Posted on: 1 November 2012

The truth about Aurangzeb
By Francois Gautier - February 16, 2007

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 India's museums, particularly in Rajasthan, such as the Bikaner archives. It was not always easy to scan them, we encountered resistance, sometimes downright hostility and we had to go once to the chief minister to get permission. Indeed, the director of Bikaner archives told us that in 50 years we were the first ones asking for the farhans dealing with Aurangzeb's destructive deeds. Then we asked painters from Rajasthan to reproduce in the ancient Mughal style some of the edicts: the destruction of Somnath temple; the trampling of Hindus protesting jaziya tax by Aurangzeb's elephants; or the order from Aurangzeb prohibiting Hindus to ride horses and palanquins; or the beheading of Teg Bahadur and Dara Shikoh.

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 North Africa or how they collaborated with the Nazis during the Second World War and handed over French Jews who died in concentration camps (the French are only now coming to terms with it).

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. France fought three wars with Germany in the last 150 years, yet they are great friends today.

Let Hindus and Muslims then come to terms with what happened under Aurangzeb, because Muslims suffered as much as Hindus.

Read more:

The mosque of Aurungzebe and adjoining Ghats, Benares - 1865

Photograph of the Smaller Aurangzeb Mosque on the panchaganga ghat, Varanasi, taken by Samuel Bourne in the 1860s. Though the title refers to the Mosque as the Great Mosque of Aurangzeb this is the Smaller Mosque of Aurangzeb. The mosque was built by Aurangzeb (r.1658-1707), the ruler of the Mughal Empire. The mosque is on the site of an earlier Vishnu temple known as Bindu Madhav, this is probably why the mosque is known locally as Madho Rai Ki Masjid. Parts from the temple were used in the construction of the mosque. The minarets (seen in this view), were restored by James Prinsep in the 19th century and further shortened before they were finally pulled down by the government due to their instability.

Copyright © The British Library Board

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Good Article !!

I enjoyed reading the article but where did it cast any light on what and who Aurangzeb really was besides the popular belief that he was an orthodox muslim and a tyrant?

the sooner we make peace with our past the better it shall be. High time we got to learn the the truth instead of beating about the bush, as has happened in the history taught in our schools, in the name of 'nation building'. Mature as we are to handle the truth now, i'd rather such initiatives are extended all the support possible.

Yes, I agree with the commentators above ~ this is an interesting article. I think that the RBSI should ' post ' more content along such lines i.e. essays and articles that invite the development of a constructive dialogue ('constructive' in italics and underlined !) on controversial historical matters...


only stoking up old rivalries

And .....Aurangzeb is the most controversial character from our history

I find "Aurangzeb road" in Delhi particularly offensive. Its like having "Adolf Hitler Avenue" in Tel Aviv.

Yes it is Akshay a street named after him is kinda offensive....i mean i'd be ashamed to tell someone if i lived there

I agree Akshay Chavan... I find it absurd! I am currently reading a small book on Aurangzeb in Marathi, for which the main source is the works of Sir Jadunath Sarkar!

>> .Aurangzeb is the most controversial character I believe there are other claimants to that throne as well :-)

And why should Indian muslims get hurt when the true picture of Aurangzeb is shown? History cannot be changed! And how can they feel Aurangzeb is "their" person? Strange!

Sir Jadunath Sircar ain't no good a historian. He was commissioned by late HH Jaipur to write Jaipur's history and he engaged in un necessary eulogising.

Satyakam S : I'd say he'd win hands down if ever there was a poll even in Amritsar General Dyer will come a close second ;)

I was not aware aurangzeb banned hindus from riding horses thats quite interesting.

I did not know of this fact Digvijay Singh Kushwaha ji.. I never read his original works, but the book I have mentioned above claims to have take nrefernce from Sircar's books

I have read his History of Jaipur. I'd say it is better to read today's versions as the footnotes clearly state where the author may be taking liberty with the truth to please his patron

How come all of these documents are located in Rajastan when the emperial court was located in Delhi?

Aurungzeb was a fundamentalist taliban type monarch.

Because the imperial court was devastated in Delhi while the various Rajasthani kingdoms on acc of their cordial relations with the mughals have been able to retain them to the present for all those who are interested even today. The Bikaner archives are a treasure trove

Re: ' Adolf Hitler Avenue '... one shouldn't really laugh ~ but still ... On a more serious note ~ perhaps the existence of "Aurangzeb Road" is offensive to some (if not many) but as Mr Dessai points out above ... History should never be edited, expunged, revised, rewritten etc.etc. in order to satisfy the requirements of a contemporary, 'politically correct' agenda... As one who observes India from on far, I must be honest, and point out that the tendency to alter and/or 'muck-about' with history is very palpable on the sub-continent ~ in the classroom, in the media and within academia... this is a disconcerting trend to say the least...

nascent democracy that is as yet not ripe Julian.These things take time. It took Europe the deadly Inquisition, crusades (even led by the pope of the day) and book burning before it was able to evolve to " I may not agree to what you have to say but shall defend unto death your right to say so" ~ Voltaire

Yes, I would entirely agree with you Digvijay (as we discussed on another thread on another occasion)... One of the enduring fascinations (one among many) that India holds for scholars in the West is that she is still ' a work in progress ' (if you will pardon the expression... her patriotic narrative is still being defined...

actually no we mature as a nation this will dilute into a more rationalistic approach. It was required at one time to unite us into a nation given that this is the world's most plural societies. It is with time that a nation's psyche matures to " Patriotism is your belief that your nation is the greatest just because you were born in it" ~ Mark Twain or was it George Bernard Shaw ?.

