Page 378

Chapter 3 – From 1657 to the Deposal of Shah Jehan

Dangerous illness of the emperor

The emperor had been seized with an illness of so serious a nature, that it not only threatened an immediate transfer of the crown to Dara Sheko, but invested him at the moment with the administration of his father’s government. This state of affairs, involving all Aurangzib’s prospects of aggrandizement and even of safety, turned his exertions towards the seat of the monarchy, and for a long time withdrew his attention from the affairs of the Deckan.

Characters and pretensions of his sons

Shah Jehan had four sons, all of an age to render them impatient of a subordinate station. Dara Sheko was in his forty-second year; Shuja was forty; and Aurangzib thirty-eight. Even Morad, the youngest, had long been employed in great commands237.

Dara Sheko

Dara Sheko was a frank and high-spirited prince, dignified in his manners, generous in his expense, liberal in his opinions, open in his enmities; but impetuous, impatient of opposition, and despising the ordinary rules of prudence as signs of weakness and artifice. His overbearing temper made him many enemies; while his habitual indiscretion lessened the number as well as the confidence

Page 379

of his adherents.


Shuja was not destitute of abilities, but given up to wine and pleasure.


Aurangzib was a perfect contrast to Dara Sheko. He was a man of a mild temper and a cold heart; cautious, artful, designing; a perfect master of dissimulation; acute and sagacious, though not extended in his views; and ever on the watch to gain friends and to propitiate enemies. To these less brilliant qualities he joined great courage, and skill in military exercises; a handsome, though not athletic form; affable and gracious manners; and lively agreeable conversation. He was so great a dissembler in other matters, that he has been supposed a hypocrite in religion. But, although religion was a great instrument of his policy, he was, beyond doubt, a sincere and bigoted Mussulman. He had been brought up by men of known sanctity, and had himself shown an early turn for devotion; he at one time professed an intention of renouncing the world, and taking the habit of a fakir; and throughout his whole life he evinced a real attachment to his faith in many things indifferent to his interest, and some most seriously opposed to it. His zeal was shown in prayers and reading the Koran, in pious discourses, in abstemiousness (which he affected to carry so far as to subsist on the earnings of his manual labour), in humility of deportment, patience under provocation, and resignation in misfortunes; but, above all, in constant and earnest endeavours to promote his own faith and to discourage idolatry and infidelity.

Page 380

But neither religion nor morality stood for a moment in his way when they interfered with his ambition; and, though full of scruples at other times, he would stick at no crime that was requisite for the gratification of that passion.

His political use of religion arose from a correct view of the feelings of the time. Akber’s innovations had shocked most Mahometans, who, besides the usual dislike of the vulgar to toleration, felt that a direct attack was made on their own faith. Jehangir’s restoration of the old ritual was too cold to give full satisfaction; and, though Shah Jehan was a more zealous Mussulman, Dara openly professed the tenets of Akber, and had written a book to reconcile the Hindu and Mahometan doctrines. No topic, therefore, could be selected more likely to make that prince unpopular than his infidelity, and in no light could the really religious Aurangzib be so favourably opposed to him as in that of the champion of Islam: In this character he had also an advantage over Shuja, who was looked on with aversion by the orthodox Mahometans from his attachment to the Persian sect of the Shias.


Morad was brave and generous, but dull in intellect, and vulgar in his pursuits. He was abundantly presumptuous and self-willed; but his object never was more exalted than the indulgence of his humours, and the enjoyment of sensual pleasures238.

Page 381

Daughters of Shah Jehan

Shah Jehan had, by the same mother as his sons239, two daughters. To the eldest, Padshah Begam, he was devotedly attached. She was endowed with beauty and talents, and was a great support to the interest of Dara Sheko. Roushanara, the second daughter, had fewer personal attractions and less influence; but her talent for intrigue, and her knowledge of the secrets of the harem, enabled her to he of the greatest assistance to her favourite brother, Aurangzib.

It was from this princess that Aurangzib obtained the intelligence on which he now acted.

