Downfall and Decline of the Mughal Empire

The mighty Mughal Empire declined rapidly after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 AD. There are several causes behind the decline and downfall of the Mughal Empire. The vast Mughal Empire was virtually beyond any effective control of its rulers.

Aurangzeb’s religious policy largely antagonized the rebellions of the Jats, the Bundelas, the Rajputs, the Sikhs and the Marathas. The later Mughals were weak and incapable to maintain the integrity of a vast empire.

The Mughal administration was autocratic in nature where the success lay in the ability, integrity and efficiency of a monarch. The later Mughals increasingly depended on the nobles and beneficia­ries. The absence of any definite law of succession for the Mughals always led to fratricidal wars, which made the empire considerably weak.

As there was no law of succession the throne always devolved to the mightiest. With the moral decay of the later Mughals the nobility also lost valor and got engaged in feuds among themselves. Each faction wanted to win over the monarch to enhance its own power and influence.

The hostile Irani, Turani and Hindusthani rebels were so divided for their narrow gains that they failed to put up a strong defense to Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali.

In the mansabdari system the common soldier owed allegiance to the mansabdar rather than the emperor. With the weakening of the central control, the mansabdars stopped maintaining the required number of troops that further weak­ened the military power of the emperor. By the end of the seventeenth century there were not enough jaigirs left to be assigned to the mansabdars. For the payment a lot of crown land was converted to jagir land. This reduced the state revenue.

Another important reason for the collapse of the Mughal Empire was the peasant unrest. The rebellion of the Jats, Bundelas originated due to the exploitation of the peasants. The new class of subadars along with the mahajans exploited the peasants to the maximum point. Too much expenditure on luxuries at Mughal court, harems, and long drawn wars with the Marathas, rebellions and unrest among the peasants created a milieu of chaos that affected trade and commerce. Contrary to progress stagnation became an important feature of the period.

The Mughals were reluctant and not interested in building up a strong navy. The Europeans thus entered India easily and established trade centers along the coasts. It became increasingly difficult to rule the vast Mughal Empire from one capital. The provinces got out of control.

The Deccan posed a serious threat under Shivaji and the Marathas. The East India Company became very powerful after the third Battle of Panipat. It encouraged rivalries among the small kingdoms.

Finally the vacuum was filled up by the British when the Marathas were defeated by Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1761 AD. By 1818 AD the British were in full control of the India. These factors collectively led to the downfall of the Mughal Empire.

You might also like