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India
(Part 21)




INDIA - HISTORY (cont.)

6. Mahometan Period


At the very time that Buddhism was being crushed out of India by the Bráhmanic reaction, a new faith was being born in Arabia, destined to supply a youthful fanaticism which should sweep the country from the Himálayas to Cape Comorin, and from the western to the eastern sea. Muhammad, commonly known as Mahomet, the founder of Islám, died at median in 632 A.D., while the Chinese pilgrim Hwen Tsang was still on his travels. The first Mahometan invasion of India is placed in 664, only thirty-two years after the death of the prophet. The Punjab is said to have been ravaged on this occasion with no permanent results. The first Mahometan conquest was the outlaying province of Sind, which from the point of view of geology may be regarded as a continuation of the desert of Baluchistán. In 711, or seventy-nine years after the death of Mahomet, an Arab army under Muhammad Kásim invaded and conquered the Hindus of Sind in the name of Walid I., calip of Damascus, of the Bene-Umyyeh line. In the same year Roderic, the last of the Goths, fell before the victorious Saracens in Spain. But in India the bravery of the Rájputs and the devotion of the Bráhmans seem to have afforded a stronger national bulwark than existed in western Europe. In 750 the Hindus rose in rebellion and drove out the Musalmán tyrant, and the land had rest for one hundred and fifty years.

The next Mahometan invasion of India is associated with the name of Sultán of Ghazni. Mahmúd was the eldest son of Sabuktagín, surnamed Nasr-ud-din, in origin a Turkish slave, who had established his rule over the greater part of modern Afghánistán and Khorasán with Ghazní as his capital. In 977 Sabuktagin is said to have defeated Jáipal, the Hindu raga of Lahore, and to have rendered the Punjab tributary. But his son Mahmúd was the first of the great Musalmán conquerors whose names still ring through Asia. Mahmúd succeeded to the throne in 997. During his reign of thirty-three years he extended the limits of his father’s kingdom from Persia on the east to the Ganges on the west; and it is related that he led his armies into the plains of India no less then seventeen times, In 1001 he defeated Rájá Jáipal a second time, and took him prisoner. But Anandpal, the son of Jáipal, raised again the standard of national independence, and gathered an army of Rájput allies from the furthest corners of Hindustán. The decisive battle was fought in the valley of Pesháwar. Magmúd won the day by the aid of his Turkish horsemen, and thenceforth the Punjab has been a Mahometan province, except during the brief period of Sínk supremacy. The most famous of Mahmúd’s invasions of India was that undertaken in 1024 against Guzerat. The goal of this expedition was the temple dedicated to Siva at Somnáth, around which so many legends have gathered. It is reported that Mahmúd marched through Ajmír, to avoid the dessert of Sind; that he found the Hindus gathered on the neck of the peninsula of Somnáth in defence of their holy city; that the battle lasted for two days; that in the end the Rájput warriors fled to their boats, while the Bráhman priests retired into the inmost shrine; that Mahmúd, introduced into this shrine, rejected all entreaties by the Bráhmans to spare their idol, and all offers of ransom; that he smote the image with his club, and forthwith a fountain of precious stones gushed out. Until the British invasion of Afghánistán in 1839, the club of Mahmúd and the sandal-wood gates of Somnáth were preserved at the tomb of the great conqueror near Ghazni. The club has now disappeared, and the gates carried back to India by General Nott are recognized to be a clumsy forgery. To Mahometans Mahmúd is known, not only as a champion of the faith, but as a munificent patron of literature. The dynasty that he found was not long-lived. Fourteen of his descendants occupied his throne within little more than a century, but none of them achieved greatness. A blood-feud arose between them and a line of Afghán princes who had established themselves among the mountains of Ghor. In 1152 Bahrám, the last of the Ghaznivide Turks, was overthrown by Allah-ud-dín of Ghor, and the wealthy and populous city of Ghazni was razed to the ground. But even the Ghoride conqueror spared the tomb of Mahmúd.

Khusru, the son of Bahrám, fled to Lahore, and there established the first Mashometan dynasty within India. It speedily ended with his son, also called Khusru, whom Muhammad Ghori, the relentless enemy of the Ghaznivide house, carried away into captivity in 1186.

