Letter of Aurungzebe to his his father Shaw Jehaun

Aurungzebe to Shaw Jehaun

ADAUB AULUMGEEREE-preserved by his Meer Moonshi


Shaw Jehaun under imprisonment

AFTER offering the customary duty and regards, I represent to the sublime audience, that the sacred pages, (wholly written with the auspicious pen) which conferred their honouring arrival by the hands of Matimud Khan, informed me on the several points contained in them, both in verse and prose. Their contents have induced me, overcome by shame, — though of justifying myself I sensibly feel the difficulty and hardship, and on account of which I have so long declined sending petitions, and shut the door against rumours and hearsay — to offer replies to the various allegations freely and plainly, in order that the real state of affairs may appear, and the necessity of writing again upon the same subjects be done away.

It cannot be unknown to your mind, enlightened as the sun, that I have repeatedly represented, if your majesty would discontinue writing letters to excite disorders which can have no good effect, it would be most beneficial for the country. As your majesty, notwith­standing your profound wisdom and judgment, neglecting the propriety of the request, indignantly declared I must not expect such concession from you, I judged it expedient to close the doors of contention, by ordering the stubborn-backed eunuchs, the chief promoter of trouble, to my presence.

The verses, transcribed a second time by your pearl-shedding pen, are just, and applicable to late events. If your majesty had not in the beginning of the troubles supported the eldest prince, (whose honour, ability, and piety are perhaps by this time known also to yourself) had not exalted him to the highest rank and confidence, and, to flatter and appease him, had not chosen to have disgraced your other children; parties would not have been formed among the courtiers, or despair have overcome hope. Most probably, in such case, the flames of contention would not have blazed to such a height, nor all this calamity have occurred. Ah me! my friend and my garments.

Alas! that I should be accused of having in my former letters written in improper and disrespectful terms to your majesty! God forbid, that even an irreverent thought towards you should enter my mind. Probably, I may have used opprobrious epithets when speaking of my brother; and why should such be understood as disrespectful to your majesty? By what names does not your majesty still call Khoossroo and Perweze, who departed to the place of non-existence long before the days of your acces­sion to empire, and from whom to you no injury or offence occurred? If cer­tain persons, whose enmity, past all bounds, who repeatedly opposed me in battle, heaping upon themselves the dis­honour of flight, and the marks of whose wickedness are not yet expunged, are mentioned by me in a way befitting their deserts, and I cease to name them with ceremony and respect, what crime can be attributed to me? The favoured of the Almighty cannot be disgraced. He is truly great whom God, according to his scripture, (He exalteth whomsoever He chuseth) blesseth under his auspices, endoweth with dignity above his contem­poraries and equals, and having prepared for him by his sole bounty the requisites of distinction, rendereth him among mortals respectful and exalted.

Your humble disciple hath already repeatedly declared to your august audience, that my object in marching towards Agra was not rebellion, or to depose the Emperor of Islam. The Penetrator of all secrets is my witness, that this unworthy and unlawful idea had never glanced on the mirror of my heart.

As, during the extreme illness of your majesty, the reins of power had dropped from your hands, and the eldest prince, who had not even the resemblance of a mussulmaun, having obtained arbitrary rule and authority, exercised unlimited control, and revived the customs of infidelity and atheism throughout the empire; thinking it lawful, politic, and just to overthrow his designs, I advanced to these parts. My first battle was with wicked infidels, who had destroyed mosques, and erected on their sites temples to their idols. The second engage­ment was against the evil-acting atheists; and, as my intention was virtuous, in each, with an inferior force, I became successful, and preserved without a wound.

As your majesty, then regarding me as a criminal, endeavoured that the prince in disposition like Pharaoh, com­ing again into the field, should reillumine the countenance of atheism, and, in such case, the success of the treacherous would have caused the destruction of the subjects and the empire; I, from necessity, relying upon justice and truth, submitted myself to the heavy burden of government, the care of the people, and pro­tection of the venerated faith of the prophet; than which objects, the wisest and most virtuous agree, there can be none more meritorious in this world, or which can be better guides to happiness hereafter.