... Can't help you there ~ dont' recognise the quote - but it is rather apt - we are all comfortable with the familiar are we not ? European nations (by and large) have long-standing identies, long-standing polities etc.etc. India's cultural/ philosphical, religious traditions are of course ancient, but as a modern ' state ' she is a relative newcomer... Secular democracy is not that long-established even in the West ~ hence the constant tinkering with constitutional practise ~ there is no exact template to follow ~ and so it will be interesting to observe how national identity in India ' evolves ' over the coming century as she takes on a wider role upon, and casts a greater influence across, the global stage... a stage thats original limits and boundaries are being constantly abrogtaed by new technologies...

it never ceases to amaze me that one of the meanings of catholic is also 'liberal' given the havoc they unleashed in the new world obliterating entire cultures and civilisations. Yes it is a wonder that India has been able to stay togather despite such diversity among its peoples. Fancy our currency note has 15 languages on it ! We are at quite a critical juncture in the next general elections as it will decide whether we shall remain secular or be headed by someone with acutely less than secular credentials in his various assignments thus far. For teh first time in human history there shall be countries that will be both partially developed and as yet developing while they shall be hailed as world powers

... Quite ... India is often spoken of as an 'emerging superpower' (as is China) ... but I'm not convinced that any nation can be described as a 'superpower' when four hundred million of her citizens live at or below subsistence level... Funny old world eh ? ...

Great to listen,,something unislamic was put down...

The 'superpower' business is a fond myth - like so many other myths we are fond of. A palliative, a placebo, a mildly comforting delusion - if that.

yes but those are the signs of the times Julian. China is emerging as the greatest economic and military power in absence of a judiciary, legislature , executive , the fourth estate or even what is called a MRP !(min retail price)

cannot believe someone can have a FB name Dajjal ????

Yes ~ China is something of an anomoly... The Chinese rise to ' superpower' status has many nervous observers in the West because of her position on human rights and democracy ~ but who is to say, as history continues to unfold that the ' democratic ' model is the best example to follow ? To paraphrase Churchill " Democracy is the best form of government from amongst many other less worthy contenders ~ but it is far from perfect" (something along those lines)... Although China seems to be cresting the wave of development ~ living standards for the average citizen of China are much, much lower than those in the West... as is the case in India... both nations still have some distance (another century or two) to travel.

@Digvijay, could you elaborate why you would find it offensive to have a street named after Aurangzeb? Most of our sensibilities about the man are fed by the same textbooks that you condemn. If you claim that they render a biased, twisted picture of our history, should it not behoove us to inquire a little more into historical personalities before dismissing them? For all the vile literature that is supposed to expose Aurangzeb, let it also be known that he was the one who did not govern under pretensions of divine sovereignty but by neutral religious law. He banned Sati, included more Hindus in his army than even Akbar and waived the Jizya during famine and wars. The idea of him systemically torturing Hindus who refused to pay the tax is suspicious, especially since it accounted only for 4 percent of imperial revenue. Merely imposing and collecting these taxes was tedious enough, let alone punishing the offenders. A large sections of Brahmins, women, children and invalids were exempted. Moreover, the Muslims too were taxed by the state to enforce charity (Zakat). Let us focus on what the Hindu rulers have done to our society, locking each other in internecine wars against all the teachings of its wisest men, giving rise to one of the most materialistic of cultures in a land that preached renunciation. History is too important to be let to the historians. Your idea of coming to terms with it, while sounding noble, would be hard unless facts are presented in context. To end with one example, all of us have seen Eddie Adams' photograph of a Viet-Cong being shot point-blank. Ngoc Loan had to live with that picture for the rest of his life. Our sympathy for the victim and rage against the official would be tempered when it is known that the former - among a team - had allegedly kidnapped an entire family of a police officer from the South for execution. Presenting facts - paintings, literature, folktales - is relatively easy. Understanding what led to them is difficult. So, who do you trust to make it fair? I would thus request you forego the act of claiming moral high ground by rehashing biased opinions of the past.

Interesting observation by Churchill .

"Farhans"? if the idiot authors can't tell the difference between "farman" and "farhan" they should give up any pretence at telling history and jump straight to biased propaganda!

D.S.K ~ the exact quote as follows ~ " Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

Yes it is quite succinct an observation.I maintain that vox populi ( the bedtrock of popular democracy) is not necessarily the right course of action as the voice of the minority (not community but of a few which may be the voice of reason) shall always be disregarded or shouted down in this system of govt hence an upper house of nominated representatives is esential.

@Julian, I'm not sure what you mean when you say that Western powers are suspicious of China's record on human rights and democracy. The West has had a worse record of it, at least from the 17th century. They might design a neat, sanitized world for themselves but at the cost of others. Their religious oppression of the previous centuries might have withered, only to make way for market fundamentalism. Saying that the West stands of freedom and democracy is like saying the demon stands for virility and strength. True, but for one's own means.

The above chain of comments have been very interesting. But why this sudden hatred for roads named after Aurangzeb and Hitler. In one line we preach 'peace with the past' and then in the very next detest the very mention of an individual who most believe as tyrant. Our knowledge of such tyrants have been passed down the years based on writings and not much on research. Surely, Aurangzeb and Hitler have contributed to society too.Autobahn,U-bahn, Volkswagen, anti-smoking campaign, banning animal vivisection, excellent work conditions in factories, his lebensraum policy (unfortunately it got associated with the elimination of the Jews) towards world domination, an agricultural surplus nation for the first time, were some of Hitler's contribution.A good portion of the the accepted legacy of German big business were established during the days of the Third reich. Racism was not a part of Lebensraum, it was the historians who gave it a racist expansion. Other nations did nothing when the nazis started the anti-semitism operaions. The embassies in Germany turned a blind eye in general. Britain was quite comfartable with Germany. Since Hitler had decided to abandon Germany's naval power, trade and colonial ambitions, he believed that they would be likely to ally with Germany against France, which still maintained conflicting interests with Britain. And because Russia threatened British interests in Middle Eastern oil and India, action against Russia ought to also find German and Britain on the same side.