Dara administers the government under the emperor

Though Shah Jehan had only attained his sixty-seventh year, the habits of indolence and pleasure in which he had indulged seem to have latterly diminished his attention to business, and allowed a greater share of influence to Dara Sheko, on whom, as heir apparent, he devolved such of his duties as he did not himself perform. Things were in this state when the emperor was seized with a sudden

Page 382

1657, October; AH 1067, Zi Haj 7

disorder in his kidneys, together with a suppression of urine, which entirely incapacitated him from business, and soon brought him to the brink of the grave240. During this crisis Dara stopped all correspondence, and detained all travellers likely to spread the news of the king’s danger throughout the provinces. He could not, however, long elude the vigilance of his brothers. Aurangzib in particular was minutely informed of all his proceedings during the whole of the struggle which followed.

Rebellion of Shuja,

The first to act on the emergency was Prince Shuja, the viceroy of Bengal. He assembled the troops of his province, and immediately marched into Behar on his way to the capital.

and of Morad

Prince Morad, viceroy of Guzerat, soon followed his example: he seized on all the money in the district treasuries, and laid siege to Surat, where there was a governor independent of his authority, and where he thought there was a considerable sum in deposit.

Cautious measures of Aurangzib

Aurangzib conducted himself with more caution. He did not assume the royal title, as Shuja and Morad had done; and although he instantly moved to his northern frontier, and urged on the preparation of his army, he made no open declaration till orders came from Dara, in the emperor’s name, to direct Mir Jumla and the other military commanders to quit his standard.

His collusion with Mir Jumla

Mir Jumla, after

Page 383

he joined the Moguls, had been summoned to the capital, and had for a time been intrusted with the highest offices in the state. He had afterwards been sent back to the Deckan; but his family was still at Agra, and the fear of the consequences to them made him hesitate to oppose an order of the emperor. But his embarrassment was removed by a stratagem suggested by Aurangzib.

According to a concerted plan he sent for Mir Jumla to his court; and when that commander, after some affected delays and alarms, presented himself, he ordered him to be made prisoner and confined in the fort of Doulatabad, while his principal officers, secretly influenced by their commander, continued to serve with Aurangzib.

He marches to join Morad

Even when he had thrown off the mask he still proceeded with his usual policy. He left Dara and Shuja to weaken each other for his profit, and applied all his art to gain Morad, whom he might hope to render an instrument in his own hands. He wrote to him with the most vehement professions of attachment, congratulating him on his accession to the crown, and declaring his own intention of renouncing the world and indulging his love of devotion in retirement at Mecca. He nevertheless offered his zealous services against the irreligious Dara, and advised that, as their father was still alive, they should present themselves before him, when, if received with favour, they should secure him from undue influence, while they interceded for the pardon of their erring brother; meanwhile

Page 384

they should unite their forces and proceed to en gage the infidel Jeswant Sing, who, it was understood, had been sent against them241. It seems incredible that Morad should have been deceived by so improbable a profession, but the coarseness of the artifice was disguised by the masterly execution; and the assiduous flatteries of Aurangzib found a willing auditor in his brother, naturally unsuspicious, and dazzled by the prospect of assistance so necessary to the support of his feeble cause.

Defensive measures of Dara

Before this period Dara had taken measures to resist the threatened attacks of his rivals. He sent Raja Jeswant Sing into Malwa to watch Morad and Aurangzib; and to act against them, with his whole army, or by dividing it, as circumstances might suggest.

1657, November; AH 1068, Rebi al Awal 4

Shah Jehan reassumes the government

At the same time he himself advanced to Agra, and dispatched an army under the command of his own son, Soliman Sheko, assisted by Raja Jei Sing, to oppose the approach of Shuja. By this time Shah Jehan was sufficiently recovered to resume the general control of the government; but his confidence in Dara was only increased by the misconduct of the other princes. He wrote to Shuja, commanding him in positive terms to return to his government.

Shuja continues to advance on Agra

Shuja pretended to consider these orders as dictated by Dara Sheko, and probably still looked on the emperor’s recovery as doubtful. He continued to move on until he met

Page 385

Soliman Sheko in the neighbourhood of Benares.

Is defeated by Soliman, son of Dara, and returns to Bengal

A battle then took place, and Shuja, though his army was not dispersed, was defeated, and compelled to return into Bengal.

1658, end of March; AH 1068, Jamadi al Akhir 25

Meanwhile Aurangzib quitted Burhanpur242 and marched into Malwa. He there formed a junction with Morad; and the combined armies marched to attack Raja Jeswant Sing, who was encamped near Ujen.

