Of all the Hindus, Aurangzeb feared the Rajputs most. For over two decades he had not dared to disclose his real designs against the Hindus out of fear of the powerful Rajput chiefs. He regarded their power and influence as the greatest hurdle in executing his policy of the religious persecution of the Hindus. It was not possible for him to establish the supremacy of Islam in India with subjugating the Rajputs.
Raja Jaswant Singh of Marwar, Rana Raj Singh of Mewar and Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur were three important Rajput rulers at that time. Aurangzeb doubted the loyalty of the Rajputs and wanted to finish their independent existence and annex their states to the empire. He upturned the guiding principle which was enunciated by Akbar and pursued by Jahangir and Shahjahan.
Main Objectives of Rajput Policy of Aurangzeb
Aurangzeb was cynical about the faithfulness of the Rajputs as most of the Rajput general supported Dara Shikoh in the Mughal was of succession. Since Aurangzeb was a Sunni Muslim, he could not rely on the Rajputs who were Hindus. He thought that in his effort to turn India into an Islamic country the chief resistance would come from the Rajputs.
The Rajputs were the pioneer Hindus. They possessed political and military powers. As such they could give tough resistance against his plan of imposing lslamic rule over the Hindus. The Rajputs also sympathized with the Satnami rebels. Some Rajputs generals openly opposed him. Jaswant Singh was an important mansabdar in the Mughal court from the time of Shah Jahan. He sided with Dara Shikoh in the war of succession against him. Raja Jaswant Singh fought against Aurangzeb at the Battle of Dharmat (1658 CE), joined him a little later, but again left his side when he was going to fight with Shah Shuja. However, he was successfully persuaded by Raja Jai Singh to accept the suzerainty of Aurangzeb. Though Jai Singh showed adherence to Aurangzeb’s court but he grew suspicious of him too.
Thus, the two important Rajput rulers-Raja Jaswant Singh and Raja Jai Singh had accepted service under Aurangzeb while Mewar was at peace with the Mughal Empire since the peace-treaty signed during the reign of Jahangir.
Aurangzeb, however, was neither sincere to these Rajput rulers nor he had faith in their loyalty. He deputed Jai Singh to fight in the Deccan who died in 1666 CE. Jaswant Singh was dispatched to fight against the Afghans on the North-West frontier. He proved his commandership there but could not come back alive to the court.
Aurangzeb apprehended stiff resistance from the Rajputs in his project to bring the semiindependent Rajput states under the fold of the Mughal Empire. He followed Islamic principles of kingship and desired to snatch away the Rajput King’s territories and subjugate them.
Attack on Marwar
Jai Singh being already dead, Aurangzeb waited in implementing his plans till the death of Jaswant Singh who died at Jamrud (Afghanistan) in December 1678 CE. The eldest son of Jaswant Singh, Prithvi Singh had died because of a deceitful act of Aurangzeb while his other two sons had died fighting against the Afghans.
Therefore, there was no heir to succeed Jaswant Singh as ruler of Marwar. Aurangzeb dispatched an army to occupy Marwar and it met with easy success as the major part of the Rajput army was in Afghanistan.
Aurangzeb himself went to Ajmer, destroyed the Hindu temples there. Aurangzeb also humiliated the Rathors by selling the throne of Jaswant Singh to the chief of Nagar in 36 lakhs. It was clear that the Emperor now felt himself strong enough to suppress the Rajputs in particular and the Hindus in general.
However, everything was not over yet. While returning from Afghanistan, the two widowed queens of Raja Jaswant Singh gave birth to two sons at Lahore in February 1679 CE. One of them died after a few months while the other, named Ajit Singh live long to enjoy an eventful career. Rajput commander Durga Das Rathor reached Delhi with queens and pleaded with Aurangzeb to recognize Ajit Singh to be the rightful successor of his father’s heritage, but Aurangzeb agreed to his request provided Ajit Singh was converted to Islam. It resulted in the beginning of that war between the Rathors and the Mughals.
Aurangzeb annexed the state of Jodhpur. The family of Jaswant Singh was brought to Delhi. Durga Das rescued Ajit Singh and his mother from the clutches of Aurangzeb by a stratagem, substituting a maid-servant and her child in place of the queen and the prince. By the time, the Mughals came to know about it, Durga Das was beyond the reach of the Mughals.