It was written by your majesty, that seizing the possessions of another was contrary to religion. Surely it cannot be unknown to your mind, expansive as the ocean, that the treasures of kings and rulers are for the good of the state and religion; not a personal property or inheritance. From hence it is, that the zukkaut of such property is not given in charity. The Most High commits them for a time to each of the accepted of his presence, for the support of mankind, and resigns to such chosen agent the reins of government; that dealing with all according to the rules of justice, and regarding the rights of claimants with fairness and integrity, he may consider himself merely as a trustee for the pub­lic good. Perhaps, the learned of this age, from fear or flattery, may not have informed your majesty, that no one can claim the public treasure as his sole property.

To conclude; as it is certain, that no occurrence issues from the concealment of secrecy without a divine decree, (which truth is evident to all) what cause is there that this important event, which certainly was by the will of God, and in which the force and power of individuals had no concern, should be to me matter of obloquy and reproach? It is clear that it could not have happened without the command of the Ruler of the Universe, and the agency of Provi­dence was appointed for me, its forced and hesitating servant.

Your majesty is superior to all in wisdom and penetration; why then, dis­regarding the source of these providen­tial events and divine occurrences, do you look for other causes? Why, sub­mitting yourself to the acts of the Almighty, of whose power this declaration, “God will do what pleaseth him, and command what he willeth,” is a striking testimony, do you not quit this unavailing path of complaint, full of danger, that sorrow and mourning may give place to ease and satisfaction; resignation and patience be not lost; or your situation, which cannot be altered, pass away in vain imaginations. Your well known forbearance must be my apologist for this prolixity.


AFTER offering the accustomed duty, I represent to the most sublime audience, that the respectable firmaun, full of reproaches, which was issued on the ninth of the present month, conferred its honouring arrival, and what was written respecting the evil deeds of myself, who am overwhelmed in crimes, became known.

It is not concealed from your mind, enlightened as the sun, that I have never yet attempted to blazon the merits of my own actions; but have been always ready to acknowledge my faults, and am so still.

Since the period of my arrival at years to distinguish good from evil, I have not neglected my utmost endeavours to obtain the approbation of your sacred mind, though thro’ your partiality to my eldest brother, (who possessed no talents but an hypocritical flattery, a smooth tongue, and superabundant vein of ridicule, and whose heart, in attach­ment to his benefactor, accorded not with his professions;) I, at his improper instigation, experienced repeated affronts, of which your former firmauns are ample proofs. In the hope that unfeigned duty and submission would finally produce their deserved reward, I deviated not in the least from the path of loyalty and obe­dience. If your majesty did but express satisfaction at my endeavours, I was happy. However, as at such times no impression was made by my sincerity, nor falsehood distinguished from truth; as the purity of my intentions and firmness of my attachment were neglected, and the slanders of my enemies prevailing, the friend was not distinguished from the foe, nor right from wrong; so that I was not esteemed worthy of con­fidence or favour — now — that I have really been guilty of various affronts and disrespect, it is clear that your majesty will not expect good from me, nor in future rely upon my words or actions.

You mentioned the duty of children to parents. My patron, as in this world no event occurs without the divine will and decree, no one can oppose the commands of heaven. What you expressed in the firmaun, has happened to many in former ages. What power have I, a weak mortal, to remove my head from the eternal order? “God acteth as he chuseth, and command­eth what he willeth.” From him every one obtaineth according to the purity of his intentions. As mine are just, I trust, while I live, to experience nothing but good.