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." - attributed to Churchill.

>> Patriotism is your belief that your nation is the greatest just because you were born in it For us Dharmics, that would be a perfectly valid argument.

If the Treaty of Versailles was the reason for Hitler's rise to power, then other nations were responsible for the Holocaust too. Which nation would take a harsh treaty lying down? What gave the other nations the right to put on Germany the "War Guilt Clause" in the treaty?

Re: " Saying that the West stands of freedom and democracy is like saying the demon stands for virility and strength." Mr Kolar ~ I'm afraid that you have rather missed the point that I was endevouring to make in my comment above ,viz ~ " but who is to say, as history continues to unfold that the [ Western] ' democratic ' model is the best example to follow ?" Perhaps I was not making myself perfectly clear... ... etc & etc ...

Everybody knows Aurangzeb was a tyrant and a bigot. At the same time, Mr. Gautier goes too far in demonizing him. Maybe this is because he has a foundation now whose sole business is to promote hate of Aurangzeb and worship of Shivaji. Not too long ago, just last month, Mr. Gautier was advocating a Fatwa type religious commandment system for Hindus which would be enforceable by awarding punishments to non-compliers.

If Aurangzeb hated the Hindus, he hated their practices too. Not many know that sati was banned during his time by way of firman. His reign was marked by way of persecution of his opponents , be they Hindu or Muslims. The noblemen in his Courts were mostly Hindus. He also had preferences for rajputs and marathas as generals for his deccan charge. The image of Aurangzeb as an idol-breaker and destroyer of temples is widespread. But, perhaps it has never been explained that he hardly destroyed a temple in the Deccan. In addition, historians overlook the fact that like his predecessors, he continued to confer land grants (jagirs) upon Hindu temples. The Someshwar Nath in Allahabad,Shiva temple in Benaras, Umanand temple in Gauhati, and numerous others were given land grants by the emperor.

@ Mr. Shashi Kolar Using 17th century history to justify your argument with respect to the 20th & 21st century. I fail to see the logic in it.

Re: " ... the Treaty of Versailles was the reason for Hitler's rise to power" ... Well, yes and no, Arindam ~ that misguided and unduly punitive treaty was certainly a factor in the ultra-Nationalists rise to power in Germany ~ one factor amongst many others (massive unemployment, hyper inflation, power politics etc.etc). The situation in Europe between the two world wars was complex ~ but then human society always has been... such is the interconnected nature of the fabric of history... but I fear that we might be drifting at some distance from the theme of this post ...

@Achintya, if one assumes that each century does not begin with a clean slate but carries all the baggage of the preceding ones, perhaps it would begin to make sense.

However, you have to make sure that you are translating the works correctly, in the manner in which it was supposed to be understood, in the manner if the times when they were written. Also, the context in which those works were written need to be properly understood. Are you sure you can do that?

Shashi Kolar: “Digvijay, could you elaborate why you would find it offensive to have a street named after Aurangzeb?” ~ That man got his brother and heir apparent murdered and blinded (who was probably the best emperor India never had) in the war of succession .He had got his father imprisoned where he eventually died in captivity. Statues of hugely popular Hindu deities had to be shifted from Vrindavan to Jaipur ( Govind Devji ) and Nathdwara ( Srinathji) and that too clandestinely. He got the sons the last Sikh Guru killed. The nawab of Malerkotla who protested on the grounds that” your conflict is with Gobind Singh and not his son” had to earn his ire. On account of the protest by the nawab not a single Muslim was killed in Malerkotla in the post partition mayhem in which western Punjab was left bereft of Hindus and the eastern with most Muslims. Didn’t he get Shivaji’s son blinded too ? He got chased the young prince of Jodhpur Ajit Singh and the faithful regent Durgadas Rathore with an intent to get the prince to convert and so also his mother. She was the widow of the Raja of Jodhpur Jaswant Singh who had served him loyally. There are terrible stories of forced conversion that emanate from Punjab. There are scores of temples whose destruction is attributed to him. In absence of historical evidence it is however impossible to establish the same. For this purpose only facts ought to be investigated and presented to us all. For the aforementioned reasons I am un-comfortable about naming a prominent street in this secular country's capital after him. “Most of our sensibilities about the man are fed by the same textbooks that you condemn. If you claim that they render a biased, twisted picture of our history, should it not behoove us to inquire a little more into historical personalities before dismissing them?” I condemn those books for they tell half-truths and not truths per se as half truths are way more dangerous. Nobody is dismissing him ??? “……not govern under pretensions of divine sovereignty but by neutral religious law” ……Oh yes he did. Babur had got the Kuthba recited in his name and the Gurkaniya dynasty ( as the mughals referred to themselves Gurkan meaning the son in law of the Genghis Khan) broke away from the prevailing norms of Sunni Islam as they did not remain sultans (one who rules in the name of the caliph) . The Mughals were thus emperors while the rest of the sunni dynasties from Gibralter to Brunei have been sultans. He turned a philistine in the latter part of his rule as there are evidences of his advancing grants to Hindu temples in the initial period of his reign. The Mughal empire which had by his reign become one the greatest the world has ever seen had attracted the best talent from afar. These artisans were forced to seek refuge in provincial Rajput kingdoms of Rajasthan and Punjab as he began chasing them away. His court had become dominated by overzealous muslims ulema. Maybe it is pertinent to investigate that on acc of constant battles in the Deccan which had bled the state coffers dry necessitated the re-imposition of Jeziah ? Nobody cares to think that if proselytisation had been the instrument of state policy it was in Mughal interest to let people remain Hindu as more Hindus meant more jeziah. Wasn't jeziah the price you had to pay to ensure your safety during the pilgrimage from getting waylaid as most of this country was a dense forest back then with brigands. As for getting more non-Muslims into his nobility : 135 of the 525 of his premier nobility were Hindu .It was a smart move to govern. AS I have repeatedly stated on this forum that the Hindu-Muslim binary/ dynamics as it prevails today was not true back then as the Muslim ruling elite was not even 3 % of this country's population. Most soldiers were soldiers of fortune ( mercenaries) . “……….the Muslims too were taxed by the state to enforce charity (Zakat).” Zakat is one of the five cannons of Islam along with Shahada/ Tawheed, Saum , Salat and Hajj .surely it cannot be imposed from without much less can a Muslim state make that taxation arbitrary. “…………………..on what the Hindu rulers have done to our society, locking each other in internecine wars against all the teachings of its wisest men, giving rise to one of the most materialistic of cultures in a land that preached renunciation.” In times when agriculture was the backbone of the economy - the only means of increasing your revenue substantially and for the prosperity of your subjects was annexing territories. To engage in battle is raj-dharma for good ness sake . There was no concept of India as such back then so Jodhpur attacking Jaipur much as it may sound absurd today was perfectly in tune with the times. “……………….presenting facts - paintings, literature, folktales - is relatively easy. Understanding what led to them is difficult. So, who do you trust to make it fair? Historical evidence based on firmans, arc

