This chapter has been published in the book INDIA & Southeast Asia to 1800.
For ordering information, please click here.
Zahir ud-Din Muhammad Babur was the founder of the Mughal empire in India. His father was a direct descendant of the powerful Timur, and his mother was from the family of Genghis Khan. Babur was born February 14, 1483 and was only eleven when he inherited his father's kingdom of Farghana (in modern Uzbekistan). It took him three years to win control of Samarqand from his cousin. A rebellion at Farghana caused him to lose both, but Babar regained Farghana in 1498 and Samarqand two years later from the Uzbek chief Shaibani Khan. His struggle with the Uzbeks kept Babur busy for a dozen years. With help from Mongols, Babur crossed the Hindu Kush and conquered Kabul in 1504. The next year he went through the Khyber Pass, crossed the Indus and raided the Afghans near Tarbila. In 1507 Shaibani Khan attacked Khurasan and captured Herat. Babur left Qandahar and went east on a second raid. When Shaibani withdrew from Qandahar, Babur proclaimed himself Padishah (Emperor). Iran's Safavid ruler Shah Isma'il defeated the army of Shaibani, who was killed in 1510. Babur made an alliance with the Persians, who helped him take Bukhara. His cousin had driven away the Uzbeks, and Babur marched into Samarqand. Uzbeks led by Shaibani's nephew did defeat Babur twice at Bukhara in 1512. Babur retired to Kabul, and little is known of him until he began his conquest of India in 1519.
In his Memoirs Babur wrote that he invaded India five times. A prince once quoted Sa'di that ten dervishes can sleep on one rug, but two princes cannot rest in one climate. Babur replied that a dervish given a loaf of bread would share half of it; but a prince gaining a country would covet another. He returned from Peshawar in order to secure Kabul and besiege Qandahar, which finally surrendered in 1522. Two years later Babur crossed the Indus and defeated the Lodi's Afghan army near Lahore. Daulat Khan was not satisfied with what Babur gave him, but Dilawar Khan accepted rule over Sultanpur; 'Alam Khan claimed the Delhi crown and was given Dipalpur. When Daulat Khan took Dipalpur, 'Alam Khan fled to Kabul and ceded Lahore to Babur; but while Babur was fighting the Uzbeks, 'Alam Khan joined Daulat Khan and attacked Ibrahim Lodi's camp at Delhi. However, their army was routed and dispersed as 'Alam Khan escaped.
When Babur marched on Delhi, he wrote that he had an army of 12,000; but some say he had twice that with the Indians that had joined. Babur may have exaggerated the army of Ibrahim Lodi which he estimated at 100,000 with a thousand elephants. Babur used at least two cannons and match-lock guns when he won the important battle at Panipat in 1526. Ibrahim Lodi and 15,000 of his men were killed. Babur was proclaimed emperor of Hindustan and went from Delhi to Agra, which his son Humayun had captured. Babur sent Humayun to fight the Rajputs, and he took Jaunpur, Ghazipur, Kalpi, and Gwalior. In another major battle Babur's army defeated 80,000 Rajputs led by Rana Sanga of Mewar at Khanua in 1527. In Malwa the leader Medini Rai fought desperately as Chanderi was taken by force in January 1528. Biban defeated a Mughal force and escaped to Bengal, and in the east Ibrahim's brother Mahmud Lodi in Bihar gathered an army of 100,000. In his third major victory Babur defeated them at Gogra after crossing the Ganges in 1529. Babur wrote his Memoirs and some poetry in Turki, poems in Persian, and a treatise on Islamic law. Babur's son Humayun became ill; but the ailing Babur offered his life for his son's and died on December 30, 1530. Humayun recovered and became the second Mughal emperor.
Babur's dying advice to Humayun was to be generous to his brothers.
Kamran governed Kabul and Qandahar; Askari and Hindal were allowed
to administer portions of India. Within a year Askari had helped
Kamran take over the Punjab from Humayun's governor. In Gujarat
after Muzaffar II's son Sikander was murdered, his brother Bahadur
Shah came out of exile, executed the murderer, and gained the
throne of Gujarat by sending a force to defeat and kill his brother
Latif Khan. In 1528 Sultan Bahadur Shah invaded the Deccan, returning
to Ahmadabad two years later. The Portuguese attacked the coast
of Gujarat in 1530 but could not capture the island of Diu. Gujarat's
Bahadur Shah annexed Malwa and besieged the Rajput fortress of
When Humayun defeated rebelling Afghans in 1532, Sher Khan came over to his side. The aggressive Bahadur Shah took over Malwa and forced the Rana of Mewat to submit in 1533. His Gujarat army captured Chitor in 1535; the women and children burned themselves in jauhar, and the last men fought to their deaths. Bahadur tried to maintain friendly relations with both the Sur house and the Mughal Humayun; but his Gujarat and Malwa armies were destroyed trying to keep Humayun out of Malwa in 1535. Humayun then invaded Gujarat and took the Champaner fort with immense treasure, chasing Bahadur Shah all the way to the island of Diu. Bahadur Shah resumed ruling Gujarat after the Mughals left in May 1536, but the next year he was lured into a meeting with the Portuguese and was killed trying to escape. Bahadur Shah had no heir, and the Portuguese took Diu during the struggle for power in Gujarat. With help from a Turkish armada of 66 ships the Gujarat army attacked Diu in 1538, but conflicts between their generals resulted in defeat and departure of the Turks. Mewar's Maharana Vikramaditya had fled Chitor but upon returning was murdered by Vanavir in 1536. Vanavir also tried to murder the prince Uday Singh, but his loyal nurse helped him escape and let Vanavir kill her own son in his place. Uday Singh gathered forces and ended Vanavir's usurpation by defeating him near Maholi in 1540. Uday Singh fought futile wars with Marwar's Maldev.
Farid was named Sher Khan for having killed a tiger. He rose to become the governor of Bihar and defeated an attack from Bengal. While Humayun was in Gujarat, Sher Khan gained part of Bengal and much gold when Mahmud Shah sued for peace. In 1537 Sher Shah invaded Bengal and besieged Gaur, reducing it while Humayun was besieging Chunar. While Humayun entered Gaur in 1538, Sher Shah took over Mughal territories in north Bihar, Jaunpur, and Kanauj, blocking Humayun from Delhi as Hindal retreated and claimed the throne, heading toward Delhi; but his brother Kamran made Hindal submit at Agra. When Humayun tried to go to Agra, he was defeated by Sher Khan and his Afghan fighters in 1539. Humayun barely survived, and his demoralized Mughal army was defeated again by Sher Khan the next year at Kanauj.
Humayun escaped and went to Lahore while Sher Khan went back to Gaur to destroy the remnant of the Mughal army and imprison a rebelling governor. Sher Khan became Sher Shah and organized his empire while Humayun, unable to get help from his brothers, fled all the way to the Safavid court in Iran. After subjugating Malwa in 1542, Sher Shah invaded central India. He promised to let those capitulating at Fort Raisin go unmolested, but the Afghans treacherously attacked the Rajputs, who killed their own women and children to protect them from disgrace. Sher Shah also used forged letters before defeating Marwar ruler Maldev in a bloody battle in 1544. While capturing a fort in Kalinjar, Sher Shah was killed by a gunpowder explosion in 1545.
Sher Shah has been admired by many for setting up a brilliant administrative system. He held centralized power but divided the empire into 47 sarkars for administration. Each sarkar was made up of villages that each had two officers, a treasurer, a writer of Hindi, and a writer of Persian to keep accounts. Sher Shah was experienced at surveying land. Considering agriculture most important, he made sure farmers had what they needed, though he taxed them at one-fourth of their produce, preferably in cash. The coins he minted became the standard for centuries. He reformed tariffs by having customs collected only at frontiers and places of sale. Several long roads were built and were lined with shade trees and provided with rest stations that also served as post-houses for communication. Local leaders were expected to police their communities or face the consequences. Sher Shah administered justice equally to high and low, judging many cases himself. He disciplined soldiers and reduced corruption by paying fair salaries. Sher Shah's energetic leadership is strongly contrasted to the indolent Humayun, who was criticized for letting opium delay his actions.
Sher Shah was succeeded by his son Jalal Khan, who took the name Islam Shah Sur and continued his father's administrative system. However, he suspected that his older brother 'Adil Khan wanted the throne. Islam Shah had already put to death Kalinjar's Kirat Singh and seventy of his officers. When Islam Shah tried to arrest 'Adil Khan, he fled. So many were imprisoned and had their property confiscated that nobles became suspicious, and tribal jealousies revived, especially among the Niyazis, who retreated to Kashmir but were annihilated by the Chak tribe.
In 1545 Humayun promised to promote the Shi'a faith and was given 14,000 Persian soldiers. They besieged Qandahar, and Bairam Khan was sent to Kabul, where Askari surrendered. The Persians took over Qandahar and would not help Humayun; so he broke his agreement and drove them out. Hindal joined Humayun as he headed back to Kabul, and his other brother Kamran fled after many of his men deserted to Humayun. He and Kamran fought over Kabul for several years until Humayun had Kamran blinded and sent to Mecca in 1553. When ailing Islam Shah learned that Humayun had crossed the Indus, he went to meet him but died in Gwalior in 1554. His 12-year-old son Firuz Shah was murdered by Sher Shah's brother Nizam, who seized the throne as Muhammad 'Adil Shah. He vainly tried to win loyalty from the Afghan nobles by bestowing treasure and titles, but he aroused their fears by executing two of his supporters. This caused the empire to break into regions ruled by his relatives. Ibrahim Khan Sur attacked 'Adil Shah and captured Delhi. Though outnumbered, Sikander Shah came from the Punjab and defeated Ibrahim Shah to take Delhi and Agra in 1555.
At the same time Humayun invaded India and captured Lahore. Like his father Babur, Humayun had cut down on his use of opium, renounced alcohol, and even became a vegetarian for a year in order to purify himself for his conquest. Sikandar sent 30,000 cavalry; but they were defeated by the Mughal archers led by Bairam Khan. Sikandar Shah himself led 80,000 cavalry, but he was defeated by the smaller Mughal army led by Humayun at Sirhind. 'Adil Shah's general Himu defeated Ibrahim's Afghans and then Bengal's Shams-ud-din Muhammad Shah, whose army was also on the march. Humayun occupied Delhi and Agra in July; but on January 24, 1556, he fell down the stairs of his Delhi library and died.
After Muzaffar II's son Sikander was murdered, another son Bahadur Shah came out of exile, executed the murderer, and gained the throne of Gujarat by sending a force to defeat and kill his brother Latif Khan. In 1528 Sultan Bahadur Shah invaded the Deccan, returning to Ahmadabad two years later. The Portuguese attacked the coast of Gujarat in 1530 but could not capture the island of Diu. The aggressive Bahadur Shah also took over Malwa and forced the Rana of Mewat to submit in 1533. He tried to maintain friendly relations with both the Sur house and the Mughal Humayun; but his Gujarat and Malwa armies were destroyed trying to keep Humayun out of Malwa in 1535. Humayun then invaded Gujarat and took the Champaner fort with immense treasure. Bahadur Shah resumed ruling Gujarat after the Mughals left in May 1536, but the next year he was lured into a meeting with the Portuguese and was killed trying to escape. Bahadur Shah had no heir, and the Portuguese took Diu during the struggle for power in Gujarat. With help from a Turkish armada of 66 ships the Gujarat army attacked Diu in 1538, but conflicts between their generals resulted in defeat and departure of the Turks.
Humayun's 13-year-old son Akbar was in the Punjab when his father died but was proclaimed emperor. The Hindu general Himu occupied Agra and took Delhi from its governor Tardi Beg, proclaiming himself Raja Vikramaditya. Bairam Khan executed Tardi Beg while Akbar was hunting. In November 1556 Himu's army outnumbered the Mughal forces at Panipat; but after an arrow penetrated his eye, Akbar's army was victorious, capturing Himu's 1500 elephants. Bairam Khan and Akbar beheaded Himu. Young Akbar entered Delhi, and Bairam Khan sent Pir Muhammad to gain Himu's treasure and to drive Haji Khan out of Alwar. Akbar and Bairam Khan forced Sikandur Sur to leave the Mankot fort and flee to Bengal, and then they occupied Lahore and gained Multan in the Punjab. A Mughal siege of Gwalior for a year forced it to surrender in early 1558. After gaining Ajmer, the gateway to Rajasthan, Akbar returned to Delhi. The remaining Sur prince Ibrahim was defeated, and Jaunpur was annexed. Bairam Khan aroused resentment by dismissing his rival Pir Muhammad and appointing a Shi'a theologian as religious minister. Using his female relatives, in 1560 Akbar was able to remove Bairam Khan, who agreed to go on pilgrimage to Mecca. He resented being packed off by Pir Muhammad and had to be defeated by Atga Khan. On his way through Gujarat, Bairam Khan was murdered by an Afghan avenging his father's death.
Adham Khan and Pir Muhammad led the invasion of Malwa. When Adham Khan did not send the spoils to Akbar, the young Emperor went to make sure he did. Akbar did the same thing to Khan Zaman after he defeated some Afghans. In 1562 Akbar made a pilgrimage to Ajmer and married a Hindu princess. Akbar abolished the enslavement and forced conversion to Islam of war prisoners and their families. After the murder of prime minister Atga Khan, Akbar hit Adham Khan with his fist and had him thrown from a terrace twice so that he was dead. The Emperor re-appointed Mun'im Khan; but to make sure no one person controlled him, Akbar made the decisions and had them carried out by four ministers for financial, military, judicial and religious affairs, and household, which included buildings, roads, and canals. He ended pilgrimage taxes on Hindus and the hated jiziya poll tax on non-Muslims. Akbar fell in love with the beautiful wife of Shaikh 'Abdul-Wasi at Delhi and reminded him that according to the law of Genghis Khan, a husband must divorce any woman the Emperor desired. The Shaikh did so, and at her urging Akbar began searching for other noble beauties. This angered his subjects so much that the Emperor was wounded by an arrow in an assassination attempt. After that, Akbar no longer molested the wives and daughters of his subjects.
