Rajasthan Board RBSE Class 8 Social Science Notes Chapter 17 Decline of the Mughal Empire and 18th Century India
Downfall of the Mughal Empire began in the beginning of the 18th century. The death of Aurangzeb took place in 1707 A.D. Before that he had ruled over the most of India. But by 1730 the influence of Mughal was confined up to only Delhi city and nearby areas. In the treaty held in Allahabad the Mughal emperor Shah Alam II accepted the suzerainty of British. The downfall of this Empire would happened in less time.
Though the decentralization of Mughal Empire was started before it, the anti-Rajput and Maratha policies of Aurangzeb paved the path of declining of the empire. After his death the rate of decline become more speedy.
The main reasons of the downfall of Mughal Empire was as follows:
1. Religious Policy of Aurangzeb
2. Incompetence of the Mughal emperors
3. Downfall of the Nobles
4. Economic Downfall
5. Absence of Law of Succession
6. External Invasions
7. Lack of Nationalism
8. Arrival of Europeans
- Religious Policy of Aurangzeb: Due to Aurangzeb’s unkind policy towards Hindus, Sikhs, Shia Muslims, he has to face very harmful effects. This policy decreased the help of Hindu rulers received by the Mughal Empire, by which Mughals had expanded their empire in the beginning. Due this policy, Jats, Satnams and Sikhs revolted against Mughals and Marathas achieved success in establishing a vast Empire by organising local powers. Shivaji created the feeling of nationalism in Marathas in such a way that though Aurangzeb used his whole power he couldn’t crush them. By getting inspiration from Marathas, rulers of northern India also revolted against Mughals. During the period of Peshwas the power of Marathas was so increased that they made the Mughal Badshah of Delhi puppet in their hands. The emergence of the Maratha power is considered as the main cause of the downfall of the Mughal Empire. At the same time the Jats of Agra and Bharatpur refused to accept the authority of the Mughals. The Sikhs in Punjab declared themselves independent under the leadership of Banda Bahadur. Banda Bahadur even circulated a seperate coin under his name. The power of Mughals was so weak that they could not control local rulers to become independent rulers.
- Incompetence of the Mughal Rulers: All the successors of the Mughal empire after Aurangzeb were incapable and materialist. They led a luxurious life that made them incompetent, and decreased the spirit of bravery and courage. This downfall in morale become the cause of their downfall.
- Downfall of the Nobles and Aamirs: With the downfall of the members of the royal family, their nobles too faced their downfall. They were leading a luxurious life and started fighting by making groups for their selfishness. They become demoralized and incompetent. They had no care of their empire.
- Economic Downfall: Shahjahan showed off his splendour by building expensive buildings. While Aurangzeb engaged in wars for too long that by which economic condition of the state become weak. And later successors were extravagant due to their way of living. The loot of Ahmed Shah Abdali and Nadir Shah made their treasury empty. The economic condition of Mughals had so worsened that a time came when food was not cooked for three days in the royal kitchen. When the princess could not bear hunger then they threw their veil and revolted. Nadir Shah took along with him the precious diamond Kohinoor and Takhte – E – Taues.
- Lack of Nationalism: Most of the rulers of Mughal period were not having national view. They did not communicate feeling of unity among people following different sects. Aurangzeb hated Shia Muslims and Hindus. He couldn’t fill the feeling of nationalism in his subjects and subedars. There was widespread disorder, disturbance and chaos in Mughal Empire. The cess (Dastak) system further worsened the economic condition. The East India Company took the advantage of the situation, and pushed aside the Mughal empire.
- Absence of laws of succession: There was no specified law to decide the successor to the throne of the Mughal ruler. It was decided by the power of sword, rather than the eldest son. This caused a great harm to the state.
- External Invasions: The foreign invaders took an advantage of the weaknesses of the Mughal Empire. Ahmed Shah Abdali’s and Nadir Shah’s invasions had practically worsened the political and the economic conditions of the Mughal administration. Their military became weak and lost all the zeal and strength. Taking advantage of the situations, subedars of many subas became independent.
- Arrival of Europeans: In Mughal period Portuguese, English, French and Dutch came to India for trade through seaways. Gradually they took advantage of Mughal Empire weaknesses. After sometime a struggle was held between English and French to establish political power of India. In which English got victory on the basis of their naval power. The last cause of the downfall of Mughal Empire was East India Company which was formed to trade in India, but established its empire by getting an opportunity.