Whats this great itch to whitewash Auranzeb people. He was a self confessed Jihadi and Gazhi -- its your problem if you find it offensive. For him it was a matter of pride.

Arindam Sen should try is nice fundaes some time in Israel, I would really look forward to his experiments. :-)

Satyakam S: The cardinal mistake again ? Arindam has a right to his opinion which has no bearing on whether they can be implemented in a given geography ( much less under a repressive regime in west asia)

Well Digvijay has the right to his opinion, and I the right of opinion on his opinion. Meanwhile the whole problem is that Arindam Sen is getting bothered about others opinion. But yes, I really wish he would share the nonsense he has been spouting when there were Jews present -- Its loo late here for me to tell him what they would have told him :-) Meanwhile more power to F Gautier. he rocks.

Agree about F Gautier.He got our goat :)

D.S.K ~ your lengthy remarks above must constitute the most extensive rebuttal that I have ever come across on a Facebook post ~ ha ha... More often than not, when one is accused by somebody else ( or by a group of individuals) who points a finger and says " you have occupied the moral high ground", they are usually sermonising from a similar lofty mountain-top ~ it is unavoidable...

Yup I feel i got carried away. Most of it was not worth my while. maybe I ought to hold my horses

In retospect Julian and Satyakam: I feel that an answer like "if you are happy about naming a street in the national capital region after a medieval emperor who engaged in fratricide and acts tantamount to patricide and destruction of scores of temples and forced conversion be my guest !" would be more befitting. Hell whenl will i learn precis writing :(

[ Laughs etc] ... Well your second rebuttal is certainly a little bit more direct, if considerably less informative... Out of interest : when was ' Aurangzeb Road ' given that name, and by whom ?

I think during the Raj. For I cannot think that happening even during Nehru's times. Albiet an atheist but he was a historian and scholar/ orator par excellence

.... Ah [ rolls eyeballs to the heavens etc] you could always trust some well-meaning if slightly naive British colonial functionary to manufacture a monumental controversy over something as straight-forward and essentially non-offensive as the naming of a road ...!

it ain't no controversy or else it would'nt have survived the tsunami of changing names that the country's politicians have begun to resort to what with the re-christening of three presidency towns while teh plaque proclaiming Aurangzeb Road stands proudly in NCR exhibiting the name in English, Hindi and Urdu ! :)

@ Mr. Kolar A slate is cleaned when you put the past behind you and move on. At least that is what I read or hear in every single book or video on Vedanta which is my passion. The West has put its past behind itself by that measure or so I believe.

@ Mr. Satyakam Sudershan Why should Mr. Arindam Sen go and preach his ideas in the land of the Jews? Most of them may not listen to him just because he is not a Jew but a Gentile- the Jewish version of a Kafir. The Middle East is a violent place not just because of the Arabs.

Re: " tsunami of changing names" Oh, don't get me started on that ! Far be it for me as an Englishman to criticise decisions made by the government of India ~ but ~ the name changing epidemic that has swept across the subcontinent in recent times must surely be counted as one of the most crass acts of politically motivated philistinism to have ever graced the surface of the Earth... On which note : There once was an old man from Simla Who returned, to find it called 'Shimla' He said "Who's to blame, for changing the name ? It's a shame, even though it sounds similar!"

Achintya: can Gentile be understood to be a name by which every non-jew can be called?