On Aurangzeb’s orders, the Mughal army went in pursuit for twenty kos but they could not overtake the Rajputs and return unsuccessfully. The small detachments of the Rathors that Durga Das left at different places blocked its way so that Durga Das, Ajit Singh and her mother could reach Marwar safely. Ajit Singh was accepted as the king by the people of Marwar and the war of independence was started by the Rathors under the leadership of Durga Das.
Aurangzeb procured two children of the menials who were declared to be the sons of Maharaja Jaswant Singh and converted them to Islam with fanfare and proclaimed that the protege of Durga Das was a bogus prince. But it brought about no favorable result as the Rathors continued their resistance and Durga Das became their hero.
The Rajputs still cherish his valor and courage and say that “O, mother, produce a son like Durga Das.” Colonel Tod called him the ‘Ulysses’ among the Rathors. According to Jadu Nath Sarkar Durga Das fought against terrible odds and with distrust and wavering among his own countrymen, he kept the cause of his chieftain triumphant. Mughal gold could not seduce, Mughal arms could not daunt that constant heart. He showed the rare combination of the dash and valor of a Rajput soldier with the tact, diplomacy and organizing power of a Mughal minister of state. Durga Das placed Ajit Singh, the first infant son of Maharaja Jaswant Singh, on the throne.
Aurangzeb flew into rage to hear of these developments. He immediately declared war on Marwar. He himself went to Ajmer and deputed a strong Mughal army under the command of Prince Akbar and Tahavvar Khan to take the charge of the campaign against the Rajputs. The Mughals plundered Marwar, destroyed every temple and raised mosques in their place and occupied Marwar by the middle of 1681 CE. The Rathors retired to hills and deserts but continued their confrontation and harassed the Mughals.
Mewar joins the Struggle
Aurangzeb demanded jizya from Raj Singh, ruler of Mewar. He wanted to break the power of the Sisodias.
Ajit Singh’s mother was the princess of Mewar and he feared that Raj Singh would come to the support of Marwar. Raj Singh felt that Aurangzeb would like to finish him and it would be challenging to save Mewar if once Marwar was subdued. Therefore, he decided to join Marwar against the Mughals. He started fortifying the fort of Chitor and deputed a force for the protection of the pass of Devbari.
Aurangzeb anticipated Maharana’s plans and attacked Mewar. He himself left Ajmer in November 1679 CE and advanced towards Udaipur. Maharana left Udaipur and it was easily occupied by the Mughals. Chitor was also seized and it is believed that around 173 temples in Udaipur and 63 temples in Chitor were destroyed.
Raj Singh suffered a defeat in a pitched battle in February 1680 CE. He evacuated Chitor and Udaipur and, retreated to the inaccessible hills with his soldiers and the majority of the subjects.
Aurangzeb returned to Ajmer in January 1680 CE. Rana Raj Singh died a sudden death in November 1680 CE. But the Rajputs continued harassing the Mughals. Aurangzeb deputed his three sons, Akbar, Muazzam and Azam to capture Mewar which was now attacked from three sides. However, the attack proved to be unsuccessful because the princes could not function in union and the Sisodias and the Rathors worked in collaboration.
Prince Akbar’s Revolt
Muhammad Akbar, son of Aurangzeb, was a man of liberal views. He was not satisfied by the unjust and cruel war against the Rajputs which threatened the very foundations of the Mughal Empire.
Maharana Raj Singh and Durga Das proposed to him that if he would declare himself the emperor the combined forces of Mewar and Marwar would support him. However, Maharana Raj Singh died on November 1, 1680 CE. His son and successor Jai Singh also assured Prince Akbar of his support after his coronation.
Tempted by the offer of the Rajputs, Prince Akbar declared himself the emperor of the Mughals on January 1, 1681 CE. It was declared that Aurangzeb had lost his claim over the throne because of his defiance of Islamic laws.
Akbar advanced toward Ajmer with 70,000 Raput soldiers as his allies. Aurangzeb summoned Prince Muazzam to his help and reached Rohara, eight miles ahead of Ajmer to face Akbar. He also successfully defected some Mughal officers of Akbar to his side. He sent a message to Tahavvar Khan, the principal adviser of Akbar that if he would not return to the Imperial side, all his family members who were with Aurangzeb would be put to death. Tahavvar Khan was demoralized, secretly left the camp of Akbar, and reached the royal camp where he was immediately killed.
