Bahadur Shah I

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Bahadur Shah I
قطب الدین محمد بہادر شاه
Bahadur Shah, ca. 1670, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris.jpg
Seventh Mughal Emperor
Reign 19 June 1707 – 27 February 1712
Coronation 19 June 1707 in Delhi
Predecessor Muhammad Azam Shah
Successor Jahandar Shah
Spouse Nur-un-Nissa Begum
Mihr-un-Nissa Begum
Amat-ul-Habib Begum
Begum Nizam Bai
Begum Amrita Bai

Eight sons and one daughter, including:

Full name
Abul-nasr Sayyid Qutb-ud-din Muhammad Shah Alam Bahadur Shah Badshah
Dynasty Mughal
Father Aurangzeb
Mother Nawab Bai
Born 14 October 1643
Burhanpur, Mughal Empire
Died 27 February 1712(1712-02-27) (aged 68)
Lahore, Mughal Empire
Burial Moti Masjid, Delhi
Religion Sunni Islam

Bahadur Shah (Urdu: بہادر شاه اول‎—Bahādur Shāh Awwal) (16 October 1643 – 27 February 1712), the seventh Mughal emperor of India, ruled from 1707 until his death in 1712. Born Mu'azza, Shah was the third son of Aurangzeb with his Muslim Rajput wife Nawab Bai and the grandson of Shah Jahan. In his youth, he conspired to overthrow his father and ascend to the throne a number of times. Shah's plans were intercepted by the emperor, who imprisoned him several times. From 1696 to 1707, he was governor of Akbarabad (later known as Agra), Kabul and Lahore.

After Aurangzeb's death Shah's brother, Muhammad Azam Shah, declared himself successor before his defeat in the Battle of Jajau. During his reign, Shah bloodlessly annexed the Rajput states of Jodhpur and Amber and sparked controversy in the khutba by inserting the declaration of Ali as wali. An uprising led by Sikh leader Banda Singh Bahadur, begun during Shah's reign, continued after his death. Bahadur Shah was buried in the Moti Masjid at Mehrauli in Delhi.

Early life[edit]

Full-figure painting of a young Bahadur Shah
Prince Mu'azzam in his youth

Mu'azzam was born on 16 October 1643 in Burhanpur to the sixth Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, and his wife Begum Nawab Bai.[1] In 1663, when he was twenty years old, he was made the governor of the Deccan province.[2] Mu'azzam saw the rise of Shivaji, who carved present-day Mumbai and its surroundings from the Mughal empire. That year he attacked Pune, where he was defeated and imprisoned for eight years.[3]

In 1670, Mu'azzam organized an insurgency to overthrow Aurangzeb and proclaim himself the Mughal emperor. However, Aurangzeb learned about the plot and sent Begum Nawab Bai to dissuade him. Nawab Bai brought Mu'azzam back to the Mughal court, where he spent the next seven years under Aurangzeb's supervision. However, Mu'azzam revolted in 1680 on the pretext of protesting Aurangzeb's treatment of Rajput chiefs. This time, Aurangzeb followed his previous policy to dissuade Mu'azzam with greater vigilance.[4]

For the next seven years, from 1681 to 1687, Mu'azzam was a "grudgingly obedient son". In 1681 he was ordered to crushing a revolt against Aurangzeb by his brother, Sultan Muhammad Akbar, in the Deccan. According to historian Munis Faruqui, Mu'azzam deliberately failed in his mission. In 1683 he was ordered to invade Konkan region to prevent Akbar from doing so, but again his "half-hearted" mission failed to achieve the assigned goal.[4]

In 1687 Aurangzeb ordered Mu'azzam to march against the sultanate of Golconda, and the emperor's spies intercepted messages between Mu'azzam and Golcondan ruler Abul Hasan.[5] After learning of his son's intentions, Aurangzeb charged him with treason and imprisoned him; his harem was "shipped off to faraway Delhi",[6] and also charged with treason.[7] Mu'azzam's loyal servants were moved by his father into the imperial service, and the remaining servants were sacked.[6] Aurangzeb forbade Mu'azzam to cut his nails or hair for six months, receive "good food or cold water" or meet with people without the ruler's permission.[8]

