The battle of Samugarh saw the death of both thousands of humans and humanity. The victor had his sword red with the blood of his own kin. This battle marked the beginning of the reign of Aurangzeb. A reign full of devilish deeds started aptly by publicly executing his elder brother and his nephew. And then house arresting his ill and elderly father Shah Jahan.
After Shah Jahan, the fifth ruler of the Mughal dynasty became old and ineffective, a fight for the throne started between his sons. His eldest son named Dara Shikoh was the legitimate heir to the throne. He was also the one who was favoured the most by Shah Jahan. Aurangzeb on the other hand was a much more experienced war general. During the reign of Shah Jahan, he was given the lordship of Deccan. Deccan India was full of upcoming rebellions from the Marathas. Hence Aurangzeb had seen more battles.
The battle of Samugarh was fought in the aftermath of the Battle of Dharmat. This was the first battle of succession fought between the sons of Shah Jahan. Aurangzeb had a decisive victory in this battle. The Rajput ally of Dara Shikoh, Jaswant Singh Rathore was killed in this battle. Following his death, the forces of Dara started retreating back. Aurangzeb followed them knowing fully well that they would be trapped on the shore of Yamuna. The river Yamuna did have a bridge but it was not wide nor strong enough to move an entire army quickly.
Anticipating the move of Aurangzeb, Dara reorganized his army on the shores of Yamuna. He started bombing the upcoming Aurangzeb army with his canons. Aurangzeb replied with the same. The canons had to stop after a while as the rain started pouring. During the rain, both the army stood patiently. Dara took the opportunity and sent out a word for his son Suleiman Shikoh. Suleiman was waiting on the outskirts of Agra with an army of forty thousand. Ironically, he was positioned there to stop Aurangzeb from escaping the city.
Murad Baksh the fourth son of Shah Jahan was on the side of Aurangzeb. He was commanding the swift Horse cavalry known as ‘sawars’ meaning riders. He saw his arch-rival Chhattar Sal on the side of Dara Shikoh. Murad had once faced defeat fighting Chhattar and was hungry for revenge. So he launched an attack without waiting for orders from Aurangzeb.
A fight break out between the two and Murad seemed better. With canons unable to fire in rain, Dara’s army had no long-range weapon to support Chhattar Sal. Dara decided to rather go himself. But he was sitting on top of an elephant that moved slowly in muddy terrain. So Dara decided to switch to a horse. Unfortunately, the moment he left his elephant, the elephant ran off the battlefield. The soldiers took this as a sign of either the king being dead or worse, running off. The soldiers broke their positions and ran for their life, some even jumped into the river. As a result, Dara had to accept defeat and retreat to his son.
In the aftermath of this battle, Aurangzeb was made the new ruler of the Mughal Dynasty. He captured both Dara Shikoh and his son sometime later. He labelled them non-muslim for siding with Hindu Rajputs. As a result, both were punished with public execution.
If we can keep the brutality of battles and politics aside, then this horrific event to has something to teach. This battle was a battle between strength and experience. Dara Shikoh had the army of his father Shah Jahan, including some of his elite archers. But lack of experience led him to become over-confident. He left a major portion of his army with his son. Aurangzeb on the other hand showed his battlefield experience by chasing the enemy. This gave Dara no time to regroup and plan another attack. In the end, Aurangzeb won, or we can say, experience won.