Complete biography of Aurangzeb

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AKBAR, "Guardian of Mankind," greatest and wisest of the Mughal emperors, had been dead thirteen years; at Agra-which he had built- his son Jahangir reigned in his stead; far to the southward, beyond the Vindhya and Satpura Mountains, Prince Khurram, Jahangir's heir, ruled as Viceroy of the Deccan, when, at Dhud on the night of November 4, 1618 his favourite wife, Mumtaz-Mahal, gave birth to their third son. The child came not only of the blood of Akbar: the blood of the great Tamerlane was in his veins:

Timur or Tamerlane whom men had called "The Scourge of God."

Mahomed was the name chosen for the child, a name his father later changed to Aurangzeb (Throne-Ornament). It might have been thought that a third son was born to no happy destiny. The younger sons of Mughal emperors were dangerous rivals for the throne, and death or imprisonment was their usual fate. Even the heir troubled the Emperor's peace. Jahangir had rebelled against Akbar. Prince Khurram rebelled against Jahangir.

Aurangzeb was two years old then. What happened to him during the years of his father's warfare is not known, but in 1625 the boy had his share in paying the price of it. As hostages for Prince Khurram's future loyalty, his eldest son Data and seven- year-old Aurangzeb were sent to Jahangir at Agra. Jahangir, the drunkard-so strong was his liquor that it made the English ambassador cough and sneeze- the fierce-tempered, must have seemed a strange man to his young grandson Aurangzeb. Pictures of the Christians' Madonna found a place in his palace at Agra, not because Jahangir was tolerant, as Akbar had been, of all religions, but be­cause he cared for none of them. In Aurangzeb there was something of the saint and much of the ascetics which even in these early days may have made turn him turn in revolt from the luxury and pro­fligacy of his grandfather. For two years he lived in Jahangir's Court, watched by the quick eyes of Nur- Jahan, his grandmother and virtual ruler of the Empire.

It seems that the boy's education was entrusted to an ordinary Muslim school­master. From him Aurangzeb learnt to write in a hand that was exquisite. He learnt the Koran so thoroughly that he could recite it from memory. He learnt Arabic, wasting-as later he complained the precious hours of his youth "in the dry, unprofitable and never-ending task of learning words." Rather should he have been taught the duty of a King to his people, he said, and by his people to their King. Aurangzeb was his own best schoolmaster.

MAUSOLEUM OF AURANGZEB'S WIFE The tomb of Rabi'a Daurani, Aurangzeb's wife, is a copy of the Taj Mahal, and counted one of the finest Mughal buildings in the Deccan.

In the November of 1627, Jahangir died suddenly, and two months later Prince Khurram was at Agra-Emperor, with the title of Shah Jahan or King of the World. No Mughal Emperor was ever loved as Shah Jahan. Prosperity came to the Empire, leaving him free to earn his title of "the Magnificent." Unsurpassed splendour surrounded young Aurangzeb. Agra was no longer the chief residence of the Court. On the banks of the Jumna, Shah Jahan built his city of Shahjahanabad, or New Delhi. Along the riverside ran the battlements of his palace where, in the Diwan-i-Am or Hall of Audience stood the Peacock Throne, which had taken seven years to complete (Tamerlane began and Shah Jahan finished it). Plated with gold inlaid with diamonds, emeralds, pearls and rubies, it stood upon feet of gold. Twelve pillars covered with emeralds supported an enameled canopy, and each pillar bore two peacocks encrusted with gems standing on either side of a tree covered with diamonds, emeralds, rubies and pearls. In Agra, too, Shah Jahan built magnificently: not a palace for the living, but a tomb for the dead: the Taj Mahal, which to this day bears witness to his love for the mother of Aurangzeb.

