Saturday, July 6, 2013

Ahmad Shah (1748-54): Imbecile Mughal Ruler

Ahmad Shah was a Mughal ruler whose reign lasted from 1748 to 1754. After the death of his father Muhammad Shah in 1754, he ascended the throne at an age of 22.  He was the son of Udham Bai, a dancing girl of low intellect and dubious character. Though he was a man of 22 at the time of his accession, he is said to have received no education and did not hold any civil or military office ever.

A pleasure seeking ruler with debased taste, Ahmad Shah was an illiterate and indulging in sensual pursuits. Spending time with women and eunuchs for weeks, he remained content by entrusting the task of running the state to the queen mother Udham Bai and her shameless paramour and powerful eunuch Javid Khan, who dominated the affairs of the state. Javid Khan was grated the title of Nawab Bahadur and Udham Bai was got the title of Qibla-i-Alam and the rank of 50,000 horses. Her brother Man Khan, a ill-mannered professional dancer, got the title of Mutqat-ud-Daula and the rank of 6,000.

During this period Safdarjang, the governor of Oudh, became the wazir or prime minster of the Mughal empire in 1748. Javid Khan and the court party controlled by the Turks (known as Turanis) took exception to his appointment as Safdarjang was an Irani. Things came to such a pass that Javid Khan was murdered at the istance of Safdarjang. This made Udham Bai furious who got Safdarjang dismissed in 1753. Safdarjang retired to Oudh and died there on 5th October, 1754. In his place Amir Ghazi-ud-din Imad-ul-mulk, a grandson of Nizam-ul-mulk of the Deccan, was made wazir who deposed Ahmad Shah in 1754. Alamgir II was placed on the Mughal throne by Imad-ul-mulk. Ahmad Shah and Udham Bai were imprisoned and blinded by the formal order of Alamgir II. He died in prison in 1775.

It was during the reign of Ahmad Shah that Afghan chief Ahmad Shah Durrani invaded India twice in 1749 and 1752, when he marched up to Delhi. To make matters worse, the imbecile emperor made children of three years or less governors of Punjab and Kashmir when the empire was threatened with his invasion.

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