Arindam ~ Re: " Surely, Aurangzeb and Hitler have contributed to society too." Can't say that I agree with your remarks further up the page, Arindam ~ while I take your point that history is a matter of perspective and proportion ~ this does rather read like a defence of the Third Reich ~ a reprehensible regime by any conventional standard. Yes, it is true that Hitler & Co had many devoted supporters ( why else would millions of Germans have been prepared to lay down their lives if this was not otherwise ?) and as you point out, it has been largely post 1945 that the man and his ideology have been ' demonised'... but still...the horrific details that we are aware of now, compared to what people might have not fully understood in the 1930s, utterly negates any other forms of social or economic 'progress' that might have been achieved by the Nazi Party's government, as I'm sure you would concur ? Ultra-nationalism is a creed that is built upon the creation of divisions within any given society and is practised by those who confuse simple bigotry with patriotism... there is nothing wrong with taking pride in our various nations with their distinct heritage and so on, but not to the total exclusion of all other forms of cultural or racial identity, other than one's own. Re" Our knowledge of such tyrants have been passed down the years based on writings and not much on research." I can't speak about Aurnagzeb with any great authority, but as for Hitler ~ I can't think of another historical figure who has been more extensively researced and written upon. Dozens of books are published about some aspect or another of the man, year after year. Regards etc & so on...

While history must be discussed and reinterpreted to reflect the current times, I think Gautier has found a career as a mouth piece for a divisive group in India. Of Aurangzeb’s military elite (1679-1707), 182 of 575 (32%) were Hindus, as more Deccan nobles (Marathas) were added to the nobility. The number of Hindus employed in positions of eminence under Aurangzeb's reign rose from 24.5% in the time of his father Shah Jahan to 33% in the fourth decade of his own rule. Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jaipur was his Commander-in Chief in several wars. These to me say that he was far more complex a personality than that painted by the article. Since my argument is longer, I will continue in a new post.

Aurangzeb was the most powerful of all the Emperors of the Subcontinent, and, at the same time, the ablest administrator that the Empire had ever known–he ruled for 50 years and died in his bed at the age of 89. In his reign the house of Timur attained its zenith. The wild Pathans of Kabul were temporarily tamed; the Shah of Persia sought his friendship; the ancient Muslim powers of Golconda and Bijapur were subdued, and their territories rendered subordinate to the sway of the Empire; and, if the strength of the Marathas lay gathered upon the Western Ghats like a cloud risen from the sea, yet it was not to be anticipated that a band of such marauders could long resist the might of the great Mughal. The weaknesses of Mughal policy, however, were showing by the time of this 6th successor. Shah Jahan's sons Dara Shukoh and Aurangzeb were kept hostage in Jehangir’s court after his rebellion against his father. While Dara Shikoh became the favorite of the Rajput faction, Aurangzeb was courted by the Islamic theologists, whose career was imperiled by Dara Shikoh’s sponsorship of translations of many Upanishads into Persian, especially by his work, Majma-ul-Bahrain (The Mingling of the Two Oceans) which opined that the message of these texts was similar, in essence, as the Prophet’s in Arabic. Shah Jahan’s mother was a Rajput as were both of his grandmothers. Aurangzeb’s defeat of his three brothers, including Dara Shikoh, caused a deep political split in the empire, since many supported Dara. Had he been less anxious to stamp his own image and superscription upon the palaces of princes and the temples of priests; upon the moneys of every market, and upon every human heart and conscience; he might have governed with as much success as his free thinking and pleasure-seeking predecessors. But he was the Louis Quatorze (XIV) of India; with less of pomp than his European contemporary, but not less of the lust of conquest, of centralization, and of religious conformity. Though each monarch identified the State with himself, yet it may be doubted if either, on his deathbed, knew that his monarchy was dying also. But so it was that to each succeeded that gradual but complete cataclysm which seems the inevitable consequence of the system which each pursued. When he died, there were numerous forces ready to challenge a less experienced and strong emperor. The prize was no less than the possession of the whole peninsula, estimated to have yielded a yearly revenue of the nominal value of thirty-four millions of pounds sterling, and guarded by a veteran army of five hundred thousand men.

DSK, Julian Craig: European nation states were built around single ethnicity/language. India, with 22 official languages, is trying a new experiment in this age of global communications and finance. Should the EU become a US of Europe, we could compare the entity with the Indian situation.

In this thread, there has been widespread criticism of Aurangzeb - some (but not all) of which is justified. Interestingly, there is no mention of the ravages of Shivaji (Aurangzeb's arch enemy) who was, according to its present definition, a dreaded terrorist. While some of the readers are objecting to the name "Aurangzeb Road" in New Delhi, there are numerous statues of Sivaji all over the country, many roads and institutions are named after him. I hear, a huge multi-million dollar statue of him is being constructed in the Arabian Sea in Mumbai with so much of poverty around. Should terrorism be glorified?

Aurangzeb also murdered the four sons of Guru Govind Singh, imposed religious tax on non muslims, waged continuous wars within his own empire.Much of his time was taken in quelling rebellion from his own nobles, to finance his many wars he imposed new taxes on all, he inflicted so much misery on Hindus that almost all Hindu kings big and small turned against him, Rohillas plundered Delhi during one of his many absence from Delhi.In short he destroyed the very basis of Mughal empire built by his ancestors with the help of powerful Rajputs.

In a way Hindu fundamentalists of today should be thankful to him for saving the religion from sure extinction had Dara Shikoh a Sufi and extremely popular among the general population ascended the Mughal throne he would have succeeded in converting a majority into the Islamic faith. It should be noted that Sufism played a major role in the spread of Islam through Persia,India,Indonesia and Malaysia.

