Temple Destruction by Arangzeb (Proof Documents)

April 9, 2009
Exhibit No. 6: Keshava Rai Temple. “Even to look at a temple is a sin for a Musalman”, Aurangzeb. Umurat-i-Hazur Kishwar-Kashai Julus (R.Yr.) 9, Rabi II 24 / 13 October 1666.

‘It was reported to the Emperor (Aurangzeb) that in the temple of Keshava Rai at Mathura, there is a stone railing presented by Bishukoh (one without dignity i.e. Prince Dara, Aurangzeb’s elder brother). On hearing of it, the Emperor observed, “In the religion of the Musalmans it is improper even to look at a temple and this Bishukoh has installed this kathra (barrier railing). Such an act is totally unbecoming of a Musalman. This railing should be removed (forthwith)”. His Majesty ordered Abdun Nabi Khan to go and remove the kathra, which is in the middle of the temple. The Khan went and removed it. After doing it he had audience. He informed that the idol of Keshava Rai is in the inner chamber. The railing presented by Dara was in front of the chamber and that, formerly, it was of wood. Inside the kathra used to stand the sevakas of the shrine (pujaris etc.) and outside it stood the people (khalq)’.

Note:

Aurangzeb’s solemn observation recorded in his own Court’s bulletin that “In the religion of the Musalmans it is improper even to look at a temple” and therefore, presentation of a stone railing to Keshava Rai temple by Dara was “totally unbecoming of a Musalman” casts serious doubts about a few instances of religious toleration and temple grants attributed to him. Only two years before his long awaited death, he had ordered (1st January 1705) to “demolish the temple of Pandharpur and to take the butchers of the camp there and slaughter cows in the temple … It was done”. Akhbarat, 49-7, cited in J.N. Sarkar, Aurangzeb, Vol.III, 189).

Exhibit No. 7: Demolition of Kalka’s Temple – I. Siyah Waqa’i- Darbar Regnal Year 10, Rabi I, 23 / 3 September 1667.

“The asylum of Shariat (Shariat Panah) Qazi Abdul Muqaram has sent this arzi to the sublime Court: a man known to him told him that the Hindus gather in large numbers at Kalka’s temple near Barahapule (near Delhi); a large crowd of the Hindus is seen here. Likewise, large crowds are seen at (the mazars) of Khwaja Muinuddin, Shah Madar and Salar Masud Ghazi. This amounts to bid‘at (heresy) and deserves consideration. Whatever orders are required should be issued.

Saiyid Faulad Khan was thereupon ordered (by the Emperor) to send one hundred beldars to demolish the Kalka temple and other temples in its neighbourhood which were in the Faujdari of the Khan himself; these men were to reach there post haste, and finish the work without a halt”.

Note:

Kalkaji’s temple which stands today was rebuilt soon after Aurangzeb’s death (1707 A.D.) on the remains of the old temple dedicated to Goddess Kali. The two Akhbarat dated R.Yr. 10, Rabi I, 23 and Rabi II, 3 (Sept.3 and Sept. 12, 1667) provide details regarding the demolition of the temple on Aurangzeb’s orders. Since 1764, the temple has been renovated and altered several times but the main 18th century structure more or less remains the same. The site is very old dating back to Emperor Asoka’s time (3rd century B.C.). There is mention of Kalkaji in the Maratha records of 1738. People flock to the temple in large numbers especially during Navratras.

Exhibit No. 8: Demolition of Kalka Temple II. Siyah Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Mu‘alla Julus 10, Rabi II 3 / 12 September 1667.

“Saiyad Faulad Khan reported that in compliance with the orders, beldars were sent to demolish the Kalka temple which task they have done. During the course of the demolition, a Brahmin drew out a sword, killed a bystander and then turned back and attacked the Saiyad also. The Brahmin was arrested”.

Note:

There are only a few recorded instances of armed opposition by outraged Hindus, such as at Goner (near Jaipur), Ujjain, Udaipur and Khandela, but there must have been many more such instances of angry outbursts and resistance against Muslim vandalism which do not find mention in the official papers of Emperor Aurangzeb.

Most of the Hindus took the destruction of these temples philosophically considering these as acts of ignorance and folly for a vain purpose. They regarded that it was beyond the understanding or intelligence of the Musalmans to comprehend the principle behind the idol worship or the fundamental oneness of saguna and nirguna worship. The Hindus believed that the Gods and Goddesses leave for their abode before the hatchet or the hammer of the vile “mlecchas” or “asuras” so much as even touched the idols. The idea has been well described in Kanhadade Prabandha (wr. 1456 A.D.) when giving an account of the destruction of the Somnath temple by Sultan Alauddin’s troops in 1299.

Exhibit No. 9: General Order for the Destruction of Temples. (9th April 1669)

“The Lord Cherisher of the Faith learnt that in the provinces of Thatta, Multan and especially at Benaras, the Brahmin misbelievers used to teach their false books in their established schools, and their admirers and students, both Hindu and Muslim, used to come from great distances to these misguided men in order to acquire their vile learning. His Majesty, eager to establish Islam, issued orders to the governors of all the provinces to demolish the schools and temples of the infidels, and, with the utmost urgency, put down the teaching and the public practice of the religion of these unbelievers”.

Note:

This is not the only instance when Aurangzeb prevented the Muslims from acquiring knowledge and wisdom of the Hindu philosophical works and other Sanskrit and Bhasha classics, or sharing spiritual and intellectual experience, and thus stifled the process of fusion, or at least bridging of the gulf between the two creeds with very different approaches, principles, values, levels of intellectual attainments and period of evolution of ideas. A general order of this type to put down the teaching and public practice of religion by the Hindus was used as a ground to demolish some of the most venerable shrines of India during the next few years, but despite the severe and comprehensive nature of the order, it failed to wrest from Banaras its unique prestige and position as the chief centre of learning of the Vedas, Dharmashastras, the Six Systems of Philosophy, Sanksrit language and literature, and Astronomy.

Exhibit No. 10: General Order for the demolition of Hindu Temples.

On the 9th April 1669, Aurangzeb “eager to establish Islam, issued orders to the governors of all the provinces to demolish the schools and temples of the infidels, and, with the utmost urgency, put down the teaching and the public practice of the religion of these unbelievers (Hindus)” Maasir-i-‘Alamgiri, p.81).

In the sketch, the artist has shown the destruction of the temples of Somanath, Jagannath (Puri), Kashi Vishwanath (Banaras)and Keshava Rai (Mathura), which were all highly venerated shrines, as symbolic of Aurangzeb’s ideal of thorough destruction of Hindu temples. In the centre is a portion of the infamous order of the 9th April issued by him.

Exhibit No. 11: Demolition of the temple of Viswanath (Banaras). August 1669 A.D.