1658, April; AH 1068, Rajab

The raja drew up his army on the bank of the river Sipra, which at that season was nearly dry, but still presented a formidable obstruction from the rocky nature of its bed.

Aurangzib and Morad defeat the imperial army under Jeswant Sing at Ujen

The battle was bravely contested by the Rajputs, who were ill supported by the rest of the troops. It was chiefly decided by the gallantry of Morad: Jeswant Sing retired in disorder to his own country, and the rest of the army dispersed243. On rewarding his chiefs after this battle, Aurangzib sent them all to return their thanks to Morad, as if he alone were the fountain of all honour. On the first junction he had taken an oath to adhere to that prince, and renewed all his promises with every appearance of warmth and sincerity; and throughout the whole campaign, although his abilities gave him the real control of all operations, he continued his professions of devotion and humility, always acknowledging Morad as his superior, and treating

Page 386

him on all occasions with the utmost respect and attention244.

1658, May; AH 1068, from Rejab 27 to Shaban 25

After this victory the princes advanced by slow marches to the Chambal, near Gwalior245.

Some dispositions made by Dara Sheko for the defence of that river were rendered ineffectual by the manoeuvres of Aurangzib, and the army crossed without opposition.

Shah Jehan’s anxiety for an accommodation

Before Jeswant Sing’s defeat, Shah Jehan, unable to bear the heat of the season, had set out on his way to Delhi. The news of that misfortune recalled him, much against his will, to Agra. He found that during his absence Dara had thrown Amin, the son of Mir Jumla, into confinement; but, as he disapproved of the proceeding, it was immediately countermanded by the prince himself. Shah Jehan, at this time, notwithstanding his feeble health, had ordered his tents to be prepared, and intended to take the field in person. His hope was, that he should be able to bring about an adjustment by his presence and authority, and to avoid a war which could not but bring many dangers and calamities on himself and all the parties engaged. He was dissuaded from this resolution by his brother-in-law, Shaista Khan. If it had been pursued, it would have had no effect on the princes, whatever it might on the armies; for all were now too far engaged to recede, or to trust their future safety to any thing so precarious as the life of Shah Jehan. Dara likewise looked with an ill eye on

Page 387

an accommodation that must have removed him from almost unlimited power, and restored the administration to its ordinary train under the immediate control of the emperor.

Dara marches from Agra to oppose his brothers, against the wish of Shah Jehan

Urged on by this consideration, and confident in his superior numbers, he refused even to wait for Soliman, then on his march from Benares with the most efficient part of the army. Contrary to the earnest injunctions of Shah Jehan, he marched out at the head of an army which seemed irresistible from its numbers and equipment, but was rendered weak, in reality, by the arrogance of the commander, the disaffection of the chiefs, and the absence of the flower of the fighting men246.

1658, beginning of June

On the 6th of Ramzan, 1068, the two armies approached each other at Samaghar, one march from Agra: they drew up face to face on the next day, but did not join battle until the succeeding morning.

Is totally defeated

The action began by a charge of a body of Dara’s cavalry, under Rustam Khan. It was unable to penetrate a row of guns chained together in front of Aurangzib’s line. A second and more powerful charge, headed by Dara himself, was equally unsuccessful; but his attack was renewed and kept up without intermission on the centre,

Page 388

where Aurangzib was stationed, In the mean time Morad was attacked by 3000 Uzbeks, who poured in flights of arrows on him, with such rapidity that it was with difficulty he could bear up against them. His elephant gave way before the storm, and would have run off the field if Morad had not ordered its feet to be chained; thus cutting off the power of retreat for himself. This sharp contest with the Uzbeks was succeeded by a much more formidable attack. A large body of Rajputs rushed on the prince with an impetuosity that nothing could resist. Ram Sing, their raja, in a saffron robe, and with a chaplet of pearls on his head, ran up to Morad’s elephant, and hurled his pike at the prince, while he shouted to the driver to make the elephant kneel down. Morad received the pike on his shield, and nearly at the same moment laid the raja dead with an arrow247. His death only exasperated the Rajputs, who fought with desperate fury, and fell in heaps round the prince’s elephant. At this time Aurangzib was about to move to his brother’s assistance, but he had soon full employment where he was; for Dara, having at length broken through the line of guns, charged his centre at full speed, and carried all before him, by the united force of velocity and numbers.

