How was Aurangzeb killed


Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir, with full name Persian, DMGAbū 'l-Muẓaffar Muḥyī ad-Dīn Muḥammad Aurangzēb Bahādur-i ʿĀlamgīr; born November 3, 1618 in Dahod / Gujarat; died March 3, 1707 in Ahmednagar,[1] was the son of Shah Jahan and his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Great Mughal of India from his seizure of power on July 31, 1658 until his death in 1707.

Development and personality

Domestic politics

Aurangzeb broke with the concept of approximate equality between Muslims and Hindus, which his father had already neglected. In 1669 he had Hindu temples destroyed all over the country (e.g. the oldest Shiva temple in Benares, in the place of which a mosque was built) and introduced a wide range of restrictions (e.g. in 1668 the ban on Hindu pilgrimage festivals ), for whose supervision Muhtasibs were used, and removed the Hindus as far as possible from the administration, especially the tax system and the high military ranks. Finally, in 1679 he reintroduced the jizya (i.e. poll tax for non-Muslims, once abolished by Akbar I). Although it did not apply to Hindu officers in the army, it was a great burden for the many small country nobles (zamindars) who support the state at the local level.

The destruction of temples can be countered by the fact that the number of temples destroyed - measured against the total number - was small and that some of the destruction can be traced back to the effects of war, misuse, etc. Furthermore, Aurangzeb's measures to summarize and strengthen Islamic law (Hanafi collection of laws Fatawa-i-Alamgiri) sometimes also indirectly benefit the Hindus (e.g. general abolition of “unlawful” taxes). Islamic sects and religious deviants were also under political pressure, as were the Hindus. It was also not possible to exclude the majority of Hindus from the administration, only from the relevant authorities.

Rebellions of the Rajputs, Sikhs and others.

While Aurangzeb was waging war in Assam, the peasants revolted near the capital Agra. Peasant revolts were nothing new, but what was new was the effort that had to be made to suppress them. In the Jat uprising in 1669, the peasants even looted Akbar's grave.

When the commander-in-chief of the north-western border, where there had been uprisings by the Afghans around 1674, the Raja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur (also: Marwar) died in 1678, the Aurangzeb encouraged the occupation of Jodhpur, although an heir to the throne for the principality was born afterwards. This resulted in the defection of almost all Rajput families under the leadership of Mewar and took revenge in the Deccan campaigns against the Marathas. Although a makeshift peace was quickly made with the Rana of Mewar (with concessions from the Jisja), the Rajputs remained in turmoil until 1709. The Rajput princes of the Bundelkhand region also rehearsed the uprising under their leader Chhatrasal, who had allied himself with the Marathan leader Shivaji at the end of the 17th century.

Furthermore, the martyrdom of the ninth Sikh guru, Tegh Bahadur, led to the uprising of the Sikhs in 1675, which was led by his son and successor, Guru Gobind Singh.

Conquest of the Deccan

From the spring of 1682, Aurangzeb led several campaigns against the Marathas and against the Muslim Deccan sultanates from the city of Aurangabad named after him, and left the north without his administrative head for 26 years. The result was corruption and the general dissolution of administrative structures, so that robbers could even pillage caravans near the capital. He succeeded in conquering Bijapur in 1686 and the fortress Golkonda, which was considered impregnable (by bribery) in the following year, but the incorporation of South India into the imperial administration remained superficial. This was mainly due to the fact that Aurangzeb had turned all the good land of these sultanates into crown property (44% in Bijapur), i.e. used it for himself, and gave the rest to his governor and his people or used it for his war. He did not hire the landlords of the conquered sultanates, who knew their way around the country, because he did not trust them. So they could not fight the robbers who took advantage of the unsafe situation. Smaller landlords in particular often had no choice but to rob themselves. Aurangzeb's own administrators did not know the land and often could not pay their people because their bad land gave far less than what was written on the paper. Sometimes they made pacts with the robbers so that they would spare their land.[4] In addition, the Marathas Aurangzeb's army engaged in constant guerrilla warfare. Aurangzeb, whose image was badly affected, was determined to end this.

War against the Marathas

The marathic petty nobleman Shivaji, son of the Prime Minister of Bijapur, began to build an empire for himself from 1645 by conquering castles and taking advantage of the situation in the borderland between Bijapur and the Mughal empire. When he sacked the most important port city of the Mughal Empire, Surat, unhindered in 1664, he was captured by the Mughal army. Aurangzeb offered him an officer position at the high rank of 5000, but Shivaji refused and asked for 7000. Aurangzeb had him thrown in prison, but he escaped and rebuilt his empire. In 1671 he plundered Surat again and was crowned emperor himself in 1674 according to the old Hindu ritual.[5]

Shivaji turns down the emperor's job offer. Fantasy illustration by A.D. Macromick, 1909

Because “the hillbilly” Shivaji had dared to negotiate with Emperor Aurangzeb on an equal footing with impunity, he had inflicted an unprecedented loss of image on both the emperor and the empire. Aurangzeb absolutely had to make amends in order not to lose its reputation as the strongest power in India. Even the Shah of Iran teased Aurangzeb with it.[6] It also became clear that the great Mughal army was unable to protect its most important port. This explains in part Aurangzeb's bitter war against Shivaji and his successors, but not why Aurangzeb subordinated all other goals to this war and did not care either about the consolidation of the newly conquered areas or the pacification of northern India. As the memoirs of Secretary Bhimsen Saxena show, Aurangzeb's contemporaries were well aware that he was forgetting his duty to protect his subjects and that in doing so he was ruining his empire.[7]

