What if Dara Shikoh became the Mughal emperor instead of Aurangzeb

Jinit

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,274
India
If you are talking in context of persecution of Hindus & Sikhs by Aurangzeb then one should be greatfull to the God that Dara Shikoh didn't become the emperor instead of Aurangzeb
 

tornada

Ad Honoris
Mar 2013
15,385
India
The Mughal Empire would have collapsed much earlier IMO. Had Dara Shikoh come to power, he would have only been able to do so by either defeating Aurangzeb or somehow managing to execute him. Either way, it would likely led to the Mughal Empire rapidly conceding ground to the Marathas.

Meanwhile, Shikoh displayed much of his father's tendencies towards extravagance. Aurangzeb's parsimony probably saved the Mughal Empire financially. With Shikoh at the helm, the empire might have collapsed internally much faster, with their economic collapse precipitating the various regional governors becoming more autonomous as they would in the 18th Century.

Now, what does this mean for Indian History, beyond this? Hard to say. Chaos theory here plays a role. There are simply too many variables, and too many interactions for us to accurately predict how India would have proceeded beyond this. One could make the argument that India's history would have proceeded along much the same lines as it did. Alternatively one can posit the presence of a large pan-indian polity of reasonable structural integrity which might have resisted British Colonialism. Again here we go into too many variables. Would this be good for India? If the British pursued a form of colonialism that imitated China, India would perhaps be worse off. Alternatively Britain might not be able to establish ANY colonial empire.

My point here is to try and show that we can't really demonstrate how Indian history would have proceeded from this point on, since any number of outcomes are all equally possible.
 

Jinit

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,274
India
The Mughal Empire would have collapsed much earlier IMO. Had Dara Shikoh come to power, he would have only been able to do so by either defeating Aurangzeb or somehow managing to execute him. Either way, it would likely led to the Mughal Empire rapidly conceding ground to the Marathas.

Meanwhile, Shikoh displayed much of his father's tendencies towards extravagance. Aurangzeb's parsimony probably saved the Mughal Empire financially. With Shikoh at the helm, the empire might have collapsed internally much faster, with their economic collapse precipitating the various regional governors becoming more autonomous as they would in the 18th Century.
Nah.. rather Empire would have survived for some more time if Dara Sikoh would have been emperor. Much of the problems that empire faced during the time period of Aurangzeb and in the aftermath were the product of Aurangzeb's bigotry. Dara sikoh would have continued the same policy as adopted by his father and grandfather and empire would have kept going in the same manner with the continued loyal support of Rajputs and no trouble from Marathas and probably Sikhs and Jats either.

And even Aurangzeb didn't leave behind the economically strong empire. His was the richest empire but all the money was being blown up in never ending wars in Deccan. He was always under the financial strain despite controlling one of the richest territory of the world.
 
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tornada

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Mar 2013
15,385
India
Nah.. rather Empire would have survived for some more time if Dara Sikoh would have been emperor. Much of the problems that empire faced during the time period of Aurangzeb and in the aftermath were the product of Aurangzeb's bigotry. Dara sikoh would have continued the same policy as adopted by his father and grandfather and empire would have kept going in the same manner with the continued loyal support of Rajputs and no trouble from Marathas and probably Sikhs and Jats either.

And even Aurangzeb didn't leave behind the economically strong empire. His was the richest empire but all the money was being blown up in never ending wars in Deccan. He was always under the financial strain despite controlling one of the richest territory of the world.
Problem here is that those wars in the Deccan would have still happened. Which means that the Financial cost would have broken the empire, since Shikoh was by all accounts addicted to opulence and heavy spending. Aurangzeb's bigotry may indeed have played a role, but he did manage to keep the empire together. I don't see Shikoh being able to manage that at all. Save for the trouble faced with the rajputs, Shikoh would have faced all the same troubles that Aurangzeb faced IMO, and his own actions would have only exacerbated the problems.
 

Jinit

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,274
India
Problem here is that those wars in the Deccan would have still happened. Which means that the Financial cost would have broken the empire, since Shikoh was by all accounts addicted to opulence and heavy spending. Aurangzeb's bigotry may indeed have played a role, but he did manage to keep the empire together. I don't see Shikoh being able to manage that at all. Save for the trouble faced with the rajputs, Shikoh would have faced all the same troubles that Aurangzeb faced IMO, and his own actions would have only exacerbated the problems.
Not at all. Emperor's extravagance couldn't have drained the entire treasury of the empire year by year. In a way Aurangzeb was also extravagant if considered blowing money in the war for entire life as sort of extravagance. Aggressive Deccan wars were the product of Aurangzeb. He was the one who embarked on the journey of conquering sultanate after sultanate in Deccan. (I am not sure abut exact details but his policy towards the Shia elites of erstwhile Deccan sultanates is to some extant also responsible for the instability in Deccan). And I am not sure what do you mean by the "Aurangzeb managed to keep the empire togather", as during the time period of Aurangzeb he faced wars with Marathas, many Rajputs left the Mughals, and rebellions erupted even in territories close to home like Mathura, Haryana and Punjab.

