Who struck the first blow? 

      Aurangzeb’s Letter to Prince Shuja
      Text of the Treaty between Aurangzeb and Murad Baksh

The prolonged illness of Shah Jahan and the rumors of his death dropped the curtain on the desires of all the contenders to the throne. Shuja and Murad rebelled openly declared themselves emperors and marched out to Agra. Aurangzeb being a masterful politician kept his ambitions to himself waiting for an opportune moment. We shall look at how they all exploited their advantage.

  • Dara took advantage of being with his father at Agra and started taking pre-emptive measures to consolidate his position.
  • He started running the day to day administration of the government.
  • The most famous allegation leveled by his opponents is that he had started forging the handwriting of Shah Jahan to issue farmans (Royal Decrees) in his name.
  • Murad mentions about this fact in frustration to a letter written to Aurangzeb (Persian Text)


Wa Mulhid Khud Taqleeday Qatey Aqdaz Raa Ba Martabaae Kalaam Rasaaenda. Dar Farameen Dastaqat-e-Khud mi kunand

 (That apostate (Dara) in forging the royal handwriting of our father (Shah Jahan) has achieved a rare distinction. He signs the royal farmans falsely in name of the emperor)


  • A good illustration of this allegation is found by comparing his handwriting with that of Shah Jahan.

  • Dara began by controlling the flow of information to all of his brothers by imprisoning and confiscating the property of their agents at court.
  • Isa Beg the loyal supporter of Aurangzeb at the court was imprisoned.
  • Aurangzib after a short period of gnawing anxiety and depressing uncertainty, decided to play a subtler game.
  • In an important letter to Shuja he lays down the strategy of war with Dara.


Aurangzeb’s Letter to Prince Shuja

At this period, our beloved brother, dear as life, (Moraud Buksh) out of unanimity and concord, has written to me on several points, requesting my opinion upon them: and I have sent by his messenger in reply, what appeared to my mind most proper.

As it is right you should be informed of the above circumstances, I send you the particulars of each question, and my answer; which if, on perusal, you approve, it is well; otherwise, you will write me what seems proper to your better judgment, that I may com­municate it to him.

He writes first, that “we should not give the enemy (Dara Shekkoh) leisure to prepare; because, if the people become attached to him, and he obtains an influence, (may it never be his fortune!) to circumvent him may be difficult. On this account it is proper to fix a day of march towards Agra, so that we may all three join our forces at an appointed place; but if this motion is not at present in my opinion prudent, I should write him my reasons for so thinking.”

I have written in answer, that the ideas of our dear brother are just, and that I think we should act while our enemy is not completely prepared; yet as the news of the unavoidable event (the death of Shaw Jehaun) is not yet arrived, but, on the contrary, signs of his recovery daily increase, to move and engage openly in active measures, would be just now improper; that it would have been most prudent for our brother to have waited for certain intelligence, before he had excited the storm of insurrection; * that he should not have sent an army to Surat, or have besieged the fortress. However, as the matter had been carried to a point it ought not, he should reduce the place as speedily as possible, that all the forces levied might attend his stirrup, and that I would, when my determination should be made, inform him of the hour of my march.

Secondly he writes, “As from the reports of my agent it seems to be the plan of the enemy not to break immediately with us brothers, but, from views of policy, to court our friendship; if overtures of this nature should be sent to me, how shall I reply to them?”

In answer to the above question I wrote, that though no reliance should be placed on such professions, and it was scarcely probable they would be made at all now our dear brother had drawn aside the veil from his intentions; yet, should they come, not to give the reins of gentleness and moderation from his hands, but to write what might occasion the self-security of the enemy, and, by this soothing charm, to lull him into hare-sleep, would be most politic and prudent, and occasion no detriment to our settled purpose.

Thirdly he writes, “It has been agreed, that if the enemy attacks either of us, the two others shall assist in preventing the execution of his designs. Should an attack happen, what is to be the mode of succour, and how shall we support each other?”

I wrote in answer, that our treaties would remain as before; and, by God’s blessing, no departure from them could occur. If the impious enemy should threaten him, I would instantly advance by the way of Boorahaunpore, and that you would move from Patna; so that the chief of atheists * should not be able to direct the whole of his force to one quarter. In like manner, should he turn the face of misfortune to other parts, the pillars of his security and con­fidence would be thus shaken.

Such are the particulars of the que­ries, and of my replies. I hope, that having considered them in your sublime mind, you will speedily inform me of the result of your judgment. *       

  • Following this he denounced Dara publicly as an apostate from Islam, proclaimed his own design to be merely to free the old Emperor from Dara's domination and to purge the State from non-Islamic influences.
  • Meanwhile Dara with the approval of Shah Jahan had despached two armies, one under his son Sulaiman Shukoh and Mirza Rajah Jai Singh against Shuja who was advancing from Bengal, and the other under Maharajah Jaswant Singh and Qasim Khan against Aurangzib and Murad. The first army surprised and routed Shuja at Bahadurpur, oppo­site Benares, (14 February, 1658), and pursued him to Mungir.
  • Aurangzeb on his part acting on his strategy made an alliance with Murad Bakhsh on the banks of Narmada swearing on the Quran to give him all the Mughal territory from the Panjab westwards.


Text of the Treaty between Aurangzeb and Murad Baksh.

YOUR affectionate letter, sent by Ruh Oollah, the friend of Alleh Ear, bestowed the pleasure of arrival in the moment of expectation, and informed me of its contents. My mind received infinite satisfaction from the knowledge of your intentions.

