By 1765, the British had captured major chunks of Indian territory in eastern India. After Aurangzeb’s death, the Mughal Empire started to decline because of weak and inefficient rulers. States like Hyderabad, Awadh, Bengal and states under the control of Sikhs and Marathas declared independence. The declining power of the Mughals also gave rise to the regional powers like the Jats, Sikhs and Marathas.
The Crisis of the Empire and the Later Mughals
Fig: Mughal Empire
- After reaching its zenith, the Mughal Empire started declining under Emperor Aurangzeb. This was because of Aurangzeb’s military and religious policy which depleted the financial resources of the Mughals.
- Under his successors, the efficiency of the imperial administration broke down. It became difficult to check governors and mansabdars.
- In the midst of this crisis, Nadir Shah’s invasion in 1739 and invasions of Afghan ruler Ahmed Shah Abdali between 1748-1761, weakened the Mughal empire.
- The honorability was isolated into two major groups Iranis and Turanis. For a long time, the later Mughal emperors were puppets in the hands of either one or the other of these two powerful groups.
The emergence of New States
- With the decline of Mughal authority, the governors consolidated their authority.
- Broadly speaking, the stakes were divided into three overlapping groups; old Mughal provinces like Awadh, Bengal and Hyderabad States which enjoyed consideration independence like Watan Jagirs and several Rajput territories, and the last group included states like Marathas, Sikhs, and the Jats.
The Old Mughal Provinces
- These included the states of Awadh, Bengal, and Hyderabad.
- Hyderabad state was founded by Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah. At that time Hyderabad was in a constant battle with the Marathas and the Telugu warrior chief since Asaf Jah wanted to control the rich Coromandel Coast. However, with the British strengthening in the east, he was kept in check.
- Awadh was founded by Saddat Khan. The rich alluvial plains allowed development of the region.
- Bengal was founded by Murshid Quli Khan. He commanded revenue administration of the state. Under Alivardi Khan the state became prosperous.
Murshid Quli Khan
The Watan Jagirs of the Rajputs
- Many Rajput Kings, particularly those belonging to Amber and Jodhpur had served under the Mughals with distinction. They got considerable autonomy and thus were called Watan jagir.
- Maratha expansion after the 1740s put the restriction on the growth of Rajput expansion. Seizing Independence;
- The Sikh arose as a power under Guru Gobind Singh who inspired the Khalsa with the belief that their destiny was to rule.
- Maharaja Ranjit Singh reunited the Sikhs as a powerful group and established his capital at Lahore in 1799.
- Shivaji (1627 – 1680), created a powerful regional Maratha kingdom which stood bravely against the Mughal rule. He challenged the Mughal presence in the Indian peninsular region. Subsequently, after his death, his Peshwas took charge. Also, the Peshwas took the Maratha regime to higher military levels.
- Marathas collected huge revenue from taxes of church and Sardshmukhi in the entire kingdom.
- Maratha chiefs included Peshwa, Sindhia, Gaekwad, and Bhonsle. Their territory touched near Delhi in its peak stages.
- The Jats under Churaman controlled territories towards the west of Delhi.
- They were prosperous agriculturalists.
- Under Suraj Mal, the kingdom of Bharatpur emerged as a strong state.
- Jats even built a garden palace at Dig.