This problems weren't exacerbated by Aurangzeb's bigotry but rather product of Aurangzeb's bigotry. Saying that this problems weren't creation of Aurangzeb's bigotry but exacerbated by Aurangzeb's bigotry is classic leftist spin. (I wouldn't use the word Marxist here as even in Marxist version the Aurangzeb is hold responsible for the decline of Mughal empire due to the peasants rebellion which were the result of heavy taxation including Jaziya imposed by Aurangzeb). Rajputs would have never turned away from the Mughals had it been not for the Aurangzeb's bigotry. (lets not forget that even during the time of Shah Alam, some Rajputs were willing to serve the Mughal empire when actually there was no empire and Shivaji in his latter to Aurangzeb specifically mentions the persecution of Hindus and imposition of Jaziya as his main grievance towards the Aurangzeb.
 
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tornada

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Mar 2013
15,385
India
Not at all. Emperor's extravagance couldn't have drained the entire treasury of the empire year by year. In a way Aurangzeb was also extravagant if considered blowing money in the war for entire life as sort of extravagance. Aggressive Deccan wars were the product of Aurangzeb. He was the one who embarked on the journey of conquering sultanate after sultanate in Deccan. (I am not sure abut exact details but his policy towards the Shia elites of erstwhile Deccan sultanates is to some extant also responsible for the instability in Deccan). And I am not sure what do you mean by the "Aurangzeb managed to keep the empire togather", as during the time period of Aurangzeb he faced wars with Marathas, many Rajputs left the Mughals, and rebellions erupted even in territories close to home like Mathura, Haryana and Punjab.

This problems weren't exacerbated by Aurangzeb's bigotry but rather product of Aurangzeb's bigotry. Saying that this problems weren't creation of Aurangzeb's bigotry but exacerbated by Aurangzeb's bigotry is classic leftist spin. (I wouldn't use the word Marxist here as even in Marxist version the Aurangzeb is hold responsible for the decline of Mughal empire due to the peasants rebellion which were the result of heavy taxation including Jaziya imposed by Aurangzeb). Rajputs would have never turned away from the Mughals had it been not for the Aurangzeb's bigotry. (lets not forget that even during the time of Shah Alam, some Rajputs were willing to serve the Mughal empire when actually there was no empire and Shivaji in his latter to Aurangzeb specifically mentions the persecution of Hindus and imposition of Jaziya as his main grievance towards the Aurangzeb.
The reason I say Aurangzeb held the empire together, because IMO, Shivaji and the Marathas were going to try and overthrow the Mughals no matter what. The Marathas were looking to break down Mughal dominance and exert their own, and my own analysis suggests that Aurangzeb dealt with the problem a lot better than Shikoh could have. As to draining the treasury. Aurangzeb commissioned the Bibi ka Maqbara (his son oversaw the project) at a fraction of the cost that the Taj cost. I'm willing to bet Dara would have been trying to outspend his father on building himself his monuments. That's where the drain would have been. I consider the Maratha Wars to be inevitable. If I'm wrong, then yes, you're right. If on the other hand, the Maratha wars were going to happen regardless of the emperor in charge, then I suspect Aurangzeb did a better job of keeping the empire going than Shikoh would have managed.

I don't see any way to test the Hypothesis however. Which is what brings me to my second point - this is speculative history, and should be moved to the correct forum. The problem with speculative history is that we try to extrapolate motive and action based only on the facts we have. Change the facts, and logic tells you that action and even motive will change. But unfortunately we try to apply the motive of the established chronology onto the changed one.

There's that story about how India would have been different had Vishwas Rao Peshwa not died at the Battle of Panipat (I forget the name) which presents this image of India being a great unified industrialized power. In essence, we simply apply our own bias. Each set of outcomes would be as valid as the next. Here - its about the Maratha Wars. I would guess you see Aurangzeb as the cause of the conflict. Perhaps you're right. I'll do some more readings, try to see if I can separate cause and effect.