Who was the last powerful Mughal ruler?
The last powerful Mughal ruler is Aurangzeb Alamgir (“World Conqueror”) ascended the royalty in 1658 after getting rid of all the rivals for the throne, Dara Shukoh, Shuja, and Murad, in a war of succession.
He ruled for fifty years which can be divided into two equal parts. During the first 25 years, he resided in the North, mainly in Delhi, and individually occupied himself with the affairs of northern India, leaving the Deccan region in the hands of his viceroys.
In 1681, he was provoked by the rebellion of one of his sons, Prince Akbar, to go to the Deccan but he never returned to Delhi, dying frustrated at Ahmad Nagar in 1707. Aurangzeb conducted many military campaigns to extend the area of the empire and wars in the Northwest and Northeast exhausted the royal treasury (Exchequer).
The revenue from the Peasants has been raised from One third to half during his father’s tenure and Aurangzeb engaged in frequent and prolonged wars and made him tax heavily on the farmers.
Aurangzeb retained Shah Jahanabad as his empire’s capital, but after some two decades, the capital was changed to wherever Aurangzeb would set up camp during his long military campaigns.
In the north, there were three major uprisings against Aurangzeb:
- The Jats (Mathura district),
- The Satnamis (Haryana region)
- The Sikhs
The Jat rebellion (1669), a regular thing during the rule of Previous rule of Jahangir and Shah Jahan, was crushed momentarily but they remained stubborn even after the death of Aurangzeb.
The Satnamis revolt was crushed with the help of local Hindu Zamindars. The Sikh (Punjab) rebellion erupted due to the political affairs of Ram Rai, a candidate for the position of Sikh Guru, against the obligatory Guru Tegh Bahadur.
This ended with the assassination of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru. Aurangzeb’s decision that the Jizya (poll tax) should be levied on Hindus of all kinds aroused the rulers of Rajasthan, who earlier served the Mughal empire faithfully.
The death of Jaswant Singh of Marwar brought about a succession issue. The Rajput queen Rani Hadi, wife of Raja Jaswant Singh, resented the move of Aurangzeb to install Indra Singh, a grandnephew of Jaswant Singh, a titular chief of the state.
This led to a revolt with the help of Rathor Rajputs but was effectively put down. The Rana of Mewar, Rana Raj Singh, resenting the interference of Aurangzeb in the affairs of Marwar rose in revolt and he was supported by Prince Akbar, the rebellious son of Aurangzeb.
However, the Rana could not match the Mughal forces and fought guerrilla warfare till his death in 1680. In 1681 Rana Jai Singh, the new Rana of Mewar signed a peace treaty with Aurangzeb.
Aurangzeb stayed long at the Deccan, which weakened the Empire. Also engaged in constant wars with Maratha, Sikhs, etc that drained the treasure.
Due to his religious policy, the Mughals lost a good relationship with the faithful Rajput, and the rise of the Marathas eventually weakened the strength of the Mughals. Following his death, later Mughals did not have any chance to sustain themselves as Aurangzeb made enemies from all sides, and the fate of the empire worsened.