She had been dead five years when, in May, 1636, he was appointed Governor of his father's old Viceroyalty of the Deccan. He was only eighteen, and the coercing of that coveted territory, with its exhaustless wealth in gold and diamonds, was in reality left to older hands. But Aurangzeb had emerged from the Courts of Jahangir and Shah Jahan with thoughts more on heaven than on earth. The flame of religion burned in him, and while, in obedience to his father, he was bringing the territory of Baglana into subjection, he longed to cast off his greatness and, arraying him­self in the rags of a fakir, seek God in solitude. In June, 1644, he boldly announced his intention to discard the world. His father raged, deprived him of his income, his title, his Viceroyalty of the Deccan. Willingly he let them go. Dara his brother scorned him as "saint," but for nearly a year he hid himself in the wilds of the Western Ghats, mortifying his body and com­muning with God.

The phase passed. He came back to the world, to spend his unwearyingly energies as leader of armies, but to the end of life there went with Aurangzeb the Emperor, Aurangzeb the ascetic, who reckoned the Faith of Islam worth all the empires in the world.

Within three years of his return, his father had sent him to rule the provinces of Balkh and Badakhshan, which Ali Mardan and Aurangzeb's younger brother, Murad Bakhsh, had conquered two years earlier. Shah Jahan, thus extending his conquests beyond the Hindu Kush, dreamt of recovering Tamerlane's city of Samarkand. But Aurangzeb saw that the ramparts of the Hindu Kush made land beyond them impossible to hold. He gave back the useless prov­inces to the King of the Uzbegs, and determined on retreat. October had come when he set off across the moun­tains. The hillmen hung on his flanks, cutting off whole companies of stragglers. For five days snow fell without ceasing. The unhappy beasts of burden- elephants, camels, horses-died like flies. Five thousand men perished, and only a miserable remnant of Shah Jahan's mag­nificent army staggered into Kabul.

Dara, perhaps, jeered at the "Saint," but in Aurangzeb had been lit a lust for conquest that was destined to sweep Dara himself from his path. Thirteen years were to run before that came to pass, years in which Aurangzeb, learning generalship under his father's finest fighting men-Ali Mardan, Jai Singh, S' ad Allah-proved himself a stoic under untold hardships, and of such coolness and "incomparable courage," that in the midst of a battle he would dismount at the hour of evening prayer and prostrate himself before God. "To fight with such a man," cried the King of the Uzbegs, "is self-destruction."

Two unsuccessful attempts-in May, 1649, and in the spring of 1652-to regain Kandahar which the Persians had captured, and Aurangzeb was back in his old province of the Deccan. There to take up a task which, with one full- fraught interval, was to be his for the rest of his life: the task of recovering for the Mughal Empire the whole of the Deccan. Two centuries earlier, Muham- mad-ibn-Tughlak had won it, and named there his Daulafabad or Empire-City. But with his death the Bahmani Kings swept over his conquest. Wise Akbar, wanting only as much of the Deccan as would serve for frontier guard, took Khandesh, Berar and the fortress of Ahmadnagar, and asked from the Kings of Bijapur and Golconda no more than tribute. But to Aurangzeb the Deccan Kings were heretics to be rooted out, and not until the whole Empire of Muhammad-ibn-Tughlak lay under the foot of Islam would he rest.

Nearly twenty years had gone since he first came to the Deccan as a lad of eighteen. He came now as a man of thirty-seven, his iron will determined on its subjugation. Already he must have known that it could not be long before he was drawn into another fight. Shah Jahan grew old, and Dara had his ear. Dara was the eldest son, but the Mughal Crown went to him that could win it.

The winning of the Deccan was for the moment the game in hand, and Aurangzeb's first move in it was to pick a quarrel with 'Abdallah, king of Gol­conda. Against the fortress of Golconda, high on its granite ridge, he launched his attack. Mounted on his war elephant he led his Mughal Horse in a fierce charge which drove in the King's first sally. In vain 'Abdallah tried to appease his enemy with baskets of gems and gorgeously-caparisoned horses and ele­phants. For two months the siege went on, while at Agra, Dara stirred his father to suspicion of Aurangzeb's growing power. Aurangzeb would hear of no truce between him and his foe, until Shah Jahan, urged by Dara, sent peremptory orders for him to raise the siege. With the hard conditions that 'Abdallah should set Shah Jahan's name on his coinage, pay an annual tribute of a crore of rupees, and give his daughter as a wife for Aurangzeb's son Muham­mad, the Prince drew off to Aurangabad.