Page 389

Aurangzib alone remained unshaken: he presented his elephant wherever there was the greatest danger, and called aloud to his troops that “God was with them, and that they had no other refuge or retreat248.” In the height of this contest Raja Rup Sing leaped from his horse, and running up to Aurangzib’s elephant, began to cut away the girths with his sword. Aurangzib was struck with his audacity, and even in that moment of alarm called out to his men to spare him; but before his voice could be heard the raja had fallen, almost cut to pieces. At this critical juncture Morad, having at length repelled the Rajputs, was able to turn his attention to the centre; and Dara, who found his right thereby exposed, was obliged to abate the vigour of his front attack. His numbers, however, might in the end have prevailed; but as he was pressing forward on his elephant, conspicuous to all his troops, whom he was encouraging by his voice, and by waving his hand to them to advance, a rocket from the enemy struck the elephant, and rendered it so ungovernable that Dara had no choice but to throw himself from its back and to mount a horse with all expedition. His disappearance struck a sudden alarm among the distant troops; and an attendant being carried off by a shot at his side, while fastening on his quiver after he mounted, those immediately round him were also thrown into confusion: the panic spread, and its

Page 390

effects were soon felt throughout the whole army. The death of an Asiatic leader is often the loss of the battle: in a civil war it is the annihilation of the cause. Success seemed now useless, and every man’s thoughts were turned to safety. Even the part of the line which was not engaged began to waver, while the princes pressed forward amidst the disorder of the centre, and compelled the troops opposed to them, and even Dara himself, to take to flight.

The victory was no sooner decided than Aurangzib threw himself on his knees and returned his thanks to Divine Providence for the mercy it had vouchsafed to him. His next care was to salute his brother, and congratulate him on the acquisition of a kingdom. He found Morad’s howdah bristled with arrows, and himself wounded in several places; and, after expressing the greatest joy at his victory, he began to wipe the blood from his face, and to show the most affectionate attention to his sufferings249.

Dara flies to Delhi

While this was passing on the field, the unfortunate Dara pursued his flight towards the city: he arrived in the evening with 2000 horse, many of them wounded; all he now had of the great force with which he had so lately marched out.

He was ashamed to present himself before his father, to the disregard of whose opinion he owed

Page 391

his ruin; and after securing some valuables at his own palace, he continued his flight towards Delhi, accompanied by his wife and two of his children. He had already reached the third regular stage from Agra, before he was overtaken by 5000 horse, sent by Shah Jehan to his assistance250.

Aurangzib enters Agra.

1658, June; AH 1068, Ramzan 10 Shah Jehan adheres to the cause of Dara

Aurangzib marched to Agra three days after the battle. He encamped before the walls, and took immediate possession of the city. Some more days elapsed before he interfered with the interior of the royal residence. He employed the interval in humble messages to his father, pleading the necessity of his case, and protesting his inviolable

Page 392

respect and duty: it is probable, indeed, that he was sincerely desirous of conciliating his father, and would have preferred carrying on the government in his name; but he found it impossible to gain his confidence or to shake his attachment to Dara; and at length sent his own son, Mohammed Sultan, to take complete possession of the citadel, and to prevent all communications between the emperor and every one beyond its walls.

Raman 17. Is confined in his palace.

Shah Jehan was still treated with the highest respect; but, although he lived for seven years longer, his reign ends at this period. It seems unaccountable that so able a prince should have thus been dethroned without any of his old servants attempting to stir in his favour: the truth is, that his habits of indulgence had impaired his energy; and as he had long ceased to head his armies, the troops turned their eyes to the princes who led them in the field, and who had the immediate distribution of their honours and rewards. To this must be added the peculiar abilities of Aurangzib; who was more successful in defeating conspiracies and managing factions than in any other branch of government, though he was good in all.