Aurangzeb planned another stratagem as well. By means of a single act of cunning diplomacy, he created suspicions in the hearts of Rajputs against his rebellious son Akbar. He wrote a letter of commendation to Akbar for having be-fooled and entrapped the Rajputs. The letter was dropped near the Rajput camp and, as desired, was picked up by the Rajputs and handed over to Durga Das.
Although Durga Das was not convinced of it but most of the Rajput chiefs did not agree with him and secretly left the side of Akbar the same night. When Akbar got up in the morning, he found Durga Das and some other chiefs with only two or three thousand soldiers by his side. He was totally discouraged.
Aurangzeb’s troops overran his camp and fled for his dear life again to the Rajputs with only 350 men. Thus, Aurangzeb succeeded in befooling the Rajputs and the revolt of Akbar finished without a single battle. The cunningness of Aurangzeb having been exposed, Prince Akbar and the Rajput leaders were sorry but there was no use of crying over spilt milk.
Durga Das promptly took Akbar under his protection and succeeded in taking him to Maharashtra where he was left under the protection of Shambhaji, son of Shivaji. Aurangzeb chased Akbar and reached Maharashtra in 1682 CE. Akbar felt his life insecure and he flew to Persia by sea. In the way, he was forced to seek shelter with Imam of Masket who agreed to hand him over to Aurangzeb in return of two lakh rupees. However, due to the pressure of the ruler of Persia, Akbar was set free and he reached Persia safely where he died near the closing years of his father’s reign.
Treaty between Mewar and the Mughals
Akbar’s revolt failed, yet it saved Mewar. Aurangzeb was much more afraid of Akbar than any other enemy at that time. It became necessary for Aurangzeb to pursue Akbar. He thought of concluding peace with Mewar. Maharana Jai Singh also wanted to conclude peace with Aurangzeb.
Therefore, a treaty between the two was signed on June 24, 1681 CE on the following terms:
The Mughals settled to withdraw their forces from Mewar.
Maharana Jai Singh accepted the mansab of 5,000 while his son Bhim Singh was given the title of Raja and taken into the Mughal service.
The Maharana surrendered the Parganas of Mandal, Pur and Bednur to the Mughals in lieu of jizya imposed on his kingdom.
War against Marwar
The Rathors sustained their struggle against Aurangzeb even after the conclusion of peace with Mewar. While Durga Das was in the Deccan with Prince Akbar from 1681 to 1687 CE, the Rathors fought against the Mughals, without any leader. It was mostly guerrilla warfare and the Mughal outposts were greatly harassed. The Mughals remained encamped in Marwar.
In 1687 CE, Durga Das returned to Marwar from the Maratha camp in Deccan and reactivated the freedom struggle against the imperialists. By that time, Ajit Singh had become young. Therefore, both led the Rathors, recaptured some military posts of the Mughals and raided the Mughal territory up to the vicinity of Delhi. Raja Durjan Sal Hara of Bundi was one of their allies in the struggle.
In 1694 CE, Durga Das handed over the daughter of Prince Akbar, Safiyat-un-nisa and in 1698 CE, his son Buland Akhtar to Aurangzeb. Durga Das had not only gave shelter to these children but had given them good education and even that of principles of Islam which created an atmosphere of friendliness between the Rathors and the Mughals. It resulted in peace between the two. Ajit Singh was offered the jagir of Jalor, Sanchod and Siwana and Durga Das was given the Faujdari of Patan in Gujarat and the mansab of 3,000.
Thus, both were taken into the Mughal service. It was no respectable settlement for the Rathors. However, they compromised and utilized next some years to strengthen themselves.
In 1701 CE, Ajit Singh and Durga Das again revolted but again agreed for peace in 1704-05 CE. By 1707 CE, Ajit Singh had become the de facto ruler of the major part of his state. Aurangzeb died in the South on February 20, 1707 CE. Ajit Singh came to know about Aurangzeb’s death on March 4, and three days later, he led the final assault on the Mughal troops and succeeded in capturing the capital city of Jodhpur.
