The Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire was an empire that ruled Afghanistan, Baluchistan, and most of the Indian subcontinent between 1526 and 1857. The empire was founded in 1526 by the Mongol leader Babur. He defeated Ibrahim Lodi, the last of the Afghan Lodi Sultans in the first battle of Panipat, where he was the first Indian to use a gun. The Mughal Empire was known as the “Ammunition Kingdom”. The word “Mongol” is an Indo-Aryan version. Babur was the successor of Genghis Khan. The Mughals retained aspects of Mongolian culture throughout the sixteenth century, such as setting up tents around the imperial camp during the military strategy. The religion of the Mughals was Islam.
DO YOU KNOW?
The Mughal Empire ruled Afghanistan and most of the Indian subcontinent between 1526 – 1857.
Under Akbar the Great, the empire grew considerably and continued to expand until the end of Rangaseb’s reign. Jahangir, Akbar’s son, ruled the empire between 1605 and 1627. When Jahangir’s son Shah Jahan became emperor in October 1627, the empire was large and prosperous, which at the time was considered the largest in the world. Between 1630 and 1653, a building representing the Mughal architectural Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan. The Mughals, sponsors of art and learning abandoned the rich heritage of buildings, paintings and literature. His beautiful gardens (Jahanara), which represent the taste of heaven on earth, and the sanctity of nature that praise God in the Quran (Q34: 10) are a notable part of his heritage.
After Rangaseb’s death in 1707, the empire began a slow and steady decline in real power, yet maintained all traps of power in the Indian subcontinent for 150 years. In 1739, the Persian Shah’s army defeated Nadir Shah (1688–1747). In 1756, Ahmed Shah of Afghanistan (1747–1772) looted Delhi. Satisfied with military domination, the Mughals failed to innovate their technology whereas no Indian can challenge his artillery, outsiders. The Mughal emperor was less interested in good governance and more interested in maintaining his lifelong lifestyle and expensive court. Therefore, emperors up to the runaway Rangeseb are called “great”. This is similar to the model that emerged in the Ottoman Empire, where rulers took an interest in good governance and replicated the style of their predecessors, the Afghan Lodi Sultan.
Maintaining the Mughal lifestyle meant higher taxes, providing no benefit to taxpayers. Some money was invested in agriculture or technological development. Local governors took advantage of this and declared independence from the center, soon with the assistance of the British and French. Factories were built by the British in 1616 under an early treaty with the Mughals; By 1765, under the treaty of Allahabad, he gained tax hikes and administrative power in Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa, after which the Mughal emperors became his puppets. In 1857, he dissolved the empire, had already gained control of considerable territory in India, and had won the competition against the French and Dutch. At various times, the Mughals attempted to establish good inter-religious relations with the non-Hindu majority and to appoint Hindus to senior positions. In other times religious fervor prompted temples and Hindu idols to be destroyed and heavily taxed. While the positive side of his legacy still contributes to interfaith unity in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, the downside promotes inter-communal (communist) hatred and violence. Lessons can be learned from the Mughal tradition on how to control multi-ethnic and multi-religious communities.
Although many subjects in the empire were Hindus and Sikhs, the Mughal ruling class was Muslim. When Babur first established the empire he did not value his religion, but the Mongolian tradition. Under Akbar, the court dropped the use of the lunar Muslim calendar in favor of a solar calendar that would be more useful to non-Muslims, and to Jaziya, a tax for agriculture. One of Akbar’s most unusual ideas about religion was Din-i-Ilahi (“theism”), a fusion of Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. He maintained good relations with the growing Sikh community and was declared a state religion until his death. Rangaseb, known for his enthusiasm, later withdrew these activities. Rangaseb enforced Sharia law, codified it, re-enforced the Jija, and destroyed temples to build mosques with Babur. He is known to deal harshly with non-Muslims.
