Causes of the Downfall of Mughal Empire

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CAUSES OF THE DOWNFALL OF MUGHAL EMPIRE

BACKGROUND
The downfall of the mughal empire can be attributed to two major factors: 1) Weaknesses of the mughals
2) Strength of the East India Company.

The Mughal Empire, which had reached its zenith during the rule of Shah Jahan and his son, began to decline after the rule of Aurangzeb. In fact, the decline began during the last days of Aurangzeb.The Mughal Empire reached its greatest extent in the time of Aurangzeb Alamgir, but it collapsed with dramatic suddenness within a few decades after his death. The Mughal Empire owes its decline and ultimate downfall to a combination of factors.

The death of Alamgir in 1707 is generally regarded as the beginning of the gradual decline, and ultimately fall, of the once extensive, prosperous and powerful Mughal Empire. Although it took nearly 150 years before the House of Babur finally disappeared from the scene, the cracks that had appeared at Alamgir’s death widened.There were many causes for the downfall of this great dynasty. Let us view the causes that hastened the fall of the Mughal Empire after Aurangzeb.

Aurangzeb’s responsibility:

Aurangzeb was largely responsible for the downfall of the empire. Aurangzeb’s religious policy:
Aurangzeb’s religious policy is regarded as a cause for the decline of the Mughal Empire as it led to disunity among the people. His predecessors did a lot to win over the loyalties of their subjects, particularly the Rajputs and the Hindus. But Aurangzeb was a fanatic and could not tolerate the non-Muslims. He imposed jazia and forbade the celebration of Hindu festivals. He thus lost the friendship and loyality of the Rajputs. His execution of the Sikh guru and his enmity with the Marathas forced them to raise arms against him. His excessive obsession with the Deccan also destroyed the Mughal army, the treasury and also adversely affected his health. Being a fanatic Sunni Muslim, he could not tolerate even the Shias. They too turned against him. He laid too much stress on simplicity and was against singing, dancing and drinking which were common habits of the Muslim nobles. They did not like a king who was so much against their ways. Aurangzeb, thus “himself gave a green signal to the forces of decay” and so after his death the mighty empire disintegrated into smaller states.

Weak Successors and characterless successors:

The successors of Aurangzeb were both weak and incompetent. The later Mughals spent more time in their harems and in pleasure and soon lost control of the states. The character of Mughal kings had deteriorated over a period of time. The successive rulers after Aurangzeb were weak and lacked the character, motivation and commitment to rule the empire strongly. They had become ease loving and cowardly. They totally disregarded their state duties and were unable to detain the declining empire from its fall.

The nobility:
The degeneration of the rulers had also led to the moral degeneration of the nobility. Under the early Mughals, the nobles performed useful functions and distinguished themselves both in war and peace. But the elite under the later Mughals was more interested in worldly pursuit and self-enhancement. The nobles who had once been talented men with integrity, honesty, and loyalty, turned selfish and deceitful. Growth of hostile and rival clique in the court also undermined the strength of the government. Widespread corruption in the administration started and taking bribes became common.

No Definite Law of Succession:

The absence of any definite law of accession was another important factor. The war of successions not only led to bitterness, bloodshed, and loss of money and prestige of the empire over a period of time, but to its eventual fall.The Mughals did not follow any definite law of succession. After the death of every emperor, there ensued a bloody war of succession amongst his sons. Each one, used nobles and members of the royal family to...
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