Furthermore, Aurangzeb did not understand that Shivaji's Marathen army did not function like the Mughal army. The Mughal army consisted of commanders (Persiansardār) who maintained a fixed number of cavalry and received a salary from the tax income of a defined area. They saw themselves as "sincere servants" (pers. banda-yi muchlis) of the emperor, whom the purpose of their life was to serve. The Marathan Army, on the other hand, consisted of groups of mostly related free soldiers who fought for their own benefit and viewed their leader as a means to an end. They did not consider it dishonorable to switch sides. They lived on looting and extortion (Marathichauth, literally "quarter", namely the tax income of a district). Since they were too few to fight an open battle with the Mughal army, they turned to guerrilla warfare and the pillage of the Mughal entourage.[8]

Shivaji died in 1680, and his son Sambhaji continued the guerrilla war. Aurangzeb was initially occupied with the conquest of the sultanates of Bijapur and Golkonda before he began fighting the Marathas on a large scale. For this purpose, as was customary at the time, Marathic generals were lured away, which put a heavy strain on the tight budget. The fact that the Mughals arrested and executed Sambhaji in 1689 did not solve the problem,[9] because the Marathen generals were acting independently of him anyway. Sambhaji's brother Rajaram became head of the Marathas and could not be defeated. One reason for this was the strongly declining Mughal tax revenue due to the war and the many rebellions. As a result, Mughal officers were rarely paid and often had to collect their own salaries. Therefore they secretly concluded truces with the Marathas and reported to the emperor that they were on the verge of victory and that they needed financial support. They also feared being released after the war.[10] So the war got into a stalemate, which the Marathas had survived Aurangzeb's death better than the Mughal army.[11]

The end of a time

During Aurangzeb's reign, the divide between Hindus and Muslims widened. The administration of the empire was no longer under control of the uprisings, central India was almost impassable, the state was bankrupt and all artistic activities ceased. The peasants armed themselves and used force to defend themselves against the tax collectors. Above all, this enabled a steadily growing economy, which led to the fact that the local petty aristocrats (Zamindare) now had enough money to be able to afford their own soldiers. Aurangzeb exacerbated the problem by not caring about it. From 1700 the power of the Chaghatai dynasty began to decline, which could not be stopped even by the hard hand of Aurangzeb.


After Aurangzeb's death in March 1707, Muhammad Azam Shah, the second eldest son, took over the successor. However, he was already killed in a war against his stepbrother Bahadur Shah I in June of the same year. Even after that, the internal disputes over the throne in the Mughal Empire continued.


Dinglinger's miniature work from the Green Vault

The gold and enamel work created between 1701 and 1708 is located in the Green Vault of Dresden The court of Delhi on the birthday of the Grand Mughal Aureng-Zeb by Johann Melchior Dinglinger.

On August 28, 2015, an important street in Delhi that had previously been named after him was renamed and now bears the name of A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.[12]


  • Stephan Conermann: The Mughal Empire. History and Culture of Muslim India. (= Beck’s series 2403 C. H. Beck knowledge). Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-53603-4.
  • Mouez Khalfaoui: L’islam India. Pluralité ou pluralisme. Le cas d’al-Fatāwā al-Hindiyya (= Publications universitaires européennes. Ser. 27: Etudes asiatiques et africaines 103). Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt 2008, ISBN 978-3-631-57530-7 (also: Erfurt, Univ., Diss., 2007).
  • Jadunath Sarkar (1919). History of Aurangzib: Based on original sources. M. C. Sarkar & Sons, Calcutta, rep. Orient Longman, Delhi 1973.
  • Audrey Truschke: Aurangzeb: The Man and The Myth. Penguin India, 2017
  • Muhammad Athar Ali: Mughal India, Studies in Polity, Ideas, Society and Culture. Delhi: Oxford Univ. Press, 2006.
  • Stewart Gordon: "The Slow Conquest: Administrative Integration of Malwa into the Maratha Empire, 1720–60." In: Modern Asian Studies 11 / 1.1977, pp. 1-40. doi: 10.1017 / S0026749X00013202.
  • Michael Naylor Pearson: "Shivaji and the Decline of the Mughal Empire." In: Journal of Asian Studies 35/2, 1976, pp. 221-235. doi: 10.2307 / 2053980.
  • John F. Richards: "The Imperial Crisis in the Dekkan." In: Journal of Asian Studies 35/2, 1976, pp. 237-256. doi: 10.2307 / 2053981.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The little encyclopedia, Encyclios-Verlag, Zurich 1950, volume 1, page 105
  2. ↑ Short biography of Aurangzeb in: Biografien zur Weltgeschichte, Lexikon, Berlin 1989, p. 54
  3. ↑ http: // Title = Shah_Shuja
  4. ↑ Richards 1976.
  5. ↑ Sarkar 1973, pp. 13–82, 149–153 and 168.
  6. ↑ Pearson 1977, pp. 226-232.
  7. ↑ Richards 1993, p. 261 f.
  8. ↑ Gordon 1977, p. 6 f.
  9. ↑ Sarkar 1973, Vol. IV, pp. 341-344
  10. ↑ Athar Ali 2001, p. 92.
  11. ↑ Gordon 1977, p. 6.
  12. ^ "Aurangzeb Road gets Kalam's name", in: The Times of India, August 29, 2015.