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Bahadur Shah I – Modern Indian History

Bahadur Shah - I Modern Indian History

Bahadur Shah’s Reign and the Fragile Imperial Order


Upon Aurangzeb’s demise, a tumultuous struggle for the Mughal throne unfolded among his three sons. In this power struggle, the 65-year-old Bahadur Shah emerged victorious, portraying himself as a learned, dignified, and deserving ruler. His reign marked a departure from the rigid policies of his predecessor, Aurangzeb.

Conciliation and Tolerance

Bahadur Shah’s governance was characterized by a policy of compromise and conciliation. Notably, he exhibited a more tolerant attitude towards Hindu chiefs and rajas. Unlike Aurangzeb’s era, there was a notable absence of temple destruction during Bahadur Shah’s reign, signifying a shift towards religious inclusivity.

Regional Discord and Internal Conflicts

Despite Bahadur Shah’s attempts to consolidate control over regional states through conciliation, dissensions arose among kingdoms, including the Rajputs and Marathas, leading to internal strife. The emperor’s efforts to foster unity faltered as regional powers engaged in both inter- and intra-state conflicts, challenging the stability of the Mughal Empire.

Raed Also: Bahadur Shah I: The Legacy of a Great Mughal Emperor

Sikh Resistance and Imperial Response

In an attempt to quell the rebellious Sikhs, Bahadur Shah initially pursued reconciliation with Guru Gobind Singh, offering a high mansab. However, following the demise of the spiritual leader, Sikh unrest resurfaced under Banda Bahadur. The emperor, compelled to take decisive action, led a campaign against the rebels, reclaiming territory between the Sutlej and the Yamuna. His alliances with regional leaders like Chatarsal and Churaman played a crucial role in this campaign.

Read Also: Amit Shah lays foundation stone of ‘Balidaan Stambh’ in city

Administrative Challenges and Financial Deterioration

Despite his intentions for reform, Bahadur Shah faced administrative challenges, witnessing a decline in the state’s financial health. Reckless grants and promotions exacerbated the deterioration of state finances, with the remnants of the royal treasure depleted during his reign.

Read Also: The Maurya Age

Unfulfilled Potential and Imperial Turmoil

Bahadur Shah’s reign held promise for reviving the imperial fortunes. However, his untimely death in 1712 plunged the Mughal Empire back into civil war. The demise of this learned and conciliatory ruler marked a turning point, paving the way for subsequent challenges that further weakened the once-mighty empire.

Read Also: The decline of the Mughal Empire

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