The Afgháns of Ghor or Ghur thus arose to power on the downfall of the Turks of Ghazni. The founder of the family is said to have been Izzued-dín al Husálin, whose son Allah-ud-din destroyed Ghazni, as already mentioned. Allah-ud-dín had two nephews, Ghiyás-ud-dín and Muiz-ud-dín, the latter of whom, also called Shahab-ud-dín by Musalmán chroniclers, and generally known in history as Muhammad Ghori, is the second of the great Mahometan conquerors of India. In 1176 he took Múltán and Uchch; in 1187 Lahore fell into his hands; in 1191 he was repulsed before Delhi, but soon afterwards he redeemed this disaster. Hindustán Proper was at that period divided between the two Rájput kingdoms of Kanauj and Delhi. Muhammad Ghori achieved his object by playing off the rival kings against each other. By 1993 he had extended his conquests as far east as Benares, and the defeated Rájputs migrated in a body to the hills and deserts now known as Rájputána. In 1199 one of his lieutenants, named Bakhtiyar, advanced into Bengal, and expelled by an audacious stratagem the last Hindu raja of Nadiyá. The entire northern plain, from the Indus to the Brahmaputra, thus lay under the Mahometan yoke. But Muhammad Ghori never settled himself permanently in India. His favourite residence is said to have been the old capital of Ghazni, while he governed his Indian conquests through the agency of a favourite slave, Kutab-ud-dín. Muhammad Ghori died in 1206, being assassinated by some Ghakkar tribesmen while sleeping in his tent by the bank of the Indus; on his death both Ghor and Ghazni drop out of history, and Delhi first appears as the Mahometan capital of India.

On the death of Muhammad Ghori, Kutab-ud-dín at once laid aside the title of viceroy, and proclaimed himself sultan of Delhi. He was the founder of what is known as the slave dynasty. Which lasted for nearly a century (1206-1288). The name of Kutab is preserved in the minar, or pillar of victory, which still stands amid the ruins of ancient Delhi, towering high above all later structures. Kutab himself is said to have been successful as a general and an administrator, but none of his successors has left a mark in history.

In 1294 Allah-ud-dín Khiljí, the third of the great Mahometan conquerors of India, raised himself to the throne of Delhi by the treacherous assassination of his uncle Firoz II., who had himself supplanted the last of the slave dynasty. Allah-ud-dín had already won military renown by his expeditions into the yet unsubdued south. He had plundered the temples at Bhílsa in central India, which are admired to the present day as the most interesting examples of Buddhist architecture in the country. At the head of a small band of horsemen, he had ridden as far south as Deogiri in the Deccan, and plundered the Marhattá capital. When once established as sultan, he planned more extensive schemes of conquest. One army was sent to Guzerat under Alaf Khán, who conquered and expelled the last Rájput of Anhalwár or Pátan. Another army, led by the sultan in person, marched into the heart of Rájputána, and stormed the rock-fortress of Chitor, where the Rájputs had taken refuge with their Chitor, where the Rájputs had taken refuge with their women and children A third army, commanded by Malik Kafúr, a Hindu renegade and favourite of Allah-ud-dín, penetrated to the extreme south of the peninsula, scattering the unwarlike Dravidian races, and stripping every Hindu temple of its accumulations of gold and jewels. To this day the name of Malik Kafúr is remembered in the remote district of Madura, in association with irresistible fate and every form of sacrilege.