It was reported that, “according to the Emperor’s command, his officers had demolished the temple of Viswanath at Kashi”. (Maasiri-‘ Alamgiri, 88)

Note:

Kashi is one of the mort sacred towns in India and reference to the worship of Shiva as Vishveshvara goes back to very early times. Kashi itself enjoys highest sanctity since times immemorial. According to the Puranas, every foot-step taken in Kashi Kshetra has the sanctity of making a pilgrimage to a tirtha. Lord Vishvanatha is regarded as the protector of Kashi and the belief is that one earns great religious merit by having darshana (view) of the deity after having bathed in the Ganges. After destruction of the temple on Aurangzeb’s orders, a mosque was built which still stands there as a testimony of the great tolerance and spirit of forgiveness of the Hindus even towards those who had for centuries desecrated and destroyed their temples and other places of worship and learning, and also as a lesson that “mutually uncongenial cultures”, when forced by circumstances to intermingle in the same Geographical area, result in such calamities. A portion of the sculpture of the demolished temple, probably built in the late 16th century, still survives to tell the fate of Aurangzeb’s vandalism and barbarity. The present temple of Vishveshvara was built by Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore.

Exhibit No. 12 i

Exhibit No. 12 ii

Exhibit No. 12 iii

Exhibit No. 12 i – ii – iii : “During this month of Ramzan (1080 A.H./January-February 1670) ….. the Emperor ….. The reviver of the Faith of the Prophet issued orders for the demolition of the Dehra of Keshava Rai in Mathura. In a short time the destruction of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished and on its site a lofty mosque was built. ….. the idols large and small of the temple were brought to Agra and buried under the steps of the mosque of Begum Sahib” (Maasir-i- ‘Alamgiri, 95-96).

Exhibit No. 13: Demolition of Keshava Rai temple at Mathura. (13th January – 11th February 1670)

The great temple of Keshava Rai at Mathura was built by Bir Singh Deo Bundela during Jahangir’s time at a cost of thirty-three lakhs of rupees. The Dehra of Keshava Rai was one of the most magnificent temples ever built in India and enjoyed veneration of the Hindus throughout the land. Prince Dara Shukoh, who was looked upon by the masses as the future Emperor, had presented a carved stone railing to the temple which was installed in front of the deity at some distance; the devotees stood outside this railing to have ‘darshan’ of Keshava Rai. The railing was removed on Auranzeb’s orders in October 1666.

The Dehra of Keshava Rai was demolished in the month of Ramzan, 1080 A.H. (13th January – 11th February 1670) by Aurangzeb’s order. “In a short time, by the great exertion of the officers, the destruction of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished and on its site a lofty mosque was built at the expenditure of a large sum”. To the author of Maasir-i-‘Alamigiri, the accomplishment of this “seemingly impossible work was an “instance of the strength of the Emperor’s faith”. Even more disgraceful was transporting the idols to Agra and burying them under the steps of the mosque of the Begum Sahib “in order to be continually trodden upon”.

The painting shows the demolition of the great temple, on Aurngzeb’s orders in progress and subsequent uncivilized conduct towards the idols.

Exhibit No. 14: Demolition of Somnath temple.

About the time the general order for destruction of Hindu temples was issued (9th April 1669), the highly venerated temple of Somanath built on the sea-shore in Kathaiwad was also destroyed. The famous temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva. In the 11th century, the temple was looted and destroyed by Mahmud Ghaznavi. It was rebuilt by King Bhim Deva Solanki of Gujarat and again renovated by Kumarapal in 1143-44 A.D. The temple was again destroyed by Alauddin Khalji’s troops in 1299. In a rare description of the scene of a temple destruction, like of which continued to occur time and again during the long and disastrous rule of the Musalman rulers in India, we have the following account. “The Mlechchha (asura) stone breakers”, writes Padmanabha in his classic work “climbed up the shikhar of the temple and began to rain blows on the stone idols on all three sides by their hammers, the stone pieces falling all around. They loosened every joint of the temple building, and then began to break the different layers (thara) and the sculptured elephants and horses carved on them by incessant blows of their hammers. Then, amidst loud and vulgar clamour, they began to apply force from both the sides to uproot the massive idol by means of wooden beams and iron crowbars” (Kaanhadade Prabandha, Canto I, vss. 94-96).

After the destruction of Somnath temple during Alauddin’s time, it was rebuilt again. When Aurangzeb gave orders for its destruction, the scene must have been little different from the one described by Padmanabha. The artist in his painting has tried to recreate the scene.

Guru Tegh bahadur brutally martyred

April 9, 2009

Souce: Aurangzeb Exhibition FACT INDIA

Exhibit No. 47: Martyrdom of the 9th Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur & his three followers at Chandni Chowk, Delhi. (11th November, 1675)

The martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru, in 1675 is a major event in the Sikh history. It led to the creation of Khalsa in 1699 by his son Guru Gobind Singh; the creation of Khalsa is considered as a watershed in the history of the Sikhs.

Guru Tegh Bahadur was born in 1621 to the sixth Guru Hargovind (1605-45), who was the first to arm the Panth to defend it from the oppressive Mughal rule and to help the weak and the needy. He was followed by Guru Har Rai (1645-61) who incurred displeasure of Aurangzeb for having blessed Dara Shukoh, then passing through Punjab after losing the War of Succession.

Guru Tegh Bahadur accepted the mantle of Guruship in 1664 after the death of the eighth Guru Har Kishan at Delhi. Sooner or later he was bound to invite hostility of Aurangzeb who had summoned the two previous Gurus as if he had the right to arbitrate in the succession for the Guruship. He travelled extensively, spreading his message of hope and courage to the Scattered sangats and encouraging all to bear their tribulations. The surviving hukam-namas show the high regard in which he was held by his followers. In 1669 or so, he accompanied Maharaja Ram Singh of Amber (Mirza Raja Jai Singh’s son) to Assam where he participated in the Mughal campaign. After returning from there he took his residence at Makhowal where in about 1675, he received a deputation of the Brahmins of Kashmir who narrated to him harrowing tales of their oppression and forcible conversion in Kashmir. Gradually Guru Tegh Bahadur was drawn into the whirlwind which Aurangzeb had raised by his policy of temple destruction, conversion and discrimination against the non-Muslims. Along with the temples, Gurudwaras were also razed. Guru Tegh Bahadur, who had all along called upon others to fight against oppression and injustice, and for freedom of conscience, now came out openly against Aurangzeb’s policies and encouraged the resistance of the Hindus of Kashmir against forcible conversion to Islam there by carrying out Guru Nanak’s injunction that “righteous people must defy and resist tyranny”.

Guru Tegh Bahadur was taken to Delhi and cast into prison. After he and his three companions refused to embrace Islam, they were brought to the Chandni Chowk near the Red Fort where his companions were tortured to death in his presence to intimidate him, but on his firm refusal to abjure his faith at any cost, he was beheaded “in a large public spectacle” on 11 November 1675. Guru Tegh Bahadur preferred to give his head but not his honour. The Guru’s martyrdom deeply influenced his son Gobind Singh’s mind and it is believed to be one of the main reasons for his founding the Khalsa in 1699 which made every Sikh a potential warrior against oppression and religious persecution and led to a most dramatic change in the Sikh Panth.

Aurangzeb’s will

April 9, 2009

Source: FACT India Exhibition on Aurangzeb

Exhibit No. 48: Aurangzeb’s Will. The sketch shows Aurangzeb, now about 89 years old, writing his Will. A Khoja (eunuch) is the only one present at some distance.