He was well aware that he owed this check to Dara, and meant it to be no more than a check. By the hand of Mir Jumla, his ablest ally, he sent his father a priceless diamond-the famous Koh-i-nur or Peak of Light-from the mines at Kollur. With this as earnest of the country's wealth, Mir Jumla urged upon Shah Jahan the con­quest of the Deccan. Never should the Great Mughal rest, he said, until his empire stretched from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin.

Fear of the fate of every Mughal Emperor-to see war with his sons or among his sons-had come upon Shah Jahan. To keep them occupied far from him and from each other, he had sent them South, East and West: Aurangzeb to the Deccan, Shuja his eldest son to, Bengal, Murad Bakhsh the youngest to Gujarat. Only Dara (the Chosen One) remained with him, "Lord"-as he had named him-"of Exalted Fortune." In a robe sewn with diamonds and pearls, a great ruby shoot­ing fire from his turban, Dara rested on a couch at the foot of the Peacock Throne, the only person permitted to be seated in the presence of the Emperor.

More troops were what Aurangzeb has asked for, and-though Dara offered strong opposition-was to have. It was little reassurement for Dara that the Emperor stipulated that Mir Jumla and not Aurangzeb should have command of these troops. Dara gained nothing by that, for Mir Jumla at once joined forces with Aurangzeb, and with him captured the fortress of Bidar. Success followed suc­cess, and the whole kingdom of Bijapur was within their grasp when news that the Emperor had fallen ill called Aurangzeb to the fight for the Peacock Throne.

In Agra, as day followed day and Shah Jahan came no more to the seat overlooking the Hall of Audience- where each day a Mughal Emperor must show himself to his people or risk rebellion-rumour cried that he was dead. Panic reigned. The shops shut. The whole Court was in confusion. Dara, on guard against his brothers, gathered his fighting men. In Bengal, Shuja gave out that Shah Jahan had been poisoned by Dara, had himself pro­claimed Emperor and set out on his march to Delhi. In Gujarat, Murad Bakhsh engraved his name on the coin­age, had the Prayer for the Emperor offered in his own name, and laid siege to Surat.

Only Aurangzeb made no open move. He knew that just as Shah Jahan had killed his brother, so would any of his own three brothers kill him. Warily he played his game, waiting while Dara, making £ false move, divided his forces to deal with both Shuja and Murad Bakhsh at once. Dara was well aware which of his three brothers he had most to fear. Jaswant Singh, marching against Murad Bakhsh, had orders to cut the communications between him and Aurangzeb.

Watchful, Aurangzeb waited, until in December, Shuja, surprised in his camp at Benares, was put to flight; waited still, until a month later Surat fell to Murad Bakhsh. Then he showed his hand.

"Whatever course you have resolved upon in opposition to the shameless and unrighteous conduct of our abandoned brother (Dara)," he wrote to Murad Bakhsh, " you may count on me as a staunch ally."

In the eyes of Aurangzeb-the zealous follower of Islam-Dara an idolater and Shuja a heretic, were both unworthy of the Crown. Only Murad Bakhsh-he
professed to think was fit to ascend the Pea­cock Throne. As for himself-he told Murad Bakhsh-he desired nothing but the life of a fakir. Nevertheless he would join with him. And he invoked "the word of God as his hail for this compact."

The end of March had come when he set out from Burhampur on his march to Agra. By the river Narbada he and Murad Bakhsh met, and thither came messenger after messenger from Shah Jahan, assuring Aurangzeb that he was well, and commanding him hack to the Deccan. It was too late to turn back. The two Princes believed, or pretended to believe, that their father was dying, and that his letters were forged by Dara. If indeed he lived, they said, and then would they deliver him from the tyranny of that apostate.