Allah-ud-dín died in 1316, having subjected to Islám the Deccan and Guzerat. Three of his descendants followed him upon the throne, but their united reigns extended over only five years. In 1321 a successful revolt was headed by Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlak, governor of the Punjab, who is said to have been of Turkish origin. The Tughlak dynasty lasted for about seventy years, until it was swept away by the invasion of Timúr, the fourth Mahometan conqueror of India, in 1398. Ghiyas-ud-dín, the founder of the line, is only known for having removed the capital from Delhi to a spot about 4 miles further to the east, which he called Tughlakábáb. His son and successor, Muhammad Tughlak, who reigned from 1325 to 1351, is described by Elphinstone as "one of the most accomplished princes and one of the most furious tyrants that ever adorned or disgraced human nature." He wasted the treasure accumulated by Allah-ud-dín in purchasing the retirement of the Mughal hordes, who had already made their appearance in the Punjab. When the internal circulation failed, he issued a forced currency of copper, which is said to have deranged the whole commerce of the country. At one time he raised an army for the invasion of Persia. At another he actually dispatched an expedition against China, which perished miserably in the Himálayan passes. When Hindustán was thus suffering from his misgovernment, he conceived the project of transferring the seat of empire to the Deccan, and compelled the inhabitants of Delhi to remove a distance of 700 miles to Deogiri or Daulatábád. And yet during the reign of this sultan both the Tughlak dynasty and the city of Delhi are said to have attained their utmost growth. Muhammad was succeeded by his cousin Firoz, who likewise was not content without a new capital, which he placed a few miles north of Delhi, and called after his own name. Meanwhile the remote provinces of the empire began to thrown off their allegiance to the sultans of Delhi. The independence of the Afghán kings of Bengal is generally dated from 1336, when Muhammad Tughlak was yet on the throne. The commencement of the reign of Allah-ud-dín, the founder of the Báhmani dynasty in the Deccan, is variously assigned to 1347 and 1357. Zafar Khán, the first of the Ahmadábád kings acted as an independent ruler from the time of his first appointment as governor of Guzerat in 1391. These and other revolts prepared the way for the fourth great invasion of India under Timúr (Tamerlane).





Accordingly, when Timúr invaded India in 1398, he encountered but little organized resistance. Mahmúd, the last of the Tughlak dynasty, being defeated in a battle outside the walls of Delhi, fled into Guzerat. The city was sacked and the inhabitants massacred by the victorious Mughals. But the invasion of Timúr left no permanent impress upon the history of India, except in so far as its memory fired the imagination of Bábar (Baber), the founder of the Mughal dynasty. The details of the fighting and of the atrocities may be found related in cold blood by Timúr himself in the Malfuzat-i-Timúri, which has been translated in Elliot’s History of India as told by its own Historians, vol. iii. Timúr marched back to Samarkand as he had come, by way of Cabul, the Mahmúd Tughlak ventured to return to his desolate capital. He was succeeded by what is known as the Sayyid dynasty, which held Delhi and a few miles of surrounding country for about forty years. The Sayyids were in their turn expelled by Beloli, and Afghán of the Lodi tribe, whose successors removed the seat of government to Agra, which thus for the first time became the imperial city. In 1525 Bábar (Baber), the fifth in descent from Timúr, and also the fifth Mahometan conqueror, invaded India at the investigation of the governor of the Punjab, won the victory of Pánipat over Ibráhim, the last of the Lodi dynasty, and founded the Mughal empire, which lasted, at least in name, until 1857.

Before entering upon the story of the Mughal empire, it is desirable to give a short sketch of the condition of southern India at this period, which marks a turning point in Indian history. The earliest local traditions agree in dividing the extreme south into four provinces, Kerala, Pandya, Chola, and Chera, which together made up the country of Dravida, occupied by Tamil-speaking races. Of these kingdoms the greatest was that of Pandya, with its capital of Madura, the foundation of which is assigned on high authority to the 4th century B.C. Other early southern cities whose sites can be identified are Combaconum and Tanjore, the successive capitals of the Chola kingsom, and Talkad in Mysore, now buried by the sands of the Káveri (Cauvery), the capital of the Chera kingdom. The local Purana, or chronicle of Madura, gives a list of two Pandyan dynasties, the first of which has seventy-three-kings, the second forty-three. Parakrama, the last king of the second dynasty, was overthrown by the Mahometan invader, Málik Kafúr, in 1324; but the Musalmáns never established their power in the extreme south, and a series of Hindu lines ruled at Madura into the 18th century. No other Dravidian kingdom can boast such a continuous succession as that of Madura. The chronicles enumerate fifty Chera kings, and no less than sixty-six Chola kings, as well many minor dynasties which ruled at various periods over fractions of the south. Little confidence, however, can be placed in Hindu genealogies, and the early history of the Dravidian races yet remains to be deciphered from mouldering palm leaves and the more trustworthy inscriptions on copper and stone. Authentic history begins with the Hindu empire of Vijayanagar or Narsingha, which exercised an ill-defined sovereignty over the entire south from the 12th to the 16th century. The foundation of the city of Vijayanagar is assigned to the year 1118, and to an eponymous hero, Rájá Vijaya, the faith of his line. Its extensive ruins are still to be traced on the right bank of the Tungabhadra river within the Madras district of Bellary. The city itself has not been inhabited since it was sacked by the Mahometans in 1565, but vast remains still exist of temples, fortifications, tanks, and bridges, haunted by beasts of prey and venomous reptiles. The empire of Vijayanagar represents the last stand made by the national faith in India against conquering Islám. Fro the least three centuries its sway over the south was undisputed, and its rajas wages wars and concluded treatises of peace with the sultans of the Deccan on equal terms.