Aurangzeb’s Will:-

“Praise to be God and blessing on those servants [of Him] who have become sanctified and have given satisfaction [to Him]. I have some [instructions to leave as my] last will and testament:

FIRST – on behalf of this sinner sunk in iniquity [i.e. myself] cover [with an offering of cloth and capital] the holy tomb of Hasan (on him be peace), because those who are drowned in the ocean of sin have no other protection except seeking refuge with that Portal of Mercy and Forgiveness.

SECOND – Four Rupees and two annas, out of the price of the caps sewn by me, are with Aia Bega, the mahaldar. Take the amount and spend it on the shroud of this helpness creature. Three hundred and five Rupees, from the wages of copying the Quran, are in my purse for personal expense. Distribute them to the faqirs on the day of my death.

THIRD – Take the remaining necessaries [of my funeral] from the agent of Prince Alijah; as he is the nearest heir among my sons, and on him lies the responsibility for the lawful or unlawful [practices at my funeral]; this helpless person (i.e. Aurangzeb) is not answerable for them, because the dead are in the hands of the survivors.

FOURTH – Bury this wanderer in the Valley of Deviation from the Right Path with his head bare, because every ruined sinner who is conducted bare-headed before the Grand Emperor (i.e. God), is sure to be an object of mercy.

FIFTH – Cover the top of the coffin on my bier with the coarse white cloth gazi. Avoid the spreading of a canopy and uncanonical innovations like [processions of] musicians and the celebration of the Prophet’s Nativity (maulud)

SIXTH – It is proper for the ruler of the kingdom (i.e. my heir) to treat kindly the helpless servants who in the train of this shameless creature [Aurangzeb] have been roving in the deserts and wilderness [of the Deccan]. Even if any manifest fault is committed by them, give them in return for it gracious forgiveness and benign overlooking [of the fault].

[SEVENTH, EIGHT, NINTH – His assessment of the Irani, Turani, and the Saiyid nobles and his advice how to treat them keeping in mind their qualities and weaknesses.]

TENTH – As far as possible the ruler of a kingdom should not spare himself from moving about; he should avoid staying in one place, which outwardly gives him repose but in effect brings on a thousand calamities and troubles.

ELEVENTH – Never trust your sons, nor treat them during your lifetime in an intimate manner, because, if the Emperor Shah Jahan had not treated Dara Shukoh in this manner, his affairs would not have come to such a sorry pass. Ever keep in view the saying, ‘The words of a king are barren’.

TWELFTH – The main pillar of government is to be well informed in the news of the kingdom. Negligence for a single moment becomes the cause of disgrace for long years. The escape of the wretch Shiva took place through [my] carelessness, and I have to labour hard [against the Marathas] to the end of my life, [as the result of it].

Twelve is blessed [among numbers]. I have concluded with twelve directions. (Verse).

“If you learn [the lesson], a kiss on your wisdom.

If you neglect it, then alas! alas!” Akkam-i-Alamgir, (Eng. Tr. J.N. Sarkar, Text in Ir. Ms. 8b-10a). There is another will of Aurangzeb in India Office Library MS.1344 p.49b (Sarkar, Aurangzeb, Vol.V, 201). Its chief interest lies in the suggested method of partitioning the empire among his three surviving sons.

Aurangzeb, the recent historical play by Rangapat

April 9, 2009
Aurangzeb

Source: Kolkata Mirror

By Saayan Chattopadhyay
Posted On Wednesday, August 27, 2008 at 06:43:26 PM

The volatile political scenario in Indian subcontinent has often provoked a discourse on whether religion may become a primary mainstay of the nation-state. Such notion of desired integrity and coherence of a nation through the anxious binding thread of religion has spawned violence, despotism and death; and it’s not only the recent political turmoil that corroborates it but also history stands as a proof— Aurangzeb, the recent historical play by Rangapat traces its relevance in this religio-political discourse that shape our future, as it formed the past.

Indira Parthasarathi wrote the original play in Tamil, later it was adapted in Bengali by Satya Bhaduri. Mohit Chattopadhyay, inspired by both the plays, reinterpreted the annals of late Mughal period drawing parallel of contemporary political, religious events and depicted the historical Aurangzeb in curious sheds of gray rather than stark black and white.

The dialectics between the notion of a theocratic state and a secular state, in the backdrop of the waning years of the Mughal Empire, engage Aurangzeb and Dara Shikoh in rhetoric of religion, state and governance; while Dara, expectedly remains a harbinger of secularism and tolerance, questioning essentialist interpretations of Islam, as well as Hindu religion. The play traces the transformational journey of self-realisation, which alters Aurangzeb’s concern of building a nation founded on despotic theocratic regime.

The play is centred more on familial rather than war-torn annals of history. Liberal use of Farsi and Arabic phrases lends the play an interesting bygone Mughal milieu. Director, Harimadav Mukhopadhyay, stirred up the right mélange of melodrama and naturalism; although the play seems a little too long, perhaps because of its focus on dialectics rather than the dramatic narratives, expected from a historical play.

The cast comprised of some of the most eminent actors— Debshankar Halder in the role of Aurangazeb, Harimadhav Mukhpadhyay as frail, old Shah Jahan, Bijoylkhshmi Barman as Jahanara and Rita Dutta Choudhury as cunning Roshanara, turn in an admirable performance. Tapanjyoti Das, playing Dara Shikoh deserves special mention for his mellowed yet intense performance.

Aurangazeb is one of the most expensive productions of recent time, and the set design, costume and art direction testify that. Set designed by Sanchayan Ghosh, art direction by veteran artist Samir Aich and costumes designed by Sushanta Pal charmingly recreate the medieval Mughal grandeur. Joy Sen’s light arrangements, along with Dev Choudhury’s music aesthetically commensurate with the changing temper of the narrative; making full use of the elaborate set.

The play confronts us not only with a merciless, fanatical monarch that our history books tell us rather a tragic hero, who initially turns out to be a casualty of his own flawed faith but at the end concedes the obligation of defending a more tolerant, secular and pluralist society.

History as we know it — Dr Manzur Ejaz

April 9, 2009

Source: WATAN DOST
WASHINGTON DIARY: History as we know it — Dr Manzur Ejaz
Daily Times, July 9, 2008

An overhaul of the entire curriculum is a prerequisite for any positive change in the Pakistani psyche. Unfortunately, it is reluctantly being done under US pressure, which is leading to misperceptions of its own

“Was Aurangzeb a brutal emperor?” a fairly educated journalist asked me, after watching the play The Trial of Dara Shikoh. The question was revealing because it shows that the teaching of history leaves with our students concocted fiction rather than fact-based records of the present and past.

The play The Trial of Dara Shikoh written by Akbar S Ahmad and directed by Manjula Kumar had been staged in many locations in the last few weeks. As expected, most of the caste comprised Indian artists except the usual suspects, Noor Naghmi and his son Sultan Naghmi.

Despite much professional criticism of many aspects of the play, the general audience appreciated it very much. The play was also successful in spurring pertinent questions in the minds of the viewers like my journalist friend.