Around 1694, Aurangzeb rehabilitated Mu'azzam and allowed him "to rebuild his household", rehiring some of his servants who had been dismissed.[9] Aurangzeb continued to spy on his son, appointing his men to Mu'azzam's household, sending informants to his harem and choosing his representatives at the imperial court.[6] Mu'azzam and his sons were transferred from the Deccan to north India, and were forbidden to lead military expeditions in that region for the rest of Aurangzeb's reign.[8]

In 1695, Aurangzeb sent Mu'azzam to the Punjab region to fight the chieftains and subdue a rebellion by the Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. Although the commander imposed "heavy taxation" on the rajas, he thought it necessary to leave the Sikhs undisturbed in their fortified city of Anandpur and refused to wage war against them out of "genuine respect" for their religion.[10]

That year Mu'azzam was appointed governor of Akbarabad, and in 1696 he was transferred to Lahore. After the death of Amin Khan (governor of Kabul) he assumed that position in 1699, holding it until his father's death in 1707.[11]


War of succession[edit]

Without appointing a crown prince, Aurangzeb died in 1707 when Mu'azzam was governor of Kabul and his half-brothers (Muhammad Kam Bakhsh and Muhammad Azam Shah) were the governors of the Deccan and Gujarat respectively. All three sons intended to win the crown, and Kam Bakhsh began minting coins in his name. Azam prepared to march to Agra and declare himself successor,[12] but was defeated by Mu'azzam at the Battle of Jajau in June 1707. Azam and his son, Ali Tabar, were killed in the battle.[13] Mu'azzam ascended the Mughal throne at age 63 on 19 June 1707, with the title of Bahadur Shah I.[14]



Low, white building with a few people outside
On his march to Amber, Shah visited the tomb of Salim Chishti.

Jaswant Singh was the leader of the Rathore in Jodhpur during Aurangzeb's reign. During a war of succession Singh sided with Aurangzeb's older brother Dara Shikoh, who was killed by Aurangzeb. Singh was pardoned, became titular ruler of the region and was appointed governor of the province of Kabul before his death on 18 December 1678. After his death, Aurangzeb ordered Singh's widows and his son to be brought to Delhi and tried to "obtain possession" of the son "by force". Durgadas Rathore fought an unsuccessful war to prevent this, but the widows and young Ajit Singh fled from Delhi to Jodhpur.[15] After Aurangzeb's death, Singh marched to Jodhpur and took it from Mughal rule.[16]

After ascending the throne, Shah made regaining Jodhpur and the other lost cities of Rajputana a prime objective. In October 1707 the Udaipur ruler Amar Singh II sent his brother, Bakht Singh, to Agra with gifts of one hundred gold coins, two horses and an elephant.[16] On 10 November Shah began his march to Amber, visiting the tomb of Salim Chishti in Fatehpur Sikri on 21 November. In the meantime, Mihrab Khan was ordered to take possession of Jodhpur.[17]

Shah reached Amber on 20 January 1708. Its throne was disputed by two brothers: Jai Singh and Bijai Singh. Shah ruled that because of the dispute, the region would become part of the Mughal empire and the city renamed Islamabad. Jai Singh's goods and properties were confiscated;[17] Bijai Singh was made the ruler on 30 April 1708; Shah gave him the title of Mirza Rajah, and he received gifts valued at 100,000 rupees. Amber passed into Mughal hands without a war.[18]


In Amber Shah announced his intention to march to Jodhpur when Mihrab Khan defeated Ajit Singh at Mairtha, and he reached the town on 21 February 1708. Wazir Asad Khan's son Khan Zaman, Budh Singh and Hejebat Khan were sent to bring Singh to the city for an interview with Shah, where Singh received "special robes of honour" and a jewelled scarf.[19] Shah reached Amber on 24 March, and visited the Dargah Sharif.[20] On 23 April the Dargah Sharif was made ruler of the province, with the title of Maharajah, and received three thousand horses. Like Amber, Jodhpur came under Mughal control without bloodshed.[19]

