Aurangzeb against Marathas
The Marathas under Shivaji were a threat to Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb sent two of his great generals Shaista Khan and Jai Singh one after the other to capture Shivaji.
Jai Singh captured Shivaji and took him to Delhi but Shivaji managed to escape to the Deccan. Shivaji, employing guerrilla tactics, defied the Mughal forces till his death at the age of 53 in 1680. Aurangzeb was severely tested by the Marathas till his death in 1707 as the sons of Shivaji continued the rebellion.
Death of Aurangzeb
The death of Aurangzeb in 1707 marked a watershed in Indian history as the Mughal empire virtually came to end even though the weak successors of Aurangzeb held the throne for the next 150 years.
Relationship with Sikhs
Aurangzeb nursed a grudge against the Sikhs for having supported his brother and principal rival to the throne, Dara Shukoh.
Guru Tegh Bahadur was killed at Aurangzeb’s command. In 1680 Aurangzeb sent a formidable army under his son Akbar to subdue the rebellious Rajput kings, but the emperor had not reckoned with his son’s traitorous conduct.
Conquest of Deccan
Akbar had declared himself the emperor but was compelled to flee to the Deccan, where he enlisted the help of Shivaji’s son, Sambhaji. Aurangzeb decided to take to the field himself and eventually drove his own son into exile in Persia.
Sambhaji was captured in 1689 and executed. The Sultanates of Bijapur and Golkonda were also reduced to utter submission. Towards the end of his reign, Aurangzeb’s empire began to disintegrate and this process was accelerated in the years after his death when “successor states” came into existence.
Breaking of Empire
The empire had become too large and unwieldy. Aurangzeb did not have enough trustworthy men at his command to manage the more far-flung parts of the empire. Many of his political appointees broke loose and declared themselves independent.
Aurangzeb’s preoccupation with affairs in the Deccan prevented him from meeting political challenges emanating from other parts of the empire. Shortly after the death of Aurangzeb, the Mughal empire ceased to be an effective force in the political life of India.
Aurangzeb re-imposed jizya. He also issued orders that new temples should not be constructed, but the repair of old long-standing temples was permitted.
These measures were rooted not only in his religious faith but also due to political compulsions. Jizya had been levied for a long time in India. As a staunch Muslim, Aurangzeb had discontinued the practice of levying abwab, a tax levied on the lands over and above the original rent, not sanctioned by Shariah.
Likewise, the order on temples was also an older one which in practice applied to places where he had political adversaries. In areas where there was no political insubordination, Aurangzeb provided endowments to build temples.
It should be noted that during the reign of Aurangzeb the number of Hindu officials increased when compared to the reign of Shah Jahan.