What was written relative to my sister,* is merely slander and suspicion; for when I arrived at Agra, and events happened which gave your venerable mind anguish and displeasure, where was she then? Alas! that during these few days, since our meeting, rumour should have opened her mouth in scandal. We never boasted of our accomplishments and virtues, like others; but, God be praised! their true characters are now known. Purity of intention is seen by the Penetrator of secrets, who knoweth best what rests in the hearts of his ser­vants. What probability is there, that Shaisteh Khan should have written such a report, or given a hint of such suspi­cion? He is one of our household ser­vants, the claims of whose ancestors are binding upon our family, which your majesty well knows, and there are few his equals. As I have favoured strangers, so have I also distinguished him. It is not probable he would represent false accounts; so that what has been told you respecting him, must be untrue altogether.

May your protecting shade be long extended over us!


AFTER presenting the customary offering of duty and affection, I represent to the sublime audience, that though it is long since, that sensible of my faults I have not, from much shame and diffidence, dared to place the foot of boldness in the path of petition, or to prefer requests; yet having lately been repeatedly honoured by presents of fruit from your majesty, I am become hopeful of your favour.

Having performed the prostration of thanks, I represent, that supposing your majesty did not at present feel pleasure in music, and there being no singers here, whose performances gratify my taste; I wrote to the eunuch Phûl, that having informed your majesty, he should send me the female singers of my late eldest brother, who are now idle and useless in the haram. It does not appear to me, why this should have hurt your gracious mind. If the cause is your wishing to retain them, I have others here, and they may remain with your majesty.

The verse of the koraun, with the interpretation, sent by your orders, arrived. It is not unknown to your understanding, enlightened as the sun, (for I have repeatedly declared to your majesty, and now again, when the affair is concluded, assure you) that my assump­tion of my present perilous dignity, at the contemplation of the dangers of which any reflecting person must tremble with dread, was not through my own choice or ambition. How can the truly wise and virtuous, who believes in a future retribution, voluntarily accept such a power, and, notwithstanding the dif­ficulty he finds of governing his own passions, consent to take upon himself the burden of a world, and answer for its management in the day of general account? As the affairs of the empire were fallen into disorder, the subjects of every rank ruined by innovations, and the canons of our religion disused; impelled by Providence, I with anxiety gave up myself to this important office, necessarily complying with the forms of royalty, without which, to transact affairs was impossible. As I have removed such a heavy burden from your majesty’s shoulders to my own, relieved your pure mind from care-encreasing business, set your heart at rest, and involved my own in such innumerable troubles and anxi­eties; — if you would look with the eye of impartiality, you would find cause for approbation in my conduct, instead of blame. Could another person have managed such affairs more ably than myself — alas! that I should become captivated in such a snare! I will not use further prolixity.

May the happiness of avoiding future punishment attend your majesty!


AFTER the accustomed offerings of duty and affection, I represent to the sublime audience, that, after much lapse of time, the sacred pages written in your honoured hand, having cast the rays of descent in the neighbourhood of Bhind, gave me a portion of honour in the perusal of their contents.

Your majesty enquires the cause of my distance and coolness. It cannot be unknown to you, that at the commence­ment of the events which have occurred by the mandates of the most High, (as your majesty had spent most of the hours of your life in experience of the vicissi­tudes of fortune) I hoped, that, regard­ing such occurrences as the decrees of heaven, you would not have studied to overthrow my plans, and procure the success of those of other persons. Hav­ing founded my conduct upon the most virtuous basis, I intended, after cessa­tion of our struggles, to have studied entirely the satisfaction of your venerable mind, and by that means to obtain immortal reputation.

Though I heard that the cause of the prevalence of opposition, and the failure of my designs, was from the interference of your majesty, and that my brothers, acting by your sacred orders, sought my life, I attended not to reports, nor suffered my mind to swerve from the path of loyalty. At length, certain intelligence of your majesty’s unkindness repeatedly reached me; and finally, the note written by you in Hindooeh, to my brother Shujah, which proved the destruction of him and his family. I then was convinced that your majesty loved not me, and that, though the power was wrested from your hands, you studied that another should obtain rule, and my endeavours, calculated solely for the extension of religion, and the welfare of the state, be rendered useless. From this design you were not to be moved, and still remain obstinately bent upon it.

