzeb himself faced a similar threat when Akbar joined the Rajputs and rebelled against him. It happened during Aurangzeb's invasion of the Rajputana. Like his forefather Akbar the Great, Prince Akbar also believed that if the Rajputs were overthrown, Hindustan would not continue to be in the hands of their family, "Therefore with a view to saving my heritage and also taking pity on this race (the Rajputs), who have been loyal to us from olden times, - I decided, at the request of Rana Raj Singh and Durga Das Rathor, to ride to Ajmer and fight a battle for the throne, so that the intention of God might become known", he says. 

Rajput Policy of Aurangzeb and Revolt of Rajputs (1679-1681):

The Rajputs were one of the best supporters of the Mughal throne since the reign of Akbar the Great. Akbar had abolished Jizya in 1564. Three important Rajput rulers of Aurangzeb's time were: Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Marwar (Jodhpur) (1638-1679), Maharana Raj Singh of Mewar (Udaipur) (1653-1680) and Raja Jai Singh of Amber (Jaipur) (1622-1667). Raja Jai Singh died in the Deccan in August 1667. In 1679, Aurangzeb re-imposed Jizya tax on non-Muslims, which according to Muntakhabu-l Lubab, "with the object of curbing the infidels, and of distinguishing the land of the faithful from an infidel land". As a result of his Rajput policy, Aurangzeb lost the support of Rajputs, which Emperor Akbar had won by winning their hearts. One of the major causes of the decline of the Mughal empire was the Rajput policy of Aurangzeb. 

AurangzebConflict with the Rathors of Marwar: Maharaja Jaswant Singh died in the Mughal service at Jamrud in Dec 1678, without leaving male issue (Two of his sons had died fighting against the Afghan rebels). When Aurangzeb was informed of this, he immediately sent out his officers to take possession of Jodhpur. At the time of Jaswant Singh's death, two of his wives were pregnant and on reaching Lahore, each of them gave birth to a son (one of whom died). By this time, Aurangzeb had appointed Indra Singh, nephew of Jaswant Singh, as Raja of Jodhpur. Jaswant Singh's minister Durga Das Rathor, and other trusted officers came to Delhi (with the Ranis and the infant son) and begged Aurangzeb that mansab and the kingdom might be conferred on Ajit Singh, the surviving infant of Jaswant Singh. Aurangzeb ordered that the sons should be sent to his court, and when they would come of age, mansab and kingdom would be granted. Realizing that the intention of Aurangzeb was to bring up the boy as a Muslim, the Rajputs proceeded to Jodhpur without taking permission from Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb sent a force to imprison both the Ranis and the child. A body of Rajputs headed by Durga Das, fought with the Mughal army. By adopting a clever stratagem (They substituted for Ajit Singh a boy of the same age and left him at Delhi), the Ranis and Ajit Singh were safely taken to Jodhpur. Aurangzeb kept the 'substituted' boy in his court under the name of Muhammadi Raj, as the real son of Jaswant Singh. Aurangzeb now started off to Jodhpur, with the intention of freeing Jodhpur from the Rajputs. Aurangzeb's army captured Jodhpur and demolished many of the Hindu temples.

Conflict with the Sisodias of Mewar: The Rathors sought help of Mewar against Aurangzeb. Maharana Raj Singh of Mewar accepted Durga Das's proposal and Ajit Singh was secretly brought to Mewar. Aurangzeb acknowledged Ajit Singh as the real son of Jaswant only when he heard that the Rana had married one of his daughters to Ajit Singh. Angered by this, Aurangzeb proceeded to Ajmer and declared war on Mewar. Akbar was recalled from Multan, Azam from Bengal and Muazzam from Deccan. The Rana left Udaipur along with his family and followers of himself and Jaswant Singh, and fled to the nearby Aravalli hills. Akbar was ordered to pursue the Rana to the hills. During this time, Aurangzeb's army destroyed many temples and plundered the cities, farms, crops and buildings of Udaipur. The Rajputs adopted to guerrilla warfare and the Mughal army suffered heavy losses by their surprise attacks. 