Aurangzeb imprisoned his father, murdered three of his brothers and most of their children. He dumped most of the Indian Shias in Kashmir and, once while he was riding his elephant, crushed a Hindu mob because they were protesting against high taxes. Given these facts, it was up to my friend, I told him, to decide whether Aurangzeb was brutal or not.

“How about the stated history that Aurangzeb used to make his living by producing Qur’anic calligraphy and sewing topis (hats)?” he asked. I remember such a characterisation of Aurangzeb in school textbooks. And if I had not kept educating myself beyond school textbooks that would be the Aurangzeb I would have in my mind.

Elaborating my point I told my friend that Aurangzeb spent most of his time fighting and administering wars and that his favourite wife — mother of his youngest son, Kam Bakhash — was a Hindu woman. Aurangzeb used to vacation in Kashmir often, along with a large harem, according to some historical accounts.

I do not know when he found time to produce calligraphy or sew topis on a scale that could meet the expenses of his palace which was housing hundreds of Mughal princes and princesses besides a large army of concubines and servants/slaves.

Intellectual Talibinisation was initiated from very early on after the creation of Pakistan. A mythical history of Muslims was introduced in textbooks where every ruler, invader and plunderer, was shown in the role of protector and religious crusader.

Starting from Mahmud Ghaznavi, the conqueror of the Somnath Temple, to Nadir and Ahmad Shah Abdali, every invader was presented as the great saviour of Indian Muslims. Three generations of Pakistanis have been indoctrinated with this concocted history to create Islamic chauvinism and to belittle people of other religions.

No wonder most Pakistanis developed a sense of superiority resulting in unnecessary war-mongering. The military elite has been clinging to this false sense of superiority in making wars.

According to Air Marshal Noor Khan, Ayub Khan sent paratroopers in Kashmir because he really believed that one Muslim soldier can overwhelm dozens of infidels. Not learning any lesson from three lost wars, the elite continued naming the missiles after Mahmud Ghaznavi, Muhammad Ghauri, Nadir Shah and sundry.

The fact of the matter is that most of the revered Muslim invaders plundered India to loot. Ghaznavi attacked Somnath because it had the largest gold deposits in India. Hindu Rajas themselves used to attack their religious temples for gold. Hindu mercenaries were part of Ghaznavi’s invading force according to some historians. They joined hand with the Afghan invaders for their share in the booty.

Likewise when Nadir Shah is idealised as a great soldier of Islam no one mentions that he ordered a three-day massacre in Delhi because the locals killed one of his soldiers. The butchering was indiscriminate and ironically, more than half of those murdered were Muslims.

Ahmad Shah Abdali’s story is no different. He invaded India many times, looted the riches and went back to Afghanistan. On one of his trip, he appointed a Hindu as the governor of Lahore. He had no ‘Islamic ideals’ like our fictional history textbooks would have us believe.

Even Mughal emperor Baber did not conquer Hindus but a Muslim dynasty of India to lay the foundations of the Mughal Empire. Guru Nanak, in his Baber Bani, has described how Baber butchered indiscriminately and demolished mosques along with temples of other religions.

But history textbooks used in Pakistan’s educational system never mention these historical facts. They are instead tools for creating fake chauvinism and a false sense of superiority. Therefore, it is not surprising that within 30 years of Pakistan’s creation, religious parties like Jamaat-e Islami had a monopoly over defining the ideology of Pakistan. And this ‘Murder of History’, as KK Aziz would call it, has contributed towards religious fundamentalism and extremism.

On the contrary, the real Muslim intellectuals, the Sufis, who spread Islam in India, have been shunned away by Pakistan’s educational system.

An overhaul of the entire curriculum is a prerequisite for any positive change in the Pakistani psyche. Unfortunately, it is reluctantly being done under US pressure, which is leading to misperceptions of its own. But it has to be done and someone has to do it.

Postscript: Hindu extremists, led by BJP, are following the Pakistani model by substituting history with mythological texts to whip up Hindu chauvinism. This reminds one of the Punjabi proverb that it is more common to pick up your neighbour’s bad habits rather than his good behaviour.

The writer can be reached at manzurejaz@yahoo.com

Book Review: Islamisation of Pakistani Social Studies Textbooks

April 9, 2009

Book Review: Islamisation of Pakistani Social Studies Textbooks

By Yoginder Sikand

26 March, 2009
Countercurrents.org

Book Review:
Name of the Book: Islamisation of Pakistani Social Studies Textbooks
Author: Yvette Claire Roser
Publisher: Rupa & Co
Price Rs. 195
Pages: 109
ISBN: 81-291-0221-8

Contrary to what professional historians might claim, there is really nothing as an objective, unbiased and completely accurate writing of history. After all, not everything, even of significance, of what happened in the past can possibly be included in a text, and history book writers have to pick and choose from past events that they deem fit be recorded. The very process of picking and choosing from the past is determined, among other factors, by the subjective biases of the history writer as well as his or her own social and institutional location. Then, history writing is not simply about narrating the past but also involves a certain element of evaluating it. Here, again, this is strongly determined by the personal biases and preference of the individual historian.

The element of bias is greatly exacerbated when history textbooks are—as they are in almost every country today—commissioned by the state. The state wishes to mould its citizens in a particular way, to make them what it considers as ‘good’ and ‘law-abiding’ citizens, who have completely internalized the underlying logic and ideology of the state. The state, in its capacity of representative of a country’s ruling class, seeks to impose through state-sponsored history texts the hegemonic ideas of this class upon its citizenry. It is thus not surprising that such texts generally parrot the state-centric view of history that seeks to bestow legitimacy on the state and the country’s ruling class and ‘normalise’ their logic and world-view.

This incisive critique of state-sponsored social science textbooks in Pakistan highlights the convoluted politics of historiography and what this means for the production of a ‘social commonsense’ for a state’s citizenry. Although Roser does not say it in so many words, the current turbulent political scenario in Pakistan, in particular the rise of radical Islamist forces in the country, cannot be seen as inseparable from the narrow political agenda that the Pakistani state, ever since its formation, has consistently sought to pursue as is reflected in the social science textbooks that it has commissioned, and through which it has sought to impose its own ideology on its people.

Ross’s study focuses on the textbooks used in Pakistani school for the compulsory subject called ‘Pakistan Studies’, which was introduced in the reign of the American-backed military dictator General Zia ul-Haq in the mid-1970s. Pakistan Studies replaced the teaching of History and Geography, and was moulded in such a fashion as to instill in students an undying and unquestioning loyalty to the official ‘Ideology of Pakistan’ (called the nazariya-e Pakistan, in Urdu). This ideology, questioning which is considered a punishable crime in the country, is based on the far-fetched and completely bankrupt notion of the Muslims and Hindus of the pre-Partition Indian subcontinent as constituting two homogeneous and wholly irreconcilable ‘nations’. (Incidentally, this is the same perverse logic that underlies radical Hindutva in India). It claims that Muslims and Hindus have never been able to live amicably together, that they have always been opposed to each other, that they share nothing in common, and that, hence, it was but natural that Pakistan should come into being for the sake of the Muslims of South Asia.

