One of its most controversial figures has been Aurangzeb (1658-1707). It is true that under him the Mughal empire reached its zenith, but Aurangzeb was also a very cruel ruler some might even say monstrous.
What are the facts?
Aurangzeb did not just build an isolated mosque on a destroyed temple, he ordered all temples destroyed, among them the Kashi Vishwanath temple, one of the most sacred places of Hinduism, and had mosques built on a number of cleared temple sites. Other Hindu sacred places within his reach equally suffered destruction, with mosques built on them.
A few examples: Krishna's birth temple in Mathura; the rebuilt Somnath temple on the coast of Gujarat; the Vishnu temple replaced with the Alamgir mosque now overlooking Benares; and the Treta-ka-Thakur temple in Ayodhya. The number of temples destroyed by Aurangzeb is counted in four, if not five figures. Aurangzeb did not stop at destroying temples, their users were also wiped out; even his own brother Dara Shikoh was executed for taking an interest in Hindu religion; Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded because he objected to Aurangzeb's forced conversions.
'Aurangzeb's supposed intolerance is little more than a hostile legend based on isolated acts such as the erection of a mosque on a temple site in
Since then six generations of Marxist historians have done the same and betrayed their allegiance to truth. Very few people know for instance that Aurangzeb banned any kind of music and that painters had to flee his wrath and take refuge with some of Rajasthan's friendly maharajahs.
Thus, we thought we should get at the root of the matter. History (like journalism) is about documentation and first-hand experience. We decided to show Aurangzeb according to his own documents. There are an incredible number of farhans, original edicts of Aurangzeb hand-written in Persian, in
People might say: 'OK, this is all true, Aurangzeb was indeed a monster, but why rake up the past, when we have tensions between Muslims and Hindus today?' There are two reasons for this exhibition. The first is that no nation can move forward unless its children are taught to look squarely at their own history, the good and the bad, the evil and the pure. The French, for instance, have many dark periods in their history, more recently some of the deeds they did during colonisation in
The argument that looking at one's history will pit a community against the other does not hold either: French Catholics and Protestants, who share a very similar religion, fought each other bitterly. Catholics brutally murdered thousands of Protestants in the 18th century; yet today they live peacefully next to each other.
Let Hindus and Muslims then come to terms with what happened under Aurangzeb, because Muslims suffered as much as Hindus. It was not only Shah Jahan or Dara Shikoh who were murdered, but also the forefathers of today's Indian Muslims who have been converted at 90 per cent. Aurangzeb was the Hitler, the asura of medieval
Finally, Aurangzeb is very relevant today because he thought that Sunni Islam was the purest form of his religion and he sought to impose it with ruthless efficiency -- even against those of his own faith, such as his brother. Aurangzeb clamped down on the more syncretic, more tolerant Islam, of the Sufi kind, which then existed in
Then the shadow of Aurangzeb fell on Kashmir and the hardline Sunnis came from Pakistan and Afghanistan: cinemas were banned, the burqa imposed, 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits were chased out of Kashmir through violence and became refugees in their own land and the last Sufi shrine of Sharar-e-Sharif was burnt to the ground (I was there). Today the Shariat has been voted in Kashmir, a state of democratic, secular India, UP's Muslims have applauded, and the entire Indian media which went up in flames when the government wanted Vande Mataram to be sung, kept quiet. The spirit of Aurangzeb seems to triumph.
But what we need today in
May the Spirit of Dara Shikoh come back to
Akbar had 14 Hindu Mansabdars (officials) in his court.
Aurangzeb had 148 Hindu Mansabdars (officials) in his court.
For torturing Hindus & smashing their temples, a ruler has to use his army. The supreme army leader of Aurangzeb was Raja Jaysingh. Other big Generals were Rana Jaswant Singh, Raja Indra Singh, Raja Rajrup, Kabir Singh, Arghanath Singh, Prem Dev Singh & Dilip Roy. With so many high caste Hindu Generals, who can demolish Hindu temples? Only an insane Hindu will think of this idea!
A stone inscription in the historic
Aurangzeb granted land for famous Hindu religious sites in Kasi. These historical documents are available even today.
Aurangzeb gave written orders to his army for not damaging the Ellora caves!
If he was anti-Hindu How come many of his advisors were Hindus.
- Aurangzeb had the practice of widows being burned banned.
- Aurangzeb did not use public money for his personal needs.
- Some Hindus complain about him implementing Jizya (a tax on non-Muslims).
But this is used instead of the draft and forcing him to join the army. Moreover Aurangzeb removed over 50 taxes that were previously taken from people. Muslims had to pay Zakat and Ushar tax which non-Muslims did not have to.
- If he was anti-Hindu how come except a few all Hindu temples were untouched and their worshippers allowed to pray in peace.
- The few temples that were attcked were
1) due to rebellion and
2)in one case priests from a temple kidnapped and killed some princesses who had come to pray. Aurangzeb at the request of the Raja sent Hindu troops to punish the kidnappers.
Overall Aurangzeb was one of the greatest rulers