BAHĀDUR SHĀH (1643-1712), Mughal emperor of India from 1707 to 1712. Born Muhammad Mu'azzam at Burhānpur in the Deccan on 14 October 1643, he was actively employed by his father, Auraṅgzīb, from 1663 onwards for subduing the kingdom of Bījāpur and the Qutb Shāhī dynasty of Golcoṇḍā in the south. In 1695 he was appointed sūbāhdār of Āgrā and in 1699 governor of Kābul. Mu'azzam was at Kābul when news arrived of the death, on 20 February 1707, of Auraṅgzīb. The Emperor's death was a signal for the usual war of succession and, in Mu'azzam's absence, his younger brother, 'Āzam Shāh, assumed the throne. Mu'azzam came down from Kābul and won a decisive victory in the battle of Jājaū, near Āgrā, on 8 June 1707. He sat on the throne of Delhi, with the title of Bahādur Shāh.

        Bahādur Shāh, who had the reputation of being liberal in his religious policy, had requested Gurū Gobind Siṅgh for help in the war of succession and the Gurū had sent a body of Sikhs to fight on his side in the battle of Jājaū to defend his right to the crown, he being the eldest of the surviving sons of Auraṅgzīb. When Bahādur Shāh was firmly in the royal seat, Gurū Gobind Siṅgh came to Āgrā on 23 July 1707 to pay him a formal visit. The Emperor expressed immense happiness at seeing the Gurū and thanked him for his visit and for the help he had given him in the battle. Bahādur Shāh presented the Gurū with a khill'at including a jewelled scarf, a dhukhdhukhī and an aigrette or kalghī. The Gurū's attendant who waited outside the hall was called in to carry the dress of honour to his camp, contrary to the Mughal practice of the recipient having to put it on in the court. This meeting became the starting-point of parleys between Gurū Gobind Siṅgh and the Emperor on the question of the State's religious policy. But Bahādur Shāh had to leave suddenly for the Deccan to quell a rebellion by his brother, Kām Bakhsh. Gurū Gobind Siṅgh travelled south with him to continue the negotiations. Nawāb Wazīr Khān of Sirhind felt alarmed at the Emperor's conciliatory treatment of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, and he charged two of his trusted men with murdering the Gurū before his increasing friendship with the Emperor resulted in any harm to himself. When one of these two Paṭhāns stabbed Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, Bahādur Shāh sent expert surgeons, including an Englishman, to attend on the Gurū and his injury was temporarily healed. The negotiations, however, remained inconclusive.

        On his return in 1710 from the Deccan after a successful campaign against his brother, Kām Bakhsh, Bahādur Shāh found himself confronted with a Sikh rebellion under the banner of Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur who had occupied territory in parts of the Punjab. Bandā Siṅgh's increasing influence roused the ire of Bahādur Shāh, who ordered a general mobilization of all his forces in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Oudh, and called for volunteers for a Jihād against the Sikhs. Prohibitory laws against the Sikhs were passed. Fearing that some Sikhs might not have smuggled themselves into the royal camp disguised as Hindus, Bahādur Shāh ordered all Hindus employed in the imperial offices to shave off their beards. His order, issued on 10 December 1710, was a general warrant for the faujdārs to kill the worshippers of Nānak i. e. Sikhs, wherever found (Nānak prastāṅ rā har jā kih bayāband baqatl rasānand). Bahādur Shāh, with a massive imperial force - sixty thousand horse and foot - stormed the Lohgaṛh fortress in the submontane region where Bandā Siṅgh had taken shelter but could not capture him. Bahādur Shāh reached Lahore in August 1711 where for the next six months his courtiers fed him on stories of Mughal victories over Bandā Siṅgh's "rabble. " But as the days rolled by with Bandā Siṅgh still free, still defiant, the Emperor became melancholic and died on 27 February 1712.


  1. Sarkar, Jadunath, Fall of the Mughal Empire. Delhi, 1971
  2. Irvine, W. , Later Mughals. London, 1922
  3. Khushwant Siṅgh A History of the Sikhs, vol. I. Princeton, 1963
  4. Sharma, Sri Ram, Religious Policy of the Mughal Emperors. Bombay, 1962

Srī Rām Sharma