In Jodhpur, Shah heard that Amar Singh II had fled Udaipur to the hills. According to the Bahadur Shah Nama chronicle, because of this Shah called Amar Singh an unbeliever. Shah waged war against the king until his brother Muhammad Kam Bakhsh's insurgency diverted him southward.[20]

Kam Bakhsh's uprising[edit]

Court rivalry[edit]

Ink drawing of Muhammad Kam Bakhsh, nearly identical to painting above
Kam Bakhsh established his rule in Bijapur.

Shah's half-brother, Muhammad Kam Bakhsh, marched to Bijapur in March 1707 with his soldiers. When the news of Aurangzeb's death spread through the city, King Sayyid Niyaz Khan surrendered the fort to him without a fight. Ascending the throne, Kam Bakhsh made Ahsan Khan bakshi (chief general), Taqarrub Khan chief minister[21] and gave himself the title of Padshah Kam Bakhsh-i-Dinpanah (Emperor Kam Bakhsh, Protector of Faith). He then conquered Kulbarga and Wakinkhera.[22]

Rivalry developed between Taqarrub Khan and Ahsan Khan. Ahsan Khan had developed a marketplace in Bijapur where, without permission from Kam Bakhsh, he did not tax the shops. Taqarrub Khan reported it to Kam Bakhsh, who ordered the practise stopped.[22] In May 1707, Kam Bakhsh sent Ahsan Khan to conquer the states of Golkonda and Hyderabad. Although the king of Golconda refused to surrender, Subahdar of Hyderabad Rustam Dil Khan did so.[23]

Taqarrub Khan conspired with Sayyid Ahmed to eliminate Ahsan Khan, alleging that meetings of Ahsan Khan, Saif Khan (Kam Bakhsh's archery teacher), Arsan Khan, Ahmad Khan, Nasir Khan and Rustam Dil Khan to discuss public business were a conspiracy to assassinate Kam Bakhsh "while on his way to the Friday prayer at the great mosque".[24] Kam Bakhsh invited Rustam Dil Khan for dinner; arrested en route, Rustam Dil Khan was killed by being crushed under the feet of an elephant. Saif Khan's hands were amputated, and Arshad Khan's tongue was cut off.[25] Ahsan Khan ignored warnings by close friends that Kam Bakhsh would arrest him, but he was imprisoned and his property seized.[25] In April 1708, Shah's envoy Maktabar Khan came to Kam Bakhsh's court. When Taqarrub Khan told Kam Bakhsh that Maktabar Khan intended to dethrone him,[26] Kam Bakhsh invited the envoy and his entourage to a feast and executed them.[13]

Shah's march to south India[edit]

In May 1708, Shah wrote a letter to Kam Bakhsh which he hoped would "be a warning" against proclaiming himself an independent sovereign and began a journey to the Tomb of Aurangzeb to pay his respects to his father.[13] Kam Bakhsh thanked him in a letter, "without either explaining or justifying [his actions]".[27]

When Shah reached Hyderabad on 28 June 1708, he learned that Kam Bakhsh had attacked Machhlibandar to seize over three million rupees' worth of treasure hidden in its fort. The subahdar of the province, Jan Sipar Khan, refused to hand over the money.[27] Enraged, Kam Bakhsh confiscated his properties and ordered the recruitment of four thousand soldiers for the attack.[28] In July, the garrison at the Kulbarga fort declared their independence and garrison leader Daler Khan Bijapuri "reported his desertion from Kam Bakhsh". On 5 November 1708 Shah's camp reached Bidar, 67 miles (108 km) north of Hyderabad. Historian William Irvine wrote that as his "camp drew nearer desertions from Kam Bakhsh became more and more frequent". On 1 November, Kam Bakhsh captured Pam Naik's (zamindar of Wakinkhera) holdings after Naik abandoned his army.[28]

