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Jahandar Shah – Modern Indian History

Jahandar Shah

The Turbulent Reign of Jahandar Shah and Zulfiqar Khan’s Influence

Jahandar Shah, also known as Mirza Muhammad Mu’izz-ud-Di, was the Mughal Emperor reigning from 1712 to 1713. His complete title was Shahanshah-i-Ghazi Abu’l Fath Mu’izz-ud-Din Muhammad Jahandar Shah Sahib-i-Qiran Padshah-i-Jahan. Born in Deccan Subah, he was the son of Emperor Bahadur Shah I and Nizam Bai, the daughter of Fatehyawar Jang, a noble from Hyderabad. This article provides insights into Jahandar Shah’s rule (1712-1713), offering valuable information for those preparing for the UPSC Civil Service exam in Modern Indian History.


Demise of Bahadur Shah: Mughal politics underwent a perilous transformation following Bahadur Shah’s demise.

Wars of Succession: The onset of wars of succession marked a turbulent period, with ambitious nobles becoming direct contenders for power.

Manipulation of Royal Princes: Ambitious nobles manipulated royal princes as pawns in their quest for authority during this chaotic milieu.

Jahandar Shah’s Ascension: In this context, the weak and pleasure-seeking prince, Jahandar Shah, secured the throne with the support of Zulfiqar Khan, a formidable noble and power broker.

Zulfiqar Khan’s Dominance

Jahandar Shah’s Feeble Rule: Under Jahandar Shah’s feeble rule, effective control of the administration rested in the capable hands of Zulfiqar Khan, who assumed the role of the wazir.

Strategic Alliances: Despite the emperor’s lack of dignity and decency, Zulfiqar Khan recognized the need for strategic alliances, especially with the Rajput rajas and Maratha Sardars.

Reversal of Policies: To strengthen his position and save the faltering empire, Zulfiqar Khan swiftly reversed Aurangzeb’s policies, notably abolishing the despised jizyah tax.

Conciliation and Appointments

In a bid for stability, Zulfiqar Khan pursued a conciliatory approach by granting titles and appointments to influential Hindu chieftains. Jai Singh of Amber was honored with the title of Mira Raja Saint and appointed Governor of Malwa, while Ajit Singh of Marwar received the title of Maharaja and became the Governor of Gujarat.

Read Also: Shah Bano Case

Financial Reforms and Challenges

To address the empire’s financial woes, Zulfiqar Khan sought to control the unchecked growth of jagirs and offices. His efforts extended to compelling nobles to maintain their official troop quotas. However, a detrimental shift towards revenue farming, known as ‘ijara,’ emerged during this period. This system, in contrast to Todar Mal’s land revenue settlement, allowed revenue farmers and middlemen to collect from peasants freely, fostering oppression.

Read Also: The decline of the Mughal Empire

Intrigues and Betrayals

Despite his significant contributions, Zulfiqar Khan faced opposition from jealous nobles who worked clandestinely against him.

Moreover, Jahandar Shah, lacking trust and cooperation, succumbed to the influence of unscrupulous favorites who poisoned the emperor’s ears.The apprehensive emperor initiated covert intrigues against Zulfiqar Khan due to fears of the wazir’s escalating influence and ambition, precipitating a precarious situation within the Mughal court.

This period marked a complex interplay of power, influence, and betrayal, contributing to the continuing decline of the once-mighty Mughal Empire.

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

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