The earliest of the Mahometan dynasties in the Deccan was that founded by Allah-ud-dín in 1347 or 1357, which has received the name of the Báhmani dynasty from the supposed Bráhman descent of its founder. The capital was first at Gulbargah, and was afterwards removed to Bidar, both which placed still possess magnificent palaces and mosques in ruins. Towards the close of the 14th century the Báhmani empire fell to pieces, and five independent kingdoms divided the Deccan among them. These were—(1) the Adíl Sháhi dynasty, with its capital at Bíjapur, founded in 1489 by a son of Amurath II., sultan of the Ottomans; (2) the Kutab Shahí dynasty, with its capital at Golconda, founded in 1512 by a Turkoman adventurer; (3) the Nizám Shádi dynasty, with its capital at Ahmadnagar, founded in 1490 by a Bráhman renegade, from the Vijayanagar court; (4) the Ímad Sháhi dynasty of Berrar, with its capital at Ellichpur, founded in 1484 also by a Hindu from Vijayanagar; (5) the Barid Sháhi dynasty, with its capital at Bidar, founded about 1492 by one who is variously described as a Turk and a Georgian slave. It is of course, impossible here to trace in detail the history of these several dynasties. In 1565 they combined against the Hindu raja of Vijayanagar, who was defeated and slain in the decisive battle of Talikota. But, though the city was sacked and the supremacy of Vijayanagar for ever destroyed, the Mahometan victors did not themselves advance into the south. The Naiks or feudatories of Vijayanagar everywhere asserted their independence. From them are descended the well-known Pálegárs of the south, and also the present raja of Mysore. One of the blood-royal of Vijayanagar fled to Chandragiri, and founded a line which exercised a prerogative of its former sovereignty by granting the site of Madras to the English in 1639. Another scion claiming the same high descent lingers to the present day near the ruins of Vijayanagar, and is known as the raja of Anagundi, a feudatory of the nizám of Hyderabad. Despite frequent internal strife, the sultans of the Deccan retained their independence until conquered by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in the latter half of the 17th century. To complete this sketch of India at the time of Bábar’s invasion it remains to say that an independent Mahometan dynasty reigned at Ahmadábád in Guzerat for nearly two centuries (from 1391 to 1573), until conquered by Akbar; and that Bengal was similarly independent, under a line of Afghán kings, with Gaur for their capital, from 1336 to 1573. When therefore, Bábar invader India in 1525, the greater part of the country was Mahometan, but it did not recognize the authority of the Afghán sultan of the Lodi dynasty, who resided at Agra, and also ruled the historical capital of Delhi. After having won the battle of Pánipat, Bábar was no more acknowledged as emperor of India than his ancestor Timúr had been. Bábar, however, unlike Timúr, had resolved to settle in the plains of Hindustán, and carve out for himself a new empire with the help of his Mughal followers. His first task was to repel an attack by the Rájputs of Chitor, who seem to have attempted to re-established at this time a Hindu empire. The battle was fought at Sikri near Agra, and is memorable for the vow made by the easy living Bábar that he would never again touch wine. Bábar was again victorious, but died shortly afterwards in 1530. He was succeeded by his son Humáyún, who is chiefly known as being the father of Akbar. In Humáyúns reign the subject Afgháns rose in revolt under Sher Sháh, a native of Bengal, who for a short time established his authority over all Hindustán. Humáyún was driven as an exile into Persia; and, while he was dying through the desert of Sind, his son Akbar was born to him in the petty fortress of Umarkot. But Sher Sháh was killed at the storming of the rock-fortress of Kálinjarm and Humáyún, after many vicissitudes, succeeded in re-establishing his authority at Lahore and Delhi.