According to Irvine, more soldiers deserted as Shah's group neared. When Kam Bakhsh's general told him that his failure to pay his soldiers was the reason for their desertion, he replied: "What need have I of enlisting them? My trust is in God, and whatever is best will happen."[29]

Thinking that Kam Bakhsh might flee to Persia, Shah ordered Mughal prime minister Zulfiqar Khan Nusrat Jung to agree with Madras Presidency governor Thomas Pitt to pay him 200,000 rupees for Kam Bakhsh's capture. On 20 December, Kam Bakhsh was reported to have a cavalry of 2,500 and an infantry of 5,000.[29]

Death of Kam Bakhsh[edit]

On 20 December 1708 Kam Bakhsh marched towards Talab-i-Mir Jumla, on the outskirts of Hyderabad, with "three hundred camels, [and] twenty thousand rockets" for war with Shah. He made his son Jahandar Shah commander of the advance guard, later replacing him with Khan Zaman. On 12 January 1709, Shah reached Hyderabad and prepared his troops. Although Kam Bakhsh had little money and few soldiers left, the royal astrologer had predicted that he would "miraculously" win the battle.[30]

At sunrise the following day, Shah's army charged towards Kam Bakhsh. His 15,000 troops were divided into two bodies: one led by Mumin Khan, assisted by Rafi-ush-Shan and Jahan Shah, and the second under Zulfiqar Khan Nusrat Jung. Two hours later Kam Bakhsh's camp was surrounded, and Khan impatiently attacked him with his "small force".[31]

With his soldiers outnumbered and unable to resist the attack, Kam Bakhsh joined the battle and shot two quivers of arrows at his opponents. According to Irvine, when he was "weakened by loss of blood" Shah took him and his son Bariqullah prisoner. A dispute arose between Mumin Khan and Zulfikar Khan Nusrat Jung over who had captured them, with Rafi-us-Shan ruling in favor of the latter.[32] Kam Bakhsh was brought by palanquin to Shah's camp, where he died the next morning.[33]

Sikh rebellion[edit]

Shah, distinguished by a halo, with two other men on an elephant
Shah on a Sikh expedition

Unlike previous Mughal rulers who divided power between Mughal and Rajput chiefs, during Shah's reign all power resided with him.[34] The Sikh khalsa, under the leadership of Banda Singh Bahadur, and their army defeated the Mughals in battle at Samana, Sirhind and Rahon and captured the cities of Samana, Sirhind, Malerkotla, Saharanpur, Rahon, Behat, Ambheta, Ropar and Jalandhar from 1709 to 1712. With an army of eighty thousand soldiers, Bahadur also besieged the city of Jalalabad in present-day Afghanistan.[35]

Efforts at suppression[edit]

Shah signed peace treaties with Ajit Singh of Jodhpur and Man Singh of Amber before fighting Bahadur. He also ordered the Nawab of Awadh Asaf-ud-Daula, provincial governor Khan-i-Durrani, Moradabad faujdar Muhammad Amin Khan Chin, Delhi subahdar Asad Khan and Jammu faujdar Wazid Khan to accompany him into battle. Shah left Ajmer for the Punjab on 17 June 1710, mobilising groups opposed to Bahadur on the way.[36] When he learned about Shah's plans, Bahadur unsuccessfully appealed to Ajit Singh and Man Singh for help.[36] In the meantime, Shah had reoccupied Sonipat, Kaithal and Panipat en route. In October, his commander Feroze Khan wrote to him that he had "chopped three hundred heads of rebels"; Khan sent them to the emperor, who displayed them mounted on spears.[37]

