Thursday, 17 January 2013

The only Mughal Emperor of Bijapur

It was 1707 AD and Aurangzeb was exhausted by the long decades he had spent in the Deccan vainly trying to subjugate the Marathas.
Aurangzeb had retired with his retinue to Ahmednagar now in Maharashtra. He saw his death nearing and tried in vain to set right the things that he knew he had wronged.
He wrote to one of his five sons in February 1707, “I came alone and I go as a stranger. I do not know who I am, nor what I have been doing”.  His youngest son, Kam Baksh, had always been his favourite but like the other four Kam Baksh too had been imprisoned by his father.
Aurangzeb never led a happy family life. He was always suspicious with his five sons and frequently imprisoned them on one silly reason or other. Of all his sons, he loved Kam Baksh, the youngest, the most.
Towards the end of his life, Aurangzeb realised that Kam Baksh was timid and weak. He, therefore, made him Governor of his Deccan provinces and sent him with a strong bodyguard to Bijapur as its Governor.
Aurangzeb hoped that by sending Kam Baksh to far away Bijapur, he could avert a war of succession among his sons. He wrote one of the most poignant letters ever from a father to a son. It was addressed to Kam Baksh. Aurangzeb said, “Soul of my soul, now I am going alone. I grieve for your helplessness. But what is the use? Every torment I have inflicted, every sin has committed, every wrong I have done, carry the consequence with me. Strange that I came with nothing into the world, and now go away with this stupendous caravan of sin! Whatever I look I see only God.
You should accept my last will. It should not happen that Mussalmans be killed and the reproach should fall upon the head of his useless creature. I commit you and your sons to the care of God and bid you farewell. I am sorely troubled. Your sick mother Udaipur would fain die with me. May the peace of God be upon you?”
When Aurangzeb died on March 3, 1707, Kam Baksh soon proclaimed his independence and assumed the title of Din Panah or Padshah. He then ascended the throne of Bijapur.
It was just 21 years after the Adil Shahis had capitulated. The bubonic plague had wiped out half the inmate of the great city of Bijapur. When the Mughals had advanced towards Bijaour in 1686, the Adil Shahis had destroyed houses, buildings, structures, crops, tanks and lakes leading to Bijapur. So when Aurangzeb took Bijapur in 1686, it was broken and battered city.
The 21 years of Mughal rule had not helped matters. People had all the time been deserting Bijapur for greener pastures. The once mighty warriors of the Adil Shahis had either joined the Marathas or become mercenaries.
Kam Baksh, therefore, was only the Emperor of a small province. The Marathas had already eaten away more than half of Adil shahi provinces.
However, Aurangzeb’s eldest son, Bahadur Shah, did not agree to the declaration of Independence by his brother, Bahadur Shah.
Bahadur Shah soon declared war on Bijapur and marched with an army in 1708. Kam Baksh then was just 41 years of age.     
 Kam Baksh then was stationed at Hyderabad.
A strong believed in astrology, Kam Baksh was convinced that he would won as the astrologers had predicated a sweeping victory. Kam Baksh met Bahadur Shah who had come with an army of 2 lakhs.
By then, Kam Baksh had lost many of his mansabdars due to his ill treatment. He was just left with an army of  just two thousand soldiers.Yet, Kam Baksh came out of Hyderabad city and stood on battlefield and directed his troops.
Both Kam Baksh and his son were killed  in the battle of the brothers in January 1709. A very interesting anecdote is that the Mughal troops were wary of the small army of Kam Baksh. They believed that he had some secret weapon with which he would  destroy them. “Otherwise why would Kam Baksh come with so few men to face such a large army”, they reasoned.
With Kam Baksh’s death the one year rule of the Mughals as Emperor of Bijapur came to an abrupt end. A Mughal writer, Khafi Khan, describes the final meeting of the two brothers in detail wherein Bahadur Shah treats his younger brother with great tenderness and love.
Bijapur fell into the hands of the Nizams of Hyderabad in 1724. They transferred it to the Maratthas in 1760 on payment of  Rs. 60 lakhs. When the Peshwa rule ended in 1818, it came under the British and later became part of the Bombay Presidency.

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