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Farrukh Siyar – Modern Indian History

Farrukh Siyar - Modern Indian History

The Rise and Fall of the Sayyid Brothers: Turmoil in Mughal Politics


Jahandar Shah’s lackluster reign met an early demise in January 1713, as he faced defeat at Agra by his nephew Farrukh Siyar. This marked the beginning of a tumultuous period in Mughal history, marked by the ascendancy and subsequent downfall of the Sayyid brothers, Abdullah Khan and Husain Ali Khan Baraha.

Read Also: Jahandar Shah

The Ascendancy of Farrukh Siyar

In gratitude, Farrukh Siyar appointed the Sayyid brothers, who had played a crucial role in his victory, to key positions in the administration—Abdullah Khan as wazir and Husain Ali Khan Baraha as nur bakshi.

Farrukh Siyar’s Weak Rule

Despite their crucial support, Farrukh Siyar proved to be a feeble and unreliable ruler. His rule was marred by cowardice, cruelty, and susceptibility to the influence of unworthy favorites and flatterers. Despite wanting to retain personal authority, Farrukh Siyar found himself increasingly under the sway of the Sayyid brothers.

Power Struggle and Deposition

A prolonged power struggle ensued between Farrukh Siyar and the Sayyid brothers, who sought real authority to salvage the declining empire. Year after year, the emperor attempted to overthrow the brothers but failed repeatedly. In 1719, the Sayyid brothers deposed Farrukh Siyar and subsequently raised and disposed of his two young successors. Eventually, they elevated Muhammad Shah as the new Emperor of India.

Sayyid Brothers’ Rule and Administrative Challenges

From 1713 to 1720, the Sayyid brothers wielded administrative power, attempting to quell rebellions and save the empire from disintegration. However, constant political rivalries, court conspiracies, and friction within ruling circles disrupted administration, leading to widespread lawlessness and disorder.

Financial Deterioration and Discontent

The state’s financial position deteriorated rapidly during the Sayyid brothers’ rule. Refusal of land revenue payments, misappropriation of state revenues, and the decline in central income exacerbated the situation. The irregular payment of salaries to officials and soldiers resulted in undisciplined and mutinous troops.

Opposition and Downfall

Jealousy among the nobles grew, fueled by the Sayyids’ perceived “growing power” and their alliances with Rajput and Maratha chiefs. Opposition nobles, supported by Emperor Muhammad Shah, accused the Sayyids of anti-Mughal and anti-Islamic policies, attempting to rally fanatical sections of the Muslim nobility against them.

End of the Sayyid Dominance

In 1720, the power struggle reached its climax as Haidar Khan killed Husain Ali Khan, the younger of the Sayyid brothers. Abdullah Khan’s attempt to resist was futile, and he was defeated near Agra. With this, the dominance of the Sayyid brothers, once regarded as “kingmakers,” came to an end, marking a significant chapter in the complex narrative of Mughal politics.

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

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