Aurangzib imprisons Morad, and openly assumes the government

Having now no further use for Morad, Aurangzib dismissed him from his pretended sovereignty, without even the ceremony of a quarrel or a com plaint. He kept up the delusion of that simple prince by submissive behaviour and constant presents and attentions, till they had marched from Agra in pursuit of Dara; when he one day invited

Page 393

Morad to supper, and so far waved his own scruples as to allow the free use of the goblet; of which Morad so fully availed himself that he was soon in a state of helpless intoxication. On this he was stripped of his arms without resistance, was cast into chains, and sent off on an elephant to Selimghar, part of the citadel of Delhi; while three other elephants were dispatched, under similar escorts, in different directions, to mislead people as to his place of confinement. He was afterwards removed to Gwalior, the great state prison of those days.

1658, August 20; AH 1068, Zi Caad 1

Aurangzib then continued his march to Delhi, where he caused himself to be proclaimed emperor251. He did not put his name on the coin, and was not crowned until the first anniversary of his accession; a circumstance which has introduced some confusion into the dates of his reign.

High prosperity of India under Shah Jehan

The reign of Shah Jehan, thus harshly closed, was perhaps the most prosperous ever known in India. Though sometimes engaged in foreign wars, his own dominions enjoyed almost uninterrupted tranquillity, together with a larger share of good government than often falls to the lot of Asiatic nations.

Notwithstanding Shah Jehan’s love of ease and pleasure, and the time spent in his visits to Cashmir and the erection of those celebrated structures in which he took so much delight, he never remitted his vigilance over his internal government;

Page 394

and by this, and the judicious choice of his ministers, he prevented any relaxation in the system, and even introduced important improvements, – such as his survey of the Deckan.

Khafi Khan, the best historian of those times, gives his opinion, that, although Akber was preeminent as a conqueror and a lawgiver, yet, for the order and arrangement of his territory and finances, and the good administration of every department of the state, no prince ever reigned in India that could be compared to Shah Jehan.

Whatever might be the relative excellence of his government, we must not suppose that it was exempt from the evils inherent in a despotism: we may assume some degree of fraudulent exaction in the officers of revenue, and of corruption in those of justice; and we have the testimony of European travellers to acts of extortion by custom-house officers, and of arbitrary power by governors of provinces; but, after all deductions on these accounts, there will remain enough to convince us that the state of India under Shah Jehan was one of great ease and prosperity252.

Page 395

The erection of such a capital as Delhi proves great private as well as public wealth. Mandesloe describes Agra as at least twice as large as Isfahan (then in its greatest glory); with fine streets, good shops, and numerous baths and caravanserais. Nor was this prosperity confined to royal residences; all travellers speak with admiration of the grandeur of the cities, even in remote provinces, and of the fertile and productive countries in which they stood253.

Those who look on India in its present state may be inclined to suspect the native writers of exaggerating its former prosperity; but the deserted cities, ruined palaces, and choked up aqueducts which we still see, with the great reservoirs and embankments in the midst of jungles, and the decayed causeways, wells, and caravanserais of the royal roads, concur with the evidence of contemporary travellers in convincing us that those historians had good grounds for their commendation.

The whole continent of India, however, was far from being in a uniform state: vast tracts were still covered with forests; and the mountainous

Page 396

ranges often harboured wild and predatory inhabitants. Even in the hest cleared parts, there were sometimes revolts of subject rajas, as in Bundelcand, during the present reign; but in that case the disturbance was confined to a district of less extent than the Tyrol, while populous provinces as large as France or England were scarcely aware of its existence.

But, after all allowances, the state of the people must have been worse than in an indifferently governed country in modern Europe. On the one side, there are the absence of slavery and polygamy, less personal oppression by the great, and less fear of scarcity and consequent disease; while on the other there is nothing to oppose but lighter taxation and freedom from a meddling and complicated system of law and regulation. A fairer object of comparison would be the Roman Empire, under such a prince as Severus: we should there find the same general tranquillity and good government, with similar examples of disturbance and oppression; the same enjoyment of physical happiness, with the same absence of that spirit which would tend to increase the present felicity, and which might afford some security for its duration beyond the life of the reigning monarch. The institutions, traditions, and opinions which remained from better times, must, even in this case, have given a superiority to the European empire.

