Aurangzeb had proved himself a capable commander and administrator as a prince. He was certainly a successful military strategist and practical statesmen than his brothers who contended against him for the throne that gave him success against all of them.
Aurangzeb, the third son of Shah Jahan, was born on 21 October 1618, at Dohad, on the frontier of Gujarat and Rajputana. He was younger than Dara Shikoh and Shuja, but in competence and character he easily excelled them. He was industrious, far seeing and thorough. He had distinguished himself as an able administrator. During the long years that he spent in the Deccan and other provinces of the Empire. He was a fearless soldier and a skilful general and in his dealing with men he was cool and cautious. Even as a prince, Auranzeb was known for his devotion to Muslim religion and observance of Islamic injunctions. Auranzeb referred in some of his letters written to Shah Jahan during the war of succession that he was acting for the sake of the true faith and the peace of the realm. As soon as he was secure on the throne, he started the introduction of reforms which would make his domain a proper Muslim State. After his coronation he issued orders which were calculated to please the orthodox. In the economic sphere he showed a determined opposition to all illegal exactions and all the taxes which were not authorized by Islamic law. Immediately after his coronation, he abolished inland transport duty ( rahdari ) amounting to 10% of the value of goods and the octori ( Pandari) on all articles of food and drink brought for the sale into the cities. These measures gave relief to the people and were popular.
Aurangzeb took early to tighten up the administration, a period of strong government began. Everywhere the provincial viceroys began to assert imperial prestige. Energetic Subedars extended the boundaries of the empire to Assam. Local notables found out that disobedience of orders would be tolerated no longer. The border tribes were taught that no violation of the imperial frontier would unpunished.
Revolts of the Jats
The first organized revolt of the Hindus against the policy of religious persecution was that of the Jats. The local Muslim officers at Mathura, Abdul Nabi was destroying temples of the Hindus and disrespecting their women. In 1661 A.D, he destroyed a Hindus temple and raised a Mosque on its ruins. The Jats under their leader Gokal revolted against this, in 1669 A.D, they killed Abdul Nabi. He defeated some small Muslim forces which were sent against him. He was however defeated and killed at the battle of Tilpat. The Jats were punished severely.
Though a champion of Muslim orthodoxy, Aurangzeb had to wage wars with equally fanatic Muslim tribes of the North Western Frontier region. These people had always been a serious problem and a great headache for the rulers of India. The fanatic and unruly tribes of this region never tried to make themselves a nation. They were divided into different tribes and were never gathered themselves under one leader. They had always followed robbery as their profession. The Mughal Emperor found it difficult to conquer and tamed the tribesmen by force and consequently they bribed them in order to maintain peace to keep the routes in the frontier open to peaceful traffic. Aurangzeb paid the borders chiefs six lakhs of rupees annually, but the policy of bribing the frontier chiefs did not always succeeded, for fresh leaders arose among the tribesmen and they often restored to plundering the Mughal territory. In short, the Mughal Government was very much tired of the activities of these tribesmen in this region.
The first rebellion of the Yousaf Zai (1667 )
The first rebellion was brought about by the Yousaf Zais tribe. They made a pretender, entitled Muhammad Shah, as the king of the clan. He crossed the river Indus and invaded the Mughals. It was a great threat to the authority of Aurangzeb. He issued orders to check the further advance of the Yousaf Zais. Ultimately they were pushed back.
Aurangzeb’s religious policy
The ideal of Aurangzeb was the creation of Muslim theocracy and extinction of all other religions. He restored Islam to its original position as the religion of the court and the country. As a great puritan ruler he adopted the following measures:
- He removed the Kalima from the coins, abolished the celebration of the Persian ‘new Year Day” he also appointed Muhtasibs in all the important cities to enforce the Quranic law.
- He banned music and disallowed musical parties, he also dismissed the court musicians who had been employed by his ancestors.
- Aurangzeb stopped the practice of the weighing of his body against gold, silver and other commodities.
- He stopped the custom of Jharoka Darshan, it deprived the people of an opportunity to get their wrongs redressed directly from the emperor.
- He forbade the courtiers to use to Hindu mode of saluting one another and instead advocated the use of the words, Assalam- Alekum (Peace be upon you)
- He also dismissed the royal astronomers and astrologers.
- Drinking was forbidden, and the kotwal was ordered to cut one hand and one foot of all those whi used this liquor.
- He forbade women for visiting the shrines of the holy men.
- Prostitution was banned; the prostitutes were given the option to either of getting married or leaving the Mughal Empire.
Aurangzeb was a having multi dimensional personality. As a soldier, and a scholar, as a statesman and a sovereign he stands unsurpassed in the galaxy of stars of the Mughal Empire. He maintained himself on the sale proceeds of the caps and copies of the holy Quran.