That is an interesting perspective Rajesh Jaiswal: Indeed Sufism is the primary reason to which conversion can be attributed in the sub-continent and not the now cliched "threat of Aurangzeb's sword" as is the popularly held misconception.

Qamar" .................Should the EU become a US of Europe" ? Indeed India was the role model for the EU. It is most certainly not a country but a continent that operates like one :)

No matter what so ever...I don't like him.

@ Digvijay Sufism played a major role in the spread of Islam but at the same time a lot of conversions were also due to greed and threat of force, all of it well documented. My point was Dara Shikoh would have been more successful in accelerating the process.

Digvijay Singh Kushwaha : That was an interesting explanation for your 'hatred', Diggy boy ! :) Mr. Asad Ahmed has a point there with Shivaji. Jasvant Singh, the Raj of Marwar, flirted with destiny by switching allegiance between Dara and Aurangzeb. Would he be a traitor/turncoat ? Moving further back in time --- a certain Mauryan Emperor fought a bloodbath with a feudal state of Kalinga, apparently for no reason. Would you support changing the names of streets, colonies, commercial buildings, estates, dams, etc named after him? No, you would like to remember for all the good deeds performed by Ashoka post Kalinga period. Everything is fair during wartime. A dynasty or the character of an individual should not be appraised on the basis of his deed in the battlefield, but off it. Similarly, if some streets have been named after tyrants, by the Raj as you say,surely there must have been some purpose. That is my point. Digvijay and Julian, my earlier post should not be 'read like a defence of the Third Reich ~ a reprehensible regime by any conventional standard'. I was highlighting the high points of that regime - period (no justification of the Holocaust). And yes,during a visit, did discuss with many Jews (i did not preach publicly as some suggested) , but they have moved on. I was informed that Israel and Germany are friends in high places with booming trade in military (including nuclear) and business.(What a shame, that because of some sections of society, we still choose the nations to trade with). Let Aurangzeb be remembered as a tyrant in most minds, no objections. But let that street also be there bearing his name. It will generate curiosity in others to reflect on his few good deeds, if not some.

great posting! thanks.

DSK : It is post 1947 that we are a nation.

This the best part of RBSI we get so many and such diverse perspectives. Bravo Subbiah. Shivaji a terrorist, Aurangzeb a not so wily emperor, Dara a sufi who could have led to greater islamisation of the subcontinent than previously understood, Good stuff which can be attributed to Adolf Hitler there is much that one gets to learn. And Arindam Sen I agree maybe we should let that street name remain .Aurangzeb was after all the most powerful emperor that India ever had , her longest reigning monarch and the one who held the largest portions of the subcontinent under his rule. That we like to remember Ashoka for his good deeds and his change of heart after the battle of Kalinga is a case in point. Au contraire Aurangzeb turned a philistine in the latter part of his reign. In the same vein the nation likes to remember the toothless (without dentures) image of Mohandas K Gandhi and not as a successful barrister in western clothing with protruding ears (which made Sarojini Naidu call him Mickey Mouse) because of what he became afterwards and his invaluable contribution in our freedom struggle

May I know who were the Meer Munshi, Katib, Guardians of the royal treasures during Mughal Period --------There was All Hindus... If Aurangzeb was so ferocious a communalist, why is it, some historians have asked, that the number of Hindus employed in positions of eminence under Aurangzeb's reign rose from 24.5% in the time of his father Shah Jahan to 33% in the fourth decade of his own rule? The image of Aurangzeb as an idol-breaker may not withstand scrutiny, since there is evidence to show that, like his predecessors, he continued to confer land grants (jagirs) upon Hindu temples, such as the Someshwar Nath Mahadev temple in Allahabad, Jangum Badi Shiva temple in Banaras, Umanand temple in Gauhati, and numerous others. On the other hand, one might argue, if Akbar was so dedicated to the principle of religious harmony, why is it that none of the Mughal princesses were ever allowed to marry into Rajput households No one should accuse Aurangzeb of being communal minded. In his administration, the state policy was formulated by Hindus. Two Hindus held the highest position in the State Treasury. Some prejudiced Muslims even questioned the merit of his decision to appoint non-Muslims to such high offices. The Emperor refuted that by stating that he had been following the dictates of the Shariah (Islamic Law) which demands appointing right persons in right positions." During Aurangzeb's long reign of fifty years, many Hindus, notably Jaswant Singh, Raja Rajrup, Kabir Singh, Arghanath Singh, Prem Dev Singh, Dilip Roy, and Rasik Lal Crory, held very high administrative positions. Two of the highest ranked generals in Aurangzeb's administration, Jaswant Singh and Jaya Singh, were Hindus. Other notable Hindu generals who commanded a garrison of two to five thousand soldiers were Raja Vim Singh of Udaypur, Indra Singh, Achalaji and Arjuji. One wonders if Aurangzeb was hostile to Hindus, why would he position all these Hindus to high positions of authority, especially in the military, who could have mutinied against him and removed him from his throne? Emperor Akbar had fourteen Hindu Mansabdars (high officials) in his court, Aurangzeb actually had 148 Hindu high officials in his court. (Ref: Mughal Government) But this fact is somewhat less known. Interestingly, the 1946 edition of the history textbook Etihash Parichaya (Introduction to History) used in Bengal for the 5th and 6th graders states: "If Aurangzeb had the intention of demolishing temples to make way for mosques, there would not have been a single temple standing erect in India. On the contrary, Aurangzeb donated huge estates for use as Temple sites and support thereof in Benares, Kashmir and elsewhere. The official documentations for these land grants are still extant." It should be pointed out here that zakat (2.5% of savings) and ‘ushr (10% of agricultural products) were collected from all Muslims, who owned some wealth (beyond a certain minimum, called nisab). They also paid sadaqah, fitrah, and khums. None of these were collected from any non-Muslim. As a matter of fact, the per capita collection from Muslims was several fold that of non-Muslims. Further to Auranzeb's credit is his abolition of a lot of taxes, although this fact is not usually mentioned. In his book Mughal Administration, Sir Jadunath Sarkar, foremost historian on the Mughal dynasty, mentions that during Aurangzeb's reign in power, nearly sixty-five types of taxes were abolished, which resulted in a yearly revenue loss of fifty million rupees from the state treasury.