Akbar was intent on creating an empire. Among his "Happy Sayings" he wrote, "A monarch should be ever intent on conquest; otherwise his enemies rise in arms against him."5 He sent Kara governor Asaf Khan to subdue the kingdom of Gondwana in 1564, but he too failed to send all the captured elephants to Akbar. That year while Akbar married a Khandesh princess, another Uzbek, Malwa governor Abdullah Khan, revolted. Khan Zaman was descended from Babur's Uzbek nemesis Shaibani, and he resented the Persians at Akbar's court. After defeating Afghans in Bihar, Khan Zaman dismissed Akbar's messengers. Iskandar Khan and Ibrahim Khan joined the Uzbek revolt and defeated a Mughal army at Kanauj. Akbar marched out of Agra with a large army to chastise the Uzbeks but forgave them in 1566 when Khan Zaman negotiated. When Akbar's half-brother Muhammad Hakim was driven out of Kabul by a Badakshani army, Timurid nobles proclaimed him emperor and attacked Delhi while Hakim was besieging Lahore. Loyal Mughals forced the Timurid princes (Mirzas) to retreat to Mewar and Rajasthan while Akbar forced his brother Hakim to fall back to Kabul. Akbar then attacked the Uzbeks by the Ganges; Khan Zaman was killed, and Bahadur Khan was captured and executed. Akbar marched to Allahabad and sacked Benares for closing its gates to him.
Nobles struggled for power in Gujarat as the boy Sultan Mahmud III was on the throne. A second siege of Diu had failed in 1547. Mahmud was kind to Muslims but oppressed the Hindus. In 1554 the young noble Burhan and his attendants murdered Mahmud, his prime minister Asafkhan, and twelve nobles; but Burhan was quickly cut down while sitting on the throne. I'timad Khan acted as regent for the young Sultan Ahmad Shah III. When Khandesh sultan Mubarak Shah invaded and tried to claim the throne of Gujarat, Nasir-ul-mulk took the opportunity to capture Ahmadabad; but I'timad Khan with help from Saiyad Mubarak managed to regain control. I'timad Khan did not like Ahmad Shah mixing with foreigners and had him killed in 1561, replacing him with a twelve-year-old named Muzaffar Shah III. I'timad Khan tried to deflect the powerful Changiz Khan by suggesting he invade Nandurbar, and he did so; but after failing to take Thalner, Changiz Khan turned his army on Ahmadabad and defeated I'timad Khan in 1567. Changiz Khan was murdered by Jhujhar Khan while playing polo, and I'timad Khan returned to power the next year. The death of Saiyad Miran in 1572 caused dissension in Gujarat, enabling Akbar's Mughal army to invade and take over the country. I'timad Khan and other nobles were named governors, and Akbar departed; but he had to come back the next year and defeated a larger force, ending Gujarat independence in 1573.
Akbar had his army encircle an area sixty miles in diameter near Lahore and herd the wild animals together. In five days about 15,000 animals were killed by arrows, muskets, spears, and swords. At Thanesar the Emperor observed a spectacle in which 300 feuding Sanyasis defeated 500 rival Jogis in a performance battle in which many were killed. When Akbar besieged Mewar's capital of Chitor in 1567, Maharana Udai Singh fled to the hills. After Akbar killed Jaimall with a musket shot, Rajput women sacrificed themselves in the fire of jauhar. As the fortress of Chitor fell, 30,000 were slaughtered, according to Abul Fazl's estimate. Kaviraj Shyamaldas reported that 39,000 died fighting, and Akbar executed the remaining one thousand. A thousand Kalpi musketeers managed to escape by pretending they were Mughals removing prisoners. Using such force as well as diplomacy, Akbar was able to bring the Rajputs into his empire. In 1569 Ranthambhor and Kalinjar submitted, and the next year Akbar married Bikaner and Jaisalmer princesses. Mewar's Udai Singh died in 1572, but his son Pratap raised a large army that was defeated by the Mughals in 1576 at Haldighat. Pratap escaped and survived until 1597, but Mewar suffered as he ordered killed any farmer who cultivated food for the occupying Mughal army. The fortresses of Chitor and Ranthambhor were added to the imperial bulwarks at Lahore, Agra, Allahabad, and Ajmer.
Two sons were born to Akbar in Sikri near Agra. The Emperor came there often to visit the Sufi saint Salim Chisti, who died in 1571. That year Akbar decided to make Sikri his capital. The next year he invaded Gujarat and occupied its capital Ahmadabad. Akbar had to go back in 1573 and with a force of only 3,000 overcame 15,000. Controlling Gujarat had great economic benefits and opened the way to sea voyages for Mecca pilgrimages. The Emperor instituted several reforms. Horses were branded according to the Khalji fashion revised by Sher Shah. Land assignments were changed into reserves, but this experiment lasted only five years. Officers were ranked in 33 grades according to how many horsemen they commanded from ten to 10,000, making local officers responsible for recruiting, pay, and command. Akbar urged his judges to be lenient with people, because sometimes they are hardened by punishment. When Afghan Sulaiman Karrani's son Daud Karrani became ruler of Bengal in 1572, he no longer recognized the authority of Akbar, who invaded in 1574. Daud fled to Orissa, where Akbar's general Mun'im Khan defeated him at Tukaroi. Daud tried to recover Bengal the next year but was defeated and killed in 1576. Yet Bengal nobles and Afghans continued to resist Mughal domination for the next thirty years of Akbar's reign, and Orissa was not annexed until 1592.
At Sikri in 1575 Akbar began sponsoring Thursday night debates on religion and theology in a House of Worship he had built; at first they concentrated on Islam. Akbar inquired into the behavior of religious authorities. Abdulla of Sultanpur shifted his wealth into his wife's hands temporarily in order to avoid giving the annual fortieth to charity. In another "monstrous slaughter" of wild animals that had been encircled in 1578 Akbar suddenly canceled the hunt and ordered all the animals set free; in a spiritual frenzy he distributed charity and gave gold to faqirs. Now Akbar included philosophers, Hindus, materialists, Jains, Christians, Jews, and Parsis in the discussions. Reason was used to examine various practices of the religions. Akbar had difficulty accepting Christianity's doctrines of the trinity and the incarnation. He eclectically accepted what was common to most religions while rejecting what was not essential. Here are a few of his sayings:
1. The source of misery is self-aggrandizement and unlawful desires.
2. The sorrows of men arise from their seeking their fortune before its destined time, or above what is decreed for them.
3. The concerns of men are personal to themselves, but through the predominance of greed and passion they intrude upon others.
4. Clemency and benevolence are the source of happiness and length of days.
5. The difficulty is to live in the world and refrain from evil, for the life of a recluse is one of bodily ease.
6. Men through blindness do not observe what is around them intent only on their own advantage.6
In 1579 Akbar removed the leading preacher and had himself proclaimed the supreme arbiter of all religious issues, making the reluctant Islamic legal scholars ('ulamas) sign the document. He came to believe in reincarnation, and under Zoroastrian influence he established sacred fire in the palace. Yet he disliked the dualism of light and dark, doubting the existence of Satan. He was influenced by Sufi Suhrawardi's theology of illumination and even began worshipping the sun by facing east in prayer. Akbar investigated and reformed previous pious land grants. The prohibition against repairing or building new temples was revoked as was the death penalty for apostatizing Muslims, who had been forcibly converted. Akbar's religious policy was known as universal toleration. As Hindus were appointed to high positions, Muslims became more resentful.
The revolt broke out in Bengal and Bihar, where Governor Muzaffar Khan Turbati reduced the pay of troops, enforced the branding of horses to prevent fraud, and revoked the unauthorized alienation of land. Early in 1580 Bengal officers proclaimed Akbar's half brother Mirza Hakim of Kabul emperor, and the chief judge in Jaunpur called upon Muslims to rise against Akbar. Loyal Mughal troops quickly regained Bihar, and Akbar led an army of 50,000 horsemen that drove Hakim out of Kabul. Akbar forgave his brother, but Kabul remained a problem until Hakim died in 1585. Resistance in Bihar and Bengal continued until the Afghans finally made peace in 1586, and the remaining rebels were crushed the next year. In 1582 finance minister Todar Mall revised the revenue system for surveying lands and fixing rates to make them more consistent. Akbar had divided his empire into twelve provinces, but this was increased to fifteen by the end of his reign as Berar, Khandesh, and Ahmadnagar were added.
Two Jesuit priests were invited from Goa in 1580, and Antonio Monserrate tutored Akbar's son Murad. The unorthodox Akbar stopped sponsoring caravans to Mecca. Two years later a Jain delegation persuaded him to renounce hunting, abstain from eating meat most of the year, and greatly limit the days on which animals could be slaughtered. After summoning a general council, Akbar wrote and promulgated his Divine Faith (Din-I-Ilahi) that suggested a rational and ethical mysticism without priests and books. Akbar apparently did not read but had things read to him. Since the empire had only one head, he believed it also should have one set of religious laws for all. The goal was union of the soul with God, and the ethics called for giving charity, sparing animals, permitting widows to remarry, and prohibiting child marriage, incest and forced sati. He encouraged monogamy, chastity, and restrictions on gambling and drinking. Akbar's new faith only gained about two dozen prominent converts. Like the initiation of Sufis to their masters, disciples had to place their head on the Emperor's feet and swear they would sacrifice their life, property, religion, and honor to serve their master. Disciples were to follow Akbar's rule of universal toleration for all religions.
The Dabistan lists ten virtues Akbar recommended that can be summarized as liberality, patience, abstinence from worldly desires, freedom from violence and acquisitiveness, meditating on the consequence of actions, prudence, gentle speaking, giving precedence to others, valuing the Supreme Being more than creatures, purifying the soul and yearning for God by limiting eating, drinking, dress, and marriage. Akbar also advised refraining from lust, sensuality, slaughter, deceit, oppression, intimidation, foolishness, and hunting. It is clear that he emphasized ethics more than rituals, worship, and belief. One did not have to give up one's own religion in order to adopt Akbar's Divine Faith. The purpose of gaining disciples was to instruct them in the service of God, not to gain personal attendants.
Akbar called his religious system Divine Monotheism. He conceived of the one God as a power and essence that is omnipresent as well as a personal being. Reason was the main faculty Akbar advised people to employ. Knowledge from books he considered worse than useless if it is not applied in an active life of good works. The extremes of asceticism and indulgence in worldly pleasures should be avoided. He rejected pre-ordained rewards in heaven or punishments in hell. Rather he believed in the transmigration of souls and their gradual evolution that provide complex rewards and punishments beyond human comprehension. Akbar agreed with Abul Fazl's Sufi conception of the soul as a divine essence. The goal of life is to find spiritual perfection, and Akbar did recommend prayer and meditation. Yet in response to a drought in 1574 he had suggested that the omniscient Creator already knows our every thought, and his mercy does not depend on our appeals.
Akbar transferred his capital to Lahore in 1585. The next year a Mughal army of 5,000 invaded and annexed Kashmir; but some rebels led by Yaqub did not surrender until Akbar went to Srinigar in 1589. In 1586 Yusufzais and Mandars gave the Mughal army its worst defeat when they killed 8,000 retreating soldiers in the Karakar Pass. Akbar promised not to intervene as the Uzbeks invaded Safavid Khurasan, and the Uzbek king Abdullah Khan said he would not support the Afghan tribes. Akbar maintained friendly relations with the Uzbeks and also Persian Shah 'Abbas (r. 1587-1629) by being neutral in their conflicts. The trade route from Kabul through the Khyber Pass provided Lahore markets with horses, fruit, silk, porcelain, and precious metals in exchange for Indian spices, textiles, and other goods. In 1590 Akbar appointed Khan Khanan to govern Multan and conquer Sind. In 1595 the Persian commandant of Qandahar defected to the Mughals, and 'Abdullah Khan surrendered it to Akbar. The northern portion of the empire was also secured that year as Baluchistan was annexed. The Uzbeks ceased to be a threat when 'Abdullah Khan died in 1598.
Akbar began his Deccan campaign by sending envoys to Khandesh, Ahmadnagar, Bijapur, and Golconda in 1591. The Ahmadnagar Sultanate was invaded by Prince Murad in 1595. The war was prolonged, and commander Murad died of alcoholism in 1599. In his last campaign Akbar led the army that stormed the fortress of Ahmadnagar in 1600. The Emperor then invaded Khandesh, which surrendered the next year. Akbar appointed his son Daniyal viceroy of the Deccan. While Akbar was in the south, his oldest son Salim tried to seize the fortress at Agra but failed to take it. After Akbar returned to Agra, Salim marched 30,000 cavalry against the capital. His father wrote him a letter offering him Bengal and Orissa, but Salim returned to Allahabad. In 1602 the Emperor sent his biographer Abul Fazl, but Salim had him attacked and killed. Empress Salima Sultan Begam and other women made peace between father and son, and Salim returned to court in 1604. He was temporarily denied opium and wine but succeeded after Akbar's death in October 1605.
In Mughal society the Emperor was all powerful as the supreme state authority making the laws, commanding the military, and overseeing the judicial system. Akbar also became the supreme religious authority and no longer deferred to the Caliph. Muslims still maintained an aristocratic and wealthy class over the Hindu castes, but their lands and titles were not hereditary. This often resulted in less care for their estates. Many slaves served them, and nobles could retreat into their private harems of women. The chief cities of India were considered as wealthy as any in Europe.
A week after his father's death, Salim took the throne as Emperor Jahangir (r. 1605-27). To win popular support he immediately issued twelve edicts to do the following:
1. Certain local taxes are to be prohibited.
2. Wells are to be dug and cultivation promoted in poor areas where theft has been common.
3. Packages of merchants and inheritances are to be protected.
4. Making or selling liquor is prohibited although he admitted he has been drinking since he was eighteen.
5. Confiscating houses and mutilation punishments are banned.
6. Officers shall not seize lands by force.
7. The royal treasury will fund the building of hospitals and hiring of doctors.
8. In honor of his father animals are not to be slaughtered on Thursdays or Sundays.
9. Sunday is to be respected as the first day of creation.
10. Officers of his father's servants are confirmed.
11. Lands devoted to prayer are confirmed.
12. All prisoners are given amnesty and are to be released.
Some scholars doubt these edicts had much effect. The murderer of Abul Fazl was promoted. Shaykh Farid, known as Nawab Murtaza Khan, persuaded the new emperor to promise to uphold Islamic law. When he learned that Muslim girls were marrying Hindus and converting, he prohibited it. Yet he also made the forced conversion of Hundus illegal. Even though he drank and used opium himself, Jahangir prohibited the public sale of wine and bhang (cannabis), castration of children in Bengal and Assam, gambling, and sati (widow suicide). The Portuguese had introduced tobacco to India, and Jahangir banned smoking in 1618; but five years later Surat began exporting tobacco.
