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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

History - Mughal Empire - 3


Jahangir was born to Maryam-uz-Zamani and Akbar on August 30, 1569. He was named Sultan Muham-mad Salim after Shaikh Salim Chishti of Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar, however, called him Shaikhu Baba.

Abdur Rahim Khan Khana, a profound scholar of Arabic, Turki, Persian, Sanskrit and Hindi, as also a soldier and diplomat of no mean order influenced Jahangir the most and moulded his thoughts. Most of Jahangir’s education took place under Abdur Rahim.

At the age of 15, Jahangir was married to his cousin Manbai, daughter of Raja Bhagwan Dass of Amber. The ceremony was performed both according to Hindu and Muslim rites.

Jahangir gave Manbai the title of Shah Begum. She committed suicide in 1604 owing to her son Khusrav’s unfilial conduct towards her husband.

Jagat Gosain or Jodhabai, daughter of Mota Raja Udai Singh was also among the most important of several wives of Jahangir.

Salim’s loose morals and addiction to wine and other degrading pleasures enraged Akbar, who then tried to bring him round by threat of punishment. The estrangement led to open revolt by Salim. When Akbar set out of South to reconquer Khandesh, Salim made a dash for Agra in order to capture the huge treasure. He was, however, foiled in his attempt and subsequently went to Allahabad and set up his court there. He brought a part of Bihar under his control and set himself up as an independent king.

Akbar sent Khwaja Muhammad Sharif, a playmate and friend of Prince, to Allahabad on a mission of peace. But Salim won him over and appointed him chief minister.

The fact that Akbar’s second son, Murad, was already dead and his third son, Daniyal, was visibly dying made Akbar weak and forced him to take forget and forgive Salim’s follies. Salima Begum, Jahangir’s step-mother, ulti-mately persuaded the prince to return to his path of duty.
After Akbar’s death in 1605, Prince Salim acceded to the throne and assumed the title of Nuruddin Mohammad Jahangir Padshah Ghazi.

Immediately after coronation, Jahangir prohibited levy of many cesses, called tamgha, mir bahri, etc. Jahangir also abolished the punishment of cutting nose and ears.

Jahangir also prohibited the slaughter of animals on certain days in the year and two days in every week, that is, Thursday, which was his accession day, and Sunday, the day of Akbar’s birth.

Jahangir caused a gold chain with bells to be hung between the Shah Burj in the Agra Fort and a post on the road near the bank of Yamuna, so as to enable suitors for jus-tice to ring the bell and approach the emperor without the mediation of any officer or servant.

Within a few months of Jahangir’s accession his eldest son Khusrav revolted. Due to the past conduct of Khusrav, Jahangir had confined him to one corner of Agra fort. On April 6, 1606, on the pretence of a visit to Akbar’s mausoleum at Sikandra, Khusrav proceeded rapidly towards Delhi. On his way he was joined by Husain Beg Badakhshi. Passing by Delhi, he made his way towards Lahore and on the way was joined by Abdur Rahman, the diwan of that province. At Taran Taran, the prince obtained benediction of Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Guru of Sikhs.

On reaching Lahore, Khusrav found the fort put in a state of defence by the governor Dilawar Khan. Jahangir sent a contingent of troops under Shaikh Farid, as also pro-ceeded himself towards Lahore. The parties engaged in a fight on the plain of Baharowal. Khusrav was defeated and forced to flee towards Kabul. He was, however, captured by Jahangir’s forces, along with Husain Beg and Abdur Rehman.

Jahangir imposed a fine of Rs two lakh on Guru Arjan Dev for bestowing benediction to Khusrav. The Guru, however, refused to pay and was consequently put to death. The Guru’s death estranged Sikhs from the Mughals and led to their rebellion in the time of Aurangzeb.

The most fateful consequence of Khusrav’s rebellion, followed by internal disturbances in the country, was the encouragement of the Shah of Persia to make a bid for the capture of fortress of Kandhar.

Kandhar was a bone of contention between Persia and India during the medieval age. Kandhar was a gateway and a natural base of operations for a Persian or Central Asian invader. Its commercial importance was no less great. It connected the principal trade routes from India to Central Asia and Europe. Babur, who was aware of Kandhar’s importance, captured it in 1522.

After the death of Humayun, Kandhar passed out of Mughal control, but Akbar recovered it in 1594.

In 1611, Jahangir married a widow named Mehr-un-nisa, who was given the title of Nur Mahal, subsequently changed into Nur Jahan. She began exercising unbounded influence on the emperor and the administration of Mughal empire.

Nur Jahan was daughter of Ghiyas Beg, a Persian adventurer in Akbar’s court, who was honoured with the title of Itimad-ud-daulah.

Within a few years of her marriage, Nur Jahan organized a party of her own and took the reins of the gov-ernment in her hands. The party was known as Nur Jahan Junta and consisted of herself, her parents, her brothers and prince Khurram, who was the husband of her niece.