Humáyún died by an accident in 1556, leaving but a circumscribed kingdom, surrounded on every side by active foes, to his son Akbar, then a boy of only fourteen years. Akbar the Great, the real founder of the Mughal empire as it existed for two centuries, was the contemporary of our own Queen Elizabeth (1558-1603). He was born in 1542, and his reign lasted from 1556 to 1605. When his father died he was absent in the Punjab, fighting the revolted Afgháns, under the guardianship of Bairám Khán, a native of Badakshán, whose military skill largely contributed to recover the throne for the Mughal line. For the first seven years of his reign Akbar was perpetually engaged in warfare. His first task was to establish his authority in the Punjab, and in the country around Delhi and Agra. In 1568 he stormed the Rájput stronghold of Chitor, and conquered Ajmír. In 1570 he obtained possession of Oudh and Gwalior. In 1572 he marched in person into Guzerat, defeated the last of the independent sultans of Ahmadábád, and formed the province into a Mughal viceroyalty or subah. In the same year his generals drove out the Afgháns from Bengal, and reunited the lower valley of the Ganges to Hindustán. Akbar was then the undisputed ruler of a larger portion of India than has ever before acknowledged the sway of one man. But he continued to extend his conquests throughout his lifetime. In 1578 Orissa was annexed to Bengal by his Hindu general Todar Mall, who forthwith organized a revenue survey of the whole province. Cabul submitted in 1581, Kashmír in 1586, Sind in 1592, and Kandahár in 1594. At last he turned his arms against the Mahometan kings of the Deccan, and wrested from them Berar; but the permanent conquest of the south was reserved for Aurangzeb.

If the history of Akbar were confined to this long list of conquests, his name would on their account alone find a high place among those which mankind delights to remember. But it is as a civil administrator that his reputation is cherished in India to the present day. With regard to the land revenue, the essence of his procedure was to fix the amount which the cultivators should pay at one-third of the gross produce, leaving it to their option to pay in money or in kind. The total land revenue received by Akbar amounted to about 16 _ millions sterling. Comparing the are of his empire with the corresponding area now under the British, it has been calculated that Akbar, three hundred years ago, obtained 15 _ millions where they obtain only 13 _ millions,—an amount representing not more than one-half the purchasing power of Akbar’s 15 _ millions. The distinction between khálsá land, or the imperial demesne, and jagír lands, granted revenue free or at quit rent in reward for services, also dates from the time of Akbar. As regards his military system, Akbar invented a sort of feudal organization, by which every tributary raja took his place by the side of his own Mughal nobles. In theory it was an aristocracy based only upon military command; but practically it accomplished the object at which it aimed by incorporating the hereditary chiefships of Rájputána among the mushroom creations of a Mahometan despotism. Musalmáns and Hindus were alike known only as mansabdárs or commanders of so many horse, the highest title being that of amír (ameer), corrupted by European travelers into umrah or omrah. The third and last of Akbar’s characteristic measures were those connected with religious innovation, about which it is difficult to speak with precision. The necessity of conciliating the proud warriors of Rájputana had taught him toleration from his earliest days. His favourite wife was a Rájput princess, and another wife is said to have been a Christian. Out of four hundred and fifteen of his mansabdárs whose names are recorded, as many as fifty-one were Hindus. Starting from the broad ground of general toleration, Akbar was gradually led on by the stimulus of cosmopolitan discussion to question the truth of his inherited faith. The counsils of his friend Abul Fazl, coinciding with that sense of superhuman omnipotence which is bred of despotic power, led him at last to promulgate a new state religion, based upon natural theology, and comprising the best practices of all known creeds. In this strange faith Akbar himself was the prophet, or rather the head of the church. Every morning he worshipped the sun in public, as being the representative of the divine soul that animates the universe, while he was himself worshipped by the ignorant multitude.