On April 25, Murad Bakhsh forded the river under a storm of javelins and arrows from the Imperial host. Kasim Khan, who shared with Jaswant Singh the Imperial command, fled ingloriously from the field. Jaswant Singh, thus left to bear the brunt of the onslaught alone, fought till only six hundred of his eight thousand Rajputs remained. Then dis­may fell upon him. He too (led, leaving victory to the man to fight with whom- as the King of the Uzbegs had long ago said-was self-destruction.

Dara was determined there should be no compromise between his father and his brothers. With an army finer than any that had trod the plains of Hindustan he marched out of Agra to entrench himself on the bank of the river Chambal. But Aurangzeb had already crossed lower down, leaving his empty tents to de­ceive the enemy. Beside the river Jumna, with men refreshed, he waited for Dara.

On June 7th the two armies were face to face at Samugarh, five leagues from Agra. For some days they lay in sight of each other, while in the intense heat of an Agra summer men fainted and died under weight of their armour, and Shah Jahan urged Dara to await the arrival of his son, Sulaiman Shukor, fresh from his victory over Shuja. But Dara wanted glory for himself alone. He answered Shah Jahan: "In three days I will bring my brothers bound hand and foot to receive your judgment."

It was early in the morning when Aurangzeb launched his attack. To his son Muhammad he had given the van; to Murad Bakhsh the left wing; to Bahadur Khan the right, reserving the centre for himself. No fiercer fight was ever waged. Muhammad and his ad­vance guard were driven back. Bahadur Khan was only saved from destruction by reinforcements from Aurangzeb. Dara, mounted on a beautiful Ceylon elephant, led his cavalry in a fierce charge against the enemy's weakened centre, captured the guns and put the camel corps to flight. Showers of arrows darkened the sun until every man's quiver was empty. The fight became one of swords then as men battled hand to hand. Aurangzeb, mounted like Dara on an elephant, saw his men give way, break, fly, till barely a thousand remained.

Flight was not for Aurangzeb. In­domitable, iron-willed, cool, he cried to his wavering few:

"Dili, Yarana! Take heart, my friends! Khuda-he! There is a God! What hope have we in flight? Know ye not where are our Deccan? Khuda-he! Khuda-he!"

And he cried to his servants to chain the legs of his elephant together that retreat might be impossible.

Then it was that Dara, courageous though he was, made his first mistake. The moment had come for the annihila­tion of Aurangzeb's centre, which would send dismay through all his host. In­stead Dara flew to succour his left wing, which was heavily beset by Bahadur Khan, while his right waged furious battle with Murad Bakhsh. With a string of pearls about his head, and his Rajputs all in yellow, Raja Ram Singh charged down upon the elephant of Murad Bakhsh, crying to the Prince:

"Dost thou contest the throne with Dara Shukoh?"

Hurling his javelin at Murad Bakhsh, he tried to cut the elephant's girths, shouting to the mahout: "Make him kneel! Make him kneel!" But Murad Bakhsh, wounded though he was, cast his shield over his little son who sat beside him, and sent an arrow through the Raja's brain. One after the other the Rajputs dropped at the elephant's feet, until the ground all about him was yellow as a field of saffron.

The day was going against Aurangzeb despite his valorous fight. Then Dara made his second mistake. Aloft for all to see, Aurangzeb sat upon his elephant. Murad Bakhsh, with howdah stuck as thick with arrows as a porcupine with quills, sat upon his. But Dara-whether because he was startled by a rocket which struck his howdah, or because he was urged by treacherous Khalil-Allah- dismounted, and the sight of his empty place sent panic running through his host. Some cried that he was dead. Others that they were betrayed. Fear of Aurangzeb's vengeance upon those who had fought against him seized on all. They fled. Dara fled, leaving Aurangzeb to dismount from his be­sieged elephant and prostrate himself be­fore God in thanksgiving for the victory.