Jahangir's oldest son Khusrau had been favored by some to succeed Akbar, and he rebelled in 1606 by hiring an army of 12,000 with money he took from an imperial treasure caravan. They besieged Lahore, but Jahangir's imperial army soon forced them to scatter. Khusrau was caught and had to witness the impaling of his followers. The fifth Sikh guru Arjun refused to pay a fine and was tortured to death for having helped the fleeing Khusrau, who was imprisoned. Other Sikhs were apparently not persecuted because of this. However, Jains were accused of disturbances after their leader Man Singh supported Khusrau's rebellion. When Jahangir went to Kabul to direct the campaign against the Safavids at Qandahar, Khusrau plotted to assassinate his father. Several conspirators were executed, and the Emperor had his son blinded. However, Khusrau lived on in captivity and regained some sight.
Jahangir sent his son Parwiz to subdue Mewar, but the Sisodia ruler evaded the imperial army year after year. When Persia's Shah 'Abbas I had Qandahar besieged in 1606, Jahangir sent a Mughal army that chased them away. In 1611 Emperor Jahangir married a Persian widow of one of his officers who was given the name Nur Jahan, meaning "Light of the World," and as his favorite wife she became a very influential political leader. Her father Itimad-ud-daula became prime minister. In 1612 Jahangir's second son Khurram married the daughter of her brother Asaf Khan. Nur Jahan restrained Jahangir's drinking, and she supported his patronage of learning, art, and charity. As empress she handled more administrative work than he did, especially in his later years. She helped more than 500 destitute orphan girls get married. Jahingir had disciples who wore his picture, and he promoted the best commanders with noble titles and gifts.
In 1608 Islam Khan became governor of Bengal and moved to crush Musa Khan, leader of the twelve bhuiyas (landowners). The Mughal army captured Musa Khan's capital at Sonargaon in 1611, and three months later Musa Khan, his brothers, and allies submitted to the imperialists. Other rebelling Afghans in Bengal were finally defeated by imperial troops the next year, and Bengal was annexed to the Mughal empire as a province in 1613. That year Jahangir moved his capital from Agra to Ajmer, and he sent Khurram on a campaign into Rajasthan. Mewar women and children were captured and sold as slaves until Rana Amar Singh (r. 1597-1620) negotiated a peace with Khurram in 1614, promising not to repair the Chitor fortress. The Portuguese seized four Mughal ships in 1613, causing Jahangir to cancel their privileges and close the churches in Agra and Lahore; but within two years the Jesuits gained reconciliation. In the Deccan the states of Ahmadnagar, Bijapur, and Golconda fought each other during the first century of the Mughal empire. Guerrilla warfare by the Marathas that was ably led by the Abyssinian Malik 'Ambar kept the Mughals from securing Ahmadnagar. The southern boundary of the Mughal empire left by Akbar was not advanced until forces led by Khurram defeated Malik 'Ambar in 1616. However, guerrilla resistance continued after the main Mughal forces withdrew.
In 1615 Mughals used force to take over Khokhar diamond mines of Bihar, and in 1617 they annexed part of Orissa and Kishtwar, south of Kashmir. In the northeast Shan people had been moving down from Burma for two centuries. These Ahoms along the Brahmaputra River had become Hindus but without its caste and ritual restrictions. Ahom leaders mobilized their men into the military or used them as forced labor to build roads and irrigation systems. They fought annual battles against the Mughal armies in the northeastern jungles. Prince Khurram led the attacks on the petty kingdoms in the Himalayas and captured the Kangra fort in 1618.
Khurram refused to lead another Deccan campaign until Jahangir agreed to transfer Khusrau to the custody of Nur Jahan's brother Asaf Khan. While the Emperor toured Mandu and Gujarat for several years, his son Khurram got Malik 'Ambar to surrender control of Berar and Ahmadnagar. Nur Jahan countered the growing power of Khurram by marrying her daughter by a previous marriage to Jahangir's youngest son Shahryar in 1620. Malik 'Ambar renounced the treaty and encouraged Bijapur and Golconda to revolt against the Mughals. Khurram insisted that Khusrau accompany him, and within six months his army forced Bijapur and Golconda to pay indemnities. When he learned that Jahangir was ill in 1621, he had Khusrau secretly killed and reported that he had died of illness.
Nur Jahan lost an ally when her father died in January 1622. Two months later Persian shah Abbas besieged and captured Qandahar. Khurram refused to leave the Deccan unless he was given full command. So Jahangir sent his son Shahryar to Qandahar and gave him some of Khurram's jagir tax lands. Jahangir's imperial court was in Kashmir, and Khurram rebelled by leading his Deccan army north and was supported by Malwa and Gujarat; but Mahabat Khan's loyal army defeated the Deccan forces near Fathpur Sikri in 1623. Khurram retreated to Malwa and got one million rupees from the Gujarat treasury to re-supply his army. Jahangir and Nur Jahan moved the imperial army back to Ajmer, regained control of Gujarat and drove Khurram out of Malwa. Khurram retreated to Asir and Golconda. He won a battle to control Bengal briefly, but he was defeated near Allahabad. Khurram took refuge with his previous enemy Malik 'Ambar, who was fighting Bijapur and the Mughals. The depressed Khurram became ill; he agreed to become governor of the Deccan, surrendered two forts, and sent his sons Dara Shukoh and Aurangzeb as hostages to the Mughal court. After Malik 'Ambar died in 1626, Maharashtra fell into turmoil with numerous assassinations.
During this rebellion alcoholic Prince Parwiz was supported
by Mahabat Khan and challenged Nur Jahan's hopes for Shahryar.
She complained that Jahangir had not approved the marriage of
Mahabat's daughter; the son-in-law was arrested and beaten, and
the dowry was confiscated. Angry Mahabat led an army of 4,000
Rajput troops to the court and captured Emperor Jahangir and Nur
Jahan. They proceeded to Kabul, where Nur Jahan and Asaf Khan
mobilized troops and local nobles against the Rajputs. Jahangir
pretended to comply; but when the Emperor was reviewing his troops,
Mahabat Khan decided to flee to Khurram in the Deccan. Alcoholism
caused the death of Prince Parwiz in 1626; he died in the Deccan,
and some suspected Khurram. Jahangir went again to Kashmir to
improve his health; but he died on his way back near Lahore in
October 1627. Vizier Asaf Khan supported Khurram and took control
of his mother Nur Jahan and her three young sons. He got nobles
to proclaim Khusrau's young son Dawar Bakhsh as emperor. Shahryar
used seven million rupees in the Lahore treasury to mobilize an
army to fight his cousin; but he was defeated. Shahryar was captured
and blinded. Khurram sent a message to Asaf Khan to blind or kill
Shahryar, Dawar Bakhsh, and other male Timurid cousins. In January
1628 Asaf Khan imprisoned Dawar Bakhsh and proclaimed Khurram
as Emperor Shah Jahan. Then he had his brother executed along
with Shahryar and two nephews of Jahangir.
Shah Jahan made Asaf Khan vizier and Mahabat Khan governor of Ajmer. He ruled from the Agra fortress built by Akbar until his new imperial capital at Delhi called Shahjahanabad was completed in 1648. Afghan noble Khan Jahan Lodi had been close to Jahangir; but just before Jahangir's death it was reported that he had received 300 gold hun for persuading Mughal officials to give their positions over to Ahmadnagar officers and to retire to Burhanpur. In 1629 Khan Jahan Lodi and his family secretly fled to the Nizam Shah Murtaza II of Ahmadnagar. Shah Jahan sent three armies after him and moved his court to Burhanpur. Battles devastated the countryside, and famine followed. In 1630 Khan Jahan Lodi was defeated and fled toward the Punjab, but he was trapped and killed along with his two sons. An investigation also caused Bundela emir Jujhar Singh to flee the court, and the Mughal army killed 3,000 Bundela troops in battle. Shah Jahan pardoned Jujhar Singh, who paid an indemnity of 15 lakhs (1.5 million) rupees and forty war elephants. After Jujhar Singh raided his Gond neighbor in 1634, the Emperor sent another army led by his 16-year-old son Aurangzeb to invade Bundela. Two of Jujhar's sons and a grandson became Muslims; an older son who refused to convert was killed; and the fleeing Jujhar was killed by Gonds. The Gond raja was forced to pay an indemnity and an annual tribute of twenty elephants, and at Urchha the Mughals found the Bundela treasure worth ten million rupees. Shah Jahan ordered the massive Hindu temple of Bir Singh Dev demolished, and a mosque was built on the site.
Shah Jahan accepted orthodox Islam, and in 1633 he blocked the repair and construction of churches and Hindu temples. Conversion to Hinduism or Christianity was prohibited. The Mughal state sponsored two pilgrim ships from Gujarat to the Hijaz each year, and he sent two scholars with charity for the poor in Mecca and Medina. Shah Jahan abolished the extreme prostration that had been demanded at court by Akbar and Jahangir. Instead of discipleship he expected a family kind of loyalty from his officers and thus called them khanazads, meaning "born to the house." The Emperor commissioned the Peacock Throne that contained gems worth ten million rupees. After his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal died during childbirth in 1631, Shah Jahan ordered architects and builders to construct the famous Taj Mahal marble tomb that took seventeen years to complete. Intended as an allegory of the day of judgment, the gateways and gardens symbolize the celestial paradise. An even more ambitious building project, the palace fortress at Shahjahanabad, was begun in 1639 and cost six million silver rupees. Opposite the fortress the Jama Masjid mosque could contain thousands of worshipers. A free hospital and a religious school (madrasa) were built next to the mosque. During his reign the Mughal treasury funded building projects costing about 29 million rupees. Yet the expenditures for war were much greater than this.
Shah Jahan made Kasim 'Ali Khan governor of Bengal and ordered him to punish the Portuguese. His army besieged Hughli for three months in 1632 and captured the fort. Thousands of Portuguese were killed; prisoners had to accept Islam, and young women were put in harems. Prince Muhammad Shuja governed Bengal 1639-59. After Mahabat Khan, the Mughal governor of the Deccan, besieged and captured the Daulatabad fort to complete the conquest of Ahmadabad in 1633, the Shi'a state of Golconda recognized Mughal hegemony in 1635; but Shi'a Bijapur had to be invaded before they submitted. In 1637 Shah Jahan sent his son Aurangzeb to govern the Deccan, and the next year with an army he annexed the Rajput kingdom of Baglana. In Sind on the northwestern border, punitive campaigns killed and sold into slavery thousands from the Baluch and other tribes so that the Mughals could collect taxes in cash. Sufis controlling tombs and holy places were given tax-free land grants for mediating disputes on behalf of the Mughal empire. The murder of an Assamese Muslim trader in 1636 provoked an Ahom-Mughal war that after losses on both sides ended in a treaty two years later. Aurangzeb had financial difficulties in the Deccan and was dismissed in 1644, but he was appointed governor of Gujarat the next year.
When Uzbek ruler Nazar Muhammad Khan asked for Mughal aid in a civil war against his son Abdul Aziz, Shah Jahan sent his son Murad with an army of 60,000 men. In 1646 Murad and his co-commander Ali Mardan Khan occupied Balkh with little resistance and grabbed 12 million rupees in treasure. Prince Murad left after a month, and the Emperor sent his vizier Sa'dullah Khan, followed by Aurangzeb from Gujarat. Shah Jahan moved his court to Kabul for support. The Mughal army found they could not live off such barren land, because the grain fields and fruit orchards had been devastated by the civil war. In October 1647 Aurangzeb handed over Balkh to Nazar Muhammad Khan and retreated, as the Mughals suffered thousands of casualties from harassing Uzbeks and Turkmen tribes. Two years of war had only moved the northern Mughal border about fifty kilometers north of Kabul. Mughal records indicated that Shah Jahan spent forty million rupees trying to conquer kingdoms with revenues far less than that.
The Persian commander of Qandahar, Ali Mardan Khan, owed Persian shah Safi money and had switched sides to the Mughals in 1638. Shah Jahan gratefully accepted the valued caravan-route city and appointed him governor of Kashmir. After the Mughal disaster in Balkh, Persian shah Abbas II besieged Qandahar and reconquered it in 1649. In the next four years Shah Jahan launched three major campaigns against Qandahar; but their artillery was inadequate, and the cost of these failures was about thirty to forty thousand men killed and 35 million rupees.
In 1647 historian Abdul Hamid Lahori summarized the first twenty years of Shah Jahan's reign. The treasury accumulated by Akbar had been depleted by Jahangir. Shah Jahan put thirty million rupees or one-seventh of all revenues into the imperial treasury. His reserves in coin and jewelry grew to 95 million rupees. He had already spent about 25 million on building projects, and cash salaries for 200,000 cavalry and 40,000 musketeers cost 16 million rupees per year. Since the time of Akbar fifty years before, the Mughal empire had grown in size, population, and prosperity, doubling the total revenues. The Emperor, his sons, and other nobles had dominating power and wealth such that the top 73 persons controlled 37.6 percent of the total revenues in the empire. Of the top mansabdars, 353 were Muslims, and only ninety were Hindus.
In 1653 Aurangzeb went back to the Deccan as viceroy and found it in poor condition. With the help of Persian revenue officer Murshid Quli Khan they recruited leaders and settlers for deserted villages, and they gave loans for seed, cattle, digging wells, and constructing irrigation while assuring security. Within five years most of the land was being cultivated, and prosperity had been restored. The 1636 treaty allowed the states of Golconda and Bijapur to expand to the south, and both did so in the 1640s. The Persian merchant Muhammad Sa'id by trading diamonds and other gems rose to become the chief minister of Golconda and was given the title Mir Jumla. By letter Aurangzeb suggested to Mir Jumla that they could take over Golconda for the Mughal empire. When the Golconda sultan 'Abdullah Qutb Shah arrested his son for insolent behavior in 1655, Mir Jumla appealed to Aurangzeb, who got a letter from his father Shah Jahan demanding the son's release. Without waiting for a reply, Aurangzeb sent his son Muhammad Sultan to invade Golconda, and he entered Hyderabad in January 1656. 'Abdullah Qutb Shah appealed to Shah Jahan, and Prince Dara Shukoh persuaded the Emperor to make Aurangzeb withdraw his forces. Aurangzeb's son married 'Abdullah Qutb Shah's daughter, and Mir Jumla became Mughal vizier. When the Bijapur ruler 'Adil Shah died in November, Aurangzeb used the opportunity to take over this kingdom too even though it had not been a vassal state. Again Dara Shukoh and the Emperor persuaded Aurangzeb to restrain himself, and he merely extorted a war indemnity.
