Aurangzeb

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Aurangzeb

Aurangzeb (ôr´əngzĕb´) or Aurangzib (–zĬb´), 1618–1707, Mughal emperor of India (1658–1707), son and successor of Shah Jahan. He served (1636–44, 1653–58) as viceroy of the Deccan but was constantly at odds with his father and his eldest brother, Dara Shikoh, the heir apparent. When Shah Jahan fell ill in 1658, Aurangzeb seized the opportunity to fight and defeat Dara and two other brothers in a battle for succession. He imprisoned his father for life and ascended the throne at Agra with the reign title Alamgir [world-shaker]. A scholarly, austere man, devoted to Islam, he persecuted the Hindus, destroying their temples and monuments. He executed the guru of the Sikhs (see Sikhism) when he refused to embrace Islam. Although the Mughal empire reached its greatest extent under Aurangzeb, it was also fatally weakened by revolts of the Sikhs, Rajputs, and Jats in the north and the rebellion of the Marathas in the Deccan. From 1682, Aurangzeb concentrated all his energies on crushing the Marathas, but his costly campaigns were only temporarily successful and further weakened his authority in the north. The Mughal empire fell apart soon after his death.

See biographies by Sir Jadunath Sarkar (5 vol., 1912–24) and M. Lal (1988); studies by S. Lane-Poole (1964) and R. C. Hallissey (1977).

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