Akbar died in 1605, in his sixty-third year. He lies buried beneath a plain slab in the magnificent mausoleum which he had reared at Sikandra, near his capital of Agra. As his name is still cherished in India, so his tomb is still honoured, being covered by a cloth presented by Lord Northbrook when viceroy in 1873.

The reign of Jahángír, his son, extended form 1605 to 1627. It is chiefly remarkable for the influence exercised over the emperor by his favourite wife, surnamed Núr Mahál, or the Light of the Harem. The currency was struck in her name, and in her hands centered all the intriques that made up the work of administration. She lies buried by the side of her husband at Lahore, whither the seat of government had been moved by Jahángír, just as Akbar had previously transferred it from Delhi to Agra. It was in the reign of Jahángír that the English first established themselves at Surat, and also sent their first embassy to the Mughal court.

Jahángír was succeeded by his son Sháb Jahán, who had rebelled against his father, as Jáhangír had rebelled against Akbar. Sháh Jahán’s reign is generally regarded as the period when the Mughal empire attained its greatest magnificence, though not its greatest extent of territory. He founded the existing city of Delhi, which is still known to its Mahometan inhabitants as Jahánábád. At Delhi also he erected the celebrated peacock throne; but his favourite place of residence was Agra, where his name will ever be associated with the marvel of Indian architecture, the Táj Mahál. That most chaste and most ornamental of buildings was erected by Sháh Jahán as the mausoleum of his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahál, and he himself lies by her side. It is said that twenty thousand workmen laboured on the work for twenty-years. Besides the Táj, Sháh Jahán also built at Agra within the old fort the palace and the pearl mosque, both of which, like the Táj, have been preserved to be objects of admiration to the present day. Sháh Jahán had four sons, whose fratricidal wars for the succession during their father’s lifetime it would be tedious to dwell upon. Suffice it to say that Aurangzeb, by mingled treachery and violence, supplanted or overthrew his brothers and proclaimed himself emperor in 1658, while Sháh Jahán was yet alive.

Aurangzeb’s long reign, from 1658 to 1707, may be regarded as representing both the culminating point of Mughal power and the beginning of its decay. Unattractive as his character was, it contained at least some elements of greatness. None of his successors on the throne was anything higher than a debauchee or a puppet. He was the first to conquer the independent sultans of the deccan, and to extend his authority to the extreme south. But even during his lifetime two new Hindu nationalities were being formed in the Marhattás and the Síkhs; while immediately after his death the nawabs of the Deccan, of Oudh, and of Bengal raised themselves to practical independence. Aurangzeb had indeed enlarged the empire, but he had not strengthened its foundations. During the reign of his father Sháh Jahán he had been viceroy of the Deccan or rather of the northern portion only, which had been annexed to the Mughal empire since the reign of Akbar. His early ambition was to conquer the Mahometan kings of Bíjapur and Golconda, who, since the downfall of Vijayanagar, had been practically supreme over the south. This object was not accomplished without many tedious campaigns, in which Sivají, the founder of the Marhattá confederacy, first comes upon the scene. In name Sivají was a feudatory of the house of Bíjapur, on whose behald he held the rock-forts of his native Gháts; but in fact he found his opportunity in playing off the Mahometan powers against one another, and in rivaling Aurangzeb himself in the art of treachery. In 1680 Sivají, and his son and successor, Sambhají, was betrayed to Aurangzeb and put to death. The rising Marhattá power was thus for a time checked, and the Mughal armies were set free to operate in the eastern Deccan. In 1686 the city of Bíjapur was taken by Aurangzeb in person, and in the following year Golconda also fell. No independent power them remained in the south, though the numerous local chieftains, known as pálegárs and naiks, never formally submitted to the Mughal empire. During the early years of his reign Aurangzeb had fixed his capital at Delhi, while he kept his dethroned father, Sháb Jahán, in close confinement at Agra. In 1682 he set out with his army on his victorious march into the Deccan, and from that time until his death in 1707 he never again returned to Delhi. In this camp life Aurangzeb may be taken as representative of one aspect of the Mughal rule, which has been picturesquely described by European travelers of that day. They agree in depicting the emperor as a peripatetic sovereign, and the empire as held together by its military highways no less than by the strength of its armies. The great road running across the north of the peninsula, from Dacca in the east to Lahore in the west, is generally attributed to the Afghán usurper, Sher Sháh. The other roads branching out southward from Agra, to Surat and Burhanpur and Golconda, were undoubtedly the work of Mughal times. Each of these roads was laid out with avenues of trees, with wells of water, and with frequent saráis or rest-houses. Constant communication between the capital and remote cities was maintained by a system of foot-runners, whose aggregate speed is said to have surpassed that of a horse. Commerce was conducted by means of a caste of bullock-drivers, whose occupation in India is hardly yet extinct.