On 1 November 1710 Shah reached the city of Karnal, where Mughal cartogapher Rustam Dil Khan gave him a map of Thanesar and Sirhind. Six days later, a small group of Sikhs were defeated at Mewati and Banswal.[37] The city of Sirhind fell to the Mughals on 7 December; its besieger, general Mohammad Amin Khan Bahadur, gave Shah a golden key ring commemorating the victory. After failing to recapture Sadaura Shah marched towards Lohgarh, where Bahadur was hiding. On 30 November he attacked the Lohgarh fort, capturing three guns, matchlocks and three trenches from the rebels. With little ammunition left, Bahadur and a "few hundred of his followers fled".[38] His follower, Gulab Singh (who was "dressed like" Bahadur, entered the fight and was killed.[38] Shah issued imperial orders to the rulers of Kumaon and Srinagar that if Bahadur tried to entered to enter their province, he should be "sent to the Emperor".[39]

Suspecting that Bahadur was allied with Bhup Prakash, the king of Nahan, Shah imprisoned Prakash in January 1711; his mother begged in vain for his release. After she sent him captured followers of Bahadur he ordered that "ornaments worth 100,000 rupees should be manufactured" for her, and Prakash was released a month later.[39] Shukan Khan Bahadur and Himmet Diler Khan were sent to Lahore to end Bahadur's rebellion, and their unsuccessful attempt was reinforced by a garrison of five thousand soldiers. Shah also pressed Rustam Dil Khan and Muhammad Amin Khan to join them.[40]

Bahadur was hiding in Alhalab, 7 miles (11 km) from Lahore. When Mughal workers came to repair a bridge in the village, his followers disinformed them that he was preparing to attack Delhi via Ajmer. Bahadur received soldiers from village ruler Ram Chand for his march against the Mughals, and besieged Fatehabad in April 1711. After learning from messenger Rustan Jung that he crossed the Ravi River, Shah attacked with artillery led by Isa Khan.[41] In the July battle, Bahadur was defeated and fled to the Jammu hills. Forces led by Isa Khan and Muhammad Amin Khan followed, but failed to capture him. Shah issued an edict to the zamindars of Jammu to take the Sikh captive if possible.[42]

Bahadur was attacked by Muhammad Amin Khan at the river Satluj, escaping to the Garhwal hills. Finding him "invincible", Shah went to Ajit Singh and Jai Singh for help. In October 1711, a joint Mughal-Rajput force marched towards Sadaura. Bahadur escaped the ensuing siege, this time taking refuge at Kulu in present-day Himachal Pradesh.[43] Throughout Bahadur Shah's reign Bahadur bedeviled him, and the Delhi Mughal administration failed to suppress the Sikh rebellion.

Khutba controversy[edit]

After ascending the throne, Shah altered the public prayer (or khutba) for the monarch said every Friday by giving the title wasi to Ali—the fourth Sunni and the first Shia caliph. Because of this, the citizens of Lahore resented reciting the khutba.[44]

To solve the problem, Shah went to Lahore in September 1711 and had discussions with Haji Yar Muhammad, Muhammad Murad and "other well-known men". At their meeting, he read "books of authority" to justify using the word wasi. Shah had a heated argument with Yar Muhammad, saying that martyrdom by a king was the only thing he wanted. Yar Muhammad (supported by the emperor's son, Azim-ush-Shan) recruited troops against Shah, but no war was fought.[44] Shah held the khatib (chief reciter) at the Badshahi Mosque responsible for the matter, and had him arrested. On 2 October, although the army was deployed at the mosque the old khutba (which did not call Ali "wasi") was read.[45]


Large, white mausoleum
Moti Masjid, Shah's burial place

According to historian William Irvine, Shah was in Lahore in January 1712 when his "health failed". On 24 February he made his final public appearance,[46] and died during the night of 27–28 February; according to Mughal noble Kamwar Khan, he died of "enlargement of the spleen". On 11 April, Shah's body was sent to Delhi under the supervision of his widow Mihr-Parwar and Chin Qilich Khan. He was buried on 15 May in the courtyard of the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) in Mehrauli, which he built near the dargah of Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki.[47]