Magnificence of Shah Jehan

Shah Jehan was the most magnificent prince that ever appeared in India. His retinue, his

Page 397

state establishments, his largesses, and all the pomp of his court, were much increased beyond the excess they had attained to under his predecessors. His expenses in these departments can only be palliated by the fact that they neither occasioned any increase to his exactions nor any embarrassment to his finances. The most striking instance of his pomp and prodigality was his construction of the famous peacock throne. It took its name from a peacock with its tail spread (represented in its natural colours in sapphires, emeralds, rubies, and other appropriate jewels), which formed the chief ornament of a mass of diamonds and precious stones that dazzled every beholder. Tavernier, a jeweller by profession, reports, without apparent distrust, the common belief, that it cost 160,500,000 livres, nearly six millions and a half sterling.

His buildings

But his greatest splendour was shown in his buildings. He founded a new city at Delhi, built on a regular plan, and far surpassing the old one in magnificence: three wide streets (one of great length, ornamented by a canal and rows of trees, and composed of houses rising over a line of shops under arcades), led to a spacious esplanade, in the centre of which, and on the Jamna, stood the fortified palace; the spacious courts, marble halls, and golden domes of which have so often been the subject of enthusiastic description. The great mosque of the same city is a work of extraordinary elegance and grandeur.

The Taj Mahal

But of all the structures erected by Shah Jehan,

Page 398

there is none that bears any comparison with the Taj Mahal at Agra, a mausoleum of white marble decorated with mosaics, which, for the richness of the material, the chasteness of the design, and the effect at once brilliant and solemn, is not surpassed by any other edifice, either in Europe or Asia254.

Page 399

His economy

All these vast undertakings were managed with so much economy that, after defraying the expenses of his great expeditions to Candahar, his wars in Balkh, and other heavy charges, and maintaining a regular army of 200,000 horse, Shah Jehan left a treasure, which some reckon at near six, and some at twenty-four millions sterling, in coin, besides his vast accumulations in wrought gold and silver, and in jewels255.

His personal character

Notwithstanding the unamiable character given of him in his youth, the personal conduct of Shah Jehan seems to have been blameless when on the throne. His treatment of his people was beneficent and paternal, and his liberal sentiments towards those around him cannot be better shown than by the confidence which (unlike most Eastern princes) he so generously reposed in his sons.

Shah Jehan had reigned thirty years; he was sixty-seven years old when he was deposed, and seventy-four when he died.


237. Gladwin’s History of Jehangir.

238. The characters of the princes are taken from Bernier, modified by the facts in Khafi Khan, and by some passages in Aurangzib’s letters. The following is given by that monarch as Shah Jehan’s opinion of his four sons. Dara (he said) had talents for command, and the dignity becoming the royal office, but was intolerant to all who had any pretensions to eminence; whence he was “bad to the good, and good to the bad.” Shuja was a mere drunkard; and Morad, a glutton and a sensualist. Aurangzib excelled both in action and counsel, was well fitted to undertake the burden of public affairs, but full of subtle suspicions, and never likely to find any one whom he could trust. (Letter from Aurangzib to his son, in the “Dastur al Amal Agahi.”)

239. Gladwin’s History of Jehangir.

240. Khafi Khan.

241. Khafi Khan.

242. Khafi Khan.

243. Khafi Khan. Bernier. Bernier, who soon after joined the emperor’s army, accuses Kasim Khan, who commanded along with Jeswant Sing, of disaffection.

244. Khafi Khan. Bernier.

245. Khafi Khan.

246. Khafi Khan says the army consisted at Agra of upwards 70,000 horse, with innumerable elephants and guns. Bernier, though generally distrustful of native numbers, thinks it may have been 100,000 horse, 20,000 foot, and 80 pieces of artillery. He reckons Aurangzib’s and Morad’s army at 30,000 or 35 000 horse.

247. Khafi Khan. Bernier. Colonel Tod (vol. ii. p. 481.) ascribes this attack to Raja Chitar Sal of Bundi, who was a distinguished commander in the reign of Shah Jehan, and was likewise killed in this battle.

248. Bernier has preserved his words in the original Hindostani.

249. Morad’s howdah was preserved as a curiosity to the time of Farokhsir, when it was seen by Khafi Khan, who says it was stuck as full of arrows as a porcupine is of quills.

