Aurangzeb’s Relationship with His Sons

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Aurangzeb possessed a very suspicious temperament. He had already disposed of his brothers at the beginning of his reign and he did not place his trust even in his sons. It has already been pointed out that his son Prince Akbar revolted against him and ultimately went away to Persia.

Prince Sultan, his eldest son, was kept in prison for about 10 years because he had shown sympathy with Shuja and had also married his daughter. Prince Muazzam who later on succeeded Aurangzeb as Bahadur Shah I, displeased his father on account of his sympathy for the Rulers of Bijapur and Golconda.

He was imprisoned in 1687 and released in 1695. Kam Baksh, the youngest son, also suffered imprisonment. Aurangzeb kept all his sons away from him and was always suspicious of their movements. Prince Muazzam was sent to Agra as Governor. Kam Baksh was put in charge of the former territory of Bijapur. Prince Azam was made the Governor of Malwa.

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We are told that at the time of death, Aurangzeb wrote pathetic letters to his sons. To Prince Azam, he wrote thus: “I am grown very old and weak. Many were around me when 1 was born, but now I am going alone. I know not who I am or why I came into the world. I bewail the moments which I spent forgetful of God s worship. I have not done well for the country or its people. My years have gone by profitless. God has been in my heart; yet my darkened eyes have not recognised His light. Life is transient, and the lost moment never comes back.

There is no hope for me in the future. The fever is gone, but nothing is left of me save skin and dried flesh. The army is confounded and without heart or help, even as 1 am, apart from God, with no rest for the heart. They know not whether they have a king or not. Nothing brought 1 into this world but carry with me the burden of my sins.

I knew not what punishment is in store for me to suffer. Though my trust is in the mercy of goodness of God I deplore my sins. When I have lost hope in myself, how can 1 hope in others?’ Come what will, has launched my bark upon the waters! Farewell! Farewell! Farewell.”

To Kam Baksh, Aurangzeb wrote thus: “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 has committed, every wrong I have done, carry the consequence with me. Strange that I came with nothing into the world, and now go away with this stupendous caravan of sin! Whatever I look I see only God.

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You should accept my last will. It should not happen that Mussalmans be killed and the reproach should fall upon the head of his useless creature. I commit you and your sons to the care of God and bid you farewell. I am sorely troubled. Your sick mother Udaipur would fain die with me. May the peace of God be upon you?”

About these letters, V. A. Smith remarks that “The sternest critic of the character and deeds of Aurangzeb can hardly refuse to recognise the pathos of those lamentations or to feel some sympathy for the old man on his lonely death-bead.”

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