In September 1657 Shah Jahan fell ill with strangury and made his last will. All four of his sons by Mumtaz Mahal struggled for the Mughal throne. The oldest Dara Shukoh resided at court and was his father's favorite. He studied Vedanta, Talmud, the New Testament, and Sufi writings. He made Persian translations of the Atharva Veda and 52 Upanishads. He became a disciple of the Qadiri Sufis Mulla Mir (d. 1635) and Mullah Shah Badakshi (d. 1661). Dara's Persian book The Mingling of Two Oceans discussed the essential unity of Hinduism and Islam, and he had it translated into Sanskrit for Hindus. Dara also liked to hold discussions with three Jesuit priests and the Hindu saint Babalal Vairagi. Because of these activities the traditional 'ulama (Muslim scholars) considered him an apostate. The second son Muhammad Shuja governed Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa, but he preferred an easy life. Aurangzeb studied the Qur'an, Islamic law, writings of al-Ghazali, and with Naqshbandi shaikhs but was an ambitious conqueror. The fourth son Murad Bakhsh governed Gujarat and Malwa, but he indulged in drinking.
Dara Shukoh tried to keep the Emperor's illness secret, but his censorship aroused suspicion. Shuja crowned himself at Rajmahal and moved toward Agra, but an army led by Dara's son Sulaiman Shukoh from Delhi forced him to flee. Murad also crowned himself and prepared for war in Gujarat. Aurangzeb was negotiating a peace treaty with Bijapur and wrote letters in cipher to Murad and Shuja, promising Murad the Punjab, Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Sind. In February 1658 Aurangzeb began marching north with his Deccan army, which defeated Shah Jahan's army that retreated to Delhi. In 1654 Mewar's Raj Singh (r. 1652-80) had submitted to the Mughals and let Sa'dullah Khan destroy his fort at Chitor; but when he visited the court, Shah Jahan took four districts from him. So now when Aurangzeb promised to restore the four districts, Raj Singh supported him. Dara's reorganized army of 50,000 was defeated near Agra in April by Aurangzeb's superior artillery and tactics. Dara fled, and Aurangzeb besieged his father in the Agra fort, depriving him of water until he surrendered on June 8. Dara went to Lahore, and Aurangzeb pursued him. He invited Murad to his camp for dinner and took him prisoner on June 25.
Aurangzeb crowned himself at Delhi on July 21, 1658, calling himself 'Alamgir, meaning "Conqueror of the World." Prince Dara Shukoh fled south to Gujarat while Aurangzeb defeated Shuja's Bengal army in December. Dara acquired funds and 20,000 men in Gujarat, but they were defeated by Aurangzeb's army in March 1659. Aurangzeb ascended his father's throne at Shahjahanabad in June. Dara was caught and condemned by the 'ulama for apostasy and idolatry before he and his youngest son were executed on August 30. Shuja fled to Arakan, where he was killed for plotting against its king in 1660. After an attempted rescue of Murad in 1661, he was beheaded for a murder he had previously committed. Suleiman Shukoh was captured and drugged with opium until he died in 1662. The civil war depressed the revenues of the empire, and limited rainfall resulted in famine. Aurangzeb ordered free kitchens in the cities to dispense cooked food. Shah Jahan remained a prisoner until he died in 1666. A revolt in Palamau by Daud Khan in 1661 was put down, and it became a district of the Bihar province.
During the civil war, in the northeast Kuch Bihar ruler Prem Narayan rebelled, and Ahom king Jayadhwaj Sinha invaded Kamrup and occupied Gauhati. In 1660 Aurangzeb sent Mir Jumla to govern Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. He reorganized the administration to increase revenue and imposed Mughal authority, moving the provincial capital east from Rajmahal to Dacca. In November 1661 Mir Jumla declared holy war on Assam with 42,000 men and several hundred ships. The Kuch Bihar ruler fled from Kathalbari, which Mir Jumla renamed Alamgirnagar as the capital of the annexed kingdom. The raja's son converted to Islam to serve the Mughals. The Mughal army marched on to Kamrup and seized the Ahom capital at Garghaon in March 1662, as the Ahom ruler fled, leaving behind granaries of rice, guns, munitions, and armed river boats. Yet the Mughals suffered from lack of supplies, guerrilla attacks, and an epidemic. The Ahom Swargadeo agreed to be a Mughal vassal. However, Mir Jumla died of illness in March 1663; conflicts over the peace treaty arose, and Ahom regained autonomy in Kamrup by the 1680s. In 1664 the Mughals' Bengal governor Shaista Khan (r. 1664-88), son of Asaf Khan, used a navy to free thousands of Bengali slaves at Chatgaon. Two years later he captured that fort and changed the name of the town to Islamabad.
In the northwest the Yusufzai chief Bhagu proclaimed himself ruler in 1667, but his resistance was quelled by an imperial army of 9,000 led by Muhammad Amin Khan. In 1672 Akmal Khan crowned himself king of the Afridis and closed the Khyber pass. They massacred a Mughal army between Peshawar and Kabul. Khatak leader Kush-hal wrote poetry to inspire their revolution against the Mughals, and another imperial army was ambushed the next winter. In June 1674 Aurangzeb himself led the campaign, and he negotiated by offering rebel leaders honors and rewards to protect the trade routes. Amin Khan was appointed governor at Kabul in 1677, and his payments to the chiefs for serving the Mughals kept a diplomatic peace for the next twenty years. His wife Sahibji, daughter of 'Ali Mardan Khan, wisely advised him to pursue a conciliatory policy.
Aurangzeb followed the Hanafi school of Islamic law and even spent seven years memorizing the Qur'an. Having deposed and imprisoned his father, he tried to absolve himself by sending gifts to the rulers of Mecca and Medina in 1659. That year he appointed a muhtasib as a censor to enforce Islamic laws such as those against blasphemy, liquid intoxicants, and gambling. Cultivation of cannabis was prohibited, but opium and ganja were not banned. Dancing girls and public women were ordered to get married or leave the realm. He dismissed court musicians and abolished celebration of the Iranian new year festival. When musicians protested by holding a funeral for Music he had killed, Aurangzeb remarked that he hoped she was well buried. In the tenth year of his reign he ended the official chronicles, and the next year he stopped appearing on a balcony every morning for the darshan (personal) worship that Akbar had begun. All the legal opinions (fatwa) during his reign were collected into a book. His main advisors became the chief judge (qazi) and the supervisor of pious charity. He contributed generously to repair mosques and support religious charities. In 1672 he took back all the grants that had been given to Hindus, though this was not always enforced. He made land grants hereditary in 1690. The 'ulama was often corrupt; Wahhab Bohra was qazi for sixteen years and retired with 3.3 million rupees he had obtained from bribes.
Aurangzeb's policies discriminated against non-Muslims. In 1665 custom duties for Muslims were set at 2.5 percent, but the rates for Hindus were doubled to five percent. Two years later the duty on Muslim traders was abolished. Provincial governors and revenue officials were ordered to dismiss Hindu officers and replace them with Muslims; this also was not enforced in many areas. His 1669 edict ordered demolished all temples recently built or repaired contrary to Islamic law. Bir Singh Bundela had paid over three million rupees to build the Kesev Rai temple at Mathura, but it was torn down. A Surat qazi extorted money from Hindu merchants by threatening them with forcible conversion or defacement of Hindu shrines. After a converted Bania was forcibly circumcised by the qazi and committed suicide, 8,000 men protested by leaving Surat. They were welcomed in Ahmadabad; but eventually the Emperor promised them freedom of religion, and they returned to their homes.
In 1669 Jat peasants led by Gokla of Tilpat took up arms against the empire and killed the abusive faujdar (officer) of Mathura and ravaged Sadabad. Gokla's rebellion grew to 20,000 before they were defeated by an imperial army reinforced by Aurangzeb himself. Gokla was put to death, and his relatives converted to Islam. In 1671 Aurangzeb dismissed all the Hindu officers from his revenue department. The next year Satnamis rebelled in Narnaul and Mewat; 2,000 were killed when they were crushed by the Mughal army. Aurangzeb often offered gifts and honors to induce people to convert to Islam. Sikh resistance to an order to demolish their temples led to the arrest of Guru Tegh Bahadur; he refused to convert, was convicted of blasphemy, and was beheaded in 1675.
In 1679 Aurangzeb revived the jiziya income tax on non-Muslims, and thousands in Delhi protested in front of the Emperor's balcony. A few days after many were trampled by elephants, they began paying the tax. Although Rajputs in imperial service were exempt from paying the jiziya, their subjects were not. As Rajput nobles lost their privileges, discontent increased. After the death of Maharaja Jaswant Singh Rathor in December 1678, Aurangzeb caused turmoil in Marwar by trying to annex it and raise the prince Ajit Singh in his harem as a Muslim, but Durgadas Rathor escaped with Ajit Singh to Mewar. The Emperor sent an army led by Prince Muhammad Akbar, and they occupied the capital Udaipur, destroying temples. The Rana and cavalry fled to the hills and began a guerrilla campaign. Aurangzeb went back to Ajmer in 1680, leaving Prince Akbar in charge at Chitor; but he rebelled against his father, crowning himself emperor. Akbar with Rajput support from the Rathors and Sisodias marched on Ajmer; but Aurangzeb sent a letter to his son to be intercepted that implied betrayal of the Rajputs, causing them to depart. Akbar had to flee but was given refuge by Durgadas and the Rajputs who learned they were tricked. The Rana of Mewar negotiated a peace that recognized Ran Jai Singh as ruler, and they agreed to pay the jiziya for Mewar. In Marwar resistance against the Mughals continued for a generation. Durgadas stayed in the Deccan for six years and then fought with Ajit against the Mughals for a decade.
Aurangzeb reacted to the threat of Shivaji in Maratha by making peace with Mewar so that he could move his imperial army south to the Deccan. Aurangzeb sent armies into the Maratha kingdom every year; they were able to plunder and burn villages but could not assault the fortresses. In 1684 he sent a Mughal army of 80,000 led by princes Azam and Shah Alam to besiege Bijapur, which was defended by Sikander Adil Shah and a garrison of 30,000 for fifteen months before they surrendered. Meanwhile Shah Alam led the invasion of Golconda; mobs in Hyderabad looted their own city while others fled to the Golconda fort. Sultan Abul Hasan Qutb Shah agreed to dismiss his two Brahmin ministers, pay a war indemnity, and cede territory. The two ministers were murdered by Muslims. When their heads were sent to Aurangzeb, he withdrew the Mughal army to Bijapur.
In October 1686 the English sacked Hughli in Bengal but evacuated it the next year. In 1688 Aurangzeb's navy was fighting English traders on the west coast, but by the end of the next year he had pardoned them and made peace. In 1690 Bengal viceroy Ibrahim Khan invited English agent Job Charnock to found Calcutta. Farther down the east coast the Dutch operated from Pulicat, the English in Madras, and the French at Pondicherry. Refugees from the Mughal-Maratha wars fled into these fortresses. In 1695 English pirates led by Henry Bridgeman plundered 5.2 million rupees and raped the women on the ship Ganj-i Sawai near Surat. Angry Aurangzeb authorized an attack on Bombay which failed. In 1702 the Emperor tried to ban all Mughal trade with the English, Dutch, and French companies.
In 1685 about 4,000 rebels proclaimed Prince Akbar emperor, but his attempt to take Ahmadnagar the next year failed. While Akbar and a few followers chartered a ship and fled to the Persian court in February 1687, the Mughals besieged Golconda. A traitor opened the gate for the assault, and the famous treasure of the Qutb Shahs was found to have more than sixty million rupees in gold and silver. Some Muslim clerics complained that the Emperor made war on fellow Muslims. Aurangzeb appointed a muhtasib to enforce Islamic law and ordered Hindu temples demolished and mosques built. Because his son Shah Alam had tried to negotiate secretly with Sikander Adil Shah and with Abul Hasan Qutb Shah, Aurangzeb had him imprisoned for the next seven years. Aurangzeb sent the Golconda noble Muqarrab Khan to hunt down and kill Shambhaji. Bijapur, Golconda, and Maratha were annexed as Mughal provinces.
In the north Sahibji succeeded her husband Amin Khan in 1698 for two years until Prince Shah Alam arrived in Kabul. In the northeast Gadadhar Singh became king of Ahom in 1681, and the next year in the battle at Itakhuli his forces drove the Mughal imperialists back a hundred kilometers. By the end of Aurangzeb's reign, Ahom king Rudra Singh (r. 1696-1714) was preparing to invade Bengal, where a revolt had broken out in 1696, when Rahim Khan called himself Rahim Shah and led a large army. Aurangzeb sent his grandson Azim-ud-din with cavalry that defeated and killed Rahim Shah near Burdwan in 1698. Preparing for a succession struggle, Azim-ud-din refused to send surplus funds to the Deccan. So in 1701 the Emperor sent Kartalab Khan as diwan (financial administrator) for Bengal, and by stopping the prevalent embezzling he accumulated ten million rupees, which he sent to Aurangzeb in 1702. Prince Azim-ud-din tried to kill Kartalab Khan, and the Emperor had his grandson transferred while honoring Kartalab with the title Murshid Quli Khan and making him governor of Orissa.