Rebellion of Prince Akbar (Jan 1681):

The Rajput leaders, Rana Raj Singh and Durga Das Rathor, now adopted a plan of opening negotiations with Prince Akbar against his father; promising to put him on the throne. According to Muntakhabu-l Lubab, "Durga Das used all his arts and wiles to persuade the Prince that they would supply him with forty thousand horse and with abundance of treasure. So the inexperienced Prince, through his youth and covetousness, fell into the snares of the Rajputs". Thus thirty thousand Rajputs under Durga Das joined Akbar. Aurangzeb became anxious when he heard the news of Akbar's rebellion. Meanwhile Rana Raj Singh died (Oct 1680) and was succeeded by his son Rana Jai Singh (1680-1698).

Prince Akbar, son of Aurangzeb
Failure of Akbar's Rebellion: On 7th Jan, Aurangzeb received news that Akbar had ascended the throne and was marching against him. The cunning Aurangzeb craftily wrote a letter to Akbar, and contrived that it should fall into the hands of the Rajputs. In it he said that "he had always found him to be an obedient son, above all was he so in this pretense at a revolt. Let him remember to post the Rajputs in the vanguard, and then during the battle he should carry out his part in their rear, slaying as many as he could. Aurangzeb and his army would kill all the others, and thus would he execute the wished-for vengeance on the Rajputs, and destroy them all". All things worked out as Aurangzeb expected. The Rajputs feared that they had been betrayed, abandoned Akbar and took to flight. When the Prince rose at midnight to make preparations for the war, he found that his army had fled leaving him with only a few soldiers. "When Padishah Quli Khan (Padishah Quli Khan was Akbar's general and with the advice of his father-in-law he returned to Aurangzeb's camp after deserting Akbar. Padishah Quli Khan had not removed his arms as he felt it was an insult to his position and was slain by Aurangzeb's men), who had been the intermediary in bringing over to my side the Sisodias and Rathors, was slain by Aurangzeb, both these clans were seized with a groundless suspicion that the whole affair was a stratagem of Aurangzeb. So they decamped towards their homes, without informing me. At their departure my soldiers lost heart and fled, so that the battle was not fought", (Akbar's writes to Sambhaji). Thus failed Akbar's rebellion. When Durga Das came to know about the truth he returned to Akbar. Under the guidance of Durga Das, he fled through the lands of the Rajputs and finally to Rahiri of Deccan (leaving behind his family and property), and took shelter with Sambhaji, eldest son of Chhtrapati Shivaji, founder of Maratha Empire (May, 1681). He makes alliance with Sambhaji and promised him that, "When I have gained the throne, the name will be mine and the State will be yours".

Aurangzeb Makes Peace with Rana Jai Singh (June 1681): On hearing of Akbar's alliance with Sambhaji, Aurangzeb decided to conclude peace with Rana Jai Singh. According to the Treaty of Udaipur, the Rana ceded the parganas of Mandalpur and Badhnur in lieu of the Jizya and his title of Rana was restored. Aurangzeb now started off to the Deccan and never returned to Northern India again.

Sambhaji treated Akbar respectfully and allowed a pension for him and his followers. Meanwhile, Aurangzeb wrote endearing letters to Akbar (See below) pressing him to return. But Akbar, whose heart is full of suspicion of his father's notorious punishments, replied that he will return, but it could be only with a sword in hand, and at the peril of his life to make himself King of Hindustan after killing his father. Aurangzeb now decided to make alliance with the Portuguese of Goa against Sambhaji. On the other hand, with the assistance of Portuguese of Goa, Akbar built a ship on the river of Goa, for his flight into Persia and seek assistance at the Persian court against his father. It is said that he also assisted Sambhaji to capture Goa and the Namazgah mosque of Bicholim in Goa was built by him in 1683, for celebrating their victory over Goa.