According to Jadu Nath Sarkar, when Ajit Singh entered Jodhpur, the Mughals ran away, leaving their property behind. They were killed or imprisoned. Many of them fled in the disguise of Hindus, to escape the cruel vengeance of the Rajputs. The fort of Jodhpur was purified with the water of the holy river Ganga and Tulsi leaves. Gradually Ajit Singh regained all territory of Marwar and the work initiated by Durga Das, finally, came to a successful conclusion. In 1709 CE, Bahadur Shah I, the son and successor of Aurangzeb, recognized Ajit Singh as the Rana of Marwar.
Results of the Rajput Policy
The Rajput policy of Aurangzeb alienated the sympathy of the loyal Rathor and Sisodia clans from the Mughal throne.
According to Jadu Nath Sarkar, the results of the Rajput policy of Aurangzeb were disastrous to the Mughal Empire. Several thousands of lives were sacrificed and enormous amounts of money was squandered away without any lasting success or benefit to the emperor. Constant war with Rajputs was highly damaging to the prestige of the Mughal Empire. It was definitely an act of political un-wisdom on the part of Aurangzeb to provoke the hostility of the Rajputs.
Aurangzeb’s rash policy deprived him of the devoted loyal services of gallant Rajput chiefs and soldiers which he needed badly to fight against the Marathas in the South and the restless Afghan tribes in the North-West frontier.
As the emperor was busy in a futile war with the Rajputs in the North, the Southern rulers became more powerful. The Marathas took full advantage of this situation.Aurangzeb’s narrow vision and religious fanaticism led him to break the pillars on which the empire rested for more than a hundred years.
Rajputs were the most dreaded enemies of Aurangzeb. It was not possible for him to establish the supremacy of Islam in India with subjugating the Rajputs.
Aurangzeb adopted a stern and strict policy towards the Rajputs
Raja Jaswant Singh of Marwar, Rana Raj Singh of Mewar and Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur were three important Rajput rulers during the time of Aurangzeb.
All the three rulers were at peace with the Mughals under Aurangzeb ascended the throne.
Aurangzeb reversed the Rajput policy enunciated by Akbar and pursued by Jahangir and Shahjahan.
Aurangzeb was cynical about the faithfulness of the Rajputs as most of the Rajput general supported Dara Shikoh in the Mughal was of succession.
He apprehended stiff resistance from the Rajputs in his project to bring the semiindependent Rajput states under the fold of the Mughal Empire.
Aurangzeb deputed Raja Jai Singh in the Deccan where he died in 1666 CE. He send Raja Jaswant Singh to defend the North-West Frontier of his empire.
Raja Jaswant Singh died in Afghanistan in 1678 CE. So Aurangzeb occupied Marwar.
However, while returning from Afghanistan, the two wives of Raja Jaswant Singh gave birth to two sons at Lahore. One of them died but the other named Ajit Singh remained alive.
Durga Das, the Rajput commander, came to Delhi with the prince and requested Aurangzeb to hand over Marwar to Maharaja Ajit Singh. Aurangzeb did not agree.
Ajit Singh was declared the ruler of Marwar and the war of liberation of Marwar commenced from that time.
Rana Raj Singh of Mewar, gave support to Marwar as he realized that it was in the interest of Mewar to fight against the Mughals.
In 1681 CE, Akbar, son of Aurangzeb revolted against his father with the support of the Rajputs.
The revolt of Akbar failed and he fled to Deccan under the protection of Durga Das. Aurangzeb offered peace to Mewar and it was accepted.
However, the Rathors of Marwar continued their fight against the Mughals.
In pursuit of his son Akbar, Aurangzeb left for Deccan and could never come back from there. Marwar fought against the Mughals till the death of the Aurangzeb in 1707 CE, of course accepting peace in between twice, and finally succeeded in attaining its independence.
Thus, Aurangzeb proved to unsuccessful in subduing either Mewar or Marwar. The only result of his policy against these states was that he lost the support of the Rajputs.
The Rajputs, who were one of the loyal supporters of the Mughal Empire since the reign of Akbar, revolted against Aurangzeb.
Their services could no more be utilized in consolidating the Mughal Empire. On the contrary, it multiplied the problems of the empire.
It led to other revolts also. Thus, the Rajput policy of Aurangzeb proved to be a failure and resulted in the weakening of the Mughal Empire.