Mughal Empire History Study Material For Civil Services Exam | Mughal Empire History Study Material For UPSC
The second Battle of Panipat marked the real beginning of the Mughal Empire in India.
Bairam Khan remained the protector and guardian of Akbar during the initial reign of Akbar.
Akbar’s mother Hamida Banu Begum, and his foster mother Maham Anaga urged Akbar to get rid of the Regent, Bairam Khan. In 1560, Akbar openly expressed his desire to take the reigns of the empire in his own hands and dismissed him. Bairam Khan submitted his resignation and desired to proceed to Mecca. On his way to Mecca, Bairam was stabbed to death by Lohani Afghan, whose father had been killed by Mughal troops under the command of Bairam Khan.
Akbar followed a policy of conquest for the expan-sion of his empire until the capture of Asirgarh in January 1601. He achieved the political unification of the whole of northern and central India by frequent annexations extend-ing over 40 years.
Akbar realised the value of Rajput alliance in his task of building up an Empire in India and tried, as far as possi-ble, to conciliate the Rajputs and secure and ensure their active cooperation in almost all activities. The Empire of Akbar can be said to be an outcome of the coordination of Mughal prowess and diplomacy and Rajput valour and service. Mewar, however, gave stiff resistance to Mughal forces. Rana Sanga, the ruler of Mewar, kept the torch of independence burning. However, after his death, his weak son, Uday Singh, could not hold against the Mughals and Akbar finally besieged the fort of Chittor in October 1567. But, the victory did not come his way easily. Rana Sanga’s brave followers, Jaimnall and Patta, gave stiff resistance. The entire garrison, to the last man, died fighting. The Rajput women performed the rite of Jauhar.
Victory at Chittor resulted in other Rajput chiefs to submit to Akbar. But Mewar continued to defy. Uday Singh continued to retain his independence even after losing the capital. After his death, Mewar found a true leader in Rana Pratap.
The imperial invasion of territory of Rana Pratap took place in April 1576, under troops commanded by Man Singh, the ruler of Amber, and Asaf Khan. A furious battle was fought at the pass of Haldighati. Rana Pratap was defeated by the Mughal forces. His life was, however, saved by the selfless devotion of the chief of Jhala, who drew upon himself the attack of Mughal forces by declaring himself to be the Rana. Rana mounted his favourite horse Chetak and fled to the hills, from where he continued his resistance to the Mughal forces and also managed to recover some of the lost territory. Rana Pratap’s son tried to continue the resis-tance after his father’s death but was finally defeated in 1599 by Mughal forces led by Man Singh.
After annexing Ranthambhor and Kalinjar in 1569, the Mughals subjugated Gujarat. In 1572, Akbar marched in person against Gujarat and defeated all opposition.
Gujarat turned out to be one of the most profitable sources of income for the Mughal empire, chiefly through the re-organisation of its finances and revenues by Todar Mal.
In 1585, Kabul was formally annexed to the Delhi empire after the death of Mirza Muhammad Hakim, step-brother of Akbar who governed Kabul as an independent ruler.
Bhagwan Das and Kasim Khan were deputed by Akbar to conquer Kashmir. They defeated its Sultan Yusuf Shah in 1586 and annexed Kashmir to the Empire.
By 1595, Akbar made himself undisputed ruler of an area extending from Hindukush to Brahamputra, and from Himalayas to the Narmada.
With an ideal of an all-India Empire, Akbar sought to bring the Deccan Sultanates, Ahmadnagar, Bijapur, Golkunda and Khandesh under his hegemony. He also wanted to utilise his control over Deccan as means of push-ing the Portuguese to the sea. Thus, his Deccan policy was purely imperialistic in origin and outlook and not influenced by religious considerations, as was the case with Shah Jehan and Aurangzeb.
Akbar sent a large army under Bairam Khan’s son Abdur Rehman and his second son Prince Murad to annex Ahmadnagar. The city was besieged in 1595, but not before splendid courage and extraordinary resolution shown by Chand Bibi, a queen of Bijapur. Under a treaty with Chand Bibi, Berar was ceded to Akbar’s forces and the boy king of Ahmadnagar agreed to the overlordship of Akbar. The king-dom could be annexed to the empire only during the reign of Shah Jehan.
In July 1599, Akbar himself marched to the south and captured Burhanpur, the capital of Khandesh and laid siege to the mighty fortress of Asirgarh. Akbar seduced the Khandesh officers by money to get the doors of the fort opened. This was the last conquest of Akbar.
In 1601, Akbar returned to Agra to deal with his rebellious son Salim.
On October 17, 1605 Akbar died following severe dysentery. His mausoleum is located at Sikandra.
Akbar observed the external forms of the Sunni faith until 1575, when his association with Shaikh Mubarak and his two sons, Faizi and Abul Fazal, produced change in his views.