Three or four days later he and Murad Bakhsh were in a garden outside one of the gates of Agra. Aurangzeb knew better than to trust himself within the fortress where Shah Jahan still remained. The old man had sent his victorious son a sword inscribed 'Alamgir-World- Compeller, but Aurangzeb was aware that he had also sent to Dara two elephants loaded with rupees and had bidden the Governor of Delhi to furnish him with a thousand horses from the royal stables. On June 18, Aurangzeb's son Muhammad, on the pretext of bearing a message from his father, entered the fortress with a handful of men, overcame the guards and made the old Emperor captive.

Only Murad Bakhsh, it seems, re­mained still unsuspicious of Aurangzeb, who flattered him with "Your Majesty." Together the two set off in pursuit of Dara. At Muttra, thirty miles on the road to Delhi, they halted, and supped, Aurangzeb, with gentle hand, wiping the dust and sweat from his brother's face. When, at the end of the meal, delicious wines were brought, Aurang­zeb, strict follower of the Prophet, would not touch them. He slipped softly away, leaving his brother, whose weakness for wine he knew, to drink himself to sleep.

Then, stepping as softly as his grand­father came six-year-old A'zam, the son of Prince Muhammad, bribed by promise of a jewel to steal the sleeping man's sword and dagger.

"Oh, shame and infamy!" cried Aurangzeb, stirring his brother with his foot, "Thou a King and yet possess­ing so little discretion! What will the world now say of thee, and even of me? Let this wretched and drunken man be bound hand and foot, and removed there within to sleep away his shame."

That night-the night of July 5th, 1658-Murad Bakhsh was carried to the outwork-fortress of Salimgarh, whence, across the river, he could see the lovely city of Delhi where he had thought to reign. He must have known that his days were numbered.

Marching day and night, sleeping on the bare ground, with dry bread and bad water for his only fare, Aurangzeb followed in the wake of Dara. Only when he learnt that Dara, making yet another mistake, had turned aside from Kabul-where he might have strongly fortified himself-and gone south to Sind, did he leave the pursuit to others, and return to Agra. There was yet another brother to be dealt with: Shuja, who was once more in arms.

Well had the King of the Uzbegs said that to fight with Aurangzeb was self- destruction. In less than a year, Shuja had fled, never to be heard of more, and Dara, betrayed by a treacherous host, was his brother's prisoner. Dressed in dirty clothes, and mounted on a miser­able elephant, he was paraded through the streets of Delhi. The lamentations of the people sealed his fate. Not many days later Aurangzeb held in his hands the head of his brother.

Only Murad Bakhsh remained. From Salimgarh he had passed up the long stairway and through the Elephant Gate into the fortress of Gwalior. But men had not forgotten his valour and his good fellowship, and songs were made in praise of him. He had done his own share of killing. Aurangzeb chose to remember one incident and to call it murder. When the dead man's sons, diplomatically incited thereto, demanded the murderer's head, he gave it. Shah Jahan lived on, given by his strange son all that he desired save freedom. The fortress of Gwalior held Data's sons, the son of Murad Bakhsh, and Aurang­zeb's own son Muhammad, who in a reckless moment had joined his uncle Shuja. Aurangzeb, World Compeller, had reached the Peacock Throne.

For nearly fifty years he held it: one of the greatest of the Mughal Emperors. "A faint-hearted man," he told his father, "cannot carry out the great duty of government. Sovereignty is the guardianship of the people, not self- indulgence and profligacy. ... He is the truly great King who makes it the chief business of his life to govern his subjects with equity."

To the Mohammedan he is a saint, whose zeal for the Faith of Islam washes cleans the bloodstained path by which he reached the throne. It would have been better for the Empire had he had the tolerance of Akbar. Not blindly, but with conviction and courage, he followed his narrow path, led on by hope of laying all Hindustan at the foot of the Prophet; great, just, careful of his people, unsparing of himself, sus­picious, ascetic, unloved.

