Mughal Relations with Other Rulers


The Mughals from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century expanded their empire in the Indian subcontinent mainly through military expeditions but along with this, they consolidated their position by maintaining diplomatic relations with other kingdoms. They used to target those kingdoms, that were not ready to accept their suzerainty. Once the Mughal kingdom reached its zenith, other regional kingdoms started accepting Mughal sovereignty.

Some of the Rajput kingdoms even made matrimonial alliances with them in order to prevent Mughal invasion. Similarly, Mughal rulers like Akbar treated Rajputs with honour and equality and won their respect and loyalty by providing them with high positions in his court. But this was not the case for all Rajput states like Mewar, Chittor, and Ranthambore refusing to submit to the Mughal Empire.

Mughal Relations With Other Rulers

The Mughal state started flourishing and eventually reached its glory. They made a policy of submerging kingdoms into the Mughal empire through military campaigns, they were unwilling to accept their authority. However, realizing the power and glory of the Mughals many kingdoms accepted the subjugation of the Mughal empire. In the process of Empire-building, the Mughals respected the loyalty of the rulers who accepted their sovereignty, Mughals allowed them to maintain their prerogatives in lieu of annual tributes, and on the other hand members of that clan were given high posts in the court.

In this way, the Mughals were maintaining a balance of power by not humiliating kingdoms that were annexed and submerged into the Mughal empire. At the same time, some rulers were not charmed by the Mughal glory and they continuously resisted the Mughal authority in order to maintain their independent kingdoms. The Mughal's diplomatic relations began to change during the reign of Aurangzeb as he humiliated the chief of the Maratha confederacy Chhatrapati Shivaji.

Mughal Relations With Rajputs

As far as Mughal relations with Rajputs were concerned, it was during the reign of Akbar, who realized that in order to expand and consolidate his empire, the support of the Rajputs was crucial. Before him, Babur and Humayun did not have any fixed or definite policy to befriend Rajputs rather Babur expanded their empire by defeating Rana Sanga(Mewar) and Medini Rai (Chanderi). Similarly, Humayun could not maintain good relations with Rajputs, even though he was married to a Rajput princess and an offer to become a brother by Rani Karmavati of Mewar to protect against Bahadur Shah of Gujarat.

It was Akbar, who came up with the definite Rajput policy as a part of his empirebuilding process. He tried to win the trust of Rajputs in the following ways −

  • He strengthened his ties with Rajputs through matrimonial alliances. He married several Rajput princesses. In fact, he married off his son, prince Salim, to the daughter of Bhagwan Das of Amber.

  • He assigned high positions to Rajput chiefs, such as Raja Todar Mal, Birbal, and Raja Man Singh in his army and administration.

  • He allowed the Rajput rulers that they could retain their kingdom and continued to rule by accepting Akbar’s overlordship and paid him regular tributes.

  • Akbar followed an astute policy of non-intervention in the internal affairs of Rajputs.

  • During his reign, Rajputs were given to practice their religion, build temples, and celebrate their festivals. He abolished Jizyah also.

In this way, Akbar’s Rajput policy was one of the chief factors for the consolidation and further expansion of the empire during the sixteenth to the seventeen century, hence, Akbar is denoted as “the real founder of the Mughal Empire”.

Not all Rajputs accepted the sovereignty of the Mughals or befriended them, some of the Rajput kingdoms gave tough challenges to the Mughals and were forcefully annexed to the Mughal Empire. Like the Sisodias dynasty of Rajputs of Mewar and Chauhans of Ranthambore, indulged in a prolonged war against the Mughal authority but were ultimately defeated by Mughal, but even after their defeat, these Rajputs were not humiliated instead they were honoured and their territory was given to them as Watan Jagir during Akbar’s reign.

This liberalism towards Rajputs was continued by Jahangir and Shajahan though they had started reducing the numbers of Rajputs in higher positions. Even after that Rajput loyalty remained the same for The Mughal Empire. It was Aurangzeb who overturned the Mughal liberal Rajput policy. He was always suspicious of Rajput loyalty and seized their Watan Jagirs. Along with this, Aurangzeb’s religious policy made the relationship between the two more bitter. These Rajput kingdoms now started urging to make their independent kingdoms. This also became one of the reasons for the decline of the Mughals.


The nature of the relations of the Mughals with other rulers played important role in the development and consolidation of the Mughal Empire. Babur and Humayun had a neutral attitude towards other rulers mainly Rajput, as they did not consider them as the main hurdle in the expansion of the empire. But this Mughal attitude towards Rajputs began to change with the coming of Akbar into power. He perceived them as the main threat to the Mughal empire and for that reason, he maintained friendly relations with Rajputs by giving them certain privileges. However, this liberalism towards other rulers, initiated by Akbar and continued by Jahangir and Shahajan, came to an end with the bigoted attitude of Aurangzeb and paved the way for the downfall of the Empire.


Q1. What was watan Jagir?

Ans. Watan Jagir refers to the considerable autonomy mainly given to the Rajput chieftains in their homelands even after Mughal control over the area, provided they had to accept Mughal sovereignty.

Q2. Describe Aurangzeb’s religious policy?

Ans. Aurangzeb's religious policy was mainly aimed at making India a land of Islam and for that matter, he made rigid religious policy, which included −

  • Adoption of anti-Hindu steps comprising demolition of temples, imposition of jizyah, and removal of Hindus from high positions.

  • He asked people to convert to Islam in order to escape from varios taxes.

His religious policy alienated many people and led to a series of revolts by Rajput, Sikhs, Jats and Satnamis.

Q3. What to you understand by sovereignty?

Ans. Sovereignty refers to the supreme authority of governing a state by someone.

Q4. What were other reasons for the decline of the Mughal empire?

Ans. There were many reasons for the decline of the Mughal empire −

  • War of succession, due to a lack of a definite succession policy, suuccessive rulers ascended the throne through bloodshed.

  • Powerful nobility, the nobles became powerful during the eighteenth century, and realizing the weakness of successive Mughal rulers started declaring themselves independent.

  • Defects of the Mansabdari system, the hereditary nature of Mansabdari made led to the corruption and fractionlism in this system and contributed to the downfall of the empire.

  • Foreign invasions, seeing the weakness of the empire the invaders from the northwest frontier of Mughals such as Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali tarnished the image of the empire. And this was taken as an advantage by a trading company like English East India Company to take charge of political power.

Q5. How was Martha's chief humiliated by Aurangzeb?

Ans. The Maratha confederacy headed by Shivaji was the main obstacle in the way of Aurangzeb’s Deccan expedition. However, he was invited by Aurangzeb to his court where Shivaji was ready to make a peace treaty with the Mughals. But instead of the peace treaty, Aurangzeb insulted Shivaji and tried to make him Mughal captive along with his son. Somehow, Shivaji managed to escape from there and continued to revolts against the Mughals by declaring themselves as an independent kingdom.

Updated on: 19-Dec-2022


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