India: Decline Of The Mughal Empire

Decline Of The Mughal Empire

Timeline Of The Mughal Empire

1526 – Delhi is seized by Babur and the Mughal Dynasty in India is created.

1530 – Death of Babur at forty seven years of age. Babur’s son Humayun comes to power after Babur’s death

1537 – The Seige of Surat

1556 – Death of Humayun. The ascension of Akbar at the age of 14.

1605 – Expansion of Mughal rule in India by Akbar

1605 – Akbar’s death. Jehangir, his son takes over the throne

1628 – 1658 – Jehangir’s son, Shah Jahan takes over the throne

Mid 1650’s – Shah Jahan falls ill and falling apart of the Mughal Empire begins

1658 – The throne is taken over by Shah Jahan’s son, Aurangzeb the main cause of the decline of the Mughal Empire

1707 – Death of Aurangzeb after which several rulers who were short lived, take up the throne

1739 – Persians attack Delhi and the empire of Mughals is left in ashes

During Shah Jahan’s and his son, Aurangzeb’s rule the empire of the Mughals had reached its zenith. After Aurangzeb’s rule and in his last days especially, the Mughal rule started declining. For the downfall of the Mughal, there are many causes that can be attributed.

Jehangir was a drug addict and an alcoholic who had no control over his own life. He rebelled against his father Akbar. He failed in his efforts to retain the personal appeal and superior strength of his father’s army military. He usurped the throne from his father when he became ill and got his own son Khusdrau, blinded and imprisoned. His wife Nur Jahan got involved in affairs of the state and Shah Jahan listened to everything she said. He was distant from the masses he ruled. His own sons pitted against each other for the throne.
Irresponsibility On The Part Of Aurangzeb

The predecessors of Aurangzeb had done a lot to win over the loyalties of the people, particularly the Hindus and the Rajputs. However Aurangzeb was not able to tolerate the non Muslims due to his fanatic attitude. The Jazia was imposed by him and celebrations of the Hindu festivals were forbidden during his rule. Due to this he lost the loyalty and friendship of the Rajputs. After he executed a guru of the Sikhs, his enmity with the Marathas only increased and they raised arms against Aurangzeb. He was too obsessed with the Deccan due to which the Mughal army got destroyed which in turn affected his status adversely. Aurangzeb was a fanatic Sunni Muslim so much so that tolerating even the Shias was tough for him so they too turned against him. A lot of stress was laid on simplicity by him. The Muslim nobles often followed practices like drinking, dancing and singing and he was strictly against all of this. Having a king of this type was against the ways of the Muslim nobles. After he died the huge Mughal Empire gradually started disintegrating into smaller states.

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Aurangzeb’s Successor’s Were Not Too Strong

Aurangzeb had incompetent and weak successors. Much of the time was spent by the successors in harems and in enjoying pleasurable activities. Soon after, the Mughls began losing control over the states.

Aurangzeb left four sons after him including Kambakhsh, Akbar, Azam and Muazzam. Akbar was a exile and rebel and the three sons suggested a division of the Mughal Empire as per the will of the father. However there was discord among the brothers. Prince Muazzam conciliated the Marathas by releasing Raja Shahu and established peace with Rajputs. Between Punjab’s Sikh sects there were severe conflicts and the stage was set for Sikh power development. They had started getting official attention during Jahangir’s reign itself when their guru was put to death. The Sikh organization called Khalsa gradually developed.
After the accession of other Mughal emperors like Bahadur Shah, Jahandar Shah, and Mohammed Shah, the Mughal Empire started breaking up into pieces.

Definite Law Of Succession Not Followed

A definite law of succession was not followed by the Mughals. Whenever a Mughal emperor died, there took place a war among the sons to succeed to the throne. To get the throne members of the royal family and nobles were used by the to-be successors due to which there was division among the nobles. A hierarchy was created and nobles fought for their very own interest only and resorted to different conspiracies. This made the Mughals vulnerable and weak.

Weak Economic Situation

Constant wars amongst the successors let to the ruin of economic stability of the Mughal Empire. Not even an inch of territory was added to the Empire due to many of the wars. Most of the rulers spent on the construction of monuments and other buildings in a lavish manner. The economy was shattered due to invasions of foreigners as well.

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Degradation Of Moral Values Of The Generals And Soldiers

The soldiers and generals in the Mughal army became corrupt, lazy and inefficient due to the availability of excess luxury and wealth. They developed an easy going and pleasure loving attitude and became disloyal. Without a train of women and attendants they wouldn’t even go to the war field. It was for monetary gains that they mostly fought and even took bribes.

New Powers Started Rising

Gradually new powers like the Marathas, Sikhs as well as Jats started coming on the scene. Mughal domination started declining and new states were established by the new rising powers.

Invasions By Foreigners

Ahmad Shah Abdali’s and Nadir Shah’s invasions proved to be fatal for the Empire of the Mughals. The Indians were defeated very easily by these foreigners. Besides this, the weakness of the Indians started to get exposed slowly and gradually they become prey to a number of other foreigners also.

Arrival Of The Europeans

A major role was played by the Europeans, especially the British in putting an end to the Mughal rule. Permission to trade with India was first obtained who later started to interfere with politics in India. The British Empire was set gradually that lasted for two centuries.

Colonization Of The British

As per the deed granted by Jehangir the Mughal Emperor, the British East India Company opened in 1612 in Surat, Gujarat. The British interfered in the internal affairs of the princely states which resulted in the colonization of British in India gradually. They entered into the political arena slowly and began playing the role of colonizers.

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