Ascetic though he was, he kept, for the sake of the Empire, the Emperor's pomp. Bernier, the French traveller, describes him in the first days of his succession, seated in the dazzling splen­dour of the Peacock Throne, his sons and his amirs about him. His vest was of white, delicately-flowered satin. His turban of cloth of gold was adorned with an aigrette whose base was fash­ioned of diamonds and an opal whose lustre was that of the sun. And a rope of enormous pearls hung from his neck.

Magnificence laid aside, there re­mained Aurangzeb the austere, to whom music and dancing were such abomina­tions that he issued edicts against them. One day as he was going to the mosque, he saw a great crowd of singers following a bier, their voices uplifted in lamenta­tion. He sent to ask whose funeral it was, and was answered "The funeral of Music, killed by the Emperor's edicts."

"I approve their piety," he answered.

"Let her be buried deep, and never heard again."

By day and by night, in public and in private, he offered his prayers, fasted when he should fast, kept vigils. To the Palace in Delhi he added for his own use that gem in black and white marble, the Pearl Mosque. He dared not make the Pilgrimage to Mecca, lest he should lose his throne in his absence. All else that a follower of Islam should do he did, even obeying the Prophet's precept that every Muslim should practise a trade: he made skull caps.

Less wise than Akbar his great-grandfather, he could not see that no power on earth can make men think alike, and that God is to be reached by many ways.

O God (wrote Abu-1-Fazl, friend of Akbar) in every temple I see people that see thee, and in every language I hear spoken, people praise thee.

Polytheism and Islam feel after thee. Each religion says, "Thou art one, without equal."

If it be a mosque, people murmur the holy prayer; and if it be a Christian Church, people ring the bell from love of thee.

Sometimes I frequent the Christian cloister, and sometimes the mosque.

But it is thou whom I seek from temple to temple.

They elect have no dealings with heresy or with orthodoxy: for neither of them stands behind the screen of thy truth.

Heresy to the heretic, and religion to the orthodox.

But the dust of the rose-petal belongs to the heart of the perfume-seller.

"Heresy to the heretic" was not Aurangzeb's creed. For the sake of Islam he persecuted the Hindus, thus alienating the great Rajputs who were the pillars of his throne, and woke in the South that Maratha power which was ultimately to bring the Empire to destruction.

Small, sturdy men, the Marathas inhabited the inaccessible fastnesses of the Western Ghats: peaceful, frugal, hard-working Hindus, subject to the King of Bijapur. By the time of Jahangir, numbers of them had joined the army of their Bijapur ruler. As horsemen none surpassed them. Many rose to be officers. One of them, Shahji Bhosla, became Governor of Poona and Bangalore, and to him- when Aurangzeb was nine-there was born a son, Shivaji.

The blood of the wild ran in Shivaji's veins. Mixing with the people of the Western Ghats, he came to know every path and lurking place of that precipitous region. A born leader of men, before he was twenty he had gathered the hillmen to his standard, and turned the military knowledge learnt at Poona against his teachers. Fort after fort in the hills, left neglected by the King of Bijapur, fell before Shivaji and his Marathas. Forces sent to crush him were themselves defeated. By 166o he could put 50,000 men into the field, and was threatening Aurangzeb's city of Aurangabad. For three years the Emperor's Viceroy, Shayista Khan, tried to subdue him. Aurangzeb's son, Prince Mu'azzam, in company with Jaswant Singh, next essayed the task. Shivaji, undaunted, sacked Surat, the Gate of Mecca, and every Muslim cried out against the sacrilege.

Aurangzeb tried new generals, Raja Jai Singh and Dilir Khan, and in five months "the mountain rat" was cor­nered. Then the Emperor made a mis­take worthy of Dara the Unfortunate. Shivaji, ready to be his vassal, came to Delhi to do homage for the Viceroyalty of the Deccan. No other man could give Aurangzeb such help in conquering that long-desired territory. But the Great Mughal in his bigotry scorned to ally himself with a Hindu mountain robber. He let him stand unnoticed in the Hal! of Audience, and Shivaji, raging at the humiliation, slipped away without taking leave. Soon, despite the imperial guards posted at his door, he had made his escape in a basket carried on a porter's back.

