§6. Aurangzib's precautions in beginning the War of Succession.

At the time when Aurangzib left Aurangabad in order to fight Dara Shukoh, and encamped at Arsul, four miles from the city, he ordered that there would be a halt of ten days there in order that his men might get their remaining needments ready. Nobody else durst remonstrate with him. Only Najabat Khan, who was a friend of firm fidelity and great boldness, said, “Stating the intention to march and then ordering a halt in this manner, will embolden the enemy.” Aurangzib smiled and said, “First, tell me how they will be emboldened, and then I shall give you my answer.” The Khan replied, “When the enemy will hear of our long halt here, they will send a strong force to bar our path.” Aurangzib said, “That is the very essence of [my] policy. If I march quickly I shall have to encounter the whole army [of Dara at one place]. But if I delay here, my contest will be with the first division [of the enemy's] force. It is easier to defeat the first division than to defeat the whole army. In case he himself [i.e. Dara] has the boldness to advance and crosses the Narmada, his condition will be this: (Verse)

The man who goes far from his asylum and home
Becomes helpless, needy, and forsaken.
In the water even the lion becomes the prey of fishes,
On dry land the crocodile becomes the food of ants.

This delay is for the above purpose and not for whiling away my time. Nay more, there is another object, on which the advantage already mentioned is dependent. This second object is that I may know the circumstances of the men accompanying me, both poor and rich; if a man delays in spite of his being well-to-do, then it is better not to take him along any farther from this place, because in future this circumstance will prove a source of utter weakness. In case I make a quick march, those nobles whose sincerity is doubtful may show negligence and delay, and then the distance [from my base] being great, it will be impossible to remedy the evil, and I shall have either to helplessly leave them defaulting or to return and correct them.”

When Najabat Khan heard this, he kissed Aurangzib's feet and cried out, “God knows best where to send one on a prophetic mission.

The above blessed saying was verified by this fact that Mirza Shah Nawaz Khan, one of the officers appointed to the Deccan, did not come * with Aurangzib during the first day's march, and on the second day's march, he submitted, “In consideration of my being a servant of Shah Jahan, I have no help but to remain here by resigning my military rank. I have no connection with Dara Shukoh. One of my daughters has been married to you and another to Murad Bakhsh. I have no rela­tionship with Dara Shukoh which it might be necessary for me to respect. Your Highness knows well that I have not shown, in any battle or halt, any shortcoming or holding back which may be attributed to cowardice or disloyalty.”

Aurangzib replied, “Indeed, the requisites of fidelity to salt are not distant from men of pure blood [like you]. But I am making some days' halt here; I wish to see you [daily] for some days, and shall give you leave to depart when I resume my march. What need is there that you should turn a private person (faqir)?” Shah Nawaz Khan said, “This, too, is opposed to a servant's duties. This hereditary servant has set his heart on the work of the Emperor Shah Jahan.”

After this Aurangzib gave out that he was down with looseness of the bowels. The nobles who came to pay the [customary] visit to the sick, were ordered to enter alone and one by one, leaving their attendants outside. Thus, on the second day, when Mirza Shah Nawaz Khan came, Shaikh Mir promptly arrested him, tied him hand and neck, and placed him handcuffed and fettered on the hawda of an elephant. That very moment Aurangzib gave the order to march. After reaching Burhanpur, Shah Nawaz Khan was thrown into prison. After the victory over Dara Shukoh, at the entreaty of Zeb-un-nisa Begam,—who had refused food for three days, saying that she would keep fasting till her maternal grandfather was released,—Aurangzib in anger and displeasure ordered him to be set free and appointed him governor of Ahmadabad, which province had been without a governor since Murad Bakhsh left it. But Aurangzib said, “My mind is not reassured [about him]. I have issued this order as I could not help it, but I shall reconsider it carefully afterwards. As he is a Sayyid, it is hard to order his execution. Otherwise, there is the well-known saying, ‘A severed head tells no tale.’”

What he had said did finally come to pass. After Dara's flight, the Khan joined him in the battle of Ajmir and was slain in the midst of the fight.

Text.—Ir. Ms. 25a—26b.

Notes.—Aurangzib started from Aurangabad on 5th February, 1658 to contest the throne. At Arsul, 4 miles n.e. of the city, he halted for one day only. (Alamgirnamah, 43-44). But a halt of one month (18th Feb. —20th March) was made at Burhanpur. “Shah Nawaz Khan Safawi did not accompany Aurangzib, but lingered at Burhanpur under various pretexts. So the prince on reaching Mandua (25th March) sent Muhammad Sultan and Shaikh Mir back to Burhanpur to arrest and confine Shah Nawaz Khan in the fort of Burhanpur.” (Ibid. 52). Shah Nawaz Khan Safawi, the father-in-law of Aurangzib, was a Sayyid of very high pedigree. (Life in M. U. ii. 670). At the end of September Aurangzib from Multan ordered his release and appointed him subahdar of Gujrat. Slain in the battle of Ajmir, 14th March, 1659. (A. N. 209, 323).