On the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the decline oft eh Mughal empire set in with extraordinary rapidity. Ten emperors after Aurangzeb are enumerated in the chronicles, but none of them has left any mark on history. His son and successor was Bahádur Sháh, who reigned only five years. Then followed in order three sons of Bahádur Sháh, whose united reigns occupy only five years more. In 1739 Nádir Sháh of Persia, the sixth and last of the great Mahometan conquerors of India, swept like a whirlwind over Hindustán, and sacked the imperial city of Delhi. Thenceforth the Great Mughal (Mogul) became a mere name, though the hereditary succession continued unbroken down to our own day. Real power had passed into the hands of Mahometan courtiers and Marhattá generals, both of whom were then carving for themselves kingdoms out of the dismembered empire, until at last British authority placed itself supreme over all. From the time of Aurangzeb no Musalmán, however powerful, dared to assume the title of sultan or emperor, with the single exception of Tipú’s brief paroxysm of madness. The name of nawáb, corrupted by Europeans into "nabob," appears to be an invention of the Mughals to express delegated authority, and as such it is the highest title conferred upon Mahometans at the present day, as maharaja is the highest title conferred upon Hindus. At first nawábs were only found in important cities, such as Surat and Dacca, with the special function of administering civil justice; criminal justice was in the hands of the kotwál. The corresponding official at that time is a large tract of country were the subahdár and the faujdár. But the title of subahdár, or viceroy, gradually dropped into desuetude, as the paramount title with some distinguishing adjunct. During the troubled period of intrigue and assassination that followed on the death of Aurangzeb, two Mahometan foreigners rose to high position as courtiers and generals, and succeeded in transmitting their power to their sons. The one was Chin Kulich, also called Asof Jah, and still more commonly Nizám-ul-Mulk, who was of Turkomán origin, and belonged to the Sunni sect. His independence at Hyderabad in the Deccan dates from 1712. The other was Saádat Alí Khán, a Persian, and therefore a Shiá, who was appointed subahdár or nawáb of Oudh in 1720. Thenceforth these two important provinces paid no more tribute to Delhi, though their hereditary rulers continued to seek formal recognition from the emperor on their succession. The Marhattás were in possession of the entire west and great part of the centre of the peninsula; while the rich and unwarlike province of Bengal, though governed by an hereditary line of nawábs founded by Murshid Kuli Khán in 1704, still continued to pour its wealth into the imperial treasury. The central authority never recovered from the invasion of Nádir Sháh in 1739, who carried off plunder variously estimated at from 8 to 30 millions sterling. The Marhattás closed round Delhi from the south, and the Afgháns from the west. The victory of Pánipat, won by Ahmad Sháh Duráni over the united Marhattá confederacy in 1761, Ahmad Sháh had no ambition to found a dynasty of his own, nor were the British in Bengal yet ready for territorial conquest. Sháh Alam, the lineal heir of the Mughal line, was thus permitted to ascend the throne of Delhi, where he lived during the great part of a long life as a puppet in the hand of Mahádají Sindhia. He was succeeded by Akbar II., who lived similarly under the shadow of British protection. Last of all came Bahádur Sháh, who atoned for his association with the mutineers in 1857 by banishment of Burmah. Thus ended the Mughal line, after a history which covers three hundred and thirty years. Mahometan rule remodeled the revenue system, and has left behind forty millions of Musalmáns in British India.


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This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries