The last emperor of the Great Mughals, ‘Aurangzeb’ has been renowned for his atrocities especially for killing his elder brother, Dara Shikoh and also for keeping his father and predecessor, Shah Jahan in captivity until his death. Shah Jahan, on the other hand is well-known for his marvelous monument Taj Mahal – A Symbol of Undying Love for his beloved wife and is even sympathized for his last 8 years of confinement. However, if we care to look at history carefully we will find Aurangzeb has done nothing out of the box but just followed his father’s footstep of brutality toward one own kin. In fact Aurangzeb’s malevolence towards his family is nothing as compared to his father, Shah Jahan. Let’s divulge into the details:
The history of Mughal Empire is stuffed with fratricidal actions and blood-spattered succession battles among kinsmen as if it was an essential overture to succession from a prince to an Emperor. However, in all of these, the most pitiable case, just like the dreadful end of Dara Shikoh, was that of Khusrau Mirza, Shah Jahan’s (earlier Khuraam) brother and the eldest son of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir with his first wife, Manbai (also Shah Begum), sister of Maan Singh and neice of Harkha Bai (wife of Emperor Akbar).
Upset over Jahangir’s indulgence in opium and wine, Akbar had considered the decision of handing over the cordial Khusrau with his throne. Akbar’s will state that he wished Khasrau to become his next heir. However, eight days after his death, Jahangir ascended the throne.
Next, encouraged by his reputation, acceptability and pushed by the faction around him who saw him as the emperor on the imperial seat, Khusrau Mirza left Agra under the pretext of visiting his grandfather’s grave at Sikandra and marched towards Punjab to revolt against Jahangir with the help of Mirza Hasan. He was joined by Husain Begh Badakhshani at Mathura and also seeked blessings from Sikh Guru Arjun Dev. Khusrau however, was captured by the mighty troops of Jahangir, confined and then blinded upon the instruction of Jahangir. While, all those who helped him where tortured and killed.
Jahangir writes in Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri
“Khusrau influenced by the pride and petulance which accompany youth, by his want of prudence and experience, and by the encouragement of evil companions, got some absurd notions in his head. They never thought that the Government cannot be managed by the men of limited intellect. The vain dream of Khusrau and his foolish companions could end in nothing but despair and disgrace.”
Later on, when he was brought to Agra, Jahangir’s love for his son revived again. Expert physicians and experienced Hakim was called upon on and Khusrau could recover his sight partially. Meanwhile, on the insistence of Jahangir’s step-mothers, Khusrau even got certain liberty and he was even allowed to move in durbar. However, this was not liked by Khurram (Jahangir’s third son and the future emperor Shah Jahan) and so he, with the help of Nur Jahan (who then favored him) tried to shift Khusrau in his father-in-law, Asaf Khan’s (also Nur Jahan’s brother and Mumtaz Mahal’s father) custody with a plan to kill Khusrau without being blamed for the murder. And during his Deccan rebel when Jahangir was critically ill, he could engineer the murder of Khusrau successfully to make his succession to the throne easy.
Aurangzeb is always blamed for killing his elder brother to make his way to the throne. However, he just followed his father Shah Jahan’s footstep and followed the trend of fratricide successfully. In the consequent article, i.e. Part 2, it will be relieved how Shah Jahan imprisoned Nur Jahan his step mother until her death after killing his own younger brother Shahyrar (also Nur Jahan’s step son as well as son-in-law) along with Hoshang and Tamuras (son of deceased Prince Daniyal) with the help of his father-in-law, Asaf Khan to then ascend the throne easily.
By Deepti Verma
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Image Source: Public Domain – Wikipedia Commons