Aurangzeb Ascended the Throne - [July 31, 1658] This Day in History

On 31 July 1658, Aurangzeb appointed himself as Mughal emperor. He was the son of his predecessor Shah Jahan. Learn some basic facts about Aurangzeb’s accession to the throne for the IAS Exam (Prelims, Mains GS 1, History Optionals) preparation.

Aspirants should learn about other Medieval and Modern Indian History topics which are important for Civil Services Examination. Check the following links to aid your history preparation:

Quick Facts about Aurangzeb for UPSC

Who was Aurangzeb?

He was Muhi-ud-Din Muhammad famously called Aurangzeb. He was the sixth Mughal emperor.

Whose son was Aurangzeb?

He was Shah Jahan’s younger son.

Who was the mother of Aurangzeb?

Mumtaz Mahal was Aurangzeb’s mother.

What were the titles given to Aurangzeb?

His regnal title was Alamgir; while his father Shah Jahan conferred the title, ‘Bahadur’ to Aurangzeb after he defeated an elephant.

Who was defeated by Aurangzeb?

His elder brother Dara Shikoh was defeated by Aurangzeb.

Learn more about the Mughal lineage from the links provided below:

UPSC Notes on Aurangzeb’s Accession to Throne

  • Aurangzeb ascended the throne in 1658 and ruled supreme till 1707.
  • Thus Aurangzeb ruled for 50 years, matching Akbar’s reign in longevity. But unfortunately, he kept his five sons away from the royal court with the result that none of them was trained in the art of government.
  • Aurangzeb was the third son of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan; his mother was Mumtaz Mahal, who is buried in the Taj Mahal. Aurangzeb displayed his prowess in military and administrative affairs in various appointments, which gradually caused him to envy his eldest brother Dara Shikoh, the designated successor to the throne.
  • Aurangzeb did not share the interest of his ancestors and relatives in the arts, drink and the good life generally but was serious-minded and religious. He had been bequeathed an empire that had flourished for nearly a century under the prudent administrative and economic procedures introduced by his great-grandfather, Akbar the Great. The economic boom had led to the development of artisanal activity in all villages, and the municipalities had become economically much less dependent on the central power.
  • Aurangzeb tried to check the growing independence of the different parts of his empire by returning to autocratic rule. He abandoned the policy of separation of religion and state and turned away from the policy of religious tolerance that during the previous three generations had kept Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and others together in peace and common destiny. In 1675 he executed the Sikh guru Tegh Bahadur because of his refusal to convert to Islam.
  • In 1679 Aurangzeb reintroduced the jizya, a poll tax for non-Muslims that had been abolished by Akbar the Great a century earlier. The result was a Rajput revolt (who being staunch Hindus resented Aurangzeb’s intolerance), supported by Aurganzeb’s third son Akbar, in 1680 – 1681. In the south of the empire the Maratha kingdom was conquered and broken up and its ruler Sambhaji executed in 1689, which started a long and exhausting guerilla campaign by the Maratha Hindu population.
  • The continued battles and struggles placed a severe strain on the empire’s finances, and increased taxation led to several peasant revolts, often but not always under the guise of religious movements.
  • At Aurangzeb’s death, the empire was larger than before but severely weakened. It survived for another 150 years but was in constant religious strife. What Akbar the Great had so magnificently begun collapsed 300 years later under the colonial onslaught because the empire’s economic progress did not lead to the political reform that would have allowed further development.
  • This proved to be very damaging for the Mughals later on. During his 5 decades of rule, Aurangzeb tried to fulfil his ambition of bringing the entire subcontinent under one rule. It was under him that the Mughal Empire reached its peak in terms of the area.
  • He worked hard for years but his health broke down in the end. He died in 1707 aged 90, leaving behind no personal wealth. With his death, the forces of disintegration set in and the mighty Mughal Empire started collapsing.

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