Namazgah Mosque, Bicholim, Goa

Akbar in Persia (1682): Shah Sulaiman, King of Persia (1666-1694), refused to give military aid to Akbar against his father, but promised to lend him an army after his father's death, for contesting the throne with his brothers. The Prince, after the accession of Shah Husain (1694-1722), repeated the same request, but he also excused himself. On hearing of his son's intentions, Aurangzeb said, "I do not know whether the stone of the sky of destiny will break you or me sooner". Destiny favoured Aurangzeb; as he expected, Akbar died one year earlier than him.

Death of Prince Akbar (31 March 1706): Akbar, who had been patiently waiting for his father's speedy death, gone to the mercy of God, in March 1706. at Garmsir in Khorasan, and is buried at Mashhad. His wife was Salima Banu Begum, daughter of Sulaiman Shukoh, son of Dara Shukoh. His children were Neku Siyar, Muhammad Asghar, Safiyyat-un-nisa (or Raziyyat-un-nisa), Zakiyyat-un-nisa and Najibat-un-nisa. After his rebellion, Aurangzeb ordered his name to be written as 'Akbar-i-Abtar', which means 'Akbar the worst'. (Akbar means "the Great" while Abtar means, "the worst").

Aurangzeb's Letter to Akbar: The letter of Aurangzeb to his son Akbar clearly reflects Aurangzeb's hatred for the Rajputs. "Muhammad Akbar, my son! close to my heart, a piece of my liver".....God be my witness that I held you dearer and more beloved than all my other sons. But you, through your own ill-luck, were tempted by the deception and stratagem of the Rajputs, those Satans in a human shape, to lose your portion of the wealth of Paradise and to become a wanderer in the hill and wilderness of Misfortune....You showed no regard for your wives and children, but in the most wretched condition threw them into the captivity of those demoniac Rajputs!.....Thus were you compelled to take refugee first in one place, then in another.....Now if you are so guided by Fortune as to repent of your improper deeds, you may wait on me at any place that you like; the pen of forgiveness will be drawn across the pages of your book of errors and offences; and all your troubles and hardships will be compensated for....Jaswant, the chief of Rajputs, assisted and joined Dara Shukoh (Battle of Dharmatpur), but that Prince met with nothing save humiliation and reverses in consequence. Understand and accept it as infallible, that what I tell you will be for your good and points out the only right road.

Notes:

Sambhaji was captured, publicly tortured and killed by Aurangzeb in 1689.

Dilras Banu Begum's children were Zeb-un-Nissa, Zinat-un-Nissa, Zubdat-un-Nissa, Azam and Akbar.

Aurangzeb imprisoned his daughter also. Zeb-un-Nissa had helped her brother in his rebellion. When Aurangzeb discovered her letters to Akbar, her property was confiscated and she was imprisoned in the fortress of Salimgarh at Delhi from Jan 1681 till her death in 1702.

The Rajputs had at first approached Prince Muazzam (afterwards Emperor Shah Alam Bahadur Shah) to join them, but, Nawab Bai, the Prince's mother, gave good counsel to her son and prevented him from giving any assistance to the Rajputs.

Zakiyyat-un-nisa was married to Khujista Akhtar Jahan Shah, youngest son of Shah Alam Bahadur Shah, the seventh Mughal Emperor. Raziyyat-un-nisa was married to Rafiu-sh Shan, son of Shah Alam Bahadur Shah, and was the mother of Rafi-ud-Darajat, the tenth Mughal Emperor. Akbar's son Buland Akhtar, who had brought up by the Rajputs after his flight, was restored to Aurangzeb in 1698. He died in 1706, before his grandfather.

Reference

Studies in Mughal India By Jadunath Sarkar 
Storia do Mogor By Niccolao Manucci

3 comments:

  1. A GREAT read!
    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. nice article.....felt like going though the school history books but in much more detail!!

    ReplyDelete

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