Driven to extremities, I was obliged to use the necessary caution; and becom­ing fearful of the arts of determined and powerful enemies, I could not execute what I intended. To the truth of this declaration the Almighty is witness. As affairs have turned out, my mind can only be at ease when those two rebels, who, twice consenting to the shame of defeat, have fled before me, shall have left the empire; or, by the blessing of God, being made prisoners, shall repose by the side of my brother. “While the head of a rival in a kingdom rests upon his shoulders, that kingdom is full of disorder.”

If it is the will of God that the fate of my enemies shall end in either of the above ways, I shall no longer use cau­tion, which will then be needless; but till then, as it is clear that to trust the professions of the treacherous, after hav­ing repeatedly experienced their inveteracy, can produce no effect but disap­pointment and regret; your majesty’s having your abdaur khaneh in the ghoossul khaneh, now you reside entirely in the mhal, cannot be permitted. The seal was placed upon your wardrobe solely on account of Mamoor’s  having sacrificed his life. Now another is appointed in his room, the usual raiment will be brought you without fail.

May grace to avoid eternal punish­ment be your friend!


AFTER offering the usual duty and affection, I represent to the sublime audience, that the sacred pages written in your gracious hand on the 18th of the present month, made their honouring descent, and also what you wrote thro’ the eunuch Wooffa out of extreme anger, became known.

Fully sensible of my faults, I know not what remedy to invent, that will preserve me from being accused of such matters, if your majesty, notwithstand­ing my repeated and humble request that you would forbear issuing strife-exciting letters, will not cast the eye of assent on my petition. You have publickly exclaimed, “He must not expect from me what he should only demand from his own children. Let him forbear to desire what is impossible.” Of this, the writing brought me by Hoory Khanim* is a proof. In this case, if, acting with proper caution, I disperse not the causes of disorder, and remove not from the enlightened presence the treach­erous eunuchs by whose interventions improper papers are spread abroad, what must I do? Alas! but that your majesty, pitying these people, would forbear employing them in a business which can have no end but trouble and danger, that you would regard good policy; so that at the instigation of necessity such pro­ceedings might not become unavoidable to me, or punishment fall upon them. At all events, you must overlook the fault of Wooffa, and recall him to your presence, that he may attend you like the rest of the eunuchs. I have written concerning Mohirrum, that he be not prevented from entering your apart­ments; but if he too, under colour of fidelity, should act treacherously, he shall speedily be silenced.

Respecting the charge of your kitchen, I have already written that another be placed in it, in room of Mamoor, who has sacrificed his life. Your ward­robe will be replenished as heretofore.

May God, disposing your majesty to look favourably on me, who have been guilty of no crime, but obedience to the mandates of Providence, give me grace to avoid the judgments of the world to come!


AFTER paying the usual offerings of duty, I represent to the most sacred audience, that the sublime fir­maun, written altogether in your majes­ty’s own hand, which was issued on the seventh instant in answer to my petition, conferred its honouring arrival. From the perusal of the letters from the pearl-shedding pen, my eyes received immea­surable lustre, and my heart satisfaction and perfect gladness. God be praised that your majesty enjoys health and repose!

Health to my assisting benefactor! Of my own shame and regret what can be said by me? who, impelled by the decrees of heaven, through the divine will am fallen into such a dangerous whirlpool, and afflicted with external and internal troubles. They are already fully known to your majesty. I pray earnestly at the throne of the Eternal, that having found grace to study the approbation of your sacred mind, also opportunity to repair past errors, and obtain forgiveness of my crimes, I may perform such duties as will gain me your applause. I also venture to hope, from the clemency and forbearance of your majesty, that such a criminal as myself may be remembered in your prayers.

In respect to public affairs, as I have already frequently represented to you, I am in perplexity, and what regrets do I not feel? Whenever the eunuch is wanted to write letters, issue orders, that he may attend to your sacred commands.