All those who are swearing by Indian historians here, please read about the Indian historians first - how many of them sold out to Indira Gandhi and leftist agenda of demeaning Indian history. One such book for your kind attention - The Eminent Historians by Arun Shourie. Also note that muslim attacks on India started in 712 AD but muslim 'rule' took another 480 years to establish, when Prithviraj Chauhan lost the battle in 1192 AD. And yes, muslim rule started shrinking 1707 onward and it was the Maratha confederacy and Sikh rulers, from whom the British won India. So muslim rule India, by any stretch of imagination, cannot be extended beyond 350 to 520 years. And interestingly, all of them were bigots (except Razia Sultan, Shershah Suri, and Gyasuddin Balban).

dara shikoh on the other hand was not a military genius, aurangzeb proved his valour from the time of shahjahan when he was made the governor of deccan, he showed his expertise...dara shikoh never had such huge conquests....! and yes, aurangzeb was not at all communal, but yes he was strict but equally to both, muslims and hindus.

A military genius surely will not start many wars all at the same time, this is a recipe for disaster,also fighting senseless wars where diplomacy might have sufficed is also not what a good general would do. Aurangzeb was a big disaster in that sense his numerous wars at times with people who at one time supported him started the rot in the Mughal empire leading to its ultimate demise. Nor was he an able administrator his long absence from delhi on one of his wars also encouraged the Rohillas to ransack and plunder Delhi which further emboldened many of his secret enemies to come out in the open against him,surely not a sign of military genius.

DSK : Re “Statues of hugely popular Hindu deities had to be shifted from Vrindavan to Jaipur ( Govind Devji ) and Nathdwara ( Srinathji) and that too clandestinely”… were these temples in Vrindavan finally destroyed or the shifting was a precautionary measure? Why did the muslim rulers pick and choose the temples they destroyed? In 500 years of reign they could have flattened all temples in their empire? Why were the ones in Deccan, Rajput and Marathas' empire spared? I may be wrong, but is it that these destroyed temples were already in ruin and not in use? literary evidence of temple destruction does not answer if they were in use, except some. Th Kashi Vishwanath temple was of course in use, but some temples were destroyed for alleged malpractices within the premises, as reported by historians. It is recorded that the Jain temples destroyed by Qutubuddin Aibak around the Qutub Minar, were in ruins. The temples in use were spared. Nevertheless, before I am ostracised by the community, such acts of desecration (ruins or no ruins) are condemnable.

>> Sufism played a major role in the spread of Islam Actually no that is untrue, Sufis were like missionaries who travelled with the train of Ghazi's picking up pices in the wake. When people would resist, they would often call back the Gazhi's for necessary pacificiation. The only difference between Sufi's and Ghazis was that Sufi's did the literal conversion, i.e. read the word, where as the Ghazi's did the physical work, i.e. forced people to be in a situation where the work was read. That is all.

There was only one voice of protest raised in the whole of Hindustan against Aurangzeb when he decided to impose Jiziya tax..That voice was of Shivaji.No rajput or Bundela kings raised there voice in protest against this unjust tax.Here is the English translation of a letter written by Shivaji in Farsi to Aurangzeb.The translation is from Sir Jadunath SArkar's book History of Aurangzeb. THe letter says "To the Emperor Alamgir - "This firm and constant well-wisher Shivaji, after rendering thanks for the grace of God and the favours of the Emperor - which are clearer than the Sun, - begs to inform Your Majesty that, although this well-wisher was led by his adverse Fate to come away from your August Presence (at Agra) without taking leave, yet he is ever ready to perform, to the fullest extent possible and proper, everything that duty as a servant and gratitude demand of him. My excellent services and devotion to the welfare of the (Mughal) State are fully known to the Princes, Khans, Amirs, Rajas and the Rais of India, to the rulers of Persia, Central Asia, Turkey and Syria, to the inhabitants of the seven climes of the globe, and to wayfarers on land and sea; and very likely their light has flashed on your Majesty's capacious mind. So, with a view to rendering good service and earning the Imperial favour, I submit the following words in a spirit of devotion to the public welfare. It has recently come to my ears that, on the ground of the war with me having exhausted your wealth and emptied the imperial treasury, Your Majesty has ordered that money under the name of Jaziya should be collected from the Hindus and the Imperial needs supplied with it. May it please your Majesty! that architect of the fabric of (Mughal) empire, [Jalal-ud-din] Akbar Padishah, reigned with full power for 52 [lunar] years. He adopted the admirable policy of universal harmony (sulh-i-kul) in relation to all the various sects, such as Christians, Jews, Muslims, Dadu's followers, sky-worshippers (falakia), malakia, materialists (ansaria), atheists (daharia), Brahmans and Jain priests. The aim of this liberal heart was to cherish and protect all the people. So he became famous under the title of the World's spiritual guide 'Jagat Guru'. (A few words in praise of Emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan and regret on Aurangzeb's failure to follow their political system) ….. They, too, had the power of levying the Jaziya; but they did not give place to bigotry in their hearts, as they considered all men, high and low, created by God, to be [living] examples of the nature of diverse creeds and temperaments….. Prosperity is the fruit of one's intentions. Therefore, their wealth and good fortune continued to increase. But in your Majesty's reign, many of the forts and provinces have gone out of your possession, and the rest will soon do so, too, because there will be no slackness on my part in ruining and devastating them. Your peasants are down-trodden; the yield of every village has declined ….. It is a reign in which the army is in a ferment, the merchants complain, the Muslims cry, the Hindus are grilled, most men lack bread at night, and in the day-time inflame their own cheeks by slapping them [in anguish]. How can the royal spirit permit you to add the hardship of the Jaziya to this grievous state of things? The infamy will quickly spread from west to east and become recorded in books of history that the Emperor of Hindustan, coveting the beggar's bowls, takes Jaziya from Brahmans and Jain monks, yogis, sannyasis, bairagis, paupers, mendicants, ruined wretches, and the famine-stricken. "May it please your Majesty! If you believe in the true Divine Book and Word of God (i.e. the Quran) you will find there [that God is styled] Rabb-ul-alamin, the Lord of all men, and not Rabb-ul-Musalmin, the Lord of the Muhammadans only. Verily, Islam and Hinduism are terms of contrast. They are [diverse pigments[ used by the true Divine Painter for blending the colours and filling in the outlines [of His picture of the entire human species]. If it be a mosque the call to prayer is chanted in remembrance of Him. If it be a temple, the bell is rung in yearning for Him only. To show bigotry for any man's creed and practices is equivalent to altering the words of the Holy Book ….. In strict justice the jaziya is not at all lawful ….. Apart from its injustice, this imposition of the Jaziya is an innovation in India and inexpedient ….. I wonder at the strange fidelity of your officers that they neglect to tell you of the true state of things, but cover a blazing fire with straw! May the Sun of your royalty continue to shine above the horizon of greatness!" .

