Muhi-ud-Din Muhammad is commonly known by the sobriquet Aurangzeb (Urdu: اَورنگزیب ), (Persian: اورنگزیب “Ornament of the Throne” or by his regnal title Alamgir (Urdu: عالمگِیر ), (Persian: عالمگير “Conqueror of the World”), was the sixth Mughal emperor. Widely considered the last effective Mughal emperor, his reign lasted for 49 years from 1658 until his death in 1707.
Aurangzeb was a notable expansionist during his reign, the Mughal Empire reached its greatest extent, ruling over nearly all of the Indian subcontinent. During his lifetime, victories in the south expanded the Mughal Empire to 4 million square kilometres, and he ruled over a population estimated to be over 158 million subjects, with an annual yearly revenue of $450 million (more than ten times that of his contemporary Louis XIV of France), or £38,624,680 (2,879,469,894 rupees) in 1690. Under his reign, the Mughal Empire surpassed China to become the world’s largest economy, worth over $90 billion, nearly a quarter of world GDP in 1700.
Aurangzeb has been subject to controversy and criticism for his policies that abandoned his predecessors’ legacy of pluralism and religious tolerance, citing his introduction of the Jizya tax, destruction of Hindu temples, execution or forced conversion of his non-Muslim subjects to Islam and execution of the ninth Sikh guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur. Various historians question the historicity of the claims of his critics, arguing that his destruction of temples has been exaggerated, and noting that he also built temples, paid for the maintenance of temples, employed significantly more Hindus in his imperial bureaucracy than his predecessors did, and opposed bigotry against Hindus and Shia Muslims.
The downfall of the Mughal Empire began near the end of his reign due to his policy of religious intolerance. Rebellions and wars eventually led to the exhaustion of the imperial Mughal treasury and army. The expansionary period of the Mughal Empire came to an end after his death despite him being an extraordinarily strong-handed authoritarian ruler. Nevertheless, the contiguous territory of the Mughal Empire still remained more or less intact until the reign of Muhammad Shah.