Zulfiqar Khan began the siege of Jinji in 1690. While Maratha leader Rajaram was besieged on and off there for eight years, Santaji Ghorpade and others led Maratha raids. Aurangzeb moved his camp in the Deccan between Puna and Bijapur until he established his court at Brahmapuri (renamed Islamapuri) in 1695. That year he sent his son Shah Alam to govern the northwest, and all Hindus except for Rajputs were forbidden to ride on elephants or horses or to carry arms. In 1698 Durgadas restored Akbar's son Buland Akhtar to Aurangzeb, who granted him and Ajit Singh rank (mansab) and tax income (jagir). After five years of truce, the Marwar struggle began again in 1701 when Aurangzeb ordered Durgadas killed for not obeying his summons. After Ajit quarreled with Durgadas, Aurangzeb gave Durgadas his old Gujarat position back in 1705; but the following year a Maratha invasion of Gujarat persuaded Durgadas to rejoin Ajit's quest for independence. Still living in tents, the Emperor ordered a wall built around Islamapuri in 1699. That year Aurangzeb began besieging forts and took a major one each year until he became ill after taking Wagingera in 1705; meanwhile the Marathas were taking back at least as many forts as the Mughals had gained. Lack of rain 1702-04 and the devastating wars caused famine and pestilence that killed two million people. A year before he died in 1707, Aurangzeb regretted his wars and tried to make peace with the Marathas by offering to release Shahuji, but it was too late. After Aurangzeb died, Ajit Singh led his Rathor army to Jodhpur, where he defeated the imperial troops and took over Marwar.
The religious persecution in Aurangzeb's policies and the resulting Maratha war destroyed the Mughal empire. Many officers refused to engage the enemy, and others paid cash or offered services to the Hindus. Peasants were driven off the land as villages were burned, and merchants and caravans suffered from banditry. The Mughals had an imperial army of 170,000 men, but they still could not make the empire of mostly Hindus submit. The imperial treasure was exhausted, and salaries for soldiers and officials were three years in arrears. The religious zeal of Aurangzeb had been intolerant of other cultural activities, and historians regretfully recalled the better eras of Akbar and Shah Jahan. Hindus were disadvantaged economically and had little personal freedom. The elite Mughals were often arrogant and morally degenerate. The prime minister's grandson Mirza Tafakhkhur with ruffians would plunder shops and kidnap Hindu women with impunity. They lived in luxury, but their education in harems was meager. Although Aurangzeb did not drink alcohol, most Muslims secretly did so. Slaves and peasants did the hard work while the surplus produce went to the Muslim aristocrats. Administration of the empire depended on the Mughal military; offices were sold, and corruption was rampant. Aurangzeb worked hard at administration, but his meddling in every aspect of government discouraged initiative. Queens were jealous of each other's sons, as they prepared for the next succession struggle. Islamic government by conquering Muslims was failing badly in the proud and wealthy land of India.
Babur's Mughal brother Kamran invaded Kashmir in 1531; but Kashmiri leaders put aside their differences to drive out the Mughals. After conquering Ladakh and Baltistan, Kashghar sultan Said Khan sent Mirza Haidar Dughlat to invade Kashmir in 1533. Dughlat's troops compelled him to leave Kashmir after he specified certain conditions that included paying tribute to Kashghar. After Muhammad Shah died in 1537, conflicts over the throne enabled Dughlat to return in 1540 and act as regent even though he had just been defeated with Humayun at Kanauj. The Chak tribe appealed to the victorious Sher Shah Sur's Afghans, but the Mughal-Kashmiri army defeated them at Watanar in 1541. Mirza Haidar Dughlat ruled Kashmir for a decade; but his campaigns against Ladakh, Baltistan, Pakhli, and Rajauri wore down Kashmiri support, resulting in a general uprising that killed him in 1550. The Chaks had overthrown foreign domination, and Daulat Chak seized power by deposing Nazuk Shah the next year. He conquered Ladakh and Baltistan but was devastated by an earthquake in 1554.
Ghazi Khan (r. 1555-62) is considered the first Chak sultan of Kashmir, and he defeated attempted invasions by Shah Abul Maali in 1557 and by the Mughal Qara Bahadur in 1561. After suffering frostbite in a campaign to Ladakh, Ghazi Khan abdicated to his brother Husain Shah Chak (r. 1562-69). He passed the throne to another brother Ali Khan, who ruled Kashmir in peace for a decade. His son Yusuf Shah Chak fought his uncle Abdul Chak for the throne but was overthrown by the rebel Saiyid Mubarak Khan, who soon had to abdicate to Lohar Shah Chak. Yusuf Shah then appealed to Akbar, who sent an army to restore him in 1580. Yet Kashmiri nobles threatened to depose Yusuf Shah if he paid homage to Akbar. The Emperor sent an army; but when Yusuf Shah joined them in 1586, he was made a political prisoner for two years. Kashmir was annexed to the Mughal empire by Qasim Khan in 1586.
Akbar visited Kashmir three times, and Emperor Jahangir liked
to reside there for his health. His governor Mirza Ali Akbar Khan
tried to conciliate the Chak rebels with diplomacy and tricks;
he promised them sovereignty but ordered his troops to kill Chaks
before he died in 1616. A plague came to Kashmir the next year
and lasted until 1619. Kishtwar was a refuge for assassins and
rebels, but in 1618 Jahangir sent Governor Dilawar Khan Kakar
with an army of 10,000 men to subdue them. The garrison he left
under Nazr Ullah Arab was small, and he was killed. Another army
led by Jalal failed until the Emperor sent Iradat Khan as governor
to restore law and order. Jahangir appointed Itiqad Khan governor
of Kashmir in 1622, and he punished even more Chak rebels. When
Emperor Shah Jahan learned how oppressive the government of Itiqad
Khan was, he replaced him in 1632 with Zafar Khan. Shah Jahan
proclaimed a farman (imperial decree) specifying which
taxes and policies were to be repealed in Kashmir. In 1634 Shah
Jahan ordered Kashmir governor Zafar Khan to conquer Ladakh and
Baltistan in western Tibet in order to punish Abdal for giving
refuge to Chak rebels, and he made him proclaim Shah Jahan's name
in Friday prayers. The next year Zafar Khan's favoring of Shi'a
against Sunnis provoked a riot that burned Shi'a homes. In 1637
Abdal relapsed in his obedience, and Zafar Khan invaded with a
Mughal army of 12,000, making Abdal pay an indemnity of one million
rupees. During the half century of Aurangzeb's reign, Kashmir
had twelve Mughal governors. Ibrahim Khan (r. 1678-85) was dismissed
after his protection of Shi'a relatives caused a brief civil war
with the Sunnis.
In Tibet after Gedun Gyatso died at the Drepung monastery in
1542, Sonam Gyatso (1543-88) was accepted as his reincarnation.
The Gelugpa sect was the main rival of the Karmapas. After nine
years of suppression by the Tsang governor, Drepung monks attacked
Karmapa military camps in 1546. Sonam Gyatso was invited to Nedong
by the Gongma in 1559 and became the ruler's personal teacher.
The next year Sonam Gyatso mediated a dispute between the Gelugpa
and the Kagyupa in Lhasa that local lamas had failed to solve.
Sonam Gyatso traveled to Mongolia and converted the leading prince
Altan Khan of the Tumed Mongols in 1578. Altan Khan gave him the
title Talé (Dalai) meaning "Ocean" to imply the
depth of his learning. Alta Khan proclaimed that he had changed
an ocean of blood into an ocean of milk, and he banned the Mongols'
human and animal sacrifices for the deceased. Sonam Gyatso was
the third Dalai Lama, and in 1580 he founded the Lithang monastery
in Kham. He visited Dhuring Khan in 1585 and died on his way back
to Tibet three years later.
Altan Khan's great-grandson was accepted as the fourth Dalai Lama, Yonten Gyatso, in 1601. He studied under the Tashilhunpo lama Lozang Chosgyan, who was given the title Panchen Lama, which means "great scholar." In 1605 the Tsang chief Karma Tensung Wangpo attacked Lhasa and expelled the Mongols who had escorted the Dalai Lama into Tibet. The Dalai Lama visited the Choskhorgyal monastery and was also welcomed by others, but attendants blocked a meeting with the Karmapa red-hats. Karma Tensung died in 1611 and was succeeded by his son Karma Phuntsok Namgyal, who was also denied an audience with the Dalai Lama. The fourth Dalai Lama died at Drepung in 1617, and the next year Karma Phuntsok Namgyal attacked Lhasa. Several Gelugpa monasteries in U were forced to convert to the Karmapa sect. The late Dalai Lama's attendant Sonam Chospel found a child he believed was the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, and he was named Ngawang Lozang Gyatso. Some Mongol troops returned to Tibet disguised as pilgrims in 1619 and the next year killed Tsang troops in a surprise attack on their camp. They agreed to leave Tibet when two conditions were met: the Tsang military camps were abolished, and the monasteries that had been forced to convert were restored as Gelugpa. After Phuntsok Namgyal died in 1622, two officials governed well for his sixteen-year-old son Karma Tenkyong, allowing the fifth Dalai Lama to reveal himself. Two Portuguese Jesuits arrived at Shigatse in 1627; but their mission had little success, and they left in 1632.
In 1635 Karma Tenkyong persuaded the Chogthu Mongols led by prince Arsalang to invade Tibet with 10,000 men to eliminate the Gelugpa sect. Qoshot Mongol chief Gushri Khan learned of this and intervened. Arsalang then went with his personal attendants and prostrated himself before the fifth Dalai Lama. When Arsalang's father learned of this, he sent agents who assassinated his son. Gushri Khan gathered a Mongol army and attacked Chogthu camps in 1637, and the next year he came with pilgrims to the Dalai Lama for religious instruction. Gushri Khan intercepted a letter from Karma Tenkyong saying he approved of religious freedom for all except the Gelugpa. In 1639 the Dalai Lama advised Gushri Khan not to attack, but his chief attendant Sonam Chospel disagreed and sent a message approving of Gushri's planned invasion. Sonam Chospel continued to support the war efforts of Gushri Khan until Shigatse was captured in 1642. Karma Tenkyong was imprisoned; Sonam Chospel was appointed Desi (prime minister), and the Dalai Lama proclaimed Lhasa the capital of Tibet. Gushri Khan and Sonam Chospel suppressed an uprising, killing 7,000 Kongpo troops; but after Karma Tenkyong was executed, the revolt ended.
The fifth Dalai Lama founded the building of the Potala palace in 1645. The Tibetans suffered a minor defeat by the Bhutanese in 1647. The next year several Kagyupa monasteries were forced to convert to the Gelugpa sect, and a portion of taxes were designated to support monasteries. The Dalai Lama visited the Chinese emperor in 1653 and was well received. Gushri proclaimed himself king; but after he died in 1655, his successors exerted little power. The fifth Dalai Lama thus became an independent ruler, and he tried to protect the Qoshot and Khalka tribes from the Dzungar Mongols. After Lozang Chosgyan died in 1662, the Dalai Lama recognized a boy as his reincarnation and the second Panchen Lama. A revolt broke out in eastern Kham, and twenty rebels were going to be executed; but the Dalai Lama changed the sentences to life imprisonment. He wrote to the Chinese emperor that Tibetan troops could not fight well in China because of the difference in climate. In 1676 Tibetan troops were sent to force invading Bhutanese out of Sikkim. The Dalai Lama sent Tibetan and Mongol troops to make the Ladakhis stop harassing the Gelugpa monasteries. He did much to unify Tibet and establish consistent and just taxation. The fifth Dalai Lama also instilled religious discipline and promoted literary works until he died in 1682.
The scholar Sangyé Gyatso, possibly the son of the fifth Dalai Lama, had become Desi in 1679. He concealed the Dalai Lama's death for fourteen years while he fulfilled his administrative functions. After the Potala palace was completed in 1695, Sangyé announced the Dalai Lama had died in 1682. The sixth Dalai Lama was enthroned as Tsangyang Gyatso in 1697; but he refused to take the vows of a monk and spent time drinking and with girls. He suspected the Desi of instigating an assassination attempt that failed and forced Sangyé to resign in 1703. However, the new Desi was his son Ngawang Rinchen, and Sangyé still had much influence. Gushri Khan's grandson Lhazang Khan became Qoshot chief in 1697 and did not like the sixth Dalai Lama's behavior. Lhazang Khan was marching a Mongol army toward Lhasa in 1705 when representatives of the three large monasteries mediated the conflict. The ex-Desi was to leave Lhasa, and Lhazang Khan would return to Kokonor; but after Sangyé was captured and executed, Lhazang Khan entered Lhasa and took control of the government. The sixth Dalai Lama was deposed and escorted into exile. Angry Tibetans objected; but Tsangyang himself calmed them down until they learned that he had died by Kokonor Lake. Lhazang declared that he was not the true sixth Dalai Lama and appointed 25-year-old Ngawang Yeshe Gyatso, probably his son, as the authentic sixth Dalai Lama; but Tibetans did not recognize him and found a child in a place indicated by Tsangyang's poetry.
Krishna Deva Raya chose his half-brother Achyuta Deva Raya as his successor in Vijayanagara; but he was challenged by Krishna Deva's son-in-law Rama Raya and took him as a partner in his administration. A rebellion in the south was suppressed, and then Achyuta invaded Bijapur and recovered Raichur. Rama Raya appointed his friends and relatives, took 3,000 Muslim soldiers into his service, and in 1535 put Achyuta in prison, proclaiming himself king. Southern nobles rebelled against Rama Raya. While he was fighting them, the officer holding Achyuta restored him to the throne and became his prime minister; but he was murdered by Salakaraju Tirumala, who governed for his brother-in-law Achyuta. Ibrahim 'Adil Shah of Bijapur invaded Vijayanagara and got Achyuta and Rama Raya to agree before returning to his now independent kingdom. After Achyuta Raya died in 1542, his son Venkata I succeeded; but he was strangled by his brother Tirumala I, who massacred the royal family to seize the throne.
This stimulated Rama Raya to take control in the name of Sadashiva. Rama Raya tried to revive Vijayanagara power but intervened in the quarrels of the Deccan sultanate. In 1552 Rama Raya was crowned king and employed Muslim mercenaries to fight and gain intelligence. He was a Vaisnava but tolerated all religions. Rama Raya made a commercial treaty with the Portuguese in 1547; but he attacked them in 1558 at San Thomé and Goa. The same year Vijayanagara joined Deccan allies Bijapur, Bidar, and Golconda in invading Ahmadnagar. This alienated many in the Deccan, and they inflicted a devastating defeat on the Vijayanagara army in 1565. Rama Raya was killed; the city of Vijayanagara was sacked of its wealth as Muslims destroyed its great Hindu temple. Armed competition between the Telegu houses prevented the restoring of the royal authority. However, Rama Raya's brother Tirumala divided Vijayanagara into three parts - the Telegu, the Karnataka, and Tamil, governed by his three sons. Tirumala was crowned in 1570 but soon abdicated to his son Sri Ranga (r. 1572-85) and retired to a religious life. Invasions by Bijapur and Golconda reduced his territory. However, Venkata II (r. 1586-1614) reconquered these areas and subdued the nobles trying to be independent.