Akbar got a building called Ibadat-Khana or the House of Worship constructed at Fatehpur Sikri, with a view to discussing philosophical and theological questions.
Hari Vijaya Suri, Vijaya Sen Suri and Bhanuchandra Upadhaya were prominent Jain teachers who were called by Akbar to attend the philosophical and theological discussions.
Akbar floated a new religion, called Din-i-Ilahi, based on his discussions with people of different religions.
Akbar abolished the pilgrim tax in the eighth year of his reign, and the jaziya in the ninth year.
A week after Akbar’s death, Salim succeeded to the throne of Agra and assumed the title of Nur-ud-din Mohammed Jahangir Padshah (Emperor) Ghazi (Holy warrior).
Five months after his accession to the throne, Jahangir faced rebellion by his son Khusrav. The Prince and his troops were defeated by the Mughal army near Jalandhar and Khusrav was captured alongwith his principal followers, Husain Beg and Abdul Aziz.
The fifth Sikh Guru, Arjan Dev was sentenced to death by Jahangir for helping Prince Khusrav with a sum of money. The execution of Guru Arjan Dev estranged the Sikhs, till then a peace-loving community, and turned them into foes of the Mughal Empire.
In May 1611, Jahangir married Noor Jahan, origi-nally known as Mihir-ul-nisa. The emperor, who styled himself Nor-ud-din, conferred on his new wife the title of Noor Mahal (Light of the palace), which was soon changed to Noor Jahan (Light of the world). She was the daughter of Mirza Ghiyas Beg, a Persian adventurer.
Jahangir was known to have had several secret love affairs with the ladies of the court. One famous love of Jahangir was Anarkali, for whom he raised a beautiful marble tomb at Lahore.
The most distinguished triumph of Mughal imperialism during the reign of Jahangir was its victory over the Rajputs of Mewar.
In the Deccan, war dragged on throughout his reign against the kingdom of Ahmadnagar. The kingdom of Ahmadnagar was then served by its Abyssinian minister Malik Ambar, one of the greatest statesmen that Medieval India produced.
A partial success was gained by Mughals in 1616, when Prince Khurram captured Ahmadnagar and some other strongholds. For this victory Khurram was rewarded by his father with the title of Shah Jehan (King of the world).
The first serious disaster of the Mughal empire dur-ing the reign of Jahangir was loss of Kandhar. Deceiving the Mughal officers by gifts, Shah Abbas, one of the greatest rulers of Asia in his time, besieged Kandhar in 1621, and finally took it in June 1622.
Shah Jehan revolted against Jahangir with help of Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, an officer in the Mughal court. He was, however, defeated by Mughal forces led by Mahabat Khan, at Balochpur, near Delhi, in 1623. Shah Jehan was then chased from province to province and final-ly, in 1625, he reconciled with his father and retired to Nasik with his wife Noor Jahan, a niece of Mumtaz Mahal, and youngest son Murad. His other sons, Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb, were sent to the imperial court, probably to serve as hostages to ensure his good behaviour.
The success of Mahtab Khan excited the jealousy of Noor Jahan and this hostility drove him to rebellion. Mahtab Khan took Jahangir as prisoner on the banks of Jhelum, while the emperor was on his way to Kabul. However, Jahangir managed to escape from prison and went to Rohtas where troops loyal to him had collected in a large force. Mahtab Khan ultimately made peace with Jahangir, but this triumph remained short-lived as Jahangir died on October 27, 1627. His body was buried in a beautiful tomb at Shah-dara, near Lahore, on the banks of Ravi.
Jahangir had a Chain of Justice, bearing sixty bells, fastened between the Shah Bhurj in the Agra fort and a post on the road, near the bank of Yamuna. The chain could be shaken by the humblest of his subjects to bring their grievances to his notice.
The Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri (Memoirs of Jahangir) is a brilliant proof of his literary attainments.
Himself a painter, Jahangir was a patron of art and literature and a lover of nature.
Jahangir made no departure from his father’s poli-cy of admitting Hindus to the higher public service. Man Singh, Kalyan Singh, son of Todar Mal, and Vikramadit were three Hindu governors during his reign.
Jahangir also tried to control the practice of sati among Hindus. He passed orders that Hindu widows should not be compelled to become sati without his government’s permission. He also tried to put a stop to female infanticide.
Jahangir was fond of the company of the Vaishnava leader Jadurup and held many discussions with him at Ujjain and Mathura, as a result of which he came to the con-clusion that Hindu Vedanta and Muslim sufism were almost identical.
Jahangir was usually liberal and tolerant towards all religions, but at times sanctioned repressive measures against Muslim heretics. Shaikh Rahim of Lahore, who was a religious leader of a sect, was imprisoned in the fortress of Chunar. Qazi Nurullah was put to death on account of being a notable Shia writer. Shaikh Ahmad Sarhindi was imprisoned in the fortress of Gwalior, but was released later and sent back to Sarhind with gifts.