By 1675 he had sacked Surat once more. For another nine years he held sway, pushing his raids as far North as Baroch, subduing all the Konkon, save what the English, Portuguese and Abys- sinians held, and forcing the army of Aurangzeb to raise the siege of Bijapur. Then death took him.

Shivaji was dead, but he had created a nation. In 1681-some six months after Shivaji's death-Aurangzeb himself arrived at Burhanpur to take the Deccan in hand. Little did he dream that he had looked his last on Delhi that twenty-five years hence he would still be here, with a demoralised army and the Marathas more powerful than ever.

He began by dispatching his sons Mu'azzam and A'zam to lay waste the Konkon. The wise Marathas cut down all the grass, and then left the Princes to go their way. The country would destroy them more effectively than they them­selves could do. When Mu'azzam and A'zam reached the end of their task, they had scarcely a horse to carry them, and no more than a starving remnant of the army they set out with. No sooner were they gone than Shivaji's son, Sambhaji, swept down with his horsemen on Burhanpur, fired it, and set all the surrounding country in a blaze.

Aurangzeb had marched south to Ahmadnagar by then, his aim being to cut off the resources of the Maratha by reducing the kingdoms of Golconda and Bijapur, which Shivaji had long ago forced to pay tribute to him. Twenty- eight years had gone since, with Mir Jumla, Aurangzeb had so nearly con­quered them. Now the conquest should be complete. When Prince A'zam failed to reduce Bijapur to obedience, Aurangzeb, in the August of 1685, appeared before the doomed capital. For fifteen months he laid siege to it. By November, 1686, the keys were in his hands, and its king, brought before him fettered with silver chains, was sent captive to Daulatabad.

Two months later the iron-willed Emperor drew his line about Golconda. Day by day, in spite of a ceaseless fire from the beleaguered city, the encircling host closed in. At last the ditch was reached, and Aurangzeb himself sewed the first of the sacks which, filled with earth, were thrown into it. But all about the Imperial army the Marathas had laid waste the country. Plague came to add to the horror of famine. For three days rain fell ceaselessly, washing away much of Aurangzeb's entrenchments. Twenty-eight years ago, 'Abdallah, King of Golconda, had sought to appease Aurangzeb with baskets of gems. Now Abu-l-Hasan his successor showed his prisoners the riches of his granaries, and offered both grain and an indemnity if the Emperor would raise the siege.

"Abu-l-Hasan," Aurangzeb answered, "must come to me with clasped hands, or he shall come bound before me. I will then consider what mercy I can show him."

Treachery gave Aurangzeb his will at last. A bribe unlocked a postern gate, and the Mughals poured in. But the Emperor did not forget the valour of his enemy. When Prince A'zam brought Abu-l-Hasan before him, he treated him with courtesy, and then sent him to join the King of Bijapur in Daulatabad.

Now at last Aurangzeb seemed master of the Deccan. But there still remained the Marathas. He had thought to weaken them by destroying Golconda and Bija­pur. He found he had strengthened them, for the vanquished went to swell their numbers. He might push his military occupation as far as Mysore, and drive the Marathas to their hills. Sambhaji, captured, might be put to death, but not even the great Emperor Aurangzeb, with all his armies, could wipe out the nation Shivaji "the mountain rat" had raised.

Year followed year, and still the Emperor strove with his hopeless task. No hardship was too great for him to bear: heat, famine, pestilence, floods. He had been sixty-three when he marched out of Burhanpur. Careri, the Neapolitan traveller, saw him fourteen years later in camp at Galgala: an old white-bearded man, slender and stooping but still indomitable. Four years after that, at the siege of Sattara, when a mine exploded, he made a ravelin with the bodies of his dead, and only with great difficulty was persuaded from leading the attack himself.