250. In the account of the battle I have taken some circumstances from Bernier, but have preferred the general narrative of Khafi Khan, who, besides his access to verbal and written evidence, refers to his own father, who was present in the action. Bernier lived nearer the time, and is an excellent writer; but his acquaintance both with men and books must have been limited, and his means of judging Indians imperfect; his relation, besides, is mixed with some anecdotes which look like popular inventions. Dara’s descent from his elephant (for instance) is ascribed to the insidious advice of a traitor in the moment of victory; while Khafi Khan says he was obliged to get down in such precipitation, that he left his slippers, and mounted his horse with bare feet and without arms. Bernier afterwards relates a plot of Shah Jehan to seize Aurangzib, and a counter plot of the latter, which ended in the seizure of Shah Jehan; but the story is improbable in itself, and is not alluded to by Khafi Khan. It is necessary throughout to look closely into the accounts which favour Aurangzib; for though Bernier himself is captivated with the open character of Dara, his master was a personal enemy of that prince, against whom Khafi Khan also has a strong prejudice; and both wrote after Aurangzib had been successful, and was cried up as the Mussulman hero and the greatest of emperors.

251. Khafi Khan.

252. Tavernier, who had repeatedly visited most parts of India, says that Shah Jehan “reigned not so much as a king over his subjects, but rather as a father over his family and children,” and goes on to commend the strictness of his civil government, and to speak in high terms of the security enjoyed under it. (Page 108. of the English translation of 1678.) Pietro Della Valle, who wrote in the last years of Jehangir (1623), when things were in a worse state than under his son, gives the following account: – “Hence, generally, all live much after a genteel way; and they do it securely as well, because the king does not persecute his subjects with false accusations, nor deprive them of any thing when he sees them live splendidly, and with the appearance of riches (as is often done in other Mahometan countries), as because the Indians are inclined to those vanities, &e. &c.” (Page 22. English translation of 1665.)

253. Mandesloe, for Guzerat; Graaf and Bruton (in Murray’s Asiatic Discovery), for Bengal, Behar, and Orissa; and Tavernier, for most parts of the empire.

254. Taj Mahal is a corruption of Mumtaz Mahal, the name of Shah Jehan’s queen, whose sepulchre it forms. It stands on a marble terrace over the Jamna, is flanked at a moderate distance by two mosques, and is surrounded by extensive gardens. The building itself, on the outside, is of white marble, with a high cupola and four minarets. In the centre of the inside is a lofty hall of a circular form under a dome, in the middle of which is the tomb, inclosed within an open screen of elaborate tracery formed of marble and mosaics. The walls are of white marble, with borders of a running pattern of flowers in mosaic. The graceful flow, the harmonious colours, and, above all, the sparing use of this rich ornament, with the mild lustre of the marble on which it is displayed, form the peculiar charm of the building, and distinguish it from any other in the world. The materials are lapis lazuli, jasper, heliotrope or blood stone, a sort of golden stone (not well understood), with calcedony and other agates, cornelians, jade, and various stones of the same description. “A single flower in the screen,” says Mr. Voysey, (Asiatic Researches, vol. v. p. 434.) “contains a hundred stones, each cut to the exact shape necessary, and highly polished; “and yet,” says Bishop Heber, “though every thing is finished like an ornament for a drawing-room chimney-piece, the general effect produced is rather solemn and impressive than gaudy.” In the minute beauties of execution, however, these flowers arc by no means equal to those on tables and other small works in “Pietra Dura” at Florence. It is the taste displayed in the outline and application of this ornament, combined with the lightness and simplicity of the building, which gives it so prodigious an advantage over the gloomy panels of the chapel of the Medici. The mosaics of the Taj are said, with great probability, to be the workmanship of Italians. It is singular that artists of that nation should receive lessons of taste from the Indians.

255. Bernier says under 6,000,000l. (vol. i. p. 305.). Khafi Khan says 24,000,000l., and he is not likely to exaggerate, for he makes Shah Jehan’s revenue 23,000,000l. (only 1,000,000l. more than that now collected in the British portion of India), while it is generally reckoned to have been 32,000,000l., and is admitted by Bernier, when depreciating it, to be greater than that of Persia and Turkey put together (vol. i. p. 303.).

This collection transcribed by Chris Gage
hosted by ibiblio Support Wikipedia