Aurangzeb

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Aurangzeb

Aurangzeb (ôrˈəngzĕbˌ) or Aurangzib (–zĭbˌ), 1618–1707, Mughal emperor of India (1658–1707), son and successor of Shah Jahan. He served (1636–44, 1653–58) as viceroy of the Deccan but was constantly at odds with his father and his eldest brother, Dara Shikoh, the heir apparent. When Shah Jahan fell ill in 1658, Aurangzeb seized the opportunity to fight and defeat Dara and two other brothers in a battle for succession. He imprisoned his father for life and ascended the throne at Agra with the reign title Alamgir [world-shaker]. A scholarly, austere man, devoted to Islam, he persecuted the Hindus, destroying their temples and monuments. He executed the guru of the Sikhs (see Sikhism) when he refused to embrace Islam. Although the Mughal empire reached its greatest extent under Aurangzeb, it was also fatally weakened by revolts of the Sikhs, Rajputs, and Jats in the north and the rebellion of the Marathas in the Deccan. From 1682, Aurangzeb concentrated all his energies on crushing the Marathas, but his costly campaigns were only temporarily successful and further weakened his authority in the north. The Mughal empire fell apart soon after his death.

Bibliography

See biographies by Sir Jadunath Sarkar (5 vol., 1912–24) and M. Lal (1988); studies by S. Lane-Poole (1964) and R. C. Hallissey (1977).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Aurangzeb

 

Born 1618; died 1707. Last true ruler of the Mogul Empire (1658–1707). Son of Shah Jahan.

Aurangzeb was vicegerent of the Deccan from 1636 to 1644 and 1652 to 1657. In the war for the throne among the four sons of Shah Jahan (1658–59), Aurangzeb was victorious less because of his military superiority than because of intrigue, bribery, and deceit. He killed all the other claimants to the throne and put his father under house arrest.

Aurangzeb waged wars to seize Kandahar and Balkh in the north and Ahmadnahar, Bijapur, and Golconda in the Deccan. To pay for these costly wars, Aurangzeb increased taxes and renewed the jizya. Carrying out a policy of Muslim intolerance, he destroyed Hindu temples, confiscated the property of Hindu merchants, and annexed the lands of Hindu feudal lords. This provoked a Maratha uprising throughout the country, led by Sivaji, the Jats, the Rajput princes, and the Sikhs. The disintegration of the empire was accelerated by Aurangzeb’s harsh religious intolerance. At the end of Aurangzeb’s life, his sons rebelled against him. Under Aurangzeb, European trading companies became stronger in India.

REFERENCES

Bernier, F. Istoriia poslednikh politicheskikh perevorotov v gosudarstve Velikogo Mogola. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936. (Translated from French.)
Sarkar, J. The History of Aurangzib[2nd-3rd ed.], vols. 1–6. Calcutta, 1924–28.

K. A. ANTONOVA

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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