In 1614 a war of succession began that lasted until Ramadevaraya
(r. 1618-30) gained the Vijayanagara throne. He faced numerous
rebellions, and the reign of Venkata III (r. 1630-41) was also
marred by a civil war for five years. He was opposed by his nephew
Sriranga III (r. 1642-49), who formed an alliance with the Bijapur
sultan and recovered the Udayagiri fort that Golconda had seized.
He defeated the Golconda until they got Bijapur to take their
side. In the south the Nayaks united and rebelled. Mughal emperor
Shah Jahan urged the sultans to partition the empire of Karnataka
and annex Vijayanagara. Mustafa Khan led the Bijapur army from
the north, and the Nayaks advanced from the south, while Golconda
besieged the Udayagiri fort in the east. Sriranga was trapped
and defeated, retreating into the Vellore fort. The Bijapur army
went on to conquer the Nayak kingdoms of Jinji and Tanjore. In
1649 Sriranga fled to Mysore, marking the end of the Vijayanagara
The Maratha country in the western Deccan was protected by mountain ranges, but its poor agricultural resources stimulated self-reliance, courage, simplicity, and social equality. Its Hindu religious reformers included Ekanatha, Tukaram, Ramdas, and Vaman Pandit. Shivaji's guru Ramdas Samarth taught social reform and spiritual regeneration through his schools and book Dasabodha. While Shivaji Bhonsla (1627-80) was a child and was raised by his mother, his father Shahji struggled to govern part of Nizam Shah; but he was defeated by the Mughals in 1636. He was given a position and summoned to the Bijapur court in 1643, when his son Shivaji refused to bow. After Bijapur sultan Muhammad Adil Shah became ill in 1646, Shivaji began taking over forts and became independent in the western Deccan. The death of Shivaji's influential mother in 1647 freed him to use force, bribery, and treachery to take over more forts. Shahji helped Bijapur's Muhammad 'Adil Shah (r. 1627-56) conquer the Vijayanagara empire; but he was arrested by the Bijapuri commander Mustafa in 1648, and the conditions of his release the next year persuaded his son Shivaji to be cooperative through 1655. Then Shivaji sent an agent to assassinate the ruler of Javli and took it over. After Muhammad 'Adil Shah died in November 1656, Prince Aurangzeb invaded. In 1657 Shivaji raided Mughal districts in Ahmadnagar and looted the city of Junnar. In 1659 Bijapur's 'Ali Adil Shah II (r. 1656-72) sent Afzal Khan, who tried to strangle Shivaji in his tent but was killed by Shivaji in the struggle; Shivaji's Maratha troops then slaughtered the Bijapur soldiers.
By the 1660s Shivaji was paying 10,000 cavalry and 50,000 infantry, and he procured guns, naval supplies, and technical advice from the Portuguese and British. In 1660 Deccan governor Shaista Khan had difficulty occupying only one of Shivaji's forts at Puna. Shivaji led a night raid on Puna in 1663, wounding Shaista Khan and killing his son and several of his wives. Shaista Khan was replaced by Muazzam. In January 1664 Shivaji raided the important port of Surat, and his troops carried off valuables worth ten million rupees. Then Shivaji's navy captured ships going to Mecca and extorted ransoms from the pilgrims. His cavalry even raided the suburbs of the Deccan capital at Aurangabad. Aurangzeb sent his best general Jai Singh to assemble a large army at Puna in 1665. They attacked the hill fortress of Purandhar and besieged the Marathas for two months. Guided by a dream not to fight a Hindu prince, Shivaji negotiated a treaty, surrendering 23 fortresses while retaining a dozen; he agreed to be a Mughal vassal and pay tribute, and his son Shambhaji was given a high rank at court. Shivaji visited Aurangzeb's court at Agra in 1666; when he reacted to being snubbed, he was detained in May but three months later escaped with his son in baskets. Shivaji got along with Governor Muazzam and made peace with Bijapur and Golconda.
After spending twenty million rupees from the imperial treasury during two years of war in Bijapur, Aurangzeb made peace with Shivaji and even proclaimed him a raja in 1668; but the Emperor's orders to destroy Hindu temples and schools the next year provoked renewed rebellion. In 1670 Shivaji began recovering his forts and with 15,000 men plundered Surat of another 6.5 million rupees in goods, depressing the trade of the port. In 1672 the rulers of Bijapur and Golconda died, and the next year Shivaji recaptured Panhala from Bijapur and Satara. In 1674 Shivaji crowned himself a Hindu monarch in a ceremony that cost five million rupees. Shivaji ruled autocratically but chose his ministers by merit. He had eight ministers, who were all military commanders except the religious minister and chief judge. He divided his kingdom into provinces and appointed viceroys with eight ministers each. Taxes were set at 30% of the produce in cash or kind, but this was later raised to 40%. Each fort was under three officers of equal status. Shivaji commanded that no female was to accompany the army, and any soldier violating this could be beheaded. Even in battle he insisted that women, non-combatants, and mosques be respected, and he treated prisoners honorably. He practiced religious toleration and gave captured Qur'ans to his Muslim friends. He made a truce with the Mughal governor of the Deccan while forming a defensive alliance with Golconda against the Mughals. It took him more than a year to take over the Bijapur Karnatak bastions at Jinji and Vellore.
In 1678 Shivaji decided to divide his kingdom between his two sons Shambhaji and Rajaram at his death. His oldest son Shambhaji was disappointed, and after being disgraced for raping a prominent Brahmin woman, he escaped to form an alliance with Deccan governor Dilir Khan. Aurangzeb made Shambhaji a raja with a very high rank and large income. However, after fighting for the Mughals for a year, Shambhaji returned to the Bhonsla court. Meanwhile Shivaji wrote letters to Aurangzeb complaining about jiziya taxes imposed on Hindus in 1679 and asking for equality. He wrote to Aurangzeb, "Islam and Hinduism are only different pigments used by the Divine Painter to picture the human species."1
Shivaji died of fever in March 1680, and his oldest wife Sorya Bai proclaimed her son Rajaram king. Shambhaji deposed him without harming him but executed Rajaram's mother and some two hundred of her followers. Shambhaji continued the raiding; but, unlike his father, he allowed raping with the plundering. Extorted zamindars (landlords) had to pay 25% of their revenue. After Prince Akbar proclaimed himself emperor in January 1681, Shambhaji with 20,000 horsemen invaded Khandesh and plundered prosperous Burhanpur. Akbar fled, and Shambhaji avoided fighting the Mughal army. He bombarded the Siddis at Janjira in 1682 and went to war against the Portuguese the next year, forcing the Goa viceroy to retreat from a siege at Phonda in October; but Akbar mediated a peace between Shambhaji and the Portuguese in January 1684. Four months later Shambhaji made a treaty with the English at Bombay.
While the Mughals were besieging Bijapur in 1685, a Jat zamindar also named Rajaram led an uprising and plundered traffic on the royal road to Agra. In 1687 Rajaram killed the Mughal commander Uighur Khan, and Aurangzeb sent his grandson Bidar Bakht; but the Jats avoided him and looted Akbar's tomb at Sikandra. Finally the imperial troops captured the Jat strongholds at Sinsini and Soghor, suppressing the revolt by 1691.
Shambhaji and his Brahmin chief minister Kavi-Kulash were captured
in 1688, tried by the 'ulama, tortured, and brutally killed.
Rajaram claimed the throne but was forced to escape disguised
as a hermit. He adopted the strategy of dispersing the royal family
and continuous guerrilla warfare. The Marathas began persecuting
those who accepted Aurangzeb's rewards. Prince Shahu and three
hundred of Shivaji's other relatives were captured and imprisoned
the next year, as Maratha was annexed by the Mughal empire. Maratha
raids plundered Hyderabad until 1692 when they turned their attention
to the siege at Jinji, which did not fall to the Mughals until
1698. The best Maratha guerrilla warrior Santaji Ghorpade had
quarreled with Rajaram and was killed in 1696. Rajaram escaped
to Satara in 1698 and then led a Maratha army into Khandesh and
Berar. Aurangzeb sent prince Bidar Bakht with a large army that
defeated the Marathas near Ahmadnagar. Rajaram fled again to the
Singuharh fort, where he died of illness in 1700. News of this
caused the commander Subhanji at Satara to surrender and serve
the Mughals. Shambhaji's widowed queen Yesu Bai ruled as regent
for her four-year-old son Shambhaji II and offered to submit if
her son were given a high rank. In the next five years eleven
Maratha strongholds fell to the imperial armies, but in 1702 a
Maratha army of 50,000 attacked and looted Hyderabad. Amid war,
drought, famine, and an epidemic, the long-distance caravans ceased
for two years. In 1706 the Marathas raided Gujarat and sacked
Baroda, and their large army even threatened the Emperor's camp
On the northern tip of Sri Lanka, Jaffna king Cankili (r. 1519-61)
feared the spread of Christianity from the Mannar coast, and he
forced his subjects to renounce the new religion, executing 600
who refused. Madura's Visvanatha Nayaka (r. 1529-64) attacked
the Christian settlements in 1560. Cankili's successor Puviraja
Pandaram (r. 1561-70) was overthrown by Periyapulle (r. 1570-82)
with help from the Portuguese; but Puviraja Pandaram came back
to rule (1582-91) and attacked the Portuguese at Mannar. He was
killed when the Portuguese led by Andre Furtado de Mendoça
invaded Jaffna and installed Ethirimanna Cinkam (r. 1591-1615),
who promised to favor Christianity. When he died, his nephew Cankili
Kumara killed all the princes except the three-year-old heir and
acted as regent, telling the Portuguese he would not aid the rebels.
However, in 1618 a rebellion against him led by Christians caused
him to get troops from Madura's Raghunatha Nayaka (r. 1600-34).
The next year a Portuguese expedition led by Filipe de Oliveira
came from Colombo and annexed Jaffna, capturing Cankili. By 1621
Ranunatha Nayaka's resistance was quelled. De Oliveira raised
taxes to pay for his army and promoted Christian missionary efforts.
Hindus, resenting the destruction of their temples, joined a force
from Kandy in 1628; but the Portuguese, after retreating into
their fort, defeated them. The Portuguese used Sinhalese troops
to guard this Tamil kingdom.
The Portuguese built their first fort in Sri Lanka at Colombo in 1519 and were resented by the Muslim traders. Bhuvanekabahu (r. 1521-51) came to terms with the Portuguese; their fort was dismantled in 1524, and two years later they persuaded the king to expel the Muslim merchants. In 1533 Bhuvanekabahu agreed to increase the cinnamon given to the Portuguese as tribute to 415,000 pounds; but the Portuguese had to buy all the cinnamon in the royal storehouses. Mayadunne (r. 1521-81) favored the Muslim traders, and his Sitavaka kingdom fought two wars with Kotte, which was aided by the Portuguese. In 1540 the Portuguese made Bhuvanekabahu designate his grandson Dharmapala as his heir, instead of his brother Mayadunne. Franciscans tried to convert Bhuvanekabahu, but he refused to change his religion. In 1545 Kotte and Sitavaka combined to defeat Udarata before Kandy's Jayavira Bandara (r. 1521-51) could get help from the Portuguese. Then Sitavaka forced Kandy to expel the Portuguese, who helped Kotte defeat Sitavaka in 1550. Bhuvanekabahu was shot dead by a Portuguese soldier, but the Portuguese claimed it was an accident.
Mayadunne proclaimed himself king of Kotte; but the Portuguese favored Dharmapala, who was educated by Franciscans. Using a large army, they defeated Sitavaka, seized the treasury at Kotte, put Dharmapala (r. 1551-97) on the throne, and rebuilt the fort at Colombo. The Portuguese also supported Karaliyadde Bandara (r. 1552-81) as he overthrew his Kandyan father Jayavira, who fled to Sitavaka. Dharmapala's father Vidiye Bandara escaped from prison in 1553 and raised anti-Portuguese forces; he was aided by Karaliyadde, but in 1555 Mayadunne helped the Portuguese defeat them, Sitivaka gaining most of the spoils. In 1557 Dharmapala converted to Catholicism, and he confiscated temple lands, giving them to Franciscans. Monks in Kotte rioted, and thirty were executed. The Kotte army declined; but Karaliyadde became a Christian and kept Sitavaka forces from capturing the capital in 1563. Two years later the Portuguese abandoned Kotte by retreating to Colombo, letting Sitavaka control the cinnamon.
Sitavaka attacked Kandy in 1574, provoking the Portuguese to ravage the southwest coast with their navy. Mayadunne was succeeded by his son, the effective general Rajasimha (r. 1581-93), who ended his two-year siege of Colombo. He raised taxes, defeated Kandy in 1581, and controlled most of Sri Lanka. Like the Portuguese, Rajasimha kept cinnamon prices high by burning excess stocks. Colombo was besieged again for three years until Kandy revolted in 1590. Seven Korales also rebelled, and Rajasimha withdrew his forces from Udarata. When two of his commanders gave up stockades to the Portuguese, Rajasimha had them beheaded. After failing to quell the revolt in Udarata, Rajasimha died of an infected wound in 1593. The Portuguese, assisted by a former Sitavaka general, took over Sitavaka. In 1595 Colombo was given a private monopoly on the export of cinnamon. Dharmapala died in 1597, leaving his throne to the king of Portugal.
Konappu Bandara ruled Kandy as Vimala Dharma Suriya (r. 1592-1604); but he was resented by Catholics because he had reverted to Buddhism. Sinhalese rebellions were put down in 1594 and again in 1603 after the Portuguese invaded Kandy. Nikapitiye Bandara claimed to be the grandson of Rajasimha and led a revolt in 1616; he had followers in the Seven Korales. An uprising in the southern area of Kotte gained strength when Kandy king Senerath (r. 1604-35) sent Kuruwita Rala; but Senerath changed his mind and made a treaty with the Portuguese in 1617. Kuruwita Rala asked the Sitavaka prince Mayadunne of Denwaka to be the leader, and it took three years for the combined forces of Kandy and the Portuguese to subdue them. The Portuguese feared the Dutch trade and violated the treaty by building forts at Trincomalee in 1623 and Batticaloa in 1628, the latter causing a war with Kandy, which the Portuguese invaded twice. The Kandyan attempt to besiege Colombo in 1630 failed the next year, and the 1633 treaty let the Portuguese keep the forts.