There are several defining and characteristic features of the Pakistani social science textbooks that Rosser examines. Firstly, as she notes, their extreme anti-Indianism. This is a reflection of the fact that the ‘Ideology of Pakistan’, indeed the very rationale for the creation and continued existence of the state of Pakistan, is premised on the notion of undying and perpetual hatred of and opposition to India. India thus comes to be presented as viscerally opposed to Pakistan and as constituting a mortal threat to its very existence. In this way, a form of Pakistani nationalism is sought to be fostered through the texts that is hyper-chauvinistic, and one that is based on a constant reinforcement of an almost crippling sense of being besieged by what is projected as an ‘evil’ neighbor.

Secondly, and linked to the anti-Indianism that pervades these texts, are the repeated negative and hostile references to the Hindus and their faith. Hinduism is portrayed and projected in wholly negative terms, as if lacking any appreciable elements at all. Its followers are presented in a similarly unflattering way: as allegedly mean and cruel, and constantly scheming against Muslims and their faith. Hindus, like Muslims, thus come to be presented in strikingly stereotypical terms: the former as virulently hostile enemies, and the latter as brave soldiers in the path of God. They are portrayed as two solid, monolithic blocs, and as being without any internal differences whatsoever, of class, class, gender, region, language, political orientation and ethnicity. The only identity that they are projected as possessing is that of religion, which is presented in starkly reified terms that often have little resonance with empirical reality. In the process, the diverse, often contradictory, interpretations, expressions and the lived realities of Islam and Hinduism in South Asia are completely ignored in favour of extreme literalist, ‘orthodox’ and textual understandings. ‘Popular’ religious traditions, such as certain forms of Sufism and Bhakti, that bring people of diverse communal backgrounds together, are totally ignored, because they obviously stridently contradict the claims of the ‘two-nation’ theory.

Thirdly, the textbooks present Pakistani history as synonymous with the history of political conquests by successive Muslim rulers, starting with the Arab commander Muhammad bin Qasim in the mid seventh century. All these invaders and rulers, so the books piously claim, were goaded by a powerful sense of religious mission to establish ‘Islamic’ rule in the region. This alleged religious aspiration of theirs is presented as having finally culminated in the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Contrary to what is popularly known about him, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the ideological founder of Pakistan, is presented as an ‘orthodox’ Muslim, allegedly inspired by the vision of establishing an ‘Islamic’ state run by Muslim clerics—something which was not the case at all. The fact that most of the Muslim rulers and conquerors that these texts lionise might actually have been inspired by less noble motives—to plunder or rule—is, of course, conveniently ignored. Religion—in this case Islam—thus comes to be seen and projected as the sole motor of history, with other factors, such as power and economics, having, at best, only a minor role to play. The history of South Asia before Muhammad bin Qasim is hardly mentioned at all, although it was in what is Pakistan today that the Indus Valley Civilisation flourished, that the invading Aryans composed the Vedas and that Buddhism led to a great flourishing of various arts and sciences.

In other words, every effort is made in the textbooks to present Pakistan as an extension of ‘Muslim’ West Asia, instead of a part of the Indic-dominated South Asia. Not surprisingly, as Rosser observes, the texts single out particular historical figures who are known for their battles against Hindu rulers as heroes, among these the most important being Muhammad bin Qasim, Mamhud Ghaznavi and Aurangzeb. Other Muslim rulers, most notably Akbar, who sought to reconcile Hindus and Muslims and promote a generous ecumenism, are either totally ignored or else reviled as alleged ‘enemies of Islam’. Furthermore, these figures, of both ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’, are isolated from their historical contexts, leading to biography turning into hagiography or demonology, as the case might be, in order to serve the agenda of the advocates of the ‘two nation’ theory.

The same holds true in the texts’ depictions of certain key Muslim religious figures. Thus, ‘orthodox’ ulema or Islamic clerics who stressed the claim of the inferiority of the Hindus and advised Muslim rulers to take harsh measures against them are hailed as heroes of Islam, while others, including many Sufis, who sought to preach love and tolerance between Muslims and others and preached an ethical monotheism transcending narrowly-inscribed boundaries of community, are conveniently left out or else branded as ‘un-Islamic’.

A fourth characteristic feature of these textbooks is their distinctly anti-democratic character. They purport to tell the story of the Muslims of South Asia from the point of view of Pakistan’s ruling elites. In the process, history comes to be presented as simply a long list of battles and other ‘achievements’ (whether real or imaginary) of a long chain of Muslim rulers. ‘Ordinary’ people have no voice, being completely invisiblised in these texts. It is as if history is made only by rulers, and that the histories of ‘ordinary’ people are not worth recording or commemorating. It would seem as if the writers of these books are wholly ignorant of new developments in writing ‘peoples’ or ‘subaltern’ histories.
The starkly elitist bias of the texts is also reflected in the fact that they almost completely ignore perspectives of ethnic groups other than Pakistan’s dominant Punjabi and Muhajir communities. This is hardly surprising, since, as Rosser notes, most of these texts have been penned by authors who belong to these two communities. She writes that the absence of the perspectives and historical experiences of the numerically smaller ethnic and regional communities of Pakistan, such as the Baluchis and Sindhis, also has serious implications for policy making, for the demand of smaller provinces for regional peace in South Asia and equitable local development is not sufficiently appreciated and incorporated in national policies. This, Rosser comments, is reflected in the great ‘tension between official history manufactured in Islamabad and the historical perspectives of regional ethnic groups’ (p.4).

The anti-democratic thrust of these texts is also reflected in what Rosser describes as ‘a radically restrictive brand of Islamic exclusivism’ that they project and propagate. The sort of Islam that these texts seek to promote is premised on the notion and dream of Muslim political hegemony and a deep-rooted sense of the innate inferiority of people of other faiths. This is—and this is important to note—just one version of Islam among many, and one which Muslims who believe in an inclusive version of their faith would vehemently oppose. However, the texts present this, what Rosser calls ‘authoritarian’, ‘legalistic’ and ‘ritualistic’, brand of Islam as normative and defining, and completely reject alternate, competing, more democratic and humanistic interpretations of the faith (p.9).

Rosser’s findings are of critical importance, particularly in the context of present developments in Pakistan, which is witnessing the alarming growth of radical Islamist groups, impelled by a version of Islam very similar to the one these texts uphold. Obviously, explanations of the growing threat of radical Islamism in Pakistan cannot ignore the crucial role of these texts, which are compulsory reading for all Pakistani students, thus playing a central role in moulding their minds and worldviews. The texts are also a reflection of, as well as a cause for, the pathetic state of social science research and discourse in present-day Pakistan.

Rosser’s Indian readers need not have much cause to be self-congratulatory, however. Although historiography in India is certainly more sophisticated in many senses than in Pakistan, a significant section of Indian history writers, particularly of the Hindutva brand, are no different from those Pakistani writers whose texts Rosser examines. Indeed, they speak the same language of hatred and communal supremacy, propelling the same tired, debunked myth of Hindus and Muslims being perpetually at odds with each other. Likewise, they are both profoundly anti-democratic, having no space for the voices and aspirations of socially, culturally and economically oppressed groups, upon whose enforced silence is premised the artifice of the ‘nation’ (‘Islamic’ or ‘Hindu’, as the case might be), whose sole representative ruling elites claim to be.

