When Aurangzeb pleaded for mercy

22 08 2008

A page from History When Aurangzeb pleaded for Mewar Rana’s mercy
By Ganeshi Lal Verma

The Mughal-Rajput war was started after the death of Maharaja Jasvant
Singh on December 20, 1678 and it continued for nearly 30 years. The
Maharaja had died in Jamrud, Afghanistan, where he was posted by
Aurangzeb, the Mughal Emperor. On his death Aurangzeb expressed
happiness and said: “Pillar of infidelity has fallen.” He took
advantage of the situation and tried to annex Marwar—the Maharaja`s
kingdom. Aurangzeb went to Ajmer to make proper arrangements and
overawe the Rajputs of Marwar.

Meanwhile, Maharaja’s family reached Delhi in June 1679. Aurangzeb
ordered that the Maharaja’s family along with infant Ajit Singh, the
late Maharaja’s son, should be sent to the royal harem. The Mughal
Emperor said that Jodhpur gaddi (throne) could be given to Ajit Singh
on condition of his adopting Islam. This led to a fight between the
Mughal army and the Rathore warriors under the command of Durgadas.
The Rathore warriors easily defeated the Mughal forces. Ajit Singh
was safely taken to Marwar and proclaimed the Maharaja of Marwar.
Hearing about the defeat of Mughal forces, Aurangzeb himself took the
command of his army and invaded Marwar to suppress the revolt.

Aurangzeb suspected that Rana of Mewar was helping the Rajputs of
Jodhpur. So in retaliation Aurangzeb imposed jazia on Rana of Mewar.
Rana realised that Aurangzeb was bent on annihilating Rajput power.
Indeed the Mughals had invaded Mewar. Rana abandoned Udaipur,
surprised Mughal camp at Chittor and defeated the Mughals at Bednoor.
Aurangzeb now planned three-pronged attack from three different
directions. Still the Mughals could not make impressive advance
against the Maharana’s defences.

During the campaign Aurangzeb himself was encircled in a precipice by
the Rajputs. The Rajput closed the back movement of the Mughal army
by felling the overhanging trees. Aurangzeb’s favourite wife Udaipuri
Begum, who was also accompanying him in the war was also encircled in
another part of mountain. She however surrendered and was taken to
Rana, who treated her with utmost respect.

Meanwhile, Aurangzeb and his garrison was without food and water for
two days. The Emperor would have died of hunger if the siege had
continued. The Mughals however cried for Rana’s clemency. A treaty
was signed between Rana and Aurangzeb. It was promised on Aurangzeb’s
behalf that in future sacred animals would not be slaughtered. The
magnanimous Rana ordered his forces to withdraw from their stations
so that way could be cleared for Mughal army to withdraw along with
their emperor. The Begum, with her retinue was also sent to the
Emperor, who had withdrawn to Chittor.

Colonel Tod comments on the incident: “But for repeated instances of
ill-judged humanity, the throne of Mughals might have been completely
overturned”. (Annals & Antiquities of Rajasthan, Vol. I p. 379).
Aurangzeb learnt nothing from the defeat. Once out of danger,
Aurangzeb forgot the promise of not slaughtering the cows and the
clemency of Rana. Aurangzeb continued the war claiming that Rana’s
generosity was the result of fear of future vengeance by the Mughals.

Rana’s magnanimity was misplaced. It was as great a blunder as the
ill-fated interview between Rana Pratap and Man Singh at Udai Sagar
Lake. Mughal empire could have been shattered long before than
Marathas did it, if the Rajputs had been more politically minded.