Lonely, suspicious, the fate of all Mughal Emperors to fear his own sons did not pass him by. Muhammad the eldest had died in his prison at Gwalior. Mu'azzam, unjustly suspected, had suffered seven years of rigorous captivity. A'zam, Akbar, Kam-Bakhsh, one after the other fell under suspicion, but were forgiven, and for Kam-Bakhsh, the youngest, son of the only woman for whom he ever felt passion, lie had true love.

As he looked back along his life, he felt the years had been profitless, and that he himself was bowed beneath the burden of his sins. Many a time, awake in the darkness of the Deccan night, he must have remembered Shah Jahan, whom he had kept captive in Agra. He must have seen again the blood-stained head of Data in his hands, and Murad-Bakhsh fighting so gallantly at Samugarh. In the fort at Delhi he still had the howdah. Which, stuck as full of arrows as a por­cupine with quills, had shielded Murad Bakhsh that day? A poor reward he had given to Murad Bakhsh. Did he repent of it as he repented of the treat­ment he had given to Shah Jahan? Was this earthly Empire worth all that he had given for it? He had failed, he told himself. The Deccan for which he had striven all these years was a desert and his army but the shadow of itself. Openly the Marathas scoffed at him. At home in Delhi rebellion was raising head. Failure everywhere, he thought, as, pursued by parties of Maratha horse­men, he led the remnant of his army back to Ahmadnagar.

"Peace be with you and yours," he wrote to A'zam. "I am grown very old and weak, and my limbs are feeble. Many were around me when I was born, but now I am going alone. . . . The army is confounded and without help, even as I am: apart from God, with no rest for the heart. They know not whether they have a King or not. . . . Farewell, farewell, farewell."

To beloved Kam-Bakhsh he wrote:

"Soul of my Soul. . . . Now I am going alone. I grieve for your help­lessness. But what is the use? Every torment I have inflicted, every sin I have committed, every wrong I have done, I carry the consequence with me. Strange that I came with nothing into the world, and now go away with this stupendous caravan of sin.... Wherever I look I see only God.... I have greatly sinned, and I know not what torment awaits me. ... I commit you and your sons to God's care, and bid you farewell. I am sorely troubled. Your sick mother, Udaipuri, would fain die with me. .. . Peace."

Haunted by remembrance of his own treatment of Shah Jahan, he kept all his sons away from him. But what would happen after he was gone? Muhammad and Akbar "ere dead: there remained three of his sons, Mu'azzam, A'zam and Kam-Bakhsh. He would prevent war between them if he could, and so he drew up a paper stating that he would have Mu'azzam recognised as Emperor, but that A'zam should share the Empire with shim, one taking Delhi, with the Northern and Eastern Provinces, and the other Agra, with all the country to the South and South-west of it, including all the Deccan, save Golconda and Bijapur; these he left to Kam-Bakhsh.

He died on March 4th, 1707, and near Daulatabad was buried as he had desired: " Carry this creature of dust to the nearest burying place and lay him in the earth with no useless coffin."

The bloodshed that he feared followed. A'zam, as soon as he heard of his father's death, came to Daulatabad and had him­self proclaimed Emperor. At Kabul Mu'azzam did the same. On the plains of Agra the rival forces met, and the battle raged fiercely. A'zam and his two eldest sons were killed, and his youngest, a baby, was captured. Kam Bakhsh, who had acknowledged A'zam as Emperor, refused to yield obedience to Mu'azzam. No concessions would win him, and Mu'azzam finally marched into the Deccan against him. Near Haidarabad a battle was fought, and Kam Bakhsh died of his wounds.

Well might the old Emperor feel all was failure. Mu'azzam, with the title of Bahadar Shah, reigned only five years, not thirty years later Nadir Shah of Persia swept over Hindustan, sacked Delhi and carried off the Peacock Throne. Henceforth the Mughal Emperors were but puppets. In 1803 when General Lake-fighting the Marathas-entered Delhi, he was shown a miserable blind old man, sitting under a tattered canopy. It was Shah-Alam, "King of the World," and captive of the Marathas. Courteously the Englishman raised his hand in salute to the Emperor.


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