Yoginder Sikand works with the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy at the National Law School, Bangalore.

Aurangzeb, Akbar, and the Communalization of History

April 9, 2009
Source: MANAS
[see also Aurangzeb: A Political History; Aurangzeb: Religious Policies;
Mughal Empire]

In Indian history, the syncretistic and communalist viewpoints have conventionally been represented, to take one case in point, by offering a contrast between the lives of the two emperors under whom the Mughal Empire was at its zenith, Akbar (reigned 1556-1605) and Aurangzeb (reigned 1658-1707). Akbar is often adduced as an example of the tolerant ruler, whose policies demonstrate that though he himself was a Muslim, the state was not Islamic. Some have even pointed to him as a ‘secular’ ruler, when scarcely any monarch in Europe was such, and his advocacy of a new faith, the Din-i-ilahi, which combined elements from various religions, exemplifies the ecumenism with which he is associated. “He looked upon all religions alike”, writes Tara Chand, “and regarded it his duty to make no difference between his subjects on the basis of religion. He threw upon the highest appointments to non-Muslims.” [1] Though it is admitted that he may have forged political and military alliances with Hindu rulers from considerations of expediency, other historians allude to more enduring signs of his real commitment to religious harmony and interest in different faiths, such as his marriage to Rajput women, his scholarly interest in epics such as the Ramayana, and his zeal in promoting Hindu learning. Historians point to Akbar’s elimination of the jizya (poll-tax) usually levied on non-Muslims and his assumption of final authority on religious questions on which there might have been conflict of opinion among Muslim theologians, thereby undermining the authority of the ulama (Muslim clergy). Describing Akbar’s success as “astonishing”, Jawaharlal Nehru gave it as his opinion, in a work that places him among the ranks of historians, that Akbar “created a sense of oneness among the diverse elements of north and central India.” [2]

The commonplace view of Aurangzeb, on the other hand, is that he repudiated Akbar’s policies of religious toleration, and by alienating Hindus he undermined the very empire whose tremendous expansion he masterminded. Nehru maintained that Aurangzeb had “put the clock back”, undoing what his predecessors had achieved by working against the “genius of the nation” and ignoring the common culture that had been forged among the different elements of the Indian population. “When Aurangzeb began to oppose this movement [of synthesis] and suppress it and to function more as a Moslem than an Indian ruler,” Nehru argued, “the Mughal Empire began to break up.” But where Nehru saw Aurangzeb as a “bigot and an austere puritan” whose policies were instrumental in creating unease and dissent, and Tara Chand deplored his “misdirected efforts” which caused “irreparable damage” to the “great edifice of the empire”, [3] many Indian historians have been inclined to take a much harsher view of Aurangzeb’s conduct. In this they were to follow the lead supplied by Jadunath Sarkar, whose 1928 biography of Aurangzeb in four volumes bequeathed the view of Aurangzeb that still predominates in the popular imagination. Sarkar suggested that Aurangzeb intended nothing less than to establish an Islamic state in India, an objective that could not be fulfilled without “the conversion of the entire population to Islam and the extinction of every form of dissent”; and to render this scenario more complete, he proposed that the jizya (poll-tax) on non-Muslims, which Aurangzeb had re-instituted in 1679, was aimed at forcibly converting Hindus to Islam, though he was unable to marshal evidence to substantiate this view. [4]

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? They suggest, moreover, that Aurangzeb did not indiscriminately destroy Hindu temples, as he is commonly believed to have done so, and that he directed the destruction of temples only when faced with insurgency. This was almost certainly the case with the Keshava Rai temple in the Mathura region, where the Jats rose in rebellion; and yet even this policy of reprisal may have been modified, as Hindu temples in the Deccan were seldom destroyed. 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. [5] 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? And while he may have propagated a new syncretistic faith, how was it received by ordinary Muslims? Moreover, do not both the supporters of Akbar and critics of Aurangzeb presume that relations between Hindus and Muslims are to be inferred by studying the lives of rulers, or at best members of the ruling class? What, in any case, is really conceded when it is admitted that Akbar was tolerant towards other faiths to the same extent that Aurangzeb was only solicitous of the welfare of his Muslim subjects? As the historian Harbans Mukhia has argued, “Once one accepts that the liberal religious policy of Akbar was only the reflection of his own liberal outlook, the conclusion becomes inescapable, for instance, that the fanatic religious policy of Aurangzeb flowed from his fanatic disposition.” [6] If Aurangzeb sought to convert members of important Hindu families to Islam, all the more to ensure the preservation of his empire, why should that serve as a basis for the presumption that a wholesale conversion of Hindus was a matter of state policy? By what method of transference is it possible to construe that conflicts among the ruling elite are conflicts at the broader social level? In the debate over the nature of the Indian past, then, particularly with respect to Hindu-Muslim relations, Akbar and Aurangzeb were to become, as they still are, iconic figures.

Notes:

[1] Tara Chand, History of the Freedom Movement, 4 vols (New Delhi: Government of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Publications Division, 1961-72), 1:111-12.

[2] Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India (Calcutta: Signet Press, 1946; reprint ed., Delhi: Oxford University Press/Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, 1981), p. 270.

[3] Ibid., p. 265, 271; Tara Chand, History of the Freedom Movement, 1:112.

[4] J. Sarkar, History of Aurangzeb, 4 vols. (Calcutta, 1928), 3:249-50, cited by Satish Chandra, “Reassessing Aurangzeb”, Seminar, no. 364: Mythifying History (December 1989), p. 35.

[5] This paragraph draws upon M. Athar Ali, The Mughal Nobility Under Aurangzeb (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1968), pp. 30-32; Chandra, “Reassessing Aurangzeb”, pp. 35-38; and B. N. Pandey’s comments in Parliamentary Debates, Rajya Sabha, Vol. 102 (29 July 1977), col. 127. See also Sita Ram Goel, “Some historical questions”, Indian Express (16 April 1989), p. 8.

[6] Harbans Mukhia, “Medieval Indian History and the Communal Approach”, in Romila Thapar, Harbans Mukhia, and Bipan Chandra, Communalism and the Writing of Indian History (New Delhi: People’s Publishing House, 1969), p. 29.

Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb: Bad Ruler or Bad History?

April 9, 2009

By Dr. Habib Siddiqui

Of all the Muslim rulers who ruled vast territories of India from 712 to 1857 CE, probably no one has received as much condemnation from Western and Hindu writers as Aurangzeb. He has been castigated as a religious Muslim who was anti-Hindu, who taxed them, who tried to convert them, who discriminated against them in awarding high administrative positions, and who interfered in their religious matters. This view has been heavily promoted in the government approved textbooks in schools and colleges across post-partition India (i.e., after 1947). These are fabrications against one of the best rulers of India who was pious, scholarly, saintly, un-biased, liberal, magnanimous, tolerant, competent, and far-sighted.

