Mughal territory Humayun had to flee for his life. Humayun finally fled to Persia, where Shah Tamasp received him kindly and agreed to help him.
3. Sher Shah Suri:
Sher Shah was an able ruler. He was influenced by the policies of Ala-ud-Din Khilji, particularly those relating to military organisation and revenue administration. He first organised his army into a strong and efficient force.
Sher Shah built good roads. One of the roads stretched for 2,000 miles, from Bengal to the north-west frontier (The Grand Trunk Road from Peshawar to Calcutta closely follows the line of the earlier road).
Another thing which is associated with Sher Shah was the issuing of the coin called Rupia, which is the same name as that used for our modern rupee. Sher Shah would have become a great ruler if he had lived longer. He ruled only for five years and died in an accident in 1545.
Humayun took this opportunity and regained the throne of Delhi from the hands of the weak successor of Sher Shah in July 1555 with the help of the king of Persia (Iran). But he enjoyed his success for hardly a year.
4. Akbar, 1556-1605:
He succeeded his father Humayun at the age of fourteen, Bairam Khan, a distinguished general, became his regent. Bairam Khan defeated Hemu at Panipat, 1556 (Second Battle of Panipat), and secured the throne for Akbar.Akbar’s fame rests on his statesman-like vision and his policy of reconciliation with the Hindus; he made Rajputs the pillars of the Mughal State. Din-i-Ilahi was the outcome of his pantheistic and enlightened religious outlook.
Akbar was a great builder. Some of the important buildings of his reign are the fort of Agra, the tomb of Humayun and his “dream city” of Fatehpur. Akbar loved painting and music. Among the musicians who enjoyed his liberal patronage was Tansen of Gwalior. Literature flourished during Akbar’s time.
Among Persian writers, the most famous were the historians Badayuni and Abul Fazl. Abul Fazl was the author of “Ain-i-Akbari” and “Akbar-Nama.” His brother Faizi was a noted poet. He translated Bhagwad Gita into Persian verse. Tulsidas, author of Ramcharitmanas flourished during Akbar’s time.
5. Jahangir (1605 – 1627):
He shared Akbar’s interest in social and religious reforms, but he never studied the problems of religion as deeply as his father did. He was fond of literature and was well read. He wrote in a fine Persian style as could be seen from his memoirs — Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri. He knew a great deal about painting.
In 1611, Jahangir married Nur Jahan. She took keen interest in state matters. Jahangir fell ill for a long period and during this time she looked after the affairs of the kingdom and ruled the empire.
Jahangir enjoyed a peaceful reign as compared to the later Mughal rulers. He, however, had trouble with the Portuguese. By this time the English were also getting interested in the possibilities of trade with India. It was during Jahangir’s reign that the English king James I sent his ambassador Sir Thomas Roe, to the court of Agra.
6. Shahjahan (1628 – 66):
Shahjahan (Prince Khhuram) succeeded to the throne in 1628 after the death of his father, Jahngir.
When the name Shahjahan is mentioned most people think of two things : the Taj Mahal and the Peacock Throne. The Taj Mahal is the world-famous tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, Shahjahan’s wife. The Peacock throne was a golden, jewel studded throne which Shahjahan used and which was later looted and taken to Iran.
But during Shahjahan’s reign other things happened which were of greater importance to the Mughal Empire. No sooner had he ascended the throne than he had to face a number of revolts in different parts of the empire such as in Bundelkhand and Deccan.
Shahjahan faced the situation boldly, suppressed the revolts and established peace. Another group of people who were beginning to defy the authority of the Mughals were the Marathas.
Shahjahan built a new city as his capital, the city of Shahjahanabad. Today it is part of Delhi. In 1657 he fell ill and his four sons immediately began fighting amongst themselves for the throne. Aurangzeb won. He kept his father a prisoner at the Fort of Agra. When he died in 1666 he was buried alongside his wife in the Taj Mahal. The reign of Shahjahan has been called the “Golden Age’”of the Mughal Empire.
7. Aurangzeb (1659-1707):
Aurangzeb was finally crowned in Delhi, with the title of Alamgir, in May 1659. His long reign of nearly fifty years was full of troubles. The emperor needed money for his campaigns, so the taxes were raised.
This made him unpopular. He was honest and hard working but his idea of ruling in accordance with the laws of Islam also made him unpopular. He failed to understand that no type of orthodoxy could work in a country like India.
The net result of this policy was that the Rajputs, the Sikhs, the Jats, the Marathas, all opposed him in one way or the other and defined the authority of the Mughals. He also had trouble with the Portuguese and the English. Much of Aurangzeb’s time was spent in trying to solve these problems.
As long as Aurangzeb was alive, he managed to keep some control on the empire but with his death disintegration set in. The Marathas rose under the leadership of Shivaji and finally declared their independence.
They were able to build a strong state because of two reasons – the growing weakness of the Mughal control over the Deccan and the pattern of revenue collection which the Marathas used. The Sikhs were organised into fighting groups under the leadership of the tenth and last guru, Gobind Singh. The term used for the Sikhs now was Khalsa which means ‘the pure.’