Nur Jahan exercised healthy influence on Jahangir. It was owing to her influence that Jahangir restrained him-self from excessive drinking. Her influence over Jahangir was good and benefited the poor and the needy, as also the votaries of letters and art.

On political and administrative affairs the influence of Nur Jahan was negative. Her dealings with Prince Khur-ram and Prince Shahryar almost convulsed the empire in a civil war.

Akbar could not conquer the whole of Mewar due to stiff resistance from Rana Pratap. Infact, Rana Pratap was able to recover a considerable portion of his territory before his death in 1597. In 1605, Jahangir deputed his second son Parwez to reduce Rana Pratap’s son Rana Amar Singh to submission. A tough battle was fought at the pass of Dewar but it proved indecisive.

Sagar, an uncle of Rana Amar Singh, who had deserted his nephew and lived as a pensioner at the Mughal court, accompanied Prince Parwez in the expedition to defeat Rana Amar Singh.
In 1608, Jahangir sent another force, this time under Mahabat Khan, to subdue Rana Amar Singh. He also failed in the mission.

In 1609, Abdulla Khan was appointed incharge. He defeated Prince Karan but was, in turn, beaten by Rajputs at Ranpura, the northernmost key-point of Mewar.

Jahangir appointed Raja Basu to defeat Rana Amar Singh but he too failed. Raja Basu was then replaced by Mirza Aziz Koka and in 1613 Jahangir personally moved to Ajmer to be near the scene of action and exert pressure. The supreme command of the Mughal army was now entrusted to Prince Khurram. In the constant struggle both sides lost heavily but the Rajputs suffered more due to famine. The resources of tiny Mewar exhausted and Amar Singh offered negotiations.

A treaty of peace was concluded between Rana Amar Singh and Jahangir in 1615. Rana recognized Jahangir as his suzerain. Jahangir restored all the territory to Rana, including Chittor, that had been seized during Akbar’s reign. The Rana was not obliged to attend the impe-rial durbar and, unlike other Rajput chiefs, the Rana was not required to enter into a matrimonial alliance with the Mughal ruling family.

The treaty of 1615, for the first time, brought the end to the long-drawn struggle between Mewar and Delhi. The Rana of Mewar hereafter remained loyal to the Mughal throne, till Aurangzeb, by his thoughtless policy, drove Raj Singh in an open rebellion.

Jahangir adopted Akbar’s policy of conquering the whole of India and bringing it under the rule of his dynasty.

In 1608, Jahangir directed the Khan Khana to conquer the remaining parts of South. But, he could make a little headway due to stiff resistance of Malik Ambar, the prime minister of Ahmadnagar. He used the guerilla war-fare very effectively to defeat the Mughal army.

In 1616, Jahangir made Prince Khurram incharge of the southern command and himself moved to Mandu with all his court to be near the scene of warfare. Overawed by superior force, Malik Ambar at once opened for negotiations. A treaty was signed in 1617 under which Malik Ambar ceded all the territory of Bal-ghat, which he had recently seized from Mughals, as also surrendered the fort of Ahmadnagar. Jahangir was over-joyed with Khurram’s success and conferred on him the high sounding title of Shahjehan.

The treaty of 1617 was brushed aside by Malik Ambar in 1620 when he formed a league with Bijapur and Golkunda and launched an attack on Mughal commander Khan Khana. Jahangir again deputed Shahjehan to take charge of the operation, who successfully forced Ambar to submission. The kingdoms of Ahmednagar, Bijapur and Golkunda were also made to pay a tribute to the emperor.

Jahangir lost Kandhar in 1622 to Perisan rulers due to infighting among the Nur Jahan Junta, as also the estranged relations between Shah Jehan and Nur Jahan, and subsequent rebellion of Shah Jehan.

The three-year-old rebellion of Shah Jehan con-vulsed the empire with a civil war and caused a consider-able loss of money and men. It came to an end in April 1626 after Shah Jahan, faced with nothing but destruction, decid-ed to surrender and seek emperor’s pardon.

The entire operation of dealing with Shah Jahan’s rebellion was undertaken under Mahabat Khan, the great-est soldier and diplomat of the Mughal empire.

Difference between Nur Jahan and Mahabat Khan compelled Mahabat Khan to bring Jahangir under his control by a coup d’ etat and thus deprive Nur Jahan of power in the State. He was helped in this by mostly Rajput soldiers.

Mahabat Khan remained the de facto ruler for 100 days, before Jahangir managed to overthrow him and take charge. Mahabat Khan was not a very capable administrator and this led to his fall.
After regaining his freedom from Mahabat Khan, Jahangir, whose health had completely broken down, set out for Kashmir in March 1627. But he could not regain health in Kashmir and decided to return to Lahore. During his return journey he was taken ill and died on November 7, 1627 near Bhimbar. He was burried at Shahdara near Lahore.

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