Bahadur Shah

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Muazzam Bahadur Shah (1643-1712) or Bahĝdur Shĝh; (the word Bahĝdur means "brave"), also known as Shah Alam I was the Mughal emperor of India from 1707 to 1712. He replaced his father Aurangzeb. In contrast to his father, Bahadur Shah had a friendly relation with Guru Gobind Singh. Jealousy of this growing friendship would ultimately cause a worried Wazir Khan to dispatch Pathan assasins to cowardly, without the required Paktunwali warning, to kill the Guru. The assasins were killed but the Guru had been stabbed in the side, it is said that the Emperor's european surgeon tended the wound and the Guru's condition improved but the wound later grew infected and Gobind Singh died.

Early life

Muazzam was born in Burhanpur, the fourth son of the emperor Aurangzeb in the year 1643. In his father's lifetime, Muazzam was deputed governor of the northwest territories by Aurangzeb. His province included those parts of the Punjab where the Sikhs were gaining in power. As governor, Muazzam relaxed the enforcement of Aurangzeb's severe edicts, and an uneasy calm prevailed in the province for a brief time. In fact, he maintained a cordial relationship with the Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh and it is recorded in Sikh history that he received help fron the Guru in taking the throne in 1707. Also, he travelled with the Guru from the north to Nanded where they parted company.

Reign

After Aurangzeb's death, Muazzam Bahadur Shah won the throne. His younger brother, Prince Azam Shah, proclaimed himself emperor and marched towards Delhi, where he fought Bahadur Shah unsuccessfully and lost. Another brother, Muhammad Kam Baksh, was killed in 1709.

Aurangzeb had imposed Sharia law within his kingdom through harsh enforcement of strict edicts. This led to increased militancy by many constituencies including the Marathas, the Sikhs and the Rajputs. Thus, rebellion was rife at the time of Aurangzeb's death and Bahadur Shah inherited a very unstable kingdom. A more moderate man than his father, Bahadur Shah sought to improve relations with the militant constituencies of the rapidly crumbling kingdom. However, he could do little to mitigate the enormous damage already done by his father over his long reign. Indeed, Bahadur Shah's shortcomings, his lack of military and leadership qualities, added to the problems of the empire. After his reign of less than five years, the Mughal Empire entered a long decline, attributable both to his ineptness and to his father's geographical overextension and religious bigotry. Historians of his time had recorded about him as a learned man and also add that he possessed a mild temper and was dignified.

Bahadur Shah died on February 27, 1712 at Lahore while making alterations to the Shalimar Gardens. He was succeeded by his son Jahandar Shah.