Shah issued gold, silver and copper coins, although his predecessors' coins were also used to pay government officials and in commerce. Copper coins from Aurangzeb's reign were re-minted with his name.[48] Unlike the other Mughal emperors, Shah's coins did not use his name in a couplet; poet Danishmand Khan composed two lines for the coins, but they were not approved.[49]

Personal life[edit]

Name, title and and lineage[edit]

Shah's full name, including his titles, was "Abul-nasr Sayyid Qutb-ud-din Muhammad Shah Alam Bahadur Shah Badshah". After his death, contemporary historians began calling him "Khuld-Manzil" (Departed to Paradise).[47] He was the only Mughal emperor to have the title Sayyid, used by descendants of the prophet Muhammad. According to William Irvine, his maternal grandfather was Sayyid Shah Mir (whose daughter, Begum Nawab Bai, married Aurangzeb).[50]


Name Born Died Children
Jahandar Shah 1661 1713 Alamgir II, Izz-ud-din, Azz-ud-din
Azz-ud-din 1664 Infancy None
Azim-ush-Shan 1665 1712 Muhammad Karim, Farrukhsiyar, Humayun Bakht, Ruh-ul-Quds, Ahsan-ullah
Daulat-Afza 1670 1689 None
Rafi-ush-Shan 1671 1712 Shah Jahan II, Rafi ud-Darajat, Muhammad Ibrahim
Jahan Shah I 1674 1712 Farkhunda Akhtar, Muhammad Shah
Muhammad Humayun 1678 Infancy

Source: Irvine, pp. 143–144[51][52]


  1. ^ Irvine, p. 2.
  2. ^ Faruqui, p. 303.
  3. ^ Faruqui, p. 304.
  4. ^ a b Faruqui, p. 305.
  5. ^ Irvine, p. 3.
  6. ^ a b c Faruqui, p. 286.
  7. ^ Faruqui, p. 306.
  8. ^ a b Faruqui, p. 307.
  9. ^ Faruqui, p. 285.
  10. ^ Singh, Patwant, The Sikhs, Rupa Publications, p. 46, ISBN 9788171676248 
  11. ^ Irvine, p. 4.
  12. ^ Puri, p. 198.
  13. ^ a b c Irvine, p. 57.
  14. ^ Puri, p. 199.
  15. ^ Irvine, p. 44.
  16. ^ a b Irvine, p. 45.
  17. ^ a b Irvine, p. 46.
  18. ^ Irvine, p. 47.
  19. ^ a b Irvine, p. 48.
  20. ^ a b Irvine, p. 49.
  21. ^ Irvine, p. 50.
  22. ^ a b Irvine, p. 51.
  23. ^ Irvine, p. 52.
  24. ^ Irvine, p. 53.
  25. ^ a b Irvine, p. 55.
  26. ^ Irvine, p. 56.
  27. ^ a b Irvine, p. 58.
  28. ^ a b Irvine, p. 59.
  29. ^ a b Irvine, p. 60.
  30. ^ Irvine, p. 61.
  31. ^ Irvine, p. 62.
  32. ^ Irvine, p. 63.
  33. ^ Irvine, p. 64.
  34. ^ Singh, p. 57.
  35. ^ Singh, p. 55.
  36. ^ a b Singh, p. 58.
  37. ^ a b Singh, p. 59.
  38. ^ a b Singh, p. 60.
  39. ^ a b Singh, p. 61.
  40. ^ Singh, p. 62.
  41. ^ Singh, p. 63.
  42. ^ Singh, p. 64.
  43. ^ Singh, p. 66.
  44. ^ a b Irvine, p. 130.
  45. ^ Irvine, p. 131.
  46. ^ Irvine, p. 133.
  47. ^ a b Irvine, p. 135.
  48. ^ Irvine, p. 141.
  49. ^ Irvine, p. 140.
  50. ^ Irvine, p. 136.
  51. ^ Irvine, p. 143.
  52. ^ Irvine, p. 144.


Bahadur Shah I
Preceded by
Mughal Emperor
Succeeded by
Jahandar Shah