Senerath was succeeded by his son Rajasimha II (r. 1635-87); but Portuguese support for his political enemies caused him to appeal to the Dutch in 1636. The Portuguese set Kandy on fire but were surrounded and annihilated at Gannoruwa two years later; only 33 out of 700 Portuguese survived as prisoners, and nearly half their auxiliaries were killed while the rest fled. The Dutch made a treaty to defend Rajasimha in exchange for expenses and a monopoly on the cinnamon trade. The Dutch returned to Kandy the Trincomalee and Batticoloa forts they seized from the Portuguese in 1638, but they kept the Galle and Negombo forts they took in 1640 to protect the cinnamon peeling areas. The Dutch kept them, because Rajasimha could not pay the expenses the Dutch had exaggerated. A seven-year truce between the Dutch and Portuguese ended in 1652, and Rajasimha helped the Dutch push the Portuguese out as they conquered Colombo in 1656 and Jaffna in 1658. Using Sri Lanka as a base, the Dutch were able to drive the Portuguese off the Malabar coast of India by 1663. The wars of the 16th century and early 17th century caused prosperity and population in Sri Lanka to decline, though cinnamon production greatly increased in the 17th century. The Portuguese Christians were hated as invaders and destroyers of temples; but social acceptance of polygamy and polyandry decreased.
Rycloff Van Goens was the Dutch governor of Sri Lanka and aimed to project Dutch power from there. In 1659 the Dutch seized Kalpitiya; in 1665 they moved into Sabaragamuwa; and by 1667 they had occupied the Four Korales. They reoccupied the Trincomalee and Batticaloa forts, and in 1670 they announced their monopoly on the export of elephants, areca nuts, and pearls, and on the importation of cotton goods, pepper, and minerals. Rising prices caused shortages in food and clothing for many, and smuggling increased. The Kandyans tried to form an alliance with the French; but they refused to fight the Dutch and were driven off in 1672. Sporadic uprisings became worse by 1675, and the Dutch tried to reduce military expenses by promising peace and flattering the elderly Rajasimha. Laurens Pyl became Dutch governor in 1681 and used more restraint. The main Dutch concern was protecting their monopoly on cinnamon. Kandyans under Vimala Dharma Suriya II (r. 1687-1707) tried to participate in trade with India after 1694, but the Dutch reimposed tight control in 1703.
Viceroy Nuno da Cunha (r. 1529-38) established Portuguese settlements on the east coast of India near Madras and at Hughli in Bengal. Goa on the west coast became the capital of Portuguese India in 1530. Diu in Kathiawar was captured in 1535 and was defended against a Turkish navy and the Gujarat sultan three years later and against Gujarat again in 1546. Joao de Castro (r. 1545-48) defeated Bijapur forces attacking Goa, but in 1546 the Turks took the Persian Gulf port of Basra. So many private ships were violating the King's monopoly that the Portuguese began licensing them so that they could collect customs duties from them. Trading ships were required to have a pass called a cartaz. Ships without it could have their goods confiscated and their crews killed. Modern historian R. S. Whiteway considered the Portuguese governors after Castro superstitious, corrupt, and lazy.
Portuguese envoys to Constantinople turned down a proposal to allow Turks in the Indian Ocean, though they offered to pay Portuguese duties and give them access to all Red Sea ports with factories in Basra, Cairo, and Alexandria. The Portuguese lost a fort near Calicut in a land battle in 1570. Eventually the Portuguese provided protective ships called cafilas for large fleets of small boats. The Portuguese also tried to control the horse trade from Arabia and Persia. In 1574 the Church forced buyers to come to Goa for horses, because a Papal Bull had forbidden selling them to infidels. Although Muslims were killed, captured Portuguese were often ransomed. After El-Ksar el-Kehir in 1578 several Portuguese families were nearly bankrupted buying back their relatives.
After 1540 the Portuguese settlements were dominated by the Catholic priests. That year all temples in Goa were ordered destroyed, and the next year their lands were turned over to the priests. Goa had been given a bishop in 1538 and was declared an archbishopric in 1557. Jesuits led by Francis Xavier arrived in 1542 and converted thousands of fishermen. The Jesuits brought a printing press in 1556. By 1560 the Inquisition was established and began burning unbelievers and apostates. Nestorian Christians were so persecuted that they preferred to trade their pepper with Muslims. In 1561 Catholics in Sri Lanka captured the tooth believed to be the Buddha's. Although the king of Pegu offered more than 300,000 cruzados and a perpetual supply of rice for Melaka, the viceroy D. Constantino de Bragança had the tooth burned, ground up, and scattered at sea. A synod at Diamper in 1599 tried to suppress the Syrian Christianity of Malabar. The Catholics were so hated by the Hindus that many considered converts as losing caste but did not treat Muslim converts that way. By 1600 there were about 175,000 Christians in India, but most of these were low-caste fishers and pearl divers.
In 1595 a Dutch fleet defied the Portuguese maritime empire by rounding the Cape of Good Hope. They formed the Dutch United East India Company in 1602, and the next year they blockaded Goa. The king of Arakan (in Burma) killed 6,000 of the hated Portuguese in 1607. The Dutch established a fortified settlement on the east coast north of Madras in 1610. On the west coast of India an English squadron led by David Middleton defeated the Portuguese fleet off Bombay in 1611 and put a factory at Surat the next year. The British navy decisively defeated the Portuguese off Swally in 1615. The English also established factories at Ahmadabad, Burhanpur, and Agra. English ambassador Thomas Roe in 1618 got Emperor Jahangir to grant trade with exemption from inland tolls. The Mughals destroyed the settlement at Hughli in 1632, imprisoning more than a thousand Portuguese; but the same year the Golconda sultan granted free trade from its ports. In 1639 Francis Day got the lease from the declining Vijayanagara empire to build Fort St. George at Madras. In 1651 the English got permission to build a factory at Hughli. When Shivaji's Marathas sacked Surat in 1664, English president Oxenden held out in the governor's castle and was honored by Aurangzeb. The French fortified Pondicherry, and in 1672 they occupied San Thomé near Madras.
In 1661 the Portuguese, as part of a dowry in the marriage of England's Charles II, gave him Bombay. Gerald Aungier, as president of Surat and governor of Bombay (1669-77), established laws, a police force, a militia, and fortified the port for the use of merchants of all classes and castes. Aungier granted concessions to end the first mutiny at Bombay in 1674. The men complained they had not been paid in a month and wanted to be paid in rupees. The leader of the mutiny was court martialed and executed. When the Mughals and Marathas clashed in Bombay harbor in 1679, the English remained neutral. In 1682 John Child became president of Surat and governor of Bombay. The next year London ordered him to cut costs, and these provoked Kegwig's rebellion that took over a ship with 50,000 pounds in gold. Kegwig governed Bombay for a year and was pardoned when the gold was returned. The export of cotton cloth by India increased six-fold from 1664 to 1684 by trade with the English and Dutch east India companies, but after 1689 the saturated market began declining. In exchange India imported mostly precious metals from the new world; between 1681 and 1685 the British East India Company exported 240,000 kg of silver and 7,000 kg of gold to Mughal India. An English colony on the island of St. Helena provided vegetables and fresh fruit for English sailors, but punishments of rebellion were harsh. When protestors demanded the release of an innocent prisoner in 1684, seventeen of them were killed or wounded; then nineteen were condemned to death.
Conflict escalated in October 1686 when Hughli governor Job Charnock reacted to the abuse of three English soldiers with reprisals that spiked guns, captured a ship, and burned houses, killing sixty while only one Englishman died. In negotiations Charnock demanded an indemnity of 6.6 million rupees. When 700 cavalry attacked the island, Charnock moved back to the fortification at Sutanati, which Company director and captain William Heath later named Calcutta. Others went to Madras, where Governor Elihu Yale (1687-92) helped the settlement get a corporation, a mayor, and aldermen. Shaista Khan proposed that the English help them fight Arakan pirates. In 1689 Company directors approved the settlement of Sutanati, and Charnock established a factory there the next year. During the Mughal-English war 1688-90, the English at Surat captured at least 14 ships; yet all but the castle was lost at Bombay, and they had to agree to restore all plundered goods and ships and pay Aurangzeb an indemnity. War and plague reduced more than 700 English at Bombay to sixty. In 1691 Bengal governor Ibrahim Khan exempted the English from customs duties for 3,000 rupees a year.
After the English revolution of 1688, the Whig party supported free trade and what the monopolists of the Company called "interlopers." In 1693 Josiah Child used 80,000 pounds in bribes to get the Company a new charter from the Privy Council, and the next year the House of Commons passed a law allowing equal access to trade. In 1697 the Mughal empire allowed the English to defend themselves against the Afghan rulers of Bengal, and the next year they granted them land at Calcutta for collecting taxes. That year the Whig party in the House of Commons started a new company. Two million pounds were raised in two days, but they went into the Exchequer for the charter. In 1701 Emperor Aurangzeb decreed the cessation of all European trade and the seizure of their goods because they were not protecting Indian shipping. The next year the two companies decided to merge, and this was accomplished in 1708.
The Bhakti movement of religious devotion spread as one of its greatest proponents Shankaradeva was born in the mid-15th century in Assam. He was a scholar, poet, painter, composer, musician, playwright, actor, dancer, and choreographer; he interpreted the Bhagavata Purana and preached recitation of the name of Krishna. Shankaradeva's chief disciple Madhavadeva promoted Vaishnavism in his Namaghosha and wrote five devotional plays.
Tulsidas was born about 1532, probably at Rajapur in Uttar Pradesh, and he died in 1623. His parents abandoned him, and the child had to beg from door to door until he was adopted by the Ramanandi sadhu Narahari, sixth in the line of spiritual descent from Ramananda. Tulsidas moved to Benares, where he spent most of his life. Shesasanatana-ji taught him the Vedas, Vedangas, Darshanas, Itihasas, and Puranas. After fifteen years of study Tulsidas returned to Rajapur but could find no one from his family. He married Ratnavali, but their son died in infancy. He was devoted to his wife and followed her when she went to visit her parents, crossing a river. She reprimanded him for following her, saying that if he had devoted the love he had for her to the Lord Rama, he would not have to worry about rebirth. So he went back to Benares and became an ascetic votary of Rama.
Tulsidas began his poetic masterpiece Ramacaritamanasa in March 1574. He dreamed that Shiva commanded him to write it in the vernacular Awadhi Hindi. He also wrote many other devotional poems about Rama and Krishna. Valmiki's epic Ramayana was the basis for many poems, but Tulsidas was also influenced by devotional poems such as the Adhyatma Ramayana of the 14th century. After quarreling with the Vairagis of Ayodhya, he left that city to return to Benares, where he completed Ramacaritamanasa in less than three years.
Tulsidas completed the transformation of Rama from an epic
hero to the divine incarnation of Vishnu by omitting incidents
of questionable moral character. Legends are told to account for
the birth of Ravan in a demonic family. Rama's wife Sita is also
presented as being pure of stain by having her enter the fire
before she is seized by Ravan. Rama explains that the only purpose
of his accusation was to prove her innocence publicly. She is
considered the incarnation of Lakshmi. This poem presents the
good news of salvation to the Vaisnavas, going beyond the chivalrous
hero to offer complete liberation from an evil era to those from
any caste who have faith, love, and adoration for the Lord Rama.
Tulsidas is believed to have begun the tradition of presenting
annual performances of Ram Lila in the towns of north India
played in mime as the poem is chanted, the performance taking
three weeks. Tulsidas upheld the caste system, suggesting in his
poetry that a Brahmin should be revered even if he is not good,
and Sudras should not be respected no matter how virtuous and
learned they may be. He has also been criticized for his opinions
about women as inherently impure and as only being valuable for
serving their husbands and raising their children faithfully.
Ekanatha (1533-99) was a very literate mystic who edited the Jnanesvari of Jnanadeva (1271-95). He wrote voluminous spiritual literature and composed didactic Abhangas extolling the spiritual life while warning against others' women and wealth. In his ethics he elucidated the ideas of Jnanadeva from the Bhagavad-Gita, and he especially recommended mental purity, internal penance, retirement, and tolerating the defects and slanders of others. Ekanatha advised those in the world to fulfill their duties. He went beyond devotion (bhakti) and taught that discriminating between the real and unreal is important knowledge. The mind can be purified by discharging duties and constant prayer to God while not being attached to worldly objects.
Tukaram (1608-49) was born into a Sudra family, but his father inherited a revenue-collecting office and was a trader with a fine farm in Dehu. His parents died while he was a youth, and during the famine of 1629 he lost his first wife and children; he also became bankrupt and lost his position as well as his farm. Though criticized by his second wife for not earning a living, Tukaram became a reclusive mystic. In a dream the saintly poet Namadeva (1270-1350) told him to write poetry to the deity Vitthal (Vishnu). Tuka repaired the ancestral shrine to Vitthal and wrote several thousand poems, mostly in the Abhanga metric. He chanted the "Rama Krishna Hari" mantram he received in an initiatory dream with Babaji, finding comfort from his calamities in the name of God. Some of his poems were advice to his angry wife. She said that for the sake of God, her husband had entered into relationship with the whole world.
Tukaram was most influenced by the mystics Jnanadeva, Kabir, Ramananda, and Ekanatha. He described the miserable conditions of Hindus suffering under Mughal domination and believed that misery would not disappear without heroism. Some brahmins objected to this Sudra writing poetry in Marathi, and they threw his poems into a river. Tukaram went on a fast to death, but after thirteen days the poems were found undamaged. Ramesvarbhatta hated Tukaram but eventually became his disciple. Like Ekanatha, Tuka advised spiritual aspirants to avoid the wives and wealth of others. He also warned against flattery, egoism of the body, and forgetting God. He recommended meditating on God and telling the truth. He believed a spiritual teacher should regard his disciples as gods and expect only that they will serve God. Tukaram disappeared in 1649, and his body was never found.