Fortunately, in recent years quite a few Hindu historians have come out in the open disputing those allegations. For example, historian Babu Nagendranath Banerjee rejected the accusation of forced conversion of Hindus by Muslim rulers by stating that if that was their intention then in India today there would not be nearly four times as many Hindus compared to Muslims, despite the fact that Muslims had ruled for nearly a thousand years. Banerjee challenged the Hindu hypothesis that Aurangzeb was anti-Hindu by reasoning that if the latter were truly guilty of such bigotry, how could he appoint a Hindu as his military commander-in-chief? Surely, he could have afforded to appoint a competent Muslim general in that position. Banerjee further stated: “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?

Most Hindus like Akbar over Aurangzeb for his multi-ethnic court where Hindus were favored. Historian Shri Sharma states that while 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.

Some of the Hindu historians have accused Aurangzeb of demolishing Hindu Temples. How factual is this accusation against a man, who has been known to be a saintly man, a strict adherent of Islam? The Qur’an prohibits any Muslim to impose his will on a non-Muslim by stating that “There is no compulsion in religion.” (surah al-Baqarah 2:256). The surah al-Kafirun clearly states: “To you is your religion and to me is mine.” It would be totally unbecoming of a learned scholar of Islam of his caliber, as Aurangzeb was known to be, to do things that are contrary to the dictates of the Qur’an.

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.”

A stone inscription in the historic Balaji or Vishnu Temple, located north of Chitrakut Balaghat, still shows that it was commissioned by the Emperor himself. The proof of Aurangzeb’s land grant for famous Hindu religious sites in Kasi, Varanasi can easily be verified from the deed records extant at those sites. The same textbook reads: “During the fifty year reign of Aurangzeb, not a single Hindu was forced to embrace Islam. He did not interfere with any Hindu religious activities.” (p. 138) Alexander Hamilton, a British historian, toured India towards the end of Aurangzeb’s fifty year reign and observed that every one was free to serve and worship God in his own way.

Now let us deal with Aurangzeb’s imposition ofthe jizya tax which had drawn severe criticism from many Hindu historians. It is true that jizya was lifted during the reign of Akbar and Jahangir and that Aurangzeb later reinstated this. Before I delve into the subject of Aurangzeb’s jizya tax, or taxing the non-Muslims, it is worthwhile to point out that jizya is nothing more than a war tax which was collected only from able-bodied young non-Muslim male citizens living in a Muslim country who did not want to volunteer for the defense of the country. That is, no such tax was collected from non-Muslims who volunteered to defend the country. This tax was not collected from women, and neither from immature males nor from disabled or old male citizens. For payment of such taxes, it became incumbent upon the Muslim government to protect the life, property and wealth of its non-Muslim citizens. If for any reason the government failed to protect its citizens, especially during a war, the taxable amount was returned.

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.

While some Hindu historians are retracting the lies, the textbooks and historic accounts in Western countries have yet to admit their error and set the record straight.

Secular garb for Aurangzeb By A Surya Prakash

April 9, 2009

<!– Views : 247
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By A Surya Prakash

Aided by an administration that is of late making anti-Hinduism an important component of state policy, a small group of Muslim bigots in Chennai disrupted an exhibition on Aurangzeb, the despotic ruler who destroyed hundreds of Hindu temples in the 17th century, including the most sacred shrines at Banaras and Mathura.

The story of the horrors perpetrated by this ruler in the name of Islam had been put together through pictures and drawings by the Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism (FACT). The man behind this initiative is François Gautier, a noted journalist and a trustee of FACT who is committed to salvaging truths about India’s ancient and medieval history from the garbage that is palmed off as history by a small group of pseudo-secular historians who subsist on the patronage of the Nehru-Gandhis and the Communists.

The exhibition, which has 40 paintings, show cases Akhbarats (edicts) issued by Aurangzeb. It has been viewed by over 100,000 people in other cities before it went to Chennai. The organisers were, therefore, shocked when Chennai Police forcibly closed the exhibition at the instance of a handful of protesters.

The exhibition was based on the work of eminent historians. The history of the reign of Aurangzeb, including the story of his cruel and oppressive conduct vis-à-vis the Hindus and the Sikhs, was first put together after a life-time of research into the edicts passed by him by Jadunath Sarkar, one of India’s greatest historians. Sarkar’s work on the Mughals — and thereafter the four volumes he wrote, especially on Aurangzeb — is considered the most definitive account of events of that time.

Sarkar translated Masir-i-Alamgiri — a history of the reign of Aurangzeb — by Saqi Mustad Khan. Khan’s narration was based on orders passed by Aurangzeb and material available in state archives in 1710. Sarkar also translated Akhbarats, which were essentially reports on the orders passed by Aurangzeb. In addition, there are other accounts like Mirat-i-Alam and Alamgir-Nama written by persons employed by Aurangzeb. Eliot and Dawson’s History of India as told by its own historians aggregates much of the work done by these historians.

There have been several other accounts, including the much-acclaimed series titled The History and Culture of the Indian People edited by the eminent historian RC Mazumdar and published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, and the monumental series on civilisation by Will Durant.

A common thread that runs through all these accounts is the zeal displayed by Aurangzeb to promote Islam and to crush other faiths. Here is a list of the atrocities committed by him, as narrated by historians employed by him: Aurangzeb issued an order on April 9, 1669 to the governors of the provinces, directing them “to demolish the schools and temples of the infidels and put down their teaching and religious practices strongly.

Besides innumerable temples throughout the empire, even the famous Hindu temples of Visvanath at Banaras, of Keshav Dev at Mathura, and Somnath at Patan were destroyed. Even the loyal state of Jaipur was not spared, and sixty-six temples were razed to the ground at Amber”. Ten years later, on April 2, 1679, he imposed jizya on Hindus. This was an oppressive, commutation tax that had to be paid by Hindus in order to be allowed to continue to practice their faith.

According to Sarkar, jizya was imposed by Aurangzeb “with the object of spreading Islam and overthrowing infidel practices”. Mazumdar says, “He felt gratified when many Hindus, unable to pay it, embraced Islam.” But, destruction of temples and jizya were just the tip of the iceberg. Various other measures were adopted to force Hindus to convert to Islam. Here is a list provided by Mazumdar in his series: In April 1665, Aurangzeb fixed Customs duty on goods imported into his kingdom at 2.5 per cent for Muslim merchants and five per cent for Hindu merchants. He offered Government jobs and commutation of prison terms for those who converted to Islam. In 1668, Aurangzeb prohibited all Hindu religious fairs. In 1671, he passed an order dismissing all Hindu head-clerks and accountants and hiring Muslims in their place.

In March 1695, he prohibited all Hindus, except Rajputs, from riding in palanquins or on elephants and also forbade them from carrying arms. Aurangzeb also went after the Sikhs with a vengeance. He ordered the destruction of Sikh places of worship and the expulsion of the Sikh Guru’s representatives from the cities. He imprisoned Guru Tegh Bahadur and killed him after torturing him for several days because he refused to convert to Islam. The attack on Sikhism continued during the tenure of the next Guru, Guru Govind Singh. His headquarters in Anandpur were attacked several times and his four sons were slain.

