(Last Updated on : 28/01/2012)
Achievements of Aurangzeb
are quite impressive and have proved to have had far-reaching repercussions. Since the beginning of his reign right up till his death he was engaged in almost constant warfare in order to try and increase the bounds of the Mughal Empire. He had managed to build up a huge army and started a program of military expansion along all the boundaries of his empire. In keeping with this policy of expansion, he pushed north-west into Punjab
and what is now Afghanistan and in the south towards Bijapur
Conquests of Aurangzeb in the East
The earliest conquests of Aurangzeb were in the eastern parts of the empire. During the time when Aurangzeb was still fighting with his brothers, the Ghinud rulers of Cooch Behar
had taken advantage of the troubled conditions and invaded certain imperial dominions. In 1660, on Aurangzeb's orders, Mir Jumla marched to Dhaka and occupied Cooch Behar within a matter of weeks. They then left for Assam and on March 17, 1662 the Ahom kingdom was annexed and the Raja was forced to sign a humiliating treaty. The Mughals got an immense tribute and also conquered some forts and towns near the frontier of Bengal. Another major addition to the kingdom that came during this time was the Chittagong, which was a stronghold of the Arakan pirates who were making the area unsafe. Chittagong was later renamed as Islamabad and proved to be a valuable addition to the kingdom.
The conquest of the region known as East Pakistan too was an achievement particularly of Aurangzeb's reign. The area that lies east of the Brahmaputra River
had remained isolated from the rest of the subcontinent for a long time mainly due to its geographical situation, climate, terrain, and the ethnic origin of the population. The isolation of this region was broken during the reign of Aurangzeb and they became a part of the main population now.
Conquests of Aurangzeb in the Northwest
As soon as the eastern region was dealt with, trouble started in the northwest frontier regions of the empire. Bhaku, a Yusafzai leader, rebelled in 1667. This rebellion was quelled and for some time the area was quiet till trouble broke out again in 1672. A number of combined groups of tribes revolted against the authorities. Though the governor of Kabul tried to take on the rebels he was defeated and Aurangzeb himself intervened in the situation. He directed the operations in the troubled area for a year and finally with the use of force and diplomacy was able to restore peace in the area. Despite all this trouble, Aurangzeb's reign saw a transformation of the Mughal-Afghan relations and order was established along the frontier regions.
Aurangzeb and the Sikhs
Aurangzeb faced a number of problems from the Sikhs. In fact it was this community which ultimately played a pivotal role in weakening the empire. Aurangzeb dealt with them in a harsh and ruthless manner. Initially, the relationship between the Sikhs and the Mughals had been quite friendly. When the religion of Sikhism
had been established by Guru Nanak
, it was see as part of a general religious movement to bring Hinduism
closer together. In fact the Emperor Akbar
had also visited the third Sikh Guru and made presented him with the land on which the Golden Temple
is now built. However, they gradually arose conflicts between the Sikhs and the Mughal authorities. Trouble started during Jahangir's
reign and the Sikhs started organising themselves into an army from that point onwards and conflicts with the Mughal Government continued. The ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur
, became extremely authoritative and even started gathering tributes from the local population. He was defeated by the Imperial forces and taken to Delhi
where he was put to death by Aurangzeb. The Hindu Rajas of the Punjab Hills were suffering due to the increased military strength of the Sikhs and at last they approached Aurangzeb for help. Aurangzeb sent forces to assist them and defeated the Guru in his stronghold at Anandpur.
Aurangzeb and the Marathas
Aurangzeb faced the biggest trouble from the Marathas and there ensued a long and bitter struggle between the Mughals and the Marathas. The Marathas were helped greatly in their uprising by the fact that in the Deccan the Muslim conquest was not as extensive as in the north. Moreover, the Hindus here also held a number of high posts in the administrative machinery of the region. Since Maratha statesmen and warriors controlled various departments of the Muslim states of Ahmadnagar, Golconda, and Bijapur, the conflicts of the Mughals with these states provided them with an opportunity to advance their sectional interests. Shivaji
was among the most successful of the Maratha leaders who revolted against the Mughals. Aurangzeb had sent a series of Mughal generals to get Shivaji, such as Shayista Khan, Dilir Khan and Mirza Raja Jai Singh
as well as his own son, Prince Muazzam. Many confrontations ensued and Shivaji always managed to come out successful. However, it was the cruelty of his son Shambhuji
and his atrocities against the Muslims of Burhanpur
which forced the Mughal ruler to take some concrete steps against him. Aurangzeb reached Aurangabad in the Deccan
in the third week of March, 1682, and the last twenty-five years of his life were to be spent in that part of the subcontinent. Bijapur and Golconda which often gave shelter to the Maratha raiders were finally annexed in 1686 and 1687, and Shambhuji was captured and executed in early 1689. The Mughals achieved many successes against the Marathas, but these proved temporary. After Aurangzeb's death, the Marathas became a major factor in the downfall of the Mughal Empire.
Thus the achievements of Aurangzeb have been quite a few and rather remarkable. His constant policy of expansion, even though it cost him many lives and an enormous amount of from the treasury, led to a widening of the boundaries of the Mughal Empire and the quelling of long drawn out issues of contention.