18th Century India:
Main political powers of the 18th century India were:
- Maratha: Shivaji founded the Maratha empire in Maharashtra. He and his successors fought continuously against Aurangzeb. In the first half of the 18th century Peshwas became more powerful. Peshwa Baji Rao strenghened the Maratha power in other provinces of India like Malawa, Gujarat, Bundelkhand etc. During Balaji Baji Rao’s reign the Marathas extended their authority in many parts of India. By 1752 even the Mughal emperors and wazirs accepted the Maratha dominance. However in 1761, in third Battle of Panipat, the Marathas had to face a defeat. The British fought thrice against the Marathas and finally brought them under their control even though the greatest power of India were Marathas.
- The Jat: In Mathura the Jats led by Gokul revolted against Aurangzeb’s religious policy. Later the Jat empire was established under the leadership of Badan Singh. However the Jats became a strong power under the leadership of Maharaja Surajmal. Their capital was Bharatpur. They captured Mathura, Aligarh and Doab region. The Bharatpur ruler, Ranjit Singh too had helped Maratha Yaswant Rao Holker against British. Later, the rulers of Bharatpur signed a treaty with the British.
- Hyderabad: In the first half of the 18th century Manasabdar of the Mughals, Nizam Chikilich Khan merged six mughal subas and established Hyderabad state. The Marathas defeated him in the Palkhed War. Later the Nizam of Hyderabad entered into treaty with the British.
- Avadh: The Mughal Subedar, Sadaat Khan became autonomous who played an important role at the time of Nadir Shah’s invasion. Later the Avadh ruler Shujao -Ud-Duala was defeated by the British in the war of Buxar and thus Avadh too was captured by the British.
- Bengal: Murshid Kuli Khan established the Bengal state and captured Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. During the period of his successors the Marathas seized Orissa from Bengal. In 1757 in the Battle of Plassey, the British commander Robert Clive defeated Siraju daula and founded the British Empire in Bengal.
- Mysore: It was being governed by the Wadiyar dynasty. In the mid-18th century Haider AN, captured it. He and his son Tipu Sultan were engaged in continuous struggles against the British. After wars, the British established their control over Mysore during the last decade of the 18th century.
The Kingdoms of the Rajput in 18th century Rajasthan:
- Amer (Amber) Jaipur: Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur had got subedari of the Malwa province in first half of the 18th century. Due to interference of Jai Singh in the war of succession of Bundi, the Marathas stepped into Rajasthan. To control Marathas’ increasing impact Sawai Jai Singh and other rulers convened a sammelan of the Rajput rulers in 1734 at Hurda and tried to unite the Rajput rulers. After Jai Singh’s death, his sons Ishwar Singh and Madho Singh continued fighting. Later all the rulers have to face the invasion of Marathas. The main victory of Jaipur state was defeating the Marathas by Sawai Pratap Singh in Tunga war.
- Jodhpur: Ajit Singh of Jodhpur seized Jodhpur from the Mughals and established his rule over it. He increased his influence in Mughal court and become subedar of Gujarat. He played an important role in dethroning the Mughal emperor Farukhsyar.
- Mewar: Amar Singh II, the ruler of Mewar helped Jai Singh and Ajit Singh in capturing Amer and Jodhpur respectively. In the 18th century there was an all around political disorder and upheaveal in India. The Mughal empire had become weak. The Marathas remained busy in collecting Chauth and Surdesh mukhi and failed to have good relation with the Rajput rulers of the North-lndia. Consequently they failed to get cooperation from the Rajputs and other Indian powers in the Battle of Panipat against Ahmad Shah Abdaali. The Rajput rulers too got involved in civil wars and could not expand their rule. The British took advantage of this political instability in India and established their sovereignty over India.
Society and Culture in the 18th Century:
Indian society comprises both the Hindu and Muslim. They had common customs and traditions. Castes were based on professions. Society was divided into the rich and the common. The textiles from Bengal and the southern India were popular in the whole world. The Indian goods were in a great demand in the world, but in the post half of the 18th century the British policies gave a great setback to the Indian trade.
As a result of declining of the Mughal empire the artisans headed towards the regional states, opening opportunities for the fast spread of art creations in other parts of India. The Kangra and the Rajput arts of paintings acquired new styles. During this period the Jat rulers of Rajasthan got built the Deeg palaces. Sawai Jai Singh founded Jaipur city, and observatories at five places in Rajasthan. Sawai Pratap Singh got built Hawa Mahal in Jaipur.The great scripture, Radha-Govind Sangeet Saar was written in Pratap Singh’s Court. The scholars like Gandharu Baisi, were his court’s nobles. Heer – Ranja was written in Punjab in the same period. Many scriptures in other languages, too were written during this time.