On Mathura, Masir-i-Alamgiri says, “During the month of Ramzan, the Emperor… issued for the demolition of the temple in Mathura. In a short time… the destruction of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished, and on its site a lofty mosque was built… The idols, large and small, set with costly jewels which had been set up in the temple were brought to Agra, and buried under the steps of the mosque of the Begum Sahib, in order to be continually trodden upon. The name of Mathura was changed to Islamabad.”

In recent times, a bunch of pseudo-secular or Marxist historians has been trying to bury these historical truths just as Aurangzeb buried the idols of Hindu gods at the entrances to the mosques that he built. They have also been attempting fraudulent and criminal misinterpretation of facts in order to paint even persons like Aurangzeb, who launched monstrous attacks on Hinduism and Sikhism, as “secular” beings. Some Muslim groups in the country have been abetting this pseudo-secular enterprise.

The attack on FACT’s exhibition in Chennai is the latest manifestation of this phenomenon — which is nothing but a renewed assault on truth and on Hinduism. The only answer to this is to take this exhibition to every nook and corner of the country and to publicise the Akhbarats of Aurangzeb’s time in every way possible. We cannot promote secularism by turning a blind eye to truth. We must freely discuss the communal agenda of rulers like Aurangzeb if only to show how barbaric the state can become when it is wedded to theocracy. That is how the citizens of India in the post-independence era will appreciate the value of democracy and genuine secularism and the basic structure of our Constitution.

Source: http://www.dailypioneer.com

Khalsa – The immaculate order

April 9, 2009

Khalsa – The immaculate order

By: R. N. Raina

Source: Daily elixor

Compelling circumstances drove a spiritual Master to become a valorous warrior. Divinity and liberty merged to produce a Guru-General. Guru Gobind Singh was the tenth descendant of the Sikh faith. And the compelling circumstances were the persecutions and atrocities mounted on the people of India by the tyrant King, Aurangzeb. History has held this fanatic Mughal King responsible for bringing down an Empire so astutely assembled by Akbar the Great, his ancestor and so splendidly maintained by his father, Shahjahan.

Aurangzeb put the Empire on fire. In north as well as in South. Guru Gobind Singh was forced into a long war in the north. Shiva Ji was similarly engaged in the south for a life term. Immense miseries were mounted on people for refusal to convert to Islam. He imprisoned his father, Shahjahan for seen years till his death. Also killed his three brothers by deceit and hypocricy. And when the ninth Sikh Guru Tej Bahadur an indomitable Apostle of Truth and Determination, refused to convert to Islam, Aurangzeb’s fanaticism reached the climax. The Guru was brutally beheaded publicly at Chandni Chowk, the Prime Bazar established magnificently by Shahjahan in front of the seat of power, the Red Fort.

This tyrant King finally came to his senses, but that was only too late at his death bed. He confessed his sins ruefully in the letters he wrote to his sons. These letters appear in the “History of India”, Vincent Smith, Oxford 1920. An extract has been brought out by eminent Sikh writer-scholar and historian, Dr Gopal Singh. His “National Biography of Guru Gobind”, P-42 refers as:

“I know not who I am, where I shall go and what will happen to this sinner full of sins. My years have gone by profitless. God has been in my heart but my darkened eyes have recognised not His light. There is no hope for me in future. When I have lost hope in myself, how can I have hope in others? I have greatly sinned and know not what torment awaits me in the Hereafter”. Dr Gopal Singh’s work has been published by National Book Trust of India 1966.

Gobind Rai, as he was named at his birth was born in Patna when his illustrious father, Guru Teg Bahadur, was on God’s Mission in North-East India. On the martyrdom of his father he had to rise to the Sikh Throne at Anandpur Sahib at a young age of nine years. His mother was the protector till he grew up into an adult. This was the time when people in general were terror-striken and demoralised under Aurangzeb’s cruel rule. There were divisions in the society due to casteism. The Sikh, although grown in number since its inception by Guru Nanak Dev, were only a social and spiritual community. They were neither a decisive force, nor a political entity. Guru got awakened to the need of the hour. He was for a change in the present subdued dispensation. He wanted to develop a vibrant and free society. He was for fight against the force of oppression. He was also against the curse of casteism. He sought equality for all and honourable existence for the community.

So cause the decisive day, the Baisakhi (Ist day of Baisakh), the new year day of Bikram Samvat 1756, corresponding to the 13th April 1699. Men and women from far and near had gathered at Anandpur Sahib to pay homage to the Guru on the new year day. The Guru was in a mood different from festivities. He wanted to take advantage of the occasion to implement his plan. The occasion got converted into a Historical Event. Standing before the assembly he suddenly unsheathed his sword and like a lion he thundered. “I want a Sikh who can offer his head to me, here and now. My sword is thristing for the head of one who has learnt the lesson of surrender to me. The terrifying words brought about pin drop silence. With flashing eyes, he repeated his demand a second time. No response, only silence. He then roared, a third time and Lo! a devotee came forward, Daya Ram, the Sikh from Lahore. The Guru took him inside a tent, slaughtered a goat and came out with his blood soaked sword to exhibit to the assembly. Shivers and terror struck every where. This was not all. He wanted a second sacrifice. Another devotee offered. He repeated the same process five times. Coming out every time with flashing red eyes and the blood socked sword.

Next came the climax. The five devotees come out of the tent in new garbs, blue turbaned. With a yellow kurta, a waist band and swords dangling from their side. They were named (Panj Pyare) and baptised into a new order with sweetened water – the Amrit. Khalsa took the birth.

The Guru’s declaration followed in these memorable words.

“From now on, you have become caste less. No rituals Hindu or Muslim. No superstitons. No pilgrimages. No austerties, but the pure life of household, yet ready to sacrifice it all at the call of Dharma. Women shall be equal to men in every way. No Purdah. No burning of widow’s. Khalsa shall not only by warlike, but also sweeten the life of those whom he is chosen to serve.

The Guru further explained, “My Khalsa shall always defend the poor and ‘Deg’ (the community Kitchen) will be as much as an essential part of the order as the ‘Teg’ (the sword). Now onwards you all ‘Singhs’ (The Lions) and shall greet each other with “Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.” (The Khalsa belongs to God, victory be to God).

Now onwards all offerings were supposed to be in the shape of weapons and horses. A marshal race came into being with best skills in archery and war strategm.

The tradition completes 300 years on this year’s Baisakhi. Tercentenary celebration are being organised. Sikhs from all over are congratulating at the Khalsa High Seat Shri Anandpur Sahib. People of all faith have been invited. Pad – Yatras have been flaged off from far and near. Community singing – Shabad Kirtan, the essence of Sikh faith, the community dinner while seated on floor as equals are the significant items. Display of cultural heritage and discourses on Sikh philosophy in general and Khalsa Panth in particular will be the glittering features of the tercentary.

This all to commemorate the Tenth Guru Gobind Singh. His valour and chivallery. His services and sacrifices. Humility and compassion. His teachings Universality of God and equality of man will be paid obeisance to. Long live Khalsa.



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