The coins of Aurangzeb Alamgir

Aurangzeb Alamgir (r. 1659-1707 CE) was the sixth Mughal emperor. He was the last of the great Mughals and one of the most controversial rulers in the history of India for his political and religious policies. The Mughal Empire reached its greatest extent under the long rule of Alamgir. However, the last decades of his rule also marked the decline of the great empire. Aurangzeb’s policies were much different from the earlier Mughal emperors who followed a policy of syncretism in the religious matters. Aurangzeb was a devout Muslim to the extent of a religious bigot. This alienated him from the majority of his subjects who practiced Hinduism. Aurangzeb’s religious bigotry was reflected not only in his political and economic policies but also in his issues of coins.

Immediately after ascending to the Mughal throne after a bloody fratricidal struggle, Aurangzeb issued coins in his name. Aurangzeb ordered the Islamic Kalima to be removed from his coins because he feared that the holy words of Islam would be polluted once they pass into the hands of the infidels i.e. the Hindus. Aurangzeb issued coins in all the three major metals- gold, silver, and copper.

The obverse of the coins which were issued in his early regnal years carried the full name and the title of the Emperor- Abu-al-Zafar Muiuddin Muhammad Bahadur Shah Alamgir Aurangzeb Badshah Ghazi. Later issues carried an additional couplet composed by Mir Abdul Baqi Shahbai to exalt the porno position of the Emperor-

Sikka Zad dar jahan chu mehr munir,

Shah Aurangzeb Alamgir.

The meaning of the couplet is- “struck money through the world like the shining sun (or moon), Shah Aurangzeb Alamgir”. All of the mints issued the coins with the couplet throughout the reign of Alamgir. However, the mint of Akabarabad introduced the couplet relatively late, in the twenty-ninth regnal year.

The reverse of the coins carried a unique formula to mention the name of the issuing year and the name of the issuing mint. This read as follows- “Sanh julus maimanat Manus zarb” and name of the mint following. The meaning of the sentence is “struck at (the mint’s name) in the year of the accession associated with prosperity”.

There were large numbers of copper coins too. The copper coins of Alamgir were simple in design and marked by simple inscriptions. The obverse of these coins is variously marked by the following inscriptions- Fulus Badshah Alamgir, Fulus Alamgiri, Fulus Aurangzebshahi, etc. The reverse simply mentioned the name of the issuing mint.

There were numerous mints during the reign of Aurangzeb. Some of the major mints were situated at Shahjahanabad, Akbarabad, Ahmadabad, Surat, Narnol, Kabul, Lahore, and Multan. These mints issued coins in all the three metals. Some of the other mints at Allahabad, Murshidabad, Patna, Thatta, Jaunpur, Kashmir, etc. issued only gold and silver coins. Silver coins were issued exclusively from Alamgirnagar, Bankapur, Bhakkar, Gwalior, Islamnagar, Jinji, Kanji, Peshawar, Puna, Sikakul, etc. Only copper coins issuing mints were situated in Auranganagar, Udaipur, and Bairat.