Decline of the Mughal Empire

Decline of the Mughal Empire


Aurangzeb imposed Jajiya on all the Hindus in the country.

The Deccan policy of Aurangzeb.

After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the Mughal authority weakened.

As a result many provincial governors gained independent status.

The new emperor, Bahadur Shah I (or Shah Alam; ruled 1707–12), followed a policy of compromise, pardoning all nobles who had supported his rivals.

He granted them appropriate territories and postings.

He never abolished jizya, but the effort to collect the tax were not effective.

In the beginning he tried to gain greater control over the Rajput states of the rajas of Amber (later Jaipur) and Jodhpur. But he failed.

The emperor’s policy toward the Marathas was also that of half-hearted conciliation.

They continued to fight among themselves as well as against the Mughals in the Deccan.


Jahandar Shah (ruled 1712–13) was a weak and ineffective ruler.

His wazir Zulfiqar Khan believed that it was necessary to establish friendly relations with the Rajputs and the Marathas and to conciliate the Hindu chieftains in general in order to save the empire.

He reversed the policies of Aurangzeb.

The hated jizya was abolished.

He continued the old policy of suppression against the Sikhs.

Zulfiqar Khan made several attempts at reforming the economic system.

He failed in his efforts to enhance the revenue collection of the state.


Farrukh Siyar (ruled 1713–19) owed his victory and accession to the Sayyid brothers, Abdullah Khan and Husain Ali Khan Baraha.

The Sayyids thus earned the offices of wazir and chief bakhshi and acquired control over the affairs of state.

They promoted the policies initiated earlier by Zulfiqar Khan.

Jizya and other similar taxes were immediately abolished.

The brothers finally suppressed the Sikh revolt and tried to conciliatethe Rajputs, the Marathas, and the Jats.

However, this policy was hampered by divisiveness between the wazir and the emperor, as the groups tended to ally themselves with one or the other.

The Jats once again started plundering the royal highway between Agra and Delhi.

Farrukh Siyar deputed Raja Jai Singh to lead a punitive campaign against them but wazir negotiated a settlement over the raja’s head.

As a result, throughout northern India zamindars either revolted violently or simply refused to pay assessed revenues.

On the other hand, Farrukh Siyar compounded difficulties in the Deccan by sending letters to some Maratha chiefs urging them to oppose the forces of the Deccan governor, who happened to be the deputy and an associate of Sayyid Husain Ali Khan.

Finally, in 1719, the Sayyid brothers brought Ajit Singh of Jodhpur and a Maratha force to Delhi to depose the emperor.


The murder of Farrukh Siyar created a wave of revulsion against the Sayyids among the various factions of nobility, who were also jealous of their growing power.

Many of these, in particular the old nobles of Aurangzeb’s time, resented the wazir’s encouragement of revenue farming, which in their view was mere shop keeping and violated the age- old Mughal notion of statecraft.

In Farrukh Siyar’s place the brothers raised to the throne three young princes in quick succession within eight months in 1719.

Two of these, Rafi- ud- Darajat and Rafi- ud- Dawlah (Shah Jahan II), died of consumption.

The third, who assumed the title of Muhammad Shah, exhibited sufficient vigour to set about freeing himself from the brothers’ control.

A powerful group under the leadership of the Nizam-ul-Mulk, Chin Qilich Khan, and his father’s cousin Muhammad Amin Khan, the two eminent nobles emerged finally to dislodge the Sayyid brothers (1720).

By the time Muhammad Shah (ruled 1719–48) came to power, the nature of the relationship between the emperor and the nobility had almost completely changed. Individual interests of the nobles had come to guide the course of politics and state activities.

In 1720 Muhammad Amin Khan replaced Sayyid Abdullah Khan as wazir; after Amin Khan’s death (January 1720), the office was occupied by the Nizam-ul-Mulk for a brief period until Amin Khan’s son Qamar-ud-Din Khan assumed the title in July 1724 by a claim of hereditary right.

The nobles themselves virtually dictated these appointments.

By this time the nobles had assumed lot of powers.

They used to get farmans issued in the name of emperor in their favours.

The position of emperor was preserved as a symbol only without real powers.

The real powers seated with important groups of nobles.

The nobles in control of the central offices maintained an all-empire outlook, even if they were more concerned with the stability of the regions where they had their jagirs.

Farmans (mandates granting certain rights or special privileges) to governors, faujdar, and other local officials were sent, in conformity with tradition, in the name of the emperor.

Individual failings of Aurangzeb’s successors also contributed to the decline of royal authority.

Jahandar Shah lacked dignity and decency; Farrukh Siyar was fickle-minded; Muhammad Shah was frivulous and fond of ease and luxury.

Opinions of the emperor’s favourites weighed in the appointments, promotions, and dismissals even in the provinces.