RBSI I am sorry for posting such a lengthy post in this discussion .But I wanted to share the full content of the letter so that the thinking of Shivaji in his own words is understood and then people can form their own opinions.This letter also throws light on the state of affairs prevailing in India during Aurangzeb's rule.

I Agree with Jaiswalji. It is very much foolishness on the part of the General to fight a war when he can negotiate through diplomatic channels. It is also to be noted that due to severity of Islamisation the Moghuls have become week after Aurangazeb.

>> I may be wrong, but is it that these destroyed temples were already in ruin and not in use Not only are you wrong, but you are desperately making stories up. Standard marxist discourse btw. Most Bengali's are also afflicted with it unknowingly. Well to continue -- why did some temples survive? 1) In Akbar's second part of rule, a number of temples which were destroyed were rebuilt, including the ones in Mathura -- 2) Many temples have gone through, destroy, reraise, destroy reraise, as the territory the temples were in passed through the hands of Hindus and Muslims in see saw battles through 1300-1700 period. 3) The number of temples was huge and they were massive -- in many cases the first invader could only cause a small damage they were attacked again and again -- this can be seen currently in Bamiyan Buddha case. 4) All the temples that were destroyed were flourishing temples and especially the flourishing temples were targeted. 5) Some temples in the area ruled by vassal hindu states were spared, with great reluctance. The moment such vassal state would be taken over, the pattern would restart. There is enough to fill many books, assuming you are honestly interested you can start here

>> Shivaji a terrorist, Aurangzeb a not so wily emperor, Dara a sufi who could have led to greater islamisation of the subcontinent than previously understood, Good stuff which can be attributed to Adolf Hitler there is much that one gets to learn I love you Digvijay Singh Kushwaha :-)

I would rather be a marxist than a hindu fundamentalist. voice of dharma is also one such and serves biased opinions. A good read though.

And those comparing Ashok -- please ::Rolls eyes:: At no time in Ashok's war, including at Kalinga, were temples broken, civilians persecuted, inhuman treatement meted out to pouplace yada yada yada. The Kalinga war was bloody -- WAR -- the death and destruction was part of a declared up front war. Cant even beging to compare ::rolls eyes::

@ Arindam Sen most of the marxists in Russia or China are actually nationalists of the kind we see in BJP, its only the Indian marxists who love to run down their own culture and history and perhaps thats why the marxists in India have failed miserably.

For example look at the treatment the Chinese communists mete out to its province of East Turkestan and compare it to our own state of Kashmir.

A Russian communist once told me that Russia was ruled by the Tartars for more than 600 years about the same as Mughals in India, Tartars today are confined to a small state of Tartarstan in central Russia where they all speak Russian while not a single Russian speaks the Tartari Language.

@ Satyakam Sudershan - The influence of the Sufis cannot be ignored consider the number of non Muslims who throng the Dargah at Ajmer seeking blessings. A.R.Rahman the famous musician was born a Hindu converted to Islam under the influence of a Sufi.

Rajesh ji, all the secularism is expected from Hindus only. India is secular becuase the majority population is Hindu and they respect all the religions, which the dirty polititians are exploiting.

>> influence of the Sufis cannot be ignored @Rajesh Jaiswal ji -- yes it can completely be, since we are talking at nation level. A Rahman is the exception that proves the rule. Without sword, sufi's cant work. Period. Those who go to Ajmer do not convert. In fact they make Islam -- like Hindusim. (Such heretic Hindu like practices are being removed from Islam in Pakistan for example) Stand alone, without force, Hinduism will overwhelm them, effortlessly. :-)