Aurangzeb and the Annexation of Bijapur and Golcunda

After the death of Muhammad Adil Shah in 1656 decline had set in the state of Bijapur.

The Rootless Deccani Aristocracy

The military oligarchy of Bijapur mainly consisted of outsiders, namely the Afghans, the Abbysinians, the Mahdavi Sayyids who formed the ruling group of the aristocracy at the court of Bijapur and these three powerful groups never became the part and parcel of the local population. They maintained their racial and cultural identity by marrying amongst themselves. Although they had no intention of returning back to their native homelands in the foreign countries, yet at the same time they could not be considered completely assimilated in the Deccan society: and that was the weakness of the state of Bijapur.

Thus the aristocracy of Bijapur was a saleable commodity and Aurangzeb fully utilized this opportunity to bribe it to desert their masters. The annexation of Bijapur was not the work of military bulwark. It was achieved much more by Mughal gold than by the Mughal sword.

Operation Against & Siege of Golcunda and Bijāpūr: Victory through Bribes

By now Aurangzeb was convinced that the Maratha menace could not be eliminated unless Bijapur and Golcunda were annexed to the Mughal Empire, as these states were providing material help to Sambhaji and the Marathas. Thus in 1685 the siege operations against Bijapur were vigorously started and in order to eliminate the mutual jealousies of the Mughal nobles and to encourage them to work hard, Aurangzeb himself supervised the siege operations. In these operations the Bijapuri nobles were bribed by the emperor on promise of offering high ranks.

A number of leading nobles like the Afghans and others were lured and they deserted their master and thus after 14 months of siege operations in which both sides suffered heavy losses, the Bijapuris capitulated in 1686. The boy king, Sikandar Adil Shah was arrested and the Adil Shahi dynasty came to an end. Aurangzeb visited the palaces and after a few days returned to his base-camp at Islampuri. After the annexation of Bijapur the next target was Golcunda.

Aurangzeb turned his attention towards Qutb Shah and in spite the fact that he was ready to accept the over lordship of the Mughals and was prepared to accept all the conditions, Aurangzeb insisted on complete annexation of the kingdom.

Thus in 1686 Golcunda was besieged, the army of Golcunda put up stiff resistance and the Mughal soldiers had to face extreme difficulties due to the inner strength of the fort.

Aurangzeb applied the same tactics of bribing the generals. The nobles were offered high mansabs to desert their master. A large number of nobles deserted Qutb Shah and joined Aurangzeb and were awarded with high posts. Aurangzeb even succeeded in bribing the qiledar of Golcunda who opened the gate and the Mughal army entered the fort. Abdul Razzaq Lari, the commander-in-chief of the army of Golcunda single-handedly fought against the advancing Mughal forces in the fort declaring that atleast one life should be spent in the defence of the fort! He was badly wounded and became unconscious and after the capture of the fort he was arrested. Aurangzeb asked him to be treated well. When he regained consciousness, Aurangzeb asked him to join the Mughal side; he refused by saying ‘I can’t change my masters’.

Thus it was only by the treachery of the bulk of Golcunda nobility that the fort fell in the Mughal hands in 1687 and the Qutb Shahi dynasty came to an end. We have already seen that two years later Sambhaji was captured and the Marathas smashed and Aurangzeb emerged as the undisputed master of the sub-continent.

Golcunda Fort

Consequences of Annexations

The most important aspect of the capture of Bijapur and Golcunda were the consequences. The annexation of these states was not exclusively the result of military pressure, but was also the result of the Mughal gold.

Tempting offers of high mansab to leading commanders of these states to desert their masters resulted in their defeat.

Result was that after the fall of these two states, there was an influx of Deccani nobility in the Mughal aristocracy which created an imbalance in the traditional composition of the Mughal nobility. These nobles coming from Golcunda and Bijapur were recruited at the cost of the khanazads who considered the Mughal Empire as their preserve but now their cases were not being considered sympathetically for the award of mansabs due to political compulsions and the inclusion of the Deccanis and the Marathas. Thus there was a growing dissatisfaction of the khanazads towards Aurangzeb. Both Turanis and Rajputs suffered as most of the Deccani nobles were Iranis. Two new elements were also included in the Mughal aristocracy – the Marathas and the Afghans, who now became important. Resources were limited while both these disturbers to peace were added to by Aurangzeb rahmatullah.

This contention is challenged by J.F.Richards (Mughal administration of Golcunda) on the ground that if the Deccanis were recruited in the Mughal nobility, the area of the state of Golcunda and Bijapur was also added to the Mughal Empire. Thus if new elements from Decan were added so was a vast territory. So there should have been no financial difficulty as it was compensated by the addition of new territory.

Answer to the objection is that it was not the question of theoretic position or addition to the jamadami. It is the actual position which is in question.

While the claims increased by 136 % as a result of addition of the claims of the Deccanis as compared to the year prior to direct involvement of Aurangzeb in the Deccan, the enhancement of jamādamāmi was only 30%

Thus there was an imbalance even in the theoretical position: the burden on the exchequer was much more higher than the income of these two states.

Practically the situation was much worse than this: Aurangzeb had only succeeded in displacing the kings and annexing the territories, he could not realize the revenues. All the Adil Shahi and Qutb Shahi qiledars thought themselves to be semi-independent and military might was to be used to rein them in. the result was that the actual realization from these states was negligible.

This meant that the expenditure was to be met from the traditional Mughal treasury.

“From where gold-coins were collected, now not even the copper coin was forthcoming” informs Bhimsen.

Thus we have the evidence that the actual collection from Bijapur and Golcunda was negligible.

The Khānazāds were dissatisfied as the Deccanis had been included at their cost. Khafi Khan says that their claims were being ignored by Aurangzeb. The Deccanis too were dis-satisfied as tall claims made before their desertion could not be fulfilled as the resources were now not available.

So a new dilemma was created: their necessary conditions were not satisfied and thus they too started deserting Aurangzeb.

Thus there was an imbalance in the composition of the Mughal nobility. Thus these two reasons helped in the dis-integration of the empire.

The second consequence was that after annexation of Golcunda and Bijapur, theoretically the capitals were annexed and the kings were arrested. The areas under the states of Golcunda and Bijapur were never annexed and Aurangzeb had to lead military expeditions against small landlords to compel them to accept the overlordship of the Mughals. This marching of the Mughal army from one place to another in pursuit of petty chieftains exhausted them. The energy of Aurangzeb was bogged down completely and thus the functioning of the administration especially in the north was adversely affected.

The third consequence of the annexations was that the Empire became too large and too unwieldy to be governed by one centre; and that too at the stage when the Deccan was not fully pacified and reconciled to the Mughal rule.

Aurangzeb spent the rest of his life in the Deccan and this problem of the Deccan consumed all the resources of the empire and yet the result was not satisfactory. The nobles were sick of fighting in the Deccan and the weakness crept into the body politic of the Mughal Empire.

The administration became weak and corruption rampant. All these things were reported to Aurangzeb and he was also an eye-witness to all these corrupt practices and he accepted his helpness towards the end of his reign. So there is some substance in the observations made by Sir Jadunath Sarkar that the Spanish Ulcer ruined Napolean and Deccan Ulcer ruined Aurangzeb.


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A history buff interested to unravel the past as it was!

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