Decline of Mughal Empire
- Historians argue over why the Mughal Empire declined in power. Scholars are divided into two camps: those who believe the advancements are largely imperial in nature, and those who believe they are regional in origin.
- The Mughal-centric or empire-related view identifies the causes of the empire’s demise in the structure and operation of the empire. According to the region-based perspective, Mughal collapse was caused by unrest and instability in various parts of the empire.
- The drop was caused by both of these factors. The Mughal Empire began to fall apart during Aurangzeb’s reign, but it was only after his death in 1707 that it gained traction.
- At the time of his death, the rate of his deterioration could not be slowed due to the circumstances. Several chiefs and kings fought the Mughals, but none were able to declare independence in the face of imperial power.
- The Sikhs, Marathas, and Rajputs lacked the power to overthrow the empire; instead, they fought Mughal power to gain and keep their independence in their own lands.
- If Aurangzeb’s successors had been competent rulers, the empire might not have fallen. Following Aurangzeb, the majority of the emperors were inept, weak, and licentious kings who hastened the empire’s demise. The following sections go over the major factors that contributed to the Mughal Empire’s demise.
The zamindars and the nobility shared power with the monarch during the medieval period. Zamindars, also known as rais, rajas, thakurs, khuts, or deshmukhs, were hereditary landowners with specific rights that were passed down through the generations. They were important to the empire because they helped with revenue collection and provided warriors for local government. The Mughals were not entirely successful in limiting the zamindars’ power and maintaining direct contact with the peasantry. During Aurangzeb’s reign, the zamindars’ power and influence skyrocketed. Regional allegiances were strengthened as a result of this. Many provincial zamindars aided the empire’s other powerful class, the nobles, in exploiting the empire’s flaws and carving out independent kingdoms.
Crisis of Jagirdari
The aristocracy was made up of people who were given large jagirs and mansabs, or who were appointed as Mughal subas’ subahdars and given the task of preserving them. This class included a large number of Rajput kings, subahdars, and mansabdars. Mughal rule is frequently referred to as “the rule of the nobility” because nobles played such a significant role in the empire’s governance. Despite the fact that Akbar had provided them with a well-organized organization, the aristocracy remained divided along religious, national, and tribal lines, with each category forming its own group. Mutual competition, envy, and power struggles among the various parties during the reign of the later Mughals (in the absence of strong central leadership) not only tarnished the emperor’s reputation but also contributed to the empire’s demise.
Aspirations for regional development are becoming more prominent.
During Aurangzeb’s reign, powerful regional groups such as the Jats, Sikhs, and Marathas rebelled against the Mughal state and established their own kingdoms. They were unsuccessful, but they had an impact on the future course of political events in their respective regions. The empire suffered greatly as a result of their constant struggle for political dominance. I inspired Aurangzeb and later Bahadur Shah to fight the Mughals by attempting to suppress the Rajputs. Later, the Mughals tried to reconcile with the Rajputs, but it was too late: the Rajputs had lost faith in the Mughals and refused to unite with them for the sake of the empire. The Marathas, on the other hand, were proving to be a formidable foe. Their initial goal was to reclaim Maharashtra, but it quickly grew to include obtaining legal permission from the Mughal emperor to collect sardeshmukhi and chauth across India. They moved north, and by 1740, they controlled Gujarat, Malwa, and Bundelkhand provinces. The Rajput resistance to the empire, as well as the Marathas’ growing ambition and power, harmed Mughal power.
There was little territory left to divide as jagirs because the number of amirs and their ranks (mansabs) had risen dramatically over time. Aurangzeb tried to alleviate the acute shortage of jagirs or bejagiri by demonstrating increased revenue from jagirs. The amirs’ attempt to recoup the reported revenue from their jagirs by putting pressure on the peasantry, on the other hand, was a poor strategy. The amirs and peasants were both furious as a result. Then there were the battles, the extravagant lifestyles of the emperors and amirs, and the loss of khalisa land, all of which weighed heavily on the state. As a result, government spending far outpaced revenue.
Furthermore, no significant scientific or technological breakthroughs were made that could have aided a stagnant economy. Despite the fact that European traders made inroads along India’s coast, the empire’s coffers remained depleted. The economic and administrative problems only worsened after Aurangzeb’s death. The empire had grown too large to be managed effectively by a centralised government when the kings were weak and inept.