Ramdas Samarth (1608-81) ran away from home rather than be married at the age of twelve. He practiced religious austerity at Takali for twelve years, and in a vision he was initiated by Rama. After 1632 he spent twelve years traveling. He may have met Tukaram, and it was reported that he initiated Shivaji in 1649. After Shivaji was crowned in 1674, he spent six weeks living with Ramdas at Sajjanagada, using much money to feed the poor. Ramdas advised the Hindu revolutionary to adorn his body, not with clothes and ornaments, but with shrewdness and wisdom. He lamented the lack of intellect in many Brahmins under the Mughal domination, and he urged them to become true Brahmins with supremacy in worldly and spiritual matters. He believed that those who help to re-establish the sovereignty of God are incarnations of God. Ramdas wrote his major poem Dasabodha in 1659. He argued that self-knowledge is more powerful than religious vows or charities or yoga or pilgrimages. The eternal form of God is the knower. Ramdas described four levels of worship from images to incarnations to the self and finally to the absolute God, who is the inner self and the real doer. A saint is always looking at this self and does not care about the worldly life but teaches knowledge of the self. A friend of God is bound in God's love and behaves only in ways that would be approved by God so that the friendship between them grows. He suggested that the ideal sage alternates meditation on God with active work. Ultimately God does all things.
Instead of choosing one of his two sons, Nanak, before he died in 1539, selected Angad to be the second Guru. Angad died in 1552, and Amar Das succeeded him. Nanak's son Sri Chand had renounced the world, and his disciples practiced celibacy and austerity. Amar Das declared that the reclusive followers of Sri Chand called Udasis were separate from the active and domestic followers of Nanak's teachings who were called Sikhs, meaning "disciples." Amar Das encouraged the disciples to be physically fit and denounced the use of intoxicants. In his congregations women did not observe purdah, and he appointed three women to be preachers. He urged monogamy and encouraged widow remarriage; he discouraged women from beating their breasts in mourning a relative. Amar Das warned devotees against avarice, selfishness, falsehood, greed, hypocrisy, and worldly desires. When Muslims broke the earthen pitchers of Sikhs drawing water from a common well, the Guru advised against taking revenge. Instead they spent three years digging a well, which was completed in 1559. Amar Das died in 1574 and chose his son-in-law Ram Das to succeed him. He had a reservoir dug at a place that became Amritsar. The Sikh religion did not grow rapidly. When Ram Das died in 1581, the number of Sikhs had only doubled in the 42 years since Nanak's death.
The guru after Ram Das was his eighteen-year-old son Arjun. He converted the religious organization into a government by sending out agents to collect taxes (10% of income) instead of merely accepting contributions. These agents were called masands, meaning "nobles," and they were allowed to keep a portion of what they received. Guru Arjun gave the masands turbans and robes of honor. The money was used for building, and Arjun began living in aristocratic style at Amritsar. He encouraged Sikhs to take up commerce as well as agriculture, and some became rich trading horses, timber, or iron; others became carpenters and masons. The famous Emperor Akbar visited Guru Arjun in 1598.
Guru Arjun collected the writings of his predecessors with his own into the Adi Granth, meaning "Original Book." Most of the hymns were by the gurus, but a few were by other saints, such as Nam Dev, Kabir, and Farid. Use of these devotional hymns helped develop greater understanding of the Sikh teachings. The Adi Granth was completed in 1604. Arjun's longest and most popular hymn is Sukhamani, which means "peace of mind" and is often repeated in the morning by Sikhs after the Jap Ji. Sukhamani praises the infinite attributes of God, warns against the five senses, and describes the spiritual path of God's name. God is truth, which is the highest virtue. Humans experience God by true and pure living. Arjun recommended surrendering oneself to the true Guru. God is reality and the only source of well-being. If you sing God's praises, God will take care of you. Muslims complained to Emperor Akbar that the Adi Granth was blasphemous to Islam; but he did not find it so and even contributed 51 gold coins.
The growing wealth and power of Arjun made enemies. He antagonized the Lahore financial administrator when he refused to marry his son to Chandu Shah's daughter. Arjun made prayers for fleeing Prince Khusrau, the rebelling son of Jahangir, and gave him money. After the new Emperor Jahangir arrested and partially blinded Khusrau, he summoned Guru Arjun to Lahore. The Guru refused to pay a fine or make any changes to the Adi Granth. So he was tortured in the sun and finally drowned while bathing on May 30, 1606. The property of his family had been confiscated. His brother Pirthi Chand wanted to be guru; but Arjun's son Hargobind became recognized as guru even though he was only eleven years old.
Guru Hargobind immediately began wearing two swords and enjoyed hunting and eating meat. He inherited a guard of 52 soldiers, 300 horsemen, and 60 gunners, and he recruited 500 infantry. Hargobind held court and administered justice like a king. Emperor Jahangir ordered Hargobind to pay the outstanding fine of his father Arjun. When he also refused to pay, Hargobind was summoned to Delhi and in 1609 was put under house arrest where Nanak had once lived. Hargobind said he was loyal to Jahangir and was allowed to go hunting with him. The Emperor had Hargobind confined on meager rations in the fort at Gwalior. He was apparently joined by his three wives, who bore him five children before he was released in 1620. Hargobind was given some authority in the Punjab and command over 400 cavalry and a thousand infantry. Pathan mercenaries led by Painda Khan soon joined under his banner. He went with Emperor Jahangir on his last visit to Kashmir.
After Shah Jahan became emperor in 1628, Hargobind returned to Amritsar. That year a quarrel over a bird between the hunting parties of Shah Jahan and Hargobind resulted in violence. The Emperor dismissed Hargobind from his office and recalled his Mughal contingent; but the Punjab viceroy Hakim Alim-ud-din did not punish the Guru. Before the Udasi sect leader Baba Srichand died in 1629, he appointed Hargobind's oldest son Baba Gurditta as his successor, ending the Sikh schism. In 1634 a Mughal force attacked the wedding of Hargobind's daughter Viro. The Sikhs quickly retreated and left the sweets for the imperialists. When they were stuffed, the Sikhs attacked and killed the Mughal commander. After such victories over thousands of imperial troops, some believed that only Hargobind could challenge the Emperor. The Guru sent a disciple to Central Asia for horses, and on the way back the Lahore governor confiscated two of them. After a disciple took the two horses to Hargobind, a Mughal force was sent against him. The Sikhs ambushed and defeated them but lost 1200 men. In a 1635 battle 5,000 Sikhs fought. When the Mughal commander came at Hargobind with his sword, Hargobind killed him. Then he led his followers into the Punjab hills, and the war went on until 1640. Hargobind lived in peace at Kiratpur and died in 1644. Many criticized him for neglecting spiritual ideals and because he did not add one verse to the Adi Granth.
Gurditta had died in 1638; of Hargobind's other sons, Suraj Mal was considered too worldly, and Tegh Bahadur was a recluse. So Hargobind was succeeded by Gurditta's 14-year-old son Har Rai. He avoided a confrontation with his older brother Dhir Mal, whom some suspected of having poisoned Hargobind and who claimed to be the seventh guru. Har Rai was one of the spiritual teachers Prince Dara Shukoh visited. When Aurangzeb became emperor, Har Rai responded to his summons by sending his 14-year-old son Ram Rai; but after he capitulated before Aurangzeb and became his courtier, Har Rai excluded Ram from the succession. When Har Rai died in 1661, he was succeeded by his five-year-old son Har Kishan, who died of smallpox in 1664.
That year Hargobind's youngest son Tegh Bahadur became the Sikh guru. He composed the following song:
He who grieves not in grief,
From avarice, pleasures, and fear is free,
And considers gold as good as dust;
Who indulges not in slander or flattery,
And is immune to greed, attachment, and vanity;
Who in happiness and sorrow, self-poised remains,
And is indifferent to all praise or blame;
Who discards all hopes and desires;
Who lives detached from the world,
And is not affected by lust or wrath;
In such a one shines the Light of God.
The man who receives the Guru's grace,
Discovers this secret of spiritual life;
Saith Nanak: The soul of such a man blends
With God, as water mingles with water.2
Several people claimed to be the ninth guru; but the merchant Makhan Shah went to each one and dismissed them until he found Tegh Bahadur. Dhir Mal was especially resentful and sent Shihan and ruffians to assassinate his uncle. Shihan shot a bullet that grazed Tegh Bahadur on the shoulder. Kirpal and others then protected the Guru, and Dhir Mal ordered his men to flee with plundered loot. Makhan Shah arrived with armed men and stormed Dhir Mal's house. Dhir Mal and his supporters begged Tegh Bahadur to forgive them, and Makhan Shah made them leave Bakala. In November 1664 Guru Tegh Bahadur went to Amritsar. Although he was not allowed to enter a Sikh temple, he told Makhan Shah that he would never use force. The women of Amritsar persuaded the priests to change their minds. Tegh Bahadur taught that the world is transient. He began five years of traveling and visited Sikh centers in Mughal India and Assam.
After Aurangzeb's 1669 order to demolish non-Muslim temples and schools, a Sikh temple at Buriya was replaced by a mosque, which the Sikhs then demolished. Tegh Bahadur in the Punjab encouraged the Sikhs to withstand these persecutions. The Emperor visited the Punjab in 1674, and his officials forced many people to convert to Islam. Kashmiri leaders appealed to Tegh Bahadur, who courageously moved into Mughal territory and advised them to announce they would convert to Islam only after he did. Aurangzeb had Tegh Bahadur arrested and taken to Delhi with five disciples. The Guru refused to perform a miracle or convert to Islam. Two disciples escaped, and the other three were tortured to death; one was sawed in two, another was boiled in oil, and the third was cut in pieces. Tegh Bahadur remained firm and offered the miracle of his sacrifice, saying that paper around his neck would not be cut by a sword; so without torture he was beheaded on November 11, 1675.
Tegh Bahadur's son, Guru Gobind Singh, made major changes in Sikh traditions during their struggles with the Mughal government. He received both a literary and military education, and he was fond of hunting wild boar. When Sikhs visited him annually, Makhowal became an armed camp. The Kahlur chief complained, and Guru Gobind Singh moved to Sirmur near the border of Garhwal. In 1688 the Garhwal invaded Sirmur, and the Sikhs helped win the bloody battle at Bhangani. The next year Guru Gobind Singh returned to Makhowal and founded Anandpur with better defenses; only those who had fought at Bhangani were allowed to live there. He also fought for Kahlur chief Bhim Chand when he refused to pay tribute to the Mughals; but after the victory when Chand agreed to pay the tribute, the Sikhs plundered one of his villages. The Sikhs at Anandpur deterred Mughal attacks, which were diverted into a campaign against the rebel chiefs in the hills during the mid-1690s. Meanwhile Guru Gobind Singh was in contact with Sikh sangats (groups), who were encouraged to send him money, supplies, and weapons.
In 1698 the Sikhs spent six months celebrating the Durga Ashtami festival and Durga's destruction of evil-doers. On the first day of a new year (March 30, 1699) to an assembly of thousands Guru Gobind Singh proclaimed the creation of a new nation. He exhorted the people to destroy their enemies and praised the sword as divine. He called for sacrifice, and one by one five volunteers went into a tent with him. He returned each time with a bloody sword, but goat's blood had been used. The five "beloved ones" were called the Khalsa. The five letters stood for oneself, God, devotion, master, and freedom. The five Ks that Sikhs were to keep at all times are kesh (long hair), kangha (comb), kirpan (sword), kara (steel bracelet), and kachcha (pants). The five Khalsa vows are to refrain from the following: cutting hair or beard, smoking tobacco, eating meat, wearing a cap, and worshiping tombs or relics. The five deliverances promised to disciples are from previous religious practices, past bad deeds, caste requirements, hereditary professions, and caste rituals. The five Sikh rules of conduct he laid down are prayer, helping one another, practicing riding and use of arms, not coveting another's property, and making love only to one's wife. Guru Gobind Singh urged every Sikh to fight against cruelty and tyranny and to help the poor and protect the weak. The Sikh offices of masands (priests in districts) were abolished, and those resisting this were punished or fined. Gobind Singh urged Hindu princes to become Sikhs and challenge the Mughals who abused their daughters.
Thus the Sikhs took up the sword. The Delhi viceroy sent 10,000 men under generals Paindah Khan and Din Beg to Anandpur. Paindah Khan was killed, and the hill rajas fled. In 1700 the Sikhs were defeated at Anandpur and retreated to Bhadsali. By 1704 Anandpur had been besieged five times. Lack of provisions and desertions led to a negotiated evacuation on December 21, but amid a rainstorm the imperial army captured the departing Sikhs and forced them to convert. Guru Gobind Singh and his two older sons escaped with forty followers, but they were besieged at Chamkaur. After the attack killed most of the Sikhs and Gobind's two older sons, the five remaining Sikhs ordered the Guru to flee. Disguised in Mughal uniforms, he and three disciples escaped. In a village Gobind Singh changed into the blue clothes of a Sufi. The Guru's two younger sons refused to convert and were beheaded on December 27, 1704.
The Guru fled 1500 miles and replied to a summons from Aurangzeb that because of his persecutions it was lawful to take up the sword. At Talwandi he completed the Adi Granth by adding 116 hymns composed by his father Tegh Bahadur. There he received another letter from the Emperor and decided to return; but Aurangzeb died on March 3, 1707. The Guru asked his successor Bahadur Shah to punish Vazir Khan for having executed his young sons; the new Emperor postponed this but invited him to reside at Agra with an allowance. Guru Gobind Singh stayed a year with Banda Bahadur, who went to the Punjab to chastise Vazir Khan of Sirhind. Vazir Khan sent two boys who stabbed the Guru, and he died of his wounds on October 7, 1708. Having no surviving children and wanting to avoid feuds, before he died, he declared that the Khalsa was to care for God and that the Adi Granth was to be their guide.
1. Quoted in The Mughul Empire, p. 274 from History
of Aurangzeb by J. N. Sarkar, Volume 3, chapter 34, appendix
2. Adi Granth: Sorath, p. 633 quoted in Guru Tegh Bahadur by Trilochan Singh, p. 137.
This chapter has been published in the book INDIA & Southeast Asia to 1800.
For information on ordering click here.