Saturday, December 17, 2022

A Pen sharper than the Sword

 A Pen Sharper than the Sword

Muhammad Akbar (1657-1706) was the 4th son of Aurangzeb (Muhiuddin) and his chief consort Dilras Banu Begum, a Persian lady and a daughter of Mirza Badi-uz-Zaman Safavi Mughal Governor of Gujarat. His mother died when he was only one month old. He was brought up by his eldest sister Zebun Nissa (not married) and was the best loved son of his father. Akbar was wedded in 1672 to a granddaughter of Dara Shikoh who was elder brother of Aurangzeb and had been killed at Aurangzeb’s behest. 

Maharaja Jashwant Singh was the ruler of Jodhpur State and a vassal of Mughal emperor who died in December 1678 when his two wives were pregnant. Aurangzeb annexed the State to secure the succession of any male infant born to the pregnant widows. Ajit Singh was born to one of the widows and the Rajput of Jodhpur aligned with Mewar started attacking the Mughal posts. Aurangzeb’s army under his three sons made all round attacks from all sides of Arvalli hills but two of them were defeated by Rajputs. Akbar tried to bribe Rajput Sardars but instead Rajputs reminded Akbar about the tolerant policies of his great grandfather Emperor Akbar and incited him to rebel against his father. Akbar wrote to his father regarding two calamities on Hindus, exaction of jizya in the towns and operation in the countryside and declared himself the Emperor of India on 1st January 1681. Aurangzeb was stationed at Aurangabad to control Marathas and South after the death of Shivaji in 1980 and Akbar his son was rebellion against him with the support of Rajputs. Shambhaji the son of Shivaji was to the side of Akbar as both were friends developed their friendship when Shambhaji was kept in captive of Mughal to maintain check over Shivaji. Akbar with Rathores of Marwar (Jodhpur) and Sisodia of Mewar became a threat to Aurangzeb. 

Aurangzeb became diplomat and wrote two letters. First letter was written to Tahawwur Khan, the Mughal Sardar with Akbar promising pardon and threatening to submit to save his family from dishonour. He came to his master but was killed at the entrance of the tent on Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb wrote another letter to his son Akbar in such a way that it could be interpreted by the Rajputs differently. He congratulated his son for bringing the Rajput guerillas out in the open where they could be crushed by father and son together. Rajputs suspected the letter false and therefore went to Akbar’s camp for clarification but when they saw that Tahawwur Khan had disappeared and therefore suspecting the worst they dispersed in the night. In the morning, Akbar was left with few of his confidants went to Rathore leader Durga Das who took him to Sambhaji for support to place Akbar to the throne of Delhi. Akbar stayed with Sambhaji but Sambhaji was engaged in war with the neighburs of his kingdom, therefore he sent Akbar to Persia in 1686. Aurangzeb put all his attention in removal of Sambhaji and his forces were succeeded in capturing Sambhaji from a temple premise in Sangameshwar in February 1689 and was insulted and executed brutally in March 1689. 

In Persia, Akbar was praying for the death of his father daily. When Aurangzeb heard about his prayer, he remarked, "Let us see who dies first. He or I!"

As it turned out, Akbar died at the twin of Mashhad in Persia on 31 March 1706, one year before his father's demise on 3rd March 1707.  His two children were brought up by Rajputs and were fluent in Rajasthani language. 

When sword fails, a letter of diplomacy can change the outcome. However, the weakened empire of Mughals couldn’t hold for long by the later Mughals as regional powers became stronger and finally was replaced by the British. 


11 December 2022


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