Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/152

This page needs to be proofread.

148 7HE MUGHAL DYNASTY. disorganized, that Aurangzeb opened negotiations with the Marathas. He even thought of submitting the Imperial or Mughal Provinces to their tribute or chauth. But the insolent exultation of the Maratha chiefs led to the treaty being broken off; and Aurangzeb, in 1706, found shelter in Ahmadnagar, where he died in February of the following year (1707). Dark suspicion of his sons' loyalty, and just fears lest they should subject him to the cruel fate which he had inflicted on his father, left him solitary in his last days. On the approach of death, he gave utterance in broken sentences to his worldly counsels and adieus, mingled with terror and remorse, and closing in an agony of desperate resignation : ' Come what may, I have launched my vessel on the waves. Farewell ! Farewell ! Farewell ! ' Mir Jumla's Expedition to Assam, 1662. — The conquest of the Deccan or Southern India was the one inflexible purpose of Aurangzeb's life, and has therefore been dealt with here in a continuous narrative. In the north of India, great events had also transpired. His general Mir Jumla led the imperial troops as far as Assam, the extreme eastern Province of India (1662). But amid the pestilential swamps of the rainy season his army melted away, its supplies were cut off, and its march was surrounded by swarms of natives, who knew the country and were accustomed to the climate. Mir Jumla succeeded in ex- tricating the main body of his troops, but died of exhaustion and a broken heart before he reached Dacca, in the Bengal Delta. Aurangzeb's Bigoted Policy. — In the north-west of India, Aurangzeb was not more fortunate. During his time the Sikhs (a theistic and military sect of Hindus) were growing into a power, but it was not till the succeeding reigns that they commenced the series of operations which in the end wrested the Punjab from the Mughal Empire. Aurangzeb's bigotry arrayed against him all the Hindu princes and peoples of Northern India. He revived the jaziah, or insulting poll-tax on non-Musalmdns (1677); drove the Hindus out of the adminis- tration ; and oppressed the widow and children of his father's faithful Hindu general, Jaswant Singh. A local sect of Hindus in Northern India was persecuted into rebellion in 1676 ; and in