The life of the Mughal court changed considerably under U. Rangaseb. According to his interpretation, Islam did not allow music, so the court deported musicians, dancers, and singers. He stopped doing representative works of art, including famous miniature paintings by the Mughals, who forbade painting, based on Muslim documents.
The Mughal emperors persecuted many Sikh Gurus and Jahangir killed the fifth Guru. Even the Taj Mahal was built at a sacred Hindu site, although this is disputed. Sometimes famous Sufi teachers attracted Hindu and Muslim disciples and some Hindu gurus were popular among Muslims. Many Sufi temples are still seen by Hindus and Muslims.
The Mughals were not subject to Islamic law but considered themselves rulers with divine authority. Therefore, he did not give more authority to religious scholars. Although he recognized the Ottoman claim with the title of Caliph, he saw the Ottomans as another Muslim kingdom like himself, especially when they shared a similar dynasty. It is a matter of debate whether previous policies for the unification of religions were only practical or derived from a more comprehensive understanding of Islam. In fact, Sufi scholars such as Kabir (1414–1518), who thrived in earlier times, portrayed Islam as ‘peace for all’, appealing to many people in the subcontinent. He taught that all people are members of one family and are similar in their Muslim and Hindu traditions. Due to the reversal of the initial policy, India would be gradually divided on the basis of “two-state ideology”, which believes that Muslims and Hindus are two nations and cannot coexist peacefully.
The Mughals used the Mansabdars system to generate land revenue. In return for the promises made by the wartime soldiers, the emperor granted a Mansabdar the right to income. As the size of the land allotted by the emperor increased, so did the number of Manasbar or Zamindar soldiers. Mansab was invalid and unconventional; This gave the center a lot of control over the mind. As a result of the heavy tax increase (initially the Mughals were not taxed more), the rebellion was encouraged as the natives opposed the money spent in the Mughal court. Initially, it promoted economic growth, established a strong system of banking and lending, and issued paper money. However, he blamed the country for more and more money to nurture his lifestyle. Ignoring development, they failed to keep up with developments in other parts of the world, including weapons technology.
NETWORKS OF TRADE AND BUREAUCRACY
The Mughals were a Muslim dynasty ruled by a majority Hindu population. By 1750, they had dominated most of South Asia for centuries. When the Mughals arrived, Muslims were already living in India. During the Mughal rule, Muslims made up only 15 percent of the average population. However, for most of his reign, the Mughal rule was tolerant of all religions in the region. That policy created sufficient social stability to ensure healthy trade, investment, and trade.
The Mughals built their empire by making good use of India’s resources, developing productive capacity, and supporting a very rich Muslim-majority trading system in the Indian Ocean. India was the hub of the global market for goods, with the leading dealers being Muslims from many backgrounds and regions. Muslims in the Indian Ocean have taken advantage of a common language (Arabic), a common code of conduct, and a shared tradition of trade practices.
South Asia played an important role in this system. While the majority of the population cultivated food items such as rice, Mughal India had a thriving manufacturing industry, producing a large number of handloom textiles for the Indian Ocean economy. The cotton and silk textile trade started back in the 6th century BC. Great wealth was brought to India in the fifth century (during the Roman Empire). High demand for these goods attracted merchants from East China and Western Persia. Nevertheless, this wealth made the region a target for rivals.
By the fifteenth century, Indians were expanding their textile production and distribution to take advantage of their emerging global markets. The “spice island” of Indonesia trades nutmeg, corn, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon. Apart from pepper, India has not produced a lot of spices on its own, but it was the trans-shipping hub of the spices world. In 1492, Columbus began a journey for the King and Queen of Spain.
BUILDING THE MUGHAL ESTATE
Sultan Babur established the Mughal Empire in the 16th century with a resounding victory over the Lodhi Sultan in 1526. Babar used 20 cannons to defeat an army. But he died two years later, so it was not Babar’s leadership that sustained his dynasty. This victory was made by his grandchildren, who were able to develop Mughal territories and establish a very efficient administrative structure. Extensive business activities in trade and textile production created great wealth. In the early seventeenth century, the Mughals ruled one of the most populous and richest empires in world history.