THE meanest of disciples, having kissed the ground of obedience with the lip of respect, represents to the glorious and sublime audience, that the high fir­maun* sent by Ameer Beg, mace-bearer, having made its honouring descent on the eighth of Shauban, exalted the head of your humble dependant above the firmament of the highest heaven.

It was written by the jewel-shedding pen, that, with such resources, it was wonderful the fort was not reduced. My benevolent patron, the supplies I had for the siege must be well known to your majesty, from the letters transmitted from Candahar by the most excellent prime of viziers; and all other particu­lars will be related by him, upon his arrival at court. It is clear to almighty God, that I, at all times impelled by my duty, and studying the accomplishment of your majesty’s commands, have to the utmost of my abilities left no point neglected. By God’s blessing, the cir­cumstances of my conduct will be fully explained to your judgment, clear as that of angels, and the touchstone of truth and falsehood.

It was written in the world-obeying order, “We are not to be induced to give up Candahar, but will find means for its reduction;” also, that if this humble disciple wished to take Shaw­nowauz Khan with me to Dekkan, and he was willing, I should inform your majesty. Health to the kibleh and kaaba of both worlds! As the world-reducing genius of your majesty and your firmness are equal to the most dif­ficult affairs, I doubt not that the reduc­tion of Candahar, but that of all Persia, will be easily accomplished. It was my wish, whenever I could obtain proper force, by reducing this place, to attain the approbation of your majesty. At present, whatever your enlightened mind decides upon, must be just and proper, I have no choice, but to obey your royal orders. The favours bestowed upon me I regard as flowing merely from your bounty.

The world-obeying command was delivered to Shawnowauz Khan; who said, in reply, that as he should speedily be honoured by kissing the step of the throne, he would then esteem as his duty whatever might be the will of your majesty. Health to the kibleh of both worlds! The presence of a servant like him in Dekkan, is for the welfare of the state, and highly requisite.

May the world-illuming sun of your reign long shine from the horizon of conquest!


IT was signified in the world-obey­ing orders, that the accounts of my jaghire had been sent to the noble lord, Shawnowauz Khan, from whom I should learn particulars; and that I must write to my children at Moultaun, ordering them to Lahore, that they may be ready to accompany me to Dekkan. Kibleh of my necessities, and kaaba of my desires, hail! To the fun-illumined mind of your majesty, which is a mirror reflecting the truth of all things, it must be clear, that the grand object of my wishes has ever been the attain­ment of your approbation. Always regarding every service to which I have been exalted as my sole glory, and obe­dience to orders as the means of honour, I have, without remonstrance or com­plaint, endeavoured with all my ability to perform it. At present, however, on the great difference between what I now hold, and the jaghire formerly granted me in Dekkan, I am much astonished and alarmed at what can have merited so great a diminution in my allowances as seventeen lacs of rupees, or for what cause I have been displaced from the productive jaghire of Moultan and Bhukkir. If, from a wish to cherish and encourage me, the least of dependants, it has entered into the auspicious mind to exalt me to the government of an important province, let it be so granted, that I may be able to execute the office, and regulate the affairs of extensive and frontier districts involved in troubles, in such a manner, that I may not be exposed to shame among my equals, and that, failing not in my duty to the glo­rious presence, I may be secure from reprehension and displeasure. In pri­vacy,* the soubah of Buggellana, already granted to me, is sufficient for my expenses. As the reins of power over your dependants are in the hands of your majesty, and your bounties at all times are greater than their merits; doubtless, what is determined in your gracious mind must be just, and for my advantage.