I have written a full reply to your separate paper, of which you will ere now be informed. Let not the least suspicion or distrust invade your mind, for, by the blessing of God, not the smallest point of the articles of agree­ment shall be neglected. Ruh Oollah is worthy of confidence. What can I write, that will express the ardency of my affection? May the Almighty bless me by a happy meeting with my beloved brother! Health

AT this period, ushering in good fortune and promising an happy conclu­sion, which is as the dawn of the sun of prosperity and success, and the crisis of power and authority—when the lofty soaring eagle of the world-reducing genius has expanded his wings in pursuit of his object——namely, to exalt the standards of the true faith of the prince of prophets, upon whom be benedictions —our virtuous intent is wholly directed to the undermentioned points—that, by the exertions of our victorious cham­pions, and the strong arms of our trium­phant heroes, the thorns of atheism and irreligion being rooted out of the ever-blooming garden of Islaam, the chief of apostates (Darah Shekkoh) with his followers and corrupters may be annihilated. Also, that the dust of contention may be allayed among the natives of the extensive regions of Hindoostan, emblem of paradise, which have till now been preserved from the schism of infidelity, and secured within the pale of faith, by the auspices and pious warfare of our glorious ancestors; for which, may the most high God reward them with salvation, and the faithful bless their memories!

Articles of Treaty  -  Our brother, dear to us as life, most wise, fortunate, and glorious, having acted by the inspiration of true wisdom, the consequence of divine favour, and joined us in this meritorious undertak­ing, has ratified the ties of alliance and concord with sacred oaths. He agrees, that after the overthrow of the enemy of our religion and authority, and the establishment and regulation of the imperial affairs, he will remain constant in the path of attachment, and at all times prove our friend and ally. Being a friend to our friends, and an enemy to our enemies, he will not at any time act contrary to our wishes; but remaining satisfied with that part of the empire which we now leave to him agreeably to his request, will not demand more. Therefore, out of our abundant kind­ness and affection, and regarding the points he has engaged to observe, it is written with our august pen, that, by God’s blessing, as long as nothing is done by our good brother contrary to friendship, concord, and alliance, our affection towards him will daily increase; and esteeming our advantage and loss mutual, we will at all times observe our agreement of assistance, and the articles of mutual interest and unity, in the utmost extent.

The kindness and affection we now profess for him, after the attainment of our wishes and the destruction of the abominable atheist, (Dara Shekkoh) shall be continued, and even increased; nor will we neglect a single point of our declarations. To substantiate our engagements formerly stipulated, we will resign to our dear brother the provinces of Lahore, Cabul, Kashmeer, Moultaun, Bhukker, Tatta, and all those parts to the shore of the Persian Gulph, without reserve, after the completion of the over­throw of the wicked atheist, and eradi­cation of the thorns and briers of con­tention and schism from the garden of our empire, bestowed upon us by God; till which period the accompaniment of that shoot of the tree of empire and good fortune is indispensible. We will then without delay dismiss him to those parts, nor make the least attempt to detain him.

To the sincerity of the above decla­rations, we call God and his beloved prophet as witnesses; and, for the greater satisfaction and reliance of our dear brother, have ornamented them with our seal, and the impression of our auspicious hand.

  • This alliance would catch Jaswant Singh by a complete surprise when he marched onto face Murad but ended up facing Aurangzeb’s army also because Aurangzeb kept the movement of his forces a military secret.
  • Initially Aurangzeb attempted to avoid fighting Jaswant Singh and send a Brahmin Kavi Rai to inform him of his desire to only pay the regular customary visit to their father.
  • However Jaswant Singh would not listen and fought bravely. Aurangzeb and Murad crushed Jaswant's army after a long and terribly contested Battle at Dharmat, 14  miles south of Ujjain.
  • After defeating Jaswant, Aurangzib had asked the new Prime Minister, Jafar Khan, to explain to his Majesty how the two princes had marched from the South only to pay their filial respects to the Emperor, see him with their own eyes in order to disprove the alarming rumors current about his condition, and unfold to him all the bad turns Dara had done to them and the disorder into which his usurpation had thrown the whole empire.
  • Jahan Ara wrote him a response a month later dictated by Shah Jahan asking him to return to the Deccan since now his father was well and administrating the government himself and trying to remove the disorders crept in during his illness.
  • To this Aurangzeb demanded that Dara be sent off to his province of Punjab to stop his mischief.
  • Despite this defeat of Jaswant Singh, Dara in his wits of rage thought he could teach Aurangzeb and Murad a lesson blatantly ignoring repeated pleas from Shah Jahan and mocking the wise counsel of advisors at court.
  • The advisors had proposed that Shah Jahan should personally go out and meet the princes Aurangzeb and Murad and force them to go back to their provinces without a war.
  • But Dara would listen to nothing at this point. He marched out to Samugarh shouting out loud through the gates of Agra “Victory or Grave”.
  • As fate would have it he had neither the experience of Aurangzeb nor the valor of Murad Baksh to win the Battle of Samugarh (29th May 1658).
  • His untimely dismounting from the royal elephant in fear of rocket attacks on his canopy spread confusion in his ranks that he had fallen down leading Aurangzeb and Murad to claim victory.
  • Dara loosing no time fled in despair to Agra and then at 3 am with his family and supporters fled to Delhi.
  • At Samugarh Aurangzeb bowed down twice in prostration to the Giver of Victories and proceeded to the tent of Dara which was now deserted. Here he met Murad and praised him for his valor and bravery and acknowledged that this victory was not possible without him.
  • Since Murad was heavily wounded expert physicians were immediately appointed to treat his wounds.