This money was ensured by a comprehensive and efficient government. The Mughal rulers established a complex bureaucracy. When the emperors were given land grants, Hindu kings and Muslim sultans were officials of the government called Mansabdars. These military and civilian leaders prepared cavalry (armed cavalry) for the war, and they paid taxes for the empire. Instead, they received land rights, payments, and status.
Mansabdars were similar to European elites and differed in important respects. In the Mughal system, an honorary title was not inherited and could be stripped by the emperor. Unlike the European aristocracy, the Manasbar did not own land, but only the right to collect taxes. This means that they were significantly weaker than the power of the emperor.
INTERNAL PROBLEMS ARE EMERGING
After the first 150 years of Mughal rule, the princes under the emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan became wealthy, dared by large armies, and were able to challenge the weak center of Delhi. By the 1700s, the Mughal state had reached the limits of regional development. When the state vacated the land, it was as if the money had gone out, because of how the land had been given and how they had bought the loyalty of the Manasabars. At the same time, the Manasbar grew very strongly. Imagine feeding your pet tiger cub until it reaches 500 pounds of tasty meat. As the number of nobles, bureaucrats, and military chiefs increased, the government feared that elite, some of whom would now be able to maintain large armies of 40,000 to 60,000. Struggles for the royal throne escalated and political instability arose.
The end of the seventeenth century led to the breakdown of religious tolerance and two periods of constant warfare. The vast Mughal Empire benefited economically and culturally from leaders of many generations who were practical and tolerant of various disciplines. Emperor Rangseb came with religious and military zeal. After coming to power in 1658, he won most of his 49 years of rule, mobilized armies, and suppressed violent riots, and brutally punished his enemies, Hindus, and Muslims. Peace was rare during these times. Millions died in the war, and famines, plague, and famine killed millions of civilians.
This was an unfortunate time for the Mughals, but it was only when some armed foreign powers began to put more pressure on the government.
EXTERNAL RIVALS FOR POWER
During the eighteenth century, many different Europeans, including Dutch, French, and Portuguese, aggressively sought land in South Asia. But it was dominated by the British. They were represented by the East India Company, a British private joint-stock trading company in the northeastern province of Bengal in the mid-eighteenth century. Initially, he was like a Mansabdar, working within the Mughal bureaucracy and accepting the power of the emperor, making money to ensure that. The Mughal state gave the company the authority to tax the land acquired through treaties and political and military interventions. The company started expanding beyond Bengal. The plan to conquer India was not so much as his business interests were slowly developing. Through careful calculation, they went to the province and excelled with various local divisions. The British gradually defeated all other European rivals by forming alliances with various local power players, who did not like the Mughals and other Europeans.
Outsiders are not the only Europeans to question Mughal supremacy. By 1750, neighboring Afghans, Uzbeks, and Persians were often provoked against the empire. In 1759, the Persians also captured the capital of Delhi. The peacock studded with diamonds claimed the throne. At the same time, internal divisions continued to destroy the empire. Rivals against the throne presented special challenges to the regime, destroying all of the empire’s budgets at the expense of war.
The atrocities of Aurangzeb increased the death toll and destroyed many Hindu temples and Muslim temples in military attacks. However, their failure cannot explain the collapse of the empire as a whole. Personal racism aside, Rangaseb built Hindu temples and employed more Hindus in his bureaucracy than previous Mughal rulers. Religious zeal does not explain the end of another 150-year empire. However, we may be able to trace the reasons that this empire has slowed down in modern times due to the general cost of maintaining a medieval warfare state. At the same time, India’s changing role in the global economy has now introduced new Indian bankers, finance founders, foreign traders, and investors of all kinds who have withdrawn money from the state. The system evolved into something they could not afford. As soon as a Mughal rule came to an end, Europeans – especially British merchants – started making profits.
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