Health to my benevolent patron! Your majesty must remember, that when the reduction of Candahar was first agi­tated, I recommended after consultation, that my brother Dara should be sent upon this duty, and myself detached in front as his advanced general. Now also, that he has taken upon himself this service, and his eldest son is honoured with the government of Kabul, may he prove fortunate! By God’s blessing, the unfolding of this difficult knot will be accomplished by the steadiness of his hand, agreeably to the hopes of his well-wishers. I hope (for, notwithstanding the trouble of such a campaign, a wish for the government of Dekkan, or any other province, enters not into my mind) I shall be allowed to remain here, and, by assisting my brother in the siege, atone for past errors. By the divine auspices, I may, by performing some piece of service, perhaps attain your majesty’s approbation. As it is the design of your sacred mind, in reward of taking upon himself this service, to con­fer upon my brother the valuable province of Guzarat in jaghire, and the money in the treasuries here also; I represent, that there are districts of the khalseh and the jaghiredaurs amply sufficient. Further, whatever your sacred judgment may decide upon, must be most proper.

My having summoned the house­hold born from Moultaun to Lahore, will have been made known to your majesty in my letter to the retired in purity, the Navob Begum.

It was written by the honour-tracing pen, that if your majesty had judged I could have taken Candahar, the troops should not have been recalled. Health to the cherisher of his dependants! I wrote of my intentions, which must have been conveyed to your sacred ear. As an order arrived, peremptorily com­manding the retreat of the army, which was quickly reported to the troops, the advanced parties came in, and the men withdrew from the trenches; so that to execute the second command for a delay of one month, became impossible. On this account, by the advice of the vizier and all the other nobles, a retreat was begun; but had the countermand arrived in time, I think that, through the divine aid, we should in this month have succeeded.


AT this time Seeree Rung Royeel, grandson of Ram Raaje, who is the most honourable of the zemindars of Karnatic, and whose grandfather was cele­brated in that country for the extent of his power, has by a confidential bramin sent me by the way of Golconda a peti­tion, with an elephant, at present very weakly, which, when in proper case, shall be sent to the glorious presence.

With much humility he sets forth, that for some years past Adil Khan and Koottub al Moolk, relying on your majesty’s protection, have extended the hands of usurpation on the districts of Carnatic, and possessed themselves of the greater part, with immense sums of money, innumerable jewels, and ele­phants, and that their intention is to expel him from his hereditary dominions.

As it is clear to the world that the khans have no power of themselves, and whatever they possess is from the favour of the court, asylum of mortals, which has been vouchsafed to them; he therefore seeks protection at the auspicious foot­stool. He hopes, that the kibleh of the desires of mortals, lending him support and lifting him from the abyss of degrada­tion, will add his country to the imperial dependancies; that the royal orders may be issued to the rulers of Dekkan, that observing the treaties of their ancestors, they pass not over their ancient frontiers, and withdraw their hands from his hereditary dominions. Out of gratitude for this protection, he will send to the royal court, as an offering, fifty lacs of oons, two hundred elephants, and many valuable jewels, and will remit yearly double the peshcush* they have engaged for, with the accumulated rarities and valuables of ages. Lest, through dis­gust at infidelity, the ray of protection may be witheld from him, whenever the sublime firmaun, assenting to his petition, shall be issued, he will enter the congre­gation of the faith, with his family and dependants, and, through the auspices of his submission to the sublime court, enjoy spiritual and temporal welfare.

The above particulars have been translated from his petition, which I have thought proper to state to your majesty, and have kept the royeel’s vakeel; deferring an answer to Adil Khan till the arrival of the sacred orders, that I may act in this business as the judg­ment enlightening the world shall direct.

Kibleh and kaaba, hail! As the royeel from firm reliance has turned his face to the court, asylum of the world, for protection, promises loyalty and attach­ment, and, to make the profession of Islaam the medium of refuge from per­secution, it is incumbent on the defenders of the faith to extend the lights of religion, and to invite the misled by error from the path of mistake into the right way. By this no treaty can be broken; and if his requests meet acceptance, it will be attended with political and religious advantage.

Further, whatever may inspire the sacred mind, source of divine lights, must be most proper, and implicit obe­dience to its dictates binding on your dependants.




T. CADELL, jun. and W. DAVIES, in the Strand, LONDON-1800.

Aurungzebe- (3 November 1618 – 3 March 1707)

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