The rebel Prince Shah Jahan was in the Deccan when Jahangir died in 1627. Jahangir’s two other sons, Khusrau and Pervez, were already dead by then. But his youngest son Shahariyar was alive. He had married NurJahan’s daughter from her first husband. The moment Jahangir breathed his last, Shahriyar proclaimed himself an emperor.
A war of succession became imminent Nur Jahan took up the cause of Shahariyar. On the other hand, her brother Asaf khan took up the cause of Shah Jahan. Because, Asaf Khan had given his daughter Mumtaz Mahal to Shah Jahan in marriage. In the struggle that followed, Shah Jahan came out successful, and crowned himself as the emperor in 1628 at Agra. With that victory, he put Shahriyar and some other rival princes of the royal house to death. Thus that he came to throne with his hands wet with the blood of his brother and relatives. Little did he imagine that his own reign would come to an end in a bloody war of succession among his own sons.
Shah Jahan began his rule with vigour. At first, he began with an orthodox policy, which went against the sprit of Akbar’s liberal policy. But he changed his wrong attitude in right time and maintained the Mughal legacy of liberalism. With Hindu blood in his vain, he adopted a policy of tolerance towards other communities.
Early in his reign, Shah Jahan suppressed the rebellion of the Bundela chief Jujhar Singh and the Afgan leader Khan Jahan Lodi. He also took strong steps to punish the Portuguese traders in Bengal who carried only slave trade. They captured both Hindu and Muslim boys and sold them as slaves elsewhere. At the order of the emperor, the Governor of Bengal slaves elsewhere. At the order of the emperor, the Governor of Bengal suppressed those foreigners ruthlessly and killed or captured many of them.
Shah Jahan’s North-West Frontier Policy
From the beginning of the Mughal rule, a conflict continued between India and Persia for the possession of the strong fort of Kandahar. In the reign of Jahangir, the Persian emperor conquered Kandahar for which the north-west frontier of India became unsafe. Shah Jahn , therefore, wanted to reconquer it. Through diplomacy, he won over the Persian Governor of Kandahar Ali Mardan Khan who surrenders the fort to the Mughals. But the Persians ruler Shah Abbas II invaded Kandahar in 1648 and conquered it next year.
It was a sever blow to the prestige of the Mughal emporer. Shah Jahn, therefore, sent his third son Aurangzeb to recover Kandahar. But the campaign failed. Three years later, Aurangzeb was sent again to fight there. But his second campaign also ended in failure. Shah Jahan thereupon sent his eldest son Dara to recover Kandahar. Unfortunately, Dara too returned unsuccessful.
The failure of all the three expeditions to Kandahar was a political tragedy. Twelve crores of rupees were spent only those campaigns. A large number of Mughal soldier also lost their lives. In return, nothing was gained. While the